Two-color Doug, Euro-Curtiz and Borzage on Demand

Filmed in two-color Technicolor, Douglas Fairbanks’ 1926 swashbuckler “The Black Pirate” looks mighty fine in a new Blu-ray from Kino. Michael Curtiz finds Vienna on the backlot in the medical melodrama “Alias the Doctor,” leading a nice selection of pre-code titles from the Warner Archive Collection. And Frank Borzage’s anti-war allegory of 1931, “No Greater Glory,” is a highlight of Sony Pictures Home Entertainments new manufactured-on-demand service, Screen Classics by Request — all in this week’s potpourri column for the New York Times.

84 comments to Two-color Doug, Euro-Curtiz and Borzage on Demand

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Dave’s columns as well as his contributions here of course show that he is a writer at the top of his game and among the best ever on film, but I keep forgetting to mention how terrific his eye is. The posters and pictures atop each thread are alone enough to make this blog special.

  • Alex Hicks

    What a varied, scrumptuous,nd wellset out “potpourri” this week’s column is!

    To delve into the swashbucklers, any other fans of Fred Niblos’ Fairbanks films “Zorro” (1920 and “The Three Musketeers” (1921), or is their appeal just too cinematicaly thin for mention in the same breadtgh with the likes of “The Black Pirate” (not to mention Dwan and Walsh’s films with Fairbanks)?

    On Borgaze, any views of how “Little Man, What Now?” and “No Greater Glory” compare with “The Mortal Storm” (to me rather obvious and wooden despite its appealing ambitions).

    Anyone seen, or know of access to, Curtiz’s actual Hungarian and Austrian silents? Wonder how “Alias the Doctor” draws upon and copmpares with them.

  • The poster is awesome – but you’ve got to love the marketing – could the image have less to do with the actual film? One thing I’ll say about NO GREATER GLORY is that while it may be anti-war the vibe is definitely pro-military

  • Curtiz had an extraordinarily dazzling visual style. I wish I had seen more of his films from the 1920s and early 1930s. When I studied film history and theory at Stockholm University we at one point got an assignment to write why it was that film style was much better and more complex now (that is, at the end of the 20th century) then in the old days. My answer was that the question was preposterous and used THE KENNEL MURDER CASE as an example of great style in the “early” days.

  • Barry Putterman

    Ah yes, “the old days.” I believe that film stock was made out of granite at that time so there really is just so much one could expect from poor old Curtiz. And besides, complexity hadn’t been invented yet so what could Curtiz really accomplish in film (or Da Vinci in painting, or Shakespeare in theater)?

  • Alex Hicks

    Weren’t orthochramatic stocks in some ways superior to panchromatic?

    Was there ever a color process as beautiful as three strip technicolor?

    Is film stock not more sensitive than digital?

    Though wonderful stylistic innovation mark film right up to today, have great -indeed stylistically great–things– things not been done since INTOLERANCE and TRUE HEART SUSIE, NOSFERATU and GREED.

    Did Mailer or James Jones ever compare with Homer?

    Is much still written that’s as good as the The Epic of Gilgamesh?

    Was Graucho much wittier than Barry P?

    Do fish swim in water and stars generally appear after dusk?

  • Johan Andreasson

    Speaking of Curtiz, one new Warner Archive release that looks really interesting is THE STRANGE LOVE OF MOLLY LOUVAIN. I’ve only seen two movies with Ann Dvorac: SCARFACE and THREE ON A MATCH, but she’s made quite an impression. Anyone who’s seen it and has an opinion?

  • Blake Lucas

    Johan, if you have a chance you should see Ann Dvorak in her other Hawks film–THE CROWD ROARS (alas, seems only to exist in a cut reissue version now, at least most times–the original gains a lot from what was cut). She was a striking actress, wonderful for Hawks both times, always interesting in the films I’ve seen her in.

    Of course, THE CROWD ROARS, like SCARFACE, was 1932–those dreary old days before film style “got much better and more complex…”

  • Barry Putterman

    Johan, THE STRANGE LOVE OF MOLLY LOUVAIN is an extraordinary film. It is taken from a play by Maurine Watkins, the author of “Chicago,” and explores many of the same issues of feminism and media saturation in very different ways. Dvorak and Lee Tracy are wonderful in it. Dvorak is also wonderful in THE CROWD ROARS, as Blake mentions. And in HEAT LIGHTNING (mentioned in Dave’s review) where she is the younger sister of Aline MacMahon and the two of them have great scenes together. Unfortunately, after G MEN there really isn’t much to point to. She was married to Leslie Fenton–and I really don’t know what to say about that.

    Alex, Groucho WAS wittier than I am. And S.J. Perelman was wittier than both of us put together. But thanks for the kudos in any event.

  • Blake Lucas

    Barry, I think there are good things to say about Ann Dvorak in ABILENE TOWN (1946, Edwin L. Marin) and A LIFE OF HER OWN (1950; George Cukor), just off the top of my head. Not to say that she was not most in her element in pre-code days; plainly she was. And I haven’t even seen THE STRANGE LOVE OF MOLLY LOUVAIN yet. I watched HEAT LIGHTNING just within the last year–a terrific movie and well-directed by LeRoy. Rightly singled out by Dave, MacMahon actually jumped out more than Dvorak in a good cast–I had never seen MacMahon just like that and I guess that’s the reason, though I’d never be surprised by her putting over any kind of role.

  • THE CROWD ROARS I saw once many years ago, at what was then called TNT, and it’s that rare thing, a film by Hawks I didn’t like. But I’d like to see it again. Speaking of Hawks, I’m very much annoyed that I missed all his silent films that they screened in London at the beginning of January.

    And speaking of silent films, in March Criterion will release several silent films by Mikio Naruse. I can’t wait!

  • Rick K.

    ALIAS THE DOCTOR was long a favorite movie of the late film historian and NYU professor William Everson, who had a 16mm print of the film and apparently liked to use it in his classes at whatever opportunity he could, whether the focus was on Curtiz, expressionism, Anton Grot or Warners efficiency (the story prances over at least 10 years and is only 61 min long!). Of course at the time when Everson was teaching, it was a totally forgotten film, among the many things which made his classes so unique, for while his colleagues would be running CITIZEN KANE, BREATHLESS etc. year in and year out, Everson would focus on the most obscure and fascinating material in his vast collection. Bravo to Fredrik for his comment above about film style now vs. the early days … that question was indeed preposterous, but alas all too indicative in much of today’s short-sighted modern film curriculum.

    The last time ALIAS THE DOCTOR was run on TCM was during an October Karloff marathon a few years ago, even though Karloff DOESN’T appear, though apparently he’s included in some of the published cast lists (as the “autopsy surgeon”, actually played by Nigel de Brulier … in a somewhat Karloffian manner) and even so credited in the original New York Times review! I diligently recorded that TCM broadcast, though was somewhat annoyed by the fact they kept their TCM “bug” (that annoying intrusion which appears on the lower corner at regular intervals) on view for much of the movie. Was very glad Warner Archive decided to put it on their release schedule … last month, it was part of a very pleasing “Ripped from the Headlines” value pack which included all the early 30’s titles which Dave K mentioned (along with Curtiz’ BLACK FURY), though apparently a short-lived offer as it has now been removed from their website.

    Ann Dvorak also appears in HEAT LIGHTNING, and is quite the best thing in it, an above-average Mervyn LeRoy gangsters-in-the-desert piece somewhat anticipating PETRIFIED FOREST, and sporting some great dialogue which, alas, isn’t sustained for the entire film. Dvorak is even better in LeRoy’s THREE ON A MATCH, somehow managing to steal the limelight from Davis, Bogart and Blondell, available on DVD in the second Forbidden Hollywood set. The only liability in that film was the rather obnoxious young actor who played her son … reportedly Dvorak took action against Warners when she found out that HE was making the same salary she was! Dvorak, incidentally, spent her last years in Hawaii, where she was occasionally seen attending film retrospectives at the local museum (another retiree, Dorothy Mackaill, somewhat more visible in those days, liked to attend screenings of early films as well).

