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MYRNA LOY AND
WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION

As I stated in my review of THE COMPLETE THIN MAN COLLECTION, movie stars of the caliber of William Powell and Myrna Loy just donít exist anymore and very few of todayís thespians can light up the screen the way this duo did, which earned them a place one greatest romantic comedy screen teams of all time. All of the films the duo made outside of the Thin Man series will bring a sense of delight and joy to their fans, even when the only reason to watch a particular film is to see William Powell and Myrna Loy work their cinematic magic. My hat is off to Warner Home Video for giving their fans the MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION ($50).

MANHATTAN MELODRAMA

I love MANHATTAN MELODRAMA- hereís a movie whose title says it all. The film is pure melodrama, although there are some light comic touches along the way- that is until the film reaches its weepy and ultra-melodramatic conclusion. The plot of MANHATTAN MELODRAMA follows boyhood friends Blackie Gallagher (Gable) and Jim Wade (Powell), who are raised as brothers, when tragic circumstances leave them orphaned. Jim grows up on the straight and narrow and ends up a District Attorney. Blackie, on the other hand, becomes an infamous gambler, upon whom the police can never pin any criminal wrongdoing. Although their worlds are at odds, the friendship between Jim and Blackie remains rock solid- even after Eleanor Packer (Loy) throws over the gambler for the D.A.. Of course, things take an inevitable melodramatic turn when Blackie faces a murder charge. The cast of MANHATTAN MELODRAMA also features Leo Carrillo, Nat Pendleton, George Sidney, Isabel Jewell, Muriel Evans, Thomas E. Jackson, Isabelle Keith, Frank Conroy, Noel Madison, Jimmy Butler and Mickey Rooney.

EVELYN PRENTICE

EVELYN PRENTICE offers another dose of melodrama, but this soap opera isnít as successful as MANHATTAN MELODRAMA. The plot of EVELYN PRENTICE finds Loy in the title role. She is the neglected wife of John Prentice (Powell), who comes to suspect there is something more than a business relationship between her husband and client Nancy Harrison (Rosalind Russell). In retaliation, Evelyn begins a flirtation with poet Larry Kennard (Harvey Stephens). However things spin out of control, when the poet turns out to be a blackmailer, who dies suddenly of ventilated lead poisoning. Credibility and legality are thrown out the window for a courtroom climax that finds John defending the woman accused of the murder- at Evelynís behest. The cast of EVELYN PRENTICE also features Una Merkel, Isabel Jewell, Edward Brophy, Henry Wadsworth, Cora Sue Collins, Frank Conroy and Jessie Ralph.

DOUBLE WEDDING

DOUBLE WEDDING marks this collectionís return to the comedy genre, the place where Powell and Loy display there most on screen chemistry. With its reliance on screwball and the slapstick, DOUBLE WEDDING lacks the sophistication and the charm of the duoís best-loved romantic comedy pairings, but is a lot of fun nonetheless. The premise of DOUBLE WEDDING places Powell in the role of bohemian artist and aspiring filmmaker Charlie "Horse" Lodge. Loy is Margit Agnew, a domineering career woman trying to push her sister Irene (Florence Rice) into a respectable marriage with Waldo Beaver (John Beal). As expected, Irene falls under the influence of our bohemian artist, and, of course, romantic entanglements ensue for the artist and straight laced career woman. The cast of DOUBLE WEDDING also features Jessie Ralph, Edgar Kennedy, Sidney Toler, Mary Gordon, Barnett Parker, Katharine Alexander, Priscilla Lawson and Bert Roach.

I LOVE YOU AGAIN

I LOVE YOU AGAIN is definitely another of the highlights of this collection. Powell and Loy are in top form bringing their sophisticated charm to the romantic/screwball situations. In I LOVE YOU AGAIN, Powell portrays upstanding businessman Larry Wilson, who gets knocked on the head only to wake up and realized that he has had amnesia for the last eight years, and is, in reality, con man George Carey. Loy is "Larryís" wife Kay, who is on the verge of leaving her uptight husband. Although "Larry" has a tidy little nest egg that George intends to abscond with, he soon finds himself enamored with Kay and begins romancing the soon to be ex Mrs. Wilson. As for Kay, takes note of the changes in her husbandís personality, which leads her to be willingly wooed back into wedded bliss. Of course, complications arise when some of Georgeís old con men cronies show up on the scene. The cast of I LOVE YOU AGAIN also features Frank McHugh, Edmund Lowe, Donald Douglas, Nella Walker, Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer, Pierre Watkin, Paul Stanton, Morgan Wallace and Charles Arnt.

