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Customer Review

on 27 July 2005
Warner has done a wonderful job of restoring this magnificent melodrama, and whatever you think of Crawford, she was rarely given such a marvellous opportunity nor surrounded by so many great talents. Chief among these is director Michael Curtiz who proves yet again why he was one of the great directors of the era. His trade mark roving camera style which made Rick's cafe in CASABLANCA seem a real place that one wants to revisit over and over again, here creates an almost voyeur's view of events in 1940s LA, especially at Monty Berrigan's Beach House, a superb stylised set by the unsung genius of Hollywood Art Directors - Anton Grot. Add to all this, Steiner's magnificent score, Ernest Hallers deep focus photography and a witty, laconic script by Ranald MacDougall which offers so many memorable lines, and you have a defining example of Holywood's most glamorous noir style. Ann Blyth was nominated as Best Supporting Actress and should have won for her stomach-churning daughter-from-hell - and why she never got better parts afterwards is a mystery. She lives today in retirement and never gives interviews - though I bet she would have plenty to say! Jack Carson is surprisingly effective as the oily Wally Fay [Carson was another wasted actor in Hollywood, rarely getting good roles), Eve Arden is sublime [she has so many great lines;e.g. as Jack Carson eyes her legs she says 'Leave SOMEthing on me!] and Zachary Scott is perfectly cast as the rich, slimy Monty Berrigan. Maybe it does water down the novel but it is so richly entertaining, who cares? Crawford seized this role (after arch-rival Bette Davis turned it down) and gives a superlative performance that is quintessential Crawford.
The DVD is nicely done. Warner had the original nitrate camera negative for this film, and the digital frame-by-frame picture restoration is outstanding. The sound track has also been cleaned up, and is a treat for the ear! Buy it NOW before it gets discontinued, and see what style is all about.
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