125 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2006
This dvd collection more than deserves five stars simply because it has THREE movies I have NEVER seen in my 25+ years as a Lombard fan!! It's hard enough to find Paramount or Universal CLASSICS from the early 30's, but ultra-rare programmers like MAN OF THE WORLD and LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST??? And how about TRUE CONFESSION, which has been locked away in the vaults for ages despite the awesome cast of Lombard, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore, and Una Merkel!!
Even the three better known titles - HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE, THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS, WE'RE NOT DRESSING - are not that common, although they were all released on video in the 1990's. Carole Lombard was a major Paramount star but she made virtually all of her most famous films on loanout or after she left the studio.
All the crying about "multi movies" crammed on to discs seems a total waste of tears. I've watched LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST and MAN OF THE WORLD and the prints are excellent, not perfect perhaps but definitely superior to prints that Warner Bros. used for LIBELED LADY and several THIN MAN titles - movies that WERE released "one to a disc" and cost about as much as the collection of FIVE Lombard films.
Universal gets a bum rap for their various multi-movie sets from a lot of people who don't even bother viewing the movies first!! Maybe some people think it's worth $20 to have a case and paper sleeve for every movie, but not this kid. MAN OF THE WORLD is one of Carole's first leading lady parts - she is only 22 here - and she's very beautiful but her future husband William Powell dominates this story of a con man who unexpectedly finds love. This movie isn't very good but it is a thrill to see a Lombard and Powell rarity. LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST on the other hand is an absolute delight. Often referred to as a screwball comedy by historians who apparently have never seen it, it's actual more of a straight romance (from a book by romance novelist Faith Baldwin) with some comic scenes and touches. Lombard plays Cesar Romero's fiancee who is still agressively pursued by Preston Foster. Foster's arrogance at the beginning of the film is a turn off, one certainly sides with Lombard that he is a bit of a jerk but as you may guess Carole can give it back and then some whenever someone gets out of line. This movie boasts some of the most beautiful photography of Lombard ever, lovingly shot by her favorite cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff and some of Travis Banton's loveliest fashions for her. This film is an art deco treat and certainly one of the most elegant Universal productions from the thirties.
The release of this DVD is truly exciting news for movie buffs - even more so than the comparable releases on Mae West and Marlene Dietrich, since those ladies' Paramount/Universal titles have been far more accessible than Carole Lombard's although Carole is every bit as popular and remembered as those other two Paramount blondes.
I am hoping sales for this series goes through the roof and we get second volumes on all three stars - and FIRST volumes on those Paramount superstar brunettes : Claudette Colbert, Dorothy Lamour, and Clara Bow.
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
The early death of Carole Lombard at 33 from a January 1942 plane crash remains one of cinema's most tragic episodes. During the 1930's, she was the most luminous of screen beauties yet innately likeable. What made her unique was the scintillating, often ribald and genuine manner in her performances. Even though she delivered top-notch dramatic performances, especially toward the end of her career, it is her comedies that continue to reinforce her legacy. It's almost impossible not to adore Lombard for the way she downplayed her looks, coming across as a proto-feminist in many of her roles. In fact, of all her contemporaries, Lombard still comes across as the most modern and self-aware, which is proven by this splendid two-disc set of six of her lesser known films. Granted none of them are close to the quality of her acknowledged classics - "Twentieth Century", "My Man Godfrey", "Nothing Sacred", "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", "To Be or Not to Be" - but each provides ample evidence of her abundant comic talent during the middle of her career between 1931 and 1937.
The first disc contains the earliest three movies. A 23-year old Lombard is merely the innocent leading lady to William Powell (before they were briefly married in real life) in 1931's "Man of the World", directed by Richard Wallace and written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, a pre-code dramedy about a sophisticated con man, an American in Paris named Michael Trevor, who attempts to take advantage of Mary Kendall, the niece of a foolhardy millionaire he has befriended. As Trevor, Powell gets surprisingly dour in the heavier second half, and little of Lombard's natural élan is on display playing the love-blind Mary. It's hard to fathom that this classic pair would team again for one of the great screwball social comedies, Gregory La Cava's "My Man Godfrey", only five years later.
Three years and fifteen films after "Man of the World", a more confident Lombard shows up as part of a silly ensemble farce, 1934's "We're Not Dressing", directed by Norman Taurog, in which she plays Doris Worthington, an ice-cold, rich yacht owner who gets into a shipwreck and an untidy situation where she is beholden to her former crew, in particular, the first mate who has a tendency to break out in song quite often. That's because this movie is an early Bing Crosby musical where the crooner's main objective is to melt Doris' heart. Lombard is much more in her element here as she plays her cardboard character's unattractive aspects while still generating her natural warmth. The film's problem is that her screen time is limited since the movie not only stars Crosby but also features George Burns, Gracie Allen and Ethel Merman. It's a variety hodgepodge but still worth seeing.
