Tuesday 9 November 2021

On Blu-ray - David Hare rhapsodises over Kay Francis in MARY STEVENS, M.D. (Lloyd Bacon, USA, 1933)

The sublime Kay Francis (above) wearing her early working class doctor's gown, designed of course by Warners' Orry-Kelly, who gives her another half dozen knockout gowns all accentuating her preternaturally small bosom and perfect neck and chest. She's even given a butch short haircut for her first internship scenes in this terrific Lloyd Bacon pre-code First National/Warner programmer from 1933, Mary Stevens, M.D.

One of seven highly desirable Blu-ray releases from the Archive line for this month of November.
The movie itself is a high paced action packed eye opener at 71 minutes and a surpassing turn of semi-stock characters include go-to Warner bad guy, here cum good guy, Lyle Talbot (who ended his career doing Ed Wood parts in Glen or Glenda and Bride of the Monster). DoP Sid Hickox (the GREAT Sid Hickox) lights him like Gable and almost makes him look sexy.
But nobody from any of the five (or is it now six?) sexes can match Kay Francis.
It's hard to believe she had just bounced from her previous Paramount glamour period, finishing with no less a masterpiece than Lubitsch’s 1932 Trouble in Paradise, only to land happily in the lap of Warner's Depression Era working class survive and beat-the-bastards cycle of crowd stirrers (Warner must have single-handedly won the election for FDR in 1933).
Kay is never less than compelling in the part, with best gal pal support from two terrific actors of the era, Glenda Farrell, and an all too rare part from the legendary Thelma Todd who shines in this picture, as though nothing had ever gone wrong with her terrible life.
And to wrap it all up, a totally breathtaking, mouth watering, eye-burning transfer from an original Nitrate neg, presumably deposited with the Library of Congress back when such a transfer as here looks like it was printed yesterday, still retaining every grain of silver gelatin and vibrating with that dusky pearlescent glow only 35mm Nitrate could deliver.
I would place this gem's transfer at the very top of the list of O-Neg nitrate titles delivered in either 1080p or 4K 2160p. It beggars me to even wonder how a 2160/4K UHD transfer could be any better than this.

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