Showing posts with label 1940s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1940s. Show all posts

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Soundies: The Ultimate Collection and interview with curator Susan Delson


For anyone who loves the 1940s music, dance and overall style, discovering Soundies is an absolute treat. What is a Soundie you may be asking? The Soundie was a precursor to the music video. These bite-sized musical short films were the length of a song and featured performers singing, dancing and even acting out skits. Soundies were produced specifically to be played in a Panoram, a coin-operated jukebox with a small screen. These short musicals made on low budgets with up-and-coming talent and highlighted contemporary trends in pop culture. They gained momentum especially during WWII and eventually petered out after the war was over. To me each Soundie is a little window into a bygone era. 

Kino Studio Classics has blessed the public with the release of Soundies: The Ultimate Collection, a four disc Blu-ray set includes 200 Soundies as well as numerous introductions by curator Susan Delson, Media Conservationist Ina Archer as well as interviews with Soundies experts Matt Barton and Mark Cantor. A booklet inside includes essays as well as an extensive list of themes and individual Soundies in order of appearance. This list proved especially helpful to keep track.

Each disc features 6 themed with 8 Soundies each. The themes vary and an introduction helps put them into context. Themes include: trending song and dance forms, the WWII homefront, sexuality and subversiveness, urban and rural culture, Latin, Asian and African-American styles as well as a four-part Straight from the Panoram series which plays 8 different Soundies as they would be shown on a real Panoram.

My personal favorites from the set include: Swing for Sale, Hot Chocolate, Got a Penny for Benny, G.I Jive, Frim Fram Sauce, Four or Five Times, Paper Doll, He's a Latin from Manhattan, Time Takes Care of Everything and Ta Ha WaHhu Wa.

There is so much energy and vivacity in these Soundies that it seems a shame to watch them sitting down. I highly recommend getting up and dancing to the beat. A much more enjoyable way to experience these Soundies.

This set is an absolute winner. I love the packaging and design, the number of diverse selection, and the introductions that helped provided historical and cultural context. The Soundies themselves are of mixed quality depending on their source material but overall they look really fantastic on Blu-ray. I do wish the intros and interviews were a bit more higher quality in presentation. Otherwise I think this is an outstanding Blu-ray set and would make the perfect gift for a classic movie fan.

I'm thrilled to have interviewed the series curator Susan Delson. Check out the interview below:

Historian Susan Delson. Photo courtesy of Susan Delson

Interview with Curator Susan Delson

Raquel Stecher: As a cultural historian, how did you first become interested in Soundies?

Susan Delson: I came across Soundies while writing a previous book, Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card. It’s a film study and biography of a little-known director whose career crossed over from silent film to sound. Murphy had an adventurous career—from Ballet mécanique to The Emperor Jones—and closed out his Hollywood years by making ten Soundies in 1941.

I started by screening Murphy’s Soundies at the Library of Congress—there weren’t many on YouTube at that point. Then I discovered the breadth of the LC’s Soundies holdings, which are vast. And I was hooked.

Raquel Stecher: It's clear that a lot of thought was put into curating the collection of soundies into different categories for this blu-ray collection. Can you tell me a bit about how each program was curated and what you hope viewers will pay special attention to?

Susan Delson: I spent years screening and researching Soundies before I began writing my book, Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time. I’d been a film programmer in the past, and right from the start, potential program themes were part of my Soundies thinking. I figured I’d present these films eventually, one way or another.

As I started programming the Kino Lorber set, I knew that I wanted to explore the full scope of the history embedded in the films—American history, African American history, entertainment history, and especially the change-making undercurrents in the culture back then. Soundies are a terrific way of getting into all of that—and at the same time, a lot of fun.

Each of the four [Blu-rays] in the set has its own theme, and those took shape pretty quickly: Introducing Soundies, Life in the Soundies Era, Musical Evolutions, and Women, Sexuality, and Gender.

There are six eight-film programs on each [Blu-ray], and all of them explore a different aspect of that disc’s theme. Except for the last program on each disc, called “Straight from the Panoram.” With those, I re-created an eight-film reel exactly as the Soundies Corporation released it back then—a program from a different year on each disc.

In response to your question, what I hope viewers will pay attention to is probably all of the above—the history, the cultural undercurrents, and above all, the fun. I also hope they discover lots of terrific performers they hadn’t known about. For me, that was one of the most exciting things about the whole project.

Raquel Stecher: I was particularly interested in the Soundies programs that reflected different aspects of American life during WWII. How do these Soundies give viewers a window into the culture of that era?

Susan Delson: There’s an immediacy to Soundies’ depiction of home-front life that you don’t generally get in Hollywood movies of that era. There’s nothing quite like Louis Jordan making sly double-entendres in Ration Blues to give you a sense of what living with wartime rationing might have been like. Or the Pretty Priorities (what a name!) doing a joking, patriotic strip tease to support scrap drives for the war effort in Take It Off.

In many films, there’s a creative, playful attention to personal style—this was the zoot suit era, after all. There’s a focus on dance, too, which makes sense when you realize that in the 1940s everyone danced, whether it was the foxtrot, the samba, or the jitterbug. There are some Soundies, like Hot Chocolate (“Cottontail”) or Swing for Sale, that people might have watched over and over just to pick up some new dance moves. 

The company behind Soundies—the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America— released a new eight-film reel every week. That’s over 400 films a year. They had to keep pace with popular culture, if only to keep the product flowing. The films had to be made quickly and cheaply. And with little or no time for rehearsal, let alone directorial vision, performers often had a lot of say in how they presented themselves on screen—much more than they might have had in Hollywood. With Soundies, you get a street-level, pop-culture perspective that you don’t get in mainstream media of the day.

Raquel Stecher: The blu-ray set features a diverse mix of Soundies with Black, Asian and Latino performers. I was particularly delighted to see Soundies featuring Dorothy Dandridge, the Mills Brothers, Ricardo Montalban, Nat King Cole and more. Can you talk a bit about why this was important and what you believe are some of the highlights of the collection?

Susan Delson: The diversity you’re talking about is really important. It’s what distinguishes Soundies from most of 1940s popular culture, and I’d say it’s the main concept behind the whole Kino Lorber set.

