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1. Drums Along the Mohawk
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2. Tale of Two Cities
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3. Pride & Prejudice
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4. Pride and Prejudice
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20. The Story of Vernon and Irene

1. Drums Along the Mohawk
Director: John Ford
list price: $19.98
our price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301798708
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 2673
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Relatively Early, Excellent John Ford Movie
Relatively early, I say, because I think Ford really hit his stride in the 1940s once he started his John Wayne cavalry pictures.

"Drums Along the Mohawk" is a wonderful treatment of an era curiously left alone by most American movie studios, the Revolutionary War. Henry Fonda is a farmer on the Mohawk River in upstate NY, who brings home a "city" bride, Claudette Colbert. Much of the early part of the film is her adaptation to this backwoods life, so different from her father's home. Colbert's character is emblematic of the original settlers of the American continent, who left familiar ways behind them and set off into an adventure undreamed of. Bit by bit, her citified ways have to be jettisoned if she is to be a good wife to her honest and plain-speaking husband. Gradually their smaller domestic drama is engulfed in community concerns as the Revolutionary War whips up the warpath of the Indians surrounding the colonists, and they must fight for their very existence as that new concept, Americans.

There are some really pricless episodes in "Drums Along the Mohawk", such as when Fonda holds his newborn baby for the first time, Colbert goes into hysterics at her first encounter with an Indian, Edna May Oliver confronts Indian braves invading the sanctity of her home, and someone has to get word out of the beseiged fort to the soldiers for relief.

You'll be very glad to see "Drums Along the Mohawk", I assure you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary War classic
Drums Along the Mohawk is a very good movie about a period in American history that not many movies have been made about. Set during the Revolutionary War, the story is about two newlyweds and their new life in the Mohawk Valley. The couple is trying to establish themselves with a home and farm of their own, but are interrupted when the British and the Mohawk Indian tribe begin to raid all along the valley. The settlers must deal with the raiding Indians while also trying to survive. There is plenty here for fans of Henry Fonda also. The action scenes are excellent, especially the attack on the fort. However, it is also very effective when the characters talk about a battle and how horrible it was rather than the viewer actually seeing it. An enjoyable film that is still very good!

Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert play Gil and Lana Martin, the newlywed couple struggling to survive. Both are very good and believable as husband and wife. This was a good period for Fonda when he made The Grapes of Wrath around this time. There is an excellent supporting cast, most notably Ward Bond as Adam, Gil's friend and neighbor, Edna Mae Oliver as the widow Mrs. McLenard, who puts up Gil and Lana when their house is destroyed. She has some incredibly funny scenes especially when some marauding Indians invade her house, but she refuses to leave even as they drag her out on her bed. This is an excellent movie with a great cast and excellent story. Do not miss this Revolutionary War classic!

5-0 out of 5 stars Still the best movie about the American Revolution ever made
There are relatively few movies about the American Revolution. I think this is due to the fact that the American side lost most of the battles of that war. The battle at Saratoga, the surprise attack at Trenton, and the siege of Yorktown are part of the short list of American victories, and except for the occasion television movie or mini-series, they are rarely touched upon. Consequently, "Drums Along the Mohawk" remains the best of American movie about the revolution even though it was made before World War I and even though the redcoats are not really involved in the fight.

"Drums Along the Mohawk" does not start off as a movie about the American Revolution. Instead it begins as a movie about settling the frontier, which, at that point, was upstate New York. The focus is on a pioneer couple, newlyweds, Gilbert (Henry Fonda) and Magdalena (Claudette Colbert), called Lana. Martin is a farmer who brings his bride to the Mohawk Valley where their home is burned out by Indians allied with the British. The couple are taken in by neighbors after that happens and Martin joins the militia, but the settlers are going to need more men than that to fight the Indians and save the fort from attack.

Based on a novel by Walter D. Edmonds the screenplay for "Drums Along the Mohawk" is by Sonya Levien and Lamar Trotti, although William Faulkner worked on it without receiving credit as well. Edmonds' history novels were all set in upstate New York and "Drums Along the Mohawk" is about the warfare between the settlers and the Six Nations of the Iroquois allied with the British. The Battle of Oriskany in 1777, fought in a forest, was a American victory although their commander General Nicholas Herkimer (Ralph Imhof) died of his wounds in one of the moving scenes of the film.

This was the third film that John Ford made in 1939, following "Stagecoach" with John Wayne and "Young Mr. Lincoln" with Fonda; his next film would be "The Grapes of Wrath." Colbert and Fonda are the stars, but they are upstaged by several members of the supporting case, such as Edna May Oliver as Mrs. McKlennar and Arthur Shields as the Reverend Rosenkrantz. The old lady has such an iron will that she can make Indians take her bed out, with her in it, while they are burning down her home, and the reverend has a memorable scene in which he eases the suffering of a tortured settler. Fonda is young and earnest, while Colbert comes to terms with what it means to be living on the American frontier in troubled times.

More than anything else "Drums Along the Mohwawk" is about people coming to the realization that they are Americans, an interpretation more than amply justified by the film's final scene. These are not the Sons of Liberty living in Boston and dealing with the King's troops and all those burdensome taxes. These are small families living out on the frontier for whom the idea of the United States of America was as odd as a flag with thirteen red and white stripes with a circle of white stars on a blue field. Perhaps it is because it takes place off the main stage that "Drums Along the Mohawk" manages to hit the right notes.

5-0 out of 5 stars five star films
Put it out on DVD and I will definitely buy it! How much longer do we have to wait to see some of Miss Colbert's other great work, especially those wonderful comedies like The Egg and I and No Time For Love, made available and on DVD?

4-0 out of 5 stars Lavish colour production from Hollywood's Golden Age
"Drums Along the Mohawk" was one of many lavish classic productions released in 1939 and marked the first real venture by Director John Ford into classic movie status. This production is lavish in all departments from the lush colour photography which even in 1939 was still only employed on a handful of productions, to the beautiful on location photography utilised throughout the story, to the many exciting action filled sequences employed around which the storyline is structured.

"Drums Along the Mohawk" tells the rather simple story of Mohawk Valley farmer Gilbert Martin who courts and marries refined city bred Lana Magdalena (Claudette Colbert)and brings her back to the valley to begin a new life as a farmer's wife in the untamed American wilderness. What ensures is a story of hardship in the face of the unpredictable environment, attacks from Indians, the revolutinary war, and in carving out a new world and new way of life. Much of the story focuses on Claudette's characters efforts to adjust to this strange and foreign new environment and to make a home for her new husband and she succeeds admirably in the task. It has often been stated by critics that Claudette was far more suited to sophisticated urban comedies and always looked far too modern a screen personality to fit into period productions. While she certainly had no peer in that area she is highly effective in historical roles as witnessed by her great work in "Cleopatra" and "The Sign of the Cross". In "Mohawk" she displays all the fear and uncertainity of moving to a new land and leaving behind her all that is familiar. While her makeup and pristine outfits throughout tells us this is indeed a Hollywood production I believe it is one of her more appealing performances combining equal measures of doubt about what she has done moving to the wilderness, to a longing to build a happy life with her husband. Henry Fonda an actor who I normally find fairly bland and unexciting on screen performs very well in this production playing the role of Gilbert who works like ten men to clear his property, often under very trying circumstances, and set up a workable farm with which to support his family.

Claudette Colbert by 1939 was at the peak of her popularity and success and that same year turned out what I feel was her greatest film performance in the classic "Midnight". At the time of release of this film Henry Fonda was also enjoying a triumph in "Jesse James" with Tyrone Power so it was easy to see why this film was also a great success upon release. As with most Epic productions of this type the supporting cast adds greatly to the overraul impact of a film and "Drums Along the Mohawk" had two of the best in Edna May Oliver and John Carradine. Oliver a superb character actress had the important role of Mrs. McKlennar and the character embodies all the standard qualities that she always brought to her film roles, a no nonsense flinty character with a deep down heart of Gold. Her big scene where her home is invaded by rampaging Indians is a delight to witness as she almost bosses them out of destroying her home! John Carradine a regular performer in these Fox productions is also effective in the devious role of Caldwell who is out to further his own ends no matter what it takes.

The beautifully staged action sequences of this film are terrific and really add to the excitement of the piece. The attack on the fort and the destruction of the farmers properties are two of the highlights and are staged to the maximum effect that only John Ford could bring to such things.

Overraul "Drums Along the Mohawk" is an engrossing piece of cinema both from its more personal representations of settlers moving into a hostile land and making a new life, to the standard excitement of the action western type of film complete with Indians, besieged forts and spectacular scenery. In all these respects "Drums Along the Mohawk will not fail to both impress and entertain. ... Read more


2. Tale of Two Cities
Director: Robert Z. Leonard, Jack Conway
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301977750
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 2553
Average Customer Review: 4.95 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars "Tis a far, far better thing..."
than a lot of other movies, that's for sure! What a wonderful adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities". Like so many of the great author's works, this story is crammed full of images famous outside of the work itself: Madame DeFarge and her incessant, malevolent knitting, Dr. Manet lost in his cobbling, Sydney Carton offering the ultimate love sacrifice. Ronald Colman gives a splendid performance as the world-weary Sydney, and looks surprisingly young without his trademark moustache. Among the good supporting cast, Edna May Oliver, as always, steals the show as the prim Miss Pross, chaperone to Lucie Manet, daughter of the unfortunate doctor held captive in the Bastille for half a lifetime. Like all pre-GWTW Selznick pictures, the movie has an air of the antique about it (like "David Copperfield" and "Little Women"), but for a story set in the distant past, that makes sense. It had been many years since I last saw this piece, and what surprised me were the excellently done mob scene when the French peasants charge the Bastille, and when Madame DeFarge denounces Charles Darney in the witness box. Usually, the only scene excerpted from "A Tale of Two Cities" is the last guillotine shot, but I think it's a disservice to the film to not show more of these other great scenes to a larger audience. "It was the best of times" seeing this grand old film--take my work for it, and rent it yourself.

5-0 out of 5 stars COLMAN'S FINEST HOUR.
Originally released for Christmas in 1935, this splendidly produced, atmospheric and magnificently acted film displayed M-G-M's flair for filming literary classics - DAVID COPPERFIELD was released earlier that year - with no expense spared; the storming of the Bastille sequence employed several thousand extras and was filmed on one of Hollywood's largest sets ever. Ronald Colman was intially reluctant to play the role of Sidney Carlton, that charming but dissolute lawyer who commits the ultimate self - sacrifice ...... It took great persuasion to make Colman shave off his trademark moustache for the role of Carlton, but he delivered more than likely his finest performance ( Later in his life, Colman admitted this was his personal favourite of all his roles ). Charles Dicken's stirring classic of seventeenth-century Paris and London and the events surrounding the French Revolution had been filmed as silents on four different occasions -twice each in Great Britain and America - this easily remains the definitive masterpiece. Under Jack Conway's meticulous direction, A TALE OF TWO CITIES offers memorable performances by a fine cast, including the marvelously hammy Blanche Yurka, frightening Lucille LaVerne, vinegary Edna May Oliver, despicable Basil Rathbone, eloquent Henry B. Walthall ( he was the "Little Colonel" in BIRTH OF A NATION ) and, in a radical change of pace, the dimunitive Isabel Jewell, as the pathetic seamstress who accompanies Colman to the place of his execution.

5-0 out of 5 stars MAKE THIS AVAILABLE AGAIN, PLEASE
They don't make 'em like this anymore - and that is a shame. A fast-paced, interesting plot which does not insult the viewer's intelligence...crisp, elegant dialogue...fantastic acting. Compare this to the fare of our day, which is sludge written, directed, and acted by and for morons (generally speaking, of course).

Full disclosure: My late grandfather, the original Mr. A, is in this movie (he is one of the extras storming the Bastille).

