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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Soap Opera > Literature > Wealth > Family > Business > Dysfunction > Relationships > Rom > From The Terrace (1960/Fox)/The Happy Ending (1969/United Artists/MGM)/Hawaii (1966/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Walk Softly, Stranger (1950)/A Woman's Secret (1949/RKO/W

From The Terrace (1960/Fox)/The Happy Ending (1969/United Artists/MGM)/Hawaii (1966/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Walk Softly, Stranger (1950)/A Woman's Secret (1949/RKO/Warner Archive DVDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The From The Terrace, Happy Ending and Hawaii Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies each and can be ordered while supplies last, while the Walk Softly, Stranger and A Woman's Secret DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Melodrama comes in all forms and one of the most popular was in soap operas aka 'women's films' or 'weepies' and we have five such films that represent two different eras thereof.

We start with Mark Robson's From The Terrace (1960), a star vehicle for Paul Newman and a very large cast as Fox pushed the book angle and author John O'Hara in their publicity to say the film had a substantial story. It does and we discussed it when reviewing the limited edition CD of the Elmer Bernstein soundtrack at this link...


Only having seen it once eons ago, I forgot how long this one was that goes on and on and on and on, but does have that great supporting cast that includes Joanne Woodward (she outacts just about everyone, all before marrying Newman), Myrna Loy, Leon Ames, Ina Balin, George Grizzard, Patrick O'Neal, Elizabeth Allen, Barbara Eden and Ted de Corsia. Newman's David Alfred Eaton comes back from military service to a multi-layered soap opera world and one of money, high profits and the upper class, but where does he fit. You can find out if you can handle 144 minutes of the film, but it has its moments. Just be patient and awake when you take it on.

Richard Brooks' The Happy Ending (1969) also deals with romance, people of means, money and the inability to find happiness. By this time, TV soap operas (which keep showing up here, first in black and white, then on new color TVs) were supplanting this film genre, so it had to be more brutal (think Valley Of The Dolls or The April Fools) to get people into theaters. John Forsythe is a rich man in Denver, Colorado (foreshadowing his TV megahit Dynasty over a decade later) in love with and marrying Jean Simmons, but all his love cannot stop her from becoming a lonely alcoholic, even with great maid (Nanette Fabray) and the film tries to figure out what went wrong.

The results are mixed, but not from a lack of trying from the producers, the director and the fine cast that overcomes the flaws and datedness of some of this including Tina Louise (in her big screen movie stretch), Shirley Jones, Dick Shawn, Robert (Bobby) Darin, Lloyd Bridges, Teresa Wright, Kathy Fields, Karen Steele, Barry Cahill and an uncredited Erin Moran. It is worth a look and like several of these films, tried to launch a major song. In this case, composer Michel Legrand teamed up with Alan & Marilyn Bergman to create ''What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?'' that arguably became more successful than the film and a standard, recorded here by Michael Dees, dozens of major vocalists remade it. Best version to recommend? Live and studio recordings by Shirley Bassey!

This is worth a look and runs at a much more manageable 112 minutes.

We previous reviewed the DVD of George Roy Hill's Hawaii (1966) years ago at this link...


Well, the film has not improved since then, though the DVD was the shorter version, as is the HD version here, but the longer version in a weak copy is included in low definition. Issued as the Dalton Trumbo biopic arrives for awards season, his longer works were never as good as his shorter ones and this is a film that has not aged well... even from the last DVD screening. Still, I'm glad MGM let Twilight Time issue this on Blu-ray because this does look good often and that gives those the most interested to see for themselves more clearly than before. Still, this is a very long 161 minutes and the Roadshow version is longer, so prepare for a long sit.

Extras for all three Blu-rays include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and essays for each respective film by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-rays add Isolated Music Scores and Original Theatrical Trailer, with Terrace adding a Fox Movietone Newsreel and Hawaii adding an old low-def transfer (used on the old letterboxed LaserDisc and VHS editions) longer version of the film in its Roadshow release with Entrance, Intermission and brief clip of a young, unknown Bette Midler. Hope MGM finds the missing footage at some point.

Robert Stevenson's Walk Softly, Stranger (1950) has Joseph Cotten reuniting with Alida Valli from their work in the classic The Third Man (1941) as he plays a stranger going to a Ohio town with a secret agenda, while romancing a wheelchair-bound woman (Valli) with money. He takes a plain job as a cover while he plots for what he is really up to. This has some good moments, but the melodrama lands up competing with the crime angle, though that does not make this a Film Noir. However, it is a tight 81 minutes with more hits than misses and is enough of a curio to check it out once.

There are no extras.

Finally we have Nicholas Ray's A Woman's Secret (1949) with Maureen O'Hara in trouble for killing a woman she has taken in so that woman (Gloria Grahame) could become a major singer. Is she guilty or is something more bizarre going on? This could have also been a Noir or Mystery film, but it is so melodramatic and soapy that those aspects take center stage. At 84 minutes, it is also tight and to the point, but also with mixed results and an ending you may or may not buy. Still, like Walk above, RKO made such films like no other and in the grittier mode than we would see later when the surviving major studios (RKO folded when TV really arrived) had to take on television. Melvin Douglas, Bill Williams, Victor Jory and Mary Phillips also star.

There are no extras.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition images transfers on the three Blu-rays are a little different in their production origins, as Terrace is shot with older CinemaScope lenses, while the later films use improved Panavision scope lenses. All were issued in DeLuxe Color, save Happy, which was originally issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, but the print used here does not always look like that at all with more than a few grainier-than-expected shots lensed by the legendary Director of Photography Conrad Hall, A.S.C., but Hawaii also has some color-shifting and detail issues despite being an improvement over its older DVD edition. The longer, analog version of the film comes off of a problematic analog videotape master with flaws that include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color, staircasing and tape damage. Terrace is the best performer here, a new HD master, using the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, remaining an impressive use of the later CinemaScope format (reduced from 2.55 X 1) with some shots a little darker than maybe they should be. Otherwise, the work of DP Leo Tover (The Snake Pit, The Sun Also Rises, Love Me Tender) works well.

Hawaii was shot by Russell Harlan, A.S.C., for 70mm blow-up intent as noted in the previous review.

The 1.33 X 1 black & white image on both DVDs are a little soft and weak, though you can still see how well these were shot and meant to be quality RKO releases. Only released a year apart, they have the same look being from the same studio, but that is a good thing, possibly on Ansco Panchromatic stocks.

As for sound, all three Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound, but 2.0 Stereo on Terrace is a passable substitute for whatever happened to the original 4-track magnetic soundmaster with traveling dialogue and sound effects, Happy is 1.0 Mono that sounds fine for its age and despite some reports to the contrary, Hawaii did have 6-track magnetic sound on its 70mm blow-up prints, also with traveling dialogue and sound effects, so the 1.0 Mono here duplicates the DVD's lossy Dolby Mono. Hope MGM finds the multi-channel soundmaster at some point, which you can get an idea of by listening to the 2.0 DTS-MA Stereo isolated score track of Elmer Bernstein's score.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono ion both DVDs are down a generation and a little compressed, so like their picture presentations and the prints used for transfer, the sound needs some restoration. Fortunately, Warner has been spending some serious time and money working on the long-neglected RKO catalog, so maybe there will be Blu-rays of each in a few years.

To order From The Terrace, Happy Ending and Hawaii limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:




and to order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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