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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Susan Slept Here (1954)

As fond as I am of Christmas movies, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (and I thank them for letting me join in on the festivities)! And with that, it’s time for the 1954 comedy Susan Slept Here with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds!

Screenwriter Mark Christopher (Dick Powell) has been in a rut ever since he won an Oscar. On Christmas Eve, one cop (who had consulted on one of Mark’s movies) and his partner bring 17-year-old juvenile delinquent Susan Landis (Debbie Reynolds) to his apartment, since Mark had previously mentioned to the cop that he had wanted to talk to a juvenile delinquent to help come up with a story. They leave her there, with plans to come back the day after Christmas so she doesn’t have to spend the holiday in jail. Susan doesn’t trust Mark (and he’s not thrilled with the idea, either), but after spending part of the night gaining each other’s trust (especially after Susan accidentally causes a fight between Mark and his girlfriend), they start to open up to each other. Mark learns about Susan making her mother go on a honeymoon with her new husband (which she only agrees to after Susan claimed she wanted to marry a guy she knew and her mother gave her written consent). When the police come back quicker than expected, he decides to take Susan to Las Vegas to get married (so that she would have a means of support and not go back to jail). After dancing all night at the clubs, they returned to Mark’s apartment, where he left a sleeping Susan and immediately left to go work on a story at a cabin in the mountains. While he’s away, he tries to have his lawyer get Susan to sign some annulment papers, but she is convinced that she has married the man she loves. The question remaining is whether he will come to the same conclusion?

Personally, I’m of the opinion that this movie qualifies as a Christmas movie. I’ll admit, there is some room for debate, but close to half the movie does take place around that time. And after all, the cops are trying to offer Susan a delay in being arrested to begin with due to the holiday spirit! But it’s still a fun movie to watch any time of the year.

And what a cast! We have Dick Powell as one of the leads (who, at 50, admittedly looks older than the 35-year-old character he’s supposed to be playing), who plays the character as sympathetic, without him ever making any advances. Alvy Moore is fun as Mark’s buddy Virgil, who works for Mark (but doing what, who knows, as Susan calls it when she says it is a “phony job”), and Virgil is certainly a much more lucid character than I’m used to with Alvy Moore, considering he is best known as the ever confused (and confusing) county agent Hank Kimball on classic sitcom Green Acres. Anne Francis is Mark’s fiance Isabella Alexander, who is generally a hoot as the spoiled daughter of a senator, and she spends most of her screen time furious with Susan, either when she answers Mark’s phone or when they meet in person. Comedian Red Skelton gets a quick, silent cameo near the end of the movie.

But Debbie Reynolds is the heart of this movie as Susan Landis, and makes it work so well! From the moment we meet her, when she is screaming and fighting with the cop as he tries to drag her in (and she does it in a way only Debbie Reynolds could do), we see just how she got into trouble (but at the same time, can easily understand why she would be putting up such a fuss). As we get to know her along with Mark, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her by the time the cops come back early. And I know I’m cheering for her when she has the police escort Isabella from the apartment (especially since the cop carrying Isabella out had just had a picture frame purposely dropped on his feet by Isabella only a few moments before). The dream sequence is a little odd, but Debbie makes up for it (even though it has some dancing, I can’t quite call it a dream ballet, as it utilizes Dick Powell, Alvy Moore and Anne Francis besides Debbie, but she is the only one really doing much dancing). As a whole, just a wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime (or any other time of the year)! It may be the type that wouldn’t get made today (and for good reason), but it’s still a lot of fun!

While the Warner Archive Collection had previously made this movie available on DVD, their Blu-ray release a few years back was a wonderful improvement, really bringing out some of the vivid colors! So that would certainly be the way I would recommend seeing this almost-forgotten gem! This movie is one hour, thirty-eight minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Bachelor Mother (1939)

Now, to finish out our celebration of the 80th anniversary of 1939 is the classic comedy Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven!

Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a seasonal worker in the toy department at the John B. Merlin & Son department store, who has just been fired the day before Christmas. While on her lunch break trying to find another job, she comes across a baby being left on the doorstep of a foundling home. Running to pick it up, she is discovered and mistaken for the mother. She denies being the mother, and leaves the baby there. However, they come to see her boss, David Merlin (David Niven), who gives Polly her job back. Later, back in her apartment, the baby is delivered to her. In her frustration at being stuck with the baby, she tries to leave the baby with David to be put back in a home, while she goes to try and make some money in a dance contest with her co-worker, stock clerk Freddie Miller (Frank Albertson). David is waiting for her at her apartment, and threatens to fire her if she doesn’t keep the baby. She decides to keep the baby, and she and David start to develop feelings for each other. However, unknown to them, Freddie, who believes David to be the father (due to some of Polly’s comments that he overheard), has tried to tell David’s father, John Merlin (Charles Coburn), that he is a grandfather. Mr. Merlin decides to try and take the baby away when David refuses to be pushed into marrying Polly, which forces her to find a way out of this problem.

Bachelor Mother was Ginger Rogers’ first solo outing after doing The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle with Fred Astaire, which was planned to be their last movie together (and was until they were reunited one final time for The Barkleys Of Broadway a decade later). David Niven was starting to rise after being in many supporting roles, with this movie giving him his first chance as a romantic comedy lead. The story had already been done before in the movies, and the fifties would see a remake, Bundle Of Joy starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. But Bachelor Mother has become the best-known version of the tale, helped by the presence of the leads, along with Charles Coburn as the “grandfather.”

This is a movie I have enjoyed ever since the first time I saw it! So many fun moments! Even though her partnership with Fred Astaire had ended, we still get to see her dancing with co-star Frank Albertson (and, if only because of her, it’s no surprise when they win the dance contest)! And, before I go any further, I should also mention one of her “co-stars” in this movie: Donald Duck! No, it’s not him in animated form, it is instead a group of toy Donald Ducks. Ginger’s character works in the toy department selling these things. It’s definitely fun to see RKO studios connection to Disney at work here (since they were distributing Walt’s films at this time), and see what some of those toys must have been like. Of course, it’s a lot of fun watching David Niven’s character trying to exchange a broken duck at his store incognito (in order to prove to Polly that the store does do exchanges). And there are certainly many more wonderful comedic moments in this movie that make it worth watching, so I definitely have very high recommendations for this movie!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection and is one hour, twenty-two minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)

As we get into the holiday season, let’s get started with the melodrama Tomorrow Is Forever starring Claudette Colbert, Orson Welles and George Brent.

It’s the end of the first World War, and Elizabeth MacDonald (Claudette Colbert) is looking forward to the return of her husband John Andrew MacDonald (Orson Welles). However, she receives a telegram stating that he has been killed in action. Pregnant with his baby and grieving, she is helped by her boss, Larry Hamilton (George Brent), and they get married. However, John is alive, but in very bad shape in an Austrian hospital, and although the doctors can help him, he decides to let Elizabeth continue to believe him dead. Fast forward to 1939, and Elizabeth and Larry are still happily married, with her now grown-up son Drew Hamilton (Richard Long) contemplating joining the Canadian RAF to help fight in the coming war, much to his mother’s dismay. Larry has also recently hired celebrated Austrian chemist Erik Kessler (John MacDonald’s new name), who has emigrated with his adopted daughter Margaret (Natalie Wood). While Erik recognizes Elizabeth still, she doesn’t quite recognize him the first few times they meet. She is more concerned with the thought of losing her son Drew, much the same way she lost her first husband. While she starts to believe she recognizes Erik as John, he denies it while also trying to repair the rift between mother and son (especially since Drew doesn’t know he has a father other than Larry).

Admittedly, this is probably not a movie that can really be classified as a Christmas movie. Most of the connection to the holiday is in an early scene when Elizabeth is coming home with a Christmas tree, only to find the telegram that told her of her husband’s death. While the movie comes around to that time of year again, it is mainly to emphasize December 20, which was Elizabeth’s wedding anniversary with John MacDonald. Otherwise, there is no connection to the Christmas holiday. Still, it’s a good movie to watch any time of the year, whether for Christmas or not.

