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Directed by Thorold Dickinson
UK 1949

 

Set in early 1800s Russia, despite being billed as a supernatural drama, this is really a straightforward melodrama for its first two-thirds. Don't let this put you off, though, ghostly rattlings do occur eventually and, in the meantime, this is a solidly told tale of one man's desire for all-consuming wealth. Anton Walbrook is the ice-cold cad, Suvorin, at the centre of the piece. An engineers' captain, he is looked down upon by many of his fellow officers - who come from an altogether more landed class. This has led to a deep-seated envy and so, when he becomes privy to the tale of the rich Countess Ranevskaya (Edith Evans in her first major film role), whom he hears made her fortune at cards via a pact with the devil, he is determined to learn her secret for himself. So he begins to woo the Countess's ward Lizaveta (Yvonne Mitchell, also in her screen debut), who has little idea that she's just another card in the game.

Excerpt from EyeForFilm located HERE

***

\A supernatural tale based on a short story by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, this is the portrayal of a poor Captain in the Russian army in the nineteenth Century. His comrades in arms play cards nightly, but he cannot afford to join them until one night he dreams that he has gained from a mysterious aging countess her secret for winning at faro--a secret which legend has it she has sold her soul to obtain. This story has been filmed at least a dozen times, but this is by far the best version. Eight of the versions were silent films and another version was done as recently as 1965. A period piece, the settings and costumes are superb.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 18th, 1949

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Review: Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Also on DVD from Kino:

    

Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:33.727        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,092,714,698 bytes

Feature: 27,701,139,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1554 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1554 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,092,714,698 bytes

Feature: 27,701,139,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Audio Commentary by Film Critic Nick Pinkerton
Introduction by Martin Scorsese (1:24)
An Analysis by Film Critic/Author Philip Horne (19:31)
1951 Audio Interview with Thorold Dickinson at the British Federation of Film Societies (17:47)
1968 Audio Screening Introduction by Thorold Dickinson (14:29)
Theatrical Trailer (2:50)


Blu-ray Release Date:
October 15th, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 9

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (October 2019): Kino have transferred the wonderful cerebral mystical horror The Queen of Spades to Blu-ray. It is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. I liked the way this looked in 1080P. There are still a few marks and speckles but contrast is nicely layered and there is pleasing detail in some of the stirring close-ups. I think it looks very good, if not pristine - requiring a film-level restoration to advance further - and that may never be in the works. I was happy enough with it obviously advancing beyond SD-quality.

It is another lossless DTS-HD Master transfer (16-bit) in the film's audio and alert score by Georges Auric (The Mind Benders, The Lavender Hill Mob, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, It Always Rains on Sunday, Dead of Night, The Innocents, Lola Montes, Rififi, Wages of Fear) exporting a seething depth and advancing the haunting atmosphere. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

Kino include an audio commentary by critic Nick Pinkerton who describes why The Queen of Spades is not a archetypically British production referencing the European principles in cast and crew and the setting (Russia). He makes the case for it being a distinctly continental film, also discussing Napoleon, DP Otto Heller (The Ipcress File, Peeping Tom), the dancer Maroussia Dimitrevitch, the short story by Alexander Pushkin and much more. I found it, as I always do with him, education and set at a nice pace to re-watch the film. There is a short introduction by Martin Scorsese and a revealing 20-minute analysis by Film Critic/Author Philip Horne (author of Thorold Dickinson: A World of Film) with the director's rare mastery of style, thrilling eroticism, and a preoccupation with the psychology of betrayal. We get two audio interviews - 18-minutes with director Thorold Dickinson at the British Federation of Film Societies and a 1/4 hour 1968 screening Introduction by Thorold Dickinson. I *think* these have been on the previous DVD edition. Lastly, is a theatrical trailer and a couple of other film trailers.

I've always loved The Queen of Spades for its suspense and keen cinematography. What a 150-year old story! - involving an obsession with cards and a deal of sins. It's a intellectual horror rather than relying on graphic obviousness. The more I watch it the better the film gets. A fabulous choice for Blu-ray. The commentary and other supplements give it even more value - we give this a very strong recommendation!

Gary Tooze

 


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Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

    

Also on DVD from Kino:

    

Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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