What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Bride Comes Home (1935)

We’re back for some more screwball fun with the 1935 comedy The Bride Comes Home starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray and Robert Young!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Love Business (1931)

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

(Length: 20 minutes, 27 seconds)

Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe) comes to stay at Jackie’s (Jackie Cooper) house. This causes trouble for some of the kids, as both Jackie and Chubby (Norman Chaney) have a crush on her. This was another fun one, as has been typical so far of June Marlowe’s appearances as Miss Crabtree. There were many wonderful moments, from Jackie’s mother accidentally knocking a box of mothballs into the soup (and everybody’s reactions when they try to eat it) to Jackie’s attempts to distract Chubby when he tries to propose to Miss Crabtree. Not to mention Wheezer’s (Bobby Hutchins) complaints about Jackie kissing him at night. Overall, very fun, very memorable, and one I look forward to watching again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

One night in Chicago, Jack Bristow (Robert Young) throws a party with his society friends to celebrate him inheriting nearly three million dollars. In trying to get ready for the party, one of his friends, Jeanette Desmereau (Claudette Colbert), finds out from her father, Alfred Desmereau (William Collier, Sr.), that they are broke, since he had to let most of their servants go. So, she makes plans to find a job (although, at her father’s insistence, she will pretend that she is just doing it for a lark so that nobody knows they are broke). Jack’s bodyguard, Cyrus Anderson (Fred MacMurray), is looking forward to being able to quit his job after Jack inherits the money (since he was appointed to his position by Jack’s guardian). However, Jack doesn’t look forward to going back to his big mansion alone, and stays the night with Cyrus. As they talk, Jack learns about Cyrus’ dream to be the editor of a magazine, and decides to use his new inheritance to start the magazine (and be the publisher). The magazine is called The Man, which Cyrus intends to be for men who have earned their way (as opposed to inheriting their money like Jack). Jack promises to let Cyrus do all the hiring, but when Jeanette comes around asking for a job, Jack breaks that promise and hires her as the assistant editor (much to Cyrus’ annoyance). The next day, when they come in to work, Cyrus decides to give her some of the most mundane tasks he can think of to get her out of his hair, but she still keeps pestering him as she tries to follow his orders (even though she knows that he’s trying to get rid of her). When all three go to lunch at the same place, Jack and Jeanette find out why Cyrus has been giving her a hard time, and she reveals that she and her father are broke. Cyrus now feels ashamed of his actions, but Jeanette isn’t immediately willing to forgive him. It’s only when she comes to Cyrus and Jack’s apartment (since Jack had moved in with him), intending to start another fight with Cyrus, that the two of them realize they love each other. They start going out together as a result. Jack, who has been proposing to Jeanette since childhood, keeps trying, but, as usual, she turns him down. Cyrus proposes, and she accepts. However, on the day they plan to get married in his apartment, Jeanette comes over early to clean up the place. When Cyrus arrives earlier than expected with the Judge (Donald Meek), she is a bit of a mess, and he finds that she’s moved around some of his important papers. After an argument, they decide to break things off, since all they seem to do is argue. After a while, Jack again proposes, and she decides to accept. But will this relationship work out, or will Jeanette and Cyrus come to the conclusion that they belong together?

The Bride Comes Home, which was the second of seven movies that paired up Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, was based on a short story (of the same name) written by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding for Hearst’s International-Cosmopolitan. I hadn’t heard of the film until the Blu-ray was announced (more on that in a moment), and, upon that announcement, I found myself wanting to see it for several reasons, including the description of it as a screwball comedy, the fact that it starred Claudette Colbert (whom I’ve seen in several good comedies and whom I had just featured as a Star Of The Month), and Fred MacMurray’s presence (since I’ve enjoyed a number of his films over the years). Having seen it, I now find myself with mixed feelings towards this movie. I will readily admit that I did enjoy this movie, and got a few good laughs out of it. However, I find it to be a film that I would not recommend. My biggest problem? That the film almost promotes domestic violence. I say that, because Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray’s characters (Jeanette and Cyrus, respectively) almost seem to be the type that are sexually aroused by engaging in it (ok, the movie doesn’t go quite that far, but that’s most likely because of the then-recent implementation of the Code that would have prevented them from going that far). To be fair, there is no actual violence shown on the screen, it is just hinted at in the conversations for the characters. Admittedly, this does in some respects lead to some of the funnier moments in the film, particularly the end when we see Jeanette wanting to argue with somebody, but dealing with some wishy-washy people until she meets Edgar Kennedy’s justice of the peace. The other main part that is funny is watching her try to follow Cyrus’ orders on her first day. Admittedly, that brings up another problem, in the early emphasis on her needing work, but all the work stuff disappears completely from the movie once she admits to being broke. It would have been nice to at least see what Cyrus actually had her doing once he realized how much she actually needed the job. Like I said, I did enjoy this movie. But, when all is said and done, I would much, much prefer to watch any of the other comedies that I’ve seen her in so far (like It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story or Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife). Purely on the domestic violence aspects of this movie, I cannot bring myself to recommend it.

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This release seems to have an older HD scan. For the most part, the transfer looks quite good. There are some moments here and there that look like they might have used lesser elements to work with, and the film has not been cleaned up of all the dirt and scratches. Still, the transfer is quite watchable, and likely to be the best this movie will look for some time.

Film Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes

My Rating: 5/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Cleopatra (1934)Claudette ColbertBluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)

Fred MacMurray – Remember The Night (1940)

Robert Young – Honolulu (1939)

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 (2021) with… Bringing Up Baby (1938)

It’s time to look into a screwball comedy that I’ve long looked forward to getting to! That, of course, would be the 1938 film Bringing Up Baby, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant!

