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Directed by Jacques Feyder
France 1934

 

A wonderful precursur to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', 'Le Grand Jeu' sets an early benchmark in cinematic realism as it beautifully unravels a tragic tale of romance and fate, set in 1930's Morocco.

A marvelous rediscovery from the golden age of French cinema, Jacques Feyder's Le Grand jeu is a tragic doppelgänger romance, steered by the fate of the tarot card, and set against the dizzying exoticism of 1930s Morocco. When scandalous Parisian playboy Pierre Martel is forced by his family to leave France and his adored lover Florence (Marie Bell), he begins a new life in the Foreign Legion as Pierre Muller. Drowning his regrets in camaraderie, whores, and hell-raising, he is astonished at meeting Irma (also Marie Bell), a prostitute with an uncanny resemblance to his beloved, and begins a fitful scheme to allow her escape. An early benchmark of poetic realism and a fascinating precursor to both Duvivier's Pépé le Mokoand Hitchcock's Vertigo, Feyder's fluid, masterful storytelling make this a unique classic of the screen: vividly forceful yet subtle, acutely observed yet fantastic, world-weary yet tender.

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 2nd, 1934

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DVD Review: Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series - Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series Home Video (spine #68) - Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:50:16 (4% PAL speedup) 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.96 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

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

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• A booklet featuring a new essay by French cinema scholar Ginette Vincendeau, newly translated writings by Feyder, reminiscences by his collaborators and production stills.

DVD Release Date: June 21st, 2010

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 14

 

Comments:

Firstly, there was a French DVD edition (no English subtitles) from Fox Pathe Europa available HERE as of May 2007. I suspect it is from the same restoration as this Masters of Cinema, dual-layered, transfer.

This shouldn't be mistaken for the 1954 Robert Siodmak - Gina Lollobrigida - Arletty version - considered a much inferior film.

The image is very consistent and watchable - it definitely reflects the limitations of the restored source. It is softish, flat with some inconsequential damage but I have no reason to suspect that it is the fault of the progressive transfer. I presume the elements were faithfully replicated.  Contrast may have some bright spots and there are a few artifacts present but overall I have no finger-pointing complaints here - I feel that this looks about as good as Feyder's Le Grand jeu can in the SD format and it gave me a rewarding presentation. I should point out that it actually appears significantly stronger in motion than represented by the still frame captures below.      

Audio is an unremarkable 2.0 channel but not far off, I'll bet, the way it was originally produced. Dialogue is audible without untoward interference and there are optional English subtitles (sample below).

 

Aside from the liner notes booklet -  featuring a new essay by French cinema scholar Ginette Vincendeau, newly translated writings by Feyder, reminiscences by his collaborators and production stills - there are no other supplements.

Le Grand jeu has pervading atmospheres - from an Art Deco apartment, to smoky nightclubs, femme fatales, suffocating desert heat and mysterious Tarot cards. Hmmm.... absolutely delicious. For those who have been exposed to the director through the Image Entertainment package "Discover Jacques Feyder" REVIEWED HERE or BFI's La Kermesse Heroique HERE - this is an easy sell. But for the uninitiated I am jealous of your 'premiere' viewing. This gem has aura out the wazoo - strongly recommended! Masters of Cinema have done it to me again. Enjoy!  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series Home Video (spine #68) - Region 0 - PAL




 

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