Category: Lists

DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Not only was 1937 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the loss of some great talent. Here's a snapshot of the film industry in 1937.

 

Making Their Film Debuts:

Glenn Ford - Night in Manhattan; Ronald Reagan - Love Is on the Air; and Lana Turner - They Won't Forget

 

Among Those Born In 1937

Dyan Cannon, Margaret O'Brien, Vanessa Redgrave, Suzanne Pleshette,  Warren Beatty,  Billy Dee Williams, Jack Nicholson, Sandy Dennis,  Yvonne Craig,  Morgan Freeman, Sally Kellerman, Ned Beatty,  Dustin Hoffman,  William Devane, John Phillip Law, Harris Yulin, Darwin Joston, Jane Fonda, Sir Anthony Hopkins

 

Among Those Who Died in 1937

Ross Alexander, 29, Captain Blood, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Flirtation Walk; Marie Prevost, 38, The Marriage Circle, The Racket, The Godless Girl, Cain and Mabel; Snitz Edwards, 69, The Thief of Bagdad, The Phantom of the Opera, Seven Chances, College; William Tedmarsh, 61, silent film actor; Jean Harlow, 26, The Public Enemy, Libeled Lady, Suzy, Red Dust; Osgood Perkins, 45, Scarface, Gold Diggers of 1937; Mrs. Leslie Carter, 75, stage and screen actress, Becky Sharp, Rocky Mountain Mystery; Ted Healy, 41, actor and creator of The Three Stooges, San Francisco, Mad Love, Beer and Pretzels, Soup to Nuts.

 

Top-grossing Films

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Disney/RKO Radio Pictures voices of Adriana Caselotti as Snow White and Lucille La Verne as the Evil Queen
2. The Good Earth MGM Paul Muni and Luise Rainer
3. One Hundred Men and a Girl Universal Deanna Durbin and Leopold Stokowski
4. Topper MGM Constance Bennett and Cary Grant
5. Wee Willie Winkie 20th Century Fox Shirley Temple
6. Stella Dallas Goldwyn/United Artists Barbara Stanwyck
7. In Old Chicago 20th Century Fox Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Don Ameche
8. The Prince and the Pauper Warner Bros. Errol Flynn
9. Saratoga MGM Clark Gable and Jean Harlow
10. The Life of Emile Zola Warner Bros. Paul Muni
11. Lost Horizon Columbia Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt
12. Dead End United Artists Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea, Claire Trevor and Humphrey Bogart
13. The Hurricane United Artists Dorothy Lamour
14. Heidi 20th Century Fox Shirley Temple
15. Conquest MGM Greta Garbo and Charles Boyer
16. Personal Property MGM Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor
17. Night Must Fall Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Robert Montgomery

 

Academy Awards

Best Picture: The Life of Emile Zola – Warner Bros.

Best Director: Leo McCarey – The Awful Truth

Best Actor: Spencer TracyCaptains Courageous

Best Actress: Luise Rainer – The Good Earth

The Greatest Films of 1937

***SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "The Awful Truth"

© 1937 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

The Awful Truth

D: Leo McCarey

A classic screwball comedy of the 1930s and the first on-screen pairing of Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. After an argument and a series of false accusations, married couple Jerry (Cary Grant) and socialite Lucy Warriner (Irene Dunne) agree to a 90 day interlocutory divorce. He pursues singer Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton) and socialite Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont), while she sees both her handsome voice teacher Armand Duvalle (Alex D'Arcy) and wealthy oil heir Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy). With rapid-fire, witty and sophisticated dialogue, they each try their best to thwart or sabotage each other's romances and marriage plans with others, and bicker over who gets custody of their pet terrier Mr. Smith (Asta of The Thin Man). By the end, they both discovered the awful truth that they still loved each other.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

Poster for the movie "Captains Courageous"

