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Original review at

Blu-Ray review

Perfect Understanding (1933)

Cohen Media Group has announced and detailed the newly restored and fully remastered Cohen Film Collection release of director Cyril Gardner and writer Michael Powell's Perfect Understanding, starring cinema icons Gloria Swanson and Laurence Olivier. The 1933 romantic comedy arrives on Blu-ray on June 4th.

Synopsis: Judy (Swanson) and Nicholas (Olivier) are a young society couple who marry based on the understanding that they will be allowed to enjoy extramarital adventures and never let jealousy come between them. That arrangement is soon put to the test. During their honeymoon, they go to Cannes to spend time with friends. Judy decides to go back to London to set up their new home, but insists Nicholas remain with their Riviera friends. One night, when drunk, Nicholas sleeps with a former lover (Nora Swinburne) and, when he returns to Judy guilt-ridden, soon confesses his indiscretion. She forgives him, but Nicholas begins battling his own feelings of jealousy when he comes to believe that Judy has slept with an old friend (John Halliday).

Perfect Understanding was shot at London's renowned comedy factory Ealing Studios, and is an eye-opener for its candid treatment of sexuality and pregnancy. Just a few years later, such frankness would be tamped down in the UK, as it would in Hollywood. It was also a pivotal film for Gloria Swanson, who had struggled in the early years of the talkies to maintain the vaunted position she had held as a silent-screen superstar. She produced the film herself, and it was the only one she made in Britain.

As for Laurence Olivier, by 1933, he was an established Shakespearean stage star who was just three years into his film career. Perfect Understanding captures a poignant moment in film history, as the old guard represented by Swanson intersects with one of the first great actors of the sound era (though in fact she was only a few years Olivier's senior). The result is a priceless comedy of manners, co-written by a 27-year-old Michael Powell, who would go on to become one of England greatest filmmakers with such classics as The 49th Parallel (starring Olivier), The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom.

The Cohen Film Collection's Blu-ray release of Perfect Understanding features a 1080p video presentation and LPCM 2.0 audio, and includes two shorts from 1933: "Husband's Reunion" and "Dream Stuff," both produced by another icon of early screen comedy, Mack Sennett.

Available from 4 June 2013

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