Reviews (22)

  • Legendary Ed Sullivan was a very popular newspaper columnist in New York in the 1930s and due to his cavorting with Broadway and Vaudeville stars, made this short for Universal Pictures. "Ed Sullivan's Headliners" (of 1934)is a great 20 minute short! Hosted by a young Ed Sullivan, we hear popular vocalist Sid Gary (Garry) see husband/wife comedy team Jesse Block and Eve Sully (by a fluke they missed out on an audition that Burns & Allen later got and the rest was history) Dialogue comedian George Givot is the owner of a Greek Restaurant who mangles the English language. Also on hand are some strange Vaudeville Acts: a diva vocalizing and a young female contortionist. This film was reissued by Realart/Universal back in the late 40s/early 50s and is believed to still be extant.
  • Air Parade, made by the Al Christie Comedy unit and released by Educational(Fox Distributed)Pictures, is a delightful mix of comedy, music, gorgeous deco sets, radio station locale and the beautiful Neila Goodelle. Look for a very early screen appearance of Robert Shayne, later Warners bit player whose claim to fame was the role of Inspector Henderson on the 1950s Superman TV series.

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  • They may be trite, but these behind-the-scenes getting into movies stories are a lot of fun--especially when we see a typical 1935 Fox soundstage, a 30s laundry plant, a typical 30s neighborhood theatre and a long streetcar sequence played by Mitchell & Durant.

    Ray Walker later appeared on various 50s TV shows, but never made it big in Hollywood. Great supporting cast includes Hattie McDaniel, Bebe Daniels in her last US picture and Rosina Lawrence, who was working at Hal Roach Studios at the time as the Little Rascals school teacher.

    Am I imagining things, or do I see the Nicholas Brothers dance briefly in the finale?
  • After seeing The Comic again after many years, I realize that Dick Van Dyke's character Billy Bright is actually an amalgam of at least three silent comedians: Harry Langdon (who the character resembles), Charlie Chaplin (for the womanizing) and Buster Keaton (for the drinking problem).

    One tries to sympathize with Billy Bright over the years, but his ego is his downfall in Hollywood. Like Buster Keaton, Billy Bright is again thrust into the temporary limelight in his later years.

    This is probably Dick Van Dyke's best role ever--he was a big fan of silent comedy films and was a good friend of Stan Laurel in the 1960s.

    Also look for some great cameo appearances by Mantan Moreland and Jerome Cowan.
  • What a great musical! Too bad only one song made the hit parade( I Believe in You) Michelle Lee's singing voice has the depth and range of Barbara Striesand....wish we could have heard more of it. Rudy Vallee was a gem...topped off a remarkable career --the Elvis of the 1920s! Get the DVD....it's a beautiful transfer!
  • When I first saw "The Office" on my satelite tv, I HATED it!! David Brent was the most obnoxious person I ever saw!! Then a funny thing happened---I realized all the neurotic characters really stood out from the mundane and boring office they worked in--and as an office worker,I could really feel the grind they faced--and started to look around my office--we're all degrees of them!

    This show is a landmark with its documentary style, delightful British tempo and to some characters you would like to pull off the screen and give a "sound thrashing".
  • The early radio and TV episodes of Dragnet were brilliantly written and dramatized. It was only natural to bring it to the big screen. Unfortunately, the screenplay did not compliment Jack Webb's track record.

    The viewer really can't sympathize with anyone in the story. Criminals brutally kill another criminal. I originally saw this movie as a child in 1954 and still remember how scared I was watching the opening scene before the main credits. Instead of the fascinating narration and lively characters of the radio and TV show, we have mostly downright depressing and tragic characters in this story, lots of frustration for the police, and not an overall satisfying story. I wish it could have been better---thankfully we have all the radio and early TV Dragnets extant!

    Cast-wise, Jack brought virtually all of his radio and tv cast members to the big screen here, and am I imagining things, or was that early Our Gang member Mickey Daniels in a 10-second role as an outraged attendent in the card club right after the fistfight?
  • Dangerous Mission has some great strengths and some very noticeable shortcomings.

    Originally filmed and released in 3-D, to keep up with the 3-D craze in the early 50s, Dangerous Mission had some great strengths: Irwin Allen's hand as Producer, a great cast, plot twists, a rousing music score, gorgeous location Technicolor photography.

    The serious flaws are the disjointed story line: episodes that have virtually nothing to do with the plot: landslide during a party, forest fire, Indian ceremony and stupid subplot of an indian falsely accused of murder. Add some silly dubbed dialogue during noisy scenes and the usually great William Bendix given some incredibly stupid lines.

