Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Desire (1936) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

For pure movie joy, classic film fans need look no further than DESIRE (1936), a Paramount Pictures film recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I first saw DESIRE in 2018 but I was more than ready to revisit it just three years later; indeed, I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around. It's a wonderful example of the "Paris (and Spain!) by Paramount" magic machine firing on all cylinders.

Marlene Dietrich is at her most glamorous as Madeleine, a jewel thief who as the movie opens pulls off an elaborately planned theft of a valuable pearl necklace.

As Madeleine flees Paris and heads to Spain she chances to meet Tom (Gary Cooper), an American engineer on vacation. Madeleine and Tom are thrown together when she hides the necklace in the unsuspecting Tom's coat pocket.

Naturally, true love finds its way and Madeleine and Tom fall head over heels for one another, but there's the issue of the necklace and Madeleine's very unpleasant confederate Carlos (John Halliday) to deal with before a happily ever after is possible.

DESIRE was produced by Ernst Lubitsch, and the film's beauty and "lighter than air" tone certainly feel like a Lubitsch film. The movie was actually directed by Frank Borzage, who had his own special touch with films like HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937).

Lubitsch and Borzage's work was complemented by the beautiful black and white photography of Charles Lang, not to mention Dietrich's gorgeous gowns designed by the great Travis Banton.

In short, every aspect of this film works, including the redemption and resolution of Madeleine's criminal history; the scene where Tom takes on Carlos near movie's end is deliciously brilliant. The movie is 95 minutes of sheer bliss. And to think I once avoided films starring Dietrich -- I would have missed this gem.

The supporting cast includes Alan Mowbray, Zeffie Tilbury, Akim Tamiroff, Ernest Cossart, and William Frawley.

The print, from a new 2K master, is lovely. It's not a hundred percent perfect, with an occasional line or speck, but all in all it's a great pleasure to watch. The soundtrack is crisp and easy to understand.

The extras consist of two commentary tracks, the first by Samm Deighan and the second by David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell. The disc also includes a trailer and a big gallery of 15 trailers for other films starring Dietrich or Cooper which are available from Kino Lorber.

Recommended.

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

1 Comments:

Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Just saw that Jane Powell has died, a sad fact that will be of interest to Laura's readers.

12:25 AM  

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