Tag Archives: pre code era

Back Street (1932)


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Back Street (1932)

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Director: John M Stahl

Cast: Irene Dunne, John Boles, June Clyde, George Meeker, Zasu Pitts, Shirley Grey, Doris Lloyd, William Bakewell, Arletta Duncan, Maude Turner Gordon, Walter Catlett, James Donlan, Jane Darwell, Betty Blyth, Russell Hopton, Gloria Stuart

93 min

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Back Street is a 1932 American Pre-Code drama film directed by John M. Stahl and starring Irene Dunne and John Boles.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Fannie Hurst, it tells the story of a woman who spends her life as the secret mistress of a wealthy married man.

This was the first of three film versions of Hurst’s novel; remakes were released in 1941 and 1961.

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Plot

In early 1900s Cincinnati, young and beautiful Ray Schmidt (Irene Dunne) works in her father’s shop by day and stays out late drinking beer and dancing with various men by night, although her stepmother disapproves. Ray dates for fun, mostly going out with traveling salesmen passing through town, and neither she nor her dates are interested in any permanent attachment. An exception is Kurt Shendler, who owns a bicycle shop near Mr. Schmidt’s shop and aspires to get into the automobile business. Kurt is in love with Ray and asks her to marry him, but she refuses because while she likes Kurt, she doesn’t return his romantic feelings.

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While visiting the train station with Kurt, Ray meets Walter Saxel (John Boles) and the two fall for each other at first sight. Walter soon confesses to Ray that he is actually engaged to another woman in town, Corinne, who comes from a wealthy background and whose mother is friends with his own mother. Nevertheless he has fallen in love with Ray, and asks her to meet him at a local band concert that he will be attending with his mother.

Walter hopes to introduce Ray to his mother and perhaps get her approval of the relationship. On the day of the concert, Ray is late arriving because her younger half-sister Freda is suicidal over her boyfriend, Hugo, leaving town. Freda begs Ray to go after Hugo and stop him, threatening to throw herself out a window if Ray does not help.

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By the time Ray has dealt with Freda’s situation and gotten to the concert, it is over, and Ray cannot find Walter or his mother in the departing crowds. Walter, thinking she stood him up, writes her an angry letter and marries Corinne.

Several years later, Walter, now a rising young financier on Wall Street, runs into Ray who is single and working in New York City. The two renew their acquaintance and realize they still love each other, although Walter is still married and has two children. Walter sets Ray up in an inexpensive apartment and gets her to give up her job so she will be free to see him when he has time.

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However, his work, family and social commitments sometimes keep him away for long periods of time, causing Ray to feel lonely and isolated. After Walter takes an extended trip to Europe with his wife, leaving Ray alone with insufficient money to live on, she breaks up with him and accepts a proposal from Kurt, who has become a rich automobile manufacturer. Walter goes to Cincinnati to convince her not to marry Kurt and they resume their previous relationship.

Years pass, and Walter has become a wealthy and prominent financier. When he travels he now brings Ray along, although they must keep their relationship hidden and avoid being seen in public together, meaning Ray spends much of her time alone. Ray is the target of gossip and is hated by Walter’s adult children, who regard Ray as a gold digger.

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Walter’s son Dick tells Ray to get out of his family’s life, but his father Walter walks in on the conversation and tells his son to be more understanding or at least to mind his own business. That night, Walter suffers a massive stroke and dies shortly thereafter. Just before Walter dies, he asks Dick to telephone Ray’s number and hears her voice over the phone one last time.

Dick, who now understands his father’s feelings for Ray, goes to see her and offers to continue to support her. He finds her distraught over Walter’s death and also learns that his father had been paying her only a very small amount per month, thus proving that she stayed in the relationship for love, not money. After Dick leaves, Ray dies looking at Walter’s picture.

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Cast

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Sunnyside Up (1929)


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Sunnyside Up (1929)

Sunnyside Up 1

Director: David Butler

Cast: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Marjorie White, El Brendel, Mary Forbes, Peter Gawthorne, Sharon Lynn, Frank Richardson, Joe Brown, Henry Armetta, Sherwood Bailey, Jay Berger 

121 min

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Sunny Side Up is a 1929 American Pre-Code Fox Movietone musical film starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, with original songs, story, and dialogue by B. G. DeSylvaLew Brown and Ray Henderson. The romantic comedy/musical premiered on October 3, 1929 at the Gaiety Theatre in New York City.[3] The film was directed by David Butler, had (now-lost) Multicolor sequences, and a running time of 121 minutes.

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Plot

The film centres around a Will-they won’t-they romance. Wealthy Jack Cromwell from Long Island runs off to New York City on account of his fiancee‘s relentless flirting. He attends an Independence Dayblock party where Molly Carr, from Yorkville, Manhattan, falls in love with him.
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Comic relief is provided by grocer Eric Swenson (El Brendel), above whose shop Molly and her flatmate, Bea Nichols (Marjorie White), live.[3][4] Gaynor performs a charming singing and dancing version of the song “(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up” for a crowd of her neighbors, complete with top hat and cane. Later in the film, a lavish pre-Code dance sequence for the song “Turn on the Heat,” including scantily clad and gyrating island women enticing bananas on trees to abruptly grow and stiffen, with the graphic metaphor lost on no one, occurs without Gaynor’s participation.

Gaynor and Farrell made almost a dozen films together, including Frank Borzage‘s classics Seventh Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1928), and Lucky Star (1929). Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress for the first two and F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise.

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Cast

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Reception

The Times and The New York Times both express the opinion that the film, and the singing voices of Gaynor and Farrell, are all tolerable if not exactly worthy of praise. Despite the sugary sentimentality, the film is engaging, while the cinematography and special effects are impressive.[3][4]

Footage from Sunny Side Up was included in the comedy film It Came from Hollywood, which parodied B movies.[5]

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The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Music

I’m A Dreamer, Aren’t We All?

Several times throughout the film Gaynor sings the tune “I’m a Dreamer, Aren’t We All?” and, on one occasion, sings it impressively, according to the New York Times.[3] The credits are: words, De Sylva & Brown; music, Ray Henderson.

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The song was punned by the Marx Brothers in the film Animal Crackers (1930). Groucho asks his brother to “play the song about Montreal“. Chico asks, “Montreal?, and Groucho replies, “I’m a dreamer, Montreal.” The pun has been much-recycled [7] not least in Stewart Parker‘s award-winning play I’m a Dreamer, Montreal.

