1931-1940

Marcel Pagnol – La fille du puisatier aka The well-digger’s daughter (1940)

The Well-Digger’s Daughter served to reunite star Raimu and writer/director Marcel Pagnol, who’d earlier scored an international hit with the “Marseilles trilogy” (Fanny, Marius, Cesar). The title character played by Josette Day, is impregnated by aviator George Gray. Her father, Raimu, orders Josette out of the house so that her younger sisters won’t be likewise “corrupted”. There’s many a moment of pathos and hilarity before Raimu realizes the folly of his behavior. Filmed in 1940, just after France’s acquiescence to their Nazi conquerors, The Well-Digger’s Daughter didn’t make it to the US until 1946. (Hal Erickson@All Movie Guide) Read More »

Lloyd Bacon – 50 Million Frenchmen (1931)

Olsen and Johnson on the loose in France.

50 Million Frenchmen is the film adaptation of the hit Broadway play with all of Cole Porter’s music eliminated, with the exception of “You Do Something To Me”, which is used as background music. The songs were omitted because box office receipts for musicals were down and Warner Brothers apparently didn’t want to risk a flop. The movie was originally filmed in 2-color Technicolor, but all that remains is this black and white version. Read More »

S. Sylvan Simon – The Crime of Doctor Hallet (1938)

This underrated feature stars Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Paul Hallet, working in the jungles of Sumatra with associate Jack Murray (William Gargan), experimenting on monkeys in search of a cure for red fever. Enter a much younger doctor, Phillip Saunders (John “Dusty” King), whose arrival is met with disapproval by the much older Hallet, who consigns the newcomer to a life of cleaning test tubes. Accidentally stumbling on a possible cure, Saunders tries to share his discovery with the unresponsive Hallet, then decides to conduct his own private research without the others knowledge. When Hallet arrives at his own solution, the eager Saunders inoculates himself with red fever, trusting that Hallet’s cure will save him, but it fails. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – An American Tragedy (1931)

Synopsis:
Having just reached adulthood, Clyde Griffiths has always lamented his lot in life, he the only son of poor missionaries. He has gotten a peripheral view of society life, to which he aspires, in his work as a bellhop at an upscale hotel. If being truthful to himself, he would admit that he lacks moral strength, he often taking the easiest but perhaps not the most ethical path to protect himself. Forced to move from place to place out of circumstance, he ends up in Lycurgus, New York working at the Samuel Griffiths Collar and Shirt factory, Samuel Griffiths his paternal uncle. Not knowing his uncle or his family, Clyde only wants a chance to get ahead, not expecting anything else from his wealthy relations. After an apprenticeship, Clyde ends up as the foreman in the stamping department. Read More »

Lloyd Bacon – Sit Tight (1931)

Plot: A movie musical about…wrestling? Turns out the public grew weary of musicals while Sit Tight was made, so most of the tunes were jettisoned prior to release. What remains is a wrestling comedy filled with plenty of pre-Code friskiness. Athletic funnyman Joe E. Brown plays Jojo Mullins, who has an eye for the ladies although his heart belongs to the manager (Winnie Lightner) of the health club where he works. Eager to show the ring prowess he learned by correspondence, Jojo gets his chance in a big-time match. Paul Gregory and Claudia Dell (rumored to be the model for Columbia Pictures logo) play the subplot’s young lovebirds in this energetic comedy that’s one of nearly 50 films directed by Lloyd Bacon in the 1930s. From Warner Brothers Studio! Read More »

Reinhold Schünzel & Albert Valentin – Les Dieux s’amusent AKA Amphitryon (1935)

Synopsis
Jupiter comes down from Mount Olympus and disguises himself as a mortal to romance a woman… Read More »

Clarence Brown – Emma (1932)

Plot: When their mother dies, Frederick Smith hires Emma Thatcher to be a nanny to his 3 children. The children grow up and Frederick becomes rich and successful. He and Emma marry right before his death, and his will becomes a source of trouble between the children and Emma. Written by Rebecca Fennig Read More »