BEST MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLASSIC, RARE, AND SELDOM-SEEN FILMS
DAN L. MILLER
Best Movie Recommendations for Classic, Rare, and Seldom-Seen Films
Best Movie Recommendations for Classic, Rare, and Seldom-Seen Films
On this page I offer the best movie recommendations for classic, rare, and seldom-seen films from the silent era through the Fifties. I watch movies every day because movies significantly enhance the quality of my life. I enjoy popular movies, award-winning movies, classic movies, and various genres. I find particular pleasure, however, in discovering rare, seldom-seen and classic movies that engage me and leave me with that satisfying feeling of having shared a beautiful artistic moment with those who created the film. Although I view some modern seldom-seen movies, I focus more on rare and seldom-seen movies from the Silent Era, the Pre-Code Era, and the Thirties through the Fifties.
I consider rare movies to be those that are difficult to find or that may be prohibitively expensive. The 1962 French movie Thérèse Desqueyroux, Abel Gance’s Napoleon from 1927, and Disney’s Song of the South are rare because they are, generally, unavailable in the United States in a format that is playable on U.S. DVD players. Seldom-seen movies, on the other hand, are movies that are readily obtainable but are seldom viewed.
Many movie viewers don’t realize the fine quality and artistic importance of rare and seldom-seen movies. One can have an incredibly moving experience discovering and watching movies that people seldom see.
I endeavor in this blog to write short opinions of rare movies, classic movies, silent movies, and seldom-seen movies to point movie viewers to films I know they would appreciate and enjoy and to point out rare and seldom-seen movies that viewers should avoid because of poor quality or boring content. I include in each entry the movie title, year of release, and stars. I devote just a few words to the plot because viewers can easily access detailed synopses and reviews on such sites at IMDB.COM and AMAZON.COM. I provide a few sentences of opinion on the movie and then finish with my recommendation and a link to the movie on IMDB.COM. If I indicate a movie is a must see movie, I am confident anyone watching this movie will find the experience gratifying.
I record most recent posts first and include posts from previous years in archive PDFs.
Where does one find rare and seldom-seen movies? AMAZON.COM sells most of the seldom-seen movies, and many are very inexpensive if one buys used DVDs. In some cases, seldom-seen movies are not for sale in the United States. In these cases, search the internet to find the movies for sale from foreign vendors. The cost of foreign-purchased movies is, in most cases, not much more expensive than movies purchased in the United States. (Carefully check the regional code for foreign movies, however, because some may not play on U.S. DVD players. In these cases one can use computer software to recode the movie.)
A free source of seldom-seen-movies is the public library. One can request nearly any movie through the local library’s interlibrary loan process. The library can obtain at no charge any movie located in one’s state. For a small fee, the library can obtain any movie cataloged in the United States. One can also find seldom-seen-movies on the American Movie Classics (AMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable channels. Their web sites list schedules of movies. Another source for viewing rare and seldom-seen movies is the website archive.org/index.php. One can watch online movies on the site or download movie files of videos in the public domain. There are also links on the IMDB.COM website for viewing movies in the public domain.
I strongly encourage those interested in movies to explore rare and seldom-seen movies because the viewing experience can be rewarding and enjoyable. Take a break from popular movies and discover movie-making geniuses from the past and movies featuring stars who deliver astounding performances.
Because I appreciate movies, I begin my blog with quotations that demonstrate the importance of movies in our culture and the enjoyment one can get from viewing films.
The films made in the first half of the 20th century are in many ways superior to the films being made now. It wasn’t an industry forced by bankers and investors to pander to 18-year-olds. A film now has to fill vast numbers of seats. Studios have to show huge profits to the multinational corporations that own them. Not exactly like the old days of classic Hollywood.
The movie is the imagination of mankind in action.
I always liked movies…they were Milk Duds for the soul.
The moving picture is beautiful; the moving wind in the trees is more beautiful than a painting.
–D. W. Giffith
All life’s riddles are answered in the movies.
The cinema has no boundaries. It is a ribbon of dreams.
There are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.
How can a serious, passionate artist not make film? It’s the most important art form ever created.
Through the magic of motion pictures, someone who’s never left Peoria knows the softness of a Paris spring, the color of a Nile sunset, the sorts of vegetation one will find along the upper Amazon and that Big Ben has not yet gone digital.
Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.
We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds—not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
Film is the only really vital American art form right now. It’s a unifying, worldwide, powerful art form that’s unique in human history.
If I can make them laugh and through that laughter make this world seem just a little brighter, then I am satisfied.
–W. C. Fields
When a movie transports me in an emotional way, it inspires my imagination or my intellect. I love to lose myself in the characters or the world the director is creating. It’s rare and wonderful.
Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film.
One can be sad, alone, detached from family and friends, and the movies can fill a void. Film can provide one for a short period of time with an intimate relationship with characters who fully participate in all aspects of life. One becomes absorbed in a film and vicariously experiences life through characters created by gifted artists.
–Dan L. Miller
Television and film are our libraries now. Our history books.
The carpeted, gilt-adorned palace interior of the theater, where in the darkness you find two seats, whisper a remark or two, and go lifting, speeding into the great moving magic of the silver screen which pulls all into itself, lulling with the magnetic other-worldliness all who sit in adoration before it. The collection is taken discreetly at the door by the gaunt, gray-haired man in the scarlet uniform with the crust of gold braid, and the worshipers are ushered to their cushioned pews in reverent darkness. No matter if they are late; the service is continuous, and if the beginning of the first mass is missed, one may stay through the beginning of the second to achieve full continuity. In the democratic twilight, the clothes of the patrons are not in evidence. If Mrs. Allan’s hat is out of taste, if Mac the cabdriver snores through the dull first lesson or the news reel, if Mamie and Joe nuzzle each other playfully, fondly in response to the sermon of a screen kiss, there is no one to be censorious, no one who really minds. For this is the altar at which more Americans spend their time and money, daily, nightly than ever before. Here the mystic incense of the traditional popcorn, chewing gum and chocolate, of mixed perfume and whiskey smells is neutralized and cooled by the patented air-conditioning system. And here people can lose their identity in a splurge of altruism before the twentieth century god. His messengers, his missionaries are everywhere. Dark in the room above your heads, one runs the machine; reel after vibrating reel of divine life circles under his directions onto the mammoth screen, playing forth the drama, the life force, the Bible of the masses. Rave notices are circulated in the newspapers. Everybody reads them. Sex and slaughter are substituted for the sin and sulphur of the pulpits, now quite antiquated. Instead of watching a man dictate manners and morals, you watch the very workings of these manners and morals in an artificially constructed society which to you, is real. Which, to all the worshipers, is the most wonderful and temporary reality they could every hope to know.
I also present a voluminous collection of film quotations on the Best Quotes on Education and Teaching for English Teachers and Students page of my website.
BEST MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLASSIC, RARE, AND SELDOM-SEEN FILMS
Recommendations from 2016
Recommendations from 2017
Recommendations from 2018
Recommendations from 2019
Recommendations from 2020
Recommendations from 2021
Recommendations from 2022
BEST MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLASSIC, RARE, AND SELDOM-SEEN FILMS
OCTOBER-DECMBER 2022 POST
Feet First (1930) Harold Lloyd, Barbara Kent, Robert McWade, Willie Best
Harold works as a salesman in a shoe store and falls for a beautiful girl he assumes is the daughter of the president of the company. When she takes an ocean cruise with the president and his wife, he boards the ship to wish her bon voyage. The ship sails before he can get off, so he cruises as a stowaway. This talkie gets off to a slow start and doesn’t reach the entertaining heights of Lloyd’s best. It contains, however, a long, harrowing scene of Harold in danger on the outside of a skyscraper that will make viewers squirm in their seats. The suspense, humor and entertaining interactions make this film worth a view.
