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Essential Art House, Volume IV (Gervaise / Le Jour Se Leve / Mayerling / The Tales of Hoffmann / The 39 Steps / Throne of Blood)
Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)
Brand: Image Entertainment
Format: Box set
Item Dimensions: Array
Number Of Discs: 6
Number Of Items: 6
Region Code: 1
Release Date: 2009-09-15
Running Time: 623
In Essential Art House, Volume IV, we present three DVD debuts: Marcel Carné’s dark masterwork Le Jour Se Leve, starring Jean Gabin; René Clément’s Émile Zola adaptation Gervaise; and Anatole Litvak’s tragic romance Mayerling, starring Charles Boyer. These, plus Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffman, and Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, make for an exciting installment of Essential Art House, as always available individually or in box sets of six, and featuring beautiful digital transfers and informative liner notes. These affordable movie-only editions of the true classics of art-house cinema are perfect for schools, libraries, and rental stores, where their lower cost and sturdy packaging make them a practical alternative to the more elaborate Criterion Collection special editions. For the devoted cinephile, these are the must-own fundamentals; for the novice film lover, this is precisely where to begin.
Le Jour se Leve: One of the great works of 1930s poetic realist cinema, Le jour se lève was Marcel Carné’s third collaboration with screenwriter and poet Jacques Prévert. A story of obsessive sexuality and murder, in which the working-class François (Jean Gabin) resorts to killing in order to free the woman he loves from the controlling influence of another man, the film cemented the reputations of Gabin and Carné.
Gervaise: One of France’s most respected directors of the postwar era, René Clément directed such searing psychological dramas as Forbidden Games and Purple Noon. And Gervaise, his vivid 1956 adaptation of Émile Zola’s 1877 masterpiece L’assommoir, is no exception. An uncompromising depiction of a lowly laundress’s struggles to deal with an alcoholic husband while running her own business, Gervaise was nominated for an Oscar, and the indomitable Maria Schell earned best actress honors at the Venice Film Festival.
Mayerling: The gorgeous duo of Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux first appeared on-screen together almost twenty years before The Earrings of Madame de . . . , in this sumptuous tragic romance from Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit, Anastasia). Mayerling is the profoundly emotional true story of the doomed adulterous affair between Archduke Rudolph, heir to the Austrian throne, and the young and innocent baron’s daughter Marie Vetsera.
The 39 Steps: Alfred Hitchcock’s prototypical “wrong man” adventure, the dazzling 39 Steps is considered the British director’s true commercial and artistic breakthrough. Presaging such tense against-the-odds thrillers as The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest, it follows the exciting exploits of Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a dapper everyman who ends up on the run after his identity is mistaken for that of a murderer.
Tales of Hoffman: Jacques Offenbach’s opera becomes a cinematic feast for the senses in the hands of the brilliant British filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus). Featuring the amazing Moira Shearer in multiple roles, The Tales of Hoffmann is a splendid Technicolor fantasia of dreams and nightmares that incorporates ballet, song, and stunning visual effects.
Throne of Blood:The greatest screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth is Akira Kurosawa's visceral Throne of Blood (Kumonosu jo), starring Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada as the ambitious warrior and ruthless wife who try to murder their way to power and glory. Featuring some of the Japanese master's most unforgettable, hallucinatory imagery, inspired by Noh theater as much as the classical source, this is Kurosawa at his atmospheric best.
• Grand Illusion (The Criterion Collection)
• La Terra Trema
• Le Trou (The Criterion Collection)
• Eclipse Series 34: Jean Gremillon During the Occupation (Remorques, Lumiere d'ete, Le ciel est a vous) (Criterion Collection)
• Touchez Pas au Grisbi
• Quai des Orfèvres
• Quai Des Brumes (DVD) (Digitally Restored) 
• Rififi (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
• L'age D'or