The sole surviving sound-era performance by Broadway legend Jeanne Eagels
"The Letter" (Warner Archive)
The movies learned to talk in 1927, as they say, but it took a few years to find its voice. After all, it took more than thirty years of filmmaking to arrive at the storytelling grace and sophistication of "Sunrise" and "Street Angel" and "The Crowd," a mode of filmmaking that came to an abrupt end with the arrival of sound. But it wasn't simply a matter of adjusting to new technological limitations. The movies still needed to find its own, unique vernacular and way of speaking.
The 1929 version of "The Letter," the first screen version of the W. Somerset Maugham play, is also the sole surviving sound-era performance by Broadway legend Jeanne Eagels. It's not a particularly good film –- the 1940 Better Davis version, directed by William Wyler, is far more compelling –- but it is a revelation of a performance and an illustration of the challenges filmmakers faced in the early sound era.
Apart from a fluid (and wordless) opening that culminates in a camera creeping through the jungle bush to reveal a rubber plantation manor, it is a static production that stops to observe stiffly-staged scenes of actors frozen in stand-offs. Part of that is surely the demands of early sound recording directly on film with noisy cameras that were boxed up to blimp the sound. But it also suggests that director Jean de Limur (like so many directors at the time) looked to the stage for guidance in directing actors through the new dimension of sound. The performances are pitched to the back row but the camera up close and intimate, magnifying every gesture and exaggerating every pause, and dialogue is just as arch, falling back on stage conventions. The movies had not discovered the stylized patois of street slang and drawing room wit and smart-aleck snappiness that exploded in the early thirties of gangster films and backstage musicals and streetwise romantic dramas and comedies.
Amidst the proclaiming and posing, however, Jeanne Eagels delivers a slinky, fluid performance and the unexpected cadences of her line readings develop into spoken arias. While the rest of the dialogue tends toward the formality of a lecture, Eagels portrays a woman who spins a fiction under oath like a diva playing the wronged woman, and then loses her composure and social self-control under pressure, her words pouring out as if carried by a flood of unchecked emotions. It's the first inkling of a modern sound film performance, exciting and unexpected with the feeling of spontaneity, not yet perfected but definitely alive in an otherwise fossilized film. Eagels died soon in late 1929, less than a year after the release of the film
MOD stands for "Manufacture on Demand" and represents a recent development in the DVD market, where slipping sales have slowed the release of classic, special interest and catalogue releases. These are DVD-R releases, no-frills discs from studio masters, ordered online and "burned" individually with every order. You can read a general introduction to the format and the model on my profile of the Warner Archive Collection on Parallax View here.
Plus 'Trainspotting,' 'My Life as a Dog,' 'The 10th Victim' and more
Has a Blu-ray release ever arrived with as much anticipation and apprehension as "Star Wars: The Complete Saga" (Fox)? It's not the original versions of the films -- once again Lucas has tinkered with the effects and reworked scenes -- but Lucas offers state of the art remastering for the high definition debut. Expect the fan blogosphere, already buzzing with indignation, to explode when it finally arrives on Friday, September 16. As of this writing, my copy has not arrived but we have reviews from the British Blu-ray release earlier this week. No such controversy surrounds "Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition" (Warner), a beautifully mastered edition of what has been called The Greatest Film Ever Made. Videodrone's review is here.
Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Janice Rule are the "3 Women" (Criterion) of Robert Altman's 1977 masterpiece, disparate personalities who come together, merge, and morph in a surreal drama. Duvall is a would-be swinger idolized by shy Spacek, a young Texas woman who gets a job in a small nursing home, and Rule is a silent, pregnant artist married to a philandering stuntman (Robert Fortier). Duvall is perfectly gauche and oblivious as the prattling woman who imagines herself a sophisticate and Spacek’s transformation from fragile little girl to domineering personality is genuinely spooky. Like his earlier "Images," this is a powerful personal film by Robert Altman, a rare portrait of women and an even rarer dream film in his filmography. According to Altman, it was inspired by an actual dream he had.
Criterion previously gave the film its American home video debut with its 2004 DVD release. The new Blu-ray improves upon that excellent disc with a sharper, richer image. Features commentary by Altman (recorded for the 2004 DVD), a gallery of rare production and publicity stills, TV spots and the trailer, plus a fold-out booklet with an essay by David Sterritt.
