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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Nunnally Johnson
Cast:
Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb, Edwin Jerome, Alena Murray, Nancy Kulp, Douglas Spencer, Terry Ann Ross
Writing Credits:
Corbett Thigpen (book), Hervey M. Cleckley (book), Nunnally Johnson

Synopsis:
Eve's husband puts her in therapy, where Eve discovers that her blackouts stem from a rare multiple personality condition. This acclaimed psychological drama brilliantly explores the dimensions of the human mind.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Stereo
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 10/5/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Aubrey Solomon
• Movietone Newsreels
• Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Three Faces Of Eve: Fox Studio Classics (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 5, 2004)

Possibly more than anything before or since, 1957’s The Three Faces of Eve led to greater public awareness and understanding of multiple personality disorders. Folks in that era really viewed psychiatry as a cure for all society’s ills, and the misbegotten Eve bears out that attitude.

Eve opens awkwardly with an introduction from narrator Alistair Cooke. He lets us know that we’ll see a true story unfold in front of us and sets up the situations and characters. We learn that in August 1951, Eve White (Joanne Woodward) went to see psychiatrist Dr. Luther (Lee J. Cobb) because she suffers from headaches and blackout spells. She lives with her gruff husband Ralph (David Wayne) and four-year-old daughter Bonnie (Terry Ann Ross). Sadly, they lost a baby only a few months earlier.

Dr. Luther treats Eve and she seems to improve, but in the spring of 1952, she again runs into problems. Ralph finds some gaudy clothes that he thinks Eve purchased, but she denies it even when a salesclerk verifies her activities. When Ralph reacts angrily, Eve suffers another “spell” and attempts to strangle Bonnie.

They return to Dr. Luther, and Eve tells him she sometimes hears voices that tell her to do things such as leave Ralph. She shows the source of these orders when she switches personalities during the session into “Eve Black”, a bawdy, fun-loving party girl. The rest of the movie follows her treatment for multiple personalities and all the events that make her progress difficult, including the eventual emergence of “Jane”, a third “face”.

Woodward won an Oscar for her performance(s), and she fully deserved that prize. Woodward and Woodward alone almost makes this tripe work. She occasionally comes across as a little theatrical, but she usually balances the three personalities well. Not surprisingly, Eve Black is the broadest and cartoonist of the bunch, but Woodward manages to bring humanity to even her, and the other two feel like believable personalities. It’s a deft and smooth performance.

Without Woodward, this film would genuinely stink. Every era has its well-meaning films that detail various health issues, but I find those of the Forties and Fifties to seem especially stiff and condescending. I don’t doubt that the filmmakers intended to do public good with their works, and I also know that flicks like Eve helped provide better public understanding of various maladies. Granted, multiple personalities are too rare for greater awareness to really matter - it’s not like there are teems of sufferers who need compassion - but hopefully movies of this sort give the public broader awareness of and sensitivity to general psychological issues.

Unfortunately, the film promotes understanding but fails to offer a coherent and compelling narrative. Movies of this sort often feel like little more than public service announcement. Eve barely elevates itself above the level of the sort of film we’d see in high school health classes. It tries too hard to educate and doesn’t care if it entertains or moves us.

This means that much of the time, Eve comes across as little more than a filmed case study. A chatty flick, it doesn’t understand that movies work best when they show and don’t tell. It spells out everything and doesn’t attempt to use the medium to its advantage.

A stodgy social commentary, The Three Faces of Eve gets points for a strong lead performance. Actually, all the actors do well, even though none other than Woodward gets much meat into which to sink their teeth. Unfortunately, awkward pacing and too much explicit exposition bogs down Eve and makes it a pedantic chore to watch.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

The Three Faces of Eve appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This wasn’t an exceptional transfer, but it mostly replicated the source material well.

Sharpness appeared solid. No problems with softness manifested themselves. The flick came across as nicely detailed and distinctive. I noticed no issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects, but light edge enhancement popped up periodically throughout the film.

