“Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Lady Eve (1941)

We’re back again for more time with Barbara Stanwyck (our Star Of The Month), and this time, it’s her classic 1941 screwball comedy The Lady Eve, also starring Henry Fonda!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Jet Pink (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 3 seconds)

When the Pink Panther walks onto an experimental aircraft base, he decides to try becoming a famous pilot. This one isn’t quite as much fun as some of the others. Once he gets into the aircraft, it’s then a minute or two mainly of the aircraft going everywhere of its own accord. The short doesn’t really manage to be that funny until he accidentally presses some buttons and gets himself ejected (and then finds out he can fly by himself for a moment before he lands back on the ground). As I said, it has its moments, but this one feels more like one of the lesser efforts for relying too much on the same joke.

And Now For The Main Feature…

After spending a year in the Amazon as part of an expedition, Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) is ready to return home on an ocean liner. As the heir to the Pike’s Ale fortune, he quickly catches the eye of every female on the ship. Among them is con artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck), who is traveling with her father (also a con man), “Colonel” Harrington (Charles Coburn). While they are at dinner, Jean trips Charles, and starts to work her charms on him (so that she and her father can con him out of his money). Her charms work, as he starts to fall hard for her. Much to her surprise, Jean starts to fall for him as well, and has to keep her father from swindling him at cards. Things are starting to look good for Charles and Jean, but his friend (and bodyguard) Ambrose “Muggsy” Murgatroyd (William Demarest) distrusts Jean and the Colonel, and finds out that they are well-known as being cons. Muggsy reveals this information to Charles before Jean can tell him the truth, and Charles breaks things off, breaking Jean’s heart (although she finds some solace in a big check from Charles that she had previously stopped her father from cashing in). At a horse race, Jean and her father run into a con man friend of theirs, Pearly (Eric Blore) (although he is currently going by the alias Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith). When she hears that Sir Alfred knows the Pike family, Jean starts making plans to come visit as his “niece” under the name Lady Eve Sidwich. The Pikes end up throwing a party to welcome Sir Alfred’s niece. There, Charles is once again smitten with her. Muggsy keeps trying to tell him that Lady Eve and Jean are one and the same, but Charles believes that their extremely similar appearance means they can’t possibly be the same person. He falls for “Eve,” and after a while, they get married. However, on their honeymoon trip, Charles gets increasingly jealous and angry as he learns about some of “Eve’s” numerous past relationships, until he decides to get off the train and divorce her. Later on, she feels sorry and wants to get back together, but he won’t have anything to do with her. Can Jean get him to come back to her, or will her heart be forever broken?

When they met on the set of Remember The Night, writer Preston Sturges promised to write actress Barbara Stanwyck a screwball comedy (a genre she wasn’t exactly being cast in due to her screen image). Being that he had decided that that would be the last film he would write (and not direct), he convinced Paramount Studios to let him direct his next script, The Great McGinty (for very little pay). When that and his second film, Christmas In July, turned out to be hits, he was given a bigger budget to work with. He had actually come up with the screenplay for The Lady Eve as early as 1938 (but kept it to himself), and later made changes, utilizing aspects of the story “Two Bad Hats” by Monckton Hoffe, and tailoring it to Barbara Stanwyck’s talent. It took a bit of convincing the studio executives to go for Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda over other actors actually on Paramount’s payroll, but he did it, just the same. The movie turned out to be a hit with audiences and critics, and has become one of Preston Sturges’ best-known films. Paramount tried to remake the film as The Birds and the Bees in 1956, but, without the writer/director (or the cast), that film version failed.

The Lady Eve is a movie that I’ve been hearing about for the last few years, with a lot of high praise being thrown its way. Well, this year I finally got the chance to see it (heck, I’ve actually been able to see it twice this year!), and I will say that it lives up to the hype! Barbara Stanwyck in particular proved that she is indeed quite adept in a screwball comedy. As a scorned con artist, she proves that she can easily fool her intended target (and, quite frankly, if it weren’t for the scenes where her “Eve” is out of character, we the audience would be hard-pressed to figure out whether the two ladies are the same person or two completely different people). I know I enjoyed watching her try to outplay her own father at cards to keep him from taking all of Henry Fonda’s Charles’ money, or seeing her later drive him nuts when her Eve reveals all her “prior relationships” to Charles to make him jealous!

