Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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Tommaso
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#26 Post by Tommaso » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:07 am

Well, Gary's tastes seem to be rather idiosyncratic... On the other hand, he apparently thinks "Rembrandt" to be a good film, with which I agree, of course. Perhaps there is something about Bergner that others might see and I just cannot (apart from "Fräulein Else"). After all, she was originally cast to play the Glynis Johns part in Powell's "49th Parallel".

The caps look quite good to me, so I think anyone interested in these films can safely buy this set and make up their mind themselves.

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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#27 Post by cdnchris » Sun May 03, 2009 4:14 am


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lubitsch
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#28 Post by lubitsch » Sat May 23, 2009 6:38 pm

Tommaso wrote: "Catherine the Great", on the other hand, is truly awful. Elisabeth Bergner, who was cute and convincing in a silent like "Fräulein Else", probably only got the job to play Catherine because her husband Paul Czinner was directing (in other words, to the best of my knowledge, this was only produced by Korda, and not directed by him). She simply can't speak, delivers a dry performance, and the film itself is as stiff and wooden as you could possibly imagine. Sets are nice, but the film as a whole is clearly forgettable.
somehow it escapes why you think the film is badly directed. The sleeve notes praise Czinner's superior direction compared to Korda's and there's something to it. he knows how to hold close-ups, intercut objects, compose some shots or play a bit Lubitsch with the take on the bed being prepared by the French gentlemen while we hear Catherine and Peter reconciling.

Bergner however ... good grief. I've seen her in the brilliant NJU, the rather unfocused and superficial FRÄULEIN ELSE and the reasonable well made talking film DER TRÄUMENDE MUND. She's not exactly a beauty, has an unpleasant smile, but can be a really good actress, so I almost dropped on the floor when I watched this abysmal accent and her theatrical performance full of empty gestures and strange inflections. Together with Harvey Keitel's Judas that's the worst performance in 20th century film history.

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#29 Post by knives » Sat May 23, 2009 8:06 pm

What's wrong with Kietel's Judas? He was one of my favorite parts of that movie.

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Tommaso
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#30 Post by Tommaso » Sun May 24, 2009 6:51 am

lubitsch wrote:somehow it escapes why you think the film is badly directed. The sleeve notes praise Czinner's superior direction compared to Korda's and there's something to it. he knows how to hold close-ups, intercut objects, compose some shots or play a bit Lubitsch with the take on the bed being prepared by the French gentlemen while we hear Catherine and Peter reconciling.
I don't think I wrote that the film is "badly directed", at least not in the sense of those technicalities you mention. It's obvious that the film isn't amateurish. What I said was that I find the direction wooden and uninspired and that I do object to the theatricality the film exudes (David Hare also mentioned the full-frontal, proscenium set-up of many shots). I don't remember the bed-preparing scene at the moment, but the way you describe it it doesn't sound as if it was so unique and extraordinary. A good idea, sure, but all within what I'd call the realm of 'solid', 'respectable' filmmaking.

Perhaps it's all a combination of technically well-made (but nothing more) direction, an uninspired script and indeed Bergner's acting that made me cringe when I first saw it. I really don't feel the need to re-visit it.

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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#31 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 24, 2009 9:37 am

lubitsch wrote:
Tommaso wrote:Bergner however ... good grief. I've seen her in the brilliant NJU, the rather unfocused and superficial FRÄULEIN ELSE and the reasonable well made talking film DER TRÄUMENDE MUND. She's not exactly a beauty, has an unpleasant smile, but can be a really good actress, so I almost dropped on the floor when I watched this abysmal accent and her theatrical performance full of empty gestures and strange inflections. Together with Harvey Keitel's Judas that's the worst performance in 20th century film history.
Have you seen her in the Shakespeare w a young Olivier? She's brain poison.

TIVOLI
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#32 Post by TIVOLI » Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:03 pm

Has anyone been able to compare the image quality of Rembrandt with the old Region 1 release?

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#33 Post by knives » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:19 pm

I'm really appreciative of Hulu right now because otherwise I wouldn't have gotten such a great laugh out of Henry VIII. The Lanchester scenes are just perfect with a perfect sense of comedy. The dinner scene worked extremely well too, but for drama rather than farce. It's not a great movie, but it sure is a lot of fun and much better than the forum has given credit so far..

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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#34 Post by movielocke » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:12 pm

I watched Private Lives and Rembrandt a dozen or so years ago on VHS and thoroughly enjoyed both. So imagine my shock and dismay when I put in Rise to Power of Catherine the Great a few nights ago. My entire reaction was probably made worse by having just recently watched Taking of Power by Louis XIV, but that aside, the whole experience was truly execrable.

The script is terrible, at best a Disney version of events, but usually worse than that. Most of the film has no resemblence to the source story other than the names of the characters. The dialogue scenes plod ceaselessly on for so long, and so ponderously, at times I wondered if they were ever going to end. The film has beautiful sets and costuming, but little else to recommend it.

Fairbanks give a bugeyed performance that is unfortunately all-to-sincere in its commitment to his awful pantomime. By contrast Bergner is 'better' but her character makes no sense because the screenwriters managed to take a story with a natural dramatic arc and eliminate all vestiges of that arc. The screen stops dead for most of her scenes, and even though she's acting, she's a vortex of negative charisma most of the time, as a petulant pout is not really well suited to the character beyond her first scene, but seems to be her weapon of choice in her acting arsenal.


The film ceaselessly dragged on, determined to make every scene interminable. I had to break the viewing into two parts, and nearly into three, but was grimly determined to reach the end the second night. Awful.

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Re: Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives

#35 Post by movielocke » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:15 pm

The private life of Don Juan is a perfectly fine wry and knowing little comedy. Fairbanks is wonderful in the role and I dug his speaking voice, surprisingly the American accent was surprisingly a great match for the role. Rather than being out of step with the rest of the cast it feels right which may just be a reflective of Hollywood norms of filmmaking I'm used to...

I had to look up the screenwriter after because it's a funny sex filled script skewering celebrity and I half expected to see Billy wilder or Charles Brackett credited. But if they had written this Ala midnight or ninotchka it would be better known and respected. And the film lacks some of the honed sharpness and lean plotting they would bring to the screenplay. In spirit this is a doppelganger to their work a sort of lesser echo of a great film (like merrily we live), but it is still fine enough to be worthwhile on its own terms. Unfortunately it's not quite a great film but it is still very good.

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