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Cary Grant: The Complete Filmography - Watching All Of His Movies (1 Viewer)

Josh Steinberg

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I know it's impossible to prove, but I'd guess that he might not have been "Cary Grant" if he stayed. On one hand, Wedding Present came at the end of his Paramount tenure and was the closest he got to it. On the other hand, twenty pictures over four years at Paramount and they still couldn't figure out how to best use him?
 

FanCollector

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I agree with you. It obviously worked well for a lot of stars, but the studio just didn't know how to use Grant to his best advantage. Do you think he might have fared better at another studio? It's so hard to know how much was just the luck of which studio executives were making the decisions at that particular moment.

(Incidentally, congratulations on your forthcoming marriage, Josh. Your post above about seeing Nelson refer to your fiancée as your wife was lovely.)
 

Josh Steinberg

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I think Columbia pairing him with Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth was huge - he apparently was uncomfortable at the beginning and tried to get out of doing the movie, but Harry Cohn wouldn't let him out. And he first paired with Howard Hawks at Columbia, also huge. But it was probably The Awful Truth that gave that best first example on how a Cary Grant movie could almost be a genre unto itself. Once studios saw an example of how to use him, nearly all of them did.
 

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And thank you everyone for the kind words and well wishes. It's an exciting time. I wish I had a little more of Grant's physical grace for the first dance - that's at least one moment where I think she'd rightfully take him over me.
 

Matt Hough

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After getting a taste for the studio system, it's clear that Grant wanted more independence. And he also wanted the ability to craft his own cinematic persona. Having made a lot of important contacts during his contract days enabled him to proceed on his own with some confidence (his looks and acting ability didn't hurt either.) One has to say that "Cary Grant" was his masterpiece.
 

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#59 - Suzy (1936)
Viewed on August 22nd, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD-R (Warner Archive)

Suzy is a 1936 drama by MGM starring Jean Harlow and set at the beginning of World War I. Harlow plays the title character, an American showgirl in London who falls in love with an Irish engineer (played by Franchot Tone). After accidentally stumbling on German spies, Tone is shot in front of Harlow, and she flees the scene, believing him to be dead and wrongly suspected by the housekeeper of being the murderer. Arriving in Paris, Suzy resumes working at a cabaret, where she eventually meets a famous French ace pilot (Cary Grant). They quickly marry, but as the war heats up, Harlow discovers that Tone is still alive.

I have to confess that I was a little disappointed by Suzy, for reasons that may not be the fault of the film. This is a very hard film to find. Warner Archive only offers it as part of their Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary collection (a seven movie set), and not as a standalone; further, it's not available for rental on any of the streaming services. At this point, I'm committed to seeing all of the Grant movies, so investing $50 in a set for one movie was going to happen regardless of how I felt about it. (And the set includes some other movies that sound interesting to me, so I expect it will have been worth it in the end.) But after all of that hassle, I was hoping for something truly special. Instead, it's just another movie where Cary Grant is playing second fiddle, the replacement suitor. This was an MGM film but I think it was made during his Paramount contract as a loan-out (if anyone knows for sure, please let us know!) - and it has all of the hallmarks of one of the Paramount films in that there's not much vision to his usage. He plays his part well, but it's never his picture. Jean Harlow is great and a joy to watch onscreen. Franchot Tone is also good in his role as Harlow's first husband. There's nothing groundbreaking in the story or the direction; the actors are what make this enjoyable. I will say that the production values on this MGM film exceed those of the contract pictures he was doing at Paramount at the same time.

The quality of this DVD-R leaves something to be desired. As with many of the Warner Archive titles I previously reviewed, this one has not been remastered, and is taken from an older transfer. The picture is often washed out and lacking in detail. It's adequate, but no more. The audio is clear though not particularly vivid. There are no subtitles on this disc. A brief audio-only bonus feature is included; it's a radio promo for MGM from the time this film came out.

As a Cary Grant film, Suzy is disappointing, but as a Jean Harlow vehicle, it's a well-made if not particularly inventive drama. The leads are all appealing and, combined with the production values, manage to overcome a more paint-by-numbers script. The disc from Warner Archive is not available as an individual purchase and is not a particularly good looking one. Separate from the hassle of purchasing it, it's worth seeing if you like the leads, but I would be hesitant to recommend it as a blind buy given the ancient transfer and higher cost of the box set.
 

