The Long, Hot Summer
Martin Ritt's The Long, Hot Summer (1958) comes to DVD in a sparkling transfer that not only captures the luster and depth of the original theatrical release, but also includes a handy supplement, courtesy of American Movie Classics. The source for the DVD, which is mastered in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio to capture the original anamorphic Cinemascope aspect ratio, is nearly flawless, with nary a mark on it. Indeed, the source looks far better and is more carefully timed than some theatrical prints. The photography of the opening credit sequence alone, as Paul Newman's character makes his way along the river to Frenchman's Bend, is worth the price of the disc by itself. The main bonus feature is the AMC Backstory installment on the making of the movie, which goes into the tumultuous production of the film (which set co-star Orson Welles at the throat of director Ritt). The highlight is the on-camera interview with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; one only wishes that Martin Ritt were still around to speak for himself, but the documentary does a good job of presenting his side. Short of a commentary track, the AMC special is as good as this kind of supplement can get. The best part of this cornucopia of riches is Angela Lansbury's contribution; the appearance of Richard Anderson is also a welcome surprise, recalling the difficulties between Welles and Ritt. The other supplements include a one-minute Fox Movietone News segment about the movie's opening in Louisiana in 1958, and the original trailer (in extraordinarily good condition), which runs nearly three minutes and is pretty entertaining and amazingly frank in its own right. The 115-minute movie has been given a very generous 32 chapters, and the audio has been mastered in beautiful fidelity. Alex North's score flows out of the speakers like liquid gold, and every detail of the dialogue (even Welles' partly remixed line readings) comes out nicely audible. In addition to a stereo English-language track, the disc also includes mono French and Spanish dubbed tracks and Spanish subtitles.