Showing posts with label 1930's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1930's. Show all posts

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Halloween Watch Party: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)




Watched:  10/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friends, I have watched this movie so many times and talked about it so much, I am sure you are sick of it.  But we had a grand old time watching it together for a Watch Party!

So, annual viewing of Bride of Frankenstein, complete!




Saturday, October 9, 2021

Halloween Interaction Watch: Frankenstein (1932)




Watched:  10/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friend, I am not writing up Frankenstein again.  Here's all the stuff about Frankenstein on this blog.

Here's SimonUK and me talking about the film during last year's Halloween podcast.


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Halloween Watch Party: Dracula (1931)

 


Watched:  10/01/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing: Unknown!
Decade:  1930's
Director:  Todd Browning

My friends, I have written and spoken more on Dracula than makes sense.  It was super fun talking with people over the movie on Friday night, tho.  Hope everyone had a spooky good time!

Halloween Watch: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1932)




Watched:  10/01/2021
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Unknown.  Third?
Decade:  1930's
Director:  Rouben Mamoulian

Because this movie was released via Paramount versus Universal, it hasn't quite got the same visibility as the Universal Horror films over the past 90 years.  You don't see Hyde cavorting with Creatch or Drac.  He's a bad fit if Frankenstein or the Wolfman are looking for a scrap.  But he's still crucial to the movement of horror films, pushing special effects and getting top performances out of the cast (and it looks AMAZING.  The sets in this thing...).  

Based upon a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, Paramount took the production seriously, and it wound up nominated for Academy Awards, and March took home the statue for Best Actor.  And - I'll argue - he deserves it.  And he film deserves accolades for design and effects alongside the Universal films, even if nothing about this movie goes in for gigantic gothic sets.  Plus, there's some fascinating POV work in the film, putting us in Jekyll's place seemingly to make a point.  

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Retro Space Opera Watch: Flash Gordon (1936) - listed as "Rocketship" on Amazon



Watched:  02/14/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First all the way through
Decade:  1930's
Directors:  Frederick StephaniRay Taylor 

So, this was a truncated film that cut together the story from the famed Flash Gordon serial from 1936 into a single film.  For whatever reason, it was called Rocketship on Amazon Prime.  

And, frankly, I really can't recommend it enough.  

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Musical Watch: Swing Time (1936)



Watched:  02/17/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's
Director:  George Stevens

What with the freeze on here in Austin, Jamie requested we watch something we didn't have to follow closely and wouldn't be depressing.  Well, I happened to have recorded Swing Time (1936), a famed Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers collaboration.  

We did NOT have to pay much attention to the movie to follow the film.

just a couple of Hollywood hoofers



Uh, look.  I just don't have the time, energy or headspace to give the movie proper consideration.  It has a cute, very 1930's plot about plucky underdogs finding their way to the big time and glamour through dance.  Unfortunately - the big show stopper number they give Astaire to show off his talents is a minstrel number in black face, and... you know... sometimes dealing with the racism of our forebears is a real fucking bummer.  Like, you're just going about your business and cheering on the two lovebirds of the picture, and then Astaire turns around and starts slathering on blackface, and you're like "COME ON, MOVIE."  

Anyway - already exhausted and not wanting to deal with nonsense, it was not welcome and kind of threw me off from the admittedly lovely final dance sequence ending.  The movie is a good, light-hearted musical romance.  I very much enjoyed the lead and supporting characters, and it was fun.  Oh, and, yes, I hope you like the song "The Way You Look Tonight", because this movie loves it.

I've seen other Astaire movies, but few Ginger Rogers films, and she really was perfect for the screen for what they were doing.  Lovely, all the grace you read about, and perfectly paired with Astaire.  

and she knew how to wear a gown


And, hey, she was pretty funny, too, in her own right.  

Anyway - its' worth watching at some point from an historical and entertainment persepctive, but be aware of the "oh god, this is super racist" 10 minutes or so that I would more than understand would be a solid reason not to watch the film.



Sunday, October 4, 2020

PODCAST: "Frankenstein" (1931) "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) and "Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  09/18 (Curse), 09/19 (Frank), 09/20 (Bride of)
Format:  Amazon Streaming, BluRay
Viewing:  Third, Unknown, Unknown
Decade:  1950's, 1930's
Director:  Terence Fisher, James Whale


It's the story of a scientist with a dream and the friends he made along the way! We stitch together three films for one monstrously excellent discussion about one of pop culture's favorite go-to's, the mad scientist and his shambling pal(s). From the shocking arrival of the 1931 film by Universal to the mid-50's experiments by Hammer to bring the story to life, we chat what makes the story work from any angle, and why we're still watching 90 years later.




