TCM Classic Legends: Errol Flyn and Jean Harlow – DVD Review

TCM Errol Flynn

Leveraging the success of the TCM Greatest Classic Films branded line, Warner Home Video and Turner Classic Movies have launched  a new line of four-title sets, TCM Greatest Classic Legends, spotlighting Hollywood’s most legendary actors and actresses in classic cinema. The new TCM Greatest Classic Legends series launched this month with three collections: TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Jean Harlow – Dinner at Eight, Libeled Lady, China Seas and Wife versus Secretary; and TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Errol Flynn – The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk and Adventures of Don Juan.

TCM Jean HarlowThe Flynn classics are given new life on DVD and can be viewed almost as they were back in their glory days through an added feature called Warner Night at the Movies. This wonder feature, introduced by film critic Leonard Maltin, runs through the theatre program as it might have been in the year the movie was released. Each one plays a trailer, cartoon, musical interlude and newsreel from the year of the feature. This format and presentation makes long unseen classics burst to life.

It’s too bad Warner and TCM didn’t utilize the Warner Night at the Movies feature for the Jean Harlow collection, it would have made the B&W presentation of Dinner at Eight all the better.

If for nothing else, a must have for movie fans is the Errol Flynn masterpiece The Adventures of Robin Hood. No other could capture the essence and grace Flynn brought to the character in 1938 and the story is just as timeless today as it was more than 80 years ago. There’s also more sword play in Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk. Flynn also shows his romantic and suave side in the 1948 romance Adventures of Don Juan.

The Jean Harlow collection is a little more dated that the Flynn package, dating as early as 1933’s Dinner at Eight. Known as the "Blonde Bombshell" due to her platinum blonde hair, Harlow starred in several films, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence. Harlow is charming in this collection and worth remembering – she drips of sex and must have been a thrilling wet-dream to movie going gentlemen in the 30s. It must have been a great tragedy when she died in 1937 at the age of 26. She appeared in more than 30 movies in her career. Dinner at Eight is the must-see of this collection, which also shows the tremendous comedic skill of this Hollywood legend.

Both collections are great introductions to these two amazing movie legends, but for the die-hards, there’s still some great films sitting in the vaults waiting for DVD or Blu-ray release.

TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Jean Harlow

DINNER AT EIGHT (1933): You’re invited to a sparkling all-star peek into the lives of the troubled and troublemaking Who’s Who coming to a posh Manhattan party, led by Jean Harlow, Marie Dressler, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and more. George Cukor directs.

LIBELED LADY (1936): When society diva Myrna Loy sues newsman Spencer Tracy for libel, he enlists fiancée Harlow and buddy William Powell in a scheme involving a rigged marriage, a phony seduction, a funny fishing scene, fisticuffs and eventually, true love for all. 

CHINA SEAS (1935): A rugged captain (Clark Gable) sails perilous waters with a fortune in British gold. That’s not the only risky cargo he carries. Both his fiery mistress (Harlow) and refined fiancée (Rosalind Russell) are aboard! Wallace Beery also stars.

WIFE VS. SECRETARY (1936): Businessman Clark Gable relies on secretary Harlow – too much according to wily wife Myrna Loy. James Stewart adds to the star-bright comedy/drama as Harlow’s beau.

TCM GREATEST CLASSIC LEGENDS: ERROL FLYNN

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938): Winner of three Academy Awards®. Dashing Errol Flynn triumphs in this lavish version of the Robin Hood saga. Olivia de Havilland (as Maid Marian), supreme villains Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains and a boisterous who’s who of character actors co-star.

CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935): Flynn skyrocketed to stardom as a 17th-century physician turned pirate after escaping unjust political imprisonment. Radiant Olivia de Havilland co-stars in the first of their eight films together. Michael Curtiz directs.

THE SEA HAWK (1940): Cannons thunder, blades clatter and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s dynamic music swirls as Flynn plays a seagoing rogue who commandeers a 40-gun galleon, endures captivity, then boldly escapes to warn England of Spain’s armada.

ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948): Academy Award® winner. In this later-career swashbuckler, Flynn is a warmer, wittier version of his earlier characters as he rescues the Spanish queen (Viveca Lindfors) from the snares of an evil duke.