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Quirky little romantic drama about a sailor (Herbert Marshall) who
pursues a barmaid (Edna Best) while on leave. They fall in love, but
he's called up to ship out to South Africa. He goes away, vowing to
become a success and return. He never does. Story skips ahead 20 years
to find Marshall a war hero (the Boer War) and being decorated by the
Queen. He's on the verge of marrying a snooty woman (Anne Grey) when
he's called upon by a young woman (Best again) who turns out to be his
daughter. She's a dead ringer for the girl he loved all those years
ago. He learns that the mother died in child birth and that the young
woman is all alone in the world. He's torn between his soon-to-be wife
and his newfound daughter. But the bride wants nothing to do with this
grown-up daughter and plots to ship her to a distant relative in Canada
and even gives her the passage money. Marshall is forced to make a
This is one of Edna Best's best performances. She very good at making the two characters very different. Herbert Marshall is also quite good as the randy seaman and his older self. Grey is suitably nasty. Others in the cast include Mignon O'Doherty as Miss Gattiscombe, Laurence Hanray as the Major, Athole Stewart as Sir Gilbert, and Griffith Jones as the art lover at a party.
While Ann Harding and Katharine Alexander are charming as Lotty and
Rose, too much time is spent on their husbands, played by Frank Morgan
and Reginald Owen. This may be closer to the structure of the play and
novel, but it deflates the women's roles when the whole point is their
blossoming at the Italian villa.
Also shortchanged in this 66-minute version are Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline (Jessie Ralph and Jane Baxter) who hardly get to establish their characters. While the basic plot exists, the lush detail that makes the 1991 version so delightful is completely missing. We only get a hint as to how the women change during their enchanted April.
While Morgan does an OK job as Wilkins, Owen is overbearing and oafish as Arbuthnot and he dominates far too many scenes with his over-acting. Ralph Forbes, as Briggs the landlord, also gets little to do, and his ultimate attraction to Caroline is pretty much bypassed in favor of reconciliation between Harding and Morgan.
The power of the 1991 version lies in its focus on the four women, their growing friendship, and how their enchanted April breaks down the differences in their ages and social strata (very important in 1920s English society). This version smartly downplays the men's roles as secondary to the women's. The 1991 version is a story about how women can grow when freed from their marital and social roles. The 1935 version never gets to this as the women are subservient to the men.
Worth seeing for Ann Harding, but don't expect the magic of the 1991 version.
More a light adventure film than a romantic drama, Marion Davies stars
as a woman who masquerades as another woman in order to fend off a
famous jewel thief and deliver a famous diamond to its rightful owner.
Story opens with Davies reading her new story to her publisher and editor. The scene then switches to a masquerade party where Davies, as April Poole, meets an attractive man (Conway Tearle) and recognizes a famous thief (J. Herbert Frank). When the thief drops a piece of paper, April grabs it and learns of his plan to steal the Mannister Diamond. Next day, April then tracks down Lady Diana Mannister and convinces her to allow a switch. April will travel to Cape Town as Lady Diana and deliver the diamond.
All this happens in reel 1, which is missing from the Library of Congress copy. Reel 2 starts with the women disembarking from a train and Diana meeting the man she is going to marry. Scene then shifts to the ocean liner where April plots to meet the thief but also meets Tearle again. (Tearle and Frank play the publisher and editor in the opening scene.) But flirting with the men draws the ire of an old biddy passenger.
April poses with the diamond in front of her stateroom window, seeming to invite the thief to action. When he does show up, followed by Tearle, the old biddy complains to the captain and there's a scuffle when the thief is thrown out of her room. The next morning, Lady Diana is missing but Tearle has a cryptic note from her asking him to make sure her trunk gets delivered to a certain address.
As Tearle delivers the trunk to a woman dressed as a man and named Clive, we see that the thief has followed and breaks into the trunk to grab the diamond. He gets more than he bargained for.
Back in the publisher's office, Davies finishes reading the manuscript to the unenthusiastic men, and Tearle tells her how he thinks it should have ended.
Taken as a light adventure film with a female protagonist, APRIL FOLLY is a delightful trifle. If the viewer is expecting high drama or a crime thriller, he will be disappointed. Davies has a wonderful light touch even in this 1920 film, years before she showed her all-out comic skills. Tearle is rather dull, Frank is appropriately oily. Rest of the cast includes Hattie Delaro as the old biddy, Amelia Summerville as Clive, and Spencer Charters as a bumbling detective. Others listed in the credits appear in the missing first reel.
