Gideon’s Day takes us on a twenty-four journey in the life of Jack Hawkins’ titular London-based detective.
The third film in Indicator’s John Ford at Columbia box set, Gideon’s Day, is presented on a dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The notes for the presentation indicate the 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 4K restoration conducted by Sony. Though the disc does allow the option to open the film with the American title, Gideon of Scotland Yard, I don’t believe the disc actually contains the American cut, which looks to have been shorter (this is also mentioned in the supplements). This cut runs the same length.
The presentation for this film is a bit of a step down in comparison to the grandiose, scope image of the previous film in the set, The Long Gray Line, though it’s certainly still an incredible looking picture. This film has a far grainier, shall I say grittier, look to it, with a drabber colour scheme. Still, the colours look sharp and are saturated nicely, with a few pops of bright reds, oranges, and the like in places, and despite a couple of slight fluctuations they appear stable. Black levels are also strong, aiding in a few shots draped in shadow. The digital encode appears clean, rendering the heavy grain quite well.
I don’t recall any blemishes ever appearing, or at least nothing glaring or obvious. The image is very sharp and stable, and considering its rare availability on home video prior to this (at least in North America) I was pleasantly surprised with how well this turned out and how much effort went into it. A really nice looking presentation.
(This disc is locked for region B.)
Indicator’s disc presents the film’s monaural soundtrack in DTS-HD MA. It’s a perfectly serviceable track with noticeable, if limited, range. Dialogue is clear and the music sounds good, and damage is not an issue.
Interestingly this film, the one British film in the set, gets a stacked edition compared to the other films found in it, and it starts things off with an audio commentary by author Charles Barr. After the energetic and fun track for The Long Gray Line, this one comes off significantly dryer yet isn’t harmed much by that. It’s natural to come into this film figuring it will be a lesser Ford; very little is written about it and it’s one that hasn’t been too easy to come across on video, at least from my experience. Still, Barr offers his defense of the film, based more on how it impacted him on a personal level, and he goes over its various strengths in terms of locations used, the look, photography, tight editing, and how it presents London. He even likes to guess how American audiences possibly reacted to the film. Though it’s a bit of a comedown from the previous commentary I still found it an interesting and engaging analysis of the film, managing to get me to look at it a little differently.
The film is accompanies by another alternate track: an audio interview with the film’s cinematographer, Freddie Young, recorded for the British Entertainment History Project on April 1st, 1987 and August 14th, 1987, and conducted by Roy Fowler and Alan Lawson. A bit hard to hear at times (though quality changes drastically for the better during the last third) Young goes over his career and talks about a number of films, talking about the places he travelled to for work (the States, Canada for 49th Parallel) and the filmmakers he worked with. He spends a lot of time talking about John Ford and David Lean, even comparing the two directors’ directing styles. Again, hard to hear at times, and also a bit on the dry side, but it’s a great career overview.
Up next is another video essay by Tag Gallagher, this one entitled Milk & Sugar, again looking at the visuals of the film, including framing and lighting to express the reactions of characters and the significance of moments. There is also another archival interview with Leonard Maltin, who also offers a defense of the film (though more as a pure entertainment) and talks a bit about how the American and British versions differed initially (apparently the American version was not only shorter but also black & white). These two segments run 9-minutes and 3-minutes respectively.
Indicator then records a couple of new interviews for this disc, one with the film’s continuity supervisor, Elaine Schreyeck and another with Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London. Schreyeck talks about Ford’s attitude towards continuity (he wasn’t overly concerned) and shares a few stories from the set. Wootton talks about the film, the book on which its based and the changes between the two (the humour is exclusive to the film), while also offering other details about the production and how it presents London. Bot are great inclusions and it’s a shame that Indicator didn’t get new interviews similar to this for the other titles, though I assume it was easier to film participants in the UK. They each run 6-minutes and 28-minutes respectively.
The disc then closes with a handful of quick features. Outside of the film’s UK trailer the disc also features 4-minutes’ worth of silent archival footage of John Ford and Lindsay Anderson at the NFT, a 3-minute featurette highlighting the locations that appear in the film, and then an image gallery featuring production photos, posters, and more.
Like the other titles in the set this one also receives its own booklet. Robert Murphy’s essay on the film—and how it sticks out from Ford’s other works—opens it and is followed by a reprint of a short interview between ford and Irish journalist Michael Killanin. There are then reprints of first hand accounts around the film’s making and Ford’s visit to London through an excerpt from Jack Hawkins’ autobiography and then an excerpt from writings by Lindsay Anderson (which includes a somewhat painful/funny account of watching one of his documentaries and Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible with Ford). The booklet then closes with a couple of excerpts from reviews of the time, neither that great: one by John Gillett for Monthly Film Bulletin and the other by Bosley Crowther for The New York Times, with the added not it was more than likely in reference to the truncated American version since Crowther.
In the end Indicator has put together a rather stacked edition and it’s the more interesting set of supplements to be found in the set.
Another solid title in the set, not only delivering an impressive looking presentation but a also a substantial set of supplements.