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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about…™ Desire – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
Simply going by the title, Desire could easily have been just another in a line of 1930s Paramount romantic potboilers.

But it isn't. And the working title, The Necklace, might not have helped either.

What we have in Desire, is the cinematic equivalent of a 12 or 16-cylinder classic out of Detroit and environs - and running on all of those cylinders.

Let's consider the attachments.

Marlene Dietrich, arriving in the U.S. in 1930, around the time of the release of The Blue Angel, directed in Germany by Josef von Sternberg.

And following immediately with her director (at Paramount) for Morocco, and an extraordinary string of films together into 1935.

There's the connection between Ernst Lubitsch, another Paramount stalwart, as producer of Desire, with Frank Borzage at the helm, creating a Borzage film - not a Lubitsch film, as noted by the superb commentary from Samm Deighan.

With undertones of Oliver Twist, the film concerns a crew of grifters (not doing either the long or the short con, but a more medium con) getting mixed up with an innocent Detroit auto designer, played superbly by Gary Cooper (another Paramount contract player), along with whom she starred in her first American production in 1930.

The film was magnificently photographed by Charles Lang, and reproduced by Universal for Kino, from a quality intermediate element, with a comfortable grain structure, requisite shadow detail and superb blacks.

Mr. Lang should be known to readers as one of the top Paramount DPs in the 1930s and '40s, with occasional pairing with other production entities. He had previously worked with Mr. Cooper for the 1932 A Farewell to Arms. And would again for Peter Ibbetson, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer and Souls at Sea.

His later work included The Uninvited, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Big Heat, Sabrina, The Man from Laramie, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Some Like it Hot, The Magnificent Seven, One-Eyed Jacks, How the West Was Won and Charade - you get the idea...

A bit of wear remains in occasional extremely fine vertical scratches that never become a problem.

It's one of the discs that gives the impression of glowing black and white.

Supporting the leads are John Halliday, William Frawley (whose career began in 1916, and not on I Love Lucy), Earnest Cossart, Akim Tamiroff, and Alan Mobray.

Make note of the main title credit sequence.

Desire is one of the magical productions that needs to be experienced.

Essential viewing.

Image – 4

Audio – 4.25

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes

Highly Recommended


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