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Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection [Blu-ray] [Import]

 Unrated   Blu-ray
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 66.96
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2.0 out of 5 stars Four fantastic movies get short shrift on Blu-ray April 27 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Vivien Leigh's pre-Scarlett O'Hara career was memorable. It's just been eclipsed by her iconic turn in Gone With The Wind. Cohen Media gives us 4 stellar examples (Fire Over England, Storm in a Teacup, St. Martin's Lane, Dark Journey) of Leigh at the pinnacle of her powers in England - wonderful movies that unfortunately have not been afforded stellar 1080p transfers to compliment them. The worst transgressor is edge enhancement. It's everywhere and VERY distracting.

The tonality of the gray scale is impressive, particularly on Storm in a Teacup and St. Martin's Lane. Residual softness creeps in on Dark Journey. Fire Over England would be the most impressive transfer in this set except that it has boosted contrast levels and a ton of video noise. St. Martin's Lane has the worst audio I've heard in a long, long while. Muffled and garbled beyond recognition in spots and sounding very weak indeed.

I really don't know what the point was in releasing these movies in their present condition. Age-related artifacts are one thing. I mean, we can all accept some wear and tear brought about by the passage of time. Where I draw the line is on digital anomalies that have been added to the transfers by dodgy remastering efforts. At this stage in the game there is no GOOD reason for such artifacts to be appearing.

I wouldn't say these films are un-watchable in their present state - but they are a grand disappointment nonetheless. Regrets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous! Jan. 13 2014
By sam TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Once more, Cohen Films brings underrated, overlooked films to be appreciated at home in the finest quality possible! For dedicated fans or for those who simply want to get to know this magnificent beauty of the screen, this collection is sure to please and entertain.

Highly recommended as these films will never look better on 1080p blu-ray !
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent restoration Nov. 20 2013
By Kendra Bean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
From her first pairing with Laurence Olivier in Fire Over England to her turn as an ambitious street performer in Sidewalks of London/St. Martin's Lane, it's fascinating watching Vivien Leigh develop as a screen actress in these early films for Alexander Korda.

Although all four of these titles have been released on DVD before (see the AMC boxed set that came out about 10 years ago), they were in dire need of restoration. The Cohen Film Collection stepped up to the challenge and has come through with flying colours. I had the pleasure of seeing the newly restored prints on the big screen at the BFI in London as part of their Vivien Leigh retrospective earlier this month. The picture and sound quality are really top-notch. It's like watching completely different films from what was previously available.

Bonus: the Blu-ray set is region-free, so you can watch it no matter where you live.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at a formidable actress's early career Jan. 14 2014
By DVD Verdict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Iconic actors and actresses aren't "born" out of the basics of cinema. They pay their dues, delve into and out of possible personas and production typecasts. They take risks and resort to the common and comfortable when said experiments yield insignificant results—or worse, outright industry and fan backlash. The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection may contain the role that convinced David O. Selznick to give the fledgling Brit a shot at Scarlett O'Hara (Fire Over England) but for the most part, it's an overview of opening volleys, a unique if often staid insight into how a beautiful ingénue is twisted and turned into something either bankable or broken. It was within these trenches where Leigh learned the ropes, established one of her more meaningful relationships (with Olivier, who she was with for over 20 years) and developed the chops that would lead to other award winning work.

Of the four films offered, Storm in a Teacup is the only true "comedy," but it's very dated and more farce-like than the screwball hits that were coming out of Hollywood at the time. The notion of a politician petitioning to have a friendly looking dog "put down" because of unpaid license fees might seem a tad intense, but everyone here plays the folly likes its fool's gold. This is probably because the entire cast is on their best behavior, turning otherwise banal banter into charming, fluffy fun. Something similar happens with St. Martin's Lane, but it's not because of our storied star. Instead, Charles Laughton walks away with this film as the struggling busker who falls for Leigh's air-headed harpy despite himself. It's sad that this incredibly talented star is shuttled aside midway through the movie for more Harrison and Leigh cow eyes, but when he returns to the dramatic fray, his impact is immediate and welcome.

