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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I finally had the opportunity to watch The Queen of Spades. I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I know and like the story it is based on and I was curious to see how it was done; the print I saw was not in very good shape but it was watchable. I would like to see a proper release of this on DVD – by Criterion or Kino - especially considering the brilliant design and production.

    It is outstandingly well done and combines period drama, fantasy, character study and a slight suggestion of horror. Edith Evans plays the ancient countess and Anton Walbrook plays the young captain. They are so effective that their one scene together has enough resonance to dominate the rest of the film, although there is almost no action and little dialogue. The cast also includes Ronald Howard – son of Leslie, which I didn’t know – as well as a beautiful actress who is new to me: Yvonne Mitchell.

    It is the production that is really stunning. The effects are achieved almost entirely through brilliant design, light, shadow, wind effects, and the talent of the cast. The creation of a freezing night in Russia is the most convincing winter night I have seen on film.

    The talent includes: Director: Thorold Dickinson; Cinematography: Otto Heller; Film Editor: Hazel Wilkinson; Art Direction: William Kellner; Music: Geroges Auric.

    In a film like this the sound and art departments are vital and should all receive high praise.

    I don’t know how well known this is in Britain. Here is it almost unknown. I highly recommend it.
    Last edited by Nick Dando; 12-05-12 at 08:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR View Post
    I finally had the opportunity to watch The Queen of Spades. I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I know and like the story it is based on and I was curious to see how it was done; the print I saw was not in very good shape but it was watchable. I would like to see a proper release of this on DVD – by Criterion or Kino - especially considering the brilliant design and production.
    There's a British release. The notes make a lot of it being Edith Evans' first film because, of course, silents don't count

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Ireland Nimuae's Avatar
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    I saw this years ago on TV. It is an excellent film based on a short story by Pushkin. There have been many tellings of the story - including a Tchaikovsky Opera - but I think this is only the second film version. Yvonne Mitchell was very beautiful and died quite young - early 60s I think.

    Thanks for the link Captain Waggett - I am off to Amazon !

  4. #4
    Senior Member dpgmel's Avatar
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    A fabulous film that IMHO is sadly overlooked here because its considered " arty " , incredibly atmospheric the only comparable British film I can think of is Corridor of Mirrors.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Australia wadsy's Avatar
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    This is a great film! It was shown here on TV last year (as was "Corridor Of Mirrors"). One of my favourites!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    I saw it at the NFT a few years ago with Michael Medwin introducing though all I can remember is that he scorned the use of a mike ('Projection, old boy')

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    I seem to recall that wonderfully fruity-voiced actor Valentine Dyall is dubbed for some reason.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: Ireland Nimuae's Avatar
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    I remember Valentine Dyle from BBC Home Service days - he used to introduce a series named "The Man in Black" ! If I was very good during the day - all day - I was allowed to stay up late and listen. Didn't happen often !

  9. #9
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lovell View Post
    I seem to recall that wonderfully fruity-voiced actor Valentine Dyall is dubbed for some reason.
    Was he? The IMDb Trivia pages for the film do mention various people who were dubbed, but don't give any reason as to why they were dubbed

    Steve

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    I recall it making a big impression on me when it was on the telly. Right up there with my first viewing of "Rembrandt".

    I don't remember it as being "arty" but rather, incredibly effective.

    I don't suppose any of the Poker websites will sponsor it, if it does come back on the box....

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    I don't suppose any of the Poker websites will sponsor it, if it does come back on the box....


    It does have to be said though, that Herr Walbrook looks very odd without his 'tache

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nimuae View Post
    I remember Valentine Dyle from BBC Home Service days - he used to introduce a series named "The Man in Black" ! If I was very good during the day - all day - I was allowed to stay up late and listen. Didn't happen often !
    In a pub quiz some years ago, we had to answer "who was the Man in Black?". I confidently insisted we say "Valentine Dyall", but was judged wrong, as "Johnny Cash" was the correct answer. This was hotly disputed, but we didn't get the point.

