Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Special - Romance in the Public Domain

Hey there, kiddies! Yep, Yer Ol' Professor is back after an all-too long hiatus, and I thought we'd do something different today. In celebration of Valentine's Day, instead of simply looking at one movie, I thought I'd give ya a round-up of some of the varied romances that can be found in the Public Domain. Now, I'm not gonna claim that this is some kind of "Top Five" list or anything like that, since really those are completely subjective depending upon the taste of the viewer. Nor am I going to go into a lot of detail about each film. (Some of these I've already blogged about at length, and you can find those essays by checking the archives over to your right.) Instead, I'm just going to give ya some of the basic info about them, a clip or a trailer so you can get a taste, and in most cases a link to where you can either watch or download the whole movie online legally and for free. After all, that's part of what makes the Public Domain so great: the fact that all of these movies are now available for anyone to have access to.

So snuggle up with your special sweetheart, get cozy, and let's enjoy some Hollywood love, shall we?

Ok, so first off we've got the classic 1921 Rudolph Valentino silent film The Sheik. No, I'm not talking about a biography of the pro wrestler (real name Ed Farhat) who ya see at the left putting his famed camel clutch on Terry Funk, fun though that might be to watch. Instead, this sheik is as much a lover as a fighter.

Directed by George Melford and co-starring Agnes Ayers and Adolphe Menjou, The Sheik tells the story of Lady Diana Mayo, who, to prove her independence, decides to leave the Algerian colony where she has been living and go off into the desert on her own. After a series of adventures during which she meets Valentino's Sheik Ahmed Ben Hasan, Diana is captured by the evil Sheik Omair. After a long fight, Hasan not only defeats his rival, but wins the love of his lady.

Here's a look at the first part of the film, and the entire movie can be viewed on YouTube here.

Next up is the 1939 Jimmy Stewart / Carole Lombard feature Made for Each Other. Not unlike his character in It's a Wonderful Life, Stewart portrays a man pushed to his limits by the vicissitudes of life and the depression. In this case he is a lawyer who marries the lovely Miss Lombard after meeting her on a business trip. Melodrama quickly ensues, including an unapproving mother-in-law and an ill-to-near-death baby, but of course, everything works out in the end.

Again, here's a short clip from the film, which can be found in its entirety here.

"The snobbish & intellectual Professor of languages, Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) makes a bet with his friend (Scott Sunderland) that he can take a London flower seller, Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller), from the gutters and pass her off as a society lady.
However he discovers that this involves dealing with a human being with ideas of her own."

Sound like a description of the musical My Fair Lady? Well, it certainly could be, but in this case it's actually taken from a posting at the Internet Archives about 1938's Pygmalion. Yep, this is the version of the film for those who want all the professor's pomposity (courtesy of star Leslie Howard) without the delightful songs getting in the way.

A clip? Why certainly. The entire flick? Just click here.

For those, on the other hand, who might want a little song and dance with their romance, I give you 1945's The Stork Club with Betty Hutton and Barry Fitzgerald. Now while Hutton certainly qualifies as a long-legged bird, the title actually reflects the name of the New York nightclub where she works as a hat-check girl. Light in tone, this little romance is full of mistaken identities and mistaken assumptions. It's also full of fun little songs like this version of Hoagy Carmichael's "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief": (oh,and the full movie is here.)

Finally today we have the original version of another oft-remade classic. Cary Grant and Debora Kerr did it in 1957, calling it An Affair to Remember. Warren Beatty and Annette Benning did it twice, once in 1974 and again in 1994. But the original, and in my opinion best version of the story is the 1939 Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer version simply entitled Love Affair.

A couple meets aboard a cruise liner. They fall in love. Unfortunately, they are both already engaged to other people. What to do, what to do?  How about making a pact to take six months to decide and ten, if they're both still feeling the passion of their illicit shipboard romance, they'll meet at the top of the Empire State Building? Ah, but of course, fate might have its own idea, in the form of a car which just happens to hit and cripple poor Irene even as she is on her way to the rendezvous! Now Michel (Boyer) will never really know that she truly loves him. Of course, since the film is billed as a romance and not a tragedy, you can rest assured that this is really only a temporary setback.

A clip? It's just below, of course. And the entire movie is right here.

Ok, I hope you've enjoyed this little romance round-up. And be sure to check back later in the week for more all-new content.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting!
-Professor Damian


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Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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