(aka 'Lady Hamilton')
One of cinema’s most dashing duos, real-life spouses Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier live their greatest on-screen romance in this visually dazzling tragic love story from legendary producer-director Alexander Korda. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars of the late eighteenth century, That Hamilton Woman is a gripping account of the scandalous adulterous affair between the British Royal Navy officer Lord Horatio Nelson and the renowned beauty Emma, Lady Hamilton, the wife of a British ambassador. With its grandly designed sea battles and formidable star performances, That Hamilton Woman (Winston Churchill’s favorite movie, which he claimed to have seen over eighty times) brings history to vivid, glamorous life.
Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 1941
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine #487 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.80 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 1.0)|
commentary featuring noted film historian Ian Christie
NOTE: There is a bare-bones Region 4 (Australia) DVD of That Hamilton Woman already released but I don't have access to it for comparison purposes.
The 1.33, progressive, Criterion transfer is pictureboxed (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). NOTE The Criterion captures below have been put in their own table to show the amount of pictureboxing (black bars circumventing the edge). Where this may benefit systems that produce overscan (ex. production cathode ray tubes) - the lesser resolution detracts from systems that do not requite it (ex. HTPC). There are plenty of vertical light scratches, that after the digital restoration, appear just beneath the surface of the image. It's not particularly detailed and doesn't export Criterion's usual level of contrast although the latter attribute is certainly acceptable. We can only suspect that any weaknesses are inherent in the source and as much was done as possible for SD. On the positive, the image is consistent and certainly watchable.
Audio is about as imperfect as the image quality with some consistent, but light, hiss. The mono track is only capable of doing so much with the wonderful Miklos Rozsa score. It's important to remember this film is 68-years old now - the track reinforces that realization. There are optional English subtitles.
Supplements are typically Criterion-strong. British film historian Ian Christie gives a great commentary - professional and loaded with information from bio minutia to intriguing production factoids. Alexander Korda Presents, contains a 15-minute group of 1941 promotional radio pieces for the film featuring excerpts from the film and commentary from the set. We get a 35-minute interview with author and editor Michael Korda, Alexander’s nephew, who discusses growing up in the Korda family and the making of That Hamilton Woman. There is a theatrical trailer and an 18-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Molly Haskell.
This is a wonderfully romantic period-piece - especially for those keen on older, historically-based, cinema but I find the Criterion price quite high for those who may only have a passing interest in vintage film. The commentary alone is worthy for fans of Olivier and Leigh. Especially the latter as a vehicle showcasing her star-quality which is strongly displayed by this Korda effort (although, some may say, wasn't everything). Those who do decide to indulge will, most likely, be vey satisfied at seeing the film and it's two stars in such strong roles. The bountiful supplements are very much worth accessing as well.