  • A friend on Facebook informed me (sorry if it’s old news) that a handful of Minnelli films are coming to DVD for the first time, thanks to the Warner Archive: TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN (a masterpiece), TEA AND SYMPATHY, THE COBWEB, and THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    I’m a big fan of Heat Lightning which is far closer to Robert Bresson than most of the rest of his ouevre. (Seriously – for LeRoy and Warners at that time it is quite a contemplative film). Aline MacMahon is also really standout in it, along with Ruth Donnelly, Glenda Farrell, Jane Darwell, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot, Frank McHugh and Edgar Kennedy, all jammed into 64 minutes.

  • Barry Putterman

    Well you know Tom everything is relative. Sarris opened his entry on George Sidney with “Alongside Sidney, Le Roy looks like a Bressonian director.” So, possibly within the Le Roy ouevre, alongside HARD TO HANDLE, HEAT LIGHTNING looks even more Bressonian.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Just looked that up – you are right, he did say that.

    I saw Heat Lightning at Film Forum some years ago, and used the line at the time, totally unrelated to Sarris, though maybe it was lodged somewhere in the deeper recesses of my vortex.

  • Blake Lucas

    “THE CROWD ROARS I saw once many years ago, at what was then called TNT, and it’s that rare thing, a film by Hawks I didn’t like. But I’d like to see it again.”

    Likely you saw the rereleased version–70 minutes–which seems to be the only one easy to see now. It’s that one that TCM runs. In an 85 minute film (its original length), 15 minutes can be a lot, especially with a director who strongly tends to make every scene count.

    So while unlike you I did like the film the first time (same rerelease version), I wasn’t as impressed with it as I am now. One single time in all these years–and it’s a long time now–the full version surfaced and it really knocked me out.

    If memory served, much of what was cut was at or near the beginning, including the introduction of Ann Dvorak and went a long way toward establishing her relationship with Cagney and his neurotic attitudes toward women. I wish I remembered all this better–anyone else here seen it?

    I rate the film based on that version, and can’t understand why with a director of his rank, something hasn’t been done to restore it and make it the available version.

    Hawks wrote the original story for this, as with his other car racing drama, RED LINE 7000, which has affinities in the sexual puritanism of a principal male character.

  • D. K. Holm

    Speaking of Borzage I just watched Moonrise for the first time via NetFlix streaming video the other day. I wanted to definitely stop mixing it up with Moonfleet and NIghtfall. In any case, what a strange psychological profile, a variation on In a Lonely Place in its way. Dane Clark is an ur-Paul Rudd, and I was fascinated by the benevolence of the town sherif. That God-like figure seemed new to Borzage’s films, at least as much as I know them. The subject matter also seemed like the kind of material that King Vidor would have also done, but made more frenzied or neurotic, or Socially Darwinistic. The film also feels like a chamber piece, with its small cast and totally studio bound exteriors. The soda fountain sequences also reminded me of Best Years of Our Lives, and what a strange small town, with its bebopping soda jerks, jazz singers, and spoiled rich brats cruisin’ for a comeuppance.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Duplicate post – meant to post this here –

    Here is tonight’s schedule for the TCM Screen Directors’ Playhouse, full of lots of interesting nuggets (I’ve seen the Ford, which is pretty amazing on a number of levels)

    The times listed are Pacific, so add 3 hours for ET:

