Blu-ray Review: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Paul Newman was one of the most iconic actors of the 1960s. The decade was bookmarked by The Hustler and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it’s arguably Cool Hand Luke which remains his most memorable and powerful performance. Whilst he found fame in front of the camera, Newman also directed five feature films. Whilst his first (Rachel, Rachel) and last (The Glass Menagerie) are his most well-know, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is the one which resonates the most.

In a rundown neighbourhood in a rundown city, Beatrice Hunsdorfer (Joanne Woodward) lives with her teenage daughters Ruth (Roberta Wallach) and Matilda (Nell Potts). Beatrice has big dreams which are normally dulled with the help of a bottle. She struggles to make ends meet, taking in lodgers and doing telephone sales from home. Ruth is rebellious and determined to fit in at school but finds herself continually undermined by her mother’s reputation. Matilda is shy, bright and idealistic; obsessed with her rabbit and a school science project.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a very strange and unusual film. Woodward give maybe the best performance of her career as the erratic Beatrice, a woman struggling to keep her head above water as her life slowly crumbles. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, most of the action takes place within the confines of their ramshackle home. It’s a real hothouse atmosphere. Newman, who casts both his wife and their daughter, produces a tense and torrid family drama which lingers long after the credits roll.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• 4K restoration from the original negative
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with film historian Adrian Martin
• The John Player Lecture with Paul Newman (1972): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Joan Bakewell at London’s National Film Theatre
• The Guardian Interview with Joanne Woodward (1984, 65 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Bilbow at the National Film Theatre
• Cannes Film Festival Press Conference (1973, 2 mins): archival footage in which Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward discuss their approach to making the film
• Isolated music and effects track
• Original TV spot
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with new essays by Johnny Mains and Bethan Roberts, a profile of writer Paul Zindel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on 30 April.

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