DVD Review “Frank Capra: The Early Collection”

Director: Frank Capra
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Number of Discs: 5
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: September 27, 2012
Running Time: 450 Minutes

Our Score: 4 out 5 of stars

Frank Capra is one of Hollywood’s most beloved directors, though many of his earlier films have never been made available on DVD….until now. This release features five key films which showcase his career before he became the legendary director we all knew him as. “The Frank Capra: The Early Collection” is available exclusively through TCM’s online store as part of the TCM Vault Collection. The five films includings includes re-mastered editions of “Rain or Shine” (1930), and four early collaborations with his legendary leading lady Barbara Stanwyck: “Ladies of Leisure” (1930), “The Miracle Woman” (1931), “Forbidden” (1932) and “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” (1933). If you are a fan of Capra’s work, I would HIGHLY recommend this release.

The following are the five films included in Frank Capra: The Early Collection:
“Ladies of Leisure” (1930) – This drama marked Frank Capra’s first collaboration with Barbara Stanwyck. The film tells of a Depression-era romance between a working-class model and a high-society artist, played by Ralph Graves. The film is based on the 1924 play Ladies of the Evening, written by Milton Herbert Gropper.

“Rain or Shine” (1930) – This rollicking comedy-drama follows the ups and downs of a struggling traveling circus. Joe Cook, Louise Fazenda, Joan Peers and William Collier Jr. star in this film, a non-musical version of a Broadway musical of the same name. {Note: The International version of the film is included here}

“The Miracle Woman” (1931) – In this dramatic exposé of religious charlatans, Barbara Stanwyck stars as a female preacher modeled on Aimee Semple McPherson. David Manners co-stars as the blind man who falls in love with her.

“Forbidden (1932)” – This charming, romantic drama depicts the intense relationship between librarian Barbara Stanwyck and a wealthy married man, played by Adolphe Menjou. Ralph Bellamy and Dorothy Peterson co-star.

“The Bitter Tea of General Yen” (1933) – This once-controversial drama depicts an affair between the fiancée of an American missionary, played by Barbara Stanwyck, and a Chinese warlord, played by Nils Asther. Toshia Mori shines as General Yen’s concubine, Mah-Li. The film, which was the first ever to play Radio City Music Hall, also features a memorable dream sequence in which Yen seduces the young missionary. The interracial aspect of the story led the film to be banned in many areas where miscegenation laws were in place.

These films are presented for the first time on DVD and have been restored and remastered. Each film looks equally fantastic, especially for their age.  This release has a lot of love behind it.  It also comes with a nice presentation flip-found case. There are also some decent special features including introductions from Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard on “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”. Ron also intros on “The Miracle Woman” and Michel Gondry intros on “Rain or Shine”.  There is an audio commentary track from Jeanine Basinger on “Forbidden” and Jeremy Arnold on “Ladies of Leisure”.  Each disc also comes with a “Digital Image Gallery” including Scene Stills, Movie Posters, Publicity Stills, Behind the Scenes Photos and Lobby Cards.  There is a “Screen Snapshots” featurette included as well.  Lastly there is a “Frank Capra Biography” on “Ladies of Leisure” and “TCMDb Articles” on each disc as well.

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4 Replies to “DVD Review “Frank Capra: The Early Collection””

  1. Great review!! I purchased the set based on your review, can you though confirm if the interview with Michael Gondrey on “Rain or Shine” has a couple of three spots where the video breaks up a but a pixalates? My copy did, I tried it on two players I figure the glitch is on all the copies having not been caught in quality control?

  2. Our box set also had digital glitches with the Michael Gondry interview. Couldn’t understand any of it, unfortunately. Is the interview online somewhere?

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