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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Holocaust > History > Genocide > WWII > Romance > Melodrama > French > Sex > Teens > Vienna > Tai Chi > Ch > Diary Of Anne Frank (1967 TV remake/Susskind/ABC/MVD/Liberation Hall DVD)/Julietta (1953*)/Lady Chatterly's Lover (1955/*both Icarus DVDs)/Lovecut (2020/Omnibus DVD**)/Pushing Hands (1991/Blu-ray/**bo

Diary Of Anne Frank (1967 TV remake/Susskind/ABC/MVD/Liberation Hall DVD)/Julietta (1953*)/Lady Chatterly's Lover (1955/*both Icarus DVDs)/Lovecut (2020/Omnibus DVD**)/Pushing Hands (1991/Blu-ray/**both Film Movement)

Picture: C/C+/C+/C/B- Sound: C (Hands: C+) Extras: D/D/D/C-/C+ Main Programs: B/C+/C+/C-/C+

Now for a set of dramas that include a few adaptions of classics...

Alex Segal's The Diary Of Anne Frank (1967) is a remake of the stage play, based on the actual title book, as made into a critically acclaimed hit feature film in 1959 (see our Blu-ray and DVD coverage elsewhere on this site) that we hope to see on 4K disc at some point.

This version was produced by the great David Susskind and made with the ABC Television Network when the American Broadcasting Company was the newest, boldest and most experimental of the Big Three Networks in the early days of television. This gem stars no less than Max Von Sydow, Donald Pleasence, Theodore Bikel (who just passed away not long before this is posting,) Vivica Lindfors, Lilli Palmer, Marisa Pavan and Diana Davila in the title role.

While the 1959 film holds up, this is a remarkable version and holds up very well, remarkably so and to think this was considered possibly a lost program! The cast is great and it shows the power for great acting (think I, Claudius on PBS a few years after) and how even a low budget cannot hold back great art and work like this. Highly recommended!

There are sadly no extras, unless you count the TV ads left in, but unlike some releases like later Johnny Carson DVDs, you do not have the option of watching the program minus the ads. This only runs two hours with the ads, but is more like 90 minutes without.

Next, Director Marc Allegret has two films of his restored. Julietta (1953) offers Dany Robin as the title character, stuck with an older prince until a young lawyer (Jean Marais) shows up to make her truly happy and challenge her conformist, dull future. Pointing to the slowly rising youth in French cinema, Jean Moreau also stars in this melodrama six years before the French New Wave arrives.

It has more good moments than bad or off, but it was worth a look for what worked.

There are no extras.

Marc Allegret's Lady Chatterly's Lover (1955) adapts the D.H. Lawrence classic with the same on and off melodrama results, but might be slightly better by an very, very thin margin. Danielle Darrieux is the title woman, still with her war-wounded husband (Leo Genn, good as usual) when she meets the new gamekeeper of her estate (Erno Crisa) who is more agile and sexually capable, so the film modernizes the book and juggles the delicate subject matter the best it can.

Despite its classiness in doing so, it still became a censored film and had to go to the highest court in the land to be seen, so it is an historical adaption that everyone should see once just to understand censorship at the time, but it still works on its own and captures the time well. Even without the controversy and how its aged unevenly, it is worth a look.

There are no extras.

Iliana Estanol & Johanna Lietha's Lovecut (2020) is the least classical of our releases, trying to show the 'sexual awakening' of six Vienna teens in this Swiss/Austrian co-production that barely has any sex or nudity, disqualifying it from the cycle of films that do just that. It also claims it is showing this in the 'digital/social media' age, but despite good efforts by the cast, I never bought it, it has nothing new top say if anything to say and is quickly forgotten after its long 94 minutes.

When some of the locations are more interesting, you know you are in trouble and the screenplay was in desperate need of character development it never gets, so see this one when you are awake and ready. Otherwise, you might get bored.

A trailer is the only extra.

Lastly, we have Ang Lee's Pushing Hands (1991) which happens to be his first feature film, which makes sense as it takes forever to start like so many of his early works before he became too enamored with Ultra HD cameras and frame rates, yet as cold as The Ice Storm, it is just a little better than that as the film has Mr. Chu (a solid performance by Sihung Lung) dealing with a culture clash with his daughter-in-law (Deb Snyder, who never allows her character to become cartoonish) and he is a tai chi expert at a time when most people did not know what that was like they might now.

What follows are some unexpected conflicts and opportunities as the film warms up and becomes less silent (and therefore, drags less) with a decent infusion of characters. Not necessarily a character study, the film has some good moments and though not as well-realized as Brokeback Mountain, his only great film as far as I am concerned (despite being obnoxious even about that one) does have one of the few positive portrayals of Chinese people and Chinese Americans (as well as realistic, as in Michael Cimino's Year Of The Dragon (1985,) but that was a much more controversial film, albeit highly imitated and influential; read my review elsewhere on this site) even to this date!

Too bad his journey from this film took such a wacky course, but he can direct when he leaves his many pretensions at the door and it is worth a look for those interested. The cast is a big plus.

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet (per Film Movement's usually fine such publications) on the film running 16 pages, including informative text and a fine essay on it all by film scholar Zhen Zhang, while the disc adds a round table discussion on camera of the film by James Schamus, Ted Hope and Tim Squyers.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hands is the best-looking release here by default because it is the only HD release, but the Video Black is somehow oddly a little weak throughout for some odd reason and it hurts the viewing experience more than it should. The image can look almost watery at times. The PCM 2.0 Mandarin/English Mono sound shows its age, but is also the best-sounding here, in part because all four DVDs much weaker and more problematic than expected sonically.

The 1.33 X 1 color image on Anne Frank is from the early days of color videotape production, so it can look even older than Laugh-In, when they started to really perfect NTSC color videotape. As a result, we get analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, vertical picture flip, waves through some shots, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. The image reminds me of the same quality (and likely the same equipment) on the videotaped Dan Curtis horror specials he made for ABC around the same time and have been issued on DVD years ago. Those DVDs were more color rich and did not have as many flaws.

Save for maybe on ad on color videotape, the rest are shot on 35mm film, as the advertisers were taking no chances, wanted their products to look great and also match ads being taken out at great expense in magazines all over the place. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also shows its age, so be careful of volume switching and high playback levels.

The black and white 1.33 X 1 image on the two French films looks as good as they can in this format and are crying for Blu-ray release, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are on the weak side and Lover sadly has an odd harmonic distortion throughout. In these cases too, be careful volume switching and high playback volume.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Lovecut is surprisingly soft throughout and disappointing as a result, for whatever reasons. The fact that two French films form the 1950s look better is not good, while the lossy German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is also on the weaker side, so yet again, be careful volume switching and high playback volume. I double checked this one and it is the disc.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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