“Screen Team (Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy) Of The Month (January 2022)” Featuring Nelson Eddy in… Phantom Of The Opera (1943)

We’re here now to finish off our month-long celebration of Screen Team Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy by looking at one more of Nelson’s solo outings: the classic 1943 film Phantom Of The Opera, which also stars Susanna Foster and Claude Rains!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Screwball (1943)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 53 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker tries to watch a baseball game without paying, but has to deal with a policeman trying to stop him. While the idea of a cartoon character watching a baseball game and getting involved isn’t exactly an original idea, this short was indeed fun! There was a lot of hilarity here, from the policeman dealing with all the people watching through holes in the fence, to Woody dealing with other people in the stand so that he could see the game, to him going out on the diamond! This may not be the best baseball cartoon, but it provided quite a few good laughs, and I certainly want to come back and see this one again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At the Paris Opera, chorus girl and understudy Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) finds herself torn between two suitors: Inspector Raoul Daubert (Edgar Barrier) of the French police (who wants her to abandon a career in the opera) and the opera lead Anatole Garron (Nelson Eddy). Unbeknownst to her, she has another admirer: violinist Erique Claudin (Claude Rains), who has been anonymously helping to pay for her expensive singing lessons. However, that is about to come to an end, as he is losing the use of some of his fingers on his left hand, which has affected his playing enough that the orchestra leader Villeneuve (Frank Puglia) has let him go. Besides no longer being able to pay for Christine’s singing lessons, he also faces eviction, so he makes a desperate attempt to sell a concerto that he has written to a music publisher. When the publisher tries to throw Claudin out (while somebody in the other room is playing his music to attempt to help get it published), Claudin assumes that his music is being stolen, and strangles the publisher. The publisher’s assistant throws some etching acid in Claudin’s face to get him to stop, and he runs out of there. With nowhere else to go, Claudin makes his way into the sewers under the Paris Opera. He soon steals some costume pieces (including a mask), some food and the master key of the Paris Opera, an act of thievery that the superstitious stage manager Vercheres (Steven Geray) attributes to a ghost/phantom. At the next opera performance, Christine hears a voice promising to help her advance in her career. During the show, the Phantom drugs opera diva Biancarolli (Jane Farrar) and, as her understudy, Christine goes on in her place. Christine turns out to be a sensation, but afterwards, Biancarolli threatens to charge her and Anatole with attempted murder. She has no evidence to support her charge, but she relents when she blackmails everyone into trying to forget that anything happened that night (particularly where Christine is concerned). At the next show, the Phantom tells Biancarolli to leave Paris, but, when she refuses, he kills her and her maid. Anatole sees the Phantom and tries to give chase, but the Phantom escapes. As a result, the Paris Opera is closed by the orders of Inspector Daubert. When the Phantom sends a note demanding that the opera reopen and Christine be made the lead, the Inspector decides to allow the opera to reopen (but with someone else in the lead to lure the Phantom out of hiding). Meanwhile, Anatole has a plan of his own to get the Phantom out into the open. But will either of their plans succeed, or will more death and destruction occur until or unless the Phantom gets his way?

In 1925, Universal Pictures released a silent film version of the Gaston Leroux novel featuring Lon Chaney as the Phantom. The film was successful enough that Universal started producing a series of horror films, including the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, amongst others. A remake of Phantom was considered in the mid-30s, but it was shelved when the studio’s financial woes resulted in the ousting of Carl Laemmle (Universal’s owner and co-founder) and his son from the studio. Plans were revisited in the early 1940s, with the likes of Deanna Durbin, Boris Karloff and Allan Jones being cast. However, several of those stars became unavailable (Deanna Durbin mostly because of a suspension for several months), and the movie was briefly considered as a vehicle for new comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. After Deanna’s suspension was over, she was again considered for the role of Christine DuBois, only for her to finally turn it down when Nelson Eddy was cast in the role of Anatole (mostly because she respected his regular screen partner Jeanette MacDonald and didn’t want to be compared to her). With Claude Rains cast as the Phantom, work was begun in earnest, with part of the film’s budget going towards soundproofing the opera stage (which had been used in the 1925 silent film). The film received mixed reviews, but still did well at the box office (well enough that a sequel bringing back Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains was considered, but story issues and Claude Rains being unavailable resulted in the film, eventually called The Climax, being changed so that it was not related to Phantom at all, with only Susanna Foster returning, albeit in a different role).

