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Press Release Criterion Press Release: The Story of Temple Drake (Blu-ray)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    3Y78U3wFkBlyFGe5Gdirhu5m6DaIAI_large.

    Loosely adapted from William Faulkner’s controversial novel Sanctuary, this notorious pre-Code melodrama stars Miriam Hopkins as Temple Drake, the coquettish granddaughter of a respected small-town judge. When a boozehound date strands her at a bootleggers’ hideout, Temple is subjected to an act of nightmarish sexual violence and plunged into a criminal underworld that threatens to swallow her up completely. Steeped in southern-gothic shadows by influential cinematographer Karl Struss and shot through with moral ambiguity, The Story of Temple Drake is a harrowing vision of sin and salvation that boasts an astonishing lead performance from the fiery Hopkins, whose passage through the stations of terror, trauma, and redemption is a true tour de force of screen acting.

    FILM INFO
    • Stephen Roberts
    • United States
    • 1933
    • 71 minutes
    • Black & White
    • 1.33:1
    • English
    • Spine #1006

      SPECIAL FEATURES
      • High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
      • New program featuring a conversation between cinematographer John Bailey and Matt Severson, director of the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, about the film’s visual style, along with archival materials relating to its production
      • New program with critic Imogen Sara Smith about the complexity of the film and its central performance by Miriam Hopkins
      • New interview with critic Mick LaSalle about the film, censorship, and the Production Code
      • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien
      Cover based on an original poster

      December 3, 2019
     
  2. Message #2 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
    Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

     
  3. Message #3 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Oh, wow!!!

    THIS is sure a blast out of left field. I never expected to see a legitimate release of this in any format as it's never even been released on VHS and unless I've missed something, it has been virtually unseen for years. The was an old bootleg travelling around back in the day that (like many other 1920's/1930's Paramount titles) was terrible quality (um...so I've heard) and taken from an old MCA 16mm TV print. Which means it HAS been shown on TV at some point, but not (I don't believe) in recent memory

    We always talk about Mae West leading directly to the Catholic Legion of Decency and the "re-toothed" production code of 1934 but this movie was right on the cusp of it all and was on a lot of "outrage" lists at the time.

    Based on William Faulkner's SANCTUARY, it was considered SO outrageous that Paramount was forbidden use the original title. It's interesting that the things that made it so outrageous in 1933 are AGAIN the same things that make it outrageous in 2019

    It's been awhile so I may have some of the details wrong but, in a nutshell
    Miriam Hopkins plays a wealthy southern belle (granddaughter of a judge) who gets kidnapped by some bootleggers. She's an object of lust for everyone in the gang and is ultimately raped by the leader (who, in the book, famously uses a corn cob to do the deed.) To make a long story short, she winds up loving her depravity and degradation so much that it transforms her. She falls in love/lust with the abusive gangster, leaves her respectable life behind and joins the gangster for a life crime and, one has to assume, more off screen vegetables before getting a serious case of buyer's remorse. You gotta love a nice, light Faulkner story

    After the Breen Office went into full force in the summer of 1934, they took all of the movies the studios had made and determined their prospects for future re-release. They made a virtual "pile" of films that could be re-released as is, a pile of movies that could be re-released with cuts (think DR. JEKYLL, FRANKENSTEIN, KING KONG etc) and a third pile of movies that would never see the light of day while the code was in force. I don't have to tell you which one this was in.

    It was remade in 1961 under the original title and starred Lee Remick.

    I can't wait to see a decent version of this. What a great performance by Hopkins!
     
  4. Message #4 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    PMF

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    At first glance of this title - and having never heard of this film - I thought it might've been a live-animated vehicle for Shirley and Daffy; but, upon further inspection, it clearly is not. Nonetheless, Will Krupp has got me hooked.:thumbs-up-smiley:
     
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  5. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

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    The TCM Classic Film Festival ran a flawless print of this a few years ago and I took a chance on it as I knew nothing about it. Highly recommended !
     
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  6. Camps

    Camps Supporting Actor

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    A great pre-Code. Highly recommended to any fans of the era.
     
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  7. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

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    It's terrific, with gorgeous Germanic lighting and photography! The superb restoration has actually been on TCM a couple of times in the past few years, but I'll greedily pick up the blu-ray with pleasure.
     
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  8. Message #8 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2019
    bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    MoMA showed a glorious 35mm print in 1972 as part of their Paramount retrospective. It was screened for Miriam Hopkins (not publicly) and she died about a week later. Shock, maybe?;)
    Temple winds up in a
    whorehouse as part of her degradation.
    Popeye (or whatever Jack LaRue's name is in the film) i
    s impotent; thus the corncob.
    The cinematography is truly magnificent and Hopkins is admirable in the part.
    This film is in the same league as Baby Face in terms of leaving you gasping at its pre-Code boldness.
     
  9. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    While this indeed has been shown on TCM a few times during the past 2 years, I haven't seen it since MOMA screened what I believe may have been a nitrate print in 1972, and which Jose mentions in his post above. I didn't think dramatically or stylistically the film was all that wonderful (& the real shocking elements of the Faulkner source novel are only referred to visually or cloaked in deep shadow so you have to have read the novel to have any idea what is going on) but in terms of Karl Struss' cinematography the film is a knockout (& yes, very influenced by German silent cinema, especially the night scenes that appear to use Jack la Rue's lit cigarette as a light source) to the extent I still remember the way the film looked almost fifty years later + it's a lot of fun, and both Miriam Hopkins and Jack la Rue are very game as well as entertaining. So yes, I'll be buying this just to see if my memory is correct.
     