IMDB: Feet First
Speedy (1928) Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig
Pop runs the last horse-drawn trolley in New York, but a businessman wanting to eliminate competition tries everything for force him out of business. Harold tries everything to keep him in business and win the affection of Pop’s daughter. This highly entertaining film features fascinating historical footage of New York City, Yankee Stadium, and, particularly, Coney Island. In this last of Harold Lloyd’s silent films, Babe Ruth also plays a significant role. For historical significance and for entertainment value, this film earns a Must-See rating. IMDB: Speedy
Haunted Spooks (1920) Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Wally Howe
A young girl inherits a mansion with the stipulation that she spend a year living there with her husband. She has no husband. Harold, having lost the love of his life to a rival makes several attempts at suicide. When lying in the road to be run over, the driver turns out to be the lawyer managing the girl’s inheritance. He picks Harold up from the road and arranges a marriage to the girl. They move into the mansion, but the uncle living there devises a scheme to scare them away.
During the filming of this movie a bomb explosion nearly kills Lloyd and severely injures his hand, forcing him to use a prosthetic hand thereafter. A four-month break in production ensued. Viewers see Harold with his actual hand at the beginning of the film and later with his prosthetic hand in this production. Harold Lloyd fans and silent film fans should see this film. IMDB: Haunted Spooks
Hot Water (1924) Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Josephine Crowell
Harold finds bliss in marriage until his domineering mother-in-law, shiftless brother-in-law, and unruly nephew move in. Harold undergoes disaster after disaster in this laugh-filled comedy. In one of Harold’s best comedies, the action never stops and the amazing bits pay off. Viewers can’t take their eyes off the screen for fear of missing another riotous moment. Don’t miss the brilliant Harold Lloyd in this must-see film. IMDB: Hot Water
Movie Crazy (1932) Harold Lloyd, Constance Cummings, Kenneth Thomson
Obsessed movie fan, Harold, sends a letter to a Hollywood producer seeking an audition. He includes a headshot, but mistakenly encloses a photo of a male model. He gets his audition, fails miserably, and finds colleagues in the movies ridiculing him behind his back. A top Hollywood actress, in particular, toys with him, while also feeling sorry for him. This comedy offers Lloyd’s signature gags, missteps, and blunders, and entertains enough to deserve a view. IMDB: Movie Crazy
The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947) Harold Lloyd, Frances Ramsden, Jimmy Conlin, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Kennedy, Franklin Pangborn, Lionel Stander, Margaret Hamilton
At the big, college football game the coach puts in water boy Harold when there are no players left due to injury. Harold wins the game and becomes a hero. A wealthy fan calls Harold to his office, impressed by his ‘get up and go’ spirit, and offers him a job. He starts him at the bottom and assumes he will soar up the corporate ladder. Instead, Harold languishes as a low-level clerk for twenty years. His boss finally fires him for his lack of initiative. In addition to his dismissal, Harold bemoans his failed romances. Despite his cluelessness, luck smiles on Harold. This light-weight comedy offers mediocre acting, an awkward romantic pairing, and a lack of the hallmark genius from Lloyd’s classic silents. If you’re a Lloyd completist, see this film. If not, you won’t miss much. IMDB: The Sin of Harold Diddlebock
God’s Gift to Women (1931) Frank Fay, Laura La Plante, Joan Blondell, Louise Brooks, Charles Winninger, Alan Mowbray
Women fall over themselves to be with playboy, Toto Duryea. At a nightclub, though, he falls hard for a beautiful patron at the club with her father and his friend. She initially acts repulsed by his aggressive pursuit, but eventually falls in love with him. Her father confronts Toto with his strong objections for his pursuit of his daughter and delivers a set of demands. When Toto states that he loves his daughter more than life itself, the father makes sure he lives up to his word. This bedroom farce provides interest for the romantic tension, the conflicts, plot twists, and the presence of Louise Books, Joan Blondell, and Laura La Plante. Entertaining enough to view. IMDB: God’s Gift to Women
The Great Gildersleeve (1942) Harold Peary, Jane Darwell, Nancy Gates
Throckmorton Gildersleeve has informal custody of his niece and nephew. The local judge decrees that if Gildersleeve does not have a wife in ten days to ‘properly’ raise the children, he’ll remove them from the home. The kids’ music teacher puts on a full court press to get a marriage proposal while the kids create an aggressive campaign to raise Gldersleeve’s status in the community and save their home life. The kids are adorable, the characters generate conflicts galore, and Glidersleeve is perpetually flummoxed, This family comedy with an abundance of laughs entertains. IMDB: The Great Gildersleeve
Gildersleeve’s Bad Day (1943) Harold Peary, Jane Darwell, Nancy Gates
Everything goes wrong for Gildersleeve on his ‘Bad Day,’ but things get worse when he unwittingly gets involved with criminals who involve him in theft and embezzlement. This light, breezy comedy provides viewers with enough chuckles to entertain. IMDB: Gildersleeve’s Bad Day
Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943) Harold Peary, Billie Burke, Claire Carleton
When Gildersleeve’s druggist friend loses his supplier, Gildlersleeve goes to New York to try to convince the supplier to continues to furnish drugs to the local druggist. Gildersleeve’s fiancé doesn’t trust him in New York and follows him. She finds two women pursuing him—one is the batty owner of the drug supply company. This fast-moving comedy provides an abundance of conflicts and laughs. Entertaining enough to view. IMDB: Gildersleeve on Broadway
Gildersleeve’s Ghost (1944) Harold Peary,Marion Martin,Richard LeGrand
Gildersleeve runs for police commissioner against the police chief. During the campaign Gildersleeve sees a gorilla on the loose and a ghost in a haunted mansion. His claims label him as a looney and damages his political campaign. Although pleasant enough to watch, this installment in the Gildersleeve features series doesn’t have the impact of the other features. More fantastical and fewer laughs make this film worth watching but some may consider it a waste of time. IMDB: Gildersleeve’s Ghost
College Holiday (1936) Jack Benny, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Martha Raye, Ben Blue, College students travel to a hotel in distress to perform and, possibly, save the hotel. They get paired off in a bizarre eugenics experiment, however, and have to be closely supervised to keep them from continually necking. Although one or two cute song and dance numbers work in this film, the “humor” in this musical comedy fails. Lame and corny bits abound. The major production number turns out to be a minstrel show with most performers in blackface. Don’t waste your time with this dud. IMDB: College Holiday
Stella Dallas (1925) Ronald Colman, Belle Bennett, Alice Joyce, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Impoverished Stella uses her youthful beauty to attract a wealthy lawyer. They marry, and he succeeds professionally while Stella sticks with her low-class lifestyle. When he’s promoted to head of the law division for his firm in New York, Stella refuses to move with him and also refuses to give up her daughter, Laurel. Friends shun Laurel because of Stella’s suspected immorality. During Laurel’s teen years Stella wants Laurel to mix with wealthy friends and marry well. Even when Laurel’s friends ridicule her ‘freaky’ mother, Laurel rejects her father’s offer to live with him and refuses to leave her mother. Stella still harbors ambitious plans for her daughter. Keep the handkerchief handy. You have no soul if you don’t shed a river of tears over this film. Stella Dallas ranks as one of the best silent dramas. It’s must see viewing. IMDB: Stella Dallas