The opening credits to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Touchstone), the Coen Bros.'s depression-era prison break movie-turned-screwball odyssey through the deep south, makes the claim: "Based upon 'The Odyssey' by Homer." Well, maybe. George Clooney does play a character whose given name is Ulysses and who escapes a chain gang and races home town to stop his abandoned wife, Penny (Holly Hunter as a tart Penelope). But even if it does display a remarkable (if playfully skewed) fidelity to the epic poem of mythical struggle, it also zigzags through Southern politics, blues legends, Baby Face Nelson's crime spree and a KKK rally that plays out like a scene from "The Wizard of Oz," all juiced with hillbilly humor and screwball surrealism and set to a soundtrack of "old-timey" blues, folk, gospel and country. Clooney comes on like a screwball Clark Gable by way of a greasy con-man, a tetchy John Turturro and a sweetly stupid Tim Blake Nelson are dragged along as his reluctant partners and John Goodman's giant of a one-eyed salesman makes for a memorable Cyclops. Hilarious. Features "The Making of O Brother, Where Art Thou," two storyboard-to-scene comparisons and a music video.
Danny Boyle’s sophomore feature "Trainspotting" (Lionsgate), adapted from the cult novel by Irvine Walsh and starring Ewan McGregor as an unapologetic heroine addict who hangs with a crew of junkies (Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, and Kevin McKidd) and an alcoholic bully (Robert Carlyle) while waiting for his next high, is a jolting, wicked rush of style, attitude, and nihilistic escape. Features commentary by director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, producer Andrew Macdonald and star Ewan MacGregor (recorded way back for the original laserdisc release!), "The Making of Trainspotting," "Trainspotting Retrospective," deleted scenes and interviews from the Cannes premiere, plus a bonus digital copy. Still haven't confirmed if this is the "uncut" (a matter of a couple of seconds of footage) version with the original soundtrack (it was redubbed with softer accents for American audiences), but likely it is, given the materials available to Lionsgate.
"My Life as a Dog" (Criterion), Lasse Hallstrom’s delightful 1985 Swedish import, is the story of a city kid (Anton Glanzelius as a wide-eyed ragamuffin) sent off to country relatives when his mother falls ill. Melding innocence and capricious playfulness, and brimming with all the impish energy and sexual curiosity of a real 12-year-old boy, he finds his place in a quirky little village where eccentricity is worn like a badge and his antics are recognized for the simple adolescent energy of growing up. Features Lasse Hallstrom’s 1973 debut film "Shall We Go to My or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone?," a short feature made for Swedish TV, plus a video interview with director Hallstrom and a booklet with essays by Michael Atkinson and Kurt Vonnegut.
"The 10th Victim" (Blue Underground), Elio Petri's campy sci-fi social satire from the swinging sixties, stars Marcello Mastroianni as a womanizing Italian reality TV darling and Ursula Andress as his new nemesis, a New York Amazon with a wardrobe as deadly as it is chic. In this future, reality TV is dominated by assassination games and these are the star players. Petri directs with tongue firmly in cheek, lampooning the media obsession with high risk contests and games of chance with cool style, absurdly chic fashions and a comically blasé performance by Mastroianni. It’s like Fellini gone ballistic, a battle of the sexes in a world where spontaneous shoot-outs are just another part of the social landscape. In Italian with optional English subtitles and English dub soundtrack, plus the featurette "Marcello: A Sweet Life" and galleries of stills and posters.
Robert Ginty is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore in "The Exterminator" (Synapse), the grindhouse vigilante flick from James Glickenhaus. When his best friend is killed, this Vietnam Vet declares a private war on the New York underworld. Christopher George is the cop on his trail and Samantha Eggar co-stars. The film hasn't been treated well on DVD in the past but Synapse loves its drive-in cinema and remasters its Blu-ray+DVD Combo pack from the original Director's Cut (featuring more gore and violence) with a the original stereo soundtrack mix and includes commentary by director James Glickenhaus.
Jim Caviezel stars in "The Count of Monte Cristo" (Touchstone), Kevin Reynold’s version of the rousing Alexandre Dumas adventure of betrayal and revenge as a man betrayed by his best friend (Guy Pearce) and left to die in an island prison. Features commentary, deleted scenes (including a previously unseen alternate version of the final duel) and featurettes.
