"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
May 232018


Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell team up to play a pair of gold diggers with hearts of gold in this tale of manicurists on the run from the mob. When Rosie Sturges (Blondell, Blonde Crazy) loses her diamond engagement ring from mobster Dynamite Carson (Robert Armstrong, King Kong) to a slick operator with whom she goes on an illicit date, she does the sensible thing and takes it on the lam. Accompanied by gal pal Marie Callahan (Glenda Farrell, Torchy Blane), they go undercover as Girl Scouts and head to New York. When their cover gets blown, they attach themselves to cuckolded millionaire Junior Ashcroft (Hugh Herbert, Sh! The Octopus) and talk their way onto a transatlantic voyage. Things are looking rosy for Rosie and Marie until they meet Junior’s new bodyguard – Dynamite Carson! Joan and Glenda are in fine comic form in this rollicking fable that climaxes with a table-turning triumph in the boudoirs of Paris.


When Daniel Boone comes calling, young Berk Jarvis (John Mack Brown) hears the message loud and clear: It’s time to go west, young Americans. Quickly convincing his mother, Elvira (Lucille La Verne), and brother, Jack, to leave colonial Virginia behind for the wilderness of Kentucky’s Great Meadow, Berk also asks his favorite girl, Diony Hall (Eleanor Boardman), to join him on their wagon train as his wife. The western trek takes a toll on the settlers, but Berk and his bride arrive at Fort Harrod with a baby soon on the way. Tragedy strikes when Elvira and Diony are attacked outside the fort by the psychotic Black Fox, and Elvira is killed. Berk is driven to distraction by the taunts of Black Fox and his horrific trophy, and he abandons his wife and child for the path of vengeance. By the time Berk makes it back, he discovers that the wilderness waits for no man.


CALM YOURSELF (1935) New to DVD 
Unflappable ad executive “Pat” Patton (Robert Young) hits upon the idea of a lifetime while getting fired for kissing Mary Elizabeth Allenby (Betty Furness), his boss’ daughter. While admonishing the apoplectic Colonel Allenby (Claude Gillingwater) to “calm yourself,” Pat decides there is a future in doing deeds others find unpleasant. Pat sets up shop as Confidential Services, Inc. (backdating the firm to 1908), an agency that specializes in the quiet performance of the unpleasant and the unsavory. Pat quickly creates the illusion of a thriving concern, but business is lacking. Pat’s salvation comes in the form of an assignment from banker K.S. Rockwell (Ralph Morgan): Keep a beautiful girl (Madge Evans) away from the stepmother (Shirley Ross) who doesn’t know she exists. It turns out to be a rather pleasant “unpleasant” task – minus the kidnapped baby and the mob!


Small-town lass Winnie Wharton (real-life Ziegfeld Follies star Wini Shaw) is gifted with a golden voice and gumption to boot. Thanks to the assistance of her streetwise manager, Lucky Lorimer (Lyle Talbot), she rises to the top on Broadway as a torch singer. It’s an ascent built from broken dreams, however, as Wini’s piano player, Tommy (Phil Regan), has fallen for her while she only has eyes for Lucky. But Lucky has his heart set on high-society dame Iris Marvin (Genevieve Tobin). While Lucky’s sidekick, Fishcake Carter (Allen Jenkins), succeeds in wooing the wealthy widow Mrs. Duncan-Griswald-Wembly-Smythe (Spring Byington), Lucky’s proposal to Iris is rebuffed. Determined to prove his worth to Iris, Lucky opens a gambling house, and Iris’ brother, Ronnie (Donald Ross), a poisonous snob, soon ends up in hock to Lucky. It’s a debt that soon proves costly to both torch singer and manager…


When a millionaire’s machinations catch up with him in the form of a heart attack, his doctors order him to convalesce in absolute silence. Fate has other plans for G.A. Axton (Lionel Atwill), however, when a pair of escaped, condemned criminals (Bernadene Hays and Wallace Ford) crash Axton’s recovery and cause a plane to crash on his ranch. On board the downed plane are citizens whom Axton has crossed – ex-mistress Zelda (Ann Loring); her lover, Gregory (Louis Hayward); political opponent Governor Pruden (Raymond Walburn); and scandal-mongering newsman “Chubby” Rudd (Stuart Erwin). Taken hostage by the criminal pair, the survivors face their greatest threat: – the clash between Axton’s cruel manipulations and the craven cowardice of the governor. Atwill’s wry villain makes for a most unusual hero, while Wallace Ford and Bernadene Hays’ vaudevillians-turned-Bonnie-and-Clyde tug at the heart.


Crane’s Colossal Carnival receives a radical downsizing after rubes rise up and the carnival’s assets are repossessed, leaving ace pitchman “Honest” Bill Hogan (Robert Armstrong), owner Jeffrey Crane (Edmund Gwenn) and Crane’s daughter Betty (Betty Furness) in desperate need of funds. Venturing to the local bank, Bill encounters aptly named Elmer Lamb (Stuart Erwin), a country bumpkin possessed of an extraordinary brain working as a human adding machine, trying to earn enough money to buy the dairy farm of his dreams. Bill quickly dubs Elmer “Chain Lightning” and drafts him into showman service. Alas, Bill’s best-laid plans prove a bust, but things turn around thanks to a bridge game aboard a train, where Elmer bests famed bridge champion J. Montgomery Brantley (E.E. Clive) alongside low-grade gangster Pudgy Murphy (Edward Brophy). But Pudgy has his own plans, and it might be time for Chain Lightning to fizzle out.

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 May 23, 2018  Add comments

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