Mutiny on the Bounty on DVD
Charles Laughton would have gone down in movie history for his
portrayal of Captain Bligh even if hed never made another movie.
Hes that good.
Bligh, skipper of HMS Bounty on its mission to the South seas for
trade goods, is everyones worst nightmare of a boss. Hes so low he
could walk under a snake wearing a high hat, were you to find such a beast so
attired. Hes mean, overbearing, a swaggering dictator with delusions of
godhood. Hes so mean he had a dead sailor flogged to ensure the message
sank in with the rest of the crew.
Hes also one heck of a sailor, but that only helps the crew
stand him for a while longer
Bligh drives his men mercilessly, steals their rations to line his
own pockets, and is a real wet blanket when it comes to letting the tired crew
unwind with those pretty Tahitian girls.
Then he drags them back to sea and its back to the same old
scene as before until the moment for which everyone has been waiting.
First mate Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable), who has done his best to balance
Bligh and the men, has had enough and the title of the movie comes to pass.
Bligh and some of his loyalists are set adrift in one of the
ships boats and darned if Bligh doesnt captain them back to
Gable, perhaps because he was such a big star, isnt required
to affect a British accent here, which is a shame since the rest of the Brits
sound like Brits. It kind of keeps Gables Mr. Christian aside from the
rest of the officers and men, when he should really have been malleable enough
to fit in with both sides of the crew. Oh well.
Laughton more than makes up for it
And to be fair, Gable is good as Christian and comes across as
fair, decent and hard working a loyal officer pushed beyond the limits
This version of Mutiny on the Bounty (there were remakes in the
60s and 80s) won the 1935 Best Picture Oscar; both of the male
leads were nominated.
The DVDs pretty good. The black and white movie is presented
in its original full frame aspect ratio, so it isnt really 16x9 TV
compatible, and the picture quality is spotty at best. Theres plenty of
grain, possibly because of the successive layers of film required for some of
the blue screen shots. Perhaps a good remastering would help.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and is unremarkable.
For extras, you get a documentary from the movies era about
life on Pitcairn Island today, which is quite interesting.
Theres also a short newsreel from that years Academy Awards bash
and the theatrical trailers for both this version and the 1962 Brando/Howard
Mutiny on the Bounty, from Warner Home Entertainment
full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Donald Crisp, Herbert Mundin
Written by Talbot Jennings and Jules Furthman and Carey Wilson, directed by
Mrs. Miniver on DVD
Does anyone doubt that William Wyler could make great movies?
Well not only was Mrs. Miniver a great film in its day, its
an even more important film today considering the war on terror through which
so many people are living, pretending as if it werent going on.
Mrs. Miniver is the story of an ordinary English family called
upon by war to do extraordinary things, all while trying to continue their
lives in as normal a manner as they can under the circumstances.
Greer Garson is outstanding in the title role (in a performance
that won her a Best Actress Oscar) of the family matriarch. Shes middle
aged, and what a class act she is, smart, friendly, still sexy, and very
credible. Her life is fulfilled by her husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon), their
college-age son Vin (Richard Ney) and two younger kids.
Life is normal. Theyre comfortable, but not filthy rich, and
they love their lives and their family. Vin comes home from college spouting
all kinds of radical talk, the kind of liberal mush they fill kids heads
with in schools until life and circumstances force him to face issues
that cant just be talked about and that require thought and credible
action. This is one aspect of the film that makes it so relevant today.
One of the first things that make him start thinking with his
brain instead of his heart is next door neighbor Carol (Best Supporting Actress
Teresa Wright). Shes a child of privilege but another class act
despite the silver spoon, and soon the kids are falling madly in love.
Just in time for Britain to declare war on Hitler and the Nazis
and throw their lives into a blender.
Theres a feeling of dread and sorrow that goes through the
film, especially during scenes such as when the family is holed up in their
bomb shelter, waiting for whatevers about to happen yo happen, or where
you know someone close to the family (and by now, to you as well) just has to
be killed or it wouldnt be a drama, but you dont want to happen
and when it does, the cause and the victim are unexpected.
Then there are other scenes so full of joy you wish you could
reach into the screen and participate in a big group hug with the extended
That Wyler fellow, he could sure play this viewer like a violin.
Everything about this movie is first rate and it isnt hard
to see why it was the Best Picture of 1942, with the best director, actress,
supporting actress, screenplay and cinematography.
Wow! Okay, the last speech by the vicar is obviously aimed at the
theater audience of the day, a bit of war propaganda, but it also makes sense
and therefore it works.
This is a decent DVD, though theres nothing spectacular
about it. The disc is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, so owners
of 16x9 TVs will want to stretch and/or zoom it to fill their screens,
but thats the way it is with aspect ratios.
The picture quality itself is good. The black and white image is
clean and features good contrast and the night scenes, of which there
are many, come through well.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and, not surprisingly for a 1942
movie, is unremarkable.
