1930’s

[5] William Holden’s breakout performance was in this drama about a New York violinist who gets drawn into the boxing ring much to his father’s dismay. His fighting takes him all the way to Madison Square Garden under the guidance of a shady mobster, where bitterness about his life choices leads to a tragic outcome. Golden Boy features adequate performances from Holden and love interest …

[9] On a train ride through Europe, a young woman (Margaret Lockwood) discovers a fellow passenger (Dame May Whitty) has gone missing. No one remembers seeing the old woman, not even the people who shared a cabin with them. A rogue musicologist (Michael Redgrave) is sympathetic to Lockwood’s dilemma, and together they uncover a conspiracy behind the woman’s disappearance. But will they be able to …

[7] Cary Grant and Constance Bennett play a carefree wealthy couple who die in a car wreck after a night of hard partying. When they discover they are ghosts with no purpose, they decide to do a good deed in hopes of getting into heaven. So they try to rescue their stuffy bank manager friend, played by Roland Young, from the stifling lifestyle his wife …

[5] Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart star in this overly-talky stage play adaptation about disparate characters whose lives intersect when a notorious criminal on the lam (Bogart) takes them all hostage at a gas station diner in the middle of the desert. Director Archie Mayo conjures terrific ambience with the dust-blown stage set, especially during the climactic shoot-out when the only light source …

[6] Innovative producer/directors Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper (King Kong, Dr Cyclops) tackle a religious parable that ends in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius with The Last Days of Pompeii. Preston Foster stars as a poor blacksmith hardened by misfortune who turns to the Gladiatorial arena, slavery, and other shady deeds to acquire vast wealth. His life intersects with those of Jesus Christ …

[6] Sylvia Sidney (Sabotage, Beetlejuice) plays two roles in this spin on the classic tale of The Prince and the Pauper. After a European princess (Sidney) comes down with the mumps on a good will tour of America, her political liaison (Edward Arnold) scours the city to find the perfect look-alike (also Sidney) to carry out her duties. When the doppelganger falls in love with …

[5] Character actor Frank Morgan (The Wizard of Oz) gets a leading role in this warped melodrama from director James Whale (The Old Dark House). Morgan plays an attorney defending a friend who murdered his wife after catching her in the arms of another man. When Morgan discovers his own wife (Hot Saturday‘s Nancy Carroll) is also having an affair, he plans to follow in …

[8] Norma Shearer (The Divorcee) fronts an all-star, all-female cast in George Cukor’s adaptation of Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women. Shearer plays a happily married woman of privilege who learns through the gossipy grapevine that her husband is having an affair with another woman, played by Joan Crawford. Shearer struggles under the dueling influences of her mother (Lucile Watson) and her so-called ‘friends’, which include …

[8] George Stevens (Gunga Din, A Place in the Sun) directs this romanticized tale of an American western legend — Annie Oakley, the woman sharpshooter who could beat any man at gunplay. While the real Annie Oakley was surely rougher around the edges, Barbara Stanwyck carries this first film adaptation of Oakley’s life with strength and compassion. The screenplay centers around Oakley’s romance with a …

[6] James Cagney stars as a career con artist who keeps trying to prove his worth to his girlfriend (Mary Brian) and her mother (Ruth Donnelly) through a series of promotional scams. From a rigged dance marathon and a bogus ocean pier treasure hunt, to a fat-reducing cream and a grapefruit-growing buy-in, Cagney’s character gets into one jam after another, all while his would-be mother-in-law’s …

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