Lana Turner Double Feature

Portrait in Black (1960)       Madame X (1966)

Lana Turner fans collectively shout 'It's about time!' for two of her better remembered, aptly titled, melodramatically fun thrillers. The "Sweater Girl" with the outrageous tabloid existence (7 marriages - multiple affairs) including battles with alcoholism and the infamous incident where her 'gangster' lover, Johnny Stompanato, was killed by Cheryl Crane, her daughter - that always seem to supersede her professional career. Universal offer this very reasonable 2-seperate disc DVD set with noirish, star-studded, Portrait in Black (with Anthony Quinn, Richard Basehart , Sandra Dee, John Saxon and Anna May Wong!) and Madame X wear she shines above her co-stars John Forsythe, Ricardo Montalban and Burgess Meredith. Finally!

Gary W. Tooze

 

 

Directed by Michael Gordon
USA 1960

 

This glitzy, glossy, murder-suspense picture was shot like one of Ross Hunter's romantic films. It took 15 years for the 1945 play to reach the screen, after an interesting history. Goff and Roberts' stage production premiered in New Haven with Geraldine Fitzgerald in the lead. There was a two-year hiatus until it went to New York for 61 performances starring Clare Luce, Donald Cook, and Sidney Blackmer. The film rights were bought by Bruce Manning and Jack Skirball, who announced Joan Crawford to star and Carol Reed to direct. When that didn't happen, Universal picked up the rights and held them until they needed a film Turner could appear in to follow-up her successful remake of IMITATION OF LIFE. Turner was dressed in some eye-catching Jean Louis gowns, and the film employed some beautiful sets, but neither of these flashy touches could conceal PORTRAIT IN BLACK's contrived plot. Married to Nolan, an invalid multimillionaire, Turner is having an affair with Nolan's doctor, Quinn.

 Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 27th, 1960

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DVD Review: Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:52:28
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.65 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:

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

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Double-lock Double Holder Keep Case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

Competent dual-layered transfer - progressive and anamorphic in the original aspect ratio. Colors are a bit dull and there is some noise infiltrating the grain, but overall this is very watchable. The print used is fairly clean and I see no untoward manipulations. Thumbs up!

It has a clear audible track and optional English or French subtitles. No extras save a trailer. It shares the package with a 2nd disc Madame X (reviewed below). A great deal for fans of noir (which it approaches) or Lana herself. Recommended!  

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Directed by David Lowell Rich
USA 19
66

 

Based on a 1909 French play by Alexandre Bisson, Madame X was first filmed in 1916, with Dorothy Donnelly in the title role. In a 1920 remake, the celebrated stage actress Pauline Frederick played her. The first talkie version, in 1929, earned an Academy Award nomination for Broadway star Ruth Chatterton. MGM remade it in 1937 with Gladys George as the doomed lady, and there was a British version in 1948. Tuesday Weld received excellent reviews in the 1981 television adaptation. Perhaps the best of the lot -- and certainly the one with the highest production values -- is the 1966 version of Madame X starring Lana Turner.

Turner plays Holly, the neglected wife of a diplomat and mother of a young son. She has an affair with a playboy, and is implicated in his death. To avoid tainting her family with scandal, Holly disappears, leaving them to believe she's dead. Over the years Holly sinks into a life of degradation, until another death leaves her on trial for murder...defended by the son who's unaware of who she is.

By the mid-1950's, Lana Turner had segued from sexpot roles into romantic melodramas such as Peyton Place (1957), which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The real-life melodrama of her mobster lover's murder by her daughter (Cheryl Crane) not only increased Turner's notoriety, but also her popularity. She then teamed up with director Douglas Sirk and producer Ross Hunter, who specialized in lavishly-produced women's pictures, for Imitation of Life (1959), a tearjerker about a conflicted mother-daughter relationship. It was a huge hit and was quickly followed by another, equally glossy Turner and Hunter collaboration, Portrait in Black (1960).

Excerpt from Turner Classic Movies located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: February 25th, 1966

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:40:03 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.74 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:

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

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Double-lock Double Holder Keep Case
Chapters: 18

 

 

Comments:

A superior transfer - brighter and clean - again - dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic. A notch above Portrait in Black in both film and appearance.

It also offers a clear audible track with optional English or French subtitles. No supplements save a trailer. It shares the package with the 1st disc (reviewed above). This amounts to a fabulous deal for less than $13. For those familiar with the era this is highly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

Thank You!