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Monday, April 29, 2019

Another Lewton Snatched From The Pit

The Body Snatcher Back For a 1952 Reissue with I Walked With A Zombie

The Body Snatcher Is Its 1945 Self Again

The Body Snatcher is out recently on Blu-Ray. I overuse the phrase, but this really is like seeing it for the first time. They went to the camera negative for a new transfer, and results look it. There is detail that I guess has gone missing since 1945. To how many does The Body Snatcher matter so much? My own history with it is long, a first late show view in summer 1964, commercials and bleary eyes attendant, repeats after on stations that barely registered. About the only benefit you got from these encounters was dialogue, The Body Snatcher rich in that, being, most agree, Boris Karloff’s best film performance. Visuals were a forfeit as with all the Val Lewtons, as how could you see them other than on television or 16mm? A seminal book was Carlos Clarens’ An Illustrated History of the Horror Film, referred to before and will be again, being the nature of seminal books. By dint of his title, Clarens had stills to put across points, three of them highlighting “eerie, elusive moods of the Val Lewton films.” I’d stare at that page and imagine what the movies once looked like, the images nothing like pea soup served on NC midnights. Here was realizing how impact of time could diminish films.

Note the Quality Difference: Rich B/W Tones for the 1945 Release, Washed-Out and Dupey by 1952's Reissue 

Even publicity stills were vulnerable. RKO revived The Body Snatcher for 1952 bookings beside I Walked with a Zombie. In fact, most of the Lewtons, being “exploitation” titles as defined by RKO sales, were 50’s encored. The Body Snatcher had performed well in 1945, less so in 1952. Key dates stalled, most limited to a split-week, Variety grading results as “modest” or “N.S.G.” (not so good). There were new accessories for the reissue, a one-sheet duo-toned rather than full color as the 1945 original had been. 8X10 photos were contrasty and looked to be generations away from rich imagery used to promote The Body Snatcher’s initial release. So who cared where fast play-off with crumbs to count was expected outcome? TV release in 1956 was further insult, 16mm prints so dark at times you had to guess from the soundtrack what was going on. What non-theatrical supplied was no better, Films Inc. giving The Body Snatcher “two stars’ for price purpose, $25 where the audience was less than 100, $30 when 101-250 showed up, and so on. An only advantage here was seeing The Body Snatcher on a screen (or wall) rather than fed through the tube at home, 16mm the degraded format in either case.

Here Is a Record Of The Many Years One Midwest TV Station Used The Body Snatcher

I had two 16mm prints over years of collecting. The second one came from a Midwest TV outlet that had bought a large RKO package early on and kept index card record of dates they ran The Body Snatcher. The cards came with films I bought, each an education as to how stations made maximum use of prints they leased. A first broadcast date was 12-30-58, the last on 1-6-98. Nearly forty years, the print still intact, pretty good condition in fact, but muddy as all of them were. This extended to video cassettes that came in the early 80's, Nostalgia Merchant's release from 16mm, so no improvement there. Turner channel broadcasts were an uptick, not a significant one. DVD release as part of a Lewton box got barely beyond what was tendered before, major overhaul an only option for quality demands of a digital age. Lewton got part-way there when Cat People and Curse of the Cat People began streaming in HD, that deal sealed with Blu-Ray. As follow-up to The Body Snatcher, Screen Factory has announced The Leopard Man for Blu release. We might safely hope for the rest of Val Lewton in months to come.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Of Mann Westerns, A Most Obscure ...

Scope-Wide Explore of The Last Frontier (1956)

The fifties Anthony Mann western no one bothers much about, firstly as there aren't stars major enough, secondly because it's admittedly punk beside dynamos with Jim Stewart. For my coming to The Last Frontier late, and watching mainly for HD and scope on the Sony Movie Channel, what emerged was diamonds in the rough; at no point could I outguess a quirky and nice-paced script. Victor Mature is a trapper unschooled in civilized ways, James Whitmore his fur-gather sidekick. They're both excellent, as is Robert Preston as a martinet colonel. Old saw of redskins ringing the fort is helped by Mexican locations and offbeat situations not common even to higher profile Mann westerns where stronger producers and big gorilla stars left palm prints on finished product. The Last Frontier works well because it had less to lose than these, domestic rentals of $1.1 million reflecting comparative modesty of the enterprise. This one comes a closest to unpredictable spirit of "B" pics Mann directed before he was lured into bigger studios.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Africa Screams For Metro