    All in all, great fun despite typical 1950s stereotypes--especially to see Victor Mature as a moody tough guy, Vincent Price as a somewhat effeminate photographer, and the gorgeous Piper Laurie.
  • Don't miss this great Universal film noir mystery! Excellent cast brings to life a gritty story of neer-do-well songwriter, the murder of a dispicable sexy blackmailer, and the death sentence of seemingly the wrong man. Throw in wise guy police inspector Broderick Crawford, sinister nightclub owner Peter Lorre (in a fascinating role reversal from "Casablanca"--this time HE is the club owner)Peter Lorre is ALWAYS a treat!!

    What a shame Dan Duryea didn't do more pictures! He's very effective in his role. The beautiful love interest June Vincent is another who should have made more pictures--she's very sweet and believeable.

    This is another example of the Film Noir genre which was so popular in the 40s and early 50s--gorgeous photography, mood and plot twists!
  • Here is an example why many of the pictures of the early 30s stand out as great entertainment even in the 21st century.

    In the newly opened Deco masterpiece, the Empire State Building, unfolds a story loaded with charm, attitude, and wise-cracking dialogue. John Barrymore was never better in a role! Director William Wyler draws the best from the supporting cast, too. Rare example of great comedy and drama that still works almost 70 years later.

    Don't miss it--let's hope Universal and Kino Video release more of their library of 30s films--they stand the test of time with classic film fans!
  • Warner Brothers Pictures were very prolific and they kept James Cagney busy in the early 30s. Pictures usually had snappy dialogue and swift pacing in his early career, but not this time! Very preachy and sentimental story with little for Cagney to do. I guess I can't get used to him in mustache. Backgrounds and locales interesting, especially early gas station/cafe with slot machine. Look for John Qualen(trying to sell ring in Casablanca) as Dutch, the local yokel.
  • For those of us lucky enough to see Turner Classic Movies library of great MGM, Warners and RKO pictures, it comes as a letdown to see comparable 20th Century Fox pictures done with such juvenile plots--and there were many.

    The Great American Broadcast is worthwhile to see gorgeous Alice Faye (about the time she married Phil Harris), hear her great songs, see the incomparable Ink Spots, Weire Brothers and Nicholas Brothers! Also performing well in restrained character for a change is Jack Oakie.

    The backdrop of early radio is interesting, but the plot was so bad I had to turn away for a while--like broadcasting from a building rooftop from a tent in a thunderstorm(early AM low power radio would never reach far with all that lightning and static), also preposterous that John Payne would leave his beautiful new bride Alice Faye and run away to south america....only to have Jack Oakie beat him up to get him to look at her in the end....ha!!

    Thanks to the Fox Classic Movie Channel for providing a beautiful print, enjoy it just the same.
  • Another early Warners talkie that is fascinating from start to finish!! The lovely Barbara Stanwyck works miracles with an already snappy screenplay. Oh, how many times I've heard some of her excuses for not seeing one beau in favor of one who can get her closer to the top! Check out Theresa Harris, her African-American sidekick and maid--she later played Rochester's girlfriend in "Buck Benny Rides Again" (1940)

    Dismal steel town at the beginning probably derivative of a Pittsburg or Youngstown in the 30s--when watering her flowers outside the window, she has to blow some black dust off them! Many more touches add realism--don't miss this picture!! Has a surprise ending, too! It's available on Turner Classic Movies!
  • After the 3 Stooges rid themselves of the highly annoying and abusive Ted Healy,(who was killed in a drunken brawl several years later), they were signed by Harry Cohn of Columbia for a few short films. We know 192 shorts and 23 years later they were rediscovered and revered as cult heros. Their characters were much more evolved in this first entry than any of the MGM films they did, where they yielded the spotlight to Ted Healy most of the time. Once their individual characters really materialized, by 1935, they did some of their best work. The surreal quality of Woman Haters, the lively music score and memorable song: "....for you...my life, my love, my all....." makes this an interesting first entry. A very good print is on the DVD release: "Curly Classics"
  • Radio Pictures was prolific in the early days of sound, and thanks to Turner Classic Movie Channel, many can be seen.

    Phantom of Crestwood's opening is a rare combination of radio in the movies: The well known announcer, Graham MacNamie, stands before an early dynamic microphone and announces the introduction of the picture with a full orchestra in the studio. This really captures what early radio stations must have been like in the early 30s.

    The mystery story is well done and a delight for fans of the era. His name once a household word, Ricardo Cortez is now mostly forgotten.
  • Buck Benny Rides Again is a treat from the main title and credits announced by an on-screen Don Wilson to the great banter between Benny, Rochester, Andy Devine and of course, Phil Harris. Given ample showcase are the many talents of Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as not only a top notch comedian, but a talented dancer.

    The supporting females are all lovely, and of course, despite his many faults, Jack Benny winds up with Ellen Drew in the end!

    It is said that Jack appeared with Rochester in a theatre in Harlem when Buck Benny Rides Again premiered...Jack stood by Rochester for years and ignored the color barrier of the 30s, 40s and 50s in show business.

    Made the same year is "Love Thy Neighbor" which featured Jack's feud with Fred Allen...they were actually released fairly close together--capitalizing on the height of Jack's popularity just before the war.
  • Here is a very obscure Grand National Picture filmed in an early 2-color process. 20 years ago, I had the good fortune of owning a 35mm nitrate color print of this film under its original title: "We're in the Legion Now"

    Reginald Denny had a long career in silent pictures, talkies and tv. Always the inimitable English gentleman, he plays off the illiterate and bumbling Vince Barnett very well, as a couple of American gangsters on the run wind up in Morocco in the French Foreign Legion. They're in the stockade more than they are out during the story as it unfolds. Barnett appeared in countless films as comic relief in westerns, gangster pictures and comedies.

    Since most of the Grand National library dispersed to the four winds in the 1940s, it is unclear if this picture survives in its original color version. Hirlicolor was a play on words using the name of George Hirlman, an executive and producer at the studio. The actual color process is Magnacolor aka Cinecolor, which utilized 2 basic colors to combine to make the picture, unlike Technicolor's later 3-color process. The result is a pleasant warm color tone you would associate with the sun on the desert. Late 1940s 16mm television prints were printed in black & white.
  • The B-picture industry had a lot of material to work with during WWII.

    Spy Train shows how a lot of story can be done with a small budget. The romance and mystery aboard a train serves as a great backdrop for Nazi spies, a dashing leading man(Richard Travis), his comical sidekick(Chick Chandler)and a good supporting cast. The tension of the ticking bomb in the baggage car and the race to stop the spies makes for an entertaining hour! I like Travis' line when the conductor held him for the stabbing of his pal: "..are you blowing your top?.." The only blooper noticeable is the sound of a diesel locomotive horn on a steam train.
  • Thanks to Turner Classic Movie Channel, this rare 1934 Warners Comedy survives and turns up occasionally.

    Sexual and boudoir situations and dialogue hold up well viewed in 21st century America! Dapper Adolphe Menjou cavorts with gorgeous Mary Astor behind his wife's back. (lovely Genevive Tobin) Supporting role played so well by Everett Edward Horton as a wealthy friend of the family in love with Tobin. The opening scene of a double date swap in the limo must be seen to be believed for this era! What a shame Will Hays prevailed with his "code" and so relatively few movies like this really showed us that they had a lot of fun back in the 30s. Don't miss it when it comes on....it's a joy of an early 30s picture!
  • Thanks to Turner Classic Movie Channel, this rare 1934 Warners Comedy survives and turns up occasionally.

    Sexual and boudoir situations and dialogue hold up well in 21st century America as dapper Adolphe Menjou cavorts with gorgeous Mary Astor behind his wife's back. (lovely Genevive Tobin) Supporting role played so well by Everett Edward Horton as a wealthy friend of the family in love with Tobin. The opening scene of a double date swap in the limo must be seen to be believed for this era! What a shame Will Hays prevailed with his "code" and so relatively few movies like this really showed us that they had a lot of fun back in the 30s. Don't miss it when it comes on....it's a joy of an early 30s picture!
  • The idea of rhythmic dialogue seems strange today, but was a short-lived fad in the early 30s (best example is the 3 Stooges first Columbia short: "Woman Haters")It works well in Halleleujah, I'm a Bum, since rhyming is only done in parts of the picture.

    This was my first introduction to 30s musicals, and is now released on DVD. The "mistress situation" of the Mayor of New York keeping lovely Madge Evans in an apartment in the same building as his is rather interesting as well. Although a "dud" at the boxoffice in 1933, this picture has developed a cult following over the years. Jolson's starring movie career was over by the late 30's due to his ego, but he still has a major reputation as one of the greatest entertainers in history. This picture is a wonderful example of the wild enthusiasm of Hollywood's early talkie musicals with a moral to the story.
  • This wonderful time-capsule is 100% more interesting now that it is released on DVD. The print quality is the most stunning, crystal-clear example of panchromatic black-and-white film I've ever seen. The weave in Warner Baxter's suit and the fine print of Bebe Daniels contract are sharp and clear! Preserve many more noted--and obscure films on DVD!