By Chaz Lipp

In case you haven’t heard about Twilight Time, they’re a small boutique label that specializes in limited edition reissues of vintage films on Blu-ray. They press 3,000 copies of each title and when that limited run sells out, they’re no longer available. Twilight Time issues new titles on a monthly basis, available exclusively through their distributor, Screen Archives. With a new batch on the way for the first month of the new year, we’re recapping the releases from the final month of 2012. It was a weird trio of films that Twilight Time added to their growing catalog in December. We’ll take a brief look at each in the next few days… a musical remake of a Frank Capra film from the ‘30s, Lost Horizon, the infamous teen romance from 1980, The Blue Lagoon, and the based-on-fact tale of a novelist’s tragic downfall.

Let’s start with the best: Beloved Infidel, an odd F. Scott Fitzgerald biopic from 1959. This one focuses on the great writer’s final years, a period of ill health brought on by long term alcohol abuse. Right off the bat, the fact that Oscar-winning Hollywood legend Gregory Peck portrays Fitzgerald is more than enough reason to check the film out. When we first meet Fitzgerald, he’s flopping as a Hollywood screenwriter; casting about for direction in his faltering career. He meets gossip columnist Sheilah Graham (Deborah Kerr), a seemingly erudite free spirit. Romance ensues.

We eventually learn that Graham’s past is not as regal as her bio claims, but Fitzgerald doesn’t reject her after discovering the truth. Actually, as we see him sink further into alcoholism, we can hardly imagine him making the effort anyway. The couple fights (surprisingly bitterly for the era in which the film was made) and Graham becomes increasingly concerned about Fitzgerald’s health and state of mind. The film was based on a memoir by the real-life Sheilah Graham. Unfortunately, the resulting film, directed by Henry King, is much drier and emotionally stilted than it could have been. The 123 running time drags things down, especially during the first half. Peck’s performance becomes much more colorful as the story proceeds, but in the end this one comes with a decidedly mixed recommendation.

Twilight Time’s high definition presentation is solid. The 1080p transfer displays a mild-to-moderate layer of film grain that looks appropriate for a film of its age. Don’t expect super bold colors. Whether a deliberate part of Leon Shamroy’s cinematography (and this guy knew what he was doing, with four Academy Awards and no less than 18 nominations to his credit), or just a result of an aging source print, the colors are on the subdued side. The 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is, in fact, fairly bold in its presentation of Franz Waxman’s score. The mix utilizes the rear channels quite often, while always keeping the dialogue loud and clear.

As is customary for Twilight Time titles, Beloved Infidel comes equipped with a 2.0 DTS-HD MA isolated score track (for those who want to better appreciate exemplary Waxman’s work). Also of note are Twilight Time’s liner notes, always well-written by Julie Kirgo, that shed a great deal of life on the film. Stay tuned for a look at the other recent Twilight Time releases.
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