As you can see in the [Blu-rays], the Soundies Corporation was committed to presenting a diverse array of talent. Not out of idealism or altruism—they were a business and they absolutely wanted to make money. But the Soundies Corporation recognized an underserved audience when they saw one, and they knew there was a market for films that showed, on screen, a more complete view of who we were back then—Black, Latinx, Hawaiian, Asian, Eastern European, and more. There’s so much talent here that doesn’t appear on screen anywhere else during these years.

Among the highlights, I’d have to start with the first film on disc 1, Duke Ellington’s Jam Session. It’s by far the most popular Soundie online, closing in on 3 million YouTube views (mostly under the title “C Jam Blues,” which is the number the band is playing). Dorothy Dandridge’s Soundies are another highlight—she was 19 when she made them, and she’s absolutely incandescent.

Then there are the discoveries. The vocal harmony trio Day, Dawn, and Dusk has such a smart, sophisticated take on high culture, on American history, and gender play. We have three of their Soundies in the set, and every one is a gem.

My colleague Ina Archer, who does some of the on-camera intros in the set, calls another vocal harmony group, the Delta Rhythm Boys, the house band for Soundies. I agree. They really set the style for Soundies produced in New York, and they’re wonderful to watch.

Raquel Stecher: I have so many favorites from this collection, especially Hot Chocolate, Paper Doll, Frim Fram Sauce, Johnny Zero, etc. What are some of your personal favorites?

Susan Delson: All of the ones you mention are terrific. I also love Along the Navajo Trail, with John Shadrack Horace and Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers. It’s the only country-western Soundie I came across that stars Black performers, and they’re great. Sticking with country-western, I also love Why Did I Fall for Abner, with Carolina Cotton and Merle Haggard. Everyone looks like they had a terrific time shooting that one—including the all-woman backup band, the Glee Gates Trio with two additional musicians. They’re terrific.

I also have a soft spot for Soundies that make me laugh, like A Little Jive Is Good for You and Operatin’ Rhythm. And just about all the films on disc 4 that explore women’s sexuality and gender play.

Raquel Stecher: What do you hope viewers will get out of watching Soundies: The Ultimate Collection?

Susan Delson: I hope the films will add some nuance and complexity to our thinking about the World War II years, beyond the “Greatest Generation” gloss. The culture back then was a lot more complicated and contradictory than people might think—emphasis on contradictory—and we see that in the films.

In my introductory essay in the [Blu-ray] booklet, I write that Soundies speak in multiple voices, and they don’t all say the same thing. For me, that’s a real plus. If there’s one thing I hope viewers take away from Soundies: The Ultimate Collection, it’s that our country is, and long has been, a place of multiple voices, cultures, and peoples. 

With these films, you really get the sense that as a nation, our diversity is our strength. And they make that point in a way that’s fun to watch and listen to. I hope everyone has as much fun with these films as I had in putting the programs together.

AmazonBarnes and Noble Deep DiscountKino Lorber

Soundies: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray is available from Kino Classics. 

Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me a copy for review and to Susan Delson for granting me an interview!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Classic Film Collective: In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

 This was originally published in the former The Classic Film Collective Patreon.

In a Lonely Place
by Dorothy B. Hughes
New York Review of Books 
Paperback ISBN: 9781681371474
224 pages

"Lost in a world of swirling fog and crashing wave, a world empty of all but these things and his grief and the keening of the fog horn far at sea. Lost in a lonely place..." — Dorothy B. Hughes

The 1950 film adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes novel In a Lonely Place is one of the most celebrated entries into the film noir canon. Bolstered by Nicholas Ray’s direction and Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame’s excellent performances, In a Lonely Place (1950) is a tense and ultimately terrifying story of a writer’s downward spiral. Bogart plays Dix Steele, a Hollywood screenwriter working on his next adaptation. He hasn’t had a hit movie in a long time and the pressure from his agent Mel (Art Smith) and his own internal pressure as an artist is starting to get to him. When hat check girl Mildred (Martha Stewart, no not that one, the other one) is brutally murdered, Dix becomes a suspect having been the last one to see her alive. On the case is Dix’s war buddy Brub (Frank Lovejoy) and Captain Lochner (Carl Benton Reid). While the investigation is happening, Dix starts to fall for his neighbor, actress Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame). Their romance is plagued with the tension caused by the investigation, Dix’s manic fits of creativity, his need for control and the threat of violence that lays under the surface. The situation is volatile and Laurel is in constant danger. Is Dix really the murderer? Or is he just falling apart with the suspicion hanging over his head?

The film noir adaptation is so vastly different from Dorothy B. Hughes’ novel that reading the book and watching the movie will make you feel like you just experienced parallel universes. The novel is narrated in the third person omniscient point of view. However, the narrator never strays from Dix giving the reader the perspective of the serial killer. And yes, he is a serial killer. It’s known from the very beginning of the novel that Dix Steele is a former airman who fought during WWII. He found an opportunity to live in his friend Mel Terriss’ (not his agent like in the movie) apartment. Mel’s absence is explained away by Dix as him having traveled to Rio de Janeiro for a job but the reader knows something is up. Dix has been killing one woman a month. He stalks vulnerable young women at night, lures them to an isolated spot and strangles them. The book goes into detail about how Dix hunts his prey but spares us the bloody details of the actual crimes.

The irony is that Dix’s war buddy Brub is a police detective investigating the string of murders. Dix is pretends to be a crime writer and this affords him access to particulars of the investigation. The pretense is that Dix needs material for his work but really Dix is gaining knowledge on how best to get away with future crimes. Brub’s wife Sylvia is one of the most important characters in the story. In the film, Sylvia (Jeff Donnell) is a minor character, one who frets over her husband’s work and triggers one of Dix’s outbursts when she reveals something she wasn’t supposed to. In the novel however, she is the first person to suspect Dix and works diligently to lure him in, study him, gather materials for the case. She’s more effective as a detective than her actual detective husband Brub. The film did this character dirty!

