Mr. Smith Goes To Washington 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 250, June/July 2020

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Not Rated
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Black & White
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Frank Capra
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DTS HD Lossless 2.0
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"Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" is the Academy Award®-winning classic directed by Frank Capra. The film is about an idealistic, small-town American senator (James Stewart) who heads to Washington, D.C., and suddenly finds himself single-handedly batting ruthless politicians who are out to destroy him. Receiving a total of eleven 1939 Oscar® nomination (including Best Picture and Best Director), and winning one (Best Writing, Original Story), the film is considered one of Capra's, Stewart's and Columbia's finest films. The film is part of a a collection of six of the most acclaimed and beloved films in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment library. It is presented on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time ever. This must-own set includes iconic favorites that span the studio's history.

In addition to "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," the Volume 1 collection features "Lawrence Of Arabia," "Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb," "Gandhi," "A League Of Their Own" and "Jerry Maguire" Each film is fully restored in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR). The six films in the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection are only available on 4K Ultra HD disc within this special collector's set with a limited-edition run of fewer than 8,000 units in the U.S. Included with the collection is a gorgeous hardbound 80-page book, featuring in-depth sections about the making of each film within the set via an all-new essay written by acclaimed film historian Julie Kirgo. In addition, the set also includes an exclusive disc featuring excerpts from Columbia Pictures' televised 50th anniversary special, which originally aired in 1975 and has never been officially available. These excerpts feature rare on-camera insights from such luminaries as Frank Capra, Phil Silvers and Orson Wells. This exclusive disc also includes the vintage behind-the-scene documentary "Mr. Attenborough and Mr. Gandhi," which was filmed on the set of "Gandhi" and features interviews with cast and crew. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Frank Capra Jr.; "Frank Capra's American Dream" feature-length documentary (SD 01:49:02); five featurettes: "Frank Capra Jr. Remembers..." (SD 11:51), "Conversation With Frank Capra Jr.: The Golden Years" (SD 17:53 ), "Conversation With Frank Capra Jr.: The Family History: (SD 25:56), "Frank Capra: Collaboration" (SD 19:20 ) and "The Frank Capra I Knew" (HD 13:05); domestic and international theatrical trailers and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 1.37:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on 35mm film stock and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. The film exhibits a gorgeous "restored and mastered in 4K" transfer. The black-and-white film, featured here in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio with vertical black bars flanking the image, looks spectacular in every regard. Only some lightly scratchy transitional shots and a few softer moments interfere with a pristine, immaculately detailed presentation. Noticeable grain is in evidence, but it is part of the picture's heritage. The imagery is naturally sharp, in both closeups and medium depth shots, but not aggressively so. Fine closeup details, such as clothing seams and lines and facial features, are well defined. Small background details, whether desks in the senate chamber or books along a shelf, are of reasonably good, well-defined textural quality. The gray scale is well preserved with subtle nuance across the film and stark definition between tones. Black levels are consistently deep with only a couple of shots appearing to go slightly pale. The image, outside of those scattered transition shots, enjoys a blemish-free appearance. Certainly the film achieves a new reference and is the best the film has ever looked for home consumption. It's another gorgeous "mastered in 4K" and presented in 4K from Sony. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 2.0 monaural soundtrack is true to the film's original 1.0 track. The track is expectedly a bit weak in terms of range and clarity, but it suffices considering the source and age. As with the previous Blu-ray Disc edition, clarity is baseline satisfactory. Absent is any sort of unwanted hiss or other unnatural addition to the presentation. Music lacks punch or presence, producing a slightly muddy, cramped, unfocused sound, but again the basics come through with sufficient stage presence. A few basic sound effects, such as a passing train, fail to produce much in the way of muscular authority, again expectedly so. Environmental effects, such as the din inside the bustling chamber, are present as little more than basic ambient re-creations, obviously lacking the sort of immersion one would expect of a more modern presentation. Dialogue, which represents the primary ingredient here, is focused and usually firm and clear, with only the occasional drop into shallower territory. All things considered, this is a fantastic presentation for a film nearly 80 years old. (Gary Reber)