Monday, January 9, 2017

Journey Into DVD: It's a Universal Picture!

One thing about Universal Vault Series MOD (Manufactured on Demand) DVDs: They get a lot of films that would otherwise not be seen out to the viewing public. Well, they are hard to find and more expensive than conventional releases, but until we get a Universal Movie Classics channel (say....), this is one of the best avenues we have to catch some of these old Uni and Paramount pictures.

Another thing about these DVDs is they have zero extras--no trailers, not even a decent menu. So if you put the disc in your player and go get a sandwich, by the time you get back, it may be 15 minutes into the movie.

Frontier Gal (1945) is the kind of Western I imagine contemporary reviewers described as "rollicking." It has a saucy Yvonne DeCarlo, Sheldon Leonard as the villain, and Rod Cameron giving an entertaining performance as an unrepentant chauvinist who storms into a town looking for revenge.

Cameron floats the idea of marriage to DeCarlo  to get her to, uh, welcome him his first night in town, and whaddyaknow, the next day he's all like, "Eh, I don't think so." He really is kind of a jerk, and it's hard to feel too sorry for him when he is forced at gunpoint into a wedding.

Years later, after a stint in jail, when a little girl is involved and when his former fiancée enters the picture, he doesn't straighten out and do the right thing by all mature adults concerned. At least, I don't think he does. I can't be sure because with 5 minutes to go, right in the middle of a climactic action sequence, the DVD started skipping/freezing, and I had to go online to READ how the movie ended!

It's a shame because I was enjoying the heck out of what I saw up to that point.  It's the kind of movie in which a bar fight breaks out and Andy Devine comes in and starts throwing clubbing, plodding forearm blows that totally clean house. Then Devine goes over to the bar and gets what looks like a 256-ounce beer. I recommend Frontier Gal, but make sure you get a disc without a big discolored spot near the edge.

Supernatural (1933) is like a bunch of different movies in one. It's a horror movie, a crime movie, a thriller, a bit of a love story...Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott are the top names in the cast, but Vivienne Osborne is vivid as convicted man-strangler (3 times!) Ruth Rogen.

There is a sort-of mad doctor AND a phony spiritualist in this one, and Rogen manages to transfer her spirit into the innocent body of Lombard's Roma Courtney so she can try to kill the spiritualist! There is a good amount of stuff going on in just over an hour, and it's a unique and compelling little movie I haven't seen discussed.

Actually, it's a Paramount picture!

I was disappointed by Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) with Burt Lancaster and Joan Fontaine after wanting to see it for years. I just never got into it. I don't have a lot to say about it, but it just wasn't for me. I'm still glad it made it to DVD, though! Just don't see it before checking out Frontier Gal and Supernatural.

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