Monday, April 21, 2014


Like Chris, here at the satellite BLOG TO COMM office in Coraopolis we don't go to the multiplex much. This way we know where the sticky spots on the carpet are, and what they consist of. Well, at least most of them.

And what multiplex is going to offer the unparalleled thrill of Jimmy Durante in 1932's THE WET PARADE 's death scene? "They say cats got nine lives...well...I gotta million of 'em!" I actually spilled some beer on the front of my shirt from scrambling to my feet to applaud ol' Schnozolla. If he'd have thrown in a trademark "AH-CHA-CHA-CHA" before the tongue wag and eye roll I'd have started a petition for a posthumous Best Actor Oscar! The film is from a book by muckraker Upton Sinclair, but at least it's about booze instead of sawdust-laden bologna. Walter Huston is particularly good in a scene where he has the d.t.'s, and I lived in Utah for a time so I know what's up with that. The whole scope and storyboard of this movie owes so much to D.W. Griffith I kept thinking the Biograph logo would appear in the corner of the screen.

If that's too weighty for you (or you've had a bad experience drinking wood alcohol...hey, at BLOG TO COMM we know our audience) check out John Gilbert as a super cad in DOWNSTAIRS (1932) where he plays a sociopath on the make to filch what he can as a philandering chauffeur to the moneyed class. He even swats a lovestruck lump of an over-the-hill moon faced fellow servant in the kisser, telling her "You oughta pay me to look at you!" And she still wants to give him the life savings secreted in her support hose for a nonexistent business venture! Sheesh, they need to bottle what Gilbert had and spray it on me from an atomizer. I don't wanna give too much away, but he doesn't even get his comeuppance in the end (like so many of these pre-code wonders. Take that Legion of Decency!).

MANDALAY (1934) is a passable programmer, tidy and compelling enough. Notable mostly for Warner Oland as a bad guy who finagles Kay Francis into indentured prostitution. As #1 Son might say, "Gee Pops!" A good enuff flick but anything Lyle Talbot is in where he doesn't rip off his shirt and sprout fur is a bit of a letdown. (Editor's note---uh, Brad is undoubtedly thinking about Larry Talbot, and this of course might be yet another one of his snide in-jokes or something. I can't tell anymore.)

Following we have Richard Barthelmess and Ann Dvorak in 1934's MASSACRE, playing American Indians and looking the part about as much as Johnny Winter. A First National pictures humdinger exposing the gummint's dirty dealing on the reservation, watching this you'll wonder just how a sixty-five minute film could so aptly sun up the plight of the Native American (Yeah, you who always griped about having to be Heap Big Chief Cap'n Crunch Breath when you never got to scalp anyone and always got shot first playing cowboys n' indians at age six) and use the word "injun" so indiscriminately! But hey, political correctness is the biggest red herring since, uh, herrings came in colors, or something, and what's really ironic is Barthelmess has a black manservant. But, unlike the oppressed Indian, it's understood that he knows his place! There's a scene where Barthelmess gives him a honorary Indian name as they cross into one reservation, the name being (now get this!) "Ramona"! I'll never hear the Ramones the same way again!

These pre-code packages were upwards of forty bucks when they were first offered, but can be had for about half that now. And each volume contains three or four films so it's your move. Check out Jean Harlow in RED HEADED WOMAN and learn something about real life that Bishop Sheen tried to sweep under the Shroud of Turin!

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

"Master Kohler" is firing on all cylinders with this one. You need to get him to pinch-hit more often! You can take a break and get a large cone at the Corral Drive-in.