A New Leaf – Blu-ray Review

A New Leaf is a 1971 black comedy film that based on the short story titled The Green Heart by Jack Ritchie, starring Elaine May, Walter Matthau, Jack Weston, George Rose, James Coco, and Doris Roberts. Better known for her collaboration as a stage comedian with The Graduate, director Mike Nichols, May also wrote and directed (in her debut). For this film, May consulted Dr. Dominick Basile, a botany professor at Columbia University. Dr. Basile wrote botanically accurate lines into the script and supplied the botanical equipment that’s seen in the film. May also modeled Henrietta’s office after his.

The film was considered to be a critical success upon its initial release. However, despite several accolades, award nominations, and a Radio City Music Hall run, A New Leaf fared poorly at the box office and remains little known by the general public. It is now considered to be a cult classic.

The Film Itself (4/5):

I was excited to see A New Leaf arrive to my doorstep.  With only being semi-familiar with the works of Walter Matthau, I knew he has done some hilarious work in the comedy genre, so to say the least I was looking forward to popping this in.  The story that we’re given with this film tells us the tale of someone who was doing very well off financially and have squandered away their money and decides to seek a life partner or soulmate.  A story that starts off with a really well built foundation and is carried out very well throughout the film as it progresses.  Not to mention, the silly antics of Matthau helped add to the overall experience of the film.

Picture Quality (4.5/5):

I was a bit nervous when I first popped A New Leaf into my player.  As the Paramount Pictures logo played across my television, it looked as if it were straight off of a VHS transfer.  But, as the film began, my wife and I could clearly see that the movie itself was completely remastered and offers a beautiful look into the story at hand.  Offering clean and vibrant colors while working to maintain a completely original feel that audiences of the early 1970s experienced; the picture was stunning.

Audio Quality (4/5):

Packaged with an English Mono track, A New Leaf features a completely remastered audio track when compared to its predecessors.  Presenting the film with clean and clear dialogue and musical accompaniment, audiences are able to completely hear and understand everything as it’s occurring without having to manually adjust their volume levels at all; all while trying to preserve the original experience that audiences of the early 70s had.

The Packaging (4.5/5):

A New Leaf comes packaged in your standard single disc Blu-ray amaray case, but clear.  Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film, the disc featuring similar artwork to that of the case.  There are no DVD copies included with this release, nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets.  Within the case is also a booklet that contains two short essays.  One essay titled Ode On A Grecian Nightgown written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, the other The Green Heart by Jack Ritchie.


Special Features (4/5):

While the special features that are included on this release of A New Leaf do not really offer much in terms of behind the scenes, the content that has been provided offers more of an inquisitive look into the film coupled with discussions with some of those who did work behind the scenes.  Included with this release is:

  • Feature Audio Commentary By Film Scholar Maya Montanez Smuckler
  • The Cutting Room Floor: Editing A New Leaf – Interview With A New Leaf Assistant Editor Angelo Corrao
  • Women In Hollywood: A Tragedy Of Comic Proportions – With Director Amy Heckerling
  • Essay By Film Critic, Editor & Film Programmer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Specs:


Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


English: Mono


English SDH


Original Film: 102 minutes

Final Thoughts:

I was really glad to see A New Leaf as it arrived to my doorstep.  While only being familiar with some of Matthau’s works, I knew this man was a comedic genius and was grateful for the opportunity to check out some of his earlier works, like this.  The story that is given with this film is one that not only starts out strong, but is carried out very well through to the end of the film.  The visual and audible presentation of the Blu-ray release is absolutely beautiful and does a really nice job at working to maintain an all original feel that the audiences once had when it first came out.  There’s only a handful of additional features included, but they do offer a more detailed look into the film at hand.  If you’re on the fence about picking up this release of A New Leaf, I would highly recommend grabbing it for your collection.  The folks over at Olive Films have been doing some damn good work with this Signature Edition line and I’m really looking forward to see what the future continues to hold for them.  This release just came out on December 5, so get it while it’s still immediately available!

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.