Youtube movie of the week



Cast: Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Alberton

Polly Parish (Rogers) is a sales girl at Merlin’s Department store. She’s fired just a few days before Christmas. On her way home, she finds a baby on the steps of the orphange and picks it up, so the people at the orphanage think the baby is hers. Thinking she abandoned the baby because she had lost her job, the orphanage convinces David Merlin (Niven) to give Polly her job back. Polly takes care of the baby that isn’t really hers, and begins to love him as though her were her own. As does David, who also begins to love Polly.

Bachelor Mother is a really terrific Christmas movie. It’s one of those movies that’s a clever take on the virgin birth, making the subject matter perfect for the holiday. It also slyly slides past the censors and the Production Code with the subject manner. There’s a tiny bit of a subversive undertone to the family comedy that’s delightful.

This is one of Ginger Rogers’ best performances. As always, she handles both the comedy and the drama with tremendous skill, and helps to make the growing romance between Polly and David very convincing. But what makes her performance great is her work with the baby. Rogers never had any children of her own, but you’d never guess that by the way she behaves with the baby. She grows to love the baby that’s not really her’s, and it’s one of the most convincing performances I’ve ever seen, and it also makes for one of the most touching mother/son relationships in film.

It definitely is, without a doubt, Ginger’s movie. But David Niven gives a very solid performance. He has some great moments of humor, like when he’s reading the baby book and the pages get stuck together, and when he tries to return the toy duck to his own department store. He really is wonderful with Rogers, and the development of their romance is quite lovely.

Bachelor Mother is simply one of the funniest, sweetest movies to come out in the 1930s.

Also, it was remade as a musical in the 1950s with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as Bundle of Joy. It’s not nearly as good as Bachelor Mother, but it is a really cute movie, and Debbie Reynolds is adorable.

Unfortunately, the version on Youtube is the colorized one, but it’s a good movie whether it’s bastardized by color or not.

Part 1, Part 1 continued, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14

And just so you know, after part 4, they’re incorrectly labeled on youtube. I believe I got them all in the right order.

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Walter Connolly, Marjorie Rambeau, Glenda Farrell

I FINALLY got this movie up and loaded on to YouTube. So now nobody has any excuse. Everyone can watch this movie. I decided since it’s up there now, I might as well make it the YouTube Movie of the Week, to advertise the fact that it’s now happily available.

I have already written so much on this movie, so I figured I’d just link to some previous posts on the site…

http://obscureclassics.wordpress.com/2008/04/24/heroines-in-film-trina-from-mans-castle/

http://obscureclassics.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/mans-castle-frank-borzage-1933/

And as soon as you’ve watched it, go to our podcasts page and take a listen to our Man’s Castle podcast.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Cast: Ginger Roger, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Templer, Spring Byington, Tom Tully

Yes, YouTube movie of the week is finally back. And for the month of December, we’re going to be covering just Christmas movies in this feature. And this is one you’ll definitely want to be watching soon, because it will be discussed in the Christmas podcast.

Ginger Rogers plays Mary Martin, a young woman who’s been sent to prison for manslaughter. She’s granted a furlough to go visit her aunt and uncle for Christmas. On the train, she meets Zach, a soldier who’s been in an institution suffering from post traumatic stress. He, too, has been granted a holiday furlough to see how he can handle the real world. Zach gets off the train with Mary, and the two strike up a relationship, with neither known the truth about each other’s problems.

I’ll Be Seeing You is really one of the most genuine romances I’ve ever seen. Films from this era didn’t really get into dark and deeply flawed characters as their romantic heroes and heroines, and the fact that this one does makes the the love story feel very raw and real. It also develops in a very realistic, convincing way. There’s never a moment where I thought that it felt artificial. Few films depict falling in love so honestly.

It was also one of the first films in the 1940s to ditch the patriotic “America is great and being a soldier and defending your country is awesome!” idea, and really tackle the negative effects war can have on those fighting it. Zach suffers deeply from post traumatic stress, and the film isn’t afraid to actually show that. We aren’t just told he’s been suffering, we see it. His behavior in the beginning of the film alone is extremely indicative of this. And we even get an excellent scene where we see him having an episode/flashback. This came out the year before The Best Years of Our Lives, the quintessential film about the hardships of a returning soldier, and it’s really brave in it depiction of a soldier’s struggles, especially since we were still at war at the time.

The handling of Mary’s character is interesting as well. We eventually learn the circumstances of her “crime”, but in the end it doesn’t matter so much. The way she interacts with her family is a really great part of the film. The clearly love her, but both her uncle and her cousin obviously have a difficult time with her being there from prison. Especially her cousin. While she’s friendly to Mary, the things she does (separating their closet, making sure they use different towels), clearly ostracize Mary. Seeing Barbara eventually learn to understand and accept Mary is a wonderfully developed sub plot.

