Five New Titles from Criterion
Last week, Criterion announced five titles for release on the 16th of October, including three from Hitchcock which promise to be very special - Notorious, Rebecca and Spellbound.
Considered by many to be one of Hitchcock's best, Notorious will be released as a 2-disc edition which will retail at $49.95 (or $39.95, depending on whom one believes). The movie's plot has been covered in considerable depth in Mike Sutton's review of the R2 disc, so I'll swiftly move on to the disc details. The Criterion edition will feature a newly remastered 1.33:1 transfer, the original mono soundtrack, the isolated score, two audio commentaries with Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane and historian Rudy Behlmer, the complete original broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation which starred Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton, deleted and alternate scenes in script form, excerpts from the short story "The Song of the Dragon" which inspired the movie, newsreel footage of Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman, still galleries featuring production and publicity photos, promotional materials and production correspondence, liner notes by Hitchcock scholar William Rothman, and the film's original trailers and teasers.
1940's Rebecca is an adaptation of the novel by Daphne Du Maurier, starring Joan Fontaine (Jane Eyre) and Laurence Olivier (A Bridge Too Far). Olivier portrays Maxim de Winter, a man haunted by the death of his wife Rebecca, who meets and falls in love with a shy ladies' companion (Fontaine). After the two are married, they return to de Winter's home where the new Lady de Winter discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold over everyone in the household...
The rumoured details of this two-disc set are a remastered 1.33:1 transfer with mono soundtrack, an audio commentary by "Hitchcock and Selznick" author Leonard J. Leff; hair, makeup and costume tests; behind-the-scenes photos; poster, lobby card and promotional memorabilia gallery; audio excerpts from Hitchcock's conversations with Francois Truffaut; audio interviews with Joan Fontaine and Dame Judith Anderson and three complete radio adaptations. The rumoured retail price for the set is $39.95. Rebecca is already available on DVD in both R1 and R2.
Hitchcock connoisseurs do not seem to hold the third Hitchcock title, Spellbound, in the same high regard as the previous two titles, however I'm sure the Criterion release will still be of interest to many. For in-depth analysis and plot details, the reader is again directed to Mike Sutton's review of the R2 release. This single disc release is again rumoured to retail for $39.95 and to include a restored 1.33:1 transfer and original mono soundtrack, an audio commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane, an illustrated essay on the Salvador Dali dream sequence, an interview with composer Miklos Rozsa, the complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation starring Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, behind-the-scenes photos and documents chronicling the film's production, and promotional memorabilia.
The other two releases on the 16th of October are The Ruling Class and Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. Peter (The Changeling) Medak's The Ruling Class stars Peter O'Toole (Caligula), Alastair Sim (An Inspector Calls) and Arthur Lowe (Dad's Army). This 1972 comedy sees a member of the House of Lords dying and leaving his estate to his son - the only problem being that his son (O'Toole) is insane and believes he is Jesus Christ. Mayhem follows as other members of the family plot to steal the estate. The DVD will feature the full length 154 minute version, never before seen in the U.S; a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer; the original mono soundtrack; an audio commentary with Medak, O'Toole, and writer Peter Barnes; Peter Medak's home movies shot on location and the trailer. The disc will retail at $39.95.
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages will also retail at $39.95 and will feature two versions of the movie - a new speed-corrected digital transfer of the Swedish Film Institute's tinted restoration of Häxan from 1922, a silent film with Swedish intertitles and optional English subtitles; and 1968's Witchcraft Through The Ages, a 74-minute version narrated by William S. Burroughs with a soundtrack featuring Jean-Luc Ponty; a 1.33:1 transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack for the 74-minute version, a commentary by Danish silent film scholar Casper Tybjerg, director Benjamin Christensen's introduction to the 1941 re-release, outtakes, "Bibliotheque Diabolique" - a photographic exploration of Christensen's historical sources and a stills gallery.
Directed by Benjamin Christensen and starring John Andersen, Häxan is a horror filmed in the style of a documentary, which was a direct influence on The Blair Witch Project. Christensen uses a series of vignettes to powerfully illustrate the effects of witchcraft in the middle ages.