© 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Captains Courageous

D: Victor Fleming

Rudyard Kipling's tale of adventure, an MGM classic. A spoiled young heir Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew), the son of shipping magnate Mr. Cheyne (Melvyn Douglas) falls overboard from a luxury ocean liner and is rescued by a simple, crusty Portuguese fisherman Manuel (Oscar-winning Spencer Tracy). He is brought on board a New England, Nantucket fishing schooner, and immediately demands to be brought to shore. The boy is forced to remain on-board for the remaining part of their 3-month fishing trip, and works to earn his keep. He is taught a love of the sea and a valuable series of lessons on life, humility, work, trust, love, and courage. Gradually, he is transformed into a different lad.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

Poster for the movie "A Day at the Races"

© − All right reserved.

A Day at the Races

D: Sam Wood

One of the best Marx Brothers films, made during their peak years for MGM. A follow-up film to their successful A Night at the Opera (1935). Horse doctor veterinarian Dr. Hugo Hackenbush (Groucho Marx) pretends to be a psychiatrist and is hired by a wealthy hypochondriac Mrs. Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) to run a sanitarium that she is financing. Instead, he goes to the horse races, where he receives racing tips from Tony (Chico Marx) in the famous "tootsie-frootsie" ice cream scene. With other memorable scenes and wild comedy routines.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

 

Poster for the movie "Dead End"

© 1937 Samuel Goldwyn Company − All right reserved.

Dead End

D: William Wyler

Adapted from Sidney Kingsley's hit Broadway play, with a script by Lillian Hellman, and set in the Depression. A cold-blooded career gangster Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart) returns to his boyhood neighborhood for a visit - a dead end street in a lower East Side slum, and becomes an unwelcome influence on the street kids (dubbed the Dead End Kids, and later known as the Bowery Boys). This plot vignette was inter-cut with two other stories about residents struggling to make a living: the plight of young architect Dave (Joel McCrea) who opposes his boyhood friend Martin, and dreams of rebuilding the depressed waterfront area, and the story of working girl Drina (Sylvia Sidney) whose brother Tommy (Billy Halop), one of the neighborhood Dead End Kids, idolizes Martin and is being negatively influenced by him.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

Poster for the movie "The Good Earth"

© 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Good Earth

D: Sidney Franklin

MGM's beautiful film production - producer Irving Thalberg's last picture - of Pearl Buck's 1931 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a peasant couple in rural China. A simple, poor Chinese rice farmer Wang Lung (Paul Muni) weds O-Lan (Best Actress-winning Luise Rainer, two years in a row) in an arranged marriage. They are forced to endure hard labor, poverty, and a severe drought and famine. During government strife and a revolution that sweep through the land, their lives are transformed and he becomes the wealthiest landowner in the province. Their efforts and their family disintegrate from his all-consuming greed for money and the devastating effects of a swarm of locusts. In the end, he learns too late that his long-neglected, self-sacrificing, saintly wife is the one who had held everything together.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

The HurricaneThe Hurricane

D: John Ford

A spectacular disaster film and tropical fantasy set in the South Seas. With a lush film score by composer Alfred Newman. A native named Terangi (Jon Hall) from the island of Manakoora, marries his childhood sweetheart Marama (Dorothy Lamour). Terangi is convicted of attacking a white man and imprisoned. He is repeatedly sentenced to longer and longer terms of imprisonment for making failed escape attempts. His case is appealed to the island's new white governor Eugene De Laage (Raymond Massey), who is a strict by-the-book disciplinarian, although his wife is sympathetic to Terangi's plight. The film ends with a climactic hurricane sequence with great special effects.

 

 

 

Poster for the movie "In Old Chicago"

© − All right reserved.

