The Thin Man (1934). 93 minutes. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Starring William Powell (as Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (as Nora Charles), Maureen O’Sullivan (as Dorothy Wynant), Nat Pendleton (as Lieutenant John Guild), Minna Gombell (as Mimi Wynant Jorgenson), Porter Hall (as Herbert MacCauley), Henry Wadsworth (as Tommy), William Henry (as Gilbert Wynant), Harold Huber (as Arthur Nunheim), Cesar Romero (as Chris Jorgenson), Natalie Moorhead (as Julia Wolf), Edward Brophy (as Joe Morelli), Edward Ellis (as Clyde Wynant), and Skippy (as Asta the dog). Screenplay by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett.
The Thin Man is a unique crime movie. Cheaply and quickly filmed over the course of two weeks by W. S. Van Dyke (alias “one-take Woody”), it makes use of plain sets, very little action, and lots of talk to create a detective story that is more of a lifestyle comedy than a tale of serious murder and sleuthing. Its crime … Read the rest
Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932). 99 minutes. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Starring Maureen O’Sullivan (as Jane Parker), Johnny Weissmuller (as Tarzan), Neil Hamilton (as Harry Holt), and C. Aubrey Smith (as James Parker). Dialogue by Ivor Novello.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan novels spawned a phenomenally successful franchise that extended into cinema, radio, television, and comic strips. Although the specifics of Tarzan’s character and his basic plot trajectory vary depending on the retelling, Burroughs’s fundamental story involves the wild man living amongst jungle apes and falling for a British female explorer. One of the best expressions of the full-on, kinky possibilities latent in this framework is the 1932 pre-Code Tarzan, the Ape Man. The movie is in some ways monolithic and crude in its colonialist rhetoric; there is a great deal of shouting, animal grunting, humans falling prey to jungle beasts, and condescending depictions of native types. But while the movie is blunt in terms of overall sentiment, … Read the rest
San Francisco (1936). 115 minutes. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Starring Clark Gable (as Blackie Norton), Jeanette MacDonald (as Mary Blake), Spencer Tracy (as Father Tim Mullin), Jack Holt (as Jack Burley), Jessie Ralph (as Mrs. Burley), Ted Healy (as Mat), Shirley Ross (as Trixie), Edgar Kennedy (as sheriff), Al Shean (as professor), and William Ricciardi (as Signor Baldini). Songs by Walter Jurmann, Bronislaw Kaper, and Edward Ward.
San Francisco has the potential to be a good movie. It has great music, including the song “San Francisco,” which was composed especially for it; features Jeanette MacDonald, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy; makes use of contributions from directors D. W. Griffith and Erich von Stroheim; and is set in one of the greatest cities in the world in the days before its most impressive catastrophe, the 1906 earthquake. Yet San Francisco’s story is both fairly conventional and a strange compilation of genres, with the plot beginning as a familiar story … Read the rest