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directed by Ida Lupino
USA 1953

 

In an era when Hollywood was dominated by well-entrenched males, Ida Lupino carved a niche for herself as a successful director, becoming only the second woman to be admitted to the director’s guild. Confident of her own capabilities as an actress, Ida stubbornly refused to play any hand-me-down roles - an act, that led to many suspensions. Never one to be done in by circumstances, Ida turned to direction when roles began to dry up. The Bigamist is a classic example of Ida’s talents both in front of a movie camera and behind it as well.

 

****


Married for eight years, and highly successful at selling deep-freezes, Harry (Edmund O’Brien) couldn’t ask for more from life - except that he was childless. Harry’s attempts at adopting a child trigger off a nightmare when Mr. Jordan (Edmund Gwenn) , the head of the adoption agency gets suspicious and begins delving into Harry’s private life. The dogged Jordan soon finds out the reason for Harry’s frequent visits to Los Angeles. In a flashback Harry explains how loneliness and Eva’s (Joan Fontaine) over-indulgence in their deep freeze business had driven him into the arms of the sympathetic Phyllis (Ida Lupino) , and into a second marriage. Will the judge and jury find Harry innocent or will he spend the rest of his life behind bars?

Poster

Theatrical Release: December 3rd, 1953 (USA)

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DVD Review: Alpha - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Alpha

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:18:33
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.18 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 Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Alpha

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Alpha Video DVD Catalogue
• Preview

DVD Release Date: December 21st, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 6

 

Comments

ADDITION: JUNE 2010: Leonard has graciously sent us some caps from the AZ2CDS edition from May 2005 - and they do indeed appear to look significantly better. I'd definitely opt for that one if I was to purchase from scratch.

****

Alpha Video are, quite possibly, the worst DVD production company in the world. Their product seems almost exclusively PD (public domain), taken from weak sources and most have severe transfer limitations. This is, Predictably, single-layered but I believe it is progressive but with flagrant issues popping up here and there (see last capture). But overall, isn't too bad considering it's Alpha (not saying a lot) . While some sequences look 'okay' - many others are muddy - and this is probably from a 16mm source. It has a black border and rounded top corners exposed on the left edge.  There is an unusual horizontal banding that seems to be occurring but, in the final estimation, it gave me a bargain basement presentation on a CRT.

Audio is inconsistent sounding weak in the opening but settling down as the film runs and there are no subtitles offered on this pragmatic DVD. Extras consist of Alpha promotions.

Being PD there are a few other DVD versions of The Bigamist available - including 2 that claim be be 'digitally remastered' - which essentially means nothing. None state a 'restoration' which is what this Alpha source, most requires. An AZ2CDS version is HERE (for about double the price of this edition), the one with the most attractive cover, and monetarily more reasonable than the other two, is from Synergy HERE and the newest version (May 2010) from DigicomTV HERE. Unless these are working with a 35mm source I suspect quality is about the same, but the film is good enough that we should compare one day. I bought the Alpha knowing it was the cheapest available as I really wanted to just see more of Lupino's work.

Another perfectly provocative title for the dark cinema style. There are times this production seems disjointed to me but the leads are so good it carries the film's momentum. Joan Fontaine, most notable as Hitchcock’s Rebecca is sterling, Noir everyman Edmond O’Brien (The Hitch-Hiker - also directed by Lupino - and D.O.A.) is solid as the troubled and torn traveling salesman and Lupino can do no wrong in my book - on either side of the camera. She always comes across exceptionally well as being physically diminutive... but iron-clad strong.

There is quite an interesting story behind The Bigamist. The screenwriter was Lupino's husband Collier Young - they would divorce just before this film and he would immediately marry - you guessed it - Joan Fontaine. Perhaps some 'art imitates life' overlap here? And what about the investigator for the adoption agency? It's Edmund Gwenn - who was mentioned in The Bigamist on the bus ride of the star's homes where Phyllis (Lupino) and Harry Graham (O'Brien) first meet. The driver announces to the busload " and there's the home of Edmund Gwenn - Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th Street!".

I thought this was fairly good with some Noir tendencies (much of the story is told in flashback). It definitely deserves better but for just viewing the film this Alpha Video DVD sufficed for a reasonable price. We may compare this title - so the more A/V conscious should 'stay tuned'.

  - Gary Toozen

 



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Screen Captures

 

Alpha TOP vs. AZ2CDS BOTTOM

 


Alpha TOP vs. AZ2CDS BOTTOM

 


 

 


Alpha TOP vs. AZ2CDS BOTTOM

 


Alpha TOP vs. AZ2CDS BOTTOM

 


 



 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Transfer issue

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Alpha

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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