Anna Christie (1923) Blanche Sweet, William Russell, George F. Marion, Chester Conklin
Anna grows up in Sweden with her mother while her father spends most of his life as a sailor at sea. Anna and her mother move to Minnesota to join their cousins, but life is so horrible for Anna as she grows up, she tries to meet her dad after her mother dies. Anna’s father drinks his life away as captain of a barge. He constantly warns Anna never to marry a sailor. She falls in love with a sailor, and experiences severe conflict between her love for the sailor and her devotion to her father. This silent drama excels in tension and storyline. Blanche Sweet makes her feature debut in this film, and cements her status as a star. This superb production rates as a Must See film. IMDB: Anna Christie
College Humor (1933) Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Richard Arlen, Mary Carlisle, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Mary Kornman
Bing Crosby as Frederick Danvers stars as a professor who croons in class and croons for student parties. He also dates one of his students—the girlfriend of the star quarterback. Her protective brother, Barney Shirrel, goes to the same college to play football, join a fraternity, and find a girlfriend. This film offers moderate entertainment, but does include historic footage of a college football game and features Mary Kornman, the beautiful child star of the Our Gang comedies. IMDB: College Humor
College Rhythm (1934) Joe Penner, Jack Oakie, Lanny Ross, Mary Brian, Franklin Pangborn, Dean Jagger
The star quarterback of the football team works to steal the fiancé of his roommate—a piccolo player and member of the glee club who says his quarterback roommate is a star now but will surely fail after graduation. After graduation the rivalry continues. A level above the other films in the ‘college’ series, this film entertains with song and dance numbers, plenty of female beauties, and a storyline that makes sense. Entertaining enough to view. IMDB: College Rhythm
Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947) Susan Hayward, Lee Bowman, Marsha Hunt
A successful nightclub singer falls in love with a struggling song writer. After they marry, the song writer becomes wildly popular, distances himself from his wife and child while his wife descends into depression, alcoholism, and destructive behavior. Susan Hayward plays her role to perfection in a film that dramatically portrays the destructive effects of alcoholism and the causes behind the disease. Plenty of tension drives this drama that is well worth watching. IMDB: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman
The Hairy Ape (1944) William Bendix, Susan Hayward, John Loder
On a trip back to New York, wealthy socialite, Mildred, gets booked on a freighter rather than a cruise ship. She flirts with a ship’s officer to get better accommodations, and he gives up his cabin for her. He also gives in to her whim to go below decks to see the ‘other side of life’ in the engine room. She’s fascinated with a brutish, muscular coal shoveler who, mesmerized by her beauty, approaches her. She recoils in horror and disgust and ignites a dangerous desire in the ‘beast.’ This well-acted drama remains faithful to the classic play and provides significant tension and interest to make it well worth watching. IMDB: The Hairy Ape
Freckles Comes Home (1942) Johnny Downs, Gale Storm, Mantan Moreland
On a bus ride home from college Freckles sits next to a gangster looking for a quiet. out-of-the-way place to hide out for a while. Freckles’ home town qualifies, and even features a clueless sheriff. Once in town the gangster enlists other gangsters to plan a bank heist. Despite featuring Gale Storm as a love interest, this “B” movie boasts nothing to warrant a viewing. Look elsewhere for an entertaining film. IMDB: Freckles Comes Home
Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em (1926) Evelyn Brent, Lawrence Gray, Louise Brooks, Anita Page
Mame promised her dying mother she would watch over her younger sister. It’s a tall order. Her younger sister, Janie, lives with her and works in the same department store. Janie collects money for the store’s charity dance and gambles the money away while pursuing Mame’s fiancé when Mame goes on vacation. Louise Brooks always dominates a film, and she plays the amoral flirt to perfection. Viewers will find this film well worth watching. IMDB: Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em
It’s the Old Army Game (1926) W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring
Elmer Prettywillie, the local pharmacist, falls prey to a flim-flam man selling worthless properties and goes in with him, selling the properties as well. Meanwhile, the crook falls in love with Prettywillie’s beautiful assistant before being arrested. Prettywillie tries to elude his fellow citizens as well as his own family. W. C. Fields hams it up with his typical gags throughout this film, while Lousie Brooks provides the eye candy. Viewers will find this film watchable and mildly entertaining. IMDB: It’s the Old Army Game
A Girl in Every Port (1928) Victor McLaglen, Robert Armstrong, Louise Brooks, William Demarest, Myrna Loy
Sailor Spike Madden truly has a girl in every port. He consults his little black book to hook up with each port’s lover. In case after case, however, he finds that a fellow sailor has claimed each girl before him. When he finally meets up with his rival, they battle often and continue their rivalry for girls. With a mix of humor and conflict, this film entertains enough to be watchable. IMDB: A Girl in Every Port
The Canary Murder Case (1929) William Powell, Jean Arthur, James Hall, Louise Brooks, Eugene Pallette, Ned Sparks
The “Canary,” a beautiful showgirl, headlines a musical theater production and “dates” several wealthy patrons in an effort to advance her status. She decides to marry a young lover and blackmail her other paramours. Philo Vance ends up with a large number of suspects as he tries to crack the murder case when the “canary” turns up dead. This early “talkie” features primitive, awkward acting, but the complicated mystery makes the film worth watching. IMDB: The Canary Murder Case
Blonde Ice (1948) Robert Paige, Leslie Brooks, Russ Vincent
Successful columnist, Claire, loves her newspaper colleague, Les. Because of her ambition, however, she marries a wealthy businessman. When her new husband discovers her continued love for Les, he turns up murdered. Claire’s ambition for wealth and power rules her life in tandem with her continued love for Les. This B movie provides moderate entertainment with mediocre acting and an engaging, but predictable, plot. Watchable. IMDB: Blonde Ice
A Bride for Henry (1937) Anne Nagel, Warren Hull, Henry Mollison
Stood up at her wedding and humiliated, socialite Sheila, tells her mother to get Henry, her lawyer. When Henry enters the room, Sheila tells him they’re getting married. Henry’s always loved Sheila, and, even though surprised, agrees to marry her. On the honeymoon, Sheila confesses to Henry that she used him to avoid embarrassment and will wait for her intended groom, Eric. Although the character of Sheila comes off as entitled and annoying, the story and the acting make this breezy comedy a pleasant viewing experience. IMDB: A Bride for Henry
The Animal Kingdom (1932) Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, Myrna Loy, Ilka Chase
Tom’s wealthy father considers him a lost cause for never having made anything of himself and for his long-time relationship with his lover, Daisy. Tom wins his father’s approval when he plans a marriage with a wonderful girl he recently met. Conflicts arise when Tom’s soul mate Daisy returns from Europe with marriage on her mind. This well-acted drama with first-rate talent and an engaging story will keep viewers glued to the screen. Viewers will find the film well worth watching. IMDB: The Animal Kingdom
Free to Love (1925) Clara Bow, Donald Keith, Raymond McKee
