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 Major Barbara (1941)         Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)


Androcles and the Lion (1952)

 

The hugely influential, Nobel Prize–winning critic and playwright George Bernard Shaw was notoriously reluctant to allow his writing to be adapted for the cinema. Yet thanks to the persistence of Hungarian producer Gabriel Pascal, Shaw finally agreed to collaborate on a series of screen versions of his witty, socially minded plays, starting with the Oscar-winning Pygmalion. The three other films that resulted from this famed alliance, Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra, and Androcles and the Lion, long overshadowed by the sensation of Pygmalion, are gathered here for the first time on DVD. These clever, handsomely mounted entertainments star such luminaries of the big screen as Vivien Leigh, Claude Rains, Wendy Hiller, and Rex Harrison.

 

 

directed by Gabriel Pascal
UK 1941

 

Director Gabriel Pascal had the good fortune to have George Bernard Shaw not only as the playwright but also as his collaborator on this 1941 film version of Shaw's classic satire. Wendy Hiller stars as the Salvation Army worker, daughter of a munitions manufacturer, who moves from innocence to disillusionment to the acceptance of the material and social values of her father's world; Rex Harrison is the good-natured intellectual who joins the Salvation Army to be near Barbara. Though a bit slow to start and overlong (GBS added 18 minutes to the screenplay), this is still an enthusiastic and intelligent rendering of the wonderful Shavian wit and sense of the ridiculous. With Robert Morley, Robert Newton, Emlyn Williams, Sybil Thorndike, Deborah Kerr, and Stanley Holloway.

Excerpt of review from Don Druker located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 2nd, 1941 (UK)

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DVD Review: Criterion (Eclipse Series 20: George Bernard Shaw o) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

Only available in Eclipse 20 - Shaw on Film:

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Criterion

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:00:52
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.43 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
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Liner Notes

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010
Transparent Slim Case

Chapters 15

 

Comments

First off, the discs in this set are not available individually as Criterion editions, but instead must be purchased together as a set in their region 1 debuts. While are PAL versions of "Major Barbara" (available HERE), "Caesar and Cleopatra" HERE, and a Spanish edition of "Androcles and the Lion" HERE, I can't speak for their quality.

Like all of the releases in the Eclipse line, Criterion has released this set without any extras (aside from liner notes with all three discs) and an image that is un-restored. Nevertheless, the images on all three discs are acceptable, with the most recent, "Androcles and the Lion", looking fairly strong. Unlike the other two titles, "Caesar and Cleopatra" comes interlaced. While it definitely shows in the image, there are no visible instances of combing. All of the films have some damage and softness, but the neither is ever a problem for any of the films.

All three films come with an unremarkable, but still acceptable, soundtrack. Of the three titles, "Major Barbara" fares the worst, with discernible hissing in much of the feature. While this noise isn't audible on lower volume levels, the higher that it goes, the more noticeable it is. The dialogue and music are audible, but do not shine. All three discs come with optional English subtitles.

As for the films themselves, all three are pretty good. In "Major Barbara", Hiller is every bit as strong here as she was in Asquith's "Pygmalion", "Caesar and Cleopatra" is a great, but long forgotten (at least in the states) swords and sandals epic, and "Androcles and the Lion" is a lot of silly fun. This set is another winner from Criterion. Highly recommended.

  - Brian Montgomery

NOTE: Robert S. tells us in email: "Just a heads-up on Criterion's issuance of the Gabriel Pascal MAJOR BARBARA (1941) in their 3-disc "Shaw on Film" set. Although the source materials were obviously pristine and the transfer looks and sounds terrific, it is a non-original variant version that runs 121 minutes, 15 minutes shorter than the original theatrical film. All reference sources list 136 minutes as the real time; and indeed, that is what one got on VHS (New Century Telecommunications at theatrical/NTSC speed of 136 minutes, and a Janus PAL-NTSC +4% conversion at PAL time of 131 minutes). There was a 100-minute US version issued theatrically in the 1940s as well. Both that and this 121-minute version of mysterious origin are abominations, blithely cutting lines of crip Shavian dialog willy-nilly resulting in continuity like Swiss cheese, and fading/abruptly terminating scenes minutes prematurely. I had waited eagerly for this film to have a DVD release and am now bitterly disappointed. My faith in Criterion is shaken after years of lavish purchases from them." (Thanks Robert!)

NOTE: Fred says in response: "As always before buying a DVD/BR I check with DVDBeaver. So I read the entry for the Eclipse release SHAW ON FILM and the email quote of this certain Robert S. about the running time. And I got a bit upset about it as it contains wrong statements without no sources given to proof and check.

