Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Coming Of Age > Literature > Melodrama > Western > Musical > Oppression > Sexuality > Corru > Emma (2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Rachel and the Stranger (1948/RKO*)/Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967 set*)/Ritual: A Psychomagic Story (2013/Film Movement DVD)/Shortcut To Happiness (2007/MVD Blu

Emma (2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Rachel and the Stranger (1948/RKO*)/Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967 set*)/Ritual: A Psychomagic Story (2013/Film Movement DVD)/Shortcut To Happiness (2007/MVD Blu-ray)/Sweet Bird Of Youth (1961/MGM/*all Warner Archive Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Rachel, Reflections and Youth Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from the links below.

Here is a good mix of dramas, comedies and unintended comedy at times, for you to know of...

Emma (2020) is a(nother) Jane Austen adaptation with rising star Anya Taylor-Joy (VVitch, Split), and is a very cinematic, detailed and overall effective 1800s period piece in terms of capturing the look and feel of the time and of Georgian-and-Regency-era England where the film takes place.

Directed by photographer Autumn DeWilde, the film also stars Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, and Callum Turner.

Emma Woodhouse (Taylor-Joy) is a privileged young woman who is rich, beautiful, and has it all in her small English town where she lives. As she grows up, she seemingly looks for the perfect man to marry and goes through many trials and tribulations until she finds the right one. The film brings up very popular subjects on the time and is a social commentary on period English social class rankings and the pains of adolescence.

Emma looks great in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a standard English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The film is beautifully shot and very on point when it comes to the period setting and costumes. These details come alive more so in HD than in the also-included anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD of the film, which has a more compressed image and a lesser 5.1 Dolby Digital lossy sound mix. This is a great candidate for the 4K format and we hope to see it come out in the coming months. The soundtrack for the film is specific to the time and doesn't cross over modern tunes like a Sofia Coppola film might.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include:

Feature-Length Audio Commentary with Director Autumn de Wilde, Screenwriter Eleanor Catton, and Director of Photography Christopher Blauvelt


A Playful Tease

The Autumn Gaze

Crafting a Colorful World

Deleted Scenes

and a Gag Reel

If you're a fan of slow moving Jane Austen romantic pieces, then you will be able to dive into Emma pretty easily. If you're not, then it could be a challenging watch.

Norman Foster's Rachel and the Stranger (1948) is one of the strangest Westerns ever made, trying to be and do several things at once and not doing any of them too well, a curio without a cult following about an 1820s guy (William Holden) who 'buys' a bride (Loretta Young) to be his 'woman' and help his son. She is not getting much respect in this melodramatic story, but Robert Mitchum shows up as a singing cowboy of sorts who meets her and they hit it off, getting the attention of the father/son. Craziness ensues.

Waldo Salt, later known for his remarkable screenplay for John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy (1969) not only wrote the screenplay adaptation here, but wrote the lyrics for all the songs in the film (Schlesinger did not ask him to pen anything for his later film) and some have the cast singing them, though this is not a musical per se. Then they are attacked by Shawnee Indians towards the 'climax' though we hardly see any actors playing the Native American attackers, which helps the film by accident. And this goes on for 93 minutes!

Not for everyone, there are a few parts that work, but it is just all over the place and how it made it out of the studio to movie screens is curious. The actors are good, there is money in the film and it is professionally done, but it is one of those films you have to see to believe. I get the impression it did not start out as it ended up.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and once again, Warner saves another RKO film in serious need of restoration. Some scenes can look better than others, but this is the best I have ever seen this and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix sounds a little better for its age than expected.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

John Huston's Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967) has Marlon Brando as an impotent military husband of a wild, sometimes wacky and crude Elizabeth Taylor (in a cycle of films at this time where she was taking her greatest, oddest risks, from Virginia Woolf (also on Warner Archive Blu-ray) to films people forgot she made at the time) as his manic, semi-perverted wife. Based on the Carson McCullers novel (you'll be tempted to read it after this) with Huston diving into it all, he originally had the film issued in a golden monochrome color for tis entire 109 minutes running time, taking the title very literally. When that bombed, a full color version was issued and this Blu-ray set offers both.

Robert Forster (good in an early role here) plays the guy who gets in the middle of the two, with interest supporting work by Julie Harris and Brian Keith, some people have not been kind to the film and it is fair to say it does not always work, but the casting does and what these big names dared to do then (as older censorship was crumbling) so I give all involved credit for being so bold at the time. Since filmmaking has been so regressive in recent years, this has a fresh new feel and sense to it that might have gone unappreciated at the time. It may not be a perfect film, but it was made by a filmmaker with rare power and control and that is why it is worth revisiting.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers look very clean and clear, whether we are looking at the gold-washed version or full color version, shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision. Technicolor labs produced and processed both versions and though I can see how Huston was trying something different with the monotone version, I really like the full color version which was issued second and in full dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints and the version here is very close to what those prints must have looked like. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also fine and clear, monophonic sound still very common for feature films then.

