|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Jack Smight, 1966)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Gershwin-Kastner Productions
Video: Warner Archive
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 39,041,754,527 bytes
Feature Size: 37,488,961,536 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 27th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.4:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1999 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1999 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2028 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2028 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Commentary with screenwriter William Goldman
Description: Paul Newman memorably plays the title role in this box-office hit based on Ross MacDonald’s The Moving Target. The first detective film in Newman’s then 23-film career, Harper revitalized the genre. Newman’s sleuth chews gum fast…and slips out of jams ever faster as he unravels a twisted case of kidnapping and murder. William Goldman’s clever script throws quips and a parade of LA-LA-Land characters Harper’s way. There’s a woman of means (Lauren Bacall), a gun-toting attorney (Arthur Hill), a poolside gigolo (Robert Wagner), a boozy ex-starlet (Shelley Winters), a jazz junkie (Julie Harris), Harper’s estranged wife (Janet Leigh) and the unholy order of the Temple of the Clouds (led by Strother Martin). Each may possess a clue. Or a bullet for Harper.
Screenwriter William Goldman has claimed that Paul Newman agreed to do Harper, the film that established the grateful writer's career, only because he was working unhappily on Lady L. (1965) in Europe, and was looking for something as unlike that film as possible. He stars as Lew Harper, a hip L.A. private dick whose business has gotten so bad that he's re-using his coffee grounds. At the suggestion of his friend, attorney Albert Graves (Arthur Hill), the detective takes on the investigation of the disappearance of the wealthy husband of waspish cripple Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall). After finding a photograph of former actress Fay Estabrook (Shelley Winters), Harper locates the alcoholic actress in a bar, plies her with booze, and takes her home to search her apartment while she's unconscious. There he takes a call which leads him to another bar to meet Betty Fraley (Julie Harris), a singer with a heroin problem. To curtail his inquisitive behavior, some large and unpleasant gentleman beat him up outside the saloon. Hoping for sympathy from his soon to be ex-wife (Janet Leigh), who has just filed divorce papers, the weary detective is much more successful than he has any right to expect.Excerpt from B+N located HERE
The man with the barbed wire soul turned himself into the first of the
compassionate private eyes when Paul Newman took on the role of Lew
Harper, a private eye trying to find a missing millionaire amidst the
lush life and low life of Los Angeles in Harper (1966). The
result was a memorable success - one of Newman's biggest hits of the
'60s and a film that helped establish his reputation as one of the
screen's coolest stars.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Harper arrives on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive looking sweet. This is a dual-layered transfer with a max'ed out bitrate. The image is a shade brighter than the previous DVD and may even lose a sliver of information on the left edge but it generally looks excellent overall in the 2.4:1 aspect ratio. There is plenty of depth and nice color separation. This Blu-ray image isn't dynamically crisp but carries some film textures well. Zooming in indicates that there are some inconsistencies - perhaps with the contrast - but for most people this will look impressive on their systems - a solid notch ahead of the SD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is rendered in a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1999 kbps (24-bit). The audio effects for the film are modest - minor gunplay, aggression, loud music bar scene - but it has a score by Johnny Mandel (I Want to Live! Pretty Poison, Point Blank, Deathtrap, M*A*S*H, That Cold Day in the Park, Heaven with a Gun, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea,etc.) that adds to the film with a unique flavor suiting the Beverly Hills, Malibu and L.A. locales. Some may recall André Previn's Livin' Alone sung by Julie Harris. The hardboiled mood is maintained by the music and Warner include optional English subtitles (see sample) in, shouting, CAPITALS and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
There is the same, excellent, William Goldman commentary as found on the 2006 Paul Newman Collection DVD boxset (Reviewed HERE). He is so frank and open discussing his work and what he remembers about the production. He includes opinions on his own work - only feeling pride at Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride. I loved hearing his comments on... everything. There is also a theatrical trailer.
February 25th, 2018