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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Melodrama > Musical > Fantasy > Satire > Slapstick > Romance > Great Depression > Screwball > Anna Christie (1930*)/Cabin In The Sky (1943*)/A Day At The Races (1937*)/Faithless (1932/*all MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/That Uncertain Feeling (1941/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)

Anna Christie (1930*)/Cabin In The Sky (1943*)/A Day At The Races (1937*)/Faithless (1932/*all MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/That Uncertain Feeling (1941/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Anna Christie, Cabin In The Sky, A Day At The Races and Faithless Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from the link below.

Now for some classic comedy, including by some of the best journeyman filmmakers, artists, and auteurs ever and the great on camera talent ever seen...

Clarence Brown's Anna Christie (1930) was a breakthrough film for Greta Garbo, the big screen silent beauty slowly making her transition to sound (this was her first sound film) and film more than just surviving it, but thriving. However, because of her star status, many wondered if she could play a serious role and as a prostitute with personal issues, but she pulled it off and the result was another early sound hit. The film takes a little longer than you might expect today to really start, but it starts working well enough once she arrives.

Based on a Eugene O'Neill Pulitzer Prize-winning play, she is good in it and supporting turns by Charles Bickford as her new love interest who does not know about her past, Marie Dressler and George F. Marion are fine and well cast for the limited cast we get. But it is Garbo who ultimately delivers and though the film has a few off moments, worth a good look and it is a pre-Hollywood Code film, so it has some then-racy items too.

Jacques Feyder directed the German-language version also included here and it is not bad and similar enough to be as watchable and at least as interesting, with a totally different cast (save Garbo) and is only 4 minutes shorter.

Extras include the already noted German version of the film, a Garbo career retrospective on the TV series MGM Parade, 2/7/1938 radio drama episode version of the film on The Lux Radio Theater with Joan Crawford in Garbo's lead role and the classic 1930 Looney Tunes animated cartoon The Booze Hangs High.

Vincente Minnelli's Cabin In The Sky (1943) is the first of two films we have here that have some great music and great African American performers, but they get the top MGM studio treatment at the horrific price of being stuck in racial stereotype and other racist tropes. The studio gives them one of their best directors, plus some work by also-legendary Busby Berkeley, the legendary Arthur Freed musical production unit and paid for one of the best casts you could have for a musical at any time. Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Jack Benny comedy veteran Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Rex Ingram, Butterfly McQueen, Bill Bailey and a fired-up cast often save this film from itself with some priceless moments when it takes a break from its rather bizarre narrative.

It can be very hard to watch and especially by today's standards, almost schizophrenic. Anderson's Little Joe is a gambler who gets shot and killed, but gets a second chance to come back to the world of the living and correct things. Then we get religious references, conjurings of The Devil himself and this sad idea that the characters have to alternatives to a better life; one with economic opportunities, dignity, the promise of a better tomorrow and much, much more. Still, that the most powerful movie studio of the time felt it was worth the economic risk of making even this film speaks to the undeniable talent on the screen and reminds us of the priceless contributions of African Americans to all of music in the United States. Worth a look if you can get past its permanent issues.

Extras include, a feature length audio commentary track by Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson's wife Evangela and daughter Eva, African American Culture Scholar Todd Boyd and an except of an interview with Lena Horne by film scholar Drew Casper, audio outtake of Louis Armstrong singing Ain't It The Truth, vintage live action Pete Smith short Studio Visit and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Sam Wood's A Day At The Races (1937) remains one of the best films with The Marx Brothers, and though it has some issues here and there, it has some of the funniest and most brilliant comedy in cinema history with Groucho, Chico and Harpo recreate the energy, charm and brilliance of A Night At The Opera. Even when this film has minor issues, they are so incredible and unforgettable together and funny beyond belief, that any such moments are left in the dust.

Chico works as a driver for a local sanitarium that is in trouble, with its current owner (Maureen O'Sullivan from the Tarzan films, et al) is being bullied into selling it and allowing its needy residents to be pushed out, things take and unexpected twist when a rich visitor (Margaret Dumont, always underrated and brilliant) hears that her favorite doctor might be coming to run the place. This is a lie Chico has made up because he merely heard her talk highly of the man, so he sends out a request and Dr. Hackensack (Groucho!) arrives as all madness breaks loose!

In addition to this, Harpo is a horse jockey at a gambling race track that Chico also goes to, but he loves gambling, which is not easy since his funds are limited. With the institution in jeopardy, can they pick a winning horse that will save them all? All these decades later, it is a comedy classic for a reason.

However, there is one sequence in the middle and that is one where Harpo finds a group of young black children at the institution and starts playing the flute as they sing about Gabriel's horn and it becomes the film's second biggest musical sequence in what is not necessarily a musical. An adult African American jazz group then also happens to show up and join in and the point is supposed to be unity, but it gets lopsided by racism and a highly unfortunate end to the sequence that kills most of the good will. Too bad.

