Judge Steve Power had a fling with a keen gal...while on safari in Africa...after getting out of a mental hospital.
Our reviews of Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Romance (published April 17th, 2013), The Bette Davis Collection (published June 20th, 2005), The Clark Gable Collection (published February 19th, 2007), Love In The Afternoon (published January 31st, 2002), Natalie Wood Collection (published February 11th, 2009), Now, Voyager (published December 4th, 2001), Six Moral Tales By Eric Rohmer: Criterion Collection (published August 21st, 2006), and TCM Greatest Classic Film Legends: Bette Davis (published April 21st, 2011) are also available.
Turner Classic Movies presents a collection of four romance-tinged melodramas that might make for the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday.
Splendor in the Grass—Natalie Wood (West Side Story) and Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde) star in this tale of teens in love in 1920's Kansas. Their unbridled passion for one another is at constant odds with the rigid social climate of the time, making for some intense melodrama.
Perhaps best known as the screen debut of young Broadway actor Warren Beatty, Splendor in the Grass is about as straight forward a melodrama as Hollywood could produce. It's got all of the trappings one might expect in a film about the social climes of the 1920s; overbearing parents who only want what's best for their teenage kids, and passionate teens who spend most of their time together sucking on each other's faces. What's most surprising about the film is the rather less than typical final act, where the cold hard truth of reality lays low the drama of a teen love affair. Everything that comes before is both completely predictable and drags on for about 20-30 minutes more than it has to. Elia Kazan's direction is solid, and the performances by Beatty and Wood are good, without slipping into the "golly gee whiz!" sort of theatrics one might expect from this sort of film.
Love in the Afternoon—The always radiant Audrey Hepburn (Charade) stars alongside the much older Gary Cooper (High Noon) in this breezy romance comedy set in Paris, France. Audrey brings her classic wit as the daughter of a French private eye who falls in with an American millionaire who happens to be subject of one of her Father's cases.
While the pairing of Hepburn and Cooper plays out as just downright creepy, this one is actually a pretty enjoyable little romp. It's a breezy picture, carried by Hepburn's great looks and witty charm, and there are one or two subplots that keep things interesting. I can't see Hepburn and not be reminded of the awesomeness of Charade, and Love in the Afternoon, astonishingly enough, does share a few common elements, definitely making it a recommendation. It's nowhere near as complex or serious, and Gary Cooper is no Carey Grant, but it's got the same playful vibe. Pacing is definitely an issue though, and the 130 minutes feels more like 340.
Mogambo—Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind) leads an African Safari through Kenya when romance blooms between himself, a street-wise showgirl (Ava Gardner, On the Beach) and an anthropologist's prim and proper wife (Grace Kelly, High Noon).
Probably my favourite film in this particular collection, John Ford (Stagecoach) directs this remake of Red Dust from on location in Africa. The scenery is pretty stunning, there's actually a little bit of action and adventure, and Clark Gable does a natural job with the lead. It's a far cry from the theatrics of Rhett Butler. Ava Gardner makes for a great female lead with her sassy New Yorker, and Grace Kelly is certainly a pretty picture.
Now, Voyager—Bette Davis (The Petrified Forest) stars as Charlotte Vale, a repressed spinster living under the thumb of her abusive high society mother. At an all time low, she is sent to a sanatorium; where, through therapy, she discovers love, heartbreak, and contentment.
Probably held in the highest regard of any of the films in this particular collection, Now, Voyager is probably also my least favourite. It's a snapshot of the melodramatic filmmaking of the 1940's, right down to Bette Davis' spirited performance and the laughable plot turns. Davis is in and out of mental hospitals a few times, finds love, loses her mother, and eventually settles down. There's not much more than that to tell; it's a by the numbers piece that fans of the era will definitely find interesting, but it lacks the wider appeal of the other films in this particular set.
If there's one thing all four films have in common, it's the excellent job Warner has done in presenting them on home video. The transfers across the board look great. Splendor in the Grass and Mogambo look particularly good in all their Technicolor glory, with wonderfully clean prints free of all but trace elements of dust or scratches. The black and white features are a little grainier, and do have some strobing here and there, but still look as good as one could expect.
The audio is mono all around, and sounds about as good as one could expect given the source material; it's clean and crisp, if a little warbled at times. There are no bonus features to speak of.
Don't go in expecting Casablanca, and you just might have a decent time with this particular collection. Sure, the "Greatest Classic films" moniker is suspect, but this is still a great collection of the kind of Hollywood filmmaking you just don't see today. Not Guilty!
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Scales of Justice, Now, Voyager
Perp Profile, Now, Voyager
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, Now, Voyager
Scales of Justice, Mogambo
Perp Profile, Mogambo
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, Mogambo
Scales of Justice, Love In The Afternoon
Perp Profile, Love In The Afternoon
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, Love In The Afternoon
Scales of Justice, Splendor In The Grass
Perp Profile, Splendor In The Grass
Studio: Warner Bros.
Distinguishing Marks, Splendor In The Grass
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