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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Eva (Directors Suite) (1962)

Eva (Directors Suite) (1962)

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Released 15-Dec-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Gallery-Poster
Booklet-Three Journey to Venice: Joseph Losey's Eva
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 103:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joseph Losey

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jeanne Moreau
Stanley Baker
Virna Lisi
James Villiers
Riccardo Garrone
Lisa Gastoni
Checco Rissone
Enzo Fiermonte
Nona Medici
Roberto Paoletti
Alex Revidis
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Michel Legrand

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Eva smokes like a chimney!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     James Hadley Chase was the author of over 50 crime novels set in the seamy underbelly of the urban United States. His novels typified everything there was to know about American hard boiled fiction. Except, Chase (real name Rene Brabazon Raymond) was British and never really lived in America. Using a variety of pseudonyms he pumped out a series of novels to little critical acclaim but to great enthusiasm of his readers. Chase is probably best known for his first novel, the kidnap drama No Orchids For Miss Blandish, which was filmed in 1948 (and 1971 by Robert Aldrich as The Grissom Gang) and was a sensation for the level of violence on the page and on display in the film. Growing up in a household with a father who collected every Chase first edition meant a ready supply of pulpy noirish novels with their lurid covers usually featuring some dame with a smoking gun and some poor sap paying the ultimate price for an indiscretion.

     Eve, the novel, was first published in 1945 but was not filmed until 1962 when Joseph Losey, exiled from the US due to the anti-Communist blacklist, accepted an offer from producers Robert and Raymond Hakim to direct this downbeat story. The story of the film itself is another grand drama as the brothers shot down Losey’s plans for a sprawling epic 168 minute version of the film and cut it by a third. In the essay booklet which accompanies this Madman DVD, film writer Geoff Gardner is at pains to point out that the Hakim's were far from the philistines they have often been called, instead having produced some of the most unique and challenging European works including La Bete Humaine, L'Avventura and Belle De Jour. The full length version doesn't exist on DVD although it is possible to get a copy of the 116 minute version, apparently in terrible shape. We have to content ourselves here with the 103 minute version.

     The film, like the book, is not plot heavy. In fact the two are fairly closely aligned in dialogue and moral vacuity despite the shift of the action from Los Angeles to Venice.

Tyvian Jones (Stanley Baker) is a writer whose meagre output, a single book about his life as a coal miner, has met with huge success. He has settled in Venice with his girlfriend Francesca (Virna Lisi) as the film adaptation of his novel has made him rich. Pressure is mounting on him to come up with a follow up hit but Tyvian doesn't have it in him. He is distracted, angry, arrogant and pretty unlikeable. Retreating to his Venice digs for the night he is surprised to see that two strangers have broken into his house. The anger turns to lust when he is entranced by the titular Eva (Jeanne Moreau). He outmuscles her male "friend" and swoops in on the delicate beauty - only to get a mighty crack on the head with an ashtray for his troubles. This beauty bites! In time honoured noirish fashion she warns him to stay away from her, he ignores that advice and she then proceeds to take him apart. So begins an inexorable slide into degradation as Tyvian is powerless to her will.

     The Venice filming location provides a sensual visual feast and Losey has commented in the past that this is amongst his most personal films. It shows. The film is languorous and indulgent, whether indulgent in a good way or a bad is a personal choice, and showcases two actors who were red hot at the time. Again it is a personal choice but I never quite understood the desirability of Moreau. At the time of Eva she was a top European star and is a great actor but her tough girl looks here make it difficult to understand why Tyvian would give up the absolutely gorgeous Virna Lisi for her. Maybe its a bad girl thing?! Baker brings his Welsh birth to the fore and is not afraid to play unlikeable - there is not much depth and magnificence in this character. Eva keeps telling him that he is "not a man" and she is right. Her motivations remain uncertain - is it just business or does she derive sadistic glee from destroying this suitor? Baker would work with Losey again to greater success in Accident (not to mention his career defining performance in Zulu).

     Although it has its proponents Eva is something of a curiosity rather than an immensely engaging experience. Culture vultures will be surprised and delighted to see Venice doyenne Peggy Guggenheim pop up in a non-speaking part towards the end of the film - look for the glasses!

     Fans of 60s European cinema will find the film irresistible but those looking for a conventionally plotted film will find the long takes, oblique angles and leisurely pans a chore.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     Eva was shot on 35mm black and white film and projected cinematically at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a little known and perhaps little regarded film. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that Eva comes to Region 4 DVD without any apparent restoration work having been carried out on it. For an early 60s art house flick this DVD is perfectly acceptable. For those used to pristine frame by frame restorations it will be a disappointment. There is a strongly discernable variation in softness between the Venetian exteriors and the scenes featuring the actors. The black levels are fine for the interiors and the sharpness of the close-ups is reasonable. The night scenes don't fare so well. The grain is noticeable but consistent with the era and age of the film. However, it sports a number of artefacts throughout, both negative and positive that are not distracting but are noticeable.

     There are no general subtitles. The Italian language segments have burned in subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Eva features an English and Italian soundtrack, Dolby Digital 2.0, running at 224 Kb/s. There are no technical problems with the track only a slight hiss and an overall thinness betraying its age. The cast is mainly Italian hence some dubbing has gone in the English language segments. That means the audio sync is not always perfect. Stanley Baker does his Welsh accent which can be a little difficult to interpret at times and Jeanne Moreau has a strong French accent. As said, however, the track is listenable.

     The music will be another personal choice. Joseph Losey apparently wanted Miles Davis to do it but settled on Michel Legrand. The result is a freeform 60s hip jazzy score which is at turns engrossing and annoying. Additional music including Billie Holiday is used and there is a film "song", Adam and Eve.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are two extras included with this DVD.


     Included here are a selection of different posters for the film.

Booklet: Three Journeys to Venice: Joseph Losey's Eva by Geoff Gardner

     The booklet essay contains a few decent insights into this film, which can be difficult to research elsewhere. Relying upon interviews and biographical material the author stresses the personal connection that Losey had with the film. It makes for interesting reading.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  The Region 1 version dates back to 2000. It has both the short and 116 minute version of the film, apparently in poor condition, but no other extras. Losey-philes will probably want to see that but for all other fans the Region 4 is probably the best bet.


     Eva is a must for anyone interested in the career of Joseph Losey and arty cinema of the 60s. This is closer in tone to Italian filmmakers like Antonioni than English or US directors and those looking for a tightly wrought drama may find it too art house with its frequent long takes and unlikeable protagonist.

     The DVD quality is average but not bad enough to be a distraction to cinephiles, to whom this release is aimed. The extras are brief.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE