1930’s

[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 …

[3] I’ve never been a fan of Lewis Carroll’s source material, so I’m not surprised to find this 1933 all-star studio production of Alice in Wonderland to be another tedious incarnation. You know the story: a little girl (Charlotte Henry) goes into a mirror and meets one fanciful character after another until sweet mercy brings the credits rolling. The details don’t matter: She drinks and …

[7] Heroes for Sale follows Tom Holmes (Richard Barthelmess) through a near-death experience on the World War I battle front to a resulting morphine addiction upon his return to America. We see him lose his job and get rehabilitated, only to suffer another blow when his lucrative investment in washing machines puts hard-working Americans out of work. When he leads a worker’s strike that turns …

[5] In the second of Universal’s Mummy series, two American archaeologists partner with a wealthy magician and his daughter to find the hidden Tomb of Ananka in Egypt. Their quest is hampered by a secret organization determined to protect the tomb’s whereabouts, for fear any visitors might accidentally awaken the mummy who protects it. The Mummy’s Hand lacks distinction, but still manages to somewhat satisfy …

[5] Bela Lugosi headlines this Universal horror flick as a carnival showman determined to successfully inject a human being with gorilla blood to prove that man descended from ape. But who in 1845 Paris would willingly subject themselves to such an experiment? Lugosi and his gorilla companion travel by carriage through the fog-filled streets looking for women to kidnap and inject. After many failed attempts …

[8] Five travelers end up stranded at our title location after a fierce night-time storm makes driving the English hillsides too dangerous. The family that lives there is less than hospitable, with secrets that make the evening increasingly frightening. The Old Dark House is one of the grandfathers of what is now a classic horror sub-genre. Director James Whale (Frankenstein, Waterloo Bridge) makes it a …

[4] Cary Grant stars as a gambling boss who leaves New York after getting acquitted by a jury. He intends to turn over a new leaf, especially when he falls in love with a charming woman (Benita Hume) on a cross-country train ride to California. But once they arrive at their mutual destination, Grant gets roped back into dirty business. Matters get even more complicated …

[6] In the first and least successful of their screen pairings, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant star as swindlers who end up running a traveling vaudeville show on the shores of England. Hepburn’s character disguises herself as a young man in order to evade police looking for her father (Edmund Gwenn), a gambler on the lam. The episodic script becomes unfocused when the father becomes …

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