I'll be covering Wes Craven's original "The Hills Have Eyes" (Image) next week with another classic Craven release.
Three documentaries "Made by a fan for fans" made available through the fan medium of YouTube
Jamie Benning is an editor for British TV by day, but in his spare time, the die-hard "Star Wars" fan created his own low-tech documentary chronicling the making of the original "Star Wars" trilogy using TV and radio interviews from the cast and crew, deleted scenes, alternate takes, bloopers and all sorts of otherwise unseen footage he uncovered in his search for film history. The project took six years and resulted in three two hour-plus documentaries, all made for the love of "Star Wars." He discusses the project with GeekDad at Wired here.
No, they are not part of any of the Luscasfilm DVD or Blu-ray editions, but you can watch all three below. And as Lucasfilm has chosen not to include some of the more substantial documentaries from the earlier DVD editions (notably the feature-length "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy," but also some terrific shorter featurettes), consider this our contribution to the supplements. But budget plenty of time, or better yet, bookmark the page and come back after you see the films. They really are terrific, lo-fi aesthetic and all. "Building Empire" and "Returning to Jedi" follow after the jump.
Star Wars Begins
Plus Henry Jaglom's 'Eating' and a Mystery Science Theater special edition of 'Manos: The Hands of Fate'
The 1952 "My Cousin Rachel" (Twilight Time), from the Daphne du Maurier novel, is a Gothic romantic drama starring Olivia De Havilland as Rachel, a mysterious widow on the rocky, gloomy coast of Cornwall, and Richard Burton (in his debut American role) as the anguished young man who inherits her late husband's manor. Burton received an Oscar nomination for his performance, one of the film's four nominations, and won the Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer – Male." As with all of Twilight Time's releases, it offers Franz Waxman's score on an isolated audio track and features a booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo. Limited to a run of 3,000 copies.
"Eating" (Breaking Glass) is back on DVD for its 20th Anniversary. Henry Jaglom's "very serious comedy about women & food" touches on issues of body image, beauty, relationships, and the joy of food through the conversations and observations of a group of women who gather for a birthday party. It was a minor sensation in 1990 but not nearly as fresh as it must have seemed then, and certainly no more insightful about the food issues it talks over without getting anywhere. Nelly Alard, Frances Bergen, Mary Crosby, Gwen Welles, and Daphna Kastner are among the cast members of the loose, improvisational film. Features commentary by director Henry Jaglom and Jaglom and members of the cast on "The Phil Donahue Show."
Joel Hodgson and robot buddies Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot on the Satellite of Love take on what is arguably the worst film ever made in "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Manos: The Hands Of Fate Special Edition" (Shout! Factory). Hal Warren’s dreary, dull, absolutely inept thriller of a vacationing family captured and menaced by a cult group in the desert is so badly shot, excruciatingly edited and clumsily overdubbed with mind-numbing dialogue that without the heckling it would be unbearable. Yes, this film is so bad it’s not even funny, but the Joel and bots are; they have a riot tearing this film up with snide comments and snarky jokes. It’s become one of their most popular shows. The two-disc set features the original film sans heckling (it is not recommended viewing, at least not without your own crew of hecklers), plus a short documentary on the making of "Manos, a video reunion of the show's creators and a mini-poster among the supplements.
The horrors, the horrors:
It's a week of obscure and underground horror films. "Bad Dreams / Visiting Hours: Killer Double Feature" (Shout! Factory) offers a pair of theatrical films from the eighties, the former with Jennifer Rubin and Richard Lynch, the latter starring Lee Grant and William Shatner. "Bad Dreams" also features commentary by writer/director Andrew Fleming, cast interviews and featurettes.
"The Basement: Retro 80s Horror Collection" (Camp Motion Pictures) collects five bargain-basement gore films produced for the eighties video boom, headlined by "The Basement" (1989), an anthology film shot on super 8 and restored for DVD in 2010. The three-disc set also features "Video Violence" (1987), "Video Violence 2" (1987), "Captives" (1988) and "Cannibal Campout" (1988), and it arrives in an oversize box set featuring an actual VHS tape of "The Basement." Just the thing of a nostalgic horror junkie. "Beyond the Dunwich Horror / Pretty Dead Things: Double Feature" (Camp Motion Pictures), meanwhile, offer a pair of shot-on-DV productions from the late 2000s.
