Carrie Studio: Paramount Year: 1952 Rated: NR Length: 121 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) Subtitles: English Closed Captioned Special Features: Restored "Flophouse" scene Estimated Street Price: $20, USD Release Date: January 18, 2005 William Wyler’s 1952 Carrie brings together a strong, dramatic story (from Theodore Dreiser’s novel “Sister Carrie”), strong direction by Wyler, and an incredible performance (against type) by Laurence Olivier, resulting in an unforgettable dramatic film experience. Carrie (Jennifer Jones) is a farm girl around the early 20th century, who moves to Chicago to make it on her own. On the train ride she meets an interesting (and yet, disturbing) traveling salesman by the name of Charles Drouet (Eddie Albert, in a wonderfully eccentric role). Refusing Drouet’s pickup lines, Carrie gets off at her stop where she will stay with relatives and work a menial job in a shoe factory. In her first week at the factory, Carrie is injured by machinery and fired from her job. Lacking familial support and in desperation, she seeks out Drouet, hoping he would be able to help her find a job. Drouet doesn’t have a job for her, but gives her a loan of $10 (a considerable amount of money at the time) and invites her to an upscale restaurant for dinner. If you recall the time period, this would have been considered objectionable behavior for the time. Still, Carrie accepts the invitation, agreeing to meet Drouet that night. When the time arrives for the meeting, Carrie, not knowing any better, enters the establishment, unescorted, through the bar - to the jeers of several menfolk. The charming, distinguished restaurant manager, George Hurstwood (Laurence Olivier) assists young Carrie, and helps her find the proper way into the restaurant - where she finds she cannot be seated without a gentleman escort. As Carrie begins to feel it was all a mistake, Mr. Hurstwood intervenes, questioning the young lady about her escort and his whereabouts. As she tries to leave, Drouet arrives, and they are seated. Carrie tries, repeatedly, to return the $10. I relate all of this narrative to give you a feel (if you haven’t seen the film) for the time period and social more of the time. The film is steeped in period texture, and that makes the events that follow all the more shocking. Dreiser’s novel almost wasn’t published because it was “too immoral.” Additionally, a scene late in the film was deleted before theatrical presentation in the U.S., because it was immoral and controversial. Carrie eventually has an affair with Drouet, followed by an affair with the married Hurstwood. The viewer feels that Carrie’s affair with Hurstwood is true love whereas Hurstwood’s marriage is one of convenience, and has long since staled. Yet we, the viewers, can see the train wreck that is to come. Hurstwood goes from riches to rags (the character transformation is incredible, yet entirely believable) due to his illicit affair. At the same time, Carrie’s luck changes for the better. Can their relationship endure this role reversal? This film features one of the finest performances of Olivier’s career, as well as strong and credible performances by Jones and Albert. The period detail is incredible under Wyler’s direction - and you become so engrossed in the characters that you can’t take your eyes off the screen. Carrie is a wonderful classic. This DVD version restores the scene that was cut from the film. The flophouse scene (chapter 16) is fully restored, here. The Transfer This is a fullscreen transfer, closely preserving the original aspect ratio of the film. It seems as if the print was pieced together from a few different surviving elements. There are occasional mild jump cuts, where not only is there a quick jump, but there may also be changes in cropping, magnification, grain, and other print characteristics. This is only mildly jarring in a couple of spots. The print ranges in quality - some scenes are quite clean and feature fine grain, while others are dirtier and grainier. Black levels are solid, with good preservation of details in the shadows. Unfortunately, many of the highlights have blown detail. I have no idea if the loss of highlight detail was present on the source, or if it is a result of the transfer. Sharpness also varies, depending on the source elements. Most often, the image is sharp and detailed, but there are segments that appear softer. Overall, the image quality gets a “good” rating, with some scenes “very good” and just a few that rate as “fair.” Certainly, there is nothing that I find unacceptable for a film of this age. The audio is monaural. Dialog is consistently clear and intelligible, and music sounds acceptable in frequency response. You won’t hear any driving bass response, which isn’t unexpected for a film of the period. Overall, the monaural track is a good representation of the original soundtrack. Special Features There are no special features, however, the film does feature a restored scene (chapter 16), reintegrated into the film. Final Thoughts An wonderful drama with an absolutely riveting performance by Laurence Olivier, Carrie is offered up with a decent (if imperfect) transfer. The price is right - this one is a “must buy” for classic film fans. Recommended.