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George Roy Hill
Laurence Olivier, Diane Lane, Thelonious Bernard, Arthur Hill, Sally Kellerman, Broderick Crawford
Writing Credits:
Allan Burns, based on the novel by Claude Klotz

Rated PG.

Academy Awards:
Won for Best Score-Georges Delerue.
Nominated for Best Screenplay.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Digital Mono
English, Spanish, French

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 1/7/2003

Remembering Romance With Diane Lane
• Retro Artwork
• Production/Awards Notes
• Theatrical Trailer

Score soundtrack

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A Little Romance (1979)

Reviewed by David Williams (January 27, 2003)

A Little Romance is one of those gems that doesn’t seem too great on the surface, but manages to lift your spirits in such a way that when it’s over, it makes you glad you ignored your initial feelings and checked it out anyway. Released back in 1979 and based off of the playful French novel “E=MC2, Mon Amour” by Patrick Cauvin, the film was helmed by one of Hollywood’s hottest directors at the time, George Roy Hill (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slap Shot); who unfortunately passed away in 2002. Allan Burns, of “Get Smart” fame, adapted the nimble screenplay of the novel for the big screen and made the novel accessible for audiences everywhere.

The gist of the story is quite simple, as we are immediately introduced to Daniel (Thelonious Bernard), a young boy living in La Garenne, France who has quite an affection for American movies and uses them as his escape from his daily routine of watching his taxi–driving father lose their money on bad horse racing bets. Lauren King (Diane Lane in her first movie role) is a young 7th grader currently living in Paris with her flirtatious mother Kay (Sally Kellerman) and her most recent stepfather, Richard (Arthur Hill), a successful businessman. Lauren is finding it hard to fit in at her new school and spends many of her days hanging out on the set of a film reading existentialist novels while watching her mother fall for a second-rate movie director (David Dukes).

Lauren and Daniel meet by chance, as one day, Daniel’s class is visiting the set of the aforementioned film and he runs across Lauren reading one of her many books. The two strike up a conversation – and then a friendship – and it quickly grows into something much more romantic and serious. The two begin seeing quite a lot of each other and the film puts them in a couple of fleeting sexual moments that end up more humorous than sexual. (Keep in mind that this film was made in 1979 – sexual situations then and now mean two completely different things. It’s all completely innocent comparatively.) It’s noticeable that the two are utterly in love with each other and they take every opportunity they can to be with each other – even against Lauren’s mother’s wishes.

However, things really get interesting when the pair meets Julius (Sir Laurence Olivier), a well-bred older gentleman who has quite a habit of telling outlandish stories of questionable origin. He becomes a friend, advisor, and guide for the young lovebirds and tells them the fable of Venice’s “Bridge of Sighs”. The story goes that if two lovers steal a kiss under the bridge at sunset, with the chapel bells ringing, their love will last forever and can never be unbroken. With Lauren learning that she’ll be moving back to the States soon, the two decide that they’re willing to risk whatever it takes to test out the theory behind the “Bridge of Sighs”. With the help of Julius, the two steal away to Venice hoping to seal their relationship for eternity.

The performances in A Little Romance are engaging from top-to-bottom as the film introduced the world to a lovely and wise-beyond-her-years (13-year-old) Diane Lane, who most recently starred in 2002’s Unfaithful. Thelonious Bernard’s portrayal of Daniel, the American film-loving scamp, was refreshing as well. However, it’s Sir Laurence Olivier (or “Lord Larry” as Diane Lane remembers him jokingly asking to be called) who steals the show as Julius, the mischievous escort and matchmaker for the kids.

Hill proves that he can work in any genre of his choosing and manages to create a playfully romantic tale that we can all relate to. The film has held up well over the years, as love is a something that easily transcends time and we can all remember that one moment in our life where we were willing to risk it all for just one kiss. No matter how young or old you are, everyone could use A Little Romance.

The DVD Grades: Picture B- / Audio C / Bonus D

Warner’s video transfer for A Little Romance is brilliantly presented in this anamorphically enhanced transfer that maintains the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. For such an “old” film, the transfer is quite spectacular and will excite viewers with its beautiful location shoots and backdrops of the Italian countryside and her eye-catching landmarks.

