Friday, June 27, 2008


My first (and maybe last) Sonja Henie movie. Henie, a Norwegian skater, had just won her third Olympic gold medal in 1936 when she decided to go professional and head to Hollywood. 20th Century Fox signed her and had some success with her in a short string of films over the next ten years. Based on this one, my guess is that, while a pleasant enough personality, she couldn't have made the leap to non-skating roles. An all-girl band led by Adolphe Menjou and his wife (Arline Judge) is on a bus tour of Switzerland. Their hotel burns down just before they arrive, so they wind up taking over most of the rooms at a small inn run by Jean Hersholt and his daughter, Henie. Years before, Hersholt had won a gold medal in skating but had it taken away because of some doubts about his amateur standing. He has been training Henie to compete in the current Olympics, and when Menjou sees her practicing, he asks her to join the band as a specialty act. She says she can't get paid for her work until after the Olympics, but she does join them in an "exhibition" performance. The problem is that Menjou and the band have gotten paid for the show, so when competition time comes around, Henie wins, but the question of whether or not the show was "professional" work raises its ugly head. Don Ameche, a reporter who is convinced that a mysterious guest (Montagu Love) may be a dangerous anarchist, gets involved with Henie and her problems and helps to save the day. The skating routines are well shot, but Henie's moves are not nearly as elaborate as those of modern-day skaters. There are a few songs (none sung by Henie) and a couple of novelty bits by the Ritz Brothers, most notably 'The Horror Boys of Hollywood" in which they caricature Charles Laughton (as Mutiny on the Bounty's Bligh), Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff. Russian harmonica player Borrah Minevitch does his own little comic novelty bit. Good old dour, dry Ned Sparks is fun as Ameche's sidekick. Ameche hadn't yet settled into a persona and seems a little shrill here, and Henie isn't required to do much more than skate and look pretty; overall the movie is harmless fun but I don't know that I need to see another Henie vehicle. [FMC]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Until this week, I used to confuse Deanna Durbin with Sonja Henie, imagining both of them as little 30's-era, skating Hilary Duffs. Now I know the difference: Henie was the cute skater and Durbin was the cute actress. A chapter in Jeanine Basinger's excellent book "The Star Machine" got me interested in seeing some of Durbin's films (previously, I'd only seen her adult turn late in her career in the noir CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY in which she plays the next thing to a hooker, decidedly not representative of her earlier films). THREE SMART GIRLS was Durbin's first movie; it feels like a mash-up of Andy Hardy, Heidi, and Disney's Parent Trap. Three teenage daughters live in Switzerland with their mother (Nella Walker), whose ex-husband, Charles Winninger, is a rich businessman in New York City. Walker still harbors the hope that they will get back together again, and the sisters, who haven't seen Dad in ten years, impulsively decide to go to New York with their accommodating housekeeper (Lucille Watson) to play matchmaker. Winninger is engaged to the gold digging Binnie Barnes (with her meddling mother, Alice Brady, always present), and most of his acquaintances don't like her, so they're only too happy to help the girls. A scheme is cooked up in which a business associate (John King) pays a drunken, down-on-his-luck Russian count (Mischa Auer) to show up at a nightclub and woo Barnes, making her think he's a better match, but signals get crossed and a real British lord with real money to burn (Ray Milland) is mistaken for Auer. One of the sisters (Barbara Read) falls for Milland, another (Nan Grey) falls for King, and that leaves the younger Durbin, too young to hang out in nightclubs, to right all wrongs and give everyone (except Barnes and Brady) a happy ending. Durbin is a great singer, getting not only a couple of pop tunes, but a little opera aria as well. She's lovely and perky; she's sometimes compared to Shirley Temple--older, less syrupy--but I think a more apt comparison is to Judy Garland. The movie is great fun, with good acting and strong production values, though the script is a little weak at times.

