Shadow of the Law (1930)

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Can William Powell really be the hardened criminal he seems?
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US / 70 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Louis Gasnier Scr: Max Marcin, John Farrow Story: The Quarry (1913) by John A. Moroso Cine: Charles Lang Cast: William Powell, Marion Shilling, Natalie Moorhead, Regis Toomey, Paul Hurst, George Irving, Frederick Burt, James Durkin, Richard Tucker, Walter James, Oscar Smith, Harry Strang.

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After a night on the town—seemingly their first date—young engineer Jim Montgomery (Powell) brings home his somewhat hatchet-faced upstairs neighbor at the swanky Franklin Apartments on NYC’s 72nd Street, Ethel George (Moorhead), and inveigles his way into her apartment on the pretext of “a last cigarette” (“or cigar,” he suggests in a Pre-Code manner).

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Jim and Ethel come across Ethel’s lover Lew (Richard Tucker).

Alas, waiting therein is her brutish lover, Continue reading

Painted Faces (1929)

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A courtroom drama—think 12 Angry Men but with a circus clown as holdout juror!
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US / 70 minutes / bw / Tiffany–Stahl Dir: Albert Rogell Scr: Frederic Hatton, Fanny Hatton Story: Frances Hyland Cine: Jackson Rose Cast: Joe E. Brown, Helen Foster, Barton Hepburn, Dorothy Gulliver, Lester Cole, Richard Tucker, Purnell Pratt, Mabel Julian Scott, Allan Cavan, Jack Richardson.

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Not Henry Fonda.

As the stage manager (Richardson) welcomes the various new acts backstage at a vaudeville theater, it’s plain there’s an ongoing “situation” between the conjurer The Great Roderick (not seen) and a freshly arrived pair of hoofers, Bobby Barton (Hepburn) and Lola Barnes (Gulliver). Although Bobby and Lola coyly insist on separate dressing rooms, they are clearly an item . . . and, equally clearly, The Great Roderick is the fly in the ointment of their love. As Bobby tells Lola, uncaring of the flapping ears around them,

“We won’t play on the bill if that rat is here, making a play for you the way he has for two months now. . . . If he puts his hands on you again I’ll get him if it’s the last thing I do!”

So, when a shot rings out one night during a Continue reading

Daring Daughters (1933)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Tower Dir: Christy Cabanne Pr: Sig Neufeld Scr: Barry Barringer, F. Hugh Herbert Story: Sam Mintz Cine: Harry Forbes Cast: Marian Marsh, Kenneth Thomson, Joan Marsh, Bert Roach, Lita Chevret, Allan Vincent, Richard Tucker, Arthur Hoyt, Florence Roberts, Charlotte Merriam, Bryant Washburn Jr.

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Terry Cummings (Marian Marsh), working at the cigar counter in the Cortez Hotel lobby, has been living in the Big City—New York, in this instance—for long enough to know that men, young and old, rich and poor, want Just One Thing. She’s tried to inculcate the same wariness in her kid sister Betty (Joan Marsh), who’s recently arrived from the country to live with her, but to no avail: Betty has fallen hook, line and proverbial for garage mechanic Roy Andrews (Washburn).

Terry’s right about most of the men she meets: as soon as they set eyes on her they develop extra hands. She uses them for the gifts they give her—groceries, nights out—then fobs them off easily when they try to go further. She’s invented a sick old grandmother with whom she supposedly lives as a means of quenching the passions of those who suggest going back to her place.

Daring Daughters - 1 Preston sees the two Cummings sisters side by side for the first time

Daring Daughters - 1b . . . and they look like this (Betty on r)

Alan Preston (Kenneth Thomson) sees the two Cummings sisters, Terry (Marian Marsh) and Betty (Joan Marsh), side by side for the first time.

One night Terry arrives home with playboy Alan Preston (Thomson) and they run into Betty. Preston positively drools over Betty, who has the aura of being an order of magnitude more virginal than Continue reading

X Marks the Spot (1931)

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Not that you’ve seen this plot before, but a journo has to prove his innocence of . . . murder!!
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US / 69 minutes / bw / Tiffany Dir: Erle C. Kenton Pr: Sam Bischoff Scr: Warren Duff, Gordon Kahn Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Lew Cody, Sally Blane, Wallace Ford, Mary Nolan, Fred Kohler, Charles Middleton, Virginia Lee Corbin, Joyce Coad, Richard Tucker, Clarence Muse, Helen Parrish.