    5:00pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Tom and Jerry (1955)
    A priest tries to save a marriage that appears to be headed for the rocks in time for Christmas.
    Cast: Peter Lawford, Frank Fay, Marie Windsor. Dir: Leo McCarey. BW-25 mins
    5:30pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Rookie Of The Year (1955)
    A sportswriter recognizes a young ballplayer as the son of former baseball hero who was banned for throwing a game.
    Cast: John Wayne, Vera Miles, Ward Bond. Dir: John Ford. BW-26 mins
    6:00pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Lincoln”s Doctor’s Dog (1955)
    During the dark days of the Civil War, a doctor gives President Lincoln a puppy to buoy his spirits.
    Cast: Robert Ryan, Charles Bickford. Dir: H.C. Potter. BW-26 mins
    6:30pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Silent Partner, The (1955)
    A once-famous comedy star drowns his sorrows in a bar.
    Cast: Buster Keaton, Zasu Pitts, Joe E. Brown. Dir: George Marshall. BW-26 mins
    7:00pm Screen Directors Playhouse: No. 5 Checked Out (1956)
    A young deaf women confronts desperate crooks who are using one of her remote resort cabins for a hideout.
    Cast: Peter Lorre, Teresa Wright. Dir: Ida Lupino. BW-25 mins
    7:30pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Prima Donna (1956)
    A teenager with outstanding vocal talent would rather play baseball than develop his singing skills.
    Cast: MacDonald, Laraine Day, Jane Darwell. Dir: David Butler. BW-25 mins
    8:00pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Sword Of Villon, The (1956)
    The swashbuckling poet Francois Villon fights for love and liberty.
    Cast: Errol Flynn, Hillary Brooke, Pamela Duncan. Dir: George Waggner. BW-26 mins
    8:30pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Markheim (1956)
    Another episode of the Screen Directors Playhouse, which ran from 1955-1956.
    Cast: Ray Milland, Rod Steiger. Dir: Fred Zinnemann. BW-26 mins
    9:00pm Screen Directors Playhouse: Claire (1956)
    A doctor’s bride is haunted by guilt over the death of his first wife.
    Cast: George Montgomery, Angela Lansbury, Jean Willes. Dir: Frank Tuttle. BW-26 mins
    9:30pm Screen Directors Playhouse: High Air (1956)
    Father and son must reconcile to deal with a tunnel disaster.
    Cast: William Bendix, Dennis Hopper, John Alderson. Dir: Allan Dwan. BW-26 mins

  • dan

    D.K. – MOONRISE is to me the greatest of Borzage’s late period. The scene at the playground rollercoaster is one of the most beautiful he ever directed. The moment he slowly tilts the camera away from Dane Clark and Ethel Barrymore’s faces down to their hands is, in a way,the summation of what make a film “a Borzage creation”.
    Your IN A LONELY PLACE comparison seems right. But also YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE and – by judging mainly the shadow play and thematic ideas of the opening scenes – NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.

  • D. K. Holm

    I wonder if Kazan borrowed from or was inspired by the ferris wheel sequence, which is amazing, for East of Eden.

  • Blake, I’m pretty sure I saw the short version, and I would very much like to see the full version. 15 minutes are a lot, no question about that.

    MOONRISE must be one of the most loved unknown films. It is indeed magnificent, and yet very few outside these walls have probably heard about it.

  • For anyone interested, Nicolas Saada’s (the forum contributor) full-length feature film “Espion(s)” is available to be seen online at the My French Film Festival (Jan. 14th-29th). Here is the url, http://www.myfrenchfilmfestival.com/en/movie?movie=6.

    When I try to access the film, it says “The film you are trying to watch does not have the broadcast rights in your country.” If anyone knows how to get around this, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • jbryant

    “[Dvorak] was married to Leslie Fenton–and I really don’t know what to say about that.”

    Me either, except that I’ve seen STRONGER THAN DESIRE, Fenton’s 1939 remake of EVELYN PRENTICE, starring Walter Pidgeon, Virginia Bruce and Dvorak, intense in an underdeveloped role. I watched primarily because one of the screenwriters was David Hertz, and while the film is fairly adult and some of the dialogue distinctive, it’s no DAISY KENYON.

    Other Dvorak roles about which there are “good things to say,” as Blake put it, are in THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI and OUT OF THE BLUE, an Eagle-Lion screwball farce, in which Dvorak plays a tippler with a heart condition and is continuously mistaken for dead.

