Directed by Henry Cass
UK 1950

 

Told by his doctor he has no more than a few months to live, drab British workingman George Bird (Alec Guinness) decides to spend his savings on lodging at a seaside resort. Once there, however, he finds his identity caught between upstairs and downstairs, the guests and the “help.” A droll social commentary as well as an unpredictable dark comedy about life, death, and luck, Last Holiday is one of Guinness’s finest moments.

***

A bitter-sweet little film written by JB Priestley. Informed that he has no more than a few weeks to live, a hard-working nonentity (Guinness) collects his savings, checks into a posh hotel, and resolves to go out like a gentleman. Here his life changes beyond all recognition: he finds love and happiness, and has an equally beneficent effect on those around him. It's a charming notion, Utopia on the never-never; and while the final twist is a bit tricky, the picture is surprisingly moving, delicately handled and full of lovely vignettes. Unlikely as it may seem, this was the inspiration for Aki Kaurismäki's I Hired a Contract Killer.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Theatrical Release: May 3rd, 1950

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DVD Review: Criterion (Janus Essential Art) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion - as part of Janus Essential Art Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:29:12 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.18 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.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 6-page liner notes leaflet

DVD Release Date: June 16th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 15

 

Comments:

The image on this single-layered Janus Essential Art House release is decidedly weak. Although it is also available in the UK - in the Alec Guinness - The Screen Icons Collection by Optimum HERE - I don't own it to compare. This Janus image is dark and muddier than one might have anticipated but I suspect that the source elements have been compromised and I don't know that, aside from a full restoration, dual-layering would dramatically benefit the presentation. There are examples where brightness appears blown-out and it may be the weakest looking DVD image I've ever seen relating to a 'Criterion' distribution. On the positive - it is progressive and NOT pictureboxed. 

Audio is only slightly better than the image quality but it is clear enough to enjoy the wonderful film. There are optional subtitles. Extras are limited to some liner notes with a few paragraphs by an 'MK'.

This is a fabulous film and it's seems a shame that this may be the best way we will see it on digital but luckily the price reflects that. If we get the PAL Icons Collection I may compare but I've heard the quality is inferior.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution Criterion - as part of Janus Essential Art Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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