The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Message
Author
User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#26 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:47 pm

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:44 pm
Looking at the 60ies poll, I thought it would be interesting to rank films by seen/unseen status on the side of the regular votes.
Because I suspect lot of the great "orphans" and other films placing low suffer in the ranking because they are not being watched, compared to the unfair ranking of widely published titles.
It's still early on to be talking about results but by all means, if you have any favorite films from this decade that you feel are less seen or underappreciated, please do talk them up here.

User avatar
BenoitRouilly
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#27 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:05 pm

You're right it's a bit early if nobody has posted yet.
But 8 months per decade is quite some time. You really take these lists seriously ;)
I thought because the previous 60ies list was 2007 and the next 2013 that the new one would be around now...
Still it would be a good idea to know how many people watched each title.
Will the widely watched films fair better than underseen masterpieces or will popular films rank low because those who saw them disliked them?

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#28 Post by swo17 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:16 pm

The intent is to give people plenty of time to fit in as many viewings as they want. When I was mostly new to each decade, eight months seemed like the sweet spot to get through my rather lengthy to-watch lists. This right now is the discussion/recommendation period, then people PM me their lists during the last month or so of the project.

Someone tried once to gather stats on how many people had watched each title and it didn't go over well.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#29 Post by movielocke » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:42 pm

HJackson wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:47 pm
I hadn't heard of Gabriel Over the White House until movielocke mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. Obviously a one-of-a-kind Hollywood film that functions as pure political propaganda rather than a satisfying narrative feature. Once he has his head injury and decides to solve the nation's problems through sheer force of will, there really isn't any "plot", just a succession of problems he resolves one at a time: unemployment, organised crime, and then finally world peace. Once he cows congress in the second act, the rest seems like a cakewalk for him.

There's something quite strange about the way President Jud is portrayed here - obviously once he gets going with his crusade, we're supposed to be on board, but the fact that his mission is caused by massive head trauma (which I usually associate with mental deterioration in fiction) and that he's frequently depicted as brooding in a psychotic state definitely undermines the notion that Jud is simply a "hero". But you also get a sense that the people behind the production aren't quite aware of how weird he comes across, and think that maybe they thought that "brooding psychopath" is a noble alternative to the fun-loving playboy we see in the first act (there's one really weird and technically quite jarring scene early on where Jud and his nephew hunt around the President's office for a hidden marshmallow while the leader of a million jobless men complains about their lot on the radio, but the juxtaposition is so OTT and unnatural that it doesn't really trigger the appropriate outraged response).

He's totally unmoved by accusations that he's behaving as a dictator, which is telling about the self-image of a certain kind of 1930s American liberal. FDR was reportedly a fan of this film, and "constitutional dictatorship" and supportive studies in ancient constitutional history feature in the political science literature around the time of FDR. Lincoln - who Jud is compared to in the film - was taken by Schmitt to be a kind modern dictator par excellence.

The film also goes way beyond the idea of simple "economic emergency" that would go on to justify FDR's first expansions of executive power, and goes all in on the need for rigid and reformed social order. Even the New Deal aspect of it is pushed to the max with the unemployed workers being reformed as an "army of construction", who Jud sees assembled outside the gates of the White House in a dream, and by the end of the film we have criminals being tried in kangaroo courts and shot by firing squads under the Statue of Liberty. The film does absolutely nothing to hide or sugarcoat what is being depicted here, which makes it all the more fascinating.

Probably won't make my list (Man's Castle will!), but it's a wild film that people should probably watch. Again, I'm shocked that I'd never heard of it until a fortnight ago.
Hah, yes it is one of the most iconicly bizarre films of the thirties, and illustrates better than anything I've seen the degree of desperation that people felt in this country that a major studio made a film proposing an American Hitler as the only possible thing that could save the country.

I've not seen the film since 2006, I very much wonder how I will feel about it now that we have Trump in the white house.

