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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'Place Aux Jeunes' or 'The Years Are So Long')

Directed by Leo McCarey
USA 1937

 

Make Way for Tomorrow, Orson Welles told Peter Bogdanovich: “Oh my God that’s the saddest movie ever made.” Long unavailable for home viewing, Leo McCarey’s personal favourite among all his films (which included The Awful Truth and An Affair to Remember) is sad, yes, but it also stands as cathartic affirmation of the dignity of human feeling, and in the testament of such achieves a subtle complexity of characterization on par with Renoir, Ford, and Hawks.

Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi, two of the great Hollywood character actors, appear makeup-aged beyond their actual years to portray the couple whose house the bank has foreclosed upon (the film was set and produced in the midst of the Great Depression), and who are forced subsequently to move into their children’s homes in the city. A near-musical restructuring of gratitude and debt ensues once the offspring deem the couple’s lodging an imposition: the two are separated, then reunited weeks later… as they glide inexorably into an uncertain future.

Unrelentingly unsentimental, yet maintaining a balance of pathos and levity unseen in not only American studio pictures but most of the rest of world cinema, Make Way for Tomorrow exerted a powerful influence on Yasujirô Ozu’s Tokyo Story and several other key entries in the Japanese master’s body of work. It is a film profoundly concerned with questions of filial obligation and the way we treat one another as human beings; it is a film that, to give Welles the last word, “could make a stone cry.” The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Leo McCarey’s truly great Make Way for Tomorrow for the first time on Blu-ray anywhere in the world.

***

Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring’s selfish whims. An inspiration for Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Make Way for Tomorrow is among American cinema’s purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure.

***

With the possible exception of Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story, this 1937 drama by Leo McCarey is the greatest movie ever made about the plight of the elderly. (It flopped at the box office, but when McCarey accepted an Oscar for The Awful Truth, released the same year, he rightly pointed out that he was getting it for the wrong picture.) Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi play a devoted old couple who find they can't stay together because of financial difficulties; their interactions with their grown children are only part of what makes this movie so subtle and well observed. Adapted by Vina Delmar from Josephine Lawrence's novel Years Are So Long, it's a profoundly moving love story and a devastating portrait of how society works, and you're likely to be deeply marked by it. Hollywood movies don't get much better than this.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Theatrical Release: May 9th, 1937

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Comparison:

BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

   

 

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Note Cover listed at Amazon (left) is different than actual (below)

 

 

Distribution BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine # 15 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:39 (4% PAL speedup) 1:31:57 1:31:57.720
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.4 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.22 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,046,926,845 bytes

Feature: 20,822,403,072 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:  PAL

Bitrate:  Criterion

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 1.0) DTS-HD Master Audio English 1566 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1566 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
16-bit)
Subtitles French (player generated) English, none English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BAC Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 15 minute introduction/documentary by Bernhard Eisenschitz (in French - no subtitles)
• Photo gallery
• Hollywood Classics trailer/adverts

DVD Release Date: June 17th, 200
8
Custom case (see below)
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today, a new video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow (19:52)
• New video interview with critic Gary Giddins in which he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film (20:09)
• 32-page liner notes booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and ‘Family Values’”

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010

Transparent Keep case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 matted to 1.78

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,046,926,845 bytes

Feature: 20,822,403,072 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Gorgeous high-definition transfer of the film in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio
• 20-minute video piece with filmmaker and writer Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show; The Cat’s Meow) discussing the film and Leo McCarey’s career
• 21-minute video piece with writer Gary Giddins discussing McCarey’s work and the social and political contexts of the film
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
• Lengthy booklet featuring a new essay on the film by writer and Library of America editor Geoffrey O’Brien, and an excerpt from Josephine Lawrence’s source novel Years Are So Long

Blu-ray Release Date: October 25th, 2010

Blu-ray Keep case
Chapters: 11

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - October 2010: Masters of Cinema have done this masterpiece up right with a 1080P transfer showcasing Make Way For Tomorrow's grain structure. Criterion have lessened a few surface scratches and boosted black levels a shade but in-motion the UK Blu-ray is much more consistent in the film qualities that aficionados seek. The new format transfer is brighter and shows more detail - notable in fabrics of clothes.

