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I Cover the Waterfront (1933)


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I Cover the Waterfront (1933)

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Director: James Cruze

Cast: Ben Lyon, Claudette Colbert, Ernest Torrence, Hobart Cavanaugh, Maurice Black, Purnell Platt, Harry Beresford, Wilfred Lucas,  Rosita Marstini

75 min

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I Cover the Waterfront is a 1933 American Pre-Code romantic drama film directed by James Cruze and starring Ben LyonClaudette ColbertErnest Torrence, and Hobart Cavanaugh.

Based on the book of the same name by Max Miller, the film is about a reporter who investigates a waterfront smuggling operation, and becomes romantically involved with the daughter of the man he is investigating.

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Plot

San Diego Standard reporter H. Joseph Miller (Ben Lyon) has been covering the city’s waterfront for the past five years and is fed up with the work. He longs to escape the waterfront life and land a newspaper job back East so he can marry his Vermont sweetheart. Miller is frustrated by the lack of progress of his current assignment investigating the smuggling of Chinese people into the country by a fisherman named Eli Kirk (Ernest Torrence). One morning after wasting a night tracking down bad leads, his editor at the Standard orders him to investigate a report of a girl swimming naked at the beach. There he meets Julie Kirk (Claudette Colbert), the daughter of the man he’s been investigating.

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Meanwhile, Eli Kirk and his crew are returning to San Diego with a Chinese passenger when the Coast Guard approaches. Not wanting to be caught with evidence of his smuggling operation, Kirk orders his men to weigh down the Chinaman and lower him overboard to his death. The Coast Guard, accompanied by Miller, board the boat but find nothing. The next day, Miller discovers the Chinaman’s body which was carried in with the tide, and takes it as evidence to his editor, who still remains skeptical of Kirk’s guilt. To get conclusive evidence, Miller tells him he plans to romance Kirk’s daughter Julie in order to break the smuggling operation.

When Kirk returns, he informs Julie that they will need to move on soon—maybe to Singapore—as soon as he can put together enough money for the voyage. One night, Julie discovers her father drunk at a boarding house. Miller, who was there investigating Kirk, helps Julie take her father home. Julie does not discourage Miller’s flirtations, and during the next few weeks they fall in love. She is able to help Miller see the beauty of the waterfront, and inspires him to improve the novel he’s been working for the past five years. While visiting an old Spanish galleon on a date, he playfully restrains her in a torture rack and kisses her passionately—and she returns his passion.

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Julie and Miller spend a romantic evening together on the beach, where she reveals that she and her father will be sailing away in the next few days. After spending the night in Miller’s apartment, Julie announces the next morning that she’s decided to stay, hoping that he will stay with her. When Miller learns from her that her father is due to dock at the Chinese settlement that night, he notifies the Coast Guard. At the dock, while the Coast Guard searches the vessel, Miller discovers a Chinaman hidden inside a large shark. When the Coast Guard attempt to arrest Kirk, he flees the scene but is wounded during his escape.

The next morning, Miller’s breaking story is published on the Standard’s front page. When a wounded Kirk makes his way back home, Julie learns that it was Miller who helped the Coast Guard uncover her father’s smuggling operation (of which she was unaware), and that she unknowingly revealed to him his landing location. Soon after, Miller, feeling guilty over the story’s impact to Julie’s life, arrives at her home and apologizes for the hurt he’s caused her, and announces that he loves her. Feeling used by his actions, an angry Julie sends him away.

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Later that night, Miller locates Kirk, who shoots him in the arm. Julie arrives to help her father escape, and seeing Miller wounded, she tells her father she cannot leave Miller to die. Seeing that she loves him, Kirk helps her take Miller to safety, after which Kirk dies. Later from his hospital bed, Miller acknowledges in his newspaper column that Kirk saved his life before he died. Sometime later, Miller returns to his apartment, where Julie is waiting to greet him. Noticing that she cleaned and transformed his place into a cozy home, he tells her he finally wrote the ending to his novel, “He marries the girl”. Julie acknowledges, “That’s a swell finish”, and the two embrace.