Marie confronts with a gun Judge Garner in his mansion for sentencing her to two years in a reformatory, even though she was innocent. As a means of atonement, the judge offers to raise Marie in his home as his ward. She accepts and thrives, even falling in love with a young pastor, who oversees a half-way house for ex-cons. She unwittingly, however, becomes involved in criminal activity—even accused of murder. Although this film features a great deal of action and conflict, the primitive acting and flawed plot make this a meh viewing experience. IMDB: Free to Love
Love Among the Millionaires (1930) Clara Bow, Stanley Smith, Stuart Erwin
Pepper happily works in a diner, fending off potential lovers, until she meets Jerry, a handsome railway worker. He pursues her relentlessly and she falls deeply in love. The play to marry, and Pepper finds out later that Jerry is the wealthy son of the owner of the railroad. His father works to break up the couple’s marriage plans. Clara Bow sings her way through this well-produced musical. The film features a believable plot, competent acting, and musical numbers, which enhance the entertainment. Ten-year-old Mitzi Green delivers an incredible, scene-stealing performance, which, in itself, makes this film worth watching. Overall, the film rates as Must-See viewing, particularly for Clara Bow fans. IMDB: Love Among the Millionaires
True to the Navy (1930) Clara Bow, Fredric March, Harry Green, Rex Bell, Louise Beavers
Overly-friendly Ruby works the soda fountain in a general store and convinces MANY sailors that she loves them and will wait for them. And then the whole Pacific fleet pulls into port, and all of her fiancés gather to claim her. Chaos ensues. Ruby, meanwhile, has fallen in love with “Bull’s Eye’ McCoy,” and her many fiancés seek revenge. Although watchable and entertaining, this film represents one of Clara Bow’s ‘lesser’ films. IMDB: True to the Navy
Dancing Mothers (1926) Conway Tearle, Alice Joyce, Clara Bow
Mother spends lonely nights in her mansion while father cavorts in public with his mistress and daughter gets wild at the club, stays out all night, and shamelessly pursues a notorious womanizer. Mother’s friend persuades her to LIVE and go to the club with her. The womanizer falls in love with Mother. This film features competent acting, an engaging plot, and a strong message about mothers. Viewers will find this entertaining film well worth watching. IMDB: Dancing Mothers
The Dark Hour (1936) Ray Walker, Berton Churchill, Irene Ware, Hedda Hopper An angry father pulls his daughter away as she embraces her boyfriend at the front door. He threatens the boyfriend, and the boyfriend threatens the father in return. The next morning the daughter finds her father stabbed to death in his study. This Who-Dun-It moves slowly with actors seeming simply to walk through their parts. Viewers will find other mysteries far more compelling than this one. IMDB: The Dark Hour
Divorce of Lady X (1938) Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, Binnie Barnes, Ralph Richardson
Attendees at a hotel ball have to stay at the hotel because of significant fog. There are no vacancies. The manager offers all of the lounges and tries to get those with suites to share their extra rooms. Everard, an exhausted lawyer, refuses to share his space. Leslie waits out the throng of hopefuls outside his room, and then just barges in and uses her charm to get comfortable sleeping arrangements for the night. Although nothing romantic happens, they both fall in love. In the morning Everard finds that Leslie has left, and he never even knew her name. He mistakenly comes to believe the mystery woman in his room is the philandering wife of one of his clients. This breezy romantic comedy keeps one smiling throughout. No laugh-out-loud moments, but continual amusement carries through this film. Merle Oberon performs at her coquettish best, and the supporting cast shines—making this a movie that’s well worth watching. IMDB: Divorce of Lady X
Dreaming Out Loud (1940) Chester Lauck, Norris Goff, Frances Langford, Phil Harris. Slow-moving, folksy Lum and Abner run the local general store and deal with a fatal hit-and-run as well as a youngster’s battle with a life-and-death illness. This mediocre film features low-key humor fronting two shocking deaths. Although this film is watchable, there are better choices. IMDB: Dreaming Out Loud
Evergreen (1934) Jessie Matthews, Sonnie Hale, Betty Balfour, Stewart Granger
Harriet Green is the darling of the musical theater and at the height of her career announces her retirement to get married. Just before the ceremony, her former lover interferes to blackmail her. She flees into anonymity, leaving her secret daughter in the care of the nanny. Her subsequent death goes unnoticed, and when her daughter becomes a young woman, a publicist foists her on the theater public as her mother making a comeback. Although a bit implausible, this film features entertaining singing and dance numbers. Actually, some numbers are stunning. This film is interesting enough to watch. IMDB: Evergreen
Cottage to Let [Bombsight Stolen] (1941) Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim, John Mills, Michael Wilding
Nazi spies infiltrate a Scottish village during World War II. Although they ingratiate themselves to the villagers, suspicious townspeople work to crack the spy ring. This ordinary spy ‘thriller’ offers only a mediocre viewing experience. IMDB: Cottage to Let
Everything’s on Ice [Frolics on Ice] (1939) Irene Dare, Edgar Kennedy, Roscoe Karns, Mary Hart, George Meeker
Talented six-year-old Irene performs on ice like an olympic champion in this comedy. While her father runs his barber shop, her uncle, mother, and sister accompany her on the road for flashy night club performances. Her uncle wheels and deals to benefit himself and run the lives of others in the family. This film features an engaging story, amusing scenes, amazing skating performances, and a love story. The film is well-worth watching. IMDB: Everything’s on Ice
Beggars of Life (1928) Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Louise Brooks
Nancy fends off her foster father during a sexual assault and kills him. Shortly after, a hobo comes to the house looking for food. They leave together, and he becomes her protector, primarily from the police and from fellow hobos attempting sexual assault. This well-done film features action, suspense, competent acting and a beautiful Louise Brooks and a villainous Wallace Beery.This film is well-worth watching. IMDB: Beggars of Life
Spitfire [First of the Few] (1942) Leslie Howard, David Niven, Rosamund John
This film details the life of R. J. Mitchell as he designs planes and eventually designs the ultimate fighter plane for England—the Spitfire. This informational and entertaining film features first-class acting and an engaging, true-life story. Viewers will find the film well-worth watching. IMDB: Spitfire
Fit for a King (1937) Joe E. Brown, Helen Mack, Paul Kelly
Nepotism placed Virgil on the newspaper staff, where all others resent him and he can’t get an assignment with more responsibility than fetching the boss’s lunch. He meets and falls in love with a young lady, who he doesn’t realize is a princess. When he realizes her status, he battles a rival reporter for the story, but ultimately works to save the princess when she faces assassination. This film offers standard Joe E. Brown silliness, but features enough entertainment value to provide viewers with a watchable experience. IMDB: Fit for a King
Fixed Bayonets! (1951) Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, Michael O’Shea, James Dean
A company in the Korean War faces annihilation from an oncoming Chinese force. They plan an escape route but leave a rear guard behind to fend off the enemy to give the larger group time to retreat. The third-in-command soldier out of cowardice fears taking leadership of the group, or even shooting his gun to kill the enemy. This typical war film alternates between banter among the soldiers, to action, to suspense over leadership. This film is interesting enough to watch but better war films exist. IMDB: Fixed Bayonets!
