Directed by Anatole Litvak
France 1936

 

The gorgeous duo of Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux first appeared on-screen together almost twenty years before The Earrings of Madame de . . . , in this sumptuous, tragic romance from Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit, Anastasia). Mayerling is the profoundly emotional true story of the doomed adulterous affair between Archduke Rudolph, heir to the Austrian throne, and the young and innocent baron’s daughter Marie Vetsera.

***

A voluptuous romance, with Boyer as the Archduke Rudolf, tragically smitten with Darrieux' Maria Vetsera. Litvak is equally good at conveying the tidal wave of passion that drowned the heir to the throne, and the moral opprobrium that consumes the Hapsburg court. Of course it is novelettish, Barbara Cartland rubbish, but done with extraordinary skill and commitment. Boyer is ideal as the doomed and dissolute romancer who was never up to ruling anyway; and Darrieux is not only exquisitely beautiful, she's alive as well. The visual opulence rivals anything in Hollywood, where Litvak, a Jewish-Russian refugee, was hastily whisked, to produce wartime propaganda movies. This is his one really estimable picture, which he remade in 1957 for TV.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Theatrical Release: February 16th, 1936

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DVD Review: Criterion (Janus Essential Art) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion - as part of Janus Essential Art Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:33:54 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.1 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 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 6-page liner notes leaflet

DVD Release Date: September 15th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 15

 

Comments:

The image on this single-layered Janus Essential Art House release has some flickering and damage but thick grain is visible. It is fairly dark with muddier contrast than one might have anticipated but I suspect that the source elements have been compromised. I don't know that, aside from a full restoration, dual-layering would dramatically benefit the presentation - although digital artifacts are more visible in the monochromatic darker segments. There are examples where brightness appears slightly boosted and it may be the weakest looking DVD image I've ever seen relating to a 'Criterion' distribution. On the positive - it is progressive and NOT pictureboxed - filling the entire 720 pixel frame with the 1.33 aspect ratio image. 

Audio is only slightly better than the image quality but it is clear enough to enjoy the film. There are optional subtitles. Extras are limited to some liner notes with a few paragraphs by an 'MK'. Being bare-bones is typical for these releases.

This is an impressive film and it's seems almost unjust that this may be the best way we will see it on digital but luckily the price reflects that. We don't believe another DVD edition is available, but if it ever surfaces we will certainly compare. I suppose we really should be thankful just to see it as I imagine the elements available are in poor condition.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution Criterion - as part of Janus Essential Art Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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