The Twilight Time Zone
Drums Along the Mohawk
Cast-Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver
Country of Origin-U.S.
Written by Bobby Morgan
Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert headline this handsomely-produced American Revolution epic from the golden year of 1939. It was of director John Ford's biggest hits at the time and a highlight of his years making films for 20th Century Fox. Fonda and Colbert play a newly-married Christian couple whose efforts to build a home and life for themselves in upstate New York are derailed by relentless assaults from Native American tribes and British enemy soldiers. Their loving bond is tested and forged in the fires of war. Ford's elegant command of the camera, the masterful action scenes, and the lead performances (as well as a supporting cast to be proud of, including Ward Bond and an eyepatch-sporting John Carradine) help elevate Drums Along the Mohawk to the upper echelons of historical dramatic cinema. It may be far from a classic, but it's pretty damn great in spite of its horribly dated portrayals of Indians and I'll take it over that idiotic Mel Gibson flick The Patriot any day.
The warm and sumptuous 1080p high-definition transfer was prepared by Twilight Time and the 1.33:1 full frame looks astounding for its age. Colors are strong without becoming overpowering, grain content is low, and details are surprisingly clean and lustrous. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono track is clear and audible and the vibrant music score by Alfred Newman sounds fantastic. English subtitles are also provided. Extras include an audio commentary by film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman, the original theatrical trailer, a catalogue of other titles from Twilight Time, and a booklet of liner notes written by Kirgo. The best extra is the Redman-directed 2007 documentary Becoming John Ford (93 minutes), which examines the development of the legendary director's career and in particular his years working for Fox, with filmmakers Walter Hill (Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs.) and Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) providing the voices of Ford and studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck, respectively. The documentary also includes contemporary interviews filmed in the same screening room at Fox once used frequently by Ford and Zanuck. This Blu-ray is a fantastic release of an underrated historical yarn deserving of a little more respect. Golden Age Hollywood filmmaking at its absolute finest.
The Film: 4/5
The Way We Were
Cast-Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, Bradford Dillman
Country of Origin-U.S.
Written by Bobby Morgan
Hey, it's your mom's favorite movie! Guess what? It's actually pretty good. But seriously, The Way We Were is that rarest of breeds, a "chick flick" that isn't insufferable to watch. Coming from a decade where promising young filmmakers virtually fresh out of college were being handed the keys to the Hollywood kingdom and creating timeless works of cinematic art, Sydney Pollack's mature, intelligent love story would have appeared an anachronism were it not for the fact that its attractive stars can act their asses off. Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand give the story their all as a pair of unlikely lovers who establish a love affair for the ages in spite of their opposing political philosophies. The film takes place in an America gripped by war and almost brought to its knees by the phantom threat of Communism, with Streisand's radical left-wing activist and Redford's carefree big man on campus and aspiring novelist meeting for the first time while attending the same university. Their starry-eyed romance has its ups and downs in the years that follow as their attitudes regarding democracy change but their love and mutual gift for bringing out the best qualities in each other don't, even as the nation's changing societal mores threaten to consume their relationship.
In lesser hands The Way We Were could have dissolved in sentimental mush quickly, but Pollack and screenwriter Arthur Laurents (with David Rayfiel and Alvin Sargent taking uncredited cracks at the script) focus primarily on making the lead characters smart and passionate while allowing for them to be vulnerable at times, which both Redford and Streisand adeptly communicate in their terrific performances. Marvin Hamlisch's sweet-natured soundtrack (augmented by the original, Oscar-winning title song which Streisand sings) underscores the good times and the bad in the central love story, and Way's stars are ably supported by minor but winning turns from Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles, Patrick O'Neal, Viveca Lindfors, Sally Kirkland, Murray Hamilton, and a young James Woods in one of his earliest film roles.
The Way We Were makes its debut on Blu-ray and Twilight Time has made the film look and sound as great as when it first hit theater screens in 1973. The 2.35:1 widescreen picture has been remastered in 1080p high-definition and is bright, clean, and free of noticeable defects in the print. Backing up the outstanding video quality is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track with every component of the sound mix coming through the speakers loud and clear, but never so loud that manual volume adjustment is needed. Extra features are a combination of new contributions from Twilight Time and a few noteworthy holdovers from Sony's 2000 special edition DVD and include a thoughtful and informative commentary from the late Pollack, a newer commentary from film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman that supplements the director's comments with some fascinating facts and analysis of their own, the retrospective documentary "Looking Back" (61 minutes) that features interviews with most of the main players except for Redford, an isolated DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track featuring the Hamlisch score in all of its splendor, the original theatrical trailer, and the company's customary book of liner notes written by Kirgo.
The Film: 4/5
Director- Woody Allen
Cast- Mia Farrow, Julie Kavner
Country of Origin-U.S.
Written by Scott MacDonald
Twilight Time has been on a somewhat of a Woody Allen kick recently putting out the director's Broadway Danny Rose and Crimes and Misdemeanors. It is established that they have a few others in the pipeline, but this month they have released one of Allen's most underrated, yet greatest pictures of his 80's period, Radio Days.
Woody Allen with Radio Days is basically making Fellini's Amarcord in 1940's Brooklyn, and is one of Allen's most autobiographical pictures as far as casting a light onto what we can assume is his own personal history. Rather, than showing the cinematic influence on his life like other films such as the Purple Rose of Cairo. we are shown how radio effected not just him, but the world around him.
The comparison to Amarcord is quite an apt one, because Radio Days does not have a single plot line running through it. It is told as a series of vignettes usually following the family of Joe (played by Seth Green on screen, and narrated off screen by Woody Allen). It also expands to show the world "in the radio" from the actors in the shows they listen to, to the intimate details of a news report regarding a little girl far from New York City that fell down a well.
The direction from Allen is simple, but effective, and he alongside longtime cinematographer Carlo Di Palma create a warm nostalgic glow to the whole affair. The performances, as can be expected are across the board excellent from the minor roles to the larger ones, and for a piece that plays to more of Allen's dramatic side, it is has some quite funny bits strewn throughout.
Twilight Time releases Radio Days with a 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that looks gorgeous. The film has excellent detail, a nice warm appearance, solid blacks, and a nice level of grain throughout. The audio is a DTS-HD MA 1.0 track that does the job quite well, dialogue comes through nicely, as does the score. I did not detect audio issues. Extras include a booklet, isolated score, and a pair of trailers.
The Film: 4.5/5