"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Mar 042015



Fredric March Madness

ANTHONY ADVERSE (1936) Hervey Allen’s global best-selling phenomenon of a novel gets the big screen epic treatment in this sweeping spectacle directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Fredric March heads a cast of fellow greats as the titular hero, including go-to epic gal Olivia de Havilland, consummate actor Claude Rains as a most hissable villain and Gale Sondergard as the duplicitous housekeep – a role that garnered her the inaugural best supporting Oscar award! Born into scandal and enmity in 18th Century Europe, the aptly named Anthony Adverse sails the long way around adventure and vengeance in his journey to re-capture the heart of the lass he left behind.

ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN (1941) Fredric March shines bright in this charming and inspiration biopic based on the memoir of Hartzell Spence, about his father, Methodist minister William Spence. Medical student William Spence (March) was very much of man of this world when he suddenly felt the calling of another. Changing tracks, he abandons anatomy for Deuteronomy and becomes a circuit minister. But his family still lives in this world, even if he has one limb in the next… With Martha Scott, Beulah Bondi and Gene Lockhart. Directed by Irving Rapper.

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1944) Irving Rapper directs Fredric March again in this semi-fictional biography of Samuel Clemens that blends his life and stories into a heady piece of intoxicating film fluff. Thanks to March’s iconic performance, this film cemented our perception of the man who would become Mark Twain down to this very day. Now, newly remastered, March’s Clemens can be seen again in a whole new light. With Alexis Smith, Alan Hale, Donald Crisp, C. Aubrey Smith and John Carradine.

WE LIVE AGAIN (1934) Legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn presents a frank and forthright version of Tolstoy’s classic tale of sin and salvation by shining a spot on Russian sensation Anna Sten just in time to avoid the strictures of post-Code cinema. May we be thankful that Goldwyn and director Rouben Mamoulian got it out of the gate when they did. Fredric March plays love ’em and leave ’em aristocrat Prince Dmitri Nekhlyudov, who has his way with pure-hearted servant girl Katusha Maslova (Anna Sten) before hitting the highway. Katusha falls into vice while Dmitri falls into empty dissolution. When chance reunites them years later and underscores their divide, Dmitri abandons his past and future to atone to Katusha.

Double Bogie

THE BIG SHOT (1942) 1942 was a momentous year in the career of Humphrey Bogart, as the Warner contract veteran suddenly found himself red hot with a studio that suddenly knew what to do with his unique and prodigious gifts thanks to The Maltese Falcon. The Big Shot shows Bogie on his way to the persona that would crystallize in Casablanca later that year, but still carries with it remnants of his earlier Warner heavy parts. Three time loser ‘Duke’ Berne wants to steer clear of crime, but his old associates and a millionaire mob lawyer (Stanley Ridges) have other plans… Plans that resolve around an armored car heist. Duke’s head starts to swim when he finds his ex (Irene Manning) is now Mrs. Mob Lawyer, but she’s still got a hankering to play house with him. Equal parts proto-noir, romance and prison flick, this seldom seen showcase for Bogie’s heavy-heart is a stand-out. Directed by Lewis Seiler.

SWING YOUR LADY (1938) Speaking of that time when Warner Bros. was unsure of how to use Bogart, we proudly present this  delightful oddity featuring Bogart billed as a Warner Bros. comedy star along with Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins and Nat Pendleton! And it’s not just any comedy, but a “rasslin’ jamboree” mixture of wrestling and hillbilly songs. Built around the music of The Weaver Brothers and Elviry (“America’s Favorite Hillbilly Entertainers”), Bogie plays it straight as Ed, an out-of-town promoter desperate to get his wrestling protégé (Pendleton) to break out into the big time, aided by trainers Popeye (McHugh) and Shiner (Jenkins). Finding no able-bodied man folk in town to take on his grappler, Ed sets him up against the local blacksmith Sadie, a mountain of a lass. And then romance blossoms …

NOTE: These DVDs are Manufactured on Demand (MOD); to order, fans must visit The Warner Archive Collection, WB Shop.com, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 Posted by on March 4, 2015  Add comments

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