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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Mitchell Leisen
USA 1941

 

Charles Boyer (Gaslight) gives an enthralling performance as Georges Iscovescu, a Romanian-born gigolo who arrives at a Mexican border town seeking entry to the US. Faced with a waiting period of eight years, George is encouraged by his former dancing partner Anita (Pauline Goddard, Modern Times) to marry an American girl and desert her once safely across the border. He successfully targets visiting school teacher Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland, Gone with the Wind), but his plan is compromised by a pursuing immigration officer, and blossoming feelings of genuine love for Emmy.

A moving and thoughtful film with a wonderful script (co-written by Billy Wilder), Hold back the Dawn benefits from evocative performances by Boyer and de Havilland, and an over-arching sense of romantic melancholy. An enduring classic of its era, Leisen's film was nominated for no-less than six Academy Awards and is presented here in High Definition for the first time.

***

Hold Back the Dawn begins with a shabby immigrant (Charles Boyer) wandering onto a Paramount sound stage and telling his life story to director Mitchell Leisen (who actually directed this film). In flashback, we see that Boyer was once a conscienceless gigolo, desperate to flee Nazi-occupied Europe. He makes it to Mexico, where he pretends to fall in love with shy schoolteacher Olivia de Havilland. It is his plan to marry her, thus be able to enter the United States; then he intends to dump her and pursue the woman he really loves. Boyer's regeneration, and the price he pays for his previous callousness, brings Hold Back the Dawn to its tearful conclusion.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 11th, 1941

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Review: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Distribution Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:55:43.978        
Video

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,659,379,755 bytes

Feature: 35,775,640,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

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

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

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,659,379,755 bytes

Feature: 35,775,640,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.95 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
"Love Knows No Borders", a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew (22:15)
"The John Player Lecture: Olivia de Havilland", A career-spanning onstage audio interview with Olivia de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971 (1:25:37)
"Lux Radio Theatre: Hold Back the Dawn" Rare hour-long radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Charles Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Hayward (59:42)
Gallery of original stills and promotional images (03:10)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Farran Smith Nehme


Blu-ray Release Date:
July 16th, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 13

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow Blu-ray (August 2019): Arrow Academy transfer the 1941 Mitchell Leisen film "Hold Back the Dawn". The film was co-written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, and was nominated for a best picture Academy Award (it lost, along with Citizen Kane to "How Green Was My Valley"). The 1.33:1 HD image shows a very film-like texture, and is consistent in motion, thanks to a reasonably high bitrate approaching 30/kbps. This is stated as being a "High Definition presentation transferred from original film elements". There are the occasional frame specific small vertical scratches, though they are few and far between and you would have to squint to see them, and if you blink you'll miss it. The contrast is thankfully very strong here, showing a very wide range of blacks and grays, enhancing the sumptuous Leo Tover Cinematograpy. Those Edith Head costumes show a fine amount of detail, as do facial features (when not bathed in the typical Hollywood actress Vaseline-soft close-ups).

The film is presented in its original 1.0 mono, in 24-bit uncompressed linear PCM. Dialogue and various diegetic sounds come through sounding intelligible and well-mixed. The score is thanks to composer
Victor Young (Easy Living, I Walk Alone, Strategic Air Command, The Sun Shines Bright, The Accused, Johnny Guitar, China Gate etc.) There are optional English subtitles on this Region FREE Blu-ray from Arrow Academy, playable worldwide.

Arrow Academy have included a handful of useful bonus features for this release. First up is an all new audio commentary with film scholar, Adrian Martin is well versed on the middle of the classic Hollywood film period (the sound period from the early 30s to the end of the 50s). He focuses on the director, Mitchell Leisen as well as writers Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder during the commentary. Martin also addresses the unique, almost meta "narrational frame" that opens the picture, a common sort of take on the now ubiquitous 'making-of' featurettes...frequently staring Charles Boyer. The film scholar goes on to further one's understanding of the film, whether through explicit readings, or contextual comparisons with films of the era. This is a genuinely intriguing listen, and I encourage anyone that is curious to check it out. Following this commentary is "Love Knows No Borders" a newly filmed 22-minute video appreciation of Mitchell Leisen and "Hold Back the Dawn" from film critic Geoff Andrew. Andrew goes on to explain how, sadly, Leisen (although just as important a director as Lubitsch in most respects) was mostly forgotten or excised from the Hollywood canon. Whether it was the attacks from fellow directors such as Billy Wilder and Preston Sturgess, or just a general sense of homophobia due to Leisen's open bisexuality. The critic goes on to discuss the film and how it portrayed these particular outsiders (a common fascination with Leisen). "Lux Radio Theatre: Hold Back the Dawn" is a rare radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Charles Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Hayward, introduced by producer Charles B. DeMille. He even thanks Lux toilet soap, before the hour-long presentation begins. This radio play plays over the feature, which is also how the next extra plays out. "The John Player Lecture: Olivia de Havilland" is a career-spanning onstage audio interview with Olivia de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971, lasting around an hour-and-a-half.

Who would have thought that this picture from the early 40's could ever be so timely. Thankfully, this
Blu-ray release from Arrow Academy features a pretty impressive transfer, with a strong contrast and healthy grain. The commentary from Adrian Martin is essential listening for fans of the picture, if not Hollywood films of the era. That would be more than enough for any other release, but Arrow have also included an audio interview with De Havilland, as well as a 1-hour radio play of the story (both playable as audio running over the film). They don't make them like this anymore. Recommended. 

Colin Zavitz

 


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Distribution Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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