In Old Chicago

D: Henry King

Darryl F. Zanuck's disaster film and romantic drama was designed to take advantage and piggyback upon the success of MGM's previous year's hit San Francisco (1936). The screenplay by Lamar Trotti and Sonya Levien was based on a story by Niven Busch. The story is about a strong rivalry between two of the three sons of widowed, strong-willed matriarch Mrs. Molly O'Leary (Alice Brady), the one whose cow reportedly kicked over a lantern and started the Chicago fire. Her youngest son is Bob (Tom Brown), a mother's helper who flirts with the pretty Swedish servant Gretchen (June Storey). The two eldest O'Leary sons took very different paths and are in fierce conflict: a virtuous good son, an honest and reforming lawyer Jack (Don Ameche) running for mayor, and a bad son - a corrupt yet charming gambling saloon owner and scheming, devious rogue Dion (Tyrone Power). Dion's assistant is singer Belle Fawcett (Alice Faye), also his business partner and lover. Chicago boss Gil Warren (Brian Donlevy) wants to destroy both brothers. The quasi-historical film climaxes with a spectacular 20-minute sequence of the Chicago fire of 1871, with an abrupt inspirational ending. The Chicago Historical Society assisted in the picture's historical accuracy, although much of the film is fictionalized.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Life of Emile Zola"

© − All right reserved.

The Life of Emile Zola

D: William Dieterle

The Best Picture-winning film biography of the famous 19th century French intellectual and novelist, the first film to receive 10 Academy Award nominations, and the second biographical film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture after The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Director Dieterle directed star Paul Muni in two other historical dramas: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), and Juarez (1939). The film traces the life of Emile Zola (Paul Muni) from his youth, as a friend of Paul Cezanne (Vladimir Sokoloff) starving in a Parisian attic, to the peak of his career. He was celebrated as France's greatest author and the champion of the oppressed. The actual trial involving Zola, a celebrated French writer and social critic, occurred in February 1898. He had been defending and fighting for the pardon of French military officer Capt. Alfred Dreyfus (Joseph Schildkraut), a Jewish officer in the French army who was wrongly-accused (and unjustly court-martialed) on the charge of treason for providing secret information to the Germans - he was sentenced to a slow death by life imprisonment on Devil's Island. When new information came to light about Dreyfus' innocence and it appeared to be a cover-up, Zola risked his own life and fame (it was on the eve of membership to the French academy) by agreeing to defend Dreyfus - the so-called Dreyfus Affair. [The real criminal, French major Count Esterhazy, had divulged French military secrets to the Germans, but was found innocent in a rigged court martial hearing.] Zola published his famous "I Accuse" letter to directly accuse the French military of ignoring Dreyfus' innocence and falsely convicting him to protect Esterhazy's guilt. Zola was charged with criminal libel. The trial was a farce - Zola was bullied and discredited while crucial evidence was neglected and false claims were made, even though Zola made strong emotional and personal pleas (Zola's final address to the jury in the film was taken from "I Accuse," not from the actual trial). The highlight of the film was Zola's famous six minute courtroom speech. Zola was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison. However, Zola's conviction was overturned on appeal, although he had already fled to London. Zola was never imprisoned. He returned to Paris, France after 18 months in exile, and died an accidental death in 1902 (carbon monoxide poisoning), before the courts fully exonerated Dreyfus in 1906. (Dreyfus was tried a second time, and again convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but quickly pardoned by the French Republic President, and restored to his army rank).

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Lost Horizon"

