Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Time - TWO FOR THE ROAD on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Twilight Time - TWO FOR THE ROAD on Blu-ray

TWO FOR THE ROAD (1967; Stanley Donen)
"They don't look very happy."
"Why should they? They just got married."

I came to Stanley Donen's 1967 masterpiece as I've come to a lot of great films over the years - via the books of Danny Peary. TWO FOR THE ROAD was part of Danny's fantastic first entry in his "Cult Movies" book series. That book and his subsequent Cult Movies books, along with his indispensable Guide For the Film Fanatic, really shaped my taste in cinema at a pivotal time in my life. The books turned me onto literally hundreds of films that I truly adore and that have become my favorites to this very day. TWO FOR THE ROAD has a very special place in my heart though. It is one of those very unique movies that has really spoken to me and impacted me in different ways as I've seen it many times over the years. It is ostensibly the story of the deterioration of a marriage, which may sound a bit depressing and the movie itself can be just that, but it is also quite affecting and poignant as well. It is potent cocktail of humor, bitterness and heartbreak and does it's best to dispel the idea of "happily ever after" while still being viewable as a potentially romantic tale nonetheless. What's partially quite memorable about the movie is not only the great performances by the two leads (Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn), but also in the way this particular story is told. It basically starts with the later years of the marriage and goes on to show it from it's very beginnings and how it got to the point of neglect and disrepair that it has come to. What's great about it though is the structure. Basically we see the couple at various stages in their relationship as they find themselves on a road trip through Europe. The timeline bounces back and forth in a very clever way. There are even some very deftly handled moments when the present day version of the couple passes the younger version of themselves on road in what appears to be the same time space. I've always loved the architecture of the film and it certainly makes the story more resonant in a lot of ways. For me personally, seeing the movie over the years as I myself have gone from single to dating to married to married with children has made for a unique and thought-provoking cinematic relationship. 
As with any good film, my take on it changes and evolves with each viewing. I really think it is Donen's crowning achievement, which some might see as heresy in light of the many outstanding movies he made during his tenure. Amidst the crowded greatness of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, CHARADE, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS and ON THE TOWN, a movie like TWO FOR THE ROAD may get lost a little, but it's a true classic in its own right. Another thing that gives it a boost is the use of Henry Mancini for the music. As with another Audrey Hepburn classic (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S), Mancini as a composer has the ability to bring both a sense of whimsy and melancholy with his songs and melodies. It's a perfect fit for the sometimes wistful nature of TWO FOR THE ROAD and helps cement Mancini's work as some of my favorite in movies. Overall, this is a Criterion Collection kind of movie and one that would slot perfectly into their oeuvre, but it as just as welcome from Twilight Time and this release is well worth picking up. The transfer looks very nice and the extras are solid (see below).

Special Features:
-An audio commentary from director Stanley Donen himself is included here and it's an excellent supplement. Though it was recorded for a previous release, it's still delightful to hear Donen talking about the film himself. His specific recollections of scenes, choices and difficulties are revelatory - even in subtle moments.
-An Audio Commentary from Twilight Time folks Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo. This track is excellent and that is no surprise. I look forward to hearing Nick and Julie's thoughts on any film like this that I truly adore. They always give me some new perspective that I didn't have prior and I love that.
-An Isolated music track is included as usual and I couldn't be happier about that as Henry Mancini is one of my all-time favorite composers.
-Fox Movietone newsreel
-Original Theatrical Trailer

Check out this excellent Trailers From Hell commentary from the late Dan Ireland on TWO FOR THE ROAD:

You can buy TWO FOR THE ROAD from Twilight Time here:

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