Posts Tagged ‘1930’s action/adventure’

Captains Courageous

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Captains Courageous (1937)

Tagline – The Most Exciting Picture Since “Mutiny on the Bounty”!

Starring – Spencer Tracy (Manuel Fidello), Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Lionel Barrymore (Disko Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Frank Burton Cheyne).

Released – May, 1937

Directed By – Victor Fleming

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer

Description – Again – as in the stirring Mutiny On the Bounty – you live the roaring drama of men against the sea. You share the struggles, the heartaches, and the laughter, of courageous souls who leave the women they love to dare the wrath of the angry waves.

Harvey Cheyne is the spoiled son of his business tycoon and absentee father Frank Burton Cheyne. Shipped off to a private school, where he is shunned by his classmates, young Harvey is suspended due to his bad behavior.

Realizing that his son needs closer attention, his father decides to take Harvey along on a trans-Atlantic business trip. During the voyage Harvey displays arrogance to all around him, and during a prank gone wrong falls overboard off the coast of Newfoundland.

He is rescued by Portuguese-American fisherman Manuel Fidello and taken aboard the fishing schooner. Harvey tries to convince the captain of the schooner, Disko Troop, that he is wealthy and should immediately be taken to shore.

Captain Troop, not believing his story, refuses and puts Harvey to work at a low paying job for the three month duration of the voyage. Also on the schooner is the captain’s son Dan who gradually develops a friendship with Harvey as the young man begins to learn the ways of working on a ship.

With the guidance of Manuel, and the influence of the other tough crew-mates, young Harvey begins to learn a hard lesson. His former habits of demanding special treatment, lying, cheating, and whining to get what he wants are of no value at sea where every man, young or old, must pull their own weight.

Slowly, Manuel begins to become the father figure that Harvey had always wanted and needed. But, the hardest life-lesson is yet to be learned as tragedy looms in the near future for young Harvey.

NOTABLE: Captains Courageous received an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Spencer Tracy), and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

This motion picture would become the first MGM film to be shown on television, in 1955.

Spencer Tracy hesitated before finally accepting the role of Manuel Fidello because the role required him to sing in several scenes and to have his hair curled. Tracy’s new hairdo prompted a great deal of kidding from his actor friends with Joan Crawford referring to him as Harpo.

Captains Courageous was one of Lionel Barrymore’s last films. Degenerative arthritis was beginning to cripple him. The next year in You Can’t Take it with You, Barrymore hobbled around with crutches, and shortly after that film was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

When Spencer Tracy was presented his Oscar for this film he was shocked to find that the statue was inscribed to Dick Tracy. The very embarrassed Academy replaced the statuette.

httpv://youtu.be/oHve1hyywYk

 

Lost Horizon

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Lost Horizon

Tagline – Frank Capra’s Greatest Production

Starring – Ronald Colman (Robert Conway), Jane Wyatt (Sondra Bizet), Edward Everett Horton (Lovett), John Howard (George Conway), Thomas Mitchell (Barnard).

Released – March, 1937

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Colombia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Colombia Pictures

Description – Millions to make it!…Two years in production!…The best seller that set a new style in romance floods the screen with splendor and drama!

Writer, soldier, and diplomat Robert Conway is about to become England’s new Foreign Secretary. Before returning home from China to assume his new position, Conway has one more assignment to complete. He is to rescue 90 Westerners in the city of Baskul.

This mission is accomplished, with little time to spare, as the plane carrying Conway and the remaining evacuees, takes off just before the area is overrun by armed revolutionaries. While it seems to be a clean escape, Conway and the rest of the passengers are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.

The new route results in the plane running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayan Mountains. The hijacker is killed in the crash. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the desperate group are rescued by a mysterious people led by a man named Chang and taken to an Eden-like valley called Shangri-La where they meet the people’s leader known as the High Lama.

Initially, the group are anxious to get back to civilization. As time passes many in the group begin to believe that Shangri-La is not only beautiful, but magical and want to stay. Among them is Conway himself who has met and fallen for the enchantingly beautiful Sondra. Paleontologist Alexander Lovett, swindler Henry Barnard, and terminally ill Gloria Stone, who miraculously seems to be recovering, also want to stay. Conway’s younger brother George and another local young woman named Maria want to leave.

The High Lama, who is the founder of Shangri-La, and is said to be hundreds of years old, wants to meet with Conway. He has been preserved, along with the paradise’s other inhabitants, by the magical properties of Shangri-La.

However, his time to pass is near. He would like to pass on his responsibility of keeping Shangri-La safe to someone who is wise and knowledgeable of the modern world. Having read the writing’s of Conway, and with Sondra’s suggestion that Conway is “the one”, they arranged for his abduction. The High Lama passes quietly after naming Conway as his successor.

Conway’s brother George refuses to believe the Lama’s story and his position is supported by Maria. Giving in to loyalty, Conway agrees to leave the paradise with his brother and Maria. Their departure comes with a warning. It is said that Maria, like the Lama, is much older than she appears.

Grueling travel, changes in Maria, a loss of sanity that results in death, a rescue, memory loss, and regret soon follow.

