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It seems as though "Oscar" rarely takes beautiful actresses seriously that is, until they take on roles that downplay their looks. Most recently, it was Charlize Theron’s unrecognizable transformation for MONSTER, but back in 1954, it was Grace Kelly’s dowdy appearance in THE COUNTRY GIRL ($15) that caught the Academy’s attention. THE COUNTRY GIRL certainly presented Kelly with one of the best roles of her career, which proved once and for all there was a real actress wrapped up in that absolutely gorgeous package. Although I am heaping all the accolades on Grace Kelly, another key component that made THE COUNTRY GIRL a memorable film was Bing Crosby’s truly fine dramatic performance- one that earned the crooner/actor an Academy Award nomination.

The plot of THE COUNTRY GIRL follows song and dance man Frank Elgin (Crosby), whose stage career fell on hard times after he began hitting the bottle. As the film opens, Broadway director Bernie Dodd (William Holden) wants to cast Elgin in the lead role of an important show, even though he has been warned that the alcoholic actor is far more trouble than he’s worth. Although the role would mark Elgin’s comeback, the actor seems reluctant to accept it, until his pragmatic wife Georgie (Kelly) nudges him in the right direction. While, Georgie is about the only thing from keeping the tightly wound Elgin from popping his main spring during the show’s chaotic rehearsal and out of town tryouts, the actor tends to use his wife as a public scapegoat for everything that goes wrong- including his falling off the wagon. The cast of THE COUNTRY GIRL also features Anthony Ross, Gene Reynolds, Jacqueline Fontaine, Eddie Ryder, Robert Kent and John W. Reynolds.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made THE COUNTRY GIRL available on DVD in a rather nice looking black and white transfer that frames the film in a 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. The image generally appears sharp and well defined, although there are individual shots and some occasional process work that seems a bit soft. Blacks always seem inky; whites are crisp and stable, plus the contrast is fairly smooth, with some starker moments that add dramatic impact. The film elements used for the transfer displayed a few more age related blemishes and minor scratches than I would like to see, but they aren’t excessive. There is a noticeable grain structure during much of the presentation, but it renders a nice film-like appearance to THE COUNTRY GIRL. Digital compression artifacts are never a bother.

THE COUNTRY GIRL comes with a perfectly fine Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Most of the background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the movie with a generally smooth and reasonably pleasant sound, especially during the musical passages. Fidelity has some of the expected limitation for a film of this vintage, but the track is never harsh or tinny. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks are provided, but English subtitles have been included. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features; however, no supplemental content has been provided.

THE COUNTRY GIRL is fine old style Hollywood entertainment that features a couple of legends in roles that allow them to shine. Paramount’s DVD looks and sounds quite nice leaving movie buffs with little to complain about.



The Country Girl (1955)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 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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