An early popular recording was by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra on October 16, 1929 with a vocal group including Bing Crosby[8] and this reached the charts in 1929.[9] The tune was also recorded by John Coltrane in 1958 [10] and included on his album Bahia (1964).

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Turn on the Heat

Another song in the film. This one would be used in the Pooch the Pup cartoon Hot and Cold (1933).[11]

(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up

Another song in the film that would later be used as the theme song to the 1988 British sitcom Clarence.

In the 1950s, the song was used as the theme song for Sunnyside Up, a variety program produced by HSV-7 (a television station in Melbourne, Australia_. The song’s melody was later adapted by the Essendon Football Club for its club song, “See the Bombers Fly Up”, written by Kevin Andrews in 1959.[12]

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See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Quigley Publishing Company “The All Time Best Sellers”, International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38 (1938) p 942 accessed April 19, 2014
  2. Jump up^ “WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?”The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.: 1848-1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. March 4, 1944. p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d NY Times October 4, 1929 Movie Review
  4. Jump up to:a b The Times, December 30, 1929, New Gallery Cinema “Sunny Side Up”
  5. Jump up^ “Collage of 10 worst films now a movie of its own”, Lodi News-Sentinel, November 25, 1982. (p.8).
  6. Jump up^ “AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees” (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
  7. Jump up^ Glenn Mitchell, The Marx Brothers encyclopedia (Reynolds & Hearn, 2003) ISBN 1-903111-49-8
  8. Jump up^ “A Bing Crosby Discography”BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  9. Jump up^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn’s Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 452. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  10. Jump up^ The Complete Prestige Recordings
  11. Jump up^ “The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia: 1933”. The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  12. Jump up^ History behind every AFl club theme song

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Discarded Lovers (1933)


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Discarded Lovers (1932)

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Discarded Lovers is a 1932 American Pre-Code mystery film directed by Fred C. Newmeyer.

Plot summary

Discarded Lovers is a murder mystery. Early in the film a blonde bombshell movie star is murdered and her body is found in a car.

She had just finished doing the last and final scenes in a film. Irma Gladden was a sexy blonde bombshell who was having many tangled romantic affairs. She was loose and easy. In solving the murder there are the usual friends, police, reporters and employees who administer their help to the police captain and the police sergeant.

In this whodunit suspects abound and include Irma’s husband, a jealous wife, a boy friend and an ex-husband.

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Cast

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Double Harness (1933)


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Double Harness (1933)

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Director: John Cromwell

Cast: Ann Harding, William Powell, Lucille Browne, Henry Stephenson, Lilian Bond, George Meeker, Reginald Owen, Kay Hammond, Leigh Allen, Irving Bacon, Lila Chevret, Wong Chung, Jean Malin

69 min 

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Double Harness (1933) is an American Pre-Code film starring Ann Harding and William Powell. It was based on the play of the same name by Edward Poor Montgomery. A young woman maneuvers a lazy playboy into marrying her.

This was one of several films, all produced by Merian C. Cooper at RKO, that were out of distribution for more than 50 years as a result of a legal settlement that gave Cooper complete ownership of the films. Turner Classic Movies eventually acquired the rights to the films.

Plot

When spoiled younger sister Valerie Colby (Lucile Browne) becomes engaged to be married to Dennis Moore (George Meeker), a more level-headed Joan (Ann Harding) decides to do the same, not because she is in love, but in order to make something of herself. She chooses unambitious, wealthy playboy John Fletcher (William Powell), who owns a troubled shipping line.

She eventually spends the night in his apartment. To Joan’s annoyance, over the following months, she finds herself falling in love. When John shows no interest in marrying her, Joan forces the issue. She arranges for her father, Colonel Sam Colby (Henry Stephenson), to find them in a compromising position. John graciously agrees to do the honorable thing and marry Joan. However, on their honeymoon cruise, he lets her know that he expects her to grant him a divorce after a decent interval. They settle on six months.

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Joan prods her husband into taking an interest in his family business. To his surprise, he finds that he enjoys it. As the new Postmaster General (Wallis Clark) is a good friend of her father’s, Joan invites him to dinner, hoping to land a government contract for John’s company.

Meanwhile, Valerie goes into debt due to her extravagant spending habits and borrows from her big sister over and over again. Joan gives Valerie all she can afford without touching John’s money. Finally, she pawns a ring for half the latest sum Valerie needs, but tells her that it is the last time.

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That same day, John finally realizes that he loves his wife. However, when he goes home, Valerie goes to John behind Joan’s back and cons him into giving her a check. Joan finds out and tears up the check. In her anger, Valerie blurts out how Joan trapped John into marriage.

Disillusioned, he turns to his former paramour, Mrs. Monica Page (Lilian Bond). Joan follows them to Monica’s apartment and confesses all, including the fact that she has fallen in love with him, to no avail. She then tries to salvage her dinner party. To her delight, John shows up and makes it clear that he believes and forgives her.

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Cast

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Preservation status

This is one of the “lost RKO films” owned by Merian C. Cooper and only re-released in April 2007 when Turner Classic Movies acquired the rights and showed all six films on TCM.

Cooper accused RKO of not paying him all the money contractually due for the films he produced in the 1930s. A settlement was reached in 1946, giving Cooper complete ownership of six RKO titles:

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According to an interview with a retired RKO executive, shown as a promo on TCM, Cooper withdrew the films, only allowing them to be shown on television in 1955–1956 in New York City.

