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Old 04-30-12, 03:12 PM   #39
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Re: The Third Annual May Make-Your-Own Challenge - May 1-31, 2012 **List Thread**

American Movies of the 30's, 40's, and 50's Challenge

Source: DVD, VHS, steaming, recorded off TV all OK
First time viewings only:
DVD: OK if movie seen before of DVD hasn't yet been viewed
Other Sources: Must be first viewing of film
Standard 40+ min. films count 1, 90 min. of shorts count 1

Goal: 50
* = first time viewing of film, all DVDs will be first views
Note: SCPRSC = Sinister Cinema Poverty Row Studio Collections

May 03
01. Bush Pilot (1947)* (SCPRSC Screen Guild/Lippert Vol. 1)
Two bush pilots, who are brothers, compete for business and a woman in the wilds of Canada. Impressive scenery and cool looking planes in this good if somewhat predictable story. Lots of neat missions like getting an injured child to a hospital, delivering serum, and hauling nitro! Sources indicate this was a Canadian/American co-production distributed by Screen Guild. According to the credits, the flying was done by Alaskan bush pilots. So the first film in my American challenge is part Canadian but I checked with myself and decided it was OK to include!

May 10
02. Omoo Omoo the Shark God (1949)* (SCPRSC Screen Guild/Lippert Vol. 1)
An ailing sea captain returns to the South Seas island where he stole and then hid two large black pearls which were being used as the eyes of a shark god idol. Great stuff. Pure pulp adventure supposedly based on a novel by Herman Melville, but it seems as if the two only have the word "Omoo" in common. Acting is only fair but occasional serial villain Trevor Bardette does a good job as the captain and Devera Burton who plays his daughter starts out very bland but goes all bug eyed when she starts to feel the greed. Tigers (the island has at least two!), a curse, a cave shrine, sympathetic natives, and a heroic sailor complete the picture.

May 12
03. Green Eyes (1934)* (SCPRSC Chesterfield/Invincible Vol. 3)
A rich man is murdered during a costume party being held in his home. His granddaughter is a suspect and a hard-nosed police detective investigates with the "help" of a brash young writer of detective stories. Decent mystery starts out slow with lots of questioning by the rather bland police detective. It takes someone with more personality, like a Chan, to make this sort of thing interesting. At least the police are competent although lacking any imagination. Things pick up when stuff starts to happen and in the end its very interesting and rather clever.
04. The Quitter (1934)* (SCPRSC Chesterfield/Invincible Vol. 3)
Drama about a family that owns and runs a small town newspaper and the troubles they face when the eldest son tries to expand the business. A little sentimental but very enjoyable. Not really a newspaper story -- that's just the business the family happens to be in. Well acted with a surprisingly downbeat finale.
05. Call of the Forest (1949)* (Mill Creek Western Collection 250 Movies D:2 S:A)
Robert (Batman) Lowery and frequent serial baddie Jack Ingram (uncredited) plot against a widowed rancher who is searching for a lost gold mine so he can provide for his young son. Features Black Diamond the Stallion, Jimmy the Crow, Ripple the Deer, Beady the Raccoon, and Fuzzy the Bear. Unusual western featuring lots of wildlife. The acting is sometimes a bit wooden (especially the rancher and his son) but Lowery does a good job as a bad guy. The animals are fine. All in all a pretty good movie but not what one might have looked forward to in the Saturday matinee days. A Lippert production.

