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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Hollywood > Melodrama > Noir > Dysfunctional Family > Mexico > Romance > Politics > Murder > Literat > Bad and the Beautiful (1952/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/A Family Like Many Others (1949/VCI*)/Hold Back The Dawn (1941/Paramount/Arrow*)/La Barraca (1945/VCI/*all MVD Blu-rays)/Motherless Brooklyn (20

Bad and the Beautiful (1952/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/A Family Like Many Others (1949/VCI*)/Hold Back The Dawn (1941/Paramount/Arrow*)/La Barraca (1945/VCI/*all MVD Blu-rays)/Motherless Brooklyn (2019/Warner Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bad and the Beautiful Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a solid set of thriller dramas, including a classic and a new entry that takes place in the same corrupt, Noir world...

As we were preparing this review, one of the all-time greatest actors, Kirk Douglas, left us. A legend, groundbreaker and innovator, his legacy for high quality work and big box office continues to set the gold standard and beyond in filmmaking and beyond. As this sad news arrives, it is with some irony that one of his best films, Vincente Minnelli's The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) finally arrives on Blu-ray in a fine, restored edition that is as good as it has ever looked. Benefitting from MGM's top of the line glossy black and white film lab work and top quality 35mm negative stocks of their choice, this was an event film that delivered.

A bold look behind the glitter and dreams of Hollywood, Douglas plays a user among users and backstabbers in one of the great films of its kind. Showing the studio understood the studio system, they upped the ante by casting one of the strongest, sexiest, sultriest and undeniable forces of nature actresses of that, and all time: Lana Turner. Just getting her and Douglas together was a promise of fireworks and the film delivers.

Often references and imitated (including Minnelli revisiting the same territory a few years later) by many others, it was a film that slowly showed the unravelling of the Hollywood Production Code, the adult growth of filmmaking as an art and cinemas ability to break ground in mature ways we sure do not see enough of today. The great John Houseman produced and it is a must-see expose of the town that is required viewing for all film fans serious about cinema.

Douglas was on a roll at this point and everyone here is in top form and even rare form, including supporting actors like Dick Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Barry Sullivan, Gilbert Rowland, Leo G. Carroll and Gloria Grahame. It ,ay have taken a while for this to get the full HD treatment, but Warner Archive was better to wait and get it right than rush it, which they do not. Especially now that Douglas has passed on, seeing this version of Bad is the best way to revisit the work of a legend.

Extras include Theatrical Trailers, extensive scoring session music cues and a great biography production: Lana Turner... A Daughter's Memoir.

Alejandro Galindo's popular melodrama A Family Like Many Others (1949) has also been restored and saved, telling the tale of a big family with a strict father who is over-dominating and toxically masculine, running his big house like another world. His wife too easily gives into it all, which affects their five children, but they cannot stay kids forever and when his 15-year-old daughter falls for a vacuum salesman, simple things will cause big shake-ups.

Though he is awful, the father (Fernando Soler) is not played as a villain or cartoon, but the epitome of the overly dominant father in so many a household then and sadly, now. It is one of many ugly truths the film is able to honestly deal with, though it is less shocking now, especially with the surge of ugly, horrid abuse cases we see all the time now. However, we should never see what is portrayed here as 'the good old days' by any means.

Still, this is well acted, well made and has a density of look and feel that is as authentic and it is convincing. When the text says it is a key film in Mexican Cinema, I would say that is believable.

Trailers for other Spanish-language classics from VCI are the only extras.

Who doesn't love a classic black and white romance film? Arrow Academy presents the newly restored Hold Back The Dawn (1941) from Paramount Pictures onto Blu-ray for the first time.

Starring Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland, the film follows Georges Iscovescu (Boyer), who hopes to get into the US by any means necessary. When he finds out there is an eight year waiting period to do so, he ends up cooking up a plot with his dance partner, Anita (played by Paulette Goddard), to marry a woman whose a US citizen and then dump her once he gets to where he wants to be. Once Georges meets Emmy, he ends up falling in love with her for real. However, an immigration officer threatens to muck up Georges' new proposal to Emmy.

Special Features include:

New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin

Love Knows No Borders, a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew

The Guardian Lecture: Olivia de Havilland, A career-spanning onstage audio interview with Olivia de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971

Rare hour-long radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Charles Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Hayward

Gallery of original stills and promotional images

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Farran Smith Nehme.

Roberto Gavaldon's La Barraca (1945, based on a 1895 novel) is another restored Mexican film that is considered one of the most important they ever produced and is maybe more political than it first appears, with a hard-working man (Domingo Soler) not able to own the home he has been in for a very long time, tormented by a landlord who will not give him a break. He goes to see him carrying a sickle and kills him with it!!!

For many, that would be a communist symbolism (agit-prop perhaps) and gives the film a meaning it would not have if he had killed the landlord (or new owners moving in) with a knife, gun, broomstick, tractor, etc., so this would also mean it has a symbolism the original novel could not have since the revolution that created The Soviet Union had not happened yet. However, ti would be especially striking at the time of the film's release as WWII was in its final months (whether people knew it or not).

With that said, this is a decent film, though it too has not always aged as well and does not have the impact of similar films or more political ones like Salt Of The Earth (1954) or Cimino's Heaven's Gate (both reviewed elsewhere on this site). As a melodrama, one can identify and it is just convincing enough as a period piece, so including what might have been some budget limits of the time, it is remarkable when all is considered. Thus, it is worth a look and reexamination on a political level.

Trailers for other Spanish-language classics from VCI are the only extras.

Finally, Edward Norton wears many hats on Motherless Brooklyn (2019), his second feature film as writer, director, and star, here playing a police detective in 1950s Brooklyn who has Tourette's Syndrome. Battling his disease in society as he tries to piece together the mysterious circumstances as to which his friend (played by Bruce Willis) was murdered. This murder mystery has the style and feel of a film noir that attempts to crossover a bit with history as well.

The film also stars Alec Baldwin, William Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The film is based on a novel by Jonathan Lethem, however, the contemporary setting was changed by Norton to be the 1950s.

Special Features include:

Audio Commentary with Director Edward Norton

Edward Norton's Methodical Process featurette

Digital Copy

and Deleted Scenes.

I like Edward Norton as an actor and have enjoyed him in many films, but despite the star power on display, I feel this one is a bit drab.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Beautiful rarely shows the age of the materials used as the film was being taken care of earlier than many other from its time, so this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on video and only the best 35mm and 16mm film prints could be as good or better. You even get some glossy demo shots, so home theater fans will be pleased. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not bad for its age and about as good as this film will ever sound off of its original theatrical optical mono soundmaster, et al.

Also as mentioned, this is the first time that Hold Back The Dawn has been presented in high definition and it's presented here in black and white with a 1.37 X 1 full frame aspect ratio and an uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack. The film looks startlingly fantastic here considering its age, and doesn't look nearly as aged as you'd expect.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on both Family and Barraca are remarkable restorations considering the condition the materials were in (explained in opening texts, but only one has English subtitle translations for some reason), so the film can definitely show the age of the materials used. However, the good and I expect painstaking work paid off and now, we can enjoy the films as they were meant to be seen again. Both film also offer their sound in Spanish PCM 2.0 Mono, which is fine, but they have some audio issues still (unavoidable) and show their age a little more so. Be careful of high playback volumes and volume switching.

Motherless Brooklyn is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a standard audio mix in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), both of which come across fine on disc. The film is nicely shot and has high production design that helps sell the period setting.

To order the Warner Archive Blu-ray The Bad and the Beautiful, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Brooklyn, Dawn)



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