1931-1940

Edward Buzzell – Virtue (1932)

A relationship gradually develops between a savvy New York street girl and a good-hearted cab driver–who first meet when she stiffs him for the fare–but other matters keep getting in their way, including financial problems and a murder. Read More »

Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda & William Cameron Menzies – The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

In ancient Bagdad, the young prince Ahmad (John Justin) is betrayed, deposed, and imprisoned by his vizier Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), an evil and calculating man who is also a master of the Black Arts. But Ahmad is saved from prison, and certain execution, by Abu (Sabu), a young thief who has made his way in life by stealing whatever he needs. Together they escape from Bagdad and make their way to the port city of Basra, where they hope to sign to sail with the renowned sailor Sinbad. Read More »

Heinosuke Gosho – Jinsei no onimotsu aka Burden of Life (1935)

Quote:
“Rooted in “salaryman” comedy and family drama, Burden of Life represents a marked advance over Gosho’s previous three shomin comedies. It placed sixth in the 1935 Kinema Jumpo polling, and has been praised by Burch for its seriousness and slice-of-life quality. Concurring with this judgment, John Gillett finds the film “imbued with a naturalistic tone and ‘lived in’ visual texture quite beyond American and European cinema.” David Owens is similarly enthusiastic, adding, “As is typical of the best Japanese directors, Gosho concentrates on developing characters rather than plot. Each of the family members is carefully drawn and each grows before us as an individual, surpassing the sort of character typing that was usual for family melodramas.” These comments effectively sum up the film’s most notable achievement.” Read More »

Michael Curtiz – The Perfect Specimen (1937)

Synopsis
Based on a popular novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams, this screwball comedy stars Errol Flynn in the title-role, the heir to an industrial fortune kept hidden from the world by his imperious grandmother (May Robson). Intrigued by the secrecy, peppy Joan Blondell literally crashes the estate to liberate the young man and the two embark on a whirlwind trip through Pennsylvania. Falling in love with the intruder along the way, Flynn learns how life is lived by the other half — or at least by the wacky Warner Bros. stock company — and proves himself to be much more capable than “Grandma” Robson ever imagined. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide Read More »

Stephen Roberts – The Story of Temple Drake [+ Extras] (1933)

Loosely adapted from William Faulkner’s controversial novel Sanctuary, this notorious pre-Code melodrama stars Miriam Hopkins as Temple Drake, the coquettish granddaughter of a respected small-town judge. When a boozehound date strands her at a bootleggers’ hideout, Temple is subjected to an act of nightmarish sexual violence and plunged into a criminal underworld that threatens to swallow her up completely. Steeped in southern-gothic shadows by influential cinematographer Karl Struss and shot through with moral ambiguity, The Story of Temple Drake is a harrowing vision of sin and salvation that boasts an astonishing lead performance from the fiery Hopkins, whose passage through the stations of terror, trauma, and redemption is a true tour de force of screen acting. Read More »

Victor Schertzinger – One Night of Love (1934)

After several false starts, opera star Grace Moore became a motion picture success in the sublimely assembled One Night of Love. Moore opens the film by losing a radio talent contest in New York. She disconsolately heads to Europe, where the best job she can come up with is singing in a restaurant. Here she is discovered by brilliant voice-teacher Tulio Carminatti, who carefully nurtures Moore until she becomes the toast of the European opera world. The two fall in love, but jealousy nearly destroys them both… Read More »

Richard Boleslawski – Beauty for Sale (1933)

A beautiful woman lands a job at an exclusive salon that deals with the wives of wealthy businessmen. Her contact with these men leads to a series of affairs.
Quote:
Another delectable sweet-and-sour pre-Code entry of the early 1930s, nimbly skirting the edges of that era’s morality with prodding grown-up material, satirizing the comedic and dramatic possibilities therein. Story concerns three gals who work in a New York City beauty parlor: one is dating a married man, another is pregnant by a no-goodnik, and the third spends her nights with a rich sugar daddy. Read More »