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Johnny Belinda


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, Stephen McNally
  • Directors: Jean Negulesco
  • Writers: Allen Vincent, Elmer Harris, Irma von Cube
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Home Video
  • Release Date: Jan. 31 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BYA4JC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,998 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Jane Wyman won a Best Actress Oscar for her strong performance in this touching drama of a deaf-mute girl (Wyman) and a doctor (Lew Ayres) who works closely with her. The story (based on Elmer Harris's play) seems intent on dumping one grievance after another onto the poor character, from rape to community pressure to give up the resultant baby, plus a terrible loss sustained somewhere in there as well. But Wyman and director Jean Negulesco manage to make the film more than the sum of its perils, and the texture and atmosphere of the town is particularly effective. --Tom Keogh

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I hadn't seen this film in 30 years, but watched it again last evening. I was mesmerized by several aspects of this classic (and ahead of its time) 1948 movie. Jane Wyman won the Oscar in this role where she makes not a single sound, not even in the throes of pregnancy. She is a deaf mute and never speaks, but imbues her character with a poignant tenderness and yearning which is extremely moving. There is no doubt that Wyman is an extremely underrated actress, because the pathos in this performance is moving indeed.
Lew Ayres gives possibly his best performance here. For other reviewers who say he's the weakest part of the movie, I don't agree; perhaps they need to see him in the classic 1930 offering, "All Quiet on the Western Front." In that film, Lew was gorgeous to look at it, but couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. Here, he's vastly improved and deliberately underplays a character who is caring, decent, but essentially stoic and very still. I admit there isn't a lot of chemistry between Wyman and Ayres, but he projects a dignity and decency which shines through.
Agnes Moorehead and Charles Bickford deliver outstanding supporting performances. Their interplay and dialogue is interesting and they contribute to the flowing plot.
Aside from Wyman's stellar performance, the most interesting aspect of the film is that it is not dated in the least. The subjects of rape, an illegitimate baby and pre-marital sex were hardly common themes in movies of that era, and this film handles it with aplomb and class. The weakness of the film is that Belinda is assailed from all sides constantly; her lot in life is hard enough to begin with, but she is thrown one vicious curve after another. But not to worry, all comes out all right in the end.
This movie is worth watching solely for Wyman's outstanding performance. Watch her eyes and how she conveys such beautiful emotion in them. I have renewed respect for Jane Wyman after watching this moving drama.
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Format: VHS Tape
Johnny Belinda has been my absolute FAVORITE film for at least 40 years! Jane Wyman's performance is one not to be missed. Other reviewers on this forum have noted her expressive face, body language, growth; the ground-breaking subject matter (sexual assault and dignity in the face of bigotry); and the outstanding supporting cast. All come together to create a timeless story, told in an amazing performance.
The ONE possible flaw may be with the "Perry Mason-style" theatrics in the courtroom. However, it's so minor as (and so VERY 40's!) that it detracts nothing from this outstanding film.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I liked it because it brought back memories of the days long ago when it first came out....still makes me cry!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on Dec 17 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This movie made me cry as a kid, Rosanna Arquette was amazing in it, it's a great movie, I wish it was on DVD. Rosanna has real talent as an actress, this is a moving epic, and like I said, should be on DVD. Dennis Quaid was good as well, what an awesome heartwrenching great movie.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 78 reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
JANE WYMAN, one of the great actresses of all times...... Oct. 16 2001
By Old Legend Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Jane Wyman was perhaps the most underrated and unappreciated actress of the 20th Century, while actually delivering some of the greatest performances seen on the screen. She never seems to be the recipient of those Lifetime Achievement awards that fly in all directions, nor is she subject matter for 'Biography' or 'Intimate Portrait' (though she also has the distinction of being the only divorced wife of an American President in US history).... yet I can think of no other star more deserving of accolades and awards. She demonstrated none of the overblown histrionics of Bette Davis, nor the phony, cloying 'sweetness' of Joan Crawford; she was not in the position of respect she attained in the movie industry because of Lana Turner or Ava Gardner glamour and beauty. Every performance from Wyman was an underplayed masterpiece, and her Academy Award winning role in "Johnny Belinda" was no exception. She never tried to over-shadow her co-stars Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, and Jan Sterling...all of whom were letter perfect in their parts...and Moorehead, at least, must have admired her greatly because I can think of at least five Wyman movies right off the top of my head where Agnes was along for the ride! Yes, she won the Oscar for her superb, poignant performance in "Johnny Belinda," but she could have just as easily won it earlier for "Lost Weekend" or "The Yearling"...or a few years later for "The Blue Veil" (my personal Wyman favorite, but impossible to find on video) or "So Big" or "Magnificent Obsession" or its sequel, the much better "All That Heaven Allows." Long before she spent the decade of the 80's as the indomitable Angela Channing on TV's "Falcon Crest," Jane Wyman had already proved herself one of the greatest actresses of all times in countless movies......it's about time she was appreciated and honored for that, and buying a copy of "Johnny Belinda" would be a good place to start!
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A sensitive and brilliant film June 24 2001
By meiringen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Jane Wyman deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Belinda, the deaf-mute who becomes a mother after being raped. It is such a wonderful performance, as Belinda grows in knowledge and life experiences, helped along by Lew Ayres as a kind-hearted doctor who comes to Cape Breton Island after some problems in his own personal life. The two of them grow together, and overcome some severe obstacles before they can find happiness. Charles Bickford as Belinda's father and Agnes Moorhead as Belinda's aunt also give stellar performances.
Ahead of its time in terms of subject matter (treatment of the handicapped and the stigma of rape), this film holds up well after all of these years. One of my long-time favorites, and a true classic.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Ahead of It's Time Feb. 22 2006
By F. Adcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Many who have reviewed this near-masterpiece have neglected to say just how special this film was to 1948 audiences. Jane Wyman was known as the girl-next-door type, playing girlfriends and wives, but rarely taken seriously as a topnotch actress. Her one shot came with "The Yearling", as the stern, but understanding mother to Claude Jarmon, Jr. Her performance in "Johnny Belinda" was seen as a revelation, with her Oscar pretty much assured. The film itself garnered 13 Academy Award nominations, winning only the one for Jane Wyman.

