Senior HTF Member
- Feb 20, 2001
- Livonia, MI USA
- Real Name
- Kenneth McAlinden
Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume Three
Other Men's Women(1931) / The Purchase Price(1932) / Frisco Jenny(1932)/ Midnight Mary(1933)/ Heroes for Sale (1933)/ Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Film Length: Various
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Subtitles: Eng SDH, French
Release Date: March 24, 2009
While issuing a director-themed box set for someone whose name is not Hitchcock, Spielberg, Scorsese, or Kubrick can be a tricky economic proposition, the good people at Warner Home Video have actually managed to find a way to get a box out paying tribute to underrated director William Wellman by doubling it as the third entry in the TCM Archives Forbidden Hollywood series of pre-code titles. Does it work effectively towards both purposes? Can a box set possibly serve two masters? Who is the father of Octomom's babies? The answers to all but one of these questions appear below...
Other Men's Women (1931 – Warner - 70 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Grant Withers, Mary Astor, Regis Toomey, James Cagney, Fred Kohler, J. Farrell MacDonald, Joan Blondell
In Other Men's Women, train engineers Bill White (Withers) and Jack Kulper (Toomey) have been friends since childhood. Jack is a career-oriented married man while Bill is a drinking and carousing knockabout for whom Jack frequently makes excuses while on the job. When indiscretions and delinquent rent cause Bill to be evicted, Jack brings him home and gives him a place to stay, nursing him back to sobriety with the aid of his wife, Lily. Against their better judgment, Bill and Lily fall for each other. When Bill reveals his indiscretion to Jack, their friendship is tested by a tragic sequence of events.
This somewhat predictable tragic melodrama narrowly manages to avoid wearing out its welcome thanks to breakneck pacing and some impressive for its era special effects work involving train wrecks which are as spectacular in their staging as they are obvious as metaphors. Wellman and his editors keep things moving, especially in the early parts of the film where Withers is engaging in fun pre-code flirtation with the female supporting cast and tossing out gum to everyone with his "Have a chew on me" catch-phrase. When events get heavy, beginning with the strangely abrupt romance between Withers and Astor, the train starts to come off of the tracks.
From a technical standpoint, Wellman uses camera movement much more than was typical for the early sound era. There are a number of exterior "walk and talk" scenes that keep things visually interesting during what would otherwise be a bunch of expository dialog. There are noticeable camera bumps through these scenes, which occasionally make the image jittery, and the dialog is occasionally of lower fidelity than the studio bound segments, but this is still preferable to the static locked-down look of a lot of films of the era.
James Cagney and Joan Blondell play supporting parts as a rail yard buddy and a semi-steady girlfriend of Withers respectively. Their next teaming with Wellman was The Public Enemy which would cement their place in Hollywood history. After the success of that film, Blondell would increasingly take leading roles in addition to the second leads which had become her specialty, and Cagney would work almost exclusively as a name over the title leading actor for the rest of his career.
The Purchase Price (1932 – Warner – 68 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Lyle Talbot, Hardie Albright, David Landau, Murray Kinnell, Leila Bennett
InThe Purchase Price, Barbara Stanwyck plays nightclub singer Joan Gordon. When Joan's dream wedding to high society dreamboat Don Leslie (Albright) falls apart due to scandal surrounding her prior relationship to criminal high roller Eddie Fields (Talbot), Fields expects her to come running back to him. Joan surprises everyone by running off to Canada. Pursued by Eddie and wanting to escape, she convinces a hotel maid (Bennett) to let her swap places with her as a mail-order bride to farmer Jim Gilson (Brent). Gilson is surprised to find his wife much more glamorous than he expected, but disappointed that she has little interest in consummating the marriage on their wedding night. Over time, Joan begins to develop genuine affection for Jim, but Jim's wounded pride becomes a significant obstacle to reconciliation. Further complicating events are a financial crisis that could cost Jim his land, corrupt leering neighbors with their eyes on Jim's land and wife, and the surprise arrival of a determined Eddie who has tracked Joan all through Canada.
