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DVD Review Come to the Stable/Three Blind Mice/Suez DVD Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
Come to the Stable/Three Blind Mice/Suez DVD Review

Loretta Young was never a top ten box-office star, but she top-lined movies for at least two decades (earning an Academy Award along the way) before seguing into television where her anthology series provided her ample opportunities to display her versatility and earn three Emmy Awards. Three of her more well-known films made for 20th Century Fox make up this Fox Cinema Archives 3-Film Collection: Come to the Stable, Three Blind Mice, and Suez.

Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min./1 Hr. 15 Min./1 Hr. 38 Min.

Package Includes: DVD

Amaray case with leaf

Disc Type: DVD-R

Region: 1

Release Date: 01/14/2015

MSRP: $37.95

The Production Rating: 3.5/5

Come to the Stable – 4/5

Two French nuns (Loretta Young, Celeste Holm) have vowed to erect a hospital in honor of St. Jude on a piece of picturesque New England land. Of course, they don’t own the land nor do they have the money to pay for the building of the hospital, but their faith is so strong and unwavering that they take it upon themselves to deal with a famous New York mobster (Thomas Gomez) and other recalcitrant landowners in order to get their dream project underway.

This gentle comedy, nominated for seven Academy Awards, sprang from the pen of Clare Boothe Luce (screenplay by Oscar Millard and Sally Benson), and its mixture of faith and tender comedy trades on the same kind of good will that made smashes of The Bells of St. Mary’s and Going My Way a few years earlier though some of their adventures certainly stretch credulity more than a tad. While the movie depends on the incongruous sights of nuns zipping along the road in a speeding jeep or playing a mean game of tennis in full nun habit to earn its laughs, it’s the warm, genuine spirit of love and compassion that wins the day and earns the tears that spring forth in the film’s memorable conclusion. Director Henry Koster directs with conviction and quiet assurance leading Loretta Young, Celeste Holm, and Elsa Lanchester (who plays the addled painter/landlady to the visiting nuns) to Oscar nominations and providing Thomas Gomez as the gangster and Hugh Marlowe as a neighbor who at first welcomes and then rejects what the sisters are doing to his quiet neighborhood tender, amiable performances. A lovely Oscar nominated song “Through a Long and Sleepless Night” gets two renditions during the proceedings, sung by voice doubles for Hugh Marlowe (Ken Darby) and Dorothy Patrick (Eileen Wilson) who plays Marlowe’s girl friend.

Three Blind Mice – 3.5/5

The three Charters sisters have lived on a Kansas poultry farm all of their lives, and when an inheritance comes through, they decide to use the money to go to California to find a rich husband for the eldest Pam (Loretta Young). Her sister Elizabeth (Pauline Moore) will play her secretary while youngest sister Moira (Marjorie Weaver) will play her maid. Pam draws the attention of two men in Santa Barbara: Van Dam Smith (Joel McCrae) and Steve Harrington (David Niven), but she’s really attracted to Smith. She’s devastated to learn, however, that he’s a penniless aristocrat who was looking for a rich wife, so he rebuffs her and throws her into Steve’s arms. Once their engagement is announced, Steve’s man hungry sister Miriam (Binnie Barnes) arrives for the wedding and brings her new man with her, Van Dam!

The first of four versions of this story that Fox would produce over a sixteen year period (the others: Moon Over Miami, Three Little Girls in Blue, How to Marry a Millionaire), Three Blind Mice isn’t the most entertaining of the quartet. The actors are capable enough (though Pam’s two sisters get very short shrift in the plotting, something that would be rectified in the latter two productions of the tale), but everything’s so obvious: we know who should pair off with whom from early-on, and waiting around to see everything fall into the predictable places makes for fairly banal viewing. William A. Seiter directs the seventy-five minutes with economy, but Loretta Young isn’t exactly at home with some of the romantic comedy shenanigans she must maneuver, and she and Joel McCrae share only average chemistry. David Niven and Stuart Erwin (who plays a bartender who falls for Moira) seem more comfortable in their roles, and the gregarious, extroverted sister part that Binnie Barnes plays steals the show just as Celeste Holm will do in Three Little Girls in Blue playing the same part. Fox was wise to make the next two versions of the story musicals because this is the kind of light, frothy material that music can be paired with so easily.

