W.S. Van Dyke – I Love You Again (1940)


Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Those popular MGM co-stars William Powell and Myrna Loy take a break from their usual Thin Man duties to star in the zany comedy I Love You Again. The film opens with Loy prepared to divorce her dull businessman husband Powell. A blow on the head causes Powell to remember his former life as a notorious con man. No one in town has any knowledge of Powell’s criminal past, a fact he hopes to use to his advantage. Loy, astounded at Powell’s sudden surge of amorous ardor, reconsiders her divorce. When she learns of his true identity, she is even more fascinated. Another blow on the head restores the non-criminal Powell–at least, that’s what he and Loy would like you to believe. The film’s highlight is a screamingly funny sequence in which Powell plays scoutmaster to a group of surly youngsters (including Our Gang veterans Carl Switzer and Mickey Gubitosi, aka Robert Blake). Continue reading

Howard Hawks & W.S. Van Dyke – The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)


Plot: Steve is just a heavy duty bartender when Edwin J. Bennett, known as the Professor, starts training him for the ring. While doing road work, he is almost killed by a speeding car which crashes into a ditch. In the car is Belle Mercer and her driver. Steve takes Belle to a farmhouse and is smitten by her, but she is Willie Ryan’s Girl. The fight is a breeze and later, Steve again meets Belle with Willie. That night, Steve and Belle disappear and return married, much to the disappointment of Ryan. Then Steve starts training in ernest and is 19 for 19 in the ring. However, he has an eye for the women and an expanding ego to match. Written by Tony Fontana Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Night Court (1932)


Judge Moffett is as crooked as they come and the Board of Judicial Corruption is after him. So he hides out in the poor part of town. While there, she drops the bankbook that Moffett has listing his accounts and Mary returns it to him. But Moffett thinks Mary saw the book and he puts her away for six months on a trumped up charge. Mike is overcome with grief and when he comes to his senses, he talks to Mary who tells him about the book. This gets Mike beat up and put on a boat to South America, but he jumps ship and plots his revenge. Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – San Francisco [Colourised] (1936)

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San Francisco is a 1936 film directed by W.S. Van Dyke, written by Anita Loos, starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy and Jack Holt. It was nominated for six Oscars, of which it won one. The film tells the story of Mary Blake, who, out of poverty, starts singing at a local gambling hall. When she moves on, the owner of the gambling hall, Blackie, keeps following her. The confrontations between Mary and Blackie are suddenly put to a stop with the advent of the San Franscisco earthquake. Continue reading

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


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. Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Manhattan Melodrama (1934)


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Manhattan Melodrama (1934) is considered a classic mostly for its high-powered casting. William Powell and Clark Gable play two disadvantaged boys (Mickey Rooney is young Gable) who grow up to be a respected District Attorney and a notorious gambler, respectively, and Myrna Loy is the ‘swell dame’ who loves them both but chooses the ‘good’ one. It’s the familiar good boy/bad boy plotting we remember from old Warner Bros. pictures. MGM soaks the entire tale in a barely restrained piety that includes periodic appearances by a friendly priest (Leo Carrillo).

Loy’s Eleanor Packer begins as an unhappy gambler’s moll to Gable’s Blackie Gallagher, a ‘noble’ crook forever defending his good name in the underworld. Powell’s Jim Wade tells Blackie of his intention to clean up the city, and, old pal that he is, Blackie encourages him. Eleanor decides that she prefers Wade’s clean living to Gallagher’s diamonds and yachts, but Blackie holds no ill will even after she throws him over. A couple of murders later, Blackie goes to prison and possible execution refusing to defend himself, with the noble motive that he doesn’t want to drag honest politician Wade down with him. Continue reading