The Beloved Brat (1938)

vt Girls on Probation; vt A Dangerous Age
US / 62 minutes / bw / First National, Warner Dir: Arthur Lubin Scr: Lawrence Kimble Story: Jean Negulesco Cine: George Barnes Cast: Bonita Granville, Dolores Costello, Donald Crisp, Natalie Moorhead, Lucille Gleason, Donald Briggs, Emmett Vogan, Loia Cheaney, Leo Gorcey, Ellen Lowe, Mary Doyle, Paul Everton, Bernice Pilot, Stymie Beard, Meredith White, Gloria Fischer

On the face of it, this looks to be yet another comedy of rebellious youth—and with an appropriately lightweight star to reinforce that impression—but in reality there’s a whole lot more going on in The Beloved Brat than you might expect. And Bonita Granville, while hardly reaching Shakespearian heights, demonstrates that she was a weightier actress than her reputation might suggest.

On the eve of her thirteenth birthday, Roberta Morgan (Granville) is the epitome of the spoiled brat. And it’s hardly any wonder: Daddy, Henry Morgan (Crisp)—whom the screenplay bizarrely rechristens John Morgan later on when another character called Henry turns up—is totally absorbed in his business of making oodles of money, and regards the raising of Roberta as the domain of his wife Evelyn (Moorhead). Trouble is, Evelyn is entirely self-absorbed, devoting all her time to her social life and to fashionable charities that are in reality self-serving; she has no interest in her daughter, and is prone to fits of the vapors whenever thwarted.

Bonita Granville as Roberta

The only person in the household who seems to care much about Roberta is Continue reading

The Unseen (1945)

vt Her Heart in Her Throat; vt Fear
US / 80 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Lewis Allen Assoc Pr: John Houseman Scr: Hagar Wilde, Raymond Chandler, Ken Englund Story: Midnight House (1942; vt Her Heart in Her Throat) by Ethel Lina White Cine: John F. Seitz Cast: Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks, Isobel Elsom, Norman Lloyd, Mikhail Rasumny, Elisabeth Risdon, Tom Tully, Nona Griffith, Richard Lyon, Mary Field, Sarah Padden.

In the small New England town of New Bristol, the imposing pile at 11 Crescent Drive was boarded up twelve years ago after its owner, Commodore Tygarth, died. Now his much younger widow (Elsom), is planning to open “The Commodore’s Folly” and put it on the market.

Sarah Padden as Alberta.

One rainy night an old woman, Alberta (Padden), sees a light moving behind the boards. Pausing to investigate, she drops a watch—a treasured gift from her mother. Before she can find it on the ground, a man rushes out of the house and pursues her into nearby Salem Alley, where he strangles her. Little does he know he’s been observed . . .

Next day Continue reading

Passport to Hell, A (1932)

vt Burnt Offering
US / 76 minutes / bw / Fox Dir: Frank Lloyd Scr: Bradley King, Leon Gordon Story: “Burnt Offering” (seemingly unpublished) by Harry Hervey Cine: John Seitz Cast: Elissa Landi, Paul Lukas, Warner Oland, Alexander Kirkland, Donald Crisp, Yola d’Avril, Ivan Simpson, Eva Dennison, Anders Van Hayden, John Lester Johnson, Vera Morrison.

Passport to Hell - 0 opener

On the eve of WWI, Myra Carson (Landi) is deported from Akkra/Accra, in British West Africa, to Duala/Douala, in the Kamerun/Cameroon—part of German West Africa. A gambling-addicted UK national has apparently committed suicide over her, the last straw for the straitlaced UK military authorities, who’ve been itching for an excuse to expel her—after all, was she not named as co-respondent in a London scandal, and has she not been bouncing from one country to another ever since, giving her occupation always as “oh, just traveling”? The officer (uncredited) in charge of kicking her out clearly relishes his task; the young man who supervises her departure, Lieutenant Enright (uncredited), equally clearly reckons she’s been given a bum deal—although it’s hard for us to work out quite what he means by a remark to the effect that she’s been kind to a lot of the lads.

Once Myra’s ship arrives off Duala, there’s passport authorization to go through. Baron von Sydow (Oland), Commander of the German Colonial Military Police, has decreed that Continue reading