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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Suddenly, Last Summer [Blu-ray]

 

(Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)

 

There is also an Australian Blu-ray available:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Twilight Time / Indicator (UK)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:54:15.890 / 1:54:17.100   

Disc Size: 31,503,664,669 bytes / 48,103,791,988 bytes

Feature Size: 30,743,261,184 bytes / 35,630,902,656 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps / 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 24 / 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: August, 2016 / April 30th, 2018

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1912 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1912 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1869 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1869 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

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

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

 

Subtitles (both):

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

• Isolated Music Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:51)

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited to 3,000 Copies!

 

Joseph L Mankiewicz Interview (1990, 9:51): the renowned filmmaker discusses his career in a segment from the French TV series Cinéma cinémas
Elizabeth Taylor on Montgomery Clift (1966, 1:50): the celebrated actress pays tribute to her friend and co-star shortly after his tragic death in July 1966
Gary Raymond on 'Suddenly, Last Summer' (2018): a new interview with the versatile British actor (6:14)
About Last Summer (2018, 15:36): second assistant editor John Crome shares his experience of making Suddenly, Last Summer
Remembering Last Summer (2018, 3:02): continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck recalls working with Mankiewicz, Hepburn and Clift
The Predator and the Prey (2017, 25:36): critic and film historian Michel Ciment examines the film's production and explores its complex themes and concerns
Isolated music and effects track

Images Gallery
Original theatrical trailer (2:43)
Trailer commentary with Dan Ireland (2013, 3:04): a short critical appreciation
Image gallery: on-set photography, publicity stills and promotional materials
Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Samm Deighan, a set report from Films and Filming magazine, a profile of production designer Oliver Messel, Tennessee Williams on Suddenly, Last Summer, a statement by producer Sam Spiegel, contemporary reviews, and film credits
UK premiere on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs this 1959 adaptation by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams of Williams’ provocative play, Suddenly, Last Summer. Elizabeth Taylor stars as a young woman who knows such terrible truths about the death of her cousin Sebastian that his mother (Katharine Hepburn) is determined to have her lobotomized; Montgomery Clift is the psychiatrist brought in to evaluate the lovely, profoundly disturbed patient. Both Taylor and Hepburn received Best Actress Oscar® nominations; the film, denounced as obscene, was a hit at the box office.

***

In this adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play, young socialite Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) is traumatized and committed after witnessing her cousin's violent death on a trip to Europe. Her aunt, Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), wants to hide the events of her son's death and attempts to bribe young surgeon Dr. John Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) to perform a lobotomy on Catherine. But John vows to find out the truth about Catherine's state before taking any action.

 

 

The Film:

Since the 1930s, the MPAA - the film industry's self-censorship organization - had been strictly enforcing its production code, which stipulated what could and could not be shown on the screen. But by the late '50s, public standards of morality were loosening, and filmmakers were pushing the boundaries of the code by dealing more frankly with once-taboo topics such as sex and drugs. One of the most daring productions was Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), which came at the end of the decade and served as a harbinger of things to come in the films of the '60s.

Based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams, the film deals with then-shocking themes. Homosexuality, incest, lobotomy, even cannibalism are discussed or implied. The son of Mrs. Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn) has died while on vacation in Europe with his cousin, Catherine (Elizabeth Taylor). Catherine knows what happened, and the knowledge has traumatized her. But what Mrs. Venable wants Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) to do to Catherine is just as unspeakable. As was the custom at the time, Producer Sam Spiegel submitted Gore Vidal's screenplay to the MPAA's review board before production began. But when the board expressed objections, Spiegel told them that he preferred to let director Joseph Mankiewicz shoot the film as written, and deal with the objections later. Although the board at first refused its seal of approval to the completed film, it was eventually granted after only a few minor changes were made.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

From a Tennessee Williams play, an outrageous, melodramatic shocker touching on madness, homosexual prostitution, incest, disease and cannibalism, replete with enough imagery to sustain an American Lit seminar for months.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