Allan Jones becomes the owner's love interest and we get more great supporting work by Sig Ruman, Douglass Dumbrille, Leonard Ceeley, Robert Middlemass, plus Richard Farnsworth, Kenny Baker, Hopper Atchley, W.C. Fields and Dorothy Dandridge are also apparently in the film somewhere. The casting is as key, with the chemistry of all involved still remarkable to this day and Irving Thalberg was one of the reasons, though the brothers were in prime form by this time, Thalberg's passing hurt this film and the trio would never hit cinematic heights his high again, most unfortunately.

Cuts did not help this film, including two musical numbers and some other items that could have stayed, yet this is still their longest film and you can see why people still talk about it, why it is still celebrated and remains a legendary comedy. Of course, the great Rock band Queen named two of their most important albums after this film and A Night At The Opera, a decision that seems more and more brilliant as each year passes by. But the bottom line is, this film is one of the great comedies that has been rarely matched or surpassed, and this beautiful restorations one of the best we've seen in a while, which says something.

Warner Archive has the rights to their last four MGM films and their lone RKO film, so I hope they are up next for the same treatment, even if they are not always as highly regarded. Remaining one of the greatest comedy teams of all time, they deserve the top rate treatment and so do we!

Extras includes a solid feature length audio commentary track by Marx Brothers Encyclopedia author Glenn Mitchell that is definitely worth listening to after watching the film, though he does not talk all the way through, is a great early track, plus we get the featurette On Your Marx, Get Set, Go!, an Original Theatrical Trailer, a live action MGM Robert Benchley short A Night At The Movies, unused audio-only section by Groucho of his Dr. Hackenbush character in the film, outtake of the cut song A Message From The Man On The Moon, Leo Is On The Air radio promo for the film and the classic MGM animated cartoons: Gallopin' Gals, Mama's New Hat and Old Smokey. That makes this a must-see, must-buy disc!

For more restored Marx Bros., try our coverage of the previous hit film, A Night At The Opera on Blu-ray at this link:


Harry Beaumont's Faithless (1932) is an early Tallulah Bankhead film where she is the daughter of a very rich father, but it is the late 1920s, which means the big stock market crash is on the way and The Great Depression immediately follows. She turns down a young man named Bill (Robert Montgomery) who only makes a mere $20,000 dollars a year (even adjusted over nine decades later, she and her family are far wealthier) for marriage, then the bottom falls out.

Instead of changing her mind, she lands up with a rich and abusive goof, then things get even worse, though Bill is still interested. I won't give much more away, but the film is a comedy, but has a darker side because it has to. The enduring journeyman director Beaumont is more than able to handle it all and Bankhead is incredible in her early prime here. I really liked this and it is definitely worth going out of your way for. Hugh Herbert, Maurice Murphy, Louise Closser Hale, Henry Kolker, Lawrence Grant and another great, though uncredited, turn by the great Sterling Holloway make for a solid supporting cast. Definitely recommended.

Extras include three live action short subjects: Rambling Around Radio Row #18, The Trans-Atlantic Mystery and The Symphonic Murder Mystery, with director W.S. Van Dyke (The Thin Man, Tarzan The Ape Man, Manhattan Melodrama) involved as a real plus for these underrated gems.

That leaves us with Ernst Lubitsch's That Uncertain Feeling (1941) has Merle Oberon and Melvyn Douglas happily married, but one day, she meets a pianist played by Burgess Meredith and starts to doubt her marriage when she has a case of the hiccups so severe, she sees a medical doctor. This is the kind of film the great director could pull off in ways almost no one else could and was on a roll with hit classics like The Merry Widow, Angel, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Ninotchka, The Shop Around The Corner and after this film, To Be Or Not To Be.

He was already a well known, successful director in the silent era when he moved to Hollywood, sound arrived and the top studios in town brought him in. I think it is a very good film, but one of our fellow writers really loves it and you can read more as we previously reviewed this gem via the old Roan Group DVD edition at this link:


We also get extras this time, with a so-so condition copy of the Daffy Duck cartoon short Henpecked Duck from the same year as the film and Castle Films News Parade of 1941.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on all four Warner Archive releases can show the age of the materials used, but the results are far superior to all previous releases of the film on home video and some of the shots on some of them are stunning. Anna Christie suffers from its age, but they gave repaired and cleaned things as much as possible. There are some great shots of Garbo too. Cabin and Faithless will surprise viewers, but for whatever reason including the money that was put into the film A Day At The Races has more than a few demo shots ands the MGM monochromatic gloss kicks in during a few scenes that are demo-worthy for any system. In all cases, it makes the comedy work better too.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on the four Warner Archive releases are restored from their original theatrical mono releases and sound as good as they likely ever will. Anna Christie is the oldest film here and even the most powerful studio in Hollywood could only deliver sound so good the first few years of sound on film, so notice how many scenes are talking characters staying in one place because the microphones were only so good. The results can be a little rough or limited, but they were a revelation at the time.

Finally, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image on Feeling is a recycle of the older Roan Group DVD, but looks a little better with the Video Black a little stronger, though the film still needs some work. The PCM 2.0 Mono is also a slight improvement over the old, lossy, weak Dolby Digital from that old DVD, yet could also use some work. This is the best this will play until a full new 4K restoration can be done.

To order any or all four of the Warner Archive Blu-ray releases covered here, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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