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Directed by Stuart Walker
USA
1935

 

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a haunting film adaptation based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. An opium-addicted choirmaster, John Jasper (Claude Rains), becomes obsessed with a young student named Rosa Bud (Heather Angel). His nephew, Edwin Drood (David Manners), also holds a torch for the girl and asks her to marry him. Circumstances in their small Victorian town grow more perplexing when Drood disappears and the sordid details of Jasper’s secret life come to light. Featuring beautiful sets, lavish costumes and stunning cinematography, this gripping tale remains as mysterious as ever.

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Charles Dickens' unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, has been a source of speculation and controversy ever since its posthumous publication. Even so, the ending concocted by scenarists John Balderston and Gladys Unger for the 1935 film version of Edwin Drood met with near-unanimous approval from Dickens buffs, who felt that Balderston and Unger had remained faithful to the author's original intention. Claude Rains stars as John Jasper, the seemingly respectable choirmaster of Cloisterham Cathedral. What no one suspects is that Jasper is an opium addict, given to fits of paranoia and jealousy. Pushing him over the edge is the fact that his beautiful ward, Rosa Bud (Heather Angel), has fallen in love with handsome Edwin Drood (David Manners). That Drood is murdered by Jasper is made abundantly clear: it is the mystery of how he was murdered and how Jasper disposed of the body that holds the viewer's interest. The film's relatively short running time required the screenwriters to drop several of Dickens' more colorful supporting characters: of those retained, Francis L. Sullivan is a standout as Mr. Crisparkle. The Mystery of Edwin Drood was transformed into a Broadway musical in 1980s (which offered several alternate endings), then was refilmed in 1993.

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 4th, 1935

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DVD Review: Universal 'Vault Series' - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:26:12 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.99 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   
Bitrate:
Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• None

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2014

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Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

I've always wanted to see this early version of Mystery of Edwin Drood. I enjoyed it as an entertaining murder/crime on the horrors of drug addiction and obsession - but the Universal 'Vault Series' MoD DVD is not without its problems.

The disc is surprisingly dual-layered but has no menus, or extras, and the transfer is interlaced (see combing in bottom captures) and shows the chroma bug too. Aside from that and a few speckles, some contrast flickering and a noticeable vertical scratch or two - its didn't look that poor on my system.

The audio is indicative of the era - a shade scratchy - but dialogue is completely audible. Edward Ward's (Night Must Fall) score sounds equally supportive. There are no subtitles and the media is locked to region 1 (for some unknown reason).

The DVD inferiorities didn't interfere with my viewing to a great deal - frankly, I just wanted to watch the film and the Made-on-Demand disc did that for me - but I do find the price exorbitant for what value is offered. Pass, unless you can get for under $10. 

Gary Tooze

 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Combing from interlaced transfer
 

 


Chroma visible
 

 


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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal - Region 1 - NTSC



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