The Revolt Of Mamie Stover Blu-ray Review (Twilight Time)

Jane Russell headlines as the titular character in this CinemaScope classic 4 Stars

Noted Hollywood director Raoul Walsh helms this 1956 CinemaScope classic, which stars Jane Russell in the title role as a former prostitute turned nightclub hostess. This character study, which features an unusually strong female lead, includes some beautiful location footage shot in Hawaii along with some engaging melodrama.

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)
Released: 22 Jun 1956
Rated: APPROVED
Runtime: 92 min
Director: Raoul Walsh
Genre: Drama
Cast: Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Joan Leslie, Agnes Moorehead
Writer(s): Sydney Boehm (screenplay by), William Bradford Huie (from the novel by)
Plot: Set in the early '40s, a San Francisco prostitute is run out of town just as the second World War has begun to intensify. Mamie settles down in Hawaii, hoping to start a new life. Though ...
IMDB rating: 6.6
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Fox
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Clear Keep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 07/17/2018
MSRP: $29.95

The Production: 3.5/5

Raoul Walsh was a great director of actors, particularly when it came to characters finding themselves at a crossroads or who have already found their way over to the wrong side of the tracks. His direction was rarely meant to sensationalize or moralize, but rather, would put the audience in the shoes of its characters until their choices no longer seemed controversial but necessary. In his best remembered films, these characters were often men; what makes The Revolt Of Mamie Stover so interesting is that Walsh applies all of those skills to present a female heroine as rich and complicated and interesting as any of his male protagonists.

As the film begins, it’s 1941 in San Francisco, and prostitute Mamie (an excellent Jane Russell) is being pressured by the local police to leave town immediately. She catches a boat to Honolulu, where she meets Jim Blair (Richard Egan), a writer who becomes interested in her. Though they share a shipboard romance of some kind, upon arriving in Hawaii, Jim reveals that he has a long term love interest living there, and he and Mamie end their affair. Through a connection from an old friend, Mamie winds up working as a hostess of sorts at an overpriced dance club frequently populated by off-duty Navy men. The cruel owner and her sadistic assistant (Agnes Moorehead and Michael Pate) enforce a strict set of rules for the girls that work for them, but as Mamie’s popularity among the clientele rises, she finds herself in a position of power. Meanwhile, Mamie has rekindled her relationship with Jim (despite it being against the rules for club employees), but everything changes when Pearl Harbor is attacked. Mamie is able to use the circumstances surrounding the U.S. entry into the war to amass a real estate empire and more control at the dance club, but it comes at the cost of putting a strain on her relationship with Jim, who ultimately is unable to fully accept a woman that does not need a man to provide for her.

As a film that dared to suggest that a woman could live a fulfilling life and succeed at business without the help of a man, The Revolt of Mamie Stover is ahead of its time. It subtly calls into question the values of its time by showing how a woman like Mamie is able to thrive without Jim there to hold her hand every step of the way, while showing that she is expected to give up that independence at the drop of a hat when Jim is ready for her. If Mamie’s beginnings as a prostitute might have been legally and morally questionable, the film makes clear that her work in the dance hall does not cross the same lines. While she uses her physical appeal and charm to sell overpriced, watered down drinks to lonely gentlemen, she no longer sells herself. More importantly, she sees this new role as a means to an end, a way to earn enough money to settle her obligations and put her on the path to true independence. Mamie is as big of a schemer and as single-handed in her pursuit of a good living as many of Walsh’s male protagonists. Is being an independent woman incompatible with being a romantic partner? Is it fair that a male actor engaging in similar practices – say, a Humphrey Bogart type – would be someone an audience would effortlessly identify with, while a female character doing the same would seem shocking? The film suggests that it was in 1956, but that it ought not to have been. The production code of the time dictated that Mamie should be punished in some way for her transgressions, but the film makes this far less heavy handed than it could have been.

Walsh handles all of this with a great sense of rhythm and pacing, moving the story along without it ever feeling rushed. Sydney Boehm’s screenplay (an adaptation of William Bradford Huie’s novel) does a good job of laying out the characters and scenarios but allowing actors space to bring them to life. Jane Russell owns the role and the screen, of course, but the supporting cast here is also excellent. Leo Tover’s CinemaScope photography, particularly of the Hawaiian locations, is never anything less than gorgeous, and he uses the wide frame to great effect. Hugo Friedhofer’s lush score is as much a treat to the ears as the visuals are to the eyes.

