Before ascending to the director’s chair, Mitchell Leisen began his Hollywood career as a costume designer and art director, even earning his lone Oscar nomination for his work on Cecil B. DeMille’s Dynamite (1929). When Paramount Pictures handed him his first directorial assignment Cradle Song (1933), he soon became the studio’s go-to director for glossy melodramas and screwball comedies for the rest of the 1930’s and 1940’s. One of his best efforts during this period was Arise, My Love, which hemmed to the romantic comedy while offering the first hints of Hollywood patriotism that was to come shortly after. Previously released on Region B DVD, Kino has made the movie available on Blu-ray for its US home video debut.
The Production: 4/5
Before the firing squad ends his life for opposing Franco and his fascists in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, American pilot and soldier of fortune Tom Martin (Ray Milland) is rescued by reporter Augusta “Gusto” Nash (Claudette Colbert) by her posing as his wife and getting a pardon for him; they barely escape when their deception is uncovered. When the two arrive in Paris, Tom tries his best to woo Gusto, but his efforts are rebuffed at each turn. However, when Gusto is sent to Berlin at the outbreak of WWII, Tom follows her and their love truly blossoms amidst the world crumbling around them…
Arise, My Love – which takes it’s name from a passage in the Song of Songs in the Old Testament – is a fun and diverting little romantic comedy known as one of the earliest movies prior to America’s entry into WWII to advocate for intervention in the conflict. As filming progressed, the script (penned by the great team of Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder) had to be updated to reflect new events – such as the sinking of S.S. Athenia, which is featured at a key point in the movie – yet maintaining the heart of the Oscar winning story by Benjamin Glazer and Hans Székely (credited here under the nom de plume John S. Toldy). And under the direction of Mitchell Leisen, the adventures, light comedy and romance barely lags with each twist and turn the script throws in the cast’s direction; true to his roots in production design, Leisen was able to get Hans Dreier and Robert Usher to recreate the famed Parisian restaurant Maxim’s exactly on the Paramount stage – Dreier and Usher would receive Oscar nods for their work here as well. All in all, Arise, My Love is a great work for a brilliant and underrated director who was at his best in creating polished romances and comedies like this one.
Given one of his best roles – one which he would reprise in radio adaptations twice – prior to his Oscar winning turn in The Lost Weekend (1945), Ray Milland is delightful as the pilot who gets caught up in the tailwinds of romance; his character was based off of Harold Edward Dahl, a pilot in the Spanish Civil War whose own fate – show down, taken as a prisoner of war and sentenced to death until his wife successfully pled for his life amidst diplomatic efforts – mirrored that of Tom Martin here. Claudette Colbert – who later admitted that this was her favorite movie out of all she appeared in – is at her best as the driven Gusto Nash, whose devotion to work takes an unexpected detour when she falls in love with Tom; her character has been reputedly based off of the great war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. In a scene stealing part, Walter Abel has one of his best roles as Gusto’s boss Mr. Phillips; he even has the movie’s best line: “I’m not happy, I’m not happy at all!” Standouts among the supporting cast here as George Zucco as the Spanish prison governor fooled by both Tom and Gusto, Frank Puglia as the prison’s priest Father Jacinto, Esther Dale as Susie, the secretary to Mr. Phillips, Stanley Logan as the RAF colonel and Dennis O’Keefe and Dick Purcell as Tom’s friends who later join up in the fight against the Nazis.
3D Rating: NA
The film is presented in its original 1:37:1 aspect ratio for this release. Film grain is organic, with fine details and gray scale faithfully represented with minimal instances of scratches, tears, dirt or dust present. Overall, this is likely the best the movie will ever look on home video.
The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue is strong and clear, with both the sound mix and Victor Young’s Oscar nominated score also given a faithful representation as well. There’s little to no instances of issues like distortion, crackling, popping or hissing present, which means that this is likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video.
Special Features: 3/5
Commentary by film historian Kat Ellinger – Recorded for this release, Ellinger offers up a compelling case on why Mitchell Leisen is such an underrated director along with other details on the production and some of the real life parallels presented here.
Theatrical Trailer (1:45)
Bonus KLSC Trailers – The Sign of the Cross, Four Frightened People, The Gilded Lily, The Bride Comes Come, Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, No Time for Love, Since You Went Away, Thunder on the Hill, The Lost Weekend, So Evil My Love, Alias Nick Beal & I’m No Angel
Although some critics wer put off by the topicality of having a romantic comedy set against the looming WWII, Arise, My Love was – and still is – an enjoyable adventure of comedy and romance bouyed by its two stars and its underrated director. Kino has done it again with this release, offering up another solid HD transfer with a very good commentary track to go with it. Very highly recommended.
Amazon.com: Arise, My Love [Blu-ray] : Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland, Dennis O’Keefe, Walter Abel, Dick Purcell, George Zucco, Frank Puglia, Esther Dale, Paul Leyssac, Ann Codee, Mitchell Leisen: Movies & TV
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