Prairie Moon

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Prairie Moon with Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette.  Gene Autry plays a singing cattle herder and part-time deputy sheriff named Gene Autry.  When childhood-friend-turned-Chicago-gangster 'Legs' Barton dies in a shootout at the Barton family ranch, Gene agrees to care for his three sons.  He sends Smiley to fetch them from Chicago despite their lack of enthusiasm for ranch life.  Gene must also break up a cattle rustling gang that is using the Barton ranch to hide stolen cattle.

Brother Rat

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Brother Rat tells the escapades of three roommates at VMI during their senior year.  Wayne Morris plays Billy Randolph, the cocky ladykilling rulebreaker, Eddie Albert is 'Bing' Edwards, the star athlete who is secretly married, and Ronald Reagan plays Dan Crawford, the more reasonable of the three, who tries (unsuccessfully) to quell their reckless impulses.  Their respective love interests are Joyce (Priscilla Lane), Kate (Jane Bryan), and Claire (Jane Wyman).

'Rats' are freshmen just like at Georgia Tech (my own college).  'Brother Rats' are the men from your freshmen class that have accompanied you through your entire school career.  This was the movie version of a successful Broadway play (written by VMI grads), which was apparently a little racier.  Ronald Reagan played opposite Jane Wyman whom he would marry in a couple of years.  This was Eddie Albert's first film, reprising his role from Broadway.

Familiar face: Louise Beavers plays a maid.  I saw her recently as Mamie in Holiday Inn.


Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman



Louise Beavers and Priscilla Lane

Vivacious Lady

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Vivacious Lady with James Stewart and Ginger Rogers.  On at trip to New York, Peter Morgan (Jimmy Stewart) meets and marries night club entertainer Francey Brent (Ginger Rogers).  They return to Peter's hometown, a small upstate college town named Old Sharon, where he is a professor and his father is president of the university.  Peter can't figure out how to break the news of his marriage to his very conservative father and for the next several days he and Francey must hide the fact that they are married.

The lifeblood of this movie is in throwing the amazing cast into awkward situations and watching them interact. The plot stays mired in "we need to tell my father we're married".

Peter's father is played by Charles Coburn who is so familiar to me that it surprises me that I can't find a single role of his in IMDB that stands out in my mind.  Peter's mother is played by Beulah Bondi who was Ma Bailey in  It's a Wonderful Life.  Other familiar faces: Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn, Hattie McDaniel, Willie Best.

The only dancing that Ginger Rogers does is to teach Ma Bailey the Big Apple.  This is the most commonly mentioned dance in MCMXXXVIII movies.  I should try to go back and tag every movie where it occurs.


Peter and Francey are accidentally booked into an already occupied drawing room on the train back to Old Sharon










Francey has a fight with Peter's hometown "fiancee"










Hattie realizes she's heard a ribald remark










Franklin Pangborn is not a hotel clerk, he's an apartment clerk










Learning the Big Apple

Love Finds Andy Hardy

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Love Finds Andy Hardy with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.  Judge Hardy's son Andy (Mickey Rooney) wants to buy a car so he can drive his girl Polly (Anne Rutherford) to the Christmas dance in style.  He comes up short on funds, then finds out that Polly has to go to her grandparents' house for the holidays and can't go to the dance.  His friend Beezy is also going away and needs a loyal friend to "date up" his girl Cynthia (Lana Turner) to keep legitimate rivals away.  Andy agrees to do this in exchange for the eight bucks he still needs to buy the car.  Meanwhile young Betsy (Judy Garland) moves in next door while visiting her grandparents.
 


Even in December they manage to show Lana Turner in a bathing suit






Swing Your Lady

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Swing Your Lady with Humphrey Bogart.  Humphrey Bogart plays a wrestling manager/promoter touring the country with Joe 'Hercules' Skopapolous, setting up local matches to build up a reputation for Joe.  He finds himself in the Ozarks unable to find a suitable local challenger and ends up scheduling a match with a lady blacksmith.

