on February 22, 2015
POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES  [Blu-ray] Frank Capra's Wild and Wonderful Miracle! You Have To See It To Believe It!
Capricious, winsome, whimsical, and all together delightful! Superbly directed by the peerless Frank Capra [`It's a Wonderful Life'], this remake of `Lady For A Day' is pure Hollywood magic and an unforgettable combination of comedy, whimsy and romance that was nominated for three Oscars including Supporting Actor Peter Falk [TV's `Columbo']. Impoverished Broadway peddler "Apple Annie" Bette Davis [`All About Eve'] has a problem, her daughter Louise [Ann-Margret `Tommy'], educated abroad since infancy, is coming for a visit and bringing her wealthy fiancé with her. The problem is that Louise has believed all her life that Annie's a wealthy dowager, and the poor old women who doesn't know what to do. Enter "Dave the Dude" [Glenn Ford `3:10 to Yuma'], a kind-hearted racketeer who enlists the aid to pass Annie off as a high-society granddame so Louise can marry her fairy-tale prince and everyone can live happily ever after! This Christmas classic was the final film in Frank Capra's glorious career and featured a great supporting cast that included Hope Lange, Arthur O Connell, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton and Barton MacLane.
FILM FACT: Awards: Glenn Ford Won for Golden Globe® Award for Best Actor for Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Nominations: Peter Falk for Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor. Edith Head and Walter Plunkett for Academy Award® for Best Costume Design. Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn for Academy Award® for Best Original Song. Golden Globe Award® for Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy. Bette Davis for Golden Globe® Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for Comedy or Musical and Frank Capra for Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for Feature Film.
Cast: Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, Hope Lange, Arthur O'Connell, Peter Falk, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton, Ann-Margret, Mickey Shaughnessy, David Brian, Jerome Cowan, Sheldon Leonard, Peter Mann, Ellen Corby, Jack Elam, Doodles Weaver, Barton MacLane, John Litel, Jay Novello, Frank Ferguson, Willis Bouchey, Fritz Feld, Gavin Gordon, Benny Rubin, Mike Mazurki, Hayden Rorke
Director: Frank Capra
Producers: Frank Capra, Glenn Ford and Joseph Sistrom
Screenplay: Hal Kanter, Harry Tugend and based on a screenplay by Robert Riskin
Composer: Walter Scharf
Cinematography: Robert J. Bronner
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 136 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: KINO LORBER / United Artists
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Legendary director Frank Capra, whose films include `It Happened One Night'  and `It's a Wonderful Life' , championed the dreams of the "little person." `Pocketful of Miracles'  was the last feature film he ever made, but it is no exception to the pervading sense of optimism and sentiment that were his signature. It was a remake of one of his earlier film `Lady for a Day' , which itself was based on the Damon Runyon short story Madame La Gimp. `Pocketful of Miracles' is set in the early thirties, and tells the heart-warming story of "Apple Annie" [Bette Davis], a boozy New York bag lady who is transformed into high society by gangster Dave the Dude [Glenn Ford] to impress her long-lost daughter Louise [Ann-Margret].
Apple Annie [Bette Davis] peddles apples that supposedly bring good luck to the buyer. Her best customer is Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) a big-time racketeer trying to clinch a deal with a mobster from Chicago that will make him king of the New York underworld. Meanwhile Annie gets a letter from her daughter who was raised and educated in Spain and stating that she will be arriving for a visit along with the very rich Count Alfonso Romero and his handsome son Carlos, to whom she is engaged. The only problem is that Louise (the daughter) thinks her mother is a wealthy dowager. In order to keep his luck from failing (and because of his big-heart) Dave the Dude concocts a scheme to pass Apple Annie off as a grand dame of New York high society.
The plot works in the talented hands of the brilliant cast. Bette Davis has one of her most famous make-overs, from boozy-old-broad to elegant lady. Although she clearly has more fun in the scenes before the change. Glenn Ford also shines as the ambitious Dave the Dude and Hope Lange is good as his ex-chorus-girl moll who pines for a traditional home life in Silver Springs, Maryland. Peter Falk received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his hilarious portrayal of the Dave the Dude's right-hand man, Joy Boy. Veteran character actor Edward Everett Horton steals nearly every scene he appears in as Hutchins, the butler at the fancy hotel suite where Apple Annie stays after her transformation. Thomas Mitchell (in his last screen role) is perfect as the Judge, an old conman and pool shark with a florid tongue and gracious manners, chosen to play Annie's husband. Ann-Margret (in her film debut) rounds out the cast as the beautiful Louise.
