THE GREAT RACE: Blu-ray (Warner Bros. 1965) Warner Archive Collection
Played strictly in caricature, and with its heart firmly affixed as an homage to the zany antics from the silent era, Blake Edwards’ The Great Race (1965) remains an absurdly amusing transgression against the more serious permutations of entertainment infiltrating the decade; also a pointedly obtuse send-up to 60’s radical feminism, astutely lampooned in the ironic parallel between its more aggressive contemporary campaigners and the film’s own Susan B. Anthony, Maggie Dubois (Natalie Wood) – a nonsensical, if aspiring, and occasionally perspiring, ‘working woman’ - given over to rambunctious camp. It isn’t hard to figure out which side of the argument Blake Edwards sentiments fall; Donfeld’s costuming for our forthright, strong-minded female who wants the vote, but is willing to settle in marriage to the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis as an undeniable paragon of bygone masculine virtues), leaving very little to the imagination. Wood actually spends most of the film’s second act scantily clad in a vibrant rose corset that pushes and plumps out her already ample bosom. Wood is a fine actress. Alas, The Great Race is not her finest performance by a long shot. She often appears stilted; her mannerisms deliberately meant to evoke a sense of theatric grandiosity, but somehow less authentic than a silly wink and a nod to that era when actors gesticulated for their pay.
The film has far better success with Dorothy Provine; all too briefly glimpsed as sultry Lily Olay; a feisty saloon entertainer in Boracho; a forgotten backwater bedecked in all the vintage trappings of a John Wayne western. Provine is a thoroughly captivating addition to this cast, utterly superb as she belts out “He Shouldn't-A, Hadn't-A, Oughtn't-A Swang on Me”; one of two hummable songs penned by the irreplaceable, Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The other is ‘The Sweetheart Tree’, Mancini writing an exquisite ballad that draws heavily on a Pianola influence. It’s about the most authentic thing in this period picture. Director Edwards is conspiring with Arthur A. Ross on the screenplay. But it’s something of a kerfuffle, begun as a vainglorious turn-of-the-century pastiche, under the misguided pretext to tell us all about the era of the daredevil; when men of indomitable spirits and disposable cash vied for supremacy in costly globe-trotting adventures to satisfy their own boredoms and captivate the impoverished masses with their free-spirited escapes into these flights of fancy.
We get all this and more in The Great Race; a film immeasurably blessed by Fernando Carrere’s production design and art direction; also, Russell Harlan’s sumptuous and eye-filling Technicolor cinematography. Carrere bids – with varying degrees of success and accuracy – to recapture the period, as well as a host of European locations. The Great Race did shoot in Salzburg and Paris; also, Big Bear Lake, Alabama Hills and Sonora California, before confining most of its action to sound stages over at Warner Brothers in Burbank; also a few obvious outdoor sets on the old MGM back lot. Alas, footage shot within the studio’s confines belies Blake Edwards attempt to recreate a marvelous travelogue a la the likes of Michael Todd’s Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) or even Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines (1965), another 1900’s cross-country/transcontinental escapist yarn, made and released the same year as The Great Race and with roughly as much (or as little) appeal and longevity as cinema art.
Despite its evident virtues, The Great Race is decidedly second rate as a roadshow experience on several levels. The film is affectionately dedicated to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; Edward’s ‘everything old is new again’ approach to the material leaving no stone unturned. But the recycling of this famous team’s sight gags (the polar bear sketch is an obvious swipe) – along with others re-orchestrated for the movie – fails to evoke nostalgia. Instead, it almost completely reminds us just how bygone and never-to-be-forgotten the silent era remains. For starters, the reteaming of Tony Curtis with Jack Lemmon (the two had played exquisitely off each other in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot 1959) is lacking the same intangible chemistry herein; the Ross/Edwards screenplay pitting the boys against each other; Lemmon cast as the Great Leslie’s arch nemesis, Professor Fate, whose sidekick, Maximilian Meen (Peter Falk) is less than hilarious. Lemmon is having a deliriously good time playing the maniacal Fate; something of a grotesque satire of Boris – the handle-bar moustache twirling villain from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1961-64). But only he can appreciate this farce. It is grating, to say the least.