My favorite film of the six is 1935's "Hands Across the Table", directed by Mitchell Leisen, Lombard's first real starring vehicle and a disarming romantic comedy about Depression-era class struggles. She plays Regi Allen, a hotel manicurist determined to marry for money and quite open about her intentions. She immediately befriends a new client, Allen Macklyn, an ideal target for Regi except that he is a former pilot who has become a paraplegic. Enter Theodore Drew III, a flaky but charming playboy already engaged to an heiress. The standard complications ensue but not before the stars bicker and banter with dexterity. Lombard is terrifically winning as a working girl who ends up falling for Drew and even cohabitates with him before getting married.
As Drew, Fred MacMurray makes a strapping leading man and displays sharp comic timing. This was the first of four fruitful teamings he had with Lombard. Cinema's perennial third wheel, Ralph Bellamy, plays the smitten Macklyn with surprising romantic fervor, enough sometimes to appear like a true contender for Regi's affections. There are some startlingly sexy, noirish close-ups between Lombard and MacMurray as the film moves toward its inevitable conclusion. Look for an uncredited William Demarest as Regi's hapless blind date caught in a frustrating dialogue with MacMurray three decades before they co-starred in TV's "My Three Sons".
The second disc opens with an overly contrived romantic comedy, 1936's "Love Before Breakfast", directed by Walter Lang, which suffers for its lackluster leading man, Preston Foster. He plays Scott Miller, a rich Wall Street tycoon madly infatuated with Kay Colby, a Park Avenue girl already engaged to hard-working Bill Wadsworth. Miller pulls strings to have Wadsworth transferred to Japan, so he can pursue Kay against her outward wishes. It all sputters by quickly at only seventy minutes, and it takes all of Lombard's natural wit and charm to levitate the absurd plot and humanize such a hysterical loon. Long before he became the Joker on the "Batman" TV series, Cesar Romero plays the hapless Wadsworth for what the one-dimensional role is worth. I also find it interesting how Lang cast an uncredited Japanese actress, Mia Ichioka, as Kay's tea-leaf-reading maid Yuki.
Lombard re-teams with MacMurray on 1936's "The Princess Comes Across", an oddly conceived romantic comedy that suddenly turns into a murder mystery after the first half-hour. Directed by William K. Howard, the movie has Lombard cast as Wanda Nash, a struggling Brooklyn chorine disguising herself as Swedish royalty to gain a film studio contract. It's obvious that she is doing a not-so-subtle impersonation of Garbo as Princess Olga, but it is a funny take-off. MacMurray plays a singing bandleader who, believe it or not, plays the concertina professionally. They banter until things get serious, as she gets implicated in the murder and remains fearful about being exposed. Famous for her roles in W.C. Fields comedies, Alison Skipworth is a scene-stealer as Olga's phony dowager guardian. It's interesting to see MacMurray show glimpses of his cynical "Double Indemnity" personality in mercurial fashion before the mystery is solved.
The last film is 1937's `True Confessions" directed by Wesley Ruggles and again co-starring MacMurray. It's a complete lark showcasing Lombard's farceur skills as Helen Bartlett, the wife of a struggling lawyer. A compulsive liar who literally plants her tongue in her cheek just before letting go with a whopper, Helen gets involved in the murder of her lecherous employer of less than an hour. Seeing this as an opportunity for her husband Kenneth to show off his litigation skills, she pleads guilty to the crime just so he can get her acquitted. Complicating matters is an odd eccentric who watches the case in the courtroom and gains evidence to the contrary. With the various deceptions getting bigger and bigger, the film plays out like an extended "I Love Lucy" episode well before the TV series was conceived, and indeed Lombard was Lucille Ball's mentor and role model. Una Merkel plays the Ethel part of best friend Daisy, while John Barrymore, long gone to seed, hammily plays the irritating eccentric. MacMurray is a bit of a bore in this one since he has to represent the pillar of honesty top his wife.
Be aware that the two discs use both sides to fit all the films. The print transfer on all six films is surprisingly clean considering their seventy-year old age. Unfortunately there are no extras, not even theatrical trailers, but seeing the unparalleled Lombard is treat enough. She made 78 movies in her brief career, so I hope more of her titles will come up in future DVD releases.
