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The Song of Bernadette

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Overview

Henry King's The Song of Bernadette (1943) comes to DVD in a very beautiful film-to-video transfer that, after some traces of instability in the opening credits, takes on the sharpness of still photography. That's the product of the 2002 upgrade of the movie from the best surviving nitrate elements. 20th Century Fox has treated the film well with this transfer, which looks better than any small-screen presentation it has ever received, including the laserdisc release (which, as was often the case, had the usual ...
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Overview

Henry King's The Song of Bernadette (1943) comes to DVD in a very beautiful film-to-video transfer that, after some traces of instability in the opening credits, takes on the sharpness of still photography. That's the product of the 2002 upgrade of the movie from the best surviving nitrate elements. 20th Century Fox has treated the film well with this transfer, which looks better than any small-screen presentation it has ever received, including the laserdisc release (which, as was often the case, had the usual playback anomalies common to that format and was made from a far lower-quality source). Indeed, the mere fact that the 156-minute movie fits onto a single five-inch platter still feels like a miracle -- as much as the so-called "private revelation" of Bernadette of Lourdes. The movie itself is an acquired taste, as the producers knew it would be at the time, expressing this reality in the disclaimer at the opening: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, no explanation is possible." Alas, the commentary track, which is one of the main extras on the DVD, is also something of an acquired taste. The three-way commentary simply doesn't work, as none of the contributors ever has a chance to build up a chain of observations -- or an intellectual head of steam -- before he gives way to a colleague on a separate train of thought. John Burlingame, who is present to discuss the music, seldom has the chance to expose any of the music cues because there's no room for such pauses. He says once too often that he will never say there's a false-note in the movie, but we seldom get a chance to hear any of the notes; instead, one must go back to the menu and fiddle with on-screen buttons, even over the first appearance of the "Beautiful Lady." His discussion of the psychology behind Alfred Newman's music is wonderful, but he should have simply been given this section of the movie to himself. Donald Spoto, the principal commentator, is also a little too flashy in his discussion, so much so that one loses focus on the film at times. It's a performance that, alas, competes with the performances on the screen. Edward Z. Epstein, who has written a book on Jennifer Jones' life and career, doesn't add a huge amount of information in his contribution. Much more useful in some ways is the Biography installment on Jones, which offers a full picture of her life and career. Also included is an excerpt of a Fox/Movietone newsreel showing Jones accepting an award from American GI's for her work, the film's trailer, and a before-and-after depiction of the restoration, which is rather eye-opening. The disc opens to a two-layer menu that keeps the Play option in the default position and is easy to maneuver; the Special Feature selection advances automatically as each bonus selection concludes. For reasons best known to itself, FoxVideo has erroneously credited the 1943 full-frame (1.33:1) black-and-white movie as being in Deluxe Color and CinemaScope in the packaging.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Audio commentary by Edward Z. Epstein (author of "Portrait of Jennifer: A Biography of Jennifer Jones"), John Burlingame (biographer of Alfred Newman), and biographer/historian Donald Spoto; "Jennifer Jones: Portrait of a Lady" Biography program; Movietone newsreel of Jennifer Jones; Restoration comparison; Theatrical trailer; Full-frame format (aspect ratio 1.33:1); English and Spanish subtitles
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
This 1943 motion picture about a peasant girl who sees the Virgin Mary was itself something of a miracle. Consider that 20th Century Fox hired a no-name actress to play the lead role of a Roman Catholic saint, used a script based on a book by a Jewish writer (Franz Werfel), and relied primarily on a Protestant U.S. market to buy the tickets at a time when World War II limited film distribution abroad. But the film succeeded, not only financially and ecumenically, but also artistically, winning four Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. One reason for its success was the 24-year-old in the starring role, dark-eyed beauty Jennifer Jones, who had previously appeared only in minor roles for Republic Pictures under her birth name, Phylis Lee Isley. She portrays the visionary French peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, with an elusive, other-worldly quality that makes supernaturalism believable. When skeptics denounce Bernadette, Jones projects both childlike vulnerability and ironclad resolve. Her Bernadette is a naïve, modest, quiet teenager who yearns only for a husband and children. She is also a determined young woman who does not cower before authoritarian accusers. Charles Bickford supports her with a stunning performance as a gruff parish priest who doubts Bernadette's story, subjects her to endless questioning, and finally accepts her visions as genuine. Equally impressive is Gladys Cooper as a jealous nun who subjects herself to severe trials to win God's favor -- but never once receives a vision of her own. Although the film occasionally slips into sentimentality, it never loses its dignity. Excellent cinematography and a fine Alfred Newman music score complement the production.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/3/2003
  • UPC: 024543075677
  • Original Release: 1943
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White / Stereo / Mono
  • Sound: stereo, monaural
  • Language: English, Español
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 183