(Jeff Donnell as Sylvia and Gloria Graham as Laurel)

The Brub character is the polar opposite of Dix. He feels that his war experience has led him to want to help people. He’s devoted to his work and is for the most part a gentleman (except for his overt lust for other women including Laurel Gray). Dix is a sociopath whose war experience may have given him a taste for blood. He’s also incredibly lonely and isolated which is really key to his character and to the title of the story. Dix spends a lot of time doing solitary things: driving, hanging out at the beach, stalking his prey, etc. In the movie, Dix is a hardworking screenwriter. In the novel, Dix pretends to write but really doesn’t want to work at all. He doesn’t understand why he can’t live off a trust like his friend Mel or why his rich uncle Fergus won’t give him more money. When actress Laurel Gray comes into his life, he begins to imagine what it would be like to have a long-term relationship with a woman he doesn’t hunt and kill. She reminds him of a long lost love and the calmer days before his killing spree.

Laurel Gray is probably the best represented in the film. Gloria Grahame captures Laurel’s ambivalence about the movie business, her attraction to Dix and her growing suspicion of Dix. In the movie, she’s much more a victim of domestic violence. She suffers as Dix becomes more and more controlling. In the novel, she’s not in love with Dix at all. She recognizes that they’re both similar in their selfishness but that they are meant to be together for a good time not a long time. She says to him:

“I knew you from the first time I looked at you just like you knew me. Because we’re just alike. We’re out to get it, and we don’t care how we get it."

Laurel and Sylvia are both objects of Dix’ lust and are both key to his downfall. I really enjoyed how Dorothy B. Hughes approached the psyche of her serial killer protagonist and the women in his orb. Laurel and Sylvia are the heroes in the novel. As they slowly draw away from Dix, we feel the tension and know that something big is about to happen. The authorities are only effective once both women have done the work on their end. Otherwise Dix might have kept going.

Dorothy B. Hughes was a fantastic writer. I enjoyed how she describes the fog, the beach, Dix’s isolation and loneliness and how the reader has to pick up on subtle clues outside of Dix’s point of view. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Why hide this beautiful creature under the blanket of your indifference?" 
"There was a save delight in being a lone wolf. It wasn't happiness.. He was a lone wolf; he didn't have to account to anyone nor did he intend to." 
"She was greedy and callous and a bitch, but she was fire and a man needed fire." 
"This was the beginning of something good. So good that he was enjoying its immediacy without thought, without plan. She was beside him, that was enough. He had needed her for so long a time. He had always needed her. It was a dream. A dream he had not dared dream, a woman like this."

I highly recommend reading In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes. If you’re worried it will ruin the movie for you, don’t! The two stories are so different. There is no way they could have stayed true to the novel and pleased both Columbia Pictures and the Production Code Administration. Both can be thoroughly enjoyed as two separate art forms.

Have you read In a Lonely Place? What are your thoughts on how the changes they made from the movie?

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Classic Film Collective: Laura by Vera Caspary

 This was originally published in the former The Classic Film Collective Patreon.

by Vera Caspary
The Feminist Press
Paperback ISBN: 9781558615052
256 pages

“You have so many friends, your life is so full, you’re always surrounded by people.” – Mark McPherson 
Laura: “It’s when you have friends that you can afford to be lonely. When you know a lot of people, loneliness becomes a luxury. It’s only when you’re forced to be lonely that it’s bad.” – Laura Hunt

Any film noir enthusiast will attest that Laura (1944), is one of the finest noirs of the era. It offers viewers an engrossing story, an air of sophistication, a couple of delicious plot twists and plenty of wit. Then there is the quartet of main players: Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), the bored aristocrat, Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews), the sensitive police detective, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), the spoiled Southern gigolo, and caught in the middle is the least femme fatale of all the femme fatale: Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney). Laura is the murder victim until she’s not and through both her absence and her presence we learn a lot about her as an individual and the men who want to possess her.

The story was born out of the imagination of Vera Caspary, a writer who was no stranger to Hollywood. In her lifetime she wrote 19 books and out of her novels, original screenplays, theatrical plays and other writing contributions, 24 film adaptations were made. Some of these include: Working Girls (1931), Letter to Three Wives (1949), The Blue Gardenia (1953), and Les Girls (1957). Caspary was particularly interested in writing about working women, like herself, and her stories dealt with themes of identity, romantic relationships, personal independence and crime. She didn’t consider herself a mystery writer and preferred to focus on character development and plot structure than genre form. According to writer A.B. Emrys, “Her novels revolve around women who are menaced, but who turn out to be neither mere victimized dames nor rescued damsels. Independence is the key to survival of such protagonists as Laura…”

Laura was written during WWII but its decidedly not at all influenced by the war. In fact, Caspary had spent much time exploring her political beliefs (she dappled in Communism which led her to be graylisted during the red scare), and decided she wanted a break from politics in order to return to writing. Laura started as a theatrical play and an original screenplay. When neither of those sold, Caspary wrote Laura as a novel. It was serialized in seven parts in Collier magazine and then published by Houghton Mifflin. Otto Preminger learned about the novel and presented it to Darryl F. Zanuck, with whom he had a long time feud, in order to get 20th Century Fox to acquire the film rights, which they did.

Caspary’s novel is divided into five parts, each giving the perspective of one of the four main characters before returning back to the police detective’s investigation:

Part 1 - Waldo Lydecker’s POV
Part 2 - Mark McPherson’s POV
Part 3 - Shelby Carpetner’s POV - as told through a police interrogation.
Part 4 - Laura’s POV
Part 5 - Mark McPherson’s POV

The film adaptation follows the book quite closely with some key differences. Lydecker is described as a middle-aged man who is overweight, pale and has lost his appetite due to the stress of the criminal investigation. He’s decidedly more biting with his remarks in the book than in the film. Clifton Webb really steals the show with his performance as Lydecker. Laird Cregar, who would have fit the novel’s characterization of Lydecker more closely, was considered for the role but Preminger thought his ominous presence would give away a key plot point.

Gene Tierney is as exactly as Caspary has Lydecker describe her in the book: “She was a slender thing, timid as a fawn and fawn-like, too, in her young uncertain grace. She had a tiny head, delicate for even that thin body, and the tilt of it along with the bright shyness of her slightly oblique dark eyes further contributed to the sense that Bambi had escaped from the forest and galloped up the eighteen flights to this apartment.” Her POV is strong and definitely the highlight of the book.

