1930’s

[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 …

[6.5] Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper co-star in director Frank Borzage’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Cooper plays an American ambulance driver who falls in love with Hayes’ British nurse in Italy during the first World War. They are secretly married and have to keep their relationship hidden from their superiors. Eventually, they are separated and their letters to each other are …

[7.0] Marlene Dietrich re-teams with director Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel) to play a woman-on-the-run in Blonde Venus. After her husband falls ill from radium poisoning, Dietrich performs in a nightclub to make money for his treatment. But when Cary Grant shows up at the club offering a way to make more money faster, Dietrich takes him up on his offer. (Who wouldn’t prostitute …

[6.0] Devil and the Deep stars Tallulah Bankhead as the wife of a U.S. naval commander played by Charles Laughton (receiving ‘introducing’ credit here). Laughton’s character is mentally ill and insanely jealous of every man Bankhead ever comes into contact with, which includes Cary Grant early on in the film, and later with Gary Cooper. Thing is, Tallulah really did sleep with Cooper (God bless …

[6.5] Mae West stars as an 1890’s club entertainer courting a variety of suitors while a dangerous boyfriend promises retribution if she leaves him. While the suitors keep her covered in diamonds, it’s the man running a mission next door who most strikes West’s fancy. That man is played by Cary Grant, in one of his earliest screen appearances. Based on West’s own stage play, …

[5.5] Janet Gaynor and Fredric March star in a love story so good, they’ve made it four times now — most recently with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the roles. Gaynor plays a small-town girl with dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. With encouragement from her grandmother, she arrives in Tinseltown bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to discover what everyone discovers — that opportunity is …

[5.5] Cary Grant made his big-screen debut as a singing javelin thrower in this romantic comedy about adulterous lovers (Thelma Todd and Roland Young) who go to great lengths to hide their secret affair from the woman’s husband (Grant). The cover-up involves hiring a woman (Lili Damita) to play the other man’s wife and all of the characters taking a trip to Venice together.┬áThis Is …

[5.0] Pre-Code bad girl Barbara Stanwyck stars in this hybrid of a love story and a prison movie. Stanwyck plays Nan, a woman who works with a team of mobsters who rob banks. She goes in and distracts the security guards while the men rush in with guns and grab the cash. But Nan is eventually captured and sentenced to prison. But then an evangelical …

[6.5] This is a serendipitous romantic comedy pairing frequent costars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. Gable plays a reporter who runs away with a press-weary heiress, hoping to snag the headline of the century. But naturally, he falls in love with the dame, which would be complicated enough without being mistaken for spies. Gable and Crawford are having fun and it shows — especially when …

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