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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Stanley Donen
Cast:
Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney, Eleanor Bron, William Daniels, Gabrielle Middleton, Claude Dauphin, Nadia Gray, Georges Descričres, Jacqueline Bisset
Writing Credits:
Frederic Raphael

Tagline:
They make something wonderful out of being alive!

Synopsis:
Director Stanley Donen's funny, poignant look at the 12-year marriage of Joanna and Mark Wallace mixes blissful marital memories with a healthy dose of domestic discord. On their third identical voyage from London to the Riviera, the Wallaces (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney) explore their marriage in a series of wry and illuminating flashbacks. They reminisce about the glorious beginning of their love affair, the early years of marriage and the events that led to their subsequent infidelities. As they struggle to understand their relationship, they realize they must accept how they have changed if they are to rekindle their original love.

Box Office:
Budget
$4 million.
Domestic Gross
$12.000 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Stereo
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/1/2005

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Stanley Donen
• Restoration Comparison
• Still Gallery
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Two For The Road: Fox Studio Classics (1967)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 23, 2006)

As I moped when I reviewed 1969’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I resent the inclusion of movies from 1967 to date under the “Fox Studio Classics” banner. I was born in 1967, so it stinks to be so old that I’m lumped in with moldy oldies like some of the other “Studio Classics” titles. I’m still young and vital, dammit!

At least Fox chooses some decent movies from the Sixties for these releases. A lot of the older flicks aren’t too good, but most of those from the decade of my birth are quite enjoyable.

Add another one to that list. 1967’s Two for the Road doesn’t soar, but it provides an intriguing and inventive look at marriage.

The movie starts with an introduction to married couple Mark (Albert Finney) and Joanna Wallace (Audrey Hepburn). Now in their early thirties, they wed 10 years ago and aren’t getting along very well these days. The film soon flashes back to their initial meeting and follows those events. It also jumps around to other stages of their life together as we watch the relationship change over the years.

The gimmick here is that Road lives up to its title. All of the scenarios in which we view Mark and Joanna take place on the road. We always see them in transit as we go through a handful of different scenarios.

Road doesn’t handle these in strict chronological order. Sure, they start with the couple’s meeting, but after that they skip around wildly and frequently. Road goes strongly for a non-linear bent, so if that kind of story telling disorients you, this might not be the film for you.

I think director Stanley Donen handles the cutting extremely well, though. He uses it as an active tool to compare and contrast the couple in similar situations at different stages of their lives. Although the movie really does flit from one year to another with abandon, it never becomes remotely confusing. Donen does little to orient the viewer and leaves it up to us to figure out the scenario and era. This proves surprisingly easy. Even with all the potential pitfalls, it works well and creates an intriguing way to examine the couple.

This becomes important since the basic story of Road really isn’t very interesting. Couple meets and falls in love but then grows apart over the years – yawn. I don’t think Road brings any particular insight into the situations but the creative manner of story telling makes it compelling.

As for the actors, they do okay, though Finney may be a little too intense at times. Our initial impression of Mark as a 33-year-old makes us see him as a self-absorbed jerk, and our initial glimpses of his younger self do nothing to negate that impression. As the film progresses, he loosens up and shows more charm, but this comes too late. I never understood what Joanna saw in the guy. He’s such a prick that he’s too unlikable for us to comprehend why she’d put up with his shenanigans.

Perhaps to balance Finney’s intensity, Hepburn seems a bit logy and laid-back. She also looks painfully thin. Hepburn was always a slight woman, but her she appears insanely skinny. I know that was the fashion of the time, but Hepburn’s appearance here scares me.

She also was too old for the role. Then in her late thirties, I buy her as the early thirties Joanna, but to view her as a 23-year-old character stretches believability to an extreme. Despite her scrawniness, Hepburn still looked very pretty at 38. That didn’t mean she even remotely passed for someone in her twenties, though. Finney managed to pull this off better, probably because he was seven years younger than Hepburn.

Two for the Road works mainly because of its gimmick. That should make me dislike it, I suppose, but the clever presentation proves so effective that it carries the film. Despite a tired story and some spotty performances, Road ends up as an interesting and engaging film.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Two for the Road appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Rarely exceptional but always competent, this was a generally solid transfer.

A few problems related to sharpness. At times the image took on a soft sheen that made it a bit fuzzy. Some of this was intentional, as the movie accorded Audrey Hepburn the kind of tentative focus often used for leading ladies in the old days. Other shots were soft for unknown reasons. Some of this resulted from a little light edge enhancement. I also noticed a little shimmer and some jagged edges at times.

Source flaws were a minor nuisance. I noticed occasional specks and marks through the film. These were a slight distraction but not anything overwhelming or heavy.

Colors usually fared well. The movie’s palette varied somewhat depending on its mood, but the tones usually remained lively and dynamic. With its mix of setting and scenarios, the film certainly offered a lot of hues, and these came across well. Blacks were dense and firm, while low-light shots came across as clean and smooth. Though it suffered from a few too many problems to enter “A” territory, the transfer satisfied.

While not overtly flawed, the stereo soundtrack of Two for the Road appeared less strong. As with many of these remixes, the soundfield essentially remained monaural. It broadened matters slightly, though I can’t say I noticed much concrete activity from the sides. Even the many driving sequences failed to do much, so don’t expect good panning or movement. Anticipate a glorified mono mix.

That’s fine with me, but the audio quality didn’t excel. Not that the track sounded bad - it just didn’t seem anything other than average. Speech demonstrated the most notable problems, as the lines occasionally appeared a bit edgy. They stayed intelligible, but they lacked the expected precision. Effects were somewhat wan but stayed acceptably accurate. Other than car sounds, they played a minor role.

Music brightened up the audio somewhat. The score was usually bouncy and bright, with fairly good range. That factor was a positive, but the speech flaws negated it and left this mix with a mediocre “C”.

As for extras, the highlight of this DVD comes from an audio commentary with director Stanley Donen. The piece starts with a biography of the director provided by an unnamed source. From there Donen contributes a running, screen-specific discussion.

The director touches on the genesis of the project and its development, casting and character issues, locations and sets, dealing with the movie’s chronology, score, cinematography, costumes and production design, and a mix of anecdotes. He touches on good stories like how Audrey Hepburn’s fear of water affected the production and what happened during a disastrous preview screening.

I have few complaints about the content of the commentary. Unfortunately, Donen goes silent an awful lot of the time. We find many empty spots, and those drag down the overall quality of the track. If you can ignore those, you’ll enjoy the commentary, but the prevalence of dead air made it somewhat frustrating for me.

The other features are insubstantial. A staple of Fox DVDs for older movies, a Restoration Comparison shows us the work done for this transfer. I think these pieces usually are too self-congratulatory, and I continue to feel that way based on this one.

In addition to a minor six image Still Gallery, we find some trailers. We get an ad for Road as well as promos for Three Coins in the Fountain, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, An Affair to Remember and Peyton Place.

An exercise in non-linear story telling, the framework of Two for the Road offers its most memorable element. Not much else about the movie stands out as particularly compelling, but the unusual sequencing creates an interesting way to deal with a tale. The DVD provides pretty good picture along with average audio and some extras highlighted by an erratic but informative audio commentary. Road may suffer from a mix of flaws, but the movie still works well enough to deserve your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8571 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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