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(aka 'Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit'')

Directed by David Lean
UK 1945

 

Blithe Spirit, David Lean’s delightful film version of NoŽl Coward’s theater sensation (onstage, it broke London box-office records before hitting Broadway), stars Rex Harrison as a novelist who cheekily invites a medium (Margaret Rutherford) to his house to conduct a sťance, hoping the experience will inspire a book he’s working on. Things go decidedly not as planned when she summons the spirit of his dead first wife (Kay Hammond), a severe inconvenience for his current one (Constance Cummings). Employing Oscar-winning special effects to spruce up Coward’s theatrical farce, Blithe Spirit is a sprightly supernatural comedy with winning performances.

 

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Theatrical Release: May 14th, 1945

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Comparison:

Carlton - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Carlton - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

Box Cover

Distribution Carlton Visual Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection From the "David Lean Directs Noel Coward" Spine 606

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Sold as a package Criterion are releasing David Lean Directs Noel Coward
In the 1940s, the wit of playwright NoŽl Coward and the craft of filmmaker David Lean melded harmoniously in one of cinema’s greatest writer-director collaborations. With the wartime military drama sensation In Which We Serve, Coward and Lean (along with producing partners Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan) embarked on a series of literate, socially engaged, and enormously entertaining pictures that ranged from domestic epic (This Happy Breed) to whimsical comedy (Blithe Spirit) to poignant romance (Brief Encounter). These films created a lasting testament to Coward’s artistic legacy and introduced Lean’s visionary talents to the world.
Runtime 1:31:45 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:36:16.812
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.3 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 44,679,077,209 bytes

Feature Size: 28,255,481,856 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio:
Carlton Visual Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer

DVD Release Date: May 12th, 2003

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters:
10

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

Disc Size: 44,679,077,209 bytes

Feature Size: 28,255,481,856 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

 

Edition Details:
• 1995 Audio commentary by film historian Bruce Eder

• Barry Day (Oct 2011) - 11:10
• The South Bank Show: Noel Coward (50:43)
• Trailer (2;26)

A booklet featuring essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Smith Nehme, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Kevin Brownlow
 

Blu-ray Release Date: March 27th, 2012
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 9

 

Comments:
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - March 2012: This is part of Criterion's 4-Blu-ray Box set; David Lean Directs Noel Coward (described above) - with Brief Encounter and the other 3 films only available in the package at this time.

Another competent and significantly improved transfer - over the UK SD. Colors aren't bleeding - everything is tighter - details stronger and there is some nice grain. The AR is correct for the frame information (no stretching as in the DVD) and skin tones reflect a more normal hue. The captures should support the 1080P, dual-layered, superiority of the Blu-ray.

Criterion's audio is faithful and modest with a linear PCM mono track supporting the dialogue and Richard Addinsell's light score. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

In the extras Barry Day who did work for The Noel Coward Reader and is author of Coward on Film: The Cinema of Noel Coward. In this October 2011 interview he discusses Blithe Spirit. We also get a 1992, 50-minute, episode of The South Bank Show hosted by Melvin Bragg. It covers Noel Coward's career in theater, film, and music. It features archival footage and interviews with actors John Gielgud, Daniel Massey, and John Mills, among others. There is also a trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Smith Nehme, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Kevin Brownlow.

The quality is a solid bonus for Lean and Coward fans - and this makes for another excellent reason to indulge in the Criterion Blu-ray boxset.

***

ON THE DVD (2004): For 1945 the colors look fairly good - sure they bleed a bit but I have seen far more unnatural balances from films made even later. At times they can look unusually vibrant. The image is bright and black levels are reasonable. It may be slightly vertically stretched (thinner faces). Sharpness is strong for the format and the DVD was transferred progressively. This is a single-layered disc with only a trailer as an extra. Audio is consistent and all dialogue audible. Optional English subtitles are provided. The DVD came out 3 years ago and, like the film it is not unduly dated - you will be sure to get some kicks out of the performances. At the writing of this review the Carlton DVD is listed at a 50% discount on Amazon.UK - hence we endorse a purchase.

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Carlton - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT


 
 

 


 

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Screen Captures

 

Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion (David Lean Directs Noel Coward) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

More Blu-ray Captures


Box Cover

Distribution Carlton Visual Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection From the "David Lean Directs Noel Coward" Spine 606

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Sold as a package Criterion are releasing David Lean Directs Noel Coward
In the 1940s, the wit of playwright NoŽl Coward and the craft of filmmaker David Lean melded harmoniously in one of cinema’s greatest writer-director collaborations. With the wartime military drama sensation In Which We Serve, Coward and Lean (along with producing partners Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan) embarked on a series of literate, socially engaged, and enormously entertaining pictures that ranged from domestic epic (This Happy Breed) to whimsical comedy (Blithe Spirit) to poignant romance (Brief Encounter). These films created a lasting testament to Coward’s artistic legacy and introduced Lean’s visionary talents to the world.
Runtime 1:31:45 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:36:16.812




 

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