Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DADDY LONG LEGS: Blu-ray (2oth Century-Fox 1955) Kino Lorber

Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron attempt to make beautiful music together in Jean Negulesco’s Daddy Long Legs (1955); the third and least successful – at least artistically speaking – of the four big screen adaptations loosely based on authoress, Jean Webster’s ground-breaking novel. Wholly absent – and sorely missed – this time around is Webster’s snappy dialogue; also, her particular yen for gingerly gnawing social commentary; replaced on this outing with a truncated score written by the great Johnny Mercer.  It might have worked, except that tragedy struck early on; Astaire, having committed to the picture on the grounds he could dance with Caron, suffering a personal loss when his first wife, Phyllis Livingston Potter died prematurely of cancer. Always the professional, Astaire magnanimously offered to pay 2oth Century-Fox out of pocket to cover all pre-production expenses already incurred, rather than simply bowing out of the movie. Negulesco implored Astaire to reconsider. Owing to Phyllis’ fondness for the story, Fred did. But the resultant movie is far from his best, even if there appears to be absolutely no trace of Astaire’s remorse lingering in his performance. He is, as ever, lighter than air on the dance floor and debonair to a fault. Buried somewhere in all the exposition, somewhat tediously scripted by Phoebe and Henry Ephron, remains that kernel of steadfast – if ever so modest – impropriety raised in Webster’s novel about the legitimacy of an elder gentleman courting a girl young enough to be his daughter…or, in the 55 year old Astaire’s case, even his granddaughter; Caron, having only just turned 22!
Astaire had famously ‘retired’ from the movies in 1946 after the release of Blue Skies for Paramount, his second co-starring role with Bing Crosby; their first, Holiday Inn (1942) a perennial Christmas favorite. Indeed, Paramount was eager for Astaire and Crosby to perform a hat trick in a little pastiche they were preparing to echo the plot of the first movie. Yet, Astaire politely declined Paramount’s invitation to partake of White Christmas (1954).  But two years after Blue Skies he did agree to MGM’s Easter Parade (1948) after Gene Kelly broke his ankle during an impromptu game of touch football. At the time, much had been fabricated by the reigning gossip columnists, Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, about a ‘sibling rivalry’ between Kelly and Astaire; a notion completely debunked when Kelly personally telephoned Astaire to beg for his participation on Easter Parade and Astaire, graciously accepted the role to save Kelly’s face with his boss, Louis B. Mayer. Easter Parade did more than provide Fred with another bankable smash hit. It launched his second ‘golden period’ in films and even provided the opportunity for a reunion picture with his most famous dancing partner, Ginger Rogers, in 1949’s The Barkley’s of Broadway.   
Daddy Long Legs would mark Astaire’s first and only musical for 2oth Century-Fox, though not his only one to be photographed in Darryl F. Zanuck’s newly christened Cinemascope. Indeed, Zanuck had wanted to make another version of Daddy Long Legs as early as 1946. Before that, Webster’s book had seen translation as a play; the authoress’ plot construction, written as a series of ‘first person’ letters, proving perfect for a stage work in 1914, and later, as a 1919 silent movie starring Mary Pickford; then, an early talkie in 1931, starring Janet Gaynor. For Leslie Caron, the part of this lively and likable gamin, intellectually, morally, and socially maturing under the auspices of a very wealthy benefactor (Astaire’s somewhat progressive billionaire/art collector, Jervis Pendleton III) seemed a natural. Indeed, it would provide the supple Caron with the extension of her earlier career as a professional ballet dancer. Gene Kelly’s ‘discovery’ of Caron in Paris, imported to America as his co-star in 1950’s Oscar-winning classic, An American in Paris, would alter Caron’s prospects, though occasionally not for the better. After this breakout performance, Caron was ostensibly ‘a star’. Yet, with the exception of Gigi (1958), she waffled and foundered, occasionally badly, through a series of unremarkable films at MGM.  Like most everyone else, Astaire was enchanted by Caron’s screen presence and hand-picked her as his co-star. Zanuck would have initially preferred Mitzi Gaynor for the part. But his plans to remake Daddy Long Legs as early as 1951, with perhaps Cary Grant, David Niven or Ray Milland to costar, were repeatedly staved off, and eventually fell through. A year after the picture’s release, Zanuck was out of 2oth Century-Fox, the reigns handed over to Spyros P. Skouras who, in time, would illustrate to the stock holders he was no Zanuck when it came to making marketable ‘creative choices’.