Ann-Margret, who made her screen debut in `Pocketful of Miracles' at age 20, recalled a more pleasant experience with Bette Davis in her 1994 autobiography "My Story" where Ann-Margret says, "It was quite something to be getting my screen baptism playing opposite this film legend," she wrote. "It would've been intimidating had she not been such a generous, patient teacher! I now know how difficult she was sometimes said to be," she continued, "but to me, she was wonderful." As an example, Ann-Margret described how Bette Davis stopped the action when Frank Capra was filming her first close-up. Bette Davis wanted her own hair and makeup people to work their magic on the redheaded ingénue so she would look her very best.
A big push from the studio hailed the 1961 Christmas release of `Pocketful of Miracles,' followed by many positive reviews. There was special praise for Bette Davis's return to the screen in a fine and often moving performance. Frank Capra, who had suffered such blinding headaches throughout the filming that he hid from the cast and crew, stopped making feature films after `Pocketful of Miracles.' When asked why, he said simply, "Because I did it all. Now let the younger ones do it." The film's box office profits fell short of expectations, but its warm sentiment won many fans. It garnered Academy Award® nominations. According to Frank Capra, Peter Falk was the only main actor in `Pocketful of Miracles' who didn't cause any trouble during the shoot and Frank Capra called him "a joy."
Blu-ray Video Quality – Though Kino Lorber has ill-advisedly put this highly detailed, widescreen, two-hours-plus film on a basic Blu-ray disc, I actually thought the encoded 1080p image and the aspect ratio 2.35:1 transfer looked pretty good overall. The image had a better-than-average film grain structure with minimal digital compression issues. I caught some minor colour fluctuations, but mostly the colours were vibrant and rich, with no unusual-looking skin tones aberrations. Frank Capra lets a lot of scenes play in long-take wide shots and the amount of detail in these shots is above average but not quite top-notch.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Kino Lorber has encoded the film's original mono track as 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo with identical left and right front channels. It's a solid but unremarkable track with clearly rendered dialogue, decent dynamic range and good fidelity for the musical score credited to Walter Scharf, although Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" is the most memorable of the instrumentals on the soundtrack. The title song by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen plays over the credits, and Ann-Margret does her first onscreen singing in an a Capella rendition of "The Riddle Song." One thing I am very angry about, is the fact of all the Blu-ray Reviews I have read, none have pointed out that throughout the film, now and again, the sound goes out of sync, and I have complained to Kino Lorber that they are doing a very unprofessional job, which I have pointed out with my other review of the Blu-ray `The Missouri Break' which also has the bad out of sync sound and Kino Lorber ought to be ashamed of producing very unprofessional Blu-ray discs. So that is why now if I see a film that is released by Kino Lorber that I would like to purchase, I will not do so, but sometimes the same film is released on a Region B/2 Blu-ray, so I will buy that Blu-ray instead, as Kino Lorber is doing a really bad atrocious job and should be barred 100% from releasing anymore Blu-ray discs, as they are totally unprofessional in their outlook.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [16:9] [3:00] The only extra is the trailer that is narrated by legendary variety show host Ed Sullivan, who is introducing the film and singing its praises. Sadly the image quality is really of bad rough quality.
Finally, `A Pocketful of Miracles' often nails its serious, sentimental moments more expertly than it executes its comedy. Unfortunately, the film is mostly supposed to be a comedy. Frank Capra does his best to keep it real, juxtaposing plenty of honest emotion against the broad comedy and colourful characters that fuel the film. In the end, sentiment prevails, but this heaping helping of Capra-corn wins us over despite our better judgment, thanks to a heartfelt portrayal from Bette Davis and a cornucopia of great supporting performances led by the Oscar-nominated Peter Falk. Kino Lorbo's Blu-ray presentation once again skimps on supplements, but at least it has a very good video transfer, but sadly the audio is a massive big disappointment let down. 'Pocketful of Miracles' pales when compared to other Frank Capra's best works, but it's still worth a look for fans of this esteemed director, as well as Bette Davis, and warm-hearted period comedies. But despite the bad lip sync sound problem letting the film down, I am still glad I have this last Frank Capra film in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom