Friday the Thirteenth (1933)

  |  Comedy, Drama

Friday the Thirteenth (1933) Poster

It is pouring with rain at one minute to midnight on Friday the thirteenth, and the driver of a London bus is peering through his blurred windshield as his vehicle sails down an empty road.... See full summary »


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7 January 2017 | brendan-36-949960
| Perhaps the first "portmanteau" film
I recently saw this ancient British film again after a 30 year hiatus.

Luckily it was the recent DVD from NETWORK with possibly the best surviving print that I saw. I won't repeat the complex plot (every reviewer on IMDb seems compelled to reprise film plots for some reason), apart from saying that the narrative binds together a group of disparate characters over a 24 hour period, each with his/her own story, much like the later films TALES OF MANHATTAN (1942) FLESH AND FANTASY (1943) DEAD OF NIGHT (1945) BOND STREET (1948) etc. This film is probably the first talkie to use such a device and its cast is stuffed with famous stars of the early 1930s. Which makes spotting familiar faces (if you are a film buff) part of the fun of watching this.

Its main attraction for me though, is that it offers a tantalizing glimpse of London as it was almost 90 years ago, a London and a way of life in Britain that has vanished completely. The street and railway station scenes, the atmosphere on a typical London bus of that time with a conductor, and the whole ambiance of the film are priceless.

It also provides Max Miller with perhaps his best screen role, allowing him to demonstrate his astonishing facility for rapid-fire dialogue that would not have been out of place at Warner Brothers in the mid 1930s.

Think Pat O'Brien and James Cagney in such films as BOY MEETS GIRL and CEILING ZERO and then watch Max do his stuff. He's terrific and easily competes with them.

Some scenes creak today as one would expect, but for the most part, this is a vivid, highly entertaining little film that deserves to be far better known than it is.

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