5-0 out of 5 stars Cinema and Colman Congradulated
Having recently read the novel cover to cover, and falling madly in love with the character of Sydney Carton, I felt it was time to see MGM's take on the novel. So, I chose the 1935 version of A Tale Of Two Cities since I love the classics; and I hear that is rare for someone only seventeen! Anyways, Colman's performance of the beloved hopelessly and helplessly in love Carton, had me in happiness and romantic sympathy. I don't think I have ever been so emotionally shaken with any film like this one. It is a film that lays true enough to the novel, and to the characters. It is the best film adaption of the novel you can find, and the greatest performance of Sydney Carton you will ever hope to see. I raise a taost to Ronald Colman for his magnificence and grip on the character, and another toast to the entire film for keeping my eyes and mind on the story and its characters struggles in life and love, and the pursuit of self.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing film
I've been on a Colman kick lately, thanks to a friend who is an ardent fan of his. So, I went to rent some movies, saw this one, and brought it home.

I'm a little funny about costume dramas. As a rule, I find them incredibly boring. But, I like Ronald (listening to him talk is almost worth watching a boring movie for), and I was pleasantly surprised with "Marie Antoinette", so I thought... I will try this one out.

The story was not only gripping, it was very emotionally powerful. I just don't cry over movies. Sometimes, I *almost* will - but with this one I just couldn't keep the tears back. It started when little Lucie started crying for her father and didn't stop from that point to the end of the movie. I knew what Sydney was going to do, and while waiting for him to do it, I dreaded the time when it would come and admired him. Sydney Carton is my hero of the day and will be forever enshrined in my hall of cinematic heroes. (Okay, so it was a book first, but I've never read the book.) He was so sweet to that poor seamstress, too.

Anyway, tears and emotion aside, this is a fascinating and terrifying glimpse into the bloody insanity of the French revolution and the terrible things that happened to the innocent right along with the guilty. Horrible proof of how a mob, once aroused, can be nearly impossible to stop. Basil Rathbone turns in a fabulous performance as the cold-hearted nobleman who can run down a child in the street and go on his way without blinking twice. Ronald Colman as the slightly sodden but thoroughly unselfish advocate. He can say so much with his eyes. The Christmas service scene was unbelieveably moving.

I fear I'm not making much sense. Let's say this film left a deep impression on me, definitely will be a favourite from now on. I recommend it highly. ... Read more


3. Pride & Prejudice
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301977688
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 3585
Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (84)

3-0 out of 5 stars Miscast Elizabeth
Greer Garson stars as Elizabeth Bennet in this 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. She plays the clever and witty eldest of five daughters, who are all looking for rich husbands. Lawrence Olivier plays Mr. Darcy, a suitably wealthy prospect, however he is too arrogant for Elizabeth's liking. The story follows the two as they tease and rebuff, only to end happily with their engagement, as we always knew it would.

Being such an old film, the quality of the picture and sound were poor. Even so, they were better than the outrageous casting of Greer Garson as the lead. She was much too old to play Elizabeth, and was utterly unconvincing. Two of her sisters were played by Anne Rutherford and Maureen Sullivan. They were both excellent and would have done better in the lead. Olivier was wonderfully snooty as the aristocratic Mr. Darcy.

The other major weakness with the film was the costume design. The ladies' gowns and men's suits looked like they were borrowed from the set of Gone With the Wind. The dresses were full and puffy, not at all like the delicate and low-cut gowns of the early 1800s in England.

There were no exterior shots of the grand houses; rather we saw only small rooms with very ordinary furnishings. The photography was drab, even considering the age of the film.

The screenplay was co-written by the famous Aldous Huxley, who, it seems, had no knack for reproducing Austen's glorious dialogue. All in all, I found this film an acceptable introduction to Jane Austen's classic book, but not deeply satisfying or beautiful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie of a timeless novel
This version of Pride and Prejudice first got me interested in Jane Austen. Though it may not be the most acurate version of the famous novel, it is very funny and all of the characters are played well. Lawrence Olivier IS Mr. Darcy, and Greer Garson shines as Lizzy, despite her age difference to the character.

2-0 out of 5 stars An inferior adaptation of a great book
There are three film versions of Jane Austen's immortal "Pride and Prejudice" extant, and this one, the first, is by far the weakest. It would be hard to tamper with the great story, which is so well known as to need no rehashing here; but although the film tries to follow the story, Aldous Huxley proved incapable of incorporating Austen's incomparable dialogue into the film script, as the two later versions were able to do with remarkable success. There are other, more egregious shortcomings, in this film, which are:

1) Casting Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet. Whoever had this idea should have been put in the stocks and pelted with water balloons. Elizabeth Bennet is 20 years old in the book, and Greer Garson, on the wrong side of 35, looks absolutely ridiculous trying to play a young ingenue. Who was she kidding? She doesn't even look like Austen's description of Elizabeth. Vivien Leigh might have made a great Elizabeth, if she wasn't already fixed in the public mind as Scarlett O'Hara. Which brings us to:

2) The 1860-ish costumes. Were they trying to move the timeline up? Somebody should have told the costume department that Longbourn and Tara were six thousand miles and sixty years apart. "Pride and Prejudice" was set sometime between 1790 and 1810 (Austen's biographers are in disagreement as to the exact date), but the costumes in this first version of "Pride and Prejudice looked like leftovers from the set of "Gone With the Wind". A big no-no.

3) The casting of Lawrence Olivier as Darcy was a mistake. Austen describes Darcy as being tall and handsome. Olivier was handsome but he didn't look much taller than Garson. Or maybe Garson was too tall. Whatever... it was a total mismatch.

4) The whole scene at Pemberley, which is central to the book, was eliminated. So how did Elizabeth's one-eighty from loathing to love take place? The movie doesn't say and we're left totally unconvinced.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that "Pride and Prejudice" is one of the best-loved books in English literature. It certainly deserved a better film adaptation than this one. Fortunately it has not one, but two: the BBC version of 1985 starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul (my personal favorite), and the A&E film of 1995 starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Watch either or both of these after seeing the Garson/Olivier movie, to see what a good film adaptation of a great book really is.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Adaptation!
This film was the worst adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel that I have ever seen in my life. It is not really true to the novel, the costumes are ridiculous looking, not to mention that they do not match the kind of clothing that was worn in Austen's time. They hardly ever use the famous words and/or phrases from the book, only once or twice but they are somewhat changed. Granted I think Laurence Olivier made a great Darcy if he was more like Darcy is suppose to be, instead his version of him was more perky and uppity than nonchalant and melancholy and a little arrogant, which to me is what Darcy is actually like. If you want to see the greatest adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" ever made then check out the BBC and A&E production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, I guarantee you'll watch it all the way through with a satisfied and happy smile on your face.

2-0 out of 5 stars It is a truth universally acknowledged that this movie is
Misleading, to say the least.

I saw this movie last week on Turner Classic Movie channel, expecting to see a nice little 40's style rendition of that book we oh-so dearly enjoy.

What a silly movie.

Granted, I'm sure making a two hour movie out of the novel is difficult, but if you were to take a high school test on Pride and Prejudice after seeing this movie instead of reading the book, you would fail miserably.

The dresses were too elaborate. Mary is way too pretty. Greer is too blonde to play Elizabeth, where are those dark "fine eyes"? Darcy grossed me out. I don't even remember Bingley or Jane, and Elizabeth's transition from hating to loving Darcy goes a little something like this (paraphrased, of course):

Elizabeth: "Oh, how I miss Mr. Darcy"
Jane: "What? I thought you hated him?"
Elizabeth : "Well now, quite suddenly I love him!"

This is without the reunion at Pemberly. Its rushed, to say the least.

I did like Lydia, and there is a lovely, albeit irrelevant scene where Mrs. Bennet and the girls Mrs. Lucas and Charlotte (who is much too pretty in this adaptation) are racing neck and neck via carriage to get to Netherfield to meet the eligible men.

And the slightly amusing part where Mr. Bingley is talking about what's wrong with Jane when she's sick. That was just weird. Trés 40's, no?

Mr and Mrs Bennet are enjoyable characters, but I imagine that it would be difficult to screw up those well-written characters in any cinematic endeavor.

And the part with Lady Catherine acting as a "secret agent" for Darcy. What the hell.

Ugh. This movie is slightly amusing, if it was 5 hours of nonsense I would give it one star, but since its only 2 hours you might as well watch it if you feel so inclined.

But read the book and check out the 1995 BBC production one, too. ... Read more


4. Pride and Prejudice
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000056BRD
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 6977
Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Description

Jane Austen's classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart. ... Read more

Reviews (84)

3-0 out of 5 stars Miscast Elizabeth
Greer Garson stars as Elizabeth Bennet in this 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. She plays the clever and witty eldest of five daughters, who are all looking for rich husbands. Lawrence Olivier plays Mr. Darcy, a suitably wealthy prospect, however he is too arrogant for Elizabeth's liking. The story follows the two as they tease and rebuff, only to end happily with their engagement, as we always knew it would.

Being such an old film, the quality of the picture and sound were poor. Even so, they were better than the outrageous casting of Greer Garson as the lead. She was much too old to play Elizabeth, and was utterly unconvincing. Two of her sisters were played by Anne Rutherford and Maureen Sullivan. They were both excellent and would have done better in the lead. Olivier was wonderfully snooty as the aristocratic Mr. Darcy.

The other major weakness with the film was the costume design. The ladies' gowns and men's suits looked like they were borrowed from the set of Gone With the Wind. The dresses were full and puffy, not at all like the delicate and low-cut gowns of the early 1800s in England.

There were no exterior shots of the grand houses; rather we saw only small rooms with very ordinary furnishings. The photography was drab, even considering the age of the film.

The screenplay was co-written by the famous Aldous Huxley, who, it seems, had no knack for reproducing Austen's glorious dialogue. All in all, I found this film an acceptable introduction to Jane Austen's classic book, but not deeply satisfying or beautiful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie of a timeless novel
This version of Pride and Prejudice first got me interested in Jane Austen. Though it may not be the most acurate version of the famous novel, it is very funny and all of the characters are played well. Lawrence Olivier IS Mr. Darcy, and Greer Garson shines as Lizzy, despite her age difference to the character.

2-0 out of 5 stars An inferior adaptation of a great book
There are three film versions of Jane Austen's immortal "Pride and Prejudice" extant, and this one, the first, is by far the weakest. It would be hard to tamper with the great story, which is so well known as to need no rehashing here; but although the film tries to follow the story, Aldous Huxley proved incapable of incorporating Austen's incomparable dialogue into the film script, as the two later versions were able to do with remarkable success. There are other, more egregious shortcomings, in this film, which are:

1) Casting Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet. Whoever had this idea should have been put in the stocks and pelted with water balloons. Elizabeth Bennet is 20 years old in the book, and Greer Garson, on the wrong side of 35, looks absolutely ridiculous trying to play a young ingenue. Who was she kidding? She doesn't even look like Austen's description of Elizabeth. Vivien Leigh might have made a great Elizabeth, if she wasn't already fixed in the public mind as Scarlett O'Hara. Which brings us to:

2) The 1860-ish costumes. Were they trying to move the timeline up? Somebody should have told the costume department that Longbourn and Tara were six thousand miles and sixty years apart. "Pride and Prejudice" was set sometime between 1790 and 1810 (Austen's biographers are in disagreement as to the exact date), but the costumes in this first version of "Pride and Prejudice looked like leftovers from the set of "Gone With the Wind". A big no-no.

3) The casting of Lawrence Olivier as Darcy was a mistake. Austen describes Darcy as being tall and handsome. Olivier was handsome but he didn't look much taller than Garson. Or maybe Garson was too tall. Whatever... it was a total mismatch.

4) The whole scene at Pemberley, which is central to the book, was eliminated. So how did Elizabeth's one-eighty from loathing to love take place? The movie doesn't say and we're left totally unconvinced.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that "Pride and Prejudice" is one of the best-loved books in English literature. It certainly deserved a better film adaptation than this one. Fortunately it has not one, but two: the BBC version of 1985 starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul (my personal favorite), and the A&E film of 1995 starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Watch either or both of these after seeing the Garson/Olivier movie, to see what a good film adaptation of a great book really is.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Adaptation!
This film was the worst adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel that I have ever seen in my life. It is not really true to the novel, the costumes are ridiculous looking, not to mention that they do not match the kind of clothing that was worn in Austen's time. They hardly ever use the famous words and/or phrases from the book, only once or twice but they are somewhat changed. Granted I think Laurence Olivier made a great Darcy if he was more like Darcy is suppose to be, instead his version of him was more perky and uppity than nonchalant and melancholy and a little arrogant, which to me is what Darcy is actually like. If you want to see the greatest adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" ever made then check out the BBC and A&E production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, I guarantee you'll watch it all the way through with a satisfied and happy smile on your face.

