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Eclipse Series 36: Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures

 The Man in Grey (1943)     Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)     The Wicked Lady (1945)

During the 1940s, realism reigned in British cinema—but not at Gainsborough Pictures. The studio, which had been around since the '20s, found new success with a series of pleasurably preposterous costume melodramas. Audiences ate up these overheated films, which featured a stable of charismatic stars, including James Mason (Lolita), Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes), Stewart Granger (King Solomon's Mines), and Phyllis Calvert (Indiscreet). Though its films were immensely profitable in wartime and immediately after, Gainsborough did not outlive the decade. This set brings together a trio of Gainsborough's most popular films—florid, visceral tales of secret identities, multiple personalities, and romantic betrayals.

Posters

 

Comments

With Criterion lowering the Eclipse output to only 2 sets a year, it's time to revisit some of the collections we somehow missed reviewing that should get highest recommendations. One such release from 2012 is Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures. while they omitted one costume melodrama that should have been included (Fanny by Gaslight), the three films included are wicked fun with some noir touches - The Man in Grey, Madonna of the Seven Moons and The Wicked Lady. In fact, three of the four films mentioned in the review are listed in highly recommended book by Michael F. Keaney British Film Noir Guide. The Wicked Lady was not included although you are unlikely to meet more despicable character in any of these films as the title character played wonderfully by Margaret Lockwood.

 

The Criterion presents these films on three dual-layered discs, each film getting its own disc in a transparent slimcase with a page of informative liner notes by Michael Koresky. The progressive transfers have little damage (the worst offender can be seen in the last capture for Madonna of the Seven Moons), but overall they are minimal and never interfere with the presentation. The contrast is good. The mono audio, while not perfect, is adequate and all films include English subtitles. This is a highly recommended release for any fan of British noir and, particular, of so-called "Gaslight noir".

  - Gregory Meshman

 

DVD Menus
 


 

directed by Leslie Arliss
UK 1943

 

THE MAN IN GREY This tale of treachery put both the Gainsborough melodrama and actor James Mason on the map. The star-to-be plays Lord Rohan, a cruel nobleman who marries the naive and sweet-natured Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert) for the sole purpose of producing an heir; meanwhile, Clarissa's conniving best friend, Hesther (Margaret Lockwood), secretly plots against her for her own nefarious ends. The Man in Grey, directed by Leslie Arliss (The Wicked Lady), was such a box-office success that Gainsborough used it as a template, launching a cycle of increasingly rococo films.

Theatrical Release: 6 August 1943 (UK)

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DVD Review: The Criterion Collection (Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:56:48
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.60 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 Mono (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Essay on each film by Michael Koresky

DVD Release Date: October 9th, 2012
3 Slimcases in a box

Chapters 11


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

directed by Arthur Crabtree
UK 1945

 

A lurid tale of sex and psychosis, Madonna of the Seven Moons, directed by Arthur Crabtree (Fiend Without a Face), is among the wildest of the Gainsborough melodramas. Set in Italy, it begins as a relatively composed tale about a respectable, convent-raised woman (Phyllis Calvert) who is haunted by the memory of being raped as a teenager. When her grown daughter returns from school, her life begins to crack up in monumentally surprising ways. Stewart Granger also plays a prominent role in this sensational tale.

Theatrical Release: 22 January 1945 (UK)

Reviews                                               More Reviews                                          DVD Reviews

DVD Review: The Criterion Collection (Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:49:52
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.84 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 Mono (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Essay by Michael Koresky

DVD Release Date:
3 Slimcases in a box

Chapters 19

  


Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


  Damaged frame

 


 

directed by Leslie Arliss
UK 1945

 

Margaret Lockwood devours the screen as a tightly wound seventeenth-century beauty with loose morals, who steals her best friend’s wealthy fiancÚ on the eve of the wedding. And that's only the beginning of this piece of pulp from director Leslie Arliss (The Man in Grey): there are no depths to which this sinful woman won't sink. James Mason costars, and nearly steals the movie, as a highwayman with whom our antiheroine becomes entangled. This nasty, subversive treat was the most commercially successful of all the Gainsborough melodramas.

Theatrical Release: 15 November 1945 (UK)

Reviews                                         More Reviews                                DVD Reviews

DVD Review: The Criterion Collection (Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:44:12
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.63 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 Mono (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Essay by Michael Koresky

DVD Release Date:
3 Slimcases in a box

Chapters 19

  


Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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