Bogie, James Cagney, MacDonald/Eddy On Tap from Warner

Sweet Prince, Hot Showgirl: The DVD and Blu-ray release of My Week with Marilyn, the Oscar-nominated chronicle of a film gopher’s experience on a 1957 film starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Oliver, has prompted Warner Home Video to return that very movie—The Prince and the Showgirl—to the DVD market. Also directed by Olivier, the film tells of the unlikely relationship between the prince of a Balkan country and an American showgirl who can understand German. It’s a light, romantic comedy-drama based on a play by Terrence Rattigan, but Oliver’s exasperations with Monroe behind the scenes drove him away from directing for 13 years.

All’s Welles that Ends Welles: We’re happy to announce that we can now make available the much-demanded The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Orson Welles’ ill-starred follow-up to Citizen Kane. The wunderkind filmmaker’s take on Booth Tarkington novel of the power struggles facing a prominent 19th century Midwestern family wound up being wrested from his grasp by RKO and heavily cut, but what survived of Welles’ vision has only grown in repute over the generations since. Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead and Delores Costello head the cast.

Warner Archives Notes: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald—separately and as a team—have found a prominent place on the upcoming Warner Archive menu.  In The Firefly (1937), MacDonald is a spy undercover as a singer in a Madrid café who helps Spaniard Alan Jones to get the goods on Napoleon’s military plans; Balalaika (1939) finds Eddy as a Russian prince who helps nightclub singer Ilona Massey realize her dream and perform at the opera house, but their relationship is disrupted by the Russian Revolution. In Broadway Serenade (1939), Jeanette, meanwhile, falls for a crafty financier when hubby Lew Ayres heads to Europe for a musical tour. Nelson and Jeanette get together one last time for 1942’s I Married an Angel, in which he’s a banker and she’s a—well, he’s not sure. Could she be a real angel?

Warner also continues to celebrate two of the great tough guys in the studio’s history with a batch from the resumes of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. On-the-lam killer Bogart holes up in a theatrical boarding house in the comedy It All Came True (1940); hoodlum Bogie leads idol-worshipping kid Billy Halop all the way to the slams in You Can’t Get Away With Murder (1939); Chain Lightning (1950) has Bogart as an ace military pilot flying an experimental plane to get a government contract for businessman Raymond Massey; Conflict (1945) features Bogey conniving to kill wife Rose Hobart in order to pursue sister-in-law Alexis Smith;  Frisco Kid (1935) posits Cagney as a seaman in 1850s San Francisco who becomes a powerful gambling hotshot; and Taxi (1932) showcases Jimmy (joined with Loretta Young and George Raft) as a gypsy hack going up against a big cab company playing rough.

Vaudeville team Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey made a series of films for RKO that became popular in the 1930s. New with W&W from the Archives are Kentucky Kernels (1934), helmed by George Stevens, in which the pair are struggling magicians who help “Spanky” McFarland when he inherits a Southern mansion and find themselves in the middle of a war between feuding families; Diplomaniacs (1933), which cast them as barbers roped into representing a Native American tribe at Geneva; The Rainmakers (1935), with the guys trying to solve a drought problem in California; and On Again-Off Again (1937), in which the boys are bickering owners of a pill company.

The parade of golden oldies otherwise continues from the Archives. Among them: The Woman Racket (1930), in which cop Tom Moore discovers that his former floozy wife Blanche Sweet yearns for her days as the hostess of a gin mill; Night Song (1947), with Dana Andrews as a blind pianist urged by socialite Merle Oberon, posing as a destitute blind woman, to finish his concerto; Dentist Dennis Morgan pines for ex Janis Paige, to the dismay of wife Dorothy Malone, in the musicalized Strawberry Blonde remake One Sunday Afternoon (1948); Leslie Howard is the British Agent (1934) who gets deep into Russian politics and takes a liking to Kay Francis who turns out to be Lenin’s secretary; The Idle Rich (1929) offers class comedy in the tale of wealthy businessman Conrad Nagel trying to impress the family of secretary/new fiancee Leila Hyams by moving into their apartment; Voice of the City (1929) has writer-director Willard Mack playing a cop who believes escaped convict Robert Ames’ assertions that he’s innocent; The Red Danube (1949) concerns British officers in post-war Vienna tasked with letting the Russians push citizens behind the Iron Curtain—Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Janet Leigh star; and Man To Man (1930) offers Phillip Holmes as the star athlete who drops out of college because of the shame of his father’s imprisonment, then finds more grief when Dad gets paroled.