The Strawberry Blonde appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Warner Archives’ Blu-rays are pretty much money in the bank, and this became another winner.
Sharpness satisfied. Virtually no softness materialized, so the film appeared well-defined and accurate.
Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems. Edge haloes remained absent, and with a layer of fine grain, I suspected no issues with digital noise reduction.
Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and contrast was appropriately displayed. The movie showed a good silvery look, and shadow detail was also concise and developed.
Source flaws failed to become an issue. The transfer eliminated those defects and left this as a clean presentation. I felt very happy with this appealing transfer.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it replicated the original material with positive quality. Dialogue seemed fine for its era, and was relatively crisp and well-defined with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.
In terms of the score, it was acceptably broad and clear. The material presented little low end but the dynamics were fine for a track of this vintage.
Though effects were similarly dated, they seemed adequately clean and realistic, and no aspects of the mix displayed signs of distortion. Background noise failed to become an issue. All in all, the audio worked fine for its age.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find two shorts from 1941. We get Polo With the Stars (9:14) and Tortoise Beats Hare (7:56).
Given the title, one assumes Stars will let us watch movie celebrities as they play. While we do see a few notables, they fake participation and don’t really show up much anyway.
Instead, Stars acts more as a lesson about the world of polo. In that regard, it offers some insights to newbies.
One of the most famous Bugs Bunny cartoons, Hare features his replication of the well-known Aesop fable. It offers a justifiably beloved short.
We also get two separate radio adaptations of Blonde. From October 5, 1941, “Screen Guild Playhouse” (29:10) allows James Cagney, Olivia De Havilland and Jack Carson to reprise their movie roles.
Inevitably, this short broadcast chops down the story to an immense degree, as it entirely loses characters like Biff’s dad and his best pal Nick. It also makes major other shifts in the narrative.
I won’t mention these – no spoilers! – but they really make this a different story. It’s not a particularly compelling rendition, but its alterations make it semi-interesting.
Broadcast March 23, 1942, “Lux Radio Theater” (58:59) returns only Rita Hayworth from the film – though surprisingly, she now plays Amy, while Gail Patrick takes over as Virginia.
Why? I assume because Hayworth’s star rose between the movie’s release and this broadcast so the producers wanted her to take on a role that kept her on the air for more time.
Don Ameche portrays Biff and this longer adaptation brings back the Nick character from the film, though Biff’s dad remains MIA. Obviously this adaptation hews closer to the movie’s narrative, though a few changes still pop up. Ameche plays Biff in a surlier manner than Cagney, and this ends up as a somewhat bland program.
Despite a good cast, The Strawberry Blonde fails to find a particularly compelling path. A mix of romantic comedy and melodrama, the film never flops, but it also lacks the needed spirit and narrative purpose. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals and appropriate audio along with a few bonus features. This turns into a mediocre romp.