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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Ruggles of Red Gap [Blu-ray]


(Leo McCarey, 1935)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Masters of Cinema Spine # 35



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

Runtime: 1:30:32.427

Disc Size: 32,641,189,881 bytes

Feature Size: 26,020,548,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 28th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 619 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 619 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
Optional music and effects track: DTS-HD Master Audio English 738 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 738 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), none



• Optional music and effects track
• Exclusive video interview with Laughton biographer Simon Callow (17:04)
• Ruggles on the Radio: three adaptations made for radio broadcast, all featuring Charles Laughton and Charlie Ruggles in a reprisal of their famous roles (57:23, 29:57 + 31:37)
• Laughton reciting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, originally released as a 78-rpm record in 1937 (2:11)
• PLUS: A 32-page booklet featuring a new and exclusive essay by filmmaker and critic Dan Sallitt and rare archival imagery





Description: The great Charles Laughton found one of his most iconic roles in Leo McCarey’s definitive screen version of Harry Leon Wilson’s best-seller Ruggles of Red Gap – a wryly humorous tapestry of the American West at the turn of the 20th century.
When the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young) transfers the services of Ruggles (Laughton), his immaculate English valet, to Egbert Floud (Charlie Ruggles), a wealthy, brash American, the repercussions prove more dramatic than anyone could have anticipated. Relocating to Red Gap, Washington, Ruggles slowly overcomes his disconcertment as he encounters new alliances, enemies, the route to independence, and, possibly, love.
A riotous clash between the Old World and the New, McCarey’s legendary comic instincts combine with his customary tender respect to make one of the most glorious and enduring comedies of classical Hollywood. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the UK home viewing premičre of McCarey’s “Best Picture” Oscar-nominated film – and for the first time anywhere in the world on Blu-ray.



The Film:

Laughton in a sympathetic, comic role. Writing in The New York Times, Andre Sennwald raved, "Ceasing his normal traffic with Dr. Freud and the devil, Mr. Laughton gives us a pudgy, droll and quite irresistible Ruggles who reveals only the briefest taint of the Laughton pathology." The film was cited, along with Mutiny on the Bounty, when the New York Film Critics voted him their first award for Best Actor. It also provided a boon for McCarey, who used it to move into major pictures. The following year he would direct Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937), which brought him the OscarŽ for Best Director.

The film would remain popular through the years, becoming a television staple when Paramount sold its library to the new medium in the '50s. By then, the studio had a new Ruggles to promote. Bob Hope co-starred with Lucille Ball in a loose musical remake, Fancy Pants, in 1950. In 1957, the television anthology Producer's Showcase presented a new musical version with Michael Redgrave as Ruggles, teaming with Jane Powell, David Wayne, Imogene Coca, Peter Lawford, Paul Lynde and Hal Linden.

Excerpt from TMN located HERE

Previously filmed in 1918 and 1923, Harry Leon Wilson's novel achieved movie classic status when it was remade by Leo... McCarey in 1935. The story opens in Paris, circa 1908. Ruggles, beautifully underplayed by Charles Laughton, is the ultra-obedient manservant to the bibulous Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young). During one of the Earl's nocturnal forays, nouveau riche American cattle baron Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles) wins Ruggles in a poker game. Terrified at the prospect of being bundled off to the Wild West, Ruggles' resolve is weakened somewhat when he and the raucous but ingratiating Egbert spend a wild night on the town. (The besotted butler's periodic exclamations of "Whoopee!" are priceless.) Back in the frontier "boom town" of Red Gap, a misunderstanding obliges Egbert's social-climbing wife Effie (Mary Boland) to pass off Ruggles as an aristocratic British army officer, immediately arousing the suspicions of priggish social arbiter Charles Belknap-Jackson (Lucien Littlefield). The longer he spends in America, the more Ruggles grows to like the concept of democracy and self-determination. Of the film's many highlights, two are standouts: the scene in which Ruggles silences a rowdy saloon crowd with his recitation of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and the droll, semi-improvised vignette in which dancehall girl Nell Kenner (Leila Hyams) teaches the Earl of Burnstead how to play the drums. Ruggles of Red Gap was filmed for a fourth time in 1950 as the Bob Hope-Lucille Ball musical Fancy Pants.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

Ruggles of Red Gap looks just exquisite on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema out of the UK.  There is some contrast flickering but grain and piercing black levels are a triumph. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and the 1.5 hour, 1935, film is very impressive visually. Light scratches and marks appear under the surface and mostly frame specific. I never found them a distraction. There is almost a sense of depth and this appearance will rival the 5-years old City Girl amazingly rendered by the MoC gang. This Blu-ray video is mesmerizing in its strength of quality. Hopefully the lush richness of my presentation is visible via the below screen captures. I was blown away.

















Audio :

Both the isolated effects/score and original audio are both offered in an uncompressed DTS-HD Master mono track. Hollowness and other weakness associated with the original production are expected. Regardless, everything is clear and clean enough to make dialogue fully audible. Obviously there is no range or significant depth. MoC offer optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Masters of Cinema offer some viable supplements in their package. We get the afore-mentioned optional music and effects track in lossless, an exclusive 17-minute (black and white) video interview with Laughton biographer Simon Callow (Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor). Included are three adaptations made for radio broadcast - Ruggles on the Radio. All three all feature Charles Laughton and Charlie Ruggles in a reprisal of their famous roles and there is two hours worth of audio (only). Originally released as a 78-rpm record in 1937, we get Laughton reciting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lasting 2-minutes. There is another professionally prepared liner notes booklet 32-pages featuring a new and exclusive essay by filmmaker and critic Dan Sallitt and rare archival imagery.



What a joy to revisit Ruggles of Red Gap looking so stunning. I never imagined that it could look this good - even on Blu-ray. I consider this big news and we can easily give our highest recommendation. This is a cinephile dream come true. This brilliantly sweet-and-smart masterpiece in a pristine 1080P transfer with bountiful extras. Don't hesitate.


Trivia note: film editing on Ruggles of Red Gap is by Edward Dmytryk! 

Gary Tooze

May 15th, 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.

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