But Barbara Stanwyck is not the only standout in this film, either! Henry Fonda is also amusing, in between all his trips and falls, or being seduced by Barbara Stanwyck’s Jean. As his ever-suspicious friend and bodyguard, William Demarest also manages to be hilarious, especially since he realizes that Barbara Stanwyck’s Jean and Eve are the same person (yet can’t convince anybody else). Eric Blore also adds to the fun as another con (although he’s not in the film as much as I would have preferred). Seriously, this is a wonderful film with a well-deserved reputation as one of the best screwball comedies, and for that reason alone, comes highly, HIGHLY recommended from me!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Lady Eve (1941)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection from a new 4K transfer taken from a 35 mm fine-grain master positive. Overall, the movie looks pretty good. It has some minor issues that keep it from being perfect, but the reality is that the film was held back for a long time on Blu-ray because they were searching for some potentially better elements, but there were none to be found. So, instead of continuing to search for a closer equivalent of perfection, they went with the film elements that were in the best shape. I personally am thrilled with what we got, and would certainly recommend this release as the best way to see this fantastic screwball comedy!

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Remember The Night (1940)Barbara StanwyckThe Great Man’s Lady (1942)

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) – Henry Fonda – Mister Roberts (1955)

The Mark Of Zorro (1940) – Eugene Pallette – It Ain’t Hay (1943)

Music In My Heart (1940) – Eric Blore – Road To Zanzibar (1941)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Mister Roberts (1955)

Today, we’ve got a classic war comedy, in the form of the 1955 film Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon!  So, let’s enjoy our theatrical short, and then it’s on with the movie itself!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Flea Circus (1954)

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

(Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)

When a stray dog walks in on a circus of fleas, the fleas all leave (except for Francois, the clown), and it’s up to him to bring more back! While it’s not quite as wacky as Tex Avery’s cartoon’s tend to be, this one is still a lot of fun! Bill Thompson, the usual voice actor for fellow Tex Avery cartoon character Droopy, voices Francois, who is not as beloved by the audiences (in the cartoon, but, obviously, we love him). This one might be more conventional, but the gags revolving around the flea acts are fun, and I enjoyed watching the cartoon overall (and will definitely be coming back to it again). Vive la France!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Life is hard for the crew of the Navy supply ship the Reluctant (or the “Bucket,” as they call it).  It’s World War II, but they are far away from all the actual combat.  They’re stationed near a South Pacific Island, but they’ve been kept on board the ship for nearly a year, with nary a liberty granted.  Worse, the ship’s captain (James Cagney) seems to enjoy spoiling the morale of all on board.  His cargo officer, Lieutenant Douglas Roberts (Henry Fonda) tries to do what he can to help the crew out, but he wants very much to be a part of the war.  He keeps trying to request a transfer, but the captain refuses to sign off on the idea.  These fights between the two are pretty much what amounts to entertainment for most of the men.  The men find themselves some new “entertainment” when some nurses arrive for the hospital on the island (and apparently shower within range of what the crew can see with their binoculars).  That ends when their laundry and morale officer, Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver (Jack Lemmon), brings a few of the nurses on the board the ship as he tries to spend some time with Lieutenant Ann Girard (Betsy Palmer), and the nurses realize how much the men can see.  Roberts decides to go around the captain to get the men some liberty, and gives a bribe of a bottle of scotch to an official, resulting in the ship being sent to the island of Elysium.  However, even when they arrive at the island, the captain refuses to let the men have liberty, and Roberts goes to his cabin to tell him off.  Instead, the captain makes him an offer: he will let the crew have their liberty, BUT Roberts has to stop writing transfer applications, and he must follow the captain’s orders without question (and nobody else can know about this arrangement).  Having no choice, Roberts acquiesces, and the men go ashore.  With all their pent-up energy, the men get into a lot of trouble, and the ship gets banished from the port.  Angry at this new blot on his record, the captain drags Roberts into punishing the crew, and makes it look like Roberts is “bucking for a promotion.”  With the captain now trying to drive a wedge between Roberts and the crew (and Ensign Pulver scared of the captain), will they still be as fond of Roberts?  And will he be involved in the war, or will it end before he can do anything?

