The Queen of Spades
(PG) 90min (Optimum)
Following its recent rediscovery, re-mastering and reissue in cinemas, this criminally overlooked British masterpiece receives its DVD debut 60 years after it was made. Adapted from a story by Alexander Pushkin, it was directed by the largely unrecognised genius Thorold Dickinson, whose Hollywood calling card production of Gaslight was suppressed by the producer of the concurrent American version.
The Queen of Spades is a visually arresting film, heavy with eerie atmosphere and featuring an intense performance by Anton Walbrook as a soldier in Napoleonic era St Petersburg who, caught up in the grip of gambling fever, turns to the dark arts in order to discover the secret of the cards. The balmy baroque styling of the film was out of touch with the realism of post-war British cinema and with the European neo-realist and New Wave movements in 1949, which partly explains why it never got the credit it so richly deserved. Extras: introduction by fan Martin Scorsese, film historian analysis, interviews with Dickinson.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Sat 26 Dec.