Archive for category The 30’s

Sons Of The Desert [1933]


Laurel and Hardy’s best movie; the boys find themselves in hot water when they scheme to get away from their wives and attend a lodge convention in Chicago. After persuading the wives that Ollie needs to sail to Honolulu for his health, they’re finally free to go to Chicago. The boat sinks on the way back from Hawaii, and the boys end up having to explain how they got home a day earlier than all the other survivors! (hint: they ship-hiked). Talk about a movie holding up for over 70 years! Everything about it is pitch perfect and unforgettable. Watching the boys as they sink deeper and deeper into absurdity trying to explain their early arrival is a gem. In between, they also get themselves into some silly humorous trouble, with the best being a scene in which Ollie flirts with a woman on the phone not realizing it’s his wife he’s talking to! 

“Sons Of The Desert” is comedy at its best; it certainly deserves its place among other comedy classics (“The Gold Rush”, “Safety Last” and “A Night at The Opera” come to mind). Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t appreciate these movies anymore. Yet if it weren’t for Laurel and Hardy, we wouldn’t have had Abbott and Costello or even Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The laughter these guys have given us will never be replicated, and is eternally appreciated.

Rating: 3.5/4

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The Flying Deuces [1939]


Viewing “The Flying Deuces” after so many years was a great reminder of how brilliant Laurel and Hardy were. In true L & H tradition, slapsticks and chase scenes are the main attraction here, along with Ollie telling Stanley the familiar phrase: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” If you grew up watching these two, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this movie. The premise is straightforward enough: Trying to forget a woman who turned him down in France, Ollie decides to drown himself and convinces Stan that he must do the same. The boys meet an officer of the Foreign Legion who convinces them that they should join the Legion to help forget. Of course you know that these two misfits will never be able to adapt to life in the military, with its strict code and constant marching. All this will eventually lead to many funny moments, especially the stunt flying sequence and one unforgettable ending, which in my opinion wrapped things up brilliantly.

While not quite as spectacular or funny as some of their earlier comedies, but better than the ones they made during their declining years at 20th Century Fox (1941-1945), “The Flying Deuces” is still considered a classic; it has many genuinely wonderful moments well worth viewing, whether you’re familiar with the duo or not. If only their later films were as fresh and original as this one (with the exception of “A-Haunting We Will Go”, which remains one my favorites).

Rating: 3/4

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Freaks [1932]


Horror film master Tod Browning (who also directed “Dracula”) gathered an incredible cast of real life sideshow freaks for this bizarre, yet fascinating movie about a beautiful trapeze artist who agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, unaware that his deformed friends had discovered that she is only marrying him for his inheritance. A living torso who nimbly lights his own cigarette despite having no arms or legs is one of the highlights of this truly unique movie. Yet it would be decades before this widely banned morality play gained acceptance as a cult masterpiece. The power of the film is within the freaks themselves. We are invited to stare, but ultimately sympathize with them. We want to see anyone who threatens them get what they deserve, and boy do they ever get that. I guess the main issue here is that the true freaks are not the story’s sideshow performers, but “normal” people who mock and abuse them. I can understand why such a topic could easily be dismissed back then, but this same story of the abused and disabled taking charge of their own lives and punishing their abusers definitely stands on its own today. And in order to enjoy this truly groundbreaking film, one should get passed the silted acting, and soak up the wonderful message. It’s a classic.

Rating: 3/4

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Bride Of Frankenstein [1935]


Not only does this sequel equals the brilliance of the first “Frankenstein” movie, but it surpasses it in every way possible. Universal Studios had to wait nearly four years before James Whale accepted the offer to direct this follow up to the 1931 box office hit, but it definitely turned out to be well worth the wait. “Bride Of Frankenstein” is a delicious mix of terror and comedy, making it a definite treat for fans of old horror flicks. Boris Karloff reprised the role that made him famous in style, and despite his reluctance, it was decided that the monster should be able to pronounce a few words this time around (which made things much more interesting). This gave his character more depth and emotion, and his desperate attempt to find a friendly companion could hardly be more touching. Another standout element here are the sets and the cinematography. And while the first film suffered from a lack of musical score, the presence of music this time around added charm to it aswell, making it even more creepy and atmospheric than any other film from that era. Horror fans might argue which “Frankenstein” movie is the best. I’ll go with this one. It isn’t just a great fright flick in my opinion- it’s a great film aswell, and quite possibly the best of its genre (though Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Ygor in “Son Of Frankenstein” is sorely missed here).

Rating: 3.5/4

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The Invisible Man [1933]


One of the best movies of its genre, telling the story of a scientist (Claude Rains in an unforgettable role) who finds a way to make himself invisible, becoming mentally unstable as a result. It seems that one of the drugs he used has properties that can turn a man insane. Believing he can take over the world, our man recruits a fellow scientist and decides to install a reign of invisble terror. You might think that with today’s technology, the 1933 version would look ridiculous. Think again. In fact, I’ve never seen anything quite like it before: Claude Rains doesn’t spend much time on physical acting, but this is made up for with a dazzling array of special effects (considering this was made 77 years ago). His voice does all the work, and I don’t think there will ever be a better man for this role. We get to see his shirt dancing, things flying around the room, and a bicyle riding on its own! There’s some real movie magic at work here, and you don’t need today’s technology to admire such a wonderful and visually stunning film.

Fun fact: In order to achieve the effect that Claude Rains wasn’t there when his character took off the bandages, the director had Rains dressed completely in black velvet and filmed him in front of a black velvet background.

Rating: 3/4

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Dracula [1931]


“The strength of the vampire is that people will not believe in him”.

This version of Dracula might look a bit dated now due to a lack of musical score, but it’s a movie that inspired generations of filmmakers and that’s why it shouldn’t be dismissed. The story is familiar by now (seeing that it was remade so many times), but it’s Lugosi’s portrayal of count Dracula that stands above the countless Draculas that came after him. The lack of music was a major problem to me at first, but the real music here is in Lugosi’s eyes; he’s simply mesmerizing. Dwight Frye  (who plays the role of Reinfeld) is delightful to watch!

Rating: 3/4

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More Marx Brothers Quotes: A Day at the Races [1937]



1-Dr. Hackenbush: I’m too busy right now. I’ll tell you what. I’ll put the ‘O’ on now and come back later for the ‘K.’

2-Dr. Hackenbush:  Do you like gardenias?
Flo: I adore them. How did you know?
Dr. Hackenbush: I didn’t, so I got you forget-me-nots. One whiff of this and you’ll forget everything.

3-Gil: Are you a man or a mouse?
Dr. Hackenbush: You put a piece of cheese down there and you’ll find out.

4-Dr. Hackenbush: Emily, I have a confession to make. I really am a horse doctor. But marry me, and I’ll never look at another horse.

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