Archive for the ‘Love in the Afternoon (1957)’ Category

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Distributor: Warner Bros.

Release Date: February 07, 2017

Region: Region A

Length: 02:09:56

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 2.0 English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.78:1

Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Notes: This title was previously released in various DVD editions.

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“He could do more with a closed door than other directors could do with an open fly.” –Billy Wilder (about Ernst Lubitsch)

Billy Wilder’s fondness for the “Lubitsch touch” is very much on display throughout the length of Love in the Afternoon, which is the second film that finds Audrey Hepburn under the accomplished direction of Billy Wilder. The director had just begun his legendary writing partnership with I. A. L. Diamond, who would go on to collaborate on eleven future Wilder films. The result is always enjoyable but cannot be considered one of the director’s best works. The reason for this probably lies in the unfortunate casting of Gary Cooper as the film’s masculine lead.

As American playboy, Frank Flannagan, Cooper finds himself decidedly out of his element—especially when paired with a young Audrey Hepburn. Cooper was only 56 at the time, but he looks quite a bit older than this in the film. It is difficult to believe that the Cooper that we are watching onscreen is the ladies’ man that Maurice Chevalier (as Claude Chavasse) discusses during the film’s opening scenes. Wilder’s original choice was Cary Grant, and one feels that he would have been more believable in the role—even if Grant (at age 53) was only a few years younger than Cooper at the time.

Fortunately, the solid script, Wilder’s expert direction, and admirable performances by Hepburn and Chevalier are enough to make one’s viewing experience a pleasurable one.

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The Presentation:

4.5 of 5 Stars

The disc is protected in a standard Blu-ray case with a sleeve containing Saul Bass’s original one-sheet artwork, which is enough to make this release look like a rather special one. One wishes that more Blu-rays would be released with their original poser art.

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The menu utilizes this same artwork and are easy to navigate. However, the unusual absence of a chapter menu might annoy some viewers.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

William C. Mellor’s gorgeous black and white cinematography is treated with love and respect in Warner Archive’s wonderful 2K transfer scanned from the original camera negative. Their efforts to clean up the imperfections in the scan was handled with care as the image showcases a very natural grain pattern. The transfer’s high bitrate allows for above average depth and clarity for a film of this age, even if the image is a shade softer than one might expect. It should be made clear that the picture’s softness is a direct result of Mellor’s romantic cinematography and does not reflect any weakness in the transfer. Blacks are deep without giving way to noticeable crush and the various shades of grey are equally well rendered.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The film’s original mono audio track has been carried over to the digital realm and cleaned of any glaring imperfections that might have distracted viewers. The result is a lossless track that accurately replicates what audiences would have heard in 1957. Anyone expecting anything more than this is both unreasonable and slightly ridiculous.

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Special Features:

1 of 5 Stars

Theatrical Trailer – (03:00)

Maurice Chevalier narrates this cute and entertaining marketing artifact and it is nice to see it included on the disc.

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Final Words:

Billy Wilder’s flawed homage to Ernst Lubitsch is a pleasure to watch—even if it isn’t in the same class as his best work.

Review by: Devon Powell

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