NOTABLE: Lost Horizon won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, and Best Film Editing. The picture was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (H. B. Warner), Best Assistant Director, Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

The film exceeded its original budget and almost doubled in cost. It took five years to earn the money back causing a serious financial crisis for Columbia Pictures and damaging the relationship between director Frank Capra and studio head Harry Cohn.

David Niven and Louis Hayward tested for the role of George Conway before it went to John Howard just two days prior to filming.

A scene where a model was used for Jane Wyatt that depicted her swimming in the nude caused some trouble with the California State Censor Board. The board required two signed affidavits from Columbia stating that the models breasts were covered. Columbia complied, but the scene was shot with the model bare-breasted.

The blizzard sequences shot in the film were done using bleached corn flakes.

The characters portrayed by Jane Wyatt and Edward Everett Horton were not in the original novel by James Hilton. They were added to provide romantic interest and comic relief.

Personal Note: This is one of the great film classics of the late 1930’s, providing a rare film experience with a strong finale.

httpv://youtu.be/rt79tqEzt1o

httpv://youtu.be/EE2VUhGDu5Y

 

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Tagline – The reckless lancers sweep on and on – so that a woman’s heart may not be broken!

Starring – Errol Flynn (Major Geoffrey Vickers), Olivia de Havilland (Elsa Campbell), Patric Knowles (Captain Perry Vickers), Henry Stephenson (Sir Charles Macefield), Nigel Bruce (Sir Benjamin Warrenton), Donald Crisp (Colonel Campbell), David Niven (Captain James Randall).

Released – October, 1936

Directed By – Michael Curtiz

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – This motion picture is loosely based on the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

Major Geoffrey Vickers and his brother Captain Perry Vickers are stationed in India with the 27th Lancers of the British Army during the Crimean War. Geoffrey is also engaged to Elsa Campbell the daughter of Colonel Campbell.

Geoffrey and English diplomat Sir Henry Harcourt are away meeting with tribal leader Amir Surat Khan to tell him that the British can no longer provide funds as they had promised. This information angers Khan, but while on a leopard hunt his life is saved by Geoffrey winning his personal loyalty as his anger at the British grows.

Geoffrey returns to Calcutta and learns that, while he was away, Elsa has fallen in love with his brother Perry. This news causes the brothers to quarrel bitterly, but before the problem escalates Geoffrey is sent to battle renegade tribesmen.

After the completion of this mission, Geoffrey moves on to Chukoti where Colonel Campbell and Elsa are not located. Perry has been sent to a nearby base in Lohara. Meanwhile, Surat Khan has been gathering his forces and when Colonel Campbell’s troops are ordered to Lohara on maneuvers Chukoti is left virtually without defense.

Surat Khan attacks and brutally slaughters the inhabitants including Colonel Campbell. Geoffrey and Elsa are spared by Khan as payment for Geoffrey saving Khan’s life. After they flee, Elsa convinces Geoffrey that she truly loves his brother Perry. Geoffrey has no choice but to accept this as fact.

To protect his brother from the next attack, Geoffrey sends him away. Surat Khan has now joined forces with the Russians and Geoffrey is ordered by Sir Charles Macefield, the commander of the British forces in the Crimea, not to attack.

Still enraged by the slaughter at Chukoti, Geoffrey rewrites the orders and leads the Lancers on a death charge against Surat Khan.

NOTABLE: The Charge of the Light Brigade won the Oscar for Best Assistant Director (Jack Sullivan), and was also nominated for Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

During the famous charge scene, trip wires were set up on the battlefield to trip up the charging horses. Tragically, depending on which report you choose to believe, 25-200 horses were killed filming this scene. This act of animal cruelty caused the U.S. Congress to enact laws insuring the safety of animals in motion pictures.

A stuntman was also killed during filming, as he fell off his horse onto a broken sword that was wedged in a way that left it’s blade facing upward.

The Charge of the Light Brigade was the second of nine romantic pairings by Warner Brothers for Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

httpv://youtu.be/cIa6tTy40AY

Captain Blood

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Captain Blood

Tagline – His sword carved his name across the continents – and his glory across the seas!

Starring – Errol Flynn (Peter Blood), Olivia de Havilland (Arabella Bishop), Lionel Atwill (Colonel Bishop), Basil Rathbone (Levasseur).

Released – December, 1935

Directed By – Michael Curtiz

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Cosmopolitan Productions

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – It is the time of the Monmouth Rebellion in England, and Dr. Peter Blood has just treated a wounded friend. For this act he is tried, convicted of treason, and sentenced to death.

King James II, believing slavery would be a more harsh sentence than even death, allows for a group of rebels, that include Peter Blood, to be sold and sent to the English colony at Port Royal. Blood is purchased by the beautiful Arabella Bishop, niece of military commander Colonel Bishop.

By chance, Blood sucessfully treats the Colonel for gout earning him the right to become his personal physician. Arabella’s interest in Peter is beyond that of a slave, or even her uncle’s physician. She was attracted to his rebellious behavior and continues to try to do him favors.

