Very Highly Recommended 4 Stars

Lindsay Anderson’s The Whales of August, is a simple story of two sisters at their home on the Maine coast.

It’s also one of the most magnificent cinema experiences set to celluloid.

And another film for which I’ve been waiting aeons to arrive in a respectable form for home video consumption.

Thanks to Kino Lorber, it’s here.

The sheer overabundance of acting experience in this film is astounding, but that’s not the half of it.

There’s something spellbinding watching this film, and those in it.

Those in it…

Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern. Add in the experience of Harry Carey, Jr., and you’ve got over 300 years of acting between them.

It’s enough cinema history all rolled up into a single film, to make you sit up straight, as the hair on the back of your neck stands on end.

I probably won’t get this correct. I’ll let you check sources on the inter-web…

But I recall a comment at the time of release which went something like this.

Director Anderson, commented to Lillian Gish that she was doing a terrific job with her close-ups.

Bette Davis, overheard the comment, glared at Anderson, giving him one of those “you’ve can’t be serious” looks, and told him something like…

“Miss Gish, doing a terrific job on her close-ups! She invented them!”

This is another of those very rare films that must be experienced.

Kino’s Blu-ray is of high quality, with superb color, nice grain structure, and stable enough for government work.

Buy a copy, and enjoy. And don’t forget to sample the extras. There are many, and they’re worth their weight in gold.

Lest readers don’t get the message, I love this film!

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

Robert Crawford

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Dec 9, 1998
Messages
47,610
Reaction score
23,708
Points
9,110
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Robert
It's been many years since I viewed this film. At least 25 years so I'm looking forward to seeing this film again. I never watched my 2003 DVD of it. This Blu-ray is full of bonus material.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Flashgear

rsmithjr

Screenwriter
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
1,228
Reaction score
675
Points
1,610
Age
75
Location
Palo Alto, CA
Real Name
Robert Smith
Thanks.

Based on this review, I will upgrade from DVD, which I probably would not have done otherwise.

The film itself is wonderful and everything RAH says that it is IMHO.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

RichMurphy

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 15, 2005
Messages
447
Reaction score
618
Points
110
Location
Alexandria, VA
Real Name
Rich
In addition to the performances, I love this film for its gentle, relaxed pacing (it's obviously not a hyper-kinetic Michael Bay film) and for the beautiful setting and sense of place. It transports me back to the New England of my youth whenever I watch it. Can't wait to receive my pre-ordered Blu-Ray.
 
Last edited:

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,811
Reaction score
16,511
Points
9,110
Real Name
Robert Harris
In addition to the performances, I love this film for its gentle, relaxed pacing (it's obviously not a hyper-kinetic Michael Bay film) and for the beautiful setting and sense of place. It transports me back to the New England of my youth whenever I watch it. Can't wait to receive my pre-ordered Blu-Ray.
Somehow I cannot imagine Mr. Bay directing either Miss Davis or Miss Gish.
 

Bernard McNair

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 30, 2007
Messages
346
Reaction score
469
Points
110
Real Name
Bernard McNair
I am really looking forward to revisiting this film as my only other experience with it was on VHS. Great performances as I recall.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Flashgear and PMF

Konstantinos

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
1,891
Reaction score
1,015
Points
1,610
Real Name
Konstantinos
I'm glad this looks great.
I saw ths film once a couple of years ago, and I too found it quite appealing in its simpleness..

Reading the review it seems like this is a new scan? perhaps 2K?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Flashgear

octobercountry

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
76
Reaction score
60
Points
10
Real Name
Fred
I'll definitely have to pick this one up; have always liked this picture, and am very interested in all the bonus material. I think it's a marvelous and fitting send-off for these truly legendary actresses (let's just pretend Bette's few scenes in "Wicked Stepmother" never happened, and that this is her last film). My only nitpick is that both Bette and Lillian seem to be about two decades too old for their parts, as scripted. For me, the film would have made more sense if it were talking about women in the 65-75-year age range.
 

PMF

Producer
Joined
May 6, 2015
Messages
4,204
Reaction score
4,766
Points
4,110
Real Name
Philip
I'll definitely have to pick this one up; have always liked this picture, and am very interested in all the bonus material. I think it's a marvelous and fitting send-off for these truly legendary actresses (let's just pretend Bette's few scenes in "Wicked Stepmother" never happened, and that this is her last film). My only nitpick is that both Bette and Lillian seem to be about two decades too old for their parts, as scripted. For me, the film would have made more sense if it were talking about women in the 65-75-year age range.
In this case, I'd opt for talent over a literal age; especially with the combined acting chops of these two legends.
Not many scripts in those days for such combined greatness.
 

Mike Frezon

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 9, 2001
Messages
53,074
Reaction score
15,248
Points
9,110
Age
61
Location
Rensselaer, NY
I've never seen this film. But I'll be blind-buying.

I love slow "simple story" films. Some of my favorites include Driving Miss Daisy, The Trip to Bountiful and On Golden Pond.

If Whales of August can compare to films like that, I'm all in.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Richard M S

Mike Frezon

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 9, 2001
Messages
53,074
Reaction score
15,248
Points
9,110
Age
61
Location
Rensselaer, NY
And I can't get the thought of a Bay-directed CGI Lillian Gish out of my head.

I shudder as to what her super-power might be...

:D
 
  • Like
Reactions: RichMurphy

Charles Smith

Extremely Talented Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2007
Messages
5,725
Reaction score
1,878
Points
9,110
Location
Nor'east
Real Name
Charles Smith
Yes to "slow" and "simple story" films.

And I would say you're in for a big treat, sir.
 

Ronald Epstein

Founder
Owner
Joined
Jul 3, 1997
Messages
55,549
Reaction score
11,261
Points
9,110
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
Just got my copy. Bought this blindly based on HTF member favorable opinions.

Will probably watch next week. Will report back here.
 

Mike Frezon

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 9, 2001
Messages
53,074
Reaction score
15,248
Points
9,110
Age
61
Location
Rensselaer, NY
I've never seen this film. But I'll be blind-buying.

I love slow "simple story" films. Some of my favorites include Driving Miss Daisy, The Trip to Bountiful and On Golden Pond.

If Whales of August can compare to films like that, I'm all in.
Yes to "slow" and "simple story" films.

And I would say you're in for a big treat, sir.
And a treat it was.

"Wow" to the acting talent in this film. The story was secondary to the powerhouses that starred in this film. They were able to take those characters and make them completely real. I shudder to think what any lesser actress may have done with that scene in which Gish's character (Sarah) celebrated her wedding anniversary alone. Never did I feel like there was a contrivance of any sort. Davis was crazy good at no over-playing her character's blindness. And Price, Sothern and Carey were all on their game, too.

Loved it...even though the story didn't seem to move me all that much.