In hindsight, Daddy Long Legs seems very unlike the sort of picture that should have interested Darryl Zanuck at all; a musical, for starters – a genre Fox was best known for in the late 1930’s and throughout the 40’s by its franchises: Betty Grable/June Haver/Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda/turn-of-the-century Americana escapist fluff, and, that Zanuck readily exploited, but considered ‘lesser entertainments’ merely made for some quick cash to produce his more high-minded melodramas, brooding noirs, and progressively edgier, taboo-breaking social dramas. Ultimately, Fox would continue to rival MGM in musicals, arguably, consistently surpassing Mayer’s dream factory by the time we get to the mid-fifties and beyond, until a series of ill-timed roadshow super-musicals nearly bankrupted the studio’s ability to continue making movies at all in the late 1960’s. Daddy Long Legs was the first of eight novels Jean Webster wrote, an immediate hit with readers then, as now, for its breezy and engaging dialogue and fairly deft social critique of deplorable conditions in orphanages in the United States. To accommodate Caron’s Parisian accent, the movie’s plot was partially relocated to France (actually, the Fox studio back lot). To appease Astaire’s concerns about his elder statesmen’s burgeoning affaire à retenir with a teenager, it was decided to periodically insert humorous bits of dialogue, devoted to the tug and pull of conservative fifties moral values. Interestingly, Hollywood repeatedly found certain strengths in casting older men opposite much younger women throughout this uber-constrained/censorship-endemic decade; these May/December romances taken to the bosom of the audience and virtually ignored by the mandarins of censorship without further inquiry or even modest complaining.
We are, after all, speaking of Fred Astaire; a gentleman of the first quality with an immaculate reputation for elegantly sweeping virtually all his female costars off their feet and into the bridal suite on a white fluffy cloud of aesthetically attractive dance routines.  Perhaps there is something more to be unpacked within the critique astutely made by Katharine Hepburn of Astaire and Rogers: “He gave Ginger class, and she gave him sex appeal.”  To be sure, Astaire’s métier as the éminence grise of American ballroom is marked by a coryphée’s poise. It is class personified. He moves with a regal and luxuriating persuasiveness, married to a certain enviable, though irreproachable level of sophistication. Contrast this to Gene Kelly’s cogency as the earthy proletariat dancer; just a guy from the sticks, pitching a certain invigorating elixir of manliness to the women he vigorously pursues through dance; it is fundamentally impossible to ignore Kelly’s unapologetic virility. From this perspective, we can almost forgive Astaire his mushrooming and hawk-eyed seduction of an innocent; the Ephron’s screenplay succinctly employing montage to illustrate what four years of college can do for this bright-eyed naïve; given an enviable expense account, a sublime wardrobe and the proper education in the ways of the flesh.
And to be certain, Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron possess the elusive spark of on-screen chemistry essential to make their growing amour not only palpable, but completely convincing. Less substantial are the various musical sequences, rather brusquely cobbled together by Negulesco, who appears more interested in the dramatic/comedic elements of this tale than in any of the occasionally oppressive ballet sequences, choreographed by Roland Petit. In the first of these, Caron’s Julie Andre fantasizes about her nameless benefactor, whom she refers to as ‘Daddy Long Legs’; Astaire reincarnated thrice: first, as a gregarious Texan, looking rather tragically uncomfortable and clumsy in his glistening orange cowboy boots and ten gallon; then, more comfortably attired in his trademarked tails, with an imperious monocle – a rather austere boulevardier, relentless pursued by a gaggle of mink-lined vixens, and finally, closely reconstituted as Julie’s guardian angel; a sequence most reminiscent of the role Astaire played opposite Lucille Bremer in Vincente Minnelli’s ambitious 1945 flop, Yolanda and the Thief. Of these three impressions, the final incarnation suits Astaire best; a pleasurably eye-catching and quixotic partnership with Caron, gracefully balletic as Astaire admiringly glides all around her. The various sets conceived for this ballet are gaudy and gargantuan; production designers, John De Cuir and Lyle R. Wheeler exploiting the size and ‘scope’ of the anamorphic image to startling effect, all of it lensed by Fox’s resident ‘crabby cameraman, Leon Shamroy; a visual artiste par excellence. Yet, for all its attributes, the ballet is a clunker – mostly – Astaire, not altogether able to influence the style of the piece, and subservient to Petit’s artistic wishes. There is a clash of styles at play, something in the way of desperation as Astaire clings to the vestiges of ‘the old way’ in photographing a dance routine (the dancer in full view at all times) mercilessly at odds with Petit’s more ambitious staging techniques.
