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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

My Son John [Blu-ray]

 

(Leo McCarey, 1952)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:02:14.327

Disc Size: 22,199,511,157 bytes

Feature Size: 22,037,704,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 21st, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 862 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 862 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Legendary director Leo McCarey (An Affair to Remember) took on this controversial and infamous drama about a conservative religious couple (Helen Hayes, Dean Jagger) that suspects their oldest son to be a communist. The arrogant and intellectual young man (Robert Walker), a worker in a federal agency, returns home from a long absence spouting pro-communism doctrine and deriding the beliefs of capitalism and religion. Things become very serious when an FBI agent (Van Heflin) shows up to tell the horrified parents that their son may be an enemy spy. Robert Walker (Stranger on a Train) died at age 32 due to adverse reaction to prescription drugs and before My Son John production was finished. Leo McCarey received a 1953 Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story.

 

 

The Film:

An appalling masterpiece. Resist the temptation to laugh at the film's violent anticommunism and try to see it as the audiences of 1952 did, and you'll experience the most wrenching right-wing film ever made. The film's propaganda is all the more powerful because director Leo McCarey refuses to acknowledge any intellectual, ideological intent: his argument is wholly emotional, and it is a powerful one. Robert Walker, fresh from Strangers on a Train, is a government worker who signs with the reds in oedipal revolt against his domineering, patriotic father (Dean Jagger); Helen Hayes is the mother who must choose between son and country. 

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Filled with the kind of Red Scare propaganda that must have delighted members of McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee, this drama chronicles the attempts of two All-American parents to save their son from the temptations of Communism. Unfortunately, they are too late. The arrogant and intellectual young man, a worker in a federal agency, returns home from a long absence spouting pro-Ruskie doctrine and deriding the beliefs of capitalism and US at every opportunity. Enraged at his son's mocking ways, he beans him with the family bible. Things get worse when an FBI agent shows up to tell the horrified parents that their son is an enemy spy. The mother blows a gasket and flies to Washington, DC where her son works to make him swear on the same book that the FBI agent is wrong. The son does so, but its a lie. The mother soon finds this out. She also learns that her treacherous son's girlfriend is a Commie. What's a mother to do? Fortunately, before it is too late, her son realizes the error of his ways and tries to double-cross his Pinko superiors. Unfortunately, it is too late and they shoot him and just before he gaspingly dies upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he tapes his final confession and gives American youth everywhere a potent message about honor. The star of the film, Walker, best remembered for his gripping portrayal of a psychopath in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, died before production finished and so scenes from that film were spliced into My Son, John.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

My Son, John has a modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and contrast looks a shade green - but this is probably more the condition of the source density. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. The black levels do seem to improve as the films runs along and detail is acceptable - if not stellar. The handful of outdoor sequences, naturally, looked the best. Detail is modest and there is no real depth but there is some grain and this may be a close approximation of how My Son John looked 60-years ago. The Blu-ray presentation isn't much to extol with some occasional speckles but did, at least, let me see the film - that is hard to believe was actually ever made.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

A bland DTS-HD mono track at 862 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer without egregious flaws. It is very flat but reasonably consistent. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Looking at it from one perspective My Son, John can be a bit of a hoot. Howevr, it takes itself so seriously and Helen Hayes is such an amazing performer - it all appears to be more of... a sad waste. From another standpoint - this makes it highly interesting. The Blu-ray isn't much but probably offers the best presentation we will ever see of this 'unusual' masterpiece. 

Gary Tooze

August 10th, 2012

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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