Beloved Infidel (1959/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Joy Luck Club (1993/Hollywood/Disney Blu-ray)
B- Sound: B- Extras: B-/D Films: B-/C
NOTE: The Beloved Infidel Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at
the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this
two very different melodramas on Blu-ray that have their curiosity interest and
may be worth at least a look to most film fans.
Kings’ Beloved Infidel (1959) is an
underseen film about how the great writer F, Scott Fitzgerald (Gregory Peck,
reuniting with King after Twelve O’
Clock High) becomes involved with a Hollywood Columnist (Deborah Kerr) as
he tries writing motion picture screenplays in place of novels and increasingly
becomes an alcoholic in the process.
It may be
melodramatic, making it unintentionally funny sometimes, but the leads (whom I
both always liked) have chemistry together and even if some moments do not hold
up as well as others, I am surprised the film is not more discussed or
seen. Eddie Albert steals a few scenes
heading the decent supporting cast and I hope this nice new Blu-ray edition
brings a new audience and new discussion about the film since Peck is as good
ad Fitzgerald as I have ever seen any actor (only Edward Woodward and Jeremy
Irons could rival him in this role to date) and Kerr shows once again why she
was once one of cinema’s greatest stars.
include another great booklet with illustrations, stills, poster art and essay
by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds the Original Theatrical Trailer and an
excellent stereophonic isolated music track of the great score by Franz Waxman.
Wang’s The Joy Luck Club (1993) was
produced by Oliver Stone from Amy Tan’s hit novel and is an ambitious attempt
to create a mainstream drama about the lives of several generations of Asian
women through four characters that include flashbacks and resulted in a
moderate hit people still talk about, though I don’t think the film is always
successful in what it tries to do.
even got made by a major studio is amazing, even by today’s standards almost 20
years later and it features so much underrated acting talent that if it had
been a blockbuster, many of the cast here would be more familiar to general
audiences overall. I think some moments
are real and very convincing, others are flat plot points and some key points
are too under-examined or nearly trivialized to really work. Still, I wish this had been tried a few more
times since and by becoming somewhat of a soap opera, it narrowed its
viewership too much to female audiences when it should have been more
a decent job helming all this and is able to juggle all for the most part, but
this could have been so much more of a breakthrough and I am a bit disappointed
it did not work better.
Disney has issued this with zero extras, but if any film deserved them, this is
one that really needed them.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Infidel and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on
Club are about even, with a little
more grain in each case than expected and some shots that are more faded and
soft than others. Infidel has the distortion the old CinemaScope system offered and
its De Luxe color is a little inconsistent.
As well, detail can be an issue in more than a few scenes, but Director
of Photography Leon Shamroy, A.S.C., delivers a fine use of the scope frame and
we get nice shots throughout. Club should look better being shot in
35mm flat, but this is an older HD master and Director of Photography Amir
Mokri delivers a consistent style, even as the look changes in the flashbacks
versus the present.
Blu-ray offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes, but both have
limits. Infidel has 4.0 Stereo sound towards the front speakers as this was
a film originally designed for 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue
and sound effects, so that is to be expected and is pretty consistent and
authentic a representation throughout.
However, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo music track sounds even
more dynamic and will both shock and please movie music fans. Luck
was originally an analog Dolby A-type stereo theatrical release at a time when
digital sound was just arriving for films and Dolby SR analog (Spectral
Recording with superior sonic range) was a superior option over A-type since
1987. The 5.1 upgrade here makes the
sound as nice and clean as possible, yet also shows the age and limits of the
old soundmaster. They could go back and
do an upgraded remix, but only Oliver Stone has the clout at this time to
possibly have that happen on a future release version, yet the sound is not bad
overall for what it is.
above, Beloved Infidel can be
ordered while supplies last at:
- Nicholas Sheffo