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A Foreign Affair [Blu-ray]
(Billy Wilder, 1948)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Paramount Pictures
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 21,545,694,569 bytes
Feature Size: 20,116,353,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 13th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
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)
• Trailer (1:00)
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Only a trailer but the disc has (untested) BD-Live accessibility.
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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