broadway bill

“That’s not a family; it’s a disease”: Broadway Bill (1934)

In 1934, director Frank Capra released the seminal classic It Happened One Night, a picture that helped define the relatively new genre of screwball comedy. On the heels of that film’s monumental success, Capra followed up with another comedy, Broadway Bill. But while Night became a perennial favorite, Bill virtually disappeared for decades after its release; according to the TCMdb entry on…

horn

Athanael, come blow your horn.

Director Raoul Walsh was not particularly known for producing lighter cinematic fare. Though his five decade-long filmography ranges from comedies to dramas to Westerns, Walsh is primarily remembered as the director of a string of successful, heavily male-driven flicks in the 1940s, beginning with a trio of Humphrey Bogart-led movies including The Roaring Twenties (1939), They Drive by Night (1940),…

parker-caged

Women in Prison: Caged (1950)

After watching season one of Netflix’s popular series Orange is the New Black, I was excited when the opportunity arose to review 1950’s Caged, a similar story of a naive young woman who is imprisoned after collaborating in a crime. Certainly there are many parallels between the two stories. Each was written by a woman…

her cardboard lover

Norma Shearer’s Final Bow: Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

The 1942 production Her Cardboard Lover may be a minor comedy by definition, but it remains an important artifact for one simple reason: it is star Norma Shearer’s last film. At the age of 42, Shearer decided to end her nearly two-decade long career after the mediocre public reception of this film. Audiences were more interested in dramatic,…

winner take all

Cagney Fights the World: Winner Take All (1932)

Although he was the star of multiple hit films, James Cagney was known as “the thorn in Jack Warner’s side.” He repeatedly went on strikes, demanding higher and higher salaries. In John McCabe’s biography of Cagney, he explains that during the filming of Winner Take All, singer Dick Powell was making $4,000/week, whereas the much more…

no time for comedy poster

DVD Review: No Time for Comedy (1940)

Ah, James Stewart: the innocent, lovable screwball we all know and love. He’s the admirable, passionate, naive young Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). He’s the dedicated family man and pillar of the community as George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). He’s charming. He’s sweet. He’s good ole aw-shucks Jimmy Stewart. But Stewart turns…