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Discussion in 'DVD' started by oscar_merkx, Mar 22, 2006.
This came out onmonday in the UK, are there any reviews out there ?
"Success in movies depends on three things; story, story and story." Darryl F. Zanuck.
Eureka's R2 of The Prisoner of Shark Island is another excellent presentation from the 'Masters of Cinema' series, molded, unashamedly, on the formula which has made Criterion one of the most sought after, and respected, labels in the DVD world, and well up to those standards.
It's a beautiful companion piece to Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln, just out on the Criterion label in R1. This Eureka disc boasts a transfer as impressive, even if a quick examination shows a deal of jumping about on the sprockets (it's slight, don't worry), but it is very clean and detailed if a little dark. But then again that probably has much to do with production design - this is a, at times, black, bleak tale of a terrible injustice in the mad whirpool of anger that followed Lincoln's assassination at - aptly enough - Ford's theatre in 1865.
The excellent Warner Baxter plays Dr. Samuel Mudd, the man who unwittingly treated John Wilkes Booth for the broken leg he suffered when he leaped to the stage of the Ford theatre, his bullet having killed the man many still think of as the greatest American that ever lived. John Carradine is the supremely sadistic gaoler of Mudd, Ernest Whitman Mudd's faithful servent who follows his master into the hell of Shark Island.
Zanuck certainly got his story, told by that masterful chronicler of America, John Ford, in only the way he can. It's a film full of wonderful touches, two of which light the prologue - Lincoln calling on a crowd who gather outside his window with a band to celebrate Civil War victory to play 'Dixie', a favourite tune of his, and the veil drawn over the dead President's face, a slow out of focus fade as the Great Emancipator, looking for all the world like his famous Washington statue, now belongs to the ages.
Scott Eyman delivers a commentary, which I've only dipped into for a couple of minutes, but which sounds interesting and informative, David Ehrenstein gives a straight to camera appreciation, which concentrates heavily on the place of African-Americans on film, and of course, in this film, and he advises us, wisely, to try and see the film in the context of the period. Of an America still riven by the war that divided it 80 years previously, of an America that still employed the practice of 'Jim Crow', a system of apartheid that meant the last shots of the war that ended slavery, only marked the start of a long and bloody fight for civil rights.
The set includes a great 24 page booklet with an essay on 'Shark Island' from Lindsay Anderson, the transcript of a fascinating 1955 interview with the notoriously hard to interview Ford, plus contemporary reviews and reproductions of print publicity for the film.
It's Ford heaven and a must for, not only fans of Pappy, but anyone who appreciates quality film-making.
Only thing to do now is find it
Its available at play.com , just ordered it myself