KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: Double Door (1934)

Based on the 1933 Broadway play of the same name by Elizabeth A. McFadden, Double Door is a pre-Hays Code directed by Charles Vidor (GildaBlind Alley).

Victoria Van Brett (Mary Morris, who had a long stage career but this was her only film) rules her family, even destroying the relationships that her brother Rip (Kent Taylor, Brain of Blood many years after this) has until Anne Darrow (Evelyn Venable, the voice and the model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and one of the rumored inspirations for the Columbia Pictures logo) starts dating him. Just how horrible is Victoria? Well, she once locked her sister Caroline (Anne Revere, who would win the Best Supporting Oscar for National Velvet and be an outspoken critic of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which got her blacklisted) in a soundproof safe for a long period of time just for making her mad.

I mean, she also has one of the servants close the organ during “Here Comes the Bride” as Victoria and Rip are being married in her house, so there’s really no limit to the amount of mean that she has in store for everyone. That must be how she got the name “The Female Frankenstein of Fifth Avenue.”

Double Door has just been re-released by Kino Lorber, along with two audio commentaries. One is by Tom Weaver and the other by David Del Valle and Stan Shaffer. There are also trailers and subtitles. You can order it directly from Kino Lorber.

Four Frightened People (1934)

Arnold Ainger (Herbert Marshall, who lost a leg during World War I yet became one of the biggest leading men of Hollywood; he was also the star of the radio drama The Man Called X), Mrs. Mardick (Mary Boland, The Women), Stewart Corder (William Gargan, who played radio and TV detective Martin Kane) and Judy Jones (Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night) have escaped their bubonic plague-infested ship and ended up on a jungle island populated with primitive natives and wild beasts.

The print ad for this had great copy: “Once…ladies and gentleman…the last remnants of civilization slipped from them with their tattered clothes…Now they were male and female battling the jungle for life…each other for love!”

This is a movie that doesn’t get mentioned in the films of Cecil B. DeMille all that often. This movie looks great, despite being shot on location in Hawaii. Also, while Colbert used a stand-in wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit for the waterfall scene, she was nearly nude in other moments. This was, of course, before the Hayes Code.

The new Kino Lorber blu ray release of this movie features audio commentary by Nick Pinkerton and the original trailer.

Ladies Should Listen (1934)

Directed by Frank Tuttle (A Cry In the Night) and starring Cary Grant, this romantic comedy is all about switchboard operator Anna Mirelle (Frances Drake, Les Misérables) who falls in love with Grant’s character of Julian De Lussac, a man she has only met over the phone. To win him over, she’ll have to break him up with his current love, Marguerite (Rosita Moreno, The House of a Thousand Candles), which is actually a good thing, as she’s already married to Ramon Cintos (Rafael Corio) and the two of them are about to swindle him out of a nitrate mine.

Meanwhile, Julian’s best friend Paul Vernet (Edward Everett Horton, the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales) is growing mad at him because he’s lost the eye of millionaire heiress Susie Flamberg ( Nydia Westman, who was in two Bulldog Drummond movies).

If this feels like a stage play, that’s because it was based on one by Alfred Savoir and Guy Bolton. The screenplay was by Claude Binyon and Frank Butler.

You can get this as part of Kino Lorber’s Cary Grant Collection, which is a great opportunity to own some of the actor’s earliest films on blu ray.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Green Eyes (1934)

Oh PURE TERROR, you box set of my dreams. Sometimes, you reward me with Italian cyborgs. Or then a movie about jungle cannibals. Or this — whatever Green Eyes is, a Chesterfield Pictures movie made before the Hayes Code. Who at Mill Creek decides what goes into these box sets?

During a masquarade ball, Stephen Kester (Claude Gillingwater, whose injury on the set of Florida Special and the premature death of his wife led to an early suicide) is found stabbed three times in the closet of his room. It could be anyone that killed him, but it’s probably his granddaughter Jean (Shirley Grey, whose acting career ended in 1935) and her fiancee Cliff Miller (William Bakewell, whose acting life went from the 1920’s to the 1970’s). After all, they ran from the scene of the crime, but not before they killed the phones and ruined all the cars.

Inspector Crofton (John Wray, he played the farmer who tries to kill Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes To Town) and Detective Regan are in the case, as well as a mystery writer named Bill Tracy (Charles Starrett, The Durango Kid!).

Green Eyes was directed by Richard Thorpe, who is more well-known for the movie he didn’t direct than the hundreds he did.

Thorpe was the original director of The Wizard of Oz, but got fired within two weeks, as it was believed that he didn’t understand the fantasy elements of the story. He also gave Judy Garland a blonde wig and baby doll make-up that made her look anything like an innocent farm girl. The only footage from his directing that remains is when Toto runs from the Wicked Witch’s castle.

He also directed Jailhouse Rock with Elvis, Above Suspicion with Joan Crawford and several of the Tarzan films.

If you don’t have the PURE TERROR set, you can watch this for free on Amazon Prime and the Internet Archive.