DVD Review: Fedora

Billy Wilder was one of the greatest directors working during the Hollywood golden age. The list of credits to his name, over a career which spanned fifty years, is mind-boggling. He was such a versatile film-maker and a brilliant screenwriter. Wilder’s credits include Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, Sabrina and Double Indemnity. In his penultimate film, Fedora, he takes a swipe at Hollywood’s treatment of ageing movie stars.

Barry Detweiler (William Holden), is desperate. The ageing Hollywood director badly needs a hit. He pins all his hopes on tracking down the elusive Fedora (Marthe Keller), who despite her advancing years has retained her youthful looks. She was a great movie star who’s retreated from celebrity life to a small Greek island. On arrival he discovers that she’s being held hostage in a villa by a bizarre group of people. This clique consists of her doctor (José Ferrer), chauffeur (Gottfried John), personal servant (Frances Sternhagen) and the mysterious Countess Sobryansky (Hildegard Knef).

Fedora is a really clever film which works on two levels. The first hour or so plays out like a thriller where Barry tries to discover what is going on at the villa and rescue the star. After that it evolves into something completely different. At times the acting feels a bit hammy, not helped by some interesting dubbing, but a strong and intriguing plot overrides any issue this may cause. There are also slightly bizarre cameos from Michael York and Henry Fonda as themselves. The new restoration looks stunning.

Special Edition Features:

  • New high-definition 1080p presentation
  • Deleted Scenes
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Restoration Comparison
  • A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard, a new essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns, a vintage piece on the film’s production, and archival imagery

Fedora is released on dual format blu-ray and DVD by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on Monday.

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