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I Cover the Waterfront (1933)


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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

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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Safety In Numbers (1930)


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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

Safety In Numbers (1930)

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Director: Victor Schertzinger

Cast: Charles Buddy Rogers, Kathryn Crawford, Josephine Dunn, Carole Lombard, Roscoe Karns, Richard Tucker, Francis McDonald, Raoul Paoli, Virginia Bruce, Tom London

80 min

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Safety in Numbers is a 1930 American Pre-Code musical comedy film. Directed by Victor Schertzinger, it stars Buddy Rogers, and features Kathryn CrawfordJosephine Dunn, and Carole Lombard (in one of her early roles).

Plot

William Butler Reynolds, a 20-year-old San Franciscan with a penchant for dancing and song-writing, is about to inherit a sizable fortune.

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His guardian uncle decides to send him to New York to be educated in the “ways of the world” by three lady friends–Jacqueline, Maxine, and Pauline, Follies girls, who agree not to vamp him though he falls for Jacqueline and is jealous of her admirer, Phil Kempton.

Bill’s inept attempt to promote a song with a producer results in the firing of all three girls; and when Jacqueline then resists his advances, he picks up Alma, a telephone operator, and becomes attentive to Cleo, a Follies vamp, but the girls save him from her wiles. Luckily, the producer accepts the song and rehires the girls; Jacqueline, realizing the sincerity of the boy’s love for her, embarks for Europe with Phil; but Phil realizes the appropriateness of the match and sees to it that the lovers are united.

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Cast

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Reception

The reviewer for the Motion Picture Herald wrote, “Here’s that rare combination of intelligent direction, brilliant dialogue, and rich humor. The result is a picture that is entertainment plus.” Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times was less enthusiastic, but praised the musical numbers.[1]

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References

  1. Jump up to:a b Ott, Frederick W. (1972). The Films of Carole Lombard. Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press. pp. 75–77. ISBN 978-0806502786.

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Millie (1931)


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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

Millie (1931)

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Director: John Francis Dillon

Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall, John Halliday, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Edmund Breese, Frank McHugh, Charlote Walker, Franklin Parker, Marie Astaire, Carmelita Geraghty

85 min

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Millie (1931) is a pre-Code drama film directed by John Francis Dillon from a screenplay by Charles Kenyon and Ralph Morgan, based on a novel of the same name by Donald Henderson Clarke. The film was an independent production by Charles R. Rogers, distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, after their acquisition of Pathé Exchange. It starred Helen Twelvetrees in one of her best roles, with a supporting cast which included Lilyan TashmanJames HallJoan BlondellJohn Halliday and Anita Louise.

Plot

Millie (Helen Twelvetrees) is a naive young woman who marries a wealthy man from New York, Jack Maitland (James Hall). Three years later, unhappy in her marriage due to her husband’s continued infidelity, she asks for and receives a divorce. Because of her pride, she does not want his money, but she also does not want to deprive her daughter of a comfortable lifestyle. She allows Jack and his mother (Charlotte Walker) to retain custody of Millie’s daughter Connie (Anita Louise).

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Focusing on her career, she rises through the hierarchy of the hotel where she is employed, shunning the attention of the rich banker Jimmy Damier (John Halliday), preferring the attentions of the reporter Tommy Rock (Robert Ames), although, due to her prior sour relationship, she refuses to marry him. Eventually, Millie is promoted to the head of operations for the hotel.

At the same time, Tommy is offered a lucrative position at the bank by Damier as a favor to Millie. However, at the celebration party, Millie discovers that Tommy, just like Maitland, is cheating on her.

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Betrayed a second time, Millie becomes very bitter. With her female cohorts, Helen and Angie (Lilyan Tashman and Joan Blondell, respectively), she becomes a woman who loves a good time, floating from man to man. This goes on for several years, until she hears that Damier has taken an interest in her teen-age daughter, Connie, who bears a striking resemblance to her.

