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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Woman of the Year [Blu-ray]

 

(George Stevens, 1942)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #867

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:54:32.323

Disc Size: 49,029,519,384 bytes

Feature Size: 25,004,390,400 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.40 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 18th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

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 interview with George Stevens Jr. (6:13)
1967 audio interview with George Stevens (16:54)
New interview with George Stevens biographer Marilyn Ann Moss (14:23)
New interview with writer Claudia Roth Pierpont on actor Katharine Hepburn (20:08)
George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey, a 112-minute 1984 documentary by George Stevens Jr. (1:51:30)
The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn, an eighty-six-minute documentary from 1986 (1:26:34)
Trailer (2:29)
PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: George Stevens’s Woman of the Year, conceived to build on the smashing comeback Katharine Hepburn had made in The Philadelphia Story, marked the beginning of the personal and professional union between Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who would go on to make eight more films together. This tale of two newspaper reporters who wed and then discover that their careers aren’t so compatible forges a fresh and realistic vision of what marriage can be. The freewheeling but pinpoint-sharp screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin won an Academy Award, and Hepburn received a nomination for her performance. Woman of the Year is a dazzling, funny, and rueful observation of what it takes for men and women to get along—both in the workplace and outside of it.

 

 

The Film:

Tracy and Hepburn were a great team, and this, their first outing together, set the seal on the pattern to follow into the next decade. He's a sports journalist, she's an influential political columnist, and after they marry he wants her to be a woman as well. The comic byplay between opposites - everyday guy Spence and haughty Kate - is a consistent pleasure, even if its sexual politics are ambiguous: Spence scores many more points than Kate, and the whole film is geared toward the climax when she cooks him breakfast like a good little housewife. Produced by Joseph L Mankiewicz, the film has that MGM glitter and literary sparkle.

Excerpt from TimeOut Magazine located HERE

Among the many film collaborations between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Woman of the Year (1942) is especially significant because it was the first film in which they appeared together. In fact, during the filming of the movie, the two fell in love, sparking a relationship that would last more than 25 years, right up until Spencer Tracy's death in 1967.

Based on the life of renowned newspaper columnist Dorothy Thompson, Garson Kanin wrote the script with Hepburn in mind. Hepburn's character, Tess Harding, is an international affairs writer for the same paper that features articles by sports writer Sam Craig (played by Spencer Tracy). Craig, a very passionate and dedicated sports fanatic becomes incensed when he hears a radio address in which Tess declares that the game of baseball should be abolished until WWII comes to an end. Craig voices his displeasure in his weekly column and the battle begins - on the printed page. The two carry on their conflict within their respective columns, until finally they meet. Suddenly, the dynamics change dramatically as their mutual attraction becomes evident. Much to the surprise and consternation of their friends and coworkers, the pair begin an unlikely courtship that eventually leads to marriage. It is then that the fun really begins.

Excerpt fromTCM located HERE

 

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

Woman of the Year looks excellent on Blu-ray from Criterion and is cited as a "New 2K digital restoration".  Contrast is at Criterion's usual high standards showing adept layering and a beautifully nuanced black and white image. The, pleasing, grain is balanced by some tight, detailed lines - notable in close-ups. There were only a very few light vertical scratches that were barely visible in one sequences. The 1080P visuals breathe new, digital, light into this classic, advancing well beyond SD. This dual-layered Blu-ray, with a supportive bitrate, reproducing a very strong HD presentation. It looks wonderful in-motion.

 

NOTE: I wouldn't be surprised, at all, if this makes it to the UK on Blu-ray from Criterion.

 

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) - where dialogue actually sounds a bit echo-y in spots. The Franz Waxman (Dark Passage, Rebecca, Bride of Frankenstein, Rear Window, Sunset Boulevard) score adds soft touches to the film, supporting humor and romantic interludes. It sounds wonderful via the uncompressed.  There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion include plenty of extras starting with a new 6-minute interview with George Stevens Jr., son of the Woman of the Year director George Stevens recorded by Criterion in Washington D.C. in January 2017. In a 1967, 17-minute, audio interview with George Stevens he discusses working on Woman of the Year. We get a new, 1/4 hour interview with George Stevens biographer Marilyn Ann Moss author of Giant: George Stevens, a Life on Film. She discusses the director's early career and making of Woman of the Year. In another new interview with author and journalist Claudia Roth Pierpont discusses the significance of Woman of the Year on actor Katharine Hepburn's acting career and the evolution of Hepburn's status as a feminist icon. It runs over 20-minutes and was recorded by Criterion in December of 2016. Written and directed by George Stevens Jr., George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey, is a 112-minute 1984 documentary portrait of the life of one of the greatest Hollywood filmmakers of the twentieth century. From Swing Time to Gunga Din to Shane and Giant, George Stevens helped shape American cinema. This, almost 2 hour, documentary includes interviews with filmmakers Frank Capra and John Huston, actors Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and many others. The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn, is an eighty-six-minute documentary from 1986 celebrating the work of the iconic actor. Narrated by Hepburn, this features interviews with filmmakers Stanley Kramer and Joseph Mankiewicz and actors Sidney Poitier, among others. There is also a trailer plus the package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Woman of the Year is the type of film Hollywood can no longer reproduce - Tracy/Hepburn were so natural and convincing - not contrived and overly produced. It thrives on the chemistry and iconic presence of both the leads. It is vintage cinema in top form, escalating beyond a cute romance with issues involving commitment, unselfishness, motherhood, idealism and... love. It's a, timeless, brilliant film.  The Criterion Blu-ray package does the film justifiable honor with a stellar transfer and a mass of extras to wade through. It has one of our highest recommendations!

Gary Tooze

March 11th, 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.

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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
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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