The movie was based on the 1948 play Mister Roberts by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan (which was itself based on a novel by Thomas Heggen).  Actor Henry Fonda had left Hollywood after filming Fort Apache in 1948, and was cast in the play.  The play turned out to be a hit, but when Warner Brothers wanted to make a movie, they were hesitant to cast Henry Fonda, citing his age and lack of screen presence for a number of years as reasons.  However, director John Ford wanted him to do it, and that was that.  Still, John Ford and Henry Fonda ended up not getting along, as the director wanted to make a lot of changes, whereas Henry Fonda wanted it more like the play.  John Ford was unable to finish the film when health issues arose, and so Mervyn LeRoy stepped in to finish it (although the director of the Broadway show, Joshua Logan, also did some uncredited directing to help finish it).  While it wasn’t what some had hoped it would be (due to the changes), it still turned out to be a hit with movie audiences as well.

I’ve seen this movie once before, and it’s been a while since that first viewing, but I remembered enjoying it that first time, and it was still just as good (if not better) the second time!  The cast alone is a big enough selling point on this movie.  Even if he might have been a bit too old for the role, Henry Fonda’s performance is good enough to take your mind off that. I enjoyed watching his portrayal of a character who yearns for something better and more “important” than what he is doing, without realizing how much he means to the crew of the ship that he is on.  And James Cagney?  He’s still good, giving us another very unlikable character as the captain.  So much so, that I can’t help but cheer when Roberts goes against him (and jeer when the captain gets the upper hand).  And while it may be William Powell’s last film, his role as the ship’s doctor is still fun, as he is quick to realize when the men are trying to fake illness/injury to get out of work (and, seeing what the captain is like, I can’t blame them for trying).  And he can see Roberts’ importance to the crew.  And Jack Lemmon?  In my book, he earned his Oscar as Ensign Pulver, a man who is scared of the captain (so much so that, after fourteen months of being on the ship, the captain still didn’t know of his existence).  Obviously, his womanizing ways wouldn’t go over well with audiences today (nor should they), but, at the same time, you do want him to follow through on some of his planned pranks against the captain.  Like I say, the cast is so much fun here, and makes this movie well worth seeing!  So I would indeed highly recommend this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.  This release makes use of a 4K scan of the original camera negative.  This movie was filmed in the WarnerColor process, which made it problematic in terms of restoration (and apparently, the original camera negative was quite faded as well).  So, with that in mind, what we got is indeed a wonder!  For the most part, the transfer looks wonderful, with the color looking like it should, and the detail is much improved!  There are a few shots that don’t look quite as good (whether that’s because that’s how it was filmed, or those shots required the use of inferior elements, or something else, I haven’t heard), but they are so few and far between, that this would still be the best way to see this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 2 hours, 1 minute

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Lady Eve (1941) – Henry Fonda

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)James CagneyMan Of A Thousand Faces (1957)

Song Of The Thin Man (1947) – William Powell

Phffft (1954) – Jack Lemmon – My Sister Eileen (1955)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Spawn Of The North (1938)

For today’s movie, we have that 1938 film Spawn Of The North, starring George Raft, Henry Fonda and Dorothy Lamour! Of course, to precede that, we have an Ant And The Aardvark theatrical short, which is available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber. Once past that, we then have today’s main feature!

Coming Up Shorts! with… I’ve Got Ants In My Plans (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)

The aardvark has to contend with a green aardvark chasing after the same ant. At first, this one starts out looking like it’s going to be the usual formula, with the aardvark trying to catch and eat the ant. Then the green aardvark shows up, and everything changes. With the ant captured, we now have the two aardvarks trying to take each other out. The gags may not be the most original, but they’re still worth quite a few laughs, making this cartoon fun to watch every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Alaskan fisherman Jim Kimmerlee (Henry Fonda), who is now the owner of a salmon cannery, is reunited with his friend Tyler Dawson (George Raft), who had been off hunting seal. However, Jim is having trouble with Russian fisherman Red Skain (Akim Tamiroff), who is trying to steal fish from one of his traps. Tyler comes between them, and prevents them from fighting. Afterwards, Tyler returns to town, where he is living in a hotel owned by his girlfriend, Nicky Duval (Dorothy Lamour). While Jim and Tyler are hanging out together, Dian Turlon (Louise Platt), who is the daughter of local newspaper editor Windy Turlon (John Barrymore) and also an old friend of theirs, returns to Alaska. They both try to ask her to the local dance for the night, although she turns them down. However, at the dance, she starts warming up to Jim. Tyler wants to go in on a partnership with Jim, but Jim’s business with the cannery leaves him unable to do so. Not long after, when a bunch of fisherman (including Jim and Tyler) are getting some ice from an iceberg, they have to save somebody else when too much ice falls and destroys another ship. While they are helping the other fisherman, Jim realizes that some of the fish in Tyler’s boat must have been stolen, and he tries to warn Tyler that anybody caught stealing fish from someone else’s nets will be killed, but Tyler shrugs it off. Not much later, Jim and some of the other fishermen catch some of Red’s men stealing their fish, and they deliver their dead bodies to Red’s place (where Jim also sees Tyler hanging out). When Jim celebrates his birthday, Tyler is noticeably absent. Jim is warned by the other fishermen that Red is trying to steal more fish, and has Dian try to get Nicky to warn Tyler not to go anywhere. Unfortunately, Tyler doesn’t listen to Nicky, and her attempt to sabotage his boat doesn’t stop him, as he joins Red with another boat. Jim and the other fishermen arrive at the nets while some of Red’s crew and Tyler are taking some of the fish. Tyler starts shooting harpoons at them while his compatriots try to get away. Jim reluctantly has to shoot Tyler to get him to stop. The badly injured Tyler somehow ends up back with Red and his gang, but they leave him to die. Jim finds him, and brings him back to the hotel, where Tyler is able to receive some medical care. Red, however, soon comes to town, and tells Jim there is only room for one of them in town. Tyler overhears, and wants to find a way to help his old friend Jim.