If this daydream sequence is brief, the subsequent ‘nightmare ballet’ – a 12 minute solo for Leslie Caron – teeters on the brink of thoroughly thoughtless/plotless, abject tedium. The vignettes Caron explores are, in and of themselves masterfully executed by Roland Petit with some of the most breathtaking art direction employed by a major studio for a mainstream musical. At times, there is an almost ‘Red Shoes’/Agnes De Mille quality to these terpsichorean vignettes with a dash of 1954’s A Star is Born’s ‘Born in a Trunk’ medley feathered in for good measure; Caron plunging through the possibilities of a life beyond ivy-covered academia; first, as the star-struck dreamer thrust into a full-fledged miniature performance of Le Papillion in the Paris corps du ballet; then, as a prostitute trolling a Hong Kong café in search for a rich man to take her away, and finally, as a rather bewildered performer in Rio’s artist’s carnivàle, haunted in her quest for amusement via love. Apart from his infrequent appearances as a disdainful patron of the arts, wholly contemptuous of Julie’s impressionist soul-searching, Astaire’s Jervis is happily left out of this meaningless mélange. It is a genuine shame to see so much creative verve lain to waste, but the ballet brings the narrative to a halt. It neither exaggerates these characters affections for each other nor offers Caron the opportunity to completely express hers through the art of movement.
Herein too, we ought to make a brief comment about the short shrift Johnny Mercer’s score gets in Daddy Long Legs. Apart from Mercer’s since iconic ballad, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ – left intact by Negulesco, and, the interpolated strains of Mercer’s already legendary and sublime love song, ‘Dream’ – the rest of his ‘would-be’ chart-toppers are rather badly mangled in the editing process. Astaire had petitioned for ‘Dream’ – already a smash hit he held in very high esteem - to be featured in the movie. Alas, the song only appears as heavily filtered background; an all-female chorus heard in echoes as Julie puts out the candlelight throughout the orphanage; a portion of the song later retained to cap off the story. Negulesco omits all but a brief prologue of Mercer’s witty prose in ‘History of the Beat’; electing to plunge Astaire (who recorded a complete vocal of Mercer’s lyrics) into an homage ‘drum jazz tap solo’; thinly reminiscent of two similarly styled numbers; the first, ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ from 1937’s A Damsel in Distress; the latter, ‘Drum Crazy’ from 1948’s Easter Parade. ‘History of the Beat’ rivals neither of its illustrious predecessors. Despite so rather fancy footwork, Astaire is nevertheless incapable of completely filling the vast expanses of the Cinemascope screen; Negulesco keeping Astaire in full figure, front and center, infrequently cutting back and forth to reaction shots of co-star, Fred Clark, cast as Griggs – Jervis’ officious and curmudgeonly business adviser.
This leaves Sluefoot as the only genuine full-scale production number in Daddy Long Legs; Astaire’s one opportunity to illustrate for Caron’s generation the erstwhile one can still ‘cut a rug’ and hold its own amidst the emerging sounds of youth. Sluefoot is a big and boisterous, colossally staged screen spectacle, supposedly set in the fictional Walston College’s school auditorium; herein transformed by John De Cuir’s large-scale production design into an uber-chic, almost nightclub-esque atmosphere, populated by the big band sounds of Ray Anthony (known as the B-flat Cary Grant for his uncanny likeness to the actor) and the Pied Pipers. We get a spectacular array of fresh-faced contract dancers performing rather exuberant choreography into which Astaire’s Jervis inserts himself at the most opportune moment; showing up Julie’s date for the evening, Jimmy McBride (Kelly Brown), whom Jervis will soon exile to a mining camp in Bolivia, presumably to further Jim’s elaborate career plans as an engineer, while Jervis pursues Julie for his own amidst the moneyed playground of Manhattan, ending in a pas deux atop his fashionable penthouse overlooking New York’s Central Park. ‘Sluefoot’ is a impressively staged piece of screen musical entertainment. In hindsight, one sincerely wishes more of the same had been on tap throughout Daddy Long Legs to illicit such unbridled excitement and well-deserved cheers from the cheap seats.  Regrettably, this never happens; the only other Astaire/Caron pas deux, a tag on the end of Johnny Mercer’s melodic ballad, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ (which also serves as the jazzy interlude beneath the main title sequence). Herein, we get an effortless and well-designed symbiosis between Astaire’s classical refinement and Caron’s burgeoning, if slightly less worldly, appreciation for the benefactor, ultimately to steal away with her heart. It is a sublime moment, staged in one continuous take, the camera ever so slightly re-framing to accommodate the liquidity in Astaire’s masterful execution of the dance portion.