    It’s also worth noting that she recently made that TCM list of 10 Great Overlooked Performances for A LIFE OF HER OWN.

  • Alex Hicks

    I’ll second that these “Screen Directors Playhouse” 26 minute yarns are worth checking out. The Leo McCarey kick-off is OK. John Ford’s “Rookie Of The Year” (1955) with John Wayne, Vera Miles and Ward Bond is terrific fun, a nice play on the then ascending Micky Mantle mystic (concurrently packing them in at the 46th Street Theatre). In it the wild man is the Kid’s father and the Kid’s all clean cut. I suppose “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” (In this case, the Mantle legend in the mid-1950s before its protagonist’s afterhour shananigans had become common knowledge and word had leaked out that the Mick was reading to the boys out of “Tropic of Cancer” from the back of the bus.)

    The H. C. Potter episode doesn’t look too swift, but Robert Ryan as Abe Lincoln is a gas; and there are about a half dozen more little productions to come.

  • jbryant

    I just saw the last half of George Marshall’s entry, THE SILENT PARTNER, with Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Zasu Pitts and…wait for it…Percy Helton! Fun stuff.

    The Ida Lupino, NO. 5 CHECKED OUT, was excellent and moving, beautifully directed, with a superb cast (Teresa Wright, Peter Lorre, William Talman, Ralph Moody).

    The David Butler, PRIMA DONNA, was silly but enjoyable, with Laraine Day and hubby Leo Durocher playing themselves as the parents of a young teen boy being groomed for opera stardom by Jeanette MacDonald.

    All of those I watched as they aired; the others are in the DVR (though I think I missed one or two). Particularly excited about the McCarey and Ford.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    The Silent Partner was very nice; I suspect Keaton contributed to much of the “business” in the story (not that Marshall did have experience with physical comedy).

    I too am skipping around; saw the final one, High Air (Allan Dwan), featuring a mid-1950s father/son story with William Bendix and an impossibly beautiful Dennis Hopper working together below the Hudson River; nicely done all around.

    They end all these with previews of the next week’s offering, though these aren’t what they show – the one at the end of this had Frank Borzage “directing” his actors by acting out their roles.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    David D.: where are you located?

    I clicked on the url of myfrenchfilmfestival and accessed the site. I clicked on the movie’s icon and the movie was sent to “my basket” (there’s a fee of two dollars and some cents). That was step one, without any mention of broadcast rights. However, when I clicked on step 2 (“Identification”)nothing happened. I couldn’t figure out what else to do. The site is not exactly user-friendly…

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    D.K. Holm: Naive questions: when you watch a film streaming from Netflix, do you watch it on a computer monitor or on a TV screen? (not on a telephone screen, I hope!) I hate watching films on my computer. To get streaming on TV you need to connect a special appliance, right? Something like the ROKU XD Netflix publicizes on its sleeves?

  • Jean-Pierre, I live in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

    I even tried to sign-up and create an account to then be able to browse through the website. After I signed up, it prompted that I will have have to activate the account via e-mail. And when I got the e-mail, and I thought I activated it, it is still telling me that my account has yet to be activated. I agree, the site is not exactly user-friendly.

  • David – if you strike out Espion(s)is available on DVD for rent at Toronto’s Queen video.

    Jean-Pierre- the short answer is yes – to get streaming on TV you do need to connect a special appliance. Many use video game systems. I use my kids Nintendo Wii.

  • skelly, Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea the film was out on video, and, at that, already available in Canada.

  • NetFlix Streaming I watched the film on my computer monitor, within a web browser, but there is a way to steam movies to a television. That is an option offered to the consumer, but I don’t know any more than that – as I don’t own a television.

  • david hare

    Jean-PIerre, web streaming to your TV screen is starting to become a feature provided by some of the newest Blu-Ray players, along with other jollities such as 3D capability. My own experience of the local (Oz) servcies is that quality is quite impressive, even extending to HD resolution, but no yet sufficient choice of material here at least.

