Reviewin’ the Box: The Amazing Adventure (1936)

Until recently, The Amazing Adventure was one of the only Cary Grant films I hadn’t seen. You all know by now that I’m a huge Cary fan and, having been so for a number of years, have made a point to seek out the majority of his filmography. Knowing that this film was a “blind spot” for me, I decided to go ahead and buy the DVD on Amazon last month. My DVD edition was released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. Today I’ll be providing you a review of the DVD, and of the film itself.

(Image via Public Domain Treasure Chest)
(Image via Public Domain Treasure Chest)

The Amazing Adventure, directed by Alfred Zeisler, follows Cary as Ernest Bliss, an heir to a hefty fortune who is incredibly bored with his life. Ernest visits a doctor, Sir Aldroyd, who suggests that if Ernest would get a job he’d feel more fulfilled. Aldroyd decides to make a little bet with Ernest, telling him to work to earn a living — and spend nothing more than the money he earns — for an entire year. He can’t touch a single dime of his existing fortunes. The loser of this bet must pay the winner 50,000 pounds.

As usual, The Most Beautiful Man Ever oozes charm in this film as Mr. Bliss. His performance is the real draw for viewing the film, as the story is quite light. The story of the bet morphs toward fluffy rom-com territory at times after Ernest meets and falls in love with a working-class gal. There’s even a little bit of crime thrown in for good measure.

Even with these shifts of focus, the moral of the story remains the same: money can’t buy happiness. It’s a nice watch — I’d file it under the category of “easy viewing.”

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

This film is in the public domain. (Why anyone would allow a Cary Grant film to fall into the PD, I have no clue.) Luckily, the quality is decent. The picture isn’t as bad as I expected it would be — some grain, and at times it looks a little washed out, but it really isn’t bad at all for a PD print. The sound isn’t quite as good; there’s an underlying static to it throughout most of the film, though it’s never too strong and doesn’t overtake the dialogue or music.

The Echo Bridge DVD release comes with two special features: a quiz and a Cary Grant biography. The biography feature is simple: two slides of text briefly telling the story of Cary’s rise to fame. It doesn’t contain any information that you can’t find on Wikipedia and the grammar is mildly atrocious.

The quiz is a much better feature. All of the questions are about this particular film. If you get a question wrong, you’ll be bumped back to answer the question again, so you’re forced to learn/choose the correct answer eventually.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

I took the quiz before watching the film, so naturally, I got most of the questions wrong at first. (I guessed that Mr. Masters was a seller of encyclopedias. I blame that one on my status as a student of librarianship.) There are only three questions, so the quiz still leaves some to be desired, but it is more fun than the other feature.

Even though there’s nothing extravagant going on with this disc, it’s available to purchase for only a couple of bucks on Amazon and I believe even less expensive if you buy directly from the EBHE website. If they were trying to sell it for more than $5, I’d be much more critical. The most disappointing part of the DVD, to me, is that the film’s original run-time is listed as 80 minutes on IMDb and this print only runs at 62 minutes. Do any editions exist that contain all 80 minutes, or have the remaining 18 been lost?

I would recommend this DVD as a purchase for those of you who, like me, are on a quest to own as many Cary Grant films as possible. If you simply want to discover the film, you can do so on the Internet Archive.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
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4 thoughts on “Reviewin’ the Box: The Amazing Adventure (1936)

  1. I’ve never seen this one either, but I remember it being available as a public domain film way back in the ’80s, in Beta format at a Crown Books store. At the time, I had no idea what public domain was, so I grabbed a few Hitchcock films because they were so cheap…then I found out WHY they were so cheap! I hope I can track down a version of this film in better condition (and longer) than the one you saw…although I’m guessing Internet Archive is where I’ll end up in the long run.

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      1. Hope this helps you out, Lindsey…I found it in a comment section of IMDb: “I’ve hunted and searched, but all I can find is the cut US version (Amazing Adventure). Every time I find something listed as ‘The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss’ (title of the original 80 minute UK version), it always turns out to be the ‘Amazing Adventure’ cut. I’d really like to know if the uncut, original version is out there somewhere.”

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