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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
The Grass Is Greener (1960)

Hattie: I do think you should try to avoid bloodshed, darling. It's a little old fashioned.Victor: It's time we brought it up to date.
- Jean Simmons, Cary Grant

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: April 26, 2002

Stars: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons
Other Stars: Moray Watson
Director: Stanley Donen

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:44m:34s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 017153120462
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-B-C D-

DVD Review

Cary Grant a cuckold? What right-thinking screen wife would dare step out on the most dashing man in the history of talking pictures? But Deborah Kerr is no slouch herself, and if it's in the interest of movie fun, I suppose we can allow it just this once. Grant stars as Victor Rhyall, an English earl who, unable to keep up with the astonishing costs of maintaining the family manor, has opened it up to tour groups. He and his wife, Lady Hilary (Kerr), have thus become essentially monkeys at the zoo for hordes of tourists. Despite the clear demarcation between the public and private zones on the house tours, one curious American, Charles Delacro, decides to take a peek where he shouldn't, and finds Hilary. He's played by Robert Mitchum, and if that isn't enough reason to let him stay, Hilary soon learns that he's an American oil baron, a millionaire. Mitchum is charming, in a role that might not at first seem well suited to him. (In fact, it's the sort of part that Grant could probably have phoned in.) Hilary is soon head over heels for Charles, and she comes up with a sorry excuse to spend a week in London, with the rich American, away from the lord of the manor. (Lord and Lady Rhyall have two children, who are conveniently scurried away in the first scene of the movie, and then just as happily reappear in the last.) Hilary insists that she's in town getting her hair done and spending time with her best friend, the daffy Hattie (Jean Simmons), but Victor knows what's what, that his wife is smitten, and not with him. Hattie comes to the country to console Victor, who comes up with an inspired idea: why not invite his wife's boyfriend out for the weekend? And he can conveniently offer the missus a ride out from town, to boot. It's a terrific setup for a comedy, and The Grass Is Greener does a good job of exploiting the comic possibilities, but the biggest knock against the movie is that it takes more than an hour, better than half the running time, to get the in-house triangle up and going. The first half isn't laborious, exactly, but it can be verbose—for instance, here's a typical passage, spoken by Victor to Hattie about his own marital dilemma: "The spoken word, like the lost opportunity, doesn't come back. If a situation like this is admitted out loud, it means it's been accepted. If it's accepted, it's got to be discussed. And each time you discuss it you get further apart, until in the end, you're so far away from each other that you have to shout, and the situation becomes hopeless." Everybody here is hyperarticulate in a similar manner, and while much of the talk is very good indeed, you may spend yourself wishing that the characters had less to say, and more to do. But they do say things very well. Grant is especially fine—he serenades his wife with a rousing, cheeky version of Yankee Doodle, and when trying to get Mitchum to the phone at his hotel, tells the operator, "This is Rock Hudson calling." There are also some inspired bits of physical comedy, especially one split-screen sequence with Grant and Simmons in the country unknowingly aping the very moves of Mitchum and Kerr at the Savoy in London. Simmons seems to be having fun chewing it up especially; her part isn't really pivotal to the drama, but it's fun to see her cut loose, given that she's probably better known for roles like Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, or the straightlaced Salvation Army officer Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. Another of the pleasures of this movie is seeing characters of a certain age, whose romantic lives have all but disappeared from the screen in recent decades. It's also worth remarking upon the astonishing quantity of alcohol that the characters so merrily consume: gin and bitters before dinner, then wine, then an after-dinner brandy, then champagne as a nightcap. How they can speak at all, let alone speak well, is a testament to the power of our suspension of disbelief, if not to the general state of the British liver. Also billed prominently is a credit line reading: "Music and Lyrics by Noel Coward," which, combined with the fact that the director, Stanley Donen, is responsible for such pictures as Singin' In the Rain and The Pajama Game, may lead you to the erroneous assumption that this may be some sort of musical. Coward's sole, small contribution is a brief ditty about English country houses that runs over the opening and closing credits.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Colors are nicely saturated and consistent, but the video presentation is marred by too many scratches and nicks on the image. Black levels are steady, too, though they fare better with the scenes shot on a soundstage than with those on location.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Transfer to audio is adequate; the dialogue is clear, though some hiss creeps in more often than it should.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only supplements to the feature are eighteen chapter stops, and the faces of the four lead actors on the disc itself.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

The Grass Is Greener is good company for a couple of hours, though if you're a little impatient, you may conclude that it's all talk and no action. It's a ripping quartet of actors that fill the screen for the bulk of the movie, and though the story may be a bit lackadaisical and the video presentation less than pristine, the charm of Grant and his cohorts never lags.

 


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