Footsteps in the Fog (1955) Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons, Bill Travers
After Stephen Lowry poisons his wife, his maid blackmails him into making her his housekeeper. She obsesses about carrying for him and becoming a surrogate for his wife. Stephen struggles to extricate himself from the suffocating relationship to marry another. This intriguing thriller keeps viewers interested with first-class acting and plot twists that keep one guessing. Although filmed in technicolor, the process doesn’t add to the viewing experience. This outstanding film deserves a must-see rating. IMDB: Footsteps in the Fog
Behind Green Lights (1946) Carole Landis, William Gargan, Richard Crane
A car rolls up to the steps of the police station with a dead man inside. In the middle of a race for mayor with pressure from a rabid press corps and political players, the police lieutenant works to wade through multiple suspects to solve the murder. This film noir plays out with a bit of humor and a lot of suspense. This entertaining viewing experience garners a must-see viewing rating. IMDB: Behind Green Lights
Dangerous Curves (1929) Clara Bow, Richard Arlen, Kay Francis
As a lowly dancer in the circus, Pat admires and loves the star of the show, Larry the high-wire walker, who shares his act with two others—his girlfriend and his partner. When Larry sees them kissing during the act, he sustains serious injuries in a fall. After his recovery, Pat lovingly tries to bring him back from depression and alcoholism. This early talkie features primitive acting and production values, but an interesting story and Clara Bow’s spirit and energy make this film watchable. IMDB: Dangerous Curves
JULY-SEPTEMBER 2022 POST
Anna Karenina (1935) Greta Garbo. Fredric March, Freddie Bartholomew, Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, Basil Rathbone, Reginald Owen, Reginald Denny, Joan Marsh, Mischa Auer
Captain Gronsky falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful Anna, who’s married and adores her child. Unable to resist Gronsky’s advances, Anna falls deeply in love with him as well. Anna endures extreme conflict over her future and her love of Gronsky versus her love for her son. Although this version of the classic novel abbreviates considerably the love affair and can’t develop the characters fully, the superb acting, the story itself, and the production value make this highly entertaining film well worth watching. If for nothing else, watch the film for Garbo’s performance. IMDB: Anna Karenina
Separate Tables (1958) Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, David Niven, Wendy Hiller, Burt Lancaster
This drawing room drama takes place in one setting: a seaside hotel in Bournemouth. The film focuses on the troubled lives of several residents. Oscar-winning performances highlight this film. The tension, conflicts and suspense, as well as incredible acting and outstanding cinematography make this film well worth watching. IMDB: Separate Tables
Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) (1955) Ulla Jacobsson, Anne Egerman, Eva Dahlbeck, Desiree Armfeldt, Harriet Andersson
In this Ingmar Bergman? Swedish film with subtitles, middle-aged Fredrik marries teenager Anne and waits for two years for her to feel comfortable enough to consummate the marriage. Meanwhile, he yearns for his former mistress, who masterminds a scheme among lovers in her world, which results in all major characters committing, or attempting, adultery. This free-wheeling comedy features a highly interesting plot played out by first-rate actors. Viewers can sit back and smile through this engaging comedy. Certainly worth viewing. IMDB: Smiles of a Summer Night
Possessed (1947) Joan Crawford, Louise Howell, Van Heflin, David Sutton, Raymond Massey
Louise obsessively and shamelessly pursues David, who doesn’t love her and tries to extricate himself from the relationship. Louise eventually accepts a marriage proposal from her wealthy employer, who lost his wife under suspicious circumstances. The marriage goes well until David romantically pursues the teenage daughter of her new husband. Joan Crawford plays crazy well, and she doesn’t disappoint in this film. Viewers will find this classic Crawford film well worth watching. IMDB: Possessed
Speedway (1929) William Haines, Anita Page, Ernest Torrence, Karl Dane
Obnoxious braggart and race car mechanic, Bill Whipple, takes more interest in chasing girls than in winning races. His aggressive behavior repels girls rather than attracts them. When it comes time for the Indy 500 race, Bill gets tricked out of his chance to actually race. This silent film features historical footage from the 1928 Indy 500, but beyond that, the viewer will find the movie frivolous. IMDB: Speedway
Mrs. Parkington (1944) Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Edward Arnold, Agnes Moorehead
Susie lives as the daughter of a single mother and boarding house owner in the far West during the 19th century, when she meets and flirts with the owner of the local mine, Major Parkington, when he shows up from New York. After a mine tragedy in which her mother dies, Parkington insists Susie marry him and move to New York. She marries one of the wealthiest businessmen in New York without realizing his scandalous lifestyle and hardball business tactics. The film focuses on her family in her old age with flashbacks to her past. This masterful film features top stars and an engaging plot. Romance, humor, and sentimental family relations dominate in this classic Must See for viewers. IMDB: Mrs. Parkington
You’re Only Young Once (1937) Lewis Stone, Cecilia Parker, Mickey Rooney, Fay Holden, Ann Rutherford
Judge Hardy takes the family on a vacation to Catalina and addresses three serious problems: teenager Andy hooks up with a ‘fast’ sixteen-year-old who wants to ‘experience everything’ before she’s eighteen; teenage daughter, Marian, falls in love with a married man who proposes and promises to get a divorce; and Judge Hardy’s business deal fails and he faces losing everything. This delightful family comedy succeeds at all levels and certainly entertains. IMDB: You’re Only Young Once
Out West with the Hardys (1938) Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden, Cecilia Parker, Ann Rutherford, Sara Haden, Don Castle, Virginia Weidler
Judge Hardy takes the family out West to a ranch where his old flame and her husband face legal and financial trouble. Teenage daughter, Marian, falls in love with the widowed ranch foreman, Andy’s ego runs wild, and the Judge faces financial ruin. The big surprise in this film unfolds in the performance of child star Virginia Weidler. Playing the 8-year-old daughter of the ranch foreman, Virginia acts as well as any child actor ever. She delivers an incredible performance trying to thwart Marian’s romance with her dad and yearning to become one of Andy’s girlfriends. Viewers will find this film highly entertaining. IMDB: Out West with the Hardys
Pardon My Sarong (1942) Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Virginia Bruce, Robert Paige, Lionel Atwill
Chicago bus drivers Abbott and Costello hijack a bus to drive a celebrity and his harem to Hollywood. They find themselves on a yacht blown by a storm to a tropical island inhabited by cannibals and a sketchy archeologist. This film features entertaining song and dance routines and Abbott and Costello’s brand of humor. Although all viewers will find enough entertainment in this film to be satisfied, fans will enjoy the film, and non-fans can find better Abbott and Costello movies. IMDB: Pardon My Sarong
Variety Lights (Luci del varietà) (1950) Peppino De Filippo, Carla del Poggio, Giulietta Masina, John Kitzmiller
This Italian film features the beautiful Carla Del Poggio as a striving actress desperate to get into a financially-strapped and struggling variety show cast. Her beauty and legs earn her a role and the lap-dog devotion of the married director. In her dancing debut, her ill-fitting skirt falls to the stage floor, and her success is guaranteed. Her act draws huge crowds thereafter, and her success inflates her ego, and her ambition leads her to use men to advance her career. Viewers will find this classic film directed by Federico Fellini highly entertaining. IMDB: Variety Lights
Green Grow the Rushes (1951) Roger Livesey, Honor Blackman, Richard Burton, Frederick Leister
Smugglers shipping brandy try to avoid discovery by the authorities, and a female reporter, who originally intends to write a story about the brigands, ends up joining them. This comedy represents the clash of classes in Britain, but rates fairly low in entertainment value. A young Richard Burton puts in a pedestrian effort in a film viewers would do well to avoid. IMDB: Green Grow the Rushes
Keep ’Em Flying (1941) Bud Abbott · Lou Costello · Martha Raye · Carol Bruce
Abbott and Costello, along with their stunt-flyer friend, join the Air Force in this classic film with a patriotic flair. Flying stunts, romance, and a well-crafted story make this film highly entertaining and one of Abbott and Costello’s best. Well worth viewing. IMDB: Keep ‘Em Flying
Ride ’Em Cowboy (1942) Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Foran, Anne Gwynne, Johnny Mack Brown
Abbott and Costello engage in their typical antics with cowboys and Indians related to a Western writer’s mission to prove himself as a legitimate ‘cowboy’ and rodeo rider. This film features a young Ella Fitzgerald and other musical numbers and rates just average as entertainment. IMDB: Ride ‘Em Cowboy
David Lean’s Oliver Twist (1948) John Howard Davies, Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Francis L. Sullivan
