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Win BEHIND THE DOOR (1919) on Blu-ray/DVD from Flicker Alley!

As promised, here are the details on the Flicker Alley contest this blog is participating in. You’re getting the chance to win a brand new dual-format edition Blu-ray and DVD. Flicker Alley and a group of amazing sites for fans of silent and classic film are proud to bring you this giveaway for BEHIND THE DOOR (1919).

Behind the Door Blu-ray DVD Cover

I missed the movie when it screened at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2016, so here’s more on the film and set from the Flicker Alley press release:

Legendary producer Thomas H. Ince and director Irvin V. Willat made this—͞the most outspoken of all the vengeance films according to film historian Kevin Brownlow—during the period of World War I-inspired American patriotism.

Hobart Bosworth stars as Oscar Krug, a working-class American, who is persecuted for his German ancestry after war is declared. Driven by patriotism, Krug enlists and goes to sea. However, tragedy strikes when his wife (Jane Novak) sneaks aboard his ship and is captured following a German U-boat attack. Krug’s single-minded quest for vengeance against the sadistic German submarine commander (played with villainous fervor by Wallace Beery) leads to the film’s shocking and brutal climax.

This newly restored edition represents the most complete version of the film available since 1919, thanks to the collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia.

Sourced from the only two known remaining prints and referencing a copy of Willat’s original continuity script, this edition recreates the original color tinting scheme and features a new score composed and performed by Stephen Horne. Flicker Alley is honored to present BEHIND THE DOOR on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time ever.

Bonus Materials Include:

  • Original Russian version of BEHIND THE DOOR: The re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
  • Original Production Outtakes: Featuring music composed and performed by Stephen Horne.
  • RESTORING IRVIN WILLAT’S BEHIND THE DOOR: An inside look at the restoration process with the restoration team.
  • KEVIN BROWNLOW, REMEMBERING IRVIN WILLAT: Directed by Patrick Stanbury, an in-depth interview with renowned historian and honorary Academy Award® winner Kevin Brownlow on the career of director Irvin Willat.
  • Slideshow Gallery: Original lobby cards, production stills, and promotional material.
  • 12-page Booklet: Featuring rare photographs and essays by film historian Jay Weissburg, film restorer Robert Byrne, and composer Stephen Horne.

The set’s official release date is April 4, 2017. Readers of this blog who pre-order now using this link receive a special sale price of $29.95 for a limited time!

Here’s the film’s trailer:

Giveaway Hosted By: Flicker Alley

Co-Hosted By:

To enter, comment on this blog what is your favorite revenge movie or cinematic scene of revenge, and then submit your contact information to Flicker Alley using the form below.

An Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood in CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927)

In honor of National Flapper Day, I’ve reposted my essay on CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927), which was originally published on Flicker Alley‘s blog.

Children of Divorce Cropped Poster

Before they were jazz babies, they were jazz orphans. Their parents’ marriages dissolved under the influence of new post-war mores, and childhoods became a belated war casualty. Lacking role models, another generation seems doomed to repeat their elders’ mistakes. That’s the world CHILDREN OF DIVORCE portrays, and at its center are two women who share an unbreakable bond of sisterhood forged by the shared trauma of neglect.

If the movie sounds like a weepie, be warned, it is! Heartstrings are pulled starting when cherubic Kitty Flanders (Joyce Coad) is left at a Parisian convent by her mother (Hedda Hopper). Only one girl, Jean Waddington (Yvonne Pelletier), befriends Kitty. When she’s terrified her first night, Jean shelters Kitty in her bed, and a precedent is set for their relationship. Jean becomes an adoptive and protective big sister.

Children of Divorce Kitty and Jean First Night

Joyce Coad & Yvonne Pelletier in CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

A second precedent is sent when the girls meet Teddy Larrabee (Don Marion). He climbs over the grounds’ wall one day. He’s escaping bickering grown-ups and a woman mockingly flirting with him. He’s, also, a child of divorce. When the close-in-age Teddy and Jean meet, they are smitten. Sad and envious, Kitty laments she has no one. Kitty will continue to see others’ happiness and want it.

Kitty’s a classic little sister. Since Jean was slightly older than Kitty when her parents divorced, Kitty doesn’t have the background of family stability, albeit brief, Jean had. Jean easily slips into the caretaker role, and Kitty assumes the one of needing help and understanding. Jean loves Kitty, but that can’t cure her hurt.

Since Jean’s rich after her parents’ divorce, and Kitty isn’t, she must find a way to afford remaining in elite social circles. As she grows up, Kitty’s taught by her mother that money comes before love. There’s an implication that her mother isn’t simply concerned for Kitty’s well-being, but also that Kitty’s mother will use her daughter to achieve security. Jean can marry at her leisure.

Under such circumstances, it’s easy to see why Kitty ages into a partying, gold-digging flapper (Clara Bow) and Jean grows into a noble patrician (Esther Ralston). Despite their differences, the women are delighted when life reunites them. Their bond has lasted. Their relationship becomes complicated because of Teddy, now going by Ted (Gary Cooper).

Children of Divorce Ted Kitty Jean Reunited

Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, & Esther Ralston in CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

When Jean bumps into him at a party of Kitty’s, old attractions resurface, but Jean disapproves of his hedonistic lifestyle. She encourages him to get a job in order to become worthy of being her husband. Love reforms Ted, but it can’t save him from Kitty’s machinations. He’s wealthy, and he’s wanted by someone Kitty admires. Once she gets Ted drunk at a party, he doesn’t stand a chance. He wakes up tousled and marriedto Kitty!

