Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Golden Arrow (1936) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE GOLDEN ARROW (1936) is a congenial 68-minute romantic comedy starring the frequent screen team of Bette Davis and George Brent. It's available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

THE GOLDEN ARROW may be a relatively minor film in the storied Davis-Brent partnership, which included great dramas such as JEZEBEL (1938), DARK VICTORY (1939), THE GREAT LIE (1941), and IN THIS OUR LIFE (1942), but it's the type of film I like best. It's a cute comedy with a familiar '30s theme, about an heiress, a reporter, and love among the rich and famous.

Brent plays Johnny Jones, a reporter sent to interview the fabulously wealthy Daisy Appleby (Davis). Daisy and Johnny hit it off, despite her annoyance with reporters, and before long they're spending considerable time together.

Daisy convinces Johnny to marry her in name only, ostensibly to help her fend off scores of irritating fortune-hunting suitors while she takes her time picking out just the right husband. In the meantime, Johnny will receive a small stipend allowing him to write a novel.

In reality, Daisy's a fake in more ways than one. She's actually a cafeteria worker paid to pose as the Appleby heiress in order to give the Appleby cosmetics businesses oodles of free publicity. (Her employers, initially dismayed by the marriage, soon see the publicity benefits.) And the truth is Daisy really loves Johnny and wants to stay married for keeps.

All is resolved satisfactorily in just a little over an hour, and in the meantime it's fun getting there. Familiar faces among the wealthy include Eugene Pallette, Dick Foran, Ivan Lebedeff, and Bess Flowers. E.E. Clive is Johnny's newly acquired valet, and Henry O'Neill is the head of the Appleby cosmetics empire. The cast also includes Catherine Doucet, Carol Hughes, Craig Reynolds, Hobart Cavanaugh, and Mary Treen.

Davis and Brent always had good chemistry, and they're a cute couple here. They're not demanding roles, but the actors seem to be having fun in each other's company; indeed, Davis and Brent were known to have had a long-running offscreen relationship and enjoyed working together.

THE GOLDEN ARROW was directed by Alfred E. Green and filmed by Arthur Edeson.

The movie seemed to have the budget of a lower-range "A" picture; there aren't that many impressive sets, but there's a yacht with a nice pool on board, plus a particularly dazzling Art Deco nightclub bar.

On the other hand, there's a really crazy back projection, as Brent talks to his editor -- with the entire newsroom behind them, including other employees, back projected! You almost have to admire the filmmakers who apparently thought no one would notice. (And perhaps no one did...) I always wonder just how much money an elaborate back projection like that saved, as there must have been some money tied up in producing it also.

The opening credits have a few scratches but the majority of the Warner Archive print looks great. It did seem like the sound was a bit softer than the usual Warner Archive DVD, as I had to set my TV volume higher than I normally do. The disc includes the trailer.

THE GOLDEN ARROW isn't anything especially special, but the actors, theme, and sets combine to make it an enjoyable trip back to mid '30s romantic comedy land. Those who share my love for such films should find it a pleasant time.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Brittaney said...

I watched this one recently and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you found it fun as well! I must have read about it in the past in books like HOLLYWOOD'S GREAT LOVE TEAMS but the title had never really registered with me. I felt like I'd found lost treasure when I came across it! An enjoyable hour-plus of movie time.

Best wishes,

10:47 AM  

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