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The Story Of Temple Drake Criterion Blu-ray Review


“The Story Of Temple Drake” is a compelling Pre-Code film.

Based on William Faulkner’s novel “Sanctuary,” “The Story of Temple Drake” is a Pre-Code talkie that revolves around the titular character who is the granddaughter of a Judge. Temple is a bit of promiscuous wild child who refuses to sleep with anyone or settle down with anyone (including a Lawyer she loves named Stephen). She mostly likes to use and toy with those that she goes out with. After being out with one such man, the two get in a car accident and are forcefully taken to a criminal den by a creeper named Trigger. Trigger has eyes for Temple and essentially kidnaps her (among other heinous acts). Can Temple get out of this horrendous situation?

1933’s “The Story of Temple Drake” is often labeled as a melodrama but I think that sells it short. The risque and suggestive Stephen Roberts directed film (which was controversial at the time of its release) is part morality tale, part cautionary tale, part redemption story, and part crime drama. The movie has a real edge to it as it explores subjects such as rape, murder, violence, duality, truth, sexuality, etc. It certainly shows material that you wouldn’t see for decades after the code was implemented and for that reason alone the movie is a real curiosity from a historical perspective. Outside of that, it’s just an engaging and perfectly paced piece of cinema that has a surprising amount of depth.

Miriam Hopkins (who plays the titular character) really shines here. Hopkins digs into the layers of the Temple character in a way that goes beyond the script. Also notable here is Jack La Rue as the loathsome villain Trigger. Every time he is on screen he is chilling.


Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? The print has been cleaned up to be sure, but it’s not without its flaws. Some scenes appear wavy or riddled with lines (although they are few and far between).

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? A little snowy in spots but adequate.

* A booklet featuring credits, poster art and an essay by author Geoffrey O’Brien.
* “Honest Expression”- Film critic Mick LaSalle talks about the 1930s, “The Story of Temple Drake” and Pre-Code cinema.
* “Pre-Code Powerhouse”- An interview with film critic Imogen Sara Smith about Miriam Hopkins and the cinematic visual style of ‘Temple.’
* “Casting A Shadow”- Cinematographer John Bailey and Matt Severson (Director of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) look at old storyboards/archival material and talk about the cinematography of ‘Temple.’

December 10, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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