(and a fair reminder that the politics of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are also rather atrocious, because the central thesis is that all FDR New Deal spending is graft and that any social benefits (I think it's rural electrification and water storage by means of a new dam that gets Mr. Smith so agitated), are nothing more than nonsense justifications of those benefitting financially from the government spending. The film posits that the proper role of government is a pastoral small one, Smith's dream. The montage of the kids being attacked by the enforcers is quite nice and symbolic, but also deceptive as here you have the police acting on behalf of new deal leftists instituting beat downs of the libertarian angel-children protesting the rigged system. That's a far cry from the republican led police brutality against of leftist union actions that were standard operating procedure in the era.

User avatar
mizo
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: Heard about Pittsburgh PA?

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#30 Post by mizo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:05 pm

My first contribution to this thread and, hopefully, towards filling up 50 slots. My provisional list only has around 20 near-certainties, so I've got a ways to go! And lord knows there's not much here to shore up the vacancies:

Tange Sazen: The Million Ryô Pot (Sadao Yamanaka, 1935)
I wasn’t convinced of this one at first, but its constant sense of invention won me over as it went along. Yamanaka shows an occasional pronounced flair for comic filmmaking, with a few perfectly-timed cutaways, and a great recurring joke wherein a character proclaims their intractability and then, following a diagonal wipe, we see they’ve caved in. The density of the narrative also impressed me – this is undoubtedly the Winchester '73 of Japanese period comedies! Not much else to say about this perfectly enjoyable film, except for a couple random points: the franchise character is never identified by name in the film. Gee, if not for the fact that one character has only one eye and one arm, a knack for sword-fighting, a furious temper, and a heart of gold when it comes to children, I might never have guessed who Tange Sazen was! Also,
SpoilerShow
That one lord or whatever gets rewarded in the end for lying to his wife, deceiving his servants into devoting enormous time and energy into a wild goose chase, and misrepresenting his own fighting abilities. I honestly though that, in the end, he’d be called out by the men in the dojo for not really defeating Tange Sazen, and would consequently lose his wife and fortune, only to wind up living with Tange Sazen & co. He’d still enjoy the benefits of the million ryo, but all his power would be gone. As is, the ending feels oddly rushed, and a number of steps seem to be missing on the way to its idyllic conclusion.
Le Nouveau testament (Sacha Guitry, 1936)
Now here’s a fascinating train wreck: a comedy where the sheer volume of “comical” dialogue is exhausting. And I mean volume in both senses. Not only is everyone in this film unstoppably garrulous, but all they can do is shout at each other! We get long, long scenes of relentless yelling, stitched together with no variation, like a feature-length clip show from a horrible, angry sitcom from hell. Guitry’s direction does nothing to alleviate the monotony. In fact, during a couple dialogue scenes (and there’s nothing but dialogue scenes in this thing) the camera’s refusal to leave a speaker, the director’s refusal to add a reverse shot, seems almost willfully perverse, like he’s trying to deny you the basic entertainment of watching a filmed conversation. But it’s only fitting, since these are shouting matches rather than conversations, and, to the participant of a shouting match, how the other person is reacting rarely matters.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film that so embodies a mindset of complete narcissism. Fittingly, Guitry’s is the only character afforded any sort of internal life. Everyone else is a broad and insulting caricature - insulting not because Guitry is too harsh on them for their flaws, but because we, as the audience, are expected to stomach this tired, unsubtle shit. The critique of bourgeois hypocrisy, which is what the film keeps claiming itself to be, misses all recognizable marks. Superficial elements shared by superior films like The Rules of the Game and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? swirl around in the mix, but unlike those films, this ends up completely toothless. There’s a whole parade of potential emotional beats inherent in the script that Guitry’s ultra-stiff direction manages to evade completely. Every once in a while, like a stopped clock, it hits the right note of manic speed (though these moments are soon smothered, like everything else, under the sheer weight of its profound effort to be clever and fast). But the movie on the whole is so unimaginatively directed that I sometimes have no idea what emotional response it’s going for. Finally, once it eventually staggers to an unbelievable mess of a conclusion, Guitry teases that he’ll be tearing down all his guests’ delusions and vanities one by one in a big comic climax. Then, after a single (over-extended, and completely lame) dressing-down, he backs out! I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to feel at the end – satisfied that the doctor gets one over on his unfaithful wife? All I felt was shell-shocked when the end title suddenly appeared, and I had to ask myself, “Was that a movie?”

