A Raisin In The Sun

A Raisin In The Sun (1961)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee
Extras: Production Notes, Trailer

After releasing “To Sir, With Love” a little while ago, Columbia TriStar is now bringing another motion picture to DVD with Sidney Poitier in the lead. The remarkable thing about Sidney Poitier is that the actor has always picked his films very carefully and that there doesn’t appear to be a single bad movie in his track record. All his films are very human and strikingly powerful, and “A Raisin In The Sun” is no different.

It tells the story of the Younger family, living in the crowded and impoverished suburbs of Chicago. When a $10,000 insurance check arrives on their doorsteps the family is hopeful for a better life. They are determined to find their American dream and make a down payment on a house in a white neighborhood. But soon trouble rolls in when the family members begin fighting for the money and when their status in the American society does not turn out as they had hoped it would. Generations of prejudices cannot be wiped out with a single check.

No matter how many releases I see from Columbia TriStar Home Video, all of which are usually of first rate quality, the studio is still always good for a pleasant surprise. Here we have a movie that is almost 40 years old and it looks like a million bucks. This is easily among the best looking classic black and white film I have seen on DVD so far. The transfer is clear and clean, almost entirely without speckles or scratches. Film grain is at a minimum and no jittering or registration problems are noticeable. But ultimately it is the balance of the contrast of this transfer that makes it so remarkable. Without any compression artifacts, the transfer perfectly reproduces the entire range of shades from the darkest blacks to the brightest highlights. The gradient between these extremes is so smooth that it creates an absolutely faithful rendering of the film.

The DVD contains a monaural English Dolby Digital audio track that is presented as a 2-channel mix. The frequency response of the track is noticeably limited, especially in the lower ends, giving the entire track a rather harsh sounding quality with a seemingly limited dynamic range. Dialogues are well produced and integrated in this film and always understandable. Subtitles in a variety of languages are selectable from the disc’s menu.

“A Raisin In The Sun” is a staggeringly human movie full of great moments and sensibly intelligent dialogues. The film shows us Sidney Poitier at his very best, in a film that chokes viewers with its social criticism. This disc is a gem through and through.