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ANOTHER JOHN FORD MASTERPIECE ON BLU RAY
on February 7, 2013
January brought two John Ford masterpieces to Blu Ray for the first time and the results are stunning to say the least. Olive films released the long awaited Ford classic "The Quiet Man"(1952) on blu ray for the first time in an impression 4K scan restoration that puts all other DVD & VHS versions to shame. Likewise, Fox has released the Oscar winning "How Green Was My Valley"(1941) in a new Blu Ray transfer that's not only stunning, but a wonder to behold. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to upgrade from my regular DVD of "How Green Was My Valley" because of Fox's recent less than steller blu rays of "Titanic"(1953) and "The Grapes of Wrath"(1940, another Ford classic). But when I thought of their excellent blu rays of "All About Eve"(1950), "Gentleman's Agreement"(1947)and "The Hustler"(1961), I decided to take the plunge. I'm glad I did. Like Warner's recent blu ray of "Mrs. Miniver", "How Green Was My Valley" looks just beautiful on blu ray. There are no scratches, dirt, white specks, hair or debris of any kind on the film. I don't know if they used the original film negative but it sure looks like it. Although filmed in black and white, you can still get a sense of the green valley that the coal miners live and work in from Arthur C. Miller's superb cinematography. Blacks, whites and greys look stunning and every frame is crystal clear(Bitrate: 35.73). "How Green Was My Valley" has been unfairly targeted over the years as the film that did not deserve the Oscar for Best Picture of 1941. Many film historians and so-called Oscar experts think that the award should have gone to "Citizen Kane". The same argument could be made the year before when Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" beat John Ford's "The Grapes of Wrath". Except for "Citizen Kane" the other three were based on popular novels of the time and all of the films can stand on their own as filmmaking at it's best. The one thing that separates Ford from other filmmakers is how he casts the actors in his films that make you believe that you're watching a real family. Whether it's the Joads of "The Grapes of Wrath" or the Morgans in "How Green Was My Valley" or the frontier family of "The Searchers"(1956), you really believe the actors are a family. That was one of Ford's qualities as a director. Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood are superb as the heads of the Morgan family and they get great support from Ford regulars Barry Fitzgerald and Maureen O'Hara to name a few. But it's little Roddy McDowell that really touches your heart in a winsome and heartbreaking performance. It's a picture that touches on many human interest themes including daily living hardships both personal and working, conflicts, bullying, romance and even tragedy. But through it all it's the family that holds everything together. "How Green Was My Valley" is 119 minutes long(Aspect ratio: 1.33.1) and has the following subtitles: English SDH and French. Audio includes: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 1.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 and French DTS 5.1. Extras include "The Making of" featurette. If you like classic films from one of the masters then you can't go wrong with Fox's blu ray of "How Green Was My Valley".