Music
Frankenstein Main Theme (1931) - Giuseppe Becce
Bride of Frankenstein Suite (1935) - Franz Waxman


Halloween 2020
Halloween and Horror

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

PODCAST! "Dracula" (1931) and "Horror of Dracula" (1958) - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  09/11/2020 and 09/12/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown and Unknown
Decade:  1930's and 1950's
Director:  Tod Browning and Terence Fisher



It's Halloween! This year SimonUK and Ryan are taking on the classics of horror from not just one - but two studios! We're starting with a monster that really sucks - our dear old pal, The Count! Join us as we talk two great takes on Dracula - from Universal and Hammer Studios, respectively - that cemented the character in the collective imagination and which still continue to thrill! Let's talk creepy castles, alluring monsters and rubber bats! 

Horror of Dracula Main Theme
- James Bernard
Swan Lake - Act II (excerpt) - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 


Halloween 2020 Playlist
All the Halloween and Horror

Thursday, July 9, 2020

PODCAST: 110 - "King Kong" 1933, 1976, 2005 & "KIng Kong Lives" (1985) and "Kong: Skull Island" (2017)



King Kong  (1976)
watched:  06/03/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing: No idea
Director:  John Guillermin

Kong Lives (1985)
watched 06/08/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third?
Director: John Guillermin

Kong: Skull Island (2017)
watched: 06/12/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  second?
Director:  Jordan Vogt-Roberts

King Kong (2005)
watched:  06/13/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third
Director:  Peter Jackson

King Kong (1933)
Watched:  06/23/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  no idea
Director:  Merian C. Cooper


For more ways to listen



It's King Kong-a-Palooza as we take on 5 movies about one big monkey. Stuart joins in as we talk about the modern mythology of King Kong, what the story tells us, and what it tells us about ourselves that we retell the story every few decades. We reflect on man, ape, mysterious islands, mystery in general, and fame as we ponder the various takes. Join us as we discuss 1933, 1976, 2005 "King Kong" installments, as well as "King Kong Lives" and the recent entry "Kong: Skull Island".





Music:
King Kong Main Theme (1933) - by Max Steiner
King Kong Opening Theme (1976) - by John Barry



Friday, July 3, 2020

Screwball Watch: My Man Godfrey (1936)


Watched:  06/28/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's
Director:  Gregory La Cava

This movie got a scad of Oscar nominations and was very big upon its release.  It's a comedy about class, wealth, those who have money and those who don't in a contemporary picture released in the thick of the Great Depression.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Accidental Quarantine Watch: Jezebel (1938)



Watched:  05/18/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's
Director:  William Wyler

Y'all should know by now I like me some Bette Davis, and one of her early-career films you hear name-dropped a bit is Jezebel (1938).  In all honesty, all I knew about the movie before hitting Play was that it starred Davis, was a period piece of some sort, a melodrama of some sort, and featured cinematography was by Ernest Haller.   I figured on a big studio budget as Davis was, by 1938, a force.  But I didn't think much else about the production.

Given the year, I assume this was Warner Bros. pre-emptive answer to Gone With the Wind, which would arrive soon after and took so long in all phases of production, Warner Bros. had an opportunity to catch up and did so by adapting a screenplay with very similar themes.  Maybe I'm wrong, but the parallels of a romance about a spitfire of a girl in the antebellum south longing after a man she can't have and playing with a bit of a cad and it all ending badly has a certain echo to it.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Oz Watch: The Wizard of Oz (1939)



Watched:  04/11/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Ha ha ha ha
Decade:  1930's
Director: Victor Fleming

It's hard to think of a film more universal in the American imagination than The Wizard of Oz (1939).  Watching the film is as much a right of passage as Kindergarten, organized sports or name-your-item for a good chunk of America, and has been for 80 years.

We refer to it in popular culture and literature, make allusion to the film (for surely the books would now be mostly forgotten without the movie) as often as Biblical reference, Superman, and, maybe Star Wars.  It's weirdly universal for a fantasy movie about a girl who has no idea what's going on, her three goofy friends and a witch who just wants a new pair of shoes.  The songs are all familiar as Christmas carols.  People on the street will automatically know Dorothy, rainbows, little dogs, tin men, flying monkeys...

And the weird thing is how the movie really doesn't get old.  And it holds up.

It's a technical marvel, and even in 2020 and an era with CG and everything in color, that door opening on Oz still works.  It doesn't matter how many times you've seen it.  Flying monkeys remain flying monkeys, and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West remains a revelation.  As is Frank Morgan in about 20 different roles.