TCM, which had acquired the rights to the six films after extensive legal negotiations, broadcast them on TCM in April 2007, their first full public exhibition in over 70 years. TCM, in association with the Library of Congress and the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Archive, had searched many film archives throughout the world to find copies of the films in order to create new 35mm prints.[2][3][4]

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Reception

According to RKO records, the film made $10,000 in profit.[1]

References

  1. 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 p39
  2. Jump up^ Fristoe, Roger. “Rafter Romance” (TCM article)
  3. Jump up^ Osborne, RobertTurner Classic Movies broadcast on April 4 and 11, 2007.
  4. Jump up^ Eder, Bruce “Rafter Romance” (AMG review)

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Once in A Lifetime (1932)


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Once In A Lifetime (1932)

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Director: Russell Mack

Cast: Jack Oakie, Sidney Fox, Aline MacMahon, Russell Hopton, Louise Fazenda, Zasu Pitts, Gregory Ratoff, Jobyna Howland, Onslow Stevens, Gregory Gaye, Frank LaRue, Walter Brennan, Alan Ladd

91 min

Once in a Lifetime is a 1932 American pre-Code comedy film based on Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.[1] The film was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures, directed by Russell Mack and stars Jack OakieSidney Fox and Aline MacMahon.[2]

It is preserved at the Library of Congress.[3]

Plot

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The immense success of The Jazz Singer, the first all-talking picture, results in the cancellation of a booking for three song-and-dance vaudeville performers: Jerry Hyland, May Daniels and George Lewis. Jerry, convinced that talkies are the future, decides they will head to Hollywood to break into the fledgling movie industry before others get the same notion.

May comes up with the idea to open a school of elocution to teach actors how to speak on film. On the train there, May encounters an old friend, Helen Hobart, an influential, nationally syndicated columnist. She offers to put them in touch with Herman Glogauer, the head of a major movie studio. George is smitten with another passenger, aspiring young actress Susan Walker.

They discover the movie world to be an eccentric place. George is unexpectedly appointed by Glogauer as supervisor of production, allowing him to promote Susan’s career. Despite his incompetence (or rather because of it), his first picture turns out to be a critical and commercial smash hit, and Susan becomes a star.

Later, a very persuasive salesman gets George to buy 2000 airplanes, which causes Glogauer to fire him. However, air movies become very popular, and George has inadvertently cornered the market. The other studios are desperate to get airplanes from Glogauer at any price, and George is once again considered a genius.

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Cast

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Reception

Mordaunt Hall, film critic of The New York Times, gave the film a favorable review, calling it a “merry diversion”.[1] He praised all the main performers, as well as ZaSu Pitts as the studio’s obtuse receptionist.[1]

References

  1. Jump up to:a b c Mordaunt Hall (October 29, 1932). “Jack Oakie, Aline MacMahon and Others in a Film of the Hart-Kaufman Satire on Hollywood.”The New York Times.
  2. Jump up^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 by The American Film Institute, c.1993
  3. Jump up^ Catalog of Feature Films The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress by The American Film Institute, c.1978

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Big News (1929)


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Big News (1929)

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Director: Gregory La Cava

Cast: Robert Armstrong, Carole Lombard, Louis Payne, Wade Boteler, Charles Sellon, Sam Hardy, Tom Kennedy, Warner Richmond,  Helen Ainsworth, Herbert Clark, George Gabby Hayes, Vernon Steele, Lew Ayres, Lynton Brent

75 min

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Big News is a 1929 American pre-Code film directed by Gregory La Cava, released by Pathé Exchange, and starring Robert Armstrong and Carole Lombard, billed as “Carol Lombard”.

Cast

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Plot

Steve Banks (Armstrong) is a hard-drinking newspaper reporter. His wife Margaret (Lombard), a reporter for a rival paper, threatens to divorce him if he doesn’t quit the drinking that is compromising his career. Steve pursues a story about drug dealers even when his editor fires him. When the editor is murdered, Steve is accused of the killing.

Preservation status

The film exists in a 16mm reduction print.[1]

References

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Racketeer, The (1929)


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The Racketeer AKA Love’s Conquest (1929)

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Director: Howard Higgin

Cast: Carole Lombard, Robert Armstrong, Roland Drew, Paul Hurst, Kit Guard, Al Hill, Robby Dunn, Budd Fine, Hedda Hopper, Jeanette Loff, John Loder, Winter Hall, Robert Parrish

68 min

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The Racketeer is a 1929 American Pre-Code drama film. Directed by Howard Higgin, the film is also known as Love’s Conquest in the United Kingdom. It tells the tale of some members of the criminal class in 1920s America, and in particular one man and one woman’s attempts to help him. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper appears in a minor role. The film is one of the early talkies, and as a result, dialogue is very sparse.

Plot

Mahlon Keene, a suave racketeer, notices Mehaffy, a policeman, arrest a shabby, drunken violinist for vagrancy and bribes him to forget the charge; after Keene and his henchman depart, Rhoda Philbrook appears in a taxi, addresses the musician as “Tony,” and has him driven away. Meanwhile, Keene arranges for a planned robbery to be delayed.

At a charity function, Keene takes an interest in Rhoda when he detects her cheating at cards; she reveals that she has left her husband for the violinist, whom she hopes to regenerate; and for Rhoda’s sake Keene arranges for Tony’s appearance at a concert. When threatened by Weber, a rival, Keene shoots him and, after the concert, bids farewell to Rhoda. The rival gang take revenge on Keene, leaving Tony and Rhoda to a new life together.

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Cast

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Behind Office Doors (1931)


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Behind Office Doors (1931)

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Director:  Melville W Brown

Cast: Mary Astor, Robert Ames, Ricardo Cortez, Catherine Dale Owen, Kitty Kelly, Edna Murphy, Charles Sellon, William Morris, George McFarlane, Mary Foy

82 min

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Behind Office Doors is a 1931 Pre-Code American drama film directed by Melville W. Brown, from a screenplay by Carey Wilson and J. Walter Ruben, based on Alan Schultz’s novel, Private Secretary. It starred Mary AstorRobert Ames and Ricardo Cortez, and revolved around the premise of “the woman behind the man”. While not well-received by critics, it did well at the box office.

Plot

Mary Linden (Mary Astor) is a receptionist at a paper milling company, who is secretly in love with one of the salesmen, James Duneen (Robert Ames).

Her extensive knowledge of the paper industry, the mill and its clients allows her to have input in company operations far outweighing her level as a receptionist. As the current president of the company, Ritter (Charles Sellon), approaches retirement, Mary uses her knowledge and skill of company politics to enable James to make some important sales coups, after which she begins a fifth-column attempt to get him named as the next president. James, for his part, is grateful to her for her help, but is completely oblivious to her romantic interest in him, preferring more of the party girl type.

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When Ritter does retire, James wins the position, and Mary is promoted to be his personal secretary. Still unaware of her feelings, he hires his latest party girl, Daisy (Edna Murphy), to work in the office, and report to Mary. Mary is upset by this turn of events, but remains faithful to James, assisting him with running the company. In fact, it is her knowledge and acumen which makes the company successful. Mary even spurns the advances of several men, including the wealthy Ronnie Wales (Ricardo Cortez), who, although married, is estranged from his wife and wishes to pursue an affair with Mary.