This movie has all the nice little tidbits of Zeitgeist that I look for in the MCMXXXVIII movies.  This was a movie version of a popular Broadway play of the same name and apparently played on the popularity of 'hillbilly' humor at the time.  It stars a group known as "The Weaver Brothers and Elviry" who were a popular vaudeville hillbilly act and who starred in a whole series of movies for Republic Pictures after this film.  Joe Skopapolus was played by actor Nat Pendleton who was a former Olympic and pro wrestler.  One of his opponents in this movie was played by Daniel Boone 'Whiskers' Savage, a real professional wrestler who was in no other movies.  The big wrestling match in this movie was scheduled for Decoration Day, which we would call Memorial Day.

Familiar faces: Allen Jenkins and Penny Singleton (who sings and dances).  Also a small appearance by Ronald Reagan.



Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan

Racket Busters

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Racket Busters with Humphrey Bogart and George Brent.  Political cronies of known racketeer John Martin (Humphrey Bogart) sweep the city elections, so the Governor appoints Special Prosecutor Hugh Allison (Walter Abel) to combat the expected increase in racketeering.  Martin begins his multi-step plan to take control of New York's food distribution industry by strong-arming the truckmen into joining his new "Manhattan Trucking Association".  Meanwhile Special Prosecutor Allison (based on Thomas E. Dewey) cannot make any progress fighting these racketeers because no one will speak out against them.  George Brent plays Denny Jordan, a truckman who is first respected by his peers for defying the racketeers and then shunned by them when he joins the new association in order to protect his wife.

I need to mention Allen Jenkins who plays 'Skeets' Wilson, Jordan's best friend.  I should have been listing him in my "familiar faces" section but I was afraid that he was only familiar to me because he has been in so many MCMXXXVIII movies.  He usually plays a run-of-the-mill mug, but this time he actually ends up as the hero, displaying more honor than George Brent's character.  Gladys, Skeets's fiancée in this film, is played by Penny Singleton.



Black shirt and white tie means "gangster".









Penny Singleton and Allen Jenkins

Men Are Such Fools

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Men Are Such Fools with Priscilla Lane.  Ambitious ad woman Linda Lawrence (Priscilla Lane) rises from secretary to copy writer to account executive in her advertising firm, all the while fending off advances from her male coworkers.  One suitor from another ad agency, Jimmy Hall (Wayne Morris) is so persistent that she falls in love and agrees to marry him.  She insists on continuing work after marriage, at least until her current ad campaign is finished, but the amorous advances of coworker Harry Galleon (Humphrey Bogart) provokes such jealousy from her husband that she quits.  Her business ambition is not so easily thwarted and she tries to satisfy it vicariously through Jimmy's career.  Jimmy doesn't share her drive and it seems as if their marriage cannot survive the friction.

I know it doesn't sound like it but this was a very light-hearted movie.  It just made me uncomfortable.  It was like watching the AMC series "Mad Men" only without the sinister undercurrent surrounding the politically incorrect behavior.  Here is what I saw: 1) Office romance was an inextricable part of office life - it wasn't even something that anyone objected to.  2) Women did not work after they got married.  3) When pursuing a girl, "no" didn't mean "no".  There was also a casual disregard for marital fidelity (and a not entirely casual disregard for marriage at all from Humphrey Bogart).

Familiar faces: Penny Singleton as Linda's best friend.



Jimmy convinces Linda to accept his marriage proposal by parking on the train tracks.







Jimmy convinces Linda to set a wedding date by holding her under water.








What does the phrase "the Frenzied Fifties" mean in the context of 1938?  Is it referring to 50th through 59th Street?

Crime School

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Crime School with Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, and the Dead End Kids.  Neighborhood delinquents Frankie, Squirt, Spike, et al (The Dead End Kids) almost kill their pawnshop 'fence' in a disagreement over the payment for stolen goods.  They are caught and sent to a corrupt reform school with a reputation for graduating hardened criminals.  Luckily for them there is new Deputy Commissioner, Mark Braden (Humphrey Bogart).  Braden sweeps into the reform school the day after the Kids arrive and cleans house of the crooked superintendent and most of the bad guards.  He takes over operations and slowly wins the respect of the Kids (and starts to date Frankie's pretty sister, Sue (Gale Page)).  Unfortunately the corrupt head guard has managed to survive the house cleaning and works to undermine Braden and ruin the Kids' chances of parole.