Coming Up Shorts! with… When The Wind Blows (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 47 seconds)

On a windy night, Jackie (Jackie Cooper) accidentally locks himself out of his house, and is mistaken for a burglar as he attempts to get into the homes of the various Rascals. This was another fun one, which provided quite a few good laughs! Farina (Allen Hoskins) provides a few of them as he gets scared by the wind (especially when he assumes Jackie is a ghost trying to get in). Edgar Kennedy is back as Kennedy the cop, who keeps claiming that he “always gets his man” (even as he himself keeps getting scared by every little thing). Another fun one for sure, and one I look forward to revisiting again in the future!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History, paleontologist Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is looking forward to his wedding to his assistant Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) and to the coming arrival of an intercostal clavicle, the final bone from a brontosaurus skeleton he’s been trying to put together for years. Before their wedding, Alice pushes him to talk with lawyer Alexander Peabody (George Irving), an advisor to a Mrs. Carleton Random (who is considering donating one million dollars to the museum). Over a game of golf, David tries to talk to Mr. Peabody, only to be interrupted constantly by Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), who first plays through with David’s ball and then tries to take his car. That night, David tries to meet with Mr. Peabody at a restaurant, but, once again, he runs into Susan, who causes trouble for him and makes him miss his appointment. The next day, a package containing his intercostal clavicle arrives, and with his looming wedding, he is quite happy. Then Susan calls, asking for his help with a leopard named Baby (Nissa) that had just arrived from her brother. David refuses, until she fakes being attacked by Baby, and he runs right over. He’s furious when he finds out she fooled him about being “attacked,” but she pushes him to help take Baby out to her home in Connecticut. Along the way, they run into a truck carrying crates of chickens, and when they stop to buy some meat for Baby, Susan takes someone else’s car (mainly because Baby had jumped into the back). While David tries to clean himself up at her home, Susan sends his clothes out to the cleaners (hoping to delay him from returning to the city for his wedding). While he dons her dressing gown so he can walk about the house (and try to find some more appropriate clothes), Susan’s aunt Elizabeth (May Robson) arrives. She quickly comes to the conclusion that David is crazy (not helped by Susan’s attempts to explain what was going on), so when David learns that Elizabeth is the Mrs. Carleton Random who was considering donating to the museum, he asks Susan not to reveal who he is. To make matters worse, Susan’s dog George (Asta) finds David’s intercostal clavicle (which he had brought with him) and buries it somewhere. David and Susan try to follow George everywhere and dig it up, but they only find other stuff that George had buried. Meanwhile, one of the servants, Mr. Gogarty (Barry Fitzgerald), accidentally releases Baby. With David and Susan now also trying to find Baby, they quickly find themselves in trouble with the law when they come upon the home of psychologist Dr. Lehman (Fritz Feld) and are quickly arrested. Will they be able to get themselves out of this mess and find both the bone and Baby?

In 1937, producer and director Howard Hawks was in the midst of trying to work on the movie Gunga Din. Casting and script problems left him with a desire to do something different. He was recommended a short story called “Bringing Up Baby” by Hagar Wilde (which had appeared in a 1937 issue of Collier’s magazine), which he liked. He planned to do the film as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, who hadn’t really done much in the way of comedy up to that point, and needed a change in direction for her failing career. At first, she struggled with the comedic aspects of the film by trying to act funny (and failing), so the director asked vaudeville comedian Walter Catlett to help coach her. With his help, she was able to act more natural (and actually be funny), and she returned the favor for Catlett by insisting he be retained (by playing the part of Constable Slocum in the movie). While he wasn’t the first offered the role of David Huxley, Cary Grant ended up taking the role at Hawks’ insistence, using silent film comedian Harold Lloyd as an inspiration. The film suffered a number of delays, partly because the two leads would ad-lib and frequently have laughing fits. At the time, Katharine Hepburn had been branded as “box office poison,” and this film did little to mitigate that. She was essentially given the choice to either star in the film Mother Carey’s Chickens or buy out her contract (she chose to buy it out, and went to Columbia to make Holiday, also with Cary Grant).

For those that have been reading my blog for awhile, you’ve seen that I have a fondness for films of the screwball comedy genre, second only to my love for film musicals. But, that hasn’t always been the case. Sure, for a number of years, I had seen (and enjoyed) the Astaire-Rogers film Carefree (which is the one in the series most closely associated with the screwball genre), but I didn’t really actively seek out other screwball comedies. It wasn’t until I got a one-two punch of seeing the Cary Grant films Arsenic And Old Lace and Bringing Up Baby that I started seeking out more of the genre. Coming off Bringing Up Baby for only the second time, I find it’s still just as good!! I haven’t really seen much of anything Katharine Hepburn did before this film, but I can certainly say that whatever Walter Catlett did to help her as a comedienne worked! This is just about the funniest role that I’ve seen her do. And Cary Grant is equally as fun here (and, now that I’ve finally seen it a second time, I understand the Harold Lloyd reference better, as I hadn’t seen any of Harold Lloyd’s films/shorts yet when I first saw this film). The gags are fun, as everything slowly builds up, from the torn dress bit early on (which, as I recall, was later done by Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds in It Started With A Kiss, although not as well as here), to all the mishaps both with Baby the leopard and George stealing the bone, to the jail scene at the end. By the end of that jail sequence, I’m guaranteed to be in stitches, with all the madness going on! I know this is one of those movies that some will love, some will hate, and others’ opinions will vary depending on their mood/timing in watching it. For me, it lives up to the hype of being one of the greatest film comedies, and I would certainly not hesitate in recommending it!!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. This new transfer utilizes a 4K scan from a 35 mm nitrate duplicate negative (from the British Film Institute) and a 35 mm safety fine-grain positive. With the original camera negative long gone, these were the best options still available. In restoring this film, a lot of mold had to removed from the nitrate negative to get the best possible image from that, and the fine-grain positive was several generations away from the original negative. Personally, I think this film now looks fantastic after all their hard work! The film might be a little grainier than some would prefer, but that comes with the territory, considering what they had to work with. Short of something better eventually being discovered or somebody managing to pull off time travel, this IS the best we can hope for. I certainly have no qualms in recommending this release!!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

**ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Katharine Hepburn – Holiday (1938)

The Awful Truth (1937)Cary GrantHoliday (1938)

Alice In Wonderland (1933) – Charles Ruggles – Balalaika (1939)

Barry Fitzgerald – The Sea Wolf (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!