However, when James becomes engaged to the daughter of a wealthy banker, Ellen May Robinson (Catherine Dale Owen), that is the straw which breaks Mary’s resolve. She resigns from the company, and eventually agrees to go away with Ronnie for an assignation in Atlantic City. Between the time of her resignation, and her agreeing to go away with Ronnie, the paper mill is already suffering terribly from a lack of good

Between the time of her resignation, and her agreeing to go away with Ronnie, the paper mill is already suffering terribly from a lack of good management, since most of James’ success was due to Mary’s guidance. James tracks her down before she can give in to the libidinous advances of Ronnie, and begs Mary to return. She is reluctant, until she discovers that James has broken off the engagement with Ellen, and upon her return to the company she is not only met with a job offer, but also a marriage proposal from James.

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Cast

(Cast list as per AFI database)[3]

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Soundtrack

  • “Three Little Words”, music by Harry Ruby, lyrics by Bert Kalmar – played as dance music in the nightclub

Reception

While the public seemed to like the film,[4] critics like Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times were less kind, stating that the film “is a witless and interminably dull exhibition on which three capable players, Mary Astor, Robert Ames and Ricardo Cortez, have been sacrifi[c]ed to very little purpose.[5]

Notes

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 production.[6]

The working title for this film was the title of the novel on which it was based, Private Secretary.[3]

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References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ “Behind Office Doors, Credits”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Behind Office Doors: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 17, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f “Behind Office Doors: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  4. Jump up^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 34. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  5. Jump up^ Hall, Mordaunt (March 21, 1931). “Behind Office Doors: A Noble Stenographer”New York TimesArchived from the original on March 21, 2014. Retrieved September 2,2016.
  6. 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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Lady To Love, A (1930)


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A Lady To Love (1930)

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A Lady to Love is a 1930 American drama film directed by Victor Sjöström and written by Sidney Howard. The film stars Vilma BánkyEdward G. RobinsonRobert AmesRichard Carle and Lloyd Ingraham. The film was released on February 28, 1930, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1][2]

Plot

Tony, a prosperous Italian vineyardist in California, advertises for a young wife, passing off a photograph of his handsome hired man, Buck, as himself. Lena, a San Francisco waitress, takes up the offer, and though she is disillusioned upon discovering the truth, she goes through with the marriage because of her desire to have a home and partially because of her weakness for Buck, whose efforts to take her away from Tony confirm her love for her husband.

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Cast

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References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ “A Lady to Love (1930) – Overview – TCM.com”Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  2. Jump up^ “A Lady To Love”TV Guide. Retrieved 11 November 2014.

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Locked Door, The (1929)


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The Locked Door (1929)

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Director: George Fitzmaurice

Cast: Rod LaRocque, Barbara Stanwyck, William Stage Boyd, Betty Bronson, Harry Subbs, Mack Swain, ZaSu Pitts, George Bunny

74 min

The Locked Door is a 1929 American pre-Code drama film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Rod LaRocqueBarbara StanwyckWilliam “Stage” Boyd, and Betty Bronson.

The film is based on the play The Sign on the Door by Channing Pollock.[1] The play was first adapted for the screen in 1921 as The Sign on the Door, starring Norma Talmadge.[2] The Locked Door was Barbara Stanwyck’s second film appearance, first starring role, and first talking picture.

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Plot

Ann Carter (Barbara Stanwyck), an inexperienced young woman, accepts an invitation to dinner from Frank Devereaux (Rod LaRocque), the son of her employer. The date turns out to be far from what she expects. It is aboard a “rum boat”, a ship that sails beyond the 12 mile limit to get around the restrictions of Prohibition. Worse, Frank turns out to be a cad.

When she tries to leave, he locks the door and tries to force himself on her, tearing her dress. Fortunately, the ship drifts back into U.S. waters and a police raid stops him from going any further. When a photographer takes a picture of the two under arrest, Frank buys it from him.

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Eighteen months later, Ann is happily married to wealthy Lawrence Reagan (William “Stage” Boyd). They are about to celebrate their first wedding anniversary when Frank resurfaces in Ann’s life, this time as the boyfriend of her naive young sister-in-law, Helen (Betty Bronson). Though both Ann and her husband tell Helen that Frank is no good (Lawrence knows that Frank is having an affair with the wife of one of his friends), it is clear to Ann that Helen does not believe them.

Ann goes to Frank’s apartment to stop him from taking advantage of Helen. She hides when Lawrence shows up unexpectedly. He warns Frank to leave town before Lawrence’s friend catches up with him and shoots him. Frank had already planned to go, but when Lawrence declares that he intends to administer a beating first, Frank draws a gun. He is shot in the ensuing struggle. Lawrence leaves without being seen, unaware that his wife has heard the whole thing.

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To protect her husband, Ann phones the switchboard operator and reenacts her earlier assault, ending with her firing two shots. When the police arrive, the district attorney (Harry Mestayer) soon pokes holes in her story. Also, the photograph is found, providing a motive for murder. However, Frank is not yet dead; in his last few minutes of life, he explains what really happened, exonerating both Ann and Lawrence.

Cast

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References

  1. Jump up^ White Munden, Kenneth, ed. (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1921-1930. University of California Press. p. 445. ISBN 0-520-20969-9.
  2. Jump up^ White Munden 1997 pp.715-716

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Mexicali Rose (1929)


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Mexicali Rose AKA The Girl From Mexico (1929)

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Director: Erle C Kenton

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Sam Hardy, William Janney, Louis Nathaneux, Arthur Rankin, Harry J Vejar, Louis King, Julia Bejerano, Frankie Genardi, Greta Granstedt, Dorothy Gulliver, Jerry Miley

60 min

 

Mexicali Rose is a 1929 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by Erle C. Kenton and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Sam Hardy.[1]

A silent and sound version are preserved at the Library of Congress.[2]

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Plot

“Happy” Manning returns early from a trip to his Mexican casino, the Mina de Oro (Gold Mine), and to his wife Rose, unaware that she has been unfaithful to him with Joe, the croupier. Happy soon finds out and divorces Rose, but he keeps Joe, as Joe is too valuable an employee to lose.