As I have mentioned previously, I’m not generally fond of melodramas, but this is one I very much enjoyed! More than anything, the cast is what makes this movie work. As Elizabeth, Claudette Colbert does a great job of portraying a woman who has kept herself busy in motherhood and everything else, delaying the possibility of closure in the “death” of her first husband, until her only son from that first marriage is now trying to go off to war. Natalie Wood does very well in one of her earliest roles. For me, personally, I have nothing but praise for Orson Welles in this movie. While I have seen the classic Citizen Kane, I found I completely disliked the movie and Orson Welles himself, and thus I have otherwise avoided a lot of the other movies that he did. This one I like, especially once he becomes Erik Kessler, helping him to express so much, all the while walking (and moving) like the cripple the character had become after the war. For me, there’s not a sour note in any of the performances in this movie, and I very much would recommend it to anybody interested!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix in yet another one of their stellar transfers. As usual, that made it an easy film to try out (and having actress Claudette Colbert in it didn’t hurt, either), and it is a release I would heartily recommend! The movie is one hour, forty-four minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

Here’s the list you have been waiting for, on what I think are some of the best releases for 2019, giving new life to old classics and forgotten gems!  Again, my thoughts are coming ONLY from what I have been able to see myself. I do NOT receive screeners of any kind (nor, quite frankly, would I want to), these are all movies I myself bought. These are chosen from among the 2019 releases I have seen, as of 11/27/2019.  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Swing Time (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in their sixth film together, with him playing a dancer and a gambler, who falls for a dance teacher. The transfer on the new Blu-ray may not be pristine, but the movie looks better than I’ve seen it previously, and just makes all the wonderful dances just look that much better! Full review here.
  2. Footlight Parade (1933) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • James Cagney and Joan Blondell star in this classic Busby Berkeley musical, about a man trying to create prologues for movie theaters. The Blu-ray restoration shines, and is never more evident than with Busby Berkeley’s wonderful musical numbers! Full review here.
  3. The Thin Man (1934) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic screwball mystery featuring William Powell and Myrna Loy. A fun mystery, but the real enjoyment is in watching the relationship of the two main stars and their antics. While this movie hasn’t looked great in a long time, the recent Warner Archive Blu-ray has brought this film back to life! Easily one of the best film restorations of the year! Full review here.
  4. The Major And The Minor (1942) (Arrow Films, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Ginger Rogers stars in this Billy Wilder-directed comedy about a woman posing as a 12-year-old girl as she tries to get home, and is delayed by an army major at a military academy. A wonderful comedy, and one that looks so much better in the new Blu-ray release from Arrow films! Full review here.
  5. Summer Stock (1950) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Judy Garland’s last film at MGM, and her third film teaming her up with Gene Kelly as a pair who put on a show in her family’s barn! While not a perfect film due to stuff going on behind the scenes, the new Blu-ray release shows off the look of the 3-strip Technicolor, and makes the movie seem just that much better! Full review here.
  6. Jezebel (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Bette Davis stars in one of her Oscar winning roles as the vain Southern belle Julie Marsden, as she goes against tradition and chases after Henry Fonda’s Pres Dillard in 1850s New Orleans. For this release, Warner Archives did a lot or work to restore it when it hasn’t looked good in a long time, and their work has really paid off with a fantastic restoration that makes this release easy to recommend! Full review here.
  7. The Kid Brother (1927) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In this Harold Lloyd silent comedy, he stars as the son of the town sheriff, who must now deal with the problems that arise when he signs some permits in place of his father allowing a traveling medicine show to perform in town. With this release boasting a new restoration of the movie that looks fantastic in high definition, outside of a few scratches here and there, but some fun bonus features, including two of Harold’s earlier shorts, I can’t help but recommend this set! Full review here.
  8. Notorious (1946) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant star in this Alfred Hitchcock film about the daughter of a Nazi conspirator who tries to help an American agent take don some Nazis living in South America. With a new restoration for the second go-round on Blu-ray, this movie looks fantastic, and is definitely the way to go for this movie! Full review here.
  9. Road To Singapore (1940) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • The first film in the Road series, with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour as the two men escape impending marriages as they make their way towards Singapore. The transfer on Kino’s new Blu-ray release looks fantastic, and is easily the best way to see this movie! Full review here.
  10. Detour (1945) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this classic noir starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage, he is a pianist hitchhiking his way across the country when he accidentally kills the man he is traveling with and is forced to take over his identity. Due to being in the public domain, this movie has lloked terrible for a long time, but this recent restoration looks fantastic! Certainly the best way to see this wonderful movie! Full review here.

