• Take A Girl Like You (Twilight Time) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Twilight Time
    Release date: June 19, 2018
    Directed by: Jonathan Miller
    Cast: Haley Mills, Oliver Reed, Noel Harrison, Sheila Hancock, John Bird, Ronald Lacy, Geraldine Sherman
    Year: 1970
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    Take A Girl Like You - Movie Review:

    Beautiful twentysomething Jenny Bunn (Mills) moves from her small British town to take a teaching job in the big city of London. Her flat mate at the boardinghouse, Anna (Sherman), has a boyfriend named Patrick (Reed), who, as it happens, is a bit of a horndog. Immediately smitten with Jenny, he sets his sights on wining and dining her into the sack. But Jenny, a virgin, is having none of it. Her resistance makes Patrick all the more determined, and he spends a lot of time discussing seduction strategies with his best mate, Julian (Harrison). One evening, Patrick and Jenny attend one of Julian’s lavish parties. Patrick is in particularly fine form that night, and Jenny finally agrees to sleep with him. The two set a date for her deflowering, but before the big moment arrives, Julian spills the beans to her about Patrick’s long history of lovin’ ‘em and leavin’ ‘em. From there, things move quickly toward a resolution in which nobody comes off very well.

    Take a Girl Like You is based on a 1960 novel of the same title by Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), a well-regarded British writer who gained more acclaim in England than he ever did in the United States. Like much of his work, the book is dryly comic in tone. And it seems likely that director Miller, who rose to fame in the early sixties with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook in the satirical stage revue Beyond the Fringe, intended the film version to be equally humorous. On that score, he fails big time. It’s possible that the humor doesn’t mesh well with American sensibilities, or that the film simply hasn’t aged well, but given that it did very poorly when it was released, it’s more likely that it just wasn’t funny in the first place.

    It’s so deadly dull, in fact, that without the presence of a proficient cast, it would be altogether unwatchable instead of just tedious. This is especially a shame because it’s chock-full of awesome British acting talent. Reed’s career was peaking when this came out; it was filmed right after he did the extremely successful musical Oliver! (1968) and released while tongues were still wagging over his work in Ken Russell’s 1969 success Women in Love. Mills, of course, had long been a household name at this point due to her work in such Disney productions as That Darn Cat (1965) and The Parent Trap (1961). Take a Girl Like You was among her first grownup film roles (she was 24 here.), and she and Reed have chemistry to spare; the problem is that the screenplay doesn’t give their spark anything to ignite. Had this and one or two of her other roles during this period been in something good, her adult movie career might have achieved a much higher level and be better remembered than it is.

    Noel Harrison, the son of Rex (Dr. Doolittle) Harrison, likewise acquits himself well. He had an active film, stage, TV, and (mostly) musical career beginning with his 1960 album Noel Harrison at the Blue Angel. He took home an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968, for “Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), one year after his father had won the same honor for Dr. Doolittle’s “Talk to the Animals.”

    Amis’ novel was adapted again in 2000 by the BBC as a three-part comedic presentation, with Rupert Graves (A Room with a View, 1985; Maurice, 1987) in the Oliver Reed role.

    Take A Girl Like You - Blu-ray Review:

    Boutique label Twilight Time brings Columbia/Sony’s Take a Girl Like You to Blu-ray courtesy of an MPEG-4 AVC encode in 1080p high definition. The film itself is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film looks glorious in the format; clearly taken from a new (or at least new-ish) transfer, it features a striking amount of detail and sumptuous color schemes, which work in tandem to create a tableaux that is far more aesthetic than the film itself warrants. Much of the film takes place out of doors, where greens are particularly prevalent, and foliage and buildings contain a remarkable amount of fine detail. That fine detail is apparent within the domiciles as well. This is a film that takes place in individual boudoirs as much as it does in drawing rooms, and everything from bedspreads to wallpaper bear the distinctive marks of a transfer that has had a great deal of attention paid to it. There’s very little dirt and debris, and the grain structure is nicely resolved, offering up an organic presentation that avoids overt use of either sharpening or degraining tools. All of this is helped by the fact that Twilight Time has opted to place the film on a BD50 with few extras, giving the film ample breathing space and a relatively high bitrate.

    The film’s original soundtrack is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and is very clean. There are few sound effects beyond the usual (ambient noise, the occasional motor vehicle, footsteps, background sounds, and so on), nothing too loud, distracting, or obtrusive. This allows the dialogue to take center stage. Said dialogue is also easy to understand, though Twilight Time has placed optional English subtitles for the deaf or hearing impaired on the disc. These are an accurate translation of the spoken word. There are no commentary tracks this time out, though TT does offer the film’s score (by Stanley Myers) on an isolated track (also in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0).

    Extras include two trailers for the film, the first one running 2:42, the second 2:25. The package also comes replete with an 8-page booklet containing images from the film and liner notes by film historian Julie Kirgo. Kirgo begins her discussion by covering Amis’s original book and its foreshadowing of the Swinging Sixties before moving into the differences between novel and screen adaptation, the backgrounds and performance of Hayley Mills, her chemistry with Oliver Reed, director Jonathan Miller, and the supporting players. She ends by pointing out, understandably, how parts of the film are difficult to watch in the age of the #MeToo Movement. As usual, Kirgo’s notes are perceptive, well written, and definitely worth a read.

    Take a Girl Like You is limited to 3,000 units. The disc itself contains a catalog of Twilight Time titles declaring which were in moratorium and which were not as of June 19.

    Take A Girl Like You - The Final Word:

    Take a Girl Like You hasn’t dated well and is often a chore. But Twilight Time’s Blu-ray presentation is anything but, thanks to a top-notch transfer, a high level of detail, and gorgeous colors. It also sounds good and features informative liner notes by Julie Kirgo.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Horror Films of the Silent Era and Horror Films of the 1930s are currently available, with Horror Films of the 1940s due out in 2019.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!