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  10. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    I wouldn't compare TEMPLE DRAKE with BABY FACE. BABY FACE which, in addition to what Jose calls "its pre-code boldness" is a very strong character study of a specific woman and the choices she makes and how she changes. It's also a much better film, in my opinion, which holds up today not so much for its shock value as its craft and superior construction, as well as its acting which is superb.

    TEMPLE DRAKE, on the other hand, is kind of one note, like a Tex Avery cartoon: RED HOT CINDERELLA taken to the nth degree. (btw, this is not a criticism but an analysis of the differences between the two films. I love both TEMPLE DRAKE & BABY FACE, but I think they're very different.)

    I don't recall there being much character development in TEMPLE DRAKE, though Ms. Hopkins, is, of course, wonderful to watch. My recollection is that the characters are all stereotypes involved in sexually compromising blackout sketches, in which a lot is suggested but nothing is really seen; like crossing NO ORCHARDS FOR MISS BLANDISH with A FLEA IN HER EAR. To quote Pauline Kael on MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (& this is from memory, so if a few words are wrong I apologize) "The satire never gets off the ground, but the ground is so stuffed with corn, dirt and sexual innuendo, it's fairly aromatic." One could say the same about TEMPLE DRAKE, except of course, it's pre-code, so there's a lot more dirt, sexual innuendo, and corn so that the mix almost boils over.

    The film is great fun and so brilliantly photographed that for fleeting moments it almost seems like high art, but it's not. Is it worth owning and watching? Absolutely.

    Watching TEMPLE DRAKE is similar to eating one of those ice cream cones that have dozens of chocolate pieces and nuts and dried fruit and whipped cream and other sweet stuff all crammed together. It's not especially artfully done, but it tastes great so who cares!

    I just didn't want anyone to be misled into thinking this was a great unseen work of art. To paraphrase Hitchcock, it's a great unseen slice of cake.
     
  11. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

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    I have dug up the program notes for TCM's Temple Drake screening and Lark144 appears to be correct that the MOMA presentation was a nitrate print.

    "One of the first things the new Hays office demanded was that THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE be pulled from release. Kept off the screen by censors for decades, the film was denied reappraisal because for years it existed only on nitrate stock. "

    As I recall, the restoration team who introduced the film said they thought it was pretty much a lost film and discovered the original materials in the vaults at 20th Century Fox ( who made the remake ), which they thought was odd as it was a Paramount film. I was surprised they didn't seem to know that in those days, studios who bought remake rights usually picked up the earlier film versions' rights as well. (For example, MGM owns the rights to Paramount's earlier version of Dr. Jeykll which they picked up when they remade it with Spencer Tracy.)
     
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  12. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    Which is controlled by Warner’s now.
     
  13. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I can't wait for this!

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Supporting Actor

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    It's an extremely sordid movie.

    Great cinematography, and Hopkins in fine form.

    But really ugly, sordid tale. Downright unpleasant. If I were a movie-goer in 1933, I think I'd go to the other moviehouse across town, showing a Wheeler and Woolsey film. "Drake" definitely caused a firestorm. I have several original movie mags from back then, and recall some articles covering its controversy, alongside the similarly branded "I'm No Angel." The film also supposedly hurt Jack LaRue's career, playing such a vividly repellent character.
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I've never seen it, but I certainly want to!
     
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  16. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    This is an essential release and I will definitely purchase it, especially since IMO the extras will be crucial to the film's enjoyment.

    However as noted above, unlike the uncut Baby Face, which was revelatory not just for the restored scenes but also the performance of the luminous Theresa Harris, Temple Drake is far from a masterpiece. The era's new restrictions did not help it either. If I recall correctly, some of Drake's risque dialogue was clumsily "covered" by loud claps of thunder.
     
  17. Message #16 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Mark, this may be one of the "most fun" posts I've seen all year! Thank you :P
     
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  18. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    I'm telling your priest!! ;)
     
  19. Message #18 of 30 Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
    lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    Thank you, Will. I wasn't trying to be entertaining. I was just rummaging around my addled brain for memories of how I reacted to the film. It was absolutely gorgeous to watch. I must say all the many phallic objects surrounding Ms. Hopkins were beautifully lit. A prior poster thought the film was "sordid" whereas I thought it was a hoot because it was trying so hard to be sordid, and at the same time, tiptoeing around the edges of sordidness with Carravagesque lighting that made every shot seem like it belonged in one of those heavy books with gilt covers they have in glass cases at Rizzoli's. It shouldn't have worked at all, and yet somehow it did, in a very strange but kind of successful mix of the bad and the beautiful, the high and the sober and the raw and the cooked. I can't wait until December.
     
  20. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    I'd forgotten about that thunder, which seemed imported from some Universal horror by way of the Marx Brothers.
     
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  21. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Well, being accidentally and effortlessly entertaining is an enviable quality not many people can pull off.

    Now I shall have to destroy you! :(
     
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