BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Nov 4th, 2013 •

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Well, never late to learn something new and exciting. I’d always heard of George Arliss’ importance to early cinema – and who hasn’t seen that unique visage, whether or not (like myself) they’ve seen any of his films. I hadn’t. Bur finally, thanks to the Archive program at WB, this 1933 title has become available.

Arliss is terrific in the film, a bit over the top to begin with, but then completely winning us over with an extremely nuanced performance drawn from an excellent and witty screenplay by Charles Kenyon & Maude Howell. I was nervous for twelve minutes, not knowing where the narrative was heading, or if the leading man would appeal to my 21st Century sensibilities. Both concerns proved unwarranted. Arliss was known for biographical films – DISRAELI (1929 – for which he won the Academy Award), ALEXANDER HAMILTON, VOLTAIRE, THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD, CARDINAL RICHELIEU – but also undertook, very much as projects guided by himself and free from studio meddling, a number of modern comedic pieces, and this is one.

The only thing wrong with THE WORKING MAN is the title. Every year I end up with a list of films that didn’t benefit from their monikers. This year, so far, we’ve got RUSH, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, and FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY. THE WORKING MAN didn’t fill me with faith about the film I was about to watch. And it probably led to my apprehensions during the first dozen minutes, as Arliss, the President of a large and successful company, decides to go on vacation after he hears a young upstart at the company complaining the boss should be put out to pasture. While relaxing, he wheedles his way into a rival company which is going down the drain, and turns it around partially for fun, partially to teach his arrogant employee a lesson.

Co-starring is Bette Davis, who always credited Arliss with being the major influence on her early career taking off. Likewise, director Adolfi was not someone well established in Hollywood, but Arliss believed in him and had him direct several of his films.

The quality of the disc is fine, with a line appearing somewhere for a while, but otherwise nothing distracting standing in the way of your enjoyment.

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