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The Josephine Baker Story Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 131 Mins
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • List Price: $14.98

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BestBuy.com:
The Josephine Baker Story - Subtitle AC3 Dolby

Purchase The Josephine Baker Story on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are only are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

A true pioneer, Josephine Baker was a woman well before her time and HBO’s 1991 original TV movie The Josephine Baker Story chronicles her tumultuous life. The first truly international celebrity and at one time the richest Black woman in the world, Baker started life as a poor child in St. Louis, Missouri and eventually hit the Vaudeville circuit in comedic acts. The film follows her from her beginnings there, in 1917, showing the brutal treatment of Blacks at the hands of Whites that would eventually drive a frightened Josephine Baker to seek refuge in Paris, France where she would find acceptance, freedom, and success.

Baker’s erotic shows, half-naked clad with an African theme, would become both scandalous and celebrated in Paris, and Baker would find love and rejection amongst various White lovers before finding a business savvy Italian “count” who would help her refine her skills and take her success to a whole new level. But success in her native America would be elusive, coming to Broadway proving both critically disastrous and racially degrading.

The film then shows her eventual involvement in the French resistance during World War II and return to the US after the War only to find the same discrimination and restrictions, which would lead to her eventual rise as an early civil rights leader in 1951 and eventual barring from reentering the country (she was, by then, a French citizen) right through to her rocky later years, financial struggles and eventual death.

Lynn Whitfield is spectacular in her role as the first international Black female sex symbol and while the film itself could stand to be trimmed by twenty-minutes or so, this is one of the better made for television biopics you will ever come across.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Josephine Baker Story comes to Blu-ray with a good, 1.78:1 framed, AVC/MPEG-4 encoded transfer from HBO Home Entertainment that is free from evidence of source damage and has a definite film-like look to it. The image does look rather soft at times and contrast isn’t always very wide, but overall it looks pleasing and free from artifacts.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

While the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offers a nice spread of sound across the front and a natural sounding midrange during the performance sequences, there isn’t much going on the surround channels at all. In fact, the one time I recall actually hearing some activity back there was during the Casablanca hospital scene. Dialogue, however, is rather clean with no signs of clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

The only extra offered up on here is an audio commentary with star Lynn Whitfield and the filmmakers.

  • Audio commentary with Lynn Whitfield, writer Ron Hutchinson, and associate producer Alisa Taylor

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A wonderful look at this marvelous symbol of sexuality, stardom, tragedy, and Black American success, The Josephine Baker Story is sad, invigorating, and well acted. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005ERX22C[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Josephine Baker Story - Subtitle AC3 Dolby

Purchase The Josephine Baker Story on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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