Wednesday 21 December 2016

On Blu-ray - David Hare swoons once again over DAISY KENYON (Otto Preminger, USA, 1947)

Joanie as Daisy Kenyon, Preminger's masterpiece from 1947, with best girlfriend/pal Martha Stewart/Mary Angelus in the foreground and the magnificent thirty foot high fine profiled steel framed windows and semi-sheer silk drapes from Lyle Wheeler and the Fox production design crew, which depict her West Village "hovel" as it's described in Elizabeth Janeway's novel. The seemingly overpowering production values in this totally studio created reality work superbly to Preminger's advantage as major elements in an idealized, objectively correlated New York and a story of apparently successful lives which is belied at every turn by the not quite fatal flaws of every major character. Daisy herself despite a fulfilling career, needing a marriage with someone who's already married, Dana Andrews, Dan O 'Mara the lover and king hit lawyer whose success has taken him far from youthful idealism and his own marriage now veering towards the rocks, and Henry Fonda, Peter Lapham a WW2 vet carrying around in his head what we now call PTSD. Even O'Mara's neglected wife, played by a fine Ruth Warwick, has reverted to child abuse as a means of dealing with a failing marriage. 
Daisy Kenyon is one of my top six Premingers. Like the others it just becomes more perfect every time I watch it. This time around it also comes in a mostly great transfer from KIno Lorber in another of their outstanding run of classic Fox titles for this year. A few shots, some medium closes of Joanie, or first of two running shots for optical dissolve montages are grainy, soft and digitally compressed in the mastering. The CUs at least seem to have been filmed by DP Leon Shamroy with intentional shadow and soft focus to filter Joan's handicapping 43 years, here playing a younger woman albeit extremely well with enormous composure under Otto, one of her best, if not the best, parts. The HD master is obviously the same one used for Fox's ten year old DVD with no further work done to address a few compromised shots like these. At this stage of 2016 I don't care. 
The disc is simply essential. And it carries over all the bonus materials from the older DVD.

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