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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OPTIMUM PICTURE QUALITY VS. ANCHOR BAY
Very briefly: If you're looking to choose between this, the Optimum Region 2 DVD, and the Anchor Bay Region 1 NTSC version [ coupled with DEAD OF NIGHT] - choose the Optimum.

The Optimum is FAR superior PQ-wise: very sharp and clean print, with at times an almost three-dimensional visual depth, whereas the [ extremely-expensive at time of writing] US Anchor...
Published on 7 July 2011 by Mr. M. R. Thompson

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No subtitles!
Optimum Release is an infamous distributor for all of us that require that a movie comes with subtitles.

They do not even bother with "English for the hearing impaired". This is an old movie and, while the video quality is really good, the same can not be said for the audio.

The movie itself is very good (5 stars) but this release, as usual for...
Published 19 months ago by Messaad Cristiano


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OPTIMUM PICTURE QUALITY VS. ANCHOR BAY, 7 July 2011
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
Very briefly: If you're looking to choose between this, the Optimum Region 2 DVD, and the Anchor Bay Region 1 NTSC version [ coupled with DEAD OF NIGHT] - choose the Optimum.

The Optimum is FAR superior PQ-wise: very sharp and clean print, with at times an almost three-dimensional visual depth, whereas the [ extremely-expensive at time of writing] US Anchor Bay DVD, was struck some 8 years or so ago from a dirty and grainy print which has none of the startling clarity of the Optimum.

The only aspect of the Anchor Bay disc which is in any way superior, is in the cropping of the transfer which is noticeably less-cramped all the way through than the Optimum, and the fact that there is no PAL speed-up on the US disc, naturally.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful What you Wish for ... you might actually get it., 15 May 2010
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
' ... ze cards ... ze seecret off ze cards ...' hisses Anton Walbrook as he goes off his head towards the end of this extraordinary film.

THE QUEEN OF SPADES is one of those classic pieces of cinema that lots of people have heard of, but not actually seen - either on telly or in the cinema. I had to include myself in that number until very recently. Now, I am a total convert to this stylish, atmospheric, and utterly creepy piece of work.

This isn't a vintage horror film of the 'Dracula' type - although plenty of things go bump in the night. THE QUEEN OF SPADES is a classic ghost-story, based upon a tale by Alexander Pushkin, and it was made on a shoestring in studios that were decidedly lacking in technical resources, and too small for the spectacle required by the script.

This lack of resources made everyone involved in THE QUEEN OF SPADES doubly creative, and what we have here is a gothic masterpiece, for which the cast and crew have turned up trumps.

The plot hinges simply enough upon the turn of a playing card. The game ? Faro - similar to Snap - but a game that held Europe in thrall for centuries.

Here in the story are jealousy and intrigue, a lust for power and a fight for the heart of a beautiful woman; here are long shadows, dark passageways, cruelty and vice - all mixed up with an obsession that ends in violence and desperate madness among the snowdrifts of winter-bound St.Petersburg.

The film's designer, Oliver Messel, perhaps more famous for his ultra-romantic creations for Covent Garden, conjures up the opulence of the city in its luxurious heyday. He does it by using a minimum of scenery which is shunted about, relit, repainted and reused as necessary. The overall effect is stunning.

There are delicious performances too - from a cast steered away from the oh-so-British stiff-upper-lip of the wartime years into a new and appropriately melodramatic excellence by Thorold Dickinson (he of the original and best version of GASLIGHT).

Dickinson had at his disposal some remarkable talent: at the head of the cast of course is Anton Walbrook, who needs no introduction, and whose sinister presence lurks in every shadow, hissing like a corrupt viper; there is also Ronald Howard - son of Leslie, amazingly like his father, with the matinee idol good looks of Ashley Wilkes and a manner that tells you from the start that he is a jolly good sort. There are devoted servants, officers and nobles, gypsy dancers and singers - and a lot of vodka downed in one, and the whole piece has an operatic intensity that even Verdi would have been hard pushed to rival.

There are also two actresses, new to film, whose names were to become as familiar to cinema-goers as they were already to lovers of the theatre: Yvonne Mitchell, with whose youthful, dark, and willowy form the camera is obviously in love, and Dame Edith Evans - she of the world-famous 'Handbag!' in Asquith's later 'Importance of Being Ernest' (She also excels in Tony Richardson's 'Tom Jones' - a tour-de-force if ever there was one.) These two are the kind of discovery that a casting director nowadays can only dream of.

