Some big surprises in the Barbara Stanwyck box set out from Universal this week, reviewed here in the New York Times.
One of them is happy: a glistening transfer of Alfred Santell’s 1937 “Internes Can’t Take Money,” an unexpected burst of visual invention from a filmmaker whose career began in silent comedy with Lloyd Hamilton and Hal Roach.
And the other is a crusher: a very poor, full-frame version of Douglas Sirk’s 1956 masterpiece “There’s Always Tomorrow” — a gaffe all the more inexplicable because excellent, widescreen versions are available in the UK (from Masters of Cinema), France (from Carlotta) and reportedly several other markets as well.
Here’s the correctly framed version of the film’s signature shot — Rex the Walkie-Talkie Robot marching toward oblivion — as lifted from the Masters of Cinema edition:
And here’s Universal’s muddy, full-frame equivalent, with enough air in the image to pump up the Hindenburg:
Still, your $49.98 suggested retail gets you four other films, including Sirk’s excellent “All I Desire” (1953), William Wellman’s kitschy “The Great Man’s Lady” (a 1942 Western with “Citizen Kane” flashbacks), a middling screwball comedy (“The Bride Wore Boots,” 1946) from the ever-middling Irving Pichel, and Michael Gordon’s earnest melodrama of addiction, “The Lady Gambles” (1949). Not such a bad deal, but jeez — can’t Universal give its customers a little more credit?