© 1937 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

Lost Horizon

D: Frank Capra

Escapees and refugees fleeing from a Chinese revolution in Bakul boarded a plane bound for Shanghai that crash-lands, and five survivors are led through the icy Himalayas by Chinese monk Chang (H. B. Warner) to a magical enchanted paradise, a hidden Tibetan utopia at the top of the world named Shangri-La. There in the peaceful valley, war and death and financial panic were unknown, people live forever (time had stopped) and everyone follows the law of "Be kind." Shangri-La's wisest man was the High Lama (Sam Jaffe), originally known as missionary Belgian priest, Father Perrault, who wishs to have one of the group's members, British diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) be his successor. Conway is a romantic dreamer who believes he has found a new home and a new romantic interest when he falls in love with the ethereally beautiful Sondra (Jane Wyatt). He is convinced, however, by his younger brother George Conway (John Howard) to leave. The film's most startling scene is when George's Shangri-La lover, 20-year-old Russian girl Maria (Margo) accompanies him and she dies an old wrinkled and withered woman (aging by half a century, the time she spent in the valley). Despairing and hysterically crazed after an abrupt return to the world of time and death, George commits suicide by throwing himself off a cliff ledge. Conway struggled to get back to England, where he is haunted by his memories of his time in the idyllic valley, especially with Sondra, and he makes an effort to return. The film ends with a toast and salute to the missing Conway: "Here's my hope that Robert Conway will find his Shangri-La. Here's my hope that we all find our Shangri-La."

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Make Way For Tomorrow"

© − All right reserved.

Make Way For Tomorrow

D: Leo McCarey

One of the saddest and most poignant and sentimental films ever made, during the weary end of the long drawn-out Depression, about the harsh realities of aging. Although beautifully realized, it was not a hit at the box-office and was forgotten for many years. Based on Josephine Lawrence's novel The Years Are So Long. Financially-distraught elderly couple Ma and Pa Cooper - Barkley (Victor Moore) and Lucy (Beulah Bondi), married for 50 years, lose their foreclosed house to the bank when they cannot make the mortgage payments. They request aid from their five children for housing or assistance, and there is a temporary solution - although the couple are forced to separate: Lucy would move to New York to live in the apartment of eldest son George's (Thomas Mitchell) family, while Barkley would be 360 miles away at the home of mean-spirited daughter Cora Payne (Elisabeth Risdon) and her unemployed husband Bill (Ralph Remley). Accommodations in New York for Lucy are cramped, with George's wife Anita (Fay Bainter) and daughter Rhoda (Barbara Read) upset with the disruption and intrusion. To not be a burden, Lucy ends up in a female retirement-nursing home, and Barkley decides to travel to the warmer climate of California for health reasons, to live with unseen daughter Addie. They share a heartbreaking farewell at the same NY train station as their honeymoon years earlier, in the film's downbeat ending.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Marked Woman"

© − All right reserved.

Marked Woman

D: Lloyd Bacon

At the time of this film's making, Bette Davis had become disillusioned by the poorly-scripted films being offered to her by Warner Bros. studio. She fled to Europe to further her career, although was brought back by a lawsuit (that she contested and lost) and forced to make this hard-boiled film - an urban crime melodrama based on the real-life story of New York City vice lord Charles "Lucky" Luciano. It is the story of a nightclub hostess ("prostitute") Mary Dwight (Bette Davis), who worked at the Club Intime (a "clip joint") as a party girl, owned and operated by a notorious "Lucky" Luciano-type gangster Johnny Vanning (Edward Ciannelli). Special prosecutor and crusading district attorney David Graham (Humphrey Bogart) tries to convince Mary (at first unsuccessfully) to be a key witness to testify against her crooked boss - first for murdering one of the debt-owing customers Ralph Krawford (Damian O'Flynn) and then for killing her innocent younger sister Betty (Jane Bryan), by throwing her down a staircase to her death. To threaten and scare her, Vanning scars Mary's face, making her a "marked woman." This convinces her to finally testify in court with other hostesses to convict the abusive gangster (and sentence him to the electric chair) who regularly beat and mistreats his brothel prostitutes. [Note: In real life in 1936, celebrated Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey put Lucky Luciano behind bars on prostitution charges.]

