Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Eclipse Series 16 - Alexander Korda's Private Lives

 

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)      The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)      Rembrandt (1936)

 

Directed By Alexander Korda

 

Though born to modest means in Hungary, Alexander Korda would go on to become one of the most important filmmakers in the history of British cinema. A producer, writer, and director who navigated toward subjects of major historical significance and mythical distinction, Korda made a name for his production company, London Films, with the Oscar-winning The Private Life of Henry VIII. He then continued his populist investigation behind the scenes and in the bedrooms of such figures as Catherine the Great, Don Juan, and Rembrandt. Mixing stately period drama with surprising satire, these films are exemplars of grand 1930s moviemaking.

 


Titles

 

 


 

The Private Life of Henry VIII
Alexander Korda, 1933
Charles Laughton gulps beer and chomps on mutton, in his first of many iconic screen roles, as King Henry VIII, the ultimate anti-husband. Alexander Korda’s first major international success is a raucous, entertaining, even poignant peek into the boudoirs of the infamous king and his six wives.


The Rise of Catherine the Great
Paul Czinner, 1934
A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia.


The Private Life of Don Juan
Alexander Korda, 1934
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. makes his big-screen swan song with Korda’s deliciously satiric deflation of the Don Juan myth. After having faked his own death and escaped Seville, the aging lothario returns, only to find that he has been forgotten; perhaps Merle Oberon’s beauty can coax him back.


Rembrandt
Alexander Korda, 1936
Charles Laughton once again teams up with Korda for this moving, elegantly shot biopic about the Dutch painter. Beginning when Rembrandt’s reputation was at its height, the film then tracks his quiet descent into loneliness and isolated self-expression.

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Releases: 1933 - 1936

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series Sixteen from the Criterion Collection (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:34:06, 1:33:30, 1:27:06, and 1:24:33
Bitrate:

The Private Life of Henry VIII

Bitrate:

The Rise of Catherine the Great

Bitrate:

The Private Life of Don Juan

Bitrate:

Rembrandt

Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: May 12th, 2009

4 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters: 15, 13 , 12 , 14

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 4 main features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) they are not sold separately at this time. These particular editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Sixteen - Alexander Korda's Private Lives package at present.

All four titles are pictureboxed (on all 4 sides - see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review) and are all in there original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. These are single-layered discs - each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfers are all progressive and there are no digital extras. The audio for all is original mono and there are optional English subtitles. The London Film logo for the first 3 and British Lion logo, for Rembrandt, precede each presentation.

 

The Private Life of Henry VIII  appears to be in the Public Domain and other DVD editions exist (by the likes of companies like Firecake Entertainment or Allied Artists Entertainment) and others like The Rise of Catherine the Great and The Private Life of Don Juan have surfaced in Korda PAL boxsets in Spain. Rembrandt came out via MGM in 2001 but I have none of these editions to compare.

 

Image quality on this Eclipse release is weaker than I anticipated with plenty of light vertical scratches (mostly in the beginning segments), speckles and there is some contrast flickering as well. Despite the inherent print inferiorities - Criterion transfers, in the past few years, have always been of a consistent nature. While lighter noise exists - it is never blocky and intrusive as seen with inferior production houses. Finer grain has some minor presence as well but the structure doesn't appear fully intact. Detail is fairly soft at times. The single-layered renderings don't enhance the digitization although I'm unsure that dual-layering could improve much beyond the weak sources available. Rembrandt is the exception appearing as a breath of fresh air next to the other three. I don't believe much has been done in the way of, even subtle, digital enhancement as the less stellar contrast doesn't quite appear to be at Criterion's expected standard. Don Juan actually looks as if it may have some green/sepia infiltration. To be fair the film's are well over 70-years old and perhaps my expectations were too high in regards to the visual appearance. These won't look better without a full-blown restoration - which may not happen soon.         

 

Bitrates have a more moderate range from 5.8 to 6.4 Mbps.

The sound is original mono and dialogue is clear enough bit again shows the film's age - I noted a couple of instances of softened pops and drop-outs, but overall it was certainly acceptable for standard viewing.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements.

To be totally honest I wasn't particularly in the mood to watch these and labored through the middle two. While I tend to love vintage films I am not always as enthusiastic about period pieces in the form of historical bios. I can understand the film value but for one reason or another I wasn't intrigued. This is often where a commentary or advanced supplements can encourage a higher level of appreciation. However, I did 'get into' Rembrandt quite quickly. The liner notes are excellent and did enlightened me to further details. I will say, it was great to see Laughton, Fairbanks and Elsa Lanchester in such classic features. I should note that I was also very impressed with Elisabeth Bergner as Catherine the Great.

Part of this DVD package value lies in the relative scarcity of these productions from the large studios or more reputable DVD distributors. I had only seen Henry the 8th on television a very long while ago. We tend to gauge everything via price these days and from that standpoint this has a recommendation as the films are about $11 each. Certainly a exceptional bargain.

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

Directed by Alexander Korda

Starring Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Merle Oberon and Elsa Lanchester
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)


Directed by Alexander Korda


Starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Elisabeth Bergner, Flora Robsonand and Gerald du Maurier 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)

 

Directed by Alexander Korda


Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Merle Oberon, Bruce Winston and Gina Malo

 

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Rembrandt


Directed by Alexander Korda


Starring Charles Laughton, Gertrude Lawrence and Elsa Lanchester

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!