Oxford Calling

The Barrymores are back, y'all... In 1936, MGM established a branch of its studio in Britain, starting out at the Denham Studios in London. In 1938 three of its biggest stars made A Yank At Oxford there: Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, and Maureen O'Sullivan, supported by a lady who would became rather infamous later. Lee (Robert Taylor) … Continue reading Oxford Calling

Five Reasons To See “Frankenstein”

Everybody knows who Frankenstein's monster is. Let's be honest. He's as notorious as Dracula with an almost equally formidable filmography. We'll go into that another time with a proper "Page To Screen," but today we're only interested in the 1931 Universal classic and why it's worth watching. Frankenstein came out ten months after Dracula and Universal Studios … Continue reading Five Reasons To See “Frankenstein”

Jean’s Breakthrough

Here's Miss Jean... Jean Arthur was an extremely competent actress and best remembered for her screwball comedies. She made several films with Frank Capra, one of which was the 1936 smash, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. It was Arthur's breakthrough role and her first time working with Frank Capra, who was making the first of what would … Continue reading Jean’s Breakthrough

That Lubitsch Touch

Ernst Lubitsch was born in Berlin in 1892 and had a long career in Germany as a comic actor, writer, and director. Britannica says Lubitsch directed over forty films before coming to America in 1923. After seeing a Lubitsch film, people often ask, "What made Ernst Lubistch different?" Especially directors and writers, because they all … Continue reading That Lubitsch Touch

We’re Off To Lordsburg

In that jam-packed year of 1939, there were so many winning movies, too many to list here. The Wizard of Oz. Gone With the Wind. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Dodge City. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Dark Victory. Just to name a very few. The only film we're interested in today, though, is Stagecoach. This John … Continue reading We’re Off To Lordsburg

Shorter Basil

Mr. Rathbone, I presume... Basil Rathbone had the forceful act down pat. If he wanted to, he could take or throw a punch, hold his own with a sword, or bore a hole in his opponent with his eyes. In the 1935 film, Anna Karenina, where Rathbone played Alexei Alexandrovitch Karenin, the rejected husband of the … Continue reading Shorter Basil

Broadway Plays the Ponies

The Broadway Melody of 1936 made a star out of Eleanor Powell, and in 1937 she was at it again with The Broadway Melody of 1938, which, unfortunately, was a flaccid follow-up to its predecessor. This time Powell is the daughter of a horse rancher who wants to break into show business, and once again Robert … Continue reading Broadway Plays the Ponies

Back To Broadway

In 1929, The Broadway Melody officially opened the era of the MGM musical. In 1935, The Broadway Melody of 1936 kicked things up a notch or five. It also is credited by some as the movie that saved MGM. Starring Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor, The Broadway Melody of 1936 is at once typical and eye-popping. It's bigger, sparklier, and … Continue reading Back To Broadway

Cagney the Rogue

Despite his love for it, James Cagney didn't get to sing and dance a whole lot in the movies. Warners wanted him to be a gangster and nothing but with very few exceptions. So of course when Cagney got the chance to be a song-and-dance man, he ran, uh, danced with it. One of those … Continue reading Cagney the Rogue

Mr. Rains, I Presume

One of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time is 1933's The Invisible Man. Starring Claude Rains and loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel, it's considered part of Universal's stable of horror but it isn't all that scary. More like it's wryly funny and cerebral and outside the norm. The film … Continue reading Mr. Rains, I Presume

After Happily Ever After

Carole's back, everyone... Carole Lombard was a successful comedienne, but she was not immune to a movie of hers tanking at the box office. That came in the form of 1939's Made For Each Other, which starred Carole opposite James Stewart. Produced by David O. Selznik and directed by John Cromwell, it's an uncomplicated story of … Continue reading After Happily Ever After

Christmas In Carvel

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! ¡Feliz Navidad! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Feliz Natal! Erry-may Istmas-chray! 🙂 Before the advent of TV, studios invested in movie serials, and one of MGM's most popular franchises was the Andy Hardy series, which followed the adventures of its young protagonist in the Midwestern (?) town of Carvel. The films were sure bets … Continue reading Christmas In Carvel

Walking the Tightrope

Mr. Rains is back... Claude Rains had a lot of classic roles, and one of his best in my opinion is that of Senator Joseph Paine in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. This movie is well-trod territory for film buffs and Frank Capra fans, and it's definitely James Stewart's show, but he's effectively matched … Continue reading Walking the Tightrope

The Wizard of Oz Blogathon: Wrapup

Time to tap those slippers together, people... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT12WuZb_DU However, our time in Oz isn't quite over, because I'll be posting any late entries I receive here for your reading pleasure. Speaking of which... Here's MovieCritic from Movies Meet Their Match with a page-to-screen comparison of Baum's book and the film. When I was reading everyone's … Continue reading The Wizard of Oz Blogathon: Wrapup

The Magic Never Ends

Eighty years ago today (can you believe it?), The Wizard of Oz premiered in theaters. The focal point of the movie is of course, a certain pair of ruby red slippers. The number of slippers made for the film is unknown, and at least five pairs still exist. Discovered in one of MGM's storehouses by costumer Kent … Continue reading The Magic Never Ends