Trader Horn A Gamble That Paid --- Part Two

Trader Horn’s caravan hauled thirty-five whites, two hundred natives, three sound trucks, and sixteen cameras, a to-then record heft for safaris. Van Dyke was advised not to let a single piece of equipment exceed one-ton weight, so off he went with stock weighing nine. Warned too against trek to Murchison Falls, it being tsetse fly infested, if picturesque and a haven for exotic wildlife, Van Dyke set forth anyway, taking cast/crew. He'd have husk of a story, dialogue mostly winged, eyes alert to sights and spectacle to capture and somehow work into whatever plot they’d develop. Nature plus its denizens did much of writing for Trader Horn. Setbacks were common and daily expected. One night a wall of water swept away the camp. Olive Carey (playing a missionary) lauded Metro for quickness at recovery, as in restocking everyone’s gear. This was no lost colony, but a well-subsidized one, white hunters along the route hired to shoot game and supply meat for those not afraid to eat it. Van Dyke pulled his weight with five million feet of Africa footage, a resource for not only Trader Horn, but every Metro jungle from there on, plus stock to supply renters. There was cost overrun, a given. Van Dyke was finally told to come home now, or not at all, so he sent others back and stayed with a few cameras to get more scenery. Bosses knew Van Dyke would not waste resource, trust earned on White Shadows In The South Seas and The Pagan. Again, who else had his steel? I see maybe King Vidor, Victor Fleming, or Clarence Brown equal to the task, but could these have stood the gaffe like Van Dyke?

Metro’s job was just beginning as the expedition returned home. Word was, everyone got the gate when they landed in New York. Van Dyke knew there was a quilt to patch, and so brought two native giants to do matching scenes at Culver. Panicked execs meanwhile hired a dialogue director from back east to augment whatever could be used from the trip, an effort lasting through 1930 and never sure to end up coherent. There was a snoopy press to contend with, so MGM dribbled out work in progress yarns w/o letting on the jumble from jungles they had. The expedition back by November 1929 initiated months to make Trader Horn a hot-anticipated event, publicity kept boiling for a corker show to come. Early as July ’29 saw Clyde De Vinna filing his on-location report for readers of American Cinematographer, the camera genius chased up a tree by wild buffalo, plus other close calls he told of. Press agent for the trip John W. McClain kept a diary for the New York Times, was employed too by the Sun. His bulletins were regular through the shoot. McClain also did a detailed (and pictorial) re-cap of the trip for Screenland’s March 1930 issue. Well-told fans accepted that Trader Horn was too big a venture to be rushed. Whatever we finally got would be worth the wait.

Final negative cost was $1,312,636, a lot on one hand, a bargain on the other. Trader Horn sold itself, the savage beasts and a White Goddess pearls from an African oyster. Grauman’s Chinese had the opener and drew ads of a topless Edwina Booth (see The Art Of Selling Movies). Van Dyke’s natives were pressed into lobby greeting. There is newsreel footage of Van Dyke standing with them. If any circus was this wild, no one had seen it. Trader Horn became a movie to bring people out that didn’t ordinarily care for movies, a best definition of a hit. The million three was got back in a flash and soared from there. Trader Horn did even better foreign than here, a worldwide $3.5 million the happy wrap. A roadshow souvenir book told “How The Picture Was Made” in terms of high-risk and non-stop peril. Some wondered if what they saw was real. Had MGM truly sent all these people to Africa? Photoplay answered (April 1931) in an article surprising for its candor. Moderns are told that fan mags toadied to the studios, more/less true, but every now/then, one would lift a mask and give out facts re dream-weaving, as here. “How “Trader Horn” Was Made,” they called the piece, brief text, but with insider stuff not shared elsewhere or cited since, except by Kevin Brownlow in his epic tome, The War, The West, and The Wilderness. Photoplay’s writer (no byline) spills truth of how Metro had to “improve upon nature in order to make a picture more dramatic and more entertaining to the spectator,” this not a dig, for Trader Horn was “neither an animal picture nor a travelogue, but a dramatization of a human-interest story with a jungle background.” Photoplay in fact praised MGM for having “the good taste not to misrepresent (Trader Horn) to the public like so many others have done.” Faking as practiced by nature-set filmmakers had been an issue (again, see The Art Of Selling Movies chapter, Leave The Children Home).

