What's new

Beckford

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 15, 2021
Messages
136
Real Name
Ken
Sending up optimistic smoke signals here. Warner Archive has access to a matchless catalogue of vintage titles (from MGM, Warner Bros., RKO, Goldwyn and Monogram/Allied Artists). The past year’s been pretty rocky for them. But now that George Feltenstein’s back where he belongs (guiding the progress of the company’s home video unit), things are looking bright again. Under his stewardship, Warner Archive has given us some really stunning looking new transfers of classic era titles. But, of course, we collectors can never get enough.
The 1940’s are my favorite movie decade. So I’ve gathered together a list of 40 titles I love from those years. So far, none of them have made the leap to Blu. But my fingers are crossed that – in the not so distant future – at least some of them will emerge from Warner Archive in sparkling new Blu-ray presentations.

I’ll start with the year 1940. Figure I’ll keep adding posts till I hit 1949.

1940
FATHER IS A PRINCE
Warners’ B unit remade an old Guy Kibbee comedy called “Big-Hearted Herbert”, and improved on it In every way. Funny - but quite poignant when it needs to be. Veteran character actors Grant Mitchell and Nana Bryant get the rare opportunity to play onscreen leads and they perform beautifully. Young George Reeves is also on hand, bristling with star potential that 40’s Hollywood somehow never exploited.

I TAKE THIS WOMAN
Society butterfly (Hedy Lamarr in a sensitive performance) strikes unexpected romantic sparks with tenement area doctor Spencer Tracy. This movie was unfairly dismissed in its day and for decades after. I’ve always loved it. And was so glad when hostess with the mostes’ Illeana Douglas chose it as a personal favorite a few years back on TCM.

MY FAVORITE WIFE
Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott in a universally acknowledged classic comedy (remade by Doris Day as "Move Over Darling" during her triumphant box office march through the 60’s). Everybody’s good in the 1940 version but I personally would’ve given Dunne the Best Actress Oscar for her breathtaking expertise. I’m surprised the original’s never made it to Blu. Perhaps it’s a title Criterion is sitting on.

STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR
Often cited as the first genuine film noir, this striking looking little gem from RKO pulsates with atmosphere, providing some genuinely surreal moments along the way. With John McGuire and Peter Lorre.

‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN
A remake of the early 30’s Kay Francis weepie “One Way Passage”. Most commentators seem to revere that version but I prefer the redo. Unexpectedly moving shipboard romance between Merle Oberon and George Brent. Oberon’s wonderful in this.

YOU’LL FIND OUT
On a dark and stormy night Kay Kyser and his band are stranded in a spooky old mansion out in the middle of nowhere. With Karloff and Lugosi on hand as far from calming presences. Merrily macabre musical comedy that generally hits all the right notes.

Back soon with 1941
 

benbess

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2009
Messages
4,816
Real Name
Ben
The 1940s is one of my favorite decades for movies, and so I think this is a good idea. I've only seen one of the movies you recommended—My Favorite Wife—and it's been so many years that my memory of it is hazy.

Here are some lists....




I confess I enjoyed watching Boom Town from 1940 several years ago. I also liked Bette Davis in 1940's All This and Heaven Too.

boom town best.jpeg
 

Billy Batson

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
4,126
Location
London
Real Name
Alan
Ah, Boom Town. I think I only saw it once many decades ago, but it left a real impression. My favourite decade for films is the fifties (maybe the sixties, it depends what mood I'm in), but I think the best decade is the forties. No widescreen or stereo & not much colour, so they had to depend on a good story with a fast narrative (& all those great b/w war movies)
 

Robin9

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Messages
6,537
Real Name
Robin
We need to keep our feet on the ground because, as Herman Hupfield so memorably wrote, "the fundamental things apply." The elements of many of the 1940s films owned by Warner are in poor condition. It has from Day 1 been a major characteristic of the Warner Archive Blu-ray series that most of their releases have been of films with elements in good condition. Hence Pete Kelly's Blues and Susan Slept Here were given Blu-ray releases ahead of more famous titles.

In their MOD DVD series, Warner Archive have released several DVD-Rs with appalling picture quality, and many of them were films I love. As examples, I cite: The Man I Love, The Time, The Place and The Girl, and Saratoga Trunk. I'd love to have Blu-ray discs of these 1940s films with same picture quality as provided by On Dangerous Ground and The Picture Of Dorian Gray, two of Warner Archive's finest achievements.

