1931-1940

Raoul Walsh – The Yellow Ticket (1931)

Marya, a Russian Jewish girl (Elissa Landi) is forced into a life of prostitution in Czarist Russia – a scandal to the naïve muckraking British journalist (Laurence Olivier). They both eventually find their lives endangered when she reveals to him tales of social crimes rampant in her country. The lecherous Baron (Lionel Barrymore), popping pills for “extra potency,” is also head of the secret police, and he is determined to seperate them. Read More »

Henry King – Stanley and Livingstone (1939)

In the late 1860s, newspaperman Henry M. Stanley agrees to go to Africa to find Dr. David Livingston. The good doctor has been reported dead but Stanley’s employer, James Gordon Bennet, publisher of the New York Herald doesn’t believe. As he is fond of saying, he likes to make the news while others wait for it to happen. Stanley goes first to Zanzibar to organize his safari deep into uncharted Africa. There he becomes enamored with the beautiful Eve Kingsley. He sets off with his sidekick Jeff Slocum and they face many hazards along the way including illness and irate tribesmen. Read More »

James W. Horne – Bonnie Scotland (1935)

Stan and Ollie stowaway to Scotland expecting to inherit the MacLaurel estate. However Stan’s inheritance amounts to a set of bagpipes and a snuff box. The boys are tricked into enlisting in the army and are posted to India where the heiress to the MacLaurel estate has moved to be near her guardian. Her Scottish sweetheart Allan also enlists. The boys are “volunteered” by the Sergeant (Finlayson) to impersonate officers at the palace of Mir Jutra and foil a plot to murder the officers by overturning several beehives. Read More »

Walter Forde – Rome Express (1932)

Synopsis:
Rome Express is a fast-moving British imitation of Hollywood’s Grand Hotel formula. The film concentrates on the various passengers of a European express train. On this particular run, the train is a veritable hotbed of intrigue, with crooks and blackmail victims seemingly in every coach. Among the naughty and nice characters are continental favorites Conrad Veidt, Cedric Hardwicke and Finlay Currie, as well as American silent film star Esther Ralston. Rome Express enabled director Walter Forde to graduate from inexpensive regional comedies to prestige British productions. The film was also an obvious inspiration for such later intrigue-on-the-rails epics as The Lady Vanishes (38) and Night Train (39). Rome Express was remade in 1948 as Sleeping Car to Trieste. Read More »

Walt Disney – Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940)

Quote:
Disney animators set pictures to Western classical music as Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” features Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who oversteps his limits. “The Rite of Spring” tells the story of evolution, from single-celled animals to the death of the dinosaurs. “Dance of the Hours” is a comic ballet performed by ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators. “Night on Bald Mountain” and “Ave Maria” set the forces of darkness and light against each other as a devilish revel is interrupted by the coming of a new day. Read More »

George Stevens – Gunga Din [+commentary] (1939)

Quote:
Based loosely on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, this takes place in British India during the Thuggee uprising. Three fun loving sergeants are doing fine until one of them wants to get married and leave the service. The other two trick him into a final mission where they end up confronting the entire cult by themselves as the British Army is entering a trap. This is of the “War is fun” school of movie making. It has the flavour of watching Notre Dame play an inferior high school team. Read More »

George Fitzmaurice – Suzy (1936)

Synopsis:
When American showgirl Suzy (Jean Harlow) finds herself in London without work, she plans to leave her career behind and find a rich husband. Instead, she falls for brilliant but broke inventor Terry (Franchot Tone), who is developing an airplane stabilizer. When Terry is mistakenly shot by a spy, Suzy fears she will be blamed and flees to Paris, where she returns to a life of singing and marries flyboy Andre (Cary Grant). But things get complicated when Suzy learns that Terry has survived. Read More »