Kameradschaft (G. W. Pabst, 1931)
As far as political cinema goes, this is pretty tepid stuff. A few scenes in the mine, though, are excellent. Things seem patient – the camera moves slowly, shots last for long durations – but underneath (quite apposite for such a subterranean film) they rumble variously with panic, dread, or utter exhaustion. Some segments are hauntingly spare. An old man, searching for his grandson in the mine, is so consumed by his single-minded quest, every glimmer of hope and every stamp of defeat so deeply felt, that his humanity comes to seem effaced by the effort. He transforms before our eyes into a ghastly, animal figure of blind determination and despair. He’s the highwater mark in the film’s approach to character, which leans toward the plain and schematic. In this way (and not only this way) it resembles propaganda. But the message of empathy transcending barriers of race and ideology (we know this is the message because it’s proclaimed as such at the end – twice, in French and German) isn’t forceful enough to justify these structural elements. When characterization is so thin it keeps disappearing into the background, there ought to be some statement, some call to action, powerful enough that it consumes all our attention. “Let’s all be nice to each other” doesn’t fit the bill, and every aspect of the movie, aside from some technically marvelous visuals, winds up seeming slight and bland. And now, some time after watching it, what I remember most about this film is the lame broad humor of the central trio of German miners. An ill omen, I’d say, for its chances of making my list.

The Real Glory (Henry Hathaway, 1939)
And thus, from a tale of people transcending cultural boundaries, I turn to a film where those same boundaries are used as an excuse to display one’s superiority over others. Gary Cooper plays an assholier-than-thou physician in the Philippines Constabulary working to ready the natives for an imminent bandit invasion. His preparation involves, at one point, using someone’s deeply held religious beliefs to mock him grotesquely in front of a crowd. Fearing that he’ll be sent to Hell if his proper burial rite is not respected, a captured bandit falls to his knees and, sobbing, pleas for his life. It’s sort of like when John Wayne shoots out the eyes of the dead Comanche in The Searchers. Except here, the crowd can’t get enough of it! And the good doctor’s humanitarian works don’t stop there. When a cholera epidemic breaks out, Cooper works feverishly (sorry) to get it under control. Well, actually, first he throws a tantrum and says he doesn’t care (because his commanding officer was a big meanie, you see). But once he’s threatened with disciplinary action for standing idly by – why, he’s an absolute saint! Outside of such oddities, however, the movie’s pretty rote. There are some odd character details that suggest further development in the original novel, or else a sorry effort to shore up shallow characterizations. Considering that David Niven’s yearning to live on his own private island and Broderick Crawford’s passion for breeding rare orchids both come to pretty much nothing in the end, I’d go with the latter. There’s also some romantic business that’s too dull for me to bother with. One more point of interest: the film transforms into a genuine bloodbath in its third act, including a couple surprisingly gory images! Well, at least I can now cross
SpoilerShow
“Seeing the Rotting Corpse of Broderick Crawford, Buried Up to His Neck in Dirt, Bugs Eating Away at His Face”
off my bucket list.

The Cowboy and the Lady (H. C. Potter, 1938)
By coincidence, I watched this before Domino posted his write-up. And you know, I was all set to say some moderately nice things about it, but I find I can’t disagree with any of Domino’s complaints. Still, there are a handful of really lovely moments here – best of all, when Cooper is miming what his married life will be like (showcasing Cooper as pretty adept at physical comedy) and in the process bewitches a crowd of his friends. But whenever Cooper starts spouting off about “good workhorse people” or whatever, you just want to crawl into a hole and stay there. I imagine a second viewing, and more exposure to that garbage, would’ve further soured me to this, so it’s probably just as well.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#31 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:09 pm

Like all of Yamanaka's surviving films (all 3 -- out of 30 or so), His Tange Sazen film was very revisionist (and the story's author wasn't all that thrilled by his radical revisions). Sort of reminds me of Kitano's wonderful and offbeat one-of-a-kind take on Zatoichi. The ending never really bothered me much -- it fit in with the anarchistic tone of the whole.