Blacks looked nicely deep and firm, and contrast seemed excellent. The low-light shots demonstrated solid clarity and definition, with no issues connected to excessive opacity. Mild print flaws cropped up through the film, but they remained modest for a more than 45-year-old flick. I noticed occasional examples of specks and grit, but overall the image was quite clean. I fluctuated between a “B+” and a “B“ but went with the higher grade simply because so much of the flick looked so strong.

As with most of the releases in the Fox Studio Classics series, The Three Faces of Eve presented a remixed stereo track and the original monaural audio. Like most of the releases in the Fox Studio Classics series, the mono mix outdid the stereo one, but not as substantially. The soundfield heard in the stereo version lacked much definition. Essentially the domain displayed broad mono; it spread the audio in a vague manner across the forward channels, but it failed to substantial accuracy or delineation. At the start, speech showed some prominent bleeding across the channels, but that diminished during most of the movie. Those parts demonstrated slightly dodgy localization but these usually weren’t significant. A few examples cropped up like during a sequence at the Big Apple, but those were exceptions.

Mostly the stereo track just offered a vague echo, though this didn’t seem as obnoxiously enforced as in some other Studio Classics releases. Audio quality appeared fairly decent, at least. Speech demonstrated some edginess but generally remained acceptably distinct and intelligible. Effects were somewhat thin and tinny, but they sounded reasonably clean and accurate, and they different suffer from notable distortion. The score also suffered from trebly tendencies, but these weren’t excessive, and the music seemed fairly rich given the age of the material.

The problematic delineation of the stereo spectrum and the somewhat excessive reverberation caused most of the problems related to this mix. Due to those reasons, I preferred the mono track. Speech still showed a little edginess, but it seemed a little warmer and more natural since it lacked the echo. Effects and music also displayed similar dynamics for both tracks, but the greater focus on the single-channel presentation and the absence of reverberation made the elements sound clearer and tighter. I didn’t notice the extreme difference between stereo and mono heard on some of the crummier remixes, but I still definitely preferred the mono mix for Eve. As such, I thought the mono track merited a “B-“.

All the “Fox Studio Classics” DVDs come with supplements, but Eve includes a smaller than usual set. The prime attraction stems from an audio commentary with film historian Aubrey Solomon. He previously appeared on tracks for The Inn of the Sixth Happiness and The Snake Pit. Here he offers a running, screen-specific discussion. He opens with a look at the story’s history and cinematic development and then goes into the efforts to find an Eve. Solomon mentions a number of actresses considered for the part and tells us a little about Woodward. From there we learn a little about the score and the various participants. He gets into a particularly good examination of director Nunnally Johnson’s career and time at Fox; as part of that, he provides a short history of Cinemascope and other subjects related to the studio. Solomon also occasionally compares the script to the finished product, and we find out about cut sequences; it turns out the original cut of the movie ran 30 minutes longer than the ultimate version.

When Solomon talks, he usually offers appropriate notes. However, he falls silent too much of the time. Dead air stands as the main problem with this commentary. Despite that flaw, the piece includes more than enough good material to make it a positive experience.

Many of these “Fox Studio Classics” DVDs include archival footage, and that goes for Eve as well. We find one Movietone Newsreel called “Academy Awards”. The two-minute and 20-second clip shows highlights of the year’s ceremony at which Woodward won an Oscar. It’s mildly interesting.

Lastly, some advertisements appear. In addition to the trailer for Song, we find a section called Movie Classics. This includes promos for All About Eve, The Diary of Anne Frank, From the Terrace, The Long, Hot Summer and The Snake Pit.

While I admire the attempts made to educate the public about mental health issues, The Three Faces of Eve is too awkward and stilted to turn into a good movie. When the film succeeds, it does so due to a strong lead performance by Joanne Woodward; without her, it would have been a disaster. The DVD presents very good picture with mediocre stereo audio and a mostly interesting audio commentary. Watch Eve for Joanne Woodward and try to ignore the stiffness of the rest.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.625 Stars Number of Votes: 24
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