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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Screwball Comedy > Satire > That Uncertain Feeling (Roan Group)

That Uncertain Feeling (Roan Group)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: A-

 

 

Ernest Lubitsch is probably one of the greatest comedic directors of all time, yet also remains one of the least known.  His work is primarily overshadowed by the work of Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, and Billy Wilder, but before them Lubitsch was making some amazingly clever, witty, and all-out hilarious motion pictures.  My exposure to Lubitsch came from one of his best films Trouble in Paradise and since then I’ve been committed to seeing as many of his films as I can, but also revisiting them over time and re-cherishing them again and again.  Another fine film that he crafted, which was later remade as You’ve Got Mail was 1940’s Shop Around the Corner starring the great Jimmy Stewart.  Lubitsch also crafted another dark, yet amusing at times film called Heaven Can Wait, which despite it’s title has no relation to the film of the same title starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. 

 

That Uncertain Feeling has Lubitsch’s personal touch written all over it and that simply means that the film is cunning, daring, and most of all…poignant despite being on the verge of a screwball comedy.  Although this film is not nearly as over the edge as To Be or Not To Be (starring Jack Benny), which is even better to watch as the years pass!  Lubitsch was an ‘old school’ director by the time he was directing these sound films because he began his career in 1914 and was a solid filmmaker during the silent era.  This would no doubt secure his ability to capture physical comedy, but unfortunately his heart attack in the late 1940’s would shorten his great career a bit too early. 

 

The storyline here is something that could have only been dreamed up back in the early part of the 20th century, but survives well.  Jill Baker (Merle Oberon) is happily married to her husband Larry (Melvyn Douglas), but decides to through some coercion to see a psychoanalyst about severe case of hiccups.  After some treatment she begins having doubts about her husband and meets up in the waiting room with a pianist played by Burgess Meredith.  His character is even more bizarre and confused and the rest of the film is devoted to seeing if her marriage can survive the madness that ensues. 

 

The Roan Group has issued That Uncertain Feeling to DVD with large text on the front of the package simply stating that this is restored from the original 35mm nitrate.  That may certainly be the case, but this film still needs some major work in order to bring it up to modern standards.  Luckily Lubitsch has survived fairly well and both Heaven Can Wait and Trouble in Paradise have been incredibly well restored for DVD from Criterion.  Warner even issued a well-respected restored copy of To Be or Not To Be, and we shall await some of his other films to be restored as well.  While the Roan Group’s effort is certainly commendable, there is absolutely no way that they can compete with the work done by Criterion or even Warner with this older pressing.  Sure, the other companies have more resources, so naturally they are able to have a more complete restoration, but that is not always the case oddly.

 

Problems with the 1.33 X 1 full frame image range from softness, poor contrast and full grayscale, plus some dirt and debris plague the entire transfer from time to time.  Yet even with these drawbacks and even some of the more severe ones, the film still plays well and is still accessible.  While this might only be a few notches up from VHS quality, at least having the film on DVD will be enough for more fans.  The 1.0 Dolby Mono is weak as well and demonstrates the films age with some snap, crackle, and pop going on which is enough to make the Rice Krispy guys want to retire.  Sadly, there are no extras to speak of, but the film is worth seeing many times and therefore owning this DVD is the best way at this point to revisit the film again and again in the best quality to date.  I can only hope that more exposure occurs towards an amazing director like this.  If people are still willing to watch annually movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, there is absolutely no reason why more films from that era (especially comedies) should be brought back into relevance.

 

 

-   Nate Goss


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