    As I’m not a resident of North America I can only refer you to electronics retailers like amazon.com for a range of players that have web streaming/wifi capability. Over this neck of the woods some players that do are Panasonic, Sony, LG and the estimable Oppo (A fabulous high quality player overall!) I think these are probably worth buying (if you are in the market for an upgrade) based on Netflix capability alone. Certainly I think that streaming by Pay per view or subscription, and downloading are increasingly supplementing if not yet taking over from shiny silver discs.

  • From Headquarters (William Dieterle, 1933) is a remarkably complete and pioneering look at scientific crime detection. It anticipates the many semi-documentaries about police work that would be made starting in the late 1940’s. It has a look at Hollerith machines being used to search through police databases of criminals. It shows police radio dispatch and phone rooms, the center of police communications. It goes to the police lab, with a thorough guide to ballistics analysis. And we see a sociological study of a large police station as well, and the many different types of people who interact there.

    The FBI will use punched cards and Hollerith machines to identify a suspect by his fingerprints in William Keighley’s “The Street With No Name” (1948). In Anthony Mann’s “He Walked By Night” (1948), the LAPD use similar machines to identify criminals by their modus operandi. Hollerith machines are used to search out bank robbers in From Headquarters, an approach identical to Mann’s film. The police also find criminals with certain fingerprints in their files in From Headquarters, but we do not see the mechanism they use in that search.

    From Headquarters was made two years after Fritz Lang’s M (1931), which also was an early look at scientific police work.

    American prose mystery novels that showed scientific detection and police procedure in the early 1930’s also tended to be about the New York City homicide squad, such as those by Anthony Abbot and Helen Reilly. Reilly’s “McKee of Centre Street” (1933) will depict the radio room at police headquarters; we see radio dispatches in From Headquarters. Mary Roberts Rinehart will depict police radio cars in her short story “That Is All” (1932); the police radio dispatcher in From Headquarters will use the standard phrase “That Is All” to conclude each radio message.

    From Headquarters resembles William Dieterle’s “Elephant Walk” in that it focuses on one large building, and the complex organization that takes place inside. Both films show a crisis in the building as a finale: the alarm at the police station, the elephants at the bungalow. The mansion in William Dieterle’s “Fog over Frisco” also has a complex layout, with a basement garage and an elevator, and high tech internal organization, with a house telephone and safe.

  • Mike, that was a interesting historic snapshot of scientific police procedures. I want to watch FROM HEADQUARTERS now! Do you know anything about early films with a focus on forensics and the body, as is now so popular on TV?

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Supposedly sometime soon TiVo is going to have a box that will stream Netflix films as well as the rest of its services; not sure how accessible other streaming providers will be to that though.

  • Fredrik,

    Impression: films about forensics used to be very rare.
    Mystery Street (John Sturges, 1950) has Harvard pathologists reconstructing information from a victim’s skeleton.
    I’ve read the Dr. Coffee stories by Lawrence G. Blochman, about a pathologist (they’re very good). Have never seen the TV series based on them, “Diagnosis: Unknown” (1960). This was a summer replacement series.

    The Penguin Pool Murder (George Archainbaud, 1932) has the tiniest bit of forensics in it.

    A few mystery movies were set in hospitals:
    The Patient in Room 18 (Bobby Connolly, Crane Wilbur, 1938)
    Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliat, 1946)
    These were based on well known mystery novels, by Mignon G. Eberhart and Christianna Brand respectively. Don’t recall much forensics.

    I admire forensics specialists in real life. They do a great deal of good.
    But as a person with a weak stomach, I don’t really enjoy this as screen entertainment.
    Recently saw 3 episodes of the new Canadian crime drama, “Murdoch Mysteries” on DVD. It was OK. But every 5 minutes they took a detour to the autopsy room…

  • jbryant

    Got an LG HDTV recently, and stream Netflix directly to it from the Internet. Doesn’t have to go through the Blu-Ray. Before that, we did it through the Wii, but this is much more convenient.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Mike, for forensics in modern crime drama TV you can’t beat the amazing CSI: MIAMI, which started in 2001 I think. I can’t promise your stomach will take it though.

    jbryant: pardon my ignorance, I have HD but I don’t know what LG stands for.

