Need help figuring out what to watch this week on Warner Archive Instant? The Retro Set has you covered with our must have Warner Archive picks! Each week, we select a small handful of titles from the Warner Archive Instant catalog: some hidden gems, others well-known and beloved classics. All deserving of a look or two (or five).
Don’t have Warner Archive Instant? New subscribers can get a free 1-month trial, so hop to it!
This week our picks include a wrongly accused Spencer Tracy hell-bent on revenge, and a pair of romantic (and fun!) flicks starring the beautiful and talented Judy Garland.
Here are the must watch Warner Archive for 09.25.14:
This film has the distinction of being director Fritz Lang’s first American feature, after fleeing his native Germany (where he made a name for himself with Metropolis and M). Spencer Tracy is Joe Wilson, a man arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. While awaiting a fair trial (hopefully), word of the crime and his arrest spreads throughout the town. Naturally, details are left out or exaggerated, causing anger and confusion amongst the community. This anger turns irrational with the chaotic formation of a mob, marching on the jail to demand Wilson be handed over for swift “judgement.” When they aren’t given Wilson, the mob takes matters in to their own hands by burning down the jail. Although he’s believed to be dead, Wilson actually escapes relatively unharmed–but he’s a different man. He swears revenge on those who tried to kill him, but he can’t let anyone know he’s alive.
The Clock (1945)
Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock is one of the sweetest, most romantic films made during World War II. Joe Allen (Robert Walker) is a soldier on leave in New York City when he meets a local gal, Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland). Joe’s leave is only a couple days, so he wants to make sure he sees all the sights during that short time. He asks Alice to show him around, and she obliges. As the day wears on, the newly acquainted Joe and Alice realize they’re falling in love. Knowing their time together is coming to an end, the couple decides to get married. But there’s a problem: Joe and Alice discover there’s a mountain of red tape they must navigate before they can legally marry. Will there be enough time? (Psst: This is where “the clock” comes in.)
The Clock was Judy Garland’s first non-singing film. It was also where she met, and began dating, future husband Vincente Minnelli. Although he comes across as adorably lucky in love on screen, Robert Walker’s off-screen life was painfully tragic. It was just 2 years prior to the release of this film, that Walker separated from his wife, actress Jennifer Jones. Her affair with producer David O. Selznick destroyed Walker, eventually driving him to a mental breakdown. That turmoil never shows in Walker’s performance, though. As for Judy? The off-screen romance with Minnelli gives her an extra-special glow.
The Pirate (1948)
During the production of The Pirate, Judy Garland wasn’t well. She found it difficult to make it to the set each day. However, when she was able to come to work, she gave it her all…and it was spectacular. Co-starring Gene Kelly (who previously starred with Garland in Busby Berkeley’s For Me and My Gal), with a score by Cole Porter, The Pirate is a terrifically fun musical. It’s also a musical that seems to divide classic film fans: you either love it or hate it.
Here at the Retro Set, we love it.
Garland is Manuela, a beautiful young woman who is arranged to be married to a prominent politician (Walter Slezak). She isn’t in love with her future husband, though. Manuela dreams of running away with bad-boy pirate Macoco. A performer named Serafin (Gene Kelly) and his troupe arrive in the small Caribbean village. Serafin is immediately taken with Manuela, and discovers her secret crush on Macoco (in an incredibly hot scene featuring dancing, singing, and hypnotism). To improve his chances with Manuela, Serafin claims to be the dread pirate Macoco.
The Pirate is fun and sexy, and we challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. Need to be persuaded to watch this one? Alright: Gene Kelly twirls a cigarette with his tongue and dances around in hot pants, wielding a cutlass.
Oh, and there’s an outstanding performance by the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold. You have absolutely no excuse now.
I’m always so glad to see people give attention to The Clock! It’s such a lovely movie and I think it gets unjustly forgotten among Garland’s bigger films. I also count myself among the fans of The Pirate, so I’m glad The Black Maria is on my side. 🙂 It’s certainly campy, but in an awesome way.
Fury is one that’s been on my list to watch for a good time. I didn’t realize it was on Warner Archive Instant, so I’ll have to get on that! Thanks!