Category Archives: 30's movies

30′s movies marathon – part 25? 26? who knows?!

Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938, Soviet Union) – Considering that the message here is “never mind the Mongols who just passed through our village, the Germans are our real enemy”, it’s not surprising that Hitler broke the pact. Watched: 18 minutes.

Carefree (1938, USA) – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers spoof psychoanalysis. Best (only?) attempt in film history to combine tap dancing with golf. Watched: 16 minutes.

Little Tough Guy (1938, USA) – The ‘Dead End Kids’ from ‘Dead End’ reach a [two words, two syllables] in this terrible followup. Watched: 8 minutes.

Mr Wong, Detective (1938, USA) – What is it about the 30′s and stereotypical Chinese detectives? Boris Karloff could at least have tried to look the part. Watched: 6 minutes.

The Great Waltz (1938, USA) – A movie about Johan Strauss and his immortal waltzes. I hate Johann Strauss and his immortal waltzes. Watched: 4 minutes.

Suez (1938, US) – Yes, but what I want to know is: Whatever happened to Napoleon the second?! Watched: 14 minutes.

Le quai des brumes (1938, France) – Probably a very fine movie about a cynical deserter, but not for me. Watched: 15 minutes.

Marie Antoinette (1938, USA) – A cheerful, empty-headed princess marries a royal imbecile, and then she’s beheaded by the citizens. Interesting, but the acting is either bad, or an accurate portrayal of some truly annoying people. Watched it all.

30′s movies marathon – part .. oh who’s counting?

Jezebel (1938, USA) – A 1850′s New Orleans woman tries to win love through manipulation and audacity, which doesn’t work out too well. Told against a background of Southern elegance and happy, comical slaves. Fantastic, racist period piece, with Bette Davis switching comfortably between brave, pathetic and cruel. Watched it all. IMDB reviewers call it a prelude to Gone With the Wind, which is nonsense – this is far better.

You Can’t Take it With You (1938, USA) – A group of free spirits explore Maslow’s fifth layer in their commune, which is threatened by .. (queue Psycho-music) .. tycoons. Nice, well-intended, and naive, in a way that’s a little less interesting now that we’re all like this. Watched: 30 minutes.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938, USA) – The beloved classic, reimagined as Dennis the Menace. Watched: 10 minutes.

Ask a Policeman (1938, UK) – Loud jokes that beat you over the head with how funny they are. Watched: 8 minutes.

The Texans (1938, USA) – Evil cardboard yankees force confederate veterans to pay taxes and work for a living in reconstruction-era Texas. It’s a travesty! It’s up to a band of brave, doomed rebels to save the South, by relaunching the Civil War with Mexican and French soldiers on their side. Yes, they’re the good guys. Watched: 14 minutes.

A Slight Case of Murder (1938, USA) – Gangster tries to go legit when prohibition ends, but Society Won’t Let Him, (they hate his crappy beer). Watched: 8 minutes.

30′s movies marathon – part 23

Topper (1937, USA) – Manny-man man’s man Cary Grant plays an irresponsible playboy who kills himself and his wife in a drunk driving accident. They then return as ghosts to teach a respectable banker to be an irresponsible drunk driver too, (or at least help him stand up to his shrewish wife). Loved it. Watched it all.

The Good Earth (1937, USA) – I don’t know which is more stupid: A movie set in China where all the main characters are white, or this, where the characters are Chinese, but they’re all played by white actors. Watched: 14 minutes. IMDB reviewers beg us to consider the casting in the context of its era, and not condemn it out of “political correctness”. I wonder if they excuse all 30′s racism equally?

Conquest (1937, USA) – Polish countess Greta Garbo is pressured into offering herself to Napoleon in the hope of securing freedom for her people, but all she gets in return is rape and dishonor. She falls in love with him anyway, but again (and again, and again) she is betrayed by his ego and ambition – just like Europe. Excellent. Watched it all.

Range Defenders (1937, USA) – Oh God, it’s a horrible, ultracheap Western. Noooooo…! When did they begin making good ones?! Watched: 5 minutes.

30′s movies marathon – part 22

Young and Innocent (1937, UK) – A British movie that doesn’t suck! In fact it’s good. Hitchcock does his innocent suspect thing, with black humor and many inspired scenes, such as a jazz drummer in blackface trying desperately not to reveal his villainous twitch. Watched it all.

A Damsel in Distress (1937, USA) – Merging Fred Astaire with P.G. Wodehouse sounds like a good idea, but .. nah. Watched: 15 minutes.

