The Film Detective announced this past week that five new film restorations will be ready for the collectible DVD arena on Aug. 29. That’s right, five new priced-to-collect classic film releases on DVD.
Leading the charge is director Fritz Lang’s early post-war film noir entry, the Christmas of 1945 film release of Scarlet Street.
We are introduced to milquetoast diner cashier Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson), who lives with a shrew-like wife named Adele (Rosalind Ivan). He is an amateur artist, the only thing in his life that gives him escape from her petty torments.
All of this would remain as is. Chris Cross working at the diner and Adele harping at him endlessly, except on his way home, after a party celebrating his 25th anniversary in the same position at the diner, he comes across a woman named Kitty (Joan Bennett) fighting with an unseen man (later to be identified as her lover, Johnny — played by Dan Duryea) and he comes to her rescue.
As things often work out in film noir tales, Kitty makes the assumption that Cross is of means — after all, he is a “painter” — and she sizes him up as an easy mark. Johnny agrees and they figure that they can “milk” him for a sizeable chunk of change.
Meanwhile, Adele’s “dead husband” resurfaces (played by Charles Kemper), who faked his own death to be rid of the shrew (a pretty smart move). Between some money from the “dead” guy’s insurance settlement and some additional money pilfered from his work, Cross is able to finance an “artist’s studio” and paint pictures of the manipulative Kitty.
Of course this is a fuse that will eventually see Cross murder Kitty, Johnny hang for the crime and a tormented Cross guilt-ridden over the outcome. Oh, and as fate would have it, he has some commercial talent as an artist after all!
Also on the film restoration list for Aug. 29 is the Warner Bros. 1940 production of director Michael Curtiz’s Santa Fe Trail, which is often mislabeled as a Western. It is actually one of the seven major film collaborations between film stars Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn, with the latter portraying Jeb Stuart, a recent graduate of West Point, and de Havilland the daughter of a railroad builder. Ronald Reagan portrays George Armstrong Custer and he too is a recent graduate of West Point (this is pure fiction as he actually didn’t graduate from West Point until 1861).
The first half of the film deals with Stuart and Custer being assigned duty at Fort Leavenworth and their run-ins with John Brown (played by Raymond Massey). While the Fort Leavenworth assignment is true for Stuart, much of the action that takes place is a complete flight of fancy on the part of Hollywood script writers.
The second half of the film focuses on the battle at Harper’s Ferry, which pitted forces led by Robert E. Lee (Moroni Olsen), a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army at the time, with Stuart as part of his command staff, against the raiding party of John Brown.
Santa Fe Trail is a major studio production complete with A-list stars and with a script (very loosely drawn from actual history) by Robert Buckner (nominated for an Oscar for script for Yankee Doodle Dandy), who also wrote such screen plays as Dodge City (Flynn and de Havilland), Virginia City (also starring Flynn) and Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley’s screen debut).
Rounding out the Aug. 29 schedule is Santa and the Three Bears (1970 animated film), Second Chorus (1940, teaming Fred Astaire with Paulette Goddard) and director Sam Newfield’s 1949 drugs are bad tale, She Shoulda Said No (aka: Wild Weed), starring Lila Leeds, who was the starlet arrested with Robert Mitchum in 1948 in the “great pot bust” and did a two-month stint in jail for her “crime.”