There’s not enough charm to endear us to Fate; not even to make us understand why the Great Leslie – as noble, virtuous and carefree as he is – would risk his own life and victory in the race to save the despicable Fate from…well, his own in the movie’s third act; a horrendous rip off of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), right down to its crossed-swords duel, done partially in silhouette, between our hero and Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe (Ross Martin). All the characters, from Keenan Wynn’s Hezekiah Sturdy (Leslie’s confident and travelling companion) to frenetic newspaper editor, Henry Goodbody (Arthur O’Connell) – who suffers a nervous breakdown and is committed to an asylum by his portly suffragette wife, Hester (Vivian Vance, of Ethel Mertz/I Love Lucy 1951-57 fame) are stick-figures at best. I suppose, that’s part of The Great Race’s charm; the story relying on the actors’ presence, rather than character development, to carry the weight. Actually, beyond the initial setup of Leslie proposing a lengthy competition from New York to Paris – by way of one of the most bizarre road maps ever selected for such an excursion – there’s not much of ‘story’ going on in The Great Race either.
This one’s played strictly for the guffaws; Blake Edwards ladling on the nostalgia just a tad too thick for my tastes. While naturalism was never the pursuit of the film or its director, it’s a crying shame more subtlety wasn’t applied by the actors; in effect, to surprise us with the campier moments, rather than repeatedly slug us over the brain with an, at times, lethally heavy-handed ‘look how funny we are, aren’t we?’ approach to even the most menial vignettes bridging the journey by carrier pigeon. Yes, The Great Race is meant to be episodic. But its pratfalls and wide-eyed leering grow tiresome after about the first ten minutes; particularly Jack Lemmon’s seriously apoplectic scoundrel, who teeters from gloomy hatred for our hero – simply because he is the hero – and a sort of emasculated, Freudian ‘mama’s boy’ who prefers Maximillian’s company to Maggie’s. At 160 minutes, there’s just too much ‘I can’t believe they did that’ and not nearly enough ‘wasn’t that clever?’ to win our hearts and fortify our funny bones with the proverbial good tickle.
It’s a shame too, because Mel Brooks would later illustrate the virtues of a world with no dialogue in his Silent Movie (1976…and pardon me – one word, ‘no’ uttered by – who else? – mime, Marcel Marceau: simply hilarious!). But no such sparks of brilliance seem to have inspired Blake Edwards on The Great Race. And indeed, with dialogue, the yuk-yuk sight gags in this movie (that might have worked without the benefit of sound) now seem to get weighted down and remade as unfunny tripe, precisely because they are stereophonically rendered. Edwards throws everything at the screen. The best vignettes in The Great Race are a no-holds-barred brawl inside Boracho’s Palace Saloon (a chance for some of Hollywood’s most proficient stuntmen to show off their truly mesmerizing and highly dangerous craft as they total the inside of a sound stage) and the lavishly appointed pie fight a la The Three Stooges; again, staged in Burbank, in which no custard, raspberry or lemon meringue is left untouched. The bar fight still gets my vote; chiefly because all the principles are engaged, and the delicious, Dorothy Provine (terribly underused in the movie) has no quam about rolling up her chiffon-yellow sleeves to get down and dirty with the boys. She takes her lumps on the butt – twice; sailing over the side of a pair of breakaway tables; tossed around like a ragdoll by her desperado brute of a boyfriend, Texas Jack (Larry Storch). Ray Rice…are you listening?
The Great Race does have its moments. But it takes far too long for the story to get off the ground; the Ross/Edwards’ screenplay bungling its first act with a series of botched competitions between the Great Leslie (a man constipated in his verbal communication and interactions) and Professor Fate, who suffers from chronic verbal diarrhea. Tony Curtis gives one of his most restrained performances. It’s actually refreshing not to see Curtis overreaching to impress, as he frequently did throughout his movie career.
Alas, Jack Lemmon has not taken this cue from his partner. I’ve always admired Lemmon for his comedic genius and timing. But both are woefully off in The Great Race; Lemmon’s high octane energy, no match for his truly painful interactions with Peter Falk, who seems even less to be enjoying his position as the fop’s fool. And then there’s our third wheel – Natalie Wood – to reconsider. Pert, plucky, and frequently grating on the nerves (if decidedly, never on the eye), Wood clobbers her part with an interminable amount of feminist cheek and caustic venom; inexplicably dissolving like a cube of sugar when finally forced into a locked embrace by our proverbial ‘good guy’ (Curtis’ Leslie is perpetually clad from head to toe in virginal white…just in case there was any doubt as to his virtue and/or integrity). We’re seeing some very fine actors in this movie. Alas, ‘joyless’ is the best way I can describe most of The Great Race.
