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Mutiny On The Bounty (1935) Review


Very Good
An especially grandiose production for its era, the first production of Mutiny on the Bounty sailed into history with Charles Laughton as the evil Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian, the officer who joined the crew against him. While Mutiny takes an unfortunate 90 minutes to get exciting, its gripping third act makes the movie totally worthwhile. And while Gable is memorable in his role, it's Laughton that owns the show as the despicable captain you can't help but hate.

The film follows the classic book's story faithfully, as Bligh and his men sail for Tahiti (around Africa) in search of breadfruit trees. Eventually they get there, mingle with natives, go primal, and load up the old HMS Bounty. But first officer Fletcher Christian doesn't stand idly by for Bligh's abuse and improprieties. On the way home, Christian rallies the troops against the old boss, plopping him and his loyals on a dinghy and setting them adrift. Torn between the two leaders is midshipman Byam (Franchot Tone), the remainder of the film concerns Bligh's noble fight to survive without rations and with the slightest level of hope, while Christian takes the boat back to Tahiti (where the island women are to die for) and eventually faces court martial back in England. It's an epic adventure that's still imitated today.

Continue reading: Mutiny On The Bounty (1935) Review

Grand Hotel Review


Good
"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) of the Berlin hotel that serves as the setting for the Oscar-winning 1932 film. The film, like the hotel, is packed with opulence, and the cast was, at the time, the highest concentration of starpower the screen had ever seen: Greta Garbo as the dancer Grusinskaya whose cold surface is softened by a budding romance with Baron Geigern (John Barrymore); Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein, a critically ill man on an end-of-his-life spree and a former employee of the company owned by the industrialist Preysing (Wallace Beery), whom he dislikes; Joan Crawford as the staff typist who takes up with the sick man; and a supporting cast -- Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Ferdinand Gottschalk -- whose fame has dimmed today, but who represented the cream of the crop in a Depression-stricken America.

In 1932, however, the sum was even greater than its parts, and Grand Hotel was such an event that the New York Times review had as much to do with the chaos of the opening-night crowd as with the film itself. Based on the hit Vicki Baum novel, the film introduced the so-called portmanteau genre (Dinner at Eight was the most famed of the follow-ups) in which the lives and stories of a group of diverse people are brought together by circumstances and emerge changed. It also featured Garbo's most repeated line ("I want to be alone"), and its lavish production makes it a touchstone in MGM and Hollywood history.

Continue reading: Grand Hotel Review

The Good Earth Review


Very Good
Imagine the uproar if The Good Earth had been made recently. Hell, people cried foul of Memoirs of a Geisha because it used Chinese actors to play Japanese roles. The Good Earth's stars were born in California and Germany.

Shockingly, surprisingly, stars Paul Muni and Luise Rainer pull it off. He's Wang Lung, a simple Chinese farmer. She's O-Lan, his even more simple wife. This adaptation of the Pearl Buck novel has the pair surviving through an epic struggle against poverty and nature, building their farm up from nothing (with O-Lan helping to bring in the harvest the night before she gives birth), then losing everything, slumming on the streets of the city, finding a cache of jewels during a riot, building it all up again, and facing a family crisis when Wang Lung decides to buy a second, younger wife. Hey, it's old world China. In the end, our heroes have to do battle against a plague of locusts. Locusts!

Continue reading: The Good Earth Review

The Broadway Melody Review


Good
Hollywood still manages to regurgitate The Broadway Melody every year. The story is timeless and, when they make it today, painfully simple.

Two sisters (Anita Page and Bessie Love) are vaudeville performers trying to break into Broadway -- and when they get their chance, love gets in the way. Soon enough a love quadrangle has formed, as class struggles and a variety of misunderstandings rear their heads.

Continue reading: The Broadway Melody Review

A Night At The Opera Review


Excellent
One of the Marx brothers' greatest films (along with Duck Soup), A Night at the Opera has awfully little opera for a film that purports to be just that. No matter, it's still hysterically funny -- the highlight being when the boys try to pack into a cruise ship stateroom, including their enormous footlockers. And the verbal gags come so fast and furious it's actually hard to keep up. Oh yeah, there's a story about an opera singer, too: Kitty Carlisle is memorable as Groucho's charge, who he futilely tries to turn into a star.

Grand Hotel Review


Good
"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) of the Berlin hotel that serves as the setting for the Oscar-winning 1932 film. The film, like the hotel, is packed with opulence, and the cast was, at the time, the highest concentration of starpower the screen had ever seen: Greta Garbo as the dancer Grusinskaya whose cold surface is softened by a budding romance with Baron Geigern (John Barrymore); Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein, a critically ill man on an end-of-his-life spree and a former employee of the company owned by the industrialist Preysing (Wallace Beery), whom he dislikes; Joan Crawford as the staff typist who takes up with the sick man; and a supporting cast -- Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Ferdinand Gottschalk -- whose fame has dimmed today, but who represented the cream of the crop in a Depression-stricken America.

In 1932, however, the sum was even greater than its parts, and Grand Hotel was such an event that the New York Times review had as much to do with the chaos of the opening-night crowd as with the film itself. Based on the hit Vicki Baum novel, the film introduced the so-called portmanteau genre (Dinner at Eight was the most famed of the follow-ups) in which the lives and stories of a group of diverse people are brought together by circumstances and emerge changed. It also featured Garbo's most repeated line ("I want to be alone"), and its lavish production makes it a touchstone in MGM and Hollywood history.

Continue reading: Grand Hotel Review

Mutiny On The Bounty Review


Very Good
An especially grandiose production for its era, the first production of Mutiny on the Bounty sailed into history with Charles Laughton as the evil Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian, the officer who joined the crew against him. While Mutiny takes an unfortunate 90 minutes to get exciting, its gripping third act makes the movie totally worthwhile. And while Gable is memorable in his role, it's Laughton that owns the show as the despicable captain you can't help but hate.

The film follows the classic book's story faithfully, as Bligh and his men sail for Tahiti (around Africa) in search of breadfruit trees. Eventually they get there, mingle with natives, go primal, and load up the old HMS Bounty. But first officer Fletcher Christian doesn't stand idly by for Bligh's abuse and improprieties. On the way home, Christian rallies the troops against the old boss, plopping him and his loyals on a dinghy and setting them adrift. Torn between the two leaders is midshipman Byam (Franchot Tone), the remainder of the film concerns Bligh's noble fight to survive without rations and with the slightest level of hope, while Christian takes the boat back to Tahiti (where the island women are to die for) and eventually faces court martial back in England. It's an epic adventure that's still imitated today.

Continue reading: Mutiny On The Bounty Review

The Crowd Review


Excellent
The crowd laughs with you always, but it cries with you for only a day.

Such is the sentiment of this masterwork of the silent era -- perhaps the best silent film ever made and undoubtedly the most existential. Heart-wrenching, The Crowd is the story of life in the big city of New York during the 1920s. Vehemently realistic, the film portrays life as hard and with few rewards. James Murray makes the perfect Everyman, who sees the ups and, well, mostly the downs with his wife Mary, played by Eleanor Boardman. (Ironically, Murray became an alcoholic after this film, and died in a fall nine years later, destitute.)

Continue reading: The Crowd Review

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Irving Thalberg Movies

Grand Hotel Movie Review

Grand Hotel Movie Review

"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes...

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Grand Hotel Movie Review

Grand Hotel Movie Review

"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes...

Mutiny on the Bounty Movie Review

Mutiny on the Bounty Movie Review

An especially grandiose production for its era, the first production of Mutiny on the Bounty...

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