Did you notice the scene that almost exactly prefigured a similar one from Rules of the Game?

User avatar
mizo
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: Heard about Pittsburgh PA?

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#32 Post by mizo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:12 pm

I can think, now, of several superficial similarities to the Renoir film, but nothing struck me while watching it. Off the top of my head, was it the chaotic entry of the lower class person (Tange Sazen/the gamekeeper) into the ordered environment (the dojo/the country estate) with violent intent (to challenge/to shoot somebody)?

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#33 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:55 pm

Think about telescopes/binoculars....

User avatar
mizo
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: Heard about Pittsburgh PA?

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#34 Post by mizo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:59 pm

Oh, of course! Had completely forgotten about that.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#35 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:29 pm

In any event, all 3 surviving Yamanaka films are "indispensable" -- even KOCHIYAMA Soshun, the least well known film of the three. And not just because it contains Setusko Hara's first important performance. It is also a fascinating (and very dark) urban Robin Hood-esque tale.

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#36 Post by zedz » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:51 pm

Tommaso wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:25 pm
So here's the first one I watched for this new 1930s round:

Zoo In Budapest (Rowland V. Lee 1933): I don't remember where I first read about this film. It may well have been some recommendation made in the last round of the 30s filmmaking, but I can't check whether anything has been written here about it as unfortunately the search function still doesn't seem to work properly...

But anyway, somehow I had this at the back of my mind and finally sought it out, and I'm quite blown away by it. This has a truly unusual but nevertheless convincing script, set entirely in the eponymous zoo, and being about a young lad who grew up in that zoo and apparently has never seen the world outside of it. Unsurprisingly then, he's in love with the animals and does everything to protect them from unpleasant society ladies who basically care for the purses or furs that can be made out of the animals' skins... Until one day Eve, a girl from an orphanage, escapes from her stern guardian mistress and both of them have to hide in the zoo from the search party looking for both of them. That they also fall in love doesn't come unexpected, but isn't the major point here.
This sounds weirdly like a strange Australian TV series from the 70s called Catch Kandy, in which a young boy and his sister run away to live in a zoo because they (falsely) believed their uncle died in a tragic rollerskate accident (not the same thing as a tragic rollerskating accident). I hadn't thought about that series for about forty years until I read the above post, but sure enough, it's up on Youtube and is dreadful!

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#37 Post by knives » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:02 pm

The Good Earth(1937)
There are a lot of very interesting pieces to the movie that could have made a great film. Hell, they have with several of Yimou's films and There Will be Blood among others having some of these constitute parts and developing them into great works. While this multi-generational saga is unquestionably better than a lot of its contemporary peers it doesn't ever quite reach the heights of greatness. Part of that is Paul Muni who gives just an awful performance. The rest of the actors do their best playing their characters no different than if this was set in Germany with Rainer in particular earning her Oscar. Muni though gives a bucktoothed stereotype of a performance that utterly lacks in character. There's a lot of him too which just frustrates the matter as there are enough powerful scenes and moments that I want to call this a great film. To be perfectly honest I suspect on rewatch with expectations behind me I'll wind up liking this a lot more, but I'll take what I feel for now.

Topper (dir. McLeod)
Well, this perfectly benign reverse Beatlejuice manages to slip in a few odd bits to make it extremely uncomfortable. This movie is really so light that the occasional reference to wife beating stops the film in its tracks. Really the whole movie has an odd vibe to it with the alcoholics killed by their drunkenness tasked with making some old fuddy duddy into a similar party animal. Fortunately the central trio are hilarious. Grant is pretty lazy about things giving an average though still charming performance, but Young and Bennett are genuinely laughter inducing. Young was really born to play this role which is a weak willed cog in a well run Lubitschian machine. The early going ons before the ghostly mayhem suggest a really great comedy which is only maintained by his interactions with Billie Burke well earning his oscar nom. In fact he probably should have won considering the competition. Bennett is stuck playing a classic screwball quick talking dame and does it so well I instantly want to see all of her other films (shockingly this is only my third). There's a natural ease and intelligence to her every move that most actors would kill to have in a film of where they didn't have to say, "Mary want a soda."

