What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Dinner At Eight (1933)

We’re back again for a classic all-star film from 1933 that recently made its long-awaited debut on Blu-ray! That film, of course, would be Dinner At Eight, starring Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe and Billie Burke!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Big Ears (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 8 seconds)

Wheezer’s (Bobby Hutchins) parents fight constantly, and the word “divorce” is thrown around. When he finds out what “divorce” means, Wheezer turns to Stymie (Matthew Beard) and Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba) for help in getting himself sick to keep them together. This one took a different turn with touchier subject matter than I would have expected for a children’s short. There is some humor to be found, mainly in Wheezer’s interactions with Stymie. The bickering parents aren’t as much fun (and I agree with Petey the dog’s response at the end). Maybe not as much fun as usual, but still an entertaining entry in the series!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Come To Dinner (1934)

(Available as an extra on the Dinner At Eight Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 22 minutes, 12 seconds)

In honor of a duke and duchess, the Jurgens host a dinner party for a few of their friends. This short was very much a parody of the movie Dinner At Eight, and it works quite well! They picked a lot of actors who look very similar to the cast of the film, and manage to make fun of various moments. I had read about it being a parody beforehand, so I watched the movie first (instead of watching the short first like I normally would do). It certainly works a lot better that way, and I enjoyed it almost as much as I did the movie itself, the humor worked so well!

And Now For The Main Feature…

When Lord and Lady Ferncliffe accept her invitation to dinner, society matron Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke) eagerly plans a dinner party for some of her friends. Her husband, shipping magnate Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore), doesn’t look forward to the idea, but he decides to go along with it, while their daughter, Paula (Madge Evans) is preoccupied with something else. At work, Oliver meets with his friend (and former lover), actress Carlotta Vance (Marie Dressler) (who has been invited to the dinner). She is presently broke, and is trying to find ways to sell off some of her properties, and even asks Oliver to buy back some of her stock in his company. However, it’s the time of the Great Depression, which means Oliver’s business has been hit, too, so he can’t buy it back. He meets with the self-made mining magnate Dan Packard (Wallace Beery), and asks him to help finance them for a while (at least, until the Depression is over). Dan is reluctant to do so, but when he arrives home later, he openly brags to his wife Kitty (Jean Harlow) that he plans to take over the Jordan Shipping Line via stock purchases. Kitty, meanwhile, is faking illness and staying in bed all day so that she can see Dr. Wayne Talbot (Edmund Lowe) (with whom she is having an affair). However, she very much wants to get into society, and, when she receives an invitation to the dinner, she is determined to drag her husband there (which isn’t too hard, when he learns that the Ferncliffes, whom he has been wanting to meet for some time, are the guests of honor). On the day of the party, Millicent finds herself short one person when one guest comes down ill. Desperate, she tries calling movie actor Larry Renault (John Barrymore), who is in town to star in a play. Little does she know that Larry has been seeing her daughter Paula, who overhears the conversation from Larry’s end, and convinces him to accept the invitation to the party. As Paula leaves, Larry’s agent Max Kane (Lee Tracy) comes in, and tells him that the starring role in the play was being given to somebody else (partially due to a change in producers), and Max tries to convince him to take a bit part, if only to have something. Larry reluctantly considers the idea, if Max will bring the new producer around to see him. A very sick Oliver comes in to see Dr. Talbot at his office. Upon examining him, Dr. Talbot determines that Oliver is suffering from thrombosis of the heart (which could kill him at any time), but tries to hide this prognosis from Oliver (who isn’t fooled). When he gets home, Oliver tries to tell his wife that he is feeling poorly and needs rest. At the same time, his daughter Paula wants to tell them both about her relationship with Larry. However, neither of them manage to tell Millicent anything, as she is at her wits’ end after two of their servants get into a violent fight, which results in the food being ruined. On top of that, the Ferncliffes (you know, the guests of honor) have decided NOT to come to the party (and have gone to Florida instead). Meanwhile, Larry (who is an alcoholic) is thoroughly drunk as he prepares to go to the dinner. When Max arrives with the play’s new producer, Larry starts to berate him for trying to palm off a bit part on a “big star,” prompting the producer to leave. Left with no choice, Max tells Larry off and good, revealing how hard he had to work to get his washed-up client a chance at the bit part (revealing to Larry just how far his star had fallen). After Max leaves, the hotel management stops by and asks Larry to leave. In the midst of all these troubles, will that night’s dinner party turn out right, or will it be a complete disaster?

