Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Go Into Your Dance (1935)
Jolson at this best
A relatively little-known Al Jolson vehicle, happily brought back by TCM, that's a pleasure to watch. Here, Jolson plays a Broadway star with a king-size ego who has alienated so many producers that he can't land even a bit part. So he decides to produce his own show, co-starred with a tap-dancing gamin played by Ruby Keeler. This is the only time the couple appeared on screen together and the chemistry works. Ms. Keeler wasn't that pretty and her dancing sometimes resembled an attempt to stamp out cockroaches but her spunky appeal shines through. The production numbers, particularly "A Quarter to Nine," are first-rate and the plot contrivances -- including a rub-out attempt by a ticked-off mobster -- don't detract from what the movie is really about. Watching Jolson sail through a half-dozen songs with his energetic verve, sidestepping a plot that never gets in the way.
I was surprised to see how many IMDb contributors gave this movie a thumbs down. The story isn't any more substantial than a few dozen other romantic comedies of the time. But it moves along at a merry pace, especially when the cast takes over an ocean liner. And there are enough plot twists to keep it rolling. Dick Powell is his usual easygoing self. Ruby Keeler is surprisingly good --for an actress who had more than her share of detractors. Hugh Herbert dithers amusingly. And even Joan Blondell scores as a woman on the loose. Add some stylish production numbers-- with the usual bevy of toe-tapping chorus girls led by Keeler and Paul Draper -- and you've got a pleasant 90 minutes or so.
The Doorway to Hell (1930)
Young Lew Ayres and James Cagney
If Lew Ayres hadn't refused military service during World War 2, he'd be remembered as one of the screen's most gifted actors. Here, at a remarkably early age, he gives a bravura performance as a smart, cocky, classy mob boss, making fools of the thugs who've sworn to rub him out. In support is Jimmy Cagney -- in only his second screen role -- as a double-crossing thug with a roving eye. Some contributors have complained that there's not a lot of gunplay in "Doorway to Hell" -- but that's no problem. The movie is more of a character study than a gangster film. And as such, it's remarkably entertaining (especially for a movie made back in 1930,) enlivened by Ayres' charismatic performance.
I Can't Escape (1934)
A first-rate B movie
"I Can't Escape" is a perfect example of a good 1930s "B" movie -- short (about 65 minutes,) stylish, well-acted and frequently surprising. The star is Osgood Stevens who had the looks of a Gable but a weakness for booze which short-circuited his career. Opposite him -- and every bit as good -- is Lila Lee, thinly disguised as a prostitute until she meets Stevens and settles into happy domesticity. After getting out of jail and pounding the pavements, Stevens encounters a pair of swindlers who are happy to hire him as the perfect fall guy when they take off with their clients' cash. How he avoids another prison stretch is ingeniously plotted, excitingly filmed. In short, "I Can't Escape" is a fine example of what's meant by the phrase, "they don't make 'em like that anymore."
The Walking Dead (1936)
Karloff at his best
Because he spent so much of his career making horror films, there's a tendency to forget what a splendid actor Boris Karloff was. "The Walking Dead" is a perfect example. An innocent man condemned as a murderer, he's brought back to life by inventor Edmund Gwenn. Oddly enough, he harbors no animosity against the men who framed him. But somehow, one by one, they suffer bizarre accidents. It's wonderfully typical Karloff stuff -- made more enjoyable by his sense of wonder at how these fatal incidents keep happening. Credit director Michael Curtiz with ingenuity in setting up the deaths and Karloff's mixture of confusion and grim satisfaction at his inadvertent revenge.
Another Face (1935)
Entertaining movie spoof
Some people get this movie, some don't -- just look at the IMDb ratings -- but count me among those who enjoyed it. Brian Donlevy stars as a hood with a notoriously large proboscis who goes under the knife of a plastic surgeon. Not only is his nose whittled away but having taken off for California, he now believes he's ready for a new career as a movie star. Just a few small problems intervene. He has no acting talent. And he hasn't quite escaped his shady past. Donlevy plays comedy better than most people might suspect, ably supported by Alan Hale as a studio mogul and Wallace Ford as a quick-on-the-trigger press agent. If it pops up on TCM again, give it a shot. As a satire on movie-making, it's surprisingly good.
Date Night (2010)
A night on the town...
Reading the reviews of "Date Night" here, it's obvious that people either loved or hated it. Put me in the plus column. Sure, what happens to the Fosters (Steve Carrel and Tina Fey) when they use assumed names to score a table in a glitzy restaurant turns out to be dangerous. Maybe even lethal. But this is a comedy, not a slice of life -- and the couple's misadventures as they avoid hit men, crooked cops and their own mistakes is thoroughly entertaining. There's just enough wordplay and action -- headed by a zany car chase through the streets of downtown New York -- to keep things perking. If you want logic, look elsewhere. But I'm happy to settle for some good laughs.
The Secret Six (1931)
Gangsters loose at MGM
Despite the title, the Secret Six (a group of masked crime-fighting citizens) don't have much to do in this gangster thriller. On the other hand, it's a chance to see a young Clark Gable just a few years before MGM promoted him to super-stardom. As a probing newspaperman, he's billed way down in the cast list but gets more than ample time to show off his acting chops. Another surprise is Ralph Bellamy before he was sentenced to a life of losing the girl in countless comedies as an urbane mobster -- and he's surprisingly menacing. The star of the movie is Wallace Beery as a slaughterhouse worker turned mob boss and he does his usual job, growling, grimacing and chewing the scenery. Well worth watching in a genre that MGM usually left to Warner Bros.
Paper Bullets (1941)
Hey, gang, it's PRC
Reading the comments on "Paper Bullets" (aka "Gangs Inc.,) readers are disappointed that it didn't make more sense. But what did you expect? It's a PRC film and they were churned out in a few days. At least, it's a chance to see a very young Alan Ladd who had his cool charisma down pat before he became a star. On the other hand, if you're baffled by Joan Woodbury's rise from prison inmate to gangland queen, you're probably ahead of the writers whose job was to knock out something resembling a script, then go one to the next low budget thriller. As a return to the days when small neighborhood movie houses were shut out of the films from the major studios -- and forced to rely on Monogram and PRC -- it's a colorful bit of history. And as a movie, it really isn't that bad.
Here Comes Carter (1936)
"Here Comes Carter" is one of those cinematic throwaways that Warner Bros. (and the other major studios) ground out back in the pre-television days. It stars Ross Alexander, a likable young performer and closeted homosexual who killed himself at the age of 29, Glenda Farrell back when she was still a knockout and Anne Nagel who was a better actress than most of the glamour girls on the Warner Bros. lot. The plot doesn't make a whole lotta' sense. One minute, Carter is a movie studio publicist, the next he's an imitation Winchell, broadcasting Hollywood gossip. There's a subplot about a gangster's plan to bump off Carter but that gets lost in the shuffle. One suspects that the screenwriters were making this thing up just in time to send pages of script to the sound stage where the movie was already filming. Yet, in its own hackneyed way, "Here Comes Carter" is fun.