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jennifer Jones Bernadette Soubirous
Charles Bickford Peyramaie Dean of Lourdes
Gladys Cooper Sister Vauzous
Vincent Price Dutour
Lee J. Cobb Dr. Dozous
Anne Revere Louise Soubirous
Blanche Yurka Bernarde Casterot
Mary Anderson Jeanne Abadie
William Eythe Antoine Nicolau
Edith Barrett Croisine Bouhouhorts
Aubrey Mather Lacade
Sig Rumann Louis Bouriette
Fortunio Bonanova Louis Napoleon III
Tala Birell Madame Bruat
Marcel Dalio Callet
Eula Morgan Mme. Nicolau
Jean del Val Estrade
André Charlot Bishop of Nevers
Moroni Olsen Chaplain
Louis Arco
Hooper Atchley Policeman
Charley Bates Bouhouhorts' Boy
Eugene Borden Gendarme
Lionel Braham Baron Massey
Davison Clark
Edward Clark Hospital Attendant
Harry Cording Stone Mason
Elvira Curci
Adrienne D'Ambricourt
Frank Dae
Jean de Briac
Harry Denny Priest
Pat Dillon Bouhouhorts' Boy
John Dilson
Fernanda Eliscu
Edythe Elliott
Fred Essler Minister of Justice
Edward Fielding
Antonio Filauri
Curt Furberg
Margaret Hoffman
Arthur Hohl Monk
Edward Keane
Frank Lackteen
Charles La Torre Duran
Frank Leigh Cleric
Connie Leon
Alphonse Martell
Louis Mercier Huckster
Belle Mitchell
Nestor Paiva Baker
Alex Papana
Nino Pipitone Mayor's Secretary
Frank Reicher Dr. St. Cyr
Julian Rivero Dominican Monk
Steve Roberts
Ruth Robinson Nun
Merrill Rodin Jean Soubirous
Muni Seroff
George Sorel Franciscan Monk
Edwin Stanley Mr. Jones
Tom Stevenson Doctor
Minerva Urecal
Charles Wagenheim Peasant
Geraldine Wall Nun
Lucille Ward
Ruth Warren
Cecil Weston
Ian Wolfe Minister of the Interior
Irina Semochenko
Armand Cortez
Roman Bohnen Francois Soubirous
Nana Bryant Convent Mother Superior
Jerome Cowan Emperor Napoleon
Linda Darnell The Virgin Mary (uncredited)
Pedro de Cordoba Lecrampe
Charles Dingle Jacomet
Fritz Leiber Monk
Mae Marsh Woman
Dickie Moore Adolar
Patricia Morison Empress Eugenie
Alan Napier Psychiatrist
Alla Nazimova
Edward Van Sloan Doctor
Ermadean Walters Marie Soubirous
Manart Kipper Charles Bouhouhorts
Technical Credits
Henry King Director
James Basevi Art Director
William S. Darling Art Director
Rene Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank E. Hughes Set Decoration/Design
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Barbara McLean Editor
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Alfred Newman Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
William Perlberg Producer
George Seaton Screenwriter
Fred Sersen Special Effects
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles
2. A Poor Family
3. Gathering Wood
4. A Vision
5. The Lady's Request
6. Going to the Grotto
7. Neutrality
8. Arresting Bernadette
9. A Message for the Church
10. The Spring
11. Pilgrimage to Lourdes
12. Closing the Grotto
13. Examining Bernadette
14. Arresting Pilgrims
15. Re-Opening the Grotto
16. Investigations
17. Responsibility
18. In the Convent
19. The Chosen
20. Final Confrontation
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Language Selection
      Languages: English Stereo
      Languages: English Mono
      Languages: Spanish Mono
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Spanish
      Subtitles: None
   Scene Selection
   Special Features
      Commentary by: Jon Burlingame, Edward Z. Epstein and Donald Spoto
      Biography - Jennifer Jones: Portrait of a Lady
      Movie Tone News: Jennifer Jones Receives Award From American G.I.'s
      Theatrical Trailer
      Restoration Comparison
         Next
      Studio Classics
         All About Eve
         An Affair to Remember
         The Day the Earth Stood Still
         Gentleman's Agreement
         The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
         How Green Was My Valley
         Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 12, 2014

