Love Affair appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Was this the worst transfer Iíve ever seen? I canít say it was, but I canít say it wasnít, either.
Everything looked awful. Sharpness was completely atrocious; this was probably the softest picture I've ever seen. At no point did the image look better than "almost okay", which it achieved during a few close-ups; otherwise, it was very hazy and fuzzy. At least the softness meant I saw no moirť effects or jagged edges, but edge haloes remained apparent.
The print itself was in pretty bad shape. For roughly the first 15 minutes of the film, it actually didnít look all that terrible - or maybe it did, but I was so whacked out about the softness that I wasn't able to scan for flaws just yet. In any case, most of the film suffered from defects, and often pretty bad ones, too.
Scratches, speckles, grain, various markings and other problems so unusual that I don't even know how to describe them all greet the happy viewer of this DVD. Strange electronic interference occurred at times. I believe that occurred because there's an excellent chance this DVD was mastered from a VHS tape - and a bad one at that! The DVD packed an abundance of flaws.
The geniuses behind this disaster also thought it was a great idea to constantly remind us what label released it. This meant a watermark that read ďHollywood Select VideoĒ remained a constant intrusion in the filmís lower right-hand corner. Iím sure this wasnít the first DVD to do this, but I canít remember ever seeing it elsewhere. Who thought it made sense to mar the presentation even more with intrusive text?
Contrast levels were terrible - the entire movie looked faded and washed-out - and black levels seemed poor as well. Blacks never really seemed black; instead, they were a mushy gray. Shadow detail was a non-issue because of the elevated light levels; I had no problem making out nuances in dark scenes because there were virtually no dark scenes - even those that should have been in low light were fairly bright. Some weird blooming affected contrast and made occasional scenes absurdly bright. Chalk this one up as a total visual disaster.
The monaural audio of Love Affair failed as well. For one, volume levels were awfully inconsistent. The movieís first 33 minutes or so came at a very low level; I had to turn up my receiverís volume much higher than normal. Matters became more normal from 33 minutes to 51 minutes, and then the volume got another jump and became louder than usual. It was crazy, as the track was so awful it couldnít even manage to maintain consistency of loudness.
At any of the volume levels, the sound was simply atrocious. All I ask of a 70-plus-year-old mono mix is for it to provide decently intelligible audio, but that didn't happen here. The dialogue consistently sounded edgy and distorted. As a result, I had a devil of a time understanding what the characters said. Unfortunately, no subtitles were included, so I couldn't rely on those to help.
Dialogue wasn't the only part of the soundtrack to suffer; both music and effects also seemed badly distorted. Hiss and background noise occurred during the film; these were present at all times, but they became more obvious as the volume level increased. I also heard some strange audio effects. Throughout the film, I discerned what sounded like backwards tape loops vaguely emanating from the background. (I played the movie backwards; they're saying, "I buried Paul... Muni".) From start to finish, this was an awful, essentially unlistenable track.
Depending on your point of view, Love Affair either comes devoid of extras or packed full of goodies. It appears as part of an eight-movie set called Academy Collection: The Envelope Please, Volume 1. This packages Affair with seven other older Best Picture nominated flicks.
If you consider those other seven movies to be ďextrasĒ, then this is a stuffed release. Otherwise, it only includes trailers for other 1930s BP nominated films: All Quiet on the Western Front, Grand Hotel, The Champ, It Happened One Night, Captain Blood, The Informer, Top Hat, San Francisco, and A Tale of Two Cities.
Love Affair has received a handful of home video releases, but I donít believe any of them have been worthwhile. I reviewed a 1998 DVD that was no better than this one Ė and possibly worse.
Which is too bad. No, I donít like the film, as it seems sticky sweet/sentimental and really leaves me cold. Nonetheless, the movie maintains appeal to a lot of people and has some historical merit, so it deserves better treatment than itís received, as the DVD is a total failure. It provides completely awful picture and audio, and it lacks extras related to the movie. Love Affair fans will have to continue to wait for a high-quality home video of the film, as this one turns into an utter disaster.
Note that this version of Love Affair appears only as part of ďAcademy Collection: The Envelope Please, Volume 1Ē. The four-disc set also includes 1928ís The Racket, 1929ís Alibi, 1931ís The Front Page, 1932ís A Farewell to Arms, 1933ís The Private Life of Henry VIII, 1937ís A Star Is Born and 1938ís Pygmalion.
To rate this film visit the original review of LOVE AFFIR (1939)