Mark McPherson isn’t much different than Dana Andrews’ role except that he’s more imaginative and his investment in Laura comes more from his thought process than his actions. The biggest different in characterization can be seen with Shelby Carpenter, who they indeed softened in order to give Vincent Price a much more friendly on-screen part. The novel’s Shelby is an insufferable cad. In fact, when I got to his POV I groaned loudly but lucky his part is reduced to a single chapter. Diane Redfern, the story’s true femme fatale and ultimate victim, plays a stronger part in the novel but like in the film, is never actually seen.

Caspary does a wonderful job exploring the male-female dynamic. She tackles misogyny, gender roles and obsession with clarity and confidence. It’s clear that each of the men sees Laura as an extension of themselves and their individual quests to gain complete control of her all fail in some respect. At several points in the novel, Caspary explores how a woman evolves into herself by her relationship with others, particularly men. But this also happens to men too. Laura is being molded by the men in her life but she is also molding them. It’s as though it takes group effort to blossom into the person you’re going to become. And because these characters are so dependent on each other for personal growth, there is a possessiveness that comes from that.

Laura by Vera Caspary is currently available as a stand-alone book from The Feminist Press or part of the Library of America’s Women Crime Writers anthology. You can borrow the stand-alone book from your local library through Overdrive. It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend you check it out if you can.

I leave you know with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Her flatter was never shallow. She found the real qualities and made them important. Surface faults and affections fell away like false friends at the approach of adversity.” – Waldo Lydecker
“I thought of my mother and how she had talked of a girl’s giving herself too easily. Never give yourself, Laura, she’d say, never give yourself to a man… That is why I have given so much of everything else; myself I have always withheld.” – Laura Hunt
“You are not dead, Laura; you are a violent, living, bloodthirsty woman.” – Waldo Lydecker

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Classic Film Collective: Career Women in Love: Ex-Lady (1933), The First Hundred Years (1938) and Woman of the Year (1942)

This was originally published in the former The Classic Film Collective Patreon.

As someone who appreciates classic movies while also watching them through a contemporary lens, I look for the subtle or not so subtle signs of feminism in early films. I want to see how the role of women evolved over the 20th century and how Hollywood packaged these portrayals for mass consumption. Woman of the Year (1942), George Stevens’ delightful comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, is one of those films that has an interesting feminist angle which is then canceled out by the ending. And yes you can love a movie even though you hate how it ends. Hepburn plays Tess Harding, a successful newspaper correspondent specializing in international affairs. Tracy is the sports writer with whom she falls in love. Their marriage can’t withstand Tess’ hectic schedule and their impasse is resolved in just the sort of way you would expect of a 1940s Hollywood film. I’ve watched this film many times over the years, sometimes skipping the ending and imagining another outcome for Tess. Compromise is a key element to relationships, on screen and off, but usually it’s the women who have to sacrifice something. And for a working woman it’s giving up her career to raise a family. The ending is never a surprise. Hollywood liked to keep the status quo. However, the joy in watching these early films about career women in love are those moments where the woman stands her ground, planting seeds of dissent in an otherwise male dominated world.

“I don’t want to be like my mother, the yes-woman for some man. I want to be a person of my own.” Bette Davis as Helen in Ex-Lady (1933)


There are two 1930s films that broach the same subject matter and face the same dilemma. Ex-Lady (1933), a Pre-Code directed by Robert Florey for Warner Bros., stars Bette Davis as Helen Bauer, a talented illustrator who is at the top of her game. She’s in a relationship with Don (Gene Raymond) but refuses to marry him. Instead they live “in sin”. When keeping up this lifestyle becomes too much, Helen agrees to marry Don and that’s when everything goes haywire. Don’s talent agency takes a nosedive and the two begin to see other people. The story is partly inspired by the real life relationship of writers Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin, who were also in a long-term relationship in which they lived together but remained unmarried (Riskin went on to marry actress Fay Wray). Bette Davis has some great lines in this film questioning the institution of marriage. She finds it dull and fears that it will strip away both their independence and individuality. There are two key scenes early on in the film when Davis and Raymond contemplate their relationship. Davis declares ”no one has any rights about me except me.” At the time, Davis was fighting Warner Bros. for better parts and eventually faced the studio in court. According to film historian Sloan De Forest, Davis accused “the studio of ‘slavery’ by forcing her into ‘mediocre pictures.’ Bette lost the court case, but she won Warners’ eventual respect…” Even though Davis looked poorly upon Ex-Lady, in many ways she was playing herself.: a successful woman who craved the independence that a studio contract/marriage would deprive her of.

“Can I love you and still be interested in something else?” - Virginia Bruce as Lyn in The First Hundred Years (1938)

When I was shopping the Warner Archive Collection’s final 4 for $44 sale (you can watch my haul here) I discovered a film I had never heard of: The First Hundred Years (1938). It’s an MGM film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring two of my favorite actors of that era: Robert Montgomery, Virginia Bruce and Warren William. Reading the synopsis the film immediately reminded me of Ex-Lady and I quickly added it to my shopping cart. Virginia Bruce plays Lynn Conway, a top talent agency at a big New York City firm. She is highly sought after by authors, actors and directors to land theatrical gigs and regularly travels to Hollywood to book movie deals. Robert Montgomery plays her husband David, a shipbuilder who receives word that there is a job waiting for him in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Neither of them want to give up their jobs or the marriage but something here has to give. Because we’re now in the era of the strictly enforced Hays Code, The First Hundred Years is stripped of any of the sexual chemistry and innuendos that you’ll find in Ex-Lady. Where Raymond and Davis lust for each other in the Pre-Code film, Montgomery and Bruce have a sweet and tender romance. Any lust is relegated to secondary characters like Warren William who plays the hard-drinking talent agent and Binnie Barnes who plays a socialite trying to steal Montgomery’s David away from his wife. And yes The First Hundred Years has just the sort of ending you would expect. However, it doesn’t quite feel like a disappointment. Perhaps because the film does a good job at slowly distancing the female protagonist from her job so she can be more consumed with the social aspects of her life.

