Angels with Dirty Faces


Angels with Dirty Faces with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.  Cagney and O'Brien are childhood friends in Hell's Kitchen.  While stealing fountain pens from a stopped railway car, Cagney is arrested but O'Brien gets away.  Cagney's stint in reform school is just the start of 15 years of crime and arrests.  He often beats the rap but on the advice of his crooked lawyer partner, Humphrey Bogart, he accepts a plea to spend another 3 years in prison while Bogart keeps their money and builds up their crime businesses.  Once out of stir, Cagney looks up his old pal O'Brien who has become a priest in the old neighborhood.  He also finds himself betrayed by Bogart.

This may be the only Cagney gangster movie I've ever watched from start to finish.  He was nominated for Best Actor for this role but to me it was just Cagney acting like Cagney.  If this movie wasn't a stereotype at the time it must have laid the groundwork for all such movies to follow.  There were big shootout scenes where Cagney fired by making "punching" motions with his gun.  There was also a heavy presence by the "Dead End" kids.

"Whadda ya hear? Whadda ya say?"



Jezebel with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, directed by William Wyler.  Since I didn't like Test Pilot too much I decided to go ahead and watch this one.  I have seen Jezebel several times.  Bette Davis won a Best Actress Oscar for her prideful, pre-Civil War, Southern Belle.  It was her Gone With the Wind.  This is a great movie.  I didn't really notice much different this time except that Stymie and Rochester played two of Bette Davis's slaves.  I always think it's funny that the really big scandal of this movie is that Bette Davis wears a red dress to the Olympus Ball instead of a proper white dress, but the movie is in black and white.

A red dress! Scandal and ruin!

Test Pilot


Test Pilot with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy. Directed by Victor Fleming and written by Howard Hawks.  Also with Lionel Barrymore and some Marjorie Main. Nominated for Best Picture.

I had understandably high expectations for this movie and unfortunately I was disappointed.  It starts out as a romantic comedy but turns into a dark study of how the lives of Tracy and Loy are spent in misery because of their love for Gable and his insistence on risking his life flying dangerous test missions.  I found the flow of the movie to be very jumpy.  Spencer Tracy had a great performance, but despite several bright spots I didn't care for Gable or Loy on the whole.



Carefree with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  This is the eighth of ten Astaire-Rogers films and the only one from 1938.  Astaire plays a psychiatrist who attempts to psychoanalyze Rogers to find out why she keeps canceling her wedding to Astaire's best friend, Ralph Bellamy.  Instead she falls in love with Fred, and then he falls in love with her.  I thought Ginger Rogers was hilarious in this film.  She performed a lot of mild physical comedy while she was alternately drugged and hypnotized by Fred Astaire.  There is one scene where she has been commanded to lose her inhibitions.  Loose on the street, she sees a glass truck carrying a large pane of glass and determines to smash it. She paces the truck as it creeps along in traffic, finding and rejecting various objects (her purse, her shoes, a fire hydrant) to throw.  All the while she is winking and waving at the truck driver.  In the end the talks a policeman out of his billy club.

There is also a dream sequence song-and-dance number called "I Used to Be Color Blind" that was supposed to be in Technicolor, but apparently it didn't look so good in the color test so they left it black and white.

There is a small role by Hattie McDaniel playing a character named Hattie, and there is also an appearance by Franklin Pangborn, my favorite archetypal hotel clerk (although he plays a skeet club manager in this one).

Ginger spies the billy club

The Drum


The Drum with Raymond Massey.  This was my first color movie from 1938.  Set in part of India that is now in Pakistan, an evil prince (Massey) assassinates his brother the king and puts a kink in the treaty with the British.  The king's son hides and eventually helps to restore power to the British Raj and resumes his rightful throne.

There Goes My Heart


There Goes My Heart starred Frederick March and Virginia Bruce (the wife from The First Hundred Years).  It also had Eugene Pallette who played Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, coming up for me) and Arthur Lake who played Dagwood in the Blondie movies. Additionally it had Claude Gillingwater who played "Uncle Sam" in the Shirley Temple movie I just saw.

I really enjoyed this movie.  I thought the dialog was witty and the characters likable.  A runaway heiress works anonymously at her grandfather's department store.  A reporter reluctantly writing an article about the heiress is the love interest.  Fun stuff.

Love on a Budget


Love on a Budget is a "Jones Family" movie.  This is one in a series of seventeen movies about the life of the Jones family.  It starred Spring Byington who played the matriarch of the Sycamore family in You Can't Take It With You.  I may not watch the other three Jones Family movies from 1938.

Three Blind Mice


Three Blind Mice with Loretta Young, Joel McCrea, and David Niven.  Three chicken-farming sisters from Kansas decide to pool their resources and travel to Santa Barbara to trick millionaires into marrying them.  Loretta Young poses as an heiress and her sisters pose as her maid and secretary.  For me the best performance was by Binnie Barnes, who plays David Niven's beer-drinking, fun-loving, uncouth sister.  Binnie was also in The First Hundred Years and Holiday.

Binnie Barnes imbibes a brew

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