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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Woman of Straw [Blu-ray]

 

(Basil Dearden , 1964)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Michael Relph Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:57:27.040

Disc Size: 21,953,147,616 bytes

Feature Size: 21,911,685,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.93 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 14th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1563 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1563 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Tyrannical but ailing tycoon Charles Richmond (Ralph Richardson, The Fallen Idol) becomes obsessed with his attractive nurse, Maria (Gina Lollobrigida, Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell). The nurse, in turn, falls in love with Charles' money-hungry nephew, Anthony (Sean Connery, The Offence), who plots ways to gain control of his uncle's fortune. This stylish and suspenseful thriller was beautiful shot by the legendary Otto Heller (Peeping Tom) and wonderfully directed by the great Basil Dearden (The League of Gentlemen). Co-starring Alexander Knox (Wilson) as Detective Inspector Lomer.

 

 

The Film:

Richardson is the wheelchair-bound scourge of his family, hated by his nephew Connery, and nursed by Lollobrigida. Connery hatches a scheme to inherit the old man's money by marrying him off to La Lollo, but of course it goes rather awry, with Richardson getting bumped off earlier than expected. Despite good performances from the three stars, and a plot whose convolutions keep you awake, Dearden treats it rather timidly, afraid to go for the dramatic jugular.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

One reason Sean Connery made the transition from sexy movie icon to beloved movie icon is that he almost always played the good guy. But there are exceptions. In Woman of Straw (1964), playing the calculating nephew of Ralph Richardson's rich old wheelchair-bound monster, he schemes with Gina Lollobrigida to murder the old boy. Connery filmed it just after the first two Bond films Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963). But not for his oft-stated wish to avoid being typecast as Bond. It was for a simpler reason. Connery smarted at being paid only $6000 for the first Bond film, which neither he nor many others foresaw would become the franchise and cash cow it remains to this day. He remained bitter over his meager Bond payoffs for decades. But Bond did catapult Connery into international sexy tough guy stardom, and Woman of Straw earned him his first million-dollar paycheck.

Taken from Catherine Arley's French novel, La Femme de Paille, it's very post-Agatha Christie, with a scorpion's-tail twist. Watching it today is like time travel to a microcosm that exists as its own hermetically-sealed universe, much like those well-made but thoroughly musty stage constructs that one could almost always depend on encountering in the playhouses of London's West End. It's thinly populated by stock characters, yet enjoyable all the same, partly for its sense of sturdy, knowing craftsmanship, partly for the ways the actors inhabit their stereotypes. There also are entertaining bonuses in the interactions. Never for a moment do we believe in the sexual byplay between Connery's villain and Lollobrigida's nurse, hired, as she later learns, to facilitate the nephew's murder plot. Far from projecting sexual chemistry, the two leads seem matter and anti-matter.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The calculating crime-murder Woman of Straw has made it to Blu-ray from the Kino-Lorber label.  The image is fairly heavy without tightness or notable detail. The 1080P looks acceptable in-motion but there are plenty of frame-specific marks and speckles. It is in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Colors appear authentic without manipulation and there was no noise to speak of. It looks consistent but not particularly sharp and crisp. This Blu-ray is single-layered with a modest bitrate but I see no huge flaws in the presentation although it is a little underwhelming when looked at under the magnifying glass.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 at 1563 kbps. The film is quite passive with only a couple of more aggressive instances (fishing, storm at sea etc.). There is no score per-se but Ralph Richardson's character Charles Richmond is frequently playing classical music in the background, occasionally quizzing his bride on the composer, from Hector Berlioz and Rimsky-Korsakov to Beethoven and Mozart. It sounds clean and even but there was one instance of a notable drop-out - prior to Connery talking. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No extras at all.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is primo Connery (right after From Russia With Love and right before Marnie and Goldfinger) and I liked the crime-murder aspects of the story. It's a pretty good film with psychological overtones. The first half is rather tame - then the plot rapidly evolves. This Kino-Lorber Blu-ray is bare-bones and imperfect but the film has enough value to overcome the modest presentation and I suspect many will enjoy this drama-thriller. 

Gary Tooze

March 20th, 2015

 

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.

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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