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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Pocketful of Miracles [Blu-ray]

 

(Frank Capra, 1961)

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Franton Productions

Video: Kino Lorber / BFI

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:17:05.300 / 2:17:05.258

Disc Size: 22,662,464,400 bytes / 46,154,210,239 bytes

Feature Size: 22,431,375,360 bytes / 36,728,377,344 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.96 Mbps / 29.95 Mbps

Chapters: 9 / 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2014 / September 21st, 2020

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1559 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1559 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

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

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles (both):

English, None

 

Extras:

• Trailer (3:00)

 

Audio commentary by Jim Hemphill (2020)
A Pocketful of Archive Shorts (33:48 in total): a tangential dive into archive film, exploring some of the themes and iconography of Pocketful of Miracles featuring Street Scene - Men with Cart (1898, 1min); Beggar's Deceit (1900, 1 min); Cunard Mail Steamer Lucania Leaving for America (extract) (1901, 3 mins); American Liner 'Lusitania' Entering New York Harbour (1911, 1 min); Fruitlands of Kent (1934, 12 mins); Love on the Wing (1939, 4 mins); I Am a Reporter (1961, 13 mins)
Image gallery (7:50)
Trailer (2:58)
***FIRST PRESSING ONLY*** Fully illustrated booklet with new essays by Leigh Singer, Maura Spiegel and Sarah Wood and full film credits

 

Bitrates:

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Capricious, winsome, whimsical, and all together delightful! Superbly directed by the peerless Frank Capra (It's a Wonderful Life), this remake of Lady For A Day is pure Hollywood magic - an unforgettable combination of comedy, whimsy and romance that was nominated for three Oscars including Supporting Actor (Peter Falk, TV's Columbo). Impoverished Broadway peddler "Apple Annie" (Bette Davis, All About Eve) has a problem, her daughter Louise (Ann-Margret, Tommy), educated abroad since infancy, is coming for a visit and bringing her wealthy fiancÚ with her. The problem is that Louise has believed all her life that Annie's a wealthy dowager, and the poor old women doesn't know what to do. Enter "Dave the Dude" (Glenn Ford, 3:10 to Yuma), a kindhearted racketeer who enlists the aid to pass Annie off as a high-society granddame so Louise can marry her fairy-tale prince and everyone can live happily ever after! This Christmas classic was the final film in Frank Capra's glorious career and featured a great supporting cast that included Hope Lange, Arthur O Connell, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton and Barton MacLane.

 

 

The Film:

Director Frank Capra's last feature film, Pocketful of Miracles is a Technicolor remake of his 1933 film Lady For A Day. A barely recognizable Bette Davis plays Apple Annie, the besotted, unkempt, rag-clad street vendor who controls the activities of all the beggars on Broadway. Apple Annie is the pet of Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford), a tough but basically kind-hearted gangster who believes that Annie's apples bring him luck. One morning, Annie fails to show up at her usual corner. That's because she is sitting disconsolate in her squalid shack, contemplating suicide.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

To make Pocketful of Miracles, actor Glenn Ford's production company Newton combined with Capra's company to form a new entity they called Franton. Ford took the lead role of Dave the Dude and cast Hope Lange, best known for her work in Peyton Place (1957), against type as brassy showgirl Queenie Martin. Helen Hayes was originally set to star in the pivotal role of Apple Annie, but in addition to not being thrilled with the script, Hayes had to pull out of the film due to a State Department tour obligation. Subsequently, the role went to screen legend Bette Davis, who at age 53 had been out of the Hollywood spotlight for some time and needed the work.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Capra's Pocketful of Miracles has made it to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.  The 2.35:1 framed image looks quite good.  This is single-layered with a modest bitrate but I expect this is as good as the film has ever looked on digital to date. Colors aren't vibrant, but true with some pleasing contrast. Pretty solid although not impressively dynamic. This Blu-ray does its job of presenting Capra's amusing and touching film in 1080P without any manipulation. The source was quite consistent without damage or marks.

 

Six years later BFI have given Capra's Pocketful of Miracles a more robust 1080P transfer. This shows in richer, deeper colors. The framing is duplicate and probably the same source. This comparisons indicates how much an image can be improved with a higher bitrate (in this case over 50% higher.)  

 

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

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 stereo at 1559. It sounds quite competent with a score by Walter Scharf (Hans Christian Andersen, The Geisha Boy, Rock-a-Bye Baby) There are no demonstrative effects but the music has a lilting high-end. There are optional English subtitles offered (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

BFI, also advance on the audio with a 24-bit linear PCM 2.0 channel track. Beyond the dialogue there is music beyond Walter Scharf (Hans Christian Andersen, The Geisha Boy, Rock-a-Bye Baby) score - Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn's Pocketful of Miracles, some Christmas carols, Wagner's Lohengrin, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Strauss' Blue Danube, The Riddle Song (I Gave My Love a Cherry) sung a cappella by Ann-Margret etc. There are also optional English subtitles offered (see samples above) and the Blu-ray is region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Nothing but a trailer. I think the film is strong enough to warrant some discussion - but alas - this is, essentially, bare-bones.

 

And in this area, too - BFI are the winner with a new, informative, audio commentary by Jim Hemphill. He discusses it being a troubled production, equal partners with Glenn Ford, including casting (Capra wanted Shirley Jones, Ford wanted his girlfriend Hope Lange) and other details on how Ford entered acting and much on Capra. It's very good - I enjoyed it. There is also a 1/2 hour's worth of 'A Pocketful of Archive Shorts' with BFI claiming a link via a tangential dive into archive film, exploring some of the themes and iconography of Pocketful of Miracles. They are Street Scene - Men with Cart (1898, 1min); Beggar's Deceit (1900, 1 min); Cunard Mail Steamer Lucania Leaving for America (extract) (1901, 3 mins); American Liner 'Lusitania' Entering New York Harbour (1911, 1 min); Fruitlands of Kent (1934, 12 mins); Love on the Wing (1939, 4 mins); I Am a Reporter (1961, 13 mins). After that is an image gallery and theatrical trailer plus for the first pressing a fully illustrated booklet with new essays by Leigh Singer, Maura Spiegel and Sarah Wood and full film credits is included.

 

Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Wonderful fantasy - not Capra's best - but still excellent and entertaining. Pocketful of Miracles has great performances (Bette Davis, Glenn Ford - and yes, that's a wholesome Ann-Margret!), warmth and humor. The Kino Blu-ray offers a superior-to-SD presentation of a bone-fide classic - so suitable for holiday viewing. Capra fans should certainly indulge being his last. I was quite taken with this film. Recommended!

 

BFI easily win this one improving in every area over the older Kino. Capra fans will enjoy this likeable film - and the notable performers in it. Great image and audio plus the commentary and, less relevant, shorts - LE booklet too!  

Gary Tooze

November 15th, 2014

September 18th, 2020

 

 

 

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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