In 1932, MGM enjoyed great success with producer Irving Thalberg’s all-star film Grand Hotel, and they went about looking for another all-star vehicle. Irving Thalberg was able to secure the film rights to the 1932 George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber play Dinner At Eight, but some health problems (including a heart attack) forced him to take some time off to recuperate. Studio head Louis B. Mayer decided to try convincing his son-in-law David O. Selznick (who was working at RKO Studios at the time) to come over to MGM and form his own production unit there, sharing producing duties with Thalberg. Selznick brought over director George Cukor, and assembled an all-star cast, which included Marie Dressler in a role that differed from her usual type, and Jean Harlow (who was cast at the insistence of Selznick and Cukor, as she wasn’t previously regarded by the studio heads as being a great actress). With a great cast (some of whom helped contribute ideas for their characters) and great talent behind-the-scenes, the film turned out to be another hit at the box office for MGM.

Dinner At Eight is one of those big movies that I had heard of a long time ago, but never really got the chance to see (at least, not beyond the clip of the iconic exchange between Marie Dressler’s Carlotta Vance and Jean Harlow’s Kitty Packard that was included in the That’s Entertainment films). So when the recent Blu-ray release was announced, I felt it was high time that I saw it! Now, one thing I should admit beforehand. For the most part, my early impressions from what I had heard left me thinking that the film was going to be a comedy (at least, that’s what I was hearing until I saw what others were saying when the Blu-ray was announced, which is when I learned that it would be a bit more dramatic that I had previously thought). And I am glad that I heard that, as it kept the movie from being a disappointment to me. Yes, it does have its comedic moments, but this movie really classifies itself more as a dramedy (with a heavier emphasis on the drama). Regardless, I found it to be a very well-acted film! I’ve seen some of the actors in different films (like the Barrymores, Billie Burke and Jean Harlow), and some of the others were new faces to me. Everybody gave great performances here, which is indeed what makes it work, but I will readily admit that Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow essentially walk off with the film, as their acting was a thing to behold! Plain and simple, this movie’s reputation as a big classic is well-deserved, and I for one have no hesitation in giving it some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray features a transfer made from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. I’d love to come up with some extra fancy way of describing how this movie looks, but I prefer to keep it simple. As usual, Warner Archive has a winner here, with a great movie and a great transfer to show it off. Seriously, this is the best way to enjoy this fantastic film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

John Barrymore – Maytime (1937)

The Public Enemy (1931) – Jean Harlow – Libeled Lady (1936)

Lionel Barrymore – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

Billie Burke – Merrily We Live (1938)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Zenobia (1939)

We’re back again to take a look at the 1939 comedy Zenobia, starring Oliver Hardy and Harry Langdon! We’ve got a theatrical short to get through first, but then it’s on to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… One Cab’s Family (1952)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 56 seconds)

A pair of taxicabs raise their new son (with the hope that he will also be a taxicab), but he wants to be a hot rod. This one feels like a lesser Tex Avery cartoon. While it has its visual gags, they are not as consistent or as good as some of his other work. To me, the world in this cartoon is not that consistent. Outside of the three main cars that this short follows, the rest of the population is essentially human, with all the other vehicles rather lifeless. This short does have its moments, don’t get me wrong. I just think that some of the other shorts that Tex Avery directed have been better and more original.

