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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Taste of Honey [Blu-ray]

 

(Tony Richardson, 1961)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Woodfall Film Productions

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #829

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:40:55.674

Disc Size: 48,471,888,809 bytes

Feature Size: 29,586,444,288 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: August 23rd, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:
New interviews with actors Rita Tushingham (18:17) and Murray Melvin (18:38)
Audio interview with director and coscreenwriter Tony Richardson from the 1962 Cannes Film Festival (15:02)
Excerpt from a 1960 television interview with A Taste of Honey playwright Shelagh Delaney (15:17)
Interview from 1998 with cinematographer Walter Lassally (19:51)
Remaking British Theater: Joan Littlewood and “A Taste of Honey,” a new piece about the film’s stage origins, featuring an interview with theater scholar Kate Dorney (21:30)
Momma Don’t Allow (1956), a Free Cinema short film by Richardson, shot by Lassally (21:11)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Colin MacCabe

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: The revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s were celebrated for their uncompromising depictions of working-class lives and relations between the sexes. Directed by Tony Richardson, a leading light of that movement, and based on one of the most controversial plays of its time, A Taste of Honey features Rita Tushingham in her star-making debut role as a disaffected teenager finding her way amid the economic desperation of industrial Manchester, and despite her absent, self-absorbed mother. With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Richardson’s classic is a still startling benchmark work of realism.

 

 

The Film:

Director Tony Richardson adapted the screenplay of A Taste of Honey from the "kitchen sink" stage play by Shelagh Delaney. Rita Tushingham plays a working-class British teenager, living with her drink-sodden, libertine mother Dora Bryan. Denied affection by her selfish mother, Tushingham is pushed further in the background when Bryan impulsively marries her latest boyfriend Robert Stephens. The girl takes a job at a shoe store, then moves in with her kindly homosexual employer Murray Melvin. The two lost souls live in harmony until Tushingham becomes pregnant after a casual affair with black sailor Paul Danquah. Melvin comes to the rescue by offering to look after the baby. This relatively blissful state of affairs is short-lived; before long, Tushingham's hateful mother, having been kicked out by Stephens, descends upon her daughter and her "family," with all her debilitating emotional baggage intact. A poignant denouement caps this riveting slice-of-life drama.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Detonated by Tony Richardson's staging of John Osborne's vitriolic Look Back in Anger (1956) at the Royal Court Theatre, the newly christened kitchen sink dramatists waged their version of class warfare in play after play, novel after novel, and films based on many of them - Look Back in Anger (1959), Room at the Top (1959), The Entertainer (1960), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), A Taste of Honey (1961), The L-Shaped Room (1962), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) and This Sporting Life (1963). The language was rude and crude, the images gritty. Richardson (1928-1991) soon formed his own film company and was to win an Oscar® in 1963 for his jaunty, boppy time-travel to the 18th century with Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1963). But, rightly, he's most remembered for Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Taste of Honey.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

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

A Taste of Honey looks excellent on Blu-ray from Criterion and is cited as a "New, restored, 4K digital transfer".  This dual-layered Blu-ray, with max'ed out bitrate, reproduces a very strong 1080P presentation. It balances beautifully between heavy film-grain textures and surprising detail in the film's frequent close-ups. Contrast is rich and carries a film-like heaviness in the origin al 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Flawless.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) - that sounds predictably passive. The score is by John Addison (The Honey Pot, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Strange Invaders) and subtly augments the grass roots feel. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Extras start with Momma Don’t Allow a Free Cinema 21-minute documentary short film by Tony Richardson, shot by Lassally in 1956. It was Richardson's first theatrical film and was shot at a jazz club in North London. The 'Free Cinema' movement was founded by Richardson, Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz (who directed Momma Don’t Allow,) and consisted of documentaries that were produced on small budgets outside the mainstream British film industry and depicted the everyday lives of working-class people. There are new interviews with actors Rita Tushingham (18:17) and Murray Melvin (18:38) whose performances as Jo and Geoffrey in A Taste of Honey brought them international acclaim, including awards for best actress and best actor ay the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. In these interviews, recorded by Criterion in London in May 2016, Tushingham and Melvin (who also originated his role in the play) discuss the film's production. Criterion include a 15-minute audio interview with director and co-screenwriter Tony Richardson from the 1962 Cannes Film Festival presented with film clips and behind-the-scenes images. It was conducted by Gideon Bachmann and covers the state of British Cinema, Richardson's approach to filmmaking, and what drew him to adapting A Taste of Honey for the screen. There is a 15-minute excerpt from a 1960 on the television show Close-Up. In this interview with A Taste of Honey playwright Shelagh Delaney discusses growing up in Salford, England and writing her hit play A Taste of Honey at the age of eighteen. Also as a supplement is a 20-minute interview from 1998 with cinematographer Walter Lassally who discusses working with Tony Richardson and the unusual shooting methods used in A Taste of Honey. Remaking British Theater: Joan Littlewood and “A Taste of Honey,” is a new 22-minute piece about the film’s stage origins, featuring an interview with theater scholar Kate Dorney. The package also has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Colin MacCabe.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
A Taste of Honey is a wonderful, touching "kitchen sink" drama.  The HD presentation is exquisite and genuinely advances the film's expression. Tushingham's debut is inspiring. We can't endorse the film enough - just see it. Criterion's Blu-ray package is a strong recommendation. A totally appealing and authentic a/v and loaded with great extras of a beautifully human film. Don't hesitate.

Gary Tooze

August 1st, 2016


 

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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