On occasion Warner Archive have gone back to the original camera negatives (OCN) to produce a new master: Night Moves for example. I'd like to know what the condition is of the OCNs of films on their worst DVD-Rs. When we know that, we can make realistic guesses about the likelihood of these films appearing on Blu-ray disc.
 

Beckford

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 15, 2021
Messages
136
Real Name
Ken
1941
THE LITTLE FOXES
Another acknowledged classic that’s somehow eluded Blu-ray release. Again maybe Criterion’s got it locked up. Bette Davis’ steely control freak performance didn’t grab me initially but repeated viewings over the years have made me admire it more and more. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone playing the part more effectively (although Tallulah Bankhead created the role on stage and that must have been something to see). “Foxes” is a carefully costumed 19th century drama about family backstabbing and Lillian Hellman keeps the dialogue sharp and juicy. I’ve never been a big fan of Patricia Collinge, who I find over-embroiders every part she plays, nor of Teresa Wright when she’s in Goody Two-Shoes mode. But Dan Duryea is fantastic as a panicky weakling. He’d originated the part on stage with Bankhead but this was his movie debut. And justifiably led to a long and much applauded movie career. Universal produced a “Little Foxes” prequel called “Another Part of the Forest” seven years later. It’s also good. Benefiting enormously from another entertaining Duryea performance (this time playing the father of his “Foxes” character). If anything, he’s even more terrific than he was in the first film.

SUNNY
I’d love to see a good print of this Jerome Kern musical. It features British superstar Anna Neagle, then enjoying a fairly successful run in Hollywood at RKO. Here she’s an Irish circus performer, thrown into contact (via romance) with New Orleans high society. Neagle and her husband director Herbert Wilcox made this while Orson Welles was doing “Citizen Kane”. The pair occasionally joined Welles in the RKO screening room to watch “Kane” rushes”. Wilcox’s directorial style is usually pretty stolid. But I swear his glimpses of the “Kane” footage may have (at least temporarily) lit some sort of creative spark in the man. Because the opening section of “Sunny”, set against a swirling Mardi Gras background, plays out with an off-kilter sweep and momentum worthy of Welles himself. Unfortunately, things quickly settle down into more conventional mode. But Anna Neagle’s beauty and charm do a lot to transcend that. And though not much of a singer, Neagle was a really glorious dancer. She has two fine dance numbers in “Sunny”, the first, performed to the Kern standard “Who” and set inside a kind of art-deco circus ring. She’s partnered here by Ray Bolger, but her artistry practically renders him invisible. The second, a reprise of “Who”, played out in the moonlight on the deck of a Mississippi paddleboat, only lasts a minute or two. But Neagle catches lightning in a bottle, momentarily fusing dance and romance in perfect proportion. In the process rendering leading man John Carroll enchanted. Who wouldn’t be? It’s just a shame that – during her RKO tenure – Neagle was never paired with Fred Astaire. It would have been marvelous.

TWO-FACED WOMAN
This is famous as the film whose failure supposedly killed Garbo’s movie career. If I understand correctly, the picture actually made a small profit. Garbo was understandably unhappy with the poor reviews, though. But she always seemed like a skittish and eccentric character – ready to bolt from Hollywood at a moment’s notice. As things turned out the lady never made another picture. “Two-Faced Woman” (directed by George Cukor) reteamed her with “Ninotchka” co-star Melvyn Douglas. It was an old comedy property, previously filmed (with great success) as a Constance Talmadge silent called “Her Sister from Paris”. Still, it’s odd that the last two movies Garbo (with her ultra-dramatic image) made were both comedies.
Melvyn Douglas is never less than polished here. Ruth Gordon, many Halloweens before “Rosemary’s Baby”, shines as an acerbic secretary. And elegantly gleaming Constance Bennett - as a temperamental New York playwright – expertly explores the art of cattiness with a kind of permanently furious aplomb.
Garbo herself plays what amounts to a dual role. And I find her relaxed, accomplished and quite secure in her comedy technique. Of course, she’s also beautiful. The actress even cooperated with MGM choreographer Robert Alton on a complicated Latin dance number involving hordes of extras. It’s called “The Chica-Choca”. Garbo didn’t have to become Eleanor Powell. Just capture the spirit of the number. Which she does charmingly.

