DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Morning After (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    The Morning After

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1986
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 103 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD Monaural
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Single disc - Keepcase

    The Feature:

    With the end of summer fast approaching, Warner Bros. is set to release two popular mystery films from the 80's starring Jane Fonda. The first, Rollover (1981) also features Kris Kristofferson and Hume Cronyn and was directed by Alan J. Pakula (Presumed Innocent and The Pelican Brief), and the feature film, The Morning After (1986) which includes the underrated Jeff Bridges, Kathy Bates and the late Raul Julia. August 30th marked the DVD debut of both titles each of which list for $19.97.


    Alex Sternbergen (played by Jane Fonda), a washed-up, alcoholic struggling actress long past her prime, wakes up one morning in an unfamiliar, luxurious loft apartment. Apparently, this is nothing new for Alex but waking up next to a man who's been murdered, is something that complicates the start of a new day. Alex has no recollection of happenings the night before. Stricken with panic she attempts to flee but is unable to get a flight out of Los Angeles. In her haste to leave, she hooks up with Turner Kendall (played by Jeff Bridges), an ex-cop who happens to be fixing his car in the LAX parking lot.

    Alex tries to get rid of Turner and returns to the loft which she cleans in a futile attempt to remove any evidence of her presence at the crime scene. Turner continues to take an unappreciated interest in Alex and keeps turning up unexpectedly, much to her annoyance. Finally, desperate and on the run, and not even convinced of her own innocence, Alex allows Turner to help her. Alex also confides in and is helped by her ex-husband and confidant, Joaquin Manero (played by Raul Julia), the only man she completely trusts.



    Despite Alex's suspicion of Turner, she slowly falls in love with him. The movie quickly moves to a surprising conclusion, and creates a good deal of suspense, particularly when Alex is confronted with a corpse that just won't stay put. The film is rather unconventional in that, the actual murder isn't necessarily the focal point of the film, rather than the natural development of the relationship between Fonda and Bridges as Alex tries to make sense of what has happened... The Morning After


    The Feature: 3.5/5

    Very nice indeed. The film is presented in its original AR of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen. First thing you’ll notice here are the colors. This thing looks like a sample book from your local Sherwin-Williams outlet. The entire palette is shown off here and looks terrific with everything looking vibrant with nice saturation. Flesh tones also seemed accurate – if only slightly washed out at times but it would seem this is due to the lighting more than anything else. Blacks were very deep, while whites were crisp and clean. Contrast was nice as the film is very bright as much of it was shot on the streets of sunny Los Angeles.

    Image detail was equally impressive not only on close-ups but on longer and wider shots as well. There is only a very small amount of fine film grain noticeable and the overall look of the film has a nice sense of texture and depth. The print appeared to be clean for the most part with only a few scratches and blemishes etc. The image was rock solid and free of any shimmer or jitter. Compression was also handled well as no compression artifacts were noticeable.

    A very nice job indeed.

    Video: 4/5

    The soundtrack is the original DD Monaural track which does an admirable job of getting done what needs to be done.

    The track sounded clean and virtually free of any noise or popping. Everything sounded very natural. No problem here.

    The movie is basically dialogue driven and that’s what stuck out during this film – save for the catchy clarinet tune used to score much of it. The dialogue was clear and always intelligible. There are only a few action scenes and the results were rather mediocre as the track is rather thin and limited in terms of dynamics.

    Audio: 3/5

    Special Features:

    Not a lot here in terms of numbers, however fans of the film and those of Lumet's work will be pleased to learn that a:
    [*] Commentary by Sidney Lumet is the first of two special features. Mr. Lumet starts by discussing the difficulties of setting up a melodrama and also spends a great deal of time discussing his working relationship with Jane Fonda in which he sports nothing but praise. He also focuses on the city of Los Angeles itself. Not familiar with the city, he explains how he was able to capture some of the unique shots in the industrial areas. He also discusses his affection for the Fonda family having worked with Henry in 12 Angry Men. Sadly, many of the legendary directors of true film classics are no longer with us, so when we have an opportunity, such as this, it should be appreciated. Very worthwhile and informative.
    [*] The other special feature is the Theatrical Trailer which is in reasonably good shape. Duration: 2:32 minutes.

    Special Features: 2.5/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

    Final Thoughts:
    Despite the gaping plot holes, the highlight of the film is the performance by two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda which is reminiscent of her magnificent performance as Bree Daniels in Klute. While The Morning After never rises to the quality of Klute, Fonda's performance was strong enough to earn her an Oscar nomination. Bridges is no less impressive turning in a genuine performance on the heels of one of the decade's best murder mysteries, The Jagged Edge (1985).

    Directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet who brought us such classics as 12 Angry Men (1957), The Verdict (1982), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976), there should be no confusing The Morning After with any of the aforementioned films, but don't let that dissuade you from checking out this intriguing murder mystery. In terms of the look and feel, the film reminds me of another gritty crime film of the decade, To Live and Die In L.A. and does an equally impressive job of showing off 1986 Los Angeles.

    The disc isn't jam packed however the inclusion of a Lumet commentary is an appreciated one and the presentation should please most discerning fans.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)


    Release Date: August 30th, 2005
  2. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

    Apr 14, 2003
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    Bolton, Lancashire
    Real Name:
    Another fine review Herb; straight on my wish list. [​IMG]
  3. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

    Sep 4, 2003
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    Seattle, WA
    Real Name:
    Jeffrey Nelson
    I was hoping (in vain) that this was a review of the telefilm starring Dick Van Dyke as an alcoholic. Oh well...maybe some day.
  4. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer

    Mar 6, 2004
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    Los Angeles, CA
    Real Name:
    John Moreland
    Great review, Herb. And right on the money for my bucks.

    I love this little film. Not much mystery, but the performances by Fonda and Bridges are absolutely stellar! I honestly think this is Jeff's best performance. And I love the retro-noirish dialogue and costumes (which still fit the 80s!)
  5. Robin_B

    Robin_B Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 5, 2005
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    I remember watching this film when it aired on cable back when. A nice little film and I'm a big fan of Jeff Bridges. I'll probably wait and pick it up when it no doubt shows up in Wal-Marts $5.50 bin in a few weeks. I'm glad the picture looks good.
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator

    Jul 31, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    Thanks for the review, Herb.


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