The Country Girl

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

As legend would have it, there’s nothing that would stir Judy Garland up than a mention of Grace Kelly. In 1954 both her and Grace were nominated for best actress and though it looked set for Judy to win for her role in A Star Is Born, the voters felt differently and it was known that Judy did not take the loss very well. Grace won for her role as a long suffering wife caught in the middle of a triangle of two men, a comeback, and desperate recasting as an acclaimed play is translated to the big screen entitled The Country Girl.

A new musical is about to open and the producers and the director are in desperate need of a replacement of a male lead. With no place else to turn, director Bernie Dodd (William Holden) brings in washed up actor Frank Elgin (Bing Crosby) to audition. Dodd feels convinced that this can be a great comeback for Elgin but the producers don’t agree and so Elgin is excited to sing and dance again much to the dismay of his wife, Georgie (Grace Kelly) who’s been through more valleys than peaks with Frank and Bernie looks to make his own plans for Georgie while making sure his production goes through without a hitch.

Much is always said that both Kelly and Holden benefited from the win at the Academy Awards and the plug of the film on a well received TV appearance on I Love Lucy, but luckily this film doesn’t fall into the category of being good at one time and today not standing up as well as both awards that were won were well deserved.

The performances by all of the leads are right down the line superb. Bing Crosby plays the actor battling his own demons as well as gaining some moments of confidence. William Holden plays the director who feels it’s necessary to smooth out all the rough edges both inside and outside the musical (which this partially is, this viewer puts it under the category of musical drama as they don’t break into song every 10 minutes but have little hints of it), and Grace Kelly plays Georgie as a wife who’s had her share of struggles and gets into an even bigger one at the center of all that is going on.

The screenplay by director George Seaton helps the film flow from scene to scene without a feeling of being drawn out as most films acclaimed from that era that have won on the big night has had the reputation of doing so. And it’s good to note that Seaton’s direction and his capturing of _expression without dialogue from all three of his leads are something to cherish from start to finish. This viewer didn’t have high expectations for The Country Girl but after viewing the film, why should this viewer doubt the great talent, time and the full package when it flows so well and is a worthy film that holds up even today.

Video: How does it look?

Although The Country Girl itself is very well made, it’s unclear whether the same can be said for the full screen transfer of the film (which came about at the start of the wide processes of film, which this wasn’t shot in) on DVD. For the most part the print has it share of moments of clarity that hold but every 8-10 minutes there is evidence of specks and some debris that remains on the film. It’s not as bad as some transfers of it’s era are but it doesn’t stand out as well and what should be a good representation of a cinematography nominee of that time turns out to be just average but nothing special.

Audio: How does it sound?

What’s slightly better than the video transfer is the English Mono track on this DVD fares better with no cracks or pops in the track and even though the music and the dialogue are the center of the film and remain at the center channels of the system, they sound pleasant and clear with a slight raising of the volume but not too much. A slightly better effort. This disc also has a French Mono track along with English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Alas, for there are none (not even a trailer, FOR SHAME!!!)

A pleasant surprise, The Country Girl represents a Best Picture that even today hold up greatly thanks to its directing, screenplay and it’s marvelous performances of all 3 leads, if only the DVD could’ve been seen slightly better or even room for William’s moment with Lucy, it would’ve fared better but the film stands out and that’s the best that can be said for this release.

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