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Hollywood Movie Memories » Action/Adventure


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China Seas

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

China Seas

Tagline – A challenge to all screen history!

Starring – Clark Gable (Alan Gaskell), Jean Harlow (Dolly Portland/China Doll), Wallace Beery (Jamesy MacArdle), Lewis Stone (Davids), Rosalind Russell (Sybil Barclay).

Released – August, 1935

Directed By – Tay Garnett

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer

Description – Ship Captain Alan Gaskell is sailing from Hong Kong to Singapore with a large shipment of gold. Gaskell is in the process of trying to turn his hard-drinking life around. Why the change? His motivation comes in the form of a woman.

Refined Englishwoman Sybil Barclay has caught the captains eye and captured his heart. But, not everyone is happy with the situation. Gaskell’s former girlfriend China Doll is more than a little jealous and is trying everything within her power to get him back.

China Doll is a beautiful woman, but Gaskell is having none of it. Tired of her loud, obnoxious, and crude behavior, he makes it clear to her that they are through.

Furious at the rejection, China Doll conspires, with her drinking pal Jamesy MacArdle, to aid the Malay pirates in an attempt to take over the ship and steal the gold.

This oceangoing romantic triangle comes with a surprise ending as to who ends up with who, and just what did happened to all that gold?

NOTABLE: Clark Gable reportedly had a number of temper tantrums during filming. These were tolerated by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer because Gable had just won an Academy Award for his work in It Happened One Night and Mayer, knowing Gable’s box office appeal, didn’t want to risk losing him.

During the shooting of China Seas, two stuntmen were nearly killed after being overcome by 50 tons of water.

The films perceived negative portrayal of those from Malaysia and Singapore resulted in the film being banned from both countries.


The Count of Monte Cristo

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo

Tagline – An Eye For An Eye… But, Three Lives Must Pay For Mine!

Starring – Robert Donat (Edmond Dantes), Elissa Landi (Mercedes), Louis Calhern (De Villefort, Jr.), Sidney Blackmer (Mondego).

Released – September, 1934

Directed By – Rowland V. Lee

Produced By – Edward Small Productions

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – On the island of Elba, the exiled Napoleon gives a letter to the captain of a French merchant ship to be delivered to a man in Marseille.

Before reaching the port in Marseille the captain dies of a sickness. Before his death he entrusts the delivery of the letter to his first officer, Edmond Dantes. An informer, the ships second officer Baron Danglers, tips off city Magistrate Raymond De Villefort, Jr. and both Dantes and the letters receipient are arrested.

Dantes friend Fernand Mondego accompanies him to jail and vows to support efforts to release him. However, Mondego, Danglers, and De Villefort all stand to benefit by Dantes imprisionment. Mondego is in love with Dantes’ fiancee Mercedes, Danglers wants to be promoted ships captain in Dantes place, and De Villefort wishes to protect the man who received the letter, his father.

Dantes is now sentenced, without trial, to life inprisonment.

Napoleon returns to France and gives hope to Dantes’ friends and fiancee Mercedes that he will be released. Mondego, with a signed false statement from De Villefort, convinces Mercedes that Dantes has been killed trying to escape prison. Believing this, Mercedes honors her mothers deathbed request that she forget about Dantes and marry Mondego.

Twenty years pass and, with the help of a fellow prisoner, Dantes escapes from prison. His fellow prisoner dies during the escape, but gives Edmond a map to a treasure hidden on the uninhabited island of Monte Cristo.

Edmond Dantes, with fortune in hand, returns to his home under the assumed identity of the Count of Monte Cristo.

Let his plan for revenge begin!

NOTABLE: The Count of Monte Cristo would be followed by two sequels, The Return of Monte Cristo (1936), and The Son of Monte Cristo (1940).

Personal Note: The story of The Count of Monte Cristo is, by any measure, a classic. This version presents an excellent cast, along with top production and direction.

Although I usually prefer the older original version of a film, The Count of Monte Cristo’s 2002 remake was beautifully done.


Tarzan and His Mate

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Tarzan – Volume One (Tarzan the Ape Man / Tarzan Escapes / Tarzan Finds a Son! / Tarzan and His Mate)
Tagline – Johnny Weissmuller is back again!

Starring – Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane Parker), Neil Hamilton (Harry Holt), Paul Cavanagh (Martin Arlington).

Released – April, 1934

Directed By – Cedric Gibbons

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – This first sequel to Tarzan, The Ape Man, begins with Tarzan and Jane living happily together in the jungle. Henry Holt has returned, with his new business partner Martin Arlington, to the jungle in search of the secret elephant burial ground where the pair hope to get rich with the ivory from the elephant’s tusks.