As a married career woman myself I find this sub-genre of classic movies endlessly fascinating and I’ll always be on the lookout for more. Even if I know exactly how they’ll end.

Friday, November 18, 2022

So Proudly We Hail (1943)

Directed and produced by Mark Sandrich, So Proudly We Hail (1943) is a fictional depiction of the Angels of Bataan, a group of nurses during WWII who tended to wounded soldiers in Bataan and Corregidor. The film stars Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake as three nurses who are serve in Bataan. The story is told in a flashback sequence from the point in which some of the nurses have been rescued and brought to Australia. This tempers the story giving us a bit of hope at the beginning despite what we'll see throughout the movie.

Colbert plays Lt. Janet Davidson, affectionately known as Davey, a loyal and reliable nurse who cares deeply about her work and her fellow nurses. In present day she's in a catatonic state, unable to speak, and the story follows the series of events that led her to that point. Lt. Joan O'Doul (Paulette Goddard) is the life of the party mostly concerned with the social aspects of her job. Lt.d Olivia D'Arcy (Veronica Lake) is the total opposite; she's grown bitter having gone through the trauma of seeing her husband die during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Out of all the characters, she's got the most interesting character development. 

The film follows the particulars of their work and their relationships with each other and the men in their lives. While we don't ever meet Olivia's husband, we do see Joan fall for Kansas (Sonny Tufts), an aw-shucks football-player-turned-Marine, and Davey fall for Lt. John Summers (George Reeves), a headstrong medic with a tender heart.

So Proudly We Hail! is one of several movies about the Battle of Bataan and one of two released that same year about these nurses in particular. MGM released Cry 'Havoc' (1943) a couple of months after Paramount Pictures released So Proudly We Hail!. Cry 'Havoc' is a fine picture in its own right and boasts a stellar cast including Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, Joan Blondell, Marsha Hunt and Ella Raines. While they both told similar stories, So Proudly We Hail! leans more on the dramatic elements, giving viewers more of a sense of the danger the troops and the nurses faced during the Battle of Bataan. The script was based on Lt. Colonel Juanita Hipps' best-selling memoir and adapted for the screen by writer Allan Scott.  There are several storylines happening at once which makes the plot a little difficult to follow. However, that also speaks to the chaotic nature of the environment. When the film released in September 1943, many of the nurses were still imprisoned by the Japanese as POWs so this film must have been quite poignant for contemporary viewers. 

According to TCM writer Jeremy Arnold, So Proudly We Hail! was a perfect combination of "the combat film and the woman's picture." You have the intense battle scenes with both visual and sound effects (the movie was nominated for an Academy Award in this category) juxtaposed with "a wedding, a honeymoon (in a foxhole, no less), a dance, childbirth, mother-son scenes, and even a negligee which figures prominently in the plot." The negligee plot line was tiresome and it seemed like it was thrown in there to give Goddard more to do. Otherwise, I felt the combination of elements really made this for an enjoyable mix of serious drama and more lighthearted moments.

TCM writer Rob Nixon notes that Chief Nelson Poynter of the Office of War Information "meddled in almost every aspect of the script." Some of these worked in the film's favor by softening the good vs. evil elements and focusing more on team effort and hope. The film begins with a thank you to various units and advisors and is followed by a written introduction providing the viewer context before the story begins. Poynter was also responsible for a monologue delivered by Walter Abel who plays a Marine chaplain. It is a very sentimental monologue but I quite enjoyed it. There is something quite comforting about the emotional aspects of these films released during WWII. There is a profound sense camaraderie and a willingness to work and make sacrifices for the greater good.

"We're a sentimental people, and I think we're proud of it. Despite the fact that our enemies deride us for it, it makes us the stronger... Have faith... Not a blind faith, but faith in those things in which we believe. We must have such faith in those things, such faith in ourselves, such faith in mankind that we are tough about the things we believe in, so tough that we will fight to the death to make those tender and sentimental beliefs like Christmas... a reality forever. Now, God bless us. Every one." - Chaplain (Walter Abel)

As far as the performances are concerned, Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard essentially play a variation of a character type they've been known to play. Goddard's role was expanded to give her more screen time. Sonny Tufts, in his film debut, serves as her romantic interest. While she was the one nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, I think, if anything, that nomination should have gone to Veronica Lake. She has a short but powerful role and her intensity really stands out amongst the other performances. Her character is by far the most interesting because she's an outlier and an example of how war changes people. Lake wrote about the film in her memoir. She spoke about how Colbert and Goddard did not get along on set. She was proud of the film, writing to her then husband John Detlie:

“So Proudly We Hail is more than just another Hollywood film, John. It’s a salute to the military. I’m proud to be in the film.”

The film includes several mentions of Superman which is fitting given that George Reeves would go on to play the role years later. It's said that Reeves was inspired by his performance in the film to join the Army Air Corps.

So Proudly We Hail! (1943) is available on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. It's been restored from a brand new 2K master and looks as good as a black and white film can look. Extras include audio commentary by film historian Julie Kirgo, various Kino Lorber theatrical trailers and English language subtitles.

Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me a copy of So Proudly We Hail (1943) for review!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Repeat Performance (1947)

"Stars look down on New Year's Eve in New York. They say that fate is in the stars. That each of our years is planned ahead. And nothing can change destiny. Is that true? How many times have you said 'I wish I could live this year over again?' This is the story of a woman who did relive one year of her life."

Directed by Alfred L. Werker and based on a novel by William O'Farrell, Repeat Performance (1947) is a time travel noir that imagines a protagonist being given a second chance to change the course of events that led to a terrible tragedy. Joan Leslie plays Sheila Page, a celebrated actress married to playwright Barney Page (Louis Hayward). While Sheila's career has gained momentum over recent months, Barney's career is spiralling out of control due to his alcoholism and the lingering resentment he feels towards his more successful wife. The film starts on New Year's Eve in 1946. As partygoers usher in 1947, Sheila is reeling from the fact that she has just shot and killed her abusive husband. She confides in her good friend William Williams (Richard Basehart in his screen debut), a poet and a member of Sheila's social scene, wishing she could relive 1946 and ultimately alter the timeline that led her to this moment. Mysteriously both Sheila and William are transported back to New Year's Eve 1945 and Sheila's given a second chance. Can she prevent that fatal night from reoccurring or is she bound by the chains of destiny.

