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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Romance > Literature > Biopic > Filmmaking > Comedy > Noir > Murder > Adventure > Alcoholism > Camille (1936/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Fabelmans 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mildred Pierce 4K (1945/Warner/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Mountain (1956*)/S

Camille (1936/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Fabelmans 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mildred Pierce 4K (1945/Warner/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Mountain (1956*)/Something To Live For (1952/*both Paramount/ViaVision/Imprint/Region Free Import Blu-rays)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A-/B+ Picture: B Sound: C+/B/B-/B-/B- Extras: B-/C+/B/B-/B- Films: B-/B+/B/B-/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Mountain and Something To Live For Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at ViaVision Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K and Blu-ray players, plus Camille is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

As Hollywood's awards season peaks, a look at one of the best films of last year, the legacy of filmmaking and four Hollywood films that could inspire anyone to be a filmmaker.

George Cukor's Camille (1936) is a rare, successful remake of a film that was already well know and loved, the 1921 hit version with Rudolph Valentino in peak form. However, MGM was run by people who knew how to make film and their sound remake with another legend paid off critically and commercially. Robert Taylor gets Valentino's role, but it is Greta Garbo who really shines as the practical title character, living a great life by working an upscale version of the oldest profession.

The script had to dance around this because the Hollywood Code was coming into its own at this point, but Garbo is so appealing here, she just runs over any issues or doubts as the romance between the leads slowly, convincingly takes shape. Cukor is one of the only directors who could have pulled this off at the time or frankly, anytime, using the censorship limits to his advantage. It is also beautifully shot, sets and costumes included and its idea of 1847 Paris is pretty good, if still obvious very Hollywood. The density of the mise-en-scene is impressive too.

John Barrymore leads the impressive, if not as well known today, supporting cast in an elaborate version of the Alexander Dumas book. MGM knew they had to go out of their way to match the 1921 version and they pulled it off. Definitely, this is one that is worth a good look and is at least a minor classic of its time. Notice no one has tried to really remake it since.

Extras include an all-audio Leo Is On The Air radio program promoting the film, a Theatrical Reissue Trailer and a standard definition version of the 1921 hit Metro Pictures silent version of Camille with Rudolph Valentino and Alla Nazimova.

Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans 4K (2022) is one of the filmmakers' most personal and honest films, though he could have played it safe and not been so open about so much of his private self. Instead, the film deals with the dual pain of his parents seeming happy together, when they land up getting divorced, then experiencing hatemongering in school. I knew about both and thought the film would at least have to deal with the former due to (excellent) casting, yet he takes the latter head-on and still offers much more.

The other major storyline that criss-crosses the narrative is how he learns to become a filmmaker, loves film as soon as he sees a major one (it happens to be Technicolor Best Picture Oscar-winner The Greatest Show On Earth) and especially now, how does that work in the early analog era. There is no internet, digital video and even analog video, but there is regular 8mm film (they still make it a bit now) and 16mm film for those who are not ultra-rich (think 35mm film) and there are also no film schools yet. This is handled humorously, amusingly, realistically (especially when the camera captures some serious thinks it should not) and is the kind of thing we oddly, rarely see in any film from or set in any era.

The ever-amazing Michelle Williams and always-reliable Paul Dano are his parents, Seth Rogen very effective as the family friend, Gabriel LaBelle as a great teen surrogate for the director and a turn by Judd Hirsch so key and great, even the late, great Gene Siskel (never a fan of the actor for some reason, but I always liked him) would have been impressed.

And the film offers even more, but I will stop there as not to spoil anything. Though few have noticed, Spielberg has been on an interesting filmmaking streak lately that has produced results in a new and more open direction. I hope it continues, because this is one of the year's most underrated films.

Extras include (per the press release) these featurettes:

  • THE FABELMANS: A Personal Journey: Steven Spielberg reflects on how THE FABELMANS is inspired by his own personal story and family.

  • Family Dynamics: Discover how the film's cast brought THE FABELMANS to life as Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen and more build a bridge between their onscreen personalities and their true-life counterparts.

  • Crafting the World of THE FABELMANS: From costume and set design to music and cinematography, the filmmakers behind THE FABELMANS reveal how they created movie magic while capturing the film's unique look.

Michael Curtiz's Mildred Pierce 4K (1945) has received a solid 4K disc upgrade from Criterion, who already issued a great regular Blu-ray edition we covered a few years ago at this link:


The Warner Bros. classic also continues to be a peak of the long career of Joan Crawford and shows her amazing star power, even after leaving her long home studio of MGM, now able to take more risks at a bolder studio. Its even more effective in 4K, darker, yet clearer and effective as a result. This is now the way outside of a pristine film print to see the movie.

Of course, the set repeats the booklet and many extras of the previous Blu-ray only release.

Edward Dmytryk's The Mountain (1956) is an underrated drama with some thrills shot in the ever-great, large-frame VistaVision format and stars Spencer Tracy (who was on an interesting roll at the time) as a man who has lived most of his life near a huge mountain in The Alps. Life is tough and he has not only fallen from that mountain a few times, but worse losses have happened. This time, an airplane has wrecked at the top and an emergency group is needed ASAP to get up there and help whomever may be alive.