Edwina Booth Was Trade-Credited For Bringing Down a Hippo, But It Was Harry Carey That Did The Deed

What Photoplay revealed was “many instances” where “jungle scenes, natives, animal shots, and growls” were “doctored,” assuring us, however, that “most of the background scenes were taken in Africa.” These were “one hundred percent true and accurate,” though to tell Trader Horn’s story properly, MGM had to “supplement” footage brought from the location. “Accordingly, they did most of the sound over,” the result “so well pieced together that it’s impossible to tell where the genuine and the false begin and leave off.” Animation, “after the manner of … cartoons,” was used for a scene where a rhino tosses a native; “the studio work cannot be detected,” said the article. Most notorious, to current sensibilities if not 1931 readers, was reveal of footage shot in Mexico (to avoid ASPCA notice, says Brownlow) where animals were herded into a corral, lions starved over days so they would attack anything that moved. The resulting bloodbath proved useless to the final film, much resource and wildlife wasted, according to Duncan Renaldo. Here was outlaw filmmaking by a highest profile company for which ends justified means. What with cash already poured into Trader Horn, desperate time called for desperate measure. As to “native shots,” in addition to the specimen brought from Africa by Van Dyke, there would be “Negroes … recruited from the colored section of Los Angeles, playing the parts of natives.” The Dunning process, later called rear projection or process shots, enabled players to emote against background footage from the location. “All of those labors were expertly and effectively done … Trader Horn is a splendid example of the mechanics of making an effective, dramatic picture,” concluded Photoplay.

Ad For The Summer 1953 Reissue of Trader Horn with Sequoia
What lent Trader Horn much verisimilitude was stills taken on the Africa trip and used later for publicity. These were vistas and scenes that could not have been captured elsewhere, with cast members foregrounded in each. They were assurance to a paying public that Trader Horn was the real stuff, whatever measures necessarily taken to sweeten a final product, and had much to do with joyous reception the picture got. For Edwina Booth, the venture ended less happily. Her health was ruined, with one jungle-bred malady after another. She sued MGM, they’d not budge, finish to the sorry chapter squibbed by Variety (5/1/35) under the headline, “Metro Settles Edwina Booth’s $1,000,000 Suit.” Amounts weren’t indicated, though sources indicate it was a frugal pay-off, not near enough to meet her needs. The Edwina Booth saga, start to end, was told by historian D. Robert Carver, a terrific job of research published in 2008 by the Provo (Utah) Daily Herald. This is a harrowing, multi-part story, well worth the read. More fine investigation was done by Byron Riggan for June 1968's issue of American Heritage. He dug deep into Trader Horn fact and lore, interviewed Duncan Renaldo and Olive Carey, then found Edwina Booth, whom many (including her cast-mates) thought long dead. Renaldo getting Booth on the telephone after all those years is a dramatic highlight of Riggan’s definitive Trader Horn history.

Our Liberty Theatre Gets Trader Horn for a 1953 Date
Trader Horn was cutting-edge for early 1931, but mighty primitive to viewers afterward. Still, it acquired legend many would fondly recall, and secure placement in MGM’s Hall Of Fame. That standing brought audiences back in 1937 for a reissue that earned $188K in domestic rentals. Profit after prints and advertising was $123K. A 1953 revival surpassed that, thanks to radio and TV saturation modeled on King Kong’s revival of the previous year. A brand-new, and really persuasive trailer, was more sugar for lure (see that at TCM's site). Domestic rentals this time were $350K, with foreign an additional $63K. Overall profit was $248K. Variety’s verdict: “While hardly … sensational, Metro had a degree of success with Trader Horn,” while exhibitor comment was mixed: “It is an old picture and the print shows up poorly, but there’s plenty of Africa, natives, (and) animals. We were pleased with it” (James Wiggs, Jr., Tar Theatre, Tarboro, NC). Summer 1953 may have been the last viable opportunity to loose Trader Horn on theatres, as MGM’s “Mighty” Mogambo was just around a corner for Fall ’53 release, doing Africa to a Technicolor turn, all else hopeless by comparison. Trader Horn went to television among “Pre-48 Greats” from MGM in 1956. Charm lies yet in its antiquity, and TCM has upgraded Trader Horn to HD for broadcast. The DVD from Warner Archive is happily a re-master. Of classics from Leo, Trader Horn needs patience, a little charity perhaps, but values are plenty for the watching, history it represents topped by precious few.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Early Talking Jungle Jitters