Spawn Of The North was based on a novel of the same name by Florence Barrett Willoughsby. For this movie, Paramount Studios put together a steel and concrete tank which could hold 375,000 gallons of water, in order to do close range shots of fishing boats and power cruisers. There were also some scenes shot on location at Lake Arrowhead, Lake Tahoe, Balboa Island and on the coast of Southern California. The movie proved to be popular with audiences at the time, and Paramount Studios would make use of the property again when they remade it in 1954 as Alaska Seas.

Now, I am coming off my first time seeing Spawn Of The North, and I will readily admit that it’s a movie I saw mainly for one reason: actress Dorothy Lamour. Admittedly, I mainly know her from the seven Road films with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the handful of movies she made with Bob Hope alone, and her cameo in Here Comes The Groom. So, this being more of a non-comedic role for her was different than I’m used to, and yet still satisfying! She was wonderful here as a woman with a bit of a past, and yet, as mentioned in the story, she has reformed somewhat. She certainly has a history with George Raft’s character, which allows for some humor there in the way they interact. Yet, when all is said and done, she cares for him, and tries to do what she can to save him, even when he doesn’t want her to.

And, of course, Dorothy Lamour is hardly the only reason for the movie, either! There’s some fun to be found in the idea of this being an Alaskan western (you know, with fish pirates instead of cattle rustlers, and fisherman instead of cowboys, etc.). I wouldn’t say that this is one of Henry Fonda’s better films, but he does well enough here as something of a heroic character. But, one of the better and more fun characters is the college educated newspaper editor, as played by John Barrymore, who is prone to showing off his knowledge of words, usually simplified for everyone else by his assistant Jackson, as played by Lynne Overman. Only complaint there is that we don’t get to enjoy enough of the character’s eloquent speaking here! This was a fun movie, and one I felt was worth seeing!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The movie is using at best an HD scan of the film, and the lack of a restoration shows. I certainly wish this movie could have been treated better, but, at the same time, I’d be surprised if it was popular enough to warrant the cost of restoring it in the first place. As I said, it’s far from perfect, but, all things considered, it’s good enough for me to still enjoy the film.

Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

George Raft – Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Jezebel (1938) – Henry Fonda – Jesse James (1939)

Dorothy LamourRoad To Singapore (1940)

Akim Tamiroff – The Great McGinty (1940)

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 (2019) with… Jezebel (1938)

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

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

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

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

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #6 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Petrified Forest (1936) – Bette Davis – The Letter (1940)

Henry Fonda – Spawn Of The North (1938)

In Person (1935) – George Brent – International Lady (1941)

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 & What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) on… Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Next up from 1939, we have the classic Young Mr. Lincoln, starring Henry Fonda.

In New Salem, Illinois, Abe Lincoln (Henry Fonda) is running for the state legislature. After making a speech, he makes a trade with the Clay family, who is passing through in their wagon. Since they don’t have any money, he takes a barrel containing some books, including Blackstone Commentaries. The book inspires him to learn more about law and Ann Rutledge (Pauline Moore) encourages him to study it. After Ann’s death, Abe moves to Springfield, where he tries to set up as a lawyer. One Independence Day, Abigail Clay (Alice Brady) comes to town with her two grown sons, Adam (Eddie Quillan) and Matt (Richard Cromwell). That night, they get into a fight with deputy Scrub White (Fred Kohler, Jr.) who pulls a gun on them, but ends up being killed by a knife. Abigail gets there just before it happens, and Scrub’s buddy J. Palmer Cass (Ward Bond) gets there, and starts accusing the two of murder. The sheriff comes and arrests them, but a crowd gathers and gets riled up, becoming a lynch mob. Abe gets in their way and manages to talk them down, while declaring himself to be their lawyer. So now he has the challenge of going against a more experienced lawyer as he tries to help the Clay family avoid either brother being hanged.

