Beloved Infidel

February 24, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

A tender moment in which beloved infidels enjoy a snuggle & a cuddle.

Uploaded is a review of Twilight Time’s Blu-ray edition of Beloved Infidel (1959), one of several Fox titles the label carries which have never appeared on DVD in North America.

The decision as to which catalogue titles Fox releases on Blu seems to be rooted in which prior DVDs did well rather than what’s never appeared on disc. Case in point: 300 Spartans (1962), which is a far lesser film than Beloved Infidel, yet because of its ties to the graphic novel and film 300, it gets an HD upgrade and mass distribution.

If you’ve seen 300 Spartans, you’ll know what I mean. Besides a great final scene, some nice cinematography, and a great main title track by Manos Hadjidakis, it’s a deadly dull historical epic. You could literally enjoy a drinking game based on the times Richard Egan says (not shouts) the word “Spartans.” Egan’s wasted, Diane Baker looks sad, and David Farrar looks oh-so-silly in a curly do.

Beloved Infidel is a bio-drama covering the 3 and a half year relationship between gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and some guy named F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it has radiant stars, better production values, better direction, better score, and is a rare work about a great writer’s final tragic years.

This isn’t an argument against a studio releasing a lesser film on Blu – 300 Spartans may well sell more than Beloved Infidel‘s 3000 limited copies – but even with the melodramatic moments, the latter is most assuredly a better film that fulfills the curiosity as to what happened to Fitzgerald in Hollywood in spite of being recognized as one of America’s greatest writers.

The difference in handling is quite stark between Fox and Twilight Time: 300 Spartans is a bare bones release, whereas Beloved Infidel has an isolated score and a solid essay from Julie Kirgo, and while these extras may be of primary interest to classic film and film music fans, in the value added department, it’s always disappointing when a studio adds nothing to contextualize a film for the market, or to convince its target audience to re-buy the film on Blu.

Perhaps that’s why when I see a list of Best Blu-ray releases of the year, I’m a little baffled when a lot of studios dominate the top roster. You expect to see Criterion and certainly Twilight Time in there, but there are a lot of indie labels in the U.S. and Britain who regularly treat A, B, and grade Z cult films as special, and it’s perhaps due to their niche clientele that they’re ignored in mainstream best-of tallies.

You have to take these end-of-year polls with some salt; for all the effort major labels put into anniversary titles, there are many catalogue titles that get either bare bones or Blu upgrades with extras identical to prior DVD editions. It’s sticking to the familiar and the safe in what’s constantly being perceived as a dying or soon-to-be-dead market.

The technology in restoring and mastering films continues to improve because the studios are the main investors in the industry due to a need to keep their film libraries ready for broadcast & licensing in the best possible state.  The real advances in producing genuine definitive editions lies with indie labels, because while a title may appear in different countries, you can tell which label cared enough for the film and its clientele based on the depth of contextual extras. They’re aware of the breadth of historians and surviving participants and collectors who can improve a title’s relevance among fans & collectors.

Rant over.

Coming shortly are reviews of two Robert Redford films, The Way We Were (Twilight Time) and All Is Lost (eOne), but next is a review of something just broadcast and not (yet) on home video – the recent CBC series Best Laid Plans, which in spite of some personal reservations, is very good. Ottawa looks lovely, Kenneth Welsh is amazing, and the political jabs are quite funny.

Sort of tied to the review is my excuse to upload a short video shot back in 2012 and (finally) being completed this spring. Family friends have this vivid, colourful garden in the country, surrounded by the Gatineau mountains, and I’ve assembled an extract. Those bored with videos shot with tube cameras will be happy to know Wandel’s was shot in 1080p.

I still like tube cameras, though. The visual innards of this site, which is being morphed from a blog site to a C.V., all come from 30 year old dino cameras. The frozen purple explosion in the background [expand your browser to fill your monitor] is a camera aimed at something common, sent into a pair of vintage mixers before being sent into a third vintage mixer for colour boosting and recorded to VHS. Yes, really.





Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

Tags: ,


About the Author ()

Leave a Reply