That Hamilton Woman

( 5 )

Overview

Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman (1941) was the first movie that this reviewer ever owned as a pre-recorded VHS tape (back in 1985); and it was the first movie we ever owned on laserdisc (in 1988). But its bow on DVD was delayed until the summer of 2009. It has finally shown up, in a Criterion Collection edition that's as handsome as the original movie and as well produced as the movie itself. The film-to-video transfer is gorgeous throughout -- in only one sequence, in fact, Alan Mowbray's last scene in the...
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DVD (B&W / Pan & Scan)
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Overview

Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman (1941) was the first movie that this reviewer ever owned as a pre-recorded VHS tape (back in 1985); and it was the first movie we ever owned on laserdisc (in 1988). But its bow on DVD was delayed until the summer of 2009. It has finally shown up, in a Criterion Collection edition that's as handsome as the original movie and as well produced as the movie itself. The film-to-video transfer is gorgeous throughout -- in only one sequence, in fact, Alan Mowbray's last scene in the film, was there any sign of any distracting source damage, and that was kept to a minimum, in comparison to some other editions of this movie that we've seen. And for the first time in at least two decades, the film's original American title, That Hamilton Woman (as opposed to the UK Lady Hamilton) has been restored to the extant edition of the movie. The full-screen black-and-white image (1.33-to-1) is richly textured and beautifully contrasted throughout, and the audio has also been mastered at a full, high volume level, which gives proper play to both Laurence Olivier's magnificent vocal portrayal of Lord Nelson, and to Miklos Rozsa's score, a masterpiece of romantic and martial sensibilities. The latter is also richly represented in one of the bonus features, an extended radio promotion feature from 1941 for the movie, which is a strange and delightgful curio. The original UK trailer is also included, in rather rough condition, but those are the least of the bonuses. The real value of this disc, apart from the finest presentation ever of the movie in question, lies with the two major bonus features. The first is a commentary track by English film scholar Ian Christie in which he traces the evolution of the screenplay and the direct path by which Korda, who got a knighthood in the wake of this movie, came to make That Hamilton Woman; he ranges across art, history, music, politics, and cinema, in a lecture that is a model for this sort of commentary (and this comes from someone who has done 30 of those himself). One can quibble about minor aspects of some of his interpretations, but the overall thrust of Christie's work is a marvel, and by itself would make this disc worth owning. But then there is the other major bonus feature, a 30-minute-plus on-camera talk -- supported by relevant clips of the movie, and stills -- by Michael Korda, the producer/director's author
ephew, who provides what could easily have been the beginning of a book about this movie, and yet another book about the Korda family. And by itself, that interview, despite one possible chronological slip in his discussion, is just about worth the price of admission. The disc itself, though loaded with bonus features, is structured in a very compact manner, with a simple, easy-to-use menu that opens automatically on start-up. The accompanying booklet includes an extensive analytical essay by film critic Molly Haskell, which is well worth reading.
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Special Features

Audio commentary featuring noted film historian Ian Christie; New video interview with author and editor Michael Korda, Alexander's nephew, who discusses growing up in the Korda family and the making of That Hamilton Woman; Theatrical trailer; Alexander Korda presents, a 1941 promotional radio piece for the film; A booklet featuring an essayby film critic Molly Haskell
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Once chosen by Winston Churchill as his favorite movie, That Hamilton Woman was initially conceived as something of a propaganda piece for the then-prime minister, who wanted a film about England's past that was applicable to its current situation vis-à-vis Nazi Germany. Director Alexander Korda framed his political commentary in an intensely romantic melodrama, and gave it a sumptuous production that well deserved its Oscar nomination for Art Direction. While the story drags a little, it never dawdles for long, and a tearful parting or a moving piece of oratory always comes along in just the nick of time to keep things going. If the script seems somewhat dated and obvious today, the performances of the leads are timeless, and the chemistry between Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh is startlingly real. Olivier has never been more dashing, and he imbues Nelson with an innate nobility that is painful under the circumstances. Leigh's performance is arguably the best of her career, a radiant, vibrant portrait of a woman whose wit and coquetry mask a deeper intelligence, capability and courage. She wrings the most out of every scene, making Hamilton a complex character whose flaws are as appealing as her virtues. Although Olivier appeared in several films over the next few years, Leigh did not appear onscreen again until 1946's Caesar and Cleopatra.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/8/2009
  • UPC: 715515048811
  • Original Release: 1941
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 2:05:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 22,753