One thing I should say about this movie, now that I’ve seen it, is that it is one that will leave a lot of people divided. For the most part, this movie tends to get lumped in with some of the other Universal horror films, and it really isn’t one. Realistically, you can simplify what most seem to think of it with one quick statement: too much opera, and not enough Phantom. So, due to it being counted as a horror film (a genre that I’m really NOT fond of), I had a lot of hesitation going into this movie. Doing this Screen Team blogathon is what finally pushed me into trying it, and quite simply stated, I really liked this Phantom! The lack of horror worked better for me, as did the almost-musical nature of the film (for the most part, it’s mainly confined to them singing onstage). Nelson Eddy is still in good voice, and he manages to keep his comedic abilities going (which really got their start in The Chocolate Soldier two years earlier). Most of the comedy bits have to do with Eddy’s Anatole and Edgar Barrier’s Inspector Daubert competing for the affections of Susanna Foster’s Christine DuBois, with the two of them frequently trying to come through a doorway at the same time.

Now, is this movie perfect? Certainly not. While I like the lack of horror, I still think it needed to be a bit more present than it was (now, to be fair, I’ve never read the original story, and the only other way I’ve seen this story is a half-hour episode of the TV series Wishbone, so I’m certainly not the best judge on how well the story was actually done). I don’t feel like Claude Rains’ Phantom is as threatening as he should be, and the final sequence where his character kidnaps Christine just doesn’t leave me feeling like she’s really in that much danger. Given that that feels like an overall weaker spot in the film to me, I blame it on the direction (as I feel that none of the actors make you feel the urgency of trying to catch up to the Phantom like they should). I also think that the Phantom’s makeup and costume aren’t as effective as they should be, since what we can see of his face around the mask doesn’t look the same as when we finally see the mask taken off at the end of the film. In spite of these issues, though, I did have a good time with this one, and I look forward to revisiting it periodically (particularly around Halloween, but anytime of the year will work for me). As long as you can live with the opera music/lack of horror, then I think this film is worth recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Chocolate Soldier (1941)Nelson EddyMake Mine Music (1946)

Now, Voyager (1942) – Claude Rains – Notorious (1946)

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!

The Long And The Short (Series) Of It on… Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) and Down To Earth (1947)

It’s been almost two years since I had a post on a movie series, but I’ve finally gotten back around to doing one, with this specific column newly rechristened “The Long And The Short (Series) Of It!” This time around, I’m talking about the two film series that includes the 1941 Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the 1947 Down To Earth!

Here Comes Mr. Jordan: On his way to his next boxing match, Joe Pendleton’s (Robert Montgomery) plane goes down. However, right before it crashes, Joe’s spirit is pulled out by the angelic Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton). This turns out to be a mistake, as 7013’s superior, Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) says that Joe was actually supposed to survive the crash and live for another fifty years. To make things worse, when Joe and 7013 return to find his body, they discover that Joe’s manager, Max Corkle (James Gleason), had already cremated the body.  So, to rectify that mistake, Mr. Jordan tries to help Joe find a new body to live in, to Joe’s satisfaction.  They end up using the body of millionaire playboy Bruce Farnsworth, who had just been murdered by his wife and her lover. Joe was reluctant to use that body, except he wanted to help Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes), who had come to see Farnsworth about getting her father out of jail. Joe manages to do just that, all the while falling in love with her. He still wants to fight in the championship match, so he starts working out and reveals himself to his former manager, Max. Of course, Farnsworth’s wife and her lover have other ideas, especially as he spends a lot of their money.

Down To Earth: Playwright and actor Danny Miller (Larry Parks) has put together a show about the Greek muses. However, unbeknownst to him, the actual Greek muses hear about, and object to how they are portrayed! In particular, Terpsichore (Rita Hayworth) is angered by this development, and decides to do something about. Unable to go to Earth on her own, she goes to Mr. Jordan (Roland Culver), and convinces him to let her come to Earth to “help” Danny. He agrees to the idea, and sends her to Earth, with Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) along to keep an eye on her. She successfully auditions for Danny under the name Kitty Pendleton, and is given the lead role of Terpsichore. She enlists Max Corkle (James Gleason) to be her agent, and starts preparing for the show. Danny is enchanted by her, but the two keep coming to odds about how the muses are portrayed (particularly Terpsichore). After some time, Terpsichore convinces Danny to make some changes, much to the annoyance of Danny’s friend and co-star, Eddie (Marc Platt). When the show premieres out of town (with all the changes that Terpsichore made), it is poorly received, forcing Danny to go back to his original concept. At first, Terpsichore is infuriated and threatens to walk out, until Mr. Jordan shows her how Danny had indebted himself to gangster Joe Mannion (George MacReady), which would require the show to be a hit, or Danny would be killed. With this new information, she comes back to the show, ready to do things Danny’s way. But, will the show be a hit, or will Danny be murdered?

Now, given that, unlike the two earliest posts in this series (pun intended), where I essentially reviewed the films themselves (instead of giving them individual posts), I’ve already reviewed one of these movies individually a while back (and just did the other one), so I’ll keep my comments here confined to the series as a whole. Here Comes Mr. Jordan was based on the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall. The movie was produced at Columbia Pictures, although it was considered a risky venture for the “Poverty Row” studio. However, Harry Cohn was convinced to do it, and the movie ended up being a hit for them, along with receiving several Oscar nominations. A sequel was planned, with the working title Hell Bent For Mr. Jordan, but it never happened (mainly because the hope was to bring back the original cast of Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, Edward Everett Horton and James Gleason, which never quite worked out). However, when actress Rita Hayworth and then-rising newcomer Larry Parks were paired together for Down To Earth, it was decided to make that film a sequel of sorts to Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Edward Everett Horton (Messenger 7013) and James Gleason (Max Corkle) were brought back to play their respective characters, although Max Corkle’s occupation was changed from fight manager to theatrical agent (with references to his previous profession). Claude Rains didn’t come back to portray Mr. Jordan (for reasons I have yet to discover), so Roland Culver took over that role (with his appearance a strong reminder of the previous portrayal). Director Alexander Hall was also retained for both movies.

Both films managed to make an impact, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan made the biggest. As a result of its success, Hollywood made more films of that type, such as I Married An Angel (1942), Angel On My Shoulder (1946), Angels In The Outfield (1951) and Heaven Can Wait (1943) (no relation to the play other than the title). The movie would be remade (under the play’s original title of Heaven Can Wait) in 1978, and again in 2001 as Down To Earth (apparently borrowing the title of the sequel). While the 1947 Down To Earth didn’t have *quite* that impact, it was rather infamously remade… as the 1980 movie musical Xanadu.

As I mentioned when I originally reviewed Here Comes Mr. Jordan, I more or less discovered that film because of Bob Hope’s reference to it in Road To Morocco. I thoroughly enjoyed Here Comes Mr. Jordan when I saw it, particularly because the cast did such a great job. Of course, in the humor department, Edward Everett Horton and especially James Gleason left me cracking up at their antics, leaving me wanting more! Having finally had the chance to see Down To Earth a few years later (with them reprising their roles), that fun continued on! While it wasn’t the full-fledged sequel that was originally planned, it still worked quite well! James Gleason starts us off being interrogated by the police (again) in a manner quite reminiscent of what it was like in the first film (before he tells us what happened in flashback). Comparatively, I prefer Claude Rains over Roland Culver in the role of Mr. Jordan, as I feel he better fit the role, with all the gravitas it required. That being said, Roland Culver certainly wasn’t too far from it, either (and was pretty good casting since they did have to replace Claude Rains, for whatever reason). I prefer the first film overall, as the second does have its slightly weaker moments (including, to my mind, the inclusion of the Greek muses/”goddesses,” although that’s a minor complaint), but as an overall series, I can’t complain! Here Comes Mr. Jordan is an almost perfect film, and, as such, I really have little to no interest in seeing the later remakes. I have seen Down To Earth‘s remake (Xanadu), and, while it’s certainly not in the same league as Down To Earth by far, it at least had the appeal of a few cast members that I like (as opposed to Jordan‘s remakes). I would definitely recommend either of the two films from this series without any hesitation!