And Now For The Main Feature…

In a small Mississippi town, Jeff Carter (James Ellison) wants to marry his sweetheart, Mary Tibbett (Jean Parker). However, they are worried about how his mother, the wealthy society lady (and hypochondriac) Mrs. Carter (Alice Brady) will react, considering Mary’s father, Dr. Emory Tibbett (Oliver Hardy), is a poor country doctor (well, that and the fact that Dr. Tibbett used to be a doctor for members of high society, until he grew fed up with Mrs. Carter’s hypochondriac ways and decided to treat everybody, even if he wasn’t being paid as well). Mrs. Carter does not react well when she hears about the engagement, as she would prefer that her son marry his old childhood friend, Virginia Reynolds (June Lang). Still, Mrs. Carter decides to host a party in Mary’s honor (but plans to embarass her). Meanwhile, at a nearby carnival, medicine man Professor McCrackle (Harry Langdon) is in a tizzy, when his star, the elephant Zenobia, falls ill. He sends for Dr. Tibbett, who comes running (mostly because he thinks a PERSON is ill). He is less than thrilled when he finds out his “patient” is an elephant, but he does what he can to help (and urges Prof. McCrackle not to spread word about it). Zenobia gets better, but she soon starts to follow Dr. Tibbett around. This ruins the party that Mrs. Carter is hosting, and Prof. McCrackle decides to sue Dr. Tibbett (with Mrs. Carter’s help) for the alienation of his elephant’s affections. Can Dr. Tibbett gets himself (and his family) out of this mess, or will Mrs. Carter get her way?

Famous comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy worked at the Hal Roach Studios in the 1930s, but Stan Laurel and producer Hal Roach had a contract dispute that saw Stan Laurel put on suspension. Since Hal Roach had separate contracts for Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, he decided to instead create a new comedy team by pairing Hardy with former silent movie comedian Harry Langdon (who had been working at least partly as a writer for some of the Laurel and Hardy films). Hal Roach had previously bought the rights to the story “Zenobia’s Infidelity” for actor Roland Young, but decided to use the property instead to feature his new comedy “team.” The movie ended up being a failure at the box office (not helped by comparisons to previous Laurel and Hardy films). Laurel and Hardy came back together, but they ended up leaving Hal Roach for other studios (including 20th Century Fox to start with), so that they could hopefully have more artistic freedom.

I hadn’t seen or heard of this one until recently, but I will say that I enjoyed this film very much! Now, I’m not the most familiar with much of what Laurel and Hardy did together, save for a few films that I’ve had the opportunity to see, a few classic cartoons, and imitators (mostly like Dick Van), so I am not presently comparing this film with anything that Laurel and Hardy did together. What I can say is that Oliver Hardy’s character is different from what I’ve seen him do otherwise (but that’s not a bad thing). Oliver Hardy and Harry Langdon are fun together, but, at the same time, them being billed as a “team” doesn’t really make sense, as they don’t really have too many moments together (so I can understand them not being paired together for any more films). The pair that I really enjoy in this movie (and the ones who should, in my opinion, have been promoted as the “team”) are Oliver Hardy and actress Billie Burke (who plays his wife). I think they are a lot of fun together, and I don’t mind watching them (especially with all her antics)!

Admittedly, it’s not a perfect movie. The plot does seem to go all over the place, with some focus on the elephant, some on the romance, and some on the issues between Alice Brady’s Mrs. Carter and the doctor’s family. With it being set in Mississippi in the 1870s, the film also has its issues with some of the racial stereotypes, particularly the somewhat lazy servant Zero, played by Step’n Fetchit. Oliver Hardy’s character *almost* seems to be heading in the right direction in how he treats blacks, as he has little Zeke (Philip Hurlic) learn and recite the Declaration of Independence (and everyone listens as he recites it). This may not be the best movie ever made (especially from Hollywood’s Golden Year, 1939), but it’s a fun one, and one I certainly would recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. This release utilizes a restoration from a 2K scan from a 35mm nitrate fine grain. The result is a wonderful transfer (it’s Classicflix, so what else is new?), with many tears and dirt cleaned up. The disc contains a before-and-after restoration comparison that showcases some of the work they’ve done. As always, this recent release is the best way to see this movie, and I would highly recommend it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Harry Langdon – All-American Co-Ed (1941)

