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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
USA 19
51

 

Screen legend and Academy Award-winner Bette Davis ("All About Eve," "Dark Victory") stars with Emmy-nominee Barry Sullivan ("Rich Man, Poor Man") in this compelling look at why people drift apart in marriage and seek divorce, with all its consequences. With Frances Dee ("Of Human Bondage"), Richard Anderson ("The Six Million Dollar Man") and Otto Kruger ("High Noon").

***

As a rich and self-satisfied matron who is suddenly confronted by her man with the rather surprising declaration that he would like a divorce, Miss Davis runs through the standard stages of confusion, resentment and revenge with the ease and the confident assurance of an experienced rider on a steeplechase course. She faces his declaration with elegant horror and shock. She sits down and reviews her life in flashback with stubborn pride and furrowed brow. She then goes after her humble husband (and his innocent girl friend) with vindictive wrath, knocking him down with legal blackmail and bleeding him financially white. And when she has dismally discovered the lonesomeness of an old divorcée, she breaks down in the most heart-rending fashion and asks her ex if he doesn't think they might try again.

All of these fancy exercises Miss Davis performs most capably, achieving a surface appearance of feminine churlishness that might almost be real. Likewise, the luscious surroundings in which R. K. O. has arranged for her to perform have, at least, the beguiling intimations of unlimited wealth and taste. But, unfortunately, the script by Bruce Manning and Curtis Bernhardt includes everything but a simple and convincing demonstration of the reasons why a marriage hasn't clicked.

To be sure, they suggest in their stagey flashbacks (which look like a Broadway set-designer's dream) that the lady was ruthlessly ambitious and double-crossed a friend to get ahead. They also suggest that the lady is quite a considerable snob. But this isn't news to the husband. He has known it, apparently, for some time. In short, the random conflict of personalities is not sufficiently sharp to make the rift in the marriage either credible or oozed with real distress.

Excerpt from Bosley Crowther at the NY Times located HERE

 

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Theatrical Release: February 3rd, 1951

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:30:06
Video 1.34:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate:  5.5 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 2.0) 
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio
1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Archive Advert (:59)

DVD Release Date: March 23rd, 2009

Keep Case
Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

One of a handful of perfect Bette Davis super-bitch roles. Amusingly, some of the 'Edith Head' clothes she wears are particularly unflattering and I wonder if this was a conscious decision to advance her character's imperfections. However, in early flashback scenes she is initially portrayed as far more... human. The story does a marvelous job advancing her wealthy matriarch snob status through social climbing, selfish aggression and a gold-digging attitude. Leo Tover has some subtle camerawork that works like a charm on the fictitious bio-pic. Payment on Demand is all Davis - a dynamic vehicle for the iconic actress. I don't think there ever was, or will be, anyone like her onscreen.

It's a single-layered, but looks quite strong. The beginning appears a little frail but as the film progresses the transfer stabilizes and the image is quite exceptional. There is some clunky background noise but the contrast is as good as Warner classics of old. This transfer is progressive and the lack of damage and consistent detail establish a solid digital presentation. There's even a hint of grain.

As usual, no subtitles - and, unremarkable but clear 2.0 channel sound. Extras consist solely of the minute-long Archive advert that starts the disc presentation.

Kind of a must-have for Davis fans. I believe, like many Warner Archive titles, that it is the only game in town to own this lesser-seen gem on DVD. The transfer is one of the better looking that I've seen from the Archive selection. Impressive on all fronts. Recommended!

Gary W. Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC



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