2-0 out of 5 stars It is a truth universally acknowledged that this movie is
Misleading, to say the least.

I saw this movie last week on Turner Classic Movie channel, expecting to see a nice little 40's style rendition of that book we oh-so dearly enjoy.

What a silly movie.

Granted, I'm sure making a two hour movie out of the novel is difficult, but if you were to take a high school test on Pride and Prejudice after seeing this movie instead of reading the book, you would fail miserably.

The dresses were too elaborate. Mary is way too pretty. Greer is too blonde to play Elizabeth, where are those dark "fine eyes"? Darcy grossed me out. I don't even remember Bingley or Jane, and Elizabeth's transition from hating to loving Darcy goes a little something like this (paraphrased, of course):

Elizabeth: "Oh, how I miss Mr. Darcy"
Jane: "What? I thought you hated him?"
Elizabeth : "Well now, quite suddenly I love him!"

This is without the reunion at Pemberly. Its rushed, to say the least.

I did like Lydia, and there is a lovely, albeit irrelevant scene where Mrs. Bennet and the girls Mrs. Lucas and Charlotte (who is much too pretty in this adaptation) are racing neck and neck via carriage to get to Netherfield to meet the eligible men.

And the slightly amusing part where Mr. Bingley is talking about what's wrong with Jane when she's sick. That was just weird. Trés 40's, no?

Mr and Mrs Bennet are enjoyable characters, but I imagine that it would be difficult to screw up those well-written characters in any cinematic endeavor.

And the part with Lady Catherine acting as a "secret agent" for Darcy. What the hell.

Ugh. This movie is slightly amusing, if it was 5 hours of nonsense I would give it one star, but since its only 2 hours you might as well watch it if you feel so inclined.

But read the book and check out the 1995 BBC production one, too. ... Read more


5. David Copperfield
Director: George Cukor
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301967801
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 7372
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Character Actors
MGM's David Copperfield was a great opportunity to make use of some Hollywood's great character actors, and the film does so to great effect. Of course, the film is based on Dicken's famous novel, although the story is condensed. Freddie Bartholomew stars as the title character, a young boy eventually orphaned who meets a host of characters as he grows up alone. Although Bartholomew was actually one of the better child actors in film history, he never captures this character and his performance sometimes seems forced and ineffective. However, he is surrounded by an incredible group of actors playing memorable supporting characters. Basil Rathbone, W.C. Fields, Edna May Oliver, and Roland Young are all excellent in roles that only Dickens could have written. They make the movie. The film features the usual MGM production values and is well worth a look.

5-0 out of 5 stars Most accurate representation of characters
Out of all the movies I've seen made from Dickens novels this is the one that most truly represents the characters of David Copperfield. It is a bringing together of some of the finest character actors that ever graced the screen. Any Dickens fan will love this version. W.C.Fields was born to play Mr.Micawber. Edna May Oliver was created to play Dickens.

4-0 out of 5 stars Jane Murdstone
I would like to add that Jane Murdstone also played an excellent role as Murdstone's black sister. Did you notice the steel handbag she carries and the way she threads beads? She is quiet and deadly, always behind the back of her icy brother, ready to give him directions. I have tried without luck to get a photo of her in this role --- can anyone help?

5-0 out of 5 stars a cherished classic
Shouldn't one of the great endearing classics from Hollywood's golden era be transferred onto DVD? Films like these are to be cherished, so Come on studios get with it, video is becoming obsolete!

4-0 out of 5 stars A sweet movie
A really good movie. Freddie Bartholemew plays young David Copperfield, a boy who lost his father, and whose only relations are his doting mother and his spunky aunt Betsey Trotwood. His nurse Peggoty (I think I spelled it right-) Takes him on a trip to visit her relatives by the ocean. When they return, His mother has married Mr. Murdstone. (Basil Rathbone in a role that sends shivers up my spine)His mother dies, Mr Murdstone sends him away to work in London and board with Mr Micawber ,(WC Fields), Who is constantly hounded by his creditors. Micawber ends up moving, and David goes to live with Aunt Betsey. The second half (When David grows up) Is not nearly as good as the first, Its one redeeming value is 'Umble Uriah Heep (Roland Young). He is truly revolting. (As Uriah Heep SHOULD be).
I reccommend you try it. ... Read more


6. Little Women
Director: George Cukor
list price: $14.95
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Asin: 6301971590
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 7123
Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

Louisa May Alcott's beloved story is one of the most-read novels ever written. It has also proved popular film and telefilm fodder (at least six versions plus a TV series). In addition, Little Women is one of those rare literary projects that can truly be done well on screen. This, the 1933 version, chronicles the lives and loves of sisters Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth (played, respectively, by Katharine Hepburn, Frances Dee, Joan Bennett, and Jean Parker). It's a superior rendering to the amiable, perky 1949 version with June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O'Brien, and Peter Lawford, and comparable to the beautiful, feminist Gillian Armstrong 1994 take. Douglass Montgomery's Laurie isn't nearly as dreamy as Christian Bale's (1994), but the lack of chemistry between him and Hepburn's Jo is perfect for the story, in which Jo loves him like a brother. Jo's real love she offers up to perhaps the finest Professor Bhaer (Paul Lukas). Character actress Edna May Oliver is at her indignant best as Aunt March. Director George Cukor's vision is elegant, warm, and as true to the original source material as 117 minutes allows. This Little Women was a huge box-office hit, and broke all the records to that time. --N.F. Mendoza ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT FAMILY FARE.
The simple classic tale, warm and human (and innocent) of how four girls grew up with their good times and their sad times. LITTLE WOMEN fully captures the joy and feeling of the classic 1868 classic by Louisa May Alcott. Katharine's playing of Jo is vibrant and she captures Jo's tomboy qualities yet also delicately projects the beauty and intellect of Jo as a woman and budding writer. Paul Lukas made the German professor both manly and tenderly lovable. Spring Byington, as Marmee, is the only one who seems to have stepped out of an old-fashioned Sunday School book - she's unmistakably smug, and proud of it. Highly episodic, the movie focuses on the characters without slavishly following a plot. The very young Joan Bennett is terrific as Amy, who's ever scheming for the "good life" and Douglass Montgomery has the boundless energy needed in his playing of Laurie. A must-see for the fans of Alcott and Hepburn while others will find it enjoyable as a family film.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hepburn heads cast of best film version of "Little Women"
This 1933 version of Louisa May Alcott's Civil-War era classic remains the best film version of "Little Women." After all, it offers Katharine Hepburn as Jo March, whereas later versions have offered June Allyson, Meredith Baxter Birney (for TV), and Winona Ryder in her place (Although Claire Dane's deathbed scene in the 1994 version is magnificent). But the entire cast of this film is superb from top to bottom: Joan Bennett as Amy, Jean Park as Beth, Frances Dee as Meg, and Spring Byington as Marmee, with Paul Lukas as Professor Bhaer, Douglass Montgomery as Laurie, and Edna May Oliver threatening to steal every scene she is in as Aunt March.

Hepburn won the Cannes International Film Festival award as Best Actress of 1934, and it seems reasonable to suggest that her performance in "Little Women" helped Hepburn win her first Academy Award for "Morning Glory," which had come out the previous year (much as Diane Keaton was helped by having done "Saving Mr. Goodbar" the same year as "Annie Hall" when she won her Oscar). "Little Women" was nominated for Best Picture that year, because the team behind the camera of this RKO film was equally as strong. The film was produced by David O'Selznick and director George Cukor was nominated for an Oscar as well, although surprisingly none of the actors received nominations. The film's one award went to Y. Mason and Victor Heerman, who most deservedly won for Best Screenplay Adaptation.

This is arguably Hepburn's best performance in her first dozen films, although some dismiss it as being too close to home for the actress. It would be decades before critics decided that when Katharine Hepburn played herself no one could equal her, and "Little Women" certainly foreshadows her later successes. It would be nice if at least the sound on this 67 year old film could be restored, but if you can get past it being in black and white this is the "Little Women" to show your children.

Note: Interesting that this video tape is not currently available by itself, but it is as part of a three tape set of Hepburn films. Hmmmm.

5-0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL ADAPTATION OF A BELOVED BOOK...
Based upon Louisa May Alcott's beloved book of the same name, this black and white film lovingly captures its charm. It is also a pretty faithful adaptation of Ms. Alcott's classic. Though there may be a half dozen adaptations, of the three that I have seen this one is, undoubtedly, the best. Its writing deservedly won the Academy Award in 1933 for Best Screenplay Adaptation. It is unfortunate, however, that although the film was also nominated for the Best Picture Award, it lost to "Cavalcade", a largely forgotten, lesser film.

Deftly directed by George Cukor, the film tells the story of the March family, whose patriarch has gone off to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. Mrs. March is left to raise her four daughters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, in nineteenth century New England. The film focuses on the personal interactions family members have with each other, as well as with their friends and neighbors, in order to create a portrait of an idealized, loving family held together during trying times. It is also a very poignant coming of age film.

The film primarily revolves around the March sisters, with the focus on independent and headstrong Jo, an aspiring writer, as well as a tomboy and second oldest of the four sisters. In addition to the March family, a wealthy neighbor's nephew, Laurie, plays a prominent role in the life of the March family, with a lesser one played by the family's wealthy Aunt March.

This film is beautifully cast, with a luminous Katherine Hepburn perfect in the lead role. As Jo March, Ms. Hepburn captures the essence of this beloved character. Feisty, independent, loving, and intelligent, her characterization of Jo is inspired, though Ms. Hepburn may not have strayed too far from her own persona.

Spring Byington is wonderful as mother to the March daughters, while Frances Dee, Jean Parker, and Joan Bennett are uniformly excellent in the respective roles of Meg, Beth, and Amy, the sisters whom Jo so dearly loves. Douglass Montgomery is superb as Laurie, Jo's best friend, though his painted lips and shadowed eyelids are a bit anachronistic and a style holdover from the silent screen era.

Paul Lukas is endearing as the Professor, Jo's mature love interest. Henry Stephensen is effective as the generous, elderly neighbor, Mr. James Lawrence, uncle to Laurie. Veteran character actress, Edna Mae Oliver, rounds out this superlative cast as cantankerous Aunt March and shamelessly steals every scene in which she appears.

This is a wonderful vintage film that would be a welcome addition to the personal collection of those who love beautifully made, classic films. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars Katharine Hepburn is Great
one of my favorite movies. Katharine Hepburn is awsome. So is everyone eles. Lines from the actual book are included in the movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kate and Jo
Katherine Hepburn brings the Little Women heroine Jo March alive in a portrayal that truly does justice to the Jo that Louisa May Alcott wrote. Courageous and creative, but socially awkward, Jo charms us with her tomboy attempts to deal with adolescence during the difficulties of the Civil War. Though a film is of necessity a rather shortened version of a book, the essential feel of the book is intact in this film version. ... Read more


7. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Director: H.C. Potter
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301415132
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 5117
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle was the last of nine films Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together for RKO Pictures, and it is unlike any other. For the only time, Fred and Ginger play historical characters--the legendary dancing duo that was all the rage between 1912 and 1916--and a married couple, no less. Instead of their usual innovative, plot-driving dances, Fred and Ginger perform pastiches of what the Castles made famous--the fox trot, polka, and tango. And rather than an original score of great American standards by Berlin, Kern, or the Gershwins, the film uses a collection of period tunes, including "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee." No, this is not Top Hat, but fans will enjoy the film anyway. Vernon and Irene Castle is an affectionate tribute to a bygone era and to a team that Fred said was "a tremendous influence" on his career. As portrayed in the film (which was based on Irene Castle's memoirs and input), Vernon Castle is a small-time vaudeville comedian when he meets and marries Irene. The two not only manage to forge a career as proper, respectable dancers, they become the essence of style, setting national trends for dance, fashion, and even women's hairstyles. The film briefly touches on Fred and Ginger's usual themes of pursuit and union, but mostly they are warm and tender together as they deal with real-life problems, perhaps portraying the earlier films' characters after those "happily ever after" fantasy endings. And as we watch the Castles' performing career rise and decline, straight through to the film's touching last shot, we realize that Fred and Ginger are saying farewell, which makes The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle an appropriate finale to the most glorious partnership in Hollywood history.--David Horiuchi ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars fine musical
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers portray the dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle in the passable romantic musical THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE.