  13. #13
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lovell View Post
    In a pub quiz some years ago, we had to answer "who was the Man in Black?". I confidently insisted we say "Valentine Dyall", but was judged wrong, as "Johnny Cash" was the correct answer. This was hotly disputed, but we didn't get the point.
    Are you sure that wasn't on The Weakest Link?
    I saw Anne Robinson tell people they were wrong when they really gave the correct answer (or a correct answer) but it wasn't the answer that she had on her card

    Steve

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: UK slartybarty's Avatar
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    I prefer the word "highbrow" to "arty" when describing a movie that was considered to be a bit too difficult for the general public.
    Anything that was based on classic literature had a bumpy ride in those days,especially when the subject matter was considered to be depressing or pessimistic.(It has not changed too much today either)
    Therefore a great film such as this stood little or no chance at the box-office.It's a miracle it was made at all.
    At least it did not suffer the same treatment as Dickinson's other great classic - the original "Gaslight" - which until recently was considered to be lost after MGM
    decided to destroy all the prints in the 40's to protect their re-make.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: Scotland Gerald Lovell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slartybarty View Post
    At least it did not suffer the same treatment as Dickinson's other great classic - the original "Gaslight" - which until recently was considered to be lost after MGM
    decided to destroy all the prints in the 40's to protect their re-make.
    MGM seems to have had a habit of doing that, as they acquired the rights to Paramount's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Oscar-winning Fredric March so they could "protect" their remake with Spencer Tracy. Luckily, March's version has survived.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett View Post
    There's a British release. The notes make a lot of it being Edith Evans' first film because, of course, silents don't count
    Oh, thanks very much. And the price is quite reasonable. Until very recently the price for region 1 dvds and old videos of this were exceptionally high.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nimuae View Post
    I saw this years ago on TV. It is an excellent film based on a short story by Pushkin. There have been many tellings of the story - including a Tchaikovsky Opera - but I think this is only the second film version. Yvonne Mitchell was very beautiful and died quite young - early 60s I think.

    Thanks for the link Captain Waggett - I am off to Amazon !

    Quote Originally Posted by dpgmel View Post
    A fabulous film that IMHO is sadly overlooked here because its considered " arty " , incredibly atmospheric the only comparable British film I can think of is Corridor of Mirrors.


    Quote Originally Posted by wadsy View Post
    This is a great film! It was shown here on TV last year (as was "Corridor Of Mirrors"). One of my favourites!
    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    I recall it making a big impression on me when it was on the telly. Right up there with my first viewing of "Rembrandt".

    I don't remember it as being "arty" but rather, incredibly effective.

    I don't suppose any of the Poker websites will sponsor it, if it does come back on the box....
    Very nice to read of so many seeing this and giving positive reviews.

    Here it is released on a DVD with Dead of Night, which is well known and popular here - especially since it was released in a full version.

    I would think The Queen of Spades would have popular appeal as well - marvelous story, the direction keeps the sequence of events clear and the effects are outstandingly good.

    Perhaps TCM will start showing it. They run whole days of British films on a regular basis, from well known ones like Darling and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner to more obscure films from the 30s and 40s. This would fit in very well.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I will give this thread a new life; this is an outstandingly good film and worth seeing. It is also, along with The Innocents, a film that is genuinely haunting and achieves that through minimal effects.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    anyone interested in finding out more about this film , pick up the Darkside magazine - issue with the Night of the Demon illustration on the front.

    There's a very good informative article on this film, but should come with a "spoiler" warning, as it describes 2 key scenes in the film.

    I know of this film by reputation, but am ashamed to admit I've never seen it, now having read this article, this film it deserves to get a proper release, and be out in the pubic domain.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: England phil's Avatar
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    I've probably watched it half a dozen times since it's dvd relesse. Wonderfully atmospheric and dreamlike, unlike anything else.

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