Both movies are available on Blu-ray (Here Comes Mr. Jordan from Criterion as an individual release and Down To Earth as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment).

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Down To Earth

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Now, Voyager (1942)

This time, we’re here for that classic 1942 Bette Davis and Paul Henreid film Now, Voyager, also co-starring Claude Rains.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bad Luck Blackie (1949)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 8 seconds)

A little kitten is being chased by a dog, when he runs into a black cat that volunteers to help. Yet, it’s the old “you get bad luck when a black cat crosses your path” schtick. A lot of fun watching everything that keeps falling on the dog whenever the cat crosses his path. I will admit, there is one quick moment with a rather problematic Asian stereotype, but it’s so short, it can be easy to miss it if you’re not looking. This cartoon is just good, plain crazy fun, and I guarantee I laughed a lot throughout!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After years of living with her very domineering mother (as played by Gladys Cooper), Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Her sister-in-law, Lisa Vale (Ilka Chase), sees this, and brings psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) to see her. After meeting her, Dr. Jaquith recommends Charlotte come to his sanitarium. She recovers, but still feels unable to return home to her mother. Lisa recommends she try going on a cruise. While on the cruise, she meets Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid), who ends up spending some time with her. They both learn about each other’s backgrounds, as she tells him about her family struggles and he tells her about his wife and children (and she learns from mutual friends about his marriage being unhappy). After the cruise is over, they go their separate ways. Upon returning home, Charlotte’s family is surprised to see her doing so much better. Her mother tries to resume running her life, but, especially with the arrival of some flowers (most likely from Jerry), Charlotte is able to defy her mother and come to an uneasy truce. Charlotte soon becomes engaged to the wealthy Eliot Livingston (John Loder), an idea her mother approves of. However, Charlotte runs into Jerry at a party, and, although he leaves shortly after, she realizes that she cannot go through with her engagement, and breaks it off with Eliot. This results in an argument with her mother that is stopped when her mother has a fatal heart attack. Charlotte feels guilty, and makes the decision to return to Dr. Jaquith’s sanitarium. There, she runs into Jerry’s daughter, Tina (Janis Wilson), and she forgets her own problems as she attempts to help Tina.

Now, Voyager was based on the third novel of a five-part series written by Olive Higgins Prouty. When Warner Brothers bought the film rights for the novel, Prouty had a number of suggestions for how she wanted the movie to be filmed, but they were ignored. The film did stick close to the novel, although changes were made, particularly in setting, partly because European locales were unavailable due to the war. While not necessarily the first choice for the role, Bette Davis actively campaigned to get it. Once she got the role, she got her choice of co-stars and director. While her pick for director, Irving Rapper, got the credit, it’s been said that she picked him because she thought he would let her have her way with the movie, and it has been said that she did essentially direct it herself. Whatever the case, audiences of the time responded well, making it her biggest box office hit of the decade, and resulting in another nomination for Best Actress for her.

Up until about a year ago, I could only claim to have heard of the film’s title, but couldn’t really tell you anything more about this movie. Honestly, at that point, if you had told me it starred Bette Davis, I would have lost interest quickly, as, outside of a few comedies and one drama I had seen with her in them (none of which I have reviewed yet, save for her cameo appearance in Thank Your Lucky Stars), I had zero interest in her as an actress. That changed last fall when Jezebel was released on Blu-ray and I tried it to support Warner Archive restoring and releasing more thirties films on Blu-ray. As you can tell from that review, I responded positively to that film, and the announcement of The Letter and this film shortly thereafter were certainly enough to make me excited! Admittedly, in the time since, the pandemic hit, and my enthusiasm for dramas (what little I did have) has gone away, as I have drifted more towards “comfort cinema” (which for me is classic musicals and comedies). Still, I had gotten a copy of this before the pandemic hit, and since it was in my pile of movies to watch, I gave it a try.

