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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Romance > Relationships > Class Division > Satire > Space Race > Spy > Espionage > Heist > Large Fr > Coquette (1929/DVD/United Artists*)/Glass-Bottomed Boat (1966/Blu-ray/MGM/*both Warner Archive)/The Golden Head (1965/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)

Coquette (1929/DVD/United Artists*)/Glass-Bottomed Boat (1966/Blu-ray/MGM/*both Warner Archive)/The Golden Head (1965/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)



Picture: C/B/B & C+ Sound: C/B-/B & C+ Extras: D/C/B Films: C+/C+/B-



PLEASE NOTE: The Coquette DVD and Glass-Bottomed Boat Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



These three feature film comedies, one of which was lost until recently, show the rise and fall of the comedy genre from the beginning of the sound film era to the end of the large-frame, widescreen craze just before TV sitcoms and more explicit comedies arrived.



Mary Pickford was not only one of the first women to ever be dubbed America's Sweetheart and was one of the biggest stars in world cinema during the silent era, she was a queen of silent comedy and became the first female movie mogul when she co-founded United Artists a century ago. Many of her silent films have been beautifully restored by The Mary Pickford Foundation (reviewed on Blu-ray and DVD elsewhere on this site), but she continued her winning ways into the sound era and Sam Taylor's Coquette (1929) continued her winning ways.


An immediate hit, she won the Best Actress Academy Award as the daughter of a wealthy man who falls for a financially poor young man (John Mack Brown) as a comedy that has its moments and is not bad for its time considering how stilted so many early sound films (aka soundies) turned out. Running a short 78 minutes, it does not have any outright hilarious moments, but is consistent, if not predictable.


The one irritating part if the stereotype of the 'mammy' black maid that even when they try to be subversive with the role, fail. It also plays like filler, which is odd considering sound was so new and more expensive than silent filmmaking, so too bad they did not cut the scenes or find something better to do with their money and our time.


There are unfortunately no extras.



Frank Tashlin's The Glass-Bottomed Boat (1966) is a safe comedy with Doris Day as a MASA employee who becomes unexpectedly involved with Rod Taylor, leading to her being suspected of espionage, which is actually being conducted against NASA by another, an unsuspected Dom DeLuise in an early role. Nothing is very funny here either, though we get a great cast including Paul Lynde (who infamously shows up here in drag), Arthur Godfrey (still surviving after the on-air firing of a singer that gave his reputation a permanent scar), John McGiver, Dick Martin, Eric Fleming and Edward Andrews.


Tashlin and the script don't ever try to be anywhere as dark, witty or daring as he was with his two Jayne Mansfield films (Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can't Help It; both reviewed elsewhere on this site) but is consistent in its own sitcom logic. Soon, Day would have her hit TV show while still making big screen feature films. At least she went out on top before she unexpectedly retired.


Unfortunately, not much of this is memorable, even the theme song Day sings, but this does look pretty good and some of the gadgets are funnier than the intended jokes. However, this also gets off track and the 110 minutes might have been spent getting more out of the supporting cast. Now you can see for yourself.


Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, three featurettes intended to promote the film at the time (NASA, Catalina Island, Every Girl's Dream (in black and white here about Day's clothes in the film) and Chuck Jones' Oscar-winning animated short The Dot and the Line.



Finally, we have a feature film that has been mostly lost for the last 55 years and an animated short film considered totally lost. Richard Thorpe's The Golden Head (1965) is a large-frame format heist comedy that takes place in Europe with George Sanders as a 'clever' thief and Buddy Hackett as his idiotic assistant. Douglas Wilmer is the British detective taking his family on a boat-bound vacation while he addresses representatives of the world and a crime wave (caused by Sanders) is afoot. His family, especially his very young daughter, land up getting entangled in the robbery of the title object made of solid gold with other gems in it. It is also religious.


The film looks great and the supporting cast is not bad, but like so many comedies of the time, no better than a pre-All In The Family sitcom and this one has too much of an idiot plot (one reveal would end everything early), so the makers where counting on the visuals to make up for that and that was a big mistake. The resulting film is a mixed bag that also wants to be It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (see our Criterion Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) down to some of the slapstick and hiring Hackett, but to little avail.


Instead, it is an uneven curio that looks better than most such films and would be the last of such films in a few years as the studios needed new comedy ideas as the hit TV sitcom was here to stay. Glad they found the film, though.


Extras (as explained by the press release in part) include a booklet facsimile reproduction of the original premiere program in the disc case, while both disc versions add Fortress of Peace - A short film directed by John Fernhout, portraying the Swiss Army fighting against an unnamed, unseen enemy which originally screened theatrically in front of The Golden Head, A Tale of Old Whiff - Originally in Smell-O-Vision, a 70mm cartoon where a dog, named "Old Whiff", searches for a dinosaur bone (turns out it was made on 35mm film in the older CinemaScope format, so it is a blow-up production), Restoration of Golden Head - A featurette narrated by David Strohmaier about the new restoration of this Cinerama title, Restoration of the animation, A Tale of Old Whiff - a featurette narrated by David Strohmaier about the restoration of this animated classic, Image Gallery - featuring original production, exhibition and promotional materials and a Trailer Gallery - featuring restored Cinerama titles.



Now for playback quality. The 1.33 X 1 black & white digital image transfer on Coquette is definitely a good looking film because Pickford's box office allowed for great sets, locales and clothes, but the print can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and the transfer has some digitiis that suggests an older standard-definition transfer. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound is also a generation down, but you can make out most of what is being said. Hope this gets restored at some point.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Boat can also show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film because Warner has spent the time and money to restore the film to look as good as it can. I think the use of color is not bad, shot well by Director of Photography Leon Shamroy, A.S.C., in anamorphic 35mm Panavision and processed by MetroColor. Save some minor flaws, I cannot imagine this looking much better and the sound is presented in as clear as can be expected in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix that's good for its age.


That leaves the 1080p 2.59 X 1 Smilebox digital High Definition Blu-ray image transfer on Golden Head looking the best of all the discs here, only rarely showing the age of the materials used, but surviving well in the large-frame formats it was shot in. For starters, it was primarily shot in the Technirama format, known as Super Technirama 70 as the squeeze on the VistaVision like 35mm film (shot horizontally, rare for any film format) was being issued in 70mm prints for the second half of the format's life and after 42 such productions since 1957, was the last one for the great format, sadly. The cameras were becoming too heavy and filming too expensive, to the point that two other great 70mm cameras were also used to shoot this film: the Mitchell 65 and very portable MCS-70 camera from Germany. Some would argue that disqualifies it as a final Technirama film, but most of the film was shot that way and then it was shown on ultra-large Cinerama screens. The anamorphically enhanced 2.59 X 1 image on the DVD is passable, but absolutely no match for the Blu-ray edition.


Technicolor, who invented Technirama, again issued dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor 35mm print reduction versions of the film and did the large-frame lab work. Despite fading, the film's negative held up far better than expected and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix of the original 6-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects is also not bad for its age. The DVD's lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 cannot compete, but will do.



The Golden Head set can be order via Amazon on our sidebar. To order the Coquette DVD and/or Glass-Bottomed Boat Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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