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DAISY MILLER

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Cybill Shepherd, Barry Brown, Mildred Natwick, Eileen Brennan, Duilio Del Prete, Cloris Leachman
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2003

“He doesn't like Europe.”

“And you?”

“He doesn't like me, either!”

Film ***

Daisy Miller…while this name doesn't strike the same chord in the hearts of men as say, Daisy Duke, it should, considering how beautiful the leading lady is, and how wonderful this movie was. 

Cybill Shepherd stars as Daisy Miller, an American traveling through Europe with her mother and brother in the late 1800's.  She's a young girl full of verve and energy, ready to speak her mind, and have a grand old time.  She doesn't quit fit in with the other ladies of European society, but that's the least of her worries as she trudges on place to place enjoying life and living it to the fullest.  

Mr. Winterbourne crosses Daisy's path as she and her family are staying in the Swiss town of Vevey.   He's handsome, charming, and quite American if she isn't mistaken. What follows is the story of a man not able to shake off society's careful gaze, and a girl who would love nothing more than his affections. 

Cybill Shepherd is one of my favorite female actresses.  She's strong, independent, and willing to say what she thinks and stand by it.   The roles she has chosen are always well thought out, witty, and smart. 

Daisy Miller is a film with a few well known names in the acting business.  Eileen Brennan and Cloris Leachman are both very well known for their contributions to television and cinema.   Each one of these ladies brings to this film a good size portion of their own personalities and charm.   I dare say you will thoroughly enjoy Leachman's overly dramatic approach as Daisy's mother and Brennan's heavy-handed approach to Winterbourn's education on the Miller's. 

Barry Brown plays the part of leading man Frederick Winterbourne.  Brown was a very talented actor.   He did a wonderful job as the slightly disoriented Winterbourne.  I suppose he couldn't help but look disoriented as Daisy herself could have bested the WB's Gilmore Girls in a talking match.   It is unfortunate for the acting community that Mr. Brown is no longer with us, however, this movie helped showcase his ability to flow easily from one emotion to another, without breaking stride.

The director on this film was Peter Bogdanovich.   Bogdanovich has had an up and down career as an actor and director, however, he was lucky enough to be dating Cybill Shepherd at the time this movie was filmed.  He originally saw himself playing opposite Shepherd in the role of Frederick Winterbourne.  His choice of firector for the film wasn't able to accommodate so Peter took the seat behind the megaphone and let the cameras roll. 

I think the best part of this movie was the ending, and not because that meant it was over, but because it had me in tears, and will no doubt do the same to any of the soft- hearted variety who happen to see it.  This film is rated PG and the entire family can sit down and enjoy it from beginning to end without fear.  

I recommend picking up this DVD and taking it for a test drive in your DVD player.   It's not the most amazing movie of the year, but it is a back to basics, all around good story.

Video **

The video quality of this DVD was not the best and not the worst I have seen this year.   I really wish these older prints would be given a little more attention rather than rushed to the video shelves.  

The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer contained quite a few visual flaws.  The tones and colors were very dull.    A fair amount of dirt and graininess was visible in each scene.   This transfer was also quite dark in tone overall.   The late evening scenes were so dark that you almost couldn't tell what was happening.

The disc is great overall, but you'll have to be forgiving in the visual department.

Audio ***

Dolby Digital Mono sounds like a disease, but good thing this DVD caught it because it helped balance out a really nice disc. 

I would like to have seen this disc reworked in a Dolby Digital Surround format at least, but the mono is not displeasing in the least.   

The dialogue was balanced very well against the underlying music beds and never seemed too overwhelming.   Package that with a descent level of crispness and clarity and you've got a really nice sounding disc.

Features **

For those of you that are feature happy, Daisy didn't share much of her wares…however, she didn't leave us empty handed either.

Within this DVD, you will find commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich.   A very nice interview style featurette called Daisy Miller and an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich are also included.

Subtitles in English for those of you who can't catch everything Daisy says the first time around are included as well.

Summary:

Full of humor, high society scandal, Daisy Miller will make you laugh, smile, and cry.  A movie that can do all that deserves an hour and a half of your time, don't you think?  Pick it up today, and reap the benefits of owning a 1970s classic on DVD.