It is something of a shortsighted tragedy, that for all its intercontinental jet-setting, Daddy Long Legs remains essentially a studio-bound production; the outdoor set depicting Walston College’s main Admissions Building, subbing in as everything from a decaying southern Gothic manor house in The Sound and the Fury to an employee’s picnic retreat in The Best of Everything (both made in 1959). The few stock shots we do get of New York are all holdovers and/or excised footage from Fox’s 1954 Marilyn Monroe comedy, How To Marry a Millionaire. Rural France is rather unconvincingly reconstituted through a series of mattes and some clever redressing of pre-existing Fox back lot exteriors having already played host to Fox’s melodrama, The Left Hand of God (also made and released in 1955). Given the studio’s rather progressive approach to shooting on location (Fox was one of the first studios to stage a good many of its noir thrillers in the actual places depicted in the movie), and the release of Fred Zinnemann’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (1955, but actually shot in Arizona), Daddy Long Legs ought to have taken full – or at least, partial advantage of its hurly-burly Manhattan settings. While musicals arguably exist in a vacuum of their own design, the few that have escaped the confines the studio system have proven either disastrous misfires in ‘opening up’ the action, or successfully eschewed the artificiality in the exercise to live on in our hearts: The Sound of Music (1965) immediately comes to mind. 
After a rather jazzy and slightly seductive main title, set to Mercer’s ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, Daddy Long Legs opens with Jervis Pendleton III’s business manager, Griggs arriving at Pendleton’s fashionable Manhattan art gallery/atelier; open to the public. The present tour group is startled by an expulsion of jazzy riffs coming from the soundproof interior of an upstairs office. We follow Griggs into Jervis’ private abode; a rather fancifully conceived uber-sleek 1950’s interior, complete with a prototype of the modern flat screen TV – and this, a full 70 years before it would actually become a reality! Jervis is where he likes best; at his drums, informing Griggs to sit down, shut up and listen to what he has to say. Following a spirited tap routine, Griggs advises his employer of a pending trip to France to settle some business accounts during the U.S. State Department’s conference. Alas, the journey from the airport to Paris is all but derailed – literally – when the Cadillac carrying the American contingent is run off the road by a horse and carriage. While Griggs and the others unproductively endeavor to dig their ditched Cadillac from the muddy embankment, Jervis elects to walk up the road in search of help. He gets more than he bargains for after stumbling upon a dilapidated orphanage in the middle of nowhere.
The proprietress, Madame Sevanne (Ann Codee) informs Jervis they have no telephone. They do, however, possess a caretaker’s jalopy Sevanne is more than happy to loan out, forewarning the car has a mind and a will of its own. While Jervis waits for the car to be brought around, he pauses to admire Julie Andre; Madame Sevanne explaining how Julie came to the orphanage as a mere enfant and has remained in her care ever since, adapting as a teacher for the other children with kindness towards all. From a distance, Jervis quietly observes as Julie makes believe the gruel they have been given to eat is everything from an ice cream sundae to pink bubble gum; the children happy to pretend right alongside her. Jervis is touched by Julie’s compassion and upon arriving at the American Ambassador Alexander Williamson’s (Larry Keating) estate in Paris, makes an unofficial inquiry about what it would take to adopt a child. At first, Griggs and Williamson attempt to politely discourage Jervis. However, upon learning the object of his philanthropy is eighteen both men draw a rather naughty and narrow-minded conclusion as per the real reason Jervis wants to be helpful. Admonishing both men for their ‘dirty minds’, Jervis nevertheless decides to become Julie’s mysterious sponsor instead; a letter arriving at the orphanage a short while later, informing Madame Sevanne all arrangements have been made for Julie to receive a first-rate education at the prestigious Walston College for Girls in upstate New York.
