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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection 2-Disc [Blu-ray]

 

Dark Journey (1937)                    Fire Over England (1937)
Storm In a Tea Cup (1937)             Sidewalks of London aka St. Martins Lane (1938)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: London Film Productions / Mayflower Pictures Corporation

Video: Cohen Media Group

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 19th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Dark Journey (1937)

Runtime: 1:18:40.632

Disc Size: 43,866,468,078 bytes

Feature Size: 19,036,498,176 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.49 Mbps

Chapters: 9

 

Fire Over England (1937)

Runtime: 1:29:24.817

Disc Size: 43,866,468,078 bytes

Feature Size: 21,596,869,632 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.43 Mbps

Chapters: 10

 

Storm In a Tea Cup (1937)

Runtime: 1:26:27.015

Disc Size: 46,290,858,450 bytes

Feature Size: 20,202,160,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.43 Mbps

Chapters: 10

 

Sidewalks of London (1938) aka St. Martins Lane

Runtime: 1:25:58.820

Disc Size: 46,290,858,450 bytes

Feature Size: 20,095,561,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.43 Mbps

Chapters: 9

 

Audio (all 4):

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Original and Restoration Trailers for Dark Journey, Fire Over England and Storm In a Tea Cup. Restoration trailer for St. Martins Lane

Before She Was Scarlett O'Hara: An Interview with Anne Edwards (25:36)
• 8-page liner notes

 

Bitrates:

Dark Journey (1937)

 

Fire Over England (1937)

 

Storm In a Tea Cup (1937)

 

 

Sidewalks of London aka St Martins Lane (1938)

 

 

 

Description: Cohen Media Group celebrates the films of Hollywood legend Vivien Leigh with this superlative collection of classics including: Dark Journey, Fire Over England, Sidewalks of London (aka St. Martins Lane) and Storm In a Tea Cup.

 

 

The Films:

Dark Journey synopsis: The unorthodox teaming of Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt is but one of the many pleasures of the 1937 spy yarn Dark Journey. Leigh plays a Stockholm dress-shop owner during World War I, who, being a neutral, is permitted to travel unmolested to and from France. Veidt plays a supposedly disgraced German officer who is actually head of his country's secret service. The two fall in love, despite the fact that Leigh has a secret as well: she is a double agent, sympathetic towards the Allied cause. During one of Leigh's voyages to France, her ship is captured by a German U-boat. Veidt swaggers on board, threatening to sink the ship if Leigh is not turned over to him. But the circumstances reverse themselves, and Veidt finds himself Leigh's prisoner--a circumstance that is not altogether unpleasant for him. When originally released in England, Dark Journey bore the title The Anxious Years.

Fire Over England synopsis: The war between England and Spain in the late 16th century serves as backdrop for the fictional machinations of Fire Over England. Laurence Olivier plays a British naval officer who offers his services to Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson) after his father is executed by the Spaniards. The queen dispatches Olivier to the court of Spain, there to determine which of her courtiers are actually spies for King Philip (Raymond Massey). Working under cover, Olivier learns that the Spaniards intend to send an armada to decimate the British navy. Barely escaping with his life, Olivier relays this information to his queen and also dispatches the traitors in her midst. Cast as one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting, Vivien Leigh appears in the role that brought her to the attention of Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick. Directed by Hollywood's William K. Howard, Fire Over England was based on a novel by A.E.W. Mason of Four Feathers fame.

Storm In a Tea Cup: Light comedy of manners following the complications in a small Scottish town when a newspaper reporter covers a local dispute. Well directed by Victor Saville and Ian Dalrymple, this comedy based on a German play that was Anglicized for the stage by James Bridie evoked a rapturous response from contemporary critics, most notably filmmaker Basil Wright in The Spectator. Cecil Parker is splendidly pompous as the dictatorial Provost, and the youthful Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison make a good-looking and charming couple.

Excerpt from BritMovie located HERE

Sidewalks of London aka St. Martins Lane synopsis: After befriending talented dancer and pickpocket Libby (Vivien Leigh), street performer Charles (Charles Saggers) strikes up a partnership with the gifted young performer and invites Libby to join his act. With Libby's graceful moves steadily drawing an audience to Charles' dramatic act, the performers soon catch the eye of theater magnate Harley (Rex Harrison), who is so mesmerized by the performance that he invites Libby and her fellow performers to a post-play party. When Libby arrives at the party alone, her career rapidly ascends, as Charles and the rest of the performers remain behind to toil amongst the famished masses.

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

The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection on Blu-ray from Cohen Media consists of 4 films on two dual-layered Blu-ray discs. So, essentially we are looking at 4 single-layered transfers but these are short-ish films and the video is supported with decent bitrates. It all seems to come down to the condition of the sources, and the restorations, - and it should be remembered how old these films are. I only really have an issue with Storm in a Teacup that is the most inconsistent and appears very thin. It may have both Edge-enhancement and compression artefacts but I trust this is the best that could be done. Dark Journey also suffers from age but I don't see any digital manipulations and the grain visibility is appreciated. Fire Over England has some excessive brightness but otherwise the image is reasonable.  St. Martins Lane looks quite even with some pleasing detail. Contrast seems adeptly rendered by the 1080P resolution. I so no intrusive noise - except maybe a tad on Storm in a Teacup. Cohen have done well to put these films on Blu-ray and Leigh's fans should be impressed.

 

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

 

Dark Journey (1937)

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Over England (1937)

 

 

 

 

 

Storm In a Tea Cup (1937)

 

 

 

 

 

Sidewalks of London (1938) aka St. Martins Lane

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

There is linear PCM 2.0 channel / 2304 kbps transfers for all four films. These are 75-year old movies and the tracks still show the weaknesses of the production era but there are no egregious flaws. The worst you can say is they sound a bit tinnie. Richard Addinsell, who is notable for the Blithe Spirit and the 1951 A Christmas Carol composed the score for Dark Journey + Fire Over England, the other films, St. Martins Lane (Arthur Johnston) and Storm In a Tea Cup (Frederick Lewis) seem less remarkable. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified the two Blu-ray discs as being region 'A' -locked.

 

Extras :

Disc one offers original and restoration trailers for Dark Journey, Fire Over England and Storm In a Tea Cup and only a restoration trailer for St. Martins Lane. You can see some big differences. On Disc 2 is a 25-minute interview with Anne Edwards, who wrote Vivien Leigh: A Biography essentially discussing Leigh's early career. I have the feeling she could have spoken much longer. The video piece is entitled Before She Was Scarlett O'Hara. The transparent Blu-ray case contains a 16-page liner notes leaflet with photos and text on the films and Leigh.

 

Disc 2

 

BOTTOM LINE:
These may seem like odd selections for star of such magnitude of Vivien Leigh, but obviously this feels more like a 'Volume 1', starting with the early works. It seems a kind of spin to call it 'Anniversary' relating to, what would have been, Vivien Leigh's 100th birthday on November 5th, 2013... but anyway. We can hope Cohen can pry some of the more notable films from distributors hands (my personal favorite would be Waterloo Bridge, which I would LOVE to see in 1080P). The four films in this collection are all pretty darn good and her star quality shines through in each. I also don't *think* they have been on decent SD before, only THIS DVD package from 'Genius Entertainment' - reported to be quite poor. 

 

If you are keen on the older cinema, then this is a wonderful package. I certainly enjoyed St. Martins Lane, Dark Journey and Storm in a Teacup. The Cohen Blu-rays allowed me to see these films - as good visually as I am every likely to - and I am highly appreciative of that. Yes, we recommend !

Gary Tooze

November 12th, 2013

 

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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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
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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