Film was made a few years before Joseph Urban began designing films for Marion Davies at Cosmopolitan, and this one has a very ordinary and almost flat look to it. However, the moonlight bathed finale is quite nice and there are some great close-ups of Marion Davies.
William Sylvester stars as Philip Vickers, a man who suddenly returns
home after being considered dead for four years. Seems he was on a
fishing trip in Portugal of all places and disappeared after going
ashore. His memory of events is getting drunk, mugged and imprisoned.
His wife (Paulette Goddard) is having a big party and his three cronies are all in attendance. But one of the cronies is killed that very night. Who did it? All evidence points to Vickers.
When a local detective (Russell Napier) arrives on the scene he's convinced that Vickers is the killer but the wife and pal Bill Saul (Paul Carpenter) keep doing suspicious things. Then there's that creepy Joan (Alvys Maben) lurking in the background.
After another murder, things start getting serious.
Low-budget thrillers has some good points but the many negatives bring it down. The sets are incredibly ugly, and then there's that 50s space-age metal kitchen that keeps shape shifting. Goddard (about 44 at the time) is badly costumed and lit. But the story is pretty good.
Goddard, despite star billing, has little to do. Sylvester and Carpenter are good, and Maben is a scene stealer. Napier is also good as the detective. Don't by fooled by George Sanders' listing. He's not in the film, and the novel her wrote was actually ghost-written by someone else.
The "family" skits from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW morphed into this TV
movie, which then became the series MAMA'S FAMILY.
Carol Burnett as Eunice is center stage in four episodes covering events from 1955 to 1978. As the unhappy daughter in a dysfunctional family, Burnett gets to veer from high comedy to pathos as he dreams and aspirations are constantly squashed by her domineering mother (Vicki Lawrence) and her doltish husband (Harvey Korman). She evens plays second fiddle to her more successful siblings (Betty White, Ken Berry).
As her brother goes off to New York and her sister marries a successful businessman, Eunice is stuck is a lousy marriage and has two hellions of sons. Her husband then runs off with another woman, leaving her with the kids and her job in a local dime store. She's also still under the thumb of mama.
Entire cast is good with Burnett and Lawrence as the standouts.
THE GOLDBERGS(1950) was produced by Paramount about a year after the TV
series launched. I sort of remember the series but really only recall
the "Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Bloom" bit and the old ladies hanging out their
windows and gossiping across the alley, which was parodied on other
shows. Gertrude Berg was a big star on radio and early TV and also a
writer. She wrote this film version which has the family expecting an
old boyfriend of Molly's (Berg) who has become a rich businessman in
Indiana (out west). When he shows up, he has a surprise: a young
fiancée (Barbara Rush in her film debut). Always the kibitzer, Molly
arranges for young Rush to accompany her to a music appreciation class,
where Rush instantly falls for the teacher (Peter Hansen). There's also
a young widow living next door to the Goldbergs who would make a better
wife for her old friend (Eduard Franz). How will it all end? The series
had a long and varied life on radio from 1929 to 1946 in various
formats, lengths, and time slots. In 1949 it became a TV series and
endured a rocky run. The McCarthy Era raised its ugly head and
blacklisted co-star Philip Loeb. Berg refused to fire him from the
series so CBS canceled it in 1951. NBC grabbed the show but refused to
have Loeb. She relented and the show went on, though she continued to
pay Loeb his salary until he committed suicide in 1955. The show then
ran on the Dumont Network and first-run syndication until 1957. Berg
won an Emmy as best TV actress during the CBS run.
Berg is pretty much the whole show in the movie version (probably on radio and TV also). She was a whirlwind of talent as an actress and writer. She also owned the show. There was also a Broadway play in 1948 written by Berg. At the end of the decade she was a Tony Award for the play "A Majority of One." Anyway, co-stars in the film include Eli Mintz as David, Larry Robinson and Arlene McQuade as the kids, David Opatoshu as the accountant, Betty Walker as a neighbor, Sarah Krohner as Elka, Josephine Whittell as Mrs. Van Nest, and Phyllis Kennedy as an adult student. A time capsule, yes, but one that preserves an important slice of America as it used to be.
Warren Beatty turns in a towering performance here as the eccentric
billionaire Howard Hughes. Starting in 1964 and flashing back to 1959,
Beatty portrays the unraveling recluse in his last days as a Hollywood
producer with this string of starlets under contract.