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2006
This is a solid collection that contains six films from one of the most popular actresses of the 1930's - Carole Lombard. The titles here include classics like "True Confession", and "The Princess Comes Across", as well as fun vehicles like "Hands Across the Table", and "Love Before Breakfast". The only two disappointments are the early talkie "Man of the World", and the surprisingly awful "We're Not Dressing". Overall, this is a respectable set of Hollywood programmers that documents the rise of Carole Lombard's career.
I have to disagree with many of the classic film fans here who so passionately oppose multi-disc sets. Let's face it, when it comes to classic films we fans can not expect the royal treatment films like "My Man Godfrey", or "Gone With the Wind" receive to be given to programmers like "We're Not Dressing", and "Man of the World". If not for this set, these films would just be laying in a vault somewhere collecting dust. I would rather have these cheap flipper discs with quality video presentations than nothing. It's unreasonable to expect Universal to dote on every old film they release. Instead of directing anger at Universal, I'm going to give them praise for giving fans the chance to watch films that have been rarely seen since their original release.
43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2006
This long over-due collection of five Carole Lombard films made at Paramount is set to include: 'Hands Across the Table,' 'Love Before Breakfast,' 'Man of the World,' 'The Princess Comes Across,' 'True Confession,' & 'We're Not Dressing.'
The way these films are packaged is likely to be similar to the Gary Cooper collection released last year ie. five films with great quality prints squeezed onto two double-sided discs in a no-frills slip-covered fold out box.
For those of us who don't care about fancy packaging and only about great looking classic films at affordable prices this is exactly the way we want these early gems released. Well done, Universal keep 'em coming.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2006
I cannot believe how wonderful this collection is. There are six movies in this set. All of which I already have in my collection. However, the quality on 3 of 6 moview far surpasses anything that I have been able to find previously. "True Confession", "Love Before Breakfast" and "Man of the World" all have excellent picture and sound. It was my understanding that there were no surviving master prints of "True Confession". So I congragulate the person who found this high quality copy sitting somewhere in the back of some studio vault.
The other three titles, "We're Not Dressing", "Hands Across the Table" and " The Princess Comes Across" are dark prints in comparison to the previous versions issued on video cassette in 1995 by MCA/Universal, but otherwise are highly watchable. The sound quality on these movies is also excellent.
By this collection while you can, for the price it is a steal. It is well worth $100 or more!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The six films of Carole Lombard's short-lived film career here is a nice collection. Carole Lombard was a blonde bombshell who romanced the likes of Fred McMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Preston Foster, and Bing Crosby. She was one of the original movie stars of the studio system where they made films regularly.
My only technical problem came across in the film, "The Princess Comes Across," but apart from that there was no other problems. The films were perfectly preserved despite their age and the passage of time. The films are over 70 years old but timeless as ever. Carole Lombard was a beloved movie star who earned the right to be called one during the Great Depression. I could imagine the millions of movie fans who flocked to the cinema when it was affordable to be entertained and distracted from their own personal problems.
I'll give a rundown of the films quickly. I would have recommende that the Glamour Collection include a documentary to help those of us who don't know much about their stars in the collection.
The film, "Man of the World," is the first film on the first disc. It's about life in Paris, France during the Lost Generation. It's okay but not that great. Carole is not yet the star but she steals the scenes easily from her co-stars.
The second film on the first disc is "We're Not Dressing," which is perhaps one of the best in the collection. With the cast that includes Bing Crosby as her love interest and sailor aboard her character's wealthy yacht. Ethel Merman has a supporting role. George Burns and his beloved Gracie Allen also have parts. It's a great cast to handle the comedy of such a situation. Don't forget to watch the bear, Droopy. He really steals the scenes from everybody else.
The third film which is on the back of the first disc is "Hands Across the Table." This film is the first film with Fred McMurray who also co-stars with her in two other films on this collection. She plays a manicurist who is seeking to marry a wealthy man.
The first film on the second disc is "Love Before Breakfast" where she is romanced by Preston Foster and Cesar Romero. The film is okay but the best moments are on the boat towards the end.
The second film on the second disc is "The Princess Comes Across" where she is again reunited with Fred McMurray and co-stars along Alison Skipworth as the Swedish Princess Olga in a transatlantic cruise. William Frawley plays Benton. Frawley and McMurray also worked together on "My Three Sons" decades later. It's interesting to see them together here.
The third film on the back of the second disc is "True Confession" where she played Helen Bartlett, a wife who is accused of killing wealthy Otto Kraler. Fred McMurray plays her lawyer husband. Una Merkel plays her best friend and Hattie McDaniel played the maid, Ella. It's a convoluting comedy-drama about a murder and the search for the truth that takes a detour.
I think the Glamour Collection would have been helped more by a documentary of Carole Lombard. I would have liked to know more about her but it's still a great collection of old films from the Great Depression.