Site Under Reconstruction

1939

[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 …

[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] Jimmy Stewart gives a career-defining performance in this Frank Capra classic about a celebrated boy scout leader (Stewart) who gets chosen to fill a deceased senator’s seat in the U.S. congress. His party assumes Stewart will be a doting yes-man, seriously underestimating his sense of duty and patriotism. When he introduces legislation that conflicts with a corrupt land deal, the party tries to take …

[4] On the barren moors of Yorkshire, a young girl befriends an orphan boy her father brings home from a trip to Liverpool. The friendship turns romantic, but when the girl’s father dies, her nasty blood brother becomes master of the estate and forces her adopted brother into the role of stable boy. Eventually, the young woman marries a wealthy neighbor and the stable boy …

[8] A young boy named Jesse (Roger Daniel) runs away from home to find a job and send money back to his mother, but along the way he falls in with a band of other runaways who are constantly avoiding the police. When the boys are arrested, they are sent to a turpentine factory where they soon realize they are prisoners without rights. Jesse tries …

[5] 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 …

[7] Three orphans grow up together as brothers under the care of a kindly benefactor. When they’re old enough, they join the Foreign Legion, but their dreams of adventure are dashed when a sinister sergeant turns their first outpost into a last stand. There are shades of Gunga Din here, but it’s not nearly as carefree or uplifting as that movie. The final act is …

[7] Lucille Ball and John Carradine are among the 12-passenger crew of a small passenger plane that crashes in South America. The motley crew, which includes a child, a socialite, and a prisoner sentenced to death, must work together to repair the plane’s engines before deadly natives attack. Five Came Back is a well-paced ensemble that packs a couple of memorable shocks and surprises, including …

[7] Errol Flynn tries a Western on for size (his first of eight), seizing the sheriff’s badge and cleaning up the lawless town of Dodge City. He’s with his usual leading lady, Olivia de Havilland, and his usual sidekick, Alan Hale, all under Michael Curtiz’s sure-handed direction. (In fact, there’s a scene in the saloon where rival groups compete in song, a scene Curtiz would …

[5] Bette Davis stars in this Oscar-bait melodrama about a spoiled socialite who learns she has an inoperable brain tumor. After co-star George Brent performs an operation, Davis is told she’s all better — when really her doctor and close friends are keeping a secret from her. The tumor will return and she will die. While waiting for Bette to discover the truth, Dark Victory …

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