Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group/Paramount Pictures
December 24, 2019 marks 77 years since famed director Billy Wilder’s domestic directorial debut made its own theatrical debut. The movie, The Major and the Minor, starred Ray Milland (The Uninvited, Dial M For Murder, The Lost Weekend) and Ginger Rogers (Kitty Foyle, Tom, Dick and Harry, Monkey Business) in a story that places Rogers’ character Susan Applegate into a rather precarious situation when she meets Miland’s Major Philip Kirby. In the decades since its debut, the classic romantic comedy has garnered praise from critics and audiences alike, even receiving a perfect 100% tomato meter rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For all of its success, the movie has only received a handful of home releases. Now it has gotten new life on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group on Blu-ray. This new re-issue is the first time since 2008 that the movie has received an official release and the first time ever that it has seen release on Blu-ray. It gives audiences quite a bit of reason to applaud beginning with its bonus content. It is rare that this critic will point out a new release’s bonus content as its most important element, but this release is one of those rare cases in which its bonus content is just that. It will be discussed shortly. The bonus content makes the movie’s story more engaging and entertaining than it would have been sans said content. To that end, the movie’s story is its own important part of the Blu-ray. When it is considered along with the Blu-ray’s bonus content, they make the Blu-ray’s average price point relatively affordable. This will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the Blu-ray. All things considered, this latest release of The Major & The Minor one more of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.
MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and The Minor is a positive new presentation for the classic Paramount Pictures romantic comedy. It is a good way for the companies to celebrate the movie’s upcoming 77th anniversary. That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue. Featured in the re-issue as extras are: a feature-length audio commentary from film scholar Adrian Martin, a half-hour retrospective on the movie’s history courtesy of film critic Neil Sinyard, and a full-hour-long radio presentation of the movie that features famed filimmaker Cecil B. DeMille. The audio commentary and retrospective are the most important of the bonus items as they provide, collectively, an in-depth history of the movie and its story. Martin and Sinyard both point out the symbolism of Pamela and Susan as point and counterpoint in the discussions on whether the U.S. should get involved in World War II. Each man also makes note of the issue of Major Kirby’s conflicted feelings toward Susan and the risqué nature of those conflicted feelings. That in itself adds a lot to the story. Also of note that each man discusses, is Wilder’s use of disguise and deception among characters in the story, and how it would go on to become a trademark of his directorial style. On a related note, Martin also takes time to talk about items, such as character placement and lighting within given scenes. As if all of this is not enough, Sinyard also discusses how the movie satirizes the military and the timing of the movie’s creation and release in connection to America’s entry into World War II. Since Martin’s commentary is featured as part of the movie itself, Sinyard’s retrospective is recommended for viewing ahead of watching the movie. It gives the movie’s story a completely different identity than it would have had sans all of that background. Martin’s background adds even more after having watched the movie.
The background that Martin and Sinyard provide for The Major and the Minor are clear examples of the importance of bonus content to DVDs and Blu-rays. They show how bonus content can easily make or break a DVD/BD’s presentation. For all that they do for the movie’s presentation here, the bonus radio version of The Major and the Minor is notable in its own right. That is because of its nostalgic value. The broadcast features Rogers and Milland, as well as appearances by famed director Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille provides introductions to each of the play’s acts. The transfer from the original tapes to this presentation featured no loss at all, so there is no need to adjust the volume at any point throughout the program. What’s more, the static from that original broadcast is there, too. Simply put, this is another example of how possible it is to transfer vintage to modern technology without any loss. This could lead to discussions on whether there really is a place for vinyl today, despite the view of so many hipsters. It is possible to transfer vinyls to CDs without loss, too. Getting back to the subject at hand, that clean transfer from the original tapes to Blu-ray creates its own wonderful experience. What’s more, there are some minor changes between the screenplay and the radio play, but those changes were clearly necessary because certain elements obviously did not translate well from the screen to the radio. Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus radio performance of The Major and the Minor proves just as enjoyable as the big screen version. In turn, it makes the bonus radio presentation just as worthwhile as the bonus commentaries from Martin and Sinyard. Collectively, those commentaries and the bonus radio play create a strong foundation for the Blu-ray that cinephiles across the board will appreciate.
The bonus content featured with the recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is key to the re-issue’s presentation, because of the strong foundation that they form for said showing. If not for that content, the movie would be anything but interesting. Keeping the bonus commentaries from Sinyard and Martin in mind while watching the movie, they make the movie’s story quite an interesting work and actually believable. Maj. Kirby’s bad eye helps with suspension of disbelief in terms of how he fell for Susan’s act. On another level, the understanding of Susan and Pamela more as symbols of a deep topic makes them even more valuable to the story, and not just the standard romantic rivals that are so overly common in every rom-com. What’s more, the issue of how Susan was treated by the men throughout the movie will appeal to female viewers – again in understanding Sinyard and Martin’s commentary. It makes Susan that much more of a sympathetic character, even without the note of her as a symbol for the noted political discussions. The bonus commentaries also help to explain why Pamela’s sister was the only person who didn’t fall for Susan’s ploy. It helps to make believable the blindness of the cadets and the adults who fell for her deception. The end result of those understandings makes the story something truly in-depth and entertaining all in one. Keeping that in mind, the story becomes far more watchable than it would have been without the commentaries, again showing the importance of the movie’s bonus content.
The entertainment and engagement offered through The Major and The Minor’s story – thanks to the Blu-ray’s bonus content – goes a long way toward making this re-issue a worthwhile watch for cinephiles everywhere. Being that the bonus content and story work so well together, they make the movie’s average price point just as appealing to audiences in its own way. The movie’s average price point is $31.25. That price is reached by averaging prices at MVD Entertainment Group’s store, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million. The least expensive listing for the Blu-ray is at Amazon, Walmart and Target, at $27.49. The most expensive listing is at MVD’s store and at Books-A-Million’s store, at $39.95. Best Buy lists the Blu-ray at $27.99, only slightly more expensive than the price listed at Amazon, Walmart and Target. Barnes & Noble Booksellers lists the Blu-ray at $28.39. Paying almost $40 is a little bit overpriced for this Blu-ray even keeping in mind the importance of the expansive, in-depth bonus content and its role in the enjoyment of the movie’s story. On the other hand, $27.49 is actually relatively affordable, considering that Arrow Video’s releases are imports. Arrow Video is based in the United Kingdom. If the release were from a U.S. company, that might be a bit overpriced, but considering it is an import, it is about average, price-wise and worth the least expensive listing. No matter which retailer consumers choose, the reality is that Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group will still receive a portion of those sales, so they are not going to lose out if consumers opt to buy the Blu-ray from Amazon, Walmart or Target. Keeping that in mind the average price listing for this Blu-ray is largely a positive, and together with its content, makes the Blu-ray a presentation that cinephiles and classic movie buffs alike will appreciate.
MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is a positive presentation from the companies that proves widely appealing. That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the re-issue. That content makes the movie’s otherwise run-of-the-mill rom-com story far more interesting than it would have been without said content. The bonus content and story make the import’s average price point relatively affordable and worth paying in the end. Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the movie. All things considered, they make The Major and the Minor appealing for classic movie buffs and cinephiles alike. The Major and the Minor is available now. More information this and other titles from Arrow Video is available online at:
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