Saturday, October 28, 2023

Hot Saturday (1932)

 "...describes the evolution of an idle bit of gossip in an average American community with considerable freshness and candor..."

With Nancy Carroll and Edward Woods.

Hot Saturday - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Small-town tongues are wagging and small-town eyes are watching that Brock girl from behind the drawn shades.  Hot Saturday, which is from Harvey Ferguson's novel, describes the evolution of an idle bit of gossip in an average American community with considerable freshness and candor, and in the main manages to survive a meandering script and some uneventful writing.  Nancy Carroll, as the girl caught in the net of malicious gossip, gives a lifelike portrayal; and she is acutely touching in the final episodes as she searches frantically for someone who will understand and believe her.  The denouement is unintentionally ambiguous, and a rather startling conclusion at that; for the girl runs of with the notorious libertine to a marriage in New York which, if one is to believe all the things people say about Romer Sheffield, will be merely theoretical.   

The title suggests the social activities of the young people on their day off, the dancing, cheap liquor and furtive amour with which they escape once a week from their routine labors.  Some may raise the criticism that the behavior in Hot Saturday is more typical of the years the novel appeared - than of the present.  

Ruth Brock, on this particular "hot Saturday", accompanies the crowd to Sheffield's place in the country.  Her young man, resenting Sheffield's attentions to the girl, quarrels with her.  When she is left alone in the millionaire's house for a few hours and arrives home in his car, the gossip-mongers go to work with a relish.  The accumulation of outraged virtues results in Ruth's dismissal from the bank and a violent scene at home.  Even her gentle, understanding sweetheart of school days turns against her.  

Edward Woods, as the malicious and resentful escort, gives the most satisfactory performance in support of Miss Carroll.  Cary Grant is a nonchalant young libertine as Sheffield, and Randolph Scott is solidly virtuous as the boyhood sweetheart.

 Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 6 - Hot Saturday (Lobby Card Style)

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Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Awful Truth (1937)

 "A great many funny things happen... maneuvered, to some extent, by Mr. Smith."

With Ralph Bellamy and Irene Dunne.

The Awful Truth - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"The Awful Truth is one of those mile-a-minute comedies which never makes sense but which makes you giggle outrageously.  At the beginning Irene Dunne and Cary Grant are a young married couple on the verge of divorce; but they soon prove to be a couple of cut-ups who delight in bedeviling each other.  A great many funny things happen, most of which are maneuvered, to some extent, by Mr. Smith.  He is the biggest bone of contention.  Mr. Smith is a Scottish terrier.  

The dialogue is snappy, the action fast, and often furious, and Irene Dunne proves herself better as a comedienne than as the beautiful-but-dignified star she once was.

Scholastic Magazine

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 29 - The Awful Truth (Lobby Card Style)

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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Last Outpost (1935)

 "...a curious mixture.  Half of it is remarkably good and half of it quite abysmally bad."

With Gertrude Michael.

The Last Outpost - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"The Last Outpost, which will be shown shortly at the Plaza, is a curious mixture.  Half of it is remarkably good and half of it quite abysmally bad.  One can even put one's finger on the joins, and it will be well worth a visit if only because it indicates what might be made of the short story form on the screen.  It consists of two stories unrelated except for the coincidence of characters. The first, which lasts for about half-an-hour, is a very well-directed and well-acted War story of a British secret service agent and his success in warning a defenseless tribe against a Kurd attack and inducing them to move with their flocks over a flooded river and across a snow-bound range of mountains to safe pastures.  It is one of those stories of dogged physical endeavor that the film does so well.  It belongs in the order of Grass and The Covered Wagon.  Mr. Claude Rains as the secret service agent in Turkish uniform and  Mr. Cary Grant as the incurably light-minded and rather stupid British officer whom he rescues from the Kurds both act extremely well.  Mr. Rains's low husky voice, his power of investing even commonplace dialogue with smouldering conviction, is remarkable.  He never rants, but one is always aware of what a superb ranter he could be in a part which did not call for modern restraint but only for superb diction.  I should like to see him as Almanzor or Aurengzebe, for he could catch, as no one else could, the bitter distrust of the world, religious in its intensity, which lies behind the heroic drama.  