LOVE CRAZY

LOVE CRAZY is the hilarious screwball concoction that tops off this wonderful Loy/Powell collection. The paper-thin plot proves to be bursting at the seams with laughter, thanks to the comic stylings of the filmís stars. In LOVE CRAZY, Powell and Loy are, yet again, man and wife- as Stephen and Susan Ireland. This time out, they are celebrating four years of wedded bliss, that is until Susanís mother, Mrs. Cooper (Florence Bates), shows up on the scene, sprains her ankle and vastly overstays her welcome. It seems that the nosy mother-in-law draws the wrong conclusion when Stephen got stuck in an elevator with an old flame, which results in Susan filing for divorce. On the advice of his attorney, Stephen feigns insanity to put off the divorce proceedings, but Susan isnít taking the bait, which results with said "crazy" hubby being carted off to the asylum. While Stephen does manage to get out of the nut house, the even more loony steps he takes to win Susan back have to be seen to be believed. The cast of LOVE CRAZY also features Gail Patrick, Jack Carson, Sidney Blackmer, Sig Ruman, Vladimir Sokoloff, Donald MacBride, Sara Haden, Kathleen Lockhart, Fern Emmett, Joseph Crehan and George Meeker.

Warner Home Video has made all five films that comprise the MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION available on DVD in black and white transfers that frame each of the films in their proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratios. All five of the films are offered in crisp and really nicely defined presentations. These monochromatic films feature deep blacks, crisp whites, with excellent contrast and grayscale. Film grain is noticeable to varying degrees within the films themselves, with age generally being the deciding factor on the level of grain. The films generally appear in good condition, certainly better than other studios, although signs of age do remain, with the oldest film displaying more debris and other inconsistencies. Digital compression artifacts arenít a concern across the set.

All of the films in the MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION come with nice sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. As expected, the vast majority of background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned during the mastering process. Fidelity has the expected limitations of films from the 1930s & 1940s; the music is lacks a genuine top or bottom end, and the sound effects can be less than convincing. Fortunately, dialogue is always crisp and completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the DVDs, but English and French subtitles are provided.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements that have been spread out across the collection. Individual disc supplements are as follows: MANHATTAN MELODRAMA comes with the Comedy Short Goofy Movies #2, Classic Cartoon: The Old Pioneer and a Theatrical Trailer. EVELYN PRENTICE comes with the Comedy Short Goofy Movies #3, Classic Cartoon: Discontented Canary and a Theatrical Trailer. DOUBLE WEDDING comes with the Musical Short: Dancing On The Ceiling, Classic Cartoon: The Hound and the Rabbit and a Theatrical Trailer. I LOVE YOU AGAIN comes with the Crime Doesn't Pay Series Short: Jackpot, Classic Cartoon: Tom Turkey And His Harmonica Humdingers and a Theatrical Trailer. LOVE CRAZY comes with the Classic Cartoon: The Alley Cat, Audio-Only Bonus: Screen Directors Guild Playhouse Radio Broadcast and a Theatrical Trailer.

While not all the films that comprise the MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION live up to the promise of THE COMPLETE THIN MAN COLLECTION, there is plenty here to love, especially for the duoís fans. Warner does their usual shining job with the presentations and extras are a welcome bonus. While newbies should start off with THE COMPLETE THIN MAN COLLECTION, the MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION is recommended to both starsí fans and film buffs alike.

 

MYRNA LOY AND WILLIAM POWELL COLLECTION 


Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection (Manhattan Melodrama / Evelyn Prentice / Double Wedding / I Love You Again / Love Crazy)

 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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