Showing posts with label Michael Curtiz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Curtiz. Show all posts

Thursday, May 6, 2021

TCM Classic Film Festival: Doctor X (1932)


This year's virtual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off with some special presentations including the late night premiere of Doctor X (1932), recently restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive and The Film Foundation in association with Warner Bros. Entertainment. Doctor X was the first of three horror films, including Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and The Walking Dead (1936), that director Michael Curtiz made for Warner Bros.

The film stars Lionel Atwill as Doctor Xavier, one of several scientists who are being probed for their possible involvement in a string of murders. A killer is on the loose, searching for his victims during the full moon, brutally murdering them and mutilating their bodies afterwards. Doctor X theorizes that the murderer is triggered by a past trauma and that this will help them solve the mystery. Newspaper reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) is desperate to get the scoop and infiltrates the home of Doctor X to get insider information. There he meets the doctor's daughter Joanne (Fay Wray) who is protective of her father yet concerned about his involvement in the matter. Doctor X rounds up all the scientists including Wells (Preston Foster) Haines (John Wray), Duke, (Harry Beresford) and Rowitz (Arthur Edmund Carewe) for an unusual experiment to uncover the identity of the Moon Killer.

Doctor X is a wonderful mad scientist mystery with plenty spooks, a few laughs and some sex thrown in for good measure (it is a pre-code film after all). The film was shot in black-and-white by Richard Tower and in two-strip Technicolor by Ray Rennahan. The color version was considered lost for years until a print was recovered in Warner Bros.' executive Jack L. Warner's belongings after he died in 1978.

The restoration of Doctor X (1932) in its original two-strip Technicolor premieres tonight on TCM as part of their late-night line-up for the TCM Classic Film Festival. Film historian and Michael Curtiz biographer Alan K. Rode will be presenting the film. Rode will explain how Doctor X fits into Curtiz' filmography, the history of Warner Bros., its importance as an early horror film and a side-by-side comparison of the old and new print. The restored Technicolor version of the film looks incredible. This is a real treat and one you won't want to miss.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Goodbye Again (1933)

Goodbye Again (1933)

Author Kenneth Bixby (Warren William) is one hot ticket. His sensational novels are titillating lady readers all over the country. Bixby and his secretary Anne (Joan Blondell) are on a nation wide book tour and have made a pit stop in Cleveland. Anne, who is a secretary by name but is practically his wife in all other respects, tends to Bixby's hectic schedule, his meals, his growing scrapbook and the multitude of calls for lectures and bookstore visits. But Bixby is more interested in attending prize fights than he is giving short informal talks or autographs to his adoring fans. And a possible distraction for this perennial playboy is just around the corner. Housewife Julie (Genevieve Tobin) is bored with her life and her mild mannered husband Harvey (Hugh Hubert). Her obsession with Bixby, with whom she once had a fling, has turned her into a crazed fan. Julie is convinced she's the inspiration for all his passionate novels. Julie and Bixby have an affair while Julie's uptight sister Elizabeth (Helen Chandler) and brother-in-law Arthur (Wallace Ford) try to separate them to save Julie's marriage. Caught in the middle is the long suffering Anne who sees her beloved Bixby slipping away from her and Bixby who wants nothing to do with outrageous situation. Can sensible Anne get Bixby out of this jam?

Goodbye Again (1933)

Joan Blondell in Goodbye Again (1933)

Goodbye Again (1933)

Goodbye Again (1933) is a ridiculous movie that has to be seen to be believed. This film is full of outrageous antics, zippy one-liners and a love triangle so twisted it will make your head spin. When does this guy have time to write his books? It's amazing how much comedy they tried to fit in only 66 minutes. And like many Pre-Codes, Goodbye Again is infused with sexual innuendos and scenarios. Bixby and Julie have a full on affair and Anne practically lives with Bixby while they're on the road. At one point Bixby pretends to have a son and he claims that he's not married, just "bohemian". Based on a successful play by Allan Scott and George Haight, Goodbye Again was directed by Michael Curtiz for First National picture after they had merged with Warner Bros.

Goodbye Again (1933)

Goodbye Again (1933)

Warren William and Joan Blondell were two of the most dynamic on screen personalities in the Pre-Code era. This is one of five feature films they appeared in together. The others were Three on a Match (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933Smarty (1934) and Stage Struck (1936). William and Blondell are the two biggest reasons to watch this film. William fits the bill as the remorseful playboy and Blondell is at her best as the wise-cracking and sensible dame. Tobin was a bit too over-the-top for my taste but it's what her character called for. And there wasn't nearly enough for Hugh Hubert to do.

You have to be in the mood for a zany whackadoodle film to appreciate Goodbye Again. This short screwball comedy moves so quickly that you'll have to watch it a second time to catch what you missed. In Alan K. Rode's book Michael Curtiz: A Life, he says 

"Blondell was never better than in this film. She serves up smart-aleck palaver to William, who volleys it right back... Variety got it exactly right, 'Perfect for audiences of quick wit, but too slick for others.' Fortunately, there were enough clever theatergoers who appreciated this amusing picture."

Goodbye Again (1933) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection and can be purchased at the WB Shop. You can hear George Feltenstein, Matt Patterson and D.W. Ferranti discuss this movie on the Warner Archive podcast. This movie makes its home video debut with this DVD release.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Goodbye Again (1933) to review!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Virginia City (1940)

Bogie? As a Mexican Bandito? What the heck was Warner Bros. thinking?

It's interesting that a 24-movie boxed set devoted to Humphrey Bogart showcases various films in which Bogie is overlooked or misused. Case in point, Virginia City (1940) a Michael Curtiz movie that would have been another Errolivia (Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland) vehicle were it not for de Havilland being fed up with Errolivia pictures altogether. Curtiz wasn't an actor's kind of director. He didn't care for them and they didn't care for him. And Jack Warner, one of the heads of Warner Bros. studio, wasn't an actor's kind of guy either. Jack Warner was particularly notorious for making actor's lives miserable by "guiding" their careers with a heavy hand. Olivia de Havilland had quite a difficult time with him and she had to fight tooth and nail to be lent out to play Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939). And Bette Davis's career was put on hold when she went into an all out battle against Warner Bros. and what she deemed were the pathetic roles they were giving her (I actually prefer the blonde and spunky Bette Davis to the older more cynical brunette Bette). Humphrey Bogart didn't have the greatest time with Warner Bros. either. They didn't know what to do with him and tossed him around from picture to picture giving him a variety of small roles. Eventually the movie-going public caught on to the wonder that is Bogie and his fame exploded. But before then, he was stuck in roles like Mexican bandito John Murrell in Virginia City (1940). Paul, over at Art, Movies, Wood and Whatnot... loves this movie and recommended it to me after I watched Dodge City (1939). Dodge City is a Curtiz-Errolivia picture which in my opinion is better than Virginia City. Both films are very similar and seeing as they are 1 year apart, I felt like Virginia City was a follow up to Dodge City. Each film is named after a city although Dodge City spends more time in the actual city whereas Virginia City has more wanderlust. Both films feature the save-the-day hero Errol Flynn who has an appropriate (if not fiesty) love interest. Both also feature a young boy being hurt (the death of innocence out in the West?) and a bandit or troublemaker who takes the law into his own hands. But it's only in Virginia City in which you will see see Bogie, with a Spanish-style mustache trying to talk in a Mexican accent but failing miserable as his iconic New York accent breaks through.

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