Cast: Alexander Korda
Great Britain's film industry was not held in especially high respect through most of the silent era and the earliest days of sound, but producer and director Alexander Korda helped change that his 1933 feature The Private Life of Henry VIII; the film's sharp but intelligent wit and cheeky perspective on royalty and power gave it a distinctly British stamp, but/i>… See more details below
Great Britain's film industry was not held in especially high respect through most of the silent era and the earliest days of sound, but producer and director Alexander Korda helped change that his 1933 feature The Private Life of Henry VIII; the film's sharp but intelligent wit and cheeky perspective on royalty and power gave it a distinctly British stamp, but it also proved that the English could make a film with all the gloss and sophistication Hollywood could muster. The Private Life of Henry VIII was a major international hit and earned leading man Charles Laughton an Academy Award; it was the first of several films Korda would make that offered a sly glimpse into the private lives of public figures, and four of them have been brought together in this DVD set from the Criterion Collection's Eclipse series. Alexander Korda's Private Lives includes the films The Private Life of Henry VIII, The Rise of Catherine the Great (aka Catherine the Great), The Private Life of Don Juan and Rembrandt. All four features have been transferred to disc in their original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while The Rise of Catherine the Great and The Private Life of Don Juan look as clean and well-detailed as one would expect from a Criterion release, the other two films have been taken from less pristine film elements. This is especially unfortunate for Rembrandt, given the quality of the original cinematography, though neither film is seriously flawed by their relatively minor visual imperfections. The audio for all four films has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the fidelity is good for films shot in the early to mid 1930s. The dialogue for the four features is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. While each film is accompanied by a short essay by Michael Koresky, no other bonus materials have been included, as part of Criterion's efforts to make the Eclipse sets available at a reasonable price. Given how elusive these four films have been in the United States and how large a role they play in the history of British film, this set is well worth having for self-styled film scholars, and the four features are all good to excellent entertainment as well.
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