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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Diary of a Chambermaid [Blu-ray], 1946)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: United Artists

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:27:29.244

Disc Size: 18,702,103,492 bytes

Feature Size: 18,648,078,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.20 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 26th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 817 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 817 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






• None





Description: Legendary director Jean Renoir's film version of Octave Mirbeau's novel, Diary of a Chambermaid was adapted for the screen by Burgess Meredith. Paulette Goddard (Modern Times) plays the title character, a sexy and saucy servant named Celestine, whose forthrightness has a curious effect on a wealthy Parisian household. Determined to elevate her lot in life, Celestine uses her unsubtle charms to beguile the master of the household. Burgess Meredith (Rocky) delivers an astonishing performance as Captain Mauger, the bizarre and shell-shocked neighbor and Judith Anderson (Rebecca) is equally great as the mistress of the household. Luis Bunuel remade Diary of a Chambermaid in 1964 with Jeanne Moreau in the lead.



The Film:

In its own strange way, even more genuinely surreal than Buñuel's later version of Mirbeau's novel about a keyhole-peeking chambermaid whose arrival in the household of a decadent and eccentric aristocratic family wreaks havoc. What's so bizarre about Renoir's adaptation (scripted and produced by Meredith, then husband of Goddard) is the sheer artificiality of both setting and performances, emphasising the power struggles that develop as a theatre of deceit and delusion. Less bitterly savage than Buñuel, but equally sharp in its satire, it stands on an otherwise uncharted point between La Règle du Jeu and, say, The Golden Coach.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Based on the novel by Octave Mirbeau, Diary of a Chambermaid is a noble experiment: a "Continental" sex drama with a virtually all-Anglo cast. Paulette Goddard plays the title character, a saucy servant named Celestine whose forthrightness has a curious effect on a wealthy Parisian household. Determined to elevate her lot in life, Celestine uses her unsubtle charms to beguile her wishy-washy master, Monsieur Lanlaire (Reginald Owen), and Lanlaire's wastrelly son, Georges (Hurd Hatfield). She also inadvertently inspires the lovesick valet Joseph (Francis Lederer) to steal from the family and kill Georges. Burgess Meredith, Goddard's then-husband, delivers an astonishing performance as Mauger, the Lanlaires' bizarre, shell-shocked neighbor (he also wrote the screenplay and co-produced).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

The print used for the Olive Blu-ray transfer of Renoir's Diary of a Chambermaid has damage mostly in the form of mid-to-heavy vertical scratches just under the surface. This surfaces sporadically through the entire presentation and it looks suspiciously like wear as the density also tends to fluctuate. Contrast can look faint and others times black levels are much deeper. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively - what seems to be required is a restoration. I wouldn't say this deterred my viewing to a serious extent - but it was noticeable. The Blu-ray still improved the presentation over an SD rendering and it supported the grain structure with a textured thickness. This is very watchable in 1080P with moments hinting at depth and only a couple of instances of noise.














Audio :

The audio is in a DTS-HD mono track at 768 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it probably a faithful transfer without any 'pop' or dropout flaws. The film has original music by Michel Michelet who is notable for work in some Noirs of the time period including Impact and The Chase. It has a harsh edge at times but is supportive without eclipsing the narrative.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with many of their releases.



Quite a curious film from Renoir - exceeding dark and frequently brutally honest. Like Bunuel's Diary of a Chambermaid it has strong elements of manipulation, deception and human weakness. I suspect that this Olive Blu-ray will be the best we will get unless a major restoration is undertaken. The film is fascinating - despite the video imperfections I enjoyed it a lot and am happy to have it in, at least, this condition in my digital library. 

Gary Tooze

March 3rd, 2013

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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