Updated: May 31, 2021
A stylish collection for Carole Lombard fans, a new Thin Man restoration, and a Walter Plunkett costume drama debut this month.
Fans of 1930s style can add a couple of terrific choices to their libraries this month, while costume-drama aficionados likewise can enjoy a new restoration of an MGM classic starring Lana Turner and highlighting the work of Walter Plunkett—check them out:
Carole Lombard Collection II
For stylish films of the 1930s, it's tough to beat anything starring Carole Lombard. This month Kino Lorber releases its second Lombard compilation, this time featuring a trio of films from 1935-36: Love Before Breakfast, Hands Across the Table, and The Princess Comes Across. Fashion fans should love this set not only for Lombard's presence, but also because each also includes the work of costume designer Travis Banton. And like so many films of the decade, the storylines here are geared precisely to put Lombard into scenarios also designed to showcase Banton's chic gowns.
In Love Before Breakfast, Lombard plays a Park Avenue socialite who is wooed by two men, while in Hands Across the Table, she's a manicurist in an upscale hotel, on the hunt for a rich husband—and she thinks she's found him in Fred MacMurray, until it's revealed that he likewise has adopted a monetary approach to marriage. In the comedy-tinged murder mystery The Princess Comes Across, Lombard once again pairs up with MacMurray, this time as an actress posing as royalty aboard a cruise ship. Each plot offers ample potential to enjoy Lombard's madcap talents and Banton's stylish designs in equal measure. Audio commentaries accompany each film, while The Princess Comes Across is offered in a new 2K master. Ultimately this collection of lesser-known Lombard films is ideal whether you're a fan of one of the most iconic actresses of the 1930s, Banton's entrance-making gowns, or how the decade's scripts created moments of Depression-era escapism.
Another Thin Man (1939)
Warner Archive Collection
Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Costumes by Dolly Tree
The third of the six Thin Man films starring the pair as Nick and Nora Charles (and the eighth of the 14 films Powell and Loy would make together), Another Thin Man gave 1930s audiences exactly what they craved from this series: an intriguing mystery mixed with comedy featuring two stars who excelled at witty banter, with the bonus of eye-candy moments courtesy of costume designer Dolly Tree, who worked on many of Loy's films, including 1934's The Thin Man and its sequel, 1936's After the Thin Man. Each film manufactures the moments required to showcase Loy in a chic wardrobe, and in Another Thin Man, that idea is effortless thanks to a story that brings Nick and Nora to a Long Island estate, where a wealthy industrialist played by C. Aubrey Smith has asked everyone's favorite 1930s detective to figure out who may be trying to murder him.
Unsurprisingly, even as Another Thin Man introduces the couple's baby (named Nicky, Jr., naturally) into the mix, Nora makes it clear that she won't be giving up her glamorous ways as she accompanies Nick on his sleuthing adventures. This would be the last of the Thin Man films featuring Tree's work—Robert Kalloch and Irene Lentz would assume the design duties for the final three films in the series—but some of Tree's most iconic designs for Loy are seen in Another Thin Man and the two films that preceded it, creating a terrific showcase of the decade's style influences. This Blu-ray release is also a new 4K restoration from the best surviving nitrate elements, another reason it's worthy of residing in the libraries of 1930s and fashion fans alike.
Green Dolphin Street (1947)
Warner Archive Collection
Starring Lana Turner, Van Heflin, Donna Reed and Richard Hart
Directed by Victor Saville
Costumes by Walter Plunkett and Valles
Based on the 1944 historical novel Green Dolphin Country by Elizabeth Goudge, this costume drama received an A-list treatment from MGM, from a cast topped by Lana Turner, Donna Reed and Van Heflin—and a supporting cast that included Frank Morgan, Edmund Gwynn, Dame May Whitty, Gladys Cooper and Reginald Owen—to production stars like Cedric Gibbons and Walter Plunkett, who split the costume duties with Valles.
Plunkett, of course, excelled at 19th-century costumes, and his gowns for Turner and Reed are a key reason this film deserves a viewing. Other reasons to enjoy Green Dolphin Street include its story of two sisters, Marianne and Marguerite, who love the same man (Richard Hart's William), and how a letter written while he's inebriated changes the course of all their lives. A climactic earthquake also earned the film an Oscar for best special effects. In addition to a new 4K restoration from preservation elements, this Blu-ray release also includes a 1949 Lux Radio Theater broadcast with Turner and Van Heflin reprising their roles.
The "Gowns By" Effect: Fifteen Escapist Films of the 1930s