Blu-ray Review: Since You Went Away (Roadshow Edition) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 1st, 2023  

Since You Went Away (Roadshow Edition)

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Dec 04, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Patriotic Tim Hilton – or “Pops,” as his girls know him – is the character whom looms largest over Since You Went Away, but he doesn’t even appear in the film. When the movie’s begun, he’s just departed to serve as an officer in WWII, leaving behind his loving wife (Claudette Colbert) and devoted daughters Jane and Brig (Jennifer Jones and a teenage Shirley Temple) to maintain the family homestead in his leave.

The film that unhurriedly rolls out over the next three hours is a sweeping, sentimental chronicle of an American family doing their best to keep their chins up and carry on a normal life during wartime. The Hiltons lived a life of comfortable wealth, but sacrifices must now be made: they’re forced to let go of their help, Fidelia (Gone With The Wind’s Hattie McDaniel), and bring in a boarder, the cranky old Colonel Smollett (Monty Wolley). Life in this time seems to be measured by letters from Pops and visits from they’re loveable “Uncle” Tony (Joseph Cotten), the patriarch’s best friend and himself a military officer.

A gorgeous and tearjerking piece of homefront melodrama, Since You Went Away was producer David O. Selznick’s return to film after a four-year hiatus that followed his back-to-back Best Picture winners, Gone With the Wind and Rebecca. (If the already-named cast wasn’t impressive enough, you’ll also find Robert Walker, Lionel Barrymore, and Agnes Moorehad in supporting turns.) By focusing on the day-to-day moments of a family worried about the fate of a loved one overseas, the movie no doubt resonated with domestic audiences of 1944, most of which presumably would have known at least one person serving abroad. Since You Went Away was nominated for a whopping nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Cinematography, Actress (Colbert), and Supporting Actress (Jones) and Actor (Woolley), but in the end won only for Best Music. Some could potentially find it too sentimental, but the tone is comparable to what you’d find in one of Frank Capra’s movie of the era. The performances – in particular, Colbert’s and Jones’ – still hold up today, and are more than capable of pulling viewers’ heartstrings at more than one juncture. Since You Went Away is a sweet film, and it’s a true surprise that it’s not better-remembered today.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ Blu-ray edition presents Since You Went Away in its full-blown roadshow version, complete with an overture at the beginning and an intermission passage near the two-hour mark. There are no other extra features other than a few trailers for similar KLSC releases, but the striking, black-and-white image looks so fantastic in restored high definition that you can overlook the dearth of bonus materials.


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