Just as a sidenote it is mildly annoying that the DVD includes the third film in the series and not the second.

At the Circus (dir. Buzzell)
Lydia the Tattooed Lady has to be the Marx's greatest song. This is pretty subdued compared to the Paramount stuff with them showing their age quite a bit. Still, there are enough great moments particularly from Groucho (no wonder he had the longest career even though Chico and Harpo are both naturally funnier) who seems to be having a genuine blast. Actually throughout a lot of the weakest elements of the previous films get a boost (even this film's Zeppo isn't completely awful and is off screen most of the time) so that though there are less jokes per minute there's also significantly less filler making this a really full and lively film. Probably the best outside of Horse Feathers I've seen.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#38 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:04 pm

Missing the second Topper film is a blessing. I think I claimed before it's the worst sequel I've ever seen, and if I didn't, I should have!

Strongly disagree about Muni in the Good Earth, which will be making my list

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#39 Post by knives » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:19 pm

I will reserve the right to change my opinion on Muni for that theoretical rewatch. I suspect that I was so shocked by his tone in the first half hour with its weird tone that threw me off for the rest of the film. His acting during the locust swarm genuinely stood to me as amazing for example so I suspect I just needed to get a sense of him.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#40 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:08 pm

I don't think At the Circus is as funny overall as the top tier Marx Bros films -- but my feeling when I last re-watched it was that, purely cinematography-wise, it was the best-made Marx Bros. film.

McLeod's Topper does a fine job of capturing the goofy, frivolous tone of its literary source. He seems to have had a pretty good batting average in getting top level performances out of the comic actors he worked with (e.g. , Fields in It's A Gift, Marx Bros. in Monkey Business and Horsefeathers).

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#41 Post by knives » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:00 pm

It is a surprisingly beautiful film (especially since Buzzell is typically really awful). DP Leonard Smith likewise has a fairly hit or miss track record in my experience, yet the image is so crisp and simple that it packs a wallop.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#42 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:28 pm

knives wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:00 pm
It is a surprisingly beautiful film (especially since Buzzell is typically really awful). DP Leonard Smith likewise has a fairly hit or miss track record in my experience, yet the image is so crisp and simple that it packs a wallop.
Yes. I was also shocked how much better this _looked_ than any other Marx Bros film -- and could find nothing to explain it by looking at the past credits of the production team (other than, perhaps, the art director, Cedric Gibbons).

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#43 Post by knives » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:40 pm

Outskirts (dir. Boris Barnet)
There's this absolutely beautiful moment about halfway through where German POWs are being marched through the streets as civilians yell slurs at them. Barnet takes an absolutely sympathetic view of these people who had just killed millions of Russians and would soon repeat the effort. Music plays with a folksy swell that gives this more the dimensions of a Terence Davies film than Stalinist cinema. That bucking of the day's trends is exactly what makes this a great film in the sea of awful movies made at the start of the Soviet's sound era including some dire ones from Barnet himself.

That incredible degree of sympathy explicitly developed for the other at the cost of one's own national identity is also what makes this such a dramatic turn from all the other All Quiet on the Western Front type of films made at the time. In a strange turn this Soviet variation is much more individualistic than the American. Whereas in Hollywood the idea seems to be one of universal humanism Barnet seems to be arguing that the other nations are indeed different and strange whether looked at on language, religion, economic values (not surprisingly all the characters are strike friendly workers), and many other categories, but even in difference we should treat as human since the pain they feel is as valid as our own.

While in many respects this is as serious, tense, and emotionally powerful as all of the above suggests what really and truly spices it into one of the greatest films of all time is that patented Barnet sardonic humour. A lot of it is gallows tinged with choking dogs, dead bodies, and the like fitting the absurdity of life during wartime, but Barnet mixes in every kind of comedy from slapstick to screwball and things that don't even begin with an S its here and accentuates the drama with a sense of gall. It's also a surprisingly warm film given how it has that Russian sense of absolute hopelessness wherein every moment is an opportunity for cruelty. The opening strike is on one hand a simple cheer for the revolution about to happen and on the other a complex take on the individual need for relaxation with the later point grafting the biggest effect. Throughout, though often undercut with petty violence, people risk themselves in order to accept one another. In many respects this is the most optimistic Russian anything I've seen since in telling honestly (at least from that Russian point of view) about cruelty it doesn't paint a false utopia, but also within the risks it shows that goodness is stubborn enough that it could someday win out.

