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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Literature > Alcoholism > Hollywood > Show Business > Melodrama > Novel > Asian > Beloved Infidel (1959/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Joy Luck Club (1993/Hollywood/Disney Blu-ray)

Beloved Infidel (1959/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Joy Luck Club (1993/Hollywood/Disney Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-/D     Films: B-/C



PLEASE 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 review.



Here are two very different melodramas on Blu-ray that have their curiosity interest and may be worth at least a look to most film fans.



Henry 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.


Extras 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.



Wayne 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.


That it 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 expansive.


Wang does 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.


Unfortunately, Disney has issued this with zero extras, but if any film deserved them, this is one that really needed them.


The 1080p 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.


Both 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.



As noted above, Beloved Infidel can be ordered while supplies last at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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