Posts Tagged ‘glenda farrell’

Gold Diggers of 1935

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Released – March, 1935 

Directed By – Busby Berkeley

Starring – Dick Powell (Dick Curtis), Adolphe Menjou (Nicolai Nicoleff), Gloria Stuart (Ann Prentiss), Alice Brady (Mrs. Prentiss), Hugh Hubert (T. Mosley Thorpe), Glenda Farrell (Betty Hawes).

Description – Working his way through medical school, desk clerk Dick Curtis is made an offer too good to pass up. Wealthy Mrs. Prentiss has offered to pay Dick a handsome sum just to serve as an escort to her daughter Ann for the summer.

Even Dick’s fiancee Arline goes along with the idea. It seems that Mrs. Prentiss wants Ann, despite her objections, to marry middle-aged millionaire T. Mosley Thorpe and providing Ann with a summer escort is her way of protecting Ann from potential suitors.

Mrs. Prentiss hopes to avoid marital troubles such as those suffered by Ann’s brother Humboldt who is a sucker for a pretty face. The rich, but thrifty, Mrs. Prentiss has had to bail Humboldt out of a number of embarrassing situations.

With the arrival of summer comes the pet project of Mrs. Prentiss – a charity show for the “Milk Fund.” Mrs. Prentiss hires flamboyant, but somewhat shifty Russian dance director Nicolai Nicoleff to direct the show and has provided him a very tight budget.

However, Nicolai, his set designer, the hotel manager, and even the hotel stenographer who just happens to be blackmailing Thorpe, are all looking to milk the wealthy Mrs. Prentiss for as much of her money as they can get.

Engagements will be broken, new romances will bloom, and Mrs. Prentiss just may be out a few bucks. As for the charity show…it will be great!

NOTABLE: Gold Diggers of 1935 won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song (Lullaby of Broadway), and was also nominated for Best Dance Direction.

This was the third of five films in the Gold Diggers series of musical comedies.

Busby Berkeley’s elaborate production number, “The Words Are in My Heart” used 56 white grand pianos.

I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Released – November, 1932 

Directed By – Mervyn LeRoy

Starring – Paul Muni (James Allen), Glenda Farrell (Marie Woods), Helen Vinson (Helen), Noel Francis (Linda), Preston Foster (Pete).

Description – Six stickes of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom…and awoke America’s conscience!

James Allen has been wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to 10 years on a chaing gang. He manages to escape to Chicago hoping to remain undetected.

James finds success in the construction business and begins a relationship with boardinghouse proprietor Marie Woods. Marie learns of his secret and blackmails him into marriage. With unhappiness back into his life, James gets lucky and meet and falls in love with Helen.

However, his luck does not last long. James asks Marie for a divorce only to be promptly betrayed by her to the authorities. The only life left for James is alone and on the run.

NOTABLE: This film was nominated for three Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Sound, Recording.

In 1991 this motion picture was selected for inclusion in the United States National Film Registry.

The film was written by Howard J. Green and Brown Holmes from Robert Elliott Burns’s autobiography, I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang.

Personal Comment:  An excellent film with a haunting ending that still stuns today. The brutality of a corrupt court, as portrayed in this film, caused such public concern regarding the legitimacy of America’s legal system that it allowed for a number of nationwide chain gang prisoners to appeal their convictions and gain release.

Little Caesar

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Released – January, 1931 

Directed By – Mervyn LeRoy

Starring – Edward G. Robinson (Little ‘Rico’ Caesar), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Joe Massara), Glenda Farrell (Olga Stassoff).

Description – Historically, this is the film that started the ‘gangster genre’. It tells the story of small-time hood Caesar Enrico (Rico) Bandello who will stop at nothing to reach the top. Along with his friend Joe Massara they head for the big city – Chicago to make their fortune.

Gradually pushing his way to the top Rico, now known as ‘Little Caesar’ and Joe begin to take seperate paths. Joe has met a girl and has decided to pursue his dream of becoming a dancer.
During a night-club robbery Rico murders the Crime Commissoner with Joe witnessing the killing.

Fearing Joe or his girlfriend Olga will betray him, Rico threatens Joe telling him to leave the girl and come back to a life of crime. Joe refuses, and with Olga’s influence betrays Rico. Now on the run and in hiding with the newspapers calling him a coward, Little Caesar returns with guns blazing.

NOTABLE:  This motion picture received one Oscar nonimation for Best Writing, Adaptation.

In 2000 this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The popular rumor at the time claimed that the character of Little Caesar was loosely based on gangster Al Capone. However, the character was actually based on Chicago gangster Salvatore “Sam” Cardinella.

Uncomfortable with guns, in one scene Edward G. Robinson had his eyes held open with tape to prevent them from closing when he fired his gun.

It has long been speculated that the federal anti-crime law – The Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO was based on Robinson’s character.

Warner Brothers set an all-time record attendance record for their studio with the weekend opening of this film.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s character was based on fellow actor George Raft who was believed to be associated with Owney Madden who organized New York City’s taxi racket.

This film as been rated #9 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the “Gangster” genre.

Personal Comment:  I recently viewed this film again along with the others included in the Warner Bros. Gangster Collection Vol. 1. Although the films production value, and occassionally even the acting, may seem a little dated it is still a very enjoyable movie. It is an original and a must see for all ganster genre fans.