Which leads as well to the interesting way that propaganda is used. The film, obviously, follows the official reading of history, but it is treated as an assumed precondition by which an audience's knowledge of helps to build toward the themes that are unique to the film. You know already that capitalist and the provisional government are bad so their joined support of the war is a nice short hand for how to take in some of the more complicated elements such as a cross cutting between peace on the battlefield and violence at home.

This is honestly one of the best films I've ever seen and it is widely available thanks to an R2 Mr. Bongo DVD, a Facets if you are willing to risk that, and an official upload to youtube that is in decent condition as far as that goes. There' no excuse not to watch this masterpiece of 1933.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#44 Post by knives » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:24 am

Nail in the Boot (dir. Kalatozov)
It's somewhat amazing the stir this caused at the time not to even be released considering how removed from the paranoid moment this comes across as a fairly generic is bumbling in its last act hurrah to the Soviet ideal. The editing and overall aesthetic is well handled, but frankly a hundred Soviet films have done this better leaving a meh sense to the whole thing.

Carefree (dir. Sandrich)
This is easily the best of Rogers in these films though unfortunately the rest of the film surrounding her is pretty mediocre. Astaire is saddled with a gross creep of a character and the songs are universally terrible. Even a lot of the jokes just don't work except by virtue of Rogers charm.

San Francisco (dir. WS van Dyke)
Gable really begs the audience to hate him especially with his interactions with MacDonald and it's just delightful. The film itself seems to think his two faced nature more than makes up for his awful traits which leads to a few silly moments, but Gable is just around the corner to be honest. Of course all of this well played melodrama and character work is really for a more mature variant of a '70s disaster movie as the opening titles plainly spell out. It makes a play out of religiosity as a theme, even featuring an opera of Faust, though it doesn't really lift off in favour of the raw emotions the central relationship breeds. Perhaps this would have been a great movie as a pure narrative had it dropped Tracy and the idea of their conflict being a religious one. Having it be a domestic one of different classes, the upper and under, works more naturally with the story being told and already has elements present. It would also allow MacDonald to maintain her status as a strong yet conflicted person rather than having some brat priest speak for her good side. It comes across as bad writing in a film that has a lot of good to it. That the film decides to end with its weakest point utterly ruins the thing for me sadly.

Anna Christie (dirs. Brown & Feyder)
The two versions offer a pretty interesting contrast given how near identical they are. They share a lot of crew and have nearly the same script with language, some actors, and director being the only difference. I think I prefer the German version which has slightly more dynamic lighting and the lack of english language with accents acting problems is null for me in German. That might be a bit of personal bias though given how much I find Brown a mediocre talent. Still, in both versions O'Neal's play and Marion's adaptation shine in both with the drunken sadness of it all conveyed with a sharp brevity. This is probably second only to Ninotchka in terms of the Garbo's I've seen. She really gives it her all being hard and broken in just the right measure with a performance that works beyond era (which is more than can be said of Bickford and George Marion).

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#45 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:28 pm

knives -- I agree with your assessment of Outskirts, but wonder what "dire" Barnet movies you are referring to. None I've seen merit such a description.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#46 Post by knives » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:42 pm

By the Bluest of Seas didn't work for me on any level. The characters and acting in particular seemed broad so as to be pleasing without personality.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#47 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:56 pm

How many glasses of whisky did it take to think Anna Christie was a good movie or that Garbo was good in it?

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#48 Post by knives » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:03 am

Three.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#49 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:06 am

Image

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: The 1930s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#50 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:54 pm

knives wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:42 pm
By the Bluest of Seas didn't work for me on any level. The characters and acting in particular seemed broad so as to be pleasing without personality.
Probably my favorite. :-(

(And not just because of the sometimes spectacular cinematography).

Post Reply