1931-1940

Mario Camerini – Ma non è una cosa seria AKA But It’s Nothing Serious (1937)

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Synopsis:
Based on a Pirandello play, Vittori De Sica plays a wealthy young social lion who has to constantly fight off a horde of women who are eager to marry him because of his position and money. He weds Elisa Cegani, a servant girl, who turns out to be a more appealing wife than any of the others could have been. Assis Noris decorates the screen well as one of the chasers and pursuers. In 1937, De Sica and Noris made a film, “II Signor Max,” which, other than the setting and character role names, basically has the same plot as this film. Read More »

Mario Camerini – Il signor Max AKA Mister Max (1937)

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Synopsis:
Vittorio De Sica, heir to a large sum of money and owner of a newspaper vending stall, makes enough money out of his business to take a vacation at a fashionable resort. He is given a cruise ticket by an aristocrat who is an old school friend, and is mistaken for the aristocrat when he uses a camera that has his friends name on it. Assia Noris plays a maid who falls in love with him because of who he is and not who others think he is.

Remade as Il Conte Max with Alberto Sordi in the De Sica role and the latter as the uncle. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – The 39 Steps [+commentary] (1935)

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Quote:
Fresh, funny, and filled with typically Hitchcockian suspense, The 39 Steps fully demonstrates the director’s unshaken status as a cinematic master. Based on the 1915 novel by John Buchan, this quickly paced adaptation follows Richard Hannay (played by the sublime Robert Donat) through one dangerous adventure after another and simultaneously tracks his romantic relationship with Pamela (Madeleine Carroll).

Like many Hitchcock characters, Hannay is singled out for no apparent reason, wrongly accused of a crime, and caught up in a world of intrigue and danger. It slowly dawns on Hannay that he is among such diabolical forces, and that he must struggle to survive. This scenario often recurs in the director’s work, notably in Strangers on a Train, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (both versions). Through this theme of “the wrong man,” Hitchcock meditates on the issue of human identity and the related issue, in film, of human distinctiveness. He, also through this theme, contemplates what it means to be thrown into the world of a Hitchcock film. Death and exposure to being viewed are among the consequences, or risks, that human beings (characters, actors) face in his universe. Read More »

George Cukor – The Women (1939)

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Synopsis
Mrs. Stephen Haines, or Mary (Norma Shearer) finds out from her wicked grapevine of friends that her husband Steven is leaving her for a vicious salesgirl turned golddigger, Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford). Mary has friends, but the majority of them are gossip-loving breakup sightseers who make cynical bets on who will prevail. Mary has a reputation for being unfashionably loyal and domestically boring; Crystal has them all intimidated with her ambition and gall. Mary goes out West to a dude ranch for her divorce, there witnessing fights between her ‘friends’, mostly over men. She also sees two alternatives to her predicament – Peggy (Joan Fontaine) rushes back to be reunited with her husband, while the rich Countess DeLave (Mary Boland) is a saphead romantic on her 3rd or 4th divorce. Read More »

W.S. Van Dyke – Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931)

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Plot/Description: from IMDB

Dan works for Pritchard and Pritchard out of San Francisco and is in love with Maisie, referred to as “the icebox” by his news reporter friend. As one of his ships returns to San Francisco, Dan learns that the Captain has contracted Leprosy and asks Dan to be the guardian of his South Sea island daughter Tamea. Dan soon learns that Tamea wants him and will do nothing without a kiss. But Tamea soon learns that she is different than Dan and Maisie and that makes her angry. Dan decides to go and live on the island with Tamea, but soon finds out that Paradise is not everything that he thought it was. Read More »

William A. Wellman – The Public Enemy (1931)

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Quote:
A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster’s accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war. Read More »

Edmond T. Gréville – Remous AKA Whirlpool (1935)

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Quote:
The happiness of a newly-married couple, Henry and Jeannie Saint Clair, is shattered when the husband is made a paralytic in an automobile accident. The wife still loves him, although he is incapable of any physical love. She is slowly drawn into a short-lived affair with a handsome athlete, Robert Vanier. When the husband learns of the affair, he commits suicide. But the wife cannot forget him and she sends her lover away. Read More »