“Stronger Than Desire” on DVD

The Warner Archive delivers again, and this time in a most unexpected way. The past few months, they have been releasing a steady stream of Ann Dvorak’s Warner Bros flicks from the 1930s. Today, they are offering a Walter Pidgeon/Virginia Bruce two-pack including the 1939 drama Stronger Than Desire, featuring our beloved Miss D.

This M-G-M film about an attorney who defends a woman accused of a murder that may have in fact been committed by his own wife (you got that?), was directed by Leslie Fenton, Ann’s first husband. Fenton had turned in his acting cap the year before, and this was one of his first turns as a feature director. The film is enjoyable enough, and Fenton had the opportunity to direct his wife through a heart-wrenching courtroom breakdown.

I particularly like this film for two reasons. First is the scene where Walter Pidgeon has Ann fake-faint in court. He cues her and she just melts out of the chair and onto the floor. I know it’s supposed to be dramatic, but it’s pretty ridiculous and worthy of a rewind and rewatch. The other reason I find this film memorable (as far as Ann Dvorak movies go) is because she has never looked more beautiful. No studio did Hollywood glamor quite like M-G-M, and it shows. Ann is absolutely luminous, even when she is fake-fainting.

Hats off once again to the Warner Archive for fulfilling the needs of every Ann Dvorak fan, even though they’re probably not doing it consciously.

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