The Country Girl Studio: Paramount Year: 1954 Rated: NR Length: 104 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English Mono English subtitles; Closed Captioned in English Special Features: None SRP: $14.99 USD Release Date: September 21, 2004 The Country Girl is one of those films where everything just came together and resulted in a true tour de force achievement in filmmaking. Take an acclaimed play by Clifford Odet. Stir in performances against type by some of the greatest entertainers of the time (Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, William Holden). Add music for the adaptation by Harold Arlen, with songs and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a score by Victor Young. Finally, have George Seaton write and direct the film adaptation. The result is a masterpiece of cinematic drama. Bing Crosby takes an uncharacteristic role as Frank Elgin, an alcoholic, guilt-ridden former musical star trying to make a comeback - only he’s afraid of himself and his past. This is Bing Crosby’s finest dramatic hour, and it earned him an Oscar nomination. Grace Kelly is Elgin’s wife, Georgie. She has long suffered Frank’s alcoholism and depression. She is the only thing holding him together - but the world sees her as the cause of Frank’s misfortune. Kelly is fabulous in this role that is anything but her usual glamorous screen appearance, and she took home Oscar for it. William Holden is solid as Bernie Dodd, the director of the play that affords Frank his chance to reclaim glory. He tries to hold Frank together by pushing Georgie away, thinking she is the cause of Frank’s problems. Soon, Bernie and Georgie have eyes for each other, threatening to push Frank over the edge. This is not your average film about show biz, it is a tragic love story. It doesn’t pull any punches in its exploration of alcoholism, either. This is human drama at its finest. 1954 was a year with much Oscar competition. The Country Girl was nominated for Best Picture, along with: On the Waterfront (the winner), The Caine Mutiny, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Three Coins in the Fountain. Unnominated films of the year include: A Star is Born, Sabrina and Rear Window. In my opinion, The Country Girl stands proudly among all of those films. Video The Country Girl is presented in full-screen format, having been shot in the Academy ratio. Much of the film is sharp, with great clarity - but there are some scenes that exhibit a fair amount of softness. Grain is variable. There aren’t any really objectionable sharpening or compression artifacts, though there are a few minor instances of the jaggies. Contrast is excellent, with good shadow detail, solid black levels, and bright whites that never bloom. The only real complaint about the presentation is the amount of dust and scratches visible on the print. While there are some portions of the film that are relatively clean, there are some sequences where there is a virtual flurry of minus density blemishes that lasts for several seconds, and are somewhat intrusive. Audio The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, 2 channel. This is a fine sounding monaural track, with nice frequency response and very little in the way of hiss or artifacts of age. The musical numbers are well represented with a good amount of bass, good high frequency response, and very little distortion in louder passages. Dialog is consistently clear and easy to understand. The packaging incorrectly lists a French Mono track as one of the disc’s features. The only audio track is an English Mono track. Final Thoughts Paramount delivers another bare-bones edition of one of the finest films in their library. The video gets a passing grade, but could have been much improved if just half of the dust could have been removed. The audio is a commendable monaural track that represents the original elements well. Highly Recommended on the strength of the film, with reservations on the print quality.