The Queen Of Spades

The Queen Of Spades

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Amber Wilkinson's film review of The Queen Of Spades

Congratulations are due to Optimum Releasing for yet again coming up with the goods when it comes to the release of an older film. The restored version of the film looks and sounds great and the extras genuinely add to the experience.

The film is briefly introduced by one of its biggest fans, director Martin Scorsese. He talks about its haunting moments and dubs it "one of the few real classics of supernatural cinema".

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More praise is heaped on the film by academic Philip Horne, who is eminently qualified to talk on the subject having co-edited the book Thorold Dickinson: A World Of Film. It's true that he isn't the most dynamic of hosts and his delivery is a little hesitant, but he can't be faulted in terms of content. Although some of what he says can be heard in more detail elsewhere in the extras, he provides an informative and succinct overview, both of the film itself and the point at which it falls in Dickinson's career. Revelations about Dickinson's earlier film Gaslight, are particularly fascinating.

There are also two audio pieces from the director himself. The first, an 18-minute interview from 1951 with Ronald Shields, sees the director quizzed about the budgetary constraints of the film as well as addressing some of the criticisms around at the time - such as the flamboyant performance of Anton Walbrook in the central role.

He insists that limitations are "tremendously valuable because they stimulate the imagination", before going on to chat about some of them, including the fact that the studios in which the film were shot and the countess's coat so large, that they could only show one shot of Edith Evans walking in it and had to come up with ingenious ways of suggesting its movement at other times. As for Walbrook's larger-than-life performance, he explains why he decided to ditch the famous British stiff upper lip in favour of "all out flamboyance".

The second audio clip is of Dickinson introducing the film in 1968. It is again peppered with titbits about the making of the film includes, among other gems, the admission that the entire (and impressive) cathedral scene was shot with only one scenery flat and a single column, which had to be moved around between shots to give the impression of space. The trailer completes the thoroughly entertaining package.

Reviewed on: 15 Jan 2010
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The Queen Of Spades packshot
An ambitious captain is determined to learn the secret of a countess's wealth.
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Product Code: OPTD1684

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.33:1

Sound: Mono

Extras: An analysis by Philip Horne, 1951 Thorold Dickinson interview about The Queen Of Sppades at hte British Federation of Film Societies, 1968 Thorold Dickinson introduces the film


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