Matt Hough

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Jean Harlow, who couldn't sing, was dubbed by Eadie Adams (not to be confused with later star Edie Adams) in this movie. Earlier, Virginia Verrill had provided her singing voice in things like Reckless.

I've only seen Suzy once on TCM, and that was years ago. I must remember to record it the next time it comes around.
 

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#60 - The Toast Of New York (1937)
Viewed on August 23rd, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD-R (Warner Archive)

Released by RKO Pictures in 1937, The Toast Of New York is a fictionalized account of Jim Fisk, a corrupt banker from the post-Civil War era. Edward Arnold plays Fisk, and Cary Grant co-stars as his partner. Jack Oakie plays a supporting role as their assistant, and Frances Farmer is the woman who interests both men, marrying one while secretly pining for the other. It's essentially a movie about scoundrels. For me, movies about scoundrels work best when they're fun, and if I have one complaint about this movie, it's not enough fun. It's often dramatically inert, with weird pacing that doesn't serve the story. Despite the film's shortcomings, the work by Arnold, Oakie, Farmer and Grant is uniformly great and are the reasons to see this movie.

Finally finished with his Paramount contract, Grant is not yet the lead, but his co-star status gives him more to do than he had in many of the Paramount films. As Arnold's partner, he's there from the beginning, and the film's greatest strength is the friendship between the two, which frays when Grant becomes concerned that Arnold's greed has gone too far. Grant has more to do here and he does it with more swagger; this film is a big step in a right direction towards putting the persona together. Key parts of that screen personality are present here, and the movie is at its most vibrant when he's onscreen. Oakie is also fantastic. Because Arnold's character is less sympathetic, he has fewer moments to get the audience on his side, but he does play his role well.

The disc from Warner Archive is decent. The picture isn't sharp, but is less washed out than in Suzy. It's certainly watchable, but not pretty. The audio is dull for lack of a better word, and it's not always easy to understand every word being spoken. (Turning up the volume helped, and I only had to rewind a line of dialogue once or twice, but compared to other Warner Archive discs from around this period, the audio seemed lacking.) English subtitles are not provided.

The Toast Of The Town is a well-made if not particularly great drama, notable more for its acting than its storytelling. The biggest treasure here is seeing Grant starting to step out of the constraints of his Paramount roles, delivering a weightier performance than he often had the chance to at Paramount. Still, it's hard to recommend as a full priced blind buy, but if you can catch it during one of Warner Archive's infrequent sales and appreciate historical drama, it may be worth a look.
 

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#61 - In Name Only (1939)
Viewed on August 24th, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD-R (Warner Archive)

Cary Grant stars with Carole Lombard and Kay Francis in the 1939 RKO Production In Name Only. A romantic melodrama about a man (Grant) trapped in a loveless marriage (to Francis) while falling for another woman (Lombard), it's an unusual entry in the Grant filmography. Though Grant is sympathetic, it's strange to see him as a man trapped by a powerful and vengeful woman. He has scenes with Lombard where he's the charming Grant, and then comes under Francis's thumb in the following moments. It's the opposite of a love triangle, with Lombard and Grant desperately trying to escape Francis. Lombard is appealing in a role originally intended for Katharine Hepburn. Francis is appropriately unappealing in an entirely unsympathetic role. And Peggy Ann Garner is adorable as Lombard's young daughter.

When the movie begins, we see Grant meeting and flirting with Lombard, a new neighbor and young widow in his idyllic country town. Only after several picnic lunches with Lombard and her young daughter do we find out that Grant is actually married to Francis. It's a loveless marriage; she confesses early in the film that she left her true love (who committed suicide in the wake of her rejection) to pursue Grant for his wealth and family's social status. Grant wants a divorce, but she instead chooses to punish him for his newfound happiness by denying it to him. If Grant tries to leave Francis, she threatens to expose his adultery, taking his money and publicly shaming Lombard. For a while, Francis leads Grant to believe she will finally let him go, but as Lombard realizes that Francis will never let him go, their relationship suffers.

The disc from Warner Archive features an older transfer, but a good looking one. Both the picture and audio are generally clean and clear, with only occasional blemishes that don't detract from the overall experience. There are no subtitles or bonus features on the disc. It's one of the more solid older transfers from Warner Archive.