While Wellman's legendary efficiency turned many a 70 minute programmer into a near classic throughout his stint under contract to Warner Bros., The Purchase Price attempts to cram way too much plot into its brief running time, resulting in something of a disjointed mess. On the positive tip, as disjointed messes go, this is one of the more interesting ones for fans of classic Hollywood. The opening scene of Stanwyck warbling through a musical number unaided by a vocal double is essential viewing for fans of the actress if not necessarily for fans of music. Fans of George Brent will also likely enjoy seeing him cast interestingly against type as a stubborn romantically awkward Canadian farmer. These bits of novelty are almost enough to forgive the film its ending which resolves the romantic tension at its core, but leaves multiple subplots dangling.
Frisco Jenny (1932 – Warner – 70 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Ruth Chatterton, Louis Calhern, Helen Jerome Eddy, Donald Cook
Ruth Chatterton plays "Frisco" Jenny Sandoval, daughter of a notorious dancehall owner whose life is turned upside down when her father, his business, and her fiance are all simultaneously taken from her by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. She is left orphaned, destitute, pregnant, and alone except for her Chinese servant, Amah (Eddy), who puts Jenny up in Chinatown until she delivers her baby. Jenny claws her way back and eventually opens her own club. Her fortunes turn once again when she takes the heat for politically connected lawyer Steve Dutton (Calhern) when he gets mixed up in a homicide. Although police are not able to directly implicate Jenny in the murder, the investigation results in child welfare agencies inquiring about her young son, Dan. At Steve's urging, Jenny places Dan with a childless well-to-do couple to avoid him being taken away from her and put into an institution. Jenny intends to reclaim him when the heat subsides, but finds him so well adjusted and happy with is adopted parents that she allows them to keep him. Over the next several years, Jenny monitors Dan's progress from afar while she, with Dan's help, becomes an increasing powerful vice queen with connections at the highest level of local politics. Her secret past comes back to haunt her when Dan grows up and runs for District Attorney with a platform focused on cleaning up the corruption in San Francisco.
When the film opens with a large title declaring the setting as "San Francisco - 1906", one has a certain expectation for subsequent events, and the earthquake sequence in Frisco Jenny does not disappoint. It is a genuinely harrowing tour de force of 1930s Hollywood production design and special effects that holds up surprisingly well more than 75 years later. Kicking off a melodrama with such a cataclysmic set-piece seems like a recipe for disappointment, but the film proves to be a superior if somewhat predictable example of the genre with a strong central performance from Chatterton and excellent support from Calhern. Even Helen Jerome Eddy in the thankless role of Jenny's Chinese servant/confidante manages to give her character some depth and complexity when the script is not sabotaging her with a handful of "Confucius..." or "Philosophers say" lines.
Midnight Mary (1933 – MGM – 74 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez, Franchot Tone, Andy Devine, Una Merkel, Frank Conroy
In Midnight Mary, Loretta Young plays Mary Martin. The film is told in flashback as Mary waits to hear the verdict of a jury in her trial for murder. After learning about her hard-luck childhood which led her into a life of crime with an on-again off-again relationship with gangster Leo Darcy (Cortez), we follow Mary through the events that led to her trial. The heart of these events involves an improbable romance with wealthy lawyer Tom Mannering Jr. (Tone) which Mary sees as her possibility of escape from the criminal world she has come to loathe. Her past proves to be a difficult burden to shake, however, and to avoid dragging Tom down, she discovers that she may have to let him go.
While Wellman's real-life tough guy persona has comes to have some tag him as a "Men's" director, both Midnight Mary and Frisco Jenny demonstrate his versatility and skill at "Women's" melodrama. His heroines are typically tough, but distinctly feminine, which is likely why he was fond of actresses such as Loretta Young, Ruth Chatterton, and Barbara Stanwyck.
Midnight Mary was made at MGM, but has a kindred sensibility with the films that Wellman was making at Warner Bros. at the time. Considering that Wellman, his cinematographer James Van Trees, and lead actress Young were all brought over from Warner, the film does feel like Burbank has been dropped on top of Culver City. The MGM pixie dust results in some wonderfully sumptuous set designs (the Mannering house is ridiculously luxurious) and a fabulous Adrian wardrobe for Young when she is traveling through high society with Tone. The mixture is a perfect match for the plot which finds Young's character torn between the glitzy MGM paradise represented by Tone and the earthy Warner criminal underworld represented by Darcy. Andy Devine was brought over from Universal primarily as comic relief to play Tone's inebriate club hopping pal. Apparently 1930s audience loved gags involving people sneezing, and Devine gives the people what they want in a performance that will likely be a hammy annoyance to most modern viewers.