Honorable mentions: Road To Zanzibar (1941) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray), Road To Morocco (1942) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray), Stand-In (1937) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD)

Honestly, though, it’s hard not to say that this has been a fantastic year of releases! A lot of the labels have really been upping their game this year when it comes to releases of many classic and obscure older movies. My own opinion is that the Warner Archive Collection has come out the best of everybody. After a couple years of mainly focusing on titles made in 1954 and later on Blu-ray (with the occasional pre-1954 title here and there), WAC has dug into their library to release a number of classic titles from the forties this year, and released a few from the thirties, the first time in four years the decade has been represented on Blu-ray from them, and all three titles were well worth it! Plus, in digging into Summer Stock, they have released their first new-to-Blu-ray pre-1954 MGM musical (marking the first time since Warner Home Video stopped releasing catalog titles on blu after 2015 that era of musicals has been represented on the format from Warner’s library). They even released a few movies on DVD I’ve long been waiting for on the format (although I haven’t quite managed to get my hands on them yet). Honestly, the only complaint I have with their releases is that they only released two new-to-blu musicals this year (since that is one of my favorite genres), but otherwise they have had a great year!

And of course, they’re not the only ones with a good year, either! Kino Lorber has been digging into the Universal library through their licensing deal with them, releasing a number of great films (plus a few obscure ones), with 2020 looking to bring even more! Criterion has had many good releases through their licenses with all the studios, plus some classic silent comedies making their debut with new resotrations! And while Classicflix has had to pull back on how much they have been releasing, they still continue to maintain their high levels of quality in their releases, making it easy to try their films (most of which, I hadn’t even heard of before they announced them). And labels like Shout Factory and Arrow Films have both been delving into a number of Universal-owned classics, the first time either label’s Blu-ray releases have appealed to me! All in all, a great year of releases (and not enough time/money to keep up with all of them)! I can only hope 2020 looks this good!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Jezebel (1938)

Now we’re here for that classic 1938 drama Jezebel starring Bette Davis, Henry Fonda and George Brent.

In 1850 New Orleans, Southern belle Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) bucks a lot of social conventions as she tries to do things her own way. She is engaged to banker Preston “Pres” Dillard (Henry Fonda), who disagrees with her, but seems more prone to giving in to her. However, things come to a head on the night of the Olympus Ball, when Julie plans to wear a red dress instead of the traditional white dress she was expected to wear. Pres isn’t thrilled, but he goes along with it when he sees that she refuses to back down. Once there, she starts to regret her decision as everyone else shuns her, but Pres forces her to take her medicine and stay there dancing with him. Afterwards, they break their engagement and Pres leaves New Orleans on business. After a year has passed, Julie has barely left her house, even as yellow fever is starting to hit New Orleans. Dr. Livingstone (Donald Crisp) encourages her and her Aunt Belle (Fay Bainter) to go to her plantation at Halcyon, but she really doesn’t want to. She changes her mind when she hears that Pres is coming back, and starts making plans for a big party. However, when Pres arrives, he brings along his new wife, Amy (Margaret Lindsay), which upsets Julie. As the party goes on, she goads her friend Buck Cantrell (George Brent) into trying to pick a fight with Pres, but he has to leave on business, and Preston’s brother Ted (Richard Cromwell) challenges Buck to a duel. When Buck is killed in the duel and Pres comes down with yellow fever, Julie is forced to reconsider her selfish actions.

