Warner Archive Releases A Storm of New Titles on Blu-ray and DVD
The Warner Archive will be releasing a huge crop of famous titles this Novemeber. Included in the unbelievable cache of beloved classics is The Libeled Lady, The Mortal Storm, The Pirate, Stella Dallas, Wurthering Heights, The Westerner, The Little Foxes, The Pride of the Yankees, Meet Me in St. Louis, Kiss Me Kate, and a Hitchcock collection are being released on Blu-ray THIS month all at the same time!
This is incredible! I can usually find a title or two amongst the monthly Blu-ray and DVD classic film releases. I'm thrilled when someone, or in this case some film studio, decides that an old movie deserves the love and affection a restoration release provides. So, the fact that this month there's such a large number of well-known, big name films coming out of the Warner Archive has me so excited! Like, Christmas morning, birthday present, Valentines Day roses all combined into one excited. I'm perfectly serious about this and am exagerating in no way. After all, virtually all of these films come from the Golden Age of Hollywood and are the creme de la creme of that era, with some of the biggest stars of all time. Let me tell you about a few of my favorites among the bunch.
The Libeled Lady (1936) features William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow. This is a "must see". Four of Hollywood's greatest names of the 1930s star in this Academy Award nominated, romantic comedy classic, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. In standard screwball manner there's a society diva (Loy) who slaps newsman Tracy and his newspaper with a libel suit. Tracy enlists his fiancée (Harlow) and his down-on-his-luck pal (Powell) in a counter maneuver in order to prove the salacious story printed in the tabloid wasn't rumor after all. The stellar cast makes what could have been a kooky installment of a stale genre and raises it to an impressive example of comedy from the early of Hollywood 's Golden Age.
In The Mortal Storm director Frank Borzage deftly guides a love story admist the time of Hitler’s rise to power and it's devestaing effect on a close community. The story plays out amidst a world that becomes increasingly cruel and dangerous, even amongst family and friends. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan lead an impressive cast in a tale of political and human chaos that leads to sacrifice, and ultimately heroism. The film also features Robert Young as a young student bewitched by the promises of the new regime who betrays his once beloved Jewish professor, Frank Morgan. To complicate things, Robert Stack, Sullavan's bother and Morgan's stepson, waffles between the appeal of one world and the justice of the other. This truly is a remarkable film that handles the challenges of telling such a story in thrilling manner that avoids melodrama.
And finally, I must urge you to make room in your collection for The Little Foxes (1941). The great Bette Davis britsles with elegant subterfuge in this taught drama. Set at the turn of the twentieth century in the "Deep South", middle-aged siblings are embroiled in a money-driven, power-hungry battle over ownership of a cotton mill expected to yield millions. It may not sound like the most tantalizing tale, but the constant back-stabbing, and revelations of family secrets proves that blood is not thicker than greed amongst this devious and calculating brood. The family will stop at nothing to push their unscrupulous deal through, even if it means destroying everyone around them. Davis leads a brilliant cast in this major screen achievement that garnered nine Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Actress for Davis, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for both Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright, Best Director for William Wyller, and Best Screenplay for Lillian Hellman.
It's certainly an embarassment of riches this month at the Warner Archive. This is such an outstanding group of films, and I've only told you about three of my favorites. I could have gone on about all of the other classics available, but it's more than likely you already know about those more well-known titles. And if you don't, I strongly recommend you get them for a wonderful evening of discovery in your own home. After all, there's nothing like discovering a new old film favorite. And that's not an oxymoron, not if you think about it. Because an old film is still a new film if you haven't discovered it yet.