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(aka 'Amère victoire')
USA 1957


  The last of director Nicholas Ray's great films, Bitter Victory is a brilliant, shamefully neglected war movie about a British raid on a Nazi base. Richard Burton stars as battle-worn Captain Leith, assigned to help Major Brand (Curt Jurgens) lead a squad of toughened commandos. Complicating their relationship is the fact that Leith once had an affair with the Major's new wife (Ruth Roman), and is also harboring serious doubts about his superior's fitness for the grim realities of desert warfare.

Released in a restored new print, Ray's masterful 1957 film impresses with its black and white Cinemascope photography - making the barren desert landscape a terrifyingly empty place where men are reduced to wrecks, and heroism gives way to abject cowardice.

After the raid is carried out and the squad escape into the sand dunes to meet up with their escort home, things begin to fall apart. Scorpion stings, sandstorms, and German patrols take their toll, but the real enemy lies within: Jurgens' blustering martinet of a major. He slowly loses control over the squad as the enlisted men (including Nigel Green's private and Christopher Lee's cockney sergeant) begin to realize what kind of coward he is.

Stoking the psychological depths of the screenplay (adapted from René Hardy's novel Amère Victoire), Ray delivers a bleak portrait of masculinity pushed to the limit that leaves both Jurgens and Burton's characters monumentally broken by the time the credits roll. "I kill the living and save the dead," whispers Burton's scholarly archaeologist turned maverick army officer shortly after the film's seminal scene in which he is left to kill two wounded soldiers, one German and one British.

Excerpt from BBC films review located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 1957 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Columbia Tri-Star Home Video - Region 1- NTSC
Runtime 1:41:45
Video 2.31:1  Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.94 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby) 
Subtitles None

Release Information:
Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

Aspect Ratio:

Edition Details:

• Previews

DVD Release Date:
February 22nd, 2005
Keep Case
Chapters: 12




Very bare bones DVD with a relatively soft image. Contrast is very good but the print looks a little faded and hazy. Film grain is not very prevalent. No subtitles and the new CTS standard 12 chapters with only previews as an extra. On the positive it is HD sourced, anamorphic Columbia always seems to maximize the horizontal resolution. Aspect ratio appears to have been maintained. Very limited DVD package though. Considering this is Nicholas Ray, I think this film deserved better. A commentary, tighter image and some relevant extras would have been appropriate. out of

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Columbia Tri-Star Home Video - Region 1- NTSC


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