Movies Came Out In (1937)
The Life of Emile Zola – Just watched recently and thought it was a pretty good film. The plot is pretty straightforward: A biopic of the famous French writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair in France (wrongly convicted Jewish captain). This was a story unbeknownst to me, so I did a little reading on Wikipedia about it just to familiarize myself with it. Very interesting, and the movie is produced/filmed in the 30’s after the Nazi’s had taken power, so there’s a bit of a fight against anti-Semitism as an undercurrent in the film.
The Awful Truth – A cute romantic comedy (starring Cary Grant) about a couple that starts to go thru divorce proceedings and during the waiting period (a few months), realize they love each other. Of course, each other gets romantically involved with someone else and hilarity ensues. Not exactly the hardest plot to decipher as the picture goes along, but it’s pretty entertaining. It stars a young Ralph Bellamy, which my generation will know as Randolph Duke in “Trading Places” and “Coming To America”. The star of the comedy is Mr. Smith, the dog (Asta). He’s a scene stealer and I knew he looked familiar, as he also stars in “The Thin Man”. That dog had a knack for good humor. I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend watching if you ever get the chance.
Captains Courageous – Watched recently and thought this was a pretty good film. It’s an adaption of a novel by Rudyard Kipling and the plot is: A spoiled brat who falls overboard from a steamship gets picked up by a fishing boat, where he’s made to earn his keep by joining the crew in their work. The child actor is pretty good/believable and his character’s arc is very believable. The lamest part of the movie is that Spencer Tracy is cast as a Portuguese-American fisherman, when he’s as white as white can be, seems to be par for the course for Hollywood and such roles for the period.
Dead End – I just watched recently and thought this film was pretty good given the time period and what not. The plot is: The lives of a young man and woman, an infamous gangster (played by Humphrey Bogart) and a group of street kids converge one day in a volatile New York City slum. Bogart’s character is nicknamed Baby Face, and supposedly had enough plastic surgery to make him look like a different person so that no one in the old neighborhood recognized him. A little ridiculous? Yes. The worst part of the film: the teenage acting was a bit over the top with their corny accents and supposed street-wise attitudes.
The Good Earth – Watched on TCM, and found it rather boring. I read this book by Pearl S. Buck in something like the 9th grade. I didn’t find it interesting then, and I didn’t find the movie interesting some 30 years later. I did find it interesting that the movie is set in China, about Chinese people and yet the majority of the main actors were not Chinese.
In Old Chicago – Just watched recently, and thought it was a pretty decent film. It’s a fictional tale of 2 brothers (one honest, one crooked) and their relationship in Chicago before the big fire in 1871. The film stars Don Ameche in a leading role which is fun to see since I really only know him from his later in life roles like Cocoon, Trading Places, and Coming To America. The film has a nice speedy length (about 90 minutes), doesn’t drag, has a few musical numbers, and while the plot isn’t incredibly intricate, it’s entertaining enough.
Lost Horizon – Just watched recently, and I thought this was a pretty great film. The copy I watched had some video scenes missing because the film was not restored/saved properly and the audio continued while movie stills stayed on the screen (an interesting experience). The plot is very interesting: An English diplomat is sent to China to extract the final few white English citizens there, before war leaves them stranded. Their plane is hijacked, and they end up crashing in the Himalayas but are saved by a group of people from Shangri-la. Shangri-la is a paradise seemingly too good to be true (people don’t age, get sick, they’re very care-free). The English diplomat and the citizens have their ups & downs and some eventually leave, and return to the real world, only to find out more truths. I won’t say any more, because I think this film is worth watching if you get a chance, I really enjoyed it.
One Hundred Men and a Girl – To explain in a word: Silly. The story of a teenage daughter during the Depression-Era tries to find work for her father, a struggling trombone player. She organizes an orchestra (the 100 men) of other out-of-work musicians and has a series of comedic encounters (usually involving misunderstandings) with a famous conductor. Really corny plot, the acting is typical of the period, and overall the story is just “meh”. I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to watch this film (which ironically I had to do, because it was very difficult to find on DVD).
Stage Door – This was a cute comedy/drama starring Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and a young Lucille Ball. I rather enjoyed this film, and found the humor/writing rather witty and held up well. I could see this film being remade for today’s audiences.
A Star Is Born – Watched on Amazon Prime, and I’m very curious to see how the latest 2018 remake compares (starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper). The movie has been remade 4 times now, so the plot is somewhat well-known (fame seeker goes to LA, struggles, falls for a drunk has-been star, he propels her, leaving him behind, all works out in the end). I enjoyed this original film and think it still holds up after 80+ years. Fredric March is the male star, and I’ve seen him in quite a few films of late, he’s a pretty decent actor and not one dimensional.
Ceremony Year (1938) – Movies Came Out In (1937)