And the rest:
"Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers" (Shout! Factory) a motion-comic adaptation of the 2004 comic book mini-series, timed for home video release with the feature film.
Plus more 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Supernatural,' 'Inspector Lewis' and more
After seven years of self-destructive behavior and incendiary lives, the characters of "Rescue Me: The Sixth Season and The Final Season" (Sony) are given as satisfying a send off as they could expect. Videodrone's review is here. Starz continues to pursue its signature style of historical spectacle and contrived cable nudity with the prequel "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" (Anchor Bay) and the short-lived "Camelot: The Complete First Season" (Anchor Bay), the story of King Arthur… with a little sex in it. Videodrone's review is here.
"Blue Bloods: The First Season" (Paramount) is an old-school family cop drama with Tom Selleck as clan patriarch Frank Reagan, NYC Police Commissioner and father of two sons following in his footsteps (Donnie Wahlberg as a veteran police detective and Will Estes as a Harvard grad turned beat cop) and one Assistant D.A. (Bridget Moynahan as the sole female in the Reagan brotherhood). Len Cariou is the granddad, a former Police Commissioner who hasn't let forced retirement end his outspoken opinions. This is a show that could have come out of the seventies. 22 episodes on six discs in a standard case with hinged trays, plus six featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel. The second season begins September 23.
Gleeks will sing for joy for "Glee: The Complete Second Season" (Fox) (or, if you picked up the earlier half-season release on DVD, "Glee: Season 2, Volume 2"). This is the season they get to the Nationals and travel to New York City for the sing-off (where Lea Michele's Rachel trods the boards of Broadway for a brief moment). 22 episodes on six discs on DVD and four discs on Blu-ray, plus the music jukebox of previous releases, featurettes on the New York City shoot and the season's guest stars and the supplements from the earlier half-season DVD release (including "Glee at Comic Con 2010" and "The Making of the Rocky Horror Glee Show") among the featurettes.
"George Lucas ruined my life. And I mean that in the nicest way." "Wishful Drinking" (HBO) is Carrie Fisher's one-woman show, an autobiographical monologue with video clips, visual aids and plenty of self-lacerating wit. It takes self-confidence to draw attention to the slipping accent of Princess Leia in "Star Wars" but real steel to turn the skeletons of her show business family closet into satire. It's not so much that it's particularly insightful or incisive, but she strolls through the distorted family album with a composure and a humor only possible from someone who has decided that comedy is tragedy plus distance. She's distanced herself enough to head back in unfazed and the writer in her has a way of turning puns into a double-edged razor. The disc features a 54-minute interview with Debbie Reynolds best viewed after the show. Not because of spoilers, mind you, simply to come at it with Carrie's perspective.
In "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner), Leonard has been dumped by Penny but not only does he land another girlfriend, so do his geek squad buddies Howard and, yes, even Sheldon (Emmy winner Jim Parsons), even though he refuses to call his genius-level soulmate Amy (Mayim Bialik) a girlfriend, even though she is a girl and she is his friend. All this and virtual Sheldon too. 24 episodes on three discs in a standard case with hinged trays, plus a video Q&A with the actors, a gag reel and a music video with Barenaked Ladies.
"Outsourced: The Complete Series" (Universal) presents all 22 episodes of the NBC sitcom set in the India-based call center of an American novelties company. Cultural confusion abounds. And yes, it's "The Complete Series" because it's not coming back for a second season. Three discs stacked on a single post; not my favorite packaging design. Also features commentary and deleted scene.
"Danny Phantom: Season 1" (Paramount) follows the adventures of the part boy, part ghost star of this animated series from Nickelodeon. 20 episodes on four discs.
"Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 4" (PBS) features four more episodes of the British mystery series starring Kevin Whately as Inspector Robert Lewis, the former partner to Inspector Morse and now the senior detective to a former divinity student (Laurence Fox). Released on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Jon Pertwee is The Doctor and Katy Manning his companion in "Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks" (BBC), story no. 60 in the long-running original series. The two-disc set is packed with commentary, featurettes, interviews and an alternate version of the show with new effects.
