Lawless Valley

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This is my fifth George O'Brien Western if I've counted correctly.  In most of them he plays an undercover lawman, but in this one he plays a wrongly convicted parolee. Spoiler alert: there is an undercover lawman in the movie.

Plot: Larry Rhodes has been framed and unjustly convicted of stage robbery. His father was murdered and it was made to look like suicide. Larry gets out of jail early and sets out to make things right.

Chill Wills is in this movie, in apparently his first solo venture away from the Avalon Boys. He plays a feckless deputy. He was later the voice of Francis the Talking Mule.

Swing!

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This is a movie with a black cast created for black audiences. I have seen just a couple of these. The appealing thing is that these movies are pretty much the only films of the time that don't portray black people solely as maids or porters acting in a very stereotypical way. Otherwise, the acting in this movie is pretty weak. The musical numbers, however, are very entertaining. It is a musical drama comedy, about how women get involved with "no good" men. Actually there are some "no good" women here too.

I could say something about the politically incorrect way men and women occasionally treat each other in this movie, but I really want to talk about this one exchange...

To set up the situation: there is a Broadway swing musical being produced by and starring Negroes and the lead has just been replaced with our heroine. The show is good but is in financial difficulty. A Broadway theater owner, the only white person in the movie, shows up to bail out the production. He gives the producer an impassioned speech like so:

You don't need to go trekking off to Atlantic City to open. I'll put a show on in my theater as it is. Now I know just what you're going to say but let me do the talking this time. Now you've worked hard; all producers do that. Now you've got a fair show, but with one exception in your show that you're all afraid of (with the possible exception of Miss Powell here) it's just another colored show, and it'll last about as long on Broadway as the average one that's been brought down from Harlem has been lasting. But you've got in this show one spot that is a constellation. And that one spot is the new woman that you just rushed in at the last minute, Mandy Jenkins. She is the most original and versatile person that I've ever seen. With her in a long term contract you've got the biggest colored possibility since Williams and Walker. And it's because of her and the spot she is in this show that I am ready and willing to open on Broadway without even an out-of-town tryout. And to show you how much I think of it, I am ready and willing to assume all financial obligations of the show from now on and lay in your hands a check for ten thousand dollars advance on your share. And the check can be certified. I'll use the fifty square feet over the top of my theater for the biggest electric sign on Broadway,

This is followed by what caused me to spit take...

My only stipulation is... that the name of the show be changed to Mandy Jenkins in 'Ah Lub's Dat Man!'

And just in case you thought you misheard, it was followed by the new title card for the show:

The Invisible Menace

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An army private smuggles his new wife onto an offshore island military base so that they can have a honeymoon. From there this film turns into a murder mystery, with Boris Karloff as the chief suspect. Boris Karloff plays an engineer, not a monster.

I was googling around about this movie and was struck by descriptions of the female lead, Marie Wilson, who plays a ditsy blonde. Although it wasn't obvious to me from this movie, she must have been built like a brick house. Practically every newspaper article about her uses the words 'buxom', 'endowed', or 'curvaceous'. One of my favorites was 'decollete'.

Familiar face: Frank Faylen who played Ernie in It's a Wonderful Life.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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This is a David O. Selznick Production, but Gone with the Wind it ain't. It is in Technicolor, so it's got that going for it. Otherwise, if you are familiar with your basic Tom Sawyer anecdotes about whitewashing fences and Injun Joe in the caves, there is nothing much to gain from this movie.

It has Walter Brennan as Muff Potter.

Bulldog Drummond's Revenge

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This is listed on IMDB as a 1937 movie, but it was really released in 1938 (discounting a New York only premier). Nothing much different here from the other Bulldog Drummond movies I've watched. My favorite parts still involve Drummond's valet, Tenny. He cracks me up.

Briefly, there is a new dangerous explosive called 'Haxonite' which has been purloined by the bad guys. There is a chase from London towards Paris on the "boat train" or "train ferry".  Drummond always seems to be working his way slowly toward marriage.

Too Much Johnson

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I didn't like this, but then it's not actually a movie. This is some recovered work-in-progress film from an uncompleted Orson Welles project. Here is a link to the TCM page about it.

I did like the footage of the guy running around knocking everybody's hats off.

Little Miss Thoroughbred

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Gambler 'Nails' Morgan (John Litel) grudgingly becomes the not-so-legal guardian of orphan Janet (Janet Chapman) who he believes brings him good luck.

I read some contemporary newspaper accounts of this movie and its child star, and it is seems that the studio was pushing hard for Janet Chapman to be the next Shirley Temple. Janet was cute and small for her age (and she was only five), and Shirley was getting long in the tooth at the ripe age of ten. One of Shirley's big movies when she was younger was "Little Miss Marker", also set around horse racing.

 
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