In August, Criterion Brings Rock Hudson, Jack Benny, Madhabi Mukherjee, and More to Blu-ray

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Few distributors do as much for classic and contemporary cinema as The Criterion Collection does in their efforts to preserve important films and bring them into a new generation of media. Each month The Criterion Collection release four to six films on DVD and Blu-ray complete with a healthy dose of specially created extras highlighting the filmmakers, the historical context of the film, or its restoration. In August, The Criterion Collection releases John Frankenheimer's thriller Seconds starring Rock Hudson, Ernst Lubitsch's Jack Benny and Carole Lombard comedy To Be or Not to Be, Satyajit Ray's Charulata and The Big City, and Max Ophuls's romance The Earrings of Madame de.... For more information on all the releases, read on.

earrings_madame_bluThe Earrings of Madame de...

The most cherished work from French master Max Ophuls (La ronde), The Earrings of Madame de... is a profoundly emotional, cinematographically adventurous tale of deceptive opulence and tragic romance. When an aristocratic woman known only as Madame de (Le plaisir’s extraordinary Danielle Darrieux) sells a pair of earrings given to her by her husband (Gaslight’s Charles Boyer) in order to pay a debt, she sets off a chain reaction of financial and carnal consequences that can end only in despair. Ophuls’s adaptation of Louise de Vilmorin’s incisive fin de siècle novel employs the elegant and precise camera work for which the director is so justly renowned, to ravishing effect.

1953 • 100 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• Restored high-definition digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary featuring film scholars Susan White and Gaylyn Studlar
• Introduction by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson
• Interviews with director Max Ophuls’s collaborators Alan Jessua, Marc Frédérix, and Annette Wademant
• Visual essay by film scholar Tag Gallagher
• Archival interview with novelist Louise de Vilmorin on Ophuls’s adaptation of her story
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell, an excerpt from costume designer Georges Annenkov’s 1962 book Max Ophuls, and the 1951 source novel by Vilmorin, Madame de

SRP - $39.95

seconds_bluSeconds

Rock Hudson (All That Heaven Allows) is a revelation in this sinister, science-fiction-inflected dispatch from the fractured 1960s. Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), concerns a middle-aged businessman dissatisfied with his suburban existence, who elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life. Starting over in America, however, is not as easy as it sounds. This paranoiac symphony of canted camera angles (courtesy of famed cinematographer James Wong Howe), fragmented editing, and layered sound design is a remarkably risk-taking Hollywood film that ranks high on the list of its legendary director’s major achievements.

1966 • 107 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.75:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary featuring director John Frankenheimer
• Actor Alec Baldwin on Frankenheimer and Seconds
• New program on the making of Seconds, featuring interviews with Evans Frankenheimer, the director’s widow, and actor Salome Jens
• Interview with Frankenheimer from 1971
• New visual essay by film scholars R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance
• PLUS: An essay by critic David Sterritt

SRP - $39.95

big_city_bluThe Big City

The Big City (Mahanagar), set in mid-1950s Calcutta and directed by the great Satyajit Ray (The Music Room), follows the personal triumphs and frustrations of Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), who decides, despite the initial protests of her bank-clerk husband, to take a job to help support their family. With remarkable sensitivity and attention to the details of everyday working-class life, Ray gradually builds a powerful human drama that is at once a hopeful morality tale and a commentary on the identity of the contemporary Indian woman.

1963 • 135 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Bengali with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview with actor Madhabi Mukherjee
Satyajit Ray and the Modern Woman, a new interview program featuring Ray historian Suranjan Ganguly
The Coward (1965), a feature film directed by Ray that also addresses modern female identity and stars Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Chandak Sengoopta and an interview with Ray from the 1980s by his biographer Andrew Robinson

SRP - $39.95

charulata_bluCharulata

This film about a woman’s artistic and romantic yearning by Satyajit Ray (The Music Room) is set in late nineteenth-century, pre-independence India. It takes place in the gracious home of a liberal-minded, workaholic newspaper editor and his lonely, stifled wife, Charulata (The Big City’s Madhabi Mukherjee), whose exquisitely composed features mask a burning creativity. When her husband’s poet cousin comes to stay with them, Charulata finds herself both inspired by him to pursue her own writing and dangerously drawn to him physically. Based on a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is a work of subtle textures, a delicate tale of a marriage in jeopardy and a woman taking the first steps toward establishing her own voice.

1964 • 118 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Bengali with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview program with actors Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee
Adapting Tagore, a new interview program featuring Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and Bengali literature historian Supriya Chaudhuri
• Archival audio interview with director Satyajit Ray by film historian Gideon Bachmann
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp and a 1980s interview with Ray by his biographer Andrew Robinson

SRP - $39.95

tobenotbe_bluTo Be or Not To Be

As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch (Trouble in Paradise) stars Jack Benny (The Jack Benny Program) and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey) as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become caught up in a dangerous spy plot. To Be or Not to Be is a Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, which went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II. Lubitsch manages to brilliantly balance political satire, romance, slapstick, and urgent wartime suspense in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled.

1942 • 99 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.37:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New, restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New audio commentary featuring film historian David Kalat
Lubitsch le patron, a 2010 French documentary on director Ernst Lubitsch’s career
• Two episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, a radio anthology series: Variety(1940), starring Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert, and Lubitsch, and To Be or Not to Be (1942), an adaptation of the film, starring William Powell, Diana Lewis, and Sig Ruman
• Trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien
• More!

SRP - $39.95

Jul
24
2013
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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