And all I have to say is “Wow! What a movie!” Bette Davis’s performance is definitely worth it! Watching her go from the emotional abuse her mother was inflicting upon her, to being emotionally healed and able to fight back against it, is indeed a journey worth seeing! And while I’ve seen Gladys Cooper give good performances as characters both good and somewhat despicable, she really sells me here on being a mother that we as an audience want to hate. And of course we have Claude Rains as Dr. Jaquith, who wants to see Charlotte get better (and isn’t scared of her mother’s opinion). This is an absolutely wonderful movie, with not a sour note in sight as far as I can see, so I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending this great film!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Now, Voyager (1942)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection boasting a new 4K restoration. All I have to say is that I have no complaints here! The movie looks fantastic, and this is certainly the best way to see it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Bette Davis – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Paul Henreid – Deep In My Heart (1954)

Phantom Of The Opera (1943) – Claude Rains – Notorious (1946)

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!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

Now for a patriotic turn, we have the classic 1939 drama Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart!

When U.S. Senator Foley dies, Governor Hopper (Guy Kibbee) has to appoint a new one. Political boss Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) has a man in mind that he orders the governor to appoint, but some citizen committees have somebody else. Governor Hopper’s own children have a recommendation of their own: their leader of the Boy Rangers, Jefferson Smith (James Stewart). Taylor and Senator Joe Paine (Claude Rains) decide to let the choice of Jeff Smith be. When Jeff gets to Washington, he explores the monuments, and enjoys the feeling of history. However, some of the reporters make fun of him, and make him realize his appointment is honorary, and that he is expected to be nothing more than a “yes man,” going along with what Senator Paine tells him to do. With the help of his secretary Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), he tries to introduce a bill for the creation of a boys’ camp. When it is discovered he wants to use land that Taylor owns and is planning to sell for use for a dam in another bill, Taylor visits Washington to straighten him out, or else. Jeff tries to speak up about the graft, but HE is instead accused of graft and tries to run away. Saunders stops him, and helps him to go into a filibuster to delay his expulsion from the Senate.

For me, this is one of those wonderful movies that was really well done by all those involved. I have great admiration for the set crew, who had to recreate the Senate chamber in Hollywood (since they couldn’t use the real location for filming). James Stewart works so well in his role as Jefferson Smith, it’s easy to see why he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Yes, as the audience, we learn all about the corruption in power early on, but it’s hard not to get swept up by Jeff’s earnestness and admiration for the Capitol and all the landmarks. And of course, director Frank Capra does a great job with Jeff’s big filibuster. While it lasts for quite a while, it doesn’t get stale or boring, especially interspersed with all the action as Edward Arnold’s James Taylor goes to work trying to tear him down in the state while Jean Arthur’s Saunders tries so hard to reach the people! I do enjoy this movie very much, and it is one I would highly recommend (especially in high definition, allowing you to see so many more details in the sets)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Film Length: 2 hours, 10 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) – Jean Arthur

You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – James Stewart – The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Claude Rains – The Sea Hawk (1940)

You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – Edward Arnold – Nothing But The Truth (1941)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Eugene Pallette – The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

Fifth Avenue Girl (1939) – Jack Carson – Lucky Partners (1940)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

And now for a “heavenly” comedy from 1941, the classic Here Comes Mr. Jordan, starring Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains and Evelyn Keyes.

On his way to his next boxing match, Joe Pendleton’s (Robert Montgomery) plane goes down. However, right before it crashes, Joe’s spirit is pulled out by the angelic Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton). This turns out to be a mistake, as 7013’s superior, Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) says that Joe was actually supposed to survive the crash and live for another fifty years. To make things worse, when Joe and 7013 return to find his body, they discover that Joe’s manager, Max Corkle (James Gleason), had already cremated the body.  So, to rectify that mistake, Mr. Jordan tries to help Joe find a new body to live in, to Joe’s satisfaction.  They end up using the body of millionaire playboy Bruce Farnsworth, who had just been murdered by his wife and her lover. Joe was reluctant to use that body, except he wanted to help Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes), who had come to see Farnsworth about getting her father out of jail. Joe did so, all the while falling in love with her. He still wanted to fight in the championship match, so he started working out and revealed himself to his former manager, Max. Of course, Farnsworth’s wife and her lover have other ideas, especially as he spends a lot of their money.