As for the famed Fire Over England, it's pure period piece politeness, the kind of movie you expect from the setting, the storyline, and the staging. It's like watching a ponderous play come to life, with only the acting available to save you from substandard entertainment elements. Leigh is electrifying, but mostly because she has such amazing chemistry with her future husband. It's telling that the film's other romantic lead—Tamara Desni as Elena, a Spanish lass—can't hold a candle to what Leigh offers when she is with Olivier, though our Hispanic Miss is more or less the third piece of this proposed romantic triangle. All English accents aside, the international thriller aspects of Dark Journey, though incredibly muted by today's slam-bang standards, are still fun to watch unfurl. Leigh is excellent, though a tad unbelievable, as the double crossing double agent, while Veidt goes a good job of delivering a darkness the story surely needs.

One thing is certain: Vivien Leigh was always destined to be a star. She is often bigger than the characters or her surrounding actors, generating a kind of ethereal presence that's rare in film. She's not always great—her work in St. Martin's Lane alone can attest to that—but she's dynamic and her visage definitely draws you in. For fans of the woman and her work, you can consider these films building blocks, foundational turns that traded on her devastating beauty while digging beneath the surface to find the substance within. While Leigh was always touted as being a beauty first, a talent second, these films arguing against such a superficial assessment. As with any young performer, the future Oscar winner is finding her footing here. She had already established her stage credentials. With the four films provided here, we see the warm up to work that would come to define who Leigh was, and how we think of her today.

From a technical standpoint, these are old, mostly forgotten films, so this Anniversary Collection deserves kudos for finding such excellent examples of each. All are presented in a pre-widescreen 1.33:1 anamorphic image, and for the most part, the monochrome is clean and crisp. You have to remember that most of these movies were found in deplorable states, and that Milestone and Cohen (with the help of the British Film Institute) went about remastering these prints as best as possible. Sure, there are differences in clarity, grain, contrast, and the occasional flaw, but when you consider that these films are nearly 80 years old, they don't look half bad. On the sound side of things, well, there's not much you can do with tinny, think Mono mixes, no matter how you gussy them up. At least the four offerings here are relatively hiss-free and lack significant distortion.

As for added content, none of the films themselves inspired bonus features. Over the course of the two disc presentation we are treated to only one significant bit of added content: a 25 minute interview with one of Leigh's many biographers, Anne Edwards. Focusing on her life before Hollywood, it's an interesting personal and professional overview.

Bill Gibron, VERDICT

Read the full review at dvdverdict.com
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Vivien Leigh Remasters Jan. 1 2014
By David R. St Germain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This set is a must have for Vivien Leigh fans. Previously there have only been muddy sub zero prints of these pre Gone With The Wind Leigh films. The BFI has done wonderful restoration work on these movies-one can sit back and enjoy Vivien Leigh's versatility in four very different roles.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real treat May 10 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
It's certainly a well known fact that Vivien Leigh is both beautiful and talented. Unfortunately all we fans ever get to see of her is as Scarlett or Blanche DuBois or maybe Cleopatra. This four movie package of her earlier works is simply wonderful. Thanks to the fantastic restoration process that was done we get to see and hear this exquisite beauty as never before. Oh thank you,thank you,thank you!
4.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFUL COLLECTION WELL WORTH THE MONEY July 17 2014
By G. Alan Hicks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Although overall I am quite pleased with the set, I am a bit disappointed in the presentation of one of the films, St. Martin's Lane.

The aspect ratio for St. Martin's Lane is quite off, as evidenced in the opening credits. The left side of the screen cuts off the names. (Not so with my unrestored Kino version. The framing by Kino is much better.) I would imagine the rest of SML is also mastered in this same aspect ratio, too, which is a shame considering the print itself looks fantastic.

Also, the credits on Fire Over England look to be quite a hodge-podge compilation of different prints, although the film itself looks spectacular.
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