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Hold Back The Dawn Blu-ray Review

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“Hold Back The Dawn” remains relevant all these years later.

In an unusual prologue, 1941’s “Hold Back The Dawn” begins with the Romanian born former gigolo Georges Iscovescu on the run from the police and entering the Paramount Studios lot looking to tell and sell a director (Mr. Saxon) his story. The story then flashes back to Georges’ past where he is stuck at the Mexican border and in need of a visa to get to the U.S. He bumps into a former dance partner (Anita) who suggests marrying an American to shorten the process. Georges finds someone to dupe into marrying him in the form of a school teacher (Emmy) visiting Mexico with her students. The two soon become married, but trouble begins to brew for Georges as the immigration department is on to his scam. Georges also begins to develop feelings for Emmy while Anita still has feelings for Georges. Naturally the entire situation becomes a powder keg.

Directed by Mitchell Leisen and written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder (yes, that Billy Wilder), “Hold Back The Dawn” may be billed as a dramatic romantic film, but it’s much more than that. It’s a rewarding character piece about love, redemption, and new beginnings. It’s also a surprisingly timely story about immigration. Much may have changed in terms of the immigration procedure, but the story really captures the emotional and arduous journey that is the immigration process. The film also deserves credit for its intriguing backstage Hollywood storyline. It may seem like a tacked on element, but it feels fresh here.

The performances are strong across the board. Charles Boyer is fantastic here as the flawed Georges. He should have been nominated for his work here. One person who was nominated, however, was Olivia de Havilland as the naive lovestruck Emmy. It’s not hard to see why the legendary actress was recognized by the Academy. She adds so much to each and every character. Paulette Goddard who plays the selfish and jealous Anita also impresses and provides even more drama for the characters and the story.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? With the print damage, it’s definitely not the sharpest print around, but it’s still an upgrade to be sure.

Audio Track: Uncompressed 1.0 PCM Stereo. How does it sound? A crisp track all-around.

Extras:
* A booklet featuring credits, photos and an essay by writer/reviewer Farran Smith Nehme.
* An hour long radio drama adaptation of “Hold Back the Dawn.”
* Image gallery
* “Love Knows No Borders”- Film critic Geoff Andrew talks about “Hold Back The Dawn” and director Mitchell Leisen.
* “The John Player Lecture: Olivia de Havilland”- A 1971 audio interview between John Kobal and Olivia de Havilland.
* A thoughtful and informative commentary by Adrian Martin.

July 5, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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