The terms of Jervis’ benevolence are outlined. He will have no contact with Julie while she is a student. She must write to him at least once a month, informing of her progress at Walston. To these terms Julie happily agrees. But her letters become more frequent as her fascination as per the identity of her mysterious benefactor mount. She nicknames Jervis, ‘Daddy Long Legs’ and proceeds to confide in him virtually every facet of her new experiences, lamenting the fact she never receives any reply from him in return. In the meantime, Griggs has instructed Jervis’ social secretary, Alicia Pritchard (the irrepressible Thelma Ritter) to quietly intercept all of Julie’s communications before Jervis can see them. While Alicia dutifully files Julie’s letters away, she periodically sneaks into the cabinet to read them herself, becoming emotionally invested in the life of a girl she has never met. Eventually, Alicia reveals to Jervis that Julie’s devotion to his kindness is unlike anything she has ever experienced from a young girl. Despite Griggs’ recommendation Jervis ignore the letters, he instead begins to read Julie’s entire four-year correspondence from the beginning; recognizing the same rare wit and charm and increasingly feels like a heel for never writing her back.
Jervis crashes Walston’s graduation dance, making his presence known to Julie, although not as her benefactor. He is also ‘introduced’ to Julie’s best friend, Linda (Terry Moore) who also happens to be Jervis’ niece. Linda has her eye on Jimmy McBride, contrariwise, more interested in Julie. Learning from Julie that Jimmy’s post-graduation plans for an engineering job in South Africa have fallen through, Jervis quietly ushers the impressionable lad off to his tin mine in Bolivia; an absence allowing him to pursue Julie romantically. Despite their considerable age difference, love begins to take its hold and its toll; Jervis inadvertently confessing his genuine feelings for Julie to Williamson, who is first shocked, but then saddened by his old friend’s unanticipated love affair with this much younger debutante he has helped to handcraft. In a moment of crisis, Jervis retreats into a lie, telling Julie he has to go abroad on a matter for the U.S. State Department. He will be gone for some time. He also brings Jimmy McBride back home, assured that love will take its natural course. But Julie is no fool. Moreover, she isn’t in love with Jimmy. Julie reads between the lines and assumes she has been too forward in her love for Jervis. The couple separates and Jervis goes abroad for a while, leaving Griggs and Alicia to concoct a thoroughly implausible reconciliation. Griggs sends a telegram to Jervis, pretending to be gravely ill and incapable of managing his affairs at home. Meanwhile, Alicia goes to Walston and, immediately after Julie’s graduation ceremony, informs she is taking her to meet ‘John Smith’ – a.k.a. Daddy Long Legs.   
Linda arrives at her uncle Jervis’ mansion, informing him of her plans to wed as soon as possible to the only boy who also happens to be head-over-heels in love with her: none other than Jimmy McBride. Elated at this turn of events, Jervis gives his blessing to the union and awaits Julie’s arrival. Alicia hints to Griggs there might be more to their friendship than a professional tug-o-war; the usually caustic Griggs softening under her gentle guidance. Meanwhile, Julie arrives at Jervis’ estate – is given the fifty-cent tour of the art gallery along with another round of interested patrons, before slowly beginning to connect the dots and unravel the mystery behind Daddy Long Legs. When Jervis suggests he came to the gallery to ask Julie’s sponsor for her hand in marriage, the knowing Julie turns to Jervis with adoring eyes and inquires, “Then why don’t you?” The couple embrace, share a brief spin around the gallery’s parquet floor and become locked in a passionate embrace; the perfect movie ending to a 1950’s big screen Hollywood fable.
Daddy Long Legs ought to have been better than it is. And yet, it maintains an air of sophistication, possessing a charm all its own despite its many misfires. Most of the movie’s appeal derives from the Astaire/Caron chemistry, delayed for nearly an hour at the outset of the plot and only intermittently parceled off thereafter, before being allowed its full flourish very late in the third act. This is in keeping with Jean Webster’s novel, but it does rather unhinge and needless thwart the romance of a conventional Hollywood musical to the point where we begin to question if this couple is ever going to find real ‘reel’ happiness together. In 1914, when the novel was first published, Jean Webster’s premise created quite a stir; chiefly for its May/December romance, but also marginally for Webster’s outspoken progressive stance against the squalor of orphanages in the United States; subliminally, though nevertheless potently feathered into the story.  The movie jettisons virtually all of Webster’s socially-minded commentary in favor of a straight-forward musicalized romantic comedy. Astaire approved of the lack of saccharine and sentimentality, but was not altogether pleased with the way the musical program was shaping up. Very odd for a vintage fifties musical, the program is the weakest aspect. Part of the problem herein is there is far too much story to get through; the songs and dances inserted almost as an afterthought, rather than being meticulously integrated throughout the plot.  
