A Free Soul (1931)

The Big Speech Some movies are theatrical in the sense that all their values and methods are derived from stage values. This is one. Some movies are in that sweet spot after talkies got going and before the code was enforced, so they have a vitality that is lacking for a few decades afterwards. This… Continue reading A Free Soul (1931)

Hi’-Neighbor! (1934)

Suburban Between the wars, and in spite of the depression, America remained in two halves. Today, those are red and blue states, but in the 30s it was rural America and the cities. During this time, the cities got bigger and the farm areas somewhat thinner but more resolute. You were either in one or… Continue reading Hi’-Neighbor! (1934)

The 39 Steps (1935)

Step By Step Performances All but two Hitchcock films are cursed by the transcended achievement of those two. So the remainder will always seem pale in comparison while unfairly having elements of those retroactively applied. But I believe that the early Hitchcock was a simply competent filmmaker and only later came to understand the more… Continue reading The 39 Steps (1935)

36 Hours to Kill (1936)

Making Your Bed I watched this in preparation for “Europa”. Both are essentially railroad movies. This is about a gangster who has come out of hiding to take a train trip to from Los Angeles to Chicago to collect on a sweepstakes ticket. On the train, several disguises become apparent among other passengers as well.… Continue reading 36 Hours to Kill (1936)

Paid (1930)

Finding the Fulcrum How lucky we are to have these old films! God bless Scorcese and the many others involved in preserving the legacy. These films, particularly this one, aren’t worth watching for the purpose they were designed for: entertainment. That’s because they don’t work. But that is what makes them so interesting. This was… Continue reading Paid (1930)

Tombstone Canyon (1932)

Haunted House meets Mystery meets Western I love watching these films from the early thirties. Rarely are they good in the way that I need as a modern viewer. But the story is not the one the movie directly delivers, but the larger story of movies finding themselves after the disruptive introduction of sound. They… Continue reading Tombstone Canyon (1932)

The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes’ Greatest Case (1932)

Displaced Mind and Eye The form — at least as established in the Holmes stories and subsequent early detective fiction, has the reader experience things in the order the detective does. In the best, there is some tension as we know the detective is ahead of us in deducing the truth from the same information… Continue reading The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes’ Greatest Case (1932)