Alexander Korda's Private Lives in May

Alexander Korda's Private Lives - Eclipse 16
May 12th
Retail $59.95, Our: $44.99
The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934), The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) & Rembrandt (1936)
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Criterion has announced a May 12th release date for #16 in their Eclipse Series - Alexander Korda's Private Lives - Criterion Eclipse Series 16. The four disc set includes: The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934), The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) and Rembrandt (1936).

There have been scattered previous PD releases of Catherine and Henry VIII as well as an MGM release of Rembrandt, however this will be the first Region 1 release of Don Juan. And with Criterion standards, elements are sure to be the best available.

Stars include: Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Wendy Barrie, Elsa Lanchester, Merle Oberon, Douglas Fairbanks & Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

It will retail for $59.95, but is available at for only $44.99. Details below.

Though born to modest means in Hungary, Alexander Korda would go on to become one of the most important filmmakers in the history of British cinema. A producer, writer, and director who navigated toward subjects of major historical significance and mythical distinction, Korda made a name for his production company, London Films, with the Oscar-winning The Private Life of Henry VIII. He then continued his populist investigation behind the scenes and in the bedrooms of such figures as Catherine the Great, Don Juan, and Rembrandt. Mixing stately period drama with surprising satire, these films are exemplars of grand 1930s moviemaking.


The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)
Charles Laughton gulps beer and chomps on mutton, in his first of many iconic screen roles, as King Henry VIII, the ultimate anti-husband. Alexander Korda’s first major international success is a raucous, entertaining, even poignant peek into the boudoirs of the infamous king and his six wives.

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)
A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia. With its luxurious renderings of the eighteenth-century St. Petersburg royal court and its nearly screwball evocation of Catherine and Peter’s teasing relationship, The Rise of Catherine the Great was a wise and worthy follow-up to Henry VIII.

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. makes his big-screen swan song with Korda’s deliciously satiric deflation of the Don Juan myth. After having faked his own death and escaped Seville, the aging lothario returns, only to find that he has been promptly forgotten; perhaps Merle Oberon’s raven-haired beauty can coax him back into business. Don Juan was a rare “talkie” for Fairbanks, and a shrewd poking at the actor’s own persona.

Rembrandt (1936)
Charles Laughton once again teams up with Korda for this moving, elegantly shot biopic about the Dutch painter. Beginning when Rembrandt’s reputation was at its height, the film then tracks his quiet descent into loneliness and isolated self-expression, following the death of his wife to the unveiling of Night Watch to the ecclesiastical excommunication of his late-in-life lover and maid, Hendrickje Stoffels (played by Laughton’s wife, Elsa Lanchester). Though black and white, Rembrandt is shot by cinematographer Georges PĂ©rinal (Le million, The Fallen Idol) with an attention to light that’s particularly Rembrandtesque.


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