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Forbidden Hollywood Volume 3 (R1) in March

Warner Home Video have announced the Region 1 DVD release of TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 3 on 24th March 2009 priced at $49.92 SRP. WHV and Turner Classic Movies partner again for this Pre-Code collection that shines the spotlight on director William “Wild Bill” Wellman. The set includes six classic controversial Wellman films on double-feature discs: Other Men’s Women/The Purchase Price; Frisco Jenny/Midnight Mary and Heroes for Sale/Wild Boys of the Road. Starring big headliners of the era like Barbara Stanwyck, Mary Astor, Joan Blondell, Loretta Young, James Cagney and George Brent, each of the films has been digitally remastered from newly-restored film elements. Also included is a fourth bonus disc containing two feature-length documentaries profiling the director, along with new commentaries, original theatrical trailers, vintage Warner Bros. shorts and cartoons of the era.

“William Wellman’s cinematic legacy is varied, outstanding and provocative. Wellman made the most significant contributions to defining the ‘pre-code’ sensibility of the studio,” said George Feltenstein, WHV’s Senior Vice President Theatrical Catalog Marketing. “Wellman took no prisoners. He was not afraid to confront subjects such as drug abuse, prostitution, and others that most directors wouldn’t touch. His distinctive style is what motivated us to build this latest Forbidden Hollywood Collection around six of his most impressive works from the early ‘30s. Contemporary audiences discovering these films for the first time are in for an eye-opening experience, while cinephiles will enjoy revisiting them with the dramatic new picture quality in these new restored masters.”

The films are all presented in Full Frame with English Mono audio and English and French subtitles.

The Films

Disc 1

Other Men's Women (1931)
This is the story of a love triangle between two burly railroad men and the one woman they both desire (Mary Astor). Jack (Regis Toomey), Lily’s husband, is an engineer and is more solid and reliable, while Bill (Grant Withers) is a carefree ladies' man with an irresponsible streak. Also featured in secondary roles in this melodrama are James Cagney and Joan Blondell as a wisecracking waitress. Directed with his signature virile style, Wellman balances scenes of fraying domesticity with vigorous vignettes of tough railroad life.

The Purchase Price (1932)
This film is a brisk Wellman mix of comedy and melodrama about torch singer Joan Gordon (Barbara Stanwyck), who tiring of her relationship with small-time hood Eddie Fields (Lyle Talbot), flees to North Dakota and becomes the mail-order bride of down-to-earth farmer Jim Gilson (George Brent). Their wedded bliss is threatened by Gilson's own stubbornness, a lecherous neighbor and the reappearance of Fields.

Disc One 1 Special Features:
  • S.S. Van Dine Detective short The Wall Street Mystery
  • Two classic cartoons: Moonlight for Two, You Don’t Know What You’re Doin’!
  • Theatrical trailers from both films

Disc 2

Frisco Jenny (1932)
Along with his films about men in dire straits, Wellman helmed a string of so-called women’s pictures like this one. Ruth Chatterton plays the title role of Frisco Jenny, a woman orphaned by the 1906 earthquake who becomes the madam of a prosperous brothel. She puts her son up for adoption, and as he rises to prominence as district attorney he becomes dedicated to closing down such houses. When her associate proposes killing the DA, she kills the associate and must face execution.

Midnight Mary (1933)
Often referred to by film buffs as “the only Warner Bros. movie ever made by MGM”, this crime melodrama (based on a story by Anita Loos) was so much in the Warner mode, that Metro borrowed the services of Wellman, Loretta Young, and many others to bring it to the screen. Young plays a young woman on trial for murder, whose story is told in flashback, as she awaits her verdict. Mary Martin (yes, that’s the character’s name!) recalls how her life of desperate poverty led to involvement with gangsters. When she meets a young lawyer in a brothel, scion of a wealthy and prestigious family, he helps her turn around her life. But her past catches up with her, and she chooses to face the consequences rather than cause him scandal. With a screenplay by the writers of the pivotal Warner Bros. pre-code gems, Baby Face and Female (Gene Markey and Kathryn Scola), Midnight Mary ranks among Wellman’s best films of the era.

