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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: May 21st, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1974

Daisy Miller: 50th Anniversary Edition

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Sam Cohen
The meteoric rise of filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich during the 1970s was and still is a wonder to behold. But it was his 1974 adaptation of Daisy Miller from the Henry James novel that bombed and changed his career trajectory. Thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics, this sumptuous drama is due for reappraisal with a Blu-ray release that offers a stellar new 1080p presentation sourced from a new 4K scan, plus a newly produced interview with star Cybill Shepherd and an archival intro by Bogdanovich. This release comes Recommended
  

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
NEW 4K RESTORATION BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
May 21st, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

As mentioned previously, Daisy Miller was quite the bomb for Bogdanovich. While critics mostly praised the film for being a good adaptation, they were remarkably harsh on the film’s lead, Cybill Shepherd. She’s held up as the perfect image of American naivety in Europe. And while Shepherd is incredibly effective as the teasing Jacy Farrow in The Last Picture Show, the jump into Henry James’ portentous dialogue proved to be a huge obstacle for everyone involved in the production. Why? Well, when you watch Daisy Miller, you’ll realize that the movie itself isn’t as much about direct adaptation as Bogdanovich is using the overall plotting to dive into the fun world of oblivious men; oblivious to love and completely misunderstanding of women. The fact that this coincided with Bogdanovich’s real-life relationship with Shepherd and recent divorce from production designer, writer and former partner Polly Platt gives the proper context for this production.

Daisy Miller, based upon the Henry James novel of the same name, follows the naïve Annie Miller (Shepherd), AKA Daisy, a precocious American teenager touring Europe in the late 17th century with her mother Ezra (Cloris Leachman), her brother Randolph (James McMurtry) and their servant Eugenio (George Morfogen). Daisy catches the eye of Frederick Winterbourne (Barry Brown), an American expat living in Geneva. The duo trade niceties and Wintebourne is captivated by Daisy’s beauty, but her modern, free-wheeling American attitude and behavior confounds him and is looked upon with disdain by people in his social circle, including his aunt Mrs. Costello (Milfred Natwick).

Bogdanovich was the kind of filmmaker who deeply understood different styles, so in Daisy Miller he opts for opulent long takes, sumptuous cinematography and the kind of ornate production design you’d find in an adaptation of a Victorian-era novel. There’s a ton of influences worn proudly here, like the upstairs-downstairs drama of The Magnificent Ambersons and the way these manners and customs lock us from being fully-realized emotional selves. And with the glowing Shepherd as Daisy, the camera is firmly planted in watching the ways in which her performance upsets and causes reactions from just about everyone she meets. The tragedy of the film is that it was improperly derided for not having much on the brain, but I can tell you that Bodgdanovich loads the film with nuance in character interactions that gives meaningful depth to the source material, plus it’s clear that the camera is much more interested in the way that Winterbourne cannot humble himself in front of Daisy more than anything. 

Daisy Miller is one of those 70s studio pictures that was unjustly looked over and treated as something much less than what it is. The turbulence of Bogdanovich’s life at the time only adds essential meaning to this treatise on the obliviousness of men. We can only hope that adaptations this attuned to European filmmaking style continue to be found, restored and supported. It’s a rare delicacy nowadays.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Daisy Miller comes home to charm in 1080p with a single-disc Blu-ray (BD50) release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This release comes housed in their usual blue amaray case with o-card slipcover over it. The disc boots up to a standard menu with options to play the film, set up audio and browse bonus features.

Video Review

Ranking:

Daisy Miller makes its US Blu-ray debut with an AVC-encoded 1080p presentation sourced from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. This film was sumptuously shot by Italian cinematographer Alberto Spagnoli with long takes, a lot of dolly work and close-ups when they matter most. From the opening credits, things can seem a bit concerning at first, with plenty of nicks and damage to be found on the optical title cards, but once the credits finish, we’re treated to an absolutely gorgeous and filmic look that matches the original production. Exteriors look a good bit chunkier in terms of grain when compared to interiors, but the encode capably handles it all. Contrast is tuned in well and no sharpening seems to have been applied. Flesh tones are accurate and shadows are rendered well, although they’re not quite as inky as they could be in a 2160p presentation aided by HDR. This is a very pleasing presentation overall.

Audio Review

Ranking:

As for audio, we’re treated to a single DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track that does sound a bit weathered at first, with some dialogue coming through softly and without the clarity you’d expect. Luckily, though, moments like these are only few and must have been the result of the original production rather than the audio source used for this presentation. The score is balanced nicely as well, though there of course isn’t a lot of spatial play given it’s a mono track.

Special Features

Ranking:

As for supplements, there’s a brand-new interview with Cybill Shepherd that’s worth the price of purchase alone for those interested in the history of the film. It’s clear that Shepherd also has some strong feelings of loss and grief tied to the film, and hearing her defend Bogdanovich’s intentions with the film as well as her experience working on it is a wonderful listen. There’s also an archival interview with Bogdanovich from the 2003 DVD release that nicely rounds out this supplements package. I wasn’t expecting a ton of new features on this one, so color me a bit surprised and happy that we got a brand-new interview with Shepherd.

  • Audio commentary by film historian and critic Peter Tonguette
  • Audio commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich
  • Remembering Daisy Miller: New interview with star Cybill Shepherd (HD 10:18)
  • Introduction by director Peter Bogdanovich (SD 12:46)
  • Theatrical trailer 
  • Optional English Subtitles

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the underrated and opulent Daisy Miller, one of Peter Bogdanovich’s finest films, is finally available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This release comes with a great new 1080p presentation sourced from a new 4K scan and also comes with a terrific new interview with Cybill Shepherd. This release comes easily Recommended.

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