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HTF REVIEW: "Driving Miss Daisy" Special Edition (Highly Recommended) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Driving Miss Daisy
    Special Edition

    Studio: Warner Bros.
    Year: 1989
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 99 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French and Spanish

    Since the beginning of cinema, there have been many
    odd couples portrayed in film. Movie-goers no doubt
    enjoy watching characters at opposite sides of the
    spectrum as they try to cope with one another, while
    finding mutual friendship in the process. Perhaps no
    film has more poetically brought two opposites together
    than Driving Miss Daisy, a tender film that
    portrays the delicate friendship that grows over
    years between two people forced to endure each
    other's grievances.


    As the film opens, the year is 1948. Daisy (Jessica
    Tandy), an elderly, rich, Jewish lady is putting on
    her best hat and setting off to go shopping in her
    brand-new Packard. When Miss Daisy gets in her car,
    she backs out so fast that she drives into a pit in
    the back yard. Her son, Boolie (Dan Aykroyd) tells
    her that she's a terrible risk, citing that "cars
    don't behave-they're behaved upon."

    Boolie owns a huge manufacturing business and it
    is there that he meets Hoke (Morgan Freeman), a
    kindly black gentleman who is a little younger than
    Miss Daisy. Hoke offers his services as a chauffeur,
    and Boolie immediately hires him to drive around
    his aging mother, though warns him that she's a
    little high-strung.


    When Hoke and Miss Daisy meet, sparks begin to fly.
    Daisy refuses to hand over her independence and does
    everything she can to test Hoke's patience. Over the
    next 25 years, the pair become the become the most
    intimate of friends without breaking the social
    barriers that divide them.


    What more can be said about a film that brings
    together such a magnificent screenplay and superb
    performances by its cast. Jessica Tandy is
    inspiring as Miss Daisy, and Morgan Freeman truly
    shows that he is one of the greatest and most
    underrated actors of our time. Driving Miss
    became the most celebrated film of the
    1990 Oscars, with 9 Academy nominations. The film
    won Best Picture as well as a deserving Best Actress
    award for Jessica Tandy.

    How is the transfer?

    It took many of us a long time to realize this,
    but perhaps back in 1997 DVD wasn't all that it was
    touted to be. Sure, DVD was a format that provided
    superior image quality. However, looking back at
    that time, I realize that none of the studios really
    put any concern into the quality of the transfers
    they were releasing to the format. Dazzled by the
    clarity the format offered, we didn't realize it
    as much then, but the studios were releasing one
    dirty scratchy transfer after another.


    This all-new digital transfer of Driving Miss
    is leaps ahead of its original DVD debut.
    The most obvious improvements are its first-time
    anamorphic presentation and picture that is void of
    all the video noise that plagued the original release.
    Some may find it hard to believe that this film has
    been improved upon judging by its mostly soft and
    hazy image that lacks a bit of sharpness and detail.
    Fact of the matter is, this is the way the film looked
    theatrically. What has improved is overall color
    stability with more accurate flesh tone colors and
    less smearing. The greens of Daisy Werthan's property
    have never looked more vivid. Though picture is
    still very soft, there is far more detail here than
    the original release. The original DVD release also
    had an awful amount of blemish and video noise that
    has been greatly calmed here. I noticed only but
    a few minor imperfections in the print.

    Though I never considered sound to be the most
    important element to this film, the Dolby
    Surround mix provides some nice ambient weather
    effects throughout the movie. Most enjoyable
    here is the intimate, heartfelt score of Hans
    Zimmer (a huge leap away from his thunderous
    action efforts) that play with abundant detail and
    clarity across the front and rear channels. Since
    this is not a true 5.1 mix, there is dialogue
    bleeding from the center channel to the front.

    Special Features

    Warner Bros. was well aware that sooner or later
    Daisy was due for a total makeover. I am
    happy to see that not only did the studio make this
    title a priority, but decided to include two brand-new
    retrospective featurettes as well as an original
    promotional featurette from that time period.


    What a more fitting way to introduce the viewer
    to this brand new Special Edition than the DVD's
    Main Menu which is simplisticly wonderful. Two
    picture frames display separate portraits of Daisy
    and Hoke. These portraits suddenly come alive
    showing various clips from the film. The menu
    selections are located within the borders of the
    picture frames themselves.

    First, however, I must talk about the full-length
    commentary by director Bruce Beresford,
    screenwriter Alfred Uhry and producer Lili Fini
    Zanuck. Unfortunately, none of the participants
    were in the same room together at the time of the
    recording though for once I can't see how having
    everyone together would make much of a difference.
    Writer Alfred Uhry begins by talking about how
    the story of this film is based upon the life of
    his Grandmother (who he knew at a young age) and
    her black chauffeur. It was also a recreation of
    his childhood. Lili Zanuck talks about the financial
    struggles of the film and the difficulties that
    she and her husband Richard had launching the
    project. Bruce Beseford talks about the casting
    of the film. While everyone agreed Morgan Freeman
    was the perfect choice, Bruce was unsure about
    Jessica Tandy, that is, until he met her in person
    and decided right there and then that she was
    perfect for the part. It's interesting to hear
    Lili Zanuck talk about the relationship of Daisy
    and Hoke and how that relationship succeeds for the
    fact that both of them are noble characters. The
    studios lack of understanding of the relationship
    between these characters was the reason why it
    became so difficult to get financing for the film.
    For this reason, the filmmakers were limited to
    shooting in Atlanta which became difficult at first
    since the area looked so modernized. Fortunately,
    a small farming community 40 miles outside of the
    city provided a nice backdrop for the film. Throughout
    this commentary the three principals intercut with
    one another providing nice background information
    on a particular scene -- whether it be about the
    important changes made to the foliage during the
    change of seasons or the way Zanuck brought the
    film in on budget or how some of the little stories
    about Alfred's Grandmother were recreated for
    the film -- this commentary always remains lively
    and interesting throughout.


