The Claudette Colbert Collection celebrates the career of one of the most popular and versatile actresses of all time. Equally charming in screwball comedies (It Happened One Night), epics (Cleopatra) and dramas (Imitatio... more »n of Life), Claudette's striking beauty and captivating talent dazzled audiences around the world. This stunning collection of 6 rare films includes Three-Cornered Moon, Maid of Salem, I Met Him in Paris, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, No Time for Love and The Egg and I. Co-starring Hollywood favorites Fred MacMurray and Gary Cooper, The Claudette Colbert Collection is a much-needed spotlight on one of Hollywood?s true cinematic greats. Three-Cornered Moon (1933) Laughter is the best medicine in tough times, and that is certainly the case for Elizabeth (Claudette Colbert) and her three brothers who are forced to find work after their eccentric family?s fortune is lost. Maid of Salem (1937) Inspired by the true-life Salem ?witch trials?, an independent young woman (Claudette Colbert) is accused of casting evil spells by the Puritan townsfolk during one of the most notorious periods in American history. I Met Him in Paris (1937) All is fair in love and fashion as a successful designer (Claudette Colbert) must choose between three suitors: a creative playwright (Melvyn Douglas), a dashing playboy (Robert Young) and a hometown boy (Lee Bowman). Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) The daughter (Claudette Colbert) of a destitute aristocrat is determined to teach her millionaire groom (Gary Cooper) a lesson when she learns that their wedding day is not his first trip down the aisle. No Time for Love (1943) A working class man (Fred MacMurray) falls for a sophisticated fashion photographer (Claudette Colbert), but the picture is not pretty when he loses his job and she hires him to be her assistant. The Egg and I (1947) A new bride (Claudette Colbert) reluctantly says ?I do? to her husband?s (Fred MacMurray) plan to leave their life in the city and raise chickens on a dilapidated farm located miles from civilization.« less
Some seldom seen films from the 30's and 40's make it to DVD
calvinnme | 08/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Claudette Colbert spent most of her career at Paramount and Universal, so many of her films are unknown and largely unseen. Universal owns the pre-1949 Paramount talking film catalog, so they essentially own the vast majority of Colbert's films. It's good to see Universal going deeper into their vault and putting out some of their lesser known material.
Three Cornered Moon (1933) - costars Richard Arlen directed by Elliott Nugent. This is a part comedy/part drama about a rich family that loses everything as a result of the Depression. The young people of the clan must go out and look for work for the first time in their lives, and it basically follows the whole family as they adjust to their new station in life. I haven't seen this one since the Paramounts were circulating on TV back in the 1980's, but trust me, it is not nearly as bleak as it sounds.
Maid of Salem (1937) - costars Fred MacMurray, directed by Frank Lloyd. This is an above-average costume drama in which Colbert plays a young woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem witchhunts of the 1690's. Everyone involved with the accusations has an axe to grind or some profit to make, and I think the film did a good job of not only explaining this witchhunt but pretty much all of them - people see a chance to make a profit by taking advantage of the ignorance of a large group of people and whipping them up into hysterics. Fred MacMurray stars as Colbert's fiance.
I Met Him In Paris (1937) - directed by Wesley Ruggles and costars Melvyn Douglas. A romantic comedy about a woman (Colbert) who is pursued by three suitors while on vacation in Switzerland. The top two contenders are George (Melvyn Douglas) and Gene (Robert Young). George disapproves of Gene, but won't say why.
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) - Directed by Ernst Lubitsch costarring Gary Cooper. Cooper plays a wealthy man (Michael Brandon) who has been married and divorced seven times before he meets and proposes marriage to Colbert's character, Nicole. Brandon has basically invented the prenuptial agreement by insisting that each bride-to-be sign a contract giving her fifty thousand dollars a year if things don't work out. Nicole, however, figures these are bargain basement prices and wants much more. There's a "meet cute" scene that is pure Lubitsch in which Brandon only wants to buy the top of a pair of pajamas and Nicole agrees to "take the bottom".
"No Time For Love" (1943) - Directed by Mitchell Leisen and costars Fred MacMurray. Romantic comedy about opposites attracting has Colbert as a fashion reporter and Fred MacMurray as a "sandhog" working on an underground transportation system.