 

Poster for the movie "Maytime"

© 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Maytime

D: Robert Z. Leonard

The third film pairing  MacDonald and Eddy, a musical drama-romance (adapted from the operetta by Rida Johnson Young) once popular but mostly forgotten nowadays. In 1906, an opera singer Marcia Morney (Jeanette MacDonald) lives with her longtime loyal maid Ellen (Rafaela Ottiano). Morney relates in flashback the story of her life forty years earlier. She tells of her love for poor baritone singer Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy) and their idyllic time together at a May Day festival, but instead marries Svengali-like impresario-trainer Nicolai Nazaroff (John Barrymore). After several years, she co-stars with Paul in an American opera production and their love is rekindled, leading to tragic consequences for the two lovers when Nicolai's jealousy overtakes him and he shoots Paul dead. Concluding with a magnificent sequence of the spiritual images of the doomed lovers meeting together on a flower-strewn path and reprising "Will You Remember (Sweetheart)?" Also included the musical numbers: "Mammy's L'il Baby Loves Shortnin' Bread," "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," and "Czaritza" - an adaptation of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony with modern lyrics.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Nothing Sacred"

© 1937 Selznick International Pictures − All right reserved.

Nothing Sacred

D: William A. Wellman

A superb screwball comedy (the first filmed in color) from former newspaperman and scriptwriter Ben Hecht (who also wrote the play "The Front Page" - made into another famous screwball comedy His Girl Friday (1940)). The comedy satirized the world of tabloid reporting and its corruption and dishonesty. An incompetent Dr. Enoch Downer (Charles Winninger) diagnoses a simple Warsaw, Vermont woman Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard in her most beloved role) as having only six weeks to live due to radium radioactive poisoning. A small-town newspaper's cynical ambitious reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March), who has already been reprimanded for printing exaggerated stories in the Morning Star, exploites and sensationalizes the story of Flagg's imminent death by creating publicity to increase sales. He writes a series of pathetic stories, and sends her to the big city of New York, where she becomes a national hero (with a ticker-tape parade and presentation of the key to the city). She wants to tell the truth about how her diagnosis has been changed and that she was not dying, but is not allowed to. When the obvious ruse is about to be revealed, Cook and Flagg (who have fallen in love) make their getaway to a tropical island, while it is rumored that she had committed suicide.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

One Hundred Men and a GirlOne Hundred Men and a Girl

D: Henry Koster

A musical comedy, starring teenaged singing sensation Deanna Durbin, and conductor Leopold Stokowski in his first feature film. An irrepressible young girl Patricia "Patsy" Cardwell (Deanna Durbin) pesters a great conductor (Leopold Stokowski playing himself) to form an orchestra comprised of her unemployed trombonist/musician father John Cardwell (Adolphe Menjou) and ninety-nine of his closest friends.

 

 

 

 

Poster for the movie "The Prisoner of Zenda"

© 1937 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), 101 minutes, D: John Cromwell

The best version of Anthony Hope's novel, a swashbuckling adventure tale. This is the masquerade story of an Englishman commoner, Rudolph Rassendyl (Ronald Colman), who is on holiday in the small central European country of Ruritania. He thwarts a revolutionary assassination plot when called upon to sit on the royal throne for his cousin and lookalike, the kidnapped soon-to-be-crowned King Rudolf V (also Ronald Colman). Behind the plot is a band of rebels led by the crown prince's evil brother Black Michael (Raymond Massey) and his dashing villain henchman Rupert of Hentzau (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.). Includes swashbuckling sword fights and a romance between the commoner/king and the regally-beautiful Princess Flavia (Madeleine Carroll).

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

 

Poster for the movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

© 1937 Walt Disney Productions − All right reserved.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

D: Disney Studios (David Hand)

