<b>SO DEAR TO MY HEART</b>
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Movie and DVD details
<b>Theatrical Release:</b> January 19, 1949 / <b>Running Time:</b> 82 minutes / <b>Rating:</b> G
<b>Director:</b> Harold Schuster
<b>Cast:</b> Burl Ives (Uncle Hiram), Beulah Bondi (Granny Kincaid), Harry Carey (judge), Luana Patten (Tildy), Bobby Driscoll (Jeremiah Kincaid)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround (English)
DVD Release date: July 2008
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Standard Club Price: $19.95
By Mark R. Probst
Walt Disney’s <b><i>So Dear To My Heart</i></b> is a lovely, nostalgic film that is very dear to my own heart. It is set during the turn-of-the-century, a favorite time period of Walt’s. Though the town in this film is a little more backwoods and rural than the small town atmosphere that was his blueprint for Main Street USA at Disneyland and many of his films including <i>Pollyanna, Summer Magic,</i> and <i>Lady and the Tramp.</i> The story is about young Jeremiah (played by Bobby Driscoll), who lives with his sometimes cranky, but always forgiving grandmother, played by the wonderful Beulah Bondi.
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Jeremiah has a special scrapbook in which he pastes colorful pictures he clips from magazines. In his vivid imagination the pictures come to life and give way to clever animated sequences. The segues to and from animation are really quite ingenious. A little black lamb, rejected by its mother becomes Jeremiah’s pet to raise and he dreams of taking it to the county fair and winning the blue ribbon.
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The lamb grows up and becomes quite a pest destroying nearly everything it its path. Uncle Hiram, the town handyman (Burl Ives) is an ally to the boy and helps to repair the damage and soften up granny into letting them all go to the fair. Tildy (Luana Patten) is a friend to Jeremiah and even helps him search for bee trees so he can sell the honey to the town grocer to earn the money to go to the fair. It is never said what became of Jeremiah’s parents, and for that matter if and how Tildy is related to him, she might even be Uncle Hiram’s daughter. The acting is first rate all around and it’s clear that a lot of care was taken to give this picture the perfect period feel. The film also has a strong sense of religious values making it a good candidate for family viewing, but at the same time refrains from getting preachy.
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<b>VIDEO and AUDIO</b>
Based on my experiences with other Disney Movie Club exclusives, I was afraid this might be another retread of an old transfer. But rest assured it’s not. It’s been remastered and looks wonderful. I assume this remastering effort is from some years back when it was prematurely announced that <i>So Dear To My Heart</i> was coming to DVD, then the region 1 release was mysteriously aborted. It is probably the same transfer that is currently available in Brazil and Europe. Colors are bright, the image is sharp and black levels are accurate, though there are a few blemishes here and there but nothing terribly obtrusive.
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left: Disney Club DVD, right: 1990s Laserdisc
The audio was another surprise. There is only one soundtrack, and it has been remixed in two-channel dolby surround. Voices are clear and kept in the center while music and effects are spread around. Some boosting of the bass has given the music a little more pizzazz and overall it’s a very enjoyable listening experience. It would have been nice if they had included the original mono sound as an option.
<b>BONUS FEATURES, MENU AND DESIGN</b>
When you insert the disc and press play you get an ad for Disney movies, then a 1970s opening to the Wonderful World of Disney, then the main menu comes up. As far as extras go, there’s a Scrapbook containing still pictures of the designs from the film, the original Black & White opening to its 1954 telecast on “Disneyland” hosted by Walt, and two cartoon shorts - <i>Out of Scale,</i> and <i>Brave Engineer.</i> The rare extra footage included on the Brazilian disc is not included here, presumably due to space as this is only a single sided, single layer disc.
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I can’t tell you how pleased I am that this wonderful Disney Classic has finally come to DVD, even though currently it’s only available to Club members. Perhaps sales will be good enough to get Disney to consider rolling it out to everyone and maybe even a special edition? It certainly is deserving of it. Then perhaps they will reconsider the fate of <i>Song of the South,</i> ya think?
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