"The Egg and I" (1947) - Directed by Chester Erskine and costarring Fred MacMurray. Bob (Fred MacMurray) and Betty (Claudette Colbert) are newlyweds. Betty discovers shortly after their marriage that Bob's greatest desire is to run a chicken farm, and in fact, he's just bought one. This urban gal endures the rural life so her husband can have his dream, but a new beautiful neighbor moving in nearby and flirting with her husband is the last straw. This movie is actually classified as a Ma an Pa Kettle film, although their role is supporting. It is already on DVD in one of the Ma and Pa Kettle DVD collections.
There is one extra feature, the featurette "Claudette Colbert - Queen of the Silver Screen". This is also on the recently released Backlot version of 1934's Cleopatra.
Who would ever have thought two years ago that 2009 would be the year that Sony and Universal would become the good guys in classic DVD releases and that Warners would do their best to imitate Paramount by re-releasing the same ten films over and over again each time with a couple of new extra features."
The Claudette Colbert Collection -- Six Classic Films
Joe Kenney | Dallas, TX USA | 11/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a diehard Claudette Colbert fan - she's my favorite actress by far, and I've seen many of her sixty-plus movies. This boxset has been a long time coming; I can only hope more are on the way. Featuring six films spanning the years 1933-1947, the set focuses on comedy - a Colbert specialty. The thing about Claudette was that she was good no matter the quality of the film; luckily, all of the movies in this collection are good (and in the case of "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife," phenomenal).
The set comes in an unfolding case, similar to Universal's "Pre-Code Hollywood" collection. The cover's graced by a nice color photo of Claudette, taken from the promo material for 1943's "No Time For Love." The inside features other promotional images from the six movies included here, synopses of each plot, and a brief Claudette bio. Three DVDs, each containing two movies, and the film quality for each is very good. I only detected a bit of grain here and there - understandable for movies seven decades old - and all of the films are uncut. Unfortunately we get no bonus features other than the short "Claudette Colbert: Queen of the Silver Screen," a bio also included on the recent "75th Anniversary" DVD of her 1934 film "Cleopatra."
Three-Cornered Moon (1933): The earliest film in the set. A Pre-Code movie, but there's nothing particularly outrageous about it. Misidentified as a "screwball comedy" on the cover, this is more of a "screwball family" sort of thing. It's a plot that would make for great sitcom fodder: Claudette's upper-crust family discovers their well has run dry. All the money's gone, so they must venture from the safe confines of their mansion into the slum of the "real world." Wackiness ensues. Only, it's not so wacky here, because rather than the madcap plot we might expect, the movie focuses more on Claudette's relationship woes. Will she go for the moon-eyed writer who refuses to work and who has spent years working on his novel, or will she go for the no-nonsense doctor who moves into the house to help the family make ends meet? I'm sure you know the answer, but the movie is diverting fun anyway. Plus it has Mary Boland in it, playing Claudette's mother; the two were paired again in 1934 for DeMille's vastly underrated "Four Frightened People." Oh, and for those easily offended - Three-Cornered Moon is guaranteed to offend the viewers of today. How does Claudette's sulky character "wake up" to the real world and decide which of the two men she's in love with? Why, when one of them SLAPS her, of course. And you know you're watching a `30s film when Claudette falls in love with the slapper. Safe to say, that wouldn't fly in the romantic comedies of today!
Maid of Salem (1937): Puritan-era Salem, Massachusetts, where Claudette sticks out like a rose among weeds. Here she's a doe-eyed waif whose everyday life is disrupted by the arrival of Fred MacMurray. He's a carousing rebel who's run afoul of the ruling British in Richmond, Virginia and has taken to the backwoods of Salem to hide. The two meet cute and love blossoms but in a subplot witch-paranoia breaks out; a little girl uses the ol' "she's a witch!" ruse to get revenge on someone. Soon the entire town shudders, with every woman a suspect. At length Claudette herself is accused of witchcraft and she's trussed up, sent to court, and headed for the stake. I've yet to feel the two plots gel; MacMurray's plotline suddenly becomes extraneous, and you wish they'd either skipped him entirely or just skipped the witch stuff and made it more of a romantic comedy set in Puritan times. Also, the finale is incredibly hamfisted, and while I love a happy ending as much as the next guy, it's all about as believable as that episode of "Bewitched" where Sam went back in time to Salem and confronted the Puritan judges.
