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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/wyler.htm
USA 1933

 

Directed by the illustrious William Wyler (The Good Fairy, Detective Story, The Big Country, Ben-Hur), the briskly paced Counsellor at Law is often cited as the best film to ever tackle the intricacies and pitfalls of the legal profession. George Simon (Hollywood legend John Barrymore, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is a successful attorney, climbing from a Jewish ghetto to elegant Art Deco offices in the Empire State Building. After allowing one of his former clients to commit perjury to win a case, George realizes he could be disbarred. The scandal convinces his wife to run away to Europe with another man, leaving George shattered and desperate to find out who his true friends really are. Flavored with social commentary and wry humor, Counsellor at Law is an exceptional example of the hard-boiled dramas that defined the Pre-Code cinema of the early 1930s. Co-starring Melvyn Douglas (Angel).

***

Adapted from the play by Elmer Rice, Counsellor-at-Law is the story of a successful Jewish lawyer George Simon (John Barrymore) who finds it's lonely at the top. Simon's wife (Doris Kenyon) and children look down upon him because of his humble upbringings, while his mother reprimands him for turning his back on his heritage. Simon is threatened with disbarment when a rival digs up a big wormy can of legal wrongdoing in Simon's past, but this is only the beginning of the end. When the beleaguered lawyer discovers that his wife has been unfaithful, he looks out the window of his Empire State Building office and contemplates suicide. Simon is brought to his senses by his faithful secretary (Bebe Daniels), who has loved him all along. Filled with vivid character vignettes and blessed with energetic direction by William Wyler, Counsellor-at-Law is one of the best "lawyer" films of the 1930s.

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 17th, 1933

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Review: Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:22:02.291        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,387,480,140 bytes

Feature: 21,266,325,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1585 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1585 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,387,480,140 bytes

Feature: 21,266,325,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian / Filmmaker Daniel Kremer and Catherine Wyler
Trailers


Blu-ray Release Date: March 28th, 2023

Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 8

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (April 2023): Kino have transferred William Wyler's Counsellor at Law to Blu-ray. It is cited as being from a "Brand New 2K Master". There was an early DVD that was in rather poor condition and this 1080P is a significant improvement. There are rounded corners visible and a few surface scratches but contrast is a leap beyond SD. There are some less even textures notable but overall I would say this HD presentation is a success for this long-admired film.  

NOTE: We have added 30 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a DTS-HD Master dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. Counsellor at Law has no aggressive moments to challenge the lossless transfer. The score was by Giuseppe Becce (The Kaiser of California, Tartuffe, The Last Laugh, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)  sounding clean with the dialogue being authentically hollow as per the production era. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray offers a new commentary by film historian / filmmaker Daniel Kremer and Catherine Wyler, the daughter of director William Wyler. She relates that John Barrymore was difficult during production - a drinking problem and not remembering lines (twenty-seven takes to complete one brief scene.) They briefly discuss writer Elmer Rice and some of the cast; Isabel Jewell, Bebe Daniels, Doris Kenyon, Melvyn Douglas, Thelma Todd but not a lot. Wyler's use of Dolly shots, shallow depth of field, multiple takes etc. They discuss Wyler's relationship with producer Carl Laemmle. I wish there was more about the rich characters and the production but the commentary morphs into an interview with daughter Catherine relating stories about her father, Jewish identity, her participation in the Aviva Slesin 1986 documentary Directed by William Wyler where she interviewed her father before his passing. There are also a handful of trailers but none for Counsellor at Law.

William Wyler's first prestigious project Counsellor at Law is a fabulous melodrama about the pratfalls of the legal profession with themes of love, infidelity, morality, sacrifice... dancing around touches of chaotic humor, lustful playfulness in a screwball-genre hectic pacing. It's wonderfully entertaining and so efficiently expressed. There are a number of less fleshed-out subplots and odd behaviors that add to Counsellor at Law's charisma. It's brilliant. I am so happy that Kino released this on Blu-ray and it was such a pleasure seeing this gem again. The commentary, although dealing more with the director (and then Barrymore) than the film, still has value and we very strongly recommend a revisitation of this film - now in the vastly improved 1080P.

Gary Tooze

 


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That's (LEFT) future director Vincent Sherman (Affair in Trinidad etc.)

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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