S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
This Happy Breed [Blu-ray]
(David Lean, 1944)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Two Cities Films
Video: Criterion Collection # 605
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 46,303,276,721 bytes
Feature Size: 32,621,985,792 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: March 27th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• Barry Day (15:00)
• The Golden Age (44:06)
• Trailer (2:35)
• Re-Release Trailer (2:18)
Description: David Lean brings to vivid emotional life NoŽl Coward’s epic chronicle of a working-class family in the London suburbs over the course of two decades. Robert Newton and Celia Johnson are surpassingly affecting as Frank and Ethel Gibbons, a couple with three children whose modest household is touched by joy and tragedy from the tail end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second. With its mix of politics and melodrama, This Happy Breed is a quintessential British domestic drama, featuring subtly expressive Technicolor cinematography by Ronald Neame and a remarkable supporting cast including John Mills, Stanley Holloway, and Kay Walsh.
With This Happy Breed, playwright Noel Coward hoped to glorify the British working class in the same manner that he'd... celebrated the "higher orders" in Cavalcade. The film begins just after World War I. Middle-class Londoner Robert Newton hopes to improve his family's lot by moving them into a comparatively posh house in the suburbs. The house is large enough for each family member to claim a corner or room as his or her own, allowing Coward to spotlight the characters' highly individual strengths, shortcomings and emotions. Twenty years go by, filled with the sorts of triumphs and tragedies with which British audiences of the 1940s could readily identify. Finally, left alone after their children and relatives have moved on, Newton and his wife (Celia Johnson) leave the house behind for a smaller, more practical apartment. This was the second of four collaborations between author Noel Coward and director David Lean. While Coward can't completely disguise his patronizing attitude towards "regular folks," Lean is successful in conveying the essential warmth, humanity and value of the film's characters.
One can imagine a master director like David Lean having a full command of cinema from the very beginning of his career. But Lean, who handled the technical aspects of the job as brilliantly as any director who ever lived, was a little bit intimidated by the thought of directing actors while filming This Happy Breed (1944), one of his several memorable collaborations with playwright-songwriter-actor-raconteur, Noel Coward. Lean's first effort behind the camera, In Which We Serve (1942), was actually co-directed by Coward, who mainly put the performers through their paces while Lean took care of the camerawork and editing. Despite Lean's misgivings, however, This Happy Breed became the most successful British picture of 1944, and finally launched the director on a trajectory that would bring us a handful of the most exhilarating films ever made.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Criterion Blu-ray of Lean's This Happy Breed looks marvelous. Another impressive BFI restoration in the David Lean Directs Noel Coward package. The Technicolor representation has brisk hues with vibrant reds and blues and passive earthy browns. The contrast layering is exquisite and the overall image is another Blu-ray triumph. Fans will appreciate both the grain existence and the occasional depth. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and gets full-marks for the visual representation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The, now standard, linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps is as flawless as the source and represents the film as adeptly as could be expected. There is nothing demonstrative to report although there may have been some healthier-than-expected bass in the marching parade sequence. It is clean and all dialogue audible with optional subtitles and myMomitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
We get another piece with 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, 15-minute, interview he discusses This Happy Breed and Coward's contributions. The Golden Age; Ronald Neame was one of three partners in Cineguild Productions, along with director David Lean and producer Anthony Havelokc-Allan. The company was formed following the success of Lean and playwright Noel Coward's In Which We Serve. Neame contributed as cinematographer, producer, and screenwriter of many Cineguild projects before moving on to become a director himself. In this 45-minute interview, conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2010, the then ninety-nine-year-old Neame reminisced about Coward, Cineguild and their films. There is a trailer and re-release trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet in the package featuring essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Smith Nehme, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Kevin Brownlow.
March 24th, 2012
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