Disney's first full-length animated feature (and the first in film history), based on the Brothers Grimm imaginative storybook fairy tale, and one of the most culturally significant films ever made. The film was costly at $1.7 million, and took 3-4 years to complete. The film is the story of a young, beautiful but victimized, rags-wearing servant girl Snow White who is brought up by her evil stepmother, the vain, wicked and jealous queen. When told that the "fairest of them all" is Snow White, the queen had her huntsman take Snow White to the forest to kill her and return with her heart. The huntsman cannot carry out the gruesome task, and frees Snow White, who runs into the forest and is adopted by woodland creatures. She seeks refuge in the cottage of the lovable seven dwarfs, diamond-mine workers. When the wicked, jealous queen learns from her Magic Mirror that Snow White is still alive, she transforms herself into an old hag beggar woman, and offers Snow White a bite from a poisoned apple. Snow White enters into a deep sleep (within a glass-and-gold coffin) until she is awakened from the sleeping death by Prince Charming's loving kiss. A timeless classic with sing-along-songs, including: "Heigh Ho," "Whistle While You Work," and "Someday My Prince Will Come."

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Stage Door"

© 1937 RKO Radio Pictures − All right reserved.

Stage Door

D: Gregory La Cava

A film adaptation based on the Edna Ferber/George S. Kaufman play about a New York boarding house filled with hopeful and aspiring theater actresses (many were soon-to-be famous stars of the 30s and 40s). An entertaining Hollywood backstage, behind-the-scenes comedy/drama of the lives and ambitions of actresses and stage hopefuls who live together in a theatrical boarding house. They include the privileged and wealthy debutante Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn) who was trying to make it on her own without the help of her family's money, her rival and sarcastic tough-cookie roommate Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), and high-strung depressed actress Kaye Hamilton (Andrea Leeds). Jean allows leering producer mogul Anthony Powell (Adolphe Menjou) to take her out only to insure getting a part, but Terry gets the lead because her father has backed and financed the production without her knowledge, causing despair and jealousy among the others. With great, sharp-tongued dialogue and a realistic, almost all-girl cast.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "A Star Is Born"

© 1937 Selznick International Pictures − All right reserved.

A Star is Born

D: William A. Wellman

The first of three film adaptations, this non-musical version is one of the best of Hollywood's behind-the-scenes tragic dramas, featuring a star-crossed romance. The script borrows from the lives of real-life Hollywood failures, including John Gilbert, John Barrymore, and Wallace Reid. A successful but alcoholic, self-destructive, aging superstar actor Norman Maine (Fredric March) meets, falls in love with, and marries a charming, talented young newcomer/hopeful Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester (Janet Gaynor). With his influence, she is introduced to powerful Hollywood figures including studio producer/director Oliver Niles (Adolphe Menjou). After being discovered, her career blossoms and she enjoys a meteoric rise to stardom, contrasted with Norman's slow decline, unemployable status, and self-destruction, sinking deeper into alcoholism. Eventually, he meet a despairing suicidal end after visiting a sanitarium and jail.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Stella Dallas"

© 1937 Samuel Goldwyn Company − All right reserved.

Stella Dallas

D: King Vidor

A classic and popular dramatic tearjerker about clashing social values and a devoted mother's sacrificial love - the best version of three filmed attempts. It was also a best-selling novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, a play (without a Broadway run), and a radio serial that played for 18 years. The film is the touching portrayal of an upwardly mobile, small-town, good-hearted mill-girl named Stella Martin (Barbara Stanwyck) who marries a down-on-his-luck heir Stephen Dallas (John Boles). She entered into money when he became a successful businessman, but is never able to escape her vulgar, hard-living and coarse middle-class ways. She loses her husband for a former love, the widowed, society-bred Helen Morrison (Barbara O'Neil). She then gives up their daughter Laurel (Anne Shirley) to her wealthy father, in a supreme act of self-sacrifice and selflessness. She affirms she will not get in the way of her daughter's happiness or her social and romantic aspirations (allowing Laurel to marry into a wealthy family). The tear-jerking ending is unforgettable, as she watches her daughter's happy wedding from afar.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "They Won't Forget"

© − All right reserved.

