3 Stars

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Barbara Stanwyck sizzles, Henry Fonda bumbles, and Preston Sturges runs riot in one of the all-time great screwballs, a pitch-perfect blend of comic zing and swoonworthy romance. Aboard a cruise liner sailing up the coast of South America, Stanwyck’s conniving card sharp sets her sights on Fonda’s nerdy snake researcher, who happens to be the heir to a brewery fortune. But when the con artist falls for her mark, her grift becomes a game of hearts—and she is determined to win it all. One in a string of matchless comedic marvels that Sturges wrote, directed, and produced as part of a dazzling 1940s run, this gender-flipped battle-of-wits farce is perhaps his most emotionally satisfying work, tempering its sparkling wit with a streak of tender poignancy supplied by the sensational Stanwyck at her peak.

FILM INFO

  • Preston Sturges
  • United States
  • 1941
  • 93 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #103

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2001 featuring film professor Marian Keane
  • Introduction from 2001 by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
  • Interview from 2020 with writer-director Preston Sturges’s biographer and son Tom Sturges and friends
  • New video essay by film critic David Cairns
  • Costume designs by Edith Head
  • Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1942 featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Ray Milland
  • Audio recording of “Up the Amazon,” a song from an unproduced stage musical based on the film
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1946 profile of Preston Sturges from LIFE magazine

New cover by Maurice Vellekoop

July 14, 2020

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Ronald Epstein

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Ronald Epstein

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Robert Crawford

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Even though I own this digitally on iTunes, I'm buying this Blu-ray as it's my favorite Sturges movie. When I watched this movie, I can see why Henry Fonda had a huge crush on Barbara Stanwyck.:)
 

Robert Crawford

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I just bought this on iTunes a month or two ago, so you're welcome. ;)

I'll definitely be picking this up!
I wonder if that digital will be upgraded on iTunes?
 

Ronald Epstein

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I just put this on my digital wish list. Never heard of this film. Was $5 recently.
 

Robert Crawford

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I just put this on my digital wish list. Never heard of this film. Was $5 recently.
I won't recommend it because it's a comedy, but I love this movie.
 

timk1041

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Good to see this coming to Blu Ray. Now "Hail The Conquering Hero" should be next.
 
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dana martin

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Good to see this coming to Blu Ray. Now "Hail The Conquering Hero" should be next.
or since they seem to be able to get a Paramount title, how about Miracle of Morgan's Creek, been waiting o this announcement :D
 
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bujaki

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Preston Sturges must have brought some expensive call girls to the censors' screening of Morgan's Creek because they certainly did not pay any attention to the shenanigans on the screen.:D
 
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lark144

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Preston Sturges must have brought some expensive call girls to the censors' screening of Morgan's Creek because they certainly did not pay any attention to the shenanigans on the screen.:D
Supposedly, according to some article I read a long time ago, Preston Sturges made the specifics of THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK by the tenets of the MPPA code, so on the surface it was squeaky clean; for instance, (I'm going from memory here, so this may not be completely accurate) they have milk and cookies at the social, there's no necking or inappropriate behavior to be seen, she wakes up in the morning with a marriage certificate, etc. Apparently, Preston Sturges was able to take the Hays office through, scene by scene and line by line, and show that everything that happened was according to code. Of course, the way the film was paced and the actors were directed, it's clear to whomever wants to interpret the material, that these are all euphemisms, and something else is going on that's not stated in the dialogue or shown, but that's another matter. I'm under the impression that the MPPA approved the script and didn't see the finished film before it was released, but I could be mistaken.

Still, why the name Trudy Kockenlocker didn't cause the hairs on the backs of the censors' necks to collectively stand up is anyone's guess.
 
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I just put this on my digital wish list. Never heard of this film. Was $5 recently.
If you like Barbara Stanwyck, you'll love this film. if you don't like her, this film will change your opinion of her. It's one of her very best performances. She didn't do many comedies, but when she did . . . .
 
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Dick

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"Miracle of Morgan's Creek" still owned by Paramount, would be my next Sturges wish on blu ray.
So glad to see Criterion releasing a Paramount title again...I hope this is not a one-shot. Paramount's recent efforts (under new Home Entertainment management, from what I hear) to get their neglected classics out on Blu-ray here and in Europe will hopefully lead to many more of the favorites we've been begging of them for a decade. But Criterion now means that three companies in the U.S. have some kind of deal with them: Criterion, Shout! and its own "Paramount Presents," to say nothing of Imprint in Australia. This is most encouraging. I, too, hope for MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK. I understand WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is in the works, as a commentary will be/has been recorded for it.

Well, I know where at least part of my stimulus check is going...
 

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If you like Barbara Stanwyck, you'll love this film. if you don't like her, this film will change your opinion of her. It's one of her very best performances. She didn't do many comedies, but when she did . . . .
and in the same release year, she did a little Samuel Goldwyn film for Howard Hawks, opposite Gary Cooper, now if Warner Archive can jump on the bandwagon.... Ball of Fire would make a great double feature.