The Last Outpost, if it had stopped on the mountain pass above the pastures with the officer on the way down to hospital and the comforts of Cairo and the secret agent turning back towards the enemy, would have been a memorable short film.  Mr. Charles Barton, the director, has obviously used old documentaries: the crossing of the flooded river is not a California reconstruction, and all through this first section the camera is used with fine vigor to present a subject which could not have been presented on the stage.  

I cannot see why we should not have serious films of this length as well as farces, short stories as well as novels on the screen.  The essential speed and concision would be an admirable discipline for most directors, who are still, after seven years of talkies, tied to stage methods, and we might be saved from seeing such a good film as this padded out to full length by the addition of a more than usually stupid triangular melodrama of jealousy and last-minute rescue in the Sahara where needless to say Mr. Rains sacrifices his life at the end, for his wife's love, so that it all may end in the fixed, almost Oriental, short-hand of military melodrama, "It is better so," clasped fingers and topees off and fading bugle calls."  

Graham Greene, The Spectator

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 20 - The Last Outpost (Lobby Card Style)

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Monday, October 9, 2023

Wedding Present (1936)

 "...a new high in factual distortion."

With Joan Bennett.

Wedding Present - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Newspaper work has taken it on the nose from the cinema on more than one occasion this season, but Wedding Present reaches a new high in factual distortion.  We do not wish to destroy the 'movie' myth about journalism, but we suggest that the situations of this photo-play are implausible, dissociated, undramatic, preposterous and dreary.  The film is not fortunate in its principals.  Cary Grant plays the crazy reporter turned editor in a lackadaisical manner, mouthing most of his lines and acting more like a dramatic caricature than a character.  If he is not walking through his lines in this production, we never saw that feat accomplished.  Joan Bennett, for her part, does little to stay the complete demoralization of the plot."

Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 24 - Wedding Present (Lobby Card Style)

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Friday, October 6, 2023

I'm No Angel (1933)

 "The casting of Cary Grant... was again another brilliant piece of dramatic awareness."

With Mae West.

I'm No Angel - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Ingenious casting had much to do with the success of I'm No Angel.  Although her control over her vehicles at Paramount was almost absolute, unlike Chaplin in a similarly favored position, Mae West did not depend on a weak supporting cast to magnify her own personality or call attention to her humor.  A strong cast, each one capable and playing his or her role with uncommon passion, lent a credibility to the film, a quality of balance and proportion which only the finest motion pictures attain.

The casting of Cary Grant in the role of the man who finally wins Tira's love was again another brilliant piece of dramatic awareness.  Cary as Jack Clayton has none of the characteristics about him that had previously attracted Tira to men.  When she meets Nat Pendleton (playing the trapeze artist) on her way to the hotel at the very start of the picture, she feels his muscles, and comments on them.  She makes a similar overt gesture with Davidson (playing the Chump) while the two are dancing in her hotel room.  But with Clayton all such pretension is dropped.  Supposedly not interested just in his money, as she had been with Kirk Lawrence, seemingly in love, she feels his muscles at the end of the picture just before the fade.  But in 1933 Cary Grant was narrow of line and thin of physique, not at all the Nat Pendleton image.  Tira, a lion tamer, is unaccountably drawn to him, but there is something slightly incredible about their union, incredible enough for the viewer to have the same impression as one has at the conclusion of She Done Him Wrong, Tira cannot stay with him forever; she is insatiable and immortal.  From this very subtle and almost unconscious impression, the viewer comes away with that same sense of awe before magnitude, talent and vibrance, which Chaplin managed only by weak casting as a crutch.  

No scene in I'm No Angel is extraneous.  It is interesting, compelling, and enjoyable throughout.  Some scenes are played with rare distinction, as that of Cary Grant's initial visit to Tira's apartment, when she decides to let Kent Taylor go, but wants Cary instead.  The camera takes a three-quarters shot as this conversation straggles to its conclusion, with both their minds on something other than what's being said.  Cary has placed a small photograph of Mae in his coat pocket, and with his hands plunged nervously into his trouser pockets, the suit coat jutting out towards Mae, their bodies swaying ever closer together as they talk, Mae mumbling, "You'll hear from me," much more is implied that could ever be shown."

John Tuska, Views and Reviews

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 12 - I'm No Angel (Lobby Card Style)

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