Jezebel generally receives a lot of comparisons to Gone With The Wind, which was actually in production at the same time. Jezebel was actually based on a Broadway play (that had flopped) that was actually before the novel of Gone With The Wind was published. Warner Brothers was able to get the rights pretty cheaply, but it wasn’t until after the novel of Gone With The Wind became a big hit that Warner decided to revisit Jezebel, giving it to Bette Davis and teaming her with director William Wyler, whose frequent retakes allowed Bette Davis to improve her performance over time. Due to the similarity between the stories, Gone With The Wind producer David O. Selznick worried about how Jezebel would affect his own movie’s performance (of course, history has shown that David O. Selznick had nothing to worry about, as Gone With The Wind has become one of the biggest and most popular movies of all time).

To be honest, I was very hesitant going into this movie. I’ve never really been much of a fan of Bette Davis. Sure, I’ve seen a handful of her films (including her appearance in the previously reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars), but as a whole, I just tend to avoid most of her films. With this movie, I was more willing to try it out, since I know Warner Archive Collection’s reputation for their Blu-ray releases, plus I’ve been waiting four long years to see more of the Warner-owned 30s movies given a Blu-ray release, and I wanted to support this one in hopes of continuing to see more of their films from that decade. All I can say, after having seen this movie now, is that it was WORTH EVERY PENNY. Sure, as a movie about the Old South, it’s not exactly the most politically correct when it comes to how the slaves are treated in the movie. But, it is well worth it just to see Bette Davis’ Oscar-winning performance. I admit, I was entranced right from the start, and, not only that, I now have a strong desire to see more of Bette’s filmography (starting with the recently restored WAC release of The Letter, if I can get to it sometime soon)! While it has certainly been compared time and time again to Gone With The Wind, I think this movie is good enough to stand on its own two feet! And for those that like to dream of the “what if”-type scenarios, it is as close as we will get to seeing what Bette Davis might have been like as Scarlett O’Hara in that classic! Again, see this movie if you get the chance!

As I said, this movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. Since this was my first viewing, I don’t know what the transfer was like on DVD firsthand, but I’ve heard it was definitely in need of a lot of work. For this Blu-ray, Warner Archive put in a lot of work, going with nitrate lavender fine-grain elements (since the original camera negative was gone), and it certainly paid off! The movie looks fantastic, almost as if it was filmed yesterday! I certainly can’t recommend this release enough, not just for the movie, but also for the wonderful restoration here, too! The movie is one hour, forty-four minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #6 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Maltese Falcon (1941)

And now, to finish off the month of “Noir-vember,” we have the classic 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George and Peter Lorre!

At first, the case seemed simple enough. Private eyes Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) were hired by Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor) to help find her sister, who was with Floyd Thursby. But Miles is quickly killed, and so is Floyd, the man that he was trailing at the time. The police suspect Sam in the second killing, but can’t do much. Sam meets with Miss Wonderly again, who reveals that her story was false and that her real name is Brigid O’Shaughnessy. Not long after, Sam is visited by Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), who thinks Sam might have a bird statue that Floyd was carrying. In a second meeting with Joel, Sam brings in Brigid, but they are interrupted by the police, who take in Joel for questioning. Sam soon meets Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet), who is also interested in the statue, and tells Sam what all the fuss is about. He tries to bring Sam in, but decides against it when Joel comes to him. However, Sam ends up with the statue, forcing Kasper and his crew to come to Sam’s terms.

The movie was based on a story by Dashiell Hammett (who was also the author of The Thin Man) that had been written for Black Mask magazine before being put together as a novel in 1930. It was filmed shortly thereafter in 1931, with another version coming just five years after (although retitled as Satan Met A Lady and altered to be more of a comedy). By the time the 1941 film came around, it was given to first-time director John Huston, with hopes to star George Raft. However, in one of a series of career mistakes, he decided against it, and the role went to Humphrey Bogart (not the first time that a role he declined went to Bogie, nor was it the last). John Huston went to great lengths to plan out how he wanted to film it, since he had a limited time and budget to work with. Due to his preparations, filming went very well, and finished a few days early and under budget.

Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with this movie! It’s considered by some to be one of the first official film noirs, and while I don’t know enough to dispute that, I definitely think that everything works so well with this movie. Humphrey Bogart just fits the part so well, and you can easily see how he brought a bit of the character of Sam Spade to the role of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep a few years later. Of course, the rest of the cast works well, and the story certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat, even when you’ve seen it so many times before! And it’s just as fun when you start to recognize some of the other actors and actresses who became bigger later, even if only for some of their TV roles, like Ward Bond in Wagon Train, or Barton MacLane from I Dream Of Jeannie. Personally, among film adaptations of Dashiell Hammett’s novels, I’ll take The Thin Man, if only because I prefer screwball comedy compared to straight drama. That being said, obviously The Maltese Falcon is no slouch! As I said, this is a great movie, and easily recommended, whether you’re a fan of the film noir genre or not!

This movie is available through Warner Home Video on Blu-ray (either individually or as part of the four-film Best Of Bogart Collection) and DVD, and is one hour,forty minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… The Kid Brother (1927)

Next up, we have the recent release of the classic 1927 Harold Lloyd silent comedy The Kid Brother!

In the town of Hickoryville lives Sheriff Jim Hickory (Walter James) and his three sons. His sons Leo (Leo Willis) and Olin (Olin Francis) are both big and strong like him. However, his third son, Harold (Harold Lloyd), is the runt of the family. But what Harold lacks in size and brute strength, he makes up for in intelligence, as he finds ways to get his chores done more efficiently. Still, he wishes to be regarded as a man by his father. While his father and brothers are at a town meeting about money they were collecting to build a dam for the town, a traveling medicine show comes to the house. Since he had been messing around with his father’s gun and was wearing his father’s badge, they mistook him for the sheriff and had him sign a permit for them to set up in town. Later, Harold’s father found out and sent him to stop the show. Instead, the two men made fun of him, hanging him up on a bar. The town bully, Hank Hooper (Ralph Yearsley), tries to get in on the act, but in the process sets the wagon on fire. Afterwards, Harold offers Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston), who was working with the show, a place to sleep at his home (although she ended up going to a neighbor’s home instead, since she would have otherwise been the only woman in the house). The next day was to be a town celebration, but things turned sour quickly when the money that had been collected for the dam and placed in the sheriff’s hands was discovered stolen. Hank’s father, Sam Hooper (Frank Lanning), accuses the sheriff of stealing the money. Unable to do anything himself, the sheriff sends Leo and Olin to find the men from the medicine show, but won’t let Harold. When his brothers fail to find the men, it is up to Harold to help save his father, but can he do it?

The Kid Brother is considered to be one of Harold Lloyd’s best movies. It was his second-to-last silent film, as the sound era would soon start to creep in with the success of The Jazz Singer later on in 1927. Harold Lloyd put a lot of work into this movie, nearly eight months (more than usual), and it shows. From the location shooting, to the use of an elevator filming Harold as he climbs a tree to keep talking with Jobyna’s Mary, to the various gags all working with the story, to the final fight between Harold and the brutish Sandoni (played by Constantine Romanoff), everything just works and shows the effort put into the movie. Me personally, I enjoy many of the gags, but particularly watching Harold dealing with his brothers (and attempting to show how “brave” he could be in front of Mary) are some of the most memorable laugh-out-loud moments for me. I personally wouldn’t call it his absolute best movie, but I would agree that it ranks up there (admittedly, at this point, I’ve only seen about five of his films, but still)! Easily a movie I would recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. The new restoration looks fantastic for a nearly ninety-year-old movie. Sure, there are some scratches here and there, but, for what they had to work with, I have no complaints! Add in the fact that the set includes two of his shorts, one the five minute 1917 Over The Fence which features him disguised as a baseball pitcher to get into the park when his tickets are stolen, and the other being the eleven minute 1918 short That’s Him, where he is mistaken for a mugger and chased by the police (word of warning, though, as this short does feature an obviously white man wearing blackface as a train conductor). The shorts don’t look quite as good as the movie, owing to the fact that many of his early shorts were lost in a fire, and they made use of what elements they could find. Between the movie, these shorts and a few other fun extras, this is a very enjoyable set! The movie is one hour, twenty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #7 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019