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Dec 31, 2021

It's 1938 and Warner Bros. is in its prime, and so is Bette Davis, just now moving into the kind of top-quality romantic melodramas in which she'd excel. No longer the studio of James Cagney, Joan Blondell, gangster heroes and Busby Berkeley spectacles, it's now the studio of Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, glossy melodramas and action-adventure heroes; or at least, these stars and genres are co-existing with Cagney, Robinson, John Garfield, and soon, Humphrey Bogart vehicles. Warners is broadening its range and turning into the greatest of the studios (prove us wrong). 

As for this episode: The Sisters (Anatole Litvak) stars Davis and Flynn as ill-matched lovers contending with gender role expectations and Flynn's obscure demons. Then in The Dawn Patrol, Edmund Goulding's anti-war masterpiece, Flynn transfers his affections to David Niven and his piebald pjs. Even though there's not a single woman glimpsed and barely a woman mentioned, Flynn, Niven, Basil Rathbone, Donald Crisp, and Donald Crisp's imaginary dog achieve enough emotional intimacy and relationship intensity to satisfy any viewer under Goulding's direction. 


Time Codes:

0h 01m 00s:                  Warner Brothers Transformation During the Late 1930s

0h 04m 02s:                   THE SISTERS (dir. Anatole Litvak)            

0h 41m 04s:                   THE DAWN PATROL (dir. Edmund Goulding)


Studio Film Capsules provided The Warner Brothers Story by Clive Hirschhorn

Additional studio information from: The Hollywood Story by Joel W. Finler



* Marvel at our meticulously ridiculous Complete Viewing Schedule for the 2020s

* Intro Song: “Sunday” by Jean Goldkette Orchestra with the Keller Sisters (courtesy of The Internet Archive)

* Read Elise’s latest film piece on Preston Sturges, Unfaithfully Yours, and the Narrative role of comedic scapegoating.

* Check out Dave’s new Robert Benchley blog – an attempt to annotate and reflect upon as many of the master humorist’s 2000+ pieces as he can locate – Benchley Data: A Wayward Annotation Project! 

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