HTF PICKS OF THE WEEK - February 13, 2004

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Week Ending February 6, 2004


    What an incredible week I have had discovering
    some of the best classic films I have ever seen.

    It should come as no surprise that this week's picks
    all come from the recent crop of MGM releases through
    the Warner Home Video library. Never before in the
    history of this format has there been a period as
    exhilarating as right now. We are truly seeing the
    cream of the classic film library making its debut
    on DVD.

    This week I picked four films that simply cannot
    be ignored by film enthusiasts. Not only did I
    have the opportunity to watch two Best Picture
    winners here, but along the way I fell in love with
    a beautiful, talented actress by the name of
    Greer Garson who was discovered in London
    by MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer.

    Though very hard to put in exact favorite order,
    here are the four films I picked this week....


    [​IMG]

    Mrs. Miniver


    Slightly edging out my other picks, Mrs. Miniver
    takes top honors. A Best Picture Winner of 1942, it
    was evident that audiences connected with this story
    of a typical English family struggling through the
    outbreak of World War II.

    Though most have labeled the film as propaganda
    to sell Americans into joining the war, you can't
    help but to be emotionally moved by many of the
    sad events that happen throughout the film. Perhaps
    the reason this film is so identifiable is because
    of the realism of its characters. I can't remember
    any other film I have ever watched where people seem
    so true to life as the Kay and Clem Miniver (Greer
    Garson and Walter Pidgeon), their son Vin (Richard
    Ney) and his bride Carol (Teresa Wright). These
    are well-to-do people who suddenly come face-to-face
    with extraordinary circumstances. All of it seems
    so real and comes across the screen so believably.

    Look for one of the cutest performances by child
    actor Christopher Severn, who plays the young Toby.
    This kid had me laughing aloud several times and is
    just priceless to watch.

    Of all the films selected here, Mrs. Miniver
    had one of the cleanest transfers. Any scratches
    or debris were kept minimal and the overall video
    quality was quite good.

    If you are pondering just one of the classics I
    have picked in this week's column, I would put
    Mrs. Miniver at the top of the list. It
    is a wonderful morale-boosting film for its time
    that is certainly not without its share of emotional
    moments that will bring tears to the eyes.



    [​IMG]

    Goodbye Mr. Chips



    How many times has Hollywood repeated the formula
    of a school teacher or good-deeder who reflects upon
    his life and the people he touched along the way?
    Though it sure seems to have become a popular story
    to tell, this is perhaps the film that told it first.

    It's a simple story of a simple man named Mr. Chipping
    (Robert Donat) who helped mold and inspire the thousands
    of students that came in and out of his life during his
    60+ years as a teacher at Brookfield, a prestigious
    school for teenage boys.

    It's fascinating to watch Robert Donat age through
    the years. The film opens in present day late 1920s
    where we see an energetic 80-year-old Chipping reflecting
    upon his arrival in 1870 at the Brookfield Boys School
    as a withdrawn, shy 24 year-old newcomer. As years
    pass, and a new crop of students arrive at Brookfield
    (watch out for those Colley kids), we watch Chipping's
    extraordinary story further unfold.

    The highlight of this film, is of course, the meeting
    of a lively English girl named Katherine Ellis
    (Greer Garson) whose passion for life affects the
    stick-in-the-mud schoolteacher in ways he never
    before imagined.

    It's worthy of noting that in one of the toughest
    Academy Awards years of all time, Robert Donat
    took the Oscar for Best Actor, beating out
    Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, James Stewart and
    Mickey Rooney.

    Transfer quality is a little rough. Many shots
    are overly grainy and the print has its shares of
    film debris. One must step back, however, and
    realize this film is 65 years old and perhaps this
    is the very best we can expect from a film this age.

    Though the film often borders on being a little too
    "shmaltzy," I thoroughly enjoyed the nearly two hours
    I spent watching Goodby, Mr. Chips. It just
    edged out the competition as being my second favorite
    pick of the week.


    [​IMG]

    Mutiny On The Bounty


    You know, the first time I became aware of Mutiny
    On The Bounty
    was through a Bugs Bunny cartoon
    where Bugs was dressed in Captain Uniform sporting a
    stiff upper-lip and barking out orders to "Mr. Christian"
    (Yosemite Sam). It wasn't until my first viewing
    of the film this week that I realized how well that
    cartoon captured the mannerisms of Charles Laughton's
    Captain Bligh.