But the kaleidoscope vision of the movie, the dialog that has become part of the American venacular (ex: "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain", "we're not in Kansas anymore", "and your little dog, too!"), is just now part and parcel of how we've taken the movie in and refract it back out onto the world.  Similar stories may get lots of nods - Alice in Wonderland, for example - but it's hard to say the movie is more popular than the book, and perhaps it's Englishness and sheer nonsense has kept it from having exactly the same impact.  As familiar a film as Gone with the Wind has aged(... poorly) it's simply not considered something everyone should have to see at least once.  Star Wars stands a chance of retaining the same level of cultural integration if Disney doesn't accidentally kill the golden goose and gives it another 40 years.

I have seen the movie run up against Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and it is pretty crazy.  But I really do think it's a coincidence.  And, of course, we can endlessly debate whether or not Baum meant the story as an allegory for the Gold Standard v Silver Standard v Greenbacks that the liberty the studios took with the story kind of annihilates.  Still: Flying monkeys!

Anyway, it's The Wizard of Oz, and it's a sort of singular thing that is, really, everyone's favorite movie about hallucinations induced by head trauma.  But I will fight anyone who says anything negative about this movie.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Bette Watch: Dark Victory (1939)



Watched:  12/29/2019
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's

Look, it's possible Bette Davis is one of 5 or so finest actors to have graced the screen, at least in Hollywood films.  Yeah, she is "of the era" on some things, but - man, even in not-great films she's a power house, and then in something that plays to her range and strengths?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Holiday Watch: The Thin Man (1934)


Watched:  12/26/2019
Format:  BluRay (Warner Archive)
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's

I finally got around to watching my new Thin Man (1934) bluray from Warner Archive.  I won't talk about the movie's plot, because I've done that a few times.  Also, it's one of the most famous movies that ever was, so if you don't know about it or haven't seen it - well, you're bad at movies.  No, I'm not kidding or taking that back.

So why did I buy this movie?  Again?  Well, I'd heard the transfer and restoration were really good - and even if you enjoy the hell out of The Thin Man, sometimes the print or transfer could look a bit rough.  The movie is 85 years old.  That's gonna happen.  But, dang, this BluRay looked phenomenal.  And who doesn't want to see Myrna Loy kinda glow even more?  See her in even more detail?

We could or should have easily covered this movie for our "Holiday Adjacent" podcasts, but did not.  Maybe next year?  It'd be fun to talk about this movie for a long time while Day Drinking.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Hallow-Watch: "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)


Watched:  F - 10/30/2019, BoF - 10/31/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Ha ha ha...
Decade:  1930's

Every Halloween I now watch both of these films.  They're literally two of my favorite movies - the sort of which I'd include if there was a Signal Watch Five Film Marathon in which to partake. 

Next year we're scheduled to talk about them during Halloween, so I want to hold off til then to say much more - and I have plenty of prior posts on these two films. 

Here's to James Whale and Gods and Monsters.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Halloween Horror Watch: The Invisible Man (1933)


Watched:  10/19/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's

It's been years since I watched James Whale's Universal Monsters classic The Invisible Man (1933), but it's not because I don't like the film, I just don't always make time for it the way I do Dracula and the Frankenstein films. 

James Whale most famously directed Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) with The Old Dark House (1932) released prior to this entry.  I'm unsure if most folks know the impact of Whale on horror, even if they've seen the terrific Gods and Monsters, but he, Tod Browning and a few others were busily defining a genre for decades to come, interleaving their horror work with more traditional films. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Aeroplane Watch: The Dawn Patrol (1938)


Watched:  09/01/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930s

This is, apparently, the second version of the same story.  Just this weekend Jamie and I were discussing reboots and relaunches, and I made some noise about "well, they've always remade popular stuff" and this is a pretty good example.  The first version of The Dawn Patrol from 1930, I have not seen.  This remake comes from just eight years later with a shift in casting as Elynn, Niven and Rathbone step in front of the lens.

The Dawn Patrol has curious timing - released in 1938 as the US was watching Germany roll over Europe.  It's an anti-war film, and I found the Wikipedia entry on the film a bit odd, shrugging it's shoulders and saying they were romanticizing combat aviation because of high numbers of deaths, etc... that were part of the genre but gave it kudos for showing the scars of the commanders sending out the untrained pilots.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Spooktacular Watch: Supernatural (1933)



Watched:  08/14/2019
Format:  Alamo S. Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's

Say what you will about Austin, but I just got home from a Tuesday 9:30 PM showing of a 1933 horror movie almost no one has seen who is currently alive, and the place was hopping.  I know this is true in other cities, but this one is mine.

