Friendly Persuasion

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Jess Birdwell (Gary Cooper) and his family are Quakers, which means they’re opposed to violence and the like. But as the Civil War rages around them, it seems as though time could arrive when violence would be at their doorstep and they’d have to defend themselves. As the war has passed through the cities over the years, it has been far from Birdwell’s town, but now the Confederate forces have begun to close in and this sparks some issues with the locals. Some feel the time has come to fight back against those forces, before their town suffers the same fate as so many before. As the armies march through the towns, they loot, burn, and destroy all their path and Birdwell’s town seems to be coming soon on their lists. His neighbors want to take arms and defend their homes, lives, and land against the invaders, but Birdwell is certain another solution will present itself. But with time running out until the armies arrive, will another solution surface or will Birdwell be forced to choose between his beliefs and his livelihood?

I’d seen this movie a few times before this review, so I knew what lied in store for me with this disc. I can’t say that I cared much for the movie the times I had viewed it, but since I was a little older since the last time, I thought things might be different this time around. I don’t think Friendly Persuasion is a bad movie by any means, but it just doesn’t seem to hit the right buttons with me. I think the acting, especially by Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire is good and the direction is solid, but I just never became too interested in what was happening. I like a lot of slowed paced films, but this one seemed to have too many slow spots and I feel time was wasted in many places. I think one hundred and thirty-seven minutes is a reasonable running time, but this film fails to take advantage of that time and that makes the movie seem twice that length. I can however see why some people would like this film, it has good elements as well as bad, just not enough good for me. If you like this movie or are interested, then by all means give this disc a spin, there’s worse ways to spend your time.

This film has a very strong cast, shored up by terrific lead performances by a trio of gifted workers. You might remember him as Norman Bates, but Anthony Perkins (Psycho (1960), The Black Hole) made one of his first screen appearances in this movie and even then, he showed his skills were in fine form. He might not be as powerful as in some of his later roles, but he still has the spark and effectiveness we’ve come to expect from his work. Also in top notch form here is Dorothy McGuire (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Old Yeller), whose turn here was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. She is able to make her character seem very natural, which is very important in a film like this one. The finest work in this film though belongs to Gary Cooper, who gives his usual above average performance and lights up the screen. Cooper’s persona seems like a perfect match for this character, so his performance seems natural and fluid at all times. You can also see Cooper in such films as High Noon, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Fountainhead, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, A Farewell To Arms, and Meet John Doe.

Video: How does it look?

Friendly Persuasion is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This film is over forty years old, so it doesn’t look pristine, but this transfer does make it seem much younger. The print used shows some wear, but is pretty clean and I saw minimal instances of compression flaws also. The colors seem natural and perhaps a little soft at times, but this is intentional and as such, no complaints. I didn’t see any smears or bleeds and the flesh tones seem normal, so I doubt anyone will be let down here. No real issues with the contrast either, aside from some grain here & there and some rather light spots. This isn’t a perfect transfer by any means, but it manages to get the job done.

Audio: How does it sound?

An adequate, but unimpressive mono track handles the audio side of things, which is good and bad news. You’ll hear all the elements in decent enough form with this mix, but on the whole, this is a very unmemorable experience. The dialogue is sharp and clear though, so the main portions are well tended to and never falter. I just wish the music and sound effects could show more range at times, but that is one of the limits of the mono format. This disc also contains French mono option, as well as subtitles in English and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some talent files, production notes, the film’s theatrical trailer, and an eleven minute behind the scenes featurette.

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