Oliver’s mother dies in childbirth, and caregivers place Oliver in several cruel situations until he finally ends up walking the streets of London and falling into Fagin’s clutches. Fagin trains his gang of young boys as pickpockets and thieves. Oliver finds himself in danger throughout the film but holds out hope for a savior. This film provides incredible lighting, cinematography, drama, suspense, and impeccable acting. This film stands as one of the best interpretation of Dickens’ classic. Must-see viewing. IMDB: Oliver Twist
Panic in the Streets (1950) Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes
When police find an unknown shooting victim near the city’s docks, they call in a medical officer who determines the man actually died of the plague. The medical officer then battles the police to make them follow through on strategies to avoid a wide-spread plague. The police, meanwhile, continue their efforts to solve the murder of the unknown victim. This pedestrian police drama with solid acting provides enough action and suspense to make the film an entertaining view. IMDB: Panic in the Streets
People Will Talk (1951) Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain. Finlay Currie, Hume Cronyn
Highly successful Dr. Noah Praetorius works at his university clinic and faces three serious challenges: a pregnant single girl who attempts suicide over her condition; a university investigation over his past; and the criticism of his close friendship with a hulking, dim-witted man who seems to be Dr. Praetorius’s servant. This film features great acting, an engaging story, suspense, conflict, and heart-warming relationships. Viewers will love this Must-See movie. IMDB: People Will Talk
Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale
Queen Elizabeth carries on an affair with the Earl of Essex, who, because of his success in fighting Britain’s battles, garners popularity with the people. Her conflict arises over keeping him close to her, or executing him over her perception of Essex’s ambition for power, and ultimately ambition for her position as ruler of Britain. This film, in full color, features incredible costumes and competent acting in portraying an historical drama. The film contains too much talk and too little action, however, and contemporary films better document this relationship. IMDB: Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
High Sierra (1941) Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Joan Leslie
After his release from prison, Roy Earle heads straight for a meetup with inexperienced misfits to plan a new heist. Conflicts arise and Earls ends up with the girlfriend of one his partners in addition to her dog. Action, suspense and first-rate acting make this an entertaining experience for viewers. IMDB: High Sierra
Invisible Stripes (1939) George Raft, Jane Bryan, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, Flora Robson
On parole after a prison stay, Cliff Taylor, faces impossible odds in finding and keeping a job. Prejudice, bullying, and out-right refusal to hire an ex-con make Cliff consider a return to crime. This crime thriller features first-class acting and a suspenseful story that entertains well enough to satisfy viewers. IMDB: Invisible Stripes
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor, Humphrey Bogart, Allen Jenkins, Donald Crisp
Wealthy and respected Dr. Clitterhouse embarks on an experiment to examine the criminal mind by committing a series of burglaries himself and also joins a gang of thieves to commit more serious crimes. This unique film features drama, humor, romance, suspense, and a unique plot with exceptional acting. Viewers will find this film highly entertaining. IMDB: The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
They Drive by Night (1940) George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, Alan Hale
Brothers face danger and disappointment as truckers. The film also focuses on the brothers’ relationships with women, in which the boss’s wife obsessively pursues one of the brothers. This film, filled with drama, romance, suspense and exceptional acting provides superb entertainment. IMDB: They Drive by Night
Judge Hardy and Son (1939) Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden, Cecilia Parker, Ann Rutherford, Sara Haden, June Preisser, Maria Ouspenskaya
Judge Hardy juggles multiple problems once again. An elderly couple faces eviction, and the judge enlists Andy to investigate the possibility of a child of the couple who could help the parents. Andy faces continual car trouble, juggles relationships with multiple girls, and endures extortion from one of the girls while Judge Hardy’s wife deals with a life-threatening illness. Admirable acting, an engaging story, humor, romance, and suspense make this a film well worth watching. IMDB: Judge Hardy and Son
The Sign of the Cross (1932) Charles Laughton, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Elissa Landi, Ian Keith, Arthur Hohl, Harry Beresford, Tommy Conlon
The Roman emperor orders his precept to hunt down and kill all Christians. The precept falls in love with a Christian girl, and risks his life doing everything he can to save her for himself. He also struggles to understand the girl’s Christian faith while fending off romantic advances from the empress. This DeMille extravaganza features thousands of actors and extras with a strong plot and an abundance of action and suspense. The highlight of the film presents all the horrors of the Roman Colosseum’s arena. This film provides a satisfying viewing experience. IMDB: The Sign of the Cross
The Star (1952) Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden, Natalie Wood
Former Oscar-winner and washed up, aging star obsesses about recapturing the glory of her stunning career. Margaret Elliot goes to great, and unrealistic, lengths to reclaim fame. Strong acting from Bette Davis and a solid supporting role by Sterling Hayden make this a worthy film. Entertainment value hovers around mediocre, but still well worth viewing. IMDB: The Star
Carefree (1938) Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ralph Bellamy, Luella Gear, Jack Carson
A friend of psychiatrist, Dr. Tony Flagg, asks him to psychoanalyze his girlfriend, Amanda, to discover why she won’t accept his marriage proposals. As a result, Amanda, falls in love with Dr. Flagg, and complications ensue. This iconic Astaire/Rogers film delivers jaw-dropping, magical dance sequences highlighted by Roger’s amazing gowns. First-class acting, an engaging storyline, and the electrifying chemistry between Astaire and Rogers make this film Must-See Viewing. The final shot in this film punctuates the fun this film generates. IMDB: Carefree
Great Guns (1941) Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy,· Shelia Ryan, Dick Nelson, Edmund Macdonald
Laurel and Hardy work for a wealthy family whose sickly son, Dan Forrester, leads a pampered life. When the Army drafts Dan, Laurel and Hardy enlist with him to supervise and protect him. Dan blossoms in the Army and even finds romance, but Laurel and Hardy flounder. Plenty of laughs and an interesting story make this film well worth watching. IMDB: Great Guns
The Freshman (1925) Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Brooks Benedict, James H. Anderson, Hazel Keener
Super excited to go to college and looking forward to becoming popular, Harold Lamb quickly, but unknowingly, becomes a laughingstock. Lloyd wastes no time and no scenes in this film featuring pathos, romance, non-stop action and hilarious gags. Don’t miss this Must-See classic by Harold Lloyd. IMDB: The Freshman
Grandma’s Boy (1922) Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Anna Townsend, Charles Stevenson
Grandma’s Boy from a baby through adulthood grows up a coward. Bullied and beaten continually, he never fights back. When a killer threatens the town and the sheriff deputizes everyone, Grandma’s Boy hides under his bed covers. Grandma teaches her boy a lesson, however. Violence predominates in this film as Grandma’s Boy seeks a girl’s favor while trying to overcome his cowardice. Harold Lloyd displays extreme physicality in his stunts, and the story, the stunts, the humor, and the romance make this film well worth watching. IMDB: Grandma’s Boy
Dr. Jack (1922) Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, John T. Prince, Eric Mayne, C. Norman Hammond, Jackie Condon, Mickey Daniels
A doctor keeps the daughter of a wealthy family in bed in a darkened room with no noise for years. The family lawyer suspects the doctor and brings in Dr. Jack for a second opinion. Dr. Jack realizes instantly that there is nothing wrong with the girl, and that the doctor was scamming the family. He proceeds to bring joy and excitement into the girl’s life—with hilarious results. This film delights with slapstick, gags, and outright silliness—and a love interest, or course. Well worth watching. IMDB: Dr. Jack
APRIL-JUNE 2022 POST
My Favorite Blonde (1942) Bob Hope, Madeleine Carroll, Gale Sondergaard, Dooley Wilson
A beautiful, blonde, English secret agent works to transfer a coded message while being pursued by German spies intent on eliminating her. She fortuitously runs into Larry Haines and his trained penguin, and uses him as a cover throughout the film. This film consists of one long chase featuring Hope’s quips and banter—just enough to make this a film worth watching. IMDB: My Favorite Blonde
Star-Spangled Rhythm (1942) Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, Franchot Tone, Ray Milland, Dorothy Lamour, Paulette Goddard, Mary Martin, Dick Powell, Betty Hutton, Eddie Bracken, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, William Bendix, Jerry Colonna, Susan Hayward, Marjorie Reynolds, Gary Crosby, Arthur Treacher, Sterling Holloway, Eva Gabor.