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Cast

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Production

Screenplay

Rights to the novel were bought by Edward Small and his partner Harry Goets in 1932. They made it through the Reliance Picture Corporation as the first of a six-film deal with United Artists.[2] Reliance co-produced the film with Joseph Schenck’s Art Cinema Corporation.[1]

Filming

I Cover the Waterfront was filmed from mid-February to early March 1933.[1]

Soundtrack

The film’s title song, “I Cover the Waterfront“, appears in the film only as an instrumental.[3] Written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman, the song went on to become a jazz standard recorded by many artists, including Billie HolidayLouis ArmstrongFrank SinatraThe Ink Spots, and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.[4]

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Critical response

In his review for The New York Times, film critic Mordaunt Hall called the film “a stolid and often grim picture”.[5] While Hall felt the drama was not as good as some of director James Cruze’s previous work, the “clever acting of the principals”—especially that of Ernest Torrence—offset some of the film’s shortcomings.[5]

Hall found some of the scenes “more shocking than suspenseful” and felt a broader adaptation of Max Miller’s book may have been more interesting than the focus on the melodramatic series of incidents related to a sinister fisherman.[5]

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While acknowledging that “Colbert does well as Julie”, Hall did not find her convincing as a fisherman’s daughter because she does not look the type.[5] Hall reserved his highest praise for Ernest Torrence in his final screen performance.[5] Torrence died on May 15, 1933, shortly after the film was completed.

John Mosher of The New Yorker described the adaptation as a “commonplace screen romance,” but also praised the performance of the late Torrence, writing that he “was at the height of his power … One can foresee that many pictures will be empty things for lack of him.”[6] Variety called it “a moderately entertaining picture … The late Ernest Torrence has the meat part and his performance is in keeping with the standard he had set for himself. A pretty tough assignment they gave him, one in which it was necessary to capture sympathy in face of the worst sort of opposition from the script. He’ll be sorely missed on the screen.”[7]

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Remakes

I Cover the Waterfront was remade in 1961 by Edward Small as Secret of Deep Harbor.[3]

See also

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b c “I Cover the Waterfront”American Film Institute. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Babcock, Muriel (September 24, 1932). “Notable Novel to be Filmed”. The New York Times. p. A7.
  3. Jump up to:a b “I Cover the Waterfront: Notes”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Discogs. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e Hall, Mordaunt (May 18, 1933). “The Late Ernest Torrence in His Last Picture…”The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ Mosher, John (May 27, 1933). “The Current Cinema”. The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 49.
  7. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. May 23, 1933. p. 15.

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Applause (1929)


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Applause (1929)

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Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Cast: Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Fuller Mellish Jr., Jack Cameron, Henry Wadsworth, Billie Bernard, Phyllis Bolce, Lotta Burnell, Alice Clayton, Florence Dickinson

80 min

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Applause is a 1929 black-and-white backstage musical talkie, shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios in Astoria, New York, during the early years of sound films. The film is notable as one of the few films of its time to break free from the restrictions of bulky sound technology equipment in order to shoot on location around Manhattan.

Production background

Based on a novel by Beth Brown, the film was staged and directed by Rouben Mamoulian,[1] and stars Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Henry Wadsworth, and Fuller Mellish, Jr. Mae West was originally considered for the part of Kitty Darling, but Paramount decided West’s glamorous stage presence would undercut the tackier aspects of the storyline.

The National Board of Review named Applause one of the 10 best films of 1929.

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This was Morgan’s first all-talking film. She had previously appeared in the sound prologue to the part-talkie version of Show Boat, released by Universal Studios. In the same year, Morgan appeared in Applause, and Glorifying the American Girl.

In 2006, Applause was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.[2]

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Plot

The first scene has a marching band playing Theodore Mentz‘s “A Hot Time in the Old Town“.

The film tells of Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), a burlesque star, who sends her young daughter to a convent to get her away from the sleazy burlesque environment she is involved in.

