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Limited Edition of 3,000 Units!

Distributor: Twilight Time

Release Date: October 17, 2016

Region: Region Free

Length: 02:12:45

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

1.0  English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio

2.0  English Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Notes: This title was previously released in various DVD editions.

title

“Aldrich knew where to long distance me all over the world when he needed me, but he made no effort to reach me here that he had signed Olivia. He let me hear it for the first time in a radio release – and, frankly, I think it stinks.” –Joan Crawford (Hollywood Reporter)

Whatever happened to the “Grande Dame Guignol” subgenre? It seems to belong to a time when the cinematic landscape was at a crossroads. Hollywood’s original crop of motion picture stars was still living and needed work while the public welcomed a more cynical world-view from their fiction. Robert Aldrich, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford’s collaboration on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane was a unique and effective excursion into the macabre. It was probably born out of the success of Psycho, but it certainly developed into something altogether different.

In an effort to replicate this success, Robert Aldrich contracted Henry Farrell—who had previously penned the source novel for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?—to write a screenplay adaptation of one of his unpublished short stories entitled, “Hush Now, Sweet Charlotte.” Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were also brought on to lend their acting talents to the production, but bloated egos seem to have plagued the production and Joan Crawford resented what she perceived as favoritism towards Bette Davis. There are many conflicting reports as to whether Crawford became legitimately ill or whether she was faking illness to get out of her role, but the end result was the same. She was eventually replaced with Olivia de Havilland, who was actually a more appropriate choice for the role.

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The resulting film, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) finds Robert Aldrich and star Bette Davis in fine Gothic form (even if it pales in comparison to the vastly superior, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?). Here Davis plays a wealthy southern belle who sinks deeper and deeper into madness as the years pass following the sudden decapitation of her married lover. To make matters worse, Charlotte might very well be guilty of the murder. When her decaying plantation house is threatened with demolition, she calls on a cousin (Olivia de Havilland) for help, but this is a decision that she soon begins to regret.  Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Mary Astor round out a stellar supporting cast of characters.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

The disc is protected in clear Blu-ray case featuring better than average film-related artwork. The six-page booklet featuring movie stills, poster art, and an enthusiastic short essay by Julie Kirgo sweetens the overall presentation a good deal.

booklet

Twilight Time’s Booklet included inside the Blu-ray case.

menu

The menu utilizes the same film-related artwork and is attractive and easy to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Twilight Time’s 1080p AVC transfer is quite impressive. The image is incredibly rich in detail and contrast is accurately handled. Blacks are rich without seeming to crush and the film has never looked this good in motion. To say that the transfer is superior to those found on the earlier DVD editions is a ridiculous understatement. It was truly a revelatory experience to watch this new high definition Blu-ray transfer of the film. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte’s atmospheric cinematography is accurately and lovingly represented here.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Twilight Time offers two DTS-HD sound mixes and both sound quite good, though we admit our preference for the original 1.0 English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio track over the faux-stereo offering. Both tracks are surprisingly clean and free from any expected age related anomalies. It is a remarkably clean track that allows for dialogue to register clearly as the effective ambiance and score up the ante on the tension felt by the viewer.

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 Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Audio Commentary with Glenn Erickson (Film Historian)

This excellent track dates back to the film’s original DVD release in 2005. Glen Erickson’s somewhat scholarly commentary is both surprisingly engaging and genuinely informative—especially if one listens without any prior knowledge about the film’s production. He briefly discusses Grand Guignol in general and the Grand Dame Guignol subgenre, production problems and anecdotes, Robert Aldrich’s career, and much more. The track is one of those scholarly offerings that provide a wealth of detail and knowledge. One imagines that the listener’s appreciation for the film will grow exponentially after listening.

Audio Commentary with Film Historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros

Twilight Time can be congratulated for offering cinephiles this brand new audio discussion with David Del Valle and Steven Peros. The two historians cover some of the same information that Erickson covered in his track while offering a few new details and their own take on the material. They impart some genuinely interesting tidbits of information about the production, the film’s distinguished cast, and of course Robert Aldrich. The result is a more conversational track that seems to be delivered in a less formal manner.

Isolated Score Track

Viewers that are interested in film scores will be grateful for the opportunity to watch the film with only the score to support the film. This sort of supplementary option is actually quite rare nowadays, and Twilight Time earns a few points for offering such options.

Hush…Hush, Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte – (21:47)

This is a better than average look into the production of Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte that focuses primarily on the production problems caused by the rift between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (who was originally cast as Miriam). Adell Aldrich Bravos (daughter of Robert Aldrich) is onboard to provide information about her father’s work on the film and to provide her own on-set recollections (she worked as a script apprentice) while Michael Merrill (son of Bette Davis) provides quite a bit of information about his mother’s work on the film and her uneasy relationship with Crawford. Marc Vieria (film historian) and Bruce Dern (actor) are also on board. The interviews are accompanied by a wealth of production photos, behind the scenes footage, and excerpts from the film that highlight the genuinely interesting information being offered. If this program has a flaw it is that it isn’t more comprehensive in its scope.

Bruce Dern Remembers – (12:51)

Bruce Dern is and has always been a fascinating interview subject. His anecdotes are always engaging and told with enthusiastic relish. This short featurette finds the actor discussing his experiences on and off the set and his memories of working with Bette Davis. He also talks about an amusing dinner party that Davis held for her fellow actors during the production.

Wizard Work – (04:43)

This Fox promotional short is the 1964 equivalent of an EPK featurette, but because it utilizes a good deal of vintage ‘behind the scenes’ footage, it has much more to offer than the average promo. Joseph Cotton narrates this praise-filled tribute to Robert Aldrich and the various cast members involved in the project. It is really a wonderful addition to the disc.

Theatrical Trailer – (02:56)

The film’s theatrical trailer focuses on the film’s broader melodramatic moments and announces that “The winners of five prior Academy Awards and 21 Academy nominations now bring you SUSPENSE unequaled in the history of the screen!” It is an amusing promotional artifact that adds more value to the supplemental package than one might initially expect.

Theatrical Teaser – (01:25)

The included “theatrical teaser” retains a bit more of the film’s mystery while still alluding to some of the film’s more horrific moments. It is really nice to have it included here with the other promotional materials.

TV Spots – (01:38)

The three included TV spots utilize much of the same footage featured in the film’s theatrical trailer but they rely more heavily on voice-over announcements. They are interesting relics that fans will be happy to have included on the disc.

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Final Words:

This is the first and only Twilight Time release that we have ever reviewed, and they are certainly worth keeping an eye on if this release represents them accurately. The transfer is quite good and the supplemental material is much better than one might expect.

Fans of Robert Aldrich, Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland, or the Grande Dame Guignol” subgenre will certainly want to add Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte to their Blu-ray collectionsand they will need to do this as soon as is possible. This is a limited edition release offered exclusively at www.twilighttimemovies.com and www.screenarchives.com. There really isn’t any way to know how long that the title will be available.

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Review by: Devon Powell

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Comments
  1. […] for 9 several hours.” Getting recovered plenty of to roll cell phone calls to push, Crawford told The Hollywood Reporter, “Aldrich understood wherever to prolonged distance me all around the entire world when he needed […]

  2. henry kokemueller says:

    where can you purchase this?

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