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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Rose Tattoo (1 Viewer)

Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000

The Rose Tattoo

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1955

Rated: NR

Length: 116 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English Mono

English subtitles; Closed Captioned in English

Special Features: None

SRP: $14.99 USD

Release Date: September 21, 2004

This Tennessee William's tragicomedy has one thing strongly in its favor, and that is the knockout performance by Anna Magnani.

Magnani plays Sarafina Delle Rose, a Sicilian-American who loses her beloved husband in a traffic accident. After her tragic loss, she retreats into a serious depression, unable to face the world around her. She becomes a recluse, and she becomes the subject of gossip around the town. One of the subjects of the gossip is the rumor that Sarafina’s husband had had a long lasting affair with another woman in town.

Sarafina begs her priest to tell her if her deceased husband ever confessed to the adulterous relationship. When the priest refuses, Sarafina completely loses control of herself in public. It is here that she first meets Alvaro, (Burt Lancaster) who takes her home and cares for her in her depressed state.

Alvaro is looking for a woman, and he makes that known. Sarafina, having not yet let go of her husband’s memory, finds that many of the qualities she loved about her husband are shared by Alvaro. She remains resistant to a relationship, but Alvaro is endearing and persistent.

When Tennessee William's wrote The Rose Tattoo, he did so with one actress in mind. Anna Magnani proved William's’ sense of casting correct, since her bravura performance earned an Oscar. It is her performance alone that carries the film. Burt Lancaster is effective enough in his role, but is easily outperformed by Magnani.

The film was directed by Daniel Mann. It won Oscars for Actress in a Leading Role, Cinematography, and Art Direction.

The Rose Tattoo is presented in an anamorphically enhanced aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

The high contrast image provides deep, inky blacks, but is slightly lacking in shadow detail. Whites are bright and never bloom. There appears to be a bit of high frequency filtering of the image, since finer detail is a bit lacking. There are also minor sharpening artifacts (halos) that are visible from time to time throughout the film. It isn’t a total loss, as the image is still pretty good. Owners of large screens will be somewhat disappointed in the processing of this print, however.

For its age, the print is in fine shape, exhibiting only a very small (but acceptable) amount of dust and scratches. In this respect, the print quality is one of the best classics from this era of Paramount’s vaults to hit DVD recently.

So there’s a bit of give and take, here. An excellent print that is over processed make this a fair transfer that many people will think looks just fine. The more discriminating viewer, or those watching on a large screen, will find this transfer a bit lacking.

There is one soundtrack available on this disc, a Dolby Digital English Mono track, in two channels. The track seems to accurately represent the source elements, showing the limitations of the recordings of the time.

There is little or no hiss in the audio; no snaps, crackles or pops. Frequency response is less than stellar, but being a dialog driven film, extreme frequencies are not needed.

The soundtrack is adequate, and is what one would expect from the source.

Final Thoughts
The Rose Tattoo is an engrossing human drama with excellent performances from Anna Magnani and Burt Lancaster. Only a slight over processing and sharpening of the image gives me pause to give this a high recommendation. Still, on the strength of the film, this DVD is recommended.


Supporting Actor
Apr 23, 2002
Wonderful review.
I"m not as familiar with the stage version of this,
but I'm sure, like most of Tennessee William's plays,
this had to have been watered down a bit for the sreen.

Still, if you've never seen Anna Magnani,
you must see this film.
Her performance is still fresh and natural.

James Pfann

Stunt Coordinator
Jan 29, 2002
Thanks for the review. I've been waiting on this one.

This and La Dolce Vita for me this week. :emoji_thumbsup:

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