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Mervyn LeRoy
Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Henry Travers
Writing Credits:
Paul Osborn, Paul H. Rameau

Accomplished physicist and avowed bachelor Pierre Curie falls for brilliant student Marie, and together they embark on the discovery of radium.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/29/2021

Romance of Radium Short
• Trailer


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Madame Curie [Blu-Ray] (1943)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 24, 2021)

Fresh off her Oscar-winning turn in 1942’s, Mrs. Miniver, Greer Garson returned with another award-nominated effort: 1943’s Madame Curie. Here we get a look at the life of the acclaimed scientist.

Set in Paris circa the late 19th century, Marie Sklowdowska (Garson) leaves Poland to defy gender-based conventions and study at the Sorbonne. Along the way, she meets physicist Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon), and they soon become research partners.

Marie and Pierre also develop into lovers and eventually marry. While they balance their personal relationship, they delve into research that leads to the discovery of radium.

When I reviewed Mrs. Miniver, I wrote this: “Unfortunately, the movie’s titular icon comes across as little more than a cipher. Kay seems more like a symbol than an actual character. The role asks Garson to look noble and vaguely stressed at times but little more than that. She fills those goals acceptably well, but I can’t figure out how she won an Oscar for this one-dimensional and unchallenging part.”

When I reviewed 1940’s Pride & Prejudice, I wrote this: “Garson simply fails to find Elizabeth’s charm and spunk. Whereas Elizabeth should seem intelligent and independent, Garson plays her as smug and unlikable through too much of the film.”

After two less than impressive experiences with Garson’s work, Curie becomes the third strike, and not just because she was far too old for the role. That occurred in Pride as well, and the notion of a nearly-40-year-old Garson as a mid-20s Marie does seem absurd.

Nonetheless, my issues with Garson don’t relate strongly to her “advanced age”. Instead, I continue to find her to offer a flat and uninspiring screen presence.

This doesn’t occur because I don’t relate to the performance styles of the era, as I can find tons of 1940s work I like. Heck, I can locate vastly superior acting in this movie, as pretty much the rest of the cast surpasses the stiff and dull Garson.

Garson’s weaknesses become all the more prominent because Pidgeon seems so much more natural. He makes Pierre engaging and human, in contrast with the mannered, stilted Garson.

Given the movie’s focus, a lackluster performance by its lead actor becomes a prominent drawback. No matter what other strengths a movie of this sort might boast, when the performer who dominates the film seems subpar, the film suffers a virtually fatal flaw.

Other aspects of Curie do compensate somewhat, with a quality supporting cast in the fore. In addition to Pidgeon, we find productive performances from folks like Henry Travers and May Whitty.

Also, we get attractive photography from Joseph Ruttenberg – maybe a little too appealing, as the cinematography makes the fact the movie filmed on soundstages so obvious. Still, Ruttenberg creates a striking look for the film.

Too bad the void at the top renders these positives moot. Greer Garson gives such a flat lead performance that any potential strengths amount to little.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Madame Curie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer worked very well, especially given the movie’s age.

Sharpness worked well overall. A few wides could seem a little soft, but the majority of the film appeared well-defined and accurate. Some closeups of Greer Garson also used “gentle focus”, clearly in an attempt to obscure the fact she was too old for the part.

Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems. Edge haloes remained absent, and with a layer of fine grain, I suspected no issues with digital noise reduction.

Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and contrast was appropriately displayed. The movie showed a good silvery look, and shadow detail was also concise and developed.

Source flaws failed to become an issue. The transfer eliminated those defects and left this as a clean presentation. I felt very happy with this appealing transfer.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it replicated the original material with positive quality. Dialogue seemed fine for its era, and was relatively crisp and well-defined with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.

The movie’s lush score seemed acceptably broad and clear. The material presented little low end but the dynamics were fine for a track of this vintage.

Though effects were similarly dated, they seemed adequately clean and realistic, and no aspects of the mix displayed signs of distortion. Background noise failed to become an issue. All in all, the audio worked fine for its age.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc includes a short called Romance of Radium. It runs nine minutes, 43 seconds and offers a 1937 summary of the Curie story.

Nothing all that memorable emerges here, but Romance offers an interesting curiosity. Of most significance: Jacques Tourneur of Cat People fame directed the short.

A fairly rudimentary biopic, Madame Curie might’ve become a decent effort with a better lead performance. However, Greer Garson renders the title role so inert that she handicaps the rest of the movie. The Blu-ray comes with positive picture and audio but it lacks much in terms of bonus materials. This becomes a limp drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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