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Based upon the novel by Joseph Conrad, LORD JIM ($25) is a well-crafted and well-acted film about a man seeking redemption for an act of cowardice that arose out of his own human frailty. LORD JIM stars Peter O'Toole as the title character- an eager, young British seaman in the Merchant Marine, who has the misfortune of signing onboard as first officer of the S.S. Patna, a corroding old steamer that is transporting eight hundred Muslims on a pilgrimage. During a storm at sea, the crew panics, and in a moment of weakness, Jim joins the rest of the beckoning crew in the only two lifeboats, leaving the eight hundred passengers to their fate.

In an ironic twist, the lifeboats reach port only to discover the Patna and its passengers waiting there- safe and sound. Branded a coward, and stripped of his privileges, Jim wanders around the South Seas moving from one meaningless job to another. Eventually, Jim finds the possibility for redemption, when he offers to transport a supply of gunpowder upriver to a village, where the locals are about to rebel against a warlord who is driving them into virtual slavery. In addition to a perfectly brooding Peter O'Toole, the fine cast of LORD JIM also features James Mason, Eli Wallach, Curt Jurgens, Jack Hawkins, Paul Lukas, Daliah Lavi and Akim Tamiroff.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made LORD JIM available on DVD in a 2.20:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a very nice looking transfer that produces a rather sharp and well defined image. Colors are generally saturated at a realistic level, although there are places in the film where the hues jump out at the viewer more than others. There are no problems with chroma noise or fuzziness to mar the stable color reproduction. Blacks appear inky, whites are pretty crisp and the contrast is reasonably smooth. The film elements are fairly clean for a 1965 release, with only a modest amount of blemishes to remind one that LORD JIM is almost forty years old. A noticeable grain structure creeps in from time to time, but is never particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are fairly well contained, but there are some foggy sequences in the film, in which they can be somewhat more noticeable.

For this release, LORD JIM features a Dolby Digital 3.0 channel soundtrack. All of the sound remains up front for the presentation, and occasionally, there is some nice stereo imaging of the forward soundstage. Fidelity is generally good for a mid-1960s production, with the music producing a reasonably full-bodied sonic quality. Dialogue is crisply rendered and is remains totally understandable. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French, Japanese and Spanish subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as theatrical trailers LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and IN COLD BLOOD.

As I stated above, LORD JIM is a well-crafted and well-acted film that finds Peter O'Toole at the top of his game. Columbia’s DVD looks and sounds just fine, making it something that O'Toole fans will want to check out.



Lord Jim (1965)


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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