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Carrie on DVD

Forget Brian DePalma or any other production based on Stephen King’s breakthrough novel, this Carrie is a classic from the great William Wyler, the man who crafted such films as Wuthering Heights, Ben-Hur, Funny Girl, How to Steal a Million, Mrs. Miniver and many more.

Carrie (Jennifer Jones) is a small town girl determined to make it in the big city of Chicago. Alas, all she finds is menial factory work slaving in the dark over a sewing machine and when she is injured due to the working conditions she’s dumped unceremoniously.

Thrown onto her own devices, she looks up a man named Charlie Drouet (Eddie Albert), who had been kind to her earlier. He gets her to move in with him (a scandalous thing in the pre-automobile era in which Carrie is set) and she becomes a kept woman.

But she also meets George Hurstwood (Laurence Olivier), a classy fellow who manages an equally classy restaurant. Hurstwood and Carrie fall for each other and when Drouet finds out he reveals to her Hurstwood’s dark secret: he’s married, with a family!

Carrie is out of the frying pan and into the fire. But while we’re never really sure whether or not Drouet is a cad, Hurstwood definitely isn’t; he loves Carrie deeply, so much so that he’s willing to throw away his comfortable life and start over again with her. Of course it doesn’t hurt that his wife (Miriam Hopkins) is an evil shrew.

Alas, through accidental circumstances and desperation, George makes off with a wad of cash from the restaurant at which he was employed and this leaves him a marked man with no future.

So the tale unfolds of Carrie’s and George’s life together and, eventually, apart. George begins a long, long and painful slide into irrelevance but because he loves Carrie he puts up with it and continues his best efforts to turn things around. He’d rather be with her and a pauper than anything else, which says quite a bit for the man’s character.

Carrie wants more, however, and she takes the bull by the horns. Pursuing a career in the theater, she works her way up from chorus girl to featured performer and as her fortunes rise she and George grow more apart. Eventually they separate, Carrie never really knowing what was behind George’s fall and much later, when she does discover the truth (thanks again to Mr. Drouet), she vows to find him and make things right.

We won’t tell you how it works out.

This is an extremely powerful film, with a performance from Olivier that shows clearly why he was considered by many to be the greatest actor of his time. He has grace and class and character, and during his long fall our souls cry for him and his misfortune. Sure, George brought it on himself, but he really isn’t a bad guy. This is a tale of forbidden love and what people will do for love.

A tragic romance….

Jones is also very good in the title role, and holds her own opposite the great Olivier. Albert and Hopkins, as the love struck traveling salesman and the incredible shrew, are also very good.

This movie was quite controversial on its release, though today no one would think twice about people shacking up. And this DVD brings us a restored scene that was apparently excised from the original release because it was too much. That scene is of George at the depths of his despair and it should never have been cut, but at least it’s back now.

The DVD is fine. Presented in its original form, the picture is full frame and black and white, so it isn’t 16x9 TV compatible unless you zoom and/or stretch it to fill the rectangular screen. Picture quality is good, though, will an image that’s nice and sharp.

Audio is Dolby Digital mono and, typically, is unremarkable – though the detail is good enough that you can hear everything quite well.

There are no extras other than the restored scene (which appears in its proper place in the film).

Carrie, from Paramount Home Entertainment
121 min. full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Starring Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Jones, Eddie Albert, Miriam Hopkins
Written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, produced and directed by William Wyler


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