We begin on an open airfield where the Great Leslie is preparing to be bound in straightjacket and left dangling upside down from a cord attached to an unmanned hot-air balloon. The gathered crowd loves it, particularly several adoring female fans, who rush the podium for one last passionate farewell kiss before Leslie is sent into the skies, presumably to his death. Not far off, Prof. Fate and Maximillian lie in wait, having concealed themselves in a tank camouflaged as a rather large bush. Fate unveils a harpoon and commands Max to fire it into the balloon. It’s a bull’s eye hit and almost immediately the balloon begins to lose altitude. Not to worry, however. This is, after all, the ‘great’ Leslie; a man of collected calm and inimitable manly grace, who effortlessly slips from his restraints, straps on a parachute, and leaps to safety from the descending balloon, much to Fate’s angry chagrin.
A short while later, we catch up to Leslie again, this time attempting to break a speedboat record; Fate and Max setting an early prototype of a sound-seeking torpedo after Leslie’s boat. Alas, in attempting to make their quick getaway, Fate and Max’s model-T backfires several times; the bomb honing in on that sound instead, leaping from the water and pursuing Fate’s car to an inevitable conclusion. Fate is, of course, beside himself. He desperately wants to rival and surpass Leslie’s feats of daring with one of his own. In this mad dash to outdo the perfect male specimen, Fate concocts a manned rocket probe he plans to shoot down the railroad tracks at lightning speed. Too bad the rocket proves much too powerful, blasting Fate and Max into the air before running out of steam and nose diving them back to the earth. In the meantime, Leslie has latched on to the next big thing; a great race from New York to Paris; by far, the most spectacular transatlantic crossing yet proposed, much less attempted.
Convincing the Webber Motor Car Company to construct a new automobile expressly for the race – the ‘Leslie Special’ – Leslie’s engineering triumph is challenged when Fate sets out to create an even more impressive – if sinister – vehicle from scratch, stealing parts from some of the best auto manufacturers. The Hannibal 8 is a sort of Franken-Chrysler; part tank/part car: all Fate, complete with a front loading cannon, a heat-seeking torpedo (ironically, never used in the film) and rear smoke screen (decidedly, overused whenever Fate cannot figure out any other way to distract his competitors). Interestingly, the ‘Leslie Special’ was built at Warner Brothers to evoke memories of the Thomas Flyer; the actual car that had won the real 1908 New York to Paris race.
In the meantime, overbearing woman’s crusader, Maggie Dubois has infiltrated the front offices of the New York Sentinel newspaper, handcuffed to the men’s room in the hopes her shenanigans will endear her to its editor-in-chief, Henry Goodbody. Henry is, however, not about to let any woman dictate to him, ordering his copyeditor, Frisbee (Marvin Kaplan) to have Maggie arrested. The edict touches off a firestorm of unwanted publicity, the suffragettes – fronted by Henry’s own wife, Hester, parading up and down the square, then inside the hallways; demanding equality. Maggie overwhelms Henry with the promise of getting the intimate story by entering the ‘great race’ herself as a competitor.
Maggie’s first prospect, to lure Leslie into having her along for the ride in his car, is crushed when both Leslie and his trusted travelling companion, Hezekiah Sturdy, proclaim an automobile race is no place for a woman. Undaunted, Maggie attempts to broker favor with Fate, sneaking into his heavily guarded shop, chased by a pack of wild Great Danes, and inadvertently blowing up Fate’s garage with the Hannibal 8 still inside. Hardly dissuaded, Maggie now manages to secure her own ride for the race, packing up her note pad and photography equipment in the backseat to document the adventures that lay ahead.