At first, Zachary (Tracy) is reluctant to go, but things are not working out, many do not have his climbing experience and time is running out. He reluctantly goes and brings his greedy, angry, desperate younger brother Chris (Robert Wagner, great in a thankless role) who is more interested in stealing from the dead than helping anyone. Then things get more interesting and twisted.

The film has great locations and was not easy to make, especially with the extra-heavy VistaVision cameras, but even more interesting, no matter how big and open the outdoors are, almost everyone in the film still seems trapped in one way or another, so this is not just some 'stuck-in-a' film. It juggles being that and more, asking some questions quietly about who we are as people and Dmytryk, one of Hollywood's great journeyman filmmakers (and a survivor of the Hollywood Witch-hunts) is able to handle all the material in top form, a skill he retained until his last feature film, the terrorism/revenge thriller The 'Human' Factor from 1975.

Besides the amazing cinematography from Director of Photography Franz F. Planter, A.S.C., (Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Roman Holiday, The Caine Mutiny, King Of Kings, The Big Country, Breakfast At Tiffany's) does some of his best work here in a career jam-packed with unforgettable images. Add a great supporting cast that includes E.G. Marshall, Claire Trevor, Barbara Darrow, William Demarest & Richard Arlen and you have a major A-lever production long overdue for rediscovery, though a few spots do show their age. Very recommended and a must-see for a serious film fans.

Extras include a solid NEW Feature Length Audio Commentary by film historian Howard Berger

  • NEW Above the Precipice: actor Robert Wagner Remembers 20th Century-Fox, Spencer Tracy and The Mountain in this narrated featurette.

  • Director Edward Dmytryk on the 'Hollywood Ten': 1990 interview

  • Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork

  • and an Original Theatrical Trailer

Last but not least is George Stevens' Something To Live For (1952,) a little seen drama that is also dark and deals yet again with alcoholism. Ray Milland was doing several such themed films when he plays an Alcoholics Anonymous member coming to the aid of another member in trouble, but it is Joan Fontaine (usually, it is only persons of the same sex who would be there for another member) and he also happens to be married.

Unfortunately, she starts to fall for him and vice versa, so there can only be trouble ahead. Teresa Wright is the wife and the film is a smart, sometimes dark, sad character study of its people and the trap alcoholism was, is and continues to be. Stevens knew what he wanted and made a very intimate film here in the middle of larger films he was making at the time, not unlike Hitchcock making The Wrong Man in the middle of his Technicolor, VistaVision thrillers. The melodrama is as effective as ever and its sad we do not see enough of these kinds of mature feature films anymore. Cheers to all who pulled this off. It has not been seen enough since and deserves serious rediscovery.

Extras include:

  • NEW Feature Length Audio Commentary by film historians Daniel Kremer & David Del Valle (very well done)

  • NEW Neil Sinyard on Something To Live For: interview with author of George Stevens: The Films of a Hollywood Giant

  • and a Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Fabelmans 4K is totally shot on Kodak Vision3 full color photochemical 35mm camera negative and is one of the best-looking films of the year with exceptional color reproduction, plus detail and depth with warmth that makes the experience of seeing it that much more palpable. The 1080p regular Blu-ray is good for what it is, but no match for the 4K presentation here. Both have Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtracks, as Spielberg decided against 12-track sound (like DTS: X or Dolby Atmos) to hold back the sound from being too modern. The result is still great and impressive, clean, clear and effective, so the choice works.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, black and white 1.33 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Mildred Pierce 4K does reveal a few flaws and shortcomings in the surviving archival materials, but this is the best I have ever seen the film (and I have seen it on 35mm in a great print years ago) on home video, even surpassing the regular 1080p Criterion Blu-ray I reviewed a few years ago. Both discs have the same PCM 2.0 Mono sound that is about as good as the film will ever sound, but it can show its age.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer of Camille can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and one must keep in mind diffusion lenses were used often to photograph Garbo. This is pleasant and impressive, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix can show its age as this is an early sound film, this is about as good as this film will ever sound. More fine work from warner in restoring a classic.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Mountain has some great shots and was originally shot in large-frame VistaVision, with color by Technicolor for all prints, including dye-transfer, three-strip, 35mm reduction Technicolor copies. Some parts of the transfer are decent, others have aged a bit because of older matte work, but the best shots from the location work really look good. We get a few demo shots, though this is only a 2K scan. VistaVision films need at least 6K scans to get everything out of them, but this still can impress. The soundtrack is in PCM 2.0 Mono and most VistaVision films came with an artificial form of stereo called Perspecta Sound, save the ones made by Hitchcock who did not like the system. You can play this in several surround formats and see if you get results better than mono. This sounds about as good as it can.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Something can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and is also from a new 2K scan. There are a few interesting demo shots too and this often looks just fine. The PCM 2.0 Mono sound is as good as this older film will ever sound and I'm glad it survived so well.

To order either of the Imprint Region Free import Blu-rays, The Mountain and Something To Live For, go to this link:


...and to order the Warner Archive Camille Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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