More medical show soap opera unfolds in Shondra Rhimes' "Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Seventh Season" (Disney), which includes a musical episode this season, and "Private Practice: The Complete Fourth Season" (Disney), the "Grey's" spin-off which offers a wedding this season. "Grey's Anatomy" includes 22 episodes on six discs in a fold-out digipak, with an extended version of the musical episode, featurettes and "Seattle Grace: Message of Hope" webisodes. "Private Practice" offers 22 episodes on five discs in a standard case with hinged trays, plus a featurette and deleted scenes.
"Supernatural: The Complete Season Sixth Season" (Warner) finds Sam (Jared Palecki), who was sent to hell at the end of Season Five, back on Earth and ready to resume hunting demons. 22 episodes on five discs on DVD and four discs on Blu-ray, plus commentary on two episodes, two featurettes and two episodes of "Supernatural: The Anime Series." The Blu-ray also includes the interactive "The Hunter's Guide to Season Six." The seventh season of the WB's cult series begins in late September.
"Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season" (eOne) features "Stargate" TV veteran Amanda Tapping as the head of a secret squad that searches and protects strange and supernatural beings living among us. 20 episodes on six discs on both DVD and Blu-ray, plus commentary on seven episodes and a bunch of featurettes. The SyFy Channel original series launches its fourth season this fall.
"It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: The Complete Sixth Season" (Fox) features 12 episodes of the most aggressively un-PC sitcom on commercial cable. And that's saying something. Features commentary on select episodes, podcasts, deleted and extended scenes and an extended cut of the episode "Lethal Weapon 5."
Denis Richards guest stars in "Blue Mountain State: Season Two" (Lionsgate), the crude college football comedy made for Spike TV. "Ghost Hunters: Season 6: Part 1" (Image) features 12 more episodes of the paranormal reality show from SyFy.
"The Shunning" (Sony), based on the best-selling book by Beverly Lewis (one of the top Amish fiction writers, explains the pres release), is a Hallmark Channel original about a an Amish woman (Danielle Panabaker) and an identity crisis. Also from the Hallmark Channel is "Citizen Jane" (Green Apple), starring Ally Sheedy as a woman who discovers her husband (Sean Patrick Flanery) is a killer and spends thirteen years hunting him down.
Saved From the Flames
Less than a week after the final episode, "Rescue Me: The Sixth Season and The Final Season" (Sony) arrives on DVD, completing the show and the home video library in conjunction (appropriately enough) with the 10th Anniversary observation of 9/11, an event that haunted the show from its first episode and has come back with a vengeance in the final season. Tommy (Denis Leary, also the show's co-creator) lost his cousin and a lot of friends that day and the guilt pulled the brakes off his naturally addictive nature for season after season of extreme dysfunction and self-destructive impulses.
The series has not been the most consistent of shows through the seasons but Leary and co-creator Peter Tolan have been fearless in facing the demons of men who put their lives on the line daily and see their personal lives unravel of the job. Alcoholism, divorce, death, abandonment and crippling fear of commitment have defined not just Tommy but many of his fellow firefighter, heroes on the job and screw-ups in their lives.
The season isn't about transcending the past or curing the damage as much as it is coming to terms with who they are and moving ahead. Which is a pretty adult thing for guys who have spent years acting like overgrown adolescents. But it's also pretty funny that in the seventh season, as Tommy tries to stop following his worst impulses and look out for his family and friends and loved ones with as much selflessness as a Gavin can muster, everyone else manages to, at least for a couple of episodes, make it all about him once again. Given that the final seasons are laced with alcoholism, injury and even more loss, as well as a wedding, they are given as satisfying a send off as they could expect. It ends not with fire but with family. And a few ghosts, hanging around to keep Tommy honest.
Matt Zoller Seitz reflects on the series finale and the legacy of the show at Salon: "It wasn't always good, and sometimes it wasn't even likable, but it was almost always interesting -- sometimes in spite of itself," he writes of the seven season run. And the finale, he notes, wasn't a three-hanky special like the "Six Feet" closer. But it was almost as satisfying, and in some ways more surprising because of its emphasis on slapstick misfortune rather than dark-night-of-the-soul emoting."
19 episodes from the sixth and seventh seasons on five discs in a box set of three thinpak cases, plus four featurettes (including an overview of the final seasons), deleted scenes and a gag reel.