This is the second of five 1938 Bogart movies that TCM showed as part of a Bogie weekend. Busy fellow.



Gale Page and Humphrey Bogart


The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

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The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse with Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.  Edward G. Robinson plays Dr. T. S. Clitterhouse, a physician who has a theory that a criminal's occupational stress causes physical changes in him.  In order to test his theory he needs to perform physical examinations of criminals at various stages during the commission of their crimes.  His difficulty finding subjects leads him to commit crimes himself, taking his own vital signs along the way.  In his calm, analytical way, he's actually very good at crime.  He ends up as the boss of a local burglary gang, although next-in-command 'Rocks' Valentine (Humphrey Bogart) is not overjoyed at this.  Clitterhouse is having such a high time that he takes a sabbatical from his medical practice to lead his gang on a crime spree, taking blood samples from his men after every job.  He gathers enough research data to write a book.  When 'Rocks' tries to kill him, he decides that his research is finished and returns to his practice.  His evil past follows him, though, and events culminate with him being put on trial for murder.  His best defense? Insanity!

Familiar faces:
Gale Page (the only Lane Sister who wasn't a Lane) as Nurse Randolph.
Irving Bacon, who I mistakenly thought was Tom Fadden (the toll keeper from It's a Wonderful Life) when I wrote about Hard to Get.  Here he was again and since he was actually in the credits (as Foreman of Jury) I was able to positively identify him.  The two look alike to me.



Nurse Randolph discovers stolen jewels in Clitterhouse's medical bag

A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen and Gene Lockhart.  Miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) has no patience for Christmas or those who celebrate it.  He has a change of heart after being visited by four spirits (Marley plus the three ghosts of Christmases) who remind him what he is missing.  Gene Lockhart plays Bob Cratchit, Gene's wife Kathleen Lockhart plays Mrs. Cratchit, and Gene's preteen daughter June Lockhart plays one of his daughters, Belinda.  Leo G. Carroll plays the ghost of Marley.
 


The Cratchits are frightened of the suddenly generous Scrooge (June Lockhart on the left).






Leo G. Carroll as Marley

The Adventures of Marco Polo

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The Adventures of Marco Polo with Gary Cooper.  Venetian explorer Marco Polo (Gary Cooper) travels to China to secure a trade agreement with Kublai Khan.  There he discovers spaghetti, gunpowder, and coal.  He also woos the Emperor's daughter.  Kublai Khan sends Polo to spy on the leader of a rebellious province.  Kaidu, the leader of this province, catches Polo and forces him to distract his hectoring wife so that Kaidu can make whoopee with a servant girl.
 
Familiar faces: Basil Rathbone as Khan's evil advisor; Alan Hale as Kaidu the rebel; Binnie Barnes as Kaidu's wife, and Lana Turner as the amorous servant girl.  Also, H.B. Warner (Mr. Gower from It's a Wonderful Life) plays the Chinese man who introduces Marco Polo to spaghetti and gunpowder.



Alan Hale and Lana Turner

Block-Heads

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Block-Heads with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Stan and Ollie are doughboys together in WWI.  When the rest of the platoon is to charge forward, Stan is given orders to stay and guard the trench.  He stays at his post for the next twenty years until he is discovered and returned to the States.  When Ollie discovers that Stan has returned he fetches his old friend from the Soldiers' Home and brings him home.  Several dozen sight gags later the movie ends.

In this scene, after Stan has tried to light the oven and failed (but left the gas on), Ollie has gone to light the oven himself.

Hard to Get

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Hard to Get with Dick Powell and Olivia de Havilland.  Maggie Richards (Olivia de Havilland) is the daughter of a wealthy Park Avenue family.  In a pique she declares that she will not be accompanying the family to their summer house in Newport and takes off for a spur of the moment drive.  On a country road, she finds herself in need of gas and stops at an auto court managed by Bill Davis (Dick Powell).  She is outraged to learn that the $3.48 (fourteen gallons of gas and a quart of oil) she owes cannot just be "charged" to her father.  Bill insists that she work off her debt by cleaning the ten cabins of the motor lodge.  She does so, but not willingly, and she vows to get revenge for this humiliation.  She returns the following day full of apologies and woos Bill, setting up a dinner date. She pretends to be a maid in her Park Avenue house and learns that Bill is an aspiring architect with a business idea.  With this knowledge she sets him up for a series of humiliating business pitches to her father, Ben Richards (Charles Willinger), and his friend and competitor, John Atwater (Thurston Hall).  To everyone's surprise and despite getting the bum's rush over and over, Bill never ever EVER gives up. Until, that is, he learns that he is the target of a joke and washes his hands of the lot of them.  Then Ben Richards and Atwater cannot rest until they get a piece of Bill's business plan, and Ben must patch up Bill and Maggie's romance as well.