Millie warns Damier to leave her daughter alone, but, although he promises to stay away from Connie, he ignores Millie’s warning and takes Connie to a remote lodge to seduce her. Millie is tipped off, goes to the lodge with a gun, confronts Jimmy and kills him.

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In the ensuing murder trial, Millie tries to keep her daughter’s name out of the press and claims not to remember why she shot Jimmy. She says that another woman ran out of the lodge after the shot, but claims that she did not see who the woman was and has no idea as to her identity.

The prosecution thus claims that Millie’s motive was jealousy of Jimmy’s romantic relationship with this unknown other woman. Millie’s friends, however, help to bring out the truth, and when the jury finds out that Millie’s true motive was to protect her daughter from Jimmy’s lascivious intentions, they acquit her. In the end, Millie is reunited with her daughter and her estranged husband’s family.

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Cast

(Cast as per AFI‘s database)[2]

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Production

Donald Henderson Clarke finished his novel, Millie, during summer 1930.[4] The novel was first offered to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who passed on it due to its racy content.[5] In August of that year, it was reported that Charles R. Rogers had purchased the film rights to the novel, and had signed Charles Kenyon to adapt it into a screenplay, as well as selecting John Francis Dillon to direct.[6]

Although Rogers had signed an agreement to distribute his independent films through RKO, it was reported that he would be overseeing the production on the Universal lot.[7] Even though he was incorrectly identified as “Ralph Murphy”, Ralph Morgan was signed to collaborate with Kenyon on the screenplay adaptation in September.[8]

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Less than a week later, Helen Twelvetrees signed on for the titular role;[9] and it was reported that the screenplay adaptation had been completed.[5] Rogers would choose Ernest Haller to shoot the film and sign him for the project in the beginning of October.[10]

In January RKO announced the film would be released in February,[11] and it was released on February 8, 1931.[2]

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Notes

The film was an independent production by Charles Rogers, but became the property of RKO when he agreed to become their production chief.[12]

The theme song, “Millie”, had words and music by Nacio Herb Brown.[2]

In 1959, 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.[13]

The film’s tagline was “Torn From Her Arms … Child Of Love A Woman Can Give But Once.”[1]

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References

  1. Jump up to:a b “Millie: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g “Millie: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  3. Jump up to:a b “Millie, Credits”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Daly, Phil M. (April 17, 1930). “Along the Rialto”The Film Daily. p. 5.
  5. Jump up to:a b “Rogers Chances “Millie””Variety. September 24, 1930. p. 5.
  6. Jump up^ “Hollywood Flashes”The Film Daily. August 30, 1930. p. 3.
  7. Jump up^ “Don Clarke’s Story To Be First Rogers Film”Motion Picture News. August 23, 1930. p. 26.
  8. Jump up^ “Hollywood Activities”The Film Daily. September 21, 1930. p. 29.
  9. Jump up^ “Hollywood Happenings”The Film Daily. September 24, 1930. p. 6.
  10. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (October 12, 1930). “A Little from “Lots””The Film Daily. p. 4.
  11. Jump up^ “”Cimarron” and “Millie” Releases”The Film Daily. January 22, 1931. p. 3.
  12. Jump up^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 32. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  13. 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.

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Little Princess, The (1917)


Mary Pickford 1

Mary Pickford Season: FD Cinematheque

The Little Princess (1917)

Director: Marshall Neilan, Howard Hawks

Cast: Mary Pickford, Norman Kerry, Katherine Griffith, Anne Schaefer, Zasu Pitts, WE Lawrence, Theodore Roberts, Gertrude Short, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Loretta Blake, George A McDaniel, Edythe Chapman, Josephine Hutchinson, Joan Marsh, Joe Murphy

62 min

A Little Princess is a 1917 American silent film directed by Marshall Neilan based upon the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This version is notable for having been adapted by famed female screenwriter Frances Marion.[1]

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Marshall Neilan

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Contents

Plot 

As described in a film magazine,[2] Sara Crewe (Pickford) is treated as a little princess at the Minchin boarding school for children until it is learned that her father has lost his entire fortune, and she is made a slavey (a household servant). She and Becky (Pitts), another slavey, become close friends who share their joys and sorrows.

