Now we have another new disc release for 2019, the 1937 comedy Stand-In, starring Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell and Humphrey Bogart.
There’s trouble at the banking offices of Pettypacker & Sons. They have an ownership in Colossal Studios, but are considering selling it to Ivor Nassau (C. Henry Gordon) for less than its worth. Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard), one of their big number crunchers, believes they should NOT sell, and he is sent to Hollywood to take charge of the studio and figure things out. Once there, he meets former child actress Lester Plum (Joan Blondell) and Douglas Quintain (Humphrey Bogart), the producer of the movie being made. While Dodd tries to figure out how to cut costs, he has to deal with Nassau and a few of the people that stand to benefit from the sale of the studio.
I’ll admit, this was a movie I had never heard of previously, and it was mainly Bogie’s presence that appealed to me. This movie did turn out to be a wonderful surprise! I enjoyed all the performances, including Bogie in what was apparently his first sympathetic role (all the while carrying around a Scottish-terrier, to boot). To say that actor Jack Carson’s character, Tom Potts, is obnoxious seems like an understatement (but it works for the role). And of course, watching Leslie Howard (who is probably best known as Ashley Wilkes, the guy that Vivien Leigh’s Scarlet O’Hara was chasing after for most of Gone With The Wind) as he tries to come to grips with Hollywood and all its phonies is hilarious, especially considering he has no idea who many of the stars are! I know I enjoyed watching him tell off a mother who was trying to get her little girl to audition for him, since he was the head of the studio! The only letdown on this movie was the ending, which was maybe a little too abrupt, in terms of everything coming together. That, and I wish they had done more with the quirky residents of the boarding house that Dodd stayed at. But outside of that, I found myself enjoying the movie quite a bit, and I would heartily recommend it!
This movie has been made available on Blu-ray and DVD by ClassicFlix. According to a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie, this was originally being planned as their first release when they started the label, but they canceled those plans when they found that the available film elements were not usable, especially for the level of quality they were planning. However, they did find some better elements at the British Film Institute that, while not perfect, were good enough to work with. The resulting transfer looks pretty good. There are some scratches here and there, but this is likely to be the best the movie looks for the foreseeable future.
Update (11/5/2021): Due to poor sales on the release, ClassicFlix has since discontinued their Blu-ray release (so good luck finding any copies for the time being at a decent price). However, their DVD is still available, which is what I have now switched the link to.
Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Petrified Forest (1936) – Leslie Howard
Footlight Parade (1933) – Joan Blondell – The Opposite Sex (1956)
The Petrified Forest (1936) – Humphrey Bogart – Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)
My Man Godfrey (1936) – Alan Mowbray – Merrily We Live (1938)
Jack Carson – A Damsel In Distress (1937)
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