Heroes for Sale (1933 – Warner – 71 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, Loretta Young, Gordon Westcott, Robert Barrat
In Heroes for Sale, Richard Barthlemess plays Tom Holmes, a deeply principled man who if it were not for bad luck would have no luck at all. While serving in France during World War I, Tom completes a dangerous mission capturing a German officer behind enemy lines, but is shot just as he is handing the prisoner off to his cowardly superior, Roger Winston, who hid in a trench when he should have been charging the front lines with Tom. Tom is left for dead, survives the injuries, and is taken prisoner by the Germans. When he is released at the end of the War with other POWs, he finds himself addicted to morphine. Civilian life presents ups and downs when he finds himself fired from a bank job and institutionalized when his addiction is exposed. Released from the hospital, he tries to start anew in Chicago, finding success, wealth and happiness with a job at a laundry and the aid of a supportive landlady (MacMahon), a loving wife (Young), and an eccentric neighbor (Barrat). When a change in management results in worker unrest, Tom's effort to quell a riot ends in tragedy and a false conviction as a Communist agitator. He is released from prison a changed man in the midst of the Great Depression.
The plot of Wellman's Heroes for Sale is so tightly constructed that I had a hard time figuring out where to stop when putting the above synopsis together. One darn thing leads so inexorably to another that by the time you capture the essence of what the film is about, you have practically described every event from the credits to the final reel. What it eventually boils down to is an effective melodrama following the Job-like travails of an American everyman that manages to mix social commentary with social satire - dishing out spoonfuls of medicine to those on either extreme of the political spectrum. Helping the medicine go down easy is a strong sympathetic lead performance from Barthlemess and occasional doses of Wellman style humor, mostly centering around Robert Barrat's Max character who starts off as an unrepentant Bolshevik but turns into a let-the-bums-starve capitalist when his laundry machine invention makes him a fortune. Barrat is the right combination of amusing and annoying as he clucks his tongue at anyone who disagrees with him regardless of how radically his perspective has changed over time, usually being mocked for it by Aline MacMahon's Mary at every opportunity.
Wild Boys of the Road (1933 – Warner – 68 minutes)
Directed By: William Wellman
Starring: Frankie Darro, Edwin Phillips, Rochelle Hudson, Dorothy Coonan, Sterling Holloway
Wild Boys of the Road is a Depression era drama following the plight of teenagers Eddie Smith (Darrow) and Tommy Gordon (Phillips) who hit the open road when their parents are left unemployed and destitute. Hopping freight cars heading east, they eventually take up with other homeless juveniles including Sally (Coonan) who has been passing herself off as a boy. Their journey finds them battling hardships including unsympathetic railroad detectives, an impenetrable labor market in nearly every town along their bicoastal journey, and adults willing to exploit the disadvantaged and naive youths.
In Wild Boys of the Road, Wellman continues to deal with the depression head-on as was the case with Heroes for Sale. Wild Boys is a prime example of Wellman's trademark economical style with an introduction that creates a sense of familiarity with the characters via some typical teen antics before the rug is pulled out from under them by their parents' unemployment. The viewer is hooked, sympathetic, and riding the (greased) rails with Eddie and Tommy in a matter of minutes and remains invested in their well-being throughout. Frankie Darro is a Cagney-junior-like font of seemingly endless mischief and energy while Edwin Phillips is a perfect foil in the tradition of Wellman's many films emphasizing strong male friendships ("Bromance" in the modern parlance) such as "Wings". Dorothy Coonan, who would become Dorothy Coonan-Wellman shortly after the film was released, invalidates any complaints of nepotism by holding her own with Darro and Phillips. Coonan's previous film experience was primarily as a dancer in Busby Berkely musicals and while Wellman makes sure to give her at least one sequence to show off her hoofing skills, she comes off quite well in her dialog sequences as well and has no problems matching the energy of her co-stars.