Dick Powell and Olivia de Havilland







Dick Powell sings "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" and later dresses in blackface and does a Jolson impersonation.

Familiar faces:
Penny Singleton (from the Blondie movies) as Maggie's personal maid
Melville Cooper (Sheriff of Nottingham from The Adventures of Robin Hood) as Mr. Richards' valet
Tom Fadden* (the toll keeper from It's a Wonderful Life) as a gas station attendant
Looks like I was wrong about this one.  It was Irving Bacon.

 *IMDb doesn't even list this one!

Man from Music Mountain

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Man from Music Mountain with Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette.  Gene Autry plays a singing cattle rancher named Gene Autry.  Evil businessman John Scanlon (Ivan Miller) concocts a real estate scam to sell worthless property in an abandoned ghost town, on the promise that it will soon have electricity from the the just completed Boulder Dam.  To sweeten the deal, he includes an interest in a worthless community gold mine.  Gene knows that there are no plans to build power lines to the area and that the mine is worthless, but he cannot convince the naive people moving in from the city.  Gene decides to scam the scammer by seeding the mine with real gold, but inadvertently convinces even more people to move into town.  This gold rush causes the power company to change their plans and run power lines to the town.  Just when Gene has convinced Scanlon to buy back his worthless mine, real gold is uncovered.  Gene must then rush to stop the sale.  In this movie Autry was much more dishonest than the bad guy, but in the end the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

Familiar face: Dick Elliot as a representative of the Southwest Water & Power Company, who played the man on the porch in It's a Wonderful Life ("Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death!")



Smiley opens an electric appliance shop

Garden of the Moon

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Garden of the Moon with Pat O'Brien, Margaret Lindsay, and John Payne.  John Quinn (Pat O'Brien) is the manager of the hottest nightclub in L.A., "Garden of the Moon" in the Royal Hotel.  He rules the place with an iron fist and an attention to details.  When his upcoming headliner, Rudy Vallee, is involved in a bus accident, he is convinced to hire an unknown orchestra by his publicity manager, Toni Blake (Margaret Lindsay).  This new band is led by Don Vincente (John Payne), a talented musician and band leader who refuses to kowtow to Quinn's demands and standards of behavior.  Before Vincente can perform his first number he is given his two weeks notice.  Knowing that Quinn is a sucker for visiting royalty, Toni and Vincente trick Quinn into believing a Maharajah from India is coming to see his old college buddy, Vincente.  The fraud barely lasts the evening and Quinn once again fires Vincente, only to be told by the hotel owners that he is to hire Vincente for a six month contract.  Quinn uses bullying and trickery to alternately force Vincente to leave or convince him to stay.

It wasn't until the visiting Maharajah bit that I realized I had seen this movie before.  Pat O'Brien has the best role with his fast-talking, totalitarian Quinn.  Familiar faces in this movie are Penny Singleton as Quinn's secretary, Melville Cooper as the head waiter, and Jerry Colonna as one of the band members.


Pat O'Brien and Margaret Lindsay

Jerry Colonna

Island in the Sky

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Island in the Sky with Gloria Stuart and Michael Whalen.  Assistant District Attorney Michael Fraser (Michael Whalen) chooses the romantic rooftop nightclub "Island in the Sky" to propose to his secretary, Julie Hayes (Gloria Stuart).  Their wedding plans must be delayed, however, when a murder takes place nearby and the victim's son is the obvious suspect. Although the son is convicted, Julie believes he is innocent and works to clear his name and find the real killer.

