HTF REVIEW: "Gloria" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Gloria





    Studio: Columbia
    Year: 1980
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 121 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, Korean, Spanish




    "I am the Man!"

    Back in the early days of cable television, you
    could count on HBO to recycle films over and over
    again until one could easily become sickened by
    the repeats. There was one film in particular
    that I enjoyed watching over and over again --
    that film is, of course, John Cassavete's Gloria,
    a gritty story about a hardened woman who protects
    a six year-old who has been targeted by the mob.
    While I doubt the film was a success theatrically,
    there is little doubt that its cable run for years
    later garnered it many fans who have been patiently
    awaiting this DVD release.

    [​IMG]

    Jack (Buck Henry) is an accountant for the mob who
    finked to the FBI and now his family and kids are
    marked. As the mob closes in on the family's
    apartment building, their 6 year-old son Phil
    (John Adames) is left in the care of the neighbor,
    Gloria (Gena Rowlands). Phil's family is executed,
    but not before Phil escapes with his father's ledger
    in hand. Gloria, begged by the family to hide the
    boy, is torn between saving this boy and saving her
    own hide. Thus begins a cat and mouse game where
    mobsters chase Gloria and Phil all over New York
    City, doing whatever it takes to get that ledger
    back in their hands. Though Gloria doesn't initially
    care for the young boy (she hates all children),
    she slowly develops a fondness and ultimately a
    devotion to the child.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Gena Rowland is in top form in highly a powerful
    performance. Watching her play a tough-talking and
    streetwise protagonist is very reminiscent of the
    type of characters James Cagney used to play. It's
    a marvel to watch this woman make the transition from
    a selfish gun-moll who hates kids to selfless mother.
    Her role earned her a 1980 Oscar nomination for
    Best Actess. It's hard not to fall in love with
    John Adames, who is just adorable as tough-talkin'
    Phil ("I'm the Man!") who seems to be the only
    person who can torment Gloria and walk away unscathed.


    How is the transfer?


    Unfortunately, the transfer of Gloria is
    very uneven. Don't be scared by the absolutely
    filthy title credits -- once they end the film
    cleanses itself with its unspoiled shots of New
    York City and Brooklyn. These sequences look
    very good, and it actually gives you high hopes
    for the rest of the transfer. Alas, once we get
    inside the apartment building with its lurking
    mobsters, the interior shots become muddy-looking,
    losing much detail and exhibiting noticeable grain.
    This is the manner in which rest of this transfer
    continues, switching between exterior street scenes
    that look clear and detailed to a few interior shots that
    look dark and slightly muddy. This isn't a bad
    transfer by any means, but it is certainly not one
    that has gone through any extensive restoration.

    [​IMG]

    While the mono audio is absolutely flat here,
    residing in the upper dynamic range, the dialogue
    and Bill Conti's score comes through with acceptable
    clarity.


    Special Features

    [​IMG]

    Columbia is offering a bare-boned release which
    is not at all surprising since this really isn't
    a high-profile title. What does upset me is that
    the studio has neglected to include the film's
    original theatrical trailer. Instead, there are
    trailers for Little Nikita and The Odessa
    File
    .


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Written and executed at the height of Cassavetes
    career, Gloria is a powerful and captivating
    film that is easily absorbed and highly entertaining.

    If you haven't seen this film, do yourself a favor
    and give it a rental. Odds are, you'll want a copy
    to keep for yourself afterwards.


    Release Date: February 25, 2003


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

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    I too was one of the GLORIA watchers during cable's early days. I never saw the remake, nor am I in any hurry to! Minor correction: GLORIA is rated PG.
     
  3. Bill Huelbig

    Bill Huelbig Second Unit

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    I also watched GLORIA over and over on HBO. I have a feeling a lot of people did, and I hope they all purchase this DVD. It'll be fun to hear Gena Rowlands say "Have a nice day" again, in the way only she can.

    --Bill
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I watched this last night, and I have to disagree about the transfer.

    It's astonishing -- a magnificant example of what can be done when you devote an entire dual-layered disc to the best video presentation possible. No multiple soundtracks (English 2.0 mono only), no extras (2 short trailers for other films), just the film.

    Gloria was shot for no money, on-the-run, using mostly available light in real locations. The graininess is how the film looked, and the wonderful thing about this new disc is how it retains that look but still resolves vast amounts of image detail. The grain remains grain, but it doesn't turn into video noise. There are no MPEG artifacts, no edge enhancement, and the color fidelity is excellent. It's like watching a film.