Once again, Wellman mixes generous helpings of humor into the plot even as things get bleaker for the lead characters. Darro has a natural gift for comedy which helps to make him likeable even when he makes questionable decisions that lead to mob violence and unwanted police attention. The film is undermined somewhat by an ending that seems like a bit of an optimistic cop-out, but the moments that come before are effective enough that you do not begrudge the characters their small ray of sunshine.
On the technical side of things, Wellman and his crew do an impressive job of dressing up a single train station and shooting it from several angles in order to create the illusion of a cross country journey. I honestly would not have guessed that all of the train sequences were shot at the same location if I had not heard it on the accompanying audio commentary. The tour de force sequence in the film involves a character falling on a railroad track in front of an oncoming train. It is a masterful combination of vintage special effects (mirrors were used rather than rear projection) and editorial skill with Wellman's trademark technique of obscuring, cutting, or panning away from imminent violence at its most effective.
Classic film and TV buffs will want to keep an eye out for an unusual cameo by Alan Hale Jr. who plays a judge's son seen only in a photo on his desk. Also of note is a small role by the ubiquitous Ward Bond as a creep who takes advantage of one of the train-hopping girls. Bond also appeared in Heroes for Sale in an even smaller part as a homeless man near the film's end.
All films in this collection are presented in 4:3 black and white full-frame transfers that are appropriate representations of their original theatrical presentations.
Other Men's Women appears to have been derived from a source element very close to the original negative with excellent detail and contrast. The element has natural, but not excessive grain, and somewhat regular instances of age–related wear and tear inclusive of scratches and "spotting". Compression is very good and video artifacts are minimal to non-existent. Most of the other titles in the set are of similar quality but with fewer and lighter instances of visible film damage. The Purchase Price is hampered by some mild in intensity but pervasive in its presence edge ringing. Frisco Jenny has somewhat variable grain suggesting that certain sequences or reels are derived from dupes of lesser quality than others.
All films in this collection are presented with Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks.
Other Men's Women varies somewhat in audio quality throughout its running time. Heavy noise reduction artifacts are audible on some sequences, making the actors sound like they are speaking with buckets over their heads, while other sequences feature a more natural timbre. As noted in the discussion of the film above, the exterior scenes tend to have rougher audio quality (and likely were more heavily processed) than the studio interiors. The rest of the titles in the collection are better, with a lighter touch on the digital noise reduction, but all of them have some rough patches and limited fidelity.
Each film comes with its own vintage extras accessible via its own menu on the appropriate "double-feature" disc. Additionally, three of the films come with audio commentaries from film scholars. Finally, a fourth disc includes two documentaries about director William Wellman.
Other Men's Women includes the following extras:
You Don't Know What You're Doin' is a vintage Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies cartoon that does not have much to offer beyond its title song.The Purchase Price includes:
Theatrical Trailer is a fairly unremarkable promo, but a welcome extra nonetheless.
The Wall Street Mystery (17:12) is an entry in a detective series based on characters created by S.S. Van Dine. Donald Meek plays Dr. Crabtree, a Sherlock Holmes-style eccentric doctor with an interest in forensics who assists John Hamilton's Inspector Carr in solving crimes. This entry no doubt was popular with depression-era audiences since the plot involves the death of two crooked investment managers.Frisco Jenny includes:
Moonlight for Two (6:50) is a Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies short in which "Goopy Geer" and his girlfriend sing, dance, and then head off to a barn dance for more of the same. When things get rough at the dance, the day is saved by an anthropomorphized pot-bellied stove, which I believe was the original intended ending for Citizen Kane.
The Theatrical Trailer kicks off by trying to get some mileage out of the novelty of Barbara Stanwyck singing and then milks the film's star power, somewhat deceptively showing a clip of George Brent in a tuxedo.
The Studio Murder Mystery (18:51) is another entry in the series of S. S. Van Dine two-reelers featuring Donald Meek and John Hamilton. This one involves a murder on-camera during the shooting of a film with the whole cast and crew subsequently under suspicion. There is some accidental contemporary post-O.J. resonance due to the fact that a key part of the investigation involves having suspects try on a pair of bloody gloves to see if they fit. The video quality of this particular short is terrible, looking like the kind of nth generation dupe that one normally sees on public domain releases.Midnight Mary includes the following extras:
The Theatrical Trailer leans heavily on Chatterton's star power and the film's production value via clips from the earthquake sequence.