Trader Horn Rocks The Dark Continent --- Part One

Trader Horn was truly a Roman (or better put, African) Circus of silent-to-talkie leaps. It began voiceless on faraway location (darkest Africa), then leapt to sound when Metro realized they had no choice but to amplify it. A silent crew embarking from California in 1929 came back with rawest footage and rough-recorded sound that made thousand-piece jigsaws look like kid play. There might be a book telling travails of Trader Horn but for fact few care anymore about the movie. Director W.S. Van Dyke wrote an account, Horning Through Africa, but it is generations out of print and tough as a tick to find. TCM uses Trader Horn, did an HD transfer, but it remains a primitive sit, as even 1953 audiences found (and complained of) when Metro did a late-in-day reissue. Some oldies, it seemed, were just too old. Miles of film shot on Trader Horn location would dress up Tarzan shows through whole of the thirties. Maybe it was worth MGM's effort just to get that accomplished, but hold on ... Trader Horn was a hit, and a massive one, topped only by The Big Parade and The Broadway Melody from previous Leo seasons.

Like the Stanley expedition to find Livingstone, Trader Horn got enormous publicity, in trades, fan magazines, mainstream publications, from the moment cast/crew set forth for Africa. These were travelers to a heart of darkness that we would see first-hand for a first time on such lavish scale and by a major studio. Previous jungle treks had for most part come courtesy the Selig Zoo, or in-out of lakes at Griffith Park. What footage there was of Africa looked as if unspooled, then dragged from there to here, grime/grain a marker for the real as opposed to staged thing. Trader Horn would be a biggest organized safari yet made, certainly none had gone so well-equipped. Photos were made at the rail departure from California, more of same at shipboard from New York, all steps of the journey noted with renewed promise that we’d thrill to stuff they’d bring back. Publicity on such scale was necessary to show these were real folks headed for an uncharted world. Would all return intact? Metro took a leaf from Henry Stanley’s 1871 quest for Dr. David Livingstone, the beneficiary less Livingstone than the New York Herald, latter sponsoring Stanley’s trip to Africa with spike to circulation more than paying freight and whatever useful purpose the venture served. Maybe this was shining moment W.R. Hearst recalled when MGM tried shutting down Trader, the trip figured for a bust. “No, you will finish it, whatever the cost,” said W.R., willing to co-sign checks because he knew the sock Trader Horn would deliver, and P.R. cost if the Lion chickened out.

All aspects of Trader Horn fascinate me. It is near-knuckle filmmaking shorn of frills and all the more a surprise to have come from MGM, them like others at daily struggle to keep pace with fast changing times. I wonder if Trader Horn would have been dared if not for W.S. Van Dyke, a real-thing adventurer who’d seen and photographed life in the native raw for White Shadows In The South Seas. The director kept a private journal of ordeal the latter was, most vivid of entries published in 1996 by Scarecrow and edited/annotated by Rudy Behlmer. “Never again!,” swears Van on location griddle, then when finally back home, gets the assignment to set up Trader Horn, and oh but first, go back to the South Seas and do The Pagan as follow-up for White Shadows success. Wonder what cajole was applied to keep Van Dyke on a world-wide move … money, flattery? If he bought lifetime placement at Culver, it was with willingness to take missions others shrank from. To meet a challenge and do the impossible was to earn rank among peers, this when film directing was a he-man’s craft. If artistry factored in, even where by chance or coincidence, so much the better.