It really comes down to mathematics and the picture-boxed Criterion is 501 pixels where the dual-layered Blu-ray is, more than double at, 1080. Your player will expand the digitally transferred image to the size of your system screen (digital video is imply a string of bitmaps). With the Criterion image being less than half the size - the visuals develop more compression artefacts. Hence, the UK Blu-ray is smoother in-motion. Toggle software or browsers between these two images; Criterion and MoC. This is not altogether fair as your player will do a better job of interpreting the Criterion than my software - but hopefully this can give the impression of the superiority of HD resolution over SD (in this case picture-boxed SD which has an even lower resolution for the image proper). This would also be dependant on your system - the larger - the more apparent the improvement.

MoC have upgraded the audio to a lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 mono at 1566 kbps. The inherent defects still exist but audio does appear to have a more resonant quality. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Video extras duplicate the Criterion with a 20-minute, video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich - recorded in 2009 - discussing the career of Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow. The other piece has critic/writer Gary Giddins (Warning Shadows: Home Alone With Classic Cinema). He he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film also for about 20-minutes. Masters of Cinema have included a lengthy booklet featuring a new essay on the film by writer and Library of America editor Geoffrey O’Brien, and an excerpt from Josephine Lawrence’s source novel Years Are So Long.

An important classic looking and sounding as good as it ever has for your home theater appreciation. Good grief what a film experience... and now better than ever. STRONG recommendation! 

***

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - February 2010: Cinephiles were ecstatic that Criterion included this magnificent title for a spine #. It's a film that frequently leaves me aching.

Criterion's transfer is pictureboxed - with a black border circumventing the frame - marginally limiting the resolution. For a detailed description of picture-boxing see our Kind Heart and Coronets review HERE.

Comparatively the Criterion image is a significant improvement over the hazier, greenish with muddier contrast, and horizontally stretched image of the BAC French release from 2008. The Criterion shows grain and the improvement is greater than I was expecting. Light scratches are pushed beneath the surface. In motion this looks more heavily textured and just grand. Detail is dramatically superior and there is much more information in the frame. I consider this an extremely important release for Criterion and, aside from some minor flickering contrast, my only disappointment is that it didn't make it to Blu-ray from the esteemed distributors. I'm still delighted with this transfer and it will have a revered place in my library.

Audio, like on the BAC, has some weakness but with the film approaching it's 75th year - it is hard to complain. Significant pops, hiss or other distracting deficiencies have been removed or lessened so as not to impinge on the viewing experience. Criterion, as typical, offer removable English subtitles.

Extras on the NTSC disc are excellent although there are only two digital supplements and no commentary. Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today is a new, 20-minute, video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow. It was recorded specifically for Criterion in Los Angeles, 2009. The other interview has critic/writer Gary Giddins (Warning Shadows: Home Alone With Classic Cinema). He he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film also for about 20-minutes. Criterion have included a 32-page liner notes booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from late film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and ‘Family Values’”.

One Beaver's easiest recommendations - as we gave the nod to the BAC - we surely endorse a purchase of the, superior-on-every-front, Criterion package. My favorite DVD of this early year. Our highest recommendation! 

***

ON THE FRENCH BAC DVD: The image quality is what it is and, as you can judge by the screen captures below, remains quite imperfect. However, to be able to have the film in one's DVD library at all, far outweighs the inferiorities. Looking to be taken from an analog source the transfer (decent bitrate) is both dual-layered and progressive. Contrast is not strong (fluctuates) but black levels have some infrequent depth. The French subtitles are player generated and can be removed on some players. If  not people may re-burn - see HERE. Audio is perhaps even a notch below the video quality but dialogue is audible enough for the film to reach you. The disc is coded for region 2 in the PAL standard.  

The supplements - a 15 minute talk by Bernhard Eisenschitz - is only in French with no subtitle options - but there is a stills gallery.

The DVD is strongly recommended for the depth of emotion the film evokes and it, personally, ranks as one of the best pieces of pure cinema I've seen in years. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



French Package

 

 

DVD Menus

 

BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT


 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


DVD Box Cover

   

 

CLICK to order from:

Note Cover listed at Amazon (left) is different than actual (below)

 

 

Distribution BAC Video - Region 2 - PAL Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine # 15 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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