Foreign Correspondent, Show Boat Go Blu/DVD

Foreign Correspondent (Criterion) and Show Boat (Warner Archive) dazzle on Blu-ray and DVD, respectively.

Foreign Correspondent (1940, Criterion)

Alfred Hitchcock followed Rebecca, his Oscar-winning American debut, with Foreign Correspondent, an underrated gem. Temporarily on loan David O. Selznick, Hitch returned to his British spy roots and was free to be himself. True, he couldn’t get Cary Grant yet but Joel McCrea is more than fine as the intrepid journalist Johnny Jones (Huntley Haverstock), who gets the scoop on the outbreak of World War II and stumbles on a spy network.  It’s a marvelous balance of suspense, humor, and political intrigue that serves as a bridge from The 39 Steps to North by Northwest (the script by Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison crackles). The umbrella/assassination scene is unforgettable, George Sanders once again offers his invaluable wit, Albert Basserman is a hoot, Robert Benchley is, well, Robert Benchley, Herbert Marshall is as elegant as ever, and Edmund Gwenn steals the movie as an assassin. The Blu-ray (derived from a 2K digital restoration of the 35 mm original camera negative) shows off Rudolph Mate’s atmospheric cinematography. Among the bevy of bonus features is an informative piece by Craig Barron on William Cameron Menzies’ glorious effects.

Show Boat (1936, Warner Archive)

It’s hard to believe that James Whale’s masterful adaptation of the Hammerstein/Kern musical with Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Paul Robeson, and Helen Morgan has never been on DVD before but, thankfully, Warner Archive (under the supervision of George Feltenstein) has released it in a must-own remastered version. Out of circulation for quite a while because of the MGM Technicolor remake (I remember enjoying the Criterion laserdisc version).  Now  we can cherish the sublime love story of a theatrical troupe living on a Mississippi riverboat.  This is the most faithful adaptation. Whale took great care in the costume and set design and this reveals Whale’s great diversity and humanity. Enjoy hearing “Bill,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” and, of course, “Ol’ Man River.”In 2006 the 1936 Show Boat ranked #24 on the American Film Institute‘s list of best musicals.


Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Movies, Tech

One Response to Foreign Correspondent, Show Boat Go Blu/DVD

  1. Dean

    The saddest thing about the brilliant 1936 “Show Boat” was that Carl Laemmle went bankrupt making the film. He lost Universal in the process.

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