Extras include a couple of WWII-era shorts that are pretty
interesting: Mr. Blabbermouth and For the Common Defense. Theres also a
short clip of Greer Garson accepting her Oscar, a photo gallery, and the
Mrs. Miniver, from Warner Home Entertainment
133 min. full
frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Henry Travers
Produced by Sidney Franklin
Written by Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel,
James Hilton, Claudine West, directed by William Wyler
The Philadelphia Story on DVD
Well, call us silly but we watched this whole movie and
couldnt figure out what it had to do with cream cheese.
Seriously, The Philadelphia Story won an Oscar for James Stewart,
but it also really put Katharine Hepburn on the map - though she surely
deserved an Oscar for her performance here as well.
Hepburn had already demonstrated her formidable skills in such
flicks as Bringing Up Baby, but that didnt
necessarily mean her Hollywood career was on the upswing. And she is nothing
short of superb here as Tracy, the betrothed socialite whose equilibrium is
flipped upside down by the return of her ex (Cary Grant, who is also excellent)
and the arrival of a reporter (Stewart).
There isnt a lot new that you can say about a film
thats considered one of the great classic comedys. And this is definitely
one of the greats. The performances are worthy of the names of the renowned
artists creating them; Donald Odgen Stewarts script seems as if it flowed
from his fingerstips directly through the typewriter and onto the screen,
thanks to the great direction of George Cukor.
Its crazy, and its gleeful about it, yet it has great
This new DVD edition is another great two disc release from
Warner Home Entertainment. There is plenty of extra material, but one thing we
missed was the great feature Warners has included on many old movie DVD of
being able to program the disc to simulate the whole theatrical experience of
the day the movies originally played, including cartoon, newsreel and short
Were real fans how Warners treats these old movies, and
cant figure out why they missed the opportunity for both this title and
Bringing Up Baby (reviewed below). Oh well.
The DVD features a digitally remastered black and white, full
frame (4:3, not 16x9 TV compatible) picture and its very good. The image
is sharp and clean with few artifacts.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and its about what youd
expect, though its pretty clean.
And despite the lack of the night at the movies
feature, you do get plenty of goodies. Heres a partial listing:
Commentary by Film Historian Jeannine Basinger
Movie Trailer Gallery
Two Documentaries - Katharine Hepburn: All
About Me - A Self-Portrait and The Men Who Made the Movies: George Cukor
Robert Benchley Short: That Inferior Feeling
Audio-Only Bonus: Two Radio Adaptations Featuring the
Movie's Three Stars
The Philadelphia Story, from Warner Home Entertainment
min. full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Produced by Joseph L.
Written by Donald Ogden Stewart, directed by George Cukor
Bringing Up Baby on DVD
If you looked up the definition of Screwball Comedy
in the dictionary, chances are theyd show a picture from Bringing Up Baby
to accompany it. And with good reason. This is a very funny movie!
Cary Grant stars as David Huxley, famous paleontologist who is
angling for a philanthropic grant for his museum. In his quest for this gift
from a rich patron, he runs into Susan (Katherine Hepburn), who, as it turns
out later in the story, is also the niece of his potential benefactor.
And of course once David meets up with her, his life will never
be the same.
David, thanks to Susan, finds himself swept up in a series of
misadventures ludicrous, yet so funny, when all he wants to do is retrieve a
Brontosaurus bone and get on with his life.
And then theres Baby, a gorgeous leopard who we wish had
more screen time. What a wonderful big pussycat!
Director Howard Hawks has given us a movie that careens along at
breakneck pace, laughing all the way. But not all the way to the bank,
apparently, at least back then. Bringing Up Baby wasnt a particularly
successful film at the box office on its initial release, but it has certainly
stood the test of time and is one of the classic examples of the screwball
comedy. Another excellent example of this art form is Peter Bogdanovichs
Whats Up Doc.
You really have to see it to appreciate the silliness of the
improbable situations, the rapid fire delivery of the lines, and the marvelous
interaction between the characters especially Grant and Hepburn.
This is another great Warners 2 disc special edition, though
as with The Philadelphia Story we cant figure
out why they didnt give it the same Leonard Maltin-hosted night at the
movies option like they do on many of their other old movies. Oh well.
Theres still lots here.
The digitally remastered full frame, black and white picture is
very clean, with nice contrast. There's a hint of edge enhancement
occasionally, but it isnt too intrusive. Audio is about what youd
expect from 1938.
Peter Bogdanovich himself does a running commentary of the movie
on Disc 1. Disc 2 has two feature length documentaries. One is devoted to
Howard Hawks, the other to Cary Grant. You also get a couple of vintage shorts
and a bunch of Howard Hawks trailers.
Youll laugh your bum off.
Bringing Up Baby, from Warner Home Entertainment
102 min. full
frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Charlie Ruggles
Written by Dudley Nichols and
Hagar Wilde, directed by Howard Hawks
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