  • Also, Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’. As well as a detailed depiction of forensic procedures, its influence on / inspiration for William Petersen’s character in ‘CSI’ is immediately apparent.

  • Mike, thanks for that. I’ve been wanting to watch MYSTERY STREET for a long time, partly because of John Alton’s contributions.

    Oliver, MANHUNTER is very much a favourite. As stylish as it is scary.

  • jbryant

    jean-pierre: LG is just the brand name of the TV. I think most newer HD sets have built-in Internet capability that makes the whole instant streaming thing a piece of cake.

    Haven’t seen much of CSI: Miami, but the original CSI occasionally scores an interesting guest director, notably Quentin Tarantino’s excellent two-parter from a few seasons ago. I think William Friedkin has directed two episodes as well.

  • In addition to crime films with brief forensics, such as PANIC IN THE STREETS (Kazan), there are also some old non-crime medical dramas. Much of THE YOUNG DOCTORS (Phil Karlson, 1961) takes place in a hospital pathology laboratory, for instance. Warning: this is the grimmest and least entertaining Karlson film I’ve ever seen. It’s a downer.

    By contrast, MYSTERY STREET is pleasant entertainment. It might not be deeply personal art, but it’s a well-crafted evening of story telling. Last time I looked, it was available for streaming on Netflix.

  • Steve Elworth

    I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned that Warners Archive is releasing four more scope Minnellis, TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN, THE COBWEB, THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE AND TEA AND SYMPATHY. It is about time.

  • Arthur S.

    THE COBWEB is Minnelli’s first film in ‘Scope and a masterpiece. One of the many asylum-centered films which inform Scorsese’s SHUTTER ISLAND. It also has the best cast and most complex characters in Minnelli’s films.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Steve, the release of the Minnellis is good news indeed, but those four films have been around quite a bit on TV in correct aspect ratio, at least on TCM, where most if not all of them have been shown more than once, so it’s not exactly as if Warners Archive had dug out from the vaults some long-inaccessible treasure.

    Both TWO WEEKS and THE COBWEB are masterpieces, and I like TEA AND SYMPATHY no matter what. I haven’t seen RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE in a long time because I didn’t like it much the first time around. The Warners release is a good opportunity to have another look at it.

  • Griff

    Mike, I’ll allow that THE YOUNG DOCTORS, Karlson’s film version of Hailey’s THE FINAL DIAGNOSIS, is a pretty dark, unrelenting picture — definitely a downer — as far as hospital melodramas go… but is it really grimmer than Karlson’s THE PHENIX CITY STORY?

  • jbryant

    I won’t make any great claims for THE YOUNG DOCTORS, but it’s got late-career Fredric March, always a good thing. As for THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE, it’s intermittently delightful, but you know the material’s slight when an interesting shade of yellow threatens to pull your attention away from the luminous Kay Kendall. I guess that’s also how you know it’s Minnelli.

  • I did grab 30 minutes last night to watch McCarey’s “Screen Directors Playouse” episode, “Tom and Jerry,” which is like a digest of McCarey’s principal themes and favorite images – right down to that wonderful conflation of song and prayer – music always has a miraculous, transformative effect on his characters, as when Peter Lawford is listening to the (self consciously?) corny barbershop quartet, and our strongest clue that Marie Windsor isn’t a suitable match for him is that she seems to be tone deaf. Poor Lawford seems to be playing a role written for Cary Grant, and there’s a lot he can’t handle (the falling down the stairs stuff mainly, which Grant, the former acrobat, would have executed with humor and aplomb), but the whole thing is quite remarkable, almost a test run for “An Affair to Remember.” And McCarey looks so young and healthy! hard to believe he’d only make three more features after that.