What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937)

Today’s movie is the 1937 film One Hundred Men And A Girl, which stars Deanna Durbin, Leopold Stokowski and Adolphe Menjou! So, let’s get through our theatrical short, and then it’s on to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mumbo Jumbo (1970)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 10 seconds)

The aardvark is chasing after the ant, but the ant is being helped by other animals in his forest lodge. Once again, the ant has others that are there to help him (and all he has to do say one word to get their attention). Original, this isn’t. But, with a variety of helpers (besides an elephant who seems to be the main one), it shakes things up a bit (and provides quite a few good laughs). Worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Out-of-work trombone player John Cardwell (Adolphe Menjou) tries to get a job in the orchestra of conductor Leopold Stokowski (playing himself) after one of their concerts, but he is thrown out. As he is leaving, John finds a woman’s purse. He tries to find its owner, but is chased away. He hopes to try returning it later, but, upon returning to his apartment building, the landlady demands payment of rent. He has no choice but to pay using some of the money from the purse (or else he would be evicted), but in doing so, everyone else assumes that he did get a job with Stokowski. John’s daughter, Patricia “Patsy” (Deanna Durbin) is very enthusiastic about the idea, and, as much as he wants to tell her the truth, he can’t manage to get a word in. The next morning, she pushes him to go to rehearsals, and he leaves (in an attempt to let her dream a bit longer), but she finds out the truth when she sneaks out to listen to rehearsals. Later, she confronts her father, and, learning about the purse, tries to return it. It’s owner is Mrs. Frost (Alice Brady), a wealthy (and very kooky) society lady, who lets Patsy stay at the party she is hosting. While there, Mrs. Frost listens to Patsy talk about her father and a lot of other unemployed musicians, and offers to sponsor an orchestra for her husband’s radio program if Patsy can get them together. Patsy and her father get everybody together, but when she goes looking for Mrs. Frost, she discovers that Mrs. Frost had left for Europe. So, Patsy tries talking to her husband, John R. Frost (Eugene Pallette), but he decides against the idea. He bluntly tells them that nobody knows of their orchestra, and that they would need a big name to conduct them at least once for the orchestra to have a chance. So, Patsy goes sneaking off to convince Leopold Stokowski to conduct. She tries to talk to him about it, but he says that he is leaving for Europe right away, and can’t conduct her orchestra. However, before she can talk to him (and while she is hiding to avoid being thrown out), she unknowingly talks to a newspaper reporter, and tells him that Mr. Frost will sponsor the orchestra, with Stokowski conducting. This becomes big news, and with the positive publicity, Mr. Frost tries to sign the orchestra to a contract (but he doesn’t know that they still don’t have Mr. Stokowski). Can Patsy find a way to get Mr. Stokowski on board with the idea?

In the mid-to-late 1930s, Universal was struggling financially, as were a number of other studios. Producer Joe Pasternak and director Henry Koster had found a young singer named Deanna Durbin, whom MGM had decided not to sign to a contract (instead going with Judy Garland at the time). They cast Deanna Durbin in the 1936 film Three Smart Girls, which turned out to be a hit for Universal Studios. For their second film, they went with One Hundred Men And A Girl. At first, the Universal executives objected to both the idea of a film about the unemployed, as well as it being about a symphony orchestra (which was a little too high-culture in their minds), but the producer and director stuck with their gut, and kept their story. With a little bit of work and persuasion, they were also able to get famous conductor Leopold Stokowski in on the project. The film turned out to be a hit with both audiences and critics.

