Directed by Robert Wise
Splendid camerawork by Joseph MacDonald, otherwise a three-hour plod through a bestseller by Richard McKenna. Set in China in 1926, it deals with the trials and tribulations of an American gunboat crew who learn to love the natives while trying to save them from their own follies and the depredations of everybody else. Behind its timid criticism of imperialist attitudes, lies a much louder and heartfelt American cry - with China 1926 standing in for Vietnam 1966 - of 'Why doesn't everybody love us when we do our best for you?' To leaven the message, McQueen and Attenborough, as the two most humanitarian members of the crew of a ship run by coolie labour, both get romances: McQueen with Bergen's American mission teacher (hair in tight bun), Attenborough with Andriane's half-caste girl (highly cultured). There are also some well-staged battles.
Theatrical Release: December 20th, 1966
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 4.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: Spanish, French (2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
with Robert Wise, Candice Bergen, Mako & Richard Crenna
For the money - this may be the most complete DVD package I have ever seen... and a great film to boot. The 2.35:1 cinemascope widescreen ratio looks very strong. It is anamorphic, progressive and colors are slightly muted. Damage - even light scratches or speckles - are non-existent. I really have no strong complaints - detail has some pristine moments but overall it is still very acceptable. I see no untoward manipulation (Fox is usually quite good for avoiding this). It has an excellent appearance.
Supplements are extensive. On Disc 1 we are given the theatrical feature film complete with black screened Overture, Intermission and Exit music. There are two optional commentaries - the first with director Wise, Candice Bergen, Mako & Richard Crenna is left over from the original, now out-of-print, DVD release from May 2001 HERE. There is a new one, only spoken words - by Nick Redman, Jon Burlingame and Lem Dobbs - when the isolated score is not playing. On the second disc is the 'Road Show" version - about 6 minutes longer - but the image quality is inferior to the theatrical. On the flipside of disc two are extra features - 90 minutes worth of "Making of..." featurettes (6 in total) with Wise, Zanuck, Bergman and others piping in, plus a trailer, radio spots and some scans of the Mad Magazine movie parody I recall reading as a youngster. Also included a 32-page booklet, with colors photos, and four post-card sized, photo cards.
All-in-all and incredible DVD deal. The 3 hour Wise film is an exciting, epic-style personal drama. It has cultural and political overtones and Fox's mid-60's gamble on the costly production proved both commercially and critically successful with eight Academy Award nominations. Really and entertaining, if lengthy, film and the DVD package by Fox, in their Cinema Classics Collection, is nothing short of spectacular. Strongly recommended!
Disc 2 - Side B