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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Carrie (1952) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A naive young woman moves from her small town to Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century to become successful and ends up the mistress of a married restauranteur, leading to dire consequences.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

William Wyler’s 1952 melodrama Carrie, based on the classic American novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, was not a major success when it was released, despite its cast featuring Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Jones, and Eddie Albert. The controversial and bleak subject matter of the film made it a box office failure. Ruth and Augustus Goetz turn Dreiser’s novel into a taut screenplay about class, poverty, sex, romance, and social mores.

Jones plays Carrie, a naïve young small, farming town woman who, at eighteen sets off from her smalltown to the big city of Chicago to make it. She stays with her older sister and brother-in-law believing with her education she will be able to find a job and success soon, but in the early 20th century, it proves difficult for a woman to find work, even in the bustling metropolis of Chicago. She gets a job in a textile plant but quickly suffers an industrial injury and loses her job. Down and out, she becomes the mistress to the fast-talking traveling salesman Charles Drouet (Albert), the only person who will help her financially. She soon ditches Charles for the older – and wealthier – restauranteur George Hurstwood (Olivier).

George is trapped in a loveless marriage with a guileful wife working to steal his fortune. He becomes so obsessed with Carrie that he steals money from his boss to run away with her and keep her in luxury. They are tracked down in New York by investigators and George has to pay back the money, leaving him destitute and blacklisted in the resteraunt business starting a downward spiral of poverty and despair for the couple. Carrie eventually starts a career as an actress and becomes successful, but it may be too late to save her relationship with George.

Carrie’s derision of both the American class structure and capitalism’s abandonment of the destitute, the difficult themes of industrial accidents, contemplated suicide, marital affairs and even bigamy made it a hard sell for audiences. But it is the melodramatic romance and chemistry between Olivier and Jones that carry the film. Wyler also imbues the film’s visual palette with detail, plenty of balance between shadow and light, and high luxury costumes from the designers.

  • Eddie Albert and Jennifer Jones in Carrie (1952)
  • Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones in Carrie (1952)
  • Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones in Carrie (1952)
  • Carrie Blu-ray (Imprint)
  • Carrie Blu-ray (Imprint)

The Video

The black and white 35mm source for Carrie is presented in a 1.33:1 AVC 1080p encodement on this Blu-ray from Imprint. It does not look particularly great compared to some other films of the same era that have been issued on Blu-ray or 4K. There are a lot of scratches, tramlines, speckling, and there is some flicker. The black levels are a bit inconsistent. Some areas show a bit of washout while sometimes it crushes a bit. White levels also tend to clip a bit. Grain looks natural and overall detail is reasonable, especially on the many close-ups on faces; depth-of-field is just a bit limited.

The Audio

Carrie arrives with its original mono mix in LPCM 2.0. This is a very reasonable track given the 1952 vintage of the film. It offers up intelligible dialogue with little in the way of clipping, pops, or hiss.

The Supplements

Again, Imprint includes an excellent new audio commentary which, for collectors, will be one of the primary reasons to pick up this new Blu-ray release. There is also an interview with Neil Sinyard and the trailer.

  • Audio commentary by professor/film scholar Jason A. Ney (NEW)
  • Neil Sinyard on Carrie – interview with the author of A Wonderful Heart: The Films of William Wyler (1080p; 00:30:24) (NEW)
  • Theatrical Trailer (720p)
  • Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork

The Final Assessment

Just when Carries feels like it will collapse into overbearing melodrama, the subtle performances from Olivier and Jones plus the magnificent costumes, sets, and direction by William Wyler saves this film. Imprint offers a good option for those who haven’t seen it or do not yet own it with new bonus features and its collectible slipcover packaging.

Carrie (1952) – Imprint Collection #200 is out on Blu-ray in Australia February 22, 2023. It is available for purchase on the Via Vision Entertainment/Imprint website and elsewhere.

  • Rating Certificate: Australia: PG (Mild violence, mild themes)
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | Via Vision Entertainment | Imprint Films
  • Director: William Wyler
  • Written By: Theodore Dreiser (from the American classic “Sister Carrie” by) | Ruth Goetz (screenplay by) | Augustus Goetz (screenplay by)
  • Run Time: 121 Mins.
  • Street Date: 22 February 2023 (AU)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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A naive young woman moves from her small town to Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century to become successful and ends up the mistress of a married restauranteur, leading to dire consequences.Carrie (1952) (Blu-ray Review)