This is a murder mystery with lots of laughs and lots of familiar faces.  Gloria Stuart was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the older version of Rose in Titanic.  The nightclub owner is played by Leon Ames, whom I know best as The Colonel, Mr. Ed's neighbor.  The DA's policeman sidekick is played by Paul Hurst, who was the Yankee deserter that Scarlett shot in Gone With the Wind.


Western Jamboree

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Western Jamboree with Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette.  Gene Autry plays a singing ranch foreman named Gene Autry.  The villains in this movie are HELIUM rustlers! (I kid you not).  In a separate plot, Gene helps old Dad Haskell impress his daughter and her fiancé by letting them think Dad owns the ranch.  Smiley Burnette as Frog Millhouse is obsessed with balloons, which fits in nicely with the helium plot.


Gun Law

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Gun Law with George O'Brien and Ray Whitley.   U.S. Marshal Tom O'Malley (George O'Brien) is on his way to clean up the crime-ridden town of Gunsight, Arizona.  On route, notorious gunslinger "The Raven" gets the drop on him.  Raven makes O'Malley exchange clothes with him and takes the Marshal's badge and assignment papers, intending to impersonate O'Malley. Before he can make it to town, Raven poisons himself by drinking from a contaminated watering hole, dies, and thus O'Malley is able to retrieve his belongings.  The Marshal also finds a letter of introduction Raven is carrying to a local crime boss in Gunsight. So O'Malley gets the bright idea of impersonating Raven and cracking this crime ring from the inside.  Once in Gunsight and establishing himself as Raven to the bad guys, he is informed that his mission is to kill the new Marshal that is due in town.  After using his U.S. Marshal badge as proof that he has already dispatched O'Malley, the bad guys get the bright idea that Raven/O'Malley should impersonate O'Malley as the town's new Marshal.  He does this but turns out not to be everything that the bad guys desire in a crooked lawman, so they start a rumor that O'Malley/Raven/O'Malley is really Raven impersonating O'Malley.

Ray Whitley plays Sam McGee, a singing waiter who is really an undercover deputy Marshal.  Ray Whitley wrote Back in the Saddle Again.






"BAD WATER"

A Yank at Oxford

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A Yank at Oxford with Robert Taylor, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Vivien Leigh.  Lee Sheridan (Robert Taylor) is the star athlete of his local college and the celebrated hero of his small hometown (in no small part because his father owns the newspaper and prints headlines of his every accomplishment).  He is given the opportunity to continue his education at Oxford where he has no doubt he will again be in the athletic spotlight.  At Oxford he presents himself as overweening and arrogant and immediately becomes the target of scorn and practical jokes by the indigenous students.  To their dismay, he is as good an athlete as he claims and soon becomes their best track team member and "stroke" on the rowing team. His refusal to adopt a proper Oxford attitude eventually leads to a long standing animosity with one of his fellow athletes, Paul Beaumont (Griffith Jones).  Things are also complicated by Lee's romance with Paul's sister Molly (Maureen O'Sullivan) and Paul's illicit affair with Elsa Craddock (Vivien Leigh), the wife of a local bookshop owner.

Sheridan is quite the ladies' man.  Upon first meeting Molly he asks her if she ever finds the time to "fling woo".  He also flirts a bit with Vivien Leigh, although she flirts a bit with every man in this movie.  Vivien Leigh steals every scene she is in, and her character was a little racy for these 1938 movies.  She is a married women unashamedly on the prowl to fling some woo with the students of Oxford.  In the end her husband finds out about her affairs with students and decides to move his bookshop to Aldershot, home of the British army, where they will be convenient to the officer's club.

Also in this movie: Lionel Barrymore and Edmund Gwenn.




Vivien Leigh: "I believe you're pulling my leg" 


Robert Taylor: "Well, I'm restraining myself as best I can." 

