'The Girl Can't Help It' comes to Criterion!!!

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Christmas comes in April this year and another one crossed off the wants list!

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The Girl Can’t Help It is one of my most longed for, nay lusted for, films and finally it makes it to Blu-ray in April courtesy of Criterion USA!

Written produced and directed by Frank Tashlin, a former animator and animation director for Disney, Columbia and Warner's Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig series, his same cartoon sensibility is often carried over into his live action features, including what is undoubtedly his masterpiece, The Girl Can't Help It.

A satire on the television and burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll music industries of the 1950s, the film stars Tom Ewell straight off ‘The Seven Year Itch’ with Marylin Monroe, here cast alongside Poundshop Monroe and real-life Jessica Rabbit, Jayne Mansfield, doubtless cast for her resemblance to a living cartoon character. A strong hint of Tashlin's “living cartoon” intent is given, in that the names of the male and female leads are respectively Tom and Jerri, who, throughout the film, indulge in a form of sexual cat and mouse game.

The film was a major influence on director John Waters, who modelled his star Divine on Jayne Mansfield. Waters also based Divine's notorious walk through the streets of Baltimore in Pink Flamingos (accompanied by the song The Girl Can’t Help It) on Jayne Mansfield's similarly head-turning walk to Tom Ewell's house; a sequence in which the impossibly pneumatic Jayne Mansfield, causes mayhem among the male populace, including one very thinly veiled, ersatz male orgasm that slipped past the censors.

The script is sharp as a razor and accompanying the on screen hi-jinks is a superb music soundtrack music from a who’s-who of the music biz of the ‘50s, including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino, The Platters, Eddie Cochran and in one memorable fantasy sequence Julie London.

The Girl Can't Help It is a Cinemascope and Technicolor visual treat (the film even features an opening sequence where Tom Ewell's character plays with the aspect ratio of the screen) that has only been available in the UK on a very ropey DVD which was not only non-anamorphic, but also badly in need of a restoration. So one for the car boot sale.

This is a film that has been crying out for a Blu-ray sprucing up and finally the wait is over, and who better to restore it to its full glory than The Criterion Collection.

I think I’ve wee’d myself. :)
 
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Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Trailer



I love the part where she says "...no one thinks I'm equipped for motherhood!" as she leans forward with those huge bosoms. :D
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Being a Criterion release I assume that it’s locked to region A? I have an old DVD cut of the film and would love to replace it with something offering better quality.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Being a Criterion release I assume that it’s locked to region A? I have an old DVD cut of the film and would love to replace it with something offering better quality.
So far I've only see a US Criterion releases. A UK release may follow.

I have the old UK DVD myself. The quality is dodgy. However, on second thoughts I may hold on to it due to the documentary hosted by John Waters.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
It's actually listed on Amazon UK, with an April release date. I don't know if that's for the US release or because it's an all-regions disc. I can live in hope ...
 

Paul Moran

Active Member
I have it on DVD in the 3-film R1 "Jayne Mansfield Collection". I've already upgraded the other 2 films to Blu-ray - "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" (Masters of Cinema) and "The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw" (Plan B Entertainment) - so I'd be interested in a Blu-ray of "The Girl Can't Help It" . But not at typical Criterion USA prices.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
I haven't watched my R2 DVD copy of the film in some time. If the Criterion BR release is US-only, then it will almost certainly be region-locked, which would be a pity, because I would be prepared to pay a silly amount for a decent copy of the film. Fingers crossed!
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
I haven't watched my R2 DVD copy of the film in some time. If the Criterion BR release is US-only, then it will almost certainly be region-locked, which would be a pity, because I would be prepared to pay a silly amount for a decent copy of the film. Fingers crossed!
$27.99 US dollars on Amazon.com. About standard price for a new release from Criterion. I've waited so long, this will be a day one purchase for me.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Amazon UK is offering it for sale at ~USD39. Not a lot of use as according to blu-ray.com, it's region A locked. Pah. The review states that the transfer isn't that brilliant in places, so perhaps it's not quite so tempting anyway.
 
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Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
The blu-ray.co,m reviewer states that "...delineation, clarity, and depth routinely range from very good to excellent..." but he doesn't like the colour grading of the new transfer which leans toward the bluish/cooler end of the spectrum compared to the DVD release. However, some considered that the DVD leaned too much toward the reddish/warmer end of the spectrum.

A prime example of the difference can be seen in these screenshots from the Julie London sequence.

Girl 1.jpg


So, too blue or too pink? An case could be made for both, but considering this sequence is supposed to be taking place in a dimly lit apartment at night time, the argument could be made that the newer colour grading reflects this more accurately and that the DVD Image is a touch on the 'hot' side.

In other parts of the film, the difference in colour grading is far less dramatic.

Girl 2.jpg


The blu-ray.com reviewer concludes that this shows that the transfer has been "badly graded" in his opinion, whereas other reviewers have noted the definite difference in colour grading, but don't judge it to be "badly graded", just differently graded.

An example is the DVD Beaver review that didn't see this as quite the negative that blu-ray.com did...

"Criterion have transferred Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It to Blu-ray. The CinemaScope looks tremendous in 1080P. It can have heavy blues with some minor teal but compared to the DVD this new Blu-ray has a dynamically improved image with better detail, noticeably more information on the top and side edges of the 2.35:1 frame, fine grain and the overall HD presentation is darker with richer colors (reds, navy blues etc.) - 'DeLuxe' as Tom Ewell describes in the opening as he breaks the fourth wall. It looks impressive at 5X the bitrate of the SD transfer of 15-years previous. A fabulously addictive nostalgic appearance."

Anyway, past experience has taught me never to attempt to judge anything from screencaps. The film is winging its way to me, with some others, from the USA as we speak and I'll post a review as soon as I've watched the flick.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
I presume that you have kit that can handle region A disks, as Criterion has confirmed to me that the disk is locked to A. Bl**dy annoying. As for the blu-ray review, having a copy of the film with garish colours dialled back would work for me. There are a couple of region A discs that I’d like, but I can’t justify the cost of a dedicated machine.
 

Garrett

Moderator

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Just got this in the post today and watched it tonight. I've posted my full review elsewhere in the forums, but just a quick comment here on the picture quality.

This is a film that has been crying out for a Blu-ray sprucing up and finally the wait is over, and who better to restore it to its full glory than The Criterion Collection.

The film looks absolutely stunning (at last!) and although there has been that one review that sees the colour grading with it’s lean towards the bluish end of the spectrum as some sort of fault, one of the supplements on the disc shows that the film’s colour consultant Leonard Doss, favoured the use of a lot of blue in his compositions in this and many other films.

Rest assured, this is the best this film has ever looked on any format, with the “hot” look of the US DVD considerably cooled down and the utter mess that is the UK DVD, now consigned to the dustbin, particularly as that disc’s excellent supplementary feature with director John Waters’ appreciation of the film has been ported over to this Criterion release.
 

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