Joan Leslie and Richard Basehart in Repeat Performance (1947)
Joan Leslie and Richard Basehart in Repeat Performance (1947)

In the article I wrote for TCM, I wrote "Repeat Performance (1947) is a flimsy noir bolstered by an intriguing conceit." I'll add to this that I found the film quite gratifying for several reasons. We get to see Joan Leslie in a robust leading role (instead of a supporting ingenue part). She is dressed to the nines in costumes by Oleg Cassini and jewelry (pay attention to the broaches!) by Eugene Joseff. Leslie is able to maintain some of her wholesome image playing a character who is a genuinely good person stuck in a bad situation. As someone who loves all things New Year's, I love how the holiday is implemented in this story. It's the perfect setting since this is a prime moment when we think about the events of the past year and plot out what we'll do different in the next. I also really enjoy the fact that the way the plot plays out is not quite what you'd expect. I enjoyed the cast of characters including Tom Conway as John Friday, the smarmy theatrical producer, and Virginia Field as Paula Costello, a rival actress who tries to poison Barney's mind against Sheila. The film also examines the social politics of the theatre world and Basehart's character William Williams adds two interesting subthemes: literature and mental health.

There is one interaction between Leslie and Hayward that is blatantly sexist and a bit of a head scratcher. If you've watched the film, you'll know exactly what I mean. It's not strictly a noir but film noir expert Eddie Muller calls it a "noir fantasy" because of how the film blends noir with supernatural elements.

Repeat Performance was produced by Aubrey Schenck for Eagle-Lion Films Inc. Joan Leslie had just had a tumultuous falling out with her home studio Warner Bros. and was working as a free agent. Here is some more background on the film from my article:

"Now as a free agent, the star went to work for Eagle-Lion. Actress Constance Dowling had just left Eagle-Lion because of her own dissatisfaction with her roles and Leslie replaced her as the lead in Repeat Performance. Eagle-Lion was eager to showcase their new star and they elevated what would have been a low-budget film to a big budget production....

Repeat Performance didn't make a splash back in 1947 but it continues to linger in the minds of generations of viewers who have seen it since. At the 2013 Seattle Noir City premiere of the film, Eddie Muller called the film a "film noir version of It's a Wonderful Life (1946)." He went on to say that "over the years [many people] have told me about seeing Repeat Performance when they were young and it stuck in their mind. There is something about the premise of this film..." The introductory voiceover read by John Ireland and the conceit is also a memorable precursor to Rod Serling's hit TV show The Twilight Zone. Repeat Performance has since been remade as the TV film Turn Back the Clock (1989) with Joan Leslie in a cameo role. Leslie was a featured guest at a 2011 Noir City event and by sheer luck a 16mm print purchased by a private collector was made available just in time for the screening. Bad prints of the film have circulated over the years and this newly discovered 16mm print was in much better condition."

Repeat Performance (1947) is available in a deluxe DVD/Blu-ray set from Flicker Alley. The film was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with The Film Noir Foundation and funded by The Packard Humanities Institute. The restoration is a sight to behold. I had only ever seen bad copies of the film and the Blu-ray edition was a sight for sore eyes.

Flicker Alley's release has a robust offering of extras. The jewel case includes two discs, a reversible cover and a booklet with photos and the article Repeat Performance: A Book-to-Film Comparison by Brian Light. The disc extras include an introduction by Eddie Muller, a promotional pressbook and audio commentary by Nora Fiore. My favorite extras by far were two vignettes: Farran Smith Nehme's profile on Joan Leslie and Alan K. Rode and Steven C. Smith's Eagle-Lion: A Noir Stained Legacy

Thank you to Flicker Alley for sending me a copy for review!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Yearling (1946)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling (1946) stars Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman as Penny and Ora, married pioneer farmers who live and work deep in the Florida backwoods. Their son Jody (Claude Jarman Jr.) is their sole surviving child. Fearing that her love and attention was responsible for the death of her other children, she exudes a cold demeanor to Jody as a way of keeping him alive. Jody finds joy in his close relationship with his father and with the domestic and wild animals that he encounters on a daily basis. When Penny has to kill a doe in order to gather its liver for life saving medicine, Jody takes the doe's orphaned fawn under his wing and names him Flag. Jody's relationship with Flag helps him through tragedy. Unfortunately, when Flag becomes a yearling he begins to cause much destruction on the family farm. Jody must learn that when every day is a struggle, heartbreak comes hand-in-hand with survival.

Directed by Clarence Brown, The Yearling (1946) is a visually stunning and ultimately heart-wrenching film about family, tragedy and the cruelty of mother nature. It's a difficult watch for animal lovers, like myself, who hate to see the poor creatures suffer. While the animals in the film were not harmed during production, they are depicted as severely injured or dead and that can be a lot to bear for someone with no tolerance for cruelty towards animals.

The Yearling was shot on location in the Ocala National Forest and Silver Springs, Florida with additional scenes shot in Lake Arrowhead, California. Author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings served as production advisor and helped with location scouting. Rawlings was originally from the area and the novel was based on her experiences and observations growing up in rural Florida. MGM had purchased the rights to the novel in 1938 and while production was meant to start in 1940, a variety of production problems including financial burdens, casting issues, the volatility of filming in nature and acquiring trained animals for filming, pushed back production until 1945. It was around that time that the studio finally cast Claude Jarman, Jr. after a long search for their Jody. This was Jarman's feature film debut.

The trio of stars, Peck, Wyman and Jarm, are absolute perfection. Gregory Peck is charming as the former soldier turned farmer and loving father who will do anything to protect his family. Wyman gives Ora a range of emotions underneath the cold demeanor. We witness the depths of her pain and frustration as well as her fleeting moments of tenderness. Claude Jarman, Jr. is the heart of the film and through Jody he conveys a sense of innocence and sheer joy that makes one want to shield his character from the impending heartbreak.