Salama fi khair (1937, Egypt) – En Egyptian farce! It’s actually funny, at times. A lazy office worker gets stuck with a large sum of money, and becomes afraid of thieves. Watched: 31 minutes.

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937, USA) – A man happens to look exactly like the crown prince, and happens to meet him just in time to fill in for the prince at his coronation after he’s poisoned. This will no doubt cause 1h and 40m of intrigue and confusion, but this sort of aristocratic adventure doesn’t interest me. Watched: 15 minutes.

La Habanera (1937, Germany) – A Swedish woman visits Puerto Rico with her humorless aunt, where she is swept off her feet by the natives and their exotic customs (bull-fighting etc.) Watched: 14 minutes. IMDB reviewers say the romance doesn’t last, and she ends up safely in the arms of a fellow Aryan.

30′s movies marathon – part 21

Dead End (1937, USA) – Excellent drama about street kids in a poor New York neigbourhood. Smart and unsentimental, with great performances by the kids, and a fine supporting job by Humphrey Bogart as a bitter gangster. Watched it all.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, USA) – You know, I find it hard to believe that Snow White and the queen are the two most beautiful women in the kingdom. It’s .. unlikely, and not borne out by the visual evidence. The movie looks great for its time, but the story is stupid, full of cute animals and cute songs – in other words a typical braindead FX movie. (Besides, I think this is how it really happened.) Watched: 27 minutes.

Love From a Stranger (1937, UK) – Another terrible British movie. Watched: 6 minutes.

Souls at Sea (1937, USA) – Gary Cooper isn’t the right actor to play a slave trader, even one with a conscience. Watched: 19 minutes.

Stella Dallas (1937, USA) – Character drama that feels too much like a novel. Watched: 17 minutes.

The Last Gangster
(1937, USA) – Is that a promise? Good enough, but I’ve seen it all before. Watched: 15 minutes.

Lost Horizon (1937, USA) – Silly but well-made oriental adventure with something of a Spielberg flair. Watched: 37 minutes.

30′s movies marathon – part 20

Stage Door (1937, USA) – Loud comedy about a boardhouse for girls who want to make it in the theatre. I especially like the scenes where Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn are sniping at each other. (Now why is is that the few 30′s movies I’ve seen that are Bechdel compliant are about actresses?) Watched it all.

Festliches Nürnberg (1937, Germany) – Having finally freed itself from Jewish oppression, the German people celebrates with a spontaneous outburst of goosestepping. You know, sometimes I feel sorry for the regular German people I see in these movies. Other times I feel they got just what they deserved.

Marked Woman (1937, USA) – This gangster movie taught me a new word: clip joint, a shady club that scams its customers. Watched: 23 minutes.

Paradise Isle (1937, USA) – An American washes ashore a South Sea island where the white men (including himself) are arrogant jerks, and the natives are happy, subservient and child-like. Watched: 15 minutes.

Pensionat Paradiset (1937, Sweden) – Light summer vacation farce. Watched: 18 minutes.

Kid Galahad (1937, USA) – Just some lousy boxing movie. Watched: 6 minutes.

Nothing Sacred (1937, USA) – I love what this satire about a fake victim of radiation poisoning who becomes the darling of the New York press is trying to do: It’s full of odd jokes and black humor. That doesn’t save it from being, at times, kind of bad, but I refuse to hold that against it. Oh, poor, doomed Hazel Flagg! Watched it all.

30′s movies marathon – part 19

Captains Courageous (1937, USA) – A spoiled rich kid learns the joy of honest labor. The star here isn’t Spencer Tracy, but the kid, Freddie Bartholomew, who manages to be both obnoxious and likeable. Watched it all.

Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937, USA) – This is the most stupid crime movie I’ve ever seen. Charlie Chan, a Chinese-American detective who speaks easternish platitudes in broken English, travels to the Berlin Olympics to retrieve a stolen gizmo. Watched: 43 minutes, in hope of seing a portrayal of Nazi Berlin, but the movie takes place in an alternate universe where Hitler never happened.

Blake of Scotland Yard (1937, USA) – The British really sucked at movies in the 30′s, didn’t they? A scientist invents a giant death ray, hoping thereby to end all war, presumably by obliterating the enemy. Watched: 9 minutes.

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937, USA) – Grown-up children don’t care about their sad, lonely, old parents. Watched: 32 minutes. IMDB reviewers say not to watch this if you feel suicidal.

