It (1927)

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It (1927). 72 minutes. Directed by Clarence G. Badger. Starring Clara Bow (as Betty Lou Spence), Antonio Moreno (as Cyrus Waltham, Jr.), William Austin (as Monty), Jacqueline Gadsden (as Adela Van Norman), Priscilla Bonner (as Molly), Gary Cooper (as reporter), and Elinor Glyn (as herself).

According to Elinor Glyn, whose serialized novella “It” was the inspiration for the movie of the same name, “It” is:

“…that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With ‘It’ you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. ‘It’ can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction.”

This sounds very similar to the definition of the so-called “X-factor,” the mysterious source of talent that entertainment industry casting directors, talent managers, and moguls claim emanates from great film and theater stars. It seems a bit strange to suggest that what governs our sexual and romantic interests also … Read the rest

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

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March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934; also known as Babes in Toyland). 77 minutes. Directed by Gus Meins and Charles Rogers. Starring Stan Laurel (as Stannie Dum), Oliver Hardy (as Ollie Dee), Charlotte Henry (as Bo Peep), Henry Brandon (as Silas Barnaby), Felix Knight (as Tom-Tom, the Piper’s Son), Florence Roberts (as Widow Peep), Virginia Karns (as Mother Goose), and Kewpie Morgan (as Old King Cole). Music by Victor Herbert, Frank Churchill, and Ann Ronnell. Produced by Hal Roach.

This 1934 comedy, based on the Mother Goose stories and starring Laurel and Hardy, is known alternately as March of the Wooden Soldiers, Wooden Soldiers, Babes in Toyland, Laurel and Hardy in Toyland, and Revenge Is Sweet. I have a general feeling when I watch a movie that the more titles it has, the worse it is going to be (I think, for example, of 1962’s deliciously awful The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, which … Read the rest

Elstree Calling (1930)

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Ellstree Calling (1930)

Elstree Calling (1930). 86 minutes. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, André Charlot, Jack Hulbert, and Paul Murray. Starring Tommy Handley (as host), Gordon Harker (as man with faulty television), Will Fyffe, Lily Morris, Teddy Brown, The Three Eddies, Anna May Wong, Bobbie Comber, Hannah Jones, Cicely Courtneidge, Helen Burnell, and Donald Calthrop.

Elstree Calling is a 1930 musical variety film, designed by British International Pictures to show off Elstree Studios’ nascent sound technology and to compete with the opulent musical revues coming out of the United States at the time. (You can think of its title, Elstree Calling, as a version of the well-known “London Calling” that had been BBC radio’s signature call sign in London since 1922.) It is notable for being a an early British sound extravaganza, for the many musical artists who appear in it, for its use of the early tinting technique Pathécolor in select scenes, and for the involvement of Alfred Hitchcock as one of … Read the rest

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). 83 minutes. Directed by David Hand (supervising director). Starring Adriana Caselotti (as Snow White), Lucille La Verne (as Evil Queen Grimhilde), Harry Stockwell (as the Prince), Roy Atwell (as Doc), Pinto Colvig (as Grumpy and Sleepy), Otis Harlan (as Happy), Scotty Mattraw (as Bashful), Billy Gilbert (as Sneezy), Moroni Olsen (as the Magic Mirror), and Stuart Buchanan (as Humbert the Huntsman). Songs by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. Produced by Walt Disney.

The story of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is probably familiar to most: the young and beautiful princess Snow White lives in a castle and is governed by her evil stepmother the Queen, who forces her to wear ragged peasants’ clothes and perform menial tasks. Snow White encounters a prince one day while cleaning and is smitten. Meanwhile, the Queen asks her magic mirror who the most beautiful woman in the land is. When the mirror tells her … Read the rest