X Marks the Spot 1931 - 0 opener

Back in September 1923, while working on the Bradford Blade, smartass ambulance-chasing reporter Ted Lloyd (Ford) followed a story about a child having been knocked over in the street to discover that the child in question was his kid sister Gloria (Parrish). At the hospital he learned from the surgeon (uncredited) that Gloria would almost certainly never walk again unless Continue reading

Back Page (1934)

US / 63 minutes / bw / Pyramid Dir: Anton Lorenze Scr: F. McGrew Willis Story: Harry E. Chandlee, Douglas W. Churchill Cine: James S. Brown Jr. Cast: Peggy Shannon, Russell Hopton, Claude Gillingwater, Edwin Maxwell, Sterling Holloway, Rockliffe Fellowes, Richard Tucker, Bryant Washburn, David Callis, Sidney Bracey, Tola Nesmith, Harvey Clark, Maude Truax, Hayden Stevenson, Otto Hoffman.

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New York City reporter Jerry Hampton (Shannon) has a hot story about the mistress of chain-store supremo John H. Smith (Tucker) killing herself when he dumped her, but Smith puts pressure on her paper’s proprietor, Ed Barman (Washburn), to kill the story, and Jerry’s editor, Barrows (Stevenson), fails to back her up. So she walks out.

Back Page 1 Jerry phones in the suicide story

Jerry (Peggy Shannon) phones in the suicide story.

Fellow-reporter Brice Regal (Hopton) fixes up for her to go as editor to the Apex Advocate, a small-town newspaper on the far side of the country, in California. Brice’s uncle Continue reading

Shadow of Doubt (1935)

US / 75 minutes / bw / MGM Dir: George B. Seitz Pr: Lucien Hubbard Scr: Wells Root Story: Arthur Somers Roche Cine: Charles Clarke Cast: Ricardo Cortez, Virginia Bruce, Constance Collier, Isabel Jewell, Arthur Byron, Betty Furness, Regis Toomey, Ivan Simpson, Bradley Page, Edward Brophy, Samuel S. Hinds, Richard Tucker, Bernard Siegel, Paul Hurst.

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Good-hearted NYC advertising salesman and playboy Simeon “Sim” Sturdevant (Cortez) loves his dear old aunt, Melissa Pilsen (Collier), and she loves him back . . . even though she does her best to present herself to the world as a grim, hatchet-faced old boot. But he has also come to love movie actress Trenna Plaice (Bruce), and wants her to marry him. Aunt Melissa, who has refused to leave her house for over two decades since a tragedy of the heart in her youth, assumes Trenna is planning to marry Sim in hopes of getting her claws on her (Aunt Melissa’s) fortune.

Shadow of Doubt 1935 - 1 Virginia Bruce in sultry mode as Trenna

Virginia Bruce in sultry mode as Trenna.

In reality, after he’s had a fit of nauseatingly patronizing chauvinism (along the lines of “Oh, darling, I’ve always said you’re too beautiful to have any sense”), Trenna tells him to put his head where the sun don’t shine, and Continue reading

Convicted (1931)

US / 63 minutes / bw / Supreme, Weiss Brothers Artclass Pictures Dir: Christy Cabanne Pr: Louis Weiss Scr: Jo Van Ronkel, Barry Barringer Story: Ed Barry Cine: Sidney Hickox Cast: Aileen Pringle, Jameson Thomas, Dorothy Christy, Richard Tucker, Harry Myers, Niles Welch, John Vosburgh (i.e., John Vosper), Jack Mower, Wilfred Lucas.

Convicted 1931 - 1 mood view

Theatrical “angel” Tony Blair (Tucker) has been pestering the star of a play he backed, Claire Norvelle (Pringle), to the point that his wife has divorced him. Now Claire finds that “just by coincidence” he’s aboard a liner on which she’s traveling to LA—indeed, “just by coincidence” he’s gotten himself a connecting cabin with hers; she has the purser move her elsewhere.

Also aboard “just by coincidence” is Blair’s current floozy Constance Forbes (Christy), who’s by no means happy to be treated like a doormat while he pursues the actress. Other passengers include cardsharp Roy Fenton (Welch), his sidekick Sturgeon (Myers)—who’s the movie’s dreary “humor” component because perpetually drunk—another cardsharp, Henderson (Mower), who happens to be Constance’s brother, and Bruce Allan (Thomas), a criminologist and crime reporter for the New York Times.

Bruce and Claire, evidently old friends, soon take a renewed shine to each other, their overtures interrupted by Blair yet again boorishly attempting to force his attentions on Claire. Bruce pulls him off, and there’s not quite a fight.

Fenton has been hoping to snag Blair into a poker game, and succeeds. He sends Sturgeon to find someone to make up a four, and Sturgeon reins in Henderson. Later they’re joined by the ship’s radio operator, Dayton (uncredited). The game breaks up in acrimony, with Blair accusing Henderson and Fenton of cheating; he pays his $1250 losses to the former but declines to pay the $900 he owes the latter.

Convicted 1931 - 2 Henderson, Blair, Fenton, Sturgeon at stud poker

The tense stud poker game: left to right, Henderson (Jack Mower), Tony Blair (Richard Tucker), Roy Fenton (Niles Welch) and Sturgeon (Harry Myers).

Claire discovers that Blair has Continue reading