Afterward, he goes to visit his younger brother and ward, Bob, who is the quarterback of his college football team in California. Bob introduces him to his fiancee Marie (an uncredited Dorothy Gulliver). Bob, believing Happy owns a gold mine, promises to spend his honeymoon there.

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When Bob does get married, he sends Happy a telegram that he is coming. Happy’s friend Ortiz offers to exchange his real gold mine for Happy’s casino temporarily. Happy is shocked when Bob introduces his wife: Rose. Happy later tries to buy Rose off, but she turns him down, claiming she genuinely loves Bob. Happy is uncertain if she is lying or not and decides to not tell Bob the truth.

However, it soon becomes clear that she has not changed. Happy blocks her secret late-night rendezvous with an admirer and confronts her. She claims that she loves Happy and that she married Bob to get back at him. She then tells him she is going home. The next day, her body is found at the bottom of a cliff.

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Cast

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References

  1. Jump up^ Brennan, Sandra. “Mexicali Rose”AllMovie. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  2. Jump up^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress page 115 c.1978 published by The American Film Institute

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Night Work (1930)


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Night Work (1930)

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Director: Russel Mack

Cast: Eddie Quillan, Sally Starr, Frances Upton, John T Murray, Tom Keene, Ben Bard, Robert McVade, Douglas Scott, Addie McPhaill, Kit Guard, Georgia Caine, Georgie Billings, Charles Clary

93 min

Night Work is a Pre Code comedy directed by Russel Mack, released in 1930 and starring Eddie Quillan, Sally Starr and Frances Upton.

Plot

Willie Musher, assistant window-trimmer and jack-of-all-trades at Tracy’s Department Store, consistently shoulders the blame for patrons who deem themselves aggrieved and one day is awarded a $10 bill.

On his way to the bank, he stops to examine a car that is campaigning for funds for an orphans’ home; he holds his bank book in such a way that Mary, a nurse, takes the bill and leaves him a receipt. Later, he is alarmed to learn he has obligated himself to support a baby, but taking an interest in Mary and little Oscar, he gets a job as waiter in a nightclub to support the child. To Willie’s chagrin, he learns that Vanderman, Sr., wants to adopt Oscar, apparently the offspring of his son, Harvey.

Willie dreams of hair-raising stunts to kidnap Oscar; finding that he has been promoted, he proves that Oscar is not Vanderman’s grandson, adopts the boy, and asks Mary to marry him.

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Cast

Eddie Quillan Eddie Quillan
Sally Starr Sally Starr
Mary
Frances Upton Frances Upton
Aggie
John T. Murray John T. Murray
Calloway
Tom Keene Tom Keene
Harvey Vanderman (as George Duryea)
Ben Bard Ben Bard
Pinkie
Robert McWade Robert McWade
Phil Reisman
Douglas Scott Douglas Scott
Oscar, the Orphan
Addie McPhail Addie McPhail
Trixie
Kit Guard Kit Guard
Squint
Georgia Caine Georgia Caine
Mrs. Ten Eyck
Georgie Billings Georgie Billings
Buster (as George Billings)
Charles Clary Charles Clary
Mr. Vanderman
Tom Dugan Tom Dugan
Johnny Harris
Arthur Hoyt Arthur Hoyt
George Twining

 

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Tip Off, The (1931)


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The Tip Off (1931)

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Director: Albert S Rogell

Cast: Eddie Quillan, Robert Armstrong, Ginger Rogers, Joan Peers, Ralf Harolde, Mike Donlin, Ernie Adams, Charles Sellon, Helen Ainsworth, Luis Alberni, Harry Bowen, Dorothy Granger

71 min

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The Tip-Off is a 1931 American Pre-Code comedy film directed by Albert S. Rogell and written by Earl Baldwin. The film stars Eddie QuillanRobert ArmstrongGinger Rogers, Joan Peers and Ralf Harolde.[1][2] The film was released on October 16, 1931, by RKO Pictures.

Plot

Young Tommy Jordan (Eddie Quillan) is sent for a repair job. When he arrives at the address he was told, two guys are waiting for him on the street, bringing him somewhere else – without letting him see where – to repair a radio.

He jokes about “must be a hide-out, that I should not know where I am”, for which he earns a “you’re a smart guy”. When left in the apartment doing his job, he follows a wire and ends up in the bedroom, lying on the floor under the bed. At this point, the telephone rings and a woman comes out of the bathroom and answers.

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He is trapped under the bed and can only see her legs. When the lady has finished her conversation, they have to talk and he is told that his great idol Kayo McClure (Robert Armstrong (actor)) a fighter lives in that apartment.

She herself is “famous” Babyface (Ginger Rogers) the woman of McClure. When McClure comes back home, Tommy manages to hide and when Gang leader Nick Vatelli (Ralf Harolde) appears in McClure’s apartment with his men threatening him, Tommy acts as Policeofficers through the radio-microphone, so that they leave the flat. McClure is forever thankful to Tommy and he offers him to help him whenever he needs it. McClure hands him out a ticket to a ball.

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When he gets to the ball there is Baby-Face eager to dance with him. To avoid being mixed up too much with her attracting jealousy of McClure he grabs another girl, that was handy to him, to dance. But this girl is even worse, as she is the fiancé of Nick, Edna Moreno (Joan Peers). Tommy is very fond of her and when Nick appears he finally takes Edna with him to McClure, to hide for a night. The next day Babyface argues with McClure about hiding the kids, threatening to leave him.

Edna leaves the apartment without saying anything. Tommy finds out where she is, and with the help of McClure he saves her from marrying Nick. As the movie ends, Tommy and Edna get married.

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Cast

References

  1. Jump up^ “The Tip-Off (1931) – Overview”Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  2. Jump up^ “The Tip-Off Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for The Tip-Off”TV Guide. Retrieved September 9, 2014.

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Love Affair (1932)


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Love Affair (1932)

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Love Affair 1

Director: Thornton Freeland

Cast: Dorothy Mackaill, Humphrey Bogart, Hale Hamilton, Halliwell Hobbes, Astrid Allwyn, Jack Kennedy, Bradley Page, Barbara Leonard

68 min

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Love Affair is a 1932 American Pre-Code romantic drama film starring Dorothy Mackaill as an adventurous socialite and Humphrey Bogart as the airplane designer she falls for. It is based on the short story of the same name by Ursula Parrott.