 

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

Suddenly, Last Summer comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a, beautiful, dual-layered, 1080P transfer with their usual high bitrate. The black and white visuals are gorgeous. I saw one minor bit of compression (background), although it could have been a slow dissolve. The detail and contrast-layering in this HD image are remarkable. Jack Hildyard 's probing cinematography is exquisite. The image is clean with plenty of depth and crisp sharpness in close-ups. This Blu-ray gives a superb, film-like, presentation in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio - and in-motion, it looks just as impressive - see the screen captures for verification.

 

Same '4K restoration from the original negative' transfer image quality - perhaps a notch superior in-motion with the higher bitrate. The Indicator is also highly impressive looking.

 

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

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We get a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel mono track at 1912 kbps (24-bit.) The film has a few effects but nothing aggressive and dialogue is clean and easily audible. The score was composed by Malcolm Arnold (The Forbidden Street, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, The Bridge On the River Kwai, Island in the Sun, Stolen Face, Hobson's Choice) and conducted by Buxton Orr (Fiend Without a Face). The film has emotional outburst and the orchestral score plays gently running beside the film. It is also available as a isolated track. There are optional English subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Indicator use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) and it, also, sounds excellent. Great support for the higher end - notable in the Arnold score and it is also available as an isolated option. Indicator include optional English (SDH) subtitles and their disc is both Region FREE and limited to 3,000 copies.

 

 

Extras :

Nothing but the aforementioned isolated music track and an original theatrical trailer, but there are liner notes with photos and an essay by Julie Kirgo. This package is limited to 3,000 copies.

 

Indicator stack the extras. There is a 1990, 10-minute, interview with Joseph L Mankiewicz discussing his career in a segment from the French TV series Cinéma cinémas. We get to see Elizabeth Taylor talking about Montgomery Clift from shortly after his tragic death in July 1966 - it's in poor quality and has optional English subtitles. Gary Raymond does a new 6-minute interview on 'Suddenly, Last Summer'. About Last Summer is new and spends 1/4 hour with second assistant editor John Crome who shares his experience of making Suddenly, Last Summer. Remembering Last Summer has a brief 3-minutes with continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck as she recalls working with Mankiewicz, Hepburn and Clift. The Predator and the Prey was made in 2017 and runs 25-minutes. It has critic and film historian Michel Ciment examines the film's production and explores its complex themes and concerns - in French with English subtitles. There is the aforementioned isolated music and effects track, a Trailers from Hell piece, an Images Gallery and an original theatrical trailer and the package has a limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Samm Deighan, a set report from Films and Filming magazine, a profile of production designer Oliver Messel, Tennessee Williams on Suddenly, Last Summer, a statement by producer Sam Spiegel, contemporary reviews, and film credits.

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Suddenly, Last Summer is a very unusual film - a classic cast - Liz, as stunning as ever, 52-year old Hepburn - capable of looking much older and even Monty with post his 1956 car accident that took away his mojo. The label of a 'Southern Gothic mystery' doesn't seem to do it justice - certainly 'Freudian' may also be inaccurate. I think, solely, based on performances - it merits watching. The, essentially bare-bones, Twilight Time Blu-ray package is very attractive and provides an excellent 1080P a/v transfer for the film although a commentary would certainly have shed some light both on the narrative and disgruntled back-story of the production participants. Williams also told The Village Voice in 1973 that it deviated so far from his original play that it "made him throw up." Certainly, well-worth a spin - and for Liz-fans - many spins. She is hypnotic.

 

Still a very interesting film, and Indicator add relevant interview supplements. Once again they have gone the extra mile with their Blu-ray package and it advances as the definitive for this enigmatic film. Certainly recommended!  

Gary Tooze

August 24th, 2017

April 19th, 2018

 

There is also an Australian Blu-ray available:

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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