Hold That Kiss

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Hold That Kiss with Maureen O'Sullivan, Dennis O'Keefe, and Mickey Rooney. Junie Evans (Maureen O'Sullivan) and Tommy Bradford (Dennis O'Keefe) are both working class stiffs who cater to society clientele. Junie works for a couturier and Tommy is a salesman for a travel agency. They meet at a society wedding ball where Junie is helping the bride with her honeymoon ensemble and Tommy is hand delivering cruise tickets. They both pretend to be invited guests and each believes the other, aided by the fact that the absent-minded host also mistakes them for guests. Tommy has memorized countless tour descriptions ("When night falls and the shadows start to lengthen in glamorous old Singapore, one is taken back to the romantic days of Marco Polo...") and can pass himself off as a world traveller even though he has never been "east of the Statue of Liberty". Each is impressed that the other is more down to earth than the society snobs he (or she) usually encounters. They start to date, taking pains not to reveal their real social standing. In searching for a date venue that is inexpensive but still "society", Tommy decides to take Junie to the dog show, where they somehow end up as owners of the Saint Bernard that won Best in Show. Eventually the charade falls apart, and after initial anger at the mutual deception and some payback pranks, the couple plus dog ride off together. Mickey Rooney plays Junie's clarinet playing younger brother, Chick.

Someone in the movie once mentions the "Four Hundred" and once Tommy introduces himself as "T. Van Rensselaer Bradford". This is a reference to elite New York society in the late 1800's. It was said that there were only 400 people who mattered in New York society, and the Van Rensselaer family was part of this. A good article about "The Four Hundred" can be found here: http://edwardianpromenade.com/?p=839. Also in the movie they twice use the phrase "soup and fish" to refer to formal wear (once saying "a tux is no good, it's gotta be soup and fish!")


Blond Cheat

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Blond Cheat with Joan Fontaine. Life is good for Mike Ashburn (Derrick De Marney). He is a senior loan officer at the Trafalgar Loan Company in London and is engaged to the boss's daughter. When closing up after work he is approached by a last minute customer who wants to borrow £400. His collateral? A pair of diamond earrings his lovely niece, Julie (Joan Fontaine), is wearing.  After close scrutiny of both the niece and the earrings, Mike agrees. As the uncle quickly departs with the money, it turns out that the earrings can't be removed and Mike must keep the girl as collateral as well.  Realizing that he has been swindled, Mike determines not to let Julie abscond with his collateral and vows to keep her within his sight until the uncle returns. Predictably, this causes friction with his fiancée. It turns out that breaking up his engagement is actually the intended outcome of this ruse.

Merrily We Live

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Merrily We Live with Constance Bennett and Brian Aherne.  The upper class Kilbournes have just lost their family silver to the latest of the tramps that Emily Kilbourne (Billie Burke) has brought into the house and tried to reform.  The rest of the family and all of their servants are fed up with their matriarch's penchant for bringing these ne'er-do-wells into their midst.  When dusty and travel-worn Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) shows up at their door asking to use the phone they are all dismayed that Emily immediately offers him a room and a job as their chauffeur.  Of course, Rawlins is not quite the tramp they all assume. Despite his inauspicious beginning Rawlins charms them all (except the butler played by Alan Mowbray) and wins the heart of Geraldine 'Jerry' Kilbourne (Constance Bennett), the Kilbournes' adult daughter.

The quirky Kilbournes together with their household staff provide a very fertile environment for amusing situations.  Billie Burke is at her daffiest (and was nominated for an Oscar for this role).  The father is played by Clarence Kolb and is very funny as the blustery and authoritarian patriarch, but also has a couple of beautiful slapstick scenes.  The younger daughter, played by Bonita Granville, reminds me of the precocious younger daughter in The Philadelphia Story.  The staff includes Alan Mowbray and Patsy Kelly.  The whole movie is well-paced and witty.  Highly recommended.



(Willie Best is even credited in this one)

Arsène Lupin Returns

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Arsène Lupin Returns with Melvyn Douglas, Warren William, and Virginia Bruce.  Cocksure G-man Steve Emerson (Warren William) has been making headlines with his gun-blazing gang busting. At the height of his fame, he decides to move on to the more lucrative career of insurance detective.  His very first case is to investigate the near-theft of the de Grissac emerald.  Count de Grissac, his niece Lorraine (Virginia Bruce), and cousin have been robbed in their hotel room but the thief mistakenly took a replica of the emerald.  Clues in the room point to the famed gentleman thief of France, Arsène Lupin, who has been presumed dead.  The de Grissac family return to France, accompanied by Emerson.