The acting in the film is exceptional. Both Rogers and Cotten give performances that are among the best of their career. Cotten really gets into Zach’s head, and he seems to really understand the hardship of his Post Traumatic Stress. He’s a troubled, deeply flawed man. Rogers gives Mary so much guilt and shame, and over something she really shouldn’t feel guilty about. They both creat extremely fascinating characters. Shirley Temple, all grown up, gives a very interesting performance. She starts off as a girl who doesn’t seem to have a thought in her head, but as she grows to understand Mary, she develops into a realy young lady.

This is a unique Christmas film. It’s definitely a holiday film, but it doesn’t dwell on Christmas. It has a different story all its own, and that’s what I love so much about it. The Christmas moments are wonderful, but the story is so strong and interestingon its own.

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By Katie Richardson

Cast: Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, Nils Asther, Lewis Stone, May Robson, Louise Closser Hale

Joan Crawford plays the title character, a woman of questionable morals who’s taken up with¬† Emile (Asther), who is manipulative and controlling. She finally leaves him, and on the boat meets Jerry Darrow (Montgomery) and she falls in love. But she fears if he knows about her part with Emile that he will leave her, so she attempts to keep it a secret. Which becomes difficult when Emile meets them at the docks. Emile refuses to leave her alone, so Letty resorts to drastic measures.

Letty Lynton is something of a legend among classic film fans. It’s rights have been tied up in legal issues since the late 1930s. A federal court ruled that the story was too close to the play Dishonored Lady, making the film an unauthorized adaptation, thus keeping it completely out of circulation. For decades, it was simply impossible to find, and for years it’s been quite the accomplishment to find a bootleg of it. Recently, though, it’s become a little more available through various rare film dealers. And now, it’s available on YouTube.

Made during the pre-code era, Letty Lynton certainly takes advantage of the things women were allowed to get away with in film at the time. Not only does Letty get away with living the wild life, she also gets away with murder, and in the end still gets the man she loves and the life she wants. These are definitely the makings of pre-code melodrama, and Letty Lynton is one of the best, mainly because of Crawford’s performance. It’s all in her eyes, the fear of being discovered as a “wild” woman, and the fear of losing Jerry. The scene in which she kills Emile has some of Crawford’s best acting, and watching her unravel is certainly entertaining.

Crawford is paired yet again with Robert Montgomery. While he doesn’t have quite as much to do here as he does in his other films with Crawford, he’s still endlessly charming and watchable. He’s definitely not the caddish character he played in so many films. He’s a good man, and his love for Letty is admirable. Crawford and Montgomery were always a really good pair, and this film definitely benefits from that.

It’s legend of this as a lost film might make one a little disappointed in what they end up seeing, but if you just go into it expecting a quality pre-code melodrama, you’ll be pleased.

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By Katie Richardson

Cast: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Erich Von Stroheim, Owen Moore, Hedda Hopper

In one of Garbo’s strangest films, she plays amnesiac nightclub singer Zara, who only has a memory that goes ten years back. She lives with the controlling writer Carl Salter (Von Stroheim) in a twisted, sadistic relationship. Tony (Moore) comes along one night claiming that Zara is actually Maria Varelli, the vanished wife of his friend Bruno (Douglas). Zara goes with Tony, despite not really believing she’s Maria, to get away from Salter. Both Bruno and Tony completely believe that Zara is Maria. But Zara struggles between not really believing she is Maria and wanting to stay with Bruno.

The film is based on a play by Luigi Pirandello, and one has to wonder if the story was an inspiration on Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The two stories share extremely similar plot points and themes. As the viewer, we’re torn between Zara’s inability to believe she really is Maria, and Bruno’s certainty that she is, never certain which we believe. It’s very possible that Bruno and Tony, who have been clinging to an almost non existant hope for over ten years, are simply seeing what they want to see in Zara. It’s fascinating to watch Zara make the transformation from drunken nightclub singer to Italian Countess, and you have to wonder if she’s simply becoming who she always really was, or making a forced transformation to try to be what Bruno wants her to be. The only source of information we have on what Maria was really like is second hand, through the people who knew her and an old diary, so it’s hard to even tell if Zara is truly becoming like Maria at all. Even in the end, it’s left open and we don’t know for sure. It’s a really fascinating examination of perception, identity, and even hope.

Beyond those parts of the story, As You Desire Me also explores a really destructive relationship between Zara and Salter. Not a lot of screentime is given to the pair (an extended scene early in the film and the finale), but Salter’s need to control Zara is one of the main conflicts of the film, and leads to the climax. It’s interesting to compare Zara’s relationship with Bruno to her relationship with Salter. It could be argued that both are equally destructive (up until the conclusion, at least). While Salter may be more controlling and sadistic, with Bruno being gentle and loving, both relationships are initially based on the man seeing what they want to see in Zara, not necessarilly what’s really there. They project their own ideas on to her, essentially making her become what the want her to be (Thus the title). It’s a really interesting exploration of relationships. I don’t think people expect a film this emotionally and psychologically complex to come from 1930s Hollywood.