SOMETHING IN THE WIND comes eleven years later and is one of her last movies. When the rich patriarch of the Read family dies, it's discovered that he's been sending a monthly allowance to a mystery woman named Mary Collins. We find out Mary (Jean Adair) was Read's first love, but the family disapproved of her, so he married someone else (Margaret Wycherly) and, when Adair had to raise her late sister's child, also named Mary (Deanna Durbin), Read started sending her money to help out. Son John Dall investigates and assumes that Durbin was Read's mistress. Durbin, pissed off by being essentially kidnapped by Dall and Wycherly, plays along (and pretends to have a baby by Read) and says she wants a million dollars to keep quiet. Of course, even though Dall is engaged to someone else, he and Durbin fall in love. Durbin is still attractive and peppy, and gets to do some singing, most notably the semi-novelty "The Turntable Song," but she and the neurotic Dall have no chemistry at all--he would put that high-strung persona to better use the next year as a hedonistic gay killer in Hitchcock's ROPE. The real star of much of the show is the young Donald O'Connor as Dall's whimsical third cousin who is in love with Dall's fiancée; he and Durbin bond as they plot to get what they want, but at the end, I was disappointed that she and O'Connor didn't wind up together. O'Connor has a hyperkinetic number, "I Love a Mystery," which was clearly an inspiration for his even more spectacular "Make 'Em Laugh" a few years later in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Charles Winninger is here again as a mildly crazy uncle. It's watchable but it feels just a little off. I'd be open to watching some more Durbin movies in the future, and I'll get around to Sonja Henie tomorrow. [DVD]

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Samuel S. Hinds is elected mayor on a law-and-order platform, and when the DA is murdered, Lee Bowman, the head of Hinds' election campaign and a fiercely anti-crime radio host, is appointed special prosecutor to look into the case and continue to clean up the city. Bowman's buddy, Van Heflin, is head of the police forensics lab who is working on some evidence found at the murder scene, and Heflin and Bowman are both sweet on Heflin's assistant, Marsha Hunt. What Heflin and Hunt don't know is that Bowman is in league with the bad guys. A suspect is killed, but when the mayor expresses concerns about how much money Bowman is throwing around, a car bomb kills the mayor. A disgruntled restaurant owner (Eddie Quillan), who was seen hanging around the mayor's house to complain that he was still getting harassed by mobsters, is arrested and it's up to Heflin, Hunt, and the CSI technology (such as it was in the 40's) to clear Quillan and put the finger on Bowman. This is basically a run-of-the-mill B-detective film with a moderately interesting focus on crime scene science. There is a nice bantering chemistry between Heflin, Hunt, and Bowman, with Bowman in particular giving a good performance as a villain hiding behind a good guy's face. Also with John Litel as a bad guy and, according to IMDb, Ava Gardner as a car hop. I never figured out what the title meant. [TCM]

Friday, June 20, 2008


Dark, stylish crime melodrama from Fritz Lang featuring what may be the first modern "supervillain" in pop culture history. We see Hofmeister, a disgraced policeman, on the run from a gang of counterfeiters who attack him with barrels of chemicals which create a huge fireball; he escapes and calls his former boss, Inspector Lohmann, to rat out the criminals, but just as he's about to talk, the lights go out and something awful happens to make Hofmeister turn into a lunatic. However, he does manage to scratch the name "Mabuse" into a window. Lohmann learns of a Dr. Mabuse, a former crime lord, who has spent the last several years in the local asylum completely mute, spending most of his waking moments filling notepads with indecipherable scrawls about an "endless empire of crime" that would disrupt society on every level. Soon the asylum's Dr. Baum discovers that among his writings is a detailed description of a recent unsolved robbery. How could Mabuse be running a crime ring from his isolated cell? Meanwhile, we meet Thomas Kent, a man who joined the counterfeiters (who are also into blackmail and dope) out of desperation when he was unemployed; now that he has the love of a good woman, Lilli, he wants to get out, but the gang wants him to prove his mettle by committing a murder. The boss of the gang is an unseen figure who sits behind a curtain in an otherwise empty and dilapidated room, giving orders through a microphone. When Kent and Lilli are captured and brought into the boss's room, they discover that the figure behind the curtain is just a cardboard cutout. They are locked in the room and told they will die in three hours when a bomb will go off. Back at the asylum, Mabuse is found dead, but suddenly Dr. Baum begins acting strangely. Has he been possessed by the dead crime lord?