Grant, Lombard and Francis all deliver great performances in a film that's more admirable than entertaining. There are moments where Grant and Lombard get to bring some lightness to the screen, but for the most part, the film is a (well-made) downer. It's an interesting choice for Grant, sandwiched between Only Angels Have Wings and His Girl Friday, and also following Gunga Din, Holiday, Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth. He had finally established himself and persona and discovered the best types of films to showcase that. Coming in the wake of those films, this seems more of an attempt to play against those expectations rather than trying to meet them. It's an interesting film, but I would recommend it more for a rental than a purchase.
 

Robin9

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I like In Name Only a lot. Grant and Lombard are two special favorites of mine but it's not only that. I think it's a strong story. Part of it, where Grant is near to death at Christmas, was "borrowed" and reworked by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond in The Apartment which also "borrows" from People Will Talk, another Cary Grant film.
 

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Despite the film's shortcomings, the work by Arnold, Oakie, Farmer and Grant is uniformly great and are the reasons to see this movie.

I agree.

I haven't seen this film for at least 20 years but I remember enjoying it a lot. It makes clear that Frances Farmer's problems deprived us of someone a bit special. She and Edward Arnold also worked together in Come And Get It.
 

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Having finished everything on the 18-movie Cary Grant Vault Collection (with the exception of This Is The Night), I thought it was as good of a time as any to reflect on that set as a whole.

As a refresher, the set contains 18 Cary Grant movies spread over six discs. Three discs have been designated as comedy, and the other three as drama; they're contained in two amaray cases within a slipcase.

In the comedy set:
1. This Is The Night
2. She Done Him Wrong
3. I'm No Angel
4. Thirty Day Princess
5. Kiss And Make-Up
6. Ladies Should Listen
7. Enter Madame
8. Big Brown Eyes
9. Wedding Present

In the drama set:
1. Devil And The Deep
2. Blonde Venus
3. Hot Saturday
4. Madame Butterfly
5. The Woman Accused
6. The Eagle And The Hawk
7. Gambling Ship
8. Wings In The Dark
9. The Last Outpost

Overall, it's a good set that could have been a great one with just a little bit more effort from Universal. Let me get the flaws out of the way quickly. The biggest one is the audio hum which is present on multiple titles within the set (it probably affects at least half of the titles). Initially, I thought that this was simply due to the age and condition of the film elements, especially because I first noticed it on Ladies Should Listen, which had not been released on home video or DVD prior to this collection. However, as I went through the set, the hum kept appearing on other titles, including some of the previously released ones. From reports I've read here at HTF, it appears that the transfers for the previously released titles are visually identical between older releases and this current set, but that the audio was fine on the previous version. GIven how constant the audio issue is (that is, that it's a stready presence and doesn't change in frequency or intensity to match any visual damage in the picture), I am pretty convinced this was a mastering error on Universal's part when making these specific discs. I've attempted to contact them via their official website and by their official Facebook page, but unfortunately, I have not gotten a response. If anyone has a way of reaching out to Universal that I haven't thought of, please feel free to alert them to this issue. If Universal does eventually respond to my letter about the set, I will update this post.

The audio hum is by far the biggest flaw, but I would also like to point out the omission of certain Paramount titles under Universal's control that could potentially have been included in this release. Since this essentially a set of Cary Grant's Paramount contract films, I wish Universal had gone the extra mile and included them all. Missing from this set are: Sinners In The Sun, Merrily We Go To Hell, and Alice In Wonderland (1933). Alice In Wonderland is available as a barebones standalone DVD. Merrily We Go To Hell is available as a standalone MOD DVD-R, or on a pressed DVD as part of Universal's "Pre-Code Hollywood Collection". Sinners In The Sun has never received an official home video release in any format. Although adding the three additional titles would have added an extra disc to the set and broken up the symmetry of three discs for comedy and three discs for drama, I think it would have been a worthwhile addition. At the least, I wish they would have dropped out something that was already on DVD (perhaps Hot Saturday, since it's also on the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection) so that Sinners In The Sun could have been included.