The Young In Heart (1938) – Billie Burke – The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

I’m now ready to start off a round of Christmas films for 2020, and for that, I’m going with the 1942 comedy The Man Who Came To Dinner, starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Monty Woolley!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Think You Need Glasses (1942)

(Length: 10 minutes, 37 seconds)

Joe McDoakes has some issues with far-sightedness, and has to see an ophthalmologist about it. This short is an early Joe McDoakes short, before it became a more official series. It uses some humor for a more serious subject (and occasionally gets a bit more serious). Personally, I didn’t find it all that memorable, and no doubt science has changed a number of things since then, so I would be wary in recommending this rather forgettable short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Six Hits And A Miss (1942)

(Length: 8 minutes, 55 seconds)

It’s a musical short, featuring the song “You Gotta Know How To Dance” played by Rudolph Friml Jr. And His Band, and sung by the singing group Six Hits And A Miss. It’s a fun short, and it utilizes footage of Ruby Keeler and Paul Draper dancing to the song, borrowed from the 1936 film Colleen. It’s a decent short, but at the same time, the new footage kind of takes away from the fun dancing from the earlier movie. Given the choice, I’d rather try to see the earlier movie, and enjoy it that way.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Radio personality Sheridan “Sherry” Whiteside (Monty Woolley) and his secretary Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis) have come to Mesalia, Ohio, where he is to give a lecture, but first, he is stuck having dinner with a prominent Ohio family, the Stanleys. Things go horribly wrong when Sherry slips on the icy stairs to go into their home and injures his hip. After two weeks, he finally comes out of the den in a wheelchair. He promptly threatens to sue Ernest Stanley (Grant Mitchell) for $150,000, and takes over the main part of the house for his activities, since the doctor says he shouldn’t be moved elsewhere. Ernest tries to get him to leave, but Sherry just threatens to sue him for even more money if he is forced out. Over the next few weeks, Sherry causes more trouble for Ernest by advising the Stanley children to follow their dreams. During that time, Maggie starts to fall for the local newspaper owner and editor Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis). Sherry is less than thrilled with this turn of events, especially when she decides to resign as Sherry’s secretary. Since Bert has written a play, Sherry decides to call up his actress friend Lorraine Sheldon (Ann Sheridan), in the hopes that she will break up Maggie and Bert’s relationship. Not long after she arrives, she starts in on Bert. Smelling a rat, Maggie enlists the help of a visiting actor friend, Beverly Carlton (Reginald Gardiner), to get Lorraine to leave. It almost works, until Bert accidentally spoils everything. Once she realizes she’s been tricked (and why), Lorraine promises Maggie that she will do her best to take Bert away from her, resulting in Maggie running off. The following day, Sherry finds himself in trouble, as Maggie is still planning to leave his employ, and Ernest Stanley has sworn out a warrant to have Sherry evicted from the place. Sherry’s Hollywood friend Banjo (Jimmy Durante) also comes to visit, but they find themselves trying to figure out how to help Sherry out of all the trouble he’s gotten himself into.

You can blame Alexander Woollcott for this one, folks. Supposedly, he at one point asked the playwriting team of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart to write a play for him to star in. They struggled to come up with an idea, until Hart remembered one time that Woollcott visited him overnight. Apparently, Woollcott had been real demanding and an absolute nightmare of a guest, and when relating the story to Kaufman, Hart pondered how awful it might have been had Woollcott broken his leg and been stuck there for the summer, which was the inspiration they needed for the play. Woollcott liked the play, but felt too close to the character to play him onstage, so the role ended up being done by Monty Woolley. They threw in a few other characters who were also based on real-life people, including Lorraine Sheldon (based on actress Gertrude Lawrence), Beverly Carlton (based on playwright Noel Coward) and Banjo (based on Harpo Marx). The play was a huge success, getting the attention of Warner Brothers, who bought the rights to film it. Bette Davis wanted very much to be in the film, and had no problem with it being more of an ensemble film, as she mainly wanted to be involved in it. She also hoped and campaigned for the idea of starring with John Barrymore as Sheridan Whiteside, but his drinking problem left him unable to do the film. Producer Hal Wallis tried some other big stars, but he eventually settled on going with the original Sheridan Whiteside, Monty Woolley, to great effect.

