Monday, September 07, 2015

Tonight's Movie: I Found Stella Parish (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I FOUND STELLA PARISH (1935) is a well-done Warner Bros. melodrama starring Kay Francis. It was just released by the Warner Archive.

Francis stars in the title role, playing a troubled actress. Stella is the hit of the London stage, yet -- threatened by a blackmailer -- she disappears after the opening night of her latest play, much to the consternation of her devoted producer (Paul Lukas).

Reporter Keith Lockridge (Ian Hunter) is on the case, following the Stella and her little girl Gloria (Sybil Jason) back to America.

Lockridge gets close to Stella and Gloria while researching Stella's long-ago involvement in a murder scandal. He cables the story to his publisher, only to immediately learn a more accurate version of the story from Stella herself, along with the news that she loves him. He tries to stop publication of his story, but it's too late, and soon Stella is the most notorious woman in New York.

Kay Francis does what she does best, suffering nobly while looking glamorous in gowns by Orry-Kelly. If there's a typical Kay Francis role, Stella Parish is a great exemplar. Francis fans should enjoy it. I did!

Francis also has some fun scenes pretending to be little Gloria's elderly aunt during the crossing from London to New York. As the aunt, she's brisk and starchy in her dealings with the suspicious Lockridge, only to have her beautifully manicured and very young hands give her away at the last moment.

Francis and costar Ian Hunter appeared in numerous films together in the '30s, and they're an appealing screen team. I've previously reviewed their film ANOTHER DAWN (1937), and I'll be reviewing their recently released films THE WHITE ANGEL (1936) and CONFESSION (1937) here in the near future.

I FOUND STELLA PARISH was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox. The Casey Robinson screenplay was based on a story by John Monk Saunders. The movie runs 85 minutes.

The supporting cast includes Walter Kingsford, who for several years played Dr. Carew in the Dr. Kildare films. Also costarring are Jessie Ralph, Eddie Acuff, Joe Sawyer, and Barton MacLane. Look for Ward Bond as a soldier in Stella's play.

The Warner Archive DVD print is quite nice. The disc includes the trailer.

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.


Blogger Maricatrin said...

Sybil Jason (who writes glowingly of both Kay Francis and Ian Hunter), tells an amusing story about a publicity still she and Hunter were in for this film. Apparently she was supposed to kiss Hunter for the shot, but the very American camera man told the still very British youngster to give Ian "a smack." Completely unfamiliar with that term of American slang, she was horrified by the order, but obediently slapped Hunter on the cheek, after which the camera man and Hunter burst out laughing! She kept the failed photo, and it looks like the very gentlest of slaps.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a wonderful anecdote! Thanks so much, Maricatrin. :)

Best wishes,

8:28 PM  

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