‘The Philadelphia Story’ Casts Its Romantic Charms As Part Of Criterion’s November Releases

The Criterion Collection, one of the preeminent distribution labels of eclectic classic, current, and avant garde releases, has made a big announcement as far as its November releases go. The label is giving us Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and James Stewart in one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, The Philadelphia Story. This classic from George Cuckor is the plum addition to its ever growing catalog. Other titles include the ground-breaking Desert Hearts, a lesbian love story from 1985, Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky, and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai, which is finally getting a high-def upgrade.

Below you will find artwork and descriptions for all November releases.

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (arrives November 7)

With this furiously witty comedy of manners, Katharine Hepburn revitalized her career and cemented her status as the era’s most iconic leading lady-thanks in great part to her own shrewd orchestrations. While starring in the Philip Barry stage play The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn snapped up the screen rights, handpicking her friend George Cukor to direct. The intoxicating screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart pits the formidable Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn, at her most luminous) against various romantic foils, chief among them her charismatic ex-husband (Cary Grant), who disrupts her imminent marriage by paying her family estate a visit, accompanied by a tabloid reporter on assignment to cover the wedding of the year (James Stewart, in his only Academy Award-winning performance). A fast-talking screwball comedy as well as a tale of regrets and reconciliation, this convergence of golden-age talent is one of the greatest American films of all time.


SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger
New introduction to actor Katharine Hepburn’s role in the development of the film by documentarians David Heeley and Joan Kramer
In Search of Tracy Lord, a new documentary about the origin of the character and her social milieu
Two full episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1973, featuring rare interviews with Hepburn, plus an excerpt of a 1978 interview from that show with director George Cukor
Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1943, featuring an introduction by filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille
Restoration demonstration
PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme



DESERT HEARTS
(arrives November 14)

Donna Deitch’s swooning and sensual first narrative feature, Desert Hearts, was groundbreaking upon its 1985 release: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a self-financed shoestring budget, by a woman. In the 1959-set film, an adaptation of a beloved novel by Jane Rule, straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno to file for divorce but winds up catching the eye of someone new, the younger free spirit Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), touching off a slow seduction that unfolds against a breathtaking desert landscape. With undeniable chemistry between its two leads, an evocative jukebox soundtrack, and vivid cinematography by Robert Elswit, Desert Hearts beautifully exudes a sense of tender yearning and emotional candor.


DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Elswit, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2007 featuring director Donna Deitch
New conversation between Deitch and actor Jane Lynch
New conversation between Deitch, Elswit, and production designer Jeannine Oppewall about the film’s visual style
New interviews with actors Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau
Excerpt from Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule, a 1995 documentary about the author of Desert of the Heart, the 1964 novel on which the film is based
PLUS: An essay by critic B. Ruby Rich

LE SAMOURAÏ (arrives November 14)

In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville, Le samouraï is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture – with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.


SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Interviews with Rui Nogueira, editor of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
Melville-Delon: D’Honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film
PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson. The Blu-ray also features an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo and excerpts from Melville on Melville.

JABBERWOCKY (arrives November 21)
Amid the filth and muck of England in the Dark Ages, a fearsome dragon stalks the land, casting a shadow of terror upon the kingdom of Bruno the Questionable. Who should emerge as the town’s only possible savior but Dennis Cooper (Michael Palin), an endearingly witless bumpkin who stumbles onto the scene and is flung into the role of brave knight? Terry Gilliam’s first outing as a solo director – inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” and made on the heels of Gilliam’s success as a member of the iconic comedy troupe Monty Python – showcases his delight in comic nonsense, with a cast chock-full of beloved British character actors. A giddy romp through blood and excrement, this fantasy remains one of the filmmaker’s most uproarious visions of society run amok.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New 4K digital transfer from a restoration by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation, approved by director Terry Gilliam
5.1 surround mix, supervised by Gilliam and presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2001 featuring Gilliam and actor Michael Palin
New documentary on the making of the film, featuring Gilliam, producer Sandy Lieberson, Palin, and actor Annette Badland
New interview with Valerie Charlton, designer of the Jabberwock, featuring her collection of rare behind-the-scenes photographs
Selection of Gilliam’s storyboards and sketches
PLUS: An essay by critic Scott Tobias

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *