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Film Trivia 2018

Have you taken the Trivia Quiz based on the 2018 program?  Try it here.

Ivan Igor is the sculptor at a famous wax museum in London. When his partner, Joe Worth, burns down the museum for the insurance money, Igor is trapped inside.wax museum Years later he re-emerges in New York as the curator of a new wax museum, which boasts incredibly lifelike statues. When model Joan Gale goes missing, however, reporter Florence Dempsey follows the clues to Igor's museum, where she discovers a terrible secret.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Run Time: 77 min
Genre:  Horror

Cast:

Lionel Atwill Ivan Igor
Fay Wray Charlotte Duncan
Glenda Farrell Florence Dempsey
Frank McHugh Jim
Allen Vincent Ralph Burton
Gavin Gordon George Winton
Edwin Maxwell Joe Worth


Review By Derek Winnert

Women of FLESH become WAX in his hands… women of wax become flesh!’ Director Michael Wax museumCurtiz’s 1933 classic horror movie is a gruesomely atmospheric picture, with Lionel Atwill starring as Ivan Igor, the scarred museum owner with human wax-covered models, and Glenda Farrell co-starring as Florence Dempsey, the newswoman who tries to stop his rampaging.

Atwill is clearly enjoying himself and the film provides another splendid chance for King Kong’s Fay Wray to give a workout to her screaming again when her character Charlotte Duncan finds Ivan Igor’s ghastly face.

The screenplay by Don Mullally and Carl Erickson is based on a play by Charles S Belden. It is beautifully shot by Ray Rennahan and the lovely use of two-tone Technicolor gives it a lift. Warner Bros present a fine production with handsome sets by production designer Anton Grot.

Also in the cast are Frank McHugh, Gavin Gordon, Allen Vincent, Edwin Maxwell, Holmes Herbert, Claude King, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Thomas E. Jackson, DeWitt Jennings, Matthew Betz, and Monica Bannister.

Trailer

Manhattan Madness

manhattan madnessSteve O'Dare, a young New Yorker who has gone off to Nevada to be a cowboy, returns to New York to sell some horses. He bores his friends with tales of the exciting Western life, so they plot to trick him with a mock abduction. But although Steve falls for the gag, he ends up turning the tables on his friends.

Director: Allan Dwan
Genre: Comedy Drama
Silent
Run Time: 50m
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Jewel Carmen, George Beranger

Manhattan Madness Review

Steve O'Dare, a real Westerner from Nevada, returns to New York to visit his old college pals - and of course, they proudly show him around their 'great' big city, the clubs, the avenues, the parks; but he considers all that 'greatness' effeminate and superficial, and for every example they give for the wonders of the city, he tells them a much better story about life back home in Nevada... And so we've got the rare pleasure to get both a glimpse of Old New York in pre-WWI times AND of the 'real' Old Wild West! But the best part of it all is the story: for Steve, who initially insisted that EVERYTHING'S better in the West, suddenly changes his mind when he sets eyes on a beautiful young city girl - which brings along QUITE some thrills for him even in the 'boring' East...

A PERFECT role for Dashing Doug, who plays the fearless romantic hero obsessed with his Western lifestyle (and in fact, he WAS a Westerner: he was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1883!), and yet also able to cope with East Coast crooks - FULLY packed with action and fun, this is certainly one of his BEST comedies of his early screen days before he went into 'swashbuckling'; and a GREAT opportunity for today's audience to discover what the US - both East and West - were like 100 years ago!

No Trailer available

Confidence

A young woman escapes from her troubled life in a bar to become a nurse.  Two years later she is happily married when someone from her past recognizes her and starts a repeated blackmail for money.  Her husband (Arthur Johnson) eventually finds out about her predicament and has a choice to make: either reject his wife or throw away the blackmailer.

Directed by D.W. Griffith
Genre: Drama
Silent
Stars:  Florence Lawrence and Arthur V. Johnson
Run time: 12 m.

No trailer or review.

Tillie Banks (Marie Dressler), a beautiful heiress, falls prey to a charming crook named Charlie tillies punctured romance poster(Charles Chaplin) who lures her to the city and then promptly swindles her. But when Charlie returns to apologize, asking for her hand in marriage, a surprised Tillie cautiously accepts his proposal. As wedding preparations begin, Tillie wonders about Charlie's intentions -- particularly after she receives news that her rich uncle Donald (Charles Bennett) has died mysteriously.