    Jessica Tandy: Theatre Legend to screen star
    is an enchanting look at the woman with a big smile
    from some of the people that knew her best including
    Jon Avenet (director Fried Green Tomatoes), actress
    Frances Sternhagen, director Bruce Beresford and
    writer Alfred Uhry (of Driving Miss Daisy). All of
    these individuals have such vivid memories of
    Jessica's warm personality and the fact that she was
    such a professional in her craft. Starting with
    Broadway, we learn of one her most memorable roles
    as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar named Desire.
    Frances Sternhagen emotionally recalls Jessica's
    short speech after winning the Tony award for Gin
    . In fact, this entire featurette becomes
    an emotional experience not only for its participants
    but the viewer as well, as we realize how much we
    miss Jessica Tandy.
    (length: approx. 6 minutes)


    Miss Daisy's journey from stage to screen
    began with a simple short story by writer Alfred
    Uhry based on his real-life Grandmother and her
    black chauffeur. The short story became a Pulitzer
    Prize-winning play, whose rights were purchased by
    Richard Zanuck and his wife. In an interview,
    Zanuck talks about the off-Broadway play he and
    his wife fell in love with. He also admits that
    this was one of the toughest films to make with
    its rather large budget and shooting schedule.
    Though director Brice Beresford never knew much
    about Jessica Tandy before considering her for his
    film, he was enamored by her subtle approach and
    extreme professionalism. One of the coolest
    stories told here is how Dan Aykroyd landed the
    role of Boolie. The role became Aykroyd's most
    memorable effort. Make-up artist Lynn Barber
    gives us an overview of the realistic aging process
    that was applied to the actors. Director Beresford
    talks about Daisy's home -- an actual house that
    was rented from an elderly lady where all the scenes
    were filmed (as opposed to using sets). He also
    talks about how the photographic style of the film
    changed over the course of its nearly 30 year span.
    How did composer Hans Zimmer create such Daisy's
    memorable theme? Simply by watching the actress
    walk down the street. It was her body language
    that dictated the flow of the music. This is
    a terrific featurette for the fact that it shows
    how a project like this almost seemed impossible to
    make from its early beginnings, but yet with all
    the care and love that went into the project, it
    ended up winning the Best Picture of that year.
    (length: approx. 18 minutes)


    After watching the two brand-new featurettes, you
    will no doubt enjoy going back in time to see the
    original 1989 making-of featurette. In fact,
    this featurette is the best of the lot considering
    the fact that it contains some very personal
    moments with actress Jessica Tandy, including a
    celebration of her 80th birthday. Jessica reflects
    upon the many flaws of her character, but admires
    the way Daisy treated Hoke, always supporting him
    rather than being degrading.
    (length: approx. 6 minutes)

    A Cast and Crew filmography is rather
    limited (with some films omitted from bios),
    and multiple Awards pages list the huge
    amount of honors the film received. Finally,
    the film's original theatrical trailer
    is included.

    Final Thoughts


    Driving Miss Daisy is a picture snapshot of
    one of those rare cinematic moments that barely gets
    repeated. It's a beautifully made masterpiece that
    serves as a reminder of how powerful an art form
    film is.

    Be certain to make this new Special Edition a
    permanent part of your DVD library, for without
    it, your collection is truly incomplete.

    Release Date: February 4, 2003

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    go Hans!

    can't wait for GREEN CARD.

    Regarding Henry is also MIA.
  3. kevin_asai

    kevin_asai Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 12, 2001
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    I will pick up this DVD once it is released. Thanks for the review, Ron. [​IMG]
  4. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Feb 8, 2002
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    Can't wait! Can't wait! Can't wait! Can't wait! This is one of my all-time favorite films, if not THE all-time fave. I've been waiting years for this SE and can't wait to have it in my hands. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  5. BrianP

    BrianP Supporting Actor

    Dec 8, 1999
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    I have been waiting to buy this on DVD since I first bought a DVD player over 4 years ago. I just couldn't bring myself to get the pan and scan release. Finally a worthy replacement for my widescreen laserdisc copy of the film.
  6. Joel Vardy

    Joel Vardy Supporting Actor

    Oct 20, 1998
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    Finally, after resisting (like others) the P&S version available. I feel vindicated for the wait. [​IMG]

  7. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

    Oct 23, 1999
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  8. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Screenwriter

    Dec 21, 2002
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    Jake Lipson
    I want this one bad but will have to skip it in order to have enough cash for X-Men (I can't bring myself to call it 1.5) and Greek Wedding the next week. When I get some dispensable cash this will be on my wishlist, though!!
  9. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
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    The open-matte DVD currently on my shelf is HISTORY!!!

  10. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

    May 8, 1999
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    is it just me or does this disc has greenish tint? (well, not the disc itself, I'm talking about the movie itself)

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