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ONCE UPON A TIME ($30) is one of those rare Cary Grant films, which I never had the opportunity to see in all the years that I spent watching old movies on television. However, when I heard that the film was to make both its home video and DVD debut in one fell swoop, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to review ONCE UPON A TIME. While I liked the film, I can honestly report that ONCE UPON A TIME isnít Cary Grantís finest cinematic achievement. Nevertheless, I think that Grant's fans will find ONCE UPON A TIME to be a rather charming movie fable, with a whole lot of old style motion picture appeal.

In ONCE UPON A TIME, Cary Grant portrays theatrical producer Jerry Flynn, who has had three consecutive Broadway flops and faces foreclosure on his Broadway Theater. While exiting his theater on the night that his latest show closes, Flynn happens on a young boy named Pinky Thompson (Ted Donaldson), who claims to have a caterpillar named Curly, which he trained to dance to the tune Yes Sir, Thatís My Baby. Of course, Flynn is incredulous of Pinkyís claims, that is, until he witnesses Curlyís talent with his own two eyes. Being something of a self centered heel, Flynn sees dollar signs instead of Curly, and quickly begins scheming a way to use Curly to save his theater, even if it means breaking the young boy's heart. The cast of ONCE UPON A TIME also features Janet Blair, James Gleason, William Demarest, Howard Freeman, Art Baker, John Abbott and Ian Wolfe.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made ONCE UPON A TIME available on DVD in a really nice looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The black and white film element used for the transfer is in pretty good shape, with a few blemishes and relatively minor scratches serving as a reminder that ONCE UPON A TIME is nearly sixty years old. There is a discernable grain structure throughout much of the film, although it isnít particularly heavy or bothersome. As for the picture itself, it appears relatively sharp and nicely defined. Blacks are deep, the whites look clean and the image produces a nice grayscale. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout.

ONCE UPON A TIME features a Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that doesnít sound particularly aged. Most of the background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up, which leaves the dialogue crisp and fully understandable. Fidelity is fairly limited, leaving the filmís music sounding a bit reedy. Although no other language tracks are included on the DVD, subtitles have been provided in English, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as bonus trailers for HIS GIRL FRIDAY, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON.

As I stated above, ONCE UPON A TIME may not be Cary Grantís finest cinematic achievement, but it is a very likable movie fable nonetheless. If you are a Cary Grant fan and never had the opportunity to view ONCE UPON A TIME prior to its DVD debut, you will definitely want to check out the disc.



Once Upon a Time (1944)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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