One Hundred Men And A Girl was my first experience with actress Deanna Durbin (well, unless you want to count the brief clips of her from the 1936 MGM short “Every Sunday” that were used in the That’s Entertainment film). And, I’ve got to say, I enjoyed her performance in this movie! It was fun watching her character put her youthful enthusiasm to work not only for her father, but also for many of his musician friends, as she helps try to get them work. I’m not exactly fond of classical music (unless it’s just there for background music), so for it to be used as more full-fledged musical numbers (and still have me like it), you KNOW I enjoyed the movie. The supporting cast was fun, too, including a slightly more muted Adolphe Menjou as her father, plus Alice Brady hilariously doing Alice Brady (even if her role is a little too brief) and Eugene Pallette as her husband (again), who is being pranked by (and plays his own pranks on) one of his friends. Seriously, this was a fun diversion. It may not be the absolute best movie ever made, but it was well worth seeing, and I certainly hope to come back to it with some frequency (and I look forward to seeing more of Deanna Durbin’s movies)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 from Kino Lorber. This is another movie that seems to have had an HD scan, but not a full restoration. There are some minor spots and dirt here and there, but nothing that takes away from the movie. It looks good enough for me, and is certainly the way I would recommend seeing it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 24 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Deanna DurbinMad About Music (1938)

Morocco (1930) – Adolphe Menjou – Roxie Hart (1942)

My Man Godfrey (1936) – Eugene Pallette – The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)

Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 – Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

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TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… It Ain’t Hay (1943)

For the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1943 comedy It Ain’t Hay.

Grover Mockridge (Bud Abbott) and his taxi driver buddy Wilbur Hoolihan (Lou Costello) find themselves surrounded by trouble! Their friend, private Joe Collins (Leighton Noble), is in town to try to find talent for an army camp show after bragging that he knew a lot of big Broadway stars. And Finnegan, the horse owned by their carriage driver friend King O’Hara (Cecil Kellaway) and his daughter Peggy “Princess” O’Hara (Patsy O’Connor), has come down sick after eating some of Wilbur’s peppermint candy. Wilbur tries to help Finnegan, and is temporarily successful. However, the next day, he learns that Finnegan died, and so he promises to find a way to get his friends a new horse. He tries gambling and wins, but is quickly conned out of the money. Wilbur and Grover try taking Boimel, the brother of famous racing horse Tea Biscuit, but find out too late they have accidentally taken Tea Biscuit. King has already gone to Saratoga with a customer, so everyone goes after him to get the horse back. Once there, they have to find a way to return the horse, all the while avoiding everybody else seeking the reward for the horse’s return.

The movie was based on the Damon Runyan story Princess O’Hara. Universal had previously done a movie in 1935 under that name. Princess O’Hara and Hold Your Horses were the titles being considered for this film version as well, but Bud and Lou were coming off a VERY successful tour of the U.S. in which they had sold nearly $85 million worth of war bonds, and the title was changed in reference to that. They did some location shooting, for the likes of background footage and exteriors, including using the estate of Carl Laemmle, Jr. (the son of the founder of Universal) for the hotel exterior, Griffith Park in Los Angeles and some of the racing sequence in Pomona.

For me, I will admit I watched this movie with a touch of sadness. I had seen most of the Abbott and Costello movies over the years, particularly through the multiple volumes of the Universal-owned films on DVD, but at that time, It Ain’t Hay had been held back due to some rights issues, so it remained as the last Abbott and Costello movie that I hadn’t seen. That being said, I ended up enjoying it very much! Now, I will readily admit that this movie requires A LOT of suspension of disbelief because of its many “coincidences” that move the story along. I mean, seriously? The boys go for the horse Boimel, but the horse in Boimel’s stall is Tea Biscuit instead? Tea Biscuit’s owner just happens to enter his horse in the race at Saratoga for sentimental reasons and then Lou’s Wilbur somehow ends up looking like a jockey and competes in the race? Efficiency expert Gregory Warner (played by Eugene Pallette) just happens to get jobs wherever the boys go, first at a cafeteria they eat at, then for Tea Biscuit’s owner the night they take the horse, and then at the hotel in Saratoga? Like I said, things like those do require a lot of suspension of disbelief, but, at the same time, I can’t deny they help provide the laughter, just the same. Abbott and Costello get to do a few fun routines here, including “Mudder/Fodder” and “Betting Parlor.” Former and future Three Stooges member Shemp Howard also has a part, in which he immediately breaks the fourth wall, admitting that he is a “Damon Runyan character.” While a lot of what goes on here is ridiculous, it’s still a fun movie, and it feels like one of their better ones, so I would certainly recommend this movie for a good time!