At this point, I am coming off my first time watching this movie. This is one I had heard of before (mainly through Bob Hope referencing it in Road To Morocco), but I otherwise didn’t know much about it. I will say, though, that part of the appeal in trying it was actor Edward Everett Horton, whom I have enjoyed watching many times in other movies, and I was very much delighted to see that his role in this movie was a bit bigger than I had thought it would be! I enjoyed this movie very much, and it thrills me to no end that it does have a sequel of sorts (which I haven’t seen yet), the 1947 movie Down To Earth, which brings back Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 and James Gleason as Max Corkle.

Of course, in discussing the comedy in this movie, one really can’t avoid talking about this movie’s two Oscar-nominated performances from Robert Montgomery and James Gleason.  As Joe Pendleton, Robert Montgomery has a number of wonderfully comic moments with Claude Rains’ Mr. Jordan, since Joe is the only living person who can see him (which obviously leads to some people mistakenly assuming he is talking to them or questioning his sanity).  It’s no surprise that Robert can handle comedy, as it seems to run in his family, as his daughter Elizabeth Montgomery would later star in the classic sitcom Bewitched.  But James Gleason as Max Corkle gets some of the best moments, especially after Joe reveals himself (and the existence of Mr. Jordan, who Max still cannot see or hear).  Seriously, when Max is trying to explain things to the increasingly frustrated police inspector, played by Donald MacBride, that is absolutely hilarious, and that alone is worth watching the movie for! So yes, I very much recommend this movie!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Sea Hawk (1940) – Claude Rains – Now, Voyager (1942)

Holiday (1938) – Edward Everett Horton – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Notorious (1946)

And here we are for my thoughts on the first new disc release of 2019 that I have had the chance to see, the 1946 Alfred Hitchcock movie Notorious, starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.

After her father is convicted as a Nazi conspirator, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) meets T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) at a party she is giving. He convinces her to come work with the government to help take down a few Nazis in hiding. She is asked to get close to Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), a friend of her father’s who was infatuated with her. She is reluctant to do so, as she has also developed feelings for Devlin. He feels the same, but isn’t willing to admit to it, so that that she does the job. She ends up marrying Alex, and is then able to find out what he and his Nazi colleagues are up to.

Just a word of warning before I get any further: as a whole, I do not care for Alfred Hitchcock’s movies (outside of the four he made with Cary Grant), so don’t expect too many reviews of his films from me. That being said, I did enjoy this one. As I said, it’s Hitchcock, so he’s good at building up suspense, whether it be the pacing, the music or the performances of the stars. And such wonderful performances, too, whether it be Claude Rains, who gives us a very human Nazi that we ALMOST start to feel sorry for, or Ingrid Bergman as Alicia, who wants to help but feels conflicted about what she is being asked to do, especially with her newfound feelings for Devlin, or Cary Grant as Devlin, who does care for Alicia but is wary about letting his own feelings get in the way of stopping these escaped Nazis. This is a movie that I enjoyed very much, and would easily recommend it!

This movie is currently owned by Disney, and has been previously licensed out to MGM, who made made it available on Blu-ray and DVD. That license has ended, and now Criterion Collection has restored it and made it available on Blu-ray and DVD themselves, and their release is indeed a “wow!” as it looks so wonderful!

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

*ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1944) (original review of The Bells Of St. Mary’s) (update) – Ingrid Bergman

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)Cary GrantMr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Phantom Of The Opera (1943) – Claude Rains

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!

TFTMM 2019 & WOIANRA 2018 on… The Sea Hawk (1940)

Now for the first part of a seafaring double-feature, we have the 1940 film The Sea Hawk, starring Errol Flynn.

King Phillip II (Montagu Love) of Spain has ambitions to rule the world, but England stands in his way.  He sends the Spanish ambassador (Claude Rains) and his niece (Brenda Marshall) to England in a gesture of friendship while he builds the Spanish armada.  However, on the trip over, they run into English privateer Captain Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn), who destroys their ship in self-defense.  He gives them passage to England.  In public, Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson) reprimands him, but in private, he convinces her to let him and his crew go to Panama to steal a shipment of gold intended for the Spanish.  The Spanish ambassador and the traitorous Lord Wolfingham (Henry Daniell) get wind of this, and send some men ahead of him.  In Panama, Captain Thorpe and his men are either captured or killed.  The survivors are sentenced to be galley slaves on Spanish ships.  When they find plans for the Spanish armada, they must escape and get those plans to the queen.

