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Zenobia Blu-ray Review

“Zenobia” provides a decent amount of laughs.

In 1939’s “Zenobia,” the 1870 set story revolves around a not so wealthy country Doctor (Tibbett), his ditzy but sweet wife (Bessy), and their daughter Mary. Mary is set to marry Jeff (who comes from a wealthy family), but Jeff’s mother may not approve and want him to marry someone more fitting. Elsewhere in the story, Doctor Tibbett is asked to help a sick elephant (the titular Zenobia) who winds up following him around which could not only prove to be a disgrace to him, his family and profession, but a slap in the face to the elephant’s caretaker Professor McCrackle. Is the Tibbett family doomed on all fronts?

Hal Roach’s “Zenobia” is an interesting movie from a historical perspective in that Oliver Hardy stars without Stan Laurel here and instead stars alongside underrated comedy star Harry Langdon. Although Hardy was certainly at his best when paired with Laurel, he shows he could star in other work without him here. Moreover, he even had some impressive dramatic moments to boot! It should be noted that “Zenobia” is not a straight up comedy, but rather a mixture of a comedy, a relationship drama, a drama about the class system, and a romance. Truth be told, I wish screenwriter Corey Ford would have made it a zany comedy as the movie would have greatly benefited. It would have cut down on the sluggish pacing and the talky drama that is mixed in. At any rate, the movie still has a fair share of funny moments particularly with the elephant antics, the family photobook, and some court room buffoonery. 

On the downside here, viewers have to endure some cringe worthy racist stereotypes and caricatures namely with the slow servant character of Zero played by Stepin Fetchit. 

There are a trio of noteworthy performances in “Zenobia” that certainly aid the movie overall. Hardy shines comedically and dramatically as Doctor Tibbett. Harry Langdon could have used more screentime, but he makes the most of it (especially during the court room sequence). Billie Burke (who is perhaps best known as Glinda The Good Witch from “The Wizard Of Oz”) is also quite amusing as Doc’s scatterbrained wife. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? I was shocked at how crisp this print looked. What a great restoration job.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Viewers can expect a nice clean track.

Extras include a restoration comparison and trailers for “Merrily We Live,” “Africa Screams,” “Casanova Brown,” “The Noose Hangs High” and “Out of the Blue.”

December 24, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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