They Won't Forget

D: Mervyn LeRoy

The setting was the small (fictional) Southern town of Flodden, Georgia in the 1920s, where townsfolk (especially Civil War veterans) are preparing for the annual Confederate Memorial Day parade. The film opens with the murder of Buxton Business College student Mary Clay (this was the debut film of Lana Turner - a bit part), whose body is found by janitor Tump Redwine (Clinton Rosemond) in the school's basement. Present close to the murder scene were Mary's shorthand teacher Robert Perry Hale (Edward Norris) - an unhappily-transplanted Yankee Northerner, the frightened Redwine, and Dean Buxton (E. Alyn Warren). Ambitious D.A. Andy Griffin (Claude Rains) sees the case as his ticket to the Senate - and he immediately suspects Hale, who is arrested. Detective Pindar (Granville Bates) is assigned to investigate, while weak defense attorney Michael Gleason (Otto Kruger) is selected to defend Hale, who is viciously subjected to anti-northern prejudice, local anger and hate, fueled by reporter Bill Brock (Allyn Joslyn) and Mary's vengeful redneck brothers who want a lynching. [The story was based on the notoriously lawless Leo Frank lynching in Marietta, Georgia in 1915 after the murder of Mary Phagan.] During the trial - a gross miscarriage of justice with many instances of perjury, the histrionic Griffin presents 'circumstantial evidence' to vilify Hale as the guilty one: (1) there was blood on Hale's coat (Hale claimed it was from a shave on Main St., although the barber lied and denied it), (2) the unfortunate fact that Hale was planning to quit and leave town at the time of the murder. Hale took the stand and pleaded his innocence, but was not cross-examined. The jury swiftly brought a guilty verdict (although one juror wavered briefly), affirmed by the Supreme Court, although Governor Mountford (Paul Everton) commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment. The train carrying Hale to prison was stopped by a lynch mob (led by the Clay brothers) - and Hale was hanged. Hale's guilt or innocence was never clarified.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.


 

TopperTopper

D: Norman Z. McLeod

A delightful comedy/fantasy that was followed by two sequels: Norman Z. McLeod's Topper Takes a Trip (1938) (without Cary Grant) and Roy Del Ruth's Topper Returns (1941), a 1953-1955 TV series with Leo G. Carroll as the title character, and two TV movies, Topper (1973) (with Roddy McDowall) and Topper (1979) (with Jack Warden). It tells about a free-spirited, wealthy, fun-loving couple named George (Cary Grant) and Marion Kerby (Constance Bennett), with wealth, fast cars, and excessive partying. The happy-go-lucky married duo are killed in an auto accident when they crash their roadster into a tree. Before they are granted entrance to heaven, however, they have to perform a good deed for their stuffy bank president - to teach mild-mannered proper Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) to liven up, relax and enjoy life's pleasures. They appear at will as haunting invisible ghosts, often at awkward moments, but are only seen by Topper - taking pleasure at embarrassing him in humorous predicaments. In one hilarious scene, the Kerby's helped the drunken Topper down a hotel staircase and through the lobby.

 

Poster for the movie "Way Out West"

© 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Way Out West

D: James W. Horne

Possibly the best Laurel and Hardy comedy (with tremendous slapstick), in a western setting. Stan Laurel (Himself) and Oliver Hardy (Himself) agree to deliver a gold mine deed and map for deceased prospector friend/partner Seymore "Sy" Roberts (Tex Driscoll). They travel west to Brushwood Gulch to give the rightful inheritance to the prospector's daughter Mary Roberts (Rosina Lawrence), but along the way, a crooked bartender Mickey Finn (James Finlayson) learns of their mission and persuades his floozy barmaid/girlfriend Lola Marcel (Sharon Lynne) to steal the map and deed. When the two learn they were deceived, they have to get the map back and rescue the girl. Includes a delightful soft-shoe dance sequence of the comedic pair to "At the Ball, That's All," the singing of "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine," a hilarious chase scene to get the deed, Stan's tickling-to-death scene, the attempt to sneak into the saloon using Dinah the Mule, and the concluding song: "We're Going to Go Way Down to Dixie."

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

 

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