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DVD Review: The Diary Of Anne Frank (1959): 50th Anniversary Edition

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It’s nice to know that some movies don’t lose their impact over the course of fifty years. Take George Stevens’ The Diary Of Anne Frank, for instance. Even after a half of a century, this movie is still capable of conveying the terror that one feels from hiding out in fear. Not that I would know much about hiding out in fear, of course. The closest I ever came to Anne Frank’s predicament might have been crouching behind a row of lockers in the gym to avoid one of the many bullies that taunted me day after day in high school. It’s definitely not the same, is it?

Chances are, you’re already familiar with this story. I mean, who isn’t, right? Well, I’d like to think that everyone has heard of it — although I fear that there probably are a few poorly-educated folks out there that haven’t heard of Anne Frank. The same kind of people that would pursue a nerd like me through dimly lighted locker rooms, no doubt.

1942. Hitler has invaded Holland. And members of several families of Jewish heritage are forced to hide out in the attic of a spice factory. Among them are the Van Daans (Shelley Winters, Lou Jacobi, and Richard Beymer); old Dr. Dussell (Ed Wynn); and the Franks (Joseph Schildkraut, Gusti Huber, Diane Baker, and Millie Perkins), the youngest of which is Anne (Perkins), a feisty thirteen-year-old girl whose words would later become part of history.

As a cinematographer during the war, director George Stevens filmed the Allies as they reclaimed Europe from the Nazis, and experienced the horrors of the Holocaust first hand. Thus, the filmmaker was able to incorporate a realistic touch to this film that is missing in most other Hollywood productions. And now 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings his visionary masterpiece in an all-new 50th Anniversary Edition. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer of this black and white classic is superb — and the black levels are excellent. Accompanying the movie is a new 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround mix that works fairly well, given the fact that the movie really isn’t 5.1 material. The 4.0 and mono stereo mixes from the 2004 DVD release are also here, along with a mono stereo Spanish dub. Optional English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.

Most of the special features that were on the 2004 disc have been dumped here, with the exception of the audio commentary with George Stevens, Jr. and Millie Perkins on Side A. Side B (the flipper side of the disc) contains some new material, including several featurettes about the making of the film, the director’s involvement during the war (warning: there’s some disturbing footage there, parents), etc. A Fox Movie Channel special and a few galleries round out the supplemental material here. While some aficionados may want to keep their older DVD for the now-absent bonus features, The Diary Of Anne Frank (1959): 50th Anniversary Edition brings a lot of new bonus material that should be seen — much like the film itself.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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