The DVD has a greatly sharpened picture - near perfect, in fact. But the sound is a vast improvement, not muffled as it was on the VHS tape, and certainly better than what was offered by Turner Classic Movies for years. However, for the most recent televised airing, the new restored version was used.

The only disappointment is the lack of extras on the DVD. Somewhere in the vaults, there had to be more info about the making of the film or Oscar highlights. Get with it, Warner Brothers!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An understated, yet magnificent film July 3 2003
By Candace Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
I hadn't seen this film in 30 years, but watched it again last evening. I was mesmerized by several aspects of this classic (and ahead of its time) 1948 movie. Jane Wyman won the Oscar in this role where she makes not a single sound, not even in the throes of pregnancy. She is a deaf mute and never speaks, but imbues her character with a poignant tenderness and yearning which is extremely moving. There is no doubt that Wyman is an extremely underrated actress, because the pathos in this performance is moving indeed.
Lew Ayres gives possibly his best performance here. For other reviewers who say he's the weakest part of the movie, I don't agree; perhaps they need to see him in the classic 1930 offering, "All Quiet on the Western Front." In that film, Lew was gorgeous to look at it, but couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. Here, he's vastly improved and deliberately underplays a character who is caring, decent, but essentially stoic and very still. I admit there isn't a lot of chemistry between Wyman and Ayres, but he projects a dignity and decency which shines through.
Agnes Moorehead and Charles Bickford deliver outstanding supporting performances. Their interplay and dialogue is interesting and they contribute to the flowing plot.
Aside from Wyman's stellar performance, the most interesting aspect of the film is that it is not dated in the least. The subjects of rape, an illegitimate baby and pre-marital sex were hardly common themes in movies of that era, and this film handles it with aplomb and class. The weakness of the film is that Belinda is assailed from all sides constantly; her lot in life is hard enough to begin with, but she is thrown one vicious curve after another. But not to worry, all comes out all right in the end.
This movie is worth watching solely for Wyman's outstanding performance. Watch her eyes and how she conveys such beautiful emotion in them. I have renewed respect for Jane Wyman after watching this moving drama.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Poignant Masterpiece Aug. 8 2006
By Jordan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
There are very few films that have literally brought tears to my eyes. They must be films of uncompromising emotional power. Films like Magnolia, The Passion of the Christ, and now Johnny Belinda.

