Saturday, March 22, 2008

Please release me, Part 1

I was dismayed to discover that Oscar's Best Picture of 1933, Cavalcade, is not available on DVD (despite what the IMDb page says).

Based on a play by Noel Coward, Cavalcade is an Upstairs, Downstairs-like look at the lives of two families from the start of the 20th century, through to 1933, when the movie was released. The rich "upstairs" family, the Marryots, are played by Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook, while the servant couple, the Bridges, is played by Una O'Connor and Herbert Mundin (who would later be romantically teamed again in The Adventures of Robin Hood). Wynyard and O'Connor both do fine jobs, but the rest of the movie is a bit lacking. Coward wasn't quite as good at writing drama as he was at comedy; the acting is staticky even by the standards of an early talkie; and the cavalcade of events is ridiculously predictable.

In one scene, for example, set in 1908, one of the Marryot sons talks with his girlfriend about taking their honeymoon on a ship, when a ship passes at the seaside resort they're at. You can guess what happens next: the scene shifts to April 14, 1912, aboard the Titanic. (Sadly, there were no Nazis in this version of the Titanic disaster; the scene ends when they show us ship the couple is aboard in in fact the Titanic.) World War I similarly affects everybody, but surprisingly, nobody seems to be affected by the Crash of 1929 and the associated Great Depression: the action jumps almost immediately from the end of World War I to 1932, with only a montage of the vice associated with the 1920s.

One person worth watching, however, is a dancing Fanny Bridges at the age of about 10 winning a teddy bear in a dancing competition: that's a young Bonita Granville.

Despite Cavalcade's flaws, it would be nice to see it available on DVD so that people can judge its quality for themselves.

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