Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lost Films

Tonight Turner Classic Movies presented a real treat as part of their periodic efforts to showcase rare or seldom seen movies. A few years ago they presented a number of Howard Hughs produced films from the 20's, including a picture called The Mating Call, which featured a surely rare instance of silent era rear nudity. Tonight, and again next Wednesday night, the channel is featuring a total of six films that have not been shown on television in roughly 50 years, all of this steaming from a dispute between RKO studios and producer Merian C. Cooper in the middle 1940's. All of tonight's films were released in 1933, and ended up in the film archive at Brigham Young University.

Rafter Romance
First up is a New York City based romantic comedy staring a pre-Fred Astire Ginger Rogers, and Norman Foster. The two share loft-like apartment in shifts, he's a struggling artist and night watchman, she's a, get this, telemarketer. Robert Benchley plays Rogers boss and would be suitor, but as in The Major and the Minor nine years later, he fails to get her. (Must see's: The Benchley shorts How to Sleep and How to Wake Up, the apparent inspirations for a number of Disney cartoons).

Double Harness
A largely downer drama about how jaded and deceptive people stand in the way of there own happiness. Ann Harding gives an intriguing performance as a women who traps a consummate bachelor into marrying her, while William Powell gets to be his trademark sophisticated self. It took me a while to figure that Harding and Powell had slept together, due to the nature of some period films in talk around such things. (Excerpt from my thoughts while watching the film: Why is Henry Stephenson so upset that his daughter was at Powell's apartment at night? ... Oh!). Subplot concerns Ann's sister's (Lucile Browne) overspending, film culminates in dinner party for Post Master General. Why was this movie at the BYU archives?

One Man's Journey
The treasure among the films shown tonight. An earnest doctor movie staring Lionel Barrymore. He's raising his son as a single parent, he takes in the baby daughter of an ungratefull farmer after the man's wife dies, he fights Small Pox and Typhoid, and cares for poor country folk who don't entirely trust him, and all in the first half hour. Man anything Barrymore did in the 30's was just meant to pull at your heart strings. Oh, and God wastes no time punishing pre-martial sex in this movie, no wonder it was in the BYU archives.


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