Director: Mack Sennett
Genre:  Comedy
Run time:  86m

Silent with live Piano accompaniement

Cast

Charles Chaplin
Marie Dressler
Mabel Normand

Review

By - Mike Massie

Much-adored, heavyset Tillie Banks (Marie Dressler) is playing fetch with her dog in her farmyard when a city stranger (Charles Chaplin) walks directly in front of the brick she's tossing about. Struck and dazed, the man is then invited inside Tillie's home, where her father John (Mack Swain) introduces himself. When the father steps aside to do business with a farmer, unveiling a large wallet of money, the stranger can't help but notice. This motivates him to take advantage of the situation, considering that Tillie herself is noticeably drawn to the slick young hustler.

TillieThe man convinces Tillie to elope back to the great city, but not before swiping her father's stash of funds. Immediately upon wandering back into town, the man runs into the pretty, petite girl he left behind (Mabel Normand), sparking a series of love-triangle mishaps. Without hesitation, the stranger leaves with his fairer former flame, along with the money, as Tillie is hauled off to jail for drunkenly, disorderly conduct. Tillie's millionaire pie-maker uncle Donald Banks (Charles Bennett) gets her out of the jam, but she's still forced to apply for a waitressing job where, sure enough, the city slicker and his date dine. As fate would have it, the rich uncle then perishes in a mountaineering accident on Mount Baldy, naming the poor farm girl the sole heir, sought by Banks' secretaries to deliver the inheritance.

In a clever skit, Mabel and Chaplin enter a theater to see "A Thief's Fate," a short that reenacts their own corruption, with an equivalent confidence man and his female accomplice stealing from a wealthy woman. As Mabel laments over the resulting arrest of the fictional characters who so closely resemble their own identities and engage in comparable activities, she uncomfortably suppresses further outbursts as she eyes the tin star on the vest of the cop seated next to her. This scene is actually more humorous than the plentiful, playful violence that arises routinely throughout the picture.

tillies punctured romanceBut the slapstick engendered into every scene is, nevertheless, smoothly continual, with rears being kicked, people falling down, food being catapulted into faces, floundering in a traffic-filled street, mix-ups with policemen, and Tillie's first alcoholic imbibing (resulting in subsequent entanglements with the authorities), all transforming into spot-on physical mayhem. The carefully choreographed stumbling onto a step while Dressler kicks up her legs to strike Chaplin's chin is a prime example of the combination of all the players' acrobatic capabilities. Smartly, the story itself doesn't rely only on slapstick, instead also infusing a perpetual note of misdirection, in which the various roles switch back and forth from poverty to abundance. Lengthy moments of dancing and fighting at a grand party to utilize the newfound wealth slows the pace a touch, however, as this 74-minute film (or 82-minutes for the restoration) retains the distinction of being the first feature-length comedy.

Chaplin sports a straw hat, a thin mustache, and his signature cane and awkward splayfooted gait, looking very much like a slightly more primped version of his tramp. Notably, he's the villain of the picture and not the primary protagonist, though his success of the time and future accomplishments would make him the most praised and remembered actor in the production (it's the first feature he would appear in and it would also mark the last time he would be directed by someone other than himself - here, Mack Sennett). Repeatedly swindling Tillie for her fortunes proves to be quite the dastardly deed, though he still possesses an undeniable charm. Broadway comedienne Dressler was the focus for the Keystone Film Company's establishment of this early feature, and she does an outstanding job with visual flamboyance and the action-packed, chaotic finale on a dock, deftly keeping up with Chaplin and Normand, two of Keystone's top performers.

Trailer (Clip)

The source from which all modern musicals flow: An ailing Broadway director returns 42nd st posterto produce one final show, but his leading lady is injured and must be replaced by a novice. Call it dated, but it's aged to perfection, and the final twenty minute sequence will leave you tapping your toes, with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Movies--never mind musicals--just don't get any better than this.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Genre:  Musical Comedy
Runtime:  89m

Cast:

Warner Baxter
Bebe Daniels
George Brent
Una Merkel
Ruby Keeler
Guy Kibbee
Ned Sparks
Dick Powell
Ginger Rogers
Allen Jenkins

Review

By Richard Cross

"…and Sawyer, you're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!" Thus says seriously ill Broadway director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) piling on the kind of pressure that would have most green understudies fainting in his arms, but which inspires young Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) to dance her socks off after the leading lady breaks her ankle. It's a line which, like the movie in which it appears, is both a legend and a cliche. 42nd Street became a template for every backstage 42nd st 3musical of the next decade, so it's easy to forget that the stereotypical characters and situations that it brought to the screen were as new to audiences as fresh greasepaint in 1932. In fact, 42nd Street was so successful it single-handedly resurrected the moribund musical genre and saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy.