The film was shot in Technicolor which is brilliantly enhanced with the Warner Archive Collection's restoration. They sourced a 1080p HD Master from the 4k scan of the original Technicolor negative. The quality is absolutely breathtaking. The color is amazingly brilliant and nature seems to come to life through the screen. Facial details are very important and with the rich detail that can be seen in this restoration, Peck, Wyman, Jarman and the other cast members looked like contemporaries standing right before me rather than renderings of figures from decades past.

I highly recommend getting the Warner Archive Collection's Blu-ray edition of The Yearling (1946) if you can. In addition to the gorgeous 4K restoration, the Blu-ray also features English subtitles, a Screen Guild Players radio broadcast, the Cat Concerto cartoon and restored theatrical trailer.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I feature titles from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me copy of The Yearling (1946).

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Hollywood Victory by Christian Blauvelt

Hollywood Victory
The Movies, Stars, and Stories of World War II
by Christian Blauvelt
Foreword by Dr. Robert M. Citino
Hardcover ISBN: 978076249992
TCM and Running Press
240 pages
November 2021

“By the end of the war, motion pictures, having become the voice of the nation, would end up as the definitive American art form– America’s greatest cultural export to the world.” — Christian Blauvelt

During WWII, movies reached the peak of their cultural influence over the American public. Hollywood rallied to support the war effort in many ways. Actors served overseas or entertained the troops. Directors documented battles on film to keep the American public back home apprised of what was happening during the war. Hollywood stars traveled all over the country selling war bonds. The Hollywood Canteen, started by John Garfield and Bette Davis, entertained the troops giving them a morale boost before they went off to battle. And it was movies like Confessions of a Nazi Spy that rang the alarm bells that something truly sinister was happening abroad. And when the United States officially entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, movies offered the public a unique form of encouragement to help get through the struggles ahead.

Hollywood Victory: The Movies, Stars, and Stories of World War II by Christian Blauvelt takes a look at the many ways Hollywood participated in the war effort and bolstered the American public. This book featured themed essays that tackle many aspects of WWII Hollywood in a way that is both informative and visually appealing. It includes a wide breadth of stories; some classic film fans will be familiar with and others that will be quite enlightening. The behind-the-scenes or lesser known stories alongside the ones we come to expect to be told about the war enriches the reading experience.

Key figures discussed in the book include: Lena Horne, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart
Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Leslie Howard, Veronica Lake, Hedy Lamarr, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre, Otto Preminger, Anna May Wong, Orson Welles, Bob Hope, Carmen Miranda, John Huston, Hattie McDaniel, James Cagney, John Ford, Edward G. Robinson, Billy Wilder, Paul Robeson, Marlene Dietrich and many more.

“Entertainment is always a national asset… Invaluable in time of peace, it is indispensable in 
wartime.” — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Movies discussed at length include: Confessions of a Nazi Spy, The Great Director, Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, The Human Comedy and many more.

Much attention is given to the history of minorities during WWII. There are several essays about how Hollywood's involvement with Latin American talent as part of America's Good Neighbor Policy, how Chinese American actors were used to depict Japanese characters, how black soldiers were treated during the war and about black talent including Lena Horne and Hattie McDaniel who were very active on the homefront.

The essays are presented in a rough chronological order so you follow the story of Hollywood during WWII from right before Pearl Harbor to the end of the war in 1945.  I particularly enjoyed reading about how the studios approached telling war stories, about the Hollywood Canteen and the Hollywood Victory Caravan, how individual films made an impact on both audiences but also key power players and how each star approached their involvement in the war effort. I wasn't particularly interested in the pieces on Disney however animation enthusiasts will be eager to read more about that. 

Hollywood Victory is a must have for classic movie enthusiasts who have a particular interest in WWII history.

Thank you to TCM and Running Press for sending me a copy of Hollywood Victory for review. 

Check out the video below to see what else I've been reading.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Adapted by Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan, Nightmare Alley (2021) is a magnificent adaptation that honors the film noir classic while giving contemporary audiences a grittier and more nuanced look at William Lindsay Gresham's story.

Stan (Bradley Cooper) has a dark past. One he leaves behind as he enters the carnival world. Intrigued and horrified by the resident geek, Stan catches a gruesome performance without paying the required fee. Carnival manager Clem (Willem Dafoe) catches him but takes pity on Stan and offers him an opportunity to work. Stan quickly becomes a beloved member of the group of carnies. Zeena the psychic (Toni Collette) and her partner and former mentalist Pete (David Strathairn) take him under their wings showing him the ropes. He soon masters the art of deception and showmanship. Stan falls for the young and naive Molly (Rooney Mara) who is under the watchful eye of strongman Bruno (Ron Perlman). After a tragic accident at the carnival, Stan and Molly run away to the city to put on a mentalist show for the wealthy elite at an elegant nightclub. They are thriving until Stan becomes a little too intoxicated with his own powers. He meets his match with Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), a psychologist who knows the inner workings of many a wealthy patron at the club. The two join forces with tragic results.

I've struggled to appreciate the original adaptation of Nightmare Alley (1947), directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray and Helen Walker. I've watched it numerous times but have always been put off by how the characters prey on the vulnerable and how disjointed the film seemed. However, by watching this new adaptation and revisiting the old one now I have a new appreciation of how masterful the film noir adaptation truly was.

Here is a breakdown of who played which role in the two adaptations

Stanton "Stan"— Tyrone Power (1947) and Bradley Cooper (2021)
Zeena — Joan Blondell (1947) and Toni Collette (2021)
Molly — Coleen Gray (1947) and Rooney Mara (2021)
Lilith— Helen Walker (1947) and Cate Blanchett (2021)
Ezra Grindle— Taylor Holmes (1947) and Richard Jenkins (2021)
Bruno — Mike Mazurki (1947) and Ron Perlman (2021)
Pete — Ian Keith (1947) and David Strathairn (2021)
Clem Hoatley — James Flavin (1947) and Willem Dafoe (2021)

What makes the new adaptation different? We're given much more background on Stan. It's clear that he's a disturbed individual and Bradley Cooper does a great job conveying this (his final scene is mind blowingly good). In Tyrone Power's version, Stan is more of a charming opportunist. The events are a lot more gruesome and there is more at stake for this cast of characters. Toni Collette, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett all did fantastic job as the three main female characters. They have their own agency and don't necessarily exist to serve the main male protagonist. It's sad that it has to be said but there are many films where this is lacking. The new film expands the stories of some key characters including Clem, played by the always brilliant Willem Dafoe, as well as Ezra Grindle who is one of Stan's major victims. A lot of attention was put to visuals including costumes, decor and all the unique elements of the carnival, both big and small. There are some fantastic shots that are works of art in themselves. Dr. Lilith's office is an Art Deco dream. Anyone who loves the era will find a lot to enjoy from the beautiful to the macabre.

