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Kino on Video presents
The Good Fairy (1935)

"Office equipment. I'm going to buy office equipment. Office equipment. A large staff. Mink coats. Mink coats and diamond bracelets? What does he take me for? I'm going to buy a pencil sharpener, with a handle, and different size holes, at last!"
- Dr. Max Sporum (Herbert Marshall)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: November 03, 2002

Stars: Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall, Frank Morgan, Beulah Bondi, Reginald Owen, Alan Hale, Cesar Romero
Other Stars: Eric Blore, Luis Alberni
Director: William Wyler

Manufacturer: RVD
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:37m:20s
Release Date: November 05, 2002
UPC: 738329026028
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-AB+ C-

DVD Review

Few writers in Hollywood have ever been able to successfully pull off the screwball comedy as well as Preston Sturges. Even before the genre really got started, Sturges had already had a screwy hit with The Good Fairy, directed by William Wyler, presented in this new DVD.

Hungarian orphan Luisa Ginglebusher (Margaret Sullavan) obtains work as an usherette at a Budapest theater, with the admonition of the orphanage director (Beulah Bondi) that she should do a good deed for someone every day. Through a series of misadventures she attracts the attentions of meat tycoon Konrad (Frank Morgan). When she lies that she is married, Konrad offers to make her husband rich. Sensing a chance to do a good deed for someone, she selects from a telephone directory Max Slocum, an impoverished attorney (Herbert Marshall). Things only get more complicated from there, since Sporum believes that he has attracted Konrad's business through his own integrity.

Despite the fact Sullavan, in one of her first starring roles, was nearly 25 years old, she is a passable 17, other than the lines visible around her eyes on closeups. She gives a breathless performance that seems to have influenced Judy Garland's style, and makes for an attractive and charming naif. Simply superb in support are Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz himself) as the tycoon and Reginald Owen as an overly protective waiter looking out for Luisa. Marshall is more than adequate, and is given a more interesting character than the usual bland love interest to work with. His delight at getting a pencil sharpener shares the comedy and pathos of Chaplin at his best. Even a young Cesar Romero makes an appearance.

The picture holds up quite well over the years, despite the disappearance of uniformed usherettes decades ago. The movie sequence is an hilarious satire of talky melodramas of the period. The waiter's efforts to protect Luisa's honor also make for great comedy, and Morgan's stammering confusion is excellent in its comic timing. The fairy theme is amusingly foreshadowed by Luisa's usherette costume with its electric wand.

Since the 1930s are one of the decades of film most poorly represented on DVD, it is an absolute delight to rediscover this little gem.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture is practically immaculate, with hardly a speckle or scratch to be seen. There's a wide range of greys, although blacks are a little plugged up. Detail is quite fine (notice the comment about Sullavan's eyes above), and texture is generally quite attractive. As gorgeous as I've seen a picture of this age.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Surprisingly, the audio is quite clean as well. Hiss and noise are nominal at most. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout, without any issues whatsoever. Music has a slightly thin sound to it, but it's overall more than acceptable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
0 Other Trailer(s)Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
Extras Review: Two extras are provided. One is a decent-looking theatrical trailer that does a very nice job of setting up the picture without giving it all away (apparently a lost art in Hollywood). The other is a gallery of about 20 photos of director Wyler in various candid shots over his career. Highlights include a photo of him riding his Vespa around the Circus Maximus and clowning around with Charlton Heston and a camel while on the set of Ben-Hur.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

A delightful comedy with an unfortunate title and cover art, The Good Fairy still manages to generate plenty of laughs through its excellent cast and sparkling script. The transfer and source print are first-rate, giving this an unqualified recommendation.

 


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