Friday, May 11, 2007

Screened: "Thirty Day Princess" (1934)

Any qualms I may have had concerning the picture quality of "Thirty Day Princess" going into it were immediately dispelled as its credits began to roll.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketUniversal's film restorers are continuing to outdo themselves. This film couldn't have looked as good in its initial theatrical release as it does today on DVD. Despite a couple of obviously missing elements (which are nonetheless well-glossed over) both picture and sound here are peerless. There is a full-range of tones present, making the black-and-white photography look almost creamy.

The story is slight, a bit formulaic, but addresses the Depression (which is rare for a film of that era) and features a sprightly, nuanced performance by Sylvia Sidney and fine work both by Cary Grant and Edward Arnold, as a crusading newspaper editor and a plutocratic banker respectively. There's even a bit of split-screen, in which Nancy Lane and Princess Zizzi (both played by Sidney) get to play a scene together.

I'll never know why Sylvia Sidney wasn't a bigger star (in this film she's billed above the title, and Grant's is the first name below it). Then again, not being a blonde might have something to do with it. Still, from her first picture, 1929's "Thru Different Eyes" to her last film "Mars Attacks" (1996) she never seemed to hurt for work, mainly thanks to television.

Now I can't wait to get to the rest of "Screen Legends Collection: Cary Grant". Up next: "Kiss and Make Up" (1934), co-starring Genevieve Tobin.
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