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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Since You Went Away [Blu-ray]

 

(John Cromwell, Edward F. Cline, Tay Garnett, David O. Selznick, 1944)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Selznick International Pictures

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:56:56.063

Disc Size: 42,844,576,773 bytes

Feature Size: 41,405,822,976 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.96 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 21st, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Original Theatrical Trailer

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Restored Roadshow Edition! This heartwarming and soul-stirring portrait of life on the homefront during World War II is a magnificent picture that is rich in humor and poignant with heartbreak. Claudette Colbert (Cleopatra) heads an all-star cast, including Jennifer Jones (Portrait of Jennie), Joseph Cotten (Niagara), Shirley Temple (I'll Be Seeing You), Monty Woolley (The Bishop's Wife), Lionel Barrymore (Duel in the Sun), Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train), Agnes Moorehead (Dark Passage) and Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind), in this beautifully produced David O. Selznick (The Paradine Case) picture that tugs at your heart. With her husband Tim off to war, Anne Hilton (Colbert) struggles to be a pillar of strength for her daughters Jane (Jones) and Bridget (Temple). During America's darkest hours, she bravely steers her girls through heartbreak and hardships as she eagerly awaits news from overseas and wonders if life will ever be the same. Wonderfully directed by John Cromwell (Of Human Bondage) and beautifully shot by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter) and Lee Garmes (Shanghai Express). This masterpiece was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actress (Colbert), Supporting Actress (Jones), Supporting Actor (Woolley), Best Cinematography (Cortez and Garmes) and winner of Best Score by Max Steiner (Casablanca).

 

 

The Film:

David O. Selznick's first production since 1940's Rebecca, Since You Went Away, based on Margaret Buell Wilder's bestselling novel, is a long but rewarding paean to the World War 2 "home front." Claudette Colbert plays the wife of a businessman who, though well past draft age, volunteered to serve his country as an officer (though the husband is never seen, he is "played"-via a photograph-by Neil Hamilton). Fighting back her own fears and anxieties, Colbert does her best to maintain a normal, stable household for the sake of her growing daughters Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple. She is offered moral support by cynical-but-kindly boarder Monty Woolley, by maid Hattie McDaniel (who willing foregoes her salary "for the duration") and by Navy man and friend-of-the-family Joseph Cotten, whose relationship with Claudette remains staunchly platonic. The harsh realities of war hit home several times throughout the film, first when it seems as though Colbert's husband is missing in action, and later when Jennifer's young boyfriend, GI Robert Walker, is killed in combat. From the vantage point of the 1990s, it is easy to see why Since You Went Away scored with its wartime audiences. Though the leading characters are slightly more financially secure than most of the moviegoers of 1944, the various vignettes presented throughout-complaints about rationing and priorities, shoulder-to-shoulder sacrifices, the weekly escape to the local movie house, tender partings, joyous reunions, the returning wounded, the dreaded wire from the war department-all had the ring of truth and topicality. Even today, the film's emotional highlights, particularly the much-imitated farewell scene at the railroad station, are sufficient to bring tears to the eyes of the most jaded viewer. Enhancing the film's heartstring tugging tenfold is Max Steiner's Oscar-winning musical score. If you can remain objective while watching Since You Went Away (it isn't easy), see if you can spot Ruth Roman, Guy Madison and John Derek, making their screen debuts in microscopic roles.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

 

Producer David O. Selznick waged war on the home front, with two offscreen marriages as the casualties, in Since You Went Away (1944), his sprawling canvas of American life during wartime. He set out to outdo the grandeur of his classic Gone with the Wind (1939), and though he didn't quite succeed in that, he created a memorable view of life among the wives and children left behind during World War II. He also created the first of his great obsessive epics, proving that sometimes the producer can be a film's auteur.

Selznick was looking for a project to follow his two-in-a-row Best Picture Oscars® for
Gone with the Wind and Rebecca (1940) when he came across Margaret Buell Wilder's novel, a series of letters written by a wife to her husband off serving in the war. He brought Wilder to Hollywood to write the screenplay, then sent her home when he decided he could do it better himself, leading her to appeal unsuccessfully to the Writer's Guild for credit. On his own, Selznick had turned her series of incidents, in which the wife was the only fully defined character, into a contemporary version of a Dickens novel, filled with compelling characters and incidents that re-created the day-to-day life of a family keeping the home fires burning.

Excerpt from TCMlocated HERE

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

Firstly, the bare-bones MGM DVD from 2004 was interlaced and gave a poor, unjust, presentation of this wonderful film. The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray is also the 3-hour Roadshow presentation with 'overture' and 'entre'act' musical interludes. It's a notable upgrade from SD. Contrast, a function of detail, is the key. We get some pleasing layers and impressive shadow detail in Cortez and Garmes cinematography. The source is clean, and I noticed no noise - it may have a tinge of green infiltration but looks wonderful in-motion. This Blu-ray gave me a very pleasing viewing in regards to the HD picture quality.

 

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

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - BOTTOM

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - BOTTOM

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - BOTTOM

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1556 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are only a few aggressive effects in the film - the film's audio would be more notable for the iconic Max Steiner (Sergeant York, Key Largo, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, Bird of Paradise, Beyond the Forest, Pursued etc. etc.) score that sounds dramatic and occasionally noble - he remains one of my favorite composers. Others may note some of the patriotic music, dance music and classical - tunes like There's No Place Like Home, You're In The Army Now, U.S. Marine Corps Hymn, America the Beautiful, The Caissons Go Rolling Along Ray Henderson oft-utilized 'theme' Together, The Dipsy Doodle plus Richard Wagner "Lohengrin" and some Johann Strauss. The dialogue was clear. There are optional subtitles offered in a white font (see sample above) - note the DVD's were gaudy yellow - and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Nothing but a trailer for the film and some other trailers. It's a long film for a commentary but so highly rated it deserved something methinks.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The 1080P-effect was in full force here. I liked it enough on DVD but I fell in love with this film on
Blu-ray. I'm the only adult I know without a cell-phone - I have never felt comfortable in today's era. I was meant to live back when this film was made. Yes, with the hardships and lack of modern comforts. You only need look at the cast, cinematography and screen captures to want to own this. If you don't - nothing I can say can change your mind. Your decision - myself? I'm looking for a time-machine. If I don't return - I'll be dancing with Jen Jones. Our highest recommendation!

NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 37% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

October 30th, 2017

 




 

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