Written by Nunnally Johnson, based on the book by Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley
Directed by Nunnally Johnson
Starring Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb, Edwin Jerome, and Alistair Cooke
- Running audio commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon
- Movietone News Footage: Academy Awards
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
Rating: NR (mild violence)
My Advice: Buy it.
This movie is wonderful. Its level of verisimilitude is second to none. The fact that it’s narrated by Alistair Cooke just makes it feel like an in-depth case study, when in reality it’s a retelling of a true story. Woodward is outstanding. Her transition between these three incredibly different characters is done with such ease as to make you weep. In case you didn’t know, she won the 1958 Academy Award for Best Actress for this movie. And, if you recall, this was before the Academy Awards became nothing more than a popularity contest with barely hidden so-called socially conscious, forward-thinking tendencies. This was back when the Academy actually took the time to really think about each specific performance and judge which one they thought was the best of that box office year, rather than just trying to make a political statement or give awards to the people that they think need to win an award in a given year regardless of their actual performance in question.
Would someone come here and take this podium and soap box away from me? I don’t think the podium can take too much more pounding of my shoe. Anyway, the movie is beautifully haunting. I highly recommend it.
The DVD is pretty good, too. It’s not to the level of the Criterion Collection, but it’s good stuff. The jewel of this DVD is the commentary track. It’s a bit sparse and very dry–it’s done by a film historian for crying out loud–but the information presented is interesting and adds to the enjoyment of the movie. The only other feature is the MovieTone Newsreel from the announcement of the Academy Awards of 1958. There is the original theatrical trailer for the movie, which is nice to have for posterity.
The features that are noticably missing are the ones that shed a bit more light on MPD and how far treatment has come since the days of this movie. After all, nearly fifty years have passed since this movie came out. It would be nice to see the various types of treatment through the years and learn a bit more about the disease as well. Still, if you’ve never seen the movie, go buy it. If you are a fan of the cinema, you won’t regret it.