I like how publicity led Trader Horn charge from early on. Few outside Van Dyke knew what they were getting into, thus Blondes! Blondes! Blondes! stood on temperate Culver lawn to cop a dream role as Africa’s White Goddess. Name actresses wanted the part too … Bessie Love bleached her hair in hope of getting it. Maybe she figured prior residency in The Lost World would grease a jungle path. I’d like to have seen Thelma Todd do it, and evidently she was tested, but woe betide the winner, as look what happened to Edwina Booth (file her name under Utterly Ruined Lives). So let’s think of it in terms of possibly losing Love or Todd had they won, and who’d want that? Booth came close as any actress to forfeiting life in service to a film. Earlier instance was fire fatality Martha Mansfield of silent-era misfortune. What creative staff decided was that the Goddess must be an unknown, exoticism not served by players of past familiarity. Edwina Booth made the devil’s bargain for a ludicrous $75 per week. It should have been three times that per hour. Stateside witch doctors pumped her up with alleged vaccines to ward off tropical germs. When the ship left New York harbor, she had a fever of 104. How many times Booth must have wished she’d caught the pilot boat back. Medicine, like travel, like so much else of 1929 life, was hazard. So how far ahead of the Dark Continent were we, really?

Departure was March 1929, first of camps pitched in April, then seven months on location. Return home meant further work to virtually remake a mess so profound that it took another year for sense to be made from it. What did get used of Africa was great by anyone’s reckoning, an anchor around which California (and Mexico) re-shoots could pivot. The Africa trip became folklore, hardship the stuff of commissary recall from there on. It would be interesting to know when the last Trader Horn survivor passed, because he/she took a lot of history with them. Van Dyke and Edwina Booth were the most noted malaria cases, but there were others. Many believed Trader Horn shortened Van’s life. Booth ended up with sleeping sickness, a life sentence by most accounts. Bug bites were a given. It got to where much crew opted for liquid meals, not necessarily soft or water, for to drink from native source was quickest route to the sick tent. Van Dyke saw an Africa not so wild and wooly as he hoped. To goose thrills, he put a cast in close quarters with animals better seen from distance. One time he treed Edwina Booth while hungry lions waited below for her to fall, which finally she did, fortunately no cats around by that time. Co-star Duncan Renaldo as result did his own fall upon the director, shrieking, “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch,” this incident not reported by Metro publicity.

A couple of “native boys” were killed on Trader Horn. One was eaten by a croc, another gored by a rhino, dead before he hit the ground. Was human life so cheap in daring days of film? Personnel was lost on Ben-Hur, The Trail Of ’98, and Noah’s Ark, so I hear. Could be myth, but likelier it’s true. Hollywood had us believe safety came first, but thrill-seek has ways of switching priority. Van Dyke understood such laws of the jungle and directed accordingly. Damage in the getting was expected and part of show-must-go-on ethos. What happened in Africa, or was buried there, could stay in Africa. More precious commodity was exposed film. This was kept refrigerated in lieu of foodstuffs, possibly on the theory that without usable footage, no one would eat, hot or cold. Cast and crew were isolated, but there was contact with home base at Culver City, plus hobbyists with home wireless got through now and then to the travelers. MGM decided post-departure to make Trader Horn talk and so shipped a sound truck that dropped into Africa water and sank. Wonder who walked the plank for that boner. With talkies so balky in the U.S., imagine havoc raised in the wilds. Wiser heads knew sound would have to be done over on arrival home.

Part Two of Trader Horn is HERE.

Friday, April 19, 2019

All Aboard Paramount Noir

Union Station (1950) Is Train-Stop Set Thrills

William Holden began reaping reward of Sunset Boulevard with this cop procedural about kidnapping of a blind girl and rush to locate her as panicked Lyle Bettger and gang blunder at collect of ransom. Procedurals were less noirish because we tended to stay with clean-cut lawdogs, Barry Fitzgerald, for instance, in reprise of his Naked City off-casting, and happily saves blarney here till fade. It's not fun seeing a blind girl jostled around by crooks, so thanks be again, there's not emphasis on that. Holden's detective is partnered with key witness Nancy Olson. They don't romance, which is as well, as that would have padded 81 minutes that didn't need more. Paramount built a partial Union Station for action setting, most of pic set there at variety of angle. Director Rudolph Maté should get more credit for brace of star vehicles he did after stepping out from behind cameras, but his passing in 1964 came before serious consideration was given to workmanlike and efficient helmsmen like himself. Among refreshing aspects of Union Station is police cheerfully engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct with suspects, girding to toss one in front of an on-comer train unless he talks. We'd get this to point of tiring from Dirty Harry and the 70's on, but Union Station came long before those diminishing returns set in, and is the more fun and memorable for it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

More Spooky Than Funny?