It is the story of a deaf and dumb young woman named Belinda. Treated as an unintelligent workhorse all her years, Belinda's life changes forever when a lonely new doctor moves into her small coastal Nova Scotian port town. He takes an immediate liking to her and, proving to her family that she is not the "dummy" they think, he teaches her to read lips. But after a drunken sexual assault leaves her pregnant, rumors begin to fly throughout the small town, and both Belinda and her loved ones must fight for what's right.

The performances are wonderful. Of course, Jane Wyman simply steals the show in her Oscar-winning performance. She brings an incredible heart, warmth, and emotional resonance to the character of Belinda, and she does it without ever saying a word. The rest of the cast is marvelous as well, especially Charles Bickford, who lovingly portrays Belinda's father, and Stephen McNally, who turns Belinda's attacker into one of the most easy to loathe characters ever put on celluloid - yet the film still brilliantly keeps him at the level of a realistic personality - no one is a caricature.

Director Jean Negulesco brings an understated visual beauty to the film reminiscent of the silent ages, when one had to use aesthetics to make up for the lack of aural stimulus. Every shot is a perfectly composed work of art, turning every moment of Belinda into a masterwork of lighting and raw, majestic nature. The seaside settings are utilized so well that they put Johnny Belinda in league with such legendary jaw-droppers as L'Avventura and Black Narcissus.

But this film is much more than just visual appeal. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, often simultaneously. There are so many thought-provoking themes to gnaw on in Johnny Belinda - the way people view the handicapped, the bonds of parenthood, the power of rumors, the justification of violence as self-defense, and overall morality and humanity. Even the film's setting could be considered an allegory on Belinda - the brutal waves of the ocean constantly pounding against the serene shores.

The film is also, as I mentioned before, emotionally overwhelming. While it certainly has a focused narrative, Belinda is foremost a progression of feelings, and they are so well conveyed that I was simply overcome with joy, pain, heartbreak, and hope. While the film is often described as a melodrama, it is far from a soap opera. There are no miraculous moments of sudden verbal triumph for Belinda, no ridiculously overacted moments of teary-eyed abandon - Johnny Belinda is a terribly real experience. There are aspects of the story that remain unresolved - not loose ends, but difficult problems that would most likely also remain unresolved in reality.

However, I don't want to give the impression that Johnny Belinda is depressing. I felt uplifted and rapturous just as often as I felt overcome by grief and fear. I felt so much for these characters and I wanted so sorely for things to turn out a certain way - but I won't reveal whether they do or not. I will say that the film ends on a note of nearly unbearable poignancy, and this is the moment that massaged my tear ducts.

My only complaint concerning the film is Max Steiner's score. He is perfectly suited for epic films like King Kong and Gone With The Wind, but here it feels somewhat overdramatic and occasionally awkward. He tends to play up the melodramatic angle and spot score in a ubiquitous manner, which simply doesn't fit with a film like Johnny Belinda. Still, it tends to work more often than not, and it is not a major enough problem to work seriously to the film's detriment.

This picture is a true gem. It has been unavailable for years, but thanks to Warner Brothers, it finally has a DVD release, and the restoration is simply glorious - it more than does justice to this cinematic treasure. Do yourself a favor and see Johnny Belinda.

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