Tag Archives: Pre Code Films

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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High Voltage (1929)


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High Voltage (1929)

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Director: Howard Higgin

Cast: Carole Lombard, William Boyd, Diane Ellis, Owen Moore, Phillips Smalley, Billy Bevan

63 min

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High Voltage (1929) is an American pre-Code film produced by Pathé Exchange and directed by Howard Higgin.[1][2]The film stars William BoydDiane EllisOwen MoorePhillips SmalleyBilly Bevan, and Carole Lombard in her feature-length “talkie” debut, billed as “Carol Lombard.”

This film is in the public domain.[3]

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Plot

The film begins with a bus driving along a snow-covered roadway in the Sierra Nevada between Nevada City, California, and Reno, Nevada.[4][5] Soon the vehicle gets hopelessly stuck in deep snow forty miles from the nearest town.

Needing shelter, the driver “Gus” (Billy Bevan) and his four passengers find refuge in an isolated one-room log church. The passengers include “Billie” (Carole Lombard), who is an escaped criminal being escorted back to jail in New York by a deputy sheriff, “Dan Egan” (Owen Moore); a young woman, “The Kid,” (Diane Ellis) on her way to Chicago to meet her boyfriend; and “Hickerson,” a pompous, ill-tempered banker. In the church the group finds “Bill” (William Boyd), a self-described “hobo,” who had found shelter there earlier. Tensions quickly arise in the group over their general plight, petty jealousies, and concerns about how six people are going to share the small supply of food that Bill had brought with him.

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Tensions quickly arise in the group over their general plight, petty jealousies, and concerns about how six people are going to share the small supply of food that Bill had brought with him.

After a few days being stranded, the group sees a passing mail plane high in the sky. They try to attract the pilot’s attention, but he is too far away to see them. More days pass, and the group continues to ration their dwindling supplies and battle the subfreezing temperatures. To keep warm they begin to break up the church’s pews and other furnishings to use as firewood in the room’s potbelly stove.

The group’s desperation intensifies, as does a romance between Bill and Billie. Soon Bill confides to her that he too is a wanted criminal, a fugitive from Saint Paul, Minnesota. As conditions worsen, The Kid collapses from hunger and become delirious; and the church’s interior becomes almost bare as more furnishings–even the church’s pulpit and pump organ–are consigned to the stove. Bill and Billie finally commit to leaving to avoid being imprisoned if the group is somehow rescued. They quietly depart during the night, hoping to reach a ranger station ten miles away.

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Everyone else is sleeping except Dan, the deputy sheriff, who sees the two leaving; but he does nothing to stop them. After walking a short distance through snowdrifts, Bill and Billie hear and then see a search plane slowly circling overhead at low altitude. Realizing that the others inside the church will not hear the plane’s engine, they rush back and awaken them. The group hurriedly builds a signal fire, which the plane’s pilot sees. He parachutes a box of provisions to them with a note saying that help will be sent immediately.

The next day the group sees a rescue party heading toward the church. While awaiting their rescuers, Dan observes Bill and Billie sitting together on the floor. From his coat pocket Dan pulls out Billie’s extradition papers and a “wanted” notice that includes a photograph of Bill and information about his being a fugitive from Saint Paul. Dan walks over to the stove, now cold from no fires, and tosses both papers into it. Bill and Billie see him discard the papers, and they look at one another. Bill then gets up, retrieves the papers from the stove, gives them back to Dan, and asks him to drop him off in Saint Paul on his way back to New York with Billie.

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Cast

William Boyd as “The Boy” (Bill)

“Carol” Lombard as “The Girl” (Billie Davis)

Owen Moore as “The Detective” (Dan Egan)

Phillips Smalley as “The Banker” (J. Milton Hendrickson)

Billy Bevan as “The Driver” (Gus)

Diane Ellis as “The Kid”

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Cast notes

  • The opening credits of High Voltage give Carole Lombard’s first name as “Carol,” her preferred spelling for her name up until that time. However, the year after the release of High Voltage she performed in Paramount Pictures‘ production Fast and Loose. In her credits for that film, the studio mistakenly added an “e” to Carol. Lombard liked the spelling, so she decided to keep “Carole” permanently as her screen name.[6]
  • In the screen credits of High Voltage, Owen Moore’s character “Dan Egan” is identified as “The Detective”; but early in the film Dan shows Bill his badge, which actually identifies him as a New York deputy sheriff.[8]
  • Diane Ellis, who portrays “The Kid” in High Voltage, would die tragically the year after her performance in this film. In October 1930, she married Stephen C. Millett, a fellow American, in Paris, France. While on their extended honeymoon in India, she contracted an infection and died a week later in Chennai (then Madras) on December 15, 1930, just five days before her twenty-first birthday.[9][10]

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References

  1. Jump up^ “High Voltage”The New York Times.
  2. Jump up^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films: High Voltage
  3. Jump up^ High Voltage, “Free Public Domain Movies” listing; May 23, 2008. iMovies. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  4. Jump up^ Several full 63-minute copies of High Voltage are available for viewing on YouTube.
  5. Jump up^ In the opening minutes of the film, the exterior signage and route destinations displayed on the bus identify the storyline’s setting as the Sierra Nevada.
  6. Jump up^ Gehring, Wes D. (2003). Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado. Indianapolis, Indiana Historical Society Press, 78-79. ISBN 978-0-87195-167-0.
  7. Jump up^ “William Boyd,”, Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  8. Jump up^ The full 63-minute film High Voltage is available for viewing on YouTube.
  9. Jump up^ “Diane Ellis,” IMDb. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  10. Jump up^ “Diane Ellis,” Redirectify. Retrieved March 10, 2017.

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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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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)

MSDMERO EC001

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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)

Little Cafe The 1

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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Four Frightened People (1934)


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Four Frightened People (1934)

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Director: Cecil B DeMille

Cast: Claudette Colbert, Herbert Marshall, Mary Boland, William Gargan, Leo Carillo, Nella Walker, Tetsu Komai, Delmar Costello

78 min

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Four Frightened People is a 1934 American Pre-Code adventure film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Claudette ColbertHerbert MarshallMary Boland, and William Gargan. It is based on the novel by E. Arnot Robertson.

Plot

The film tells the story of two men (Marshall and Gargan) and two women (Colbert and Boland), who leave from a plague-ridden ship and reach the Malayan jungle. The relationships between the four people before they enter the jungle are examined and are transformed as they interact with natural phenomena and the natives who populate the jungle. The film also relates how each of the four people carried on in life after they emerged from the jungle.

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Cast

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Filming locations

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Production crew

  • Executive producer (uncredited) – Emanuel Cohen
  • Art Direction – Roland Anderson
  • Production Manager (uncredited) – Roy Burns
  • Assistant Director (uncredited) – Cullen Tate, James Dugan
  • Sound Mixer (uncredited) – Harry Lindgren
  • Double (uncredited) – Mildred Mernie as Claudette Colbert, Bruce Warren as Herbert Marshall, Leota Lorraine as Mary Boland, Carl Mudge as William Gargan, Curley Dresden as Leo Carrillo

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Reception

The film was a box office disappointment for Paramount.[1]

Home Video Release

This film, along with The Sign of the CrossCleopatraThe Crusades and Union Pacific, was released on DVD in 2006 by Universal Studios as part of The Cecil B. DeMille Collection.

References

  1. Jump up^ By, D. W. (1934, Nov 25). TAKING A LOOK AT THE RECORD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/101193306?accountid=13902

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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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Big Pond, The (1930)


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The Big Pond (1930)

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Director: Hobart Henley

Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, George Barbier, Marion Ballou, Andree Corday, Frank Lyon, Nat Pendleton, Elaine Koch

72 min

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The Big Pond is a 1930 American Pre-Code romantic comedy film based on a 1928 play of the same name by George Middleton and A.E. Thomas.[1] The film was written by Garrett Fort, Robert Presnell Sr. and Preston Sturges, who provided the dialogue in his first Hollywood assignment, and was directed by Hobart Henley.

The film stars Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert, and features George Barbier, Marion Ballou, and Andrée Corday, and was released by Paramount Pictures.

The Big Pond was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Maurice Chevalier, and also provided Chevalier with his first American hit song “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” written by Al Sherman and Al Lewis.[2]

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Plot

Pierre Mirande (Maurice Chevalier), is a Venetian tour guide from a poor French family who falls in love with Barbara Billings (Claudette Colbert), a wealthy American tourist whose father (George Barbier). Although Barbara loves Pierre as well, her suitor, Ronnie (Frank Lyon) and her father see him as a fortune-hunter. Barbara’s mother (Marion Ballou) persuades her husband to give Pierre a job in his chewing-gum factory in the States. Despite living in a dingy boardinghouse and being given the hardest job in the plant, he manages to captivate his landlady (Andrée Corday) and the maid (Elaine Koch) with his humorous songs. Unfortunately, he falls asleep on the night he is to attend Barbara’s party, and is then fired when he is wrongly accused of spilling rum on some chewing gum samples. He wins back his job, and is promoted as well, when he sells liquor-coated chewing gum as a sales gimmick. Barbara disapproves, and plans to marry Ronnie, but Pierre whisks her away in a speedboat.

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Cast

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Songs

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Production

The Big Pond and its French language version La grande mare[6] were shot simultaneously at the Paramount Astoria Studios in AstoriaQueensNew York City.[7][8]Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Andrée Corday and Nat Pendelton played the same roles in both versions.[6]

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Awards

Maurice Chevalier was nominated for a 1930 Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for his performance in The Big Pond as well as his performance in The Love Parade (1929).[8]

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French version

The French language version of The Big Pond, which was filmed simultaneously with the English version, was called La grande mare. The cast was:

  • Maurice Chevalier as Pierre Mirande
  • Claudette Colbert as Barbara Billings
  • Henry Mortimer as Mr. Billings
  • Maude Allen as Mrs. Billings
  • Andrée Corday as Toinette
  • William B. Williams as Ronnie
  • Nat Pendleton as Pat O’Day
  • Loraine Jaillet as Jennie

Writer Preston Sturges was fluent in French, but additional dialogue was provided by Jacques Bataille-Henri. The technical credits for the two versions are the same, except the editing for the French version was done by Barney Rogan.[6]

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Notes

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Safety In Numbers (1930)


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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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White Woman (1933)


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White Woman (1933)

White Woman 1

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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)

Before Morning 1

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)

Lena Rivers 1

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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