Now, on to the good, and there is a lot to like here. The audio hum, while being annoying, is generally easy to ignore after a couple minutes on most of the titles, and they were all at the very least watchable. The worst thing here is still of higher quality than the average Warner Archive disc. Most of these transfers appear to be relatively new transfers of unrestored elements, rather than older transfers. Visually, these films all exceeded my expectations for presentation, some by a little, some by a lot.

The comedy/drama designations between the films in the set seemed unnecessary and inaccurate. At first, I was picking titles to watch based on whether I felt like a drama or a comedy, but before long, I started finding that titles included in the comedy set weren't necessarily true comedies, but dramas that had moments of levity. This isn't really a complaint against the films, but I think it's fair to say that I approached a few of these titles with different expectations because I was expecting something different than what was delivered. (I'd argue, for instance, that Enter Madame was not a comedy. Kiss And Make-Up and Ladies Should Listen seemed equal parts melodrama and comedy, etc.)

For me, the biggest surprises in the set were Wedding Present, The Woman Accused and The Last Outpost. Wedding Present was an absolutely delightful screwball comedy that comes as close to anything here as being a "Cary Grant movie". The Woman Accused ended up being delightfully tense with a hint of Hitchcock, and though Grant isn't the lead, he's given plenty to do. The Last Outpost puts Grant together with Claude Rains in a war adventure movie, a pairing that's not to be missed. Though Grant was hardly in them, Devil And The Deep and Blonde Venus were better than I expected. Devil has an amazing early performance from Charles Laughton; Blonde Venus has Deitrich and excellent direction from Josef von Sternberg. They're not "Cary Grant movies" by any stretch, but they're well-made films of their time worth a look. Though it wasn't included in this set, Merrily We Go To Hell was a really made film with wonderful performances - Grant is barely in it, but it's still worth a watch.

I was a little disappointed by some of the comedies - Kiss And Make-Up and Ladies Should Listen were enjoyable for what they were, but could have been better. I was a little underwhelmed by the Mae West movies; I appreciated them more than I enjoyed them, which now that I think about it, is where I usually come down on My Little Chickadee too. Changing social mores have left Hot Saturday a bit dated, and the use of yellowface in Madame Butterfly, so common at the time of its production, is a distraction today.

All in all, this set was a fascinating look at Cary Grant before he was "Cary Grant." He's always had the looks and the voice, but you can see him developing the confidence and swagger along the way. It's also interesting to see Grant playing roles different than ones he'd take later in his career, and seeing how some of them were much better fits than others. What's obvious to me though, even from the earliest films, is that Grant had "it" - that magically, undefinable quality that separates movie stars and legends from mere actors. Even more obvious (and more strange) is that this selection of films from Paramount practically proves that they did not notice that Grant had "it", or if they did notice, didn't know what to do about it. He's often used here as the attractive second fiddle, or as a pretty face without much depth to his characters. He's cast as a generic pretty face, and not as a movie star, and it is fascinating to see him finding his footing as he goes.

The Awful Truth is often acknowledged as the first movie where Cary Grant becomes Cary Grant, and I won't argue against that. But it's also worth noting some of the films that become more "transition" titles from what he was to what he would become - movies like Wedding Present show a version of Grant very close to the one we'd recognize today. Some other movies which fall outside of the Paramount contract, but which come before The Awful Truth, also show a more polished Grant in transition: The Amazing Adventure, Topper, The Toast Of New York.

Despite its flaws, I still recommend the Universal Vault Collection for 18 different looks at Cary Grant before he was a movie star.
 

Nelson Au

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Josh, I'm catching up with the thread, I was just in Taiwan on business the last four days. I'm trying to decide what to watch tonight. I checked your reviews for the last 5 or 6 pages because I'm curious about the hum you're hearing in the Vault collection. I must not have seen them and after looking at the titles you wrote about, I have not seen them.

Also, being Asian myself, I'm curious about Madame Butterfly. I saw your post earlier on the Charlie Chan thread. I've mostly avoided those films because of stereotyping in earlier films of that era of minority groups. But now a days I'm curious to see them out of historical interest. I'm glad in reading that Charlie Chan thread that the guy is presented as a positive character. I even saw the first 5 minutes of Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo on YouTube and thought I might buy a set or two and check it out. So Madame Butterfly will be one of the films I watch with interest for the racial regard. Growing up, in general, I've heard the Asian actors feel it unfair that Asian characters are portrayed by white actors. But it was interesting that Keye Luke was philosophical about it. He said that if the character is portrayed with integrity and not a stereotype, Why not. ( I'm paraphrasing) And it provides work for Asian actors too. ( I know Keye Luke more for Donald Cory and Kung Fu them Number One son. )

But back to the hum issue, I'm curious to see if I hear it too. Not sure if anyone else has heard it too. If they haven't and the titles that were released on stand alone discs don't have the hum, I wonder if your set is defective. Probably as you said, a mastering issue. And if that's the case, I hope it's recalled.