Upon arrival in France, they are met by Rene Farrand (Melvyn Douglas), who is Lorraine's wealthy suitor (much to Emerson's chagrin).  While Farrand and Emerson vie for Lorraine's affections the de Grissac emerald is stolen, successfully this time, from the family safe.  On the safe is the identifying mark of Arsène Lupin, by which I mean Lupin has signed his name.  Not too subtle, this Lupin.

But we have learned that Farrand is actually the real Lupin but has gone straight.  So who is committing these crimes and implicating Lupin?  Emerson suspects that Farrand is Lupin, and Farrand must prove his innocence without admitting he used to be Lupin.  And both men must try to make time with Lorraine.

Arsène Lupin, gentleman burglar, is a character from a series of French mysteries contemporary to and compared to the Sherlock Holmes stories.  There was an earlier Arsène Lupin movie from MGM with John and Lionel Barrymore, hence the "returns".  The male leads carried this movie with both characters being suave and confident, but with Emerson as the American tending more to brute force and bravado and Farrand the European more to cleverness and trickery.  In one scene, to impress Lorraine, Emerson does hand stands and tears a phone book while Farrand does slight of hand with playing cards and coins.

Three Loves Has Nancy

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Three Loves Has Nancy with Janet Gaynor and Robert Montgomery.  Successful New York novelist Malcolm Niles finds his latest romantic relationship moving unexpectedly and disagreeably toward marriage.  In order to escape the noose he embarks on a nationwide book signing tour.  At a small southern book shop he meets homespun Nancy Briggs who is scheduled to be married that same day.  They do not hit it off.  Niles receives a telegram from his publisher that his fiancée-to-be, Victoria, has left town and it is safe to return to New York.  Nancy receives a letter from her actual fiancée, George, who is supposed to be arriving from New York, saying that he will not be attending the wedding.  Both Nancy and Niles hop the first train to New York and run into each other in the dining car where Nancy continues to annoy Niles.

Unable to find George in New York, Nancy finds herself at loose ends.  Upon arriving at his welcome home party Niles discovers that Victoria has not left New York after all.  Niles offers to let Nancy stay in his apartment while insinuating to Victoria that he is now inextricably romantically involved with her, causing Victoria to move on to her next prospective husband.  Niles's publisher, Robert Hanson, lives in an adjoining apartment and passionately avails himself of Nancy's willingness to cook.  At some point as Niles tries to be rid of Nancy she moves in with Hanson and he phones in meal orders from the office like he is ordering room service.

Robert's gustatory passion turns into romantic passion, and faced with this Niles finally realizes that he loves Nancy as well.  To complete the "Three Loves" original fiancée George shows up as well.

This movie was aces!  Robert Montgomery was both cool and perturbable.  I always enjoy a good dining car scene. In this case it was the first instance of a running gag with Janet Gaynor losing her purse only to find that it was with her the whole time.

Room Service

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Room Service with The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, and Ann Miller. Groucho plays a theatrical producer with Chico and Harpo as his assistants. They and their troop have been staying in the White Way Hotel for months rehearsing a play to debut in the hotel's associated theater. Unfortunately, they have no income and have been running up their hotel bill with meal charges. The hotel manager is Groucho's brother-in-law and has been covering for him, but the jig is up when a hotel auditor from the home office comes in to go over the books. The bulk of the movie is about the Marx brothers either stalling for time (until they can get a backer for the play, until the play can be produced, until the play can be performed) or scamming for food (convincing a waiter to bring them someone else's room service order, trying to catch a live turkey gained from an illegitimate raffle).

One of the main stalling tactics is to get the play's author (Frank Albertson*) to pretend he is sick so they can't be evicted from their room.  This ploy goes as far as to have him pretend to commit suicide and to be mourned by a chorus of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".  Lucille Ball plays Groucho's girlfriend but this movie lacks the humorous lecherousness of other Marx Brothers movies.

According to my calculations, this is 38th movie from 1938 I've watched this year. Woohoo! I have a bunch of comments I haven't posted yet. I will eventually catch up.

*Frank Albertson played Sam Wainwright in It's a Wonderful Life (according to IMDB) but I didn't recognize him at all.

 
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