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Many years later, Kitty is not doing so well and her best days are behind her. She’s now an alcoholic who lives in the past. She lives with a burlesque comic named Hitch (Fuller Mellish Jr.). Hitch cheats on her and only cares about spending what little money she has. When he finds out she has been paying for her daughter’s convent education for over a decade, he pushes her into bringing April back home.

Her grown, but naive daughter April (Joan Peers) returns. Kitty is embarrassed by her condition and marries Hitch so that April will not be ashamed of her.

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When April arrives, she is disgusted with her mother and her sad life. Hitch tries to force her into show business and repeatedly gropes her, at one point forcing a kiss on her.

April roams the city and meets a lonely young sailor named Tony (Henry Wadsworth). They fall in love and agree to marry and April will move to his home in Wisconsin. When April goes to tell her mother about their plans she overhears Hitch belittling Kitty, calling her a “has-been.”

April is upset and calls off her wedding. She decides to join the chorus line of a burlesque show. She says a reluctant goodbye to Tony at the subway. Meanwhile, Kitty takes an overdose of sleeping pills. The bottle clearly says “For insomnia one tablet only”. She goes downstairs to the show and collapses on a couch.

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Knowing that Kitty cannot perform in the show, the producer berates her, mistaking her reaction to the overdose for delirium tremens. April, also not realizing what is happening, and over Kitty’s objections, says she will take Kitty’s place. She tells Kitty she will take care of her now, like Kitty always did for April. As April goes onstage, Kitty passes away, her head hanging over the edge of the couch.

April is disgusted at herself and cannot complete the show. As she runs off the stage, none other than Tony is there to greet her. He says he had a feeling she did not mean what she was saying. She hugs him close and says she wants to go far away. Not realizing Kitty is dead, she says they will need to take care of her mother too, and Tony agrees.

The final shot is a close-up of the Kitty Darling poster on the wall, behind Tony and April.

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Cast

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Censors

The censor boards approved of the message and production values of the film, but were concerned about a scene in which Kitty told April that two of the chorus girls in the show were Catholic, “as good Catholics as anybody even if they do shake for a living.” The line was changed to “Christians”.

Censors in OhioBritish Columbia, and Worcester, Massachusetts banned the film outright. Many cuts were made for showings in cities such as Chicago, IllinoisProvidence, Rhode Island, and St. Louis, Missouri.

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Critical reception

The film opened to mixed reviews from film critics.

Critic Mordaunt Hall, writing for the New York Times, liked the acting but was troubled by some of Rouben Mamoulian’s direction. He said, “The opening chapters are none too interesting and subsequently one anticipates pretty much what’s going to happen…however, Mr. Mamoulian commits the unpardonable sin of being far too extravagant. He becomes tedious in his scenes of the convent and there is nothing but viciousness in his stage passages.”[3]

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Photoplay described the film as “a curious one,” however recommendable for the performances by Morgan and Joan Peers. The anonymous reviewer, however, thought the two leads, “and some nice camera work, help save a confusing job.”[4]

The Library of Congress says the following about the film:

Many have compared Mamoulian’s debut to that of Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane because of his flamboyant use of cinematic innovation to test technical boundaries. The tear-jerking plot boasts top performances from Morgan as the fading burlesque queen, Fuller Mellish Jr. as her slimy paramour and Joan Peers as her cultured daughter. However, the film is remembered today chiefly for Mamoulian’s audacious style. While most films of the era were static and stage-bound, Mamoulian’s camera reinvigorated the melodramatic plot by prowling relentlessly through sordid backstage life.[2]

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A recent[when?] review by Manuel Cintra Ferreira highlights the innovative direction and influence on the productions to come:

