Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The World in His Arms (1952) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Gregory Peck and Ann Blyth star in the romantic adventure THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS (1952), recently released by Kino Lorber.

THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS is one of a trio of entertaining sailing adventures Kino Lorber has brought out on Blu-ray this summer, along with the previously reviewed BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950) and AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952).

Directed by Raoul Walsh and filmed in Technicolor by Russell Metty, THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS is a colorful, moving film mixing equal parts rowdy action film and tender love story.

The action begins in San Francisco, with Captain Jonathan Clark (Peck), nicknamed "the Boston Man," having just sailed into port with a valuable cargo of seal skins from Alaska.

Also in San Francisco is Marina (Blyth), a Russian countess who has escaped her native country to avoid a forced marriage to Prince Semyon (Carl Esmond, who coincidentally also turned up the other day in WITHOUT LOVE).

The prince is known to be on his way to San Francisco to retrieve his runaway bride, and the countess's loyal servants (Gregory Gay and Eugenie Leontovich) attempt to hire Captain Clark to sail them out of the city. Clark and his crew are too busy carousing after two years at sea to take on the job, so Marina tries to hire him herself, while posing as her own companion.

Jonathan and Marina quickly fall in love and plan to marry, but alas, the prince arrives and takes her away to Sitka, which then was part of Russian territory in Alaska. When Marina disappears Jonathan is devastated by her apparent betrayal, but ultimately the lovers are reunited in Sitka, and eventually the captain, his crew, and his longtime sailing rival Portugee (Anthony Quinn) embark on a plan to rescue Marina before her forced marriage. This culminates in a rousing action sequence which includes a splendid entrance by Jonathan.

I find this film a wonderful 104 minutes. Peck hasn't always worn well with me over time, but here he has excellent chemistry with Ann Blyth; they play some lovely, mesmerizing sequences which have glowed in the memory since I first saw the film in 2012 and termed their love scenes "swooningly romantic."

Blyth is a favorite of mine, and this is a wonderful part. Marina is no damsel in distress, but a woman with a spine of steel who time and again works to secure not only her own freedom but that of others. When the perfectly matched pair of Marina and Jonathan are reunited -- did you think they wouldn't be? -- it brings a tear to the eye as Frank Skinner's lovely music swells to its conclusion.

Quinn is fun as Jonathan's rambunctious friendly enemy, and John McIntire makes yet another of his invaluable Universal Pictures contributions as Jonathan's close friend and aide, Deacon Greathouse. The always-interesting Andrea King plays a saloon gal, and the cast is rounded out by Rhys Williams, Hans Conreid, Sig Ruman, Bryan Forbes, Lee Tung Foo, and Bill Radovich.

While most of the film was shot on the backot, the sailing scenes are impressive, causing me to watch closely for back projections; on the other hand, the visuals with seals in the background don't work nearly as well. Other than that, this is a handsomely mounted production, with Blyth's gorgeous gowns created by costumer Bill Thomas.

THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS was written by Borden Chase, who wrote many excellent and entertaining films, including RED RIVER (1948), WINCHESTER '73 (1950), and BEND OF THE RIVER (1952). The script was based on novel by Rex Beach, who specialized in seafaring-related adventure stories which inspired films such as THE SILVER HORDE (1930) and THE SPOILERS (1942).

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray is gorgeous, with excellent sound. The disc includes a commentary track by Nick Pinkerton, the trailer, and a gallery of nine additional trailers for films also available from Kino Lorber.

For more on this wonderful movie, please check out a 2014 review by Ann Blyth's biographer, Jacqueline T. Lynch, at her site Another Old Movie Blog. She loves the movie as much as I do and her post, highlighting many of the movie's fine qualities, is a detailed, very enjoyable read.

Both the film and the Kino Lorber Blu-ray are recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger barrylane said...

A personal favorite, along with Night People, of Pecks. He is always a deep and accomplished performer, but often enough, far too deep and filled with angst. Not my style in movie heroes.
In fact, even in his great or near great pictures, Gentleman's Agreement, halfway through or so, his character turns to self-torture. Too bad. A terrific actor who far to often played self-conscious parts. A personal memory, after Cary Grant's passing, Gregory Peck took over some of his scheduled dates, one of which was in Toronto. There was a cocktail reception and a little party afterward, we along with a hundred other folks in the business were invited. In those days, age was certainly an issue, he was still tall and handsome, but grey bearded and a bit bent. He was also a perfect, emphasize perfect, gentleman. Great guy.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your thoughts on Peck onscreen and off -- lovely to hear about him personally. That's a pretty good description of some of the roles where I have trouble with Peck; sometimes his characters are so introspective and, as you say, tortured, that he also doesn't communicate enough range for me onscreen. He also occasionally presents more arrogance onscreen than is a good idea -- I've come to completely dislike his character in THE BIG COUNTRY, a movie I otherwise love, and it seems to me to go beyond my issues with how the character was scripted.

Other times he's completely charming and I thoroughly enjoy him, ROMAN HOLIDAY being a good example. I guess I just run hot and cold on him onscreen (grin) -- with THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS being a real winner. Great to hear it's a personal favorite for you as well.

Best wishes,

7:39 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Self-righteous and sanctimonious in The Big Country. I kept hoping Heston would beat the daylights out of him. Not to be, but something happened during the course of production, because Peck and William Wahyler had a falling out, and I don't mean fisticuffs. On the other hand, it was a great success.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I imagine the Blu-Ray is stunning visually. My eyes begin to ache at the thought of it.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's just beautiful! I hope you have the chance to see this Blu-ray one day.

Best wishes,

9:44 PM  

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