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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Miracle Worker [Blu-ray]


(Arthur Penn, 1962)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Playfilm Productions

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:46:39.393

Disc Size: 23,620,466,384 bytes

Feature Size: 23,566,061,568 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 31st, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1881 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1881 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, None



• None





Description: The powerhouse performances of Anne Bancroft (The Graduate) and Patty Duke (Valley of the Dolls) are the heart and soul of director Arthur Penn’s (Bonnie and Clyde) screen adaptation of The Miracle Worker. Working on familiar ground (having directed Bancroft and Duke in the Broadway play), Penn would find a fresh approach in transitioning the story of Helen Keller from stage to screen by opening up the action with on-location shooting, unique camera work by Ernest Caparros (TV’s Naked City), razor sharp editing by Aram Avakian (Lilith) and several bravura set pieces.

The young Helen, blind and deaf since infancy as a result of scarlet fever, becomes prone to violent outbursts that grow more frequent and intense, resulting in her parents, Captain Arthur Keller (Victor Jory, Gone with the Wind) and Kate Keller (Inga Swenson, Advise & Consent), reaching out to a school for the blind for help. That help arrives in the form of Anne Sullivan, a teacher whose personal struggles have provided her with the tools to assist Helen. And so begins a battle of wills between the obstinate Helen and the equally stubborn Anne (a breakfast scene between the two becomes a virtual wrestling match). Through sheer willpower and compassion, the walls separating Helen from the outside world begin to crumble, as student and teacher forge a connection.

The Miracle Worker is directed by Arthur Penn, written for the screen by William Gibson (based upon his stage play), produced by Fred Coe and features music by two-time Academy Award nominee Laurence Rosenthal (Best Score, Becket – 1965; Best Musical Adaptation, Man of La Mancha – 1974).



The Film:

Based on William Gibson's Broadway play and retaining its acclaimed cast, Arthur Penn's The Miracle Worker tells the true story of Helen Keller (Patty Duke), an Alabama girl struck blind and deaf as a baby after an elevated fever. Enter Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft), a partially-blind woman assigned the task of teaching Helen sign language. After first separating Helen from her over-protective parents (Victor Jory and Inga Swenson), Annie begins the arduous process of teaching the girl.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

During the filming of The Miracle Worker (1962), both Bancroft and Duke became so immersed in their roles, they put their health at risk. For the famous dining room battle scene, which required three cameras for a nine-minute sequence and took five days to film, both actresses wore pads beneath their clothing. At one point during the filming, Bancroft started laughing from sheer exhaustion and her reaction was left in the film. In fact, Bancroft was hospitalized with pneumonia just after filming was complete. As for Duke, she later admitted she dreaded the final wrap-up of the film because it meant her final separation from a role that had become such an important part of her life.

The Miracle Worker was responsible for launching the careers of both stars. Bancroft, who up until that point had been cast in mediocre movies, such as Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953) and Gorilla at Large (1954) went on to starring roles in The Graduate (1967) and The Slender Thread (1965). Patty Duke, just 15 at the time the movie was made, went on to star in her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show (1963-66).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The Miracle Worker arrives on, single-layered, Blu-ray from Olive Films. The image quality is outstanding. The 1.66:1 aspect ratio has excellent contrast - deep rich black levels, a high level of detail and plenty of depth. The 1080P is impressive! The grain is fine and supportive of the presentation that has no detrimental flaws. The Blu-ray video is very strong - far better than expected.



















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1881 kbps (24-bit). The score is by Laurence Rosenthal (Requiem for a Heavyweight, Becket, 1977's The Island of Dr Moreau, the TV Series Coronet Blue) and it sounds wonderful in he lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases. This film, in particular, deserves more.



The Miracle Worker is a masterpiece. Iconic performances of an impossibly inspiring story. So impacting. Olive should be commended for bringing this to Blu-ray. Unfortunately it is bare-bones - but the presentation has immense value. Rewarding and unforgettable.
Absolutely recommended!

Gary Tooze

November 1st, 2017


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