In Oklahoma, a state that has elevated Will Rogers to the status of icon, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual flesh-and-blood humorist and the sizable influence he had on popular culture in the early 20th century.
A Hollywood superstar of the Twenties and Thirties, Rogers wielded his homespun wit and aw-shucks demeanor for a series of Fox movies until his untimely death in 1935. “The Will Rogers Collection: Volume 1″ boasts four of his last pictures “ “Doubting Thomas,” “In Old Kentucky,” “Steamboat Round the Bend” and “Life Begins at 40″ “ along with a generous portion of bonus features on the man from Oologah.
While all the films showcase Rogers’ clever and incisive observations, the whiff of racism and sexism keep “Doubting Thomas” and “In Old Kentucky” from translating well to modern times. Thankfully, the collection also boasts a bona fide gem in, “Steamboat.” Directed by John Ford, the picture is equal parts comedy, adventure yarn, romance and good-old-fashioned Americana.