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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Foreign Affair [Blu-ray]

 

(Billy Wilder, 1948)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Universum Film

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:56:20.932

Disc Size: 21,545,694,569 bytes

Feature Size: 20,116,353,024 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 13th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 842 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 842 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

German, none

 

Extras:

• Trailer (1:00)
BD-Live

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Writer/director Billy Wilder (in collaboration with producer/writer Charles Brackett) earned his first critical condemnation with A Foreign Affair. Reviewers accused Wilder (as they would so often in the future) of moral bankruptcy, challenging him to prove what could possibly be funny about the Nazi war guilt, the bombed-out city of Berlin, the postwar European black market or attempted suicide. All of these elements are in Foreign Affair, and all are very funny. John Lund is an American army captain carrying on a casual affair with Berlin songstress Marlene Dietrich, who accepts Lund's attentions so long as there are contraband cigarettes and nylons added to the bargain. Iowa congresswoman Jean Arthur is sent as part of an American fact-finding delegation to Berlin, and Lund is compelled to clean up his act--or at least pretend to. Despite her initial shock at the corruption all around her, straitlaced Arthur eventually falls for Lund, but Dietrich has been at this game a lot longer. For an interesting cinematic and sociological exercise, A Foreign Affair should be shown in tandem with Wilder's 1961 Cold War comedy One, Two, Three.

 

 

The Film:

Shot amid the ruins of Berlin, Wilder's satire on the corruption among GIs fraternising with the locals did not go down too well with the Defence Department. Arthur plays a prim congresswoman investigating an army officer (Lund), and when she realises she really has fallen for her man, she has to win him away from the exotic charms of chanteuse Dietrich. This may not be Wilder at his best - the story develops along fairly predictable lines, with Arthur switching her starchy uniform for a glistening evening gown - but there are some precious set pieces, notably a seduction among a row of filing cabinets and Dietrich's club act, not to mention a crackling script.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

In 1947, United States Congresswoman from Iowa, Phoebe Frost, arrives in the American occupation zone in Berlin, Germany, with a group of fellow congressmen to investigate the morale of the ten thousand troops stationed there. The congressmen receive an official greeting from American troops, during which Phoebe presents to Captain John Pringle a home-baked cake, which was sent by his fiancée, whom he has not seen in four years. Unknown to Phoebe, John immediately trades the cake on the black market for a mattress, and brings the mattress and various hard-to-find luxury items to his German girl friend, Erika von Schluetow, a beautiful torch singer. After a tour of the city, the stern and prim Phoebe immediately begins taking notes on the troops playtime antics, which include chasing German blondes in the ruined streets and drinking at an off-limits nightclub called the Lorelei.

Excerpt from TCM  located HERE

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

A Foreign Affair appears true to the source on Blu-ray from Universum out of Germany.  The image quality shows pleasing grain and the layered contrast supports depth. It adds a full notch of superiority over the decent SD transfer notably in support of the film's textures. It has the same marks and scratches as the DVDs - but they are not overly prevalent. This Blu-ray supports the film's visuals well and provides a solid 1080P presentation.

 

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

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Marlene Dietrich (6-disc) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL  TOP

2) TCM (Directed by Billy Wilder) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Universum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Marlene Dietrich (6-disc) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL  TOP

2) TCM (Directed by Billy Wilder) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Universum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Marlene Dietrich (6-disc) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL  TOP

2) TCM (Directed by Billy Wilder) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Universum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD 2.0 channel track at 842 kbps sounds crisp with hints at depth in the score by Friedrich Hollaender (Caught, Berlin Express, Background to Danger, The Verdict). A faithful transfer without flaws and dialogue is clean and clear with only a couple of instances of sounding a bit rougher.  There are optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

Only a trailer but the disc has (untested) BD-Live accessibility.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Marlene Dietrich in 1080P? Very enticing.  This is a cool film and shows some great film textures. I thoroughly enjoyed it on Blu-ray. The package is bare-bones but has a sweet presentation. If you haven't seen it - this is definitely the way to go and if you already own it on SD - you should weigh how much you liked the film. Jean Arthur is also great! I'm very pleased to own the BD - as the film has substantial 're-watch value', as Wilder flirts between genres. 

Gary Tooze

August 29th, 2014

 


 

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 3500 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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