I will readily admit, I’ve been watching this one and getting a few good laughs out of it for a number of years now. The casting alone makes this movie work. Monty Woolley as Sheridan is generally hilarious, with all his complaining and demands, meanwhile protesting, in a manner similar to Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady, that he is a kind soul who is always kind to others (even though we can plainly see he wants his life HIS way, and heaven help those who try to have a life of their own). I feel for Grant Mitchell’s character Ernest Stanley, who, at the insistence of his wife (played by the great Billie Burke in an also humorous role), got stuck inviting Sheridan over for dinner, and lost the use of his house (all while being sued for a great sum of money). Of course, the way he treats his children and their dreams show us that he has his issues (not to mention the secret he is hiding about his sister Harriet). As Beverly Carlton, Reginald Gardiner is at his least reserved (and, consequently, about as funny as I can remember him being in any of his movies that I have seen)! And Jimmy Durante also adds to the fun as the Harpo Marx-based Banjo, mainly chasing girls like Harpo would (but otherwise far more conversational)! Throw in all the animals that get sent to Sheridan, Mary Wickes as the poor nurse stuck trying to take care of Sheridan, and this movie is guaranteed to keep me laughing for some time to come!

Of course, since I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit here, I’ve certainly got to talk about that! This movie takes place over the Christmas season, with the last part of the movie taking place on Christmas Eve and Christmas day itself. Obviously, we also have the likes of snow on the ground, and Christmas trees in the house (including a second tree in the Stanleys’ bedroom, since they aren’t allowed in the main part of the house), with presents under the tree (not to mention all the gifts sent to Sheridan while he is recuperating). And Sheridan Whiteside has his radio broadcast on Christmas Eve, where he starts to regale his audience with the story of the original Christmas. I will readily admit that the movie pushes the boundary of being a Christmas film just because he can be such a nasty character (and doesn’t really seem to learn to be a better person by the end of the movie). But, whether you watch it as a Christmas movie, or just for fun any other time of the year, it’s a lot of fun, and worth quite a few good laughs! (So, yes, I do recommend it!)

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Letter (1940) – Bette Davis – Now, Voyager (1942)

Dodge City (1939) – Ann Sheridan – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938) – Monty Woolley – Since You Went Away (1944)

Jimmy Durante – Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962)

Zenobia (1939) – Billie Burke – Father Of The Bride (1950)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Father Of The Bride (1950)

For the Third Spencer Tracy And Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Michaela of Love Letters To Old Hollywood, I have Spencer Tracy’s 1950 solo outing Father Of The Bride, also starring Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor!  But first, we have a Popeye short, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.  Once we’re past that, let’s head on down to the stage, where I’ll hand things over to the narrator to tell the story!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Anvil Chorus Girl (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto come across Olive, who is working as a blacksmith and try to help her out. A bunch of hilarious gags as Popeye and Bluto try to show off their abilities as a blacksmith. A bit of fun here, especially since this seems to be voice actor Jackson Beck’s first turn as Bluto. Also apparently a remake of an earlier Fleischer era short, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough on its own merit!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): We open on a house that has clearly just held a big party. As we survey the mess of confetti, streamers and trash, we come upon a worn out Stanley Banks (Spencer Tracy). As he notices us, he starts to talk about weddings, thinking in particular of the one he just went through, and how it started just a few months before…

(Host): Flashback!

(Narrator): Indeed! Activate the time machine!

(Use your imaginations for time travel effects here. All I can do is say we’ve gone back three months.)

