Review of 'The Gift of Love' DVD quality
As anyone who has read the message boards here for "The Gift of Love" knows, this film has never been commercially available on home video. However, producer Dick Atkins has very kindly put this on DVD for those interested in seeing it again.
I was very happy to receive a copy of the film, as a viewing of the picture had been part of my holiday traditions for many years. However, my worn VHS tape, recorded from a CBS over-the-air broadcast, was looking very much the worse for wear after all this time.
The DVD on offer from Mr Atkins was made from an old 3/4 inch U-matic production tape, and I'm pleased to report that the picture quality is quite acceptable. While it may not look as sharp or detailed as a regular commercial DVD release, it's still very watchable. I thought it looked okay even when viewed on a large modern television screen. (I watched this on a 50-inch widescreen set, and you have to keep in mind that when the film was first broadcast the standard "large" sized television only measured 25 inches in size.)
The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which means if you watch it on a modern set you'll have black bars on each side of the picture. If this bothers you too much, you can always use the zoom or stretch control on your television so that it will fill the 1.78:1 screen size. However, I'd advise against it---if you stretch the picture you'll of course distort the image, and if you zoom you'll cut off the top and bottom of the standard 35 mm film frame. So, watch it in the original aspect ratio and enjoy!
There have been countless dozens of Christmas movies made over the years, and only a tiny fraction of them have been released on home video. I'm afraid it's very possible that this film will NEVER get a commercial release on DVD. While it would be wonderful to have a new DVD transfer made from the original film negative, it probably just isn't going to happen. Since that's the case, the DVD that is available is your best bet. Recommended!