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directed by Preston Sturges
USA 1942

Preston Sturges, son of a wealthy American family, served in the Air Force in World War I and invented a kissproof lipstick before turning to writing comedy during the 1930's. (What else might one do after inventing a kissproof lipstick?) Sophisticated satire was his specialty and he found his greatest success when he started directing his own scripts during the early 1940s. (Readers of CV may have noticed the oft repeated thesis that a disproportionate number of the most successful films result when the writer and the director are the same party.)


In this prime period, Sturges turned out a series of fast talking, fast moving, slapstick laced movies starting with The Great McGinty, which, according to our favorite critic, Anthony Lane, was the first time in the history of talking movies that a writer directed his own material. "Sturges talk," says Lane, "is (a) bewildering balance: on the one hand, a chin-up, all-American assumption that dreams are right there within reach, like apples; on the other, a slightly alien cynicism toward such rosiness, and a heavy hint that the fruit, once tasted, may prove not to have been worth the plucking."
In The Palm Beach Story we meet Claudette Colbert, the charming, if spoiled, wife of struggling architect, handsome Joel McCrea. Never for a minute do we believe they don't love one another, but Colbert decides to divorce McCrea and use her charms to access greater financial resources. She heads for Palm Beach, at the suggestion of a taxi driver, and proceeds to have a series of adventures which explore hilariously the ways that even a hint of sex can be turned into real assets.

Excerpt from CultureVulture's review located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 2nd, 1942

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Comparison:

Universal - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Universal - Region 1- NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution Universal Video - Region 1- NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #742 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:51 1:28:14.080
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.65 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 39,180,112,650 bytes

Feature Size: 26,000,744,448 bytes

Average Bitrate:35.13 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English (Hearing Impaired), Spanish, French, None English (Hearing Impaired), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: February 1st, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Disc Size: 39,180,112,650 bytes

Feature Size: 26,000,744,448 bytes

Average Bitrate:35.13 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• New interview with writer and film historian James Harvey about director Preston Sturges (16:52)
• New interview with actor and comedian Bill Hader about Sturges (9:38)
• Safeguarding Military Information, a 1941 World War II propaganda short written by Sturges (11:34)
• Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of the film from March 1943 (29:19)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek
 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 15

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (January 15'): On vintage films 1080P transfer usually show more grain and detail is less a significant increase over SD. However, in The Palm Bach Story on Criterion Blu-ray shows both superior texture and pleasing tightness in the visuals. It's a shade lighter, overall, and shows more information in the frame - on all four edges - and the contrast is significantly better layered.

The audio is via a linear PCM mono track. It is, predictably, flat. The score is composed by Victor Young (The Sun Shines Bright, Johnny Guitar, China Gate etc.) who has done over 200 films. There is no depth or range to speak of but there is a consistency and clarity and with the dialogue it seems a faithful transfer without major flaws. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Criterion include some great extras starting with a new, 17-minute, interview with writer and film historian James Harvey about director Preston Sturges covering much of the director's career and beginnings. There is another new interview - almost 10-minutes worth - with actor and comedian Bill Hader about Sturges. On March 15th, 1943, the Screen Guild Theater radio anthology broadcast an adaptation of The Palm Beach Story. It stars Claudette Colbert, Randolph Scott and Rudy Vallee and runs 1/2 hour. Lastly, on the digital-front, Criterion add Safeguarding Military Information, a 1941 World War II propaganda short written by Sturges and distributed by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry. Sturges regular Eddie Bracken makes an appearance. It runs just shy of a dozen minutes long. The package includes a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek.

Great choice by Criterion  - The Palm Beach Story is a wonderful paced, amusing comedy that is brilliantly realized. I loved my Blu-ray viewing and the extras add further value. This is a great package. Strongly recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: Good image with lots of film grain. A few marks and scratches, but it is usually frame -specific. Audio is a little weak, and no extras ( as in absolutely none!) Decent contrast, but I still wish Universal could get onboard with supplying some extras - at least a trailer or some liner notes! It is hard to argue with the price ($11 US at Amazon)... a fun night at the tube!  out of   

Gary W. Tooze





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Distribution Universal Video - Region 1- NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #742 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

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Gary Tooze