Happy Black Friday, FanFare readers! Just in time for you to delight the classic movie buff on your Yuletide shopping list, we’re happy to announce the latest slate of new Universal Vault DVDs. Some of these vintage Universal and pre-1950 Paramount titles have only been available as parts of multi-disc sets, so now they’re the perfect stocking stuffer size! There’s a music-filled romp with Deanna Durbin, frontier action with Joel McCrea, and laugh-filled fun with the one and only Bob Hope. From Hedy Lamarr in a romantic drama that proved to be her final film to some of the best from Rock Hudson’s early leading man days, there’s something here for all tastes. Check out 12 of the newest vault releases below, and click here to see all the week’s new releases:
100 Men and a Girl (1937) — With her out-of-work trombonist dad (Adolphe Menjou) at his wit’s end, plucky teen soprano Patsy Cardwell (Deanna Durbin) resolves to help him–and 99 of his colleagues in the same boat–by whipping them into a orchestra! Will her sales pitch fly with a skeptical patron couple (Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette) or an also-doubtful Leopold Stokowski (as himself)? Charming hit co-stars Mischa Auer, Billy Gilbert; songs include “It’s Raining Sunbeams” and “A Heart That’s Free.”
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) — Cruise line magnate T.F. Bellows (W.C. Fields) is certain his new ship will win a transatlantic race with his rival…but to be on the safe side, he arranges for his ne’er-do-well jinx brother S.B. (Fields, again) to board the other boat! Of course, S.B. gets on the wrong vessel, making for a comically bumpy voyage! Variety extravaganza co-stars Bob Hope (singing “Thanks for the Memories” in his feature debut), Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour, and Ben Blue.
Broken Lullaby (1932) — In the trenches of World War I, Paul Renard (Philips Holmes) kills a German soldier in hand-to-hand combat…and discovers to his horror that the dead man was a music conservatory classmate and friend. After the armistice, he journeys to offer condolences to the grieving father (Lionel Barrymore) and fiancée (Nancy Carroll), but his concealment of his role in the death is certain to lead to further heartbreak. Ernst Lubitsch’s sobering tale co-stars Lucien Littlefield, ZaSu Pitts.
The Female Animal (1958) — Aging film goddess Vanessa Windsor (Hedy Lamarr, in her screen farewell), grateful for being rescued from an on-set calamity by hunky extra Chris Farley (George Nader), offers him a caretaker job. The young man’s discomfort with the arrangement gets ramped up when his too-attentive boss battles for his attentions with her grown, hard-drinking daughter (Jane Powell)! Campy soaper co-stars Jan Sterling, James Gleason.
A Gathering of Eagles (1963) — Assigned to whip a Strategic Air Command base into passing muster, Air Force colonel Jim Caldwell (Rock Hudson) is fully aware that his career, let alone national security, is contingent upon his success. The pressure to perform, however, might ultimately render his relationship with his new bride (Mary Peach) as collateral damage. Stirring military drama co-stars Rod Taylor, Barry Sullivan, Kevin McCarthy and Henry Silva.
Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) — With no one to leave his considerable fortune to, millionaire bachelor Samuel Fulton (Charles Coburn) wonders if the family of the girl he loved and lost long ago is worthy. Boarding in their house under a John Doe, he arranges them a sizeable bequest “from a mysterious benefactor,” but will he pleased with the noveau-riche airs they put on? Charming change-of-pace farce from director Douglas Sirk co-stars Rock Hudson, Piper Laurie, Lynn Bari and Gigi Perreau.
The Last Sunset (1961) — While laying low in Mexico, outlaw Brendan O’Malley (Kirk Douglas) looks up an old flame (Dorothy Malone), and opts to join her husband (Joseph Cotten) on a cattle drive to Texas. Unfortunately, another hand’s just signed on–incognito lawman Dana Stribling (Rock Hudson), out to grab O’Malley on a warrant the minute they’re back over the border. Robert Aldrich’s muscular oater co-stars Carol Lynley, Neville Brand and Regis Toomey.
Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) — For his tonsorial incompetence, Monsieur Beaucaire (Bob Hope)–court barber to France’s King Louis XV (Reginald Owen)–is destined for a haircut of his own…from the neck up! Rescued by the gallant Duc de Chandre (Patric Knowles), Beaucaire finds his woes are just beginning, as he’s forced to take the duke’s place in an arranged peacekeeping marriage with a Spanish princess (Marjorie Reynolds). Costume comedy inspired by the Booth Tarkington tale co-stars Joan Caulfield, Joseph Schildkraut.
Nothing But the Truth (1941) — When glib stockbroker Steve Bennett (Bob Hope) challenges the dubious ethics of his curmudgeonly boss (Edward Arnold), the old man responds with a $10,000 bet that Steve can’t go 24 hours without telling a lie. Steve swallows hard and takes the wager–and, spending the next day on a yachting party, he starts paying a comical price for his brutal honesty. Funny take on the stage hit co-stars Paulette Goddard, Helen Vinson, Leif Erickson.
Scarlet Angel (1952) — Beating it out of antebellum New Orleans after swiping the cash of roguish privateer Frank Truscott (Rock Hudson), sultry saloon keeper Roxy McClanahan (Yvonne de Carlo) heads for San Francisco alongside a consumptive widow (Bodil Miller). When her companion dies en route to California, Roxy decides to assume her identity, rich relatives and all…but an angry and determined Truscott might end her masquerade. Technicolor adventure co-stars Richard Denning, Amanda Blake.
Wells Fargo (1937) — Sweeping historical saga, loosely inspired by the pioneering courier company’s formative years, follows the exploits of a mid-1800s determined stagecoach driver (Joel McCrea) who finds the love of his life in a beautiful customer (Frances Dee), and who stands to lose her when familial loyalties are split over Civil War lines. Frank Lloyd’s entertaining epic co-stars Lloyd Nolan, Ralph Morgan and “B” western hero Johnny Mack Brown.
Where There’s Life (1947) — When the king of a postage-stamp Eureopean nation is gravely wounded by an assassin, the search for the heir apparent improbably leads to cowardly Manhattan broadcaster Michael Valentine (Bob Hope)! The reluctant regent finds himself having to deal with a gorgeous general (Signe Hasso) determined to escort him to the throne…and revolutionaries just as bound to see he doesn’t make it! William Bendix, George Coulouris, George Zucco also star.