ZIEGFELD GIRL
This is a kind of “Valley of the Dolls 1941”, following as it does the triumphs and tragedies of three aspiring Broadway showgirls who all react to the limelight in different ways. It’s mounted with typical MGM lushness – impressive costumes and sets, elaborate musical numbers. And – of course – wall to wall stars.
Casting of the headline trio was particularly deluxe – Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner. Not too bad as glittering triumvirates go. Garland and Lamarr were already major luminaries by 1941. Turner instantly became one with her work in this picture. She’s really terrific as the self-destructive one, fresh as a daisy at the outset, a burned out wreck near the end. Turner’s success here led to a long and glamorously upholstered career. But I don’t think she ever gave a better all-round performance.
It’s really odd this movie hasn’t made it to Blu-ray yet. Even the Ziegfeld name is catnip to old-school musical fans. And the stellar cast is undeniably a draw. Did I mention that James Stewart’s in it too.? Also Tony Martin, Charles Winninger and Eve Arden all doing their respective things with panache – plus a dramatically impressive young Dan Dailey.
But nothing tops the climactic image of Turner’s final, emotionally-charged descent down a long staircase to the strains of “You Stepped Out of a Dream”. That’s entertainment.



1942 to Come
 
Last edited:

moviepas

Supporting Actor
Joined
Apr 13, 2011
Messages
737
Sending up optimistic smoke signals here. Warner Archive has access to a matchless catalogue of vintage titles (from MGM, Warner Bros., RKO, Goldwyn and Monogram/Allied Artists). The past year’s been pretty rocky for them. But now that George Feltenstein’s back where he belongs (guiding the progress of the company’s home video unit), things are looking bright again. Under his stewardship, Warner Archive has given us some really stunning looking new transfers of classic era titles. But, of course, we collectors can never get enough.
The 1940’s are my favorite movie decade. So I’ve gathered together a list of 40 titles I love from those years. So far, none of them have made the leap to Blu. But my fingers are crossed that – in the not so distant future – at least some of them will emerge from Warner Archive in sparkling new Blu-ray presentations.

I’ll start with the year 1940. Figure I’ll keep adding posts till I hit 1949.

1940
FATHER IS A PRINCE
Warners’ B unit remade an old Guy Kibbee comedy called “Big-Hearted Herbert”, and improved on it In every way. Funny - but quite poignant when it needs to be. Veteran character actors Grant Mitchell and Nana Bryant get the rare opportunity to play onscreen leads and they perform beautifully. Young George Reeves is also on hand, bristling with star potential that 40’s Hollywood somehow never exploited.

I TAKE THIS WOMAN
Society butterfly (Hedy Lamarr in a sensitive performance) strikes unexpected romantic sparks with tenement area doctor Spencer Tracy. This movie was unfairly dismissed in its day and for decades after. I’ve always loved it. And was so glad when hostess with the mostes’ Illeana Douglas chose it as a personal favorite a few years back on TCM.

MY FAVORITE WIFE
Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott in a universally acknowledged classic comedy (remade by Doris Day as "Move Over Darling" during her triumphant box office march through the 60’s). Everybody’s good in the 1940 version but I personally would’ve given Dunne the Best Actress Oscar for her breathtaking expertise. I’m surprised the original’s never made it to Blu. Perhaps it’s a title Criterion is sitting on.

STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR
Often cited as the first genuine film noir, this striking looking little gem from RKO pulsates with atmosphere, providing some genuinely surreal moments along the way. With John McGuire and Peter Lorre.

‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN
A remake of the early 30’s Kay Francis weepie “One Way Passage”. Most commentators seem to revere that version but I prefer the redo. Unexpectedly moving shipboard romance between Merle Oberon and George Brent. Oberon’s wonderful in this.

YOU’LL FIND OUT
On a dark and stormy night Kay Kyser and his band are stranded in a spooky old mansion out in the middle of nowhere. With Karloff and Lugosi on hand as far from calming presences. Merrily macabre musical comedy that generally hits all the right notes.

Back soon with 1941
Big-Hearted Herbert is one film I saw on 35mm nitrate early 1971 in North London in a room rented to a collector whose owner never knew nitrate as stored and screened there. Years later when they did the WAC Guy Kibbee collection set I was able to reconnect with the noisy film. I identified it from the description as I didn't remember the title.
 