I Met Him In Paris (1937): A romantic comedy with one misleading title, as Claudette spends about five minutes screentime in Paris, then heads off to Switzerland where she frolics in the snow for the rest of the movie. This is an enjoyable little film, regardless: Claudette's a hardworking bachelorette on vacation from her design job in NYC. She's saved for months to take a cruise to Paris, only to find she's alone with nothing to do once she arrives. (If only I had a time machine!) Soon enough two men enter the fray, expatriate Americans who both have an eye for her. One of them has a pretty big secret which he strives to keep from Claudette, the other acts as an ostensible chaperone. Together the three travel to Switzerland where all sorts of snowboud hijinks ensue. Bobsledding without an anchor, characters struggling to ski, etc. It's all fun, though, mostly due to Claudette - here reunited with Melvyn Douglas, with whom she'd paired in 1935's "She Married Her Boss."
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938): The gem of the collection. One of my favorite Claudette movies, up there with "It Happened One Night," "The Palm Beach Story," "Cleopatra," and even my favorite of them all, "The Sign of the Cross" (my favorite due to Claudette and Charles Laughton's performances, that is). These days Claudette's 1939 screwball comedy "Midnight" gets the praise, but Bluebeard's Eighth Wife trumps it in every way. Produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, co-starring Gary Cooper and a very young David Niven, it's a fast-moving, entertaining, hilarious delight from first minute to last. Claudette here is radiant as a French girl who despite herself falls in love with millionaire entrepreneur Cooper, only to discover at their wedding reception that he's been married seven times already. Rather than end the relationship, Claudette agrees to proceed with the marriage only if she will receive $200,000 upon the divorce (previous ex-wives received $150,000). The marriage goes forward and soon they're living separately in opulence - however without consummating the marriage. A sterling example of screwball comedy, the movie's filled with great dialog and snappy scenes. Unusual and memorable characters appear with more frequency than in just about any other movie you could name. My favorite is a soliloquizing boxer who proclaims the merits of knockout-induced astral voyaging. A definite classic, one which for some reason has been panned by critics over the decades. I have no idea what those critics have been smoking; this movie is fantastic.
No Time For Love (1943): Claudette and Fred MacMurray again; this time she's a famous, no-nonsense photographer and he's a blue-collar lummox. After inadvertently causing him injury while photographing the subway tunnel his crew is digging, Claudette takes MacMurray on as an assistant. It's your typical Hollywood mismatch: Claudette the sophisticate, MacMurray the regular joe. And guess which of the two is "bettered" by the other? It's an entertaining movie, though, directed by Mitchell Liesen (who directed Claudette more than any other director), well performed by the entire cast. There's a neat bit early on where Liesen gets surreal, portraying a dream of Claudette's which features MacMurray as Superman, flying to her rescue. Only the film is let down toward the end when we discover MacMurray really IS an educated sort of guy, an amateur inventor who comes up with a money-making method to clear out tunnels for subway lines. The carpet's pulled right out from beneath us and it's as if the preceding hour didn't happen. But still, Claudette and MacMurray have good chemistry and the movie breezes by at a snappy pace.
The Egg And I (1947): Claudette's last "big" movie. Paired with MacMurray again she plays a housewife who finds herself living in the sticks. The `60s sitcom "Green Acres" covered the same territory: inner-city socialites trying to survive in the wild and wooly countryside. Based on a bestselling novel, the film was a huge success, mostly due to the "Ma and Pa Kettle" characters, who continued on in their own films. I'm not a huge fan of the movie though, and I wish something else had been included in its stead - especially when you consider that The Egg And I is already available on DVD as part of the "Ma and Pa Kettle" set. She performs as well as ever but somehow Claudette looks to me too tired in the role; unsurprising, as she was nearly fifty when she made this film, and her screwball-romantic heyday well behind her. If anything this set should have included Claudette's 1940 "Arise My Love" instead of this. Another Mitchell Leisen-directed, Bracket/Wilder-scripted production, Claudette once claimed "Arise" was her own favorite of her films. It's not officially available so this boxset would've made a perfect home for it. Oh well - hopefully next time, right?
So then, a definite recommendation for Claudette Colbert fans, those who enjoy screwball comedy, or anyone into classic Hollywood films. However I wouldn't say this is the best of Claudette on DVD - that honor would go to the "Cecil B. DeMille Boxset," which contains the three movies she made with DeMille, each of which I adore: "The Sign of the Cross," "Cleopatra," and "Four Frightened People." But if you've got that and you want more Claudette (and who doesn't?), then this is the ticket. "
Best dvd release of the year
Gary Cooper Fan | USA | 12/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The qualiity of these movies is fantastic. They are all very good movies and all look as good of transfers as anything other movie studios such as Warner brothers has ever released on regular dvd. I would say this is the most impresive 30's and 40's Universial box set release for image quality in my opinion that they have ever done."