May 13
06. Colonel Effingham's Raid (1945)* (Mill Creek Comedy Classics 100 Movie Set D:1 S:A)
A retired Army colonel returns to his hometown in Georgia and uses a newspaper column he begins writing to stir things up against the mayor and his cronies when they try to replace a historic courthouse with a new building. Good for a couple of chuckles, pleasant and amusing rather than outright funny. Its gets a bit preachy at times and the end is weak, not really ringing true even for a comedy. Good cast helps although the romantic male lead lacked charisma. 20th Century Fox.
07. Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) (The Mr. Moto Collection Volume One)
Mr. Moto is in Peiping, China searching for ancient scrolls which form a map to the lost tomb of Genghis Khan and a fabulous treasure. Several deaths occur along the way, several caused by Moto! Very entertaining, more pulp adventure and intrigue than murder mystery, Moto can be very ruthless at times. Nice evocation of a city in the Far East, although probably far from what Peiping/Peking/Beijing really looked like then. 20th Century Fox.

May 15
08. Midnight Lady (1932)* (SCPRSC Chesterfield/Invincible Vol. 3)
A middle aged woman who runs a speakeasy gets involved with a young couple which leads to a prison term for a crime she didn't commit. Interesting drama with a good cast although I wasn't familiar with any of them. A little sentimental but not overly so.
09. Country Gentlemen (1936)* (Mill Creek Comedy Classics 100 Movie Set D:1 S:A)
Comedy team Olsen and Johnson play a pair of con men who flee one town because of a gold mine scam and end up getting involved in an oil well con in another town. The pair is not terribly funny but they aren't painful to watch either. Johnson has a peculiar wheezy kind of laugh which he uses a bit too often. Pleasant and bland, Prince the Great Dane and the stereotypical dumb blond secretary provide a few chuckles. Serial stalwarts Pierre Watkins and Ray Corrigan do their best. A Republic Picture.

May 17
10. Underworld (1937)*
A college boy is persuaded to go to Chicago for the summer where he meets and falls in love with a loose, well worn woman. When he rejects her because she refuses to marry him, she turns on him and eventually he's convicted of murder. All black cast. OK story but the acting is very wooden for the most part. A poor print (Alpha Video) and wooly sound make some of the dialog hard to make out. There are a couple of good musical numbers (at a nightclub) but the resolution is pretty insane. A Chinese guy we've never seen before pops up and clears up the whole mess! Cut? A Micheaux Film/Sack Amusement Enterprises production.
11. Dark Manhattan (1937)*
A rise and fall gangster story tells how Curly works his way to the top of the numbers racket in Harlem. An all black cast on the same DVD as Underworld, the picture and sound are better. The acting is also better although it still leaves much to be desired. The police lieutenant played by Jess Lee Brooks is memorable. Entertaining in a predictable way. Randol-Cooper Productions.

May 18
12. Passage to Marseille (1944)* (Humphrey Bogart The Signature Collection Volume II)
At the beginning of World War 2 five prisoners on Devil's Island escape so they can fight Nazi's in France. Star studded cast but the movie never really gels to become something special. The story is kind of diffuse, covering several individuals and told by flashbacks within flashbacks. The action scenes are well done but again never really catch fire. A nice tribute to the Free French. A Warner Bros. picture.

May 19
13. Cavalcade of the West (1936)* (Mill Creek Western Collection 250 Movies D:2 S:A)
Two brothers are separated as children; one becomes a highwayman and the other becomes a rider for the newly formed Pony Express. Conflict follows. I've only seen one or two other Hoot Gibson pictures. He's kind of stocky and homely -- more likeable and sincere than heroic but maybe that was part of his appeal. He does a good job in this standard B western which has a fair amount of action. Diversion Pictures Inc.
14. The Dark Hour (1936)* (SCPRSC Chesterfield/Invincible Vol. 3)
One of a pair of elderly brothers is found dead in their library. Two police detectives, one retired and one an up and comer, investigate but each has a romantic interest in a possible suspect. Very complicated but interesting murder mystery. Most of the movie is taken up with question and answer sessions and finding physical evidence with very little action but the two cops are appealing enough to keep things interesting. Well written but the solution is a little unsatisfying. Hedda Hopper has a role as does character actor E. E. Clive.
15. Bluebeard (1944)* (Roan Group The Black and Blue Collection)
John Carradine is very good as a pinter/puppeteer who tries to control his urge to kill the women he paints. One of his paintings is sold to the wrong person and the police are soon on his trail. Good movie. Near the end, director Edgar G. Ulmer using some nice techniques with angles and light and shadow to emphasize the drama. A PRC release.

May 20
16. Black Dragons (1942) (Roan Group The Black and Blue Collection)
Bela Lugosi plays a mysterious visitor whose arrival marks the beginning of the end of a group of fifth column industrialists. Clayton Moore plays the brash young agent out to solve the murders. Lots of familiar faces in this fun film. The story is a bit convoluted but everything is explained in the end. Banner Production/Monogram Pictures.
17. The Black Raven (1943)* (Roan Group The Black and Blue Collection)
During a dark and stormy night and isolated inn receives a bundle of suspicious visitors. Its not long before a murder occurs and $50,000 goes missing. George Zucco is very likeable as the former criminal/inn owner. Basically an old dark house story with lots of skulking around. Not terribly exciting but a fun watch, especially with Charles (Ming the Merciless) Middleton as the not too bright sheriff. A PRC release.

May 21
18. Captain Calamity (1936)* (SCPRSC Grand National Vol. 1)
A devil may care sea captain uses a single gold doubloon to convince a port town that he has a great treasure on board his schooner. This leads to trouble and romance. In color! The acting is often stilted or hammy (or both) and there's lots of singing aboard The Marigold when its at sea but its in port for most of the movie so we get more brawling than songs. An old fashioned kind of story (some might say corny) has a hero who does most of his thinking with his fists but is cunning although kind of empty headed at times. Nice role for serial heavy George J. Lewis as Pierre who he plays with a French accent!
19. The Gold Racket (1937)* (SCPRSC Grand National Vol. 1)
Federal agents trying to break up a gold smuggling racket attempt to locate its source in Mexico. Starts out strong and the end is OK but most of the middle is taken up by novelty songs performed by sometimes western side-kick Fuzzy Knight, an almost dizzy female agent, and an old quirky cab driver. They all just slow things down and add up to a lot of padding.

May 22
20. Yellow Cargo (1936)* (SCPRSC Grand National Vol. 1)
The Immigration department borrows a narcotics agent to help them crack a ring which is smuggling Asians into southern California. He is helped by a feisty female reporter. Same leads, Conrad Nagel and Eleanor Hunt, as in The Gold Racket, playing similar roles but this film has much less stupid humor. There is some, provided by a clumsy and stupid newspaper photographer. OK picture with a bit of action here and there but feels a little padded at times. The final confrontation scene is a bit of a joke.

May 24
21. Devil on Horseback (1936)* (SCPRSC Grand National Vol. 1)
In a Latin American country a wealthy rancher, in exile in the hills,becomes involved in a publicity stunt for a movie star he has a crush on. He fakes a kidnapping of the actress but this eventually opens him to attacks from his political enemies. Lighthearted romance with lots of singing and dancing and a sprinkling of humor. Surprisingly, most of the citizens of the country were played by Latino actors and actresses! A very pleasant diversion.

May 25
22. The Divorcee (1930)* (Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Two)
A happily married woman is shocked to discover that her husband has had an affair. Miserable, she sleeps with her husband's best friend but when he finds out, hubby leaves her with a serious case of wounded pride and a healthy dose of double standard. Neither does well after they part. Very absorbing drama with an honest approach to infidelity which allows real emotions to show through even if the acting is a tad formal. Norma Shearer plays quite the liberated woman and refreshingly this is not the cause of any of her problems. Worth seeing. An MGM All Talking Picture.

May 26
23. Pilot X (1937)* (SCPRSC Fanchon Royer Pictures Vol. 1)
A series of commercial airplane crashes are believed to have been caused by the mysterious Pilot X. An airplane manufacturer gathers together six pilots and a psychologist in order to track down the criminal. A veritable mini-serial full of great bi-plane actions and a lot of strange events. The pilots are eliminated one by one as we get closer to the identity of Pilot X. John Carroll also started in a real serial, Zorro Rides Again around this time and among other familiar faces, frequent serial participant Wheeler Oakman plays another of the pilots. Serial/B-movie director Elmer Clifton keeps the picture moving.

May 27
24. Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938)* (The Mr. Moto Collection Volume One)
More pulpy action as Mr. Moto investigates reports of rebellion in the jungles of Cambodia. Very convincing sets but not quite as much fun as the previous film possibly due to the addition of two American newsreel men which ups the silly factor and a little too much time with an obvious Moto in disguise. Still, a good watch. 20th Century Fox.
25. Ten Laps to Go (1936)* (SCPRSC Fanchon Royer Pictures Vol. 1)
A race car driver is forced into a crack-up during a race and looses the use of his legs. He recovers but has lost the will to race. Entertaining but predictable story with lots of race footage. Its cool to see what race cars looked like in the 1930's. Duncan Renaldo plays a shady driver (Oh Cisco!). Hard working B-actor Rex Lease does a good job as the hero and Elmer Clifton directs.

May 28
26. Combat America (1943)* (Mill Creek War Classics 50 Movie Pack D:10 S:A)
Captain Clark Gable produced and narrates the story of the B-17 equiped 351st Bomb Group from the time they leave the states to a major mission over Germany. Gable's narration leans to the corny too often but considering the time and intent that's understandable. There are some interesting perspectives on the life of a bomber crew in the air and on the ground.
27. Back to Bataan (1945)* (4 Film Favorites John Wayne Collection)
John Wayne plays a US Army officer left in the Philippines to help organize a resistance to the Japanese occupation until the day of America's return. OK war movie shows to some extent the dirty, dangerous life of guerrilla warfare and the price civilians had to pay for the resistance. Wayne is somewhat subdued and Anthony Quinn does an OK job as a native Filipino. A tribute to the Filipino spirit. An RKO Radio Picture.

May 29
28. The Mystic Circle Murder (1938)* (SCPRSC Fanchon Royer Pictures Vol. 1)
A fake mystic goes after one million dollars which a sheltered young woman has inherited. The newspaper reported who loves the girl tries to stop him. A huge amount of fun although the end is a letdown. The story goes from New York to Egypt and then to the banks of the Ganges River in India. Nice sets, costumes, and good use of stock footage establish the foreign locations very well. Robert Fiske, who was in a lot of B-movies and serials although often in small parts, does a great job as the mystic. Harry Houdini's widow appears briefly as herself stating that communication with the dead is impossible.
29. Murder in Harlem (1935)*
In a chemical plant, a black watchman finds the body of a murdered white women and is accused of her murder. A mostly black cast. This is simply an awful movie. The acting is often stilted and the pacing is poor with scenes taking far too long to make their points. The story often seems to pull plot points out of nowhere although some of this might have been the result of the very poor and choppy print from Alpha Video. Also, the story structure is a bit odd. The movie starts out OK but quickly bogs down and becomes a boring chore to get through. A Micheaux Film.

May 30
30. Mile A Minute Love (1937)* (SCPRSC Fanchon Royer Pictures Vol. 1)
An inventor develops a super charger for speedboat engines but his invention is sabotaged by a shady count who wants to get money out of the inventor's rich but foolish backer. Duncan Renaldo, who is also credited with the story, plays the con man and William Bakewell is fine as the hot headed inventor. Fun with lots of action but the two fist fights are rather poorly done, the first is seriously undercranked and the second is just poorly staged, and boat racing just doesn't seem as exciting as car racing.
Challenges - Leap Day: 12 16 A/A/C/M: 2017 Drive-In: 2017 Make Your Own: 2017 Historical: 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 11 12 Animation: 10 11 12 Horror Movie: 2017

Last edited by omike; 05-31-12 at 05:19 PM.
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