Gary Cooper and seven colleagues are introverted academics working on a new encyclopedia. When Cooper realizes this his slang entry is hopelessly out of date, he bravely ventures outside the ivory tower to learn what the new lingo actually is. The most fluent slang speaker he encounters is nightclub performer Barbara Stanwyck. When her gangster boyfriend (Dana Andrews) is wanted for murder, she hides from the police by moving in on the professors, ostensibly to help them with their project. …hey all fall for her, of course, especially Cooper, and she beings, despite herself, to see them as something more than useful pawns.
The fairy-tale set-up may sound familiar, but Stanwyck ain’t no Snow White, that’s for sure. The explosive sexuality that would spell Fred MacMurray’s doom in Double Indemnity is here put to crackling comic use. And that comedy is some kind of precision strike, orchestrated as it is by two masters: director Howard Hawks and co-writer Billy Wilder.
The usual sort of thing when it comes to older Fox releases. Mono and stereo options are here, and the stereo remix, while warmer, gives us the expected indiscriminate surround, with everything coming out of the rear speakers, whether it should or not. Still, the score sounds good, the dialogue is clear, and there is no troubling background hiss.
The print is in excellent shape as far as damage goes (in other words, there is none). There is some aging visible in the black-and-white tones, though. Some early shots are a bit bleached, making the film look older than 1941. The grain has the same effect. Even so, the image is sharp, and the film is never less than good to look at.
It’s rather criminal that there are no extras at all here, but the movie is a stellar comedy, and certainly stands on its own.