Sailers on leave visit the Paramount studios, where one of the sailors believes his father is a studio head, when, in fact, he’s a gate keeper. So as not to be embarrassed, his father disguises himself and poses as the studio head, with the help of the sailor’s girlfriend, who also works at the studio. The thin plot of this film serves to feature singing and dancing acts, novelty acts, and an abundance of comedy. It appears that every star working at Paramount makes an appearance in this film. Betty Hutton’s high-energy, hilarious performance steals most scenes in this film. Her performance as well as the appearance of so many stars make this film entertaining. IMDB: Star-Spangled Rhythm
This Woman is Dangerous (1952) Joan Crawford, Dennis Morgan, David Brian, Richard Webb, Philip Carey
Long-time lover of an insanely jealous gangster, Beth, finds her sight deteriorating, and she needs surgery. While in the hospital, Beth falls in love with her surgeon, and he reciprocates. He tries to make the relationship work, but for reasons unknown to him, she resists. Meanwhile, her jealous lover seeks revenge. Although watchable and mildly entertaining, the relationship between doctor and patient seems unrealistic and the film doesn’t carry the impact of other Joan Crawford films. Skip this one. IMDB: This Woman is Dangerous
The Meanest Man in the World (1943) Jack Benny, Priscilla Lane, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, Edmund Gwenn, Mae Marsh, Lyle Talbot
Failing attorney, Richard Clarke, jumps at the chance to serve a client who wants an old lady evicted from one of his apartments. A photograph of Richard on the sidewalk with the old lady and all of her possessions hits the newspapers. As a result clients wanting a “tough” attorney flock to him. In the meantime, Richard has been lying to his fiancee about his financial status and the fact that he really isn’t mean. This typical Jack Benny fare contains enough laughs and interest to be watchable. IMDB: The Meanest Man in the World
Gretchen the Greenhorn (1916) Dorothy Gish, Ralph Lewis, Eugene Pallette, Elmo Lincoln
Gretchen immigrates from Holland to live with her father in the big city. She encounters crime, poverty, and romance. She and her father naively and unwittingly participate in a crime, and a criminal gang targets them. This film features action, suspense, humor, and romance. Dorothy Gish, as Gretchen, charms in this well-done production, which deserves to be seen. IMDB: Gretchen the Greenhorn
Lady Windemere’s Fan (1925) Irene Rich, May McAvoy, Bert Lytell, Ronald Colman
This drawing room drama finds Lady Windemere and her husband both suspecting the other of infidelity. Lady Windemere’s mother, whom she had assumed died when she was a baby, strikes a deal with Lady Windemere’s husband, which complicates multiple relationships. And, yes, the fan plays a pivotal role in the plot. This film, based on the classic play by Oscar Wilde, provides well-produced, well-acted entertainment, and exhibits a fine example of quality films of the age. Well-worth viewing. IMDB: Lady Windemere’s Fan
Wonder Bar (1934) Al Jolson, Kay Francis, Dolores del Rio, Ricardo Cortez, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Ruth Donnelly, Hugh Herbert
Al Wonder owns the spectacular Paris nightclub, the Wonder Bar, and plays the roles of host and star. Most of the action takes place in the ballroom where singers and dancers perform, and Busby Berkley-produced productions dazzle. The film also features theft, blackmail, infidelity, murder, suicide, gigolos, prostitutes, alcoholics, and racially and sexually insensitive portrayals. Despite the immoral sewer portrayed in this film, it entertains with first-rate talent. Worth watching if you can wade through the negatives. IMDB: Wonder Bar
Undesirable, The (1915) Angyal Liszka, Várkonyi Mihály, Ördög Sára, Angyal Pál
On his deathbed, Betty’s father tells her that her real father is his brother. His brother abused his wife, and his wife then killed him. Her mother was either dead or in prison. Her father died, and as a young, naive girl, Betty, on her own in the world, found only abuse. This beautifully restored Hungarian film, reflects the primitive talent of the age, but entertains well enough to deserve a view. IMBD: The Undesirable
My Dear Secretary (1948) Laraine Day, Kirk Douglas, Keenan Wynn
Popular author, Owen Waterbury, who experiences a high turnover in secretaries, needs a new secretary. A young woman and fan of the author applies for the job but soon becomes discouraged with the author’s lasciviousness and bizarre work habits. This routine farce boils down to man chases girl—girl revolts in disgust. Interesting enough to view—just barely. IMDB: My Dear Secretary
Sensations of 1945 (1944) Eleanor Powell, Dennis O’Keefe, C. Aubrey Smith, Eugene Pallette, Lyle Talbot, W.C. Fields, Sophie Tucker, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, The Les Paul Trio
Eleanor Powell stars in this highly entertaining film featuring her dancing, Woody Herman’s Band, Cab Calloway, production numbers with a host of show girls, and many amazing circus acts. A thin plot of Eleanor’s character, Virginia ‘Ginny’ Walker, working as a publicity agent while she stars in her show, runs alongside the various acts. And, of course, romance figures into the plot. This film also features W.C. Fields’ last film appearance before his death and Eleanor Powell’s last starring role in a film. Viewers will enjoy this fast-moving film featuring one amazing act after another. IMDB: Sensations of 1945
JANUARY-MARCH 2022 POST
Gang’s All Here, The (1943) Alice Faye, Phil Baker, Edward Everett Horton, Eugene Pallette, Carmen Miranda, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
Sergeant Andy Mason falls in love with Eadie Allen, working in a popular night club. Their relationship progresses until the army calls up Andy for active duty. Eadie’s career soars, Andy becomes a war hero. Upon his return, the relationship looks to be in jeopardy. If you’re looking for a visually beautiful, eye-popping spectacle with amazing costumes, beautiful dancers, and Busby Berkley’s lavish sets and musical production numbers, you’ll enjoy this film. If you’re looking for a strong plot with emotional appeal, skip this one. IMDB: The Gang’s All Here
Naughty Marietta (1955) Patrice Munsel, Alfred Drake, John Conte
Marietta, actually Italian royalty sailing under an assumed identity, disembarks a ship in French colonial New Orleans, with many other girls. All the other girls match up with men waiting on the dock, and leave as fiancés. Marietta hides, however, because she wants to fall in love and pick her own husband. American Captain Wellington, in New Orleans looking to bring a notorious pirate to justice, finds Marietta and helps her hide among the gypsies. They’re falling in love, but the corrupt governor, tipped off about Marietta’s whereabouts, has her arrested and forces her into a wedding. This television production faithfully follows the original operetta. The story is interesting enough, but the show scores a big win by the casting of opera and theater stars. This production succeeds, and watching an early black-and-white television show demonstrates the quality of presentations at that point in the development of television. Interesting enough to watch. IMDB: Naughty Marietta
Notes from Underground (1995) Henry Czerny, Sheryl Lee, Vic Polizos, Jon Favreau
A mentally ill man confesses directly to the camera during this film as he denigrates himself and reviews his despicable life. The film cuts back and forth from the confession of his wretchedness to events in his life. Even when a prostitute tries to reach him and treats him with kindness, he destroys her emotionally. Although dark and difficult to watch at times, this film offers a faithful representation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella and most viewers will appreciate this film. IMBD: Notes from Underground
Ziegfeld Follies (1945) Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, Red Skelton, Esther Williams
