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Raffaello Matarazzo's Runaway Melodramas

 

Chains (1949)         Tormento (1950)


Nobody's Children (1952)           White Angel (1955)

 

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, film critics, international festival-goers, and other studious viewers were swept up by the tide of Italian neorealism. Meanwhile, mainstream Italian audiences were indulging in a different kind of cinema experience: the sensational, extravagant melodramas of director Raffaello Matarazzo. Though turning to neo-realism for character types and settings, these haywire hits about splintered love affairs and broken homes, all starring mustachioed matinee idol Amedeo Nazzari and icon of feminine purity Yvonne Sanson, luxuriate in delirious plot twists and overheated religious symbolism. Four of them are collected here, chronicles of men and women on long and serpentine roads to redemption, each less restrained and more wildly fun than the last.

Titles

 

 


 

Chains
Raffaello Matarazzo 1949
After years of making mostly comedies and literary adaptations, Raffaello Matarazzo turned to melodrama with this intense tale of a tight-knit working-class family shattered by temptation.

Tormento
Raffaello Matarazzo 1950
Anna flees her home, where she has been victimized for years by her spineless father’s mean-spirited second wife, to be with her lover, an honest businessman yet to make his fortune. When he is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, the couple’s domestic tranquility is upended.

Nobody's Children
Raffaello Matarazzo 1952
Nobody’s Children is the first half of an overflowing diptych of melodramas chronicling the labyrinthine misfortunes of a couple torn cruelly apart by fate (and meddling villains).

The White Angel
Raffaello Matarazzo 1955
In The White Angel, Raffaello Matarazzo’s sequel to his blockbuster Nobody’s Children, the perpetually put-upon Guido and Luisa (Amedeo Nazzari and Yvonne Sanson) return for a new round of trials and tribulations.. 

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1949 - 1955

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse 27: Presenting Raffaello Matarazzo from the Criterion Collection (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:34:27, 1:3:54, 1:36:33 and 1:39:57
Bitrate:  Chains
 
Bitrate: Tormento
 
Bitrate: Nobody's Children
 
Bitrate: White Angel
 
Audio Italian (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33:1

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date:
June 21st, 2011
4 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters:
17, 19, 17, 16

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 4 main features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above and below) they are not sold separately, by Criterion, at this time. These particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series 27 package at present. I am unaware of any English-friendly editions available elsewhere.

All four DVDs are single-layered. They are also progressive in their original 1.33 aspect ratios.

The sound is original Italian mono - imperfect with the expected sync issues we have seen from Italian films many times before. The dialogue is clear enough and audible - I noted a couple of instances of minor hiss, but overall it is supporting the films well. There are optional English subtitles (font sample below).

Bitrates are reasonably strong ranging in and around 5.6-6.6 Mbps for the transfers.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover except for Chains where it is a separate double-sided sheet) there are no supplements - as typical for Eclipse.

On the image - Unlike many of the previous Eclipse titles these are not pictureboxed (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review.)

The image quality is generally very strong with Tormento and The White Angel looking the best. Chains is from a print with weaker density and there is flickering contrast. The titles and visuals early in the films bounce a little coming out of the gate but it settles soon after. Nobody's Child has some very minor damage in the form of light scratches but it does show some nice grain. I wouldn't say any of the deficiencies where major or distracting but could be alleviated with film-level restoration that probably wasn't cost-effective. I doubt any fans will find this an issue with these impressive films.

I know there are MANY cinephiles that will appreciate this package as Eclipse are continuing with their mission statement: "...a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer."

I really enjoyed seeing these four films. I think the 'melodrama' moniker helped me in my expectations (plenty of nuns. jails and hospitals). Three of these are masterpieces and the fourth is just a wonderful film experience. The White Angel was magnificent and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to see it. Tormento was equally as impacting. What a fabulous idea for a package. I'll bet this director's work is an excitingly new experience for most viewers. This is what film is all about. I hope to see more of Raffaello Matarazzo's work and this Eclipse Series set is strongly recommended!           

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Chains (1936) aka 'Catene'

 

Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Tormento (1950)

 

Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Nobody's Children (1952) aka 'I figli di nessuno'

 

Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The White Angel (1955) aka 'L'angelo bianco'

 

Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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