1930’s

[6.5] Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) headlines this matinee adventure flick about a group of British archaeologists who fight to keep the recently discovered sword and mask of Genghis Khan out of the hands of the evil Fu Manchu, who would harness the items into deadly weapons against humanity. Karloff plays the evil Fu Manchu with indelible glee, supported by an equally creepy performance by Myrna Loy …

[7.0] Sylvia Sidney and Oskar Homolka star in this Alfred Hitchcock suspense yarn about a movie theater owner (Homolka) who is conspiring to set off a bomb in London. While a Scotland Yard detective (John Loder) tries to identify and arrest the saboteur, the destructive plan comes to a head when Homolka sends Sidney’s unwitting young brother (Desmond Tester) to the predetermined location… with bomb …

[8.0] In a traveling circus sideshow, a scheming trapeze artist named Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) marries a gullible, love-struck little person named Hans (Harry Earles) with plans of poisoning him and inheriting his fortunes. But there’s a code among sideshow freaks, and when Cleopatra’s dishonesty is discovered, the freaks set out to make her… ‘one of us’. Tod Browning’s (Dracula) Freaks was originally intended to horrify …

[5.5] Barbara Stanwyck stars in this murder mystery romp about a socialite who enlists her girlfriends to help her find a dead body she discovered, but which went missing before the police arrived at her calling. The police think she’s a prankster, and Henry Fonda’s newspaper reporter character only makes matters worse by publishing the play-by-play. Before long, Stanwyck and Fonda start to fall in …

[6.0] Director George Cukor (Gaslight, Adam’s Rib) adapts this stage play about a wealthy couple who invite a handful of high society friends for, you guessed it — Dinner at Eight. Everyone’s got a problem or a secret they’re grappling with, and everyone seems to be connected to each other in some way. Lionel Barrymore’s on the verge of losing his shipping company while John …

[7.5] Katharine Hepburn leads an ensemble cast including Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball in this witty but moving comedy/drama about aspiring Broadway actresses living together in a boarding house. Hepburn’s character comes from money and wants to find out whether she has what it takes to become an actor. When she arrives at the boarding house, called The Footlight Club, she meets women both more …

[6.0] Director William Wellman (Wings, Battleground) opens Safe in Hell with the title in flames, and I interpret that to mean, “Buckle up for melodrama.” Dorothy Mackaill stars as a woman who hits hard times in New Orleans while her husband is at war. She turns to prostitution to make ends meet, but early in the film a john gets rough with her and she’s …

[5.0] Lew Ayres and Lana Turner headline this fluffy comedy about a dancer (Turner) who is invited to a posh weekend party with a rich boy (Ayres) and his rich friends. The problem is that Ayres was drunk when he invited Turner and already has another date for the weekend. She only learns about this once she arrives at the big event. But instead of …

[5.5] In 18th century Italy, an orphan boy comes of age with the help of nuns and a kindly mentor, falls in love, gets embroiled in the slave trade, and fights for his inheritance in this adaptation of Hervey Allen’s sprawling novel. Anthony Adverse looks and sounds great, with immense sets, period costumes, and a rich score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Some of the supporting …

[7.0] Nancy Carroll stars as a young bank worker who loses her job and becomes the subject of gossip after she spends a night with a rich womanizer, played by Cary Grant. Even though Carroll never did anything improper, the town saw her arrive at a big party with one man (Edward Woods), and leave with another. Yet a third man (Randolph Scott) visits town …

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