The story is heartfelt, deeply sentimental and quite delightful. Ginger is luminous and she is affecting in the final scene. Her breakthrough dramatic performance in KITTY FOYLE has it's roots here.

Historically accurate, Fred and Ginger dance up a storm in an array of styles. The real Irene Castle designed Ginger's costumes herself.

All-in-all, a good effort from all concerned.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fitting swan song for Fred and Ginger at RKO
This is the ultimate way for a top flight screen team to go out in style. "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" was the ninth teaming of the legendary dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and was a fitting conclusion to one of the greatest screen collaborations in movie history. While they would reteam at a later date for "The Barkely's of Broadway" it is for their RKO films that they are rightly remembered.

This excellent film has a very bittersweet feeling to it as we as viewers know that this is the last teaming by the two stars. The film combines drama, period detail and strong doses of sentiment and romance into an unusual vechicle for Fred and Ginger. For the first time in their teaming they portray actual historical figures..the legendary American dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle who in the early part of last century created a world wide sensation with their innovative interpretations of the foxtrot and polka among other numbers. They were also famous for a few of their own creations such as the Castle Walk which created a dance craze like no other the world has witnessed.

The story follows their life story together from Fred starting out as a second string vaudeville star to his marriage to Irene, to their lean years hiding from paying the rent in rundown hotels through to their great success in Paris on to when they become the toast of the dancing world. History is also incorporated into the story whereby World War 1 seperates them at the height of their success and concludes with Fred being killed in a flight accident. Rarely has there ever been anything about real life included in an Astaire & Rogers production but the two stars rise to the occasion beautifully and it is I feel their most heart felt production. Gone from this production are the mistaken identity plots so often used in their past vechicles together. Here we see what could really be classified as a drama combined with the most beautiful dance sequences you could imagine. In that way "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" is just as memorable as their earlier great successes together like "The Gay Divorcee", "Top Hat"' and "Swing Time".

The look of this production is really beautiful with all the great attention to the period detail. Indeed I often think this film has an MGM look about it so meticulous is the attention to appropiate costumne and settings. Ginger Rogers, who by this stage was starting to branch out into solo work with other leading men in a mixture of comedies and dramas is exceptional as Irene and she mentions in her autobiography that she had the real Irene Castle to contend with during this production as a creative adviser which was a very unnerving experience for her. She need not have worried as she delivers a wonderfully balanced piece of acting here and her character progresses beautifully from naive small town girl into a sophisticated woman of the world and the envy of every woman of her generation. In particular the scenes of her effect on the women of her time are both beautifully and amusingly done with her influence moving into fashion, face cream, hair styles etc . Fred Astaire , it goes without saying is in top form in thi sproduction and his dancing both in solo numbers and combining with Ginger are a real joy to witness and reveal why he is regarded as the greatest dancer movies have ever witnessed.

The supporting cast also adds wonderfully to the great feel that this film delivers. The wonderfully talented character actress Edna May Oliver, a supporting performer in countless memorable Hollywood productions, plays Maggie Sutton the gruff business manager with the heart of gold who sees the Castle's progress from poverty to world wide success and ultimately tragedy. Walter Brennan lends very able support as Fred's friend Walter who is a constant presence in their lives and is also, like Maggie, along for a life journey with the Castles.

For those of you who love fine dancing performed by the masters "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" can't be faulted. This film is unique in that it displays Fred and Ginger team as real life historical characters who gave the joy of dancing to a whole new generation. It's a beautiful production and is a wonderful showcase for the shining talents that were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful
this movie is so sweet. After seeing eight preceeding films (all wonderful no doubt)where they squabble, it's so sweet to see them really act like a couple. The scene on the balcony of the Paris apartment, where Fred kisses her is aborable. Not to mention the acting is ducky. It would be easy to overact in a film like this but they pull it off fine. Ginger is a little scene stealer. (what else is new)

3-0 out of 5 stars A mildly disappointing end to their amazing run at RKO
THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE is one of the most disappointing films in the extraordinary musical partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and I frankly am utterly perplexed by the long line of five star reviews it has been getting here. Have these reviewers seen their other films? Fred Astaire is one my idols, and I have over the years seen all his musicals for an accumulated total of over 140 times, including TOP HAT nearly 20 times alone. So, my relatively low regard for this film is not a reflection of my overall regard for Fred and Ginger.

The problem with THE STORY OF IRENE AND VERNON CASTLE is that absolutely none of the things that made Astaire and Rogers so great are able to make an appearance. Instead of the brilliant and innovative dances that invigorate their films, they have to do the famous dances of the Castles. Instead of great, original songs written especially for the film by some of the legendary songwriters of all time, they do period songs that fall short of the songs of their best films. Instead of a host of great comic actors and actresses that give the film a hysterical vitality, we get a rather average cast of characters. And instead of watching with delight Fred and Ginger's comic and musical courtship, we know how this one is going to end (at least those of us who know something of the Castles). In other words, the almost limitless possibilities that energize the typical Astaire-Rogers film is missing because of the need to tell someone else's story.

It isn't that this is so much a bad film as it is a waste of Fred and Ginger's talents. You could have had far less gifted musical performers do the Castles's numbers. You could instead have worked up a completely original story for Fred and Ginger. As it is, their last RKO picture ends up being their least interesting. They did perform one more time, for MGM in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY, but by then the magic was gone. That which had made them so unique and special didn't survive the horrors of WW II, and their tenth and final film seemed strangely out of place.

I wouldn't discourage anyone who hasn't seen this film not to, but I will say that one could do themselves a far greater favor by rewatching one of their classics, such as THE GAY DIVORCEE, TOP HAT, or SWINGTIME. Or even FOLLOW THE FLEET, which had a terrible story, but featured some of their very greatest dances, including the extraordinary "Let's Face the Music and Dance," arguably their greatest number together.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt
A must for fans of the talented Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I was moved to tears at times, and the next minute I was laughing. They did such a beautiful job of protraying the real Irene and Vernon Castle. The real Castle's would have been proud of the way this movie was made. Fred Astaire was such a joy to watch, and I think this is my favorite Ginger Rogers movie. She brings class and grace to her character. I would recommend this to anyone who is in search of a movie that touches the heart. ... Read more


8. Pride and Prejudice
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6304508573
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 1974
Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (84)

3-0 out of 5 stars Miscast Elizabeth
Greer Garson stars as Elizabeth Bennet in this 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. She plays the clever and witty eldest of five daughters, who are all looking for rich husbands. Lawrence Olivier plays Mr. Darcy, a suitably wealthy prospect, however he is too arrogant for Elizabeth's liking. The story follows the two as they tease and rebuff, only to end happily with their engagement, as we always knew it would.

Being such an old film, the quality of the picture and sound were poor. Even so, they were better than the outrageous casting of Greer Garson as the lead. She was much too old to play Elizabeth, and was utterly unconvincing. Two of her sisters were played by Anne Rutherford and Maureen Sullivan. They were both excellent and would have done better in the lead. Olivier was wonderfully snooty as the aristocratic Mr. Darcy.

The other major weakness with the film was the costume design. The ladies' gowns and men's suits looked like they were borrowed from the set of Gone With the Wind. The dresses were full and puffy, not at all like the delicate and low-cut gowns of the early 1800s in England.

There were no exterior shots of the grand houses; rather we saw only small rooms with very ordinary furnishings. The photography was drab, even considering the age of the film.

The screenplay was co-written by the famous Aldous Huxley, who, it seems, had no knack for reproducing Austen's glorious dialogue. All in all, I found this film an acceptable introduction to Jane Austen's classic book, but not deeply satisfying or beautiful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie of a timeless novel
This version of Pride and Prejudice first got me interested in Jane Austen. Though it may not be the most acurate version of the famous novel, it is very funny and all of the characters are played well. Lawrence Olivier IS Mr. Darcy, and Greer Garson shines as Lizzy, despite her age difference to the character.

2-0 out of 5 stars An inferior adaptation of a great book
There are three film versions of Jane Austen's immortal "Pride and Prejudice" extant, and this one, the first, is by far the weakest. It would be hard to tamper with the great story, which is so well known as to need no rehashing here; but although the film tries to follow the story, Aldous Huxley proved incapable of incorporating Austen's incomparable dialogue into the film script, as the two later versions were able to do with remarkable success. There are other, more egregious shortcomings, in this film, which are:

1) Casting Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet. Whoever had this idea should have been put in the stocks and pelted with water balloons. Elizabeth Bennet is 20 years old in the book, and Greer Garson, on the wrong side of 35, looks absolutely ridiculous trying to play a young ingenue. Who was she kidding? She doesn't even look like Austen's description of Elizabeth. Vivien Leigh might have made a great Elizabeth, if she wasn't already fixed in the public mind as Scarlett O'Hara. Which brings us to:

2) The 1860-ish costumes. Were they trying to move the timeline up? Somebody should have told the costume department that Longbourn and Tara were six thousand miles and sixty years apart. "Pride and Prejudice" was set sometime between 1790 and 1810 (Austen's biographers are in disagreement as to the exact date), but the costumes in this first version of "Pride and Prejudice looked like leftovers from the set of "Gone With the Wind". A big no-no.

3) The casting of Lawrence Olivier as Darcy was a mistake. Austen describes Darcy as being tall and handsome. Olivier was handsome but he didn't look much taller than Garson. Or maybe Garson was too tall. Whatever... it was a total mismatch.

4) The whole scene at Pemberley, which is central to the book, was eliminated. So how did Elizabeth's one-eighty from loathing to love take place? The movie doesn't say and we're left totally unconvinced.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that "Pride and Prejudice" is one of the best-loved books in English literature. It certainly deserved a better film adaptation than this one. Fortunately it has not one, but two: the BBC version of 1985 starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul (my personal favorite), and the A&E film of 1995 starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Watch either or both of these after seeing the Garson/Olivier movie, to see what a good film adaptation of a great book really is.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Adaptation!
This film was the worst adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel that I have ever seen in my life. It is not really true to the novel, the costumes are ridiculous looking, not to mention that they do not match the kind of clothing that was worn in Austen's time. They hardly ever use the famous words and/or phrases from the book, only once or twice but they are somewhat changed. Granted I think Laurence Olivier made a great Darcy if he was more like Darcy is suppose to be, instead his version of him was more perky and uppity than nonchalant and melancholy and a little arrogant, which to me is what Darcy is actually like. If you want to see the greatest adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" ever made then check out the BBC and A&E production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, I guarantee you'll watch it all the way through with a satisfied and happy smile on your face.

2-0 out of 5 stars It is a truth universally acknowledged that this movie is
Misleading, to say the least.

I saw this movie last week on Turner Classic Movie channel, expecting to see a nice little 40's style rendition of that book we oh-so dearly enjoy.

What a silly movie.

Granted, I'm sure making a two hour movie out of the novel is difficult, but if you were to take a high school test on Pride and Prejudice after seeing this movie instead of reading the book, you would fail miserably.

The dresses were too elaborate. Mary is way too pretty. Greer is too blonde to play Elizabeth, where are those dark "fine eyes"? Darcy grossed me out. I don't even remember Bingley or Jane, and Elizabeth's transition from hating to loving Darcy goes a little something like this (paraphrased, of course):

Elizabeth: "Oh, how I miss Mr. Darcy"
Jane: "What? I thought you hated him?"
Elizabeth : "Well now, quite suddenly I love him!"

This is without the reunion at Pemberly. Its rushed, to say the least.

I did like Lydia, and there is a lovely, albeit irrelevant scene where Mrs. Bennet and the girls Mrs. Lucas and Charlotte (who is much too pretty in this adaptation) are racing neck and neck via carriage to get to Netherfield to meet the eligible men.

And the slightly amusing part where Mr. Bingley is talking about what's wrong with Jane when she's sick. That was just weird. Trés 40's, no?