“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

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

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 (2021) with.. Another Thin Man (1939)

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for yet ANOTHER Thin Man review (or is that a review of Another Thin Man 😉 ). This 1939 entry in the Thin Man series as usual features William Powell as Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as Nora Charles!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Seven Years (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 10 seconds)

Jackie (Jackie Cooper) wants Mary Ann (Mary Ann Jackson) to be his “wife,” but has to fight Speck (Donald Haines) for her affections. This one was rather hilarious, with Edgar Kennedy again returning as Kennedy the cop (and giving Jackie advice about girls). Of course, when all is said and done, Mary Ann pushes Jackie and Speck to duel over her like the knights of old (to hilarious effect)! A lot of fun, good humor, and a “swordfight” to boot!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Love On Tap (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)

Penny (Mary Howard), the manager of the Abbott Dancers, keeps getting distracted by them when she tries to get married to her fiancé, Tommy (Truman Bradley). This is an, at best, average short, with a less-than-likable lead who keeps putting off getting married without caring how her actions are hurting her long-suffering fiancé. Some of the dancing from the Abbott Dancers is fun, with all the tricks they pull off, although the music itself is forgettable. Probably not one that I would necessarily plan on revisiting that much.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Bookworm (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 24 seconds)

The witches from MacBeth require a worm for their potion, so they send a raven after the bookworm. There’s some amusement here, with the ways that the little bookworm gets around the raven. However, it’s hard to develop much interest here, as it’s another in a long line of animated shorts from that era featuring characters from different books all interacting with each other. The animation is pretty good, and there are a few good gags, but, overall, this one is rather easy to forget.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) have come back to New York City with their one-year-old son Nicky, hoping for a quiet weekend. That hope is short-lived, however, when they hear from Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith), a former business partner of Nora’s father (and who is also handling her estate). The colonel is adamant that they come out to see him, so they reluctantly pack up to go to the colonel’s estate. They think it’s only about business (which is why they were reluctant to go in the first place), but they quickly find that the colonel’s estate is heavily guarded. When they finally get to the house, they find out that a former employee of his, Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard), had done prison time, and was now trying to extort money from the colonel, mostly by claiming that he is dreaming that the colonel will be murdered (and Church claims that when he dreams the same thing three times, it usually comes true). Nick tries to see Church and his girlfriend, Smitty (Muriel Hutchison), but Church refuses to take back his “dreams” (although he “promises” to leave). Nick returns to the colonel’s estate, where they stay the night. During the night, they are visited by the colonel’s adopted daughter, Lois MacFay (Virginia Grey), when they hear a gunshot go off. Rushing to the colonel’s room, they find him, dead. When the police arrive, they question everybody, including Nick and Nora. While everybody is outside looking for a knife that Nick and Nora’s dog Asta was carrying around, Lois comes running, claiming her fiancé Dudley Horn (Patric Knowles) is gunning for Nick. Before he can do anything, Dudley is shot (and killed) by the police. Nick and Nora return to the city (with everyone else in tow), where the two of them try to pick up any clues they can as to the whereabouts of Church. As the clues (and the suspects) mount, can they solve the crime, or will the colonel’s murder go unsolved?

After the success of both The Thin Man and After The Thin Man, MGM made plans to do another film. However, those plans for a third film were delayed, as, before filming could commence, star William Powell was diagnosed with cancer in 1938 (resulting in him taking time off while he underwent several operations). After a time, he recovered, and came back to work. Of course, care was taken so as to keep him from overdoing things. Director Woody Van Dyke insisted on only filming for about six hours a day, and working on four soundstages with a larger crew than usual to help keep things as efficient as possible. For the story, they went back to the well of Dashiell Hammett (author of the original novel), and used his story “The Farewell Murder.” Of course, the film was still a hit, resulting in the series continuing a few years later with Shadow Of the Thin Man!

As you can no doubt guess, based off my previous reviews of the first two films, this was my first time seeing this film, too. Of course, also like the other two, it was one that I enjoyed very much! While we’re still getting further from the pre-Code days, there’s still some fun to be had (and they certainly can’t keep William Powell’s Nick out of the booze, either 😉 )! The relationship between Nick and Myrna Loy’s Nora is still at the forefront, with her trying to get involved in solving the crime (sometimes to hilarious effect)! I enjoyed the scene at the nightclub, where they both ended up there separately, while still finding stuff out, but the scene when they were checking out the room of a suspect at an apartment building was quite hilarious! It was also made more memorable by the presence of Marjorie Main in one of her earlier roles (while still having some of the persona that she would be known for), as she shows Nick the room (while trying not to let Nora know anything, as they “claimed” to be separate, with her “looking” for a room to rent). Of course, throw in a brief appearance by an uncredited Shemp Howard in this movie, and it’s golden! I still think the first film is the best, but I’ll take this one (especially since Nat Pendelton returned to reprise his role as Lieutenant Guild from the first film)! I know I still look forward to trying the rest of the series, whenever I can get that far! Highly recommended!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. Considering it’s from Warner Archive, there’s no mystery here about the transfer. It looks GREAT!!! Seriously, they’ve done a great job with the elements they had to work with, and the picture looks as sharp and detailed as one could hope for! Easily a highly recommended release!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

After The Thin Man (1936) – William Powell – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

After The Thin Man (1936) – Myrna Loy – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

Marjorie Main – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Shemp Howard – Buck Privates (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!

“Star Of The Month (June 2021)” Featuring Claudette Colbert in… The Palm Beach Story (1942)

For my last look at one of actress Claudette Colbert’s films (to end the celebration of her as the Star Of The Month), we’ve got her 1942 comedy The Palm Beach Story, also starring Joel McCrea!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinknic (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, 9 seconds)

The Pink Panther is stuck in a cabin awaiting the arrival of spring, and is stuck with an equally hungry mouse. This short is, at best, average for the series. Certainly, the antics of the mouse as he tries to eat the Panther provide much of the humor, here. However, the fact that the Panther is hungry as well gets quickly dropped, as time moves quickly, with nary a drop of food hinted at (other than a picture of a fish that the Panther tries to cook but which gets eaten by the mouse). I like it, but it’s at best middle of the pack, and one I’m not *quite* as likely to come back to as often as others I’ve seen.

And Now For The Main Feature…

After six years of marriage, Tom (Joel McCrea) and Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert) are flat broke.  The manager of their Park Avenue apartment building is showing their place to some prospective tenants (since they haven’t paid their rent).  Gerry is still in the apartment while this is happening, but she tries to keep out of sight.  However, one of the prospective tenants, the self-proclaimed Wienie King (Robert Dudley) pokes around, and comes across her.  When he finds out that the beautiful Gerry is broke, he decides to give her $700 to help pay the rent and other things.  Feeling better with the bills paid (and frustrated at the idea that they will quickly be in the same boat again since her inventor husband is struggling to get anybody to invest in his inventions), Gerry decides to divorce Tom and use her sex appeal to marry a millionaire (and help support Tom financially that way).  Tom doesn’t like the idea, but she manages to get to the train station to get away before he can stop her.  Without any money or luggage, she uses her appeal to get some men from the Ale And Quail Club to get her a ticket.  However, while in their private car, the men all get drunk and start shooting, so she makes her escape towards the front of the train.  There, she finds a berth above J. D. “Snoodles” Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee) and sleeps there.  In the morning, she finds that she has no clothes to wear (everything was in the private car with the Ale and Quail Club, and that car was disconnected because the conductor was fed up with the group’s antics).  So, Snoodles comes to her rescue at the next town, and buys her many outfits and bracelets, etc.  When he takes her the rest of the way to Palm Beach on his yacht, she learns who he is (one of the richest men in the world), and they get to know each other better.  In the meantime, Tom also meets the Wienie King, who gives him money to take a plane ahead of her in an attempt to reconcile.  When he learns from a porter about Gerry getting off the train with somebody, Tom goes to the pier to meet the yacht.  He is not the only one there to meet it, as it is also being met by Snoodles’ sister, the often-married (and divorced) Princess Maude Centimillia (Mary Astor), along with her current suitor, Toto (Sig Arno).  When she sees Tom on the dock, Gerry introduces him as her brother, “Captain McGlue” (since Snoodles already knew of her husband), and Maude takes an immediate liking to him.  Tom is not fond of the overall situation, but he wants Gerry back, so he tries to make the best of it (while keeping an eye on her).  Meanwhile, she works on Snoodles to get him to invest in Tom’s idea.  Of course, the question remains: will things work out for everybody?

Director Preston Sturges was enjoying great success at the time, following the well-received The Lady Eve (which I hope to review later this year), which had also allowed him to do his passion project: Sullivan’s Travels.  He had planned to possibly do another film with actress Veronica Lake (which ended up being handed off to director René Clair and would become I Married A Witch).  So, Sturges came up with his own idea, borrowing heavily from his own life experiences.  At the time, the story was tentatively being called Is That Bad? or Is Marriage Necessary? (both titles that got into trouble with the censors at the Hays office).  Originally, the plan was for actress Carole Lombard to star in this film, but her death changed things, resulting in Claudette Colbert taking over the role.  Rudy Vallee’s casting was mainly at the insistence of Sturges, as Vallee had mostly been a failure in previous movies, but this film’s success changed his career trajectory, allowing him the opportunity to do more comedic roles.  This film was an expensive one, in between the sets and the salaries of the cast, but it still proved a hit with audiences who wanted a relief from the various dramas and war films of the time.

I will readily admit that I like actress Claudette Colbert’s performance in this film.  She does great as a gal who prefers to live lavishly (but struggles to do so on her husband’s income).  Especially with the attention (and money) she gets from the Wienie King, she is quick to realize she is still young and beautiful, which she believes can get her anywhere.  We can see that she still loves her husband and wants to help him out, but, as she says, his jealous streak prevents her from doing anything to help him successfully. Through her performance, we are shown how she is trying to fight , not just for a better life for herself, but for her husband, and yet, she has to fight her own emotions and love for her husband in order to do so.

Overall, I will readily admit that I had a lot of fun with this one. That opening credits sequence gets the movie started off on the right foot (but I can’t describe it without spoiling some things). Admittedly, I would also say it almost feels like it belongs to a different movie, with the events shown not really coming into play until the very end (and even then, you’re still slightly confused about what was going on). Still, the cast are all quite fun, including Mary Astor as the man-hungry princess, who always gets the man she wants (but can’t seem to get rid of her current lover, Toto). The only other weak point, in a gag that really isn’t aging well, is all the hunters on the train, especially when they start shooting the place up (in a drunken stupor, but it’s still not as funny nowadays). All its faults aside, this is another classic comedy from director Preston Sturges that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one I would say is well worth recommending!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)Claudette ColbertSince You Went Away (1944)

The Great Man’s Lady (1942) – Joel McCrea

The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Mary Astor – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

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!