This is a striking film from start to finish: the opening chase with guns and barrels has a loud clanking industrial sound in the background that prefigures the feel of a David Lynch film, the ending is creepy and irrational, and much in the middle is unsettling. The sets (which alternate between cluttered and stark) and visuals are always interesting. The film partakes of several genres: crime film, romance, supernatural thriller, comedy (there is some comic relief, mostly involving Inspector Lohmann), and social commentary--many critics see the powerful madman Mabuse as a Hitler figure, though I'm not sure that parallel really holds up to scrutiny. Rudolph Klein-Rogge, who plays Mabuse (and Rotwang the mad inventor in METROPOLIS) doesn't have much to do but he certainly looks appropriately mad and creepy. Gustav Diessl, star of several of the German Mountain films of the era, gets the showiest part as Kent, and does a fine job with it. Much of the film has the feel of a serial, but the somewhat open-ended conclusion ends things with a more modern touch. Lang made an earlier film with the Mabuse character, and others have been made since. A must-see for film buffs. [TCM]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


An obscure Poverty-Row noir gem; it's not terribly well made, but it moves quickly, is full of incident, and winds up being great femme fatale fun. Claire (Leslie Brooks) is a former society reporter who, as the film begins, is juggling three men: 1) rich man Carl (John Holland) whom she's just married; 2) ex-flame Les (Robert Paige) whom she kisses passionately while still wearing her wedding gown; and 3) weaselly Al (James Griffith), a reporter from her past. On their honeymoon, Carl (in a clumsily staged scene) finds Claire writing a love letter to Les and demands a divorce. Wanting to keep her hands on Carl's money, Claire gets a pilot named Blackie (Russ Vincent, doing a low-rent Bogart) to help her in a scheme to kill Carl and make it look like a suicide done while she was out of town. Because the circumstances are deemed suspicious, Al finds himself investigating the death, and it's Les who falls under suspicion. Meanwhile, as Claire has to deal with the return of Blackie who is trying to blackmail her, she gets her paws on a lawyer named Stanley who's running for Congress. After Stanley wins the election, he comes upon Claire cozying up to Les, and, on the advice of a psychiatrist who thinks Claire is a bad marriage prospect, dumps her. In her usual reaction to being dumped, she kills him, but this time she may not get away with it so easily.

It's the crazy narrative, chugging along like a locomotive, that makes this movie transcend its low budget and second-string cast. Claire is a wonderful creation and it would have been great fun to see someone like Barbara Stanwyck or Mary Astor or even DETOUR's Ann Savage in this part. Brooks is OK, but it never feels like she's settled into the role. She's a cross between Jean Heather, who played Stanwyck's daughter in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and June Lockhart, neither one a femme fatale type. The men are totally interchangeable except for Russ Vincent (who, BTW, eventually married Brooks in real life). The film's style is more cheap than noir until near the end when the camera work gets a little interesting. There are rumors that famous B-director Edgar G. Ulmer had a hand in the screenplay, and indeed, it's the screenplay that is the best part of the movie. At one point, someone delivers a line that sounds an awful lot like "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," which I've always assumed was a Bob Dylan quote. There's also a great last summation of the character of Claire: "She wasn't even a good newspaperwoman." Not a timeless classic, but a good one to screen for your noir night. [DVD]

