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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biography > War > Shakespeare > Sex > Organized Crime > British > WWII > Romance > Prejudice > Racism > The Upside (2018/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/War and Peace (1967/Criterion Blu-ray Set)

Antony and Cleopatra (1972)/Hussy (1980/both Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/None But The Brave/A Patch Of Blue (MGM/both 1965 Warner Archive Blu-rays)/Swing Kids (2018/Well Go Blu-ray)/The Upside (2018/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/War and Peace (1967/Criterion Blu-ray Set)

Picture: B/B/B-/B/B-/B+ & C+/B Sound: B-/C+/B-/C+/B-/B+ & C+/B- Extras: B-/C/C-/C/C-/A/B Films: B-/C+/B-/B/C/B+/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Antony and Cleopatra and Hussy Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while None But The Brave and A Patch Of Blue are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a group of interesting, unusual and even very ambitious dramas you should know about, including a few you may have missed and have not been heard of enough...

Charlton Heston wanted to make a Shakespeare film so badly, he eventually directed and financed Antony and Cleopatra (1972) himself and played Antony, landed Hildegard Neil as Cleopatra and got a fine supporting cast including Eric Porter as Enobarbus, Fernando Rey as Lepidus, Freddie Jones as Pompey, Warren Clarke as Scarus, Douglas Wilmer as Agrippa and Julian Glover as Proculeius. They alone make this more than formidable a cast for any Shakespeare release and no matter when the film shows its shortcomings, it has aged well thanks to the cast, how well it was shot, the costumes, some production design and how consistent it is in delivering ^The Bard as a living text. Full color British TV productions of his material were soon on the way and they also hold up, despite being on old videotape and that is also because of their casts and technicians. The early success of PBS attests to that.

Still, it is a long film at 146 minutes, making sure the original material is not compromised or butchered, so that adds to authenticity, but even if they had a big budget, that is still long. At its best, it is convincing, has good energy and Heston never quits, so subtle intensity is a plus as well. However, you need to be a Shakespeare fan to really get into it and now, you can finally see it in a quality copy worthy of its limited theatrical release. I'm happy with that and adds to the legacy of the cast as well. I just wonder if theater owners still unhappy with the 1963 Cleopatra just did not want to handle any such subject matter again so soon.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the disc adds another excellent feature length audio commentary track by Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo, Making Of featurette with Fraser C. Heston, Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Matthew Chapman's Hussy (1980) is back, finally arriving on Blu-ray, even if it is a limited edition, with an early lead role for Helen Mirren when she was unknown, bold and practically dangerous in the roles she dared to take on. We reviewed the U.S. DVD edition many years ago at this link:


Of course, Mirren is more respectable now, but she is still good here, this still holds up and is not only more of a curio since Mirren remains one of the biggest actresses in the world, but John Shea (who should have been a bigger movie star at the time with good work like this) became Lex Luthor on TV, so that is just another reason many would want to see it. That it is good until the last reel or so also helps and those who are curious should get this disc while supplies last.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay by Mike Finnegan, while the disc adds an Original Theatrical Trailer, though I wish there were more.

As we reviewed before from a Sinatra box set, None But The Brave (1965) is a decent war film with Sinatra directing as the film examines both sides between the U.S. and Japan in this smart, thoughtful film that works more often than not. Compares well with the current cycle of War genre work. Especially after all the war porn and garbage film and TV war programming, idiotic and mindless as it has been since the DVD release of this film arrived, this is not a work that condescends to the audience and is a welcome addition to the Blu-ray world.

Clint Walker, Tommy Sands, future director Tony Bill and Rafer Johnson (an Olympic star too forgotten) make up the decent supporting cast.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Guy Green's A Patch of Blue (1965) is also from a DVD box set, this time of the work of Sidney Poitier, and was the best entry in that case as Poitier plays a man who befriends a blind white girl and helps her escape the abusive and poverty-stricken home life with a prostitute mother played wonderfully by Shelley Winters. It's an emotional film with depth of character and extremely strong performances across the board. Elizabeth Hartman is the girlfriend and especially with the resurgence of open hatemongering, this film is a relevant as ever. Nice to see a film by mature grown adults for mature grown adults.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, A Cinderella Named Elizabeth vintage featurette and feature length audio commentary track by Director Green.

Kang Hyoung-Chul's Swing Kids (2018) is NOT a remake of the Spielberg-produced musical of the same title at Disney that later made it to the stage, but a tale of a POW internment camp during the Korean War where the people running it decide to allow a tap dancing event, but it gets odd when the film sees tap as rebellion against the enemy (captors? Americans? Other Koreans? In an undeclared war?) and it goes for too much comedy and fronting that has nothing to do with the seriousness of the 'true story' it is based on.

They cannot simply tap their way out of imprisonment and it will not change racism, the Cold War or anything much else, though the film oddly suggests that in a way that is not honest. This is made all the worse (SPOILER ALERT) when the film gets serious, bloody, violent and brutal in its last reels and that shows the major flaws it had to begin with. It cannot stick with what it presented itself as, does this problematic about face, then has a conclusion that belongs elsewhere. I don't know what the makers were thinking, but this is a weird mess.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Dell (Kevin Hart) is a recently paroled ex-con, Philip (Bryan Cranston) is a quadriplegic billionaire that needs a 'life assistant' to help him with daily needs. The two couldn't be from more different worlds, but fate creates an unlikely bond when Dell accidentally walks in on an interview that he didn't expect to get. Now, Dell has a second chance to rebuild his life, while Philip who has all but given up on life through Dell he begins to live life again in Neil Burger's The Upside (2017).

Dell is an ex-con who needs an job in order to be with his family and by accident scores a job of a lifetime working for billionaire Philip Lacasse quadriplegic who needs 24 hour live in care. Dell gets the job by being a smart ass to Philip during the interview, but instead of rejecting him Philip surprisingly accepts Dell because he was the only interviewee who was able to make him laugh instead just of sucking up to him. At first, Dell clashes with Philip's assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) who think Dell is a joke and he isn't good enough ...but over time Dell improves and (eventually) wins her respect. With Dell, Philip gets brutal honest opinions, ideas and answers and Dell reminds Philip how he still can have joy in his life. Philip in turn teaches Dell on how to focus his life, to find a purpose in life and to live for more than just himself. Together, they become what each of them both needed ...a friend.

This was a heart warming movie about how two opposite people can learn to get along and help each other out. How people can overcome social gaps and status, find hope in life and that anyone can become friends. Based on a true story, this is the second version of the story, with the French movie 'The Untouchables' (released as 'The Intouchables' in the U.S. as it might be confused with the hit gangster movie and franchise). Extras include deleted scenes, gag reel, Onscreen Chemistry: Kevin and Bryan, Creating a Story of Possibility, Bridging Divisions, Embracing Positivity, Presenting a Different Side of Kevin Hart and trailers.

Finally we have one of the longest films we've ever covered, Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace (1967) produced by the Soviet Union with no expense spared and remains not only the most expensive film they ever made (or ever will make) but also one of the most elaborate and expensive films of all time. Though one-time actor Bondarchuk miscast himself in a key role for which he was twice the character's age (Pierre Bezukhov), a big mistake, he co-wrote and dug deeply into the book to bring it to life with all of its nuance, isolation, loneliness and darkness, so it is likely the best version of the book that will ever be produced, the most authentic via being Russian made and with every historical Russian resource it needed there and that no future version will ever be able to match.

Ludmila Savelyeva saves the film as Natasha Rostova, as convincing and even more authentic than Audrey Hepburn in the 1956 VistaVision/Technicolor version Paramount made with King Vidor directing and everyone involved seems to be determined to put the very best work into the film they can and the result is usually sweeping, impressive, authentic and realistic in ways that at the time (pre-Kubrick's Barry Lyndon) pushed the envelop of epic films being big and great only a few years after Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia set new standards for such productions. Lean's Doctor Zhivago (1965, which the USSR hated) got its digs at the oppressive country and was a huge international hit, this production was on track to respond with the best of Russia even if it was a Russia long gone.

Seven hours at length, released in four parts over two years, it is presented that way here and over two Blu-ray discs, so Criterion does not compromise the viewing experience. I have seen footage of the film before and more than I realized, but it never looked and sounded this good. I admit you have to be in the mood for this and do not even have had to have read the long, long book, but if you can get the energy together and get in the mood, you'll be surprised how this is up there with the best 70mm large frame format productions. Because it is not preachy or compromised, it has aged well and remains the definitive adaptation of the classic despite any flaws or complaints.