“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Wedding Present (1936)

As we continue on with Cary Grant as the featured Star Of The Month, we come to another film from 1936, the comedy Wedding Present, also starring Joan Bennett! But first, we’ve got a theatrical short!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Homesteader Droopy (1954)

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

(Length: 7 minutes, 31 seconds)

Droopy and his homesteading family find resistance from Dishonest Dan when they make a home in cattle country. A fun companion cartoon to Drag-A-Long-Droopy, as another wolf takes on Droopy. Of course, we have the recurring gag of his child wanting milk, and the different ways it’s given to him. As usual, Droopy beats the Wolf for most of the cartoon (which, considering the chemistry, always works). After all, “it’s the laaaaaw of the West” (and always fun to see)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Chicago newspaper reporters Monica “Rusty” Fleming (Joan Bennett) and Charlie Mason (Cary Grant) are about to get married, but his pranks result in them being unable to get the license before closing time. Their newspaper editor, Pete Stagg (George Bancroft), is frustrated with all their practical jokes, and sends them to get an interview from Archduke Gustav Ernest (Gene Lockhart). Not only do they manage to get an exclusive interview from the archduke, but Charlie rescues New York gangster “Smiles” Benson (William Demarest) (who promises to pay off for the rescue), and both Charlie and Rusty help rescue a ship lost in a storm. They are both given medals for their work, and Rusty gets to enjoy a month’s vacation in New York. While she’s away, Pete Stagg resigns as editor, and, instead of being fired completely, Charlie becomes the editor. In the process, he becomes a hard worker, and doesn’t let anybody else get away with the type of things he had previously done. When Rusty comes back, she tries to bring him back to his senses, only for him to fire her. As a result, she decides to return to New York City. At the airport, she meets author Roger Dodacker (Conrad Nagel), and they start going out together. Without Rusty at the newspaper, Charlie comes to his senses, resigns, and goes after her. In New York, he is met by “Smiles” Benson, who tries to help bring the two back together to return the favor for saving his life (but without success). Will Charlie and Rusty be together again, or will she stick with the boring author?

Wedding Present is based on the short story (of the same name) by Paul Gallico that originally ran in The Saturday Evening Post in September 1935. The movie is toward the end of Cary Grant’s contract with Paramount. As such, we can see that he has essentially gotten his screen persona together. He’s quite suave, and yet, he can be a bit of a screwball, too. I’ve seen a number of comparisons to his better known classic His Girl Friday (made a few years later), and it is a fitting one. Once again, he’s a character willing to get involved in the news story (and help create one), as we see him become friendly with the Archduke, and push a pilot to go help a lost ship (and give the pilot credit for being a hero, even though he and his partner had knocked out the pilot to keep the search going).

Now, I will definitely grant (pun intended) that Wedding Present is certainly no match for the far better His Girl Friday, but it is fun on its own terms. I certainly enjoyed some of the various practical jokes that Cary Grant’s Charlie and Joan Bennett’s Rusty played in the course of getting their stories at the beginning of the movie. Not to mention the stuff they pulled on their bosses (both the editor and the owner of the paper). Everything that Charlie tried to do to win back Rusty upon his arrival in New York was certainly enjoyable as well. But I probably got the most solid laughs out of the stuff that occurred at the film’s finale (I wish I could say what, but to do so would be to spoil it, so I won’t go there). All in all, this was a very fun screwball comedy. I think most (if not all) of the later screwball comedies that Cary Grant did were better, but this one was still worth seeing! So, I would indeed recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Wedding Present (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Cary Grant Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Like Big Brown Eyes in the set, the opening credits start out looking rough, with a lot of dirt and debris, but, once things get going, everything settles down. Of the three films in the set, this one looks the best, and it’s certainly worth seeing this way.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Cary Grant Collection

The Cary Grant Collection includes the movies Ladies Should Listen, Big Brown Eyes and Wedding Present. All three films have HD scans, with some variation in quality. None have been completely cleaned up, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from looking into this set. I think this set is worth it. I will admit, none of these are “Cary Grant with his screen persona” good, but they all manage to be fun, especially seeing him try to develop that persona, with some good co-stars. Again, this set is recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Big Brown Eyes (1936)Cary GrantThe Awful Truth (1937)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Joan Bennett – Father Of The Bride (1950)

Star Of Midnight (1935) – Gene Lockhart – A Christmas Carol (1938)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Cary Grant Collection

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

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on…Easy Living (1937)

For the second half of today’s double-feature on movies written by Preston Sturges, we’ve got the 1937 screwball comedy Easy Living, starring Jean Arthur and Edward Arnold.

Rich banker J. B. Ball (Edward Arnold) is furious with his wife for buying a very expensive fur coat. He tries to take it from her, but she won’t let him have it, saying it can’t be returned. However, he is still furious, and once he finally catches up to her, he takes it and throws it off the side of the building. It falls to the ground, landing on Mary Smith (Jean Arthur), a passenger on a passing bus. It ruins her hat, and she gets off to try to return the coat. J. B. runs into her on his way to work, and he tells her she can keep it. He also takes her to a hat shop, and buys her a new hat. The owner of the hat shop, Van Buren (Franklin Pangborn), recognizes J. B. and privately assumes that Mary is J. B.’s mistress. J. B. and Mary part ways (but she has no idea who he is). She goes to her job at The Boys’ Constant Companion magazine, but with everyone whispering about her new fur and hat, she is fired for loose morals (so as to protect the clean reputation of the magazine). Meanwhile, at the bank, J. B. has to deal with Louis Louis (Luis Alberni), who is the owner of Hotel Louis and owes the bank a great deal on several mortgages. Louis is unable to pay at the moment, so J. B. gives him an extension of one week. Upon returning to his hotel, Louis is met by his friend Van Buren, who tells him about J. B. and his “mistress” coming to his shop. Figuring that J. B. wouldn’t dare foreclose on the place where his mistress is staying, Louis sends a telegram to Mary, asking her to come to the hotel. She comes, and he manages to convince her to stay in one of his most luxurious suites (but has to give her a REALLY good deal to convince her to stay). Not having any food, she goes to the automat. There, she runs into J. B.’s son, John Ball, Jr. (Ray Milland), who is working as a waiter there to prove to his father that he can make good. He becomes smitten with her, and tries to give her some free food. He is caught however, and, in the process, starts a fight that results in all the food becoming available (and a mad rush by customers to get the “free food”). Now that he’s been fired, Mary invites him to come stay at her new apartment. Meanwhile, with his son not home (and his wife having left for a warmer climate), J. B. decides to stay at the Hotel Louis overnight. In the hotel lobby, he runs into Mary, and orders a special dinner for her before leaving (on his own). The next day, it becomes common gossip that they are together at the hotel, and the place becomes quite popular. Mary starts getting calls from everybody, including stockbroker E. F. Hulgar (Andrew Tombes), who asks her what Mr. Ball thinks steel will do. Since she still doesn’t know about J.B., she assumes he meant her roommate, John, and she asks him. When he tells her steel will go down, Mr. Hulgar leaves, promising to make her money. With everybody selling (and J.B. trying to buy), everything collapses, leaving J.B. nearly broke. Can this mess be corrected, or will J.B.’s life be in ruins?

