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Designing Woman is a classic Hollywood style comedy with a mixture of romance and fun thrown into the mix, with the great icons Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall bouncing off each other as the two leads. The film follows them as they fall in love with each other quickly before realizing they aren't such a perfect match. The film is produced by Dore Schary (Crossfire, Act One).
Mike Hagen (Gregory Peck) is a high-profile writer for a sports trade and Marilla Brown Hagen (Lauren Bacall) is a fashion designer. The two characters meet and quickly fall for each other. However, both of them have dissimilar interests and it isn't long before their clashing lifestyles start to cause problems. Along the ride of the story, a mobster sub-plot is intertwined with some old-school Hollywood hijinks.
The music score is composed by the great Andre Previn (The Music Lovers, Hot Summer Night). This is one of the more affecting and jubilant aspects of the filmmaking. The music bounces around with an undeniable lightness which aids the film's comedic sensibilities.
The film has expert cinematography by John Alton (An American in Paris) as well. Alton, who is a Hollywood heavyweight in his trade, imbues the film with some great photography which fits the film like a glove. The costume designs by Helen Rose (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Forbidden Planet) are elegant, dazzling, and every bit as sophisticated as what you would expect from a leading Hollywood costume designer of the period.
The screenplay was written by George Wells (Take Me Out to the Ball Game). The film's storyline feels modest and light in every category. The storyline zips around fine with entertainment factor aplenty but the film also feels inconsequential and without depth.
Unfortunately, Designing Woman doesn't feel as memorable in its storytelling as it looks from a production standpoint. Director Vincente Minnelli (An American in Paris, Gigi) helps make up for the weaker storytelling by bringing out great performances from the cast and assembling a strong production team that delivers a fun film that is worth experiencing for its mixture of music, romance, and comedy rolled into one.
The film is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation. The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio . This is a superb presentation with great color reproduction, clarity, and detail. The film has fine film grain as well. It's a impressive presentation by Warner Archive.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo audio. This is a modest sound mix which has good dialogue clarity. The audio is crisp and clean without any annoying hiss and other detrimental wear to the audio.
English SDH subtitles are provided for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The release includes two features: a Behind the Scenes Featurette focusing on costume designer Helen Rose, in which she was interviewed about the costumes for Designing Woman and about her views on costume designs. The release also includes the original Theatrical Trailer.
Designing Woman is an enjoyably pleasant if light entertainment which mostly impresses for the superb star power of icons Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. Director Vincente Minnelli does bring it some originality and style that also keeps things interesting. While not a great film, it certainly still has its merits.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.