The six-car launch is interrupted when Max sabotages three competitors; one crashing into a store front, another losing its transmission on the road, and still another overturning, then having its’ wheels pop off. Alas, in his zeal to wreck the chances of anyone finishing the race, Max has also ridiculously sabotaged the Hannibal 8, leaving Maggie and Leslie as the only competitors to proceed to the next round of competition. Later, in the middle of the desert, Maggie’s car breaks down and Leslie, being the noble gentleman that he is, graciously offers her transport to the next refueling station; a forgotten western outpost called Boracho. The delay with Maggie allows Fate to gain a minor lead, arriving first in Boracho and presented with the key to the city by its Mayor (Hal Smith). All Fate wants is enough gasoline to propel his Hannibal 8 onto the next length of the journey. But the Mayor assures Fate he will receive nothing until the dawn. The town has planned a lavish celebration to mark the event. Fate manages to sidestep the Mayor, but later runs out of gas and is forced to concede he must remain in town until morning.
When Leslie arrives in Boracho he is greeted with minor hostility until he graciously accepts the honor to partake in the festivities planned for the evening. That night, at the town’s local saloon, Leslie, Hezekiah and Maggie are treated like royalty; the entertainer, Lily Olay serenading the rambunctious crowd with a rip-roaring ditty that brings down the house – literally. For Lily ‘belongs’ to Texas Jack, a notorious desperado who manages to start one of the biggest brawls in screen history, believing Leslie has designs on his girl. Actually, it’s the other way around, creating a minor rivalry between Lily and Maggie, who gets the upper hand (and upper cut, later in the fight) planting a fist on Lil’ to send her toppling to the floor.
In all the hullabaloo, Fate manages to steal the necessary gas he needs to fuel the Hannibal 8, blowing up the rest of the stockpile, thus ensuring Leslie does not follow him. To Fate’s chagrin, Maggie has snuck aboard the Hannibal 8. He ditches her in the middle of nowhere. But the next afternoon, Maggie is once more rescued by Leslie, who has hitched a team of horses to pull his car to the next outpost; Grommet, where he intends to send a wire to ask for more gas. This, however, will take time and give Fate a considerable lead. Thus, Maggie offers to expedite the time it will take to order the gas and have it sent to Grommet, by sending a message ahead of them via carrier pigeon so that the train and Leslie’s car will arrive in Grommet at the same time.
Arriving in Grommet, Leslie is bribed by Maggie into her accompanying him on the next length of the journey…or she won’t sign for the consignment of gasoline. Hezekiah has had quite enough of Maggie’s scheming. He bitterly informs Leslie he must chose who will continue the race with him. For Leslie, the choice is quite simple. So, Maggie pretends to surrender and get on board the train, asking Hezekiah if he will help with her luggage. Instead, she handcuffs Hezekiah to a seat on the train, returning to Leslie and lying Hezekiah has decided to quit and go back to New York. A brief while later, her rouse backfires, when Leslie and Maggie meet up with Hezekiah in Alaska; also, with Fate and Max who have managed the next length ahead of them by a very narrow margin. Fate kidnaps Maggie, hurrying to the next destination; Russia. The two cars are caught in a violent blizzard, Fate and Max visited by a polar bear, forcing them into a toppled heap inside the backseat of Leslie’s car. The foursome huddle together to keep warm, awakening early the next morning only to realize they’ve been cut adrift from the mainland, now drifting on a block of ice in the middle of the frigid ocean. Will they survive? Intermission.
So far, The Great Race has been a consistently plotted affair. Alas, to expedite the journey from America to Europe (we’re already 83 minutes into the movie by now), screenwriters, Ross and Edwards devise a rather shoddy connecting device; Maggie using her trained carrier pigeons to send updates about their progress to the New York Sentinel; Edwards frequently cutting away to a close-up of the Sentinel’s latest headline being read with great interest by Henry Goodbody. Thus, we move into the movie’s half-baked European adventure; Fate, Max and Maggie arriving mere moments ahead of Leslie and Hezekiah; met with an ominously stern reaction until Maggie – who speaks fluent Russian – declares a celebration in order; Fate and Max hoisted on the shoulders of the merry villagers and carried inside the local watering hole.
Once again, we cut to the New York Sentinel, now overseen by Hester Goodbody who, it seems, has had her husband committed to the state asylum for a much need rest – also, to convince him to allow women in the workplace…or else. Cut again, this time to Salzburg, Austria, mimicking one of those mythical Ruritanian European principalities – this one named, ‘Pottsdorf’. The kingdom is presided over by a foppish Crown Prince, Hapnick (also played by Jack Lemmon). Fate, Max and Maggie pause for badly needed repairs to the Hannibal 8; Max eyeing Maggie as she takes a nude swim/bath in the nearby lake (so obviously shot on the old MGM back lot in the same forest where Leslie Caron’s Gigi warbled the last few bars of ‘The Parisians’. I mean, they didn’t even try to weed out the Californian tropical vegetation, not indigenous to the supposedly European landscape).