    This may not be HT demo material, but it's true movie-lover material, by one of the great pioneers of today's independent cinema. And Columbia has done it right. Watching this DVD is like slipping into an arthouse and discovering a little gem that the Hollywood system could never have produced (the execs would have insisted on more exposition of Gloria's background and intentions, and would never have tolerated the meandering plot). Like so much of Cassavetes' work, the film is about character (and what a character!) and atmosphere. Rowlands' tough-as-nails Gloria is inseparable from the grimy landscape against which she stands as a proud survivor. -- and this is the first version I've seen since the theater that truly captures the full visual impact of the film's evocation of late-70s New York.

    M.
     
  5. Garry Cowell

    Garry Cowell Stunt Coordinator

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    Sweet!

    I'll be picking this one up. I caught it on the box too but was lucky enough to see it in the cinema a few years back (during a Gena Rowlands retrospective) one of my faves.

    Luc Besson's Leon is practically a gender reverse remake.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  7. John Koehler

    John Koehler Stunt Coordinator

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    Watching this film I cannot escape the feeling that I am witnessing a performance by the greatest actress --ever-- in cinema. Gena Rowlands is compelling, captivating, beautiful. The picture as a whole is great, an example of genuine talent behind and in front of the camera. No CGI, no mega-millions budget, no explosions, no four-letter words every 8 seconds. Just a fine director in Cassavetes, a good script (by the director), fluid but focused camera work, and one hell of an actress in the title role.
     
  8. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    This has always been a favorite of mine. A little gem of a film.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I have to agree with Michael when it comes to the transfer. The video presentation of the dvd is true to the image of the film I watched in an almost empty movie theater back in 1980.

    On a side note, for those that have the Criterion release of "The Killers" there is a featurette that you will find amusing about John Cassavetes. It was an audio segment taken from director, Don Siegel's autobiography in which he wonder how a hugh pain in the ass like Cassavetes was able to marry a lovely woman like Gena Rowlands.[​IMG]




    Crawdaddy
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I remember the thread, David, and while I appreciate what you're trying to accomplish, I ultimately don't accept the distinction, because I don't believe that (1) is a legitimate category. IMO, the widespread preoccupation with "absolute image quality" and "demo material" is one of the most pernicious forces currently at work in the HT world. This used to be a hobby for movie lovers. More and more, it's being populated by equipment fetishists whose chief interest is in pretty grain-free pictures accompanied by loud multi-channel gunshots and a thumping subwoofer.

    M.
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    David,

    I don't want this thread to be the device used
    to revitalize a discussion that many people could
    not come to total agreement on.

    I realize that grain is normal. I realize that
    sometimes what might seem like a bad transfer is
    actually the way the film looked originally.

    Unfortunately, I am not in a position to be able
    to compare theatrical vs. video. When I review a
    disc I will point out things like grain and other
    sort of distractions. Whether they existed or not
    in the original print, I have no idea. I do continue
    to point out their presence simply because people
    want to know.

    This is the best you are going to get from me here.
    I'm doing reviews as a side hobby and unfortunately
    I lack the expertise that you may demand.
     
  13. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Hey Ron,

    Didn't mean to sound critical of your review...that wasn't my intention (your reviews are perfectly fine and whole-heartedly apprecitaed). I only made mention bcs 2 other posters comments resonated with the issues that inspired the orgin of that thread.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    David,

    I know you mean well.
     
  16. Wade M.

    Wade M. Extra

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    Is this the movie that has Laura Branigan's (another hottie, a great singer) version of Gloria in it? The lyrics in the song sorta point to the plot of the movie.
     
  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That song is not present in this film.




    Crawdaddy
     
  18. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    heh heh heh...love the phrase 'equipment fetishest'
    so dead on.
     
  19. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    i have to agree. this is one of the more beautiful transfers i've seen.
    thanks for ratcheting down my expectations Ron [​IMG].

    film itself was very entertaining, although i can't quite figure out- with all that money why she didn't just take a cab to Seacaucus and then catch a bus somewhere.
    a few niggling plot holes aside, not bad.

    was very surprised at the quality of the kids performance.
    i'd read a review online that mentioned the kid won the razzie that year, and i was expecting to see a lot of awkward emoting and mugging, but he seemed pretty natural.
    loved the way he was written, too. i could esily see a kid that age saying those kinds of things.

    thanks for pointing this one out.

    only negative was the price. a $20 street price ( $25 list?)
    3/4 saw some extraordinary discs get released- great transfers in a price range from $8-15
    no real good reason a bare bone catalog title like this should be $20.
     

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