Commentary by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta is a dry but informative affair with film scholars Vance and Maietta doing a good job of complementing each other (and, come to think of it, complimenting each other.) They each provide well-researched comments with occasional natural interactions. There are a few throwaway statements of the obvious and "gee whiz look at that" moments, but on balance, the commentary is definitely worth at least a single listen for fans of the film and its key creative contributors. If this is your first foray into the Warner/TCM "Forbidden Hollywood" series, then this commentary is also the most illustrative extra in this set of what exactly "pre-code" means with numerous examples of various pre-code elements of the film.Heroes for Sale includes:
Goofy Movies #1 (8:33) is the premiere entry in the Pete Smith narrated series of shorts that parody a night out at the movies. It starts off with a "Metrophony" newsreel followed by the fake film "Minnie the Pretzel Twister" with ironic voiceover by Smith over clips from an unidentified silent film.
Bosko's Parlor Pranks (7:49) is a Harman-Ising 2-strip Technicolor MGM "Happy Harmonies" cartoon starring Bosko. Bosko arrives for a date at his girlfriend, Honey's, house. When Honey goes out for ice cream, Bosko tries his best but has little luck trying to entertain an obnoxious young boy Honey is babysitting.
The film's Theatrical Trailer (2:21) is a standard assemblage of hyper-promotional text mixed with film-clips emphasizing key moments of sex and violence in the film.
Commentary by John Gallagher. Gallagher is a Wellman biographer who peppers his comments liberally with readings of quotes from interviews he conducted with former friends and professional associates of Wellman. These excerpts are so frequent and from so many points in his career, that the track amounts to an oral history biography with occasional comments specific to Heroes for Sale. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and the commentary works as a nice supplement to the biographical documentaries presented on disc four of this collectionWild Boys of the Road includes:
The Trans-Atlantic Mystery (21:38) is another entry in the S.S. Van Dine series featuring Donald Meek and John Hamilton. A jewelry theft and murder in London are solved by our heroes when the responsible parties try to smuggle the jewels off of a ship in New York. Meek and Hamilton do not even show up until the short is more than halfway through, but waste no time in solving the crimes, especially when they are compounded with another ship-board homicide.
Sittin' on a Backyard Fence is an Earl Duvall-directed "Merrie Melodies" short in which a group of alley cats enamored of a female housecat engage in comic musical antics. Duvall only directed a handful of shorts in the series, but i found this to be a bit funnier than the typical Harman-Ising production of the era.
The film's Theatrical Trailer (1:55) draws heavily from the film's final 20 minutes and should be avoided by those averse to spoilers.
Audio Commentary from William Wellman, Jr. and Film Historian/Wellman Biographer Frank Thompson. This is another excellent well-researched commentary. Wellman and Thompson sit together for the duration with hardly any gaps or instances of narration spoiling the flow of information.Disc Four includes two documentaries on Director William Wellman. They are both presented in 4:3 video with dolby digital 2.0 stereo sound and available subtitles in English or French.
One Step Ahead of My Shadow (7:16) is a vintage Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies cartoon set in China. Un-PC Chinese caricatures participate in a number of spot-gags and musical numbers including the title song. There is even a two-tiered offensive gag where two of the stereotyped Chinese characters speak to each other like Amos and Andy. The finale is livened up when a dragon is uncaged.
The film's Theatrical Trailer (2:19) is a pretty standard 1930s-era trailer that represents the film accurately via clips and promotional text.
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick is a 94 minute documentary directed by Todd Robinson and narrated by Alec Baldwin. Produced in the mid-90s for Turner Entertainment, it provides a fairly comprehensive overview of Wellman's life. Subjects covered include his early years growing up in Massachusetts, his aviation career during World War I including his stint with the French Lafayette Escadrille where he earned his "Wild Bill" nickname, his first marriage and his Hollywood breakthrough courtesy of actor Douglas Fairbanks, and his early Hollywood career culminating in his direction of the silent classic "Wings" and his subsequent rocky relationship with Paramount. During his Hollywood years, it covers his prolific stint at Warner in the early 30s that yielded the titles in this collection as well as The Public Enemy, his technical innovations during the early sound era, his enduring fourth marriage to Dorothy Coonan, his disdain for Hollywood politics, his rocky but fruitful relationship with David O. Selznick that yielded A Star is Born and Nothing Sacred, the efforts he put into making The Ox-Bow Incident, his cinematic style, the films Beau Geste, Story of GI Joe, Battleground, The Happy Years, Yellow Sky, his use of women in his films, Westward the Women, his late career partnership with John Wayne that yielded The High and the Mighty, Track of the Cat, and Goodbye, My Lady, his last film C'est La Guerre which was re-titled Lafayette Escadrille, his retirement from filmmaking, and his death from Leukemia in 1975.