Disc Two Special Features:
  • Commentary on Midnight Mary by historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta
  • S.S. Van Dine Detective short: The Studio Murder Mystery
  • Vintage Pete Smith short: Goofy Movies #1
  • Classic cartoon Bosko’s Parlor Pranks
  • Theatrical trailers from both films

Disc 3

Heroes for Sale (1933)
Heroes for Sale, filmed with raw, gritty immediacy by the no-nonsense Wellman, covers all the Depression-era bases, and puts the spotlight on the plight of veterans. This is the hard-hitting story of Tom Holmes (Richard Barthelmess), an unsung war hero left wounded and addicted to morphine whose struggles make him an American Everyman, a tough hero for a tough time. 75 years after it was first released, Heroes For Sale retains its unrelenting power to shock and deeply move all who see it.

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
One of Wellman’s most personal and expressive films, Wild Boys of the Road has achieved legendary status in recent years as one of the most provocative screen representations of its time. It’s the depression, and Tommy Gordon's mother has been out of work for months. Things get worse in the neighborhood when his pal Eddie's father loses his job. Not to burden their parents, the two high school sophomores decide to hop the freights and look for work. This socially conscience message film helped draw attention to wandering youths cut adrift by hard times. Frankie Darro, whose acting career stretched from the 1920s into the ‘70s, portrays Eddie. And the actress posing as a boy in the film is played by Dorothy Coonan, who became the real life Mrs. William Wellman.

Disc Three Special Features:
  • Commentary on Heroes for Sale by historian John Gallagher
  • Commentary on Wild Boys of the Road by William Wellman Jr. and historian Frank Thompson
  • S.S. Van Dine Detective short: The Trans-Atlantic Mystery
  • Two classic cartoons: One Step Ahead of My Shadow, Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence
  • Theatrical trailers from both films

Bonus Disc

Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
William Wellman Jr. served as Executive Producer for this award-winning, critically-acclaimed documentary portrait of his famous father, ably explaining why the elder Wellman earned the nickname of “Wild Bill.” Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the engrossing documentary is highlighted by a plethora of rare film clips from Wellman’s impressive screen career, as well as insightful and provocative reflections of Wellman the man, as well as Wellman the director, from such luminaries as Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark and James Garner,

Through the use of newly photographed and rare archival footage, Wellman Jr. traces his dad’s life from his birth in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1896, through his distinguished World War I career as a flier (which later got him the job of directing the classic silent film Wings), his start as a mail boy at Goldwyn, his rise to director in the 20's, his five marriages and stormy career through the 30's to late 50's, with a total filmography of more than 80 films.

The Men Who Made the Movies (William Wellman) (2007)
Originally produced in 1973 for his ground-breaking PBS miniseries The Men Who Made The Movies, filmmaker Richard Schickel revisits the subject of William Wellman, and explores the career and the legend of the Oscar-winning screenwriter-director of the original A Star Is Born (1937). Updated in 2007, this revised program is narrated by Sydney Pollack, and is primarily constructed around interviews Schickel conducted with Wellman for the original series. Wellman’s wry sense of humor in the interviews is in full glory here, as he recalls his World War I service as an aviator, where he first earned the moniker of “Wild Bill,” a nickname that persisted in Hollywood due to his "larger-than-life" personality and lifestyle. A leap-year baby born in 1896 on the 29th of February to a stockbroker father in Brookline, Massachusetts, Wellman was the great-great-great grandson of Francis Lewis, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His mother, the former Cecilia McCarthy, was born in Ireland. Despite an upper-middle class upbringing, the young Wellman was a hell-raiser. He excelled as an athlete and particularly enjoyed playing ice hockey, but he also enjoyed less savory pastimes, like joy-riding in stolen cars at night.

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