For whatever reason I enjoy what the studios were up to with horror in the pre-Atomic Age films, a mix of the occult, mythical beasts, ghost stories and sometimes just creepy old houses with a Boris Karloff in them.  Supernatural (1933) would have come out on the heels of Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) in the era where not just Universal, but other studios, were getting in on the horror genre and the Hayes office wasn't yet really enforcing any codes.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Marx Bros Watch: At The Circus (1939)


Watched: 06/29/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1930's

Well, this was a bit of fun.

The Marx. Bros had been in Hollywood a full decade by the time (Marx Bros.) At the Circus (1939) was released.  It''s basically not all that different from A Night at the Opera or other Marx Bros. outings, at least in format.  There's a Groucho song, Harpo plays the harp, Margaret Dumont (bless her) plays the wealthy dowager.  There's a couple in love who have a song or two that would have gone to Zeppo and someone else back in the day. And an antagonist in need of a good come-uppance.

But if you're watching ta Marx Bros. film for structure or plot, something has gone terribly wrong. 

All in all, the circus is a terrific setting for the Marx Bros, animals and acrobats and all, setting up an ideal finale under the big top.  There's stunts and great visual gags, a flying Margaret Dumont, and a gorilla.  How can you not like it?

It doesn't hit the levels of absurdity that Duck Soup reaches, but nothing does. 

One thing I find curious about the Marx Bros. movies is that some, such as this one, contain scenes with all-Black casts plus a Marx Bros or three.  It's not unheard of for this in other movies, but clearly they were trying to bring people to the screen who weren't always there.  You always cringe a little when you're not sure we're not going to wind up in Blackface (they do in at least one picture), but not here. 

The movie also has a terrific scene with Groucho and a very young Eve Arden that now has one of my favorite "breaking the fourth wall" moments in a movie as he bemoans how he doesn't know how to do the scene without trouble from the Hayes Office. 

Anyway - we were going back and forth about what makes comedy work, what makes it feel like a movie versus comic actors just doing their thing as the camera rolls, and I'd argue, come back to a Marx Bros movie for what's possible on the screen.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Adventure Watch: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)



Watched:  06/27/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  4th or 5th
Decade:  1930's

Flat out, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is one of the most influential and best adventure films ever made.

Everything that came before it led up to it, and everything after stands in its shadow.  If you think superhero movies pitting quippy rogues in brightly colored outfits standing up against despotic thugs grasping for power is a new thing, my friend, have I got a movie for you.

Even by modern standards the film is a marvel - maybe especially so.  There's no wires, no wire removal, no CGI versions of Errol Flynn leaping onto a horse with his hands tied behind his back.  That's just dudes in tights doing some crazy stunts for your entertainment.  And it's far from just Flynn - it's an army of actors and performers jumping out of trees, swinging on ropes, and buckling swashes.  The pacing is rapid, especially for 1938, and sets the standard for today's adventure movies, but the dialog is 95% better than most films of its type - intentionally cheesy in many parts, lots of "look, we're pretending to be Ye Olde British People", but - at its heart - the movie will always resonate, as will the story of Robin Hood, of standing up for a nation and all people over the avarice and cruelty of those who would crush others to live with more than they can ever use.

As you can guess, the silent era figured out that you could get in audiences with wild stunts - actions speaking louder than title cards, after all.  Douglas Fairbanks was one the great stars of the era, his Zorro and other characters bouncing all over the screen, jumping off and on horses, swinging from anything that could bear their weight.  It's a hell of a thing to watch, and still absolutely thrilling.  1938 is only a decade into the sound era, and here you can see that the language of sound film has found its form.  Add in the fact this is in technicolor, popping off the screen, and that Flynn is the definition of "handsome fellow", and it's a movie that takes advantage of everything it's got.

One of those things is Olivia deHaviland, who plays the role of the Maid Marian.  This Marian isn't already charmed by the rogue-ish Robin, but is won over by realizing his true loyalty to England, the same which he's inspired in his men, and how he is true to his mission.  He's not just robbing to gather a ransom to free his King, he's also caring for the injured and battered who can't fight alongside him.  She has her moments of action within the confines of the story and era, and while she'll be given a side-eye perhaps by modern audiences, man, for the time, it's a cheeky role.

We also get Claude Rains as Prince John (just perfectly foppish), Basil Rathbone as utter dirtbag Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and the always wonderful Una O'Connor as Bess - Maid Marian's lady in waiting.  And, of course, dozens more.

If you've never seen the movie, I can't recommend it enough.  It'll genuinely make you wonder why, between this and the Disney version, the past thirty years we've been handed somber, depressing versions of the story.  Part of the joy of the movie is Robin Hood's joy and good humor in the face of danger.  He's not an anti-hero out for vengeance, he's a hero in search of justice.  And Maid Marian.

So get ready for sword battles, archery, skullduggery and men in tights leaping from trees.

I give it five thumbs up.