Ready for a movie marathon featuring one of cinema's most enchanting redheads? Fox Cinema Archives continues their 3-in-1 repackaging of their back catalog with three vehicles for one of their 1940s-era contractees, Maureen O'Hara. The carefree musical Do You Love Me (1946), and moody dramas The Forbidden Street (1949) and Sentimental Journey (1946) didn't have the lasting impact of the four O'Hara movies featured on the recent 4-DVD set TCM Greatest Classic Movies: Legends. These lavish 20th Century Fox productions served the actress well, however, in a variety of genres. As with the other Fox Cinema Archives sets, this package combines three made-to-order DVDs into one affordable package.
Do You Love Me (1946; 91 minutes)
Though it ends up deflating in the second half, Do You Love Me satisfies as a candy-colored vehicle for the smooth musical stylings of James and Haymes. Looking sensational in a Bonnie Cashin-designed wardrobe, O'Hara overcomes the plot's sexist overtones with poise and charm (really, she plays Plain Katherine as being simply unaware of what her possibilities are). This movie is pretty typical of the undemanding, chiffon-light musicals Fox pumped out regularly in the '40s - none of the numbers particularly stand out, all are pleasant diversions dripping in that Swing-era sound. They're given smooth direction by Gregory Ratoff, who integrates them effortlessly into the plot.
The Forbidden Street (1949; 91 minutes)
The bones of an enthralling story lie below The Forbidden Street, despite that overstuffed plot and quirky elements like the dubbed-over voice work on Dana Andrews' Henry. O'Hara displays the same feisty spirit seen in movies like The Quiet Man, while Andrews does well with his dual role. I also thought Thorndike was brilliant in her physically disgusting characterization, zestfully playing a woman with zero appeal whatsoever. It's strange, all right, yet this gothic mishmash ended up as one of O'Hara's better vehicles at Fox.
Sentimental Journey (1946; 94 minutes)
Sentimental Journey pushes all the right "Women's Picture" buttons, although it ends up being too manipulative and treacly. Despite a supernatural twist, the unexceptional story is a snoozer. O'Hara's Julie makes the mistake of adopting a child whom the actress molds into a mini-Julie, which makes William into an emotional wreck once the woman he loved dies. That in itself is a worthy plot angle, yet there's a sour note in how young Connie Marshall plays Hitty as a servile little robot-child. The performance is strikingly similar to Mara Hobel's fake-obsequious Christina Crawford in Mommie Dearest (their dressing gowns even match!). Lacking Christina's maliciousness, however, Hitty ends up an insincere user of a girl. As with the other movies on this set, O'Hara herself is a lovely, calming presence.
This Fox Cinema Archives release comes as three separate made-to-order DVDs packaged in a single-width keep case. Inside, a hinged partition keeps the three discs separate. All films are also available as standalone m.o.d. releases.
Presented in their original 4:3 full-frame aspect ratios, the transfers use prints of varying age and quality. Sentimental Journey is the most pristine, visually appealing transfer of the three. It's a handsome-looking image sporting just a few thin vertical lines, splices and bits of dust. The Forbidden Street's black and white visuals tend to be overly dark and artifact-spotted. Lush Technicolor is the main attraction with Do You Love Me, although like many Fox m.o.d.'s of their color musical library this particular one is muddy and lacking in focus.
All three discs come with the films' single mono track, sporting the expected limited dynamics with occasional pops, clicks and hiss. Except for some distortion during Do You Love Me's musical numbers, I didn't notice anything outstanding either way on these discs. As usual with the Cinema Archives m.o.d.'s, no subtitles are provided.
No extras. Each disc sports a simple, static menu with the films' poster artwork. Chapter stops are included every ten minutes, not between scenes.
The Fox Cinema Archives three-packs are a relatively affordable, space-saving way to stock up on a favorite actor's movies. The Maureen O'Hara set, containing Do You Love Me, The Forbidden Street and Sentimental Journey, showcase the beautiful redhead's expertise across several different movie genres. Densely plotted gothic drama The Forbidden Street gets a thumbs-up from me, while the other two are middling efforts enlivened by O'Hara's steely serenity. Rent It.