All I can say is this is just an absolutely wonderful movie! Of course, it goes without saying that Henry Fonda as Abraham Lincoln is the best part of the movie. He just seems to fit the part, giving us a performance of a man who wants to learn, and wants to do the right thing, no matter what. His speech may be simple, but he is still smart! My own opinion is that, if this were released in any other year, I would have said he should have at least been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar (if not win it). But, this was 1939, Hollywood’s golden year, with so many great films and performances.

But I would hardly say Henry Fonda is the only reason to see this movie. The rest of the supporting cast is great, too! With a few future TV stars, such as Ward Bond (from Wagon Train), Milburn Stone (from TV’s Gunsmoke) and a very young Jack Kelly (Maverick), it’s a lot of fun! And Donald Meek as the opposing prosecutor is wonderfully nasty, making us hate him when he tries to make Abigail Clay reveal which of her sons killed the deputy. And the whole courtroom section of the movie is worth it alone, not just for some of the drama, but for some of the humor, too (especially when Henry Fonda’s Abe Lincoln is grilling Ward Bond’s character about his name 😉 ). Honestly, the only really disappointing thing about the movie is that it is, for the most part, fictional (although the court case was based on one Lincoln dealt with in the 1850s). Still, it’s fun to see some of the various historical figures connected to Abraham Lincoln. However you look at it, I can very easily say this is a wonderful movie, and one I would highly recommend!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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

Jesse James (1939) – Henry Fonda – The Lady Eve (1941)

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… Jesse James (1939)

Now that it’s 2019, let’s start off the 80th anniversary of many movies from 1939 with the movie Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power in the title role and Henry Fonda as his brother Frank James.

The railroad is going around buying up people’s land (and not exactly honestly, either). When they come to the home of the James family, they find they are not able to make them sell the land. They try to get the James brothers arrested, but when they run, the house gets destroyed while their mother is in it. This sets Jesse and his brother off on a crusade to rob the railroad. Jesse’s girlfriend, Zerelda “Zee” Cobb convinces him to marry her and turn himself in in exchange for a light sentence. However, once he is in jail, the railroad president tries to change things around so that he would be hanged. Frank helps him escape from jail, and Zee joins them as they go on the run. However, when she gives birth to Jesse’s son, she decides to come home. Jesse lets her, but then starts taking more chances, and makes enemies even of friends that had supported him previously.

I enjoyed this movie very much. To me, it seems like it starts out as a “Robin Hood”-type story, with the railroad people taking the land from the farmers, and Jesse James and his brother start to fight back, with the support of the people. Then the movie diverges, warning about Jesse getting so used to robbing that that might be all he can do. Zee realizes this, and tries to get him to turn himself in. After some thought, he is willing to do so. However, when he does turn himself in, the president of the railroad decides to break his own promise and try to hang him. In the process, he just makes the situation worse, not just for himself, but everybody (of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise, considering what the men he sent to buy the land from the farmers were doing under his leadership). One can only imagine how much better the situation would have been (in the movie) if the bank president had only been a better leader overall, not just in his dealings with the James brothers, but with all the other landowners as well.

Now, I don’t know enough about Jesse James to know how historically accurate this movie is. I know one of Jesse’s real-life granddaughters was hired as a technical advisor for the movie, but I have otherwise heard that the movie is still inaccurate. Personally, I don’t really care, as I enjoy this movie very much. I mainly watched it for Tyrone Power in the title role, as I have seen a few of his other movies, and enjoyed them (and this movie being from 1939, long considered to be one of the best years in Hollywood, certainly helps). I do know that this movie had a sequel, The Return Of Frank James, with Henry Fonda reprising his role as Frank James, but I have yet to see this movie. But I do recommend Jesse James to anybody curious enough to try it!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Tyrone Power – The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

Spawn Of The North (1938) – Henry Fonda – Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Brian Donlevy – The Great McGinty (1940)

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Gene Lockhart – The Sea Wolf (1941)

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