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Theodore Dreiser's novel, "Sister Carrie," first published in 1900, had its share of controversy and initial sales were poor. Today it is viewed as a major American classic. Dreiser's characters are victims of chance and circumstance and their motivations are fueled by their desires without serious thought to the consequences of their actions. Readers were especially shocked that the heroine's "sinful" ways would be rewarded in the end.
"Carrie" was filmed in 1950 but it sat on the shelf for two years before being released in 1952. The studio felt that the political climate at the time wasn't right for the film. In fact, this dvd version contains a scene that wasn't included in the American release but was in prints for the foreign markets. A note at the beginning of the film alludes to the politics of the time but really it just raises more questions than answers. This is a film begging for a commentary but unfortunately there isn't one.
With no extras provided, we only have the film to enjoy but what an excellent film this is. The technical aspects are top notch with William Wyler's skillful direction making this one of his best films, Victor Milner's sharp and unsentimental black and white photography and David Raskin's lovely score. But what really shines are the actors. Jennifer Jones, certainly one of the most beautiful actresses to ever work in Hollywood, is perfect as Carrie - naive and innocent in the beginning but learning the ways of the world too late, Eddie Albert as the charming but oily Drouet and Miriam Hopkins as the icy and shrewd Julia Hurstwood.Read more ›
The performances are uniformly good. Jennifer Jones was hardly considered an outstanding actress, but she's well cast here in the role of a passive, timid and one-dimensional Carrie. The ambitious side of Carrie in the novel is muted a bit for the screen. Olivier is exceptional in the lead character and his disintegration from rich restaurant manager to skid row bum is masterful. Perhaps the most overlooked performance is that of Eddie Albert, cast as Carrie's first lover. Albert is exceptional and most resembles the original character in Dreiser's book.
The ending will have you reaching for your handkerchief's, so be forewarned. For anyone who has not read Dreiser's novel, you will be prompted to lay hands on the book as soon as this film is concluded. Recommended viewing.
A tour de force performance by Laurence Olivier distinguishes this screen adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel "Sister Carrie". Under William Wyler's sure-handed direction, Olivier portrays a middle aged man whose comfortable, but unhappy, life tragically unravels when he persues the love of a young woman in a desperate last attempt at personal happiness. Sabotaged by fate, circumstance, and his own compromised morality, Olivier's descent into poverty, isolation, and despair is harrowing to witness. As the object of his passion, Jennifer Jones is very good indeed in the title role. Certainly, she has never appeared more lovely than she does in this film; it is critical that the audience believe that Olivier's character would risk everything for her, and sure enough, one can easily understand why Olivier is captivated by her charm and grace. Equally effective in key supporting roles are Miriam Hopkins in the role of Olivier's controlling shrew of a wife and Eddie Albert as a smooth-talking salesman who also loves Jones in his own opportunistic way.
The Paramount DVD edition of this neglected jewel is a mixed bag quality-wise. On the one hand, it includes a long-censored and important sequence showing Olivier's character at his lowest, sick and disheveled and destitute, spending the night in a filthy flophouse. On the other hand, the transfer quality is uniformly substandard, featuring gainy video that is sometimes plagued by vertical lines running through the picture, and often muddy audio. Regrettably, the DVD does not include any extras whatsoever, not even a package insert with liner notes. Despite these annoying flaws and omissions, this DVD is still very much worth a look just to see one of the greatest actors of the 20th century in what arguably may be his finest screen performance.
This movie really should have been called "George,"as it is the story of a man (Laurence Oliver) who ruins his life for love. Olivier is essentially different here, a humble man who suffers silently, simply wonderful, and shows here in his youth moments of the great acting of his last years (important, because he was aged up for this role). It is a simply brilliant film for him.
Jennifer Jones, playing Carrie, also gives one of her best performances, and their chemistry is fantastic. She was in her 30s and still looks 18, which helps a film where she ages from about 18 to 36.
I did not know anything of this "girl comes to the big city, gets compromised, and rises above" story. It is far more than this trite outline. This wonderful script dips and turns with the complexities of life relationships, legal relationships, and the things we don't tell each other.
Miriam Hopkins, even in her perky youth, was always rather arch and tart. This is used to fantastic advantage here in a very dislikable role. Eddie Albert is also used to best advantage as a flirty traveling salesman and lady killer.
In black and white, the story is about the divisions of poverty and wealth, and how life can take us through levels. Edith Head's magnificent costuming takes the leads from highs to lows, tenements to townhouses to the glamour of the stage in the early 1900s.
The score is by David Raksin, who did such memorable scores as WHIRLPOOL, THE BIG COMBO, FALLEN ANGEL, and PAT AND MIKE. While heavy handed by today's standards, it is musically complex and eloquent, and truly augments the emotional journey of the action.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just no. It doesn't follow the book in the least. Carrie miscarried in the movie and she wasn't even pregnant in the book.Published 19 days ago by Zach Doughty
Laurence Olivier is mesmerizing as a depressed middle-aged man who falls head-over-heels for Carrie. Read morePublished 4 months ago by T. Tinker
Lawerence Olivier and Jennifer Jones are excellent in this movie. I loved the story line.Published 4 months ago by Alicia S.
After reading the book and then watching this I was saddened that it was so upbeat. But still a good movie for it's time.Published 7 months ago by Petula65
Sir Laurence is perfect, at the peak of his acting. Jennifer Jones, the ideal woman Carrie. A woman so lovely that she attracts men, yet does not understand her own powerful... Read morePublished 10 months ago by William C. Ade Ttee
A disappointedly unsatisfying movie. Perhaps the book is better.Published 11 months ago by Adrienne Ann Timmer
Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie" given a fine rendition with Lawrence Olivier and Jennifer Jones. One rises and one falls. Life's comedy of errors.Published 11 months ago by George