Mr and Mrs Bennet are enjoyable characters, but I imagine that it would be difficult to screw up those well-written characters in any cinematic endeavor.

And the part with Lady Catherine acting as a "secret agent" for Darcy. What the hell.

Ugh. This movie is slightly amusing, if it was 5 hours of nonsense I would give it one star, but since its only 2 hours you might as well watch it if you feel so inclined.

But read the book and check out the 1995 BBC production one, too. ... Read more


9. Cimarron
Director: Wesley Ruggles
list price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6301967720
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 12705
Average Customer Review: 2.08 out of 5 stars
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This epic Western won the 1931 Academy Award for Best Picture. Heartthrob Richard Dix plays Yancey Cravat (yes, really, that's his name) a frontiersman, newspaper editor, and former gunslinger who's studly enough to fill in as preacher or lawyer should the situation demand. Yancey brings his young bride Sabra to the wild Oklahoma territory to taste the adventure, crusade for social justice, and leave his family for years at a time. Modern viewers will have trouble making it past one or two horrifying racist caricatures at the start, made doubly odd because of the film's intended message of tolerance. Once it gets underway, though, Cimarron can be quite a bit of fun. Most of its pleasures are of the guilty variety--Dix's performance in particular is endearingly huge--but there are a few genuine highlights. The Oklahoma Land Rush sequence is still exciting and wet blanket Sabra turns out to have far more gumption than anyone imagined. --Ali Davis ... Read more

Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars BEST PICTURE OSCAR, 193O.
This sprawling Western family saga, which takes place in Oklahoma in the period from 1889 to 1929 dates badly, although it was a big early talkie. Some viewers are a bit too harsh on this film. The opening scenes depict the Oklahoma Land Rush which is positively awe inspiring: thousands of extras rush pell-mell on foot, horseback and wagon in a mindless dash to outwit & outride each other in order to gain free land. Much of the movie rests on the considerable talents of Irene Dunne, who goes from an innocent child-woman to a grand old lady in a span of 4O years. Believe it or not, this film was considered to be the cinema's finest Western until the likes of RED RIVER, HIGH NOON and SHANE made their marks. The film received rave reviews and this along with THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES were the only two RKO films which won a AA for Best Picture. The screenplay was written by Howard Estabrook, based upon the source novel by Edna Ferber. The film cost RKO 1.5 million dollars to film: it also won Oscars for Best Set Decoration and for Best Adoptation.

1-0 out of 5 stars An Uunfortunate Product of its Times
Rascist, Sexist, boring, pendantic, poorly acted and not particularly well made. I bought a VHS copy, watched it once and threw it in the trash. Hard to believe Cimarron is one of only 3 Westerns to win the Best Picture Oscar and the other 2 were won in the 90's. Most of the early winners of the BPO were excellent picks that have survived the test of time. Cimarron is all but forgotten and fairly so.

5-0 out of 5 stars A profound old movie
You know, I have to agree with Mr. Erdelac - the movie is progressive for its time. For those of you who judge a movie by the degree to which it beats a political or social drum, there is much here to admire.

But there is more. There is something artistic. There is an odd balance between melodrama and something really substantial, something actually edifying to the viewer. I think a large part of why this movie doesn't descend into the sludge of cinematic slop is because the characters are all flawed, and in those flaws the viewer cannot help but recognize a touch of human frailty. Every individual in this movie is at times ridiculous and at other times supremely dignified. This, I believe, gives it a certain depth.

The characters in any great movie MUST be larger than life if the piece is to avoid being either a documentary or a soap opera. But here the larger than life characters seem firmly rooted in the earth, which brings them closer to us. I like that.

Overall, I think the sensitive viewer will find in this movie much that is both emotionally and philosophically stimulating, if he/she is willing to look past the inevitable veneer of 74 years. I personally consider it a particularly moving and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Audio!
I could not really enjoy the film. I purchased it recently on VHS and the audio quality was horrendous. I don't think anything was ever done to remaster the audio, and it is very annoying to follow. Don't waste $19.95 on it. Watch it on TCM; even there the audio is distorted. I only got it because it is a very early Irene Dunne movie, and I was curious to watch it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Years Ahead Of Its Time
What are some of these reviewers thinking? I just watched this movie for the first time, and considering the period, this has got to be one of the most progressive films ever to come out of the 1930's. Yes, like most, I inwardly cringed at the sight of `Isaiah' whistling and shining shoes during the opening credits, but I really felt that the character wound up being much more than a stereotypical clown (this is NOT Gone With The Wind). Consider the societal constraints under which the creators of this film worked, and I should think its obvious that they did what they could, perhaps subversively. Back then they just couldn't have a black character or a full blooded Indian character who spoke for and defended himself, but they could find a way to espouse more liberal views through the character of Cravat. In the end, by way of his actions, Isaiah certainly becomes a more heroic character than Mammy or Uncle Remus. Likewise, the treatment of womens' roles and Indian rights are amazingly far ahead of their time -even going so far as to touch on interracial marriage and the potential of women to be stronger and even more efficient than men -which at a time when the suffragists were still alive, has got to be commended. And don't forget that Dix's character is part Indian. How many films prior to `Broken Arrow' portrayed Indians in a positive light, let alone made them the hero?

There is a lot of talk of Dix's overracting and praise for Dunne. I thought Dix captured the blustery over the top persona of Yancey Cravat (who was based on a real-life gunslinging attorney who was a son of Sam Houston -the courtroom soliloquy to save the prostitute is culled directly from historic record) perfectly. I particularly liked the scene where he `crows' at the bad guy in challenge. Yes, Dunne did a fine job as well portraying a character who represents all the economic and social intolerance of the period. Moreso because with the help of her firebrand husband she manages to evolve and change (and even become a Congresswoman!) beyond these small views. But I don't think Dix deserves all the criticism, nor Dunne all the credit. Yancy Cravat doesn't seem true to life because he is BIGGER than life. Nobody complains about George C. Scott's rendering of Patton, because we know Patton really was that way. Is it incomprehensible to think that such giant characters, dandily dressed and sporting pistols and purple words ever walked the land before 1930? All this talk of dating (at the risk of sounding dated) is a lot of hooey. When you watch a movie like this you've got to put yourself in the mindset of the audience of the period, or of course you're always going to think its `aged badly.'

The film is shot well. The Land Rush is great, as is that scene where Dunne runs through the spattered men of the oil field at the end (it reminded me of Claudia Cardinale walking through the slew of rail workers at the end of Once Upon A Time In The West). There are shots during the emigration of the Cravats from Kansaas which also stay in the mind. The lantern hanging from the rear axle of the wagon, only illuminating the turning wheels on either side, while Cravat lowly sings his signature tune was a stroke of genius, and the Kid and his gang riding out of the dark and empty land into their campsite is well done. The sound on the VHS is a little bad, with a lot of background hiss occassionally overwhelming the dialogue. I hope if this ever gets to DVD they can fix this.

I think this is an important film that has been sorely overlooked because of the decline of the western in popular culture and the finger pointing of the PC crowd. You've got to look deeper than the veneer, but I really believe this to be an astounding achievement historically, cinematically, and in the portrayal and ultimate breaking of racial stereotypes. Best Picture of 1930. I would've given it four stars, but the VHS copy isn't great. O mighty masters of DVD transfer, except Cimarron into thy trust! Amen! ... Read more


10. Little Miss Broadway
Director: Irving Cummings
list price: $9.98
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Asin: B00005UM6O
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 6329
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Shirley Shines in a Temple Classic!!!!
This movie is a wonderful movie. Probably one of Shirley's best! It features George Murphy and Jimmy Durante. It's about an orphan named Betsy who is taken into the Hotel Variety by her parent's friends Pop and his young about 20 year old daughter Barbara. You should see this film, it's really a great film. It has the songs Be Optimistic, We Should Be Together, Little Miss Broadway, and Swing Me An Old-Fashioned Tune.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Temple's Best
Shirley Temple shines in this delightful tale of an orphan who saves a hotel,along with a group of aspiring entertainers, from financial ruin. The songs are adorable and the rest of the cast is wonderful including Jimmy Durante. This is one of my personal favorites.

4-0 out of 5 stars Little Miss Broadway
My daughter loves this video - the only drawback to it is that she wants to watch it all the time! She sings and dances along with "Betsy" (Shirley Temple) through the whole movie. It's great for little girls who love to dance and sing. ... Read more


11. Second Fiddle
Director: Sidney Lanfield
list price: $19.98
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Asin: 6302985943
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 24455
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars DELIGHTFUL SPOOF OF GONE WITH THE WIND
This is fun indeed. Sonja is surrounded by toptalent such as Irving Berlin(but not his best score), Tyrone Power, Rudy Vallee and Edna May Oliver. Unfortunately she is not given much to do outside her numbers, but it is apparent that she was on her way to become warm in front of the cameras as an actress. Edna May Oliver stands out as a warm and cynic aunt Phoebe. Sonja`s solo on ice is terrific; u can see she is in great pain because of her heart-aches and how she`s feeling better and throws off her sorrows through her work-out on ice. That`s an actress on ice. They say that no one has ever controlled an audience on ice the way Sonja Henie did it.

Her tango was initially edited, but Sonja demanded it back as a whole and she was the only star to contradict Darryl F. Zanuck. Her temperament and clashes with Zanuck are part of Hollywood-legend. Milton Berle once declared: "I wouldn`t say she controlled - but she had the wip!" hehehe...

4-0 out of 5 stars A delightful little spoof for the year it was made
I find this little film utterly charming. It is very much of its time as it was made and released in that Golden Hollywood year of 1939 when so many wonderful classics were released. In particular this film homes in on the exhaustive search that David O. Selznick undertook to find the perfect Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind" as the source for its own storyline of the search for just the right girl to star in a fictional movie called "Girl of the North".

At this time Sonja Henie despite a limited range as an actress had very quickly become a top Box Office attraction and was one of the great stars at Twentieth Century Fox just behind Shirley Temple. She combined supreme skating talents with a sweet persona that won audiences over and made her films for Fox huge money makers.
Sonja was often teamed with the biggest leading men at Fox like Don Ameche, Richard Greene and of course as here, the wonderful Tyrone Power. The two had already had a great success together in 1937 in "Thin Ice" and the two not only looked splendid together on screen but also had a really great screen chemistry.
In "Second Fiddle" they play antagonists who of course eventually fall in love. Being of the time of course no expense was spared on the production which even now has a special glow about it. The production numbers are lavish, and while the Irving Berlin score is not the most memorable it still compliments the overraul production.
Tyrone Power is as always a delight as the male lead showing the right combination of cheekiness and charm as the press agent trying to get Henie's school teacher character to come to Hollwood with him. The always excellent Edna May Oliver lends her usual great presence to this film as Henie's no nonsense aunt and she has a surprisingly wonderful screen rapport with Tyrone and some of the most delightful scenes in the film are when these two "square off' against each other.
If you enjoy musicals from this golden era of Hollywood or are a big fan of Tyrone Power or Sonja Henie like I am you will enjoy "Second Fiddle' Not the greatest musical of this era but an enjoyable hour and a half nevertheless.