The 2021 version was written by Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan, who are both great appreciators of classic film (Kim runs the classic film and pop culture blog Sunset Gun!) and really dived into the sources material and into the life of the author William Lindsay Gresham whose own experiences influenced his writing. The new film is 2 hours and 30 minutes which ads about 40 minutes to the original. I highly recommend watching this in the theater to really immerse yourself in the visuals and the story because this is one you'll want to watch in one go.

Nightmare Alley is a fascinating study in human nature. What we're drawn to, what scares us, what drives us and how we manipulate others to get what we want. Both the film noir adaptation and the new version both drive home an awareness of the dangers of preying on others.

Nightmare Alley (2021) is currently in theaters and Nightmare Alley (1947) is streaming on the  Criterion Channel.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

It's a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook

It's a Wonderful Life
The Official Bailey Family Cookbook
by Insight Editions
October 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 9781683839453
128 pages

George Bailey: There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?
Uncle Billy: Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner...

Food plays a small but important role in the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Now fans of Frank Capra's uplifting drama can celebrate with a cookbook inspired by scenes and characters from the movie. 

Published by Insight Editions, It's a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook is a retro-style collection of recipes and craft ideas sure to win over any classic movie fans this holiday season. The book is divided into seven sections: Appetizers, Sides, Entrees, Desserts, Cocktails and Drinks, Christmas Crafts and Vintage Christmas Dinner. Each recipe comes with a little introduction tying it to the film. Some of these connections are more obvious than others but are all in the spirit of the movie. Some with direct connections include Annie's Mixed Berry Pie (served by Annie to Harry Bailey for the high school graduation party), Phonograph Fowl (the honeymoon scene has Mary turning chickens over a fire with the help of a phonograph), Coconut Fudge Icebox Cake (inspired by when a young Mary orders chocolate ice cream and young George tries to convince her to add coconuts), Zuzu's Gingersnaps (a reference to when George calls Zuzu his "little gingersnap") and more. There are also a few Italian recipes in the bunch as a tribute to the beloved character Mr. Martini (William Edmunds). I'm quite impressed with how the recipes stay true to the movie because I feel it would have been very easy to stray away from that concept.

I loved the retro-style photography. This truly does look like a cookbook born out of the mid 20th century.

There were a few recipes I really couldn't make because of the level of detail and the extra ingredients I would need. However, the majority of the recipes were very approachable for the average home cook, like myself. The highlight of the book is really the deserts and the cocktails. For those who abstain from alcohol, there are two non-alcoholic drink recipes and one that can be modified.

George Bailey: I'll give you the moon, Mary.

Mary: I'll take it. Then what?

George Bailey: Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?


I had a go at making a three course meal from the book. Here is the menu:

Wedge Salad
Oven-Braised Corned Beef with Mustard Sauce
Meltaway Moon Cookies
Zuzu's Petals

Check out my latest video to learn more about my thoughts on the book and how the meal came out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

They Won't Believe Me (1947)


"I can't walk out Harry. You'll have to do the walking."

This is the story of one man and three women. The man in question, stockbroker Larry Ballentine (Robert Young), is on trial for the murder of one of those three. A flashback takes us to when it all started. Larry was having an affair Janice Bell (Jane Greer), a delicate rose, who is falling in love with Larry but conflicted by the fact that he's still married. The wife in question, Greta (Rita Johnson), has no plans on letting Larry go. Their marriage was more of a financial arrangement for Larry. But when Greta hears that Larry is about to travel to Montreal with his new flame, she tags along to shake off Janice. At work, Larry falls for an employee at the brokerage, Verna (Susan Hayward). Verna is very different from both Janice and Greta, something that excited Larry greatly. When Verna and Larry plot an escape, a way for Larry to finally get a divorce without sacrificing his financial situation, things take a turn for the worst.

Directed by Irving Pichel, They Won't Believe Me (1947) is a captivating film noir and a must see for anyone who loves this style of filmmaking. Produced by Joan Harrison for RKO, this was her first sole producer credit (learn more about Harrison here.) It flips the femme fatale trope on its head presenting us with what TCM's Eddie Muller calls an "homme fatale." Robert Young as Larry has all the traits you would expect from a femme fatale but in a male role. And a credit to Harrison's handling of the project, the female characters are fleshed out and just plain interesting. They Won't Believe Me is based on a story by Gordon McDonnell and adapted to the screen by Jonathan Latimer. The ending is abrupt and a little ambiguous, a way to get around strict Hays Code guidelines of the time.

RKO re-released They Won't Believe Me in 1957 to play as a double bill in theaters. They cut 15 minutes from the film creating a new 60 minute version. The complete movie was elusive for years. Prints languished in archives but the public only ever saw the cut version. Thanks to the Warner Archive's George Feltenstein who championed the restoration, this film noir is now available in its entirety. The Warner Archive collection has released a new Blu-ray restored in 1080p HD from a 4K scan of the original nitrate print. This restoration premiered at the 2021 virtual TCM Classic Film Festival back in May.

If you haven't seen They Won't Believe Me yet, you're in for a real treat. I found myself really engrossed with this one. It hits all the marks I expect a good film noir should. There are a few twists and turns but nothing is over the top. For me, I really enjoyed the different elements like the court room trial, the escape to the countryside, the backdrop of the stock market, the Caribbean cruise, etc. There's a lot going on but it's so streamlined and seamless that it just flows. I'll definitely be watching this one again and again.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I feature titles from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me copy of They Won't Believe Me (1947).

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