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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lillian Gish & Helen Hayes ~ Arsenic & Old Lace (1969) Bob Crane & Fred Gwynne

Lillian Gish & Helen Hayes ~ Arsenic & Old Lace (1969) Bob Crane & Fred Gwynne
co-starring Billy De Wolfe, Richard Deacon, Bob Dishy, Jack Gilford, Sue Lyon, Elaine Harper & David Wayne

Aired: April 2nd, 1969 - ABC Movie of the Week
Director: Robert Scheerer
Writers: Luther Davis, Joseph Kesselring (play)

NOTE: The original aired in Color. This DVD is from a Black and White 16mm master -- 16mm screening print for advertisers, television stations, etc. It resembles the 1944 version more than one could imagine because of that. Complete, un-cut ~ perfect!

“It's hard, if not impossible, to remake a classic. Since its theatrical release in 1944 only one attempt has been made to remake Frank Capra's ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and the fact that it came in the form of a "made for TV" movie made it seem, at first glance, even greater sacrilege. The production is, nonetheless, first class. Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes) just shines as the befuddled newlywed Mortimer Brewster, suddenly confronted with the fact that his gene pool was more like a fetid DNA swamp of psychotic chromosomes. Careful updating of the original play only served to make it perhaps more appealing to contemporary audiences without detracting from the perfection of its predecessor. Casting was beyond reproach. Who could possibly protest Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes (Academy Award Winners) as the sweet, dotty albeit homicidal aunts or Fred Gwynne (The Munsters) as the ominous brother Jonathan. This version is seldom if ever shown but if you ever get a chance to see it, do. It is an updated interpretation of the original and every bit as good.”

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Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942) American war film directed by John Farrow and written by Irwin Shaw from a story by C.S. Forester, starring Paul Muni, Anna Lee, Lillian Gish, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Robert Coote.

A gentle widower, enraged at Nazi atrocities against his peaceful Norwegian fishing village, escapes to Britain and returns leading a commando force... 100 minutes (TCM)

Annie Laurie & The Enemy (1927)

Annie Laurie (1927) From a collector in the U.K. Almost pristine picture - yet occasionally movement of Camera ... there are the numbers at the bottom of the screen that indicate footage used and they change as the "kinescope" type project continues. They are there - noticeable, but does not detract from the image or story. Generic, public domain music added.

Following such prestige projects as La Boheme (1926) and The Scarlet Letter (1926), The Enemy (1927) was Lillian Gish's fifth and final film for MGM (it was completed after, but released before, THE WIND). Based on a play by Channing Pollock, this is a vehemently anti-war film, well-directed by Fred Niblo and expertly edited by Margaret Booth. Though it is difficult to tell where Niblo's direction ends and Booth's editing begins (or to what degree they were close collaborators), it must be stated that the fluid, eloquent visual language of the silent cinema is exemplified here -- as in so many other films of the late 1920s -- at its apogee. This film certainly must be counted among Booth's finest artistic work (for film editing is indeed an art) -- and her resumé is indeed impressive.

Synopsis:..Carl Behrend (Ralph Forbes), son of a wealthy businessman, marries Pauli Arndt (Lillian Gish), daughter of a pacifist professor. When World War I breaks out, Carl is drafted. Pauli and her family and friends are left behind to experience the suffering which befell civilians during the war. Her luck worsens when her father is dismissed from his professorship for teaching that war is evil. Her father argues violently with Carl's father, and degradation and despair descend on Pauli and her family as they await Carl's return from the front. THE ENEMY would probably be regarded as a major silent film AND one of the GREATEST Gish films if the final reel could be found.

The Enemy is a Gish film, and she is stunning. At age 34 she easily passes as a twenty- something bride. As always, Gish is the consummate actress, going here from blushing bride to desperate mother to sorrowful prostitute ... After the success of THE BIG PARADE, MGM was anxious for another anti-war hit. This film was based on the 1925 hit Broadway play that starred Fay Bainter ... Supporting cast is quite good here with Frank Currier solid as the professor, Karl Dane as Jan, and Polly Moran as the brusque housekeeper. Joel McCrea appears as an extra.

For those who persist in thinking that Gish only played frail virgins, this film is a real eye opener. It is unfortunate that the last reel to this film is apparently lost. This will probably prevent the film from being screened on television or released to DVD -- which is unfortunate, since this is a work that deserves to be seen and appreciated as a fine example not only of late-silent movie-making, but also of the anti-war film.

Enhanced sharpness with generic music added. Good to average picture of a film that has NEVER been released.

PLEASE READ carefully ... For silent film collector's ~ especially Miss Gish fans who want to see TWO films that are actually RARE and may never be available to the public. The DVD is what it is and is honestly described ...

In DVD/CD sleeve & photo label. No-region DVD. No rights implied or inferred and intended for Collectors from a Collector. Price for shipping and costs to duplicate.

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