3-0 out of 5 stars Weak Irving Berlin score, but fine cast and production
If you're looking for typical Irving Berlin song hits, skip this one ("The Song of the Metronome" is one of the deathless ditties here). But if you're in the mood for an agreeable musical show, there are engaging vocals by Mary Healy and The King Sisters, and Sonja Henie's skating is impressive. The plot parodies Hollywood's "search for Scarlett O'Hara," with schoolteacher Henie brought to the movie capital by press agent Tyrone Power. Good supporting cast, especially Edna May Oliver as Henie's maiden aunt. The picture and sound quality are excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spoof search for THE GIRL OF THE NORTH - GREAT FUN
This is propably Sonja Henie`s best film. In this, her skating is at its best. The music by Irving Berlin however is not on par of what we are used to from that composer, but the lines,c costumes, set decorations, photography and supporting cast(TYRONE POWER, RUDY VALEE and EDNA MAY OLIVER) makes this one of the best 20th Century-Fox musicals of the 30s. ... Read more


12. Little Women
Director: George Cukor
list price: $14.95
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Asin: B00005NTOD
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT FAMILY FARE.
The simple classic tale, warm and human (and innocent) of how four girls grew up with their good times and their sad times. LITTLE WOMEN fully captures the joy and feeling of the classic 1868 classic by Louisa May Alcott. Katharine's playing of Jo is vibrant and she captures Jo's tomboy qualities yet also delicately projects the beauty and intellect of Jo as a woman and budding writer. Paul Lukas made the German professor both manly and tenderly lovable. Spring Byington, as Marmee, is the only one who seems to have stepped out of an old-fashioned Sunday School book - she's unmistakably smug, and proud of it. Highly episodic, the movie focuses on the characters without slavishly following a plot. The very young Joan Bennett is terrific as Amy, who's ever scheming for the "good life" and Douglass Montgomery has the boundless energy needed in his playing of Laurie. A must-see for the fans of Alcott and Hepburn while others will find it enjoyable as a family film.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hepburn heads cast of best film version of "Little Women"
This 1933 version of Louisa May Alcott's Civil-War era classic remains the best film version of "Little Women." After all, it offers Katharine Hepburn as Jo March, whereas later versions have offered June Allyson, Meredith Baxter Birney (for TV), and Winona Ryder in her place (Although Claire Dane's deathbed scene in the 1994 version is magnificent). But the entire cast of this film is superb from top to bottom: Joan Bennett as Amy, Jean Park as Beth, Frances Dee as Meg, and Spring Byington as Marmee, with Paul Lukas as Professor Bhaer, Douglass Montgomery as Laurie, and Edna May Oliver threatening to steal every scene she is in as Aunt March.

Hepburn won the Cannes International Film Festival award as Best Actress of 1934, and it seems reasonable to suggest that her performance in "Little Women" helped Hepburn win her first Academy Award for "Morning Glory," which had come out the previous year (much as Diane Keaton was helped by having done "Saving Mr. Goodbar" the same year as "Annie Hall" when she won her Oscar). "Little Women" was nominated for Best Picture that year, because the team behind the camera of this RKO film was equally as strong. The film was produced by David O'Selznick and director George Cukor was nominated for an Oscar as well, although surprisingly none of the actors received nominations. The film's one award went to Y. Mason and Victor Heerman, who most deservedly won for Best Screenplay Adaptation.

This is arguably Hepburn's best performance in her first dozen films, although some dismiss it as being too close to home for the actress. It would be decades before critics decided that when Katharine Hepburn played herself no one could equal her, and "Little Women" certainly foreshadows her later successes. It would be nice if at least the sound on this 67 year old film could be restored, but if you can get past it being in black and white this is the "Little Women" to show your children.

Note: Interesting that this video tape is not currently available by itself, but it is as part of a three tape set of Hepburn films. Hmmmm.

5-0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL ADAPTATION OF A BELOVED BOOK...
Based upon Louisa May Alcott's beloved book of the same name, this black and white film lovingly captures its charm. It is also a pretty faithful adaptation of Ms. Alcott's classic. Though there may be a half dozen adaptations, of the three that I have seen this one is, undoubtedly, the best. Its writing deservedly won the Academy Award in 1933 for Best Screenplay Adaptation. It is unfortunate, however, that although the film was also nominated for the Best Picture Award, it lost to "Cavalcade", a largely forgotten, lesser film.

Deftly directed by George Cukor, the film tells the story of the March family, whose patriarch has gone off to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. Mrs. March is left to raise her four daughters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, in nineteenth century New England. The film focuses on the personal interactions family members have with each other, as well as with their friends and neighbors, in order to create a portrait of an idealized, loving family held together during trying times. It is also a very poignant coming of age film.

The film primarily revolves around the March sisters, with the focus on independent and headstrong Jo, an aspiring writer, as well as a tomboy and second oldest of the four sisters. In addition to the March family, a wealthy neighbor's nephew, Laurie, plays a prominent role in the life of the March family, with a lesser one played by the family's wealthy Aunt March.

This film is beautifully cast, with a luminous Katherine Hepburn perfect in the lead role. As Jo March, Ms. Hepburn captures the essence of this beloved character. Feisty, independent, loving, and intelligent, her characterization of Jo is inspired, though Ms. Hepburn may not have strayed too far from her own persona.

Spring Byington is wonderful as mother to the March daughters, while Frances Dee, Jean Parker, and Joan Bennett are uniformly excellent in the respective roles of Meg, Beth, and Amy, the sisters whom Jo so dearly loves. Douglass Montgomery is superb as Laurie, Jo's best friend, though his painted lips and shadowed eyelids are a bit anachronistic and a style holdover from the silent screen era.

Paul Lukas is endearing as the Professor, Jo's mature love interest. Henry Stephensen is effective as the generous, elderly neighbor, Mr. James Lawrence, uncle to Laurie. Veteran character actress, Edna Mae Oliver, rounds out this superlative cast as cantankerous Aunt March and shamelessly steals every scene in which she appears.

This is a wonderful vintage film that would be a welcome addition to the personal collection of those who love beautifully made, classic films. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars Katharine Hepburn is Great
one of my favorite movies. Katharine Hepburn is awsome. So is everyone eles. Lines from the actual book are included in the movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kate and Jo
Katherine Hepburn brings the Little Women heroine Jo March alive in a portrayal that truly does justice to the Jo that Louisa May Alcott wrote. Courageous and creative, but socially awkward, Jo charms us with her tomboy attempts to deal with adolescence during the difficulties of the Civil War. Though a film is of necessity a rather shortened version of a book, the essential feel of the book is intact in this film version. ... Read more


13. Half Shot at Sunrise
Director: Paul Sloane (II)
list price: $14.99
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Asin: B00005AWQK
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 88083
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars War Is Swell (?)
"Half Shot..." is easily one of Wheeler and Woolsey's best early films with many unforgetable one-liners and at least two hilarious dance sequences. The delicious Dorothy Lee is Wheeler's love interest and her vivacious teenage vamp personna makes one wonder why she isn't better remembered as a spicier version of Clara Bow. This is one of the few W & W films that also provide a love interest for Bob Woolsey, an opportunity he used to great comic effect. A wonderful gift for a senior citizen, children, or anyone who enjoys campy 1930's comedy. ... Read more


14. Rosalie
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
list price: $19.98
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Asin: 6301978404
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 24403
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars "Rosalie" glistens in Black/White
"Rosalie" is a shimmering escapist movie that glistens - even in black and white. Production numbers are exceptional, with reminders throughout the story of a fantasy decade of lacy satins, patent leather buckled tap shoes, and gossamer nights.

No magical chemistry here between the lead players, as in MacDonald/Eddy films before and after, but a very pleasant 1930s love story between a West Point football hero, Dick Thorpe (Nelson Eddy) and an incognito Princess attending Vassar, Rosalie (Eleanor Powell).

The harmonious blending of Nelson's distinctive voice and Eleanor's brilliant dancing is what makes this movie succeed. Cole Porter's music doesn't hurt, either. The story line has the two falling in love after the big Army/Navy football game, where Thorpe scores as gridiron hero but wants to score with Rosalie. He has no clue she is a princess in the kingdom of Romanza, a tiny hamlet in Eastern Europe. Rosalie has fun teasing him along and she invites him to her country's springtime celebration. He accepts and trouble starts.

The Queen, Edna May Oliver, disputes Thorpe's interest in Rosalie, having decided on a royal marriage for her daughter. The King, Ralph Morgan, is his usual scatter-brained self, (as in Oz) not entirely in charge of any situation. Those two playing Rosalie's parents is a stretch, they could have easily been her grandparents. But in '30s movie history, all parents looked like grandparents, a sign of that culture.

Also of that culture, the "Hail Good Fellow" mentality does no harm to this well-
worn theme of rich girl/poor boy. Eleanor's uncommon kind of beauty - enhanced
with a curt speaking voice and eyes twinkling throughout as if withholding a secret - matches well with Nelson's out-of-doors but drawing-room smooth, atypical
good looks. No manifest intimacy between the two, but hey...it is only a movie,
after all, and definitely worth seeing...at least once.

5-0 out of 5 stars musical perfection
The scintillating Eleanor Powell dances to Nelson Eddy's tune in ROSALIE, a musical comedy laced with romance, intrigue and some of Cole Porter's greatest hits, including "In The Still Of The Night".

When West Point football hero Dick Thorpe (Nelson Eddy) meets pretty Vassar student Rosalie (Eleanor Powell), he falls head over heels in love. She invites him to her homeland, the European kingdom of Romanza. He has no idea her parents are the King and Queen (Frank Morgan and Edna May Oliver), and that she is the Princess, betrothed to the son of the Chancellor.

A rich and lively blend of music and romance and period charm, ROSALIE also features Illona Massey and Ray Bolger. ... Read more


15. Romeo and Juliet
Director: George Cukor
list price: $19.98
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Asin: 6302308313
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 18225
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Close Tie With The 1968 Version
I actually saw this classic 1936 version staring Norma Shearer AFTER seeing the 1968 film with Olivia Hussey, and I have to say this one is also special in it's own way, and I would recommend it as worthy of viewing at least once. It features very beautiful sets and scenes, like the masked ball where Juilet dances as Romeo spies her the first time. Some of the acting is even better, like the role of Juliet's nurse(more believable). Although the two lead actors were in fact two old for the parts, I have read that during filming a white guaze type material was placed over the camera lens, to supposedly help mask the actors apparent ages. It's possible this may have been removed by film restorers who mistook it for distortion/age, but I'm not sure. Again If you enjoyed the 60's version, this one is close behind.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Age of the Cast Undercuts the Production
This version of Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET was very famous in its day, and a number of critics that I greatly admire continue to praise it even now. But I must sound a dissenting note: although it has its charms, I personally found the film somewhat difficult to sit through due to the age of the cast. On the stage, Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers are usually played by mature actors in full command of both Shakespearean language and their own art, and the physical distance between the stage and the audience allows the cast to create the illusion of youth. But the camera is merciless, particularly in close up, and this film production presents us with the middle-aged Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, and Basil Rathbone in roles that would be better served on the screen by much younger players.

To give the cast its due, several of the stars fought tooth and nail against making the film--most notably Leslie Howard, who even went so far as give press interviews stating that he was much too old to play Romeo in a screen production. When forced into the production by contractual obligation, Howard and his counterparts gave it their all, but sad to say the camera did not lie: they were indeed too old. Although some viewers are able to suspend disbelief to accept the stars in such youthful roles, I myself could not. I found it occasionally absurd, but more often embarassing, with the famous balcony a case in point. All of this might be forgiven if the stars actually generated any sense of passion, but they do not--and it is really here that their ages tell, for instead of the white-hot passions of youth that lead to disaster we have instead a gentle love story with an unhappy ending. Still, the film really is pretty to look at--it has an engraved quality in its glossy black and white--and if you close your eyes, you can enjoy the 'grand manner' readings, which is a great deal more than one can say for most cinematic Shakespearean interpretations. There is also Edna May Oliver's performance, and she is excellent in the role of Juliet's babbling nurse.

Fans of this film's stars will no doubt wish to add it to their library, and those interested in seeing how Hollywood approached Shakespeare in the 1930s will enjoy seeing it at least once--but I would hesitate to recommend this film to any one outside that circle. Most viewers will be happier with the later Franco Zefferilli version.

5-0 out of 5 stars the beauty of the language
this is a lavish, wonderful production, with a cast that is so comfortable with the language. They bring out the beauty of the words, and clarity to their meaning.

Norma Shearer, despite being more than twice Juliet's age, plays her exquisitely...I find her to be the loveliest and most graceful of the screen Juliets I've seen.
Leslie Howard, who was 42 at the time, is splendid. With his perfect musical voice and enunciation, he's a joy to watch and listen to...what a pity that he didn't film more Shakespeare...a Howard "Hamlet" (which he had a huge success with on Broadway), would have certainly been a film treasure.
Also great is John Barrymore's flamboyant Mercutio, and Edna May Oliver is my all-time favorite Nurse.

Though I think the imaginitive and slightly bizarre Baz Luhmann/Leonardo DiCaprio version is fabulous and a must-see (as is the fight scene in the Zeffirelli production !) what makes this George Cukor version so special is the poetry of the language...if you want to hear the words spoken as I'm sure Shakespeare intended, give this film a try.