The titles that has the hiss after checking the thread:
Big Brown Eyes
The Woman Accused
Enter Madame
Wedding Present
Gambling Ship
Madame Butterfly- though that one is more about hiss then hum.

I might have missed a few. Wedding Present had one of your highest scored reviews, so I might check that one out first. Though I may check out a Roger Moore Bond film as a slight change of pace. I was reading Roger Moore's book My Word is My Bond on the plane to and from Taiwan. If Evenings With Cary Grant was an eBook, I would have read that instead.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Hi Nelson!

There are more titles with hum than those, but I hadn't started really paying attention at first. If it doesn't bother you or if you don't notice, don't go looking for it! For the most part, I was able to tune it out after a few minutes, but it's present on those titles. If I'm remembering correctly, the Madame Butterfly audio had what seemed clearly like age-related hiss, while the others had a hum that sounded more foreign than part of the film itself. I don't think it's an issue with my specific set but with the entire batch - there have been some other complaints on the thread dedicated solely to this release. The problem with a defect like that in a set like this is that there's no other place to get some of these titles - I think five or six of the movies in the set are exclusive to the set. If you want to see every Cary Grant movie ever and don't want to wait for channels like TCM to do a marathon or run the obscure ones, there's a certain amount of compromise involved. I do hope that Universal addresses it, but I'm not hugely optimistic at this point. Though I can't give the set my highest recommendation because of those technical issues, I think it's still a good buy.

I will be very curious to your reaction to Madame Butterfly when/if you watch it. I'm not sure if you caught my comment on this, but when I watched Madame Butterfly, the yellowface was troublesome to me to a certain degree, where it really never was with Charlie Chan. I was a little puzzled by the difference in my own gut reactions to those two different uses of yellowface, and I really appreciated what Lee (FanCollector) wrote in post #471 - he had some really smart insights into why one usage bothered me more than the other. (I will also be curious to your reaction to Charlie Chan films as well. I've seen a handful of them, a little bit of each of the three men who played the role. They're not particularly deep or culturally insightful, but they're fun little movies that run about an hour each. Sometimes its easier than other times to figure out the mystery, but they're all in good fun. I like the simple escapism they offer. To me, they're not as good as but exist in a similar genre to the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies.

I found Wedding Present to be a delight - it's one of the very best movies in the set, maybe not so much because of the plotting of the movie itself, but because it features an almost recognizable Cary Grant. After seeing so many movies in this set where he wasn't playing a version of his persona, it was a welcome chance to get back to watching the kind of movie that got me started on this odyssey in the first place.
 

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The hum is there; it's inescapable and it is not present in other releases of the same films. Definitely a mastering error. As for Butterfly, remember that this is based on a Belasco play and on the Puccini opera. It was never performed on Broadway by an Asian cast (to my knowledge) and it is no longer performed since the opera has completely eclipsed it. The opera was premiered by a cast devoid of Asian singers, and not until more recent times have the different roles been sung by a mix of X and Asian singers.
 

Nelson Au

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Thanks Josh. Yes, I did read Lee's post back when it was first posted. It's good to refresh myself to it. I agree Lee has a way with words. It will be interesting to see Butterfly and what my gut reaction will be. I can see how one character that was fleshed out in the Chan films can be accepted, but the Butterfly character or similar can seem jarring. It's funny, as a fan of Get Smart, the character of Harry Hoo is, I'm guessing, a take on Chan and he is played by Joey Forman. It sort of didn't register until now. He seemed harmless enough and at least was a positive character. I'll let you know after I see Butterfly. :).