Extras include a vintage Making Of featurette and both versions, as noted.

Giulia Brazzales and Luca Immesi's sexual study, Ritual: A Psychomagic Story (2013), is an Italian import that's finding a second life on DVD thanks to Film Movement. The film centers around a woman named Lia whose on the outs with her boyfriend and goes to visit her Aunt for answers. When she learns of a bizarre ritual in her aunt's 18th Century villa, she attempts to repair her damaged relationship.

The film stars Desiree Giorgetti, Ivan Franek, and Anna Bonasso.

Ritual, a Psychomagic Story is presented in anamorphically enhanced standard definition on DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. Compression issues evident as with the norm of the format. The film is very artistically shot with a lot of great composition and exotic locals.

No extras.

Ritual: A Psychomagic Story didn't do much for me personally and is somewhere between an artistic piece and a relationship drama. For arthouse lovers or those that are more a fan of the subject matter, it may work better for.

Alec Baldwin directs himself as the lead in Shortcut to Happiness (2007) which features a great cast in Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kim Cattrall, Amy Poehler, and even Dan Aykroyd. The film itself is a spin on the same narrative formula that was used to a more effective means in the Harold Ramis' comedy remake Bedazzled (2000). In fact, this is very much a lesser version of that film. As much as I adore looking at Jennifer Love Hewitt, she doesn't quite pull off the sultry Satan that Elizabeth Hurley mastered in the aforementioned film.

Alec Baldwin stars as a struggling writer who finally wrote something that he thinks is good. He takes it to a high end book publisher (Hopkins), who doesn't have any interest in it. Soon after while hanging with a bunch of his writer friends, it's discovered that one of them (Aykroyd) just landed a big book deal with another publisher (Cattrall). That night Baldwin gets mugged, loses his prized story, and throws a typewriter out a window, which accidentally hits and kills an elderly woman walking by.

He vows at that point to sell his soul to the devil in order to switch places with his much more successful friend. At that moment, the Devil (Hewitt), shows up and makes him a deal that lasts ten years and brings him everything he's ever desired. Well, he becomes rich and famous, but once the ten years starts to approach, things start to get complicated. Of course, the deal that the Devil made with him was going to have a catch. The film comes to a screeching halt during the climax, where we are left to watch a painfully boring scene where Baldwin pleads to a court to keep his soul. This totally killed the movie for me as it was pretty watchable until that point.

Shortcut to Happiness is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an audio mix in English 2.0 Stereo Sound (LPCM). The film looks and sounds fine for the format and is cleanly shot. Nothing really stood out as hindering to the presentation, with some particularly nice aerial shots of the city that serve as transitions throughout the film.

Special Features include only a Trailer.

Shortcut to Happiness isn't a terrible film, but just nothing too new. The star power is definitely here, but if I had to choose between this and Bedazzled (original or remake), I'd choose the older films.

Finally, we have Richard Brooks' Sweet Bird Of Youth (1961) with Paul Newman as Chance Wayne in this hit adaptation of the Tennessee Williams book about hate, hypocrisy, ignorance and dark secrets in the power of the local South. He plays a guy who the gals love and whose reputation made him a local legend, but he wants to be an actor, yet he is starting to age and has unfinished business, but thinks helping a drunken actress (Geraldine Page) might finally open the door for him. Unfortunately, his own character flaws and judgments, old and new, are about to catch up with him.

The town is run by rich, stuffy Ed Begley, whose daughter (Shirley Knight) got to know Chance too well, a relationship he wants to see never restarted. Rip Torn is his corrupt young successor, et al and the film pulls no punches about the perversions (as relevant now as ever) and though some things are suggested and a few might only be in the book, this is not a bad adaptation of it and the 'Southern Accents' to wear thin after a while. This runs two hours and if you can get through it, despite some flaws and down moments, it has a fun payoff.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film down to the distortions the older CinemaScope format delivered. Fortunately, this is shot to be big and wide, so that helps and the MetroColor work holds up well. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not bad either and has aged well enough.

Extras include a Geraldine Page/Rip Torn screen test, Original Theatrical Trailer and a vintage Making Of featurette: Sweet Bird Of Youth: Chasing Time. Elizabeth Taylor did a remake with Mark Harmon, by the way, and you can read about it at this link:


To order any of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Warner Archive) and James Lockhart



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com