It is well-known that the arrival of sound brought a revolution in film-making. But (…) the early times were marked by disorientation on how to master the new technique. The cinematographic idiom, having reached a splendorous high by those years, was made to regress almost to its early stages by the demands of the complicated sound machinery, still cameras restricted to the recording of long dialogue declamations in tedious closeups, such that some commentators did not anticipate a sustained future for the “talkies”. Mamoulian’s role in inverting the slippage was profound, eventually making sound and talk an essential element of the narrative in cinema. Applause, his first work in Hollywood, is from the outset an inescapable witness of this process of change, exploring voice off and sound overlay, which, at the time, technicians considered impossible. (…) Applause became (…) the true “first great sound picture in the world”.[citation needed]

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Premiere and box office reception

The film opened strongly on October 7, 1929 at New York City’s Criterion Theatre, which was celebrating its 35th anniversary. Also on hand was a short film in which Charles K. Harris sang his classic song “After the Ball“.

A combination of mixed reviews, misleading advertising (the publicity focused on glamour shots of Helen Morgan, not what she looked like in the film), downbeat subject matter, and the Stock Market Crash caused the movie to taper off significantly as soon as it left the Criterion.

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Revival, restoration, and home video release

  • In 1939, Henry Hathaway nearly remade the film with Marlene DietrichApplause was rediscovered in the early 1960s, and there was talk of a stage musical with Judy Garland as Kitty and Liza Minnelli as April. (The musical Applause, based on the 1950 movie All About Eve, and having absolutely no relation to the 1929 film, opened on March 30, 1970 starring Lauren Bacall.)[5]
  • The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive with the original Technicolor sequences.[6]
  • The film was released on DVD in 2003 through Kino Video (under license from current rightsholders Universal Studios). Special features included comments Rouben Mamoulian made for the 1986 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, censorship notes, a 1929 interview with Mamoulian, rare photos and promotional materials, 1933 newsreel footage of Helen Morgan and her second husband, a clip of Morgan singing What Wouldn’t I Do For That Man? in the 1929 musical Glorifying the American Girl, excerpts from the Beth Brown novel, and essays on Morgan and the film, written by Christopher S. Connelly.

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See also

References

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Framed (1930)


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Framed (1930)

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Director: George Archainbaud

Cast: Evelyn Brent, Regis Toomey, Ralf Harolde, William Holden, Maurice Black, Robert Emmet O’Connor, Eddie Kane

65 min

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Framed is an 1930 American pre-Code crime action film, directed by George Archainbaud, based on a screenplay by Paul Schofield and Wallace Smith. It starred Evelyn Brent, William Holden (no relation to the Oscar-winning actor, William Holden), Regis Toomey and Ralf Harolde.

Plot summary

When Rose Manning’s father is killed during a robbery by Inspector McArthur, Manning vows to avenge his death. Five years elapse, and Rose is now the owner of a nightclub, and her liquor supplier, the bootlegger Chuck Gaines is interested in her. Still plotting her revenge, she meets Jimmy McArthur, who she does not realize is the son of the inspector. Spurning Gaines’ advances, Rose becomes romantically involved with Jimmy. Her motivations waver as her emotional attachment to the young McArthur grows, until her relationship takes precedence over her revenge.

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Chuck, jealous of the growing relationship between Rose and Jimmy, plots with his cohort, Bing Murdock, to murder both the inspector and his son. Uncovering the plan, Rose is attempting to warn Jimmy, when his father raids her club. In the ensuing chaos, Jimmy kills Gaines in order to protect Rose, after Gaines attacked her in a fit of jealous rage. When the inspector finally realizes that what Rose and Jimmy have is real affection for one another, he removes any objections over their relationship.

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Cast

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References

  1. Jump up to:a b c Framed: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved June 7, 2014.

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Sin Takes a Holiday (1930)


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Sin Takes a Holiday (1930)

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Director: Paul L Stein

Cast: Constance Bennett, Kenneth McKenna, Basil Rathbone, Rita La Roy, Louis John Bartels, John Roche, Zasu Pitts, Kendall Lee, Muriel Finley, Judith Wood

81 min

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Sin Takes a Holiday is a 1930 American pre-Code romantic comedy film, directed by Paul L. Stein, from a screenplay by Horace Jackson, based on a story by Robert Milton and Dorothy Cairns. It starred Constance BennettKenneth MacKenna, and Basil Rathbone. Originally produced by Pathé Exchange and released in 1930, it was part of the takeover package when RKO Pictures acquired Pathe that year; it was re-released by RKO in 1931.