The clarity and sharpness of the image was quite surprising considering the age of the film - especially after checking out the trailer on the DVD first. The colors in the film were bold and vivid and the image was, for the most part, crystal clear. Everything was properly balanced and contrasted in A Little Romance, with no bleeding or oversaturation noted at any time. The Italian locales were quite gorgeous and exhibited some really nice hues that rarely went soft. Black levels in the film held up well the entire time and allowed for excellent shadow detail and delineation.

Being as old as the film is, it isn’t without its flaws and there were a few flakes and flecks noted on the print from time to time. None were overly distracting, as they were all of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety. Grain was also seen on a couple of occasions and caused the image to soften somewhat. However, taken as a whole, these anomalies weren’t anything close to severe and didn’t distract from the enjoyment of the film in the least.

A Little Romance looks better than ever and Warner deserves major kudos for putting it all together so nicely. Excellent job from Warner Home Video.

Where the image transfer was quite impressive for 25-year-old film, the audio transfer didn’t fare quite as well and definitely showed its age. Warner’s Dolby Digital Monaural soundtrack definitely gets the job done, but at the end of the day, was nothing to write home about. However, considering the genre and subject-matter of the film, there’s not much need for it to be more than what it is – a dialogue-based drama that doesn’t need impressive effects or authoring to make it more engaging.

The film is dialogue heavy and in A Little Romance, it was firmly anchored in the front surrounds without any hissing or distortion noted. Everything was always crisp, clean, and easily understood at all times. The outdoor scenes and scenes shot in busy locales were unnaturally quiet and dynamics and fidelity throughout the track were severely limited by the source recording. Everything in the film sounded natural, albeit a bit thin, and nothing seemed out of place in the track at any time. Among the film’s notable honors is that it won an Original Score Oscar in 1979 for Georges Delerue and while its transfer wasn’t as rich and full as more recent soundtracks, it was very uplifting and pleasing nonetheless.

The film could have more than likely benefited from some ambient environmental surrounds, as well as some richer dynamics for the award-winning score. However, that’s not going to happen (mainly because 5.1 wasn’t available in 1979) and what we have is totally acceptable for the subject matter at hand. Warner’s audio transfer for A Little Romance is fine and dandy and viewers won’t find much to complain about. The studio has provided no alternate language tracks, with subtitles available in English, French, and Spanish.

Warner has surprisingly gathered together a few extras for A Little Romance. While none of them are particularly memorable or long, it’s nice to see that they’ve gone to the trouble of doing something other than providing simply a trailer.

Starting things off are a Cast & Crew section that includes a listing of the main players, as well as the principals behind the camera across two pages of static text. There are no biographies or filmographies attached to any of those named in the supplement however.

Remembering Romance With Diane Lane (6:51) follows and is an intimate one-on-one interview with the beautiful actress and she describes what it was like getting the role and starring in her first film, working with Sir Laurence Olivier and how down to earth he was, recollections from the set and shooting the film, and so on. It’s a marvelous piece and a nice remembrance of the film.

Next is a piece called Retro Artwork that contains 11 images of posters that were used to advertise the film back in 1979. This is followed by Making “Romance”; 3 pages of rather high-level production notes on the film and Awards; 1 page of static text that makes us aware of the film’s lone Oscar win.

The film’s Theatrical Trailer ends the disc and in less than 10-minutes time, we’re done with all of the supplements for A Little Romance. Like I said earlier, it’s not much, but at least it’s something.

A Little Romance manages to provide viewers with a lot of “warm fuzzies” when it’s all said and done. If you haven’t seen the film in a few years, rest assured it’s as affectionate and embracing as you remember. If you’ve never seen it before, it serves as a great rainy day movie to watch with you significant other in order to score some major brownie points and remind yourselves why it’s so much fun to be in love.

Warner’s DVD is right on the money and provides viewers with a spectacular video transfer and an audio transfer that gets the main points of the film across well. An outright purchase will really depend on how much you enjoy the “young love” genre although A Little Romance comes highly recommended for fans of the film or it principals. Even so, it makes a nice weekend rental for those unsure.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5294 Stars Number of Votes: 51
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