Lamarr-Cooper Romance Collection [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Algiers
This Hollywood remake of the French Pepe le Moko adheres so slavishly to its source that it utilizes stock footage from the original film, and even picked its actors on the basis of their resemblance to the French cast. Contrary to legend, star Charles Boyer never says "Come wizz me to zee Casbah"; as master criminal Pepe le Moko, he's already in the Casbah, a crook-controlled safe harbor which protects Pepe from the French authorities. Pepe's friendly enemy, police inspector Joseph Calleia, treats his pursuit of Pepe like a chess game, patiently waiting for his opponent to make that one wrong move. The ever-careful Pepe has the misfortune to fall hopelessly in love with tourist Hedy Lamarr (in her first American film). A combination of events, including the betrayal of Pepe by his castaway lover Sigrid Gurie and Hedy's tearful return to her ship when she is misinformed that Pepe is killed, lures the hero/villain into the open. Arrested by Calleia, Pepe begs for one last glance at his departing sweetheart. At this point in the French version, Pepe cheated the hangman by killing himself; this would never do in Production Code-dominated Hollywood, so Algiers contrives to have Pepe shot while trying to escape. Algiers was remade in 1948 as a musical, Casbah, starring Tony Martin. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Farewell to Arms
This first film version of Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms stars Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. Cooper plays Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer who falls in love with English Red Cross nurse Catherine Barkley (Hayes)-after first mistaking her for a woman of ill repute. Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi, is envious of the romance, and pulls strings to have Catherine transferred to Milan. When Henry is wounded in battle, he ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. They resume the affair, which reaches an ecstatic peak just before Henry is returned to the front. The now-pregnant Catherine remains in Switzerland, sending letters by the bushelfull to Henry. But the jealous Rinaldi sees to it that Henry never receives those letters, leading Catherine to conclude sorrowfully that Henry has forgotten her. As the Armistice approaches, Henry makes his way to Switzerland, hoping to find Catherine. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Strange Woman
B-movie auteur Edgar G. Ulmer managed to direct a few A-pictures during his long career; he was personally selected by Hedy Lamarr to helm this big-budget thriller, a project she put together to change her image as a starlet whose sex appeal outweighed her acting abilities. Set in the early 19th century, The Strange Woman takes place in Bangor, Maine, where logging and lumber mills have made the town prosperous. Jenny Hager (Lamarr) has grown up in Bangor, not far from the watchful eye of wealthy Isaiah Poster (Gene Lockhart). The fact that Jenny is twenty years Isaiah's junior does not stem his amorous intentions, and when she's finally out of her teens, Jenny accepts his proposal of marriage. But beneath her sweet exterior, Jenny is a shrewd, conniving women, and while she makes a fine life for herself with Isaiah's money, she obviously doesn't care for him. When Isaiah's son Ephraim (Louis Hayward) visits from college, Jenny is immediately attracted to him, and she tells him that she'll marry him if he murders his father. But, unknown to Ephraim, Jenny is already scheming to win the affections of businessman John Evered (George Sanders), even though he's pledged to marry her best friend Meg (Hillary Brooke). Based on a novel by Ben Ames Williams, The Strange Woman was generally considered one of Hedy Lamarr's best performances, although her best-known performance would continue to be in Ecstasy (1933), largely because of her then-daring nude scenes. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Meet John Doe
The first of director Frank Capra's independent productions (in partnership with Robert Riskin), Meet John Doe begins with the end of reporter Ann Mitchell's (Barbara Stanwyck) job. Fired as part of a downsizing move, she ends her last column with an imaginary letter written by "John Doe." Angered at the ill treatment of America's little people, the fabricated Doe announces that he's going to jump off City Hall on Christmas Eve. When the phony letter goes to press, it causes a public sensation. Seeking to secure her job, Mitchell talks her managing editor (James Gleason) into playing up the John Doe letter for all it's worth; but to ward off accusations from rival papers that the letter was bogus, they decide to hire someone to pose as John Doe: a ballplayer-turned-hobo (Gary Cooper), who'll do anything for three squares and a place to sleep. "John Doe" and his traveling companion The Colonel (Walter Brennan) are ensconced in a luxury hotel while Mitchell continues churning out chunks of John Doe philosophy. When newspaper publisher D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold), a fascistic type with presidential aspirations, decides to use Doe as his ticket to the White House, he puts Doe on the radio to deliver inspirational speeches to the masses -- ghost-written by Mitchell, who, it is implied, has become the publisher's mistress. The central message of the Doe speeches is "Love Thy Neighbor," though, conceived in cynicism, the speeches strike so responsive a chord with the public that John Doe clubs pop up all over the country. Believing he is working for the good of America, Cooper agrees to front the National John Doe Movement -- until he discovers that Norton plans to exploit Doe in order to create a third political party and impose a virtual dictatorship on the country. The last of Capra's "social statement" films, Meet John Doe posted a profit, although Capra and Riskin were forced to dissolve their corporation due to excessive taxes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Charles Boyer
    Charles Boyer - Pepe le Moko
  • Hedy Lamarr
    Hedy Lamarr - Gaby (Gabrielle)
  • Sigrid Gurie
    Sigrid Gurie - Ines
  • Joseph Calleia
    Joseph Calleia - Inspector Slimane
  • Gene Lockhart
    Gene Lockhart - Regis
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