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directed by George Cukor
USA 1947

 

George Cukor's perfectly mannered direction confidently guides this brooding and cynical film noir that is considered by many the highlight of actor Ronald Colman's great career. A Double Life explores the dangers of blurring the line between reality and illusion in this examination of the schizoid personality of a talented stage actor who begins to confuse his roles with his life. Colman gives a magnificent and mesmerizing performance as veteran thespian Anthony John, who begins to mentally derail during a run of Othello. John's courtly manners and reputation have a winning charm that endear him to both audiences and women, including his ex-wife, Brita (Signe Hasso), who acts opposite him in the play, and Pat (Shelley Winters), a sexy waitress he befriends. Colman's performance earned him a Best Actor Academy Awardr and Golden Glober. Miklos Rozsa also won an Oscar for his vivacious score and the film's director and screenwriters, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin all received Oscar nominations. Edmond O'Brien co-stars as the company's producer who's secretly in love with Brita.

***

The first of Cukor's string of fruitful collaborations with screenwriters Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, a curious melodrama about a Broadway matinée idol who so loses himself in his role as Othello that he carries it over, murderously, into a backstreet affair with a waitress. The theatre scenes are so brilliantly observed, so rich in the sort of affectionate detail that made The Actress a small masterpiece, that the film seems to grind gears uncomfortably when venturing into the grey and shabby B movie world of the murder. All the more so in that it then returns to its happier idiom for a grand finale of on-stage retribution. Flawed, undoubtedly, but fascinating.

Excerpt from TimeOut London located HERE

***

George Cukor entered a new phase in his career - some critics would call it his creative peak - when he joined forces with the husband-and-wife writing team of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin for A Double Life (1947), a melodrama set in the world of the theatre. Over the next seven years, he would direct seven films for one or both of the Kanins, including such popular hits as Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952). In essence, they created their own mini-studio, assembling a production team and even a few recurring cast members who would help them make some of the most intelligent films in Hollywood history.

The Kanins had written their story of an actor who confuses his off-stage life with his on-stage performance as Othello years earlier and sold it to Columbia Studios. Then Harry Cohn, head of the studio, decided not to make the picture and refused to even pay for the script. So the Kanins sold it to Universal-International and arranged to borrow their friend Cukor from MGM. Originally they had hoped to cast Laurence Olivier in the leading role, but when he proved unavailable they went after Ronald Colman.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 25 December 1947 (Los Angeles, California)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Olive Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the DVD Review!

1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT
 
Box Cover

 

 

 

Distribution

Artisan

Region 1 - NTSC

Olive Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:44:36 1:45:01.295
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 17,494,498,810 bytes

Feature: 17,289,609,216 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

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

Bitrate

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English) DTS-HD Master Audio English 829 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 829 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles None None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artisan

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Olive Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 17,494,498,810 bytes

Feature: 17,289,609,216 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Scorsese Introduction (2:47)

Blu-ray Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Standard Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 8

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Olive Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - September 12': Significant upgrade as evidenced by the matching screen captures. The DVD is waxy, soft and video-like and the 1080P shows nice grain, layered contrast and a ton more detail via the brighter image. No contest at all - this is a very impressive improvement. The Blu-ray has speckles and some frame-specific damage at the top frame of reel changes - but other than that is quite pleasing. Lossless audio has its mono root limitations and there is even an extra with Martin Scorsese giving a short introduction - bonus! This is a great film with heavy noir leanings. The Olive Blu-ray release is strongly recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: In an effort to cover most essential film noirs, we are going to review some past DVD releases that we may have missed. A Double Life is one of those rare noirs that won a major Academy Award for its star, Ronald Colman. The film also stars underrated Signe Hasso and Shelley Winters in one of the first credited roles. Ronald Colman is terrific as an actor going insane playing the leading role in a Broadway production of "Othello".

The expressionistic cinematography by Milton Krasner looks good on this single-layered disc from Republic/Artisan. The original film negative was preserved by UCLA and used for this transfer, but it's not pristine as would be expected. The stereo audio is serviceable featuring an Oscar-winning score by Miklós Rózsa. There are no subtitles, but the disc is closed captioned. There are no extras, not even a trailer. The disc can be currently purchased for under $10 at Amazon marketplace, and since a better release in unlikely, we can be moderately recommend this edition at a reasonable price.

  - Gregory Meshman

 


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1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT
 

 

 


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Screen Captures

 

1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


 

1) Artisan - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

More Blu-ray Captures


Box Cover

 

 

 

Distribution

Artisan

Region 1 - NTSC

Olive Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 




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