Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson – Scarface (1932)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Completed in mid-1930, Scarface, based on Armitage Trail’s novel of the same name, might have been the first of the great talkie gangster flicks, but it was held up for release until after that honor was jointly usurped by Little Caesar and Public Enemy. Paul Muni stars as prohibition-era mobster Tony Camonte, a character obviously patterned on Al Capone (whose nickname was “Scarface”). The homicidal Camonte ruthlessly wrests control of the bootlegging racket from his boss, Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins), and claims Lovo’s mistress, Poppy (Karen Morley), in the bargain. But while Poppy satisfies him sexually, Tony has a soft spot in his heart only for his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak). The film’s finale is one of the longest and bloodiest of the 1930s, maintaining suspense and concern for the characters involved even though Muni has deliberately done nothing to make Tony likeable to audience. Continue reading

Leni Riefenstahl & Béla Balázs – Das blaue Licht AKA The Blue Light (1932)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis
Junta is hated by the people in the village where she lives, especially by the women, who suspect her of being a witch. Only she can climb the nearby mountains to a cave high up, whence a mysterious blue light glows when the moon is full. Many young men of the village have died trying to follow her. She is driven out of town, and takes to living in the mountains. Eventually she shares the secret of the blue light with one man, and he betrays it. Continue reading

Leni Riefenstahl – Der Sieg des Glaubens AKA Victory of the Faith (1933)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Der Sieg des Glaubens (English: The Victory of Faith) is the first documentary directed by Leni Riefenstahl, who was hired despite opposition from Nazi officials that resented employing a woman — and a non-Party member too. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from August 30 to September 3 in 1933.

Like her Nazi documentaries of 1935, the short Tag der Freiheit (Day of Liberty) and the classic propaganda feature Triumph of the Will, Der Sieg des Glaubens has no voiceover commentary and few explanatory titles. The activities captured by Riefenstahl’s cameras include the welcoming of foreign diplomats and other politicians at the Nuremberg train station; Adolf Hitler’s arrival at the airport and his meeting with important party members; massive Nazi troop parades; and Hitler’s speech on the tenth anniversary of the National Socialist movement. Continue reading

Ernst Lubitsch – Broken Lullaby (1932)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

From the AFI Catalog:

After World War I, Frenchman Paul Renard is haunted by the memory of Walter Holderlin, a German soldier he killed in the heat of battle. Having read and signed Walter’s last letter and memorized his home address, Paul goes to Germany to confess his deed to the soldier’s family. Anti-French sentiment is strong in Germany and Dr. Holderlin will not suffer Paul’s presence in his home until Walter’s fiancée Elsa recognizes Paul as the man who has been leaving flowers on Walter’s grave. Paul reveals that he knew Walter, but is unable to confess his past, and tells the grateful family he and Walter were friends during the war. Paul and Elsa fall in love and a close bond grows between Paul and the Holderlins, despite the entire town’s disapproval. When Elsa shows Paul Walter’s former bedroom, he is unable to contain himself any longer and confesses the truth to her. Paul also reveals his plans to tell Dr. and Mrs. Holderlin his secret and then leave, but Elsa intervenes and advises him that his confession and departure would deprive the Holderlins of their second “son.” Eventually, Elsa convinces Paul to sacrifice his conscience and stay to make the Holderlins happy. After Paul consents, Dr. Holderlin gives him Walter’s violin to play to Elsa’s accompaniment. Continue reading

Sacha Guitry – Le Roman d’un Tricheur AKA Confessions of a Cheat (1936)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis
The story of the cheat begins and ends with personal misfortune. When he was a young boy, our hero was caught stealing money from the family shop. As a punishment, he was not allowed to join his family on their picnic. They ate mushrooms and died of food poisoning, he survived and was placed in the care of his unscrupulous aunt and uncle, who intended to rob him of his inheritance. Years later, our hero ends up as a croupier in a casino at Morocco. There, he is about to embark at what looks like being a very lucrative career – as a professional cheat. Continue reading

Roberto Rossellini – La vispa Teresa (1939)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Scalera had obtained backing for a series of animal shorts and needed someone to make them. Roberto plunged in enthusiastically. He arrived at Ladispoli with animals of all sorts distributed among pockets and cages and started sixteen documentaries, no less, all at once. A slew of titles were annouced. La foresta silenziosa (“The quiet forest”), Primavera (“Spring”), Re Travicello, and La merca; and perhaps ll brutto idraulico (“The ugly plumber”). Fellini recalls finding Roberto at Scalera kneeling under small reflectors. “Inside a small enclosure made of nets and rope were a turtle, two mice, and three or four roaches. He was shooting a documentary about insects [La vispa Teresa?], doing one frame a day, very complex and laborious, with great patience.”
“He kept shooting for months,” Fellini adds, probably with his customary exaggeration. For in fact Roberto’s enthusiasm flagged quickly. Continue reading

John Cromwell – Jalna (1935)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

In this adaptation of author de la Roche’s chronicle of the passionate lives of the strange Whiteoaks of Jalna, their beautiful family estate located in souther Ontario. The story begins as a young Whiteoak, a novelist travels to New York where he encounters a charming woman, marries her, and takes her back to Jalna. There she encounters many difficulties as she attempts to adjust to life with his odd family. It does not help that several soap-operatic events transpired while he was gone when his brother married the illegitimate daughter of a despised neighbor. One day a “sexy dame” suddenly shows up on the family porch. Soon she and the novelist are trysting away, but before he can consummate their affair he is killed during a terrible fall. The new widow then realizes that it is a different brother that she loves. They soon marry. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Continue reading