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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

There's Always Vanilla [Blu-ray]

 

(George A. Romero, 1971)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Pittsburgh Films

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:32:28.918 

Disc Size: 40,098,754,360 bytes

Feature Size: 27,286,193,280 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.85 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Custom Blu-ray case

Release date: October 23rd - November 14th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

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

Commentary:
Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
Affair of the Heart: The Making of There s Always Vanilla brand new documentary featuring interviews with producers John Russo and Russell Streiner, stars Judith Streiner and Richard Ricci, and sound recordist Gary Streiner (29:43)
Digging Up the Dead The Lost Films of George A. Romero archive interview with Romero discussing his early films There s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch (15:55)
Location Gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz (11:29)
Memorabilia Gallery
Trailer (1:45)

Romero package comes with reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx and a limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger, Kier-La Janisse and Heather Drain

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Possibly the most obscure feature by independent horror specialist George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear) is this pungent little romantic comedy from 1972, also known as The Affair, about an antiestablishment type (Ray Laine) getting involved with a woman who acts in TV commercials (Judith Streiner). One of the few Romero films written by someone else (Rudolph J. Ricci), it has a good eye for the kind of unglamorous middle-class life seldom seen in American movies (occasionally it even recalls John Cassavetes's Faces, released four years earlier), and it's highly evocative of the early 70s. It may not be an unqualified success, but I prefer it to the subsequent Knightriders, another personal effort in which Romero stepped outside the horror genre. (Interestingly enough, the only scene here reflecting Romero's horror-movie orientation—as well as his Catholic background—involves the heroine's trip to an abortionist.)

Excerpt from Jonathan Roasenbaym at the ChixcagoReader located HERE

 

 

The Film:

Vanilla opens on some art that likens America to a machine, as well as the comments of local citizens as they walk past. The gray, dark skies of Pittsburgh — a marked contrast to the post-industrial age clean skies we enjoy now — is noticeable. We meet Chris Bradley, a soldier who’s had a variety of jobs, from pimp to guitar player. He feels like he’s lost the ability to think from all the noise of rock and roll music, so he’s going back home to Pittsburgh.

Excerpt from B+SAbputMovies located HERE

 

"A productive kind of rudeness" is an indispensable trait in the face of inanity, George A. Romero surveying the whole countercultural megillah is a bracing steamroller. The model is not The Graduate but Vidor's The Crowd, the young couple's meet-cute is a collision of hangovers that races beyond peevish larkiness and into middle-class stagnation. The drifting smartass (Raymond Laine) ditches his band, takes his irritable father to the go-go joint, and learns that the old flame's child might be his son. Meanwhile, the starlet (Judith Ridley) feigns rapture over torrents of beer and fends off a lecherous director, just another day in the realm of TV commercials.

Excerpt from Cinepassion.org located HERE

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

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package.

 

NOTE: As Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' There's Always Vanilla is the same situation.

 

There's Always Vanilla gets a solid transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films advertised as a "Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements ".  It is dual-layered with a max'ed-out bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature originally shot on 16mm. Colors show vibrancy and the visuals are thick and heavy - almost like an old Polaroid photo. The 1080P supports a strong presentation in the 1.33:1 frame. This Blu-ray looks smooth and impressive in-motion - flat but rich and in advance of what you might have anticipated for such a limited production.

 

Dave says: "Whoa, something is very very wrong with Arrow’s THERE’S ALWAYS VANILLA. You didn’t note it, but I am 99.9% sure that we are seeing what amounts to a digital colorization job on a totally faded element. The color is totally preposterous. It looks entirely fake. I think they colorized a faded print/reversal internegative/something. Blecccchhh!!! No way on earth is that celluloid-based color."

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow utilize a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit). It is clear, flat with dialogue akin to the original production limitations. The score by Jim Drake and Steve Gorn (Season of The Witch) with Frank Joseph's There's Always Vanilla - nothing is particularly remarkable - fun, a bit contemplative - suitable. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Another new audio commentary by Travis Crawford covering extensive details of the production, Romero's discomfort with the film, and much more. Affair of the Heart: The Making of There's Always Vanilla is a brand new 1/2 hour documentary featuring interviews with producers John Russo and Russell Streiner, stars Judith Streiner and Richard Ricci, and sound recordist Gary Streiner. Digging Up the Dead The Lost Films of George A. Romero is a 1/4 hour archival interview with Romero discussing his early films There's Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch. There is a dozen-minute Location Gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz and a memorabilia gallery and trailer. The Romero package comes with reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx and a limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger, Kier-La Janisse and Heather Drain.

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There's Always Vanilla isn't typical Romero but does have some important value in his early work - almost evoking Eric Rohmer.  The Arrow Blu-ray is part of their impressive package. Another great commentary - a/v and extras. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

October 30th, 2017




 

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