The long-awaited box set is out today, but released in Europe earlier this week
"Star Wars: The Complete Saga" (Fox), the Blu-ray debut of the six "Star Wars" films, didn't arrive in stateside home theaters until Friday, September 16, but Europe is a different story. It was released in Britain, Sweden and elsewhere across the pond on Monday, September 12 and the reviews, most of them for tech-savvy, "Star Wars"-loving fans, have been tricking in. Here are a few previews of coming attractions.
At The Digital Fix, Geoff Dearth (whose name already resembles a "Star Wars" character) takes on "Star Wars: The Original Trilogy." While he resigns himself to Lucas' tinkering ("For this 2011 edition of ["Star Wars"] Lucas has changed a few things once again (which I won't bleat about here) but the core of the movie still shines through the superficial CG gloss."), he takes a hard line on the technical quality of the masters. "These Blu-rays don't quite do them justice, using 7-year-old transfers which are beset with colour problems and artefacts from the then-state-of-the-art digital restoration," he complains, noting that the audio is a little better "yet it's still not perfect, hampered by the variable quality of the original sound element ".
A remarkably comprehensive review by Blu-ray.com reviewer Casey Broadwater proclaims that, a few exceptions aside (in particular "The Phantom Menace"), "the transfers/restorations the films have been given represent an exponential leap in picture refinement, integrity, and clarity from previous DVD releases." And he's in a forgiving mood when it comes to Lucas' reworking of the original films. "Yes, there are some goofy new additions, like Darth Vader yelling "NOOOOO" as he throws Emperor Palpatine over the railing. I don't think anyone expected this release of "The Complete Saga" to be free of controversy. But come on. It's "Star Wars." On Blu-ray."
"The Greatest Film Ever Made" gets a worthy Blu-ray debut - and MSN has an exclusive clip from the set
"Citizen Kane" has been so longed hailed as “the greatest film ever made” (the American Film Institute’s poll apparently made it official) that it’s in serious danger of becoming the least seen masterpiece around. The legends surrounding the film and its creator (and let’s face it, Pauline Kael was simply wrong: this is Welles’ creation) have too long overshadowed the actual production.
See an exclusive clip from the supplements, featuring actress Ruth Warrick discussing working with Orson Welles, after the jump below
Above all, Welles was a showman and "Citizen Kane" is a three ring circus of cinematic ingenuity, a startlingly entertaining blend of pulp melodrama, historical biography, detective story, political drama, storytelling confabulation, and plain old theatrical flourish. Years ahead of its time in its layered use of sound and score (a pioneering piece of dramatic composition by Bernard Herrmann), stunningly designed and brilliantly shot by Gregg Toland with a creative invention that pushed the envelope of motion picture photography, "Citizen Kane" is a vital, exciting moment of American cinema brought back to life with every viewing.
That puts a lot of pressure on Warner to get it right on their Blu-ray debut. I'm pleased to note that they do with "Citizen Kane: 70th AnniversaryUltimate Collector’s Edition" (Warner). The original negative was lost in a fire years ago but a fine-grain print survives and was been the source of this newly remastered edition. The transfer so sharp and clear and detailed it actually shows us too much information in some scenes. The cinematic sleight of hand is revealed in the projection room scene (where Joseph Cotten and Erskine Sanford, who are supposed to be shrouded in shadow, are plainly seen as "anonymous reporters" in the background) and the stunning dissolve from the still photo of the Chronicle staff coming to life at a party. These scenes were made for the chemical technology of 1940s, not the capabilities of 21st century high definition digital restoration, but such perfectionism is the kind of criticism this disc can handle: every single scene is a marvel of crisp clarity. More from archivist Robert Harris at Home Theater Forum.
The Blu-ray includes the supplements from the earlier DVD edition. Of the two commentary tracks, film critic Roger Ebert’s is the superior by far, a rich scene by scene talk that movies from sharp observation to Welles’ methods and meanings. Welles aficionado Peter Bogdanovich provides a dull, droning commentary, full of obvious statements with little detail and none of the stories you would expect from him. It also features production stills (accompanied by 11 more minutes of Roger Ebert commentary on the film and its place in history), storyboards, alternate ad campaigns, studio and personal correspondence, call sheets and other memorabilia, newsreel footage from the film’s 1941 premiere, and the film’s unique and inventive original theatrical trailer.