The Revolt of Mamie Stover can be seen as a film of its time, but like the best of Raoul Walsh’s films, lives more in the grey areas that remain relevant today. The questions the film raises had no easy answers in 1956 and are often still topics of debate today; if the specific plotting of the film seems more of the time that it is set in, the larger themes have a more timeless quality.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Revolt of Mamie Stover is presented on this Twilight Time disc in a brand new 4K transfer created by Twentieth Century Fox. Thought the packaging states the aspect ratio as being 2.35:1, the transfer appears a bit wider, and the IMDb (though not completely reliable) suggests the film is 2.55:1, which seems more accurate. (I did not break out the measuring tape to confirm.) Whatever the number is, the transfer itself looks spectacular. Color appears strong and unfaded, with both Russell’s red hair and the Hawaiian exteriors looking particularly beautiful. Sharpness and clarity is consistent with the look of CinemaScope lenses of the time period, which is to say, plenty sharp and plenty detailed, but perhaps ever so slightly less so than a more modern production might be. Film grain is unobtrusive and natural looking. Fox and Twilight Time have released some absolutely fantastic looking CinemaScope titles this year, and The Revolt of Mamie Stover belongs with the best of them.

Audio: 5/5

The Twilight Time disc presents two audio options, both in the lossless DTS-HD MA format: a 5.1 surround track and a 2.0 stereo track. The 5.1 option is the preferred choice here, as it preserves the film’s directional dialogue while also allowing Hugo Friedholer’s score to shine. Dialogue is well-recorded and easy to discern in the mix. There are no issues whatsoever with hiss, pops, crackle or any other age-related artifacts. Simply put, The Revolt of Mamie Stover sounds as good as it looks.

Special Features: 2/5

Isolated Music Track – Hugo Friedhofer’s wonderful score is presented in the lossless DTS-HD MA format.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:29, SD) – The trailer is cropped and severely faded, which makes for a striking contrast to the new transfer of the actual film.

Booklet – Julie Kirgo’s insightful essay is complemented with a series of production stills and a reproduction of the original poster.

Overall: 4/5

With its presentation of a strong female lead who has no qualms occupying the same grey areas that actors like Humphrey Bogart made a career out of, The Revolt of Mamie Stover is ahead of its time. Jane Russell excels in the title role, and director Raoul Walsh makes good use of a sturdy script, solid supporting cast and beautiful locations. This Twilight Time release, though light on extras, features a fantastic new 4K transfer which looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. For fans of Walsh, Russell and early CinemaScope, this is an easy title to recommend.

There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested in purchasing it should go to either www.twilighttimemovies.com or www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.

Published by

Josh Steinberg

editor,member

15 Comments

  1. Raoul Walsh was a good director of women and often obtained vivid portrayals from his actresses. It is notable that two Hollywood stars who were never taken seriously as actresses – Jane Russell and Virginia Mayo – surprised many people with their work in Raoul Walsh movies.

  2. I agree, Robin – Russell was absolutely fantastic in the movie. Her performance and the CinemaScope photography are probably the two things I found most striking about this particular film. She just owns the screen every moment she's on it.

  3. Mark-P

    The aspect ratio on the packaging is a misprint. I just measured a screencapture. It's 2.55:1 on the nose.

    Thanks Mark, I have updated the tech specs grid to 2.55:1.

    The transfer looks beautiful – it's one of the best looking Blu-rays of 2.55:1 color cinematography that I've seen.

  4. When I write these reviews, I first do them in a word processing software, and then copy and paste them into the HTF form for publication. But I've noticed that my word processor is over aggressive with the auto correct, and I did have to fight it a couple times – it wanted to make exactly that change!

  5. john a hunter

    Am awaiting my copy and your review Josh has made me very impatient!
    One of the best 2.55:1 transfers!

    I watched my disc a couple of weeks ago and am already planning a second viewing!

  6. I had always wanted to see this film. I first knew about it from a book about films shot in Hawaii, but for years I couldn't find it anywhere, so I read the novel it's based on. The title character is most likely based on an actual woman who lived in Hawaii during those years, Jean O'Hara. I don't know if it's available anywhere, but there was an excellent program first aired as a 3 part segment on the History Channel program "The XY Factor" focusing on the role sex played in WWII on three fronts: the Pacific, Europe and the Home Front. I believe it was also aired on A&E as Sex in World War II.

    The "Pacific" episode corresponded to the novel quite a bit and was really fascinating. Two of the interviewees on the program had written a book about how so many different people and races were mixing in Hawaii during the war years. So, not being able to find the film anywhere, I bought and read that book, too. It's called "The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii by Beth Bailey and David Farber."

    So, I had a lot of historical research in my head after the Hawaii film book, novel, documentary and history book, before I ever saw the film. On a cloudy Saturday, November 12, 2005, I was looking at movie listings, probably in the L.A. Weekly, and I happened to see that at the Egyptian Theater (American Cinematheque) that very evening, only a short time from when I saw the notice, they were airing a double feature of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes AND The Revolt of Mamie Stover!

