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DVD Review"The only really good thing about acting is that there's no heavy lifting." -Cary Grant
After over 30 years in the business and a 70-plus film career littered with an embarrassment of creative riches (Bringing Up Baby, North By Northwest and An Affair To Remember to name a few), Cary Grant decided to call it quits in the summer of 1966.
Frankly it's a shame, because judging from the high points of his cinematic swan song Walk, Don't Run, the king of the screwball comedy had all his performing gifts intact with so much more to offer. Yet one must admire a man who went out at the top of his game on his own terms. No, this movie won't make you forget Arsenic and Old Lace, but this strained yet somewhat endearing piece of mid-60s fluff offers evidence that the impending retiree could still hold an audience in the palm of his hand, even with trivial material.
Grant portrays Sir William Rutland, an eccentric millionaire businessman arriving in Tokyo as the city is in the grip of Olympic madness. Playing host to the summer games, lodging is all but impossible to come by. Adding to Rutland's woes? He's arrived two days early due to a scheduling mix-up. With his ties to the local chapter of the British Embassy, Williams figures he can at least crash over there. Wishful thinking, according to a stuffy desk clerk who proves useless in helping Sir Rut's cause. Just shy of resigning himself to impromptu sidewalk accommodations, a posted index card on a hallway bulletin board, advertising for a temporary roommate, catches his eye.
Jumping at the opportunity, he rushes to the nearby apartment building where he meets the tenant: Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar), a vivacious, transplanted British redhead who finds the idea of sharing her quarters with a man appalling, not to mention improper. But Rutland refuses to budge and charms away her resistance. However all is not comfort and joy as William attempts to adjust to Christine's overtly regimented morning routine; before barely lathering up his 5 o'clock shadow, his bathroom time's up.
So what does our befuddled temporary boarder go out and do midway through his 48-hour stay? He brings home a roomie of his own: Fellow American and Olympic participant Steve Davis' (Jim Hutton) situation mirrors William's, so he offers to sublet his half of the digs with the adjustment cycle starting up all over again, much to Christine's dismay. Sensing romantic possibilities, the happily married Rutland decides to play matchmaker even with the knowledge of Easton's fiancé and Davis' dismissive comments toward marriage. But the savvy businessman has a few tricks up his sleeve that not even a last minute scandal involving Steve's participation in the games can get in the way.
If this plot has you feeling kind of déjà-vu-ish, you know your classic cinema; Walk, Don't Run is a re-located remake of the 1940 comedy gem The More the Merrier. Unfortunately, Charles Walters' lazy direction lacks the pizzazz of George Stevens' original, as potentially funny set pieces meander into tired slapstick. And while co-stars Eggar and Hutton charmingly grow into their roles, they're no match for Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea.
Yet what this movie does have going for it is Cary Grant. Only a master of the craft could take an underwritten script and work wonders. Save for the gray hair and thicker face, he's just as ageless, distinguished, dapper and dry-witted as ever, even when forced to strip down to his skivvies in a wacky finale on the streets of Tokyo.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Awash in that typical mid-Sixties Technicolor look, Walk, Don't Run is one of the better-kept items to surface from Columbia's vaults in recent times. Even with the drab interiors, colors are accurately balanced, black levels are fine and a refreshing lack of grain for a 37-year-old catalog title adds up to a very well done presentation.
In what may become a trend on the format, a full-screen transfer is included that serves only to show how an artistic vision can be significantly screwed by the wonders of pan & scan.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: A standard but serviceable Dolby Digital mono track with good low end that compliments Quincy Jones' jazzy (and underutilized) score. For the prices Columbia charges for vault titles like this, one would think that they would put some of their pocket change to good use and locate multi-tracks to aurally enhance above average middle-tier product such as this.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Japanese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday
Extras Review: For the first time in a while on a Columbia catalog title, a trailer for a disc's namesake actually appears, so maybe someone at the front lines is listening. Since Walk, Don't Run isn't prime-cut Cary, the lack of extras isn't a big deal, but a short retrospective/tribute (like the company's Humphrey Bogart releases) would have been a nice touch. Trailers for the classic romantic comedy It Happened One Night and the all-time Grant masterpiece His Girl Friday tops things off.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsWalk, Donít Run would have been a mere blip in cinematic history without Cary Grant's magical presence on display for one last time. Columbia's above average transfer makes this a "must own" for longtime fans.
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