Plot

Wealthy socialite Carol Owen (Dorothy Mackaill) decides to take up flying. Gilligan (Jack Kennedy) sets her up with a homely instructor, but she requests dashing Jim Leonard (Humphrey Bogart) instead. Jim has some fun, taking her through some aerobatic maneuvers that leave her queasy, but still game. For revenge, she gives him a lift into town in her sports car, driving at breakneck speeds. They begin seeing each other.

Carol learns that Jim is designing a revolutionary airplane engine, but cannot get any financial backing. She decides to give him a secret helping hand, persuading her skeptical financial manager, Bruce Hardy (Hale Hamilton), to invest in the project. Hardy is only too pleased to oblige, as he has asked Carol numerous times to marry him.

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Hardy keeps a mistress on the side, aspiring stage actress Linda Lee (Astrid Allwyn). Unbeknownst to him, she is Jim’s sister and in love with Georgie Keeler (Bradley Page), a Broadway producer. Things become serious between Carol and Jim. He begins neglecting his work and eventually spends the night with her. The next day, he asks her to marry him. She realizes that she is distracting him from making a success of his engine and turns him down.

When Hardy asks Carol once again to marry him, she jokingly tells him she would only consider his offer if she were broke. He then informs her that she is. He has been paying all her bills for the past year. Hoping to help Jim, she agrees to wed Hardy.

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Hardy tries to break off his relationship with Linda. This is what Georgie has been waiting for. He has coached Linda to extort $50,000 from Hardy to finance a new play in which Linda will star, but the businessman will only write her a check for $10,000. To try to pressure Hardy, Georgie has Linda lie to Jim about the relationship.

Meanwhile, Carol has second thoughts and goes to break the news to Hardy. Before she can however, Jim shows up and insists that Hardy marry his sister. However, when Hardy shows him the canceled $10,000 check endorsed to Georgie, Jim realizes Linda has deceived him. He apologizes and leaves.

Carol decides to kill herself by crashing an airplane. As she starts to take off, Jim reads the suicide note she left with Gilligan. He manages to cling to the fuselage, work his way gingerly to the cockpit (while the plane is in flight), and reconcile with Carol.

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Cast

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Midnight AKA Call It Murder (1934)


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Director: Chester Erskine

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Fox, OP Heggie, Henry Hull, Margaret Wycherly, Lynne Overman, Katherine Wilson, Richard Whorf

76 min

Midnight is a 1934 American drama film directed by Chester Erskine and starring Sidney FoxO.P. HeggieHenry Hulland Margaret Wycherly. The film was produced for Universal and was shot on a modest budget of $50,000 at Thomas Edison Studios, which producer/director Chester Erskine had re-opened specifically for the shoot.[1]

Humphrey Bogart had a small supporting role. The film was re-released as Call It Murder by Screen Guild Productions in 1949 after Bogart became a star; he was given top billing, although he was credited eighth in the original release.

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Plot

The movie begins at the murder trial of Ethel Saxon, a woman who shot her lover in a crime of passion. During the trial, Edward Weldon, the jury foreman, asks the defendant a question, which essentially leads to a guilty verdict and a death sentence for her.

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The rest of film takes place on the evening of the execution, mostly in the Weldon home. Edward is dealing with the consequences of his role as foreman, and his daughter Stella is upset by the departure of her gangster boyfriend, Gar Boni, whom she met during the trial.

The evening culminates at midnight as the switch is pulled at the death house and a gun is fired in a parked car. Moments later, Stella returns home, admitting that she has shot Gar Boni.

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Cast

References

 Allen Eyles, Bogart, Macmillan, 1975 p 32
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Bad Sister, The (1931)


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Bad Sister is a 1931 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Hobart Henley. The screenplay by Edwin H. Knopf, Tom Reed, and Raymond L. Schrock is based on the 1913 novel The Flirt by Booth Tarkington, which had been filmed in 1916 and 1922.

The film marks the screen debut of Bette Davis and Sidney Fox, who was billed over Davis. It also features Humphrey Bogart and ZaSu Pitts in supporting roles. This film has been preserved in the Library of Congress collection.[1] [2]

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Plot

Naive Marianne Madison, bored with her routine life, falls for dashing con artist Valentine Corliss, who has come to her small town looking for fresh marks to swindle.

He soon charms her into faking her wealthy and prominent father’s name on a letter of endorsement, which he presents to the other local merchants, who willingly give him merchandise. He prepares his escape, but not before conning Marianne into becoming his wife.

Following their wedding night in a sleazy hotel, Valentine abandons Marianne. She returns home and begs forgiveness from her jilted fiancé Dick Lindley, but having seen Marianne for who she really is, he turns his attention to her shy younger sister Laura.

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Production

The film originally was called What a Flirt and then Gambling Daughters before being changed to Bad Sister just prior to its theatrical release.[3]
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Bette Davis, nervous about her appearance in her first film, consulted with studio makeup chief Jack Pierce, who “surveyed me critically, almost resentfully,” she recalled for an interview in the April 1938 issue of Good Housekeeping. “Your eyelashes are too short, hair’s a nondescript color, and mouth’s too small.

A fat little Dutch girl’s face, and a neck that’s too long,” he told her. He suggested a different shade of lipstick and advised her to use eye shadow, but their meeting left Davis feeling anxious and lacking self-confidence.

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After seeing the completed film, producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. commented, “Can you imagine some poor guy going through hell and high water and ending up with her at the fade-out?” [3]

Davis was required to change a baby in one scene, and the fact the infant was a boy was kept secret from her. When she undid the diaper and saw male genitals for the first time in her life, she was so embarrassed her face reddened enough to look deep gray on screen.[3]

Davis and her mother attended a preview of the film in San Bernardino. The actress was reportedly so distressed by her performance that they left before the final credits. Certain her Hollywood career was over, she cried all the way home.[3]

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Cast

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References

  1. Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress p.11 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
  2. Jump up^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:Bad Sister, afi.com; accessed September 23, 2015.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d Stine, Whitney, and Davis, Bette, Mother Goddam: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis. New York: Hawthorn Books 1974. ISBN 0-8015-5184-6, pp. 8-11

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Up The River (1930)


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John Ford

Up the River (1930) is a pre-Code comedy film about escaped convicts, directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their feature film debuts. The movie was remade by 20th Century-Fox in 1938, also entitled Up the River, with Preston Foster and Tony Martin respectively in the Tracy and Bogart roles.

