sat 19/10/2019

The Queen of Spades | reviews, news & interviews

The Queen of Spades

The Queen of Spades

Reissue of Thorold Dickinson's classic supernatural melodrama is ace

Anton Walbrook and Dame Edith Evans in The Queen of Spades

Family been bickering over games again this Christmas? Take the blighters to this fabulous supernatural melodrama and they'll learn soon enough what happens to a dirty card cheat. Long unavailable, Thorold Dickinson's 1949 adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's eerie short story, wherein a penniless Russian officer and crusty beldame sell their souls for the secret of winning at a simple game of chance, will be released on DVD, not before time, on 18 January. Meanwhile, it opens today for a short run in cinemas where its baroque imagery and outsize performances, from Anton Walbrook and Dame Edith Evans, properly belong.

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Don't know whether it's still around, but I've enjoyed this masterpiece on DVD for some time, in an Anchor Bay double with the perfect flesh-creeping post-Xmas entertainment Dead of Night. Some double bill, that. Another recommendation: if you're operatically minded, do go on and get the Glyndebourne DVD of Tchaikovsky's operatic version with the charismatic Yuri Marusin in the title role and Felicity Palmer as the old woman. Richard Hudson's designs for Graham Vick are extraordinary.

The Anchor Bay double bill looks on the surface like a fantastic deal, but it is, I believe, now out of distribution (second-hand copies are being offered on Amazon from £43), and the extras (posters, stills galleries) are less interesting. Also, it's a North American (Region 1) format, so you need a multi-region DVD player.

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