    Unparalleled and divinely beautiful. This film brings tears to m

    Unparalleled and divinely beautiful. This film brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. A faith-filled and provocatively monumental time in history woven into an intriguing movie.

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  • Posted January 9, 2012

    One of my favorite movies.

    In my top 10 list of movies.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    surprised!

    Far better than I remembered or expected. I rated it 5 stars without the "sexy".

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    What took me so long?

    One of the best spiritual movies I've ever watched! I have found myself thinking about this movie weeks and weeks later. Very inspiring and motivating. I love this movie!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    my tastes

    I have never enjoyed a movie such as this, i can't begin to express the satisfaction i get, i don't like black and whites but this is one of my favorite movies, it does something to me everytime i watch it, a sort of fulfilment. I am going to buy the dvd. yeah for me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Disappointing Transfer - Inspirational Movie!

    'The Song of Bernadette' is a film that by all accounts should distill into a religious pot boiler. And yet there is something haunting, awe inspiring and yes, even stirring about this tale of a child, Bernadette Soubirous (Jennifer Jones) who, after witnessing visions of the Virgin Mary, begins to have miracles performed in the small French town of Lourdes. Jones is angelic, tenderly conveying the warmth, innocence and poignancy of someone truly touched by the hand of God. Anne Revere is cast as Bernadette¿s non-believer mother. Vincent Price turns in a wicked performance as the town magistrate who, weary that Bernadette¿s claims will insight religious fervor, threatens the child with imprisonment unless she ceases with her visions. Charles Bickford and Gladys Cooper give outstanding performances as the skeptical priest and nun who come to believe that Bernadette is divinely inspired. Truly, this is a film that requires a whole box of Kleenex to get through. It is haunting, stirring and overall life affirming. However, the transfer from Fox is poor, even though it improves upon previous VHS and Laserdisc versions. Though the B&W picture exhibits sharpness and better balancing of the gray scale the image is digitally harsh and suffers from an excessive amount of film grain. Aliasing and shimmering of fine details is evident throughout. Pixelization is another down fall. The audio has been cleaned up and is well presented. Extras include a Jennifer Jones Biography, an audio commentary, a Movietones trailer, some Fox promotional stuff for other movies in their classic series, a restoration film to video comparison that proves that at least some work was done on the transfer before sending it out to DVD and this film's original theatrical trailer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Veronica.....26// Great movie!

    I first saw Song of Bernadette as a child and was captavated by this movie. This movie is for people of all ages whether you believe or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    like you

    i made this song myself i cant sing very good but i love to write sonds

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2001

    A sweet inspirational movie.

    The Song of Bernadette, starring Jennifer Jones, is an inspirational movie for people of all faiths. I love Lee J. Cobbs explaination, ''For those who believe, no explanation is needed. For those who don't, no explanation is possible''.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews