Bad Guy (1937)

US / 69 minutes / bw / MGM Dir: Edward Cahn (i.e., Edward L. Cahn) Pr: Tom Reed Scr: Earl Felton, Harry Ruskin Story: J. Robert Bren, Kathleen Shepard, Hal Long Cine: Lester White Cast: Bruce Cabot, Virginia Grey, Edward Norris, Jean Chatburn, Cliff Edwards, Charley Grapewin, G. Pat Collins, Warren Hymer, John Hamilton, Clay Clement, Russell Hopton, Garry Owen, Roy Gordon

A fairly standard crime programmer with more than a touch of noirish nihilism and an interesting lecture in the middle—complete with graphic demonstrations!—on the properties of high-voltage electricity. Don’t tell me that 1930s movies had anything but the highest educational aspirations.

Linemen/linesmen (the screenplay uses both forms of the term) “Lucky” Walden (Cabot) and Steve Carroll (Norris) have been partners repairing power  lines for a dozen years, but they go back ‘way further than that. Once they were best buddies in the orphanage together, and they regard each other not just as friends but as brothers.

Bruce Cabot as Lucky

One day Lucky, addicted to gambling, lashes out with a wrench in an altercation with a crooked gambler, Charlie Edwards (Hopton). Edwards Continue reading

Secret of the Blue Room (1933)

US / 66 minutes / bw / Universal Dir: Kurt Neumann Pr: Carl Laemmle Jr. Scr: William Hurlbut Story: Geheimnis des Blauen Zimmers (1932 screenplay) by Erich Philippi Cine: Charles Stumar Cast: Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas, Edward Arnold, Onslow Stevens, William Janney, Robert Barrat, Muriel Kirkland, Russell Hopton, Elizabeth Patterson, Anders Van Haden, James Durkin.

The first of three Hollywood remakes of a German movie, Geheimnis des Blauen Zimmers (1932), its two successors being The Missing Guest (1938) and Murder in the Blue Room (1944), ‎ this is introduced by the haunting sounds of Tchaikovsky’s main theme from Swan Lake.

Gloria Stuart as Irene.

In a stately pile somewhere, Irene von Helldorf (Stuart) is sitting up late to celebrate the first few hours of her 21st birthday with father Robert (Atwill) and the three men who seek her hand. Conversation turns to the mansion’s quondam guest room, the Blue Room, no longer used since, twenty years ago, three people died in it in (a) quick succession and (b) inexplicable circumstances, the door being locked from the inside.

Lionel Atwill as paterfamilias Robert.

To impress Irene with his manly courage and belie his extraordinary drippiness Continue reading

Curtain at Eight (1933)

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An amiable enough mystery set in the theatrical world and indeed for the most part in a theater.

 

US / 61 minutes / bw / Larry Darmour Productions, Majestic, Capitol Dir: E. Mason Hopper Pr: Phil Goldstone Scr: Edward T. Lowe Story: The Back Stage Mystery (1930) by Octavus Roy Cohen Cine: Ira Morgan Cast: C. Aubrey Smith, Dorothy Mackaill, Paul Cavanagh, Sam Hardy, Marion Shilling, Russell Hopton, Natalie Moorhead, Hale Hamilton, Ruthelma Stevens, Arthur Hoyt, Jack Mulhall, Dot Farley, Syd Saylor, Herman Bing, Matthew Betz, Cornelius Keefe.

Curtain at Eight - 0 opener

The romantic play Isle of Romance is the talk of the town and its star, handsome Wylie Thornton (Cavanagh), is every woman’s dreamboat. Unfortunately, he seems to be trying to turn that into a physical reality. At current count he’s having affairs with fellow-thespians Anice Cresmer (Shilling) and Doris Manning (Stevens) simultaneously, while Anice’s big sister Lola (Mackaill) seems to have been a conquest not so long ago—and, having been chewed up and spat out herself, is naturally concerned about 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.

Back Page 0 opener

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

World Accuses, The (1934)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Chesterfield, Batcheller Dir: Charles Lamont Scr: Charles Belden Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Vivian Tobin, Dickie Moore, Cora Sue Collins, Russell Hopton, Harold Huber, Paul Fix, Sarah Edwards, Jamison Thomas, Mary Carr, Robert Elliott, Bryant Washburn, Barbara Bedford, Robert Frazier, Lloyd Ingraham, Broderick O’Farrell, Jane Keckley.

World Accuses - 0 opener

It’s 1928 or 1929. Formerly a celebrated Broadway actress, Lola Weymouth (Tobin) now lives with her milquetoast socialite husband John (Fix) and her baby son Tommy (uncredited at this age). The marriage is troubled by the fact that John is work-shy and the couple are living off whatever of his inheritance his termagant mother Lucille (Edwards) chooses to let them have. John lacks the guts to support his wife against his mother; it’s partly that he hasn’t let go of her apron strings, partly that she hasn’t let go of the purse strings.

World Accuses - 1 Weak-willed John can't face up to his mother

Weak-willed John (Paul Fix) can’t face up to his mother (Sarah Edwards).

One night after a row between Lola and Lucille, the young couple leave Tommy in the care of his nurse (uncredited) and go out on the town, meeting up with various of Lola’s quondam Broadway chums. One of these, unfortunately, is a very drunk old flame of Lola’s, Checkers Fraley (Huber). He picks a fight with John, knocks him down, and inadvertently kills him.

Checkers goes off for a long spell in the pen, while a viciously spiteful Continue reading