Chalk Garden (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (10th April 2021).
The Film

Ronald Neame (The Odessa File) directs this stately adaptation of Enid Bagnold’s play which tells of a haughty matriarch (Edith Evans, The Whisperers) who employs a governess (Deborah Kerr, The Innocents) with a shadowy past to take care of her troubled teenage granddaughter (Hayley Mills, Take a Girl Like You, Endless Night), and her neglected garden. John Mills (Town on Trial, The Wrong Box) plays the butler who develops a soft spot for the governess, and navigates the fraught interpersonal relationships of the house. A hit with audiences upon its original release, The Chalk Garden benefits from a nuanced screenplay by the great John Michael Hayes (Rear Window) and tasteful photography by Arthur Ibbetson (Where Eagles Dare, Fanatic).

Video

Attractively lensed and presented, typically glossy Ross Hunter production from the '60s. Has a strong image typical of the era with lots of sharp detail on all focal planes although director Ronald Neame and Arthur Ibbetson favours shallow focus most of the time which gives the films it's slick, flat, well defined look. It's only weaknesses are typical of the optical processes used in filmmaking at the time during scene changes and during the opening and closing credits.

Black levels work perfectly in concert with the low key contrast to allow detail in shadows and highlights to be as strong as each other. No blowouts, no crush. The film has been looked after well and restored with no age related issues such as damage etc. No digital tinkering that I could detect and no signs of compression artefacts; dual-layered disc with a healthy bitrate and a top notch encode typical of Powerhouse Films' releases.

Buy with confidence; top marks.

Colours are warm and healthy with strong flesh tones and good delineation.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.85:1 / 106:19

Audio

English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English HoH

Standard mono track of the period with limited range but being a big budget, grade A pedigree production it's a top notch track with dialogue and score working together to ensure the viewer gets the clearest experience of the drama. No distortions even at high volume and base and treble are solid. Excellent subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided. As good as we can e pect from the source shy of a total rebuild from the sound stems so top marks.

Extras

Audio commentary by film historians Lucy Bolton and Josephine Botting (2021)

A detailed and academic track with bags of value; both are comfortable commentators. It's not a chatty track per se but is a bery agreeable listen with some nice touches of gentle humour to leaven the academic edge. Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

Isolated Music and Effects Track

What it says on the tine. LPCM 1.0 and uncompressed.

"The British Entertainment History Project (BEHP) Interview with Ronald Neame: Excerpted from Interviews Conducted by Filmmaker Roy Fowler on 4 and 5 September and 2 October 1991" runs as an alternate audio track over the film (106:12)

Neame is always great value - check out his commentary on The Poseidon Adventure as well - so we get a track packed full of info and warm reminiscences. Dig the Noel Coward anecdote! Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

"Clever Conversation: David Huckvale on Composer Malcolm Arnold and The Chalk Garden" 2021 featurette (21:19)
"Loved and Envied: Josephine Botting on the Life and Career of Enid Bagnold" 2021 featurette (10:20)
"Fertile Ground: Assistant Production Accountant Maurice Landsberger on The Chalk Garden" 2021 featurette (7:14)


Three featurettes totally 38:53 that form a great little retrospective look at the film and the author of the original book. Huckvale takes centre chair here and is on fine form; I could watch and listen to him discuss cardboard production and he'd make it engaging. All are 1080/24p 1.78:1 with uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo; no subtitles.

1963 8mm Location Footage (1:10)

Nice colour footage in 1080/24p 1.37:1 with no sound. Looks restored with a pastel colour palette generally flwless beyond a tramline scratch on the right towards the end.

Theatrical Trailer (2:49)

Vintage promo in 1080/24p 1.85:1 with uncompressed LPCM 1.0 sound and no subtitles.

The Chalk Garden Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (40 images)

Solid HD gallery.

32-page liner notes booklet by Melanie Williams, extracts from interviews and autobiographies, an overview of contemporary critical responses and film credits

Essential hardcopy companion.

Packaging

Standard clear BD Keepcase.

Overall

Top notch release with excellent image and sound and with bags of added value extras. A must buy!

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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