Michael Powell – The Phantom Light (1935)

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synopsis

Three talented screenwriters collaborated in adapting Evadne Price and Joan Roy Byford’s play The Haunted Light to the screen as Phantom Light. This British chiller-diller-thriller begins with the mysterious murder of a lighthouse keeper. After his death, the region is plagued by shipwrecks, each heralded by a “phantom light” beaming from the lighthouse. Female detective Binnie Hale teams with new keeper Gordon Harker and navy officer Ian Hunter to solve the mystery. Directed with a sure and steady hand by Michael Powell, The Phantom Light is infinitely superior to the quota-quickie melodramas then flooding the British film market.- Hal Erickson
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Ernst Lubitsch – The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

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The Budapest department store run by Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan) is a happy little society of salesclerks, where assistant manager Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and salesgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) don’t at all see eye to eye. But in secret pen-pal letters they’re madly in love with one another, each hardly guessing who their mysterious secret admirer might be.

The Shop Around the Corner
Ernst Lubitsch is offering some attractive screen merchandise in “The Shop Around the Corner” which opened at the Music Hall yesterday. “Ninotchka” appears to have used up his supply of hearty comedy for the time at least, but his sense of humor is inexhaustible. He has employed it to brighten the shelves where his tidy Continental romance is stored and, among the bric-à-brac, there are several fragile scenes which he is handling with his usual delicacy and charm, assisted by a friendly staff of sales-people who are going under resoundingly Hungarian names, but remind us strangely of Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan and Joseph Schildkraut. All told, they make “The Shop Around the Corner” a pleasant place to browse in. Continue reading

John G. Blystone – Change of Heart (1934)

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Quote:
Four courageous college graduates become heroes when they successfully complete a 15-hour coast-to-coast plane flight. Alas, things don’t go so well for the foursome when they return to earth to seek out employment. Chris Thring (Charles Farrell) has a particularly rough time of it, but his sweetheart Catherine Furness (Janet Gaynor) remains faithful through thick and thin. Trouble brews in the form of Chris and Catherine’s mutual friends Mack McGowan (James Dunn) and Madge Rountree (Ginger Rogers): Catherine thinks Chris is in love with Madge, while Mack falls in love with Chris? and on and on it goes. Shirley Temple shows up in the early scenes as a plane passenger, while that grand old trouper Gustav von Seyfertitz sheds his usual villainous image as the film’s avuncular last-minute problem-solver. Change of Heart is based on a novel by Kathleen Norris. Continue reading

Marcel Pagnol – La Femme du boulanger AKA The Baker’s Wife (1938)

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Synopsis:
In this little Provencal village, a new baker, Aimable, settles down. His wife Aurelie is beautiful and much younger than he. She departs with a shepherd the night after Aimable produces his first breads. Aimable is so afflicted that he can not work anymore. Therefore, the villagers, who initially laughed at his cuckoldry, take the matter very seriously (they want the bread) and organize a plan to find Aurelie and to bring her back to the bakery. Continue reading

Boris Barnet & S. Mardanin – U samogo sinego morya AKA By the Bluest of Seas (1936)

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Synopsis:
The sea is at first quite dark for the sailors Aliosha and Yussuf. Adrift, they reach an island where they meet Mashenka, a beautiful girl they both immediately fall in love with…

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One of the films revered by French filmmakers such as Godard and Otar Iosseliani, this marvelous picture, a spontaneous and joyful romantic comedy shot at eye-popping locations, stars the delicious Elena Kouzmina as a bouncy island beauty wooed by two young shipwrecked Caspian fisherman. And it’s more fun than Alexander Nevsky. Continue reading

Henry Hathaway – Johnny Apollo (1940)

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The son of a jailed Wall Street broker turns to crime to pay for his father’s release.

synopsis

Tyrone Power plays the college-grad son of jailed-embezzler Edward Arnold. Power tries to find work, only to be turned away because of his father’s reputation. When he decides to use a phony name, he is still fired, because his ex-convict boss feels that Power is being unfair to his imprisoned father. If you can’t win for losing in a 1940 film, you turn to crime. Power hires on as the right-hand man of personable but deadly gangster Lloyd Nolan. Arnold, who has become a model convict, is disgusted that his son has turned to crime. He even refuses to have anything to do with his son when Power lands in the slammer himself. Through the intervention of Nolan’s moll Dorothy Lamour, a nightclub singer who has grown to love Power, Arnold realizes that his son is still a good guy underneath. Power proves as much by preventing a climactic jailbreak engineered by the homicidal Nolan. Continue reading

William C. McGann – Sh! The Octopus (1937)

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Plot: Comedy-mystery finds Detectives Kelly and Dempsey trapped in a deserted lighthouse with a group of strangers who are being terrorized by a killer octopus AND a mysterious crime figure named after the title sea creature. Written by Marty McKee Continue reading

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