The partnership between Turner Classic Movies and Warner Home Video has made the two companies leaders in re-issuing cinema classics. Universal Studios is a close second thanks to the recent re-issues of Cape Fear, its Alfred Hitchcock Essentials collection, and it Universal Monsters collection. Now two more companies are staking their claim in the classic movie world. Those companies are Virgil Films and Cohen Media Group. Early in 2013, the two companies partnered for the release of what is one of the single greatest classics of all time in the Thief of Bagdad. Now months later, they have released an even lesser known classic in Perfect Understanding.
The plot of Perfect Understanding rests in the agreement between Swanson’s Judy and Olivier’s Nicholas that could be equated to an open marriage. Right off the top, it’s obvious just how original this is, considering social norms and values of America in the early 1930s. The agreement between the couple is meant in order to break the trend that the couple sees among its friends. Neither wants to end up like their friends. Ironically enough, it is because of the agreement that the couple reaches the point of its friends. The ensuing story is unlike anything that fans of the rom-com genre have seen since. It’s obviously not just another typical boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end story. It’s almost Shakespearian in a way when one really goes back through the story a couple of times and analyzes it at a much deeper level. It should also be noted here that despite a run time of an hour and half, the story actually moves along at a relatively easy pace. This, along with the largely original story is another positive to this unearthed gem of a classic film.
For a film of its era and its style, Perfect Understanding could very well have been much longer and less able to relate to viewers, even today. Luckily, it didn’t do that. And roughly eight decades after it premiered it’s still as funny today as it was in its premiere. Taking into account the film’s age, it’s incredible that it still sounds and looks as good as it does to this day. What audiences see and hear is largely what audiences heard when the film first premiered so long ago. It is a true testament to those charged with restoring the film to its original glory. And now thanks to those individuals, a whole new generation of film buffs can enjoy this rare classic.
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