Billy Batson

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
4,126
Location
London
Real Name
Alan
1941 - That RKO masterpiece...The Devil And Daniel Webster (All That Money Can Buy), one of the classics & the courtroom scene at the end is one of the great cinema sequences. So there!

I understand that it's owned by Criterion (I could be wrong, I hope I am, I'd love for Warner Archive to release it), if that's the case, who knows when it'll be released.
 

TheSteig

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Messages
1,843
Real Name
David
Stranger on the Third Floor
The Seventh Victim
I Walked with a Zombie
All Through the Night
Mr. Skeffington
Arsenic and Old Lace
Lady in the Lake
Nora Prentiss
Strange Cargo

Ok basically anything I own from the 40s that's with WB I want on Blu-ray. I could sit here all day listing them all :)
 

Beckford

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 15, 2021
Messages
136
Real Name
Ken
Intriguing choice. But the two Douglas Fairbanks Jr. adventure flicks I'm really hoping for in Blu were initially distributed by Universal, "The Exile"(1947) and "The Fighting O'Flynn"(1949). Neither were in color, unfortunately (and the color in "Sinbad the Sailor" is definitely one of its more spectacular selling points). But they're both terrific pictures. "The Exile", set in 17th century Holland, was masterfully directed by Max Ophuls. It's beautifully mounted and photographed (original prints were even tinted in sepia) and Fairbanks' performance is skillfully shaded, achieving a fine balance between flowery and quietly heartfelt. The film also boasts an extended cameo by Universal adventure queen Maria Montez. Easily her best screen work; Ophuls really knew how to coax a quality performance out of her. When she leaves the film part way through, the audience misses her. "The Fighting O'Flynn" places its swashbuckling action in Ireland, pitting Fairbanks against an uncharacteristically villainous Richard Greene. I believe these were independent productions put together by Fairbanks himself. So I'm not sure Universal (who distributed) actually retained control. If so, maybe Kino will come up with Blu-ray transfers someday.
 

borisfw

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
1,498
Real Name
Frank
This is a slippery slope for me. There are so many 40s films i love and it would hurt my head to try to pick a few to mention. But i will anyway. Any Kaye film from the 40s would be nice. Gentleman Jim,Northern Pursuit,Never Say Goodbye,Edge of Darkness,Desperate Journey and San Antonio. And that's just Flynn.
 

Peter M Fitzgerald

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 21, 1999
Messages
2,215
Real Name
Peter Fitzgerald
Hoping for:

White Heat
Three Strangers
Deep Valley
The Beast With Five Fingers
The Threat
Random Harvest
The Strawberry Blonde
Life With Father
I Remember Mama
They Drive By Night
Gentleman Jim
Desperate Journey
Tension
Wagons Roll at Night
All Through the Night
The Two Mrs. Carrolls
The Bride Came C.O.D.
Stranger on the Third Floor
I Walked With a Zombie
The Seventh Victim
Sinbad the Sailor
The Mask of Dimitrios
Out of the Fog
The Man I Love
The Hard Way
Pillow to Post
The Devil's Doorway
Roughshod
Station West
The Devil Thumbs a Ride
Betrayed
Crack-Up
Bodyguard
Follow Me Quietly
The Clay Pigeon
The Unsuspected
The Mysterious Doctor
 
Last edited:

Beckford

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 15, 2021
Messages
136
Real Name
Ken
Hoping for:

White Heat
Three Strangers
Deep Valley
The Beast With Five Fingers
The Threat
Random Harvest
The Strawberry Blonde
Life With Father
I Remember Mama
They Drive By Night
Gentleman Jim
Desperate Journey
Tension
Wagons Roll at Night
All Through the Night
The Two Mrs. Carrolls
The Bride Came C.O.D.
Stranger on the Third Floor
I Walked With a Zombie
The Seventh Victim
Sinbad the Sailor
The Mask of Dimitrios
Out of the Fog
The Man I Love
The Hard Way
Pillow to Post
The Devil's Doorway
Roughshod
Station West
The Devil Thumbs a Ride
Betrayed
Crack-Up
Bodyguard
Follow Me Quietly
The Clay Pigeon
The Unsuspected
The Mysterious Doctor
Another example of just how rich that Warner controlled library is. And this just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. I'd buy seven of these titles instantly. And seriously consider several others. Hope we all get some of our Warner Archive wishes.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Similar Threads

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
350,693
Messages
4,926,831
Members
142,888
Latest member
boreli
Recent bookmarks
0
Top