Having signed a new contract with Paramount Studios at the time, Preston Sturges’ first assignment was to adapt the story of Easy Living (by Vera Caspary), although, when all was said and done, all that was retained of the story was the title and the fur coat. Preston Sturges wanted very much to make the movie a comedy, but the producer at the time, Maurice Revnes, disagreed, feeling that it was not a time for comedies. Refusing to abandon the idea, Preston Sturges took his screenplay to director Mitchell Leisen, and the movie ended up being done anyway (although the final credited producer was Arthur Hornblow, Jr.).

The movie seems to be considered one of the better screwball comedies, and I would definitely agree with that! I’m coming off my first time seeing it, but I certainly got quite a few laughs out of the movie! Whether it was Edward Arnold’s J.B. trying to explain monetary interest to Mary, or the whole fracas at the automat when all the food doors were opened, or just the whole finale, there were many hilarious moments that stuck with me! I feel like the cast as a whole worked quite well, as they all contributed to the overall mirth and merriment of the tale! I don’t care how different this may have been from the original story that Preston Sturges was *supposed* to adapt, I’m glad he did it his way (and I’m also glad that he ignored the original producer). This is a fun film, and one I highly recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Easy Living (1937)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. While the case doesn’t make any claims about the transfer, I would definitely say it looks quite good. The picture has been mostly cleaned up (outside of minor dirt and debris, if that even). The detail is quite good. The movie certainly looks as good as I could hope for, and that makes this release recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jean Arthur – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

Edward Arnold – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Libeled Lady (1936)

Today, we’ve got some fun with the 1936 screwball comedy Libeled Lady, starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy!  But first, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to start us off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Keystone Hotel (1935)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 14 minutes, 53 seconds)

Count Drewa Blanc (Ben Turpin) has to choose the winner of a beauty contest at the Keystone Hotel, but everybody is trying to tell him who to pick.  This short was a lot of fun!  I hadn’t previously seen any shorts featuring the Keystone Kops (just their all-too-quick appearance in Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops), so this was a treat!  The lead-up to the beauty contest as we’re introduced to some of the characters was fun, but it was when the Count picked the “wrong” lady that everything REALLY got better, with the food fight at the hotel and the Kops making their madcap drive to get there.  A very enjoyable treat, and one I plan to watch more!

Coming Up Shorts! with… New Shoes (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 23 seconds)

Two pairs of shoes decide to pinch the feet of their new owners, as the owners go out with each other.  An interesting but bizarre short, as the two shoes talk to each other.  It’s musical, but the songs themselves are quite forgettable.  Personally, I find the story itself to be too bizarre, and it’s not helped by the short itself being in rough shape (and therefore harder to understand everything that’s said/sung).  Probably won’t be revisiting this one any time soon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Cheeser (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 22 seconds)

Little Cheeser is tired of being “Mama’s little man,” and decides to listen to the devil on his shoulder and get into mischief. An interesting cartoon, although hardly original, with the fight between good and bad being waged by the shoulder angel and devil. Of course, these two do seem to be real, in terms of their interactions with the rest of the world. Still, the subject matter as a whole doesn’t work as well here (and, quite frankly, I much the prefer the 1938 Disney cartoon “Donald’s Better Self,” which covers similar territory but is far more memorable to me). The animation would be the only reason to give this one a shot (although, preferably, when it has been restored, since it wasn’t for this release).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Uh oh!  Fake news alert!  The New York Evening Star has published a story about rich heiress Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) breaking up a marriage, but it turns out to be false!  The newspaper tries to stop the story, but enough copies get out that Connie and her father, J.B. Allenbury (Walter Connolly), find out and decide to sue the newspaper for five million dollars.  Unable to do much else, editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) turns to former reporter (and somebody who has also specialized in dealing with libel suits) Bill Chandler (William Powell) for help.  The plan?  Try to make the story true.  The two of them convince Warren’s frequently frustrated fiancée Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) to marry Bill in a civil ceremony, and then have her catch her new “husband” in the act.  No sooner is the ceremony over than Bill is off to London, with plans to join the Allenburys for their boat trip back to America.  He tries to ingratiate himself by helping out Connie and learning all he can about being a fisherman (to find an in with her father, an avid fisherman).  J. B. is impressed, but Connie smells a (gold-digging) rat.  Still, Bill gets invited on a fishing trip with the Allenburys, where he plans to end the whole thing.  What he doesn’t count on is his own feelings!  He finds himself falling for Connie (and she for him), so he tries to postpone the “scene” with Gladys.  While he tries to see Connie in secret, he treats Gladys kindly (with her also falling for him in the process).  Meanwhile, Warren is in the hot seat, as he believes Bill hasn’t seen Connie during all this time (until he visits Connie himself to convince her to drop the suit, and Bill walks in).  Now, Warren has some ammo to get Gladys to turn on Bill again.  With all this trouble, will true love win out, or will everybody suffer?

Actress Jean Harlow had been trying to diversify the types of roles she had been doing, with varying results.  Libeled Lady was a return to some of her more comedic roots.  However, she was initially disappointed when she was cast as Gladys Benton.  Being that, offscreen, she was in love with her co-star William Powell, she had wanted to be Connie Allenbury, so that their characters would wind up together.  She didn’t get her way, though, as the film was generally intended as another vehicle for the screen team of William Powell and Myrna Loy (but Jean did at least get the wedding scene with William Powell, which was more than she got offscreen, since she died before they could ever get married).  In spite of the issue of casting, the four leads were all friends, and got along quite well throughout filming.  Of course, the movie proved to be a hit with audiences, and would even be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar that year (although it lost to another William Powell/Myrna Loy film, The Great Ziegfeld).

