The films are uneven, but the transfers are gorgeous in Sony’s two volume “Icons of Screwball Comedy,” which includes two films each from Columbia contract players Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne and Loretta Young. For me, the highlight of the set is William A. Seiter’s lovely “If You Could Only Cook” (1935), which finds Seiter swinging with his usual aplomb between warm-hearted romance (between working girl Jean Arthur and millionaire-in-disguise Herbert Marshall) and crowded, fast-paced farce (courtesy of gangsters Leo Carillo and Lionel Stander). Beautifully restored, Richard Boleslawski’s “Theodora Goes Wild” still demonstrates Boleslawki’s indifference to film technique (more mismatched shots that a Michael Mann picture!), but proves that this early proponent of the Method (and one-time member of Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theater) played an important role in liberating Irene Dunne’s inner comedienne. More detail here in the New York Times.
And on a completely different page, I’ve got a rather breathless survey of the extensive Brit Noir retrospective that Bruce Goldstein has put together for New York’s Film Forum. It’s now apparent that the postwar British commercial cinema is a treasure trove of unexplored material; auteur cases can be made for Roy Baker (“The October Man”), Lawrence Huntington (“Wanted for Murder”), Val Guest (“Hell Is a City”), John Harlow (“Appointment with Crime”) and no doubt several other filmmakers who labored in the long shadows of Reed, Lean and Olivier.