Also on Holt’s mind, and that of womanizer Arlington, is to lure Jane back to London by tempting her with the new fashion and ladies perfume of the day. While Jane is impressed, she has no desire to leave Tarzan, or the jungle.

When Tarzan learns of the plan to take the ivory from the elephant’s burial grounds he refuses to lead the men there. Unknown to the others, Arlington shoots Tarzan and leaves him for dead. Jane, believing that Tarzan is dead, now reconsiders her decision to help the expedition and return with them to London.

However, Tarzan is not dead and is nursed back to health by the apes. The expedition, having found the burial ground, begins to take the ivory when they are attacked by a large force of violent natives with no way out.

NOTABLE: In 2003, Tarzan and His Mate was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Although produced prior to the censorship of the Hays Code, the film’s famous swimming scene was shot in three versions, each to be distributed to different regions. One had Jane wearing her loin cloth, one where she was topless, and one where she was totally nude. However, the naked scene was not filmed with Maureen O’Sullivan, but rather a body double using Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim who had competed in the 1928 Olympics with Johnny Weissmuller.

King Kong

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

King Kong

Tagline The Most Awesome Thriller Of All Time!

Starring– Fay Wray (Ann Darrow), Robert Armstrong (Carl Denham), Bruce Cabot (John Driscoll).

Released – March, 1933

Directed By – Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Actress Ann Darrow agrees to star in a new film directed by Carl Denham set to be filmed on mysterious Skull Island in the Indian Ocean. During the voyage, Ann meets and falls in love with First Mate John Driscoll.

Upon their arrival on the island, Ann is kidnapped by the island natives who intend to sacrifice her to Kong, a giant gorilla-like creature. She is tied to an alter for this purpose, but when Kong shows up he does not kill her. It seems as though beauty has slain the beast as Kong takes her to his jungle lair.

Denham, Driscoll, and the crew set out to rescue Ann. Along the way they encounter dinosaurs, resulting in the loss of many men. The remaining men find the giant gorilla’s lair, and Driscoll is able to free Ann.

This enrages Kong who destroys the native village in his efforts to get Ann back. The men are able to subdue Kong through the use of gas grenades and plan on taking him back to New York, exhibit him, and make a fortune.

These actions set the scene for the famous climax on the Empire State Building.

NOTABLE: In 1991, King Kong was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

When director Merian C. Cooper spoke with Fay Wray, about appearing in this picture, he described her leading man as being the “tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood.”

King Kong’s roar was created by modifying the sounds of lions and tigers.

The film grossed $90,000 on opening weekend, the biggest opening of its time.

Entertainment Weekly voted King Kong the 47th Greatest Film of all time.

RKO Pictures had lost over $10 million in 1932, and it is believed that this picture saved the studio from bankruptcy.

Personal Note: King Kong is one of many jungle films made since 1915. The jungle action/ adventure film was to remain popular with audiences for decades.

I can’t image that there are many film fans that have never seen a King Kong movie; however, this is the original and the greatest King Kong movie of all time. This is a spectacular classic!


The Most Dangerous Game

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

The Most Dangerous Game (The Criterion Collection)

Starring – Joel McCrea (Robert ‘Bob’ Rainsford), Fay Wray (Eve Trowbridge), Leslie Banks (Count Zaroff), Robert Armstrong (Martin Trowbridge).

Released – September, 1932

Directed By – Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Author, and big game hunter, Bob Rainsford swims toward a small island after becoming the only survivor of a shipwreck that may not have been accidental.

On the island, Bob becomes the guest of fellow hunting enthusiast Count Zaroff. It seems that there has been another shipwreck with four of its survivors also staying with the Russian Count. Zaroff explains his background to his guests as that of a former hunter who has sustained a head wound from a Cape buffalo and is now only interested in hunting “the most dangerous game.”

Bob and fellow guest Eve Trowbridge grow suspicious of the Count’s intentions when two other guests mysteriously disappear. While searching for the missing, Bob and Eve find the Count’s trophy room with a human head mounted on the wall.

It is now frighteningly clear just how the “most dangerous game” is played.

NOTABLE: Costing only $200,000 to film, The Most Dangerous Game made more profit for RKO than the much more expensive King Kong.

This film was the screen debut for actor Leslie Banks.

Count Zaroff’s dogs were Great Danes borrowed from comedian Harold Lloyd.

Actor Noble Johnson, who played Ivan the Cossack, was believed to be the first Afro-American to play in “whiteface” as a Caucasian.