Criterion Files: Howard’s End, Make Way for Tomorrow

This week brings us two new releases from Criterion. One is a beautiful period piece featuring some very familiar actors, and the other is a film that most consider forgotten treasure.

Howards End was a film that I remember constantly seeing at the library when I was a kid. I always passed up on it, mostly because I thought Anthony Hopkins looked creepy on the cover. On a more serious note, Howards End was a fantastic period film filled with an amazing cast. James Ivory has been known for a few films, and this is one of the better ones to check out. The Criterion release was not available for me prior to release, but I would imagine that the gorgeous cinematography that I remember from the film must look beautiful in this release.

I guess it would be pretty easy to “forget” a film from 1937, but many consider Make Way for Tomorrow to be director Leo McCarey’s best film. Even McCarey told the Academy that he was accepting the Oscar for the wrong film when he won best director for The Awful Truth, which was released the same year as Make Way. I’m pretty excited to check out the film, I can’t say much due not having access prior to release.

Howards End

The pinnacle of the decades-long collaboration between producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, Howards End is a luminous vision of E. M. Forster’s cutting 1910 novel about class divisions in Edwardian England. Emma Thompson won an Academy Award for her dynamic portrayal of Margaret Schlegel, a flighty yet compassionate middle-class intellectual whose friendship with the dying wife (Vanessa Redgrave) of rich capitalist Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) commences an intricately woven tale of money, love, and death that encompasses the country’s highest and lowest social echelons. With a brilliant, layered script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (who also won an Oscar) and a roster of gripping performances, Howards End is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness, and one of cinema’s bestliterary adaptations. – Criterion.com

Criterion features include:

  • High-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts and approved by director James Ivory (with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • New video appreciation of the late Ismail Merchant by director Ivory
  • Building “Howards End,” a documentary featuring interviews with Ivory, Merchant, Helena Bonham Carter, costume designer Jenny Beavan, and Academy Award–winning production designer Luciana Arrighi
  • The Design of “Howards End,” a detailed look at the costume and production designs for the film, including original sketches
  • The Wandering Company, a 50-minute documentary about the history of Merchant Ivory Productions
  • Original 1992 behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Kenneth Turan (available only with the Blu-ray edition)

Make Way for Tomorrow

Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring’s selfish whims. An inspiration for Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Make Way for Tomorrow is among American cinema’s purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure. – Criterion.com

Criterion features include:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today, a new video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow
  • New video interview with critic Gary Giddins in which he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and ‘Family Values’”
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