It’s probably just a matter of time for these three:
GOLD-DIGGERS OF 1935(Warner Bros)
From start to finish my favorite Busby Berkeley movie. In fact, one of my favorite movies ever – and certainly the one I like best from 1935.
CAPTAIN BLOOD(Warner Bros)
The swashbuckling super-hit that started it all for Errol Flynn. And it still stands up magnificently.
I’ve read that Blu-ray slowpoke Criterion may have snagged the rights to this one. They did bring us the sublime “Swing Time” a few seasons back, But this is also pinnacle Astaire-Rogers and somebody needs to get it out pronto.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM(Warner Bros)
Gleaming, star-stuffed one of a kind extravaganza. Who knew Mickey Rooney, Joe E. Brown and Hugh Herbert would turn out to be such delightful purveyors of Shakespeare? The whole thing’s mounted and choreographed like – well, like a dream. One that includes cheerful Dick Powell, pugnacious James Cagney, imposing Victor Jory, alluring Anita Louise and a meltingly young Olivia de Havilland in her screen debut. Bard purists beware. But for lovers of 30’s Hollywood at its most phantasmagoric, this one’s for you.
One of the best movies Katharine Hepburn ever made. Directed by George Stevens and featuring Fred MacMurray, uniquely terrific in a star-making role.
More Hepburn, this one a cult favorite with a (sort of) gender-bending premise. George Cukor directs. Cary Grant, Edmund Gwenn and Brian Aherne all add superb onscreen support.
Long Shots and Super Long Shots
THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII(RKO) and SHE(RKO)
Neither movie is perfect. For example – as Ayesha in “She” – Helen Gahagan is all dignity, zero sex appeal. But both films provide multiple pleasures. Besides which, I can seldom resist either Ancient World spectacles or H. Rider Haggard.
THE BISHOP MISBEHAVES(MGM)
Delightful but largely forgotten mystery comedy that spotlights a cast of wonderful older character actors. Edmund Gwenn, Lucile Watson and Etienne Girardot all get to share the limelight – each in tiptop form.
THE PAYOFF(Warner Bros)
Claire Dodd, Warners’ glamorous resident vixen in the 30’s, usually had to strut her stuff on the sidelines. This one showcases her more directly. As James Dunn’s faithless but fascinating wife, she makes every step toward her eventual come-uppance addictively watchable.
The folks at Warner Archive don’t seem to harbor much affection for operetta. Feeling (perhaps rightly) that its fan-base has by this time dwindled to commercial insignificance. But as part of that fan base, I can’t help wishing for some Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy teamings on Blu. My favorites are “Rose Marie” and “The Girl of the Golden West”. But this 1935 opus was the one that initiated their long series of box office hits. And was also an Oscar nominee for Best Picture in 1935.
TRAVELING SALESLADY(Warner Bros)
Wisecracking fun with Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell, And – as if that’s not enough – I remember chuckling non-stop at obscure vaudevillian Bert Roach, hilarious as an unlucky third wheel in one situation after another.
I LIVE MY LIFE(MGM)
An unfortunate cop-out ending kind of mars this one right at the finish line. But otherwise it’s lots of fun. With Metro production polish and an above-average rom-com script embellishing the ins and outs of the unlikely romance between heiress (Joan Crawford in full 30’s glamour mode) and archaeologist (the always excellent Brian Aherne).
ROMANCE IN MANHATTAN(RKO)
The premise is pretty much all there in the title. A gently agreeable teaming of Ginger Rogers (in appealing pre-40’s form) with European charmer Francis Lederer, then touted for big-time Hollywood stardom. And he nearly made it.
Amiable round-up of some of the era’s favorite movie cowboys – Harry Carey, Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson, Tom Tyler, Wally Wales and more. All interacting in a story that’s entertaining and crisply organized. Each star gets a chance to shine, making this a kind of B plus deluxe item sure to please genre fans.
That’s it for my 1935 list. Now, c’mon WAC, wave that wand!
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