Extras include a poster pullout with tech information and an essay by critic Ella Taylor, while the discs add new interviews with cinematographer Anatoly Petritsky and filmmaker Fedor Bondarchuk, son of Sergei Bondarchuk, Two 1966 documentaries about the making of the film, Television program from 1967 profiling actor Ludmila Savelyeva, and featuring Sergei Bondarchuk, new program with historian Denise J. Youngblood (Bondarchuk's "War and Peace": Literary Classic to Soviet Cinematic Epic) detailing the cultural and historical contexts for the film and a Janus rerelease trailer.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Antony has some older optical printing and footage of model work from Ben Hur (Ultra Panavision 70/MGM Camera 65) and apparently a fox film (The Robe in original CinemaScope), but the film is one of the first to be shot in the underrated anamorphic format Todd-AO 35. A competitor to Panavision's lenses. The lenses were criticized for having some flair issues, but I like their character and they landed up being used on everything from big budget productions (Logan's Run, King Kong (1976), Flash Gordon (1980)) to Shakespeare films (this one and Polanski's MacBeth) and to low budget exploitation films (Grizzly, the Slaughter films) and more to the benefit of all.

Also issued in 70mm blow-up prints, Director of Photography Rafael Pacheco (Curse Of The Black Cat, Espionage In Tangiers) delivers a good-looking film that exceeds what you would expect with its limited budget and the compositions are a plus.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Brave looks better than its DVD version and like Antony, was issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor film prints, but Antony only seems to have received this treatment in the U.K. and its looks impressive on Blu=-ray, while Brave looks like the same 35mm print was used as it was for the old DVD. Its fine and has some good, consistent moments, but it also has some color that is a little off and softness issues in places. Otherwise, it is a solid Panavision presentation that outdoes its old DVD release.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hussy is definitely an improvement over the soft DVD presentation which was softer at the time than I would have liked. I didn't realize what I was missing until I saw this Blu-ray transfer and the results are that the actors have more impact and the places are more palpable, even when the film goes astray in the end.

The same can be said for the 1080p 2.35 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Patch, which had a better DVD, but this Blu-ray version is particularly impressive, also shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision. Only so many films were shot this way, so they always impress.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Swing Kids is an HD shoot that is good, but has some softness issues, but the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Upside is more consistent an HD shoot and is cleaner throughout. Its anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 DVD image version is much softer by comparison.

Finally, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on War and Peace was originally shot entirely on 65mm negative and distributed on 70mm film. The restoration is entirely from 35mm reduction negatives (several different copies) plus a 35mm positive, meaning a complete 70mm copy or any 70mm materials are either missing or lost forever. With that said, you can tell this was a 70mm production as it looks like a great reduction print. To some extent, it could be considered a lost film, but this still impresses often.

Shot entirely with 65mm Soviet-made cameras on Svema SovColor 65mm negative film, no matter the many issues encountered, the only film we can compare it to is the Cinerama Russian Adventure (reviewed elsewhere on this site) from 1965 in color and ambition.

As for sound, it is the usual where the newer the production, the better the sound, no matter how bad and weak most HD shoots are. Upside, Swing Kids (Korean) and War and Peace are here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes with Upside the sonic winner by default despite being dialogue-based. Despite being an at least partly backstage musical, Swing Kids does not have a consistent soundfield and some audio is not sounding as good as others. War and Peace was originally issued in 6-track magnetic stereo and this is a nice restoration and upgrade, but it also shows its age with some limits in soundfield and just the recording equipment of the time. The DVD of Upside has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is far less impressive.

Antony and Cleopatra also had 6-track magnetic stereo in its few 70mm blow-up prints, but that soundmaster seems to be lost, missing or misplaced at this time, so it has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound like Hussy, Brave and Patch, all of which sound much better than their previous DVD Dolby Digital Mono releases. You can imagine Antony was at least stereo to begin with from how good it still sounds here down to the John Scott music score and is fine for what it is, but maybe by the time a 4K version is done years from now, that soundmaster will be recovered. At least you get an isolated music track on it that sounds good.

You can order the Antony and Cleopatra and Hussy limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:




and to order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, None But The Brave and A Patch Of Blue, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Upside)


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