Sunday, April 21, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Broadway Musketeers (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

BROADWAY MUSKETEERS (1938), a remake of the pre-Code melodrama THREE ON A MATCH (1932), is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan, and Marie Wilson inherit the roles originally played by Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, and Bette Davis. In the original the women met as schoolgirls; this time around the characters met in an orphanage but find themselves following different paths as adults.

Isabel (Lindsay) is the bored wife of kind, wealthy Stan (John Litel) and the mother of young Judy (Janet Chapman, HEART OF THE NORTH). Unaccountably restless and looking for excitement, Isabel leaves Stan and Judy for no-good gambler Phil (Richard Bond).

Fay (Sheridan), a nightclub singer, gets to know Stan and Judy after Isabel heads to Reno, and she and Stan ultimately fall in love and marry. Goofy but sweet Connie (Wilson) is around to lend Fay moral support when needed.

BROADWAY MUSKETEERS is 63 minutes long, the same running time as the original film, but the new version omits scenes of the girls as children. Since it was made in the Production Code era, the remake also soft-pedals the story to a greater extent; for instance, it was quite clear in the original that Ann Dvorak was a coke addict, while Lindsay's character just has deep shadows under her eyes. Blondell's character had done a stint in prison, while Sheridan's "badness" is limited to performing in nightclubs.

I enjoyed the original film when I saw it at UCLA a couple years ago, but I also liked this "kinder, gentler" remake quite well. BROADWAY MUSKETEERS lacks some of the dramatic heft, not to mention shock value, of the original, but the cast is congenial and the story zips along at top speed, making for an engaging hour of entertainment.

Sheridan is particularly likeable in this, and Wilson's presence provides a bit of comic relief. I also have a soft spot for John Litel so all in all the movie worked for me. Those who share my liking for the cast and short little Warner Bros. movies will probably enjoy it as well.

The supporting cast includes Dick Purcell as a gangster and Dorothy Adams as Judy's nanny.

BROADWAY MUSKETEERS was directed by John Farrow and filmed in black and white by L. William O'Connell.

The Warner Archive DVD soundtrack is comparatively weak and muffled, requiring me to turn up my TV volume above normal levels, while the picture is somewhat soft but overall looks fine. 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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know ANN SHERIDAN from COME NEXT SPRING with STEVE COCHRAN, I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE where she is married to CARY GRANT, and THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER with MONTY WOOLEY and BETTE DAVIS. Steve and Cary, two very appealing men but with very different images! Also I read or heard that the studio wanted Bette to play the part that Ann got in The Man Who Came To Dinner but Bette wanted to play the other role. Classic TV Fan

11:15 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

The cast, especially John Litel is a draw for me in many movies. I am certain this would be something to enjoy.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Ann Sheridan and John Litel are both always good draws for me. :)

Hope you can catch this one soon!

Best wishes,

1:30 PM  

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