Plot

Two convicts, St. Louis (Spencer Tracy) and Dannemora Dan (Warren Hymer) befriend another convict named Steve (Humphrey Bogart), who is in love with woman’s-prison inmate Judy (Claire Luce). Steve is paroled, promising Judy that he will wait for her release five months later. He returns to his hometown in New England and his mother’s home.

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However, he is followed there by Judy’s former “employer”, the scam artist Frosby (Gaylord Pendleton). Frosby threatens to expose Steve’s prison record if the latter refuses to go along with a scheme to defraud his neighbors. Steve goes along with it until Frosby defrauds his mother.

Fortunately, at this moment St. Louis and Dannemora Dan have broken out of prison and come to Steve’s aid, taking away a gun he planned to use on the fraudster, instead stealing back bonds stolen by Frosby. They return to prison in time for its annual baseball game against a rival penitentiary. The film closes with St. Louis on the pitcher’s mound with his catcher, Dannemora Dan, presumably ready to lead their team to victory.[1][2]

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Cast

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Casting

Tracy had starred in three shorts earlier the same year and Bogart had been an unbilled extra in a silent movie a decade before, as well as starring in two short films in the past two years, but this is the first credited feature film for both actors.

This was the only feature film that Tracy and Bogart ever made together. They tried to make The Desperate Hours in 1955, but neither would consent to second billing, so the role intended for Tracy went to Fredric March instead. It was the only film Bogart made with director John Ford, and Tracy wouldn’t work with Ford again until The Last Hurrah (1958).

Claire Luce (1903–1989) made very few films, but was on Broadway in many plays from 1923–1952. She should not be confused with author/playwright/political activist Clare Boothe Luce (1903–1987).

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References

  1. Jump up^ Up the River at TCM Movie Database
  2. Jump up^ Hall, Mordaunt. “Movies: About Up the River”The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2010.

Bibliography

  • New England Vintage Film Society, Inc. (2008). Spencer Tracy: The Pre-Code Legacy of a Hollywood Legend. Newton, MA: New England Vintage Film Society. ISBN 978-1-4363-4138-7.

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Hole In The Wall, The (1929)


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Hole In The Wall, The (1929)

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The Hole in the Wall is a 1929 mystery drama film directed by Robert Florey, and starring Claudette Colbert and Edward G. Robinson. This film marks the first appearance of Edward G. Robinson as a gangster.

Cast

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Plot

Jean Oliver falls in love with a wealthy young man, and his mother, Mrs. Ramsey, sees to it that she is sent to prison on a trumped-up charge. Time passes. Jean is released from stir and throws in with a band of phony spiritualists, donning the robes of Madame Mystera, a crook recently killed in an accident on the elevated.

Jean quickly proposes that her new companions in crime kidnap the granddaughter of Mrs. Ramsey and hold the child for ransom. The child is taken, but the police arrest the gang. The Fox, crafty leader of the spiritualists, is the only one who knows the whereabouts of the missing child, however, and he trades this information for immunity and a statement from Mrs. Ramsey that Jean had not in fact committed the crime for which she was sent to jail. Jean is freed and reunited with Gordon Grant, her childhood sweetheart, a reporter who has accompanied the police in the raid on the gang.

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Little Cafe, The (1930)


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Little Cafe, The (1930)

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The Little Cafe (French:Le petit café) is a 1931 French-language American Pre-Code musical film directed by Ludwig Berger and starring Maurice ChevalierYvonne Vallée and Tania Fédor. The film is a foreign-language version of the 1930 film Playboy of Paris, which was based on the play The Little Cafe by Tristan Bernard. Multiple-language versions were common in the years following the introduction of sound film, before the practice of dubbing became widespread.

The film received a better reception from critics than the English-language version had.[1]

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Synopsis

Albert Loriflan, a waiter in a Paris cafe, unexpectedly inherits a large sum of money from a wealthy relative. His unscrupulous boss, Philibert, refuses to release him from his long-term contract in the hope that Albert will buy him off with a large payment. But Albert refuses, and continues to work at the cafe even though he is now very rich. Before long he falls in love with Philibert’s daughter Yvonne.

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Cast

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References

  1. Jump up^ Bradley p.119

Bibliography

  • Bradley, Edwin M. The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography Of 171 Features, 1927 Through 1932. McFarland, 2004.

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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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White Woman (1933)


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White Woman (1933)

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Director: Stuart Walker

Cast: Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, Charles Bickford, Kent Taylor,  Percy Kilbride, James Bell, Charles Middleton, Claude King, Ethel Griffies

68 min

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White Woman is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film directed by Stuart Walker and starring Carole LombardCharles Laughton, and Charles Bickford.[1] A young widow remarries and accompanies her husband to his remote jungle rubber plantation. The film was based on the Broadway play Hangman’s Whip by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler.[2]

One of hundreds of Paramount films held in limbo by Universal Studios. Universal gained ownership of Paramount features produced between 1929 and 1949. Paramount remade the film in 1939 as Island of Lost Men, with Anna May WongJ. Carrol Naish and Broderick Crawford in the roles originated by Lombard, Laughton and Bickford. It was directed by Kurt Neumann.[3]

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Plot

Judith Denning, a beautiful cafe singer in Malay, has been forced to leave town after town because of gossip that says her husband’s suicide was on account of her infidelity. Upright British lawyer C. M. Chisholm accuses Judith of being a “loose white woman” who is tempting the natives and forces her to leave town by getting her fired.

Horace H. Prin, “King of the Jungle,” then offers to marry her. Prin takes Judith to his jungle home on the river, where he has been running a trading outfit for twenty years. Prin’s white management crew consists largely of criminal exiles whose secret pasts he uses as leverage to get them to remain under his ruthless tyranny.

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When Hambly, who runs a station up the river, insists that the poor diet Prin has been feeding the native workers is breeding insurrection among them, Prin has him killed. Overseer David von Elst, who has not seen a white woman in ten years, quickly falls in love with Judith. A month after Judith’s arrival, she and David decide to run away, but when they confront Prin, he refuses to give them a boat and sends David up the river to take Hambly’s place at Gubar.