The Claudette Colbert Collection
Hooked On Classiscs | New York | 02/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are into the classics, the Claudette Colbert Collection is a must have. We have enjoyed all the movies within the collection over and over again. The quality of the recordings are very good. I recommend it highly."
Neat package but variable films
Douglas M | 01/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A box set dedicated to Claudette Colbert is a nice idea but there is a problem. Most if not all of Colbert's best films have been released on DVD already so it was inevitable that this set, if it was to contain new material, would contain lesser titles from her legacy. Accordingly, for those who would want Colbert films whatever their status, the set is compulsory viewing. For those who are ambivalent, then this set may have marginal interest. The good news is that the prints are beautiful and the Paramount films, especially the romantic comedies, glow with that sheen which identified that studio's product.
"I Met Him in Paris" is a good example of that glow. Released in 1937, Colbert co-stars with Melvyn Douglas and Robert Young in a romantic triangle which has really no plot except a guessing game of who might win Colbert. The comedy is slight but the expertise of the leads, particularly Colbert at the centre, is such that the film is a pleasant diversion. Lee Bowman appears too as the daggy home town suitor but his role is as thankless as his character. The film is beautifully made but the material is not really up to the star power and production values.
"Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" was Colbert's only 1938 release, written by known cynics Brackett and Wilder and directed by the esteemed Ernst Lubitsch. The film has some amusing moments and Colbert is outstanding but it is fatally flawed by the miscasting of Gary Cooper as a playboy. In every single scene between the leads, Colbert's sophistication and inventive acting slays Cooper's mannerisms and blinking countenance. David Niven has a terrible part, Edward Everett Horton is irritating and there are others, all of whom are wasted. This is a film which could have taken flight with a farceur of the calibre of Melvyn Douglas or Cary Grant, particularly if filmed before the production code when the theme of unconsummated marriage could have really meant something. It was a flop in its day despite the high powered credits.
The earliest film in the set is the weak Depression comedy "Three Cornered Moon" released before Colbert had really hit the top. She plays a member of a spoilt rich family who are forced to find work when their mother played by the scatty Mary Boland loses their money in the stock market. The family is a dress rehearsal for the eccentric families which became a staple of screwball comedy later in the decade. All the players are competent but dull and the film is directed with no flair. Colbert is easily the standout performer.
Colbert and Fred MacMurray were often teamed and the set contains 3 of their films. The first is the unusual drama "Maid of Salem". Set in 17th Century, Colbert stars as a sweet maiden who falls for swashbuckling rebel MacMurray in puritan New England. Their burgeoning romance becomes mixed up in the Salem witch trials, whereby Colbert is accused of witchcraft and is saved at the last minute from the gallows by her hero. MacMurray is miscast with an Irish brogue which comes and goes but Colbert is convincing except for the inevitable false eyelashes! The film looks like a throwback to the Silent era with the lighting and the use of story boards and the melodramatic mood. There is a comprehensive cast and the film could be viewed as an analogy for what was happening in Europe at the time.
"No time for Love" was released in 1943 and is one of their best pairings. This is a Mitchell Liesen film so it is beautifully made and looks great in the excellent print included here. Colbert plays a sophisticated photographer who meets a subway tunnel digger, a he-man played by MacMurray. The film is very funny, particularly an hilarious scene when MacMurray confronts Mr Universe. His droll timing was never better. There is a good supporting cast and the film is great entertainment.
"The Egg and I" is the horrible film version of Betty McDonald's smash autobiographical novel about her adventures when she and her husband left the big smoke to run a chicken farm - "Green Acres" and all that stuff. This is a 1947 Universal production and it shows with much flatter lighting than the Paramounts. The direction is pedestrian and one of the climaxes of the film is the forest fire which burns down the shed. This would have to be the least threatening fire ever filmed! You can see the limitations Universal placed on the production. The humour is strictly 1 dimensional and this is the film which introduced Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as Ma and Pa Kettle. If you know their level of bucolic humour, then you will know what to expect here. Watch Colbert fall in the mud dragging a pig, cook up a pot roast in no time on the ancient stove and whip up a dress for Ma Kettle "you may have to redo some of the stitching", all in "cute" house dresses with bouffant sleeves! The leads are too old for their parts and the film survives because of their charm and rapport. Colbert is as capable as ever but completely unconvincing as a middle class wife. The print is good but there is some popping towards the end of the film.
The set contains a few minor extras - some theatrical trailers and a short documentary on Colbert which hardly does justice to her legacy."