Saturday, January 11, 2014

From The Depths

So now Jesse Walker has come to 1933.  I think this may be the end, but we'll see.  It was an interesting year for film. Hollywood had licked whatever problem sound represented, and a new constellation of stars were being created, stars we still think of as stars (as we generally don't think of silent stars).  At the same time, the Code wasn't being heavily enforced yet, so there's still a certain wildness.  Also, believe it or not, 1933 saw a revival of musicals after people got sick of them in the early 30s.

On top of all that, we're in the depths of the Depression, which (despite what you may have heard) put most of the studios in dangerous financial shape, so they were running scared.

After noting the Oscar-winner of the year, Cavalcade, is boring (I agree--both the style and sentiment don't play anymore), here's Jesse's top ten films of the year:

1. Duck Soup
2. Zero for Conduct
3. Snow-White
4. I'm No Angel
5. Design for Living
6. Alice in Wonderland
7. International House
8. 42nd Street
9. Lot in Sodom
10. The Fatal Glass of Beer

I certainly agree with Duck Soup on top.  It's the end of a five-year five-film run of classics for the Marx Brothers at Paramount. Zero For Conduct is also pretty special--one has to wonder what Vigo would have done if he hadn't died so young. "Snow-White" is a short.

Mae West was probably the top star of 1933.  After making a big impression in a supporting role in 1932, she made her two best and biggest films (pre-Code, by no coincidence) in 1933--She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel--saving Paramount and creating a character still remembered today.  But the character is better than the films, which are okay, but don't compare to the Marx Brothers or W.C. Fields.

Design For Living is no Trouble In Paradise, but it's still good Lubitsch, which is better than most of anything else.  Alice In Wonderland (more Paramount--quite a year for them--more than half the films on this list were distributed by Paramount) is an oddity.  It's more a chance to see all the Paramount company than a good version of a classic book.  International House is a wild revue-style film with a lot of game players, stolen by W. C. Fields. 

42nd Street is a delight--a tough Warner Brothers melodrama/comedy that blossoms into a great musical--in fact, this is the film that revived the genre (and created a template for the backstager still being parodied today).  And as for Busby Berkeley, he was just getting started.

Lot In Sodom I've never seen, and The Fatal Glass Of Beer is a short.

Jesse doesn't list honorable mentions, but there are quite a few more film this year I enjoyed.

First, films that probably would have made my top ten:


Employees Entrance

Footlight Parade

Gold Diggers Of 1933

King Kong (surprised not to see this)

Sons Of The Desert

Other films I liked:

Baby Face, Bombshell, Dinner At Eight, Female, Flying Down To Rio, Hallelujah I’m A Bum, Heroes For Sale, Lady For A Day (just watched it yesterday--Jesse says it's the year of W. C. Fields, but I say it's the year of Warren William), Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong, The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse, Wild Boys Of The Road

Other films of note:

Ann Vickers, The Bitter Tea Of General Yen, Christopher Strong, College Humor, Dancing Lady, Ecstasy, Elmer The Great, The Emperor Jones, Ex-Lady, Gabriel Over The White House, The Ghoul, Going Hollywood, Hard To Handle, Hold Your Man, The Invisible Man, The Kennel Murder Case, Ladies They Talk About, Lady Killer, The Little Giant, Matinee Idol, Morning Glory, Night Flight, Night Of Terror, Our Betters, Penthouse, The Power And The Glory, The Prizefighter And The Lady, Queen Christina, Reunion In Vienna, Roman Scandals, So This Is Africa, State Fair, Tillie And Gus, Today We Live, Topaze, Tugboat Annie, The Vampire Bat, Voltaire, What! No Beer?


Blogger Jesse said...

I guess my view of King Kong is similar to your view of I'm No Angel: The monster is better than the film.

6:48 AM, January 11, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:48 AM, January 11, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

First time I've heard of Mae West described as a monster. Although she'd certainly give any man nightmares.

7:38 AM, January 11, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I saw King Kong in a theatre a few years ago and what struck me was how much I was enjoying the film before they even got to Kong.

12:22 PM, January 11, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if Gabriel Over The White House is a good film, but it's a film everyone should see.

4:44 PM, January 11, 2014  

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