Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), an elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta, is determined to maintain her independence. However, when she crashes her car, her son, Boolie (Dan Aykroyd), arranges for her to have a chauffeur, an African-American driver named Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman). Daisy and Hoke's relationship gets off to a rocky start, but they gradually form a close friendship over the years, one that transcends racial prejudices and social conventions.
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Driving Miss Daisy Blu-ray Review
The touching and incredibly performed and directed Driving Miss Daisy has been released in Blu-ray for the first time and comes in a special 32 page hard cover book. The film received 4 Academy awards including Best Picture at the Oscars in 1989. The film's not only a story of friendship, but a visit to the past covering the 1940s through the early 1970's Georgia during a time when segregation was the talk of America.
The movie's plot centers on Miss Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy) an elderly Jewish lady who has lost her ability to judge distance causing her car to crash into a culvert. Her son Boulie (Dan Aykroyd), who runs the Werthan bedding sheet mill, gives her the ultimatum that she must stop driving. Seeing his mother is lost without being able to get out to a store or attend a ladies social Boulie hires Hoke (Morgan Freeman), a black man, as Daisy's personal chauffeur. Daisy resists Hoke because she feels she should be driving the car herself and really doesn't need to be attended by a black man. Making it difficult for Hoke, Daisy keeps insisting she can fend for herself. As time goes on however, a bond between the unlikely couple begins that spans over 25 years with Hoke applying the kindness that melds their hearts.
The story much like the recent The Help puts you in the heart of the South where black maids and drivers are a part of the culture. In Driving Miss Daisy, however it's not so much about black servants, but how segregation, discrimination and anti-Semitism affected the lifestyles of the South. Moving through decades of ill treatment toward our fellow man and into a period where justice starts to prevail, the film brings to light just how important it is to extend the love needed to stir in all the vegetables in life's melting pot.
Driving Miss Daisy spools out using some amazing sets, locations, costumes and props including vintage cars from each of the decades featured in the film. Director Bruce Bresford does a terrific job with the talent in the film getting 9 Oscar nominations and winning best Actress for Jessica Tandy, Best Picture, Best Make-up and Script (Alfred Uhry). Both Morgan Freeman (Best Actor) and Dan Aykroyd (Best Supporting) received nominations for their work.
The bonus features for the film include an All-New Featurette called Things Are Changing: The Worlds of Hoke and Miss Daisy. The short takes a look at race relations in America's past featuring Director Bruce Bresford and writer Alfred Uhry.
The second featurette is about getting Driving Miss Daisy from stage to screen. Writer Alfred Uhry talks about the comparison to his grandmother and Miss Daisy.
You can also turn on the commentary by Director Bruce Bresford, Writer Alfred Uhry and Producer Lili Zanuck
The movie gets enhanced with the HD Blu-ray format making it less grainy and adding clarity to colors. Although I did notice some blurring at times, it wasn't anything that detracted from the entertainment value of the movie. I am very glad that the interiors of the old homesteads and other buildings were left muted giving it a more realistic period look. The film would have been ruined in my opinion had they made the presentation harsh and radiant.
The sound quality does show some enhancement with the DTS-HD Master Audio sound, but nothing that was necessary for the soft spoken Tandy and Freeman. There was one scene however, when Hoke and Daisy get pulled over by the Alabama State Police that could have used some tweaking since the conversation was not clear enough to my liking.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A classic and a keepsake, this video release fits nicely in any home library. (B)
-- John Delia
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