Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Mae West DVD Sets

Mae West, W.C. Fields in My Little Chickadee

Carole Lombard DVD SetUniversal (owner of the Paramount films of the studio era) has announced the release of the following box sets:

On April 4, '06, three “Glamour Collection” sets:

The Carole Lombard Glamour Collection:

Man of the World (1931), We're Not Dressing (1934), Hands Across the Table (1935), The Princess Comes Across (1936), Love Before Breakfast (1936), and True Confession (1937).

The Mae West Glamour Collection:

Night After Night (1932), I'm No Angel (1933), Goin' to Town (1935), Go West Young Man (1936), and My Little Chickadee (1940, above).

The Marlene Dietrich Glamour Collection:

Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932), The Devil Is a Woman (1935), The Flame of New Orleans (1941), and Golden Earrings (1947).

On May 23:

Cecil B. DeMille CollectionThe Cecil B. DeMille Collection:

The Sign of the Cross (1932) with Fredric March and Elissa Landi; Four Frightened People (1934) with Claudette Colbert and Herbert Marshall; Cleopatra (1934) with Colbert and Warren William; The Crusades (1935) with Loretta Young and Henry Wilcoxon; and Union Pacific (1939) with Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea.

The quality of the films I've seen from these collections ranges from the yawn- to the mirth-inducing: Hands Across the Table and Love Before Breakfast are two duds, though the latter film boasts a pleasant Carole Lombard performance, while the mildly amusing True Confession is saved by another effective Lombard star turn.

I'm No Angel is Mae West's best film; Cleopatra is a campy hoot; and the equally campy The Sign of the Cross is worth a look if only because of Claudette Colbert's man-hungry Ancient Rome villainess and Charles Laughton's very, very fey Nero.

DeMille's Western epic Union Pacific has its moments, while the downright bizarre Colbert vehicle Four Frightened People must be seen to believed. (Hopefully, the Four Frightened People DVD will feature the first-rate UCLA restoration.) The Crusades, for its part, is your typical DeMille epic. Silly fun.

Josef von Sternberg's Morocco (above) and Blonde Venus, and René Clair's The Flame of New Orleans are worth watching as historical curiosities. As an aside, Marlene Dietrich received her one and only (undeserved) best actress nomination for her Morocco seductress. (Her stilted posing notwithstanding, Dietrich does look good in top hat and tails, evening gowns, and feathers.)

But good or poor, anyone interested in Hollywood history should take a look at those films at least once. For instance, the aforementioned Morocco may be a dud (and the available prints have been quite dismal), but this over-the-top melodrama offers several precious moments including Dietrich's famous “lesbian” kiss and her removal of her high-heel shoes in order to more comfortably follow legionnaire Gary Cooper into the desert.

Universal tends to release classic films on DVD with few, if any, extras. Yet, despite the missed opportunity of making the best use of such historically important films, those releases are most welcome simply because they give us the chance to watch movies that otherwise would remain locked up inside some Universal vault. Considering that hundreds of other films are still gathering dust in said vaults, here's hoping that more, many more, will come out on DVD in the near future.

Of particular interest would be Paramount's sophisticated – and quite racy – pre-Code rarities, in addition to numerous Claudette Colbert vehicles never released on home video or DVD.

Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Mae West DVD Sets © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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1 Comment to Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Mae West DVD Sets

  1. Thanks for sharing the announcements. I just watched and reviewed DeMille's Four Frightened People, but am looking forward to a superior print.