1931-1940

A. Edward Sutherland – Palmy Days (1931)

Review of the film from the IMDb by “AlsExGal” (posted 31 January, 2010):
At a time when musicals had fallen completely out of favor with the movie-going public, Eddie Cantor and Busby Berkeley were still able to bring smiles to faces and audiences into theaters with this 1931 pseudo-musical by offering a bankable star (Cantor) in a foolproof formula. The title refers to a ring of bogus spiritualists for which Cantor’s character has served unwittingly as a front man. During the film Eddie falls repeatedly into some dangerous or embarrassing situation and by virtue of his own hyperactivity emerges victorious in each case. Read More »

Victor Saville – First a Girl (1935)

British musical star Jessie Matthews tops the bill in this song-studded comedy. Elizabeth (Matthews) is a delivery girl for a seamstress who is dispatched to drop off some costumes at a theatre where a noted female impersonator is about to open a new show. The star is suddenly stricken with laryngitis, and Elizabeth is drafted to take over in his place, posing as a man who dresses like a woman. Elizabeth is a hit, and with Victor (Sonnie Hale) as her manager, she sets forth on a concert tour of Europe; she continues to perform as a man and draws packed houses and enthusiastic reviews. However, a mysterious Princess (Anna Lee) and her significant other get the strange feeling there’s something odd about this new singing star, and they’re determined to find out what it is. First a Girl was adapted from the German film Viktor und Viktoria, which would be remade into the American musical comedy Victor/Victoria. Read More »

Tay Garnett – Stand-In (1937)

Synopsis:
Atterbury Dodd is an efficiency expert who believes everything can be reduced to mathematics. He is sent to Hollywood to see whether Colossal Pictures is a good investment. He soon learns that movie production doesn’t fit his formulaic mindset. Read More »

Raoul Walsh – Under Pressure (1935)

Two members of a crew of “sandhogs”, men who work on an underwater tunnel project, battle each other over the same woman and a rival team of sandhogs to see who will finish their half of the tunnel first, with the winning team getting more money and guaranteed future work. Read More »

Sacha Guitry – Ils étaient neuf célibataires AKA Nine Bachelors (1939)

Filmmaker Sacha Guitry’s only cinematic contribution for 1939 was Ils Etaient Neuf Celibataires, released stateside as There Were Nine Bachelors. Set sometime in the past, the story gets under way when a new law calls for the expulsion of certain foreigners from Paris. Among those slated for deportation is Polish stage star Elvire Popesco. Guitry plays an opportunist who offers to help Popesco remain in France in exchange for her help in a highly suspicious “lonely hearts” scam. Our so-called hero intends to marry off nine elderly bachelors with an equal number of female foreign aliens, so that the latter will be able to declare themselves as French citizens. Naturally, most of the financial proceeds of this venture are to remain in Guitry’s possession — not to mention any female “fringe benefits” picked up along the way. Read More »

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Die 3 Groschen-Oper AKA The Threepenny Opera [+Commentary] (1931)

In London at the turn of the century, the bandit Mack the Knife marries Polly without the knowledge of her father, Peachum, the ‘king of the beggars’.
Quote:
Brecht’s opera, as we have seen, is not as ideologically pure as he would have us believe, nor is Pabst’s film as apolitical as Brecht charged. Both works are to be valued in their own right, although to my mind, Pabst’s film is ideologically more correct from a Marxist point of view. One can argue, then, that despite Brecht’s objections to the film, Pabst’s version of THE THREE PENNY OPERA is the most Brechtian film adaptation of Brecht’s work to date. Read More »

Clarence Brown – Possessed (1931)

Plot: Marion is a factory worker who hopes to trade the assembly line, for a beautiful penthouse apartment. Mark Whitney, a wealthy and influential lawyer can make her dreams come true, but there is only one problem, he will give her everything but a marriage proposal. Will this affair ever lead to marriage? Read More »