I think that this is a fun pirate movie.  Admittedly, not a traditional “pirate” movie, as there is nobody with eye patches or peg legs, nobody says “aargh” or other well-known pirate phrases.  However, we do have a good ship battle to start the movie off (no CGI here)!  One thing I should mention is that this is a mostly black and white movie, with the Panama section done in sepia (like the non-color sections of The Wizard Of Oz), apparently to help suggest how hot it was supposed to be there.  However you want to look at it, this is a movie that I enjoyed very much  and would eagerly recommend it as one of the best pirate movies!

Originally released in 1940, the movie proved quite successful. The movie was reissued again in 1947 as part of a double-feature with the similarly titled (and also directed by Michael Curtiz) The Sea Wolf. However, due to length, both films were shortened, mainly from the original camera negatives, leaving only the shortened versions of either film available for the longest time. In the 1980s, Warner Brothers was able to restore the missing sections to The Sea Hawk. The restored sections were apparently from lesser elements, so they don’t look quite as good as the rest of the movie. The recent release on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection has done a marvelous job of restoring the movie. I’m not familiar enough with the movie to know what moments were cut, but I can see some moments that don’t look quite as good. However, I think that they look as good as they can, and I consider this release to be one of the best classic film restorations to come out on disc in 2018 (personally, I would give the edge to Warner Archive Collection’s June release of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, but this one ranks up there, just the same)! So, yes, I do highly recommend this movie!

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

Film Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dodge City (1939) – Errol Flynn – Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) – Claude Rains – Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)

And now for the movie that brought a bit of swashbuckle to Sherwood Forest, the 1938 film The Adventures Of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.

When Richard the Lion-heart is captured during the Crusades, Prince John (Claude Rains) takes over England with the help of his Norman friends, most notably Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone).  Under Prince John’s rule, the Normans overtax, torture and steal from the Saxons they rule over.  Some of the Saxons rebel, led by Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn).  Sir Robin, or rather, Robin Hood, robs from the rich to give to the poor (and help pay King Richard’s ransom).  Along the way, Robin ends up falling in love with Maid Marian (Oliva de Havilland.  Sir Guy tries (and fails) to capture Robin, eventually leading to their climactic duel to the death.

This wonderful tale covers many wonderful moments associated with Robin Hood. We have the opening fight at Nottingham Castle, where Robin starts the big rebellion against Prince John and his lackeys. We have Robin recruiting the people for his Merry Men, including the staff fight on the downed tree with Little John. We have that archery contest, which is intended as a trap for Robin.  No, I’m not describing the Mel Brooks comedy Robin Hood: Men In Tights, although you can definitely see a lot of the things that Mel was spoofing in this movie, including the look of this Robin Hood.

Speaking of the casting, one can’t help but feel this is about as close to perfection as you could hope for with a Robin Hood movie!  Olivia de Havilland works as a Maid Marian, who at first sides with her Norman people, but comes to realize that Robin is right, and tries to help him out (even helping to plan his escape)! Then there’s Basil Rathbone, one of the greatest swordsman in Hollywood, perfectly cast as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne, who gives Robin Hood a run for his money! And Alan Hale, in his second outing in the movies as Little John (preceded by his appearance in the 1922 silent Robin Hood, and followed by the 1950 movie Rogues Of Sherwood Forest). Of course, we can’t forget about Robin Hood himself, as played so well by Errol Flynn! It’s hard to imagine anybody else being cast in the role, but he wasn’t the first choice! James Cagney was (until he walked off the set and they had to replace him)! Personally, I can’t see James Cagney as the classic type of Robin Hood (however if he was done as a 1930s-style gangster as they did for Frank Sinatra with Robin And The 7 Hoods a quarter of a century later, then I could see it). However you want to look at it, this is a wonderful movie, and one I would highly recommend as one of the best Robin Hood movies!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video and on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Errol Flynn – Dodge City (1939)

Basil Rathbone – The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1939)

Claude Rains – Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937) – Eugene Pallette – Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)