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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Billy Wilder
USA 1942

 

From one of Hollywood s most acclaimed auteurs, Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard), comes the charming comedy classic The Major and the Minor.

Legendary actress and dancer Ginger Rogers (Monkey Business) stars as Susan Applegate, a struggling young woman who pretends to be an 11-year old girl in order to buy a half-price train ticket. Fleeing the conductors, she hides in the compartment of Major Philip Kirby (Ray Milland, The Big Clock, The Pyjama Girl Case). The Major believes Susan is a child and takes her under his wing, but when they arrive at the military academy where Kirby teaches, his fianc้e (Rita Johnson) grows suspicious of Susan's ruse...

Co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett (Hold Back the Dawn), The Major and the Minor assumes the guise of a light romance narrative in order to cleverly explore themes of identity and deception. Wilder's American debut is presented here for the first time in stunning High Definition, with a selection of illuminating extras.

***

Wilder's first film as director begins brilliantly with Rogers as a New York career woman disillusioned to find her house calls offering scalp massage constantly subject to male misinterpretation - in particular from a lecherous Benchley pursuing 'a little drinkypoo, biteypoo, rhumbapoo' - who masquerades as a pigtailed l2-year-old innocent in order to avoid paying full adult fare on the train home to Iowa. Very funny stuff as she meets Milland's protective major, and finds ambiguous refuge in his sleeping compartment, although it later proves to be a one-joke situation as she is forced to accompany him to the military academy where he instructs, and becomes mascot to a horde of hopefully lecherous cadets. Pretty irresistible, nevertheless, with Rogers doing a beautiful job of dovetailing sexual provocation and demure innocence.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

A woman's attempt to disguise herself as an underage girl mushrooms into a series of humorous deceptions in this romantic comedy. Ginger Rogers stars as Susan Applegate, a young woman living in New York who, nearly broke and sick of the city, decides to head home to Iowa. Lacking the money for a regular ticket, she pretends to be an unusually tall 11-year old girl named Sue-Sue in order to pay half-price. The train conductors catch on to her scheme, however, forcing her to take refuge in the car of Major Philip Kirby (Ray Milland). The kindly major virtually adopts the "lost little girl," and circumstances force Susan to play along and accompany him to the local military academy. There the fun begins, as she struggles to deal with the unwelcome romantic attentions of countless young cadets and her own increasing attraction to the engaged Major Kirby. The Major and the Minor was the first Hollywood feature helmed by the legendary Billy Wilder.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 16th, 1942

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Universal - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

  

  

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:40:24       1:40:09.461 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.64 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,591,686,630 bytes

Feature: 28,671,515,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.85 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1053 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1053 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English (SDH), French, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Robert Osborne Introduction (2:12)
• Trailer (2:18)

DVD Release Date: April 22nd, 200
8
Double-lock Keep Case
Chapters: 17

 

Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,591,686,630 bytes

Feature: 28,671,515,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.85 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
• Half Fare Please!, a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Neil Sinyard (30:44)
• Archival interview with Ray Milland (29:51)
• Rare hour-long radio adaptation from 1943 starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland (59:38)
• Image gallery (4:10)
• Original trailer (2:13)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: COLLECTOR S BOOKLET WITH ESSAY BY RONALD BERGAN


Blu-ray Release Date:
September 23rd, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 13

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow Blu-ray (September 2019): Arrow have transferred Billy Wilder's marvelous comedy The Major and the Minor to Blu-ray. There are some significant differences from the, already strong, DVD from 2008. The 1.37:1 framing shows much more information in the frame, the image is brighter and has lush, heavy grain textures. The 1080P is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate (about 4X that of the SD transfer.) It looks wonderful in-motion.

On their Blu-ray, Arrow use a DTS-HD Master mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. There aren't many aggressive moments but the feature has an effectively light score by Robert Emmett Dolan (Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, The Bells of St. Mary's, My Son John, The Three Faces of Eve) adding to the film's sneaky humorous edge playing with some bounce in the background. This is augmented by Richard Rodgers' Isn't It Romantic? and Lover, Johnny Mercer's Blues in the Night, A-Tisket, A-Tasket sung a cappella by Ginger Rogers, Victor Schertzinger's Dream Lover. Arrow offer optional English (SDH) subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

We get another informative audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin who imparts some unique analysis on less-exposed nuances of the script of The Major and the Minor. He talks about Wilder, Ginger Rogers, writer/actor Robert Benchley, Milland, small-town America, the different types of comedy, Ernst Lubitsch, Gregory La Cava, Mitchell Leisen, Preston Sturges - the Paramount system and much more. We also get a 1/2 hour new video appreciation by film critic Neil Sinyard entitled Half Fare Please! and he discusses how Wilder claims he went into directing to protect his scripts,  structurally how The Major and the Minor is similar to Some Like it Hot and the 'magical' final scene. There is a half-hour archival interview with Ray Milland and a rare hour-long radio adaptation from 1943 starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. We also get an image gallery, original trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork. The first pressing purchasers get a 20-page collector's booklet with photos and an essay by Ronald Bergan (author of The United Artists Story).

The Major and the Minor has some deviance with Rogers balancing between sexual provocation and coquettish innocence. She is borderline 'harassed' as an adult on the elevator and, often aggressively, pursued by the young Cadets at the Academy, as an adolescent. Billy Wilder must also balance this making the relationship comfortable enough to export humor. It works remarkably well. I was very happy to see The Major and the Minor again - especially in this stellar Blu-ray. with the commentary and extras. Another exceptional job by Arrow! Strongly recommended!

***

ON THE DVD (April 2008): I LOVED this. It is warm and humorous and still has an 'edge' reminding me somewhat of Preston Sturgis' later work (he was a writer on this). Really, this film is quite brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable.

Well, there's an Australian, Spanish and French DVD version of this film but this is it's versatile disc debut in North America.... and it's a decent, if not stellar, one.  Dual-layered with a strong bitrate the image quality looks fairly strong - yes, there is some noise and dirt but overall contrast carries the film through a wonderful presentation. Without seeing the other editions I'll bet this is the best of the lot. The captures do a fair job of identifying the strengths and weaknesses.

The unremarkable audio does the job without distraction and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles if desired. Extras are sparse - a 2 minute intro by perennial TCM host Robert Osborne and a similarly long original trailer. I think this is a steal for the price and we strongly recommend based both on the immensely enjoyable film and decent presentation on DVD. An easy purchase.  

NOTE: It was remade by Martin and Lewis as an inferior You're Never Too Young in 1955.

Gary Tooze

 


Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

 

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


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1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

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Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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