Last month we here at MovieFanFare were happy to announce the exclusive release from the Universal Studios Home Entertainment library (which includes the pre-1950 Paramount Pictures roster as well as Universal’s own collection) of 12 vintage films on DVD (click here to see July’s complete list). Well, get ready, collectors of classic cinema, because this week marks the next wave of films, a mind-blowing 51 titles from the ’30s to the ’00s and covering every genre imaginable. From horror with Karloff and Lugosi to comedies featuring Mae West, W.C. Fields, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Tony Curtis, and Doris Day; from a Joan Crawford melodrama to Gregory Peck in the Old West; and from Deanna Durbin singing to Maureen O’Hara as the infamous Lady Godiva, there’s something here for all tastes. Here’s a baker’s dozen of the most interesting titles, which you can own this week:
The Ballad of Josie (1967) – Acquitted for killing her abusive husband in self-defense, prairie woman Josie Minick (Doris Day) decides that she can fend for herself and her young son by becoming a sheep rancher. Trouble is, she’s in cow country, and she’ll need all her pluck when the neighboring cattlemen try to close her down! Feminist frontier farce co-stars Peter Graves, George Kennedy, Andy Devine, David Hartman.
Black Friday (1940) – Scientist Boris Karloff transfers the brain of a gangster into the body of an English professor injured in a car accident. When the academician takes on the characteristics of the hood and seeks revenge against a rival mobster (Bela Lugosi), Karloff faces the consequences of his well-intended but diabolical experiment. Stanley Ridges, Anne Nagel also star in this offbeat Universal chiller.
The Blue Dahlia (1946) – Written by Raymond Chandler, this crackerjack slice of film noir features Alan Ladd as a sailor returning home to Los Angeles who discovers that his wife is involved with another man. When she’s found murdered, Ladd becomes the prime suspect, forcing him to launch his own investigation with Veronica Lake, the estranged spouse of his wife’s lover. William Bendix and Howard Da Silva also star.
Every Day’s a Holiday (1937) – Mae West is at her best as Peaches O’Day a slick con woman in 1890s New York who poses as a sultry French singer named Mademoiselle Fifi in order to elude the law. Her efforts lead to the ousting of a corrupt police chief and the election of a reform mayor into office. Edmund Lowe and Lloyd Nolan also star, with a special appearance by jazz great Louis Armstrong.
Female on the Beach (1955) – A recent widow (Joan Crawford) decides to put the past behind her by moving into a newly-available, secluded beach house. The availability, unfortunately, stems from the fact that the prior tenant fell to her death…and the shady realtor (Jan Sterling), as well as an aggressive local beach bum (Jeff Chandler), seem to know more about the incident than they’re telling. Suspenser co-stars Cecil Kellaway, Natalie Schafer, Charles Drake.
For Love or Money (1963) – Attorney Deke Gentry (Kirk Douglas) is harangued by an eccentric widow client (Thelma Ritter) to find worthwhile mates for her three marriageable daughters (Mitzi Gaynor, Julie Newmar, Leslie Parrish). While the $100,000 she promised sure helped provide incentive, the young ladies’ demands might have him looking for recusal! The romantic charmer co-stars Gig Young, William Bendix, Dick Sargent, and William Windom.
Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955) – Maureen O’Hara plays history’s original “streaker” in this costume (or, in the title heroine’s case, uncostumed) drama set in medieval England. As the Normans and Saxons vie for power, nobleman’s wife O’Hara makes her famous ride through the Canterbury streets to prove Saxon loyalty (except for a tailor named Peeping Tom). With George Nader, Eduard Franz, Victor McLaglen; look quickly for a young Clint Eastwood as “1st Saxon.”
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934) – This sentimental sudser, based on a popular play, stars Pauline Lord as the poor but unflappable mother of five who struggles to pay the mortgage and provide for her brood while waiting patiently for her husband to return from seeking his fortune in the Klondike. ZaSu Pitts plays the family’s neighbor, husband-seeking old maid Miss Hazy, and W.C. Fields is the prospective suitor whom she tries to woo with some good home cooking…supplied by Mrs. Wiggs. Evelyn Venable, Virginia Weidler, and Donald Meek also star.
The Perfect Furlough (1958) – As part of a morale-building experiment by Army psychologist Janet Leigh, Arctic-stationed G.I. Tony Curtis wins a three-week trip to Paris and beautiful movie star Linda Cristal as an escort. Things don’t go as planned, however, as Leigh and Curtis wind up falling for each other in this breezy romantic comedy directed by Blake Edwards.
Shoot Out (1971) – Middle-aged outlaw Gregory Peck gets out of prison after an eight-year stretch and searches for his former partner, who duped him during a bank robbery. Along the way, however, Peck must care for an orphaned girl and try to avoid a deranged gunman hired by his ex-partner to kill him. James Gregory, Pat Quinn, and Susan Tyrrell also star in this Western from the same creative team behind “True Grit.”
Souls at Sea (1937) – Compelling seafaring drama showcases Gary Cooper as a first mate on an 1800s slave ship who takes command of the vessel and frees its captives after the captain is killed during a rebellion. Following his exoneration on mutiny charges, Cooper and shipmate George Raft are recruited for a clandestine mission, and romance and adventure ensue. With Frances Dee, Henry Wilcoxon.
The Unguarded Moment (1956) – A high school music teacher (Esther Williams in a change-of-pace role), on the receiving end of an increasingly disturbing string of mash notes, makes the impulsive and ill-advised decision to confront the stalker herself. When the suspect turns out to be the campus’s star athlete (John Saxon), Williams finds her reputation–if not her life–being placed on the line. This suspenseful and controversial stunner co-stars George Nader, Edward Andrews, and Jack Albertson.
Up in Central Park (1948) – In 1880s New York City, a feisty Irish immigrant (Deanna Durbin) teams up with a handsome young reporter (Dick Haymes) to help him bring down infamous corrupt politico “Boss” Tweed (Vincent Price). This lively adaptation of Sigmund Romberg’s Broadway musical features such tunes as “Carousel in the Park,” “Oh Say Do You See What I See?,” and “When She Walks in the Room.”
For further info and even more new releases coming out this week, click here.