After his fortune is wiped out by the stock market crash, famed director Julian Marsh (Baxter) negotiates a deal with a couple of theatrical impresarios to direct a stage musical which he intends to have provide for his retirement. It might not be a long retirement though because, just as he seals the deal, he receives a phone call from his doctor informing him that his body won't take much more of the kind of punishment he's been putting it through. That's right, he's suffering from a terminal case of vague-us sicky-us, which means this show just has to be a hit. Marsh immediately sets about casting for the show, but its' prospects are endangered from the outset when it comes to light that his leading lady, Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels - Male and Female, The Maltese Falcon) is cheating on her Sugar Daddy (Guy Kibbee - Mr Smith Goes to Washington) with penniless playboy, Pat Denning (George Brent - The Great Lie). Normally, Brock's romantic dalliances would be of no concern to Marsh, but the Sugar Daddy she's cheating on just happens to be bankrolling the show…

The plot of 42nd Street is nothing to write home about, but the way it captures the sweaty backstage atmosphere of the staging of a show is what sticks in the mind. 42nd st Chorus girls trade laconic insults with acerbic wit, as they dance themselves to a frazzle under Marsh's punishing schedule. A young Ginger Rogers (Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee) plays Anytime Annie who "only said no once, and then she didn't hear the question." She has this easy-going attitude which sums up the movie's own pre-code attitude towards sex and its use as a currency and bargaining tool in a world in which girls dance not for fun but to survive. The film was made in 1933, when the world was in the depths of the Great Depression, and Warners was the studio of the working class, which meant that, until the Production Code slipped the muzzle in place in 1934, it didn't shy away from stating things with a candidness that is sometimes disarming even today. The girls - and there are hundreds of them - are viewed as objects whose sole purpose is to gratify the male eye, and who are judged on the shape of their legs. Busby Berkeley's superlative choreography positions them in such a way that the camera can share in his well-publicised salaciousness, affording glimpses of forbidden areas that would be off limits a matter of months after 42nd Street was released.

The cast is the other aspect of 42nd Street that catches the eye. Warner Baxter, looking older than his age of 43, gives arguably the best performance of his career as the tough but fading director desperately fighting against time and his own failing health to put the show together. As well as a young Rogers, there's an equally young Dick Powell, although his character almost feels as if it's been tacked on as an afterthought. He has one number to sing, but he fails to make an impression and on the evidence of his performance here, contemporary viewers might have been forgiven for expecting him to fade into obscurity. The smaller roles are filled by character actors with faces that are wonderfully expressive even when in repose: Robert McWade (Grand Hotel, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) and Ned Sparks (Alice in Wonderland) are a pair of theatrical impresarios, Una Merkel (Abraham Lincoln, The Maltese Falcon) is Rogers' friend and fellow showgirl; Allen Jenkins (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) is a stage manager, sleepy and harassed in equal measure, while Charles Lane (It's a Wonderful Life, Papa's Delicate Condition), who would make his last film in 2006, makes a brief appearance as the author of the show.

Trailer

Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway), a middle-aged roadside diner owner, hires a drifter, Frank Chambers (John Garfield), postman always rings twice posterto work at his restaurant. Frank quickly begins an affair with Nick's beautiful young wife, Cora (Lana Turner), and the two conspire to kill Nick and seize his assets. When they succeed, local prosecutor Kyle Sackett (Leon Ames) becomes suspicious, but is unable to build a solid case. However, the couple soon realizes that no misdeed ever goes truly unpunished.

Director: Tay Garnett
Genre: Mystery, Film Noir
Runtime: 113m

Cast

Lana Turner
John Garfield
Cecil Kellaway
Hume Cronyn
Leon Ames
Audrey Totter
Alan Reed

Review

By Tynan

The first time I saw this gripping noir, my least favorite part of the film probably was the title, and it still is. That's saying a lot, and the film is adapted from the James M. Cain crime novel anyways, with title included free of charge. Otherwise, Postman is a wonderful example of the film noir canon, and yet it lacks the elements of your more typical private eye mystery.

postman always rings twice It trades dark streets of crime for a small roadside burger joint owned by a shrewd man and his noticeably younger wife. Bring a drifter searching for a quick buck and you have everything set for the most deadliest of love triangles. At the tips are John Garfield as the rambling man Frank who initially couldn't care less for his boss's pretty wife. Then there's Cora, the alluring girl who seems out of place in her life. Then you have the money-grubbing Nick (Cecil Kellaway) who seems naively oblivious to the whole situation.

