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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


Directed by Sidney Lumet
USA 1959

 

Four Oscar–winning actors—Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton—sink their teeth into this enthralling film, which brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a southern small-town variety store run by the married, sexually frustrated Lady Torrance (Magnani), who proves as much a temptation for Val as local wild child Carol Cutrere(Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded storytelling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft.

****

Oscar winners Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront), Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo), Joanne Woodward (The Three Faces of Eve) and Maureen Stapleton (Reds) lead the stellar cast of this Southern Gothic "sizzler" (Los Angeles Times) based on the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending. Thanks to "brilliant" (The Film Daily) performances, The Fugitive Kind "sets one's senses to throbbing" (The New York Times). Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier (Brando) is a handsome drifter with a guitar and a past. Taking a job as a store clerk in Two Rivers, Mississippi, his strong and silent demeanor attracts not only the local party girl (Woodward), but also the shopkeeper's exotic wife (Magnani). Soon, this explosive love triangle will ignite a powder keg of fury that could rock this small town to its very core.

  Posters

Theatrical Release: January 1959

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (2-disc) Spine # 515 Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:01:04  2:01:36 
Video 1.68:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.56 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.5 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.

Bitrate: MGM

Bitrate: Criterion

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, French, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
1.68:1

Edition Details:

• None 

DVD Release Date: November 8th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
1.66:1

Edition Details:

• New video interview with Lumet (27:48)
• Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, an hour-long television presentation of one-act plays, directed by Lumet in 1958, with Ben Gazarra and Lee Grant, among others (55:04)
• New video program discussing the playwright’s work in Hollywood and The Fugitive Kind (27:32)
• 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thomson 

DVD Release Date:
April 27th, 2010
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 23

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Criterion - April 2010: Thankfully Criterion have given this Tennessee Williams/Sidney Lumet/Brando et all masterpiece some respect with a healthy dual-layered, progressive transfer. The comparison with the MGM seems almost silly as the Criterion handily wins on all fronts.

The Criterion image looks good although not always stellar. I suspect it is as SD-strong as the source elements will allow and probably what held it back from going Blu-ray. The, 1.66 aspect ratio, anamorphic presentation on all systems improves more dramatically than the below captures indicate. If that isn't enough - the Criterion is advertised as "New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Sidney Lumet". Criterion's first disc shares the feature film with nothing else - not even a trailer - so the bitrate for the 2-hour film is very high. It looks somewhat lighter and the softness appears to be inherent.

The audio is mono - unremarkable but clean and clear. Criterion offer optional English subtitles.

The new DVD is stacked with a second, dual-layered, disc starting with a 1/2 hour video interview with Lumet recorded for Criterion in 2010. He talks with passion and understanding about his career, the actors and especially Tennessee Williams. There is another half-hour piece entitled Hollywood's Tennessee and The Fugitive Kind with R. Barton Palmer and Robert Bray supplying rich information about the lauded playwright. Kinescope style we get three 20-minute one-act plays by Tennessee Williams from 1958, directed by Lumet and starring the likes of Ben Gazarra + Lee Grant, among others. Video quality is expectantly poor. Lastly, there is a 20-page liner notes booklet featuring photos and an essay by film critic David Thomson.

The film works every time I revisit it and it is very pleasing to have it 16X9 enhanced and the package stuffed with interesting supplements. Anna Magnani is magnificent. The Criterion - even at top tier pricing - is strongly recommended for the film and extras.    

***

ON THE MGM DVD: What a shame. Continuing their trend as the worst major studio (if they are a 'studio' anymore) DVD productions house, MGM has not only avoided 16X9 enhancement for this widescreen film, but include that it is not even progressively transferred (note combing in screen captures below). It is almost impossible to believe. This single layered digital travesty is not even worth the $11 it is being released for. No extras - only two menus and 12 chapters for the films entire 2 hour running time. Not only is this DVD presentation disrespectful to the film, but to MGM's consumers as well. They really don't deserve to have this film in their catalogue and they should have simply sold it for whatever they could get for it to Warner.

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT


 

Criterion Disc 2

 


Subtitle Sample

 

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM
 Bad Combing on MGM
 

 


MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM
 

More Criterion captures


 
DVD Box Cover

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (2-disc) Spine # 515 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

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