1931-1940

William Dieterle – Eine Stunde Glück AKA One Hour of Happiness (1931)

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Description

The two happy fitters Eddy and Tommy are doing overtime to ensure the great travel-exhibition of the department store they work in is ready for display. Outside, they see a poor newspaper seller, who looks longingly at the beautiful things in the display window. So they simply decide to smuggle the unfortunate inside and compete to win her favor by giving her gifts from the shelves of the department store. In their frenzy of happiness, they don’t notice that the girl is taking the fun little game for the truth. When she realizes that she has to give back the alleged gifts, she runs away.
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Jean Vigo – Zéro de conduite AKA Zero for conduct (1933)

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from allmovie guide.com

The shortest of French filmmaker Jean Vigo’s two feature-length films, Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite) is also arguably his most influential. The overtly autobiographical plotline takes place at a painfully strict boys’ boarding school, presided over by such petit-bourgeous tyrants as a discipline-dispensing dwarf. The students revolt against the monotony of their daily routine by erupting into a outsized pillow fight. Their final assault occurs during a prim-and-proper school ceremony, wherein the headmasters are bombarded with fruit. Like all of Vigo’s works, Zero for Conduct was greeted with outrage by the “right” people. Thanks to pressure from civic and educational groups, this exhilaratingly anarchistic film was banned from public exhibition until 1945. Among the future filmmakers influenced by Zero for Conduct was Lindsay Anderson, who unabashedly used the Vigo film as blueprint for his own anti-establishment exercise If…. Read More »

Karl Hartl – Gold (1934)

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From “Film in the Third Reich” By David Stewart Hull

Karl Hartl’s ‘Gold’ continued the science-fiction trend of the earlier,internationally successful ‘Der Tunnel’. The story concerns a rich British alchemist who is convinced that it is possible to obtain gold from base metals by means of a giant underwater atomic reactor which he has built off the coast of Scotland. A good German scientist has been working on the same project, but he is killed and his laboratory blown up in a mysterious explosion. His assistant (Hans Albers) is semi-kidnapped by the British scientist, and sets to work on a new machine…

‘Gold’ was UFA’s superproduction of the period, and reportedly took fifteen months to shoot. Albers sued for almost double his usual salary, but lost the case. The film was also made in a French version with Brigitte Helm, Pierre Blanchar, and Roger Karl, which helped to account for the long production period. Read More »

Fred C. Newmeyer – The Moth (1934)

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Wealthy young socialite Diane Wyman squanders her fortune and becomes involved in a scandalous raid at a wild party. Her legal guardian, a lecherous old man who has the hots for her, hires a private detective to spy on her. He tails her to a train headed for New Orleans, but she catches on to him. She befriends a young woman aboard the train and they both give the private eye the slip. What Diane doesn’t know, however, is that that her newfound friend is actually a notorious criminal known as The Moth, and she has her own reasons for helping Diane escape–she, too, is being tailed by a detective, who’s after a cache of jewels she’s stolen. Written by frankfob2 Read More »

Mark Sandrich – A Woman Rebels (1936)

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Plot: The story revolves around Pamela, as a woman in late-1800’s England who has no intention of marriage and wishes to be her own person. After a great deal of difficulty in finding a job, she finally lands a position at a “woman’s” magazine, which covered topics such as sewing and cooking. After the editor takes sick, she moves the magazine into discussing issues of gender equality, child labor, medical care, and finding a job. She then finds herself as the unexpected leader of a movement. After an unexpected event, she is also faced with raising a child without a father, which people at that time thought was scandalous. Written by Taed Nelson Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – The Skin Game (1931)

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This uncharacteristic Alfred Hitchcock endeavor was adapted by Hitch and his wife Alma Reville from a play by John Galsworthy. The British countryside turns into an ideological battlefield when Hornblower, a wealthy, self-man tradesman, stakes his claim to a piece of valuable forest property controlled for literally centuries by the “landed gentry.” The local squire and his wife dig in their heels and refuse to acknowledge Hornblower’s presence: How dare he use mere money to challenge the Rights of Blood? Their genteel snobbery is every bit as obnoxious as Hornblower’s brash effrontery, and the result is a film with virtually no heroes or villains whatever. Never in any future film did Hitchcock ever lobby so strong an attack on the smug implacability of the aristocracy.
-All Movie Guide Read More »

Sam Wood – Stamboul Quest (1934)


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The real-life career of the notorious female spy known as “Fraulein Doktor” inspired several films of the 1930s. Stamboul Quest stars Myrna Loy as a seductive espionage agent, working on behalf of the Kaiser in 1915 Istanbul. American medical student George Brent crosses Loy’s path, and the two fall in love. Divided between romance and duty, Loy opts for the latter, and apparently causes Brent’s death. She goes mad with grief, and is packed away to a mental institution, where her fevered reminiscences provide the lengthy flashback sequences in this film. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »