Prairie Moon


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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