    Winner of a Best Picture award in 1935, Mutiny
    On The Bounty
    was perhaps the grandest story
    of the sea filmed to that date. Adapted from the
    Charles Nordhoff-James Norman Hall 1932 best seller,
    the film loosely sticks to historical accuracy in
    telling the story of the sailing of the H. M. S.
    Bounty in 1787.

    Leaving from Portsmouth, England, the Bounty heads
    for Tahiti on a mission to transport breadfruit to
    the West Indies. Under the strict command of Captain
    Bligh (Charles Laughton), the crew is subjected to
    inhumane discipline which leads to a mutiny headed
    by first officer Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable).

    Transfer quality is questionable. I blame the
    sheer age of this film which is now nearly 70 years
    old. Though I am sure some restoration effort was
    done by Warner Bros., the print still looks very
    grainy and dirty. Many of the effects shots that
    include officers fighting the fiercest weather
    elements at sea often look blurred. Still, the
    film is quite watchable in its current presentation.

    I loved Mutiny On The Bounty just for its
    grandness and epic feel. Much of the film was shot
    on location in the South Pacific, though sadly, it
    is these island scenes that significantly slow the
    pacing of the film. Surprisingly, the film still
    holds up quite well 70 years later and I think it's
    worthy of a purchased addition to anyone's library.


    [​IMG]

    Gaslight



    Last, but certainly not least in this week's
    picks, Gaslight succeeds more as a
    mildly suspenseful yarn with outstanding performances
    than anything that could be considered plausible.

    It's the story of Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman)
    falls in love with Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer).
    The relationship starts out normal enough with two
    people seemingly in love with each other. However,
    things soon change once they move into a London house
    where Paula lived as a child before her Aunt was
    mysteriously murdered there.

    Through clever manipulation we watch as Mr. Anton
    slowly chips away at Paula's sanity. But what are
    his reasons for doing this and what secrets lurk in
    within this London home?

    Though its amazing to watch Boyer's performance as
    the cool, calculating Hungarian -- it is actually
    Bergman that shines with a memorable performance
    that won her first Best Actress Oscar in 1944. It
    also should be noted that this was the film debut
    of another soon-to-be-famous actress by the name
    of Angela Lansbury.

    The transfer seems to handle the film's many dark
    scenes quite well despite the fact that it seems
    many of Cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg's shots
    of Thornton Square were vaseline covered for effect.
    Print dirt and scratches are nominal which makes the
    overall presentation quality quite good.

    If you are looking for a fairly decent psychological
    thriller from the heyday of Hollywood, you can't go
    wrong curling up to Boyer, Bergman and Gaslight.


    That's it for this week. See you next week!
     
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Ron your thoughts on these films are a refreshing break from all of the SW talk this week, I really am enjoying this, getting me to at least read about some classics that I've had no knowledge of or interest in before hand. Thanks again for this.
     
  3. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I absolutely agree with Casey as well.

    Tomorrow I will be completely immersed in Sunrise at last, while I am also reading Bill Hunt's Digital Guide that arrived a couple of days ago.

    I am looking forward to these WB releases very much

    [​IMG]
     
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    nice!

    i saw a little of THE GREAT ZEIGFELD today on turner and nbow i want to get that too.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I'm in the middle of watching it now and I think
    it's a great film.

    There's a huge musical number right before the
    film Intermission involving a staircase that is
    just breathtaking.
     
  6. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Thank You Ron. I can't wait for Gaslight. One of my favorites.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    What I find really sad is the amount of
    VIEWS that this thread has received but
    how few have responded.

    It sort of shows me that either nobody
    cares what I write, or, there is a lack of
    interest in these films by most of our
    membership.

    I can relate. I hated classic B&W films as
    a kid. Now, I can't seem to get enough of them.
    These films are so mujch better than most of
    the crap that Hollywood is churning out today.
    And, the actors and actresses of those days had
    REAL talent -- not like the "Ben Afflecks" we
    have dominating our Box Office today. The actors
    and actresses of yesteryear had to act, sing,
    dance and just plain "pronounciate."

    I hope that some of these recent classic releases
    and the reviews that have appeared here will
    persuade more people to take an interest in these
    films.
     
  8. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    I'm there Ron. I fully intend to get to all of these, eventually. Gaslight is on its way to me now.

    Looks like April 6 will bring another raft of classic titles we'll be anxious to see your comments on. I don't have enough time (or money) for them all!
     
  9. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

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    Im in 100% agreement with your sentiments Ron.

