Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Instant Romance from Warner Archive Instant ""

Friday, February 14, 2014

Instant Romance from Warner Archive Instant

I am always browsing the 'new additions' tab over at Warner Archive Instant. A few weeks ago, I came across a Barbara Stanwyck film called MY REPUTATION that I had never seen before. Being a rabid fan of hers, I couldn't help but check it out. It was quite good and will certainly be among my favorite discoveries of 2014. I got to digging and came up with several more love-related films that are all on Warner Archive Instant so I thought I'd throw out some recommendations.

MY REPUTATION (1946; Curtis Burnhardt)
I'm a sucker for a good Sirk-ian melodrama. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is one of my favorites too. I certainly see MY REPUTATION as a parallel kind of movie to that one. In HEAVEN, Jane Wyman plays an upper-class widow who ends up falling for a Henry David Thoreau landscaper (Rock Hudson) much to the chagrin of her friends and children. In MY REPUTATION, Barbara Stanwyck plays a recently widowed mother of two who is swept off her feet by an army officer she meets on a getaway with her friends. This relationship is very much frowned upon by Stanwyck's overbearing mother, her friends (who show an amazing talent for gossip) and her sons all of whom see it as a very gauche affair that doesn't show proper respect to her husband. It's one of those sad, but potent stories of love that is fighting to be in an environment that is determined to stop it. MY REPUTATION is a very touching film with a not surprisingly fine performance from the lovely Ms. Stanwyck and a nice turn from George Brent as well. A few years back I saw another Sirk film called THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW which is also cut from the same cloth as this film and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS and it stars Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Equally worth tracking down.

TALL STORY (1960; Joshua Logan)
I think people tend to forget that Anthony Perkins had a career both pre and post PSYCHO. It's got to be thrilling for an actor to portray a character that becomes so hugely iconic, but at the same time tough to be remembered for anything else. I'm a big fan of Perkin's post-PSYCHO work. Movies like PRETTY POISON, PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, REMEMBER MY NAME and THE LAST OF SHEILA (which he co-wrote with Stephen Sondheim) are all gems worth discovering. All those films are a bit more on the serious side though. For a nice fluffy romantic romp, I recommend TALL STORY (which actually came out the same year as PSYCHO). It's a college story and Perkin's plays a basketball player who finds himself wooed by a lovely young Jane Fonda (in her film debut). Fonda comes at Perkins trying to get him to marry her and show him that he can both play basketball, get his degree and also be a husband if he wants to. It's an adorable film and one that most folks don't know about. 


OTHER MEN'S WOMEN (1931; William A. Wellman)
William Wellman is a director worth looking into if you haven't. His pre-code films are especially interesting and engaging. I was first made aware of him and this film in particular when Kim Morgan was kind enough to contribute a Film Discoveries list to my long running series:
After reading what she had to say about it, I immediately sought it out. It has a raw realism about it that is rather unique or at least it was to me at the time. It was not like other films of this era I had seen. It had humor but also a lot of bittersweet to it. It's probably less than ideal for people looking for an uplifting, fluffy romantic movie to watch on Valentine's Day, but it is a film that will resonate with you and I highly recommend it.

All three of the above films are available on Warner Archive Instant and are available in 1080p HD. WAC Instant has a two week free trial if you're on the fence and want to try it out first.


No comments: