Tag Archives: 1940s

The Face Behind the Mask (1941) Robert Florey, Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

The Face Behind the Mask (Robert Florey, 1941)
Janos Szaby is a kind, innocent immigrant to America. Just after he arrives though, he is caught in a fire and his face is horribly burned and disfigured. Although a skilled craftsman his hideous features make it impossible for him to get work, and driven by despair he is forced to turn to crime to live. He finds himself very proficient at that, and soon makes enough money to buy a very lifelike mask to hide his scars behind. He hates what he does, but is he in too deep to get out?

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The Demi-Paradise (1943) Anthony Asquith, Laurence Olivier, Penelope Dudley-Ward, Marjorie Fielding, Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Demi-Paradise (Anthony Asquith, 1943)
Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naïve about British people and convinced by hearsay that they are shallow and hypocritical, Ivan is both bemused and amused by them. He is blunt in his opinions about Britons and at first this puts off his hosts, including the lovely Ann Tisdall, whose grandfather runs the shipbuilding firm that will make use of Ivan’s propeller. The longer Ivan stays, however, the more he comes to understand the humor, warmth, strength, and conviction of the British people, and the more they come to see him as a friend rather than merely a suspicious Russian. As a romantic bond grows between Ivan and Ann, a cultural bond begins to grow as well, particularly as the war begins and Russia is attacked by Germany.

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Blonde from Brooklyn (1945) Del Lord, Bob Haymes, Lynn Merrick, Thurston Hall, Comedy, Musical

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In Blonde from Brooklyn, Bob Haymes (credited as Robert Stanton) plays ex-G.I. Dixon Harper, an aspiring crooner looking for a gig singing on the radio for a sponsor named “Plantation Coffee.” Considering the name of the company, he figures playing a “southerner” will get him the job, and he ropes pretty blonde singer Susan Parker (Lynn Merrick) into the idea with him (since earlier he’d accidentally helped her lose her job as a jukebox girl). But they find they need a coach and that’s where Thurston Hall comes in as “The Colonel”. The Colonel’s a hustler himself and is willing to coach them in Southern ways in exchange for a “stipend”. It looks like the kids get the gig, but complications arise when the phony Southern-style name that the Colonel has given Susan, “Bellwithers”, turns out to be attached to an $800,000 inheritance. Susan can’t live with the fraud, leading to a series of zany consequences as she and the Colonel and Dixon attempt to find a way out.

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Man Alive (1945) Ray Enright, Pat O’Brien, Adolphe Menjou, Ellen Drew, Comedy

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Man Alive is an inventive and consistently amusing farce dominated by stars Pat O’Brien and Adolphe Menjou. The former plays Speed, a moderately successful garage owner. Suspecting that his wife Connie (Ellen Drew) has fallen in love with old college buddy Gordon (Rudy Vallee), Speed goes off on a bender. During a long and drunken night, he gives his clothes and his car to an old tramp named Willie the Wino (Jack Norton). With Speed as his passenger, Willie piles the car into a river. Willie drowns, but Speed is rescued by showboat entrepreneur Kismet (Menjou). When the car is recovered, it is assumed that the body inside is Speed’s. Speed wakes up thinking he’s dead because Kismet is wearing a devil’s costume (for a stage show) while stoking coal into the ship’s furnace! When he tries to get back to his wife, O’Brien is urged by kibitzer Menjou to act as a ghost to find out if her love for him is real or if she’s actually in love with Gordy, leading to a series of increasingly zany consequences.

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Smart Girls Don’t Talk (1948) Richard L. Bare, Virginia Mayo, Bruce Bennett, Robert Hutton, Crime, Music, Mystery

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Linda Vickers gets mixed up with gambler Marty Fain. One of Fain’s henchmen uses her car in a killing, and the police come around asking questions. Linda decides to indulge in a bit of blackmail. Her brother, “Doc’, comes to town and disapproves of the company she keeps. Fain is wounded in a killing and ‘Doc’ helps him out. But “Doc’ is shot, and Linda decides to cooperate with the police, and is soon wearing a wire.

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Johnny O’Clock (1947) Robert Rossen, Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Johnny O'Clock (1947)
Johnny O’Clock (Dick Powell) is a junior partner in a posh casino with Guido Marchettis (Thomas Gomez), but is senior in the eyes of Nelle (Ellen Drew)—Guido’s wife and Johnny’s ex. This love triangle leads to a web of complications, leaving Police Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb) to unravel the threads of deceit and a murdered casino employee’s sister (Evelyn Keyes) to tug on Johnny’s heartstrings before it’s too late.

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The Return of Frank James (1940) Fritz Lang, Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper, Crime, History, Western

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Frank James, the brother of Jesse James, has been laying low, living as a farmer and taking care of Clem, the son of one of the members of the James gang. He gets word that Jesse was killed by Bob and Charlie Ford, he hoped that the law would deal with them but when he learns that the railroad man whom he and Jesse terrorized contracted them to kill Jesse and helped them get off, he goes after them. Clem whom he told to remain on the farm goes with him and when it’s impossible for him to do so, Frank has no choice to let him tag along. Now in order to cover their tracks they start telling people that Frank James is dead and that they saw it. Eleanor Stone, a female reporter, who wants to write about it interviews them and they are both taken with each other. But eventually she learns who Frank is from the Pinkerton detective who is tracking them but doesn’t turn them in. But eventually Frank learns that his farm hand, Pinky has been arrested as his accomplice and is about to be hung.

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