    The only question for me was, did I want to see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes again? I'd seen it so many times. But it's not a long movie and it's very enjoyable and I had never seen it in a theater, so I hurried to make my way there for this unexpected double feature. I was going to see The Revolt of Mamie Stover at last!

    What I did not know until the Cinematheque host told us right before the Blondes screening was that JANE RUSSELL herself was in the house! She'd be doing a Q&A between the films, but was introduced beforehand…and she looked just like you'd want a noted Hollywood Movie Star to look like. She was made up to the nines and had on a sparkly green sequined dress and was greeted with a long standing ovation as she was escorted to her seat where she stayed to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!

    So, after the film and the Q&A, I'd say 75% of the audience left! So I got to move to a really great seat and enjoy my first viewing of Mamie Stover. It was a gorgeous looking film and I couldn't have been introduced to it in a sudden and more glorious fashion.

    So, a few notes and impressions about the film and screening: (So probably a spoiler or two for those who've not seen it.)

    –First, I was really excited about the widescreen and the cinematography. It was superb.

    –I happen to think, as an actor, Richard Egan is kinda dull. He was appropriate for his role, and part of his character is to distance himself from "Mamie," but there should've been more chemistry between them.

    –All the chemistry in the film is with Jane Russell and the audience…a good thing!
    Jane sings "Keep Your Eyes on the Hands!"

    –I only learned recently that this was the last film Joan Leslie made in her career.

    –From all that I knew about the Hotel Street life and brothels beforehand, some of the film's treatment of that was really quite comical to me. I mean, I knew the film was made in 1957 and wouldn't deal with it explicitly, but the brothel depicted in this film was more of a bar/nightclub and the girls who work there all "hostesses" whose primary mission was to get the guys to buy more drinks. When individual guys were escorted to a room with their "girl of choice" it seems they were there to talk, play cards, drink more, or maybe write a letter back home…LOL! There was no sign of a bed or even a cot anywhere for the real purpose of these places. In actuality hundreds of servicemen lined up at these places daily to spend three minutes having sex with a female. I was wondering…did most people in the audiences at the time not realize what was really going on there? It all semed so wholesome!

    –Though I had known about the movie, I hadn't researched it much and so it was a surprise to me that Agnes Moorehead, a blonde Agnes Moorehead, was in it and she's a favorite. She played the house Madame, with a mundane title in the film, and she was quite excellent. There's one scene where she fires an employee and on his way out he starts to call her "an old…" and I'm pretty sure in the context of the scene he was going to say "dyke," but she interrupts him with "…don't say it."

    –I really love the musical score to this film and am glad it's a separate extra on the release.

    –The Time Tunnel is a favorite 60's program and I knew that some footage used for historical purposes in many episodes came from Fox films set in those periods, but I had not known what film the Pearl Harbor footage they used came from until seeing it in this film.

    –Years later Fox Movie Channel aired the film and I got a copy of it then. The running time is 89 minutes, but all other film sources list the original running time as 92 minutes. Does anyone know what the extra three minutes of footage is, or perhaps the film was sped up to eliminate three minutes?

    After viewing, I hope others share some thoughts about the film! Hope this was interesting to some of you.

  7. Thank you, Josh, I'm glad it was of interest! Yes, that whole experience was probably why I have even more of an affection for the film…first it was unattainable and I kept finding out more about the story etc. and then all of a sudden there it is. With the star of it to boot! And now a Blu-ray!

  8. SIDEBAR: (FYI)

    Even after all the years reading about this book and film etc., only TODAY did I discover that William Bradford Huie wrote a sequel to his novel The Revolt of Mamie Stover called HOTEL MAMIE STOVER.

    Actually: The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1951) is the first novel in a trilogy. It was followed by The Americanization of Emily (1959) and Hotel Mamie Stover (1963). Each novel has the same narrator, the Richard Egan character in the film. In the first and third books, he is primarily present in order to observe and report, while in the second he relates his experiences in the late stages of World War II.

    By the way, Jean O'Hara aka Jean Norager, the real life woman Mamie Stover was assuredly based on, disappeared sometime after the war when she left Hawaii and no one has ever been able to find out what happened to her. There are some sources like wikipedia and some online posts about her that indicate she lived until 1973, but the historical documentary and history book I cited in a previous post, which were produced and/or written 20 – 30 years from then, don't cite that as fact. (Neither does wikipedia, nor any of the other online articles/posts I read so they might have gotten that date from wikipedia, though wikipedia does cite a source for her birthdate.) The Hawaiian historian DeSoto Brown also cites that no one knows her history after leaving Hawaii.

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