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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Hate Crimes > Diary Of Anne Frank (1959/Fox DVD)

The Diary of Anne Frank


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B+



Believe it or not there have been three TV versions of the Diary of Anne Frank starting in 1967 and then again in 1980, and 1987, but all versions are inferior to George Stevens' 1959 film.  This would be the biggest production of the story of a young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazi’s in Amsterdam, not to mention one of the longest versions running nearly three hours! 


George Stevens at this point of his career was one of the most established of the sound film directors working through the 30’s on a number of films and then doing Woman of the Year (1942), A Place in the Sun (1951), and Giant (1956).  His risk for The Diary of Anne Frank came with his casting of the young model Millie Perkins, who he was convinced, could act even if it were just for this one film.  Her work here pulled off just fine despite going on to do mostly B-pictures and George Stevens would only make a handful of films later, but The Diary of Anne Frank would be one of the biggest pictures of the year including Shelley Winters Oscar winning performance as Mrs. Petronella Van Daan. 


Fox has issued the film as part of its Studio Classics series releasing the film in its entire 180-minute runtime with the original 2.35 X 1 scope transfer.  The print looks good, but I doubt that it is from the original camera negative.  If it is, than that print has some damage to it, mostly excess grain.  The transfer is virtually clean, but softness does appear along with the grain, which can be quite noticeable on larger TV sets.  It is anamorphically enhanced, however.  The Oscar winning camera work still shines through by cinematographer William C. Mellor, who knew how to effectively use scope even with black and white.  The restoration on the film still looks better than the 12” LaserDisc, which also included the Overture, Intermission, and Exit Music.  These were quite traditional in the ‘roadshow’ version, which ran 170-minutes.


The Dolby Digital Stereo is pretty basic giving some dimension to the film, despite its age.  Obviously this is an older more flat type of sound design, which offers very little outside of dialogue.  The music comes through with a fair amount of fidelity, but can become harsh when played back at higher volumes.  


The extras for this release are plentiful including a commentary that runs the entire length of the film on side one and the rest of the extras on the other side.  There is a full-length documentary called Echoes From the Past, which is the most informative of all the supplements.  There is also an excerpt from the documentary George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey, which was put together by Steven’s son.  His son is also featured on the commentary track along with actress Millie Perkins.  There are also some tidbit extras like screen tests, newsreel footage, and other various programs to entertain. 


This is easily one of those stories that people fall in love with and want to enjoy over and over, which is exactly why its release onto DVD makes for a good buy.  The extras will delight any fan, but those new to this film altogether might find it trite, lengthy, and a little too bittersweet.



-   Nate Goss


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