Unfortunately, fate seems to have caught up with Prof. Fate; the rebellious Baron Rolfe von Stuppe, struck by the uncanny resemblance between Fate and Hapnick, now taking the trio hostage to his isolated schloss on the Rhine. The Baron and General Kuhster (George Macready) force Fate to impersonate the Prince for the King’s coronation. Afterward, Kuhster will instruct Fate to abdicate the throne, thereby allowing the rebel government under Stuppe’s rule to take control of Pottsdorf. The Ross/Edwards screenplay now moves into its fairly transparent rip-off of Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel, The Prisoner of Zenda. Max, posing as a monk from a nearby monastery, encourages Leslie to rescue Fate and Maggie; also, Hezekiah who has been found out by the Baron while skulking around the castle late at night and is being tortured in the dungeon. The Great Leslie and the Baron duel with crossed swords, then sabers; a flashy display of swordsmanship, paying an almost verbatim photographic homage to David O. Selznick’s 1937 movie version of Zenda, right down to the cutaway shadows on the wall.
Unable to free Fate from his impersonation of the King, the coronation takes place. Fate is forewarned by Max that Leslie – who has managed to rescue the real prince in the nick of time – is on his way to the cathedral to expose the bait and switch. Hurrying from the church with Max hiding beneath his King’s train, Fate takes refuge in a nearby bakery preparing a vast assortment of pastries for the post-coronation feast. A hideous pie fight breaks out after Fate take a tumble into the nearly six foot torte made for the palace inaugural; the various pastry chefs incensed and picking up their pies to do battle. Leslie, the real prince, the Baron, Maggie and General Kushter all get their just desserts – literally – and in the kisser. But the walloping of creams, custards and other various fillings is more grotesque than riotous; the scene devolving into an abject waste of food.
Escaping across the countryside, Leslie decides to set up camp for the night in a forest; acknowledging Maggie as an emancipated woman, only to plant a rather sexist kiss on her for which she returns a sizable wallop to Leslie’s cheek. This leaves him stunned and confused. What’s a man in love to do? The next day, while the two furiously debate a woman’s place in society, Fate gets the upper hand in the race. But he makes an incalculable error by misreading the map en route to the Eiffel Tower; Leslie easily managing to make it to the famed Parisian landmark first. At the last possible moment, Leslie deliberately throws the race to prove to Maggie he really is in love with her.
Fate is overjoyed as he effortlessly sails past their stalled vehicle; awarded the silver loving cup and showered with ticker tape streamers and confetti. Sadly, he is unable to relish his victory, knowing Leslie ‘let’ him win. Outraged, Fate refuses his prize and instead challenges Leslie to another race – from Paris to New York. The Parisians immediately erect another banner to mark the start; Leslie and his new bride, along with Hezekiah, boarding the Leslie Special and taking off on their first length before Fate and Max can even get underway. Fate instructs Max to fire the newly installed jet propulsion rockets that will presumably hurl them to victory at lightning speed. But in the film’s penultimate shot, an overview of Paris with the Eiffel plainly visible, the sudden explosion is enough to topple its girders to the ground in a cloud of dust.
The Great Race is idiotic good fun. But it lacks the essential spark of crazy excitement to catapult it into the upper echelons of screen entertainment. Honestly, there just isn’t enough ebullience to sustain its hefty 160 minute runtime. I get it. Blake Edward’s has given us a stereophonic/Technicolor and widescreen sendup to those gloriously obtuse silent B&W screen spectacles a la The Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and yes, even Laurel and Hardy. There are also elements of every road movie you’ve ever seen in The Great Race – with nods to Frank Capra’s masterpiece, It Happened One Night (1934) and Stanley Kramer’s It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). But the sight gags are mostly ill-served by the inclusions of sound, color and expanding the image horizontally. What was hilarious as slapstick in the 1920’s looks decidedly out of place in the 1960’s. Yes, it’s still homage; but not an altogether successful one, and not at all well-received when it had its premiere.