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Plot

Basil Rathbone and Constance Bennett in a screen capture from the film

Sylvia Brenner (Constance Bennett) is a plain secretary sharing an apartment with two other girls, one of whom is her friend Annie (ZaSu Pitts). Her economic condition is meager, but she makes do with what she has.

She works for a womanizing divorce attorney, Gaylord Stanton (Kenneth MacKenna), who only dates married women; he has no intention of ever getting married and sees wives as safe, since they already have husbands. But Sylvia is secretly in love with Gaylord. When the woman he is fooling around with, Grace Lawrence (Rita La Roy), decides to leave her husband in order to marry Gaylord, he panics.

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In order to avoid having to deal with the matrimonial pursuits of any of his potential dalliances, he offers a business proposal to Sylvia whereby he will provide her with financial remuneration if she will marry him in name only. She agrees.

After the sham wedding, Sylvia is sent off to Paris by Gaylord, to get her out of the way so he can continue his nightly debauchery. In Paris, she uses her money to do a serious makeover of herself. While there, she also meets her boss’s old friend, Reggie Durant (Basil Rathbone), who falls in love with her. Reggie is a sophisticated European, who introduces Sylvia to the enticements of the European lifestyle, to which she is attracted. When Reggie asks Sylvia to divorce Gaylord so that she can marry him, she is tempted, but confused, and returns home. Returning to the States, everyone takes notice of the transformed Sylvia.

Although there is a brief hiccup, as Grace puts forth a full-court offensive to win over Gaylord, Gaylord and Sylvia end up realizing that they are in love with each other.

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Cast

(Cast list as per the AFI database)[1]

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Notes

On its original release, the movie recorded a loss of $40,000.[2]

In 1958, the film entered the public domain in the USA due to the copyright claimants failure to renew the copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[3]

The film was recorded using the RCA Photophone System.[4]

Tag line for the film, was, “Oh lady – what clothes!”[5]

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References

  1. Jump up to:a b “Sin Takes a Holiday: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Richard Jewel, ‘RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951’, Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  3. Jump up^ Pierce, David (June 2007). “Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain”. Film History: An International Journal19 (2): 125–43. ISSN 0892-2160JSTOR 25165419OCLC 15122313doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. See Note #60, pg. 143
  4. Jump up^ “Theiapolis: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  5. Jump up^ “Sin Takes a Holiday, Articles”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved August 5, 2014.

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Gay Nighties, The (1933)


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The Gay Nighties (1933)

Gay Nighties The 2Gay Nighties The 2

Director: Mark Sandrich

Cast: Bobby Clark, Paul McCullough, James Finlayson, Dorothy Granger, John Sheehan, Monte Collins

20 min 

The Gay Nighties is a 1933 American Pre-Code comedy film featuring Clark & McCullough and directed by Mark Sandrich.

Plot summary

Clark & McCullough, as Hives and Blodgett, are campaign managers for political candidate Oliver Beezley. They plan to defeat Beezley’s political rival, Commodore Amos Pipp (James Finlayson), by exploiting his weakness for women.

Blodgett is to be disguised as a beautiful woman to entrap Pipp, but with his moustache he proves unconvincing in drag—Hives declares, “Even the Commodore wouldn’t fall for a buzzard like you!”—and Hives instead enlists the help of Mrs. Beezley (Dorothy Granger) to carry out the scheme.

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First, though, they have to stay out of the line of fire, and ahead of the police, the nearsighted house detective (Monte Collins), a sleepy man with a cot (Charles Williams), and a somnambulist Countess (Sandra Shaw) with her afghan hound.

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Cast

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External links

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