Tag Archives: 1930s

Island of Lost Souls (1932) Erle C. Kenton, Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Adventure, Horror, Romance

Island of Lost Souls (1932)
A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok, adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked man (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. This touchstone of movie terror, directed by Erle C. Kenton, features expressionistic photography by Karl Struss, groundbreaking makeup effects that have inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and the legendary Bela Lugosi in one of his most gruesome roles.

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The Blue Angel / Der blaue Engel (1930) Josef von Sternberg, Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron, Drama, Music

The Blue Angel (1930)
Concerned that some of his students are being corrupted by the entertainment at a local club, the Blue Angel, Professor Immanuel Rath pays a visit to the establishment intent on having his charges barred from the premises. There however he meets Lola Lola and quickly becomes infatuated with her and thus begins the professor’s downward spiral. They are married but he is forced to leave his teaching position and is soon working at odd jobs for the traveling cabaret troupe. When the troupe once again finds itself performing at the Blue Angel, Rath visits his old school, a broken man.

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Aren’t Men Beasts! (1937) Graham Cutts, Robertson Hare, Alfred Drayton, Billy Milton, Comedy

Aren't Men Beasts! (1937)
British groom-to-be Billy Milton is labelled a “beast” by French floozie Ellen Pollock as Milton marches down the aisle. The groom’s father, Robertson Hare, endeavors to prove his son’s innocence. Removing his trademarked monocle, Hare poses as the boy’s maiden aunt to get the goods on Pollock. Leading lady June Clyde, who moved from Hollywood to England in pursuit of better film roles, stands around a lot as the beautiful bride.

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Laughing Boy (1934) W.S. Van Dyke, Ramon Novarro, Lupe Velez, William B. Davidson, Drama, Romance, Western

Laughing Boy (1934)
There were very few laughs in this phlegmatic film adaptation of the Oliver LaFarge’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Laughing Boy. The title character is a young and impressionable Native American, played by Ramon Novarro. Laughing Boy marries Slim Girl (Lupe Velez), a fellow tribesperson who had previously been led into a life of sin and debauchery by libidinous white men. She persuades her husband to leave his tribe and move to the big city, ostensibly to improve his chances of selling his hand-made silver jewelry. In truth, however, Slim Girl is interested only in staying close to her white lover. When Laughing Boy realizes he’s being cuckolded, he grabs his bow and arrow to seek revenge, but finds only tragedy instead. Despite the eminently censurable elements in Laughing Boy, including one scene that was hastily edited out just before its general release, the Hays Office found fault only with the film’s negative depiction of government Indian agents!

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Dark Victory (1939) Edmund Goulding, Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Drama, Romance

Dark Victory (1939)
Judith Traherne is at the height of young society when Dr. Frederick Steele diagnoses a brain tumor. After surgery she falls in love with Steele. The doctor tells her secretary that the tumor will come back and eventually kill her. Learning this, Judith becomes manic and depressive. Her horse trainer Michael, who loves her, tells her to get as much out of life as she can. She marries Steele who intends to find a cure for her illness. As he goes off to a conference in New York failing eyesight indicates to Judith that she is dying.

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The Girl Downstairs (1938) Norman Taurog, Franciska Gaal, Franchot Tone, Walter Connolly, Comedy, Romance

The Girl Downstairs (Norman Taurog, 1938)
Paul Wagner and Rosalind Brown are in love, but her father doesn’t feel Paul’s lifestyle will make him a suitable husband for his daughter. When Mr. Brown instructs all the servants in his extensive household, except the missing Katerina Linz, not to let Paul in his house again, Paul dons his chauffeur’s clothing and takes Katerina to a local fair where they both have a good time. Paul learns she is a farm girl working temporarily as a scullery maid to earn money to replace a cow that died. He takes her home and sees Rosalind while Katarina fixes something for them to eat. The next day, Rosalind asks Katerina to deliver a letter to Paul because all the other servants are busy. At Paul’s apartment, he continues the ruse saying the master is out, but his womanizing friend Charlie arrives and is taken by Katerina to be the Paul Wagner for whom the note is intended. Katerina slaps Charlie when he steals a kiss, and when Paul laughs he is “fired” by Charlie, who was playing along with the …

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Babes in Toyland / March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) Gus Meins, Charley Rogers, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Virginia Karns, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Babes in Toyland (Gus Meins, Charley Rogers, 1934)
Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try to borrow money from their employer, the toymaker, to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep’s shoe and keep it and Little Bo Peep from the clutches of the evil Barnaby. When that fails, they trick Barnaby into marrying Stanley Dum instead of Bo Peep. Enraged, Barnaby unleashes the bogeymen from their caverns to destroy Toyland.

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