Blood, though appreciative, acts rudely toward Arabella and continues to plan an escape for himself and the other slaves. The opportunity for escape arrives when the town is attacked by the Spanish. Blood and the others steal a Spanish ship and embark on a life of piracy.

They wreck havoc on all English ships in the area and when the current governor is unable to capture them, Colonel Bishop is given the job to do so. Before starting this mission he sends Arabella to England for her safety.

Several years pass and Arabella, while returning to the Caribbean, is captured and held for ransom by Blood’s treacherous partner Captain Levasseur. While at Port Royal, the French are attacking. The port has little defense as Colonel Bishop is still hunting for Blood.

Now, only Blood and his band of pirates can return Arabella to safety and save the island from the invaders.

NOTABLE: Captain Blood received five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz as a write-in candidate), Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

This was the first of nine films co-staring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. They would also team again with Basil Rathbone in 1938’s Robin Hood.

Actor Robert Donat was originally set to star in the film, but was unable due to health concerns. Leslie Howard was the second choice, but proved to be either unavailable or uninterested. Others, including Clark Gable and Ronald Colman, were considered before Warner Brothers decided to take a chance on the unknown Australian Errol Flynn.

Flynn was a notorious prankster and constantly played many on co-star Olivia de Havilland, including placing a dead snake in her underwear.

Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz would go on to work together twelve times even though the two strongly disliked each other.

Personal Note: This was Errol Flynn’s first swashbuckler, and it made him a star. Captain Blood may just be the best pirate film of all-time with exciting sea-battles, beautifully staged sword-fighting, great character acting, a wonderful musical score, and a tempestuous romance.

httpv://youtu.be/ELzgYTAqO14

Mutiny on the Bounty

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Tagline – A Thousand Miles of Hell for One Moment of Love

Starring – Charles Laughton (Captain Bligh), Clark Gable (Fletcher Christian), Franchot Tone (Roger Byam), Herbert Mundin (Smith), Eddie Quillan (Ellison).

Released – November, 1935

Directed By – Frank Lloyd

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – Clark Gable, as the daring mutineer, in the screen’s most exciting adventure story!

Although having several historical inaccuracies, this version of the real-life mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty is the most popular.

Midshipman Roger Byam has joined the crew of the HMS Bounty on a voyage to Tahiti to obtain a cargo of breadfruit plants. While Byam signed on willingly, many were “strong-armed” into becoming part of the ships crew. It can be quite difficult putting together the men necessary to complete a ships crew when the captain of the ship is known to be a brutal tyrant.

Captain Bligh’s reputation has been earned, but on this trip his command will be stripped from his hands. His barbaric acts on this particular journey, including flogging, and cutting of rations, always disguised as discipline, will lead to his first-mate Fletcher Christian and most of the other ships officers to mutiny.

The mutiny occurs on the return portion of the trip and is easily accomplished. Captain Bligh and his supporters are set adrift in a small boat while the mutineers return to the beauty and peacefull island of Tahiti. Midshipman Byam, who did not participate in the mutiny, chooses to stay on the island.

The mutineers never expected Bligh to survive being set adrift, but he has. The small ship has made it back to England. Almost immediately, Captain Bligh obtains another ship, sets sail for Tahiti, and vows revenge on those who participated in the mutiny. There will soon be a great deal of trouble in paradise.

NOTABLE: Mutiny on the Bounty won the Best Picture Oscar and was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Clark Gable), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Charles Laughton), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Franchot Tone), Best Director (Frank Lloyd), Best Film Editing, Best Music, Score, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

MGM had hoped to have Cary Grant play the role of Roger Byam, but Grant was under contract to Paramount Pictures, who refused to allow him to take the role.

Clark Gable had to shave his trademark mustache for the picture as they were not allowed by the Royal Navy during the time of the film.

While sailing his boat off Catalina Island, California, actor James Cagney came across the area where the film was being shot. Cagney called director, and old friend, Frank Lloyd telling him he had a little free time and would like to earn a few bucks. Lloyd put Cagney in a sailor uniform where he spent the remainder of the day as an extra in the film.

Actor Wallace Beery turned down the role of Captain Bligh because he didn’t like Clark Gable and couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck on a long location shoot with Gable.

Mutiny on the Bounty was the only film in Oscar history to have three Best Actor in a Leading Role nominations. Because of, and shortly after this, the Academy created the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Clark Gable did not initially approve of actor Franchot Tone being cast as Roger Byam. It seems the two had been bitter rivals for the affection of actress Joan Crawford. However, as filming progressed the two became friends. It seemed that they had two important things in common…alcohol and women.

In a later conversation with playwright George S. Kaufman, Charles Laughton attributed his fine performance in the film because he had come from a long line of seafarers. Kaufman, reminding  Laughton of his equally impressive performance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame commented, “I assume, then, that you also came from a long line of hunchbacks”?

Personal Note: This is the best known and most engrossing adaptation of the famous mutiny. Charles Laughton is superb and unforgettable as the merciless Captain Bligh. His work is supported by Clark Gable’s fine performance as Fletcher Christian.

Every bit as enjoyable today as it was in 1935.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtmV2tpbnjA