Preservation Premiere: It’s Great to Be Alive

Jul 6–12, 2017


It’s Great to Be Alive. 1933. USA. Directed by Alfred Werker

Newly preserved by The Museum of Modern Art from a unique nitrate print in the Museum’s collection, the Fox Film Corporation's rollicking pre-Code musical comedy It's Great to Be Alive (1933) is set in a near future when every man on Earth has succumbed to the fatal disease of “masculitis.” As Edna Mae Oliver leads a team of female scientists in a desperate attempt to create an artificial man, one lone male—an aviator, played by the Brazilian star Raúl Roulien—is discovered living on a tropical island. Returned to civilization, he becomes an object of hot contention, claimed by his fiancée (Gloria Stuart) but kidnapped by a gangster (Dorothy Burgess) who plans to auction him off to the highest bidder.

The original, silent version of this story, The Last Man on Earth (1924), is even more extreme in its gender-bending comedy than the 1933 sound remake. It’s 1954, and the dread disease masculitis has purged the world of men, except for one sad specimen, a rejected suitor (Earle Foxe) who has been living as a hermit since his childhood sweetheart (Derelys Perdue) threw him over. He’s found by Gertie the Gangster (the serial star Grace Cunard) who sells him to the US government for $10 million—though just which state gets him will be decided by a boxing match on the floor of the US Senate.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.


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