Jose, that's unfortunate the hum is audible for you too. Then I'm sure it will be on my set. As Josh pointed out, it sounds pretty low key and can be ignored. Again, I'll let you know. I don't know that much about opera, but I was aware of Butterfly as an opera. I didn't know the history behind it. That is good background info and explains the choices made perhaps for the Grant/Sydney film. There's a sensibility then in maintaining to the original intent of the piece.

By the way, I mainly know of Sylvia Sydney from WKRP as Momma Carlson in the pilot of that series and perhaps a few other appearances of that era. Should be interesting to see her in an earlier role.
 

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#58 - Alice In Wonderland (1933)
Viewed on August 21st, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Universal)

Double feature night! After finishing Merrily We Go To Hell, I realized that outside of This Is The Night (which, being Grant's first film, I decided to save for the end), I only had one Paramount contract picture left. Released in 1933, Paramount's production of Alice In Wonderland was an all-star affair, led by Charlotte Henry as Alice, and featuring (among others) Gary Cooper as the White Night, W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Sterling Holloway as the Frog, Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter, Roscoe Karns and Jack Oakie as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum respectively, and of course, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle. I had previously seen this version of Alice In Wonderland during a W.C. Fields restrospective at the Film Forum in New York City. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that Alice In Wonderland isn't one of my favorite stories; I appreciate it more than I enjoy it. What makes this particular adaptation so enjoyable to me is seeing all of the early special effects and makeup jobs from the period. There's a delightful handmade quality to it, and I find it very easy to suspend disbelief and accept everything that happens onscreen, which is a tribute to the great craftsmen who pulled this off. And speaking of which, I should mention that it was directed by the great Norman Z. McLeod, who also directed the two great Marx Brothers films Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, as well as my favorite Fields movie, It's A Gift. McLeod would work with Grant again a few years after this on the delightful supernatural comedy Topper. The screenplay was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies.

The film is episodic in natural; Alice encounters different members from Paramount's roster of stars in little vignettes. My favorite is Humpty Dumpty with Fields, but Grant as the Mock Turtle is a close second. He's buried under a costume (we only see his face on a still shown during the main credits), but he sells his performance with his voice, delightfully and hysterically over the top, leaking an insane amount of tears as he recounts his literal sob story to Alice. It's an absurd but enjoyable moment within an absurd and enjoyable film.

The bare-bones DVD from Universal is generally good. The picture looks a little more worn than Merrily We Go To Hell, but there were no major distractions. The audio was equally good, and English subtitles were provided. It matches my memory of what the 35mm print I saw about five or six years ago looked like. Apparently the film originally ran 90 minutes, but was cut down sometime in the 1950s. The version presented on the disc runs 77 minutes.

I wish this title had been included in the Cary Grant Vault Collection. So many of the actors who appear here also appear in other films within that set, and it would have been the perfect addition to it. To me, this is a fun movie, but not an essential one. Both times I've seen it, it was as the second half of a double feature; even though it would have been an "A" picture upon its original release, it plays well now as the second part of a double header.
I've viewed this gem on TCM, and I very much enjoy reading your reviews!

The one thing I question is the story regarding the Film's original length. Another gem from the same fantasy genre, Hal Roach's BABES IN TOYLAND (1934), which ironically also features Charlotte Henry, was also long rumored to have been cut from 90 to 77 minutes. However, I believe that had been based, at least in part due to an often cited 90 Minute tagline within the Trailer. The problem with basing a Film's running length solely on such sources, is claims made in 1930s Film Trailers were often prone to exaggeration (And sometimes post premiere editing!), and it was eventually concluded that 77 minutes (Via in large part, the late '80s discovery of a complete fine grain print!) is indeed "Babes" original running length, and never had a 90 minute running length. I'm not saying that's necessarily the case with "Alice", which does seem to play a bit fast, but I do think it's food for thought, just the same.

CHEERS! :)
 

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Beetlejuice was a big movie in my early teens, and that was probably the first time I enjoyed Sylvia Sidney. (I have since seen her earlier work and enjoyed a lot of that also.) Never really imagined her being Asian, but such was Hollywood. Our friend Myrna Loy from elsewhere in the discussion more or less made her living that way for a couple of years.