Friday, June 13, 2008


Anthony Perkins, playing a slightly less crazy variation on Norman Bates, is a young man just released from an institution; he burned down his aunt's house when he was 15, causing her accidental death. He is placed in a small town and gets work at a chemical plant; his parole officer warns him about the dangers of an overactive fantasy life, but soon Perkins is pretending to himself that he's a CIA agent on the trail of a plot to poison the town's water supply. He develops a crush on high-school senior Tuesday Weld and gets her to believe his story. However, the innocent-seeming Weld actually has a sociopathic bent that put Perkins's problems in the shade. For a while, it seems like the pair will turn into a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, but the film's final twists take it in a different direction to a BODY HEAT-like ending. This film from first-time director Noel Black is a small masterpiece of black comedy; the story has a distinct noir feel, though the style isn't noir at all. Perkins and Weld have a remarkable chemistry (which carried over to their later film PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, less successful but still worth seeing) and both give excellent performances. Both are also attractive--they could easily have been the leads in a quirky romantic comedy--and Weld is an utter knockout, both in looks and talent. It's a damned shame her career never quite fulfilled its early promise. The same could be said about director Black who followed this up with the poorly-received COVER ME BABE, which I'll review tomorrow, and then turned to TV movies. B-movie queen Beverly Garland is very good as Weld's bitch of a mother, and you'll recognize John Randolph (the parole officer) and Dick O'Neill (Perkins' boss) from lots of TV supporting roles. A must-see. [DVD]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Federal agents are working on busting a ring of crooks smuggling illegal aliens from Asia. In one case, when the Feds get too close to a plane with human cargo, the smugglers don't hesitate to dump an entire family out over the ocean to their deaths. When smuggler J. Carroll Naish tries to bully a renowned Chinese art dealer into giving jobs to some of the aliens, he refuses; in retaliation, the dealer and his daughter (Anna May Wong) are kidnapped, shot, and dumped at the docks. Wong manages to escape and goes to the rich and respected society matron Cecil Cunningham for help, not realizing that Cunningham is actually the big boss of the smuggling ring. Chinese federal agent Philip Ahn is working on the case, but Wong decides to work on her own and tracks down the other end of the ring to a Central American island where Charles Bickford, owner of a sleazy nightclub, rounds up the illegals to send north. Wong takes a job as a dancer there and finds incriminating evidence; she also finds Ahn who is working undercover with the smugglers. Together, they get on the boat for San Francisco, but are discovered mid-trip. They manage to escape only to wind up at Cunningham's house where they discover the truth about the nice old lady and tables get turned a couple of times before a happy ending for Wong and Ahn, who get engaged after the ring is broken. This hour-long B-thriller was part of TCM's Asian Images in Film series, and is one of the few studio movies of the era to feature two Asian leads played by Asian actors, though oddly, Anna May Wong is billed first and Ahn, who is clearly the male lead, is billed ninth! Otherwise, aside from the shocking opening scene of the family dumped to their deaths (which perhaps inspired a similar scene in a Ronald Reagan B-film a couple of years later), this movie is strictly routine. The bad guys include Buster Crabbe (who also played Tarzan and Flash Gordon) and Anthony Quinn, and Frank Sully has a small but crucial role as Cunningham's Irish chauffeur. [TCM]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Exotic dancer Princess Ling Moy (Anna May Wong) is the toast of London; her manager Morloff lives next door to Sir John Petrie of Scotland Yard, who was the arch-foe of the villainous Fu Manchu (Warner Oland). Scotland Yard has assumed that Fu is dead, but Chinese detective Ah Kee (Sessue Hayakawa) arrives with news that Fu is alive and in London, and out to get the remaining living Petries. Sure enough, Sir John's tobacco gets laced with poison and he falls down a staircase to his death. Fu himself is shot and escapes through a secret passage to Morloff's house where he reveals to Ling Moy that she is his daughter. As Fu dies, she vows to steel herself against her feminine nature to become his "son" and complete his revenge by killing Sir John's son Ronald (Bramwell Fletcher). Even though Ronald has a fiancée, he falls for Ling Moy and she for him. She tries to kill him in his sleep but can't bring herself to do it. With help from Morloff and his servant Lu Chow, she rededicates herself to revenge, pretending to fall for Ah Kee to keep him off-guard, then a scheme involving kidnapping and torture plays out rather predictably, coming to a solid, action-filled climax.

This is about average for a B-thriller of its day, but it makes for interesting viewing for a few reasons: 1) as a Paramount vault movie, it doesn't see the light of day very often; 2) though the action scenes are few and far between, there are some very stylish directorial touches; 3) it's one of the few early Fu Manchu movies that still exists; 4) it's one of Anna May Wong's rare starring roles. But for me, it was most interesting as a vision of a Hollywood "road not taken." This is one of the few classic-era films I've seen to have leading Asian characters actually played by Asian actors. I've always bought the argument that the big studios needed to have Caucasian actors play Asian roles in "yellowface" because there was no pool of Asian actors who could guarantee good box office returns. But both Hayawaka and Wong were popular in their day, and they work well in their limited time together—she is actually rather wooden through most of the film, but he's fine, if a little low-key. [Of course, the main romance in the film is between the Chinese Wong and the blond (and bland) British Fletcher; that kind of "exotic" romance was titillating to audiences of the day, but the censors would never have allowed such an interracial relationship to be consummated in a film.] Based on the evidence here, it seems obvious that studios could have groomed Asian actors as stars if they'd wanted to. I'll still enjoy watching Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto movies, but I'm sorry that Hollywood never allowed such potential talents to flower. [TCM]