So, how do I like this movie?  It’s a screwball comedy.   Need I say more?  Wait a minute.  I do?  Ok.  How about my score for this movie?

My Rating: 10/10

Still not enough?  Then I’ll keep going.  The cast alone makes this fun!  As the managing editor, Spencer Tracy’s Warren Haggerty seems cut from the same cloth as Cary Grant’s Walter Burns from His Girl Friday, in terms of the lengths he will go to for his newspaper (which makes for a lot of hilarity right there).  Jean Harlow as his put upon girlfriend adds to the fun, particularly in the ways that she deals with William Powell’s Bill Chandler early on in the film.  Their fake marriage is really fun (especially when they’re not performing for anybody).  But, the big draw here is William Powell and Myrna Loy together!  Out of the fourteen movies they made together, this is only the second one that I have had the chance to see (although, as I write this, After The Thin Man is in my stack of movies to watch, and that review will likely be posted first).  These two certainly bring the comedy here, whether it’s her suspicions of him when they first meet, or the whole fishing trip.  But, everybody works well in this movie, and the laughs are sure to come!  So, don’t hesitate!  Give this one a chance!  You won’t regret it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Libeled Lady (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements.  From the sounds of it, this is a movie that we BARELY got on Blu-ray.  The original camera negative was long gone, as the result of the infamous fire that destroyed many MGM camera negatives.  They had a second generation fine grain master (made back in the 1960s) to work with, but that was in really rough shape.  Still, they pulled off a miracle, giving us a transfer with a clean image (in a good way), that shows off the detail in fine form!  Seriously, this Blu-ray is wonderful, and should be the way you experience this well-made screwball comedy classic!

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 10/10 (repeated for the sake of keeping things uniform, as well as re-emphasizing my high opinion of the movie)

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dinner At Eight (1933) – Jean Harlow

My Man Godfrey (1936) – William Powell – After The Thin Man (1936)

The Thin Man (1934) – Myrna Loy – After The Thin Man (1936)

San Francisco (1936) – Spencer Tracy – Without Love (1945)

It Happened One Night (1934) – Walter Connolly – Nothing Sacred (1937)

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 (2021) with… After The Thin Man (1936)

Today, we’re going back to the Thin Man franchise with the second film in the series, After The Thin Man (1936), once again starring William Powell and Myrna Loy! But first, let’s get through the two shorts included on the disc, and then it’s on with the show!

Coming Up Shorts! with… How To Be A Detective (1936)

(available as an extra on the After The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 49 seconds)

Robert Benchley lectures on how to be a detective. The short has several sections, with him taking part in the gags as he tries to “demonstrate” what’s he teaching. It’s not a short that will have you completely busting a gut, but it has its moments of good humor. I’ve enjoyed Robert Benchley in the various movies I’ve seen him in, and he’s still good here, too!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Early Bird And The Worm (1936)

(available as an extra on the After The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 14 seconds)

The Early Bird chases the worm, although a “rattle” snake joins in, looking for a meal of its own. Another entry in the “Happy Harmonies” series of cartoons from MGM, this one is a bit of fun. While it starts out in a more musical style, it quickly gives way to the old “predator vs. prey” type, as the bird chases the worm. Of course, the two “enemies” become friends to save each other from the snake. The animation is fun here (although the two crows in the short are rather dated stereotypes, similar to the crows from the Disney animated classic Dumbo). A very enjoyable cartoon overall!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Following closely on the heels of The Thin Man (not really a spoiler, as it only acknowledges that the previous mystery was solved, but doesn’t say who did it), detective Nick Charles (William Powell) and his wealthy wife Nora (Myrna Loy) return to their home in San Francisco via train on New Year’s Eve. Hoping to be alone, they find a party going on at their home (supposedly a surprise party for them, but the guest list includes people they don’t even know). They are quickly invited to dinner with some of Nora’s family. They are both reluctant to go (Nick in particular), but Nora’s cousin, Selma Landis (Elissa Landi), pleads with them to come, so they do. Arriving at the home of Nora’s aunt Katherine Forrest (Jessie Ralph), they soon find Selma all worked up about something. They quickly discover that her husband has disappeared for a few days, and she wants them to find him. Nick quickly goes to a Chinese nightclub, which is run by “Dancer” (Joesph Calleia) and his partner Lum Kee (William Law). There, they discover Selma’s husband Robert Landis (Alan Marshal), drunk and waiting for his girlfriend, singer Polly Byrnes (who is played by Dorothy McNulty, or as her later stage name would be, Penny Singleton). Robert expresses no desire to go back to his wife, and leaves the nightclub with Polly. Later, he meets alone with Selma’s former boyfriend, David Graham (James Stewart), who gives Robert $25,000 worth of bonds to go away and never return. Robert takes the money, stopping off at his house to grab a few things before he goes. However, as he leaves, he is fatally shot, with it looking like Selma shot him. With Nick on the case to help prove Selma’s innocence, and the aid of police lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levene), will they be able to discover the truth, or will Selma be hanged for the murder of her husband?

The first Thin Man was a minor film, one that MGM had low expectations for, and only got made because director W. S. Van Dyke was able to film it in a very short period of time. The movie turned out to be more successful than MGM imagined, and they got the gang (Powell, Loy and director Van Dyke) back together for another go-round. Thin Man author Dashiell Hammett was brought in to write the story for the film sequel. Of course, they continued to use the “Thin Man” for the title (trying to imply that it took place after the first film), even though the reference was originally to a character in the first film (but audiences associated the phrase with William Powell’s Nick Charles, so the title stuck for the remainder of the series). They had a much bigger budget for the sequel, and more time to work with for filming, and they made use of the opportunity to do some filming in San Francisco itself. The film was another hit (and one of three films in 1936 pairing William Powell and Myrna Loy, with the other two being Libeled Lady and The Great Ziegfeld), and so the series continued on with another entry a few years later.