At first, nothing seems to be afoot, and Cora is adamant about not getting involved with the new hand. However, ultimately things evolve. That's not necessarily the exciting part. We expect the rapid and lurid love affair that soon besets Frank and Cora.  We expect, more likely than not, that Nick will either catch them or they will knock him off first. They choose the latter and its far from preferable. Soon the district attorney is down their throats with his own suspicions about the forbidden couple. He's pretty smart too.

Sackett plays Frank and Cora off of each other. They're both scared. Neither one wants jail or worst the gas chamber. Nora ends up being the only one prosecuted, but her sly lawyer (Hume Cronym) is able to call his opponents bluff and get Cora off with hardly a hitch. The only problem is that Frank and Cora hate each other guts now. They are positively poisoned to each other.

postman always rings twice The story could end there and it would be ironic enough, but it doesn't. It has yet another act where Frank and Cora make up following the illness of her mother, the flourishing of her establishment after the trial, and a bout with blackmail. All seems to be better than it ever was, but fate can have a cruel sense of humor.

On one out of the ordinary car ride, Frank crashes and in the aftermath Cora is left dead with Frank on the fast track to the gas chamber. And that's where the title comes in. The Postman Always Rings Twice. In other words, if you don't pay for your crimes the first time around, you always end paying up one way or another. Cora was killed and Frank faced execution. Neither one got off in the end.

Putting aside the Hay's Codes need for justice to be dealt, this is a wonderfully sardonic tale and ultimately sensual noir for the 1940s. Lana Turner was never better dancing with relative ease between amorous sweetness and acidic intentions. And the moment she first shows up on the screen is one of the most eye-catching entrances by a femme fatale period. Although not the greatest of leading men, John Garfield is surprisingly credible opposite Turner. He plays the hard-working every man incredibly well. Hume Cronym, for his part, plays his wily prosecutor wonderfully with a sly smile all the while. I cannot quite put a finger on it, but I like him.

Trailer

A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair provides astonishing evidenceforbidden planet poster of a populace a million years more advanced than Earthlings. There are many wonders on Altair-4, but none is greater or more deadly than the human mind. "Forbidden Planet" is the granddaddy of tomorrow, a pioneering work whose ideas and style would be reverse-engineered into many cinematic space voyages to come. Leslie Nielsen portrays the commander who brings his space cruiser crew to the green-skied Altair-4 world that's home to Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter (Anne Francis), the remarkable Robby... and to a mysterious terror.

Director:  Fred M. Wilcox
Genre:  Science Fiction
Runtime: 98m

Cast

Walter Pidgeon
Anne Francis
Leslie Nielsen

Review

By Matt Paprocki

There's hardly a quiet moment in Forbidden Planet, the viewer assaulted by an eerie, otherworldly score for most of the film. This generates a sense of being out of place, certainly not of Earth, and the fear of the unknown.

Forbidden planetAltair IV is a special place, investigated years ago by another scientific expedition, a second crew traveling there now to learn of their fate, Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) in the lead. What they find is not typical of the era, other films showcasing dinosaurs, aliens, or other ferocious beasts living on these off-beat worlds.

Forbidden Planet is more calculated than that despite the workmanlike direction from Fred M. Wilcox. It covers its scientific bases no matter how ridiculous, a previous civilization known as the Krell producing unheard of levels of technology. Robby the Robot is surely the highlight, a creation so advanced as to create any material just by studying it.

Robby's countless moving parts, from his typewriter-like mouth to various spinning gadgets are the epitome of '50s sci-fi, a wonderfully goofy and iconic design utilized well into the '80s (Joe Dante's Gremlins paying homage).

forbidden planetFor a film that in reality, remains quite dark, distressing, and serious, it carries all of the hallmarks of lavish MGM productions. The Eastman color is a joy to behold, Altair IV given a bright green sky and deeply hued plants to deliver the depth of the landscape. Jaw-dropping matte paintings, the ventilation ducts in particular, give the film a scale that is nothing short of magnificent. The film's unheard of $2 million budget is on screen.

Most importantly, it's the barriers Forbidden Planet broke. It's obsessed with its fiction, not just in the dialogue but its creations. It's more than laser beams, and despite a pseudo-inclusion, goes beyond the '50s standard of a giant monster. There's nothing wrong with the giant bug genre or awakened dinosaur flick, but everyone needs a break. The revelation Forbidden Planet provides is staggering, completely unexpected and even out of place.

It opened doors to creations where anything was possible, not just physical or visual things. It was a kick to Hollywood that audiences are a bit smarter than they gave them credit for, and still remained engaged. Forbidden Planet makes you feel like you're learning about some historical culture; it's that well written. All the while, it's providing the romance and style of a forgotten era of Hollywood.

Trailer