Monday, June 09, 2008


Tatsu (Sessue Hayakawa) is a tormented artist and wild mountain man who is obsessed by the idea that his "princess" was turned into a dragon a thousand years ago, and he incessantly paints landscapes with dragons visible only to him; when an observer asks where the dragon is in one drawing, he replies that it's sleeping under the lake. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, respected but aging artist Kano Indara (Edward Peil Sr.) is sad because he has no son or other suitable heir to mentor in the ways of art—his daughter Ume-Ko (Tsuru Aoki, Hayakawa's wife), being a woman, is apparently not eligible. When a surveyor discovers some of Tatsu's work, he gets the artist to come to Tokyo and work with Indara; as bait, they tell him that Ume-Ko is his missing princess. Soon, Tetsu is fully tamed (nice haircut and modern civilized clothes), tutored, and married, but his contentment gives him "artist's block"; since he now has his princess/muse, he is no longer inspired to create. Ume-Ko vanishes, leaving a note saying she has killed herself in order in inspire him once again, and sure enough, in his grief, he starts producing paintings again, enough for a successful exhibition. He begins seeing haunting visions of Ume-Ko; is it possible he can somehow get her back?

The Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa is best known as the war camp commandant in BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, but back in the teens, he was an "exotic" Hollywood matinee idol, rivaling Valentino. He had his own production company which made almost 20 films between 1918 and 1922, most of which are apparently lost. If you only know him from KWAI, he will be a revelation here: young, attractive, and charismatic. He is especially effective as the "untamed" artist. The acting is fine, generally more subtle than we think of most silent-movie emoting. There is a lovely nighttime garden scene which was shot day-for-night but is tinted blue. It's a shame that more of Hayakawa's films of this era haven't survived. [TCM]

Friday, June 06, 2008


Anthony Franciosa is a small-time lawyer who agrees to take the potentially explosive case of a housewife (Rita Hayworth) accused of conspiring with her lover (Gig Young) to murder her husband. The case has already made headlines, and when Hayworth's mother (Katherine Squire) comes to Franciosa, he suggests she get a high-powered attorney, but Squire has very little money, so he reluctantly takes the case. In flashback, we see the circumstances that led to the death: Hayworth's husband, a cop (Alfred Ryder), is a mean drunk and afraid of getting kicked off the force because of a hearing problem. He comes close to being abusive to Hayworth their little daughter. Hayworth becomes friendly with their widowed accountant (Young). Both of them seem battered down by life--Young lives in fear of his domineering mother (Mildred Dunnock)--and Squire actually encourages Hayworth to have an affair. The two have a sad little one-night stand, and Dunnock, who has figured out what's going on, threatens to expose them unless she gives him up. Young flies in from a business trip to talk things out with Hayworth, but Ryder overhears them talking and confronts them with a gun. The men grapple and the gun goes off accidentally, killing Ryder. Franciosa believes her story, though the D.A. (Sanford Meisner) tries to build a case that the death was premeditated because Hayworth wanted to get Ryder's insurance money. The last half of the film is set in the courtroom as Franciosa and Meisner spar back and forth, each getting the upper hand at various times, until the verdict is announced.

This movie was released the same year as ANATOMY OF A MURDER, and it seems to be an attempt to reproduce that film's success, even to using some sensational sex-related language and innuendo now and then; when Meisner notes that Squire, who lived with her daughter and son-in-law, pushed Hayworth toward adultery, he proclaims, "Madam, what kind of house were you running?" This film has problems in pacing, especially during the courtroom half, but the acting is solid. Hayworth is good in a completely non-glamorous role; Young's performance builds slowly and we gradually see him as a passive neurotic, and both come off as basically decent people stuck in sad, pathetic situations. Dunnock's fine as a monster mom (also a slow-building part), though Squire is just as good in a much less showy role. Meisner, a famous acting teacher and co-founder of the influential Group Theater, goes a bit over the top on occasion but is generally fun to watch. The Welsh actor Hugh Griffith is almost unrecognizable as the judge. But the real honors here go to Franciosa, an intense and sexy man who sets off sparks in every scene he's in. The character, about whom we learn very little, is set up as a down-on-his-luck heavy drinker, but once he gets on his feet and commits to the case, his character isn't developed any further. Frankly, I think he does Oscar-caliber work here, and the film makes me want to hunt down more of his movies. The scene in which he tears Dunnock apart on the stand is spectacular. The movie is a little long, but well worth catching, even if it all seems rather old hat nowadays when sordid trials like this can be seen every day on TV. [FMC]