Nelson, as you know, I am also a Get Smart buff. With Harry Hoo, and with Peter Sellers in Murder By Death ten years later, I think the parody required the use of non-Asian actors. There was still some miscasting of that nature in the sixties (Victor Buono got stuck doing it a bunch), but by the '70s, the industry had finally caught up to civilized society and stopped. Nevertheless, part of the joke in these Charlie Chan parodies, affectionate though they were intended to be, was the obvious use of white actors in the parts. When they made Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen in 1981, on the other hand, it wasn't entirely clear if it was a parody or not and there was a lot of negative comment regarding the casting of Peter Ustinov and Angie Dickinson in the title roles. As for the originals, I'll be curious about your reaction.
 

Nelson Au

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Hey guys, first thing. Because I was out of the country last week, I was quite fried when I came home. I didn't actually get to watch anything. I did see a bit of Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me but I quickly faded.

On another topic brought up a few pages ago, I received the blu Ray of Lifeboat, thanks to Alex for making me aware of this region free blu Ray from the UK. I almost forgot about it. I'm glad to see its playing just fine, I tested the first 10 minutes. I look forward to seeing this as its been some time since I've seen it.

Lee, I had taken a look at Miss Loy's resume some weeks ago and I did see she had exotic roles in her early days due to her looks that I guess made it easy to cast her that way. As you said, such as Hollywood. As far as the parody, the part requiring a Caucasian actor, I guess I never got that. It's not something I understand, sometimes the joke just goes over my head. Or perhaps no self respecting Asian actor would accept the role. :) I never saw the Ustinov film, so I think I'll remain blissfully ignorant there. That reminds me of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffanys. That didn't work for me. I'm actually sort of going through a few Get Smart episodes that I ripped to watch on my iPad whilst traveling. Didn't really have time to watch too many. But I was enjoying it so much when I did, I'll make an effort to see the Harry Hoo episodes. I'll try to watch it and see what you mean. And yes, I'll for sure be looking at Madame Butterfly. If I get to see a Charlie Chan film, I'll certainly be looking at it objectively.

On a related topic, I didn't have any issues at first with David Caradine as Caine in Kung Fu. Later when I was older, I more understood that his character is a mix of Asian and Caucasian parents. Though I think I got that when I first saw the series. So I could accept that he is a Caucasian actor playing a half Asian. This would lead to something I think I sometimes find odd. When Hollywood would cast an Asian actor to play a role, if the character is supposed to be Chinese, they hire a Japanese actor. That's sort of the same to hire a Caucasian actor. But I can get that the number of Asian actors qualified for certain parts were probably limited in the early days to mid 1970's. Though if I recall correctly, most of the time Chinese characters were played by Chinese for example in shows like Bonanza. I've never watched Bonanza enough to really really know that character, but I think he was named Hop Sing and a servant role. I believe there were others like that. Mrs Livingstone on The Courtship of Eddie's Father was Japanese, though as a kid I never understood why her name wasn't Japanese! And that leads to more current practice of Asian characters on TV shows and films with Anglo European sir names! What's that all about? I guess you guys got me going. Sorry for the diversion.
 

Nelson Au

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I had a chance to watch Topper. I was a little troubled at first by the quality of the DVD which is the Artisan release from 2003. I wasn't able to find out if there is an improved version. After a bit, the image quality got better, but I couldn't help but wonder if a better version was ever done.

I quite enjoyed the movie, Grant and Bennett worked well together as the carefree and wealthy couple. Cosmo Topper and his wife were equally well drawn characters. I was surprised to learn that the actress portraying Mrs Topper is the same actress who is the Good Witch in Wizard of Oz.

The car was very cool too and it was interesting to learn that the car was designed and custom made for the film. I imagine that was quite a costly expense.

I get that the idea for was for the Kirby's to break Cosmo out of his fixed ways and live it up a little. They effectively gave Cosmo a taste of the Kirby's life style as part of their good deed to gain entrance to the pearly gates. I was a little troubled by that as its saying being irresponsible in how you live your life is to be rewarded. But as I said, it was how the Kirby's felt it was necessary to break Cosmo out of his rut to live a little. I suppose this reaction too is a response to the time the film was made. It made for good fun at the hotel later in the film and earlier how Cosmo's coworkers suddenly saw their boss in a new light and some new respect too. The film says it's ok to be a little bad.

It was cool to see other people in this film who became more famous later such as Hoagy Carmichael and Dagwood himself, Arthur Lake. The hotel detective is a familiar face but I don't know his name.
 

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