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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Iron Petticoat [Blu-ray]


(Ralph Thomas, 1956)


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Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: London Film Productions

Video: TCM



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

Runtime: 1:34:05.848

Disc Size: 16,109,549,594 bytes

Feature Size: 14,990,757,888 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.24 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 19th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), none



• Introduction by Robert Osborne (2:46)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:43)
• 2 Extended scenes - USSR Trade Mission / Wedding Planners (2:55)
Digital Image Galleries
- Behind-the-Scenes Photos
- TCM Database Article
- Publicity Stills
- Lobby Cards





Description: Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn - two of Hollywood’s biggest stars – appear together for the first and only time in one of the most unlikely pairings in the history of movies. A charming Cold War romance and political satire in the tradition of Ninotchka, this comic battle of the sexes pits a defecting Soviet jet pilot (Hepburn) against a U.S. army captain (Hope) who is charged with turning a diehard communist into a patriotic capitalist.



The Film:

Lensed in England, The Iron Petticoat has been out of circulation for so long that it's difficult to determine whether it is a long-lost classic or the unmitigated disaster many have claimed it to be. Essentially a rehash of Ninotchka, the film stars Bob Hope as Chuck Lockwood, an American military officer assigned to "de-Communize" defecting Russian aviator Vinka Kovelonko (Katharine Hepburn). Meanwhile, Vinka tries to win Chuck over to the glories of the People's Republic. The film remains on a fairly subtle comic level until its unnecessarily slapsticky finale, which, in to paraphrase one reviewer, caused many film fans to completely "give up Hope." Those who've seen The Iron Petticoat are astounded at how well Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn worked together, especially since it has been well documented that the two stars were decidedly not close chums off screen. The film sparked a now-famous war of words between Hope and scriptwriter Ben Hecht, both of whom took out long, rambling trade-paper ads to lambaste each other for "ruining" the project.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

The Iron Petticoat arrives on Blu-ray from TCM transferred with the, less used, VC-1 encode to move it to 1080P. The image quality is a little pale in the first half of the film - almost de-saturated. But contrast - black levels - seem to perk up in the last half of the film.  This is only single-layered with a modest transfer in the, slightly bastardized, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors can tend to look a bit more dull, and less cheery, than they might in the original production. It's hard to say. There is a kind of drab, army, green hue over much of the visuals. However, reds improve and it culminates looking quite reasonable. This Blu-ray isn't demo, and while I'd have preferred it to look brighter, allowed me to see this clandestine 50's comedy.

















Audio :

TCM have failed to take advantage of the lossless audio ability and have stuck with a standard Dolby Digital in 2.0. It is, obviously, not as robust as what could have been achieved, but the dialogue is clear and consistent. There are not an abundance of effects in the film and Benjamin Frankel's score is fairly low-key and unremarkable. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'.


Extras :

Supplements consists of a 3-minute introduction by Robert Osborne who is really interviewing a historian who describes why the film has remained unseen for all these years. He communicates the rift between Bob Hope and Ben Hecht and how Hepburn was not very flattering about Hope in her biography. There are also 2 Extended scenes that didn't make it into the film - looking a little more worn - as does the included black and white original theatrical trailer. There are also image galleries (Behind-the-Scenes Photos, Publicity Stills, Lobby Cards etc.)



I didn't find Iron Petticoat overly amusing. It is kinda cute in spots. The story does seem to lack cohesiveness and it remains a little more than an oddity for its suppression by Hope. The Blu-ray isn't stellar and we hope that this isn't a technical precursor for future TCM releases. Aficionados of its history or fans of Hepburn may be the best suited to a purchase. 

Gary Tooze

December 5th, 2012

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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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