David, meanwhile, has told Judith he deserted his regiment after natives decapitated his partner and threw his head through David’s window. Since then he has lacked the courage to fight Prin and return to society. Ballister, the new tough overseer, then arrives and immediately asks Judith for a “tumble,” undaunted by Prin’s eccentric tyranny. When two tribal chiefs request the right to deal with other traders, Prin foolishly refuses them, and they prepare for war against him.

The natives kill Connors, one of Prin’s men, and throw his head through David’s window, after which David finally regains his nerve and travels through the dangerous jungle to warn Judith. David and Judith prepare to leave, but Prin drains their boat of gas. Ballister, sympathetic to the lovers, warns them to take another boat. When Prin shoots his pet baby ape, “Duke,” Jakey, Prin’s most faithful white servant, throws his machine guns in the river and leaves with David and Judith. Ballister and Prin play poker and drink as the natives approach, armed with spears. After Ballister is killed, Prin declares he is forever king of the jungle and walks out into the onslaught of spears.

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Cast

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References

  1. Jump up^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 published by The American Film Institute c.1993
  2. Jump up^ Hangman’s Whip, St. James Theatre, February 24, 1933, IBDb.com; accessed August 5, 2015.
  3. Jump up^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 published by The American Film Institute, c. 1993

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Before Morning (1933)


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Before Morning (1933)

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Director: Arthur Hoerl

Cast: Leo Carillo, Lora Baxter, Taylor Holmes, Blaine Cordner, Louise Prussing, Russell Hicks, Louis Jean Heydt, Jules Epailly

56 min

Before Morning is a 1933 American Pre-Code crime drama directed by Arthur Hoerl, and starring Leo Carrillo, Lora Baxter, and Taylor Holmes. The film was adapted for the screen by Arthur Hoerl, from the 1933 Broadway play of the same name by Edward and Edna Riley.[1]

Synopsis

Actress Elsie Manning (Lora Baxter) is engaged to Horace Baker (Blaine Cordner), but has also been in a romantic relationship with James Nichols (Russell Hicks) who has named her as the beneficiary in his will. Not knowing about her engagement, Nichols asks his wife for a divorce and is refused. Nichols dies in Manning’s apartment after she tells him she’s engaged to Baker. When Baker arrives on the scene, he agrees to help her dispose of the body by having Nichols moved to a sanitarium. The owner, Dr. Gruelle (Leo Carrillo), tells them Nichols was murdered by poison and attempts to extort money from Manning for his statement that the death was of natural causes. Gruell tries the same scam on the widow of Nichols (Louise Prussing), who eventually agrees when the poison is found in her purse. It is revealed that Gruell is really a corrupt police inspector named Mr. Maitland.[2]

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Cast

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References

  1. Before Morning at the Internet Broadway Database
  2. Jump up^ “Before Morning”AFI Catalog of Feature Films. AFI. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

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Lena Rivers (1932)


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Lena Rivers AKA The Sin Of Lena Rivers (1932)

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Director: Phil Rosen

Cast: Charlotte Henry, Morgan Galloway, Beryl Mercer, James Kirkwood, John St Polis, Betty Blythe, Joyce Compton, Russell Simpson, Clarence Muse, The Kentucky Singers

67 min

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Lena Rivers, aka The Sin of Lena Rivers, is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film directed by Phil Rosen based on the 1856 novel by Mary Jane Holmes. Filmed on several occasions throughout the silent era.[1]

Plot

Lena Rivers’ mother dies in childbirth, and the child is left to be reared by her grandparents. Years later, her grandfather is reported lost at sea, and Lena and her grandmother go to live in Canterville, Kentucky with John Nichols, Lena’s uncle, despite the objections of John’s wife Mathilda and his daughter Caroline, who think that Lena is illegitimate.

Henry R. Graham, the owner of the plantation next to the Nichols’, seems bothered when he meets Lena. One day, Lena plays with a bunny on the Graham property, and she is horrified when Graham’s ward, Durrie Belmont, shoots it. Although she calls him a murderer, Durrie, who is courting Caroline, becomes attracted to Lena.

Graham takes a personal interest in Lena because she reminds him of a woman with whom he was in love, but who died while he was away, believing he had deserted her. When Lena shows a gift for calming the excitable horse Brimstone, Graham gives her the horse. After Graham introduces her to Durrie, the boy promises never to shoot another bunny and walks her home. Graham throws a party at his manor, but Lena does not come because she does not have a fancy dress, so Durrie goes to her house.

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They take a walk, and he kisses her before she goes in. Caroline sees them together and calls Lena an “ungrateful sneak,” then says she takes after her mother, who never married. Lana slaps her and runs crying to her grandmother, who assures her that her mother was married, but that her father left her to die. Graham enters Brimstone in the races for Lena because she has made astonishing progress with the previously unmanageable horse.

When Lena’s grandmother has an attack, Graham, worried about the effect her possible death might have on Lena, mentions to Durrie that he would like to adopt her. Durrie’s jealousy is aroused, as Caroline had earlier implied that Graham and Lena were having an illicit affair. In reality, Graham is Lena’s father. He had married her mother in secret because of his tyrant father, using his middle name “Rivers” as their surname.

His father “shanghaied” Graham to Europe, and when he returned, he learned that his wife had died. Until Lena recently appeared, he had been unaware that he had a daughter. Brimstone wins the race, and Lena is awarded $5,000, but Durrie discovers that Graham told the jockey of his competing horse to let Brimstone win.

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Still unaware of Graham’s real relationship to Lena, Durrie, jealous, angry and drunk, proposes to Caroline, who agrees to marry him. Lena’s grandmother dies after realizing that Lena now has enough money to support herself. Shaken by the death, Lena learns about Durrie and Caroline’s elopement and leaves town to make a new life for herself elsewhere after forgiving Graham, who has revealed his secret to her.

Meanwhile, Durrie drives recklessly and his car goes over an embankment. When Graham finds out that Durrie and Caroline are in the hospital, he sends for Lena. While Caroline flirts with a doctor, Durrie learns that Graham is Lena’s father and leaves the hospital to find her and marry her. He gets into a car to find Lena inside, and they hug and kiss.

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Cast

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References

  1. Jump up^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:..Lena Rivers

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Millie (1931)


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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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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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Applause 5

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