A Face In the Crowd appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a solid transfer.
Sharpness mainly satisfied, as most of the film offered strong accuracy. Occasional shots could veer a little soft, but the majority of the movie boasted positive delineation.
Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects manifested themselves, and I saw no edge haloes. With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect issues with digital noise reduction either, and print flaws rarely marred the presentation, as I noted only a couple small specks.
Blacks looked deep and dark, and the image brought us appealing contrast and whites. Low-light shots seemed smooth and well-depicted. Outside of the sporadic soft elements, this was a top-notch presentation.
As for the film’s PCM monaural soundtrack, it seemed acceptable for its era. Dialogue became the main component, and it worked reasonably well. The lines could seem a bit reedy, but they remained intelligible and lacked edginess.
Music appeared fairly full, while effects – a minor factor – came across as acceptably accurate. No signs of noise interfered with the audio. This wound up as a more than workable soundtrack for something from 1957.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio seemed a bit warmer, though there wasn’t much that could be done to improve the 60-plus-year-old source.
Visuals became a different matter, as the Criterion Blu-ray offered a major improvement. The Blu-ray boasted superior accuracy, blacks, contrast and cleanliness, as it lost the DVD’s flaws. This was an obvious and substantial step up in quality.
The set’s first two components also appeared on the DVD. In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a featurette called Facing the Past. In this 29-minute, 10-second show, we hear from screenwriter Budd Schulberg, biographer Jeff Young, USC English professor Leo Braudy, and actors Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Anthony Franciosa.
“Past” looks at the film’s background and political influences, the anti-Communist movement and director Elia Kazan’s involvement, and the Kazan/Schulberg collaboration. We also learn about story/characters, cast and performances, photography and visual design, and the movie’s reception/legacy.
“Past” manages to capture some of the film’s main participants, and that adds to its impact. We find a useful examination of various filmmaking issues, though I think it lets Kazan off a little easy in terms of his anti-Communist testimony.
The remaining extras are new to the Criterion Blu-ray, and we start with an Interview with Biographer Ron Briley. In this 20-minute, 43-second piece, Briley looks at aspects of Kazan’s life and career as well as elements of Face.
Inevitably, Briley repeats some of the information from “Past”. Still, he adds new information and makes this a fine general look at the different subjects.
We also find an Interview with Biographer Evan Dalton Smith. In his 19-minute, 43-second chat, he discusses aspects of Andy Griffith’s life and career, with some emphasis on Crowd. Smith brings us a mix of solid insights.
The package concludes with a booklet. It includes credits, photos, an essay from critic April Wolfe, parts of Kazan’s intro to the published screenplay, and a 1957 profile of Andy Griffith. The booklet adds good value to the set.
Though aspects of the way it depicts society seem quaint compared to modern politics, A Face in the Crowd nonetheless offers a powerful, prophetic tale. Packed with strong performances and a timeless theme, the movie holds up well after more than six decades. The Blu-ray provides strong visuals as well as positive audio and a fairly informative set of supplements. A prescient flick, Crowd still proves effective.
To rate this film visit the prior review of A FACE IN THE CROWD