(Narrator): Three months earlier, Stanley came home from work just like any other day. During dinner, his daughter, Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), casually mentions that she has become engaged to Buckley Dunstan. Although uneasy about it at first, Stanley decides to support her in the idea. His wife, Ellie (Joan Bennett), almost immediately starts throwing herself into wedding preparations, but he is still unsure, trying to not only remember who Buckley is amongst her beaus, but also worrying about what kind of a life he could give her. He passes on these worries to Ellie, and, once he remembers who Buckley (Don Taylor) is, they make arrangements to meet his parents, Herbert (Moroni Olsen) and Doris (Billie Burke) Dunstan. Not long after the meeting of the parents, Stanley and Ellie throw a party to announce the engagement, although Stanley doesn’t get to announce it since he is stuck in the kitchen the whole time making drinks for everyone. As much as he had hoped for it to be a small wedding, the costs start getting larger, forcing him to attempt to shrink the guest list, with little success. Other than the spiraling costs, things run smoothly until Kay and Buckley have a fight over the honeymoon plans and Kay decides to call off the wedding. However, the two come to their senses and reconcile. Of course, they still have the wedding rehearsal to get through, and that doesn’t go too well (at least, not according to Stanley). The night before the wedding, Stanley’s fears of ruining the wedding cause him to have a nightmare –

(Eerie music quickly plays on organ backstage)

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. His jitters result in him going after a late snack, where he also finds Kay with her own worries. He is able to talk her through calmly (in spite of his own anxieties), and they get through the night. The next day comes, and the place is a madhouse, as everybody tries to get ready for the wedding itself, while getting things around at the house for the reception later.

(Organ starts playing “Here Comes The Bride)

(Narrator): And there we have it, with the wedding going off without a hitch, and the reception also going well. That should do for the story. Now, let’s get back to our host. By the way, nice organ playing back there.

(Host): What do you mean? I’ve been out here the whole time!

(Organ begins playing VERY eerie music backstage)

(Wakes up in bed in a cold sweat)

(Host): Ok, that was pretty freaky. (Sorry, had to get some Halloween fun in there! 😉 ) Getting serious again, I know I enjoy this movie a lot, mostly because of Spencer Tracy. We get the whole tale more or less told from his character’s point of view, and it makes it easy to sympathize with his feelings on the matter. More than anything, the film is about the relationship between his character and his daughter (as played by Elizabeth Taylor). And that relationship feels real, from the way she calls him “Pops” and comes to him when she has trouble, or the way he tries to help her out (even if he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth). I’ve heard that Spencer Tracy had wanted Katharine Hepburn to play his wife in this movie, but others thought they were too romantic a team to play a domestic couple with children. Whatever the reason, I’m glad she wasn’t cast in this instance, as I feel that would have altered the movie too much. As we got it, the story is being told from Spencer Tracy’s perspective, and, as such, it focuses on him. If Katharine Hepburn was in it, I feel like it would have been harder to tell the story from his perspective, and it would have given us a different film entirely.

Whatever the case may be, it’s still a well-told story. Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor are not the only ones who give good performances here, as we get something good from everybody. Joan Bennett does great as the wife, who eagerly looks forward to planning the wedding (even after Spencer’s character unloads his worries on her). Billie Burke has a fun (although way too short) appearance as Buckley’s mother, and up-and-coming Russ Tamblyn (here billed as “Rusty”) has a background role as one of Kay’s brothers. For me, this is a fun film, that certainly earned its sequel, giving us more time with these wonderful characters. Admittedly, I’ve only seen the sequel once, since it is public domain and hasn’t been given a good release by Warner (who has the film elements), but I remember liking it well enough. I’ve never seen the remake (or its sequel) with Steve Martin, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me to try that, when I’ve got the opportunity to see the far-superior (in my mind) actor and comedian Spencer Tracy. I certainly want to thank Crystal and Michaela for hosting this wonderful blogathon, as it was a fun reminder to revisit an old favorite that, for me, slipped through the cracks. This is a wonderful movie, and one I have no trouble whatsoever recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Without Love (1945) – Spencer Tracy – Pat And Mike (1952)

Wedding Present (1936) – Joan Bennett – We’re No Angels (1955)

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Billie Burke

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Leo G. Carroll – We’re No Angels (1955)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… The Young In Heart (1938)

Here’s a fun little movie: the 1938 comedy The Young In Heart, starring Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Paulette Goddard, Roland Young and Billie Burke.

