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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2011

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"The Films of Rita Hayworth" (DVD) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

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Synopsis

Sony Pictures and the Film Foundation have teamed up to release this 5-disc boxed set of movies starring heart throb Rita Hayworth. Two of the films, Gilda and Cover Girl, have previously been released on DVD. The other three movies, Tonight and Every Night, Miss Sade Thompson and Salome are being released on DVD for the first time. The discs are lovingly packaged in a tri-fold portfolio adorned with images from the films. In Cover Girl, Rita plays a dancer who suddenly becomes a magazine cover model. The leading man is Gene Kelly. Music is by Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern. Gilda is an adventurous bit of film noir set in Buenos Aires. Here, she plays the wife of a casino owner. Unbeknownst to Gilda, her husband hires a new casino manager who is a man from her past (Glen Ford). Rita and Glen have a very tumultuous on screen relationship in Gilda. In the wartime classic, Tonight and Every Night, Hayworth plays an American showgirl in London. This story of a theater that stayed open throughout the German bombing raids is based on a true story. On disc 4, Hayworth plays Miss Sade Thompson, a fun-loving woman who is temporarily quarantined on a South Pacific Island in the post war era. She captivates the Marines who are stationed there while while struggling over the wrath of a preacher who wants her sent away. The last film in the set, Salome, has Ms. Hayworth taking the lead role as the step daughter of King Herod in this adaptation of the Biblical tale.

Specifications

  • Columbia Pictures
  • 1944 - 1953, Color and B/W, Not Rated, 4 Hr 22 min
  • Aspect Ratio:1.33:1 and 1.85:1
  • Codec: MPEG 2
  • NTSC
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Starring: Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelley, Glenn Ford and Charles Laughton
  • Directed by Charles Vidor, Victor Saville, Curtis Bernhardt and William Dieterle
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: No

Commentary

The pictures included here are a representative cross section of Rita Hayworth films from the prime of her career. The stories range from War Time dramas such as Tonight and Every Night to the post-war spectacle, Miss Sade Thompson, to the historical with Salome. The standout film of Hayworth's career is clearly Gilda. This is film noir at its best and it's a classic example of the style. For entertainment, I rate Gilda 4.5 stars. The next best picture in this boxed set is Cover Girl which, like Gilda, is a work closely associated with Rita Hayworth's career. I rate this film 4 stars for entertainment. The remaining three films are very dated but they are solid entertainment choices. I rate them an average of 3 stars for entertainment. This leads to my composite score of 3.5 stars for the whole package. I would recommend this set for any Rita Hayworth fan or for collectors who want to have a well-rounded library of classic movies.

Technical

Four of the movies are presented in a native 4:3 aspect ratio. Miss Sade Thompson, which was originally presented in 3d, is the only movie in this set that is in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio. It is given the full anamorphic treatment here. Also, 4 of the 5 films are in Technicolor, while Gilda is the lone black and white disc. Gilda has undergone an extensive restoration and the results are good, even though the print shows some dirt and scratches. Be that as it may, the picture quality of all five films is consistent and acceptable looking for their age with significant film grain and mostly steady, natural colors. Long shots are soft and some scenes exhibit a fair amount of compression artifacts. The audio also shows its age. All the films are mono with little response at the frequency extremes. Still, the sound is punchy and engaging with solid voice reproduction. There are no real audio effects, even during the air raid scenes in Tonight and Every Night.

Extras

Gilda has the most extensive collection of extras, with an introduction by Martin Scorsese and Baz Lurhmann. A running commentary by the noted film historian, Richard Schickel is also available on the Gilda disc. Cover Girl is introduced by Baz Lurhmann while Patricia Clarkson provides the introductions on Miss Sade Thompson and Tonight and Every Night. The introductory sketches are anamorphic wide screen. Each disc contains the original theatrical trailer for the movie that is on it.