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Christmastime draws near and the girls watch the preparations wistfully. Their loneliness arouses the sympathy of a servant of the rich Mr. Carrisford. On the night before Christmas he prepares a spread for the slaveys in their attic. He calls his master Mr. Carrisford (von Seyffertitz) to watch their joy, but both are witness to the slaveys being abused and whipped by Miss Minchin (Griffith). Carrisford interferes and learns that Sara is the daughter of his best friend. He adopts Sara and Becky and in their new home they have a real Christmas.

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The film opens with Sarah’s father moving back to London after serving in the British Army in India. She is opposed to leaving the luxurious life of an officer’s child with a large house and many servants, and is initially shy when enrolled in Miss Minchin’s School. Her reputation as “the little princess” precedes her and the other girls are fascinated with her tales of life in India. The girls sneak into Sarah’s room at night to listen to her stories. One night, she tells “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” which becomes a story within a story with elaborate exotic sets and costumes.

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Cast

References

  1. Jump up^ Progressive Silent Film List: A Little Princess at silentera.com
  2. Jump up^ “Reviews: A Little Princess. Exhibitors Herald. New York: Exhibitors Herald Company. 5 (22): 29. November 24, 1917.

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Love Light, The (1921)


Mary Pickford 1

Mary Pickford Season: FD Cinematheque

Love Light, The (1921)

Director: Frances Marion

Cast: Mary Pickford, Evelyn Dumo, Raymond Bloomer, Fred Thompson, Albert Prisco, George Regas, Eddie Phillips, Jean De Briac

89 min

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Plot

Based upon a summary in a film publication,[2] Angela (Pickford), an Italian girl, bids goodbye to her second brother, who is the youngest, as he goes off to join the troops. Then comes news that her older brother has been killed in the war. Giovanni (Bloomer), who loves Angela, tries to comfort her, and then he too is called. Left alone, Angela is made a keeper of the lighthouse. Joseph (Thomson) arrives and says that he is an American and a deserter. They are later secretly married. One night he has Angela flash him a “love” signal using the lighthouse.

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The next morning an Italian ship carrying wounded men is reported as having been destroyed at midnight, the hour when the signal was sent. Angela steals some chocolate from Tony (Regas) for Joseph to take with him. When she arrives home, she hears Joseph murmur in his sleep “Gott mitt uns,” and it dawns on her that her husband is a German spy. Tony traces the theft to her, and after he says that her wounded brother had been on the ship, she realizes that it was the signal that sent her brother to his death. She gives up Joseph, who still proclaims his love for her. Joseph breaks away from his jailers and plunges over a cliff to his death. Later, with her and Joseph’s baby, Angela is happy with her old sweetheart Giovanni, who has returned from the war blind.

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Cast

Reception

Photoplay published a very critical review by Burns Mantle. He wrote, in summary, “The Love Light is a poor picture in the sense of being quite unworthy of the star’s talents. The story is developed without reasonable logic and filmed with only the value of the pictures in mind. The Love Light’s one value to my mind is that it takes the nation’s sweetheart out of curls and short frocks and makes a woman of her.”[3]

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See also

References[

  1. Jump up^ Progressive Silent Film List: The Love Light at silentera.com
  2. Jump up^ “The Love Light: They’re Going to Like the Production and Mary Too”. Film Daily. New York City: Wyd’s Films and Film Folks, Inc. 15 (14): 7. Jan 16, 1921. Retrieved 2014-03-05.
  3. Jump up^ Mantle, Burns (April 1921). “The Shadow Stage”. Photoplay. New York: Photoplay Publishing Co.

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