4-0 out of 5 stars Better Than You'd Think
It's amazing how often the legendary Irving Thalberg was allowed to make M.G.M. "prestige pictures" that produced awed reviews and spotty box-office receipts. It's even more amazing how often he required his wife, actress Norma Shearer, to star in them, to the eventual detriment of her career. As good as Shearer was, she acquired a reputation as a star of stately, dull movies made to please no one but her husband.

The notable exception to Thalberg's run of worthy Shearer failures was "Romeo and Juliet". Although it conformed to the norm by not making much money, it was a very fine film, far better than most filmed Shakespeare.

Norma was 36 when the movie was shot, and it was feared she was a bit old for the part. The problem was tackled by hiring an even older Romeo, 43-year-old Leslie Howard. The supporting cast was the best in the business- John Barrymore as Mercutio, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, Edna May Oliver as the Nurse, Reginald Denny as Benvolio, and Violet Kemble-Cooper as Lady Capulet. George Cukor was tapped as director, and Agnes de Mille choreographed the period dance that is the highlight of the lovers' first meeting.

Production values were extraordinary, even for a Shearer movie. The creamily lit photography flattered the stars, and the props and sets were magnificent. The exterior set for the balcony scene took up all of M.G.M's Stage Sixteen, then the largest soundstage in the world; there was so much real vegetation that the building began producing its own weather. The costumes were a bit over-the-top; those for the supporting cast are highly theatrical, and the star wardrobe is intended to flatter at the expense of authenticity (Shearer's hairstyle is that of a boy of the period, not a young woman).

All the lavishness in the world would not have mattered if the cast and crew hadn't delivered, but they did. Under the tutelage of Constance Collier, Shearer turned in a touchingly tender Juliet, actually getting the best contemporary reviews of any cast member. Howard's Romeo was a bit perfunctory, but still managed a nice sense of mischief in the early scenes. Basil Rathbone's prideful Tybalt was the part he was born to play, and Oliver's Nurse crammed the maximum of bawdiness and fun into a part badly cut to comply with the demands of the censors. The surprise casting- and performance- of the film was Andy Devine as Peter, the Nurse's servant. It should have been wildly incongruous, but Devine's raspy voice and simple demeanour were perfect for the part.

Two scenes stand out in the memory. One is the stately pavane being danced when Romeo first spies Juliet. Shearer's timing and subtlety serve her well here; she interacts with her nominal dancing partner, Paris, and with Romeo on the sidelines, keeping time to the dance and losing it, sending messages of love with her eyes while her body attempts vainly to maintain an appearance of propriety.

The other is Barrymore's turn as Mercutio; it's said he was drunk during much of the filming, and that the take of his biggest scene used in the final cut was the only usable one. None of Barrymore's problems show on film; his hooting, larky performance is a miracle of comic timing and not to be missed.

The film has its small problems; no one was able to lick the story's inherent lack of action at the end, and the vitality of the film lapses into talkiness in a few later stretches. There is a lapse of judgement in one place where Romeo and Juliet kiss; the otherwise original music switches to Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet", dragging the scene into cliche. And director Cukor later bemoaned the lack of "garlic and the Mediterranean" in the film's look and feel.

It's still something very rare on film: Shakespeare that is well and respectfully adapted for the screen, accessible to any viewer, and beautifully played. Of all the versions of "Romeo and Juliet" on film, this is the one that tells the story best.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best version of "Romeo and Juliet " I've seen. Lovely!
I really enjoyed this movie, and recommend that people watch this version. Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer are perfectly cast in the roles of Romeo and Juliet. A must see, a beautiful performance. ... Read more


16. Ann Vickers
Director: John Cromwell
list price: $19.98
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Asin: B00007K07K
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 21452
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17. Lydia
list price: $14.99
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Asin: 6303347711
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 13006
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful meditation on memory and love
Another film from the 1940's that remembers the turn of the century--in this case, after all the characters have grown old, they look back on their lives. Lydia, a headstrong girl, is wooed by a number of men, but there are always complications. Finally she meets a man who sweeps her away, but problems arise once again. What makes this film lovely is its recreation of another time, with its breathtaking winter scenes and evocative plays on memory. And Joseph Cotten and Merle Oberon are excellent, among others. ... Read more


18. Cimarron
Director: Wesley Ruggles
list price: $14.94
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Asin: B00003OSTF
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 26851
Average Customer Review: 2.08 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars BEST PICTURE OSCAR, 193O.
This sprawling Western family saga, which takes place in Oklahoma in the period from 1889 to 1929 dates badly, although it was a big early talkie. Some viewers are a bit too harsh on this film. The opening scenes depict the Oklahoma Land Rush which is positively awe inspiring: thousands of extras rush pell-mell on foot, horseback and wagon in a mindless dash to outwit & outride each other in order to gain free land. Much of the movie rests on the considerable talents of Irene Dunne, who goes from an innocent child-woman to a grand old lady in a span of 4O years. Believe it or not, this film was considered to be the cinema's finest Western until the likes of RED RIVER, HIGH NOON and SHANE made their marks. The film received rave reviews and this along with THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES were the only two RKO films which won a AA for Best Picture. The screenplay was written by Howard Estabrook, based upon the source novel by Edna Ferber. The film cost RKO 1.5 million dollars to film: it also won Oscars for Best Set Decoration and for Best Adoptation.

1-0 out of 5 stars An Uunfortunate Product of its Times
Rascist, Sexist, boring, pendantic, poorly acted and not particularly well made. I bought a VHS copy, watched it once and threw it in the trash. Hard to believe Cimarron is one of only 3 Westerns to win the Best Picture Oscar and the other 2 were won in the 90's. Most of the early winners of the BPO were excellent picks that have survived the test of time. Cimarron is all but forgotten and fairly so.

5-0 out of 5 stars A profound old movie
You know, I have to agree with Mr. Erdelac - the movie is progressive for its time. For those of you who judge a movie by the degree to which it beats a political or social drum, there is much here to admire.

But there is more. There is something artistic. There is an odd balance between melodrama and something really substantial, something actually edifying to the viewer. I think a large part of why this movie doesn't descend into the sludge of cinematic slop is because the characters are all flawed, and in those flaws the viewer cannot help but recognize a touch of human frailty. Every individual in this movie is at times ridiculous and at other times supremely dignified. This, I believe, gives it a certain depth.

The characters in any great movie MUST be larger than life if the piece is to avoid being either a documentary or a soap opera. But here the larger than life characters seem firmly rooted in the earth, which brings them closer to us. I like that.

Overall, I think the sensitive viewer will find in this movie much that is both emotionally and philosophically stimulating, if he/she is willing to look past the inevitable veneer of 74 years. I personally consider it a particularly moving and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Audio!
I could not really enjoy the film. I purchased it recently on VHS and the audio quality was horrendous. I don't think anything was ever done to remaster the audio, and it is very annoying to follow. Don't waste $19.95 on it. Watch it on TCM; even there the audio is distorted. I only got it because it is a very early Irene Dunne movie, and I was curious to watch it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Years Ahead Of Its Time
What are some of these reviewers thinking? I just watched this movie for the first time, and considering the period, this has got to be one of the most progressive films ever to come out of the 1930's. Yes, like most, I inwardly cringed at the sight of `Isaiah' whistling and shining shoes during the opening credits, but I really felt that the character wound up being much more than a stereotypical clown (this is NOT Gone With The Wind). Consider the societal constraints under which the creators of this film worked, and I should think its obvious that they did what they could, perhaps subversively. Back then they just couldn't have a black character or a full blooded Indian character who spoke for and defended himself, but they could find a way to espouse more liberal views through the character of Cravat. In the end, by way of his actions, Isaiah certainly becomes a more heroic character than Mammy or Uncle Remus. Likewise, the treatment of womens' roles and Indian rights are amazingly far ahead of their time -even going so far as to touch on interracial marriage and the potential of women to be stronger and even more efficient than men -which at a time when the suffragists were still alive, has got to be commended. And don't forget that Dix's character is part Indian. How many films prior to `Broken Arrow' portrayed Indians in a positive light, let alone made them the hero?

There is a lot of talk of Dix's overracting and praise for Dunne. I thought Dix captured the blustery over the top persona of Yancey Cravat (who was based on a real-life gunslinging attorney who was a son of Sam Houston -the courtroom soliloquy to save the prostitute is culled directly from historic record) perfectly. I particularly liked the scene where he `crows' at the bad guy in challenge. Yes, Dunne did a fine job as well portraying a character who represents all the economic and social intolerance of the period. Moreso because with the help of her firebrand husband she manages to evolve and change (and even become a Congresswoman!) beyond these small views. But I don't think Dix deserves all the criticism, nor Dunne all the credit. Yancy Cravat doesn't seem true to life because he is BIGGER than life. Nobody complains about George C. Scott's rendering of Patton, because we know Patton really was that way. Is it incomprehensible to think that such giant characters, dandily dressed and sporting pistols and purple words ever walked the land before 1930? All this talk of dating (at the risk of sounding dated) is a lot of hooey. When you watch a movie like this you've got to put yourself in the mindset of the audience of the period, or of course you're always going to think its `aged badly.'

The film is shot well. The Land Rush is great, as is that scene where Dunne runs through the spattered men of the oil field at the end (it reminded me of Claudia Cardinale walking through the slew of rail workers at the end of Once Upon A Time In The West). There are shots during the emigration of the Cravats from Kansaas which also stay in the mind. The lantern hanging from the rear axle of the wagon, only illuminating the turning wheels on either side, while Cravat lowly sings his signature tune was a stroke of genius, and the Kid and his gang riding out of the dark and empty land into their campsite is well done. The sound on the VHS is a little bad, with a lot of background hiss occassionally overwhelming the dialogue. I hope if this ever gets to DVD they can fix this.

I think this is an important film that has been sorely overlooked because of the decline of the western in popular culture and the finger pointing of the PC crowd. You've got to look deeper than the veneer, but I really believe this to be an astounding achievement historically, cinematically, and in the portrayal and ultimate breaking of racial stereotypes. Best Picture of 1930. I would've given it four stars, but the VHS copy isn't great. O mighty masters of DVD transfer, except Cimarron into thy trust! Amen! ... Read more


19. Romeo & Juliet
Director: George Cukor
list price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0790748878
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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While it's been said that costars Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer are both too old and too lethargic to portray Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers in this Irving Thalberg production, one can have a good time with this film by simply basking in their star presence and enjoying the breadth of the play's adaptation. The opportunity for pageantry affords some lavish sets--typical of Thalberg and director George Cukor--in this 1936 movie, and the cinematography is sublime. Howard and Shearer are in excellent company with the likes of John Barrymore as Mercutio, Basil Rathbone, Edna May Oliver, Andy Devine, and Reginald Denny. Cukor (Love Among the Ruins, Little Women) brings his usual luster, intelligence, and compassion to characters so familiar in pop culture and the Western canon alike that it is hard to breathe new life into them. Yet that's precisely what he accomplishes with his stellar cast, and he makes each of them look even better because of it. --Tom Keogh ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Close Tie With The 1968 Version
I actually saw this classic 1936 version staring Norma Shearer AFTER seeing the 1968 film with Olivia Hussey, and I have to say this one is also special in it's own way, and I would recommend it as worthy of viewing at least once. It features very beautiful sets and scenes, like the masked ball where Juilet dances as Romeo spies her the first time. Some of the acting is even better, like the role of Juliet's nurse(more believable). Although the two lead actors were in fact two old for the parts, I have read that during filming a white guaze type material was placed over the camera lens, to supposedly help mask the actors apparent ages. It's possible this may have been removed by film restorers who mistook it for distortion/age, but I'm not sure. Again If you enjoyed the 60's version, this one is close behind.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Age of the Cast Undercuts the Production
This version of Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET was very famous in its day, and a number of critics that I greatly admire continue to praise it even now. But I must sound a dissenting note: although it has its charms, I personally found the film somewhat difficult to sit through due to the age of the cast. On the stage, Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers are usually played by mature actors in full command of both Shakespearean language and their own art, and the physical distance between the stage and the audience allows the cast to create the illusion of youth. But the camera is merciless, particularly in close up, and this film production presents us with the middle-aged Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, and Basil Rathbone in roles that would be better served on the screen by much younger players.