"All reference sources list 136 minutes as the real time."
Wrong! The only one I can come up with that lists 135 minutes, is the 1995 edition of Leonard Maltin's TV Guide. But in the 2004 edition the running time was corrected to 121 minutes, which is also the running time given by these sources:
- Motion Picture Guide (1986)
- database BFI (HERE)
Length: 10886 Feet (= 120m55s)] Run time: 121.0 mins. HERE
- US VHS release HERE
- Janus/Second Sight DVD [PAL standard] HERE or HERE

I found no trace of both VHS releases "New Century Telecommunications at theatrical/NTSC speed of 136 minutes, and a Janus PAL-NTSC +4% conversion at PAL time of 131 minutes". Strangely enough a Google search provides only results from pages publishing exactly this statement by Robert S.

The Criterion release runs 121 minutes. So one could assume that it is the original release. But unfortunately it is not. The original theatrical released featured a spoken prologue by George Bernard Shaw and according to the certificate of the British Board of Classification from 09/01/1941 the original running time is 126 minutes (125m 55s to be exact; cf. HERE).

"There was a 100-minute US version issued theatrically in the 1940s as well." This might be the same, which was released in Germany in 1949 running 1h36m. It would not be the first time that the 'h' got dropped/overlooked and the running time ended up as 136 minutes instead of 96 minutes. See for instance the IMDb HERE  page for Rosi's "I magliari": USA:132 min | West Germany:92 min. The 132 minutes running time is completely wrong as the original cut of the film runs only 117m22s (= 3.220 meters). Cf. the database of the Italian producers organisation HERE, which provides very accurate information. So to me the only explanation for this mistake is misreading.

The copyright entry of the National Library of Congress lists the film as having 13 reels, which is also in conflict with the 136 minutes running time. The lengthy Variety review published on May 7, 1941 gives 113 minutes and does not mention the prologue by George Bernard Shaw at all.

As I have all the print sources mentioned above I can provide scans if needed for proof.

I hope you don't mind my nit-picking. But to me a prestigious and renowned website like yours must have facts straight or at least as straight as possible as is the case here with no access to the old tapes or prints. "
(Thanks Fred!)

NOTE (August 2012) PooperScoopper from the AVS Forum says: "In short, according to an immaculately researched book on the G.B. Shaw screenplays by Bernard Dukore, the film people remember from the seventies on, when it was shown frequently on PBS and when people saw 16mm Janus release prints, this longer print was producer/director Gabriel Pascal's personal print, of which there was one.

So criterion seems to have released the original length print (and there were many differing cuts of vastly different running times). But they didn't release the print most people remember seeing. I'm pretty sure my 30-year old beta tape is this Pascal print
" (thanks CW Hinkle!)

 



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directed by Gabriel Pascal
UK 1945

 

Gabriel Pascal, the fearless producer who has already proved his competence with "Pygmalion" and "Major Barbara," to put the plays of G. B. Shaw on the screen, has now ventured bolder than ever and has turned his accomplished hand to one of Shaw's more demanding costume dramas, "Caesar and Cleopatra." He has done it—or, rather, he did it—in England with a million odd pounds of J. Arthur Rank's investment money and with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh as stars. Pictorially, the effort, now revealed here upon the Astor's screen, is worthy of the extravagance and is certainly worthy of a film-goer's regard.

Excerpt of review from Bosley Crowther located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 11th, 1945 (London)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion (Eclipse Series 20: George Bernard Shaw o) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

Only available in Eclipse 20 - Shaw on Film:

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Criterion

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:07:58
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.92 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:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Liner Notes

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010
Transparent Slim Case

Chapters 14

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion" )

 

directed by Chester Erskine and Nicholas Ray
USA 1952

 

Since Gabriel Pascal has done quite nicely by the works of George Bernard Shaw in three previous motion pictures, it stands to reason that his production of "Androcles and the Lion" should be a decent treatment of the Shaw play, if not an entirely felicitous film. And that it is, for the most part—a decent treatment but not an entirely felicitous film—in the star-studded presentation that was shown at the Capitol yesterday.

By and large, Mr. Pascal and Chester Erskine, who drew up the literate script, in association with Ken Englund, and then directed the film, have stuck pretty close to the substance and even the pattern of Shaw's witty tract on the aspects of Christian devotion and imperial hypocrisy. Their story is still Shaw's story of the Christian martyrs about to be thrown to the Roman lions, and the little tailor who wins their salvation because he once drew a thorn from a lion's paw. And their speeches are still, for the most part, the sharp and pregnant speeches of Shaw, barbed, of course, with trenchant mockery of British imperial attitudes.

Excerpt of review from Bosley Crowther located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 3rd, 1953 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion (Eclipse Series 20: George Bernard Shaw o) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

Only available in Eclipse 20 - Shaw on Film:

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Criterion

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:37:59
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 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:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Liner Notes

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010
Transparent Slim Case

Chapters 14

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


 

 

 


 

 




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