Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff Blu-ray delivers great video and solid audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
No synopsis for Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff.
For more about Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff and the Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff Blu-ray release, see Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
"Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" is an uncomfortable viewing experience for numerous reasons, though the secure melodramatic grip of the film is undeniable, keeping attention on the screen as the screenplay details some truly awful acts of sexual violence and psychological manipulation. It goes without writing that this is a bizarre picture, adapted from a 1970 book and released in 1979, issued during a time of racial sensitivity and bedroom liberation, yet utterly old-fashioned in its design of conflict -- think Douglas Sirk meets Melvin Van Peebles and you're halfway there. "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" is an unusual feature for unusual tastes, but the acting is brave and the darkness of the material is routinely confronted without blinking, forcing the viewer to work through this smorgasbord of Freudian probing and sexual awakening as the movie escalates its illness, often in a most captivating manner.
The small town of Freedom, Kansas in 1954, Evelyn Wyckoff (Anne Heywood) is a high school teacher living a spinster life with fellow border Beth (Carolyn Jones). A virgin at 35 years old, Evelyn is fighting waves of depression, leaving her unstable, in need of help. Her obstetrician (Robert Vaughn) recommends an affair and time with psychiatrist Dr. Steiner (Donald Pleasence), who works out of Wichita. Taking weekly bus rides to the doctor to help settle her scattered mind, Evelyn welcomes temptation from bus driver Ed (Earl Holliman), who provides the woman with her first real opportunity for a sexual experience, only to be gravely disappointed with the seducer's marital status. While the school is embroiled in controversy surrounding the possibly communist teachings of a teacher, Evelyn finds herself confronted with forceful advances from arrogant, sociopathic janitor Rafe (John Lafayette), who proceeds to serially rape the teacher after school hours, a violent union the victim gradually grows to appreciate as a way to understand her developing sexuality. Subjected to Rafe's abusive demeanor, Evelyn risks her reputation and job as the racist community begins to spread rumors about the secret coupling.
There's a reason why "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" was made, and his name is William Inge. A celebrated playwright and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of "Picnic," it's easy to see why the producers were drawn to Inge's original novel, adapted for the screen by Polly Platt. On the page, Evelyn's biblical journey of self-awareness via self-destruction is allowed its proper speed, with the psychological dissection and environmental poisoning slowly coming into focus as pressure is applied to the lead character. On the screen, the sexual odyssey registers in a more truncated fashion, with director Marvin Chomsky trying to hit all the bullet points of disease while balancing a story that encompasses not only the intimacy of Evelyn's confounding misery (initially diagnosed as "premature menopause"), but school politics as well, observing the beloved teacher go to bat for a colleague, as his interest in Karl Marx causes suspicion amongst the faculty. Evelyn's own controversies are included as well, including her fight for school integration, a decision that expedites her eventual shunning when word of her affair with Rafe spreads around town.
The pieces of the puzzle fit awkwardly, watching "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" stumble as it struggles to paint a broader portrait of Evelyn's distress, attempting to establish the character's moral and professional confidence while exposing her paralyzing uncertainty with lustful matters. Chomsky doesn't fashion a consistent film, but he's great with the small details of worry, attacking Evelyn's disturbance with an unexpected straightforwardness. A learned woman used to a routine of classroom instruction and female friendships, Evelyn's awakening is easily the most compelling element of "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff," with her therapeutic interactions with Dr. Steiner (who urges the woman to grow comfortable with her virginal yearning) providing a rich understanding of motivation that helps to digest the humiliations ahead, and her flirtations with Ed bring dimension to the character's confusion, ultimately pointing the way to Rafe's vile control.
Heywood's performance is the glue here, and while she's prone to a few overacted moments of emotional explosion (the mere sound of Mozart brings the woman to tears), the actress retains a fascinating vulnerability about Evelyn that's appealing to watch develop. It's brave work, challenged with tricky moments of submission and internalization that help to comprehend the teacher's curious actions, preserving an almost childlike view of romantic curiosity. What Evelyn goes through in "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" is not easy to watch, ranging from the ostracizing she receives from her dearest friends to Rafe's brutal rapes, yet Heywood manages the mounting pain with surprising energy, lending the picture identity it wouldn't otherwise possess.
The AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation for "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" manages to bring this obscure picture to the HD realm with minimal controversy. The camera negative source material isn't in pristine condition, showing signs of age through minor damage and debris, yet the visual experience is revived, adding freshness to forgotten work, delivering a welcoming clarity to the effort's soft cinematography. Detail is actually quite satisfying, ideal for skin textures and period fabrics, while set dressing specifics are easily surveyed, along with the background bustle of extras (some of those high school extras are middle-aged people hilariously trying to pass for young). Colors are accurately massaged and stable, finding rich life in costuming and skintones, which remain natural throughout. Grain is present and capably managed, permitting a pleasant filmic look for the BD. Crush is present, solidifying a few scenes with limiting lighting, though this is rare event in an otherwise skilled salvage job from Vinegar Syndrome.
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix has its fair share of rough spots to endure, including a few loud reel changes and a steady presence of hiss and pops. The majority of the listening experience is reasonably compelling for such a limited soundscape, finding the aggressive score capably supporting the dramatic intent of the picture with only a few shrill surges in intensity, still allowing for some appreciation of instrumentation. Dialogue exchanges show slight wear and tear, yet the overall push of voices is direct and expressive, preserving performances. Atmospherics are limited but welcome, and soundtrack selections are agreeably blended into the track.
A Score CD is included, offering 17 tracks from Ernest Gold's work.
On the DVD:
"The Sin" (79:59, SD) is an alternative cut of the picture, drastically shaved down with the more extreme acts of sexual violence removed, along with the material's political content -- streamlining the work to feed simplistic exploitation appetites.
"Thoughts on William Inge with Shirley Knight" (6:39, SD) sits down with the actress to discuss the author (who committed suicide in 1973), sharing thoughts on his history, thematic intention, and artistic accomplishments, also chatting up a recent celebration of the writer's 100th birthday.
Still Gallery (:55, SD) with 17 publicity images and snaps of the film's press kit are included.
Theatrical Trailers (5:27, SD) for "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" and "The Sin" are offered. Interestingly, no mention of the picture's racial themes is presented.
Television Spots (2:05, SD), two for "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" and one for "The Sin," are provided.
Although it comes across as exploitative schlock, "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" touches on sophisticated ideas of idealized masculinity (the women go wild for Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire"), mismanaged sexual development, fantasies, and racial unrest, packaged in a weird melodrama that's defiant to the bitter end. Period details are passable and the supporting cast is filled with familiar faces (including Ronee Blakley, Doris Roberts, Dorothy Malone, and Dana Elcar), but the real fire of the film is located in its sense of anguish, which touches on disturbing behaviors and dark thoughts as it peruses the expanse of desire and the control it has over humankind.
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Independent U.S. distributors Vinegar Syndrome have announced that they will release a Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Combo Pack edition of Marvin J. Chomsky's Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979), starring Anne Heywood, Donald Pleasence, Robert Vaughn, Jocelyn Brando, and Carolyn Jones. ...
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