Blu-ray Review: MY COUSIN RACHEL (1952)

MY COUSIN RACHEL was directed by Henry Koster from a screenplay by Nunnally Johnson and stars Olivia de Havilland, Richard Burton, Audrey Dalton, Ronald Squire, George Dolenz, John Sutton and Tudor Owen. The score is by Franz Waxman.

Based on the best-selling novel by Daphne du Maurier (author of the peerless Rebecca), My Cousin Rachel (1952) weaves an eerie tale of Gothic romance, set against the backdrop of the wild, rock-ribbed Cornish coast. Richard Burton, in his first American film role, stars as an anguished young Englishman, torn between dark suspicion of and uncontrollable passion for his guardian’s widow, the alluring and mysterious Rachel (Olivia de Havilland). With atmospheric direction by Henry Koster (The Robe) and a darkly romantic score by Franz Waxman (Sunset Boulevard), My Cousin Rachel is a seductive entry in the annals of cinematic ambiguity.

The movie follows Philip Ashley (Richard Burton) whose wealthy cousin Ambrose mysteriously dies after traveling to Florence, Italy to get married. This comes as a shocker to Philip who travels to Florence to check on his cousin only to learn of the sad news when he arrives. Philip is left skeptical about Ambrose’s death and wants some answers from his missing wife Rachel (Olivia de Havilland) who ends up paying Philip’s home a surprise visit.

Once the young heir meets his cousin’s widow, he quickly falls for her beauty and grace and is cast under her seductive spell. Philip’s obssession for Rachel grows into an uncomfortable relationship because she reveals that she doesn’t feel the same way about him and he doesn’t handle it well at all. The big question is, is it Philip who’s lost his senses about everything or does Rachel actually have a plan to claim her late husband’s estate from him. Philip’s suspicion and paranoia about Rachel are somewhat revealed in the finale that ultimately ends in tragedy.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about My Cousin Rachel by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, My Cousin Rachel was another first time watch for me and I really enjoyed it. I had previously viewed the 2017 remake for this gothic-style romantic thriller and even though it was a good watch, I definitely think this 1952 classic is the better of the two. The story is full of eerie suspense, questionable motives and uncomfortable romance and as the movie plays out everything slowly reveals itself – kind of. What I like most is that the finale is sort of left for the viewer to decide what’s what because there’s still some questions looming in the end. Did Rachel have a sinister scheme going or was she simply misunderstood? I thought the actors did a great job with their characters with Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton delivering some stellar performances. Henry Koster captured eveything he needed to make this suspense-filled movie such an interesting watch and his work is complimented nicely by some impressive cinematography. My Cousin Rachel is now available on Blu-ray and has a limited edition run of just 3,000 units from Twilight Time.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 98 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Full Frame (1.33:1) / B&W / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (2.0 on some players)

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include Twilight Time’s trademark isolated music track, a vintage radio show and the original theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • My Cousin Rachel Vintage Radio Show (52:52)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (02:49)

 

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