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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

What's the Matter With Helen? [Blu-ray]


(Curtis Harrington, 1971)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Filmways Pictures

Video: Shout! Factory



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

Runtime: 1:40:44.788

Disc Size: 22,780,267,598 bytes

Feature Size: 20,868,694,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 28th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1657 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1657 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



Trailer (2:09)
Photo Gallery (3:25)
Radio Spot (0:59)





Description: After their sons are convicted of homicide in a highly publicized trial, Midwesterners Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) and Helen (Shelley Winters) begin receiving threatening phone calls and decide to begin their lives anew in Hollywood, Calif. They open a dance school for young girls, and, while the business succeeds, their troubles continue. Helen becomes dangerously neurotic and increasingly clings to Adelle, who longs to marry the wealthy parent (Dennis Weaver) of one of her students.



The Film:

With a script by Henry Farrell (author of the source novel on which What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was based), Baby Jane in effect slays again...except that this time she's directed by Curtis Harrington, erstwhile buddy of Kenneth Anger (he acts in Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome), who knows what's camp and what's not, and the difference between melodrama and expressionism. He films this as Sternberg might have, with a great emphasis on masks and facades, underpinned with gorgeous fairytale motifs. Plus he stages the best tango since The Conformist.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

"What's the Matter With Helen?" belongs to that singular genre of screen horror literature that is almost as formal and unvarying in theme as that of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales: Two women, beyond or just at middle age, abandoned by the men in their lives, find themselves isolated from the normally neurotic world and locked into a relationship of psychotic dependency.

Helen (Shelley Winters) and Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) attain a certain notoriety in F.D.R.'s America when their two sons are convicted of an especially unwholesome murder (in the world of horror films, some murders must be less wholesome than others). Seeking anonymity, they move from the Middle West to Hollywood, where they set up a dance studio to train the sweet daughters of hideous mothers to tap-tap-tap their ways into careers as fourth-string Shirley Temples.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


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

What's the Matter With Helen? looks solid on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory - the visuals show consistent and thick grain. Colors, like red lipstick and period clothing, are rich and true.  This is single-layered with a decent bitrate. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there is some depth and close-ups show pleasing detail. There are no flaws - the video is clean and produces, what appears to be, an authentic and very watchable visual presentation.





















Audio :

A standard lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1657 kbps supports the score by Noir-go-to composer David Raksin (Daisy Kenyon, Whirlpool, Fallen Angel, Laura, Bigger Than Life, The Big Combo) sounding clean and pleasing in the lossless - augmenting the film's building suspense. There are a few effects and screams that come across with decent depth. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.


Extras :

Not much with only a Trailer, Photo Gallery and Radio Spot.



Although certainly a different film, What's the Matter With Helen? does remind you of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? more than simply the inquisitive title. Two gals in the latter stages of life - man-less as one supports the other and, without giving away too much, murder ensues. I was attentive and enjoyed the performances - particularly Debbie Reynolds (who always looked great) and Winters - who resembles a female Ernest Borgnine in this one. It might be good to play as a starting double with with Baby Jane. The Shout! Factory Blu-ray is, essentially bare-bones, but produces a reasonably adept 1080P presentation - worthy of a spin and possible revisitation. NOTE: Amazon's Pre-order price is 27% OFF at the writing of this review. 

Gary Tooze

March 15th, 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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