1931-1940

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…

seagullfilms.com

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. Read More »

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. Read More »

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 Read More »

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 Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Foreign Correspondent (1940)


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Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide: Fourteen scriptwriters spent five years toiling over a movie adaptation of war correspondent Vincent Sheehan’s Personal History before producer Walter Wanger brought the property to the screen as Foreign Correspondent. What emerged was approximately 2 parts Sheehan and 8 parts director Alfred Hitchcock–and what’s wrong with that? Joel McCrea stars as an American journalist sent by his newspaper to cover the volatile war scene in Europe in the years 1938 to 1940. He has barely arrived in Holland before he witnesses the assassination of Dutch diplomat Albert Basserman: at least, that’s what he thinks he sees. McCrea makes the acquaintance of peace-activist Herbert Marshall, his like-minded daughter Laraine Day, and cheeky British secret agent George Sanders. A wild chase through the streets of Amsterdam, with McCrea dodging bullets, leads to the classic “alternating windmills” scene, which tips Our Hero to the existence of a formidable subversive organization. McCrea returns to England, where he nearly falls victim to the machinations of jovial hired-killer Edmund Gwenn. The leader of the spy ring is revealed during the climactic plane-crash sequence–which, like the aforementioned windmill scene, is a cinematic tour de force for director Hitchcock and cinematographer Rudolph Mate. Read More »

Douglas Sirk – Zu neuen Ufern AKA To New Shores (1937)

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Quote:
“The film is a melodrama in the high Sirk style (Leander is a cabaret singer in 1840s London who takes the rap when her lover passes a bad check and gets deported to the penal compound that was then Australia), but with a great deal of music, performed by Leander in the wrenchingly emotional style that has made her as much of an icon to German gays as Garland is to the US community.” Read More »

Jean Renoir – La grande illusion (1937)

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One of the very first prison escape movies, Grand Illusion is hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. Jean Renoir’s antiwar masterpiece stars Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay as French soldiers held in a World War I German prison camp, and Erich von Stroheim as the unforgettable Captain von Rauffenstein. Read More »