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Ryan's Daughter (Two-Disc Special Edition)

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Ryan's Daughter: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)

Lovely, headstrong Rosy (Sarah Miles) cannot forsake her passionate romance with the handsome British officer (Christopher Jones). Yet there is a greater love ? the devotion of her reserved schoolteacher husband Charles (Robert Mitchum), who stands by Rosy when her illicit affair leads to a charge of treason. Two honored alumni of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago director David Lean and screenwriter Robert Bolt frame this brooding tale within the expansive beaches, craggy cliffs and heathered hills of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula. Freddie Young's lush cinematography and John Mills' memorable portrayal of a town simpleton won Academy Awards.* The remarkable movie containing them casts a haunting spell.


In 1970, Ryan's Daughter had the distinction of being the first David Lean film to be included in Playboy magazine's annual "Sex in the Cinema" round-up, thanks to a back-to-nature sex scene that earned the film its R rating. This old-school epic went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor for a grotesquely made-up John Mills as the cruelly put-upon village simpleton. But the years have not been quite kind to Ryan's Daughter. This brooding and storm-tossed epic is lovely to look at, but hard to hold with its miscast principles and unsympathetic characters. The film is set in 1916 in a British-occupied Irish village on the seacoast of Western Ireland. Lean's Ireland is a world apart from the colorful characters and close-knit community of John Ford's The Quiet Man. The village is populated by hooligans, slatterns, and traitors. No wonder the local priest (Trevor Howard) is compelled to haul off and slap several of his parishioners, including Rosy Ryan, the dreamy-eyed romantic daughter of the local "publican." The "graceless gal," as the priest calls her, is married to "a good man," a middle-aged local schoolteacher (a cast-against-type Robert Mitchum). She has enough money, and she has her health. But it's not enough, she declares. Enter--at the film's hour mark--a shell-shocked British officer (Christopher Jones) with whom she enjoys an illicit and scandalous affair that offers the promise of the "satisfaction of the flesh" for which she yearns. Ryan's Daughter reunited Lean with Robert Bolt, the screenwriter of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. Alas, the third time was not quite the charm. Miles and Jones generate little heat and Rosy's heedless behavior rouses even less audience empathy. Little in Maurice Jarre's sweeping score equals the high notes of his Oscar-winnings scores for Lawrence or Zhivago. But the landscapes, magnificent and foreboding, cast a ravishing spell of their own. Ryan's Daughter, too, will be embraced by those who have a soft spot in their hearts for love stories set against the backdrop of historical events and this Hollywood epic that in the year of M*A*S*H and Five Easy Pieces, was stubbornly out of style. --Donald Liebenson

On the DVD
This two-disc special edition would seem to be everything for which champions of Ryan's Daughter would wish. It presents the film in its original 206-minute running time, and preserves the original aspect ratio of the theatrical 70mm presentation. The audio commentary views the film from a variety of perspectives, including Miles, Lean's widow, Lean's biographer, Robert Mitchum's daughter, and directors John Boorman and Hugh Hudson. These and others are also featured in an illuminating new three-part documentary, "The Making of Ryan's Daughter," which also features archival interviews with Lean, and is candid enough to address the film's less-than-welcome reception with critics and audiences. Rounding out this set are two period documentaries that went behind the scenes of the production. --Donald Liebenson

Key Product Details

  • Director: David Lean
  • Number Of Discs: 2
  • Run Time: 108 (Minutes)
  • UPC: 012569517028