One starlet from Virginia (Lily Collins)and a new employee (Alden Ehrenreich) sign up with Hughes and soon become familiar with his bizarre behavior. She wants to become a movie star; he wants to start a real estate development company. Everyone wants something from Hughes.
Subplots include Hughes' battle to hold on to TWA airlines while he wrangles for government contracts and avoids the press ... and the public. Of course it's a losing battle.
Beatty perfectly captures the man with a razor-sharp mind giving way to increasing paranoia and xenophobia, and he's very funny. Collins and Ehrenreich are excellent and perfectly capture that 1950s naivete. Others in the cast include Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Oliver Platt, Alec Baldwin, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, and Dabney Coleman.
The 50s era scenes of Los Angeles and Las Vegas are beautifully done, and the whole film has a nostalgic glow of gold and amber.
Beatty also directed, wrote, and produced the film. While there was no audience for this wonderful film in theaters, it should find an appreciative audience on DVD and TV.
The underrated Clive Brook stars as a movie star discontented with his
life and yearning for the days of his youth when he had a passion for
acting and life. On a whim he disembarks a train and comes upon a
struggling group of actors in a seaside town. He gets hired and helps
them put on a show. He also falls in love with the leading lady (Anna
Utterly charming film that clocks in at 70 minutes. Brook is terrific as he gets carried away with his newfound theatrical adventure and love, knowing somehow that reality will catch up with him. He cannot return to yesterday.
Co-stars include May Witty as the old actress, O.B. Clarence as her husband, Elliott Mason as Priskin the acerbic landlady, David Tree as the playwright, Milton Rosmer as the crooked manager, Olga Lindo as his wife, Hartley Power as the American agent, and Mollie Rankin as Christine.
Clive Brook had been in films since 1920 and would cap his film career in 1944 with ON APPROVAL. He would return one last time for a small role in THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER in 1963. For a while in the early talkie period, Brook rivaled Ronald Colman as the epitome of the urbane British sophisticate.
Based on a play by Robert Morley, this story was filmed several times under its original title GOODNESS, HOW SAD.
OK I watched it. None of its Oscars were earned. Pedestrian and
over-long film about coming of age. Been there, done that. So we have a
bullied kid growing up in a drug-infested neighborhood, a druggy mom,
lots of unintelligible dialog, a strange older man (a drug seller) who
disappears after the first act (but he wins an Oscar), and a slew of
actors I never heard of even if a couple of them are on TV shows I
never watched. The kid is nearly catatonic until he cracks.
The only good acting performance is from Andre Holland as the old Kevin in the third act.
MOONLIGHT ranks with AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS as the worst film to win a best-film Oscar. Adding insult to injury, it also won an Oscar for writing. This is an after-school TV special with some graphic scenes thrown in to help pad out the running time to 110 minutes. If you want to see a coming-of-age story about a black kid, stick with SOUNDER.
Chic Sale was a major Vaudeville star who also appeared on Broadway and
in silent films. In this 1931 film from Warners, Sale made his
feature-film talkie debut after a few shorts.
He plays Ulysses Crickle, a man who stops "going west" when he gets a boil on his butt from riding in a Conestoga wagon. He decides the start a town on the spot. Fifty years later, we see Crickle as the leading citizen of his Arkansas town. He's the postmaster and he owns the general store. His granddaughter (Ann Dvorak) comes home from business college, and everything seems fine.
But being 1931, things are changing fast. A chain supermarket decides to open a store in town, right across the street from Crickle's. The man sent to open the store (David Manners) falls for Dvorak and becomes Crickle's enemy. The chain store, being a big corporation, fights dirty to drive Crickle out of business. Crickle can't compete with their prices so he institutes a barter system so the locals can get food even when they have no money. Of course Manners is innocent of his company's shenanigans and helps Crickle beat them in the end.
Interesting 1931 looks at the rise of chain stores and how how they ruined local "mom and pop" businesses and also the barter system, which was a fact of life for many during the Depression.
Sale is quite good as Crickle in a role that could have been played by Will Rogers. Dvorak and Manners are good as the young lovers, though they don't have much to do. Other town folks include Noah Beery as Crickle's nemesis, Maude Eburne as the widow with romance on her mind, Raymond Hatton as the wiseguy, Lyle Talbot as the corporate man, and Ben Hall as the store clerk. J. Farrell MacDonald, Louise Carter, Jessie Arnold, Wilfred Lucas, Dorothy Vernon, and Margaret Mann also appear.
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