Much like when I watched and reviewed the first Thin Man a few years back, this was my first time seeing this movie. Of course, being a bit more familiar with the first film now (having watched it again right before seeing this sequel), the exact style of the movie isn’t as much of a surprise (nor was the idea that I would like it). I thought the first film focused more on the comedy than the mystery, but the comedy was increased even more here! As with the first film, the booze was flowing freely for Nick and Nora, and their banter continues to add to the fun! James Stewart is also interesting in one of his early roles, as a previously spurned lover. I think I prefer the first film for its mystery and the innuendoes that got through (since it was a pre-Code), but this one is still good fun, and leaves me looking forward to seeing the rest of the series!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements (which in this case was a safety fine grain made back in the 1960s, before the original camera negative was gone). As I already said, I hadn’t seen this movie previously, so I have no past experience with how it looked. But, I can say with enough confidence that this transfer is fantastic (but, it’s from Warner Archive, so that’s nothing new)! The detail and clarity is there, with all the dirt and debris removed. I can think of no better way to be introduced to this classic mystery comedy, and I can only hope that the rest of the series (including the already announced for Blu-ray Another Thin Man) can get this kind of treatment!

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #10 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Libeled Lady (1936) – William Powell – Another Thin Man (1939)

Libeled Lady (1936) – Myrna Loy – Another Thin Man (1939)

Born To Dance (1936) – James Stewart – Vivacious Lady (1938)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Murder In Greenwich Village (1937)

As the old saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” so you can’t judge this next movie by its film title (or its original poster art, which was used for the recent Blu-ray release, for that matter). It’s the 1937 screwball mystery Murder In Greenwich Village, starring Richard Arlen and Fay Wray!

One evening, photographer Steve Havens Jackson Jr. (Richard Arlen) spies Kay “Lucky” Cabot (Fay Wray) climbing down a fire escape in someone else’s pajamas. He brings her back to his apartment, where he introduces her to his friends (and models) Flo Melville (Wyn Cahoon), Larry Foster (Scott Colton), “Angel Annie” (Mary Russell) and the Senator (Raymond Walburn). Steve takes a picture of Kay for one of his advertising ideas in exchange for some clothes for her to wear home. The next day, it is revealed that another photographer, Philip Morgan, had been murdered, and that it was his apartment Kay had been leaving the night before. Kay comes back to Steve, hoping to have him pose as her fiance in the hopes of providing herself an alibi. He is reluctant, but he does so when the police arrive. However, the two find themselves hounded by Philip’s brother, racketeer Rusty Morgan (Marc Lawrence), who wants to find his brother’s murderer. In return for Steve’s help, Kay turns to her friend Rodney Hunter (Leon Ames) to help get Steve a job in the advertising department at International Chromium Corporation. She helps Steve try to take some photos to help him get the job, but he loses out when one of his models, Larry Foster, is found murdered, and the police question Steve about it. While they have been falling for each other, Kay and Steve still find themselves at odds. Can they come together and see the murder solved?

As I said in my quick intro, this is a movie that, upon seeing its title or original poster, you would be thinking it would be a murder mystery or a film noir, but it isn’t. Now, before the recent Blu-ray release, I hadn’t even heard of this movie, so when it was announced, I looked it up to read a little about it. The moment I saw it described as being a “screwball” movie, I knew I wanted to see it! Especially now, during this pandemic, comedies appeal SOOOO much more to me than dramas (although not as much as musicals, but I’ll still take a good comedy when given the opportunity). So, in that regard, this movie did its job. It’s not going to be remembered for its mystery, which is barely there, with its main connection being the constantly intruding (or maybe I should borrow his mis-pronunciation and say “pro-truding”) detective Henderson (played by Gene Morgan). I mean, the murder does get solved, but it almost seems to come from nowhere, especially since the two main characters are not actively trying to solve it.

Like I said, though, the comedy worked. I know I enjoyed watching Raymond Walburn as the Senator (so-named because of his eloquence and not because of an actual job title). Richard Arlen’s character’s habit of dramatizing for his photographs (and when the police are snooping around) is also a lot of fun. And I guarantee that I’m going to remember the scene in the department store for quite a while! So, again, watching this movie is all about managing your expectations. If you’re looking for a film noir or a good murder mystery, based on the title, you will be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a good comedy,then the possibility of enjoying it is there. I liked it, and for that reason I would indeed recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment through their manufacture-on-demand (MOD) line. As far as the transfer goes, this movie looks and sounds fantastic! On that regard, I couldn’t ask for better! This release is bare-bones, with no extras or menu (which is fine). The only complaint I have (and it’s a minor one) is lack of subtitles. As I said, the audio is good, and I can understand everything clearly. But, I am young yet, and not all their audience for this release will still have the ability to hear clearly. I understand that to have subtitles certainly costs money, especially for a movie like this one that has no prior release on home video (like DVD) where they would have been done. But I know that Warner Archive Collection (Warner’s MOD division) has subtitles on all their Blu-ray releases, whether they are upgrades of titles put out on DVD by their retail division (Warner Home Video) that had subtitles, upgrades of WAC DVD releases (which didn’t any) or titles that made the jump straight to Blu-ray (and all their releases cost less, too). If Sony’s MOD division can change that, then they are heading in the right direction (and I still recommend this release if this movie appeals to you)! The movie is one hour, eight minutes in length.

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Coming Up Shorts! with… Lumberjack And Jill (1949)

(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.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 6 minutes, 30 seconds)

Lumberjacks Popeye and Bluto fight over the new camp cook, Olive. While still formulaic, it’s nice to find another cartoon where Popeye and Bluto don’t start out as enemies. A few fun gags here and there making use of the lumberjack setting. Nothing big that’s new for the series, but it’s still worth a few laughs!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!