The other great oversight in Daddy Long Legs is casting Thelma Ritter in a thankless part that fails to crystalize on the screen as anything more than window-dressing. Primarily a stage and radio actress, Ritter came to Zanuck’s attention after performing a bit part as a harried Christmas shopper in the studio’s Miracle on 34th Street (1947). With her Brooklyn accent and unaffected no-nonsense portrayal, Ritter endeared herself simultaneously to audiences and Zanuck, who steadily built up better parts for her in other movies throughout the late forties and early fifties. Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, though never actually winning one, Thelma Ritter is a welcomed presence in Daddy Long Legs, if wholly underused as the film’s deus ex machina, sent to reunited Jervis and Julie before the final reel. I sincerely miss the era that spawned such iconic character actors as Thelma Ritter. Lest we forget the ‘stock company’ players who perennially populated the backgrounds of Hollywood’s filmed output in the 1930s, 40s and 50s; such memorable faces as Claude Rains, Reginald Owen, Faye Bainter, Charles Winninger, Sidney Greenstreet, Gale Sondergaard, Peter Lorre, Oscar Levant…and the list goes on – and on. Our movie culture is since far lesser for their absence. Thankfully, the memories and most – if not all – of their movie appearances remain intact, to be revisited and appreciated for the fine artistry on display. Daddy Long Legs is not a great musical, or even a great Fred Astaire musical. But it has Astaire, at 55, looking at least ten years younger, and effortlessly doing what he did best. It also has Leslie Caron, at the pinnacle of her screen appeal and going from winsome to ‘wow!’ as she transitions from ‘egghead’ to an exceptional woman of quality in the twinkle of an eye. Fox gets an ‘A’ for all the effort poured into this mix. But in the end, we get more C-grade filler than a profound classic to live on in perpetuity in the mind’s eye: a shame, if not a write off.
Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray is a write off. I grow increasingly unimpressed with Fox’s laissez faire attitude toward their deep catalog releases in hi-def. Very little attention has been paid to this Blu-ray release. In fact, it looks like the very same flawed and somewhat faded elements used to remaster Fox’s long-since retired DVD have been ported over and bumped up to a 1080p signal with no additional clean-up or color correction applied. This is evident from the moment the iconic 2oth Century-Fox logo with its extended Cinemascope tag appears on the screen; colors shimmering, grain intensified, and the once majestically azure blue background and gold lettering looking fragile, faded and careworn. From here on in, what we get is an image that badly waffled between marginally appealing, to downright disappointing. The old DeLuxe color palette is a wan ghost flower of its former self. While a few scenes still have at least a hint of the eye-popping hues that must have knocked audiences right out of their seats in 1955, most of the palette looks very anemic; particularly, flesh tones. The color falls into a sort of nondescript midgrade register of ruddiness with very weak contrast, occasionally jarred from its complacency by a splash of red or burst of orange. There does not appear to be any vinegar syndrome creeping in. But overall, this is a very dull transfer, depriving us of the lush and meticulously hand-crafted John De Cuir/Lyle Wheeler sets. What ought to have been an experience oh so lovely to look at is merely a passable configuration of tired colors and weaker than anticipated contrast; blacks, very weak indeed. A smattering of film grain crops up now and then, but almost entirely during dissolves and very inconsistently rendered. The 2.0 DTS audio marginally improves on the old DVD’s 2.0 Dolby Digital. But again, it doesn’t really set the world on fire. We get the same audio commentary featured on the retired DVD. But we also could have done with an isolated score track. There’s also a theatrical trailer and Movietones premiere footage. Otherwise, another middling effort from Fox, who continue to sweep their history under the proverbial rug as though it were dust bunnies instead of finely-minted pure gold. For shame!
FILM RATING (out of 5 – 5 being the best)


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