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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2012

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Charade, My Man Godfrey & Sullivan's Travels (DVD) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-april-2012-charade

Synopsis

This review is a collection of three Universal restorations that were recently released on DVD. 

My Man Godfrey (1936) - Often regarded as one of the funniest screwball comedies of all time, it is also notable for being the first film to be nominated for Academy Awards® in all four acting categories. Also nominated for Best Director and Best Writing, the film was remade in 1957 with David Niven and June Allyson.

Sullivan's Travels (1942) - Preston Sturges was the first prominent screenwriter to direct his own scripts. He went on an unparalleled creative streak that brought to the screen some of the most beloved films of all time including Sullivan's Travels. Starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake, the film was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1990.

Charade (1963) - In their only film together, iconic Hollywood legends Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn teamed with director Stanley Donen in what many film lovers consider the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made. In response to its suspenseful storyline and timeless cross genre appeal, Charade was remade as The Truth About Charlie in 2002.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1936 - 1963, Color and B/W, Not Rated, 502 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 Anamorphic
  • Codec: MPEG 2
  • NTSC
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Starring: William Powell, Carol Lombard, Joel McRea, Veronica Lake, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn 
  • Directed by: Greggory La Cava, Preston Sturges and Stanley Donan
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: None

Commentary

Out of this "collection" of three Universal films, I enjoyed Godfrey the most.  This movie was a dynamic production with some very excellent acting while the script was hilarious, making me think of an early Arrested Development.  It is brilliant, actually.  So, I enjoyed Godfrey the most, but I was most entertained by Charade.  First of all, it's in color and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen plus the disc comes with a Digital Copy.  Charade is also bolstered by fine acting from two of the industry's greats - Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.  Walter Matthau has a key supporting role as well.  As a modern American, I was thoroughly perplexed by the constant references to the difference in age between Grant and Hepburn, the romantic pair.  The least of the 3 films was Sullivan.  It was intriguing with its good cinematography and quality production values, but I found the story to be corny by modern day standards.

Technical

Godfrey and Sullivan are presented in a native 4:3 aspect ratio. Charade is the one movie in this set that is in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is given the full anamorphic treatment here and it is in full color as well.  I still gave the highest video rating to the oldest of the three films, Godfrey.  This restoration is from a very clean and stable print particularly considering its age.  It had a neutral color temperature and the gray tracking was spot on.  Charade comes in second with its similarly excellent restoration.  It does display a fairly high level of film grain while the black level is about average for a DVD.  The audio was a servicable mono on each of the discs.

Extras

Each disc has interesting documentaries regarding the history of Universal along with theatrical trailers for the films.  Charade comes with a Digital Copy.  This is good, because Charade makes a great movie for parties.