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John Ford's American Comedies [4 Discs] [DVD]

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$39.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Up the River:
  • Still gallery
  • Steamboat 'Round the Bend:
  • Audio commentary bu author Scott Eyman
  • Restroation comparison
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • When Willie Comes Matching Home:
  • Deleted scenes
  • Restoration comparison
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • Interactive pressbook gallery
  • Advertising gallery
  • What Price Glory:

Synopsis

Doctor Bull
Will Rogers is Dr. Bull, a small-town physician with precious little book learning. This doesn't stop him from ministering to the citizens, often substituting advice and witticisms for pills and sutures. There are those who resist Dr. Bull's everyday doses of common sense and humanity, especially the gossip mongers who read the worst into the doctor's frequent visits to a lonely widow (Vera Lewis). Bull triumphs over his adversaries when he stems a typhoid epidemic, proving that the disease was spread by pollution from the construction camp owned by the town's resident Scrooge (Berton Churchill). Directed by John Ford with his usual compassion towards sensible small-town types, Dr. Bull was adapted from The Last Adam, a novel by James Gould Cozzens. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

When Willie Comes Marching Home
A rare comedy from director John Ford, this story about a WWII soldier trying to gain some respect is based on the published war memoirs of Sy Gomberg. Bill Kluggs (Dan Dailey) is the first man in his small West Virginia town to enlist, and his father Herman (William Demarest) and the locals give him a big sendoff. But Bill returns from boot camp, assigned to be a gunnery instructor at a new air base in his hometown. While other boys go off to war, Kluggs becomes a local laughingstock. When a bomber pilot falls ill, however, Kluggs replaces him on a secret mission. He falls asleep on the plane and bails out over the French countryside. Found by Resistance fighters, Kluggs accompanies them on a dangerous mission to take pictures of a German V-2 base. To get him out of the country, the Resistance fighters then stage a mock wedding between Kluggs and the fetching Yvonne (Corinne Calvet), whom Kluggs hates to leave behind when he flees to London. Returning home after only a few nights away, Kluggs is attacked by his own father, who mistakes him for a spy. The townsfolk suspect that he deserted the service and heap more scorn on him. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi

Up the River
The one-time-only combination of director John Ford and actors Spencer Tracy (in his first film) and Humphrey Bogart (in his second) should be recommendation enough for the offbeat comedy-drama Up the River. Tracy and Warren Hymer play Saint Louis and Dannemora Dan, two hard-boiled but likeable prison convicts. While in stir, the boys befriend another convict named Steve (Bogart), who is in love with woman's-prison inmate Judy (Claire Luce). Eventually, Steve and Judy are released, whereupon they get married and head to a small town where no one knows of their criminal pasts. It isn't long, however, before the couple's future happiness is threatened by dishonest salesman Frosby (Gaylord Pendleton), the no-good rat who framed Judy. Frosby threatens to expose Steve's prison record if the latter refuses to go along with a scheme to defraud his neighbors. Learning of this situation, Saint Louis and Dan escape from jail, foil Frosby's scheme, and return behind bars just in time to play in a prison all-star baseball game! Nonsensical to say the least, Up the River is also a film that's hard to dislike. It was remade by 20th Century-Fox in 1938, with Preston S. Foster and Tony Martin respectively in the Tracy and Bogart roles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

What Price Glory?
James Cagney signed on to play Captain Flagg in 20th Century Fox's 1952 remake of the 1926 classic What Price Glory after being told that the old property was being converted into a musical. By the time Cagney learned that Fox had no intention of adding songs and dances to the venerable Maxwell Anderson/Laurence Stallings stage piece, it was too late to pull out, so he decided to grin (sometimes) and bear it. Under the direction of John Ford, the potent anti-war message of the original play is blunted, while the drunken rowdiness of Capt. Flagg and his friendly enemy Sergeant Quirt (Dan Dailey) was played for all it was worth and then some. Much of the brawling is over the affections of vivacious barmaid Charmaine, played by Corinne Calvet. Contrasting the rough-hewn hijinks of Flagg, Quirt and their fellow Marines on the fields and in the villages of World War I-era France is the doomed romance between private Robert Wagner and French lass Marisa Pavan. (Why does Wagner get to sing, while Cagney and Dailey do not?) Barry Norton, who played Wagner's role in the original What Price Glory? appears in the remake as a priest. Norton is unbilled, as are such familiar faces as Harry Morgan, Paul Fix, Henry Kulky, and John Ford "regulars" Dan Borzage and Bill Henry. Falling well short of classic status, the Technicolor remake of What Price Glory? is kept alive by the marvelous roughneck rapport between James Cagney and Dan Dailey. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Steamboat Round the Bend
Two of America's most distinguished humorists, Oklahoma's Will Rogers and Kentucky's Irvin S. Cobb, costar in Steamboat Round the Bend. Cobb isn't much of an actor, so it is Rogers who carries the comic weight of this fast-paced slice of Americana. Will uncharacteristically sticks to the script for most of the proceedings as the proprietor of a combination travelling waxworks and medicine show. The plot resolution hinges on a climactic steamboat race, in which Rogers' paddlewheeler is fed bit by bit into its own furnace when the fuel supply runs out. Steamboat Round the Bend was released posthumously after Rogers' sudden death, at which point Fox Studios tried unsuccessfully to create a "new" Will Rogers--in the form of his old friend and costar Irvin S. Cobb. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Judge Priest
Will Rogers stars as Judge William "Billy" Priest, the common-sense Kentucky jurist created by humorist Irvin S. Cobb. The Judge's easygoing manner bothers many of the self-righteous good citizens of his small 19th-century hometown, imperiling his chances for re-election. The anecdotal plot boils down to a single storyline involving orphaned Anita Louise, reclusive David Landau (secretly Louise's father), and young attorney Tom Brown.The testimony that saves Landau from a murder charge is delivered by Civil War veteran H.B. Walthall, whose stirring loyalty to the Confederacy inspires everyone in town to organize an impromptu parade! Some of the best scenes are highlighted by Will Rogers' affectionate rapport with stereotyped black-actors Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel, though these scenes are frequently removed from TV showings of Judge Priest due to their undeniably racist overtones. If you haven't guessed by the first frame of the film that John Ford was the director, you'll recognize Ford's personal stamp the moment Will Rogers kneels by his wife's grave and carries on a warm conversation with his long-departed bride. Ford would remake (and improve upon) Judge Priest in 1953 as The Sun Shines Bright, with Charles Winninger as the judge. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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