Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Catching Up

Getting a bit behind on blog posts, so here's some quick looks at what's played recently at The Sovereign.

-Fashions of 1934 (1934): William Powell and Bette Davis steal fashion designs from Paris. Two words: feather bikinis.
-Havanna Widows (1933): Joan Blondell and Glenda Ferrell go to Cuba in hopes of bilking a millionaire out of some dough. In the end, all is forgiven. It is Joan Blondell, after all.
-Diplomaniacs(1933): Can't have a pre-code marathon without a Wheeler and Woolsey movie. My favorite of the duo's films.  Always takes a few days to get the songs out of my head.
-Union Depot (1932): Best find of the year so far. Sort of like Grand Hotel in a train station, but a bit more. Joan Blondell is great, but quieter than usual.
-42nd Street (1933): A true classic. A noticeably larger budget than the other Warner films I've seen lately. Stars Columbus native Warner Baxter, too.
-Safe in Hell (1931): Lurid story of a prostitute trying to escape a murder charge by holing up on a small Caribbean island. Should be a great tragedy, but the plot is so mechanical that it takes all the punch out of the story. Great performance from Dorothy Mackaill, though.
-Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933): Great horror film, in color. The ending proves my theory that Glenda Ferrell always ends up with the most unlikely man (well, the most unlikely of likely men in this case). It was probably another 30 years before the line "How's your sex life?" was heard again in a Hollywood film.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Secret Six

MGM crime drama from 1931.  Story: Factory worker (Wallace Beery) works his way to the top of a gang.

-Viewed on 1/17/2013 (Sovereign premeire)
-Usually when you think of 30s gangster films, you think of Warner Brothers, but this one came out of usually glossier MGM.
-Beery runs circles around the rest of the cast.  This was made the same year as The Champ, the film for which he won the Best Actor Oscar.
-The cast is impressive, but young.  It's an early credit for Jean Harlow and Clark Gable and Ralph Bellamy's first film.
-Thanks to this film, Gable was given a contract at MGM.
-Johnny Mack Brown, who plays a reporter and Harlow's love interest, later became well known as a star of Westerns in the Forties.
-The Secret 6 of the title refers to 6 men from various government agencies who join forces to find any charge that will stick to the criminals.  A real-life Secret 6 was responsible for having Al Capone convicted of tax evasion.  But I still don't know why the 6 men had to done masks whenever they met.
-Beery brings lots of humor to the role of Scorpio.  In the silent era, Beery would often play the heavy in the comedys with the likes of Buster Keaton and Raymond Griffith.