Paramount Says --- Sell The Cat and The Canary Either Way

It never mattered how much comic relief you threw at horror films in the 30's. They'd still be scary. I'll bet as many youngsters got nightmares from watching The Cat and The Canary as from various Frankensteins or Draculas. Value in chillers came of setting and atmosphere, which Cat/Canary had in abundance. A haunted house with secret passages is still a formidable thing no matter your approach to it, murder a serious business whatever wisecracks made by Bob Hope. At least that was case in 1939, when Hope was not yet confirmed as full-time jester and demolisher of screen genres. Here he is at a start as sheep in would-be wolf clothing, more earnest than as the braggart he'd later evolve to. Scaring skittish Bob was as sure-fire as would be case for Red Skelton or Lou Costello, repeat cycle for these clowns so long as they did movies. What seemed a contradiction in the scare-pair Hope made with Paramount, Canary and then The Ghost Breakers, was done-straight settings with humor eclipsed by fright. Maybe adults weren't affected, but children surely were. Here was a wire movies walked whenever laughter met thrills --- even Disney with his Shaggy Dog had moments to go rough on small fry.

Paramount selling saw the contradiction. They'd promote The Cat and The Canary more for chills than comedy. Menace of a cat claw as it hovers over Paulette Goddard was dominant art for both the one and three sheets, Bob Hope not pictured on either size display. Anyone seeing these on a theatre front would assume Cat/Canary was horror pure and simple. Certainly the title was pre-sold to that effect, The Cat and The Canary having barnstormed far/wide in terms of fright. The story, known to most who had seen the play or silent era version (and that took in bulk of pop culture followers) was basically serious, a will read at midnight that unleashes mayhem in a spooky house where a madman offs those who stand between him/her and the family fortune. To that was added mirthful seasoning, but in moderation. Paramount kept Bob Hope in check to keep faith with the source property, a good thing as he might have over-tipped scales even a year or two later as his popularity from radio touched a peak. Most of what went on in haunted houses relied on inspirations that were The Cat and The Canary and also-famed The Bat. These two defined the genre, at least on stage. For all I know, they're still being adapted for school or community plays.

We know The Cat and The Canary today mostly for Hope. He was a new sort of lead for romantic comedy, a fraidy cat if not outright coward that leading ladies could still cotton to. Hope was early to burlesque convention, fourth walls yet to be breached as they would be after a brasher Bob made that expected. You could argue that he's easiest to like in The Cat and The Canary before being ruled by radio further entrenched and movie vehicles the same. To project sincerity was to betray the kid-everything space Hope would be locked into. The Cat and The Canary came pleasingly before that, a sort of what if? relaxed lead Bob Hope might have been under different circumstances. Cat/Canary helmsman Elliott Nugent had his own early 30's go at affable performing before switch to direction. His ideas likely informed the screen character Bob Hope became. Did Hope ever credit Nugent for guidance? They had worked together before, would several times again. Hope did cite Frank Fay as his vaudeville inspiration, but had less to say about screen assist he received.

I will guess that Paramount sales got handed this job, looked around and saw the current revival of horror films (Son Of Frankenstein, released early in 1939), and decided that The Cat and The Canary would fly best under that flag. Production and publicity were separate animals, one often at odds with the other. Creative ends often had no idea, and less interest, how merchandising would move a finished product. We say "creative end," but should be mindful that ad/pub called for at least as much creativity, like where that end game had to be played on behalf of dodgy wares. Of filmmakers who followed through to the ticket windows and luring customers in, Alfred Hitchcock was a best example, maybe an only one so actively involved, but here was the most-part thing: home office staff, generally New York based, did the exploitation for movies shipped from the west for distribution and ultimate payoff, if there was to be one. The Cat and The Canary looked like a surer bet for scare selling, so that is how it was sold. Paramount focused on the cat fiend and his "horrible, hairy grasp." Past chillers were evoked, comparisons with Dracula and Frankenstein made, masks available to children so they too could be cat creatures, and midnight spook shows were proposed as a best format to launch The Cat and The Canary. It must have struck chords because a same theme and leads were back within a year with The Ghost Breakers. The Cat and The Canary was gone for awhile because of rights snafu, but is among us now on Blu-Ray and occasionally at TCM in HD. It is a must for expert blending of titters and thrills, certainly among most handsome of 30’s genre mash-ups.
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