Edith Evans dominates the film. For somebody who had not appeared in front of the camera before, she takes to it like a duck to water, glowing with that mysterious power that allows you to gaze upon the depths of a character's soul. The ancient and wrinkled Countess Ranevskaya has lived her life in fear of the devil, and now she totters and staggers, bullies and weeps, the centrepiece of some fantastic images and what must surely be one of the most chilling sound effects ever created: the relentless shuffling slide of her feet, punctuated by the tap, tap, tap of her stick upon the cold stone floor of her palace.

Delicious.

The movie-going world must now be divided into two types: those who have seen THE QUEEN OF SPADES, and those who - to their loss - have not. Join the number of those who have, and revel in this classic British film for what it is: a thoroughly enjoyable piece of storytelling - one that should be high on the list of all-time greats in the history of cinema.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterly tale of creepy obsession and faro, done to a turn with Anton Walbrook and Edith Evans, 2 Jan 2010
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
It's comforting to think that Alexander Pushkin, had he been born a hundred years later than he was, could undoubtedly have found employment writing screenplays for Val Lewton. As it is, we'll just have to put up with all those plays, novels, poems, operas and short stories he wrote.

The Queen of Spades, based on a story by Pushkin, is a marvelously atmospheric and menacing tale of obsession and greed. It takes place in 1806 St. Petersburg. Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook) is a poor German engineer serving in the Czarist army. Gambling has become the rage and faro is the card game of choice for all the rich, aristocratic and arrogant young officers who laugh at Suvorin. He hasn't the means to gamble and he hasn't the means to purchase advancement. Then he hears the story of Countess Ranevskaya (Edith Evans), who, a generation earlier, is supposed to have sold her soul for "the secret of the cards"...the three cards to choose which will win a fortune at faro. Amazingly, the Countess is still living, almost a recluse, with a beautiful ward. Suvorin determines to find a way to woo the young woman as a method to gain entry into the Countess' palace and to the Countess herself. He is determined to learn from her the three cards. He does, or thinks he does, and we witness madness and death. Says one character, "I believe all human beings are fundamentally good. I'm convinced of it. Yes, and I believe that evil is a force, a mighty force, that is abroad in the world to take possession of men's souls, if they will allow it to." Oh, Suvorin.

Now if Val Lewton had produced this we might have a cult classic on our hands. As it is, we have a movie which has been nearly forgotten. Too bad. The film might have been made with little money but it doesn't look it. Snow and slush cover the frigid St. Petersburg streets. Candles flicker and gutter. Deep shadows hide cubbyholes and doorways. There are ragged peasants and beggars, an ornate opera house and a dazzling ballroom filled with dancing aristocrats. There is the Countess' palace with it's decorated rooms, angled staircases, bare kitchens and cold servants quarters. There is the Countess' bedroom with it's secret passage and the stone steps leading to a hidden entrance. The black-and-white cinematography is excellent; everything shadowed might hold madness or a threat. Making everything work are the two mesmerizing performances by Walbrook and Evans. With these two actors it's a pleasure just to observe Suvorin's growing obsession and to hear the tap of the Countess' cane and the slow, steady swish of her silk gown.

Anton Walbrook was one of the great actors of his time. Sometimes he would almost teeter on the brink of mannerism, but he'd invariably deliver performances of startling quality. With his intensity, his Austrian accent and his ability to draw out a vowel for effect, it was difficult not to keep your eyes on him. At 53 he is playing 20 years younger and does so with ease. Edith Evans was 57 when she made this, her first film after years of stardom in the theater. She plays a selfish, irritable 90-year-old woman, querulous and suspicious. When Suvorin and the Countess finally meet in the Countess' bedroom, an acting student could learn much just by watching the two. Walbrook has all the lines; Evans watches and reacts. It's a toss-up as to which betters the other.

I think both Pushkin and Lewton would have enjoyed this movie. Please note that I have no idea if this DVD release will have been restored. The earlier DVD release with discs of Dead of Night and Queen of Spades in one package could have used some work.