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory.

Film Length: 1 hour, 20 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

Who Done It? (1942) Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Hit The Ice (1943)

The Lady Eve (1941) – Eugene Pallette

Who Done It? (1942)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection – Hit The Ice (1943)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

For a little bit of good, old-fashioned fun with a classic hero, we now have the 1940 film The Mark Of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Snow Place Like Home (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 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, 14 seconds)

Popeye and Olive are caught in a tornado that takes them WAY up north from Miami, where they run into the now lovestruck Pierre. Another formulaic cartoon of Popeye vs. Bluto (well, Pierre in this instance) as they fight over Olive. Some recycled gags here and there, but I enjoyed a few good laughs here just the same! The formula may be getting old, but the chemistry still manages to make up for it just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) has been in Spain, training at a military academy and becoming a famous swordsman, when he is summoned home by his father, the alcalde. Upon arriving home, he sees the people suffering, and they look upon him with horror when he claims to be the son of the alcalde. He is relieved to find that it is not his father causing trouble, but instead Don Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg) is in charge as the new alcalde, with the aid of Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone) and his guards, who are overtaxing the people. Diego is clever, and quick to put on an act to convince them he is no threat to them at all (and keeps the act going even amongst family and friends, much to their dismay). Since his father and the other caballeros can’t do anything against the alcalde and his garrison of troops, Diego goes out as the bandit Zorro, stealing the gold back from the troops and handing it off to Friar Felipe (Eugene Pallette) to disperse to the peasants. Zorro tries to convince the alcalde to resign, leave and appoint Diego’s father, Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), as the new alcalde. Of course, Capt. Esteban won’t let Don Luis resign, and instead suggests an arranged marriage between Don Luis’ niece, Lolita Quintero (Linda Darnell), and Diego, in an attempt at peace. Diego’s parents are less than thrilled, but he had already developed feelings for her when he met her under the guise of Zorro, and wants to go along with it. In front of everyone else, he keeps his act going (which annoys Lolita), but in private, he reveals himself as Zorro, much to her happiness. However, Capt. Esteban discovers the loot Zorro had hidden with Friar Felipe and arrests him, forcing Diego to make one final push with Don Luis.

The Mark Of Zorro was based on the story The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, which had been turned into a movie, also called The Mark Of Zorro, nearly twenty years earlier featuring Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro. While the 1940 version supposedly isn’t as faithful (honestly, I can’t say how much, as I’ve never read the story or seen the earlier film yet and am going off what I have heard elsewhere), it still helped maintain the legend of Zorro as a hero onscreen. Of course, the story would again be re-made as a made-for-TV movie in 1974 with Frank Langella taking over as Diego/Zorro.

Frankly, I had fun with this movie. I had first seen it nearly a decade ago, mainly renting the DVD from Netflix. I enjoyed it then, and while it has taken me a long time to be able to see it again, it was still just as fun! I can see so much more clearly now some of the various Robin Hood connections, since we have villains overtaxing the peasants and a hero who takes from rich government to give back to the poor. Of course, the connections are strongest with the 1938 movie The Adventures Of Robin Hood, since it brings in some of that film’s cast, like Eugene Pallette and Basil Rathbone in similar roles, as well as Montagu Love (although he changed from being an oppressor to being one of the oppressed). A very enjoyable movie, and the duel between Tyrone Power and champion fencer Basil Rathbone is a lot of fun! Admittedly, we don’t see a lot of real action for Zorro, as he is usually on the run, taking the money from the guards or threatening the alcalde, and the climactic duel is actually between Diego and Captain Esteban, but that works just fine for me! I know I have seen this film, the made-for-TV remake and the two Antonio Banderas films at this point, but this one so far ranks as my favorite Zorro film, and for that reason alone, it comes highly recommended from me!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jesse James (1939) – Tyrone Power

The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1939) – Basil Rathbone – International Lady (1941)

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) – Eugene Pallette – The Lady Eve (1941)

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)

TFTMM 2019 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Shanghai Express (1932)

Next up from the Dietrich And Von Sternberg set is the 1932 film Shanghai Express.

