Author Vera Caspary is perhaps best known for writing works that would be adapted into Academy Award-nominated films such as A Letter To Three Wives and Laura. Those who are willing to go a little deeper into her output might just find some more titles worthy of your time and attention. In 1947, she took part in adapting one of her short stories for the silver screen with the crackling little screwball comedy Out Of The Blue. Even fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood would have to admit this is a more under-the-radar effort, especially coming from the mighty but minor Eagle-Lion films. Similarly, the cast delivers charming and hilarious turns, but are unlikely to inspire much recognition in the average audience member. However slight, the film is one that delivers a decent amount of laughs which alone should put it more firmly on your radar. With a release from ClassicFlix, there is hope future audiences will continue to be charmed by this one.
The action of our story primarily involves the residents of a singular apartment building. Arthur Earthleigh (George Brent, Dark Victory) lives in his Greenwich Village apartment with his “domineering” wife, Mae (Carole Landis, I Wake Up Screaming). This reductive characterization is frustrating, but you come to expect it from this period. The pair seem to enjoy their life on the tenth floor outside of being vexed by the German Shepherd Rabelais, owned by their neighbor, David Gelleo (Turhan Bey), a notorious presence in the building known for having beautiful women coming and going from his apartment to be photographed. The frustrated neighbors lay down an ultimatum to get rid of the pup or else face retaliation through possible eviction. At the same time, David gets paid a visit by the lovely Deborah (Virginia Mayo, The Best Years Of Our Lives) who is eager to have Rabelais breed with her dog. Ever the charmer, David convinces her to trade this opportunity for a photo shoot with her, which obviously leads to flirtation and romance between the two.
The final piece of the puzzle is where the story really starts cooking. When Mae takes a trip out of town to see her sister, Arthur goes to a bar where he meets kooky interior decorator Olive (Ann Dvorak, Scarface) who charms him enough to be invited back home. Dvorak is by far the reason to seek this movie out; the character of Olive is ridiculously obtuse and becomes the guest you cannot get rid of even when no funny business has gone down. In a somewhat dark turn, comedy is mined from a condition Olive has where she occasionally faints and appears to be dead, leaving Arthur to believe he has killed her. Without going through every plot point, let’s just say that Olive’s body begins to be treated like a game of hot potato when it is disposed of on the balcony of David. Add in some nosy old neighbors in the opposite building and you have the recipe for a real screwball farce.
While the movie is very amusing, it does mostly fall on the Dvorak to sell the outlandish bits with the remainder of the cast mostly playing it a bit too straight. This leads to a bit of tonal inconsistency which the stalwarts of the genre handle much more gracefully. The more irritating aspect of the feature is the ending we are given. As previously alluded to, this film was made in a more “traditional” time where everyone had their proper role. The wrap-up of this film happens to put all of the chips onto this belief as it rewards toxic male behavior and reinforces the stereotype of a shrewish housewife. It is a sour way to end a film that has otherwise been breezy and fun – and I guess could still be considered that way with a particular outlook on life. Despite these issues, the film is worth seeking out for the performances alone, especially that of Ann Dvorak who really gets to let loose.
Out Of The Blue makes its Blu-Ray debut thanks to ClassicFlix with a brand new 1080p master that largely looks quite nice. The new transfer shows off a great amount of depth and enhanced detail within the film’s composition. Black levels are deep with no overwhelming occurrence of black crush or compression artifacts. There are a few instances where white levels bloom just a bit. The contrast has brief moments of variance that impacts that stability of the otherwise solid black levels. The track does experience a fair amount of damage and scratches. The lovely black-and-white photography shines in high definition with natural grain intact. There is a pleasing amount of detail present with nice textures on the clothing and within the production design. ClassicFlix has done a pretty solid job with this one overall, but a bit more cleanup probably would have helped this one some.
The Blu-Ray comes with a decent DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that serves this movie as well as can be expected given the age of the source material. Dialogue and background noises are represented in perfect harmony with all competing elements, even if it can sound a bit hollow. This track does present with a minor amount of age related wear and tear and some slightly shallow sounding music. The music never overpowers the dialogue or other important information. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles included for the feature film. The folks at ClassicFlix have done their best to prove the most stable track possible for this one.
- Trailers: There are trailers for Merrily We Live, Stand-In, Tomorrow Is Forever, Blondie (TV Series) – “The Glamour Girl”, and Casanova Brown – Frank Morgan Montage.
Out Of The Blue is a forgotten screwball comedy that is not perfect but deserves more attention than it has ever gotten. The performance from Ann Dvorak alone is reason enough to give this one a spin, as she delivers a fully committed performance. Some elements of the plot are a bit dated, but not so much as to ruin the experience overall. ClassicFlix has released a Blu-Ray featuring a good A/V presentation but not much in the way of special features.
Out Of The Blue is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: ClassicFlix has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.