This homage to Florence Ziegfeld presents a series of acts (much like the Follies) starring the top talent of the time. Beautiful chorus girls in sensational costumes provide an introduction to comedy skits interspersed with singing and dancing acts. This film disappoints. The movie makes an attempt to duplicate the Ziegfeld Follies, but despite the top talent involved, the presentation falls flat. The comedy routines fail the test of time, although humorous, most likely, when the film debuted. Awkwardness haunted some sequences such as presenting Lucille Ball as a show girl cracking a whip at a gaggle of show girls costumed as black cats. Technicolor makes this film artistically beautiful to watch and enhanced the highlight of the film—Esther Williams’ water ballet. Watchable. IMDB: Ziegfeld Follies
Starlift (1951) Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Virginia Mayo, Gene Nelson, Ruth Roman, Janice Rule
Two Air Force crew members who shuttle soldiers between Los Angeles and Honolulu lie to three visiting Hollywood starlets about being deployed to the front during the war. They’re looking for sympathy and possible kisses. Hollywood reporter Luella Parsons concocts a relationship between one of the crew members and one of the starlets. The thin plot in this film works to showcase the talents of many Hollywood stars at the time with singing, dancing, and comedy skits. Interesting enough to watch. IMDB: Starlift
I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951) Doris Day, Danny Thomas, Frank Lovejoy, James Gleason, Jim Backus
Pesky lyrics writer, Gus, tries to get his lyrics published by aggressively pursuing a young, sheet music sales girl. She eventually agrees to review his lyrics, writes the music and sings the songs. They become partners, spouses, and parents. Over time, Gus’s growing success damages their relationship. Doris Day, famous for light comedies, shines in a dramatic role, and, of course, features her singing throughout the film. Danny Tomas’s character irritates, but his talent also makes this film work. Well worth watching. IMDB: I’ll See You in My Dreams
Kid Brother, The (1927) Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Walter James, Olin Francis
Two of Sheriff Jim Hickory’s sons are huge, strong, strapping boys while one son, Harold, is small, skinny, and bespectacled. Father and big brothers keep Harold doing housework and refuse to let him work with the others. Harold play acts at ‘heroric’ activities, and while ‘acting’ as the sheriff, he approves a medicine show, which features a beautiful, young girl. Harold immediately falls in love with the beauty, while many others pursue her as well. Someone steals a large amount of the community’s money from the sheriff, and he sends his ‘big’ sons out to find the culprits, while citizens are intent on lynching him. Harold Lloyd scores a major hit with this classic. Non-stop action, innumerable sight gags, romance, and extreme physicality as well as imaginative cinematography, superb acting, and an engaging story make this film one of Lloyd’s best. Viewers should not miss this Must See Viewing experience of one of the era’s best silent films. IMDB: The Kid Brother
Bring on the Girls (1945) Veronica Lake, Sonny Tufts, Eddie Bracken, Marjorie Reynolds
Multimillionaire, J. Newport Bates, catches his fiancée in a romantic embrace with his cousin. He realizes his fiancée planned to marry him only for his money. He realized that through his life people have liked him only for his money. He decided to join the Navy as an ordinary citizen so others would relate to him for his true self and not just his money. His lawyer, however, insists that his nephew join the Navy with Bates as his chaperone. Complications, romance, and hilarity ensue. Breezy comedy interesting enough to watch. IMDB: Bring on the Girls
Wake up and Live (1937) Walter Winchell, Alice Faye, Patsy Kelly, Ned Sparks, Jack Haley, Joan Davis
Eddie Kane and his singing partner bring their act to the big city. At their first recording session, Eddie freezes when first facing a microphone and can’t perform. The act takes a break, and Eddie takes a job as an usher at the night club. During a band performance at the club, Eddie walks into an empty recording studio, faces the microphone and sings into what is, unknown to him, a ‘hot mic,’ which broadcasts to the nightclub’s ballroom. Everyone’s amazed at the ‘mystery troubadour,’ and the bandleader and Walter Winchell both try to discover the identity of the amazing singer. This comedy moves quickly, features top performers, and entertains. Viewers will find this film well worth watching. IMDB: Wake Up and Live
Tempest (1928) John Barrymore, Camilla Horn
Ivan Markov, a peasant, studies and works hard to become an officer in Czarist Russia, a position normally reserved for aristocrats. When he attempts to return the stolen clothes of a group of girls swimming in the nude, he approaches the Princess Tamara, impulsively grabs her, forcefully kisses her, and endures her wrath. Thereafter, he obsessively pursues her, despite her engagement to an aristocratic officer. This well-developed, well-acted film features the talents of John Barrymore and German actress, Camilla Horn. They truly ‘had faces then.’ Well worth watching. IMDB: The Tempest
Mr. Skeffington (1941) Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Suitors galore pursue Fanny for her beauty, vivacity and wealth. She leaves them all hanging on until her alcoholic, ne’er-do-well brother embezzles from his firm. Penniless herself, now, to bail him out, she marries his wealthy boss—a union of convenience only. This emotional film features Bette Davis at her best supported by an exceptional cast with a masterful script. Must-see viewing. IMDB: Mr. Skeffington
Love Me or Leave Me (1955) Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell
Gangster Marty Snyder spots Ruth Etting selling dances at a dance hall and pegs her as his next fling. Ruth accepts his career help but rebuffs his romantic advances…until Marty’s violent streak forces Ruth to makes a tough choice. This biopic of Ruth Etting entertains with James Cagney perfectly dramatizing the manic, violent Marty Snyder and Doris Day singing with elegance and talent the songs that made Ruth Etting famous. Highly entertaining. IMDB: Love Me of Leave Me
A Majority of One (1961) Rosalind Russell, Alec Guinness, Ray Danton
Japanese soldiers killed widow Bertha Jacoby’s son during World War II, and she harbors a hatred for the Japanese, but when her son-in-law transfers to a job in Japan, her daughter insists she move with them. This film features prejudice as its theme, and the theme plays out through the interrelationships of the characters. Although the film provides several touching scenes and Alec Guinness portrays his Japanese character well, the fact that a Japanese actor did not play his role makes his presentation awkward—cringe-worthy, actually. Despite the message, Miss Russell’s spot-on portrayal of a Jewish widow, and some tender romance, I recommend skipping this one. IMDB: A Majority of One
Houdini (1953) Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Torin Thatcher
This entertaining film traces Houdini’s life from wild man in the circus to becoming the world’s greatest magician. It focuses as well on the relationship with his wife and the performance of his greatest illusions throughout his career. The film entertains. Highly recommended. IMDB: Houdini
The House on 92nd Street (1945) William Eythe, Lloyd Nolan, Signe Hasso
This film depicts the workings of a German spy ring in the United States during World War II. The U.S. government places a mole in the network, and he’s successful—until…. This film utilizes documentary footage of locations where the events took place as well as film of actual spies depicted in the film. This film offers mild entertainment but depicts well the methods of the government at the time to root out spies. Better films exist on this topic. IMDB: The House on 92nd Street
The Best Movie Recommendations for Classic, Rare, and Seldom-Seen Films
Explore and access Dan L. Miller’s Complete Works at: Dan L. Miller’s Works
Dan L. Miller Sample Books:
Explore the Books by Dan L. Miller section at: Books by Dan L. Miller