Perfect Understanding appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given that the film just celebrated its 80th anniversary, I thought this was an acceptable presentation, but I didn’t think it worked better than that.
Sharpness tended to be mediocre. On occasion, the movie manifested better than average delineation, but much of the flick delivered decent clarity and that was it. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes.
Print flaws were largely a non-factor, as only a few small specks or marks ever materialized, and with lots of grain, I sensed no intrusive noise reduction techniques. Blacks tended to seem somewhat mushy, and contrast veered toward the dull side of the street; on occasion, the image provided a more appealing silver tone, but often it was flat. Shadows were decent, as low-light shots displayed adequate visibility.
I don’t want to come down too hard on the transfer, as it looked relatively good for a movie of its vintage. If I’d seen it a few years ago, I’d have been more impressed, but with so many high-quality Blu-rays for films of the same era – like The Public Enemy and the Universal Horror series – I couldn’t help but think this one paled in comparison. This wasn’t a bad transfer, but it didn’t become one of the better 1930s images.
Similar thoughts greeted the iffy LPCM monaural 2.0 soundtrack of Understanding, as it clearly showed its age. Speech was decent at best, with lines that tended to be flat and a bit muddy. I usually found the dialogue to remain intelligible, but some lines could be a little tough to comprehend; the absence of a subtitle option didn’t help.
Music was acceptable; the score lacked much range but wasn’t too harsh or shrill. Effects were similarly passable, as they showed some roughness but were reasonably clear. The audio tended to be noisy, unfortunately; I noticed a hum through much of the flick along with pops and thumps. I felt the audio deserved a “C-“, as it wasn’t a disaster for its era but it came with problems.
When we shift to extras, we find Selected Comedy Shorts from 1933. This gives us two films: Dream Stuff (19:50) and Husbands’ Reunion (19:12). Walter Catlett stars in both.
In Stuff, egged on by Walter (Catlett), nerdy Clarence (Emerson Treacy) competes with multiple suitors for the affection of blonde bombshell Betty (Joyce Compton). In Reunion, Walter (Catlett) visits his ex-wife Nora (Nora Lane) and her new husband Elmer (Grady Sutton), with results that eventually send the participants to court. Both are surprisingly risqué, and they’re reasonably amusing.
The disc opens with ads for The Bronte Sisters, The Damned, In the House and Blancanieves. We find no trailer for Understanding.
An eight-page booklet completes the set. It offers some photos and credits but lacks any essays or other info about Understanding.
With two film legends on screen and another at the writing desk, I hoped Perfect Understanding would live up to its billing as a “rarely seen gem”. Instead, I got a slow, dreary tale with forgettable characters and precious little entertainment value. Picture and audio seem acceptable for their age, and we get a couple of moderately amusing shorts as bonus material. Understanding might entice fans of its famous stars, but I find it to offer a major disappointment.