In this movie, Marlene Dietrich plays the prostitute Shanghai Lily.  She gets on the train to Shanghai, along with a number of other passengers, including her old boyfriend, Captain Donald Harvey (Clive Brook).  It is a time of civil war in China, so the Chinese military stops the train to check everybody’s passports.   They find one of the higher-ups in the rebel army and arrest him.  However, they miss his superior, Mr. Chang (Warner Oland),who is also on the train.  He wires ahead to have the rebels stop the train so they can take a hostage.  They end up taking Captain Harvey as the hostage.   The Chinese government agrees to the exchange, but Mr. Chang is reluctant to hand Captain Harvey over after he stops Mr. Chang from trying to rape Shanghai Lily.

This movie is the fourth of the seven movies that Marlene Dietrich and director Josef Von Sternberg made together,and it seems to be considered the peak of their collaboration. I will agree, it is a wonderful movie, and the best one of the bunch that I have seen so far. As far as I can see, it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and I can easily understand that. This movie was wonderfully photographed, especially Marlene Dietrich. I know the image of just her hands when her character was praying is certainly one of this movie’s most vivid images. And all of the characters work well for me, too. To look at the trivia, I was reading about how the minister character had to be softened for the movie because of the censors. I admit, in this case, I think it works, as it gives his character a bit of an arc, too, where he improves his opinions. As a whole, I like this movie, and would recommend it to anybody interested!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection, and is one hour, twenty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dishonored (1931)Dietrich & Von Sternberg In HollywoodBlonde Venus (1932)

Dishonored (1931) – Marlene Dietrich – Blonde Venus (1932)

Eugene Pallette – My Man Godfrey (1936)

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)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… My Man Godfrey (1936)

And now it’s time to dig into another recent release on disc, the 1936 movie My Man Godfrey, which stars William Powell as Godfrey and Carole Lombard as Irene Bullock.

To start, we find Irene Bullock and her sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick) competing against each other in a scavenger hunt for the social elite. They both come to the city dump, looking for a “forgotten man.” Cornelia, who is a spoiled brat, finds Godfrey, and offers him five dollars to come with her, but he turns her down. Irene, who is a little more scatterbrained, but not quite so spoiled, realizes the idea is wrong, and Godfrey agrees to come with her to help her beat Cornelia. Afterwards, she hires Godfrey to be the family butler. The rest of the movie is about Godfrey as he works for the family, who are all a little screwy, except for the father, all the while Godfrey tries to keep his own background hidden while avoiding the affections of Irene, who falls for him.

With this movie, we have a highly regarded screwball comedy. We have four Oscar-nominated performances, with William Powell (Best Actor), Carole Lombard (Best Actress), Mischa Auer (Best Supporting Actor) and Alice Brady (Best Supporting Actress), in the first movie to be nominated in all four acting categories. Carole Lombard’s Irene is particularly screwy (and I get the impression the screwball genre was coined by a reviewer talking about her character). To a degree, we find ourselves siding with Godfrey early on, when he first comes to work for the family. Their maid, who has already been working for them a while, warns him to keep his things near the door so he can make a quick getaway. As he meets the family, we certainly can see him considering leaving (and I think most of us would be considering it, too), but he ends up staying, feeling it would be better than to go back to the dump. He even ends up helping them before all is said and done.

I enjoyed this movie very much, and it is one I would definitely recommend to anybody that might be interested in it. The movie is in the public domain, so it is available on DVD from many labels, but for the best quality, with the most recent restoration, it is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection (it’s a bit more expensive, but I think it is worth it).

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Star Of Midnight (1935) – William Powell – Libeled Lady (1936)

We’re Not Dressing (1934) – Carole Lombard – Nothing Sacred (1937)

Shanghai Express (1932) – Eugene Pallette – One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937)

Rose-Marie (1936) – Alan Mowbray – Stand-In (1937)