To give the cast its due, several of the stars fought tooth and nail against making the film--most notably Leslie Howard, who even went so far as give press interviews stating that he was much too old to play Romeo in a screen production. When forced into the production by contractual obligation, Howard and his counterparts gave it their all, but sad to say the camera did not lie: they were indeed too old. Although some viewers are able to suspend disbelief to accept the stars in such youthful roles, I myself could not. I found it occasionally absurd, but more often embarassing, with the famous balcony a case in point. All of this might be forgiven if the stars actually generated any sense of passion, but they do not--and it is really here that their ages tell, for instead of the white-hot passions of youth that lead to disaster we have instead a gentle love story with an unhappy ending. Still, the film really is pretty to look at--it has an engraved quality in its glossy black and white--and if you close your eyes, you can enjoy the 'grand manner' readings, which is a great deal more than one can say for most cinematic Shakespearean interpretations. There is also Edna May Oliver's performance, and she is excellent in the role of Juliet's babbling nurse.

Fans of this film's stars will no doubt wish to add it to their library, and those interested in seeing how Hollywood approached Shakespeare in the 1930s will enjoy seeing it at least once--but I would hesitate to recommend this film to any one outside that circle. Most viewers will be happier with the later Franco Zefferilli version.

5-0 out of 5 stars the beauty of the language
this is a lavish, wonderful production, with a cast that is so comfortable with the language. They bring out the beauty of the words, and clarity to their meaning.

Norma Shearer, despite being more than twice Juliet's age, plays her exquisitely...I find her to be the loveliest and most graceful of the screen Juliets I've seen.
Leslie Howard, who was 42 at the time, is splendid. With his perfect musical voice and enunciation, he's a joy to watch and listen to...what a pity that he didn't film more Shakespeare...a Howard "Hamlet" (which he had a huge success with on Broadway), would have certainly been a film treasure.
Also great is John Barrymore's flamboyant Mercutio, and Edna May Oliver is my all-time favorite Nurse.

Though I think the imaginitive and slightly bizarre Baz Luhmann/Leonardo DiCaprio version is fabulous and a must-see (as is the fight scene in the Zeffirelli production !) what makes this George Cukor version so special is the poetry of the language...if you want to hear the words spoken as I'm sure Shakespeare intended, give this film a try.

4-0 out of 5 stars Better Than You'd Think
It's amazing how often the legendary Irving Thalberg was allowed to make M.G.M. "prestige pictures" that produced awed reviews and spotty box-office receipts. It's even more amazing how often he required his wife, actress Norma Shearer, to star in them, to the eventual detriment of her career. As good as Shearer was, she acquired a reputation as a star of stately, dull movies made to please no one but her husband.

The notable exception to Thalberg's run of worthy Shearer failures was "Romeo and Juliet". Although it conformed to the norm by not making much money, it was a very fine film, far better than most filmed Shakespeare.

Norma was 36 when the movie was shot, and it was feared she was a bit old for the part. The problem was tackled by hiring an even older Romeo, 43-year-old Leslie Howard. The supporting cast was the best in the business- John Barrymore as Mercutio, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, Edna May Oliver as the Nurse, Reginald Denny as Benvolio, and Violet Kemble-Cooper as Lady Capulet. George Cukor was tapped as director, and Agnes de Mille choreographed the period dance that is the highlight of the lovers' first meeting.

Production values were extraordinary, even for a Shearer movie. The creamily lit photography flattered the stars, and the props and sets were magnificent. The exterior set for the balcony scene took up all of M.G.M's Stage Sixteen, then the largest soundstage in the world; there was so much real vegetation that the building began producing its own weather. The costumes were a bit over-the-top; those for the supporting cast are highly theatrical, and the star wardrobe is intended to flatter at the expense of authenticity (Shearer's hairstyle is that of a boy of the period, not a young woman).

All the lavishness in the world would not have mattered if the cast and crew hadn't delivered, but they did. Under the tutelage of Constance Collier, Shearer turned in a touchingly tender Juliet, actually getting the best contemporary reviews of any cast member. Howard's Romeo was a bit perfunctory, but still managed a nice sense of mischief in the early scenes. Basil Rathbone's prideful Tybalt was the part he was born to play, and Oliver's Nurse crammed the maximum of bawdiness and fun into a part badly cut to comply with the demands of the censors. The surprise casting- and performance- of the film was Andy Devine as Peter, the Nurse's servant. It should have been wildly incongruous, but Devine's raspy voice and simple demeanour were perfect for the part.

Two scenes stand out in the memory. One is the stately pavane being danced when Romeo first spies Juliet. Shearer's timing and subtlety serve her well here; she interacts with her nominal dancing partner, Paris, and with Romeo on the sidelines, keeping time to the dance and losing it, sending messages of love with her eyes while her body attempts vainly to maintain an appearance of propriety.

The other is Barrymore's turn as Mercutio; it's said he was drunk during much of the filming, and that the take of his biggest scene used in the final cut was the only usable one. None of Barrymore's problems show on film; his hooting, larky performance is a miracle of comic timing and not to be missed.

The film has its small problems; no one was able to lick the story's inherent lack of action at the end, and the vitality of the film lapses into talkiness in a few later stretches. There is a lapse of judgement in one place where Romeo and Juliet kiss; the otherwise original music switches to Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet", dragging the scene into cliche. And director Cukor later bemoaned the lack of "garlic and the Mediterranean" in the film's look and feel.

It's still something very rare on film: Shakespeare that is well and respectfully adapted for the screen, accessible to any viewer, and beautifully played. Of all the versions of "Romeo and Juliet" on film, this is the one that tells the story best.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best version of "Romeo and Juliet " I've seen. Lovely!
I really enjoyed this movie, and recommend that people watch this version. Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer are perfectly cast in the roles of Romeo and Juliet. A must see, a beautiful performance. ... Read more


20. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Director: H.C. Potter
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078063019X
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 13906
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars fine musical
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers portray the dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle in the passable romantic musical THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE.

The story is heartfelt, deeply sentimental and quite delightful. Ginger is luminous and she is affecting in the final scene. Her breakthrough dramatic performance in KITTY FOYLE has it's roots here.

Historically accurate, Fred and Ginger dance up a storm in an array of styles. The real Irene Castle designed Ginger's costumes herself.

All-in-all, a good effort from all concerned.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fitting swan song for Fred and Ginger at RKO
This is the ultimate way for a top flight screen team to go out in style. "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" was the ninth teaming of the legendary dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and was a fitting conclusion to one of the greatest screen collaborations in movie history. While they would reteam at a later date for "The Barkely's of Broadway" it is for their RKO films that they are rightly remembered.

This excellent film has a very bittersweet feeling to it as we as viewers know that this is the last teaming by the two stars. The film combines drama, period detail and strong doses of sentiment and romance into an unusual vechicle for Fred and Ginger. For the first time in their teaming they portray actual historical figures..the legendary American dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle who in the early part of last century created a world wide sensation with their innovative interpretations of the foxtrot and polka among other numbers. They were also famous for a few of their own creations such as the Castle Walk which created a dance craze like no other the world has witnessed.

The story follows their life story together from Fred starting out as a second string vaudeville star to his marriage to Irene, to their lean years hiding from paying the rent in rundown hotels through to their great success in Paris on to when they become the toast of the dancing world. History is also incorporated into the story whereby World War 1 seperates them at the height of their success and concludes with Fred being killed in a flight accident. Rarely has there ever been anything about real life included in an Astaire & Rogers production but the two stars rise to the occasion beautifully and it is I feel their most heart felt production. Gone from this production are the mistaken identity plots so often used in their past vechicles together. Here we see what could really be classified as a drama combined with the most beautiful dance sequences you could imagine. In that way "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" is just as memorable as their earlier great successes together like "The Gay Divorcee", "Top Hat"' and "Swing Time".

The look of this production is really beautiful with all the great attention to the period detail. Indeed I often think this film has an MGM look about it so meticulous is the attention to appropiate costumne and settings. Ginger Rogers, who by this stage was starting to branch out into solo work with other leading men in a mixture of comedies and dramas is exceptional as Irene and she mentions in her autobiography that she had the real Irene Castle to contend with during this production as a creative adviser which was a very unnerving experience for her. She need not have worried as she delivers a wonderfully balanced piece of acting here and her character progresses beautifully from naive small town girl into a sophisticated woman of the world and the envy of every woman of her generation. In particular the scenes of her effect on the women of her time are both beautifully and amusingly done with her influence moving into fashion, face cream, hair styles etc . Fred Astaire , it goes without saying is in top form in thi sproduction and his dancing both in solo numbers and combining with Ginger are a real joy to witness and reveal why he is regarded as the greatest dancer movies have ever witnessed.

The supporting cast also adds wonderfully to the great feel that this film delivers. The wonderfully talented character actress Edna May Oliver, a supporting performer in countless memorable Hollywood productions, plays Maggie Sutton the gruff business manager with the heart of gold who sees the Castle's progress from poverty to world wide success and ultimately tragedy. Walter Brennan lends very able support as Fred's friend Walter who is a constant presence in their lives and is also, like Maggie, along for a life journey with the Castles.

For those of you who love fine dancing performed by the masters "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" can't be faulted. This film is unique in that it displays Fred and Ginger team as real life historical characters who gave the joy of dancing to a whole new generation. It's a beautiful production and is a wonderful showcase for the shining talents that were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful
this movie is so sweet. After seeing eight preceeding films (all wonderful no doubt)where they squabble, it's so sweet to see them really act like a couple. The scene on the balcony of the Paris apartment, where Fred kisses her is aborable. Not to mention the acting is ducky. It would be easy to overact in a film like this but they pull it off fine. Ginger is a little scene stealer. (what else is new)

3-0 out of 5 stars A mildly disappointing end to their amazing run at RKO
THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE is one of the most disappointing films in the extraordinary musical partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and I frankly am utterly perplexed by the long line of five star reviews it has been getting here. Have these reviewers seen their other films? Fred Astaire is one my idols, and I have over the years seen all his musicals for an accumulated total of over 140 times, including TOP HAT nearly 20 times alone. So, my relatively low regard for this film is not a reflection of my overall regard for Fred and Ginger.

The problem with THE STORY OF IRENE AND VERNON CASTLE is that absolutely none of the things that made Astaire and Rogers so great are able to make an appearance. Instead of the brilliant and innovative dances that invigorate their films, they have to do the famous dances of the Castles. Instead of great, original songs written especially for the film by some of the legendary songwriters of all time, they do period songs that fall short of the songs of their best films. Instead of a host of great comic actors and actresses that give the film a hysterical vitality, we get a rather average cast of characters. And instead of watching with delight Fred and Ginger's comic and musical courtship, we know how this one is going to end (at least those of us who know something of the Castles). In other words, the almost limitless possibilities that energize the typical Astaire-Rogers film is missing because of the need to tell someone else's story.

It isn't that this is so much a bad film as it is a waste of Fred and Ginger's talents. You could have had far less gifted musical performers do the Castles's numbers. You could instead have worked up a completely original story for Fred and Ginger. As it is, their last RKO picture ends up being their least interesting. They did perform one more time, for MGM in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY, but by then the magic was gone. That which had made them so unique and special didn't survive the horrors of WW II, and their tenth and final film seemed strangely out of place.

I wouldn't discourage anyone who hasn't seen this film not to, but I will say that one could do themselves a far greater favor by rewatching one of their classics, such as THE GAY DIVORCEE, TOP HAT, or SWINGTIME. Or even FOLLOW THE FLEET, which had a terrible story, but featured some of their very greatest dances, including the extraordinary "Let's Face the Music and Dance," arguably their greatest number together.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt
A must for fans of the talented Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I was moved to tears at times, and the next minute I was laughing. They did such a beautiful job of protraying the real Irene and Vernon Castle. The real Castle's would have been proud of the way this movie was made. Fred Astaire was such a joy to watch, and I think this is my favorite Ginger Rogers movie. She brings class and grace to her character. I would recommend this to anyone who is in search of a movie that touches the heart. ... Read more


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