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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today, an interview from 2009 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of director Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow
  • Video interview from 2009 with critic Gary Giddins, in which he talks about McCarey's artistry and the political and social context of the film

Make Way for Tomorrow

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Leo McCarey
Starring: Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi
1937 | 92 Minutes | Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #505
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 12, 2015
Review Date: April 26, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring's selfish whims. An inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story, this is among American cinema's purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow receives a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion. The film is again presented in its original aspect ratio of about 1.33:1 and is carried on a dual-layer disc. The same high-definition master used for the DVD (taken from a transfer of a 35mm fine-grain master positive) appears to have also been used here but is presented in 1080p/24hz.

This Blu-ray’s image does alleviate some of the issues Criterion’s original DVD had, though isn’t without its own problems. The image does look substantially sharper and fine object detail is impressive, with textures on certain objects looking far more natural: in many cases you can almost feel these objects because they look so natural.

Where the presentation is problematic is again in the handling of the film’s grain. The film is very grainy and there was no doubt of this when one viewed the DVD and despite Criterion’s filtering on that release, in an attempt to stabilize it on the format, grain still showed through. Here it’s far more obvious and pretty heavy. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except it looks like some sharpening has been applied. I can’t say whether this may have been something applied (maybe inadvertently) at Universal’s step in the whole process or whether it’s something Criterion did when they were prepping it for Blu-ray, but whatever the case it does impact the image. Throughout most of the film the grain is heavy but not overly distracting, but there are a number of times where it looks digital and noisy and the unnaturalness of it grabs one’s attention.

In comparison to the DVD it doesn’t look as though any further restoration has been done. Damage is about the same, with specs of dirt, some scratches, and tram lines, but the really fine scratches that were almost invisible on the DVD’s presentation are now more clear here thanks to the increased resolution. Still in terms of the condition of the materials, for a film of its age, this aspect of it is still pretty impressive.

Overall I would say this image is far better than their previous DVD edition, significantly so, but how it handles the film’s grain does mar it a bit.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

To my ears the lossless PCM 1.0 mono track didn’t offer a significant improvement over the DVD. There’s still some minor noise in the background in a few places, and the music is a bit edgy, a product of its age more than anything. And though dialogue is a bit tinny it’s still clear and easy to hear.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The DVD’s supplements, which were a modest handful, have all been carried over thankfully, including the booklet. First is Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today, a 20-minute interview with director Peter Bodanovich. In the interview he talks about his first experience with the film and then goes over the little nuances and touches found throughout the film. He briefly covers McCarey’s career from beginning to end. Bogdanovich also manages to yet again remind everyone he was friends with Orson Welles, commenting that Welles called the film “the saddest film ever made!” and would “make a stone cry.” He then manages to throw in another almost unrelated reference to Welles closer to the end. It’s an okay piece, nothing of note, though it does have some interesting photos, including photos of the make-up being applied to the film’s two stars.

Next is a 20-minute interview with Gary Giddins which proves to be better. While he covers some of the same ground as Bogdanovich he concentrates more on the social and political aspects of the film and of McCarey’s career as whole, the film having been made when Social Security was the talk of the time (in the same way as health care was at the time of the interview he mentions.) He talks a bit about the McCarthy hearings and how McCarey’s more conservative views may have hurt him, though does point out that McCarey still never “named names.” Still he may have convinced everyone involved that “weeding out the commies” was necessary. Of the two interviews found on here this is the better and more interesting one.

The release does come with a rather thick booklet, proving to be the best aspect of this set (and its welcome after a number of thin inserts in Criterion’s releases recently). The booklet includes a great essay by Tag Gallagher that is reminiscent of his video essays, using screen captures to back up some of his comments on the framing and cutting in the film. There’s also a charming piece by director Bertrand Tavernier about McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow, and then it concludes with another nice piece by Robin Wood which breaks down the final 30-minutes. The booklet proves to be the best thing about this release and is worth going through.

It’s a decent edition, though still pretty slim (especially for what is now a more premium price in comparison to the original DVD), but the booklet and Giddens interview are strong and worthwhile supplements.

4/10

CLOSING

The presentation has a few issues, mainly in how the grain is rendered: it just looks a bit noisy and unnatural at times, as if the image was sharpened a bit. Past that, the transfer is still decent, offering improvements over the previous DVD edition. It also carries over all of the supplements (all two of them mind you) and the excellent booklet.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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