In this movie, we follow the Carletons, a family of con artists. They are caught as the son, Richard (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) prepares to marry into a rich family, and are forced to leave on a train. On the train, they meet Miss Ellen Fortune, a lonely old lady. When the train crashes, they save her, and she offers them her home as long as they are willing to stay. Hoping that she will include them in her will, they decide to act like the people she believes them to be, so Richard and his father, Col. Carleton (Roland Young) both reluctantly get jobs. Of course, the question becomes, whether it is all an act, or have they really changed, becoming better people?

To be fair, calling this movie a comedy isn’t quite accurate. It does have elements of comedy, yes, but it rarely focuses in on them enough that you’re constantly laughing (not necessarily a bad thing). The movie does have its sadder moments as well, allowing for some balance. The movie really does focus in on this family, and allows us to see that they are not completely bad, and are indeed capable of changing, especially when given a chance.

When this movie was originally announced for release on Blu-ray and DVD, it was one I had never heard of. And, quite frankly, I had little to no interest in it. However, I then came off of seeing actress Paulette Goddard in both Modern Times and The Great Dictator, along with a few of her other movies I had seen over the years, so I decided to try this movie because of her. Much to my surprise, in spite of being third-billed and fairly prominent in the posters I have seen, she actually doesn’t have that much of a part, not really appearing until about halfway through the movie, and even then, she doesn’t really do much outside of her scenes with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Honestly, I hadn’t even realized at first that she was only just becoming a bigger star, as a result of being in Modern Times. Still, I did enjoy her performance in this movie (and everyone else’s, too, including Billie Burke as the ever daffy Marmy). So, I do recommend this movie. Maybe it’s only worth renting for most, but it is one I enjoy just the same, so I would at least suggest trying this movie if you get the chance!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Paulette Goddard – The Cat And The Canary (1939)

Merrily We Live (1938) – Billie Burke – Zenobia (1939)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Merrily We Live (1938)

Time to jump in again with the recent release of the 1938 screwball comedy Merrily We Live, starring Constance Bennett, Brian Aherne, and Billie Burke.

Our story starts in the Kilbourne household, where their chauffeur has disappeared with the family silver. Emily Kilbourne (Billie Burke), the family matriarch, has had a history of hiring tramps, but after this betrayal, she decides to stop, to the happiness of the rest of the family. However, Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) comes to the door after the car he was driving goes off a cliff while he is trying to get some water. The butler tries to make him leave, but Emily sees him, and decides to hire him. His reception from the other members of the family is a little cool at first, but slowly, everyone warms up to him, with all the female members of the house (except for Emily) developing a crush on him, as he falls for eldest daughter Geraldine (Constance Bennett).

My thoughts on this movie? I highly recommend it! As a screwball comedy, it does its job, as I spent most of the movie laughing at everything going on (and while I may have had silent moments, I made up for them whenever I thought of the movie)! The family is definitely very screwy. Billie Burke, in her only Oscar nomination, delights as the absent-minded and completely nutty Emily Kilbourne. Bonita Granville creates a lot of mischief as youngest sister Marion Kilbourne, usually accompanied by her two Great Danes, affectionately named “Get Off The Rug” and “You Too.” Alan Mowbray is the butler Grosvenor, who is constantly threatening to leave, with his bag usually ready in a closet in the kitchen. Clarence Kolb as Henry Kilbourne is the “head of the house” (although who can tell, considering the respect his children have for him at times), and is given a wonderfully gleeful moment when he comes home at night drunk, and Brian Aherne’s Wade Rawlins has to help him into the house quietly. I can name many more moments, but too many more would spoil the fun. I think this movie is definitely worth a shot, if you get the chance!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from ClassicFlix.

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Stand-In (1937) – Alan Mowbray – Music In My Heart (1940)

Dinner At Eight (1933) – Billie Burke – The Young In Heart (1938)

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