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Back Street (1941)/Back Street (1961) Double Feature (1941)

Susan Hayward , Margaret Sullavan , David Miller , Robert Stevenson  |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Susan Hayward, Margaret Sullavan, Charles Boyer, John Gavin, Richard Carlson
  • Directors: David Miller, Robert Stevenson
  • Producers: Ross Hunter
  • Format: Color, Black & White, DVD-ROM, Full Screen, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Run Time: 196 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005N7Z7Y4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,962 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Fannie Hurst's novel becomes a pair of classic melodramas in this twin bill. First, Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullavan are the star-crossed lovers in 1941's Back Street. Reunited in New York City years after their marriage plans were sabotaged, Sullavan discovers that Boyer is now wed to another. Desperate to remain a part of his life, she agrees to become his mistress. With Richard Carlson, Tim Holt, Frank McHugh. Then, producer Ross Hunter's 1961 filming of Back Street stars Susan Hayward (in a career-defining role) as a woman who meets and falls for a handsome Marine (John Gavin) returning home from World War II. Fate brings them back together when Hayward moves to the Big Apple to start a fashion design career, but upon learning that Gavin now has a wife and child, she must stay in the shadows and is forced to accept her role as his mistress. Co-stars Vera Miles, Charles Drake, Virginia Grey. 196 min. total. Standard/Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back Street finally makes it to DVD! November 6, 2011
By Dave
"Back Street" (1961) starring Susan Hayward was pretty much the last VHS I owned that I couldn't get rid of yet because it hadn't made it to DVD yet. With Blu-ray out now, I figured it was a lost cause to think that Universal would ever release it on disc. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only is it now available from TCM (Turner Classic Movies), but it was packaged as a set with the earlier version (1941) starring Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullavan. First I had to watch my favorite--the glossy Technicolor version that pulled out all the stops to make it one of the biggest melodramas of all time. The transfer looks virtually pristine; rich Technicolor, no flaws that I can see, and solid audio that shows off the heart-tugging score by Frank Skinner (who also did the score for the 1941 version). I was even more pleasantly surprised to find out that both versions have a nice selection of extras; you can scan through the vintage publicity stills and lobby cards for each movie. Definitely more than I bargained for. The 1941 version does not look as good; shot in black and white, it has plenty of scratches, but definitely watchable. After having been able to watch both, I can say that I still am biased towards the 1961 version, which took a number of liberties with the storyline, originally based on a Fannie Hurst novel.

In both, Ray/Rae Smith is a single gal who happens to fall in love with a man just about to be married. In both movies, the man chooses Ray/Rae over his fiancé, and in both movies, fate keeps them apart at the crucial moment and the men move on thinking that Ray/Rae has moved on. Years later, the two meet up again and resume the affair. In the 1941 version, I felt very little for the leads (played by Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullavan).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The double life December 16, 2011
Fannie Hurst's melodramatic 1931 novel about the life of a wealthy man's mistress over the course of several decades has been three times made into a film, the first (and least famous) in the year after it was published, with Irene Dunne. Gathered in this set are the two other and more famous versions: the campy 1961 version with Susan Hayward; and the renowned 1941 version with Margaret Sullavan and Charles Boyer. The 1961 adaptation is yet another in the long line of swanky soapers turned out in that decade to star aging movie stars like Hayward and Lana Turner; Hayward was much past her prime when this came out, and had ceased to turn in the kind of fine work she had done in the 1940s. Here she's too hard (although she looks terrific in her Jean-Louis gowns) and the dated material can't really carry her, or the wooden John Gavin, along. In contrast, though in the 1941 version the Hurst source material was already dated, Margaret Sullavan redeems everything with her performance, and strikes great sparks with her co-star Charles Boyer (whom she had begged Universal to work with). Boyer isn't much in his scenes without Sullavan, but becomes transformed whenever she's onscreen. The confusingly elaborate plot, which involves the early days of horseless carriages (in Cincinnati, for some reason) doesn't really help things much, and Sullavan's turn-of-the-century outfits, with her giant picture hats and lace-trimmed highbutton collars, aren't flattering to her. But this is one of her best roles, and allows her to project her peculiar dreamy complexity that redeemed just about every movie she was ever in. Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back Street October 31, 2011
By Ilona
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Two classic versions of a timeless movie. Great acting performances. Somehow, fate works in mysterious ways. Sad ending, thought-provoking, though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Purchase!!!!!! November 13, 2013
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Received the DVDs very fast. Excellent condition. Will purchase more soon. Had never seen the 1941 edition. LOVED IT!!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites September 4, 2013
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This is a tear jerker but a really good movie. Susan Hayward has always been my favorite actress and I was never disappointed in any movie she appeared in. She would have made a great Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Co-star John Gavin so handsome and unfortunately did not stay in Hollywood very long.
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