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Hilda Crane is a dramatic film produced by Herbert B. Swope Jr. (The Bravados). The film stars Jean Simmons as Hilda Crane: a woman in her late twenties who has been divorced twice and is getting proposals by other men for marriage. Hilda is thought of as having had a "checkered past" by her acquaintances and others because of her multiple previous marriages and relationships.
However, the reality is that Hilda Crane just wants to have a normal relationship and to settle down but the societal judgments on her puts her in a difficult situation. Hilda moves back in with her mother and tries to start her life over again. Her mom introduces her to Russell Burns (Guy Madison), who runs a successful business as a builder.
Although Hilda doesn't love him she wants to try and have a normal relationship. She soon finds that Russell's mother, Mrs. Burns (Evelyn Varden) won't allow her to be involved with her son without a fight: Mrs. Burns constantly puts up a mean-spirited front with Hilda as she views her as having been around-the-block with too many men. It causes a rift that provokes high emotions.
The film feels extremely dated in today's modern world. In fact, it's quite grating how judgmental so many of the film's characters are towards Hilda. In today's modern age and society, divorce rates are high. It is a fact that many marriages end in divorce. Not every marriage ends up working out. The subject is one which would have been considered more difficult to discuss in the 1950's but in our society today you can actually hear the story creaking with it's dated material. The view of Hilda as if she's a "cortisan" is downright absurd. Characters repeatedly leap to judge her in the film and all Hilda wants is a fresh start.
From a technical standpoint, the film is not a terrible effort. The cinematography by Joseph MacDonald (The Young Lions, The Sand Pebbles) is certainly effective and manages to make the film slightly more bearable. The CinemaScope photography is effective and polished. The music score by David Raksin (Laura) is also a highlight and carries with it an almost film-noir style at times. The costume designs done by Charles Le Maire (All About Eve, The Day the Earth Stood Still) are also well done.
Written and directed by Philip Dunne (Blue Denim, which I also reviewed), based on a play by Samson Raphaelson (Suspicion), Hilda Crane isn't as effective a film as it wants to be. Although the film seems to actually be trying to make a more positive statement about the title character by the conclusion, the extremely dated nature of the storytelling makes it often unbearable. The film isn't terrible from any production aesthetic standpoint but the storytelling is disappointing to say the least. The film is so extremely dated that it positively grates on one's nerves.
The film is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation. This is an impressive presentation with good overall clarity and depth to the image. The technicolor photography impresses. This 35mm CinemaScope film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. It's an admirable presentation of the film which looks impressive on the format.
The audio is presented in both 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. The stereo audio preserves the original sound design while the surround sound opens up the audio slightly for the score to be more enveloping. English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are provided.
Booklet featuring an essay by Twilight Time's Julie Kirgo
Isolated Music Score Track
Jean Simmons: Picture Perfect Biography A&E Documentary (SD, 44 min.) explores the life and career of the film's star
Hilda Crane is a underwhelming film with a dated sensibility. Though the filmmaking has decent production work behind-the-scenes, the storytelling feels positively ancient. Twilight Time's Blu-ray release, on the other hand, is superb. Twilight Time again demonstrates their commitment to preserving film's and presenting them with high quality presentations.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.