Thursday, November 02, 2017

Kino Lorber's Restored SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944)

Last night I decided to watch my advance copy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics' Blu-ray of David O. Selznick's SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead and Monty Woolley - not to mention Soda the Bulldog. I put it on without much familiarity; not only did I not realize that I was committing to a restored "roadshow" version nearly three hours in length, but I was also laboring under the confused impression that this was one of a couple of mainstream pictures from Kino Lorber for which my friend Kat Ellinger had recorded an audio commentary for it - which would have been a taxing job, given its 177-minute length, complete with Overture, Intermission, and Ent'racte!*

I watched the first 20 minutes or so, wondering what Kat would have to say about this and that... and then, slowly but surely, I found myself drawn into the wartime melodrama of its lonely yet optimistic Americana - hook, line and sinker. For a film so deeply rooted in dark fears, and guilty of the occasional racist wartime remark or caricature, it's as inviting and heartwarming as a Christmas movie. It also reminded me strongly of times in living memory when Uncle Sam was still a beloved relative, when America was far less psychotic and manipulated to madness by our politicians and media. It's manipulative in its own way, mind you, but I can think of few nicer ways to start leaning toward the holidays.

Superbly restored over its re-release length by an additional 45 minutes, it's also beautifully photographed in B&W, with lots of long shadows and inventive shadowplay. Additional kudos for its inventive use of future BATMAN Commissioner Gordon, Neil Hamilton.

It streets November 21. Put it on your shopping list. 

* I'm told that Kat and Samm Deighan actually share commentary duties on another David O. Selznick film, I'LL BE SEEING YOU, and LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER - both from KL Studio Classics. I am familiar with neither film but I will watch both if only to enjoy their commentary work, which is always top-notch.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

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