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DESIGNING WOMAN ($20) is a delightful romantic confection from director Vincente Minnelli, that includes a bit of music and drama thrown in for good measure. While the plot DESIGNING WOMAN does seem to toss together elements from few genres, the script gels quite nicely, which is probably why the film earned an Academy Award for its screenplay. Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall star in DESIGNING WOMAN as a somewhat mismatched couple that meet, fall in love and marry while vacationing in California. Upon their return to New York, they face the reality that Mike (Peck) is a slovenly newspaper sports writer and Marilla (Bacall) is a meticulous high fashion clothing designer with nothing in common- other than their love for one another. Complications arise when Marilla agrees to design costumes for a Broadway show starring Lori Shannon (Dolores Gray)- a woman Mike denies knowing, even though he was having a relationship with her prior to his trip to California. Things become even more complicated when Mike runs afoul a crooked boxing promoter and finds himself saddled with a bodyguard named Maxie Stultz (Mickey Shaughnessy), a punch drunk former boxer who makes Marilla very uneasy. The cast of DESIGNING WOMAN also features Sam Levene, Tom Helmore, Jesse White, Chuck Connors, Edward Platt, Alvy Moore, Carol Veazie, Richard Deacon, Dean Jones and Jack Cole.

Warner Home Video has made DESIGNING WOMAN available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Warner has produced a truly beautiful transfer of this 1957 release, one that makes the film seem newer than it actually is. The image is generally crisp and very well defined; only the actresses’ close-ups are slightly diffuse looking, which was a general practice in the days of Hollywood glamour cinematography. Colors are quite vibrant and stable looking, with the reds and other intense hues holding up very well. Flesh tones are appealing, although they do have the healthy glow of the studio makeup department. Blacks are accurately rendered, plus shadow detail and contrast are just what one would expect from late 50’s MetroColor. The dual layer DVD doesn’t display any noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.

DESIGNING WOMAN is presented with a good sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Dialogue is always completely understandable; even down to Mickey Shaughnessy purposely muddled speech. Neither background hiss or audible distortion are apparent at normal amplified listening levels. While there are the expected frequency limitations in the recordings, André Previn’s music does come across in a pleasant fashion. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as a few of supplemental features. Included on the DVD are biographies for Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall and Vincente Minnelli. Additionally, one will find interview footage with costume designer Helen Rose, a theatrical trailer and a listing for the film’s Academy Award.

DESIGNING WOMAN is a delightful romantic gem that will appeal to film buffs and anyone delving into old style Hollywood on DVD. Warner’s DVD looks and sounds great, making this a worthwhile addition to the collections of Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall and Vincente Minnelli fans. Hopefully Warner will follow this release with more Vincente Minnelli titles like THE BAND WAGON, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, SOME CAME RUNNING, HOME FROM THE HILL, LUST FOR LIFE, THE COBWEB and TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER, as well as a remastered, 16:9 enhanced collector's edition of BRIGADOON.


Designing Woman


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 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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