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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Children of Divorce [Blu-ray]

 

(Frank Lloyd, Josef von Sternberg (uncredited), 1927)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation / Paramount Pictures

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:11:52.516 

Disc Size: 23,867,907,164 bytes

Feature Size: 17,674,933,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: December 13th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Intertitles: English

 

Extras:

"Clara Bow: Discovering the 'It' Girl" - Narrated by Courtney Love, this hour-long film documents the life of the woman who would become the icon of the flapper era, from her tragic childhood to her tumultuous personal life as Hollywood's first sex symbol (1:02:07)

Souvenir Booklet - Featuring rare photographs; an essay by film preservationist and Clara Bow biographer David Stenn; notes on the production of the documentary by producer-director Hugh Munro Neely; and a brief write-up about the music by Rodney Sauer, score compiler and director of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Second disc DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Almost 15 years after the release of its first publication, Flicker Alley, in partnership with the Blackhawk Films® Collection, is proud to celebrate 50 fully-published titles with the Blu-ray/DVD world premiere of Children of Divorce, starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper.

The film begins in an American "divorce colony" in Paris after the First World War, where parents would leave their children for months at a time. Jean, Kitty, and Ted meet there as children and become fast friends. Years later, in America, when wealthy Ted (Gary Cooper) reconnects with Jean (Esther Ralston), the two fall deeply in love, vowing to fulfill a childhood promise to one day marry each other. But true love and the most innocent of plans are no match for the scheming Kitty - played by the original Hollywood "It" girl, Clara Bow - who targets Ted for his fortune. After a night of drunken revelry, Ted wakes up to find he has unwittingly married Kitty. This unfortunate turn of events, however, carries with it the traumatized pasts of the three players, whose views of marriage have been shaped as children of divorce.

Sourced from the original nitrate negative held by the Library of Congress, as well as their 1969 fine grain master, this new restoration of Children of Divorce was scanned in 4K resolution, and represents over 200 hours of laboratory work by the Library of Congress in order to create the best version possible. Though some deterioration remains, this is the first time the film has ever been released on home video, allowing audiences to enjoy a rare viewing of classic performances from two of early cinema's most recognizable stars.

Flicker Alley is delighted to reach the milestone of its 50th publication with Children of Divorce. This Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition features a new score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and was made possible thanks to the Blackhawk Films® Collection, Paramount Pictures, and the Library of Congress.

 

 

The Film:

The story at the core of Children of Divorce is textbook melodrama, directed with workmanlike verve by Frank Lloyd (and an uncredited Josef von Sternberg), but without the hallmark of a distinct directorial presence. All the better, perhaps, as this allows Bow’s presence to retain center stage, as dutiful medium shots and a handful of tracking shots capture her performance at the expense of cinematographic panache. Lloyd does get in some cute touches, though; when Kitty and Jean walk arm in arm as adults, the scene momentarily dissolves to them as children, sauntering in the same position. Lloyd pinpoints time’s passage as a facet of personality, so that Kitty and Jean’s eventual rift over Ted is consistently deepened by the prior, visual suggestion of their partnership. One would not be remiss to read a lesbian subtext into the film, especially during the prologue, in which little Kitty asks Jean and Ted, who’ve just sworn to marry one another when they’re older: “Who will marry me?” It’s Jean, not Ted, who subsequently comes to comfort her.

Excerpt from SlantMagazine located HERE

Although there are a number of scenes in "Children of Divorce," the current film attraction at the Rialto, which are cleverly directed, the narrative as a whole is sluggish and somewhat unconvincing at important junctures. But in spite of its tendency to ramble this film succeeds in holding the attention, thanks to the excellent lighting effects and to the presence of Esther Ralston and Clara Bow.

Miss Ralston and Miss Bow figure respectively as the grown up Jean Waddington and Kitty Flanders, who in the opening chapter are seen as youngsters. The children who act these rôles are remarkably competent, and so is a boy, who, like the lad in "The Prince of Tempters," first gazes upon the countenance of his lady-love over the wall of a Parisian convent at an unimpressionable age. The girls had been left in the institution by their divorced mothers, and one of these women appears to be in a great hurry to leave her child. The little ones entered the place merry and bright, but their spirits are soon curbed by black garments and gingham aprons.

Excerpt from NYTimes located HERE

 

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

Children of Divorce comes to Blu-ray from Flicker Alley with a remarkably clean and strong image quality. I never found any notable damage and hardly any speckles in the 1080P, single-layered, transfer. Grain textures are consistent. The image is quite light but contrast has some appealing layering exporting impressive detail considering the film's age - certainly better than the greenish/sepia cover might indicate. This Blu-ray appearance is devoid of many of the imperfections we have seen from similar era HD transfers. I think most will be very appreciative of the presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Flicker Alley use a linear PCM 2.0 channel (24-bit). The presentation uses a new score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and it sounds as strong as the video - beautiful depth noted in the violin strings. The Inter-title cards are original English.  My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Supplements include the hour-long "Clara Bow: Discovering the 'It' Girl". It documents the life of the woman who would become the icon of the flapper era, from her tragic childhood to her tumultuous personal life as Hollywood's first sex symbol. The package contains a souvenir booklet featuring rare photographs; an essay by film preservationist and Clara Bow biographer David Stenn; notes on the production of the documentary by producer-director Hugh Munro Neely; and a brief write-up about the music by Rodney Sauer, score compiler and director of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. There is a second disc DVD included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I thoroughly enjoyed Children of Divorce on Blu-ray. Emotion is so deeply expressed and you can't help but empathize with the characters and their lovelorn situations - which seem universal - no mater the era. Silent Era fans should consider this a 'must own' - especially with the included documentary and booklet! We give it a very strong recommendation to that niche. 

Gary Tooze

January 5th, 2017

 

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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