This is the biggest test of Jean and Kitty’s love. Of course, Jean is angry about Kitty’s betrayal and Ted’s haplessness and unfaithfulness. Perhaps Jean sees this as an indicator she and Ted weren’t meant to be, but Kitty comes first when Jean makes her decision of what to do.

As the movie’s moral voice, Jean doesn’t believe in divorce, and she can’t deny Kitty a shot at happiness. Jean naively believes her friend and sweetheart can make a marriage work despite their incompatibility and lack of love. When Kitty insists that she will be a good wife, Jean relents and gives Ted to Kitty by not fighting for him—a decision that will lead to misery and tragedy.

children-of-divorce-jean-listens-to-kitty
Despite the love triangle, the movie’s central relationship is clearly Kitty and Jean’s. They get the most screen time. For one, Bow and Ralston were the experienced performers. Ted was Cooper’s first major role, one he was cast in at his lover Bow’s insistence. While in the final product he’s handsome and charismatic, on the set he was unsure and afraid, and he blew many takes. Panicked, he even fled filming and had to be brought back. He couldn’t be trusted to help carry the picture.

The result was the actresses were given the opportunity to explore their characters’ dualities. Ralston’s role is not as flashy as Bow’s. Ralston has to be the perfectly good friend. She has to be beautiful yet believably tossed over for Bow. She manages to be a strong, sympathetic presence. It would’ve been easy for Bow’s character to simply be the manipulative vamp, but she makes sure the audience knows every bad, later-regretted act comes from Kitty’s place of pain.

There’s symmetry in imagery emphasizing the women’s relationship. A powerful, early shot shows young Jean comforting young Kitty in bed at the convent. A second, equally affecting shot reminiscent of the first occurs near the film’s end. A grown-up Jean comforts a grown-up Kitty in bed. We never see either woman in bed with a man. For the women, the bed isn’t a sexual place, but a shared place of refuge. Whether escaping adult-caused problems or their own adult problems, it’s a place they return to together. Whatever happens, each has a sister to love her no matter what.

Children of Divorce Kitty and Jean Last Time

Interested in seeing this movie? Flicker Alley releases it to dual edition disc on December 6, 2016. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra provides the score.

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Holiday Affair (1949)

Holiday Affair Poster

I’d never heard of Holiday Affair until my husband rented the DVD from Netflix. I’m sure most others haven’t either, except for dedicated TCM viewers (It’s an RKO release) or hardcore Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum fans. It’s a little movie. It was a disappointment at the box office, and it doesn’t have the hook that makes a movie a cult fave, yet it’s a reliable and entertaining programmer that whiles away the time pleasantly, and its predictable ending doesn’t marr the proceedings.

Janet Leigh stars as Connie Ennis, the worst secret comparison shopper I’ve ever seen captured on film. Connie works hard, but not well at her job to support her son Timmy. She’s a war widow who’s almost alone with him. Wendell Corey as Carl Davis has been wooing her patiently for two years, and he’d like to become spouse to Connie and father to Timmy.  Connie can’t quite get over her husband, and Carl is too nice to push her.

And then Robert Mitchum’s Steve Mason enters the film. He’s a toy salesman, and he spots Connie for the fake she is. She buys an extremely extravagant toy train set from him without any questions, and she has the exact change including tax in hand. When she goes back to the store the next day to return the set, he’s made her and he’s obligated to report her, but doesn’t out of kindness. He ends up fired and tags along with Connie for the day and romantic complications ensue.

Janet Leigh embodies Connie with nervous energy. She’s in denial about living in the past, and Steve is the catalyst that stirs her up. She’s believable in not being able to help herself around Steve, she somehow keeps getting entangled with him, but she does not understand the obvious until the very end. She somehow dresses fantastically on her small budget.

Carl is suitably nice. He’s not too handsome, but not too plain. He’s just too understanding. There’s a scene that underscores how too comfortable he and Connie are. He calls her from bed underneath a pretty, shiny comforter. That instance reminded me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Bill Pullman lies in bed with Meg Ryan. He’s got her and his tissues. They’re dropped any romantic pretensions of coupledom. They just are. Carl and Connie don’t have any big romance either, but Carl does present emotional and financial stability.

Gordon Gebert’s Timmy doesn’t want change. He’s been the verbalized man of the house, and his mother constantly compares him to his father. A husband wouldn’t be replacing not only his father, but also him. The sciptwriters  and actor show how intelligent Timmy is without making him sickeningly precocious while making him seem like a real kid, sweet at times and manipulative at others. Timmy understands that Carl is a good man, but he prefers Steve.

Steve fought in the war and took up a conventional life when he returned. He meets Connie when he’s preparing for another life change. He wants to build boats, and he’s going to follow his dream. Maybe his enthusiasm rubs off on Connie, who tells him a lot about herself in one afternoon. He teaches Timmy to dream, too. Connie’s trained Timmy not to dream because she doesn’t want him disappointed, but Timmy can’t help himself, and Steve calls her to task for not fulfilling any of Timmy’s dreams ever.  Steve’s the kind encouraging paternal figure Timmy’s been needing. Mitchum’s scenes with Timmy work because Mitchum talks to Timmy like a person.

There’s a lot of humor in this romantic Christmas comedy where no one is the bad guy. All the male characters are much more self aware and straightforward than confused Connie. They say and do what they mean. There’s a funny scene where Steve and Carl accidentally meet. Connie hasn’t informed either of the other, and their introduction is awkward. Connie abandons them at one point, and they don’t come to blows; their talk goes from competitive to begrudgingly mutually respectful. TCM has that scene available for viewing here.

Like a lot of Christmas movies, Holiday Affair actually ends on New Year’s Eve. Connie finally makes a decision about her lovelife that may not surprise any viewer, but feels deserved for all the characters, and leaves us on an up note–an important trait for any holiday film.