To appreciate just how good Anton Walbrook was, watch him in La Ronde, The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stylish classic, 20 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
This a very British style of classic film.
The black and white medium greatly enhances the moodiness and ambience of this ghost story. The ghost is never actually seen on screen (no white sheets or PC animations needed), which adds to the tension. The acting is good old fashioned melodramatic style with no punches pulled.
Story?..The protagonist of the film is obsessed with how to obtain the secret of winning at cards..'the Queen of Spades'.
A very nicely executed studio film, in moody black & white and with good music. The period is set in Imperial Russia in Napoleonic times, complete with costumes and cold white snow.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BRITISH MOVIE - WAS LONG OVERDUE ON DVD!, 1 Mar 2010
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
Anton Walbrook, Dame Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell star in this long-overdue release of the much in demand: 'The Queen Of Spades'.

It's interesting to note here that two great stage actresses made their film debut; Dame Edith Evans (at aged 62!) and Yvonne Mitchell. Both made memorable and lasting impressions - Evans plays the aged Countess (playing a character years older than she was in real-life -even then!) and Mitchell who plays her young Ward - contrarily playing a part years younger than she actually was. (she was 35 at the time!)

This is a great movie from so many aspects; the story, the acting, the outstanding cast which also includes Athene Seyler, Miles Malleson and Hay Petrie - not to mention the production! It's not a movie to be watched late at night and alone - full of atmosphere with plenty 'jolts' and eerie feeling - particularly Evans' great portrayal of the death of the old Countess which will certainly have the hair on the back of your neck standing on end and afraid to go to bed! This is also helped along by the fact that this Picture was made in black and white.

Several dashing guys as eye -candy in this too - not least a very handsome Anthony Dawson - and all in gorgeous uniforms...

I recall wanting this on Video almost twenty years ago - and nobody had even heard of it... Great to see that it's finally out on DVD at long last! It's been well worth the wait!

Includes 'Extras' - featuring fascinating Interviews on how the movie was made, and how Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell had to be 'coached' through the new medium for their work.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Russian short story, 18 Mar 2010
By 
J. H. Allen (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
From the Pushkin story, very atmospheric,conveys the period well on a limited budget. Excellent cast, Walbrook and Evans, they couldn't go wrong, British film making in its golden age.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magic world: old St Petersburg, 13 April 2014
By 
Jan Mark "polonius" (Malmö Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
A very interesting film. A magic world: old St Petersburg ( though recreated in an english film studio)
The images has more than a touch of the classic russian film but made by a british film director! A true miracle!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Your win.....my win, 10 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
In the early 1800s, Russian soldiers entertain themselves by playing cards and whoring with gypsies. However, for one under-achieving military man Anton Walbrook (Suvorin), this is a waste of time. "What?!!" - I hear you cry - "How can that possibly be a waste of time?" - well, I didn't write it, so don't shoot the messenger. Walbrook has a much darker take on life and he's also got a problem with being a bit of a nobody. So he buys a book from a spooky bookkeeper Ivor Barnard. This book holds the key to bargaining with the devil to win a fortune by playing a card game and it names a certain old Countess Edith Evans (Ranevskaya) as having gone through this particular process. Walbrook is desperate to meet Evans and get the secret to everlasting wealth from her, ie, the secret of the cards.

The character names can be confusing in this film, particularly at the beginning, but this doesn't really affect the proceedings as it is fairly easy to understand the relationships between the characters and that's what matters. Edith Evans puts on a good show as a Miss Haversham type, while Yvonne Mitchell (Liza) is OK as her young companion but gets annoying in the scene when she realizes that she has been used by Anton Walbrook. Walbrook holds our interest in the lead role as he pursues his goal for wealth and plays love rival to cavalry officer Ronald Howard (Andrei) for the attentions of Mitchell.

The story is filmed with shadows and mirror images which add to its dark and creepy atmosphere, with great settings and costumes. It's a treat to watch and has some genuinely spooky moments. Did all of that really just happen? Or is it in Walbrook's mind? Either way, the film will leave you with some scary images to mull over while you are lying in bed and trying to get to sleep, together with a feeling of other-worldliness. There is a particularly well done sequence when we hear the dead Mrs Evans coming for Walbrook.

So, it's time to break out a deck of cards and get some wealth - after all, I now know the secret.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ancient Treasure, 10 Feb 2010
By 
L. F. Cook - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
Seeing this movie again brought back
some wonderful memories.
British film making at it's best.
What can one say about Edith Evans -
a masterclass in acting.

Can be a bit "dark" in places but
such a joy to watch.

Leopold Cook
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story and intriguing atmosphere, 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Queen Of Spades [DVD] (DVD)
A fantastic story and intriguing atmosphere , this film pulls you in from the beginning, keeping you involved. A good old fashioned
story
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Queen Of Spades [DVD]
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