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Directed by Peter Glenville
USA
1961

 

Based on a play by Tennessee Williams (expanded from his one-act piece Eccentricities of the Nightingale). From childhood, Alma (Geraldine Page) has loved John Buchanan (Laurence Harvey). Repressed by the pressure of a minister father and a mother who has never recovered for a nervous breakdown, she keeps these feelings bottled up. Her life becomes unbearable when John returns from medical school and takes up with the sultry Rosa (Rita Moreno), the daughter of the casino owner who is as open and willing, as Alma is shy and repressed. Geraldine Page delivers a smoldering, stellar performance, which won her the Golden Globe® and the National Board of Review® Best Actress Awards. The film received 4 Academy Award® nominations*, including Best Actress (Page), Best Supporting Actress (Una Merkel) and Best Music (Elmer Bernstein). Directed by DGA nominee, Peter Glenville (Becket).

****

AThis film version of Summer and Smoke (1961), one of Tennessee Williams's earliest plays, compares favorably with more famous screen adaptations of his work, such as A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), and has the advantage over them of starring the actress who played the lead on stage to great acclaim.

Summer and Smoke had its genesis in a short story, "Oriflamme," written by the young Williams in 1944, well before his theatrical breakthrough, when he was still living with his family in St. Louis and struggling to find his literary voice. The story later served as a sketch for a short play, The Yellow Bird, similar in theme and lead character's name to a longer work that was initially called "Chart of Anatomy." By the time that play reached Broadway, it had been retitled as the more poetic and appealing Summer and Smoke. The play did not do well, however, and most critics (with the notable exception of Brook Atkinson of the New York Times) panned it. In development at roughly the same time as A Streetcar Named Desire, it suffered in comparison to that play, which had opened a year earlier and caused a sensation, thanks to its frank sexuality and dynamic leading man Marlon Brando.

Despite its initial failure, Summer and Smoke was revived a few years later to resounding success. The 1952 production by director Jose Quintero at New York's Circle in the Square Theater put Off-Broadway on the map and established the career of a relatively unknown young actress. For her portrayal of Alma, a repressed Southern spinster grasping at one chance for love with the wild, undisciplined young doctor she has known for years, Geraldine Page won the Drama Critics Award, the first given to a performer in a non-Broadway production. It also brought her to the attention of Hollywood, leading to an uncredited part in Taxi (1953) and a substantial role opposite John Wayne in Hondo (1953), for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination. Good movie roles were not forthcoming, however, and Page returned to the stage, building a sterling reputation both on Broadway and off, earning her first Tony Award nomination for another Williams play, Sweet Bird of Youth. Although she appeared occasionally on television, she did not return to film until Summer and Smoke, eight years after her feature debut.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: November 16th, 1961

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Comparison:

Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Olive- Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC

Olive Films

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:58:44  1:58:48.121
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,502,291,664 bytes

Feature: 23,400,542,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio English 936 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 936 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Olive Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 2010

Keep Case
Chapters: 8

Release Information:
Studio:
Olive

 

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,502,291,664 bytes

Feature: 23,400,542,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:
• None

Blu-ray Release Date:
July 23rd, 2013
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 9

 

Comments:

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

 

ADDITION: Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (July 2013): The 1080P superiority is clearly evident - brighter, more detail, a greater sense of 'scope'. I toggled back and forth and noted quite a difference. I suppose it all depends on your system and how much you like the film - I still do - excellent performances and purposeful dialogue and drama. Lossless audio - still no subtitles or supplements. If you haven't seen this - you should and the Blu-ray is easily the best way in your Home Theatre.

***

Olive Films is handling another older Paramount release as they have done recently with My Favorite Spy , Where Love Has Gone, Knock on Wood and Harlow. I was impressed with the three Noir films they released - Appointment With Danger, William Dieterle's Dark City and Rudolph Mate's Union Station as well as the enjoyable Hammer-esque sci-fi Crack in the World from the mid 60`s. Even Hannie Caulder had some minor merit. Summer and Smoke has some classic moments - credit the performances and, of course, Tennessee Williams blistering play.

Geraldine Page is the standout with, quite possibly, the best work of her career. It runs quite dry at times but the Southern accents, an un-commitable rogue male, disappointments, and unrequited love abound with fiery passion seething beneath the playwright's surfaces. It's far from the best adaptation of his work but it, nonetheless, has the usual charm.  

Like previous Olive Film DVDs this is both dual-layered, progressive and bare-bones. Summer and Smoke is a good looking film in the impressive 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio. There aren't a lot of close-ups but medium shots work well for the narrative. There is no damage - possibly a few light speckles - but nothing dramatic.

The unremarkable 2.0 channel audio is, predictably, flat but everything is consistent and dialogue clear. As stated there are no extras - not even a trailer - nor subtitles offered.

I was co-incidentally in the mood for Tennessee Williams - and luckily this is a film adaptation I had not seen (I thought I had seen them all!). There is weaknesses here - enough to shake your head - but there is also some real class. The 7.9/10 score on IMDb seems bloated but it's a film I think I will remember for a long while. That has to be worth something.    

Gary W. Tooze

 


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2) Olive- Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


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2) Olive- Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Olive- Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Olive- Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Cover

Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC

Olive Films

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray



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