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vivien Leigh Lady Hamilton
Laurence Olivier Lord Horatio Nelson
Alan Mowbray Sir William Hamilton
Sara Allgood Mrs. Cadogan-Lyon
Gladys Cooper Lady Nelson
Henry Wilcoxon Capt. Hardy
Heather Angel Street Girl
Halliwell Hobbes Rev. Nelson
Gilbert Emery Lord Spencer
Miles Mander Lord Keith
Ronald Sinclair Josiah
Luis Alberni King of Naples
Norma Drury Queen of Naples
Olaf Hytten Gavin
Julie Compton Lady Spencer
Guy Kingsford Capt. Troubridge
George Davis
Leonard Carey Orderly
Alec Craig Gendarme
Georges Renavent Hotel manager
Technical Credits
Alexander Korda Director, Producer
Lawrence W. Butler Special Effects
Julia Heron Set Decoration/Design
William W. Hornbeck Editor
Rene Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Vincent Korda Production Designer
Rudolph Maté Cinematographer
Walter Reisch Screenwriter
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
R.C. Sherriff Screenwriter
Jack Whitney Sound/Sound Designer
William Wilmarth Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- That Hamilton Woman
1. Opening Credits [2:12]
2. Prologue [4:02]
3. "I Was Beautiful Then" [6:41]
4. A New Life [7:01]
5. Emma, Lady Hamilton [4:04]
6. The Captain [9:16]
7. Five Years of War [5:51]
8. Care and Kindness [7:04]
9. Nelson in Love [11:31]
10. "Back to Naples" [12:41]
11. Lady Nelson [8:10]
12. The Ugly Truth [5:52]
13. "Her or Her?" [7:02]
14. No Peace [11:11]
15. A Home [6:04]
16. A Great Victory [11:35]
17. Endings [5:06]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- That Hamilton Woman
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
      Color Bars
   Commentary
      On
      Off
   Alexander Korda Presents
      Play
   Michael Korda
      Play
   Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    I bought this movie after renting it a few times and finally rea

    I bought this movie after renting it a few times and finally realizing I SHOULD BUY THIS, I'm not sorry I did. I love Vivien Leigh's liveliness and enthusiasm in the film as The Lady Hamilton (her character's married name). It's fairly low budget with those kinds of problems but otherwise done nicely in spite of it. I don't know how much is based on fact but films have a way of changing history to be more dramatic. I'm not crazy about Olivier as Admiral Nelson, although he has been called one of the great actors, I think he overdoes it a bit in his films. There are other notable actors here, familiar English faces including Gladys Cooper who plays the indignant wife of Nelson, all played with veracity. The story is basically one of an affair interfered with by war and distance. There is a nicely designed bedroom set of Leigh's with volcano in background. Plenty here to enjoy; action, love, honor and dishonor. Nelson tries to do right about his child at the end but unfortunately dies in battle and leaves Lady Hamilton destitute.

    By the way Barnes and Noble describes this as "PAN AND SCAN" but that is incorrect. That term is used for a widescreen formatted movie that has been altered to fit TV screens of old. This film was originally shot in the 4:3 format (sometimes known as Standard or Full Format, it is the old TV screen ratio) and therefore has not been altered from the original. Black and white with DVD extras, Criterion quality throughout.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    enjoyed movie

    have always liked the older movies and wish all were available to purchase. really like both leading actors and always enjoyed this movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Excellent

    If you are a Nelson fan, this is a must!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews