Sunday, October 31, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Four Frightened People (1934) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

2021 has been a great year for fans of Claudette Colbert, thanks to Kino Lorber.

I've reviewed a number of Kino Lorber's recent Blu-ray releases of her films, with a couple more to follow this review, and there's even more great Colbert viewing on the horizon.  Kino Lorber just announced the upcoming Blu-ray release of Colbert's excellent WWII classic SO PROUDLY WE HAIL (1943).

I first saw FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE (1934) in 35mm at UCLA in 2015, where it was shown as part of an excellent Cecil B. DeMille series. I found the movie great fun and was thus very happy to go back to it a half-dozen years later thanks to this new Blu-ray.

I learned at the screening back in 2015 that FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE was not considered a success in its day, which led to director DeMille being "locked in" to directing epics, as his films in that genre were all very successful.

Seen from the vantage point of today, it's quite an enjoyable movie, balancing jungle excitement with a thoughtful theme of each of the four title characters' true selves being revealed via an unexpected adventure.

The movie begins in exciting fashion with the four people hiding on a lifeboat: Judy (Colbert), a shy geography teacher; Arnold (Herbert Marshall), a timid scientist; Stewart (William Gargan), a brash reporter; and flighty yet determined Mrs. Mardick (Mary Boland), a society lady whose latest pet project is teaching family planning.

The foursome are escaping a deadly outbreak of bubonic plague on the steamer on which they'd been traveling. They're fortunate to meet a friendly guide (Leo Carrillo) when they go ashore, but it's a long, tough hike through the jungle to find civilization. Along the way they run into deadly snakes and other jungle animals, dangerous plants, and native tribes.

The repressed Judy eventually loses her eyeglasses and most of her clothes, emerging as the ultimate "jungle babe" to tempt both the men. Although Stewart first seems to have the edge, he turns out to be a blowhard, and it's shy, thoughtful Arnold who steals Judy's heart.

Unfortunately Arnold has a most unpleasant wife (Nella Walker) back home...

This is a delightful Hollywood fantasy which moves quickly, running only 78 minutes. Colbert in particular is excellent as Judy gradually emerges from her shell. 

Boland provides delightful comic relief as she trudges through the jungle carrying her little dog; her last big scene, where jungle tribesmen threaten to kill her because she's taught their wives about family planning, is absolutely hilarious.

The movie was filmed by Karl Struss, including location shooting in Hawaii.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray is excellent. There are some faint vertical lines in the opening credits, but most of the print looks and sounds great.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray extras consist of the movie trailer, a 13-film trailer gallery, and a commentary track by Nick Pinkerton.

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


Blogger barrylane said...

William Gargan is a personal favorite, not for any of his films but radio work and the manner in which he handled himself after his medical misfortune. In the late fifties Mr. Gargan developed cancer in his throat and his voice box, as a consequence, was removed. He then relearned to speak through his esophagus and represented the American Cancer Society. A friend of ours, Ray Davis, a fine man and madly in love with my wife, went through the same thing, and the two, Ray and Bill Gargan became friends. Perhaps not so surprising, neither passed from cancer but heart disease, and I have always believed, that while anyone can succumb to anything, the treatment and ints intensity brought on the cardiac arrest.

Gargan on the air played a series of tough private detectives; Ross Dolan in I Deal in DAnger. Martin Kane, private eye and Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator. Kane went to television

9:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for adding your thoughts on William Gargan, touching and appreciated. I've had his book on a list I might want to pick up sometime.

Best wishes,

1:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older