Heidi (1937, USA) – Opens with Shirley Temple stripping(!), followed by Shirley Temple being cute. I loathe Shirley Temple, and I suspect her fans. Watched: 8 minutes.

Black Legion (1937, USA) – Didactic drama about the rise of a KKK-like movement of working class fascists. Not good, but it’s the first 30′s movie I’ve seen so far to deal with the most relevant subject of the decade. Watched: 38 minutes.

30′s movies marathon – part 18

The Lower Depths (1936, France) – A thief, a bankrupt baron, and assorted poor people live in a lodging house. Based on Maxim Gorky’s play. I think I rather like socialist realism, especially when it’s done with grim humor. Watched it all.

Big Brown Eyes (1936, USA) – Fast-talking crime comedy, with many right ingredients, but I just don’t care. Watched: 10 minutes.

Winds of the Wasteland (1936, USA) – These old westerns almost make me not like westerns any more. How dreadful! Watched: 8 minutes.

Mayerling (1936, France) – Wonderful historical romance. The crown prince of Austria-Hungary finds the love of his life in 1880s Vienna. Correct in the outline, though the events are a matter of historical controversy to this day. Watched it all.

Klondike Annie (1936, USA) – Any definition of pornography that doesn’t include Mae West’s smile is deficient. But she can’t act, and neither can anyone else in this movie. Watched: 16 minutes.

San Francisco (1936, USA) – I am prejudiced against movies that begin by solemnly informing you that the uninteresting people (including Clark Gable at his most despiccable) you’re about to meet may all die horribly at the end. In this case the disaster is the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but the same applies to, say, the Titanic and Pearl Harbor. Watched: 11 minutes.

Wedding Present (1936, USA) – Cary Grant, the man’s man who put modern boy-men to shame, (yes!), plays a boy-man with an annoying sense of humor. Watched: 8 minutes.

30′s movies marathon – part 17

Pépé le Moko (1936, France) – Excellent gangster drama, set in the Casbah in Algiers. Watched it all. IMDB reviewers say it invented noir. I say you should follow up with The Battle of Algiers.

Windbag the Sailor
(1936, UK) – An old man who pretends to have been a sailor is tricked into captaining a doomed vessel. He inevitably ends up king of a cannibal island. Watched it all. Not very funny, but .. it’s British humor, finally!

Follow the Fleet (1936, USA) – Who needs medicare and the 35c flat rate fare, when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are dancing through the air? (I’ll soon run out of obscure song references, I promise.) Watched it all.

Satan Met a Lady
(1936, USA) – A crime comedy with the actual comedy removed, leaving only unappealing cynicism behind. Watched: 20 minutes. IMDB claims it’s based on the The Maltese Falcon. I refuse to believe it!

The Garden of Allah (1936, USA) – It’s good to see a 30′s movie In Glorious Technicolor ™ at last, but what a mess the story is. You can’t cast Marlene Dietrich in a straight and boring drama. The sprinkle of oriental stereotypes don’t make it exotic, just stupid. Watched: 21 minutes.

Libeled Lady (1936, USA) – Some people are trying to frame some other people as part of some intricate plot. Charming nonsense, saved by William Powell and Myrna Loy redoing their parts from The Thin Man. Watched it all.

30′s movies marathon – part 16

My Man Godfrey (1936, USA) – A hobo with a Harvard degree gets hired as a butler for a family of rich assholes. Darker than Wodehouse, lighter than Blackadder. Best scene: The opening, where New York’s wealthiest decadents go on a scavenger hunt for “lost men” in the city dump. Watched it all.

Things to Come (1936, UK) – Powerful anti-war science fiction. In the distant year of 1940, war drags the world down a seemingly neverending spiral of violence and disease. Eventually a strong but peaceful world government arises, creating a new world order based on reason, science and preposterous clothing. Watched it all.

Next Time We Love (1936, USA) – Bloodless romance, with James Stewart back when he was so young his best smile just made him look sleazy and stupid. Watched: 9 minutes.

Ceiling Zero (1936, USA) – Dedicated to the brave young men in the U.S. Air Mail Service. Watched 8 minutes. IMDB reviewers say the rest sucks too.

Swing Time (1936, USA) – Wave your hands in the air / And wave ‘em like you just don’t care / Like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire / My main man Yogi Bear. Not as good as Top Hat. Watched: 55 minutes.

Desire (1936, USA) – Con woman Marlene Dietrich hooks up with regular joe Gary Cooper. It’ll never last! But I do wish they’d shown the scene where he gives her a spanking for being a perl thief. Watched it all.