Duck Soup (1933)  — PICK

The Song of Bernadette (1943)  — PICK

 
Two Golden Age classics — one a masterpiece of spiritual cinema, the other a comic gold mine — have new Blu-ray editions.

The Song of Bernadette (Eureka Entertainment), directed by Henry King, towers above other pious productions of its day.

Based on the historical novel by Jewish author Franz Werfel and smartly adapted by Catholic screenwriter George Seaton, it has a depth and complexity unusual in comparable religious Hollywood fare, making its overtly supernatural and Marian premise moving even to non-Catholic and non-Christian audiences.

Along with Jennifer Jones’ radiant performance as St. Bernadette Soubirous, Alfred Newman’s Oscar-winning score is crucial to the film’s power. Oscar-winning cinematography and interior decoration create a 19th-century French peasant milieu more persuasive than typical Hollywood period pieces.

Duck Soup (Arrow Academy) is probably the greatest and funniest film from one of the cinema’s funniest acts — a movie as absurdly nonsensical as comedy can be and still be about something.

A satire of Fascism and the banality of war, the masterpiece is highlighted by Groucho’s blistering throwaway witticisms, a classic broken-mirror scene with Harpo posing as Groucho’s reflection, and a surreal slapstick hat-switching sequence. Their goofiness doesn’t get any better than this.

 

Caveat Spectator: Duck Soup: Double entendre and mild innuendo; comic war scenes. Probably fine for kids. The Song of Bernadette: Nothing objectionable. Fine family viewing