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The Rise of Catherine the Great
Part of the Series: The Criterion British Collection
A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia. With its luxurious renderings of the eighteenth-century St. Petersburg…
The Threepenny Opera
Part of the Series: The Criterion German Collection
The sly melodies of composer Kurt Weill and the daring of dramatist Bertolt Brecht come together on-screen under the direction of German auteur G. W. Pabst (Pandora's Box) in this classic adaptation of the Weimar-era theatrical sensation. Set in the impoverished back alleys of Victorian London, The Threepenny Opera follows…
Pandora's Box
One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst's lurid, controversial melodrama Pandora's…
Pygmalion
Part of the Series: The Criterion British Collection
Cranky Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) takes a bet that he can turn Cockney guttersnipe Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) into a "proper lady" in a mere six months in this delightful comedy of bad manners, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. This Academy Award-winning inspiration for Lerner and…
Japanese Girls at the Harbor
Hiroshi Shimizu's exquisite silent drama, set in the modernizing port town of Yokohama, tells of the humiliating downfall experienced by Sunako (Michiko Oikawa) after jealousy drives her to commit a terrible crime. With its lushly photographed landscapes and innovative visual storytelling, Japanese Girls at the Harbor shows a director at…
Stray Dog
A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo's sweltering streets for the stray dog whose desperation has led him to a life of crime. With each step, cop…
The Home and the World
Both a romantic-triangle tale and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution, The Home and the World (Ghare Baire), set in early twentieth-century Bengal, concerns an aristocratic but progressive man who, in insisting on broadening his more traditional wife's political horizons, drives her into the arms of his…
My Night at Maud's
In the brilliantly accomplished centerpiece of Rohmer's "Moral Tales" series, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Jean-Louis, one of the great conflicted figures of sixties cinema. A pious Catholic engineer in his early thirties, he lives by a strict moral code in order to rationalize his world, drowning himself in mathematics and the…
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Locked away in an asylum for a decade and teetering between life and death, the criminal mastermind Doctor Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) has scribbled his last will and testament: a manifesto establishing a future empire of crime. When the document's nefarious writings start leading to terrifying parallels in reality, it's up…
The Private Life of Henry VIII
Part of the Series: The Criterion British Collection
Charles Laughton gulps beer and chomps on mutton, in his first of many iconic screen roles, as King Henry VIII, the ultimate anti-husband. Alexander Korda's first major international success is a raucous, entertaining, even poignant peek into the boudoirs of the infamous king and his six wives. Additional Reading: http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1133-eclipse-series-16-alexander-korda-s-private-lives
Master of the House
Before he turned to the story of Joan of Arc, the Danish cinema genius Carl Theodor Dreyer fashioned this ahead-of-its-time examination of domestic life. A deft comedy of gentle revenge, it is the story of a housewife who, with the help of a wily nanny, turns the tables on her…
Breaking the Waves
Lars von Trier became an international sensation with this galvanizing realist fable about sex and spiritual transcendence. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Emily Watson stuns as Bess, a simple, pious newlywed in a tiny Scottish village who gives herself up to a shocking form of martyrdom after her husband (Stellan Skarsgard)…