To some extent, Blake Edwards was given the green light to make The Great Race because his previous two movies (Breakfast at Tiffany’s 1961, and The Pink Panther 1963) had been so wildly successful with audiences and critics alike. Initially, The Great Race was planned as a $6 million dollar extravaganza for the Mirisch Company, financed through United Artists. However, when UA balked at the escalating budget, the project migrated over to Warner Bros. who had every confidence it would be a valiant successor to the previous hits directed by Edwards. In some ways, Tony Curtis doesn’t really fit the bill as our hero; Edwards preferring Robert Wagner, a choice vetoed by Jack L. Warner who was worried the recent divorce of Wagner and Natalie Wood would cast a pall on the entire production. Jack might have also had the overwhelming success of Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot in the back of his mind, believing Curtis and Lemmon would once more make beautiful music together – even, if they were living apart and in competition with one another in this movie.
But Tony Curtis’ participation on The Great Race proved very costly indeed; his agent, Swifty Lazar insisting on a salary of $125,000 - $25,000 more than either Jack Lemmon or Blake Edward was receiving for their work. As for Natalie Wood; she began the film under a cloud of reluctance, goaded/then bribed by Jack Warner, who assured her the lead in Inside Daisy Clover (1965); a part she desperately wanted. Unhappy chance for Wood the perceived ‘short shoot’ on The Great Race ballooned in proportion to its budget; the production eventually doubling from $6 to $12 million, making it the most expensive comedy ever filmed. The pie fight alone tipped the scales at a staggering $200,000 for less than ten minutes of screen time. The shoot proved exhaustive, trying everyone’s patience. But Wood, ever the professional, kept her energies and spirits up to its completion; shortly thereafter attempting suicide by swallowing a bottle of pills.
Viewed today, The Great Race is much more an artifact than an entertainment; a relic even in its own time and a time capsule for a type of lavishly appointed film-making we are not likely to see again. There are definite virtues to this production, as already discussed. But the pluses barely outrank the minuses and what we’re left with is a fairly sluggish, would-be comedy with more spectacle than laughs. This isn’t a great film and unlikely to be appreciated as such for some time to come – if ever. Tastes vary and shift with time, but The Great Race was merely passable for me – and infrequently ‘less than’ in spots. Judge and buy accordingly.
But there’s great news for Warner Home Video’s archive edition Blu-ray: a peerless mastering effort. This is becoming something of a habit for the WB Archive, and one definitely championed by yours truly on this blog. I just sincerely wish Warner would invest in more A-list titles from its vast catalog. Could we hope for titles like Around the World in Eighty Days, Silk Stockings, The Student Prince, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Marie Antoinette, Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Pride and Prejudice (1940) and so on, and so forth?
Aside: I recently tuned into a Warner Archive podcast between WB VP George Feltenstein and noir historian, Eddie Muller where Feltenstein seemed genuinely perplexed the recently remastered Blu-ray edition of Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947) was already in its forth minting. No kidding, George. If you release it, they will buy! Release more high profile catalog to hi-def and it will sell! I guarantee it! Alas, a lot the of the titles currently part of the hi-def archive are not A-list ‘must haves’ for collectors. I don’t know why this is so startling a find; especially to Feltenstein, who has been the driving force for catalog restorations and their releases at Warner Home Video since the mid-1990’s. But I digress.
The Great Race is everything you could possibly hope for on Blu-ray; sparkling with deep, richly saturated colors, superbly rendered contrast, and a dazzling amount of fine detail evident from beginning to end. The rear projection matte work is more obvious than ever, but that’s part of the movie’s ‘charm’. There isn’t an age-related blemish to be seen. This is a clean, crisp and beautifully rendered reference quality disc that will surely not disappoint. Better still, the 5.1 DTS audio is a minor revelation, particularly Henry Mancini’s score. It takes on a sumptuous sonic life of its own. Dorothy Provine’s ‘He Shouldn't-A, Hadn't-A, Oughtn't-A Swang on Me!’ nearly knocked me off my chair. Wow and thank you! The only extra features are a brief vintage featurette of Edwards at work and a badly worn theatrical trailer. Bottom line: highly recommended for quality. Warner Home Video is once again to be congratulated on their efforts. I just hope this means better movies are coming down this pipeline in similarly pristine 1080p. We’ll wait and see.
FILM RATING (out of 5 – 5 being the best)