MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 1931

The rise of gangster films and monster movies.

( Garbo in “Mata Hari.” Men lose their mind and give up secrets to her. Exotic. )

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DRACULA – ( Tod Browning )

DRACULA ( I )
         Helen Chandler and Bela Lugosi

Atmospheric. The Vampire does his thing. His bite is worse than his, hell there’s nothing worse than his bite. Bela Lugosi is the ultimate screen vampire.

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FIVE STAR FINAL – ( Mervyn LeRoy )

FIVE STAR FINAL ( II )
                     Edward G. Robinson

Selling newspapers also means selling one’s soul. Just like today. Isn’t it comforting to know things haven’t changed. Ack!

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“FRANKENSTEIN” –   (   James Whale  )

FRANKENSTEIN - II
                Karloff as…..The Monster

A scientist creates a creature from the body parts of the dead. Does Science give him the right to play God? This movie is in the world of the fantastic. I can’t imagine being in the audience the first time they saw Frankenstein’s monster.  Gruesome. ( Hail to the Kings of make up! )

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A FREE SOUL  –  ( Clarence Brown )

A FREE SOUL
     Lionel Barrymore and Norma Shearer

Father and daughter are both addicts. One is addicted to alcohol, the other to bad boy Gable. Yeah, I could see how those’d be problems. Barrymore wins an Oscar for his turn as a drunken lawyer trying to gain his self-respect back. And perhaps lead by example.

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LITTLE CAESAR – ( Mervyn LeRoy )

LITTLE CAESAR ( I )
                      Edward G. Robinson

Et tu Brute. Yes. Eddie G. snarls his way to the top as a crime boss in “Little Caesar.” What became the end of Rico…was the beginning of the glorious career of Eddie G.. Gangster, Norwegian farmer ( Our Vines Have Tender Grapes ), insurance agent (Double Indemnity), sadistic mobster ( Key Largo ) Edward G. Robinson could pretty much do it all. ( That biblical picture he did with DeMille…that’s another story. )

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PLATINUM BLONDE – ( Frank Capra )

PLATINUM BLONDE ( I )  PLATINUM BLONDE ( II )
           Jean Harlow and Robert Williams                Robert Williams and Loretta Young

Robert Williams died before the film was released but I believe he had the makings of a star with his easy breezy natural style. He’s a fish out of water here as a reporter who gains access to the rareified world of platnium blondes and the hoi polloi by way of Harlow. Harlow? Yeah, Harlow. Loretta Young is his fellow reporter, who has a newsflash. She loves him. Harlow’s the bombshell…but I’m starting to notice Loretta Young too in the 30’s.

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PUBLIC ENEMY – ( William Wellman )

PUBLIC ENEMY ( I )
              Mae Clarke and James Cagney

Cagney’s rise and fall as a big-shot bootlegger. I wanted to use that iconic image to let you know just who this guy is. Get me? Cagney is a tour de force as an object lesson in crime-does-not-pay. He hit the screen running and did not stop for the next thirty years.

(  H O M E  )

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