Thursday, January 1, 2009

30's movies marathon - part 9

The Count of Monte Cristo (1934, USA) - A straightforward, somewhat unfocused adaptation, with an entirely wrong Robert Donat as Edmond Dantes. (Don't hire a boy to play a middle-aged man's role.) There must be better versions, but the underlying story is strong enough to carry the movie anyway. My favourite Cristo will of course always be Alfred Bester's.

Of Human Bondage (1934, USA) - I remember this novel. This isn't it. But it does remind me I should revisit W. Somerset Maugham. Watched: 9 minutes.

Cleopatra (1934, USA) - What Would Jerry Bruckheimer Do? He would open his Cleopatra with the kidnapped queen being carried by chariots at high speed into the desert, and so does Cecil B. deMille. But I think Bruckheimer would find a Caesar who looked less like Graham Chapman pretending to be serious. Watched: 10 minutes.

Bright Eyes (1934, USA) - Shirley Temple plays Shirley, the world's cutest orphan - who has a disturbingly close relationship with all the men at the local airbase. Watched: 6 minutes, then skipped forward to her singing for and being groped by a passenger plane full of men. What?!!! (Graham Greene thought it was fishy too. Shirley Temple had him sued.)

The Lost Patrol (1934, USA) - Arabs hunt British soldiers in the desert. Starring Boris Karloff as the world's ugliest Christian. Watched: 9 minutes.

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At 02 January, 2009 19:21 , Anonymous Petter said...

Somerset Maugham – first read him when I was eleven years old and living in a small town in Canada. This would have been 1956. The town’s population was around 2000 and even though everything looks bigger to a child, I remember that the library was small, with narrow aisles, stuffed with books. It was there that my urge to read was triggered (although something must have triggered my urge to to enter the library) and where I discovered amongst others - Maugham, Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Saki, O’Henry, E.M Forster, The Algonquin group and, yes, the urge to read and learn, still not satied at age 63. I read Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge and Moon and Sixpence, but what I remember most from that time and my reading of Maugham was his short stories – if memory serves (and it doesn’t) - the library had series of books of his short stories. What I do remember is that I read them all. He was one of my favourite authors from that time, although I feel no need to revisit him.

At 02 January, 2009 20:03 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

I read two or three of his books when I was a teenager. Especially liked The Razor's Edge. I wonder if I'll still like him.

I also remember a library stuffed with books - didn't read any Maugham or Dickens when I was eleven, but I can remember exactly on which shelves I would find Jules Verne, Roald Dahl, and some series about Davy Crocket and Robin Hood.

Favourite Algonquin: Harpo Marx, (as described in Harpo Speaks).

At 02 January, 2009 21:29 , Anonymous Petter said...

The Algonquin group – strange – how many of the people reading your blog have heard of the Algonquin group (without cheating and going to Wikipedia or Googling it)? Reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke’s comment about how thrilled he was not to have to explain every reference when he moved from Rolling Stone to The Atlantic. It’s like me and my oldest friends – no need to explain references. It’s lived experience.
My favorite Algonquin writers were Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Alexander Woollcott.
The Marx Brothers – love them, love them, love them. Read at least four books about them, including two bios of Groucho. Seen all their movies. We got television in the 50’s and through the 50’s and early sixties, movies shown on TV were from the thirties and forties. Speaking of which, check out The Thin Man series with William Powell and Myrna Loy (if you haven’t already).

At 02 January, 2009 22:37 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

I've read some Dorothy Parker (I remember some not nice comments about A. A. Milne) - and a bit of Woolcott, but that wasn't easy to find, he's gone out of print. Influential critic one moment, forgotten the next.

I actually have a Thin Man film lined up for the marathon, (never heard of them), but it seems to be the second one, so I'll see if I can find the first.

At 02 January, 2009 22:46 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

"how many of the people reading your blog have heard of the Algonquin group"

I'm not sure I have any readers these days. At least they make little noise. Obscure books and movies are apparently not good conversation starters.


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