The documentary takes a fairly even-handed approach and while erring on the side of reverence for its subject, it at least offers some insight into his mercurial nature. It is refershingly frank about Wellman's disappointment with certain aspects of his own work, most amusingly the kid with crutches calling out "God bless you, Buffalo Bill" at the end of Buffalo Bill, and most depressingly the studio interference with the ending of Lafayette Escadrille. Interview participants include contemporaries, family, and filmmakers and actors past and present including: Mike Connors, Historian John Gallagher, William Wellman Jr., Darryl Hickman, biographer Frank Thompson, Tom Laughlin, Buddy Rogers, Director Tony Scott, Director Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Director Robert Wise, Director Arthur Hiller, Richard Widmark, Producer Howard W. Koch, Tab Hunter, James Whitmore, James Garner, Producer Michael Wayne, Nancy Reagan, Dorothy Wellman, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood, Harry Morgan, Burgess Meredith, Jane Wyman, Sydney Poitier, and Robert Stack.
The second biographical feature on disc four is an update of Richard Schickel's The Men Who Made the Movies: William Wellman. This was part of a series of filmmaker profiles originally produced by Schickel in the early 70s. As was done with the Howard Hawks entry in the series when it was released as a bonus feature on the special editions of Bringing up Baby and Rio Bravo, Schickel has gone back and updated the program, which runs 58 minutes in this form. The most obvious and welcome addition is the insertion of improved film clips reflective of the most recent video masterings of most of the titles discussed. As a result, most of the clips used in this show are of higher quality than those in the Wild Bill documentary. While the focus on Wellman's films covers a lot of the same ground that was plowed in the Wild Bill documentary, it is thankfully a highly complementary piece because it consists almost exclusively of excerpts from an extended interview with Wellman himself. Hearing narrator Alec Baldwin academically talk about how Wellman was disappointed with the end of Buffalo Bill is one thing. Hearing Wellman's first hand account is quite another and provides insight into his colorful personality.
The four single sided dual-layered DVD-9 discs are held in a four panel digipack with two of the panels dedicated to plastic trays to hold two overlapping discs each (a personal annoyance, but I will tolerate it if it helps them to afford more sets like this one). The first three discs contain two features each with a top-level menu that asks you to choose a film. Once chosen, each film then has its own set of chapter menus, language options, and special features as detailed above. Navigation is a snap, and it is easy to move back to the top menu. My only minor criticism is that they do not indicate which special features go with which titles on the packaging. As an example, the packaging tells you that The Wall Street Mystery short is on disc one with Other Men's Women and The Purchase Price, but it does not tell you that it is paired with The Purchase Price which could lead to some mildly annoying backtracking in an effort to find it on the disc. Disc One pairs Other Men's Women and The Purchase Price. Disc Two pairs Frisco Jenny and Midnight Mary. Disc Three pairs Heroes for Sale and Wild Boys of the Road. Disc Four contains the two Wellman documentaries.
Warner has delivered another winner to fans of classic cinema with this four disc/six film box set that successfully pulls-off double duty as both a third entry in the TCM Archives Forbidden Hollywood pre-code series and a tribute to director William Wellman. Presentations are generally impressive for films of the era with all titles showing some understandable wear and tear, although The Purchase Price is hampered by some mild but pervasive edge ringing and Midnight Mary appears to be derived from an element a generation or two further from the negative than the other titles in the set. Extras are generous including trailers for all titles, vintage cartoons on every title except for one, three entries in the Vitaphone S.S. Van Dine mystery series from the early 1930s, informative commentaries on Midnight Mary, Heroes for Sale, and Wild Boys of the Road, and two excellent documentaries on director William Wellman.