    Being in my very early thirties, I am just now discoverin/appreciating all the classics of yesteryear. I have learned to respect the "true" talent of old hollywood and enjoy discussing my findings with others. Since I recently completed my HT, I feel blessed and privledged to experience them on the BIG screen. I recently picked up a copy of Roger Ebert's book "Great Movies". It is an excellent resource for people like me who are interested in but unaware of non-mainstream exceptional movies. Ebert, love him or hate him, shares your opinion on the current state of hollywood. In his book, he simply showcases some of the films that he feels are worthwhile and explains why. Some of them are movies we have all seen 100 times, but after reading his views, it sparks my interest enough to watch them again. This book and you have both uncovered many dusty treasures that I will enjoy for years to come.

    I really enjoy your views and comments on the classics, because I can relate to your "new" discoveries. I think there should be a devoted software section for classics. Please keep them coming...[​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Lyle H.

    Lyle H. Stunt Coordinator

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    I purchased Gaslight and Mutiny on the Bounty last week, but have yet to watch them. I'll probably get to them this week. I am considering buying the new Warner DVDs of Grand Hotel and The Great Ziegfeld as well.
     
  11. FrankXS

    FrankXS Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,

    I bought all six titles from the Warner classic titles. Watched Mrs. Miniver twice on Saturday. Greer Garson was a fantastic actress. Good to see two of her early works come out the same day. I've seen this title numerous times on VHS and never tire of it. Interesting sidelight...Greer Garson married her much younger co-star/son Richard Ney a short while after filming ended on Mrs. Miniver. Hopefully some of her other titles such as Random Harvest/Pride and Prejudice/The Miniver Story/Sunrise at Campobello will follow on to DVD from Warner.
     
  12. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    I, too, enjoy these new "Mini Reviews" by Ron E. [​IMG]

    I'm in for Gaslight and Mrs. Miniver. (They've been on my To-Get list for years.)

    Incidentally, I noticed Ron didn't mention in his mini-review above that the Gaslight DVD is actually a 2-movies-in-1 DVD deal. BOTH the 1944 (Boyer) and 1940 versions of the film are on the disc. (Is it dual-sided Ron? I would assume so.)

    I've never seen the 1940 version. Is it up to par with the fine '44 variant?
     
  13. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    I'd enjoy hearing Ron's thoughts on the 1946 classic noir, The Postman Always Rings Twice as well. (You've surely bought that one too, right Ron?)

    Now...If we could only coax Leave Her To Heaven (1945), Executive Suite (1954), The Innocents (1961), and The Uninvited (1944) out of the various studios. That'd be delightful. [​IMG]

    BTW....The "Week Ending" date needs changed from the 6th to the 13th in Post #1. (Just an FYI, you see. [​IMG])
     
  14. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Ron, the mini review-picks of the week is very enjoyable. Let's hope that eventually many members will take our advice and blind-buy a few of these b&w gems. A restored b&w classic looks simply angelic on a well calibrated set-up.
     
  15. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    David, I found this on the web. A review of the film.

    Gaslight (1940)

    Some interesting history. Until your post, I was unaware I will be getting two films.
     
  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Ron, I'd much rather see and post in this sort of thread than, say, a certain other thread in this section that's on a pace to set the all-time posting record. Mrs. Miniver is not one of my faves, but I'm ordering the disc. Gaslight, yes! And your new lease on the reviewing life: a big [​IMG] from over here. JB
     
  17. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    As is usually the case, I am in agreement with Jack. Nice reviews, Ron. I also hope that these threads help raise awareness of these classic titles and generate a few more sales of these terrific films. For February 17th, might I suggest either Pickup on South Street or since a certain film with Alec Guinness is so popular on the HTF these days [​IMG] another film worth considering is Tunes of Glory.

    - Walter.
     
  18. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Ron -

    Speaking for myself, I looked but did not post initially because of the simple fact that I read your thoughts and essentially agreed with them. For the films I haven't seen, I simply made a more significant mental note to check them out. However, I guess I should be a little more curteous in saying "thanks" for the effort you have put forth in making these new weekly recommendation threads, and so I will:

    Thanks. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Anyway, someday down the road most of these should be mine, especially The Great Ziegfeld. I simply love that movie. I just wish I had a personal budget that didn't severely limit my purchasing ability.
     
  19. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Thanks, Zen, for the Gaslight info/link. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I will be buying all the reviewed movies by Ron when they are released in R2 in a couple of days, I've also added Dr. Jekyl and Grand Hotel to my to buy list, Warner will be getting a lot of my money [​IMG]
     

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