Suez – 3/5

Devoted French companions Ferdinand de Lesseps (Tyrone Power) and Countess Eugenie de Montijo (Loretta Young) are introduced to French President Louis Napoleon (Leon Ames) where he takes an immediate fancy to the countess and in order to separate the two sends Ferdinand to join his father Count Mathieu de Lesseps (Henry Stephenson) who’s the French ambassador in Egypt. Though displeased to leave his love behind, Ferdinand has the idea once there that the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea could be brought together by a canal, and he begins a long, arduous struggle to get the French and the English to back his plan. The English Prime Minister (George Zucco) wants nothing to do with such a plan, but France and Egypt offer enough money to get the project begun. Conflicts in the French court, however, cut off funds, and it appears that the project may die before it is completed.

With Tyrone Power and Loretta Young having made three films together the previous year, Suez offers an unusual pairing for the Power-Young team in that her character doesn’t stay true and instead chooses a crown for herself as the wife of Napoleon III. As biographical history, the movie is fictional rubbish (screenplay by Philip Dunne and Julien Josephson who manage to bring into their story such famous personages as Franz Liszt, Victor Hugo, and Benjamin Disraeli), but it’s an effective enough romantic potboiler with Power’s character pining for the countess and a spry Egyptian girl (Annabella) chasing Power’s character around for almost the entire film (she obviously did some chasing in real life, too, since the couple married the following year). The design and construction of the Suez Canal doesn’t even begin until the last third of the movie (and even then we don’t really see much of it except in a graphic map routing its path) because director Allan Dwan is so caught up presenting the gooey romantic quadrangle. Young’s role is of lesser importance than one might expect for a second-billed leading player (though she looks ultra-glamorous in a succession of stunning ball gowns, highly reminiscent of the swirling entrances she’d later make through a doorway in her television series), but the emphasis clearly is on Tyrone Power who had become a major star at Fox with several big hits in 1937 and due to the popularity of this and his other 1938 films would enter the box-office top ten for the first time. The climactic cyclone disaster sequence will surprise those who thought The Wizard of Oz had the first credible cyclone on film. This film beat it to the screen by a year.

Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

Come to the Stable – 3/5

All of the films in the set are presented in their original theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Though very film-like in look with reliable grain structure and better than average sharpness, grayscale offers only good rather than great black levels. There is a goodly amount of age-related dirt and dust and debris, and the reel change markers are in full view. The film is divided into chapters every ten minutes so this transfer has 10 chapters.

Three Blind Mice – 3/5

The film transfer is a bit darker than perhaps it should have been, but the image is nicely sharp and detailed, and the grayscale boasts some excellent black levels and crisp whites. Contrast has been consistently applied. There are only minimal dust specks, though the reel change cues are present, and there are a few obvious scratches that pop up from time to time. There is some problem with image stability, however, as line twitter and some pulsating on dress patterns do distract when they occur. The movie has been divided into 8 chapters.

Suez – 4/5

By far the best looking of the three films in this set, obvious work has been done on this movie to give it a more than viable DVD release. Speckles and scratches are minimal, and sharpness and black levels are first-rate. Reel change markers have also been removed though the opening credit sequence has been windowboxed. The movie has been divided into 10 chapters.

Audio Rating: 2.5/5

Come to the Stable – 2.5/5

All of the films in the set contain a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound mix which is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. The transfer features an impossibly loud amount of volume which requires rigorous adjustment to prevent heavy distortion and damage to one’s sound equipment. Dialogue has been nicely recorded and has been mixed effectively with the Cyril Mockridge music and the sound effects for a soundtrack typical of its era and lacking a bit in the low end. Age-related problems, however, are fairly rampant, and they include noticeable hiss in the quieter moments, some light crackle and a couple of bumps at reel change markers along with assorted pops throughout.

Three Blind Mice – 2.5/5

Aggressive volume levels plague this disc, too, and require adjustment to prevent distortion and equipment damage. Dialogue, music, and sound effects all occupy the same track comfortably, but there is hiss on occasion, and there are occasional pops, too.

Suez – 3/5

While not quite as loud in volume as the two previous films, the volume is still overpowering and will likely require adjustment. The sound quality of the mix deteriorates a bit as a film runs in that hiss becomes more prominent from about the halfway point. Still, there are fewer audio anomalies with this film than there are with the other two movies in this set.

Special Features Rating: 0/5

There are no bonus features on any of the enclosed discs in this made-on-demand set.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Fans of Loretta Young who don’t already own these three discs may find this three-disc set quite a convenient way to collect three of her more fondly remembered classics, but the best film in the set, Come to the Stable, deserves to have some work to preserve its quality more fully.

Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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