After seeing nearly every film Garbo made (there are still one or two of her European films I haven’t seen), I’m comfortable with saying that this is her best performance. The character falls in between the troubled vamps from early in her career and the self sacrificing tarnished angels from later in her career. Zara is so often confused, desperate, and even frightened that it would be easy for an actress to portray her as scatterbrained, weak, and pathetic. But Garbo gives her strength. She’s a strong women who’s endured extreme hardship, and while he situation is complicated and she’s certainly not sure what to do about it, she still has the strength to go on. And Garbo mixes that strength with a gentle vulnerability of spirit. It’s that combination that makes her so incredibly convincing and sympathetic in the role.

Both of the lead men (Von Stroheim and Douglas) give interesting performances. Von Stroheim’s Salter is pretty fascinating to watch. His desire to control a woman he so clearly holds a great deal of contempt for could come off as ridiculous, but Von Stroheim simply has the personality to make it believable. Again, he doesn’t have much screen time, but he makes his mark with just a few scenes. Douglas is much better known for his comedies, so it’s a little strange to see him in such a melodramatic role. Of the main three cast members, he is the weakest (I don’t really want to say ‘weakest’, since it’s not at all a bad performance. It’s just not as fantastic as the other two). He really pulls off a sort of urgent desperation in his scenes with Garbo, both for Zara to really be Maria, and to make up for ten years of lost time with his wife.

As You Desire Me is a really unique film to come out of the 1930s. I think it’s one that people who are a little wary of older films will really enjoy. It explores some pretty emotionally and psychologically complex themes that I don’t think people expect from older films. This is definitely one of my all time favorites.

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By Katie Richardson

There are so many obscure classics on YouTube. I barely scratched the surface with my posts. I figured that with so many, it might be tough to figure out where to begin. So I decided to do a weekly article focusing on one film to watch on YouTube each week.

Cast: Joan Crawford, Pauline Frederick, Neil Hamilton, Monroe Owsley, Hobart Bosworth, Emma Dunn, Albert Conti

In this pre-code soaper, Joan Crawford plays Valentine, a 19 year old girl whose father has just died. She goes to Paris to find her mother Diane (Frederick), who she hasn’t seen since she was five. Mother and daughter quickly bond and straightlaced Val is introduced into her mother’s world of partying, drinking, and frivolity. Diane tries desperately to hide the fact that she is the mistress of wealthy Andre (Conti) from her daughter. Val is persued by the drunken Tony (Owsley) who claims to love her but has no intention of marrying her. When the pair is in a car accident, they are helped by Harvard man Bob (Hamilton) and he and Val fall in love.

This movie has a relatively low rating on IMDb, which surprises me. It’s quite unlike a lot of movies being made at the time. While the romance is very prominant in the film, it’s the mother/daughter relationship that takes center stage. The mother/daughter relationship was rarely explored in 1930s film. Father/daughter was the usual familial relationship in films. Sometimes father/son. And mother/son, generally in a negative light. You didn’t see a lot of mother/daughter relationships explored, and that’s the main element to This Modern Age that really makes it worth watching. Crawford and Frederick share a wonderful chemistry, and from the get-go their relationship seems extremely genuine. It’s the most emotionally engaging part of the film. I found myself not really caring whether Val and Bob remained together or not. What I really cared about was seeing Val and Diane maintain a strong relationship.

Outside of that aspect of the film, This Modern Age is quite amusing. It’s a melodrama, but it has a definite sense of humor. There are good joke throughout the film, and even the atmosphere of the free and easy crowd Diane and Val run with allows for a certain humorous atmosphere. Monroe Owsley’s Tony is a lovable ne’er-do-well. He’s one of the bright spots of the film. You know he’ll never win over Val, and you don’t really want him to, but you still love him while he’s making a fool of himself.

The only real weak link in the film is Hamilton, and that’s not really his fault. With so many colorful characters surrounding him, and with an extremely strong mother/daughter relationship, his Harvard footballer, and his relationship with Val, seem somewhat bland in comparison. Hamilton plays the role as well as he can, but he just seems rather boring in the world of the film. If Crawford was a lesser actress, being shackled to the character of Bob might drag down the character of Val. But Crawford has so much charm and talent. Val always seems like the same person throughout the film, whether she’s drinking and partying with Tony, spending time with her mother, or having a romantic moment with Bob.

All in all, This Modern Age is a very good pre-code melodrama, with a very unique relationship at its core.

This is also one that you really should check out. I saw it once on television years ago, and haven’t been able to find it anywhere since. So getting it on YouTube is certainly a find.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8

By Katie Richardson

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