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Coming Up Soon:

TCM is doing a series in June on Asian Images in Film. It looks like a fair amount of work went into the programming (some rarely seen silents) and the licensing of films (they'll be including a couple of Charlie Chans and one Mr. Moto, all of which are Fox films, and even a couple of public domain Mr. Wong films with Boris Karloff). I'm excited about DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON, a 1931 Fu Manchu film with Charlie Chan himself, Warner Oland, as Fu and Anna May Wong as his daughter. It airs tonight at 12:45 a.m EDT. I'm too late to suggest THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN and THE MASK OF FU MANCHU which ran earlier this week, but I do recommend FIRST YANK INTO TOKYO (Tom Neal, tough-guy B-movie star gets plastic surgery to become a spy) on June 12th, and the night of Asian detective films, June 10th. They'll be showing THE GOOD EARTH and DRAGON SEED on the 12th, but I don't know if I can stand to watch so many hours of Caucasians like Katharine Hepburn and Paul Muni in painfully dignified "yellowface," even if it was done with the best intentions. Do catch the Chans, Wongs, and Motos, with pre-film context established by Robert Osbourne and film scholar Peter Feng.

I don't see much else on TCM's schedule during the next week or so to point out except the very fun Hitchcock thriller THE 39 STEPS which is on this Friday at midnight. Over on Fox Movie Channel, the solid anthology film TALES OF MANHATTAN is on Sunday the 8th at 8 a.m.; on Fox Monday morning is the fun fantasy adventure CHANDU THE MAGICIAN at 6 a.m. followed by the Tyrone Power's creepy noir NIGHTMARE ALLEY at 7:30. Tuesday at 6 a.m is MAN HUNT, with Walter Pidgeon as a man who gets the chance to shoot Hitler. The Sundance Channel has the Beatles' HELP! Monday the 9th at 10 a.m and GIMMIE SHELTER, the documentary about the notorious Rolling Stones show at Altamont, that evening at 7.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Another one of George Arliss's somewhat stagy but spirited historical impersonations; these films may not be the absolute truth but Arliss is always fun to watch. The film begins in 1783 with George Washington's farewell to his troops; Hamilton notes that with the unifying factor of the war over, the states will begin squabbling and he talks Washington into taking on the job of President in 1789. Hamilton himself becomes Secretary of the Treasury; he realizes that many American troops still have not been paid and that the government owes heavy foreign debts, so he pushes for a strong centralized government to assume the war debts of the States. He is opposed by Thomas Jefferson and others who fear the threat of monarchy. In the midst of various political conflicts, the married Hamilton is set up to be seduced by Mariah Reynolds, who fakes a fainting spell at his house and takes money from Hamilton, supposedly to leave her husband. The two do indeed have an affair (though the movie is discreet about it, it seems to be at least a one-night stand), and Reynolds' husband than tries to blackmail Hamilton out of pushing through his "assumption of debts" bill. However, Hamilton bravely goes public, believing that his private affairs are no one else's business. His wife forgives him, Washington arrives to express his continuing confidence, and his bill gets passed. The film is based on a play which was a Broadway vehicle for Arliss (and which he co-wrote) and while it may not be terribly accurate, it has been opened up and has just the right mix of political intrigue and personal melodrama. Arliss was apparently way too old to be playing Hamilton (the actor was in his 60's, while Hamilton was in his 30's), but has the necessary gravitas for the part, though he is less credible as a dallying lover. Familiar faces in the cast include Alan Mowbray as Washington, Montagu Love as Jefferson, and Dudley Digges as a skirmishing senator. I'm sure it's asking too much for a George Arliss DVD boxed set, but maybe when the well runs dry, Warners will look into it. [TCM]