b = black and white, c = color
En = Beck's entertainment value, Ed = Beck's educational value
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932 b 93') En: 8, Ed: 8
Based on an autobiographical story by Robert E. Burns, this powerful prison film was in theaters while Burns was still a fugitive.
Although Jim was not completely innocent, his punishment was way out of proportion to his crime. After the state authorities lied to him, he was correct in saying they are worse criminals. In spite of the barbarous prison conditions, the fellowship of the inmates kept humanity alive for most. This film is an important criticism of southern penal atrocities.
I Dream Too Much (1935 b 97') En: 5, Ed: 5
A struggling opera composer marries a singer, who becomes a success, while his work is ignored until she transforms it into musical comedy.
This musical comedy challenges the male ego dwarfed by his wife's success, though the operatic Annette becomes a mother and he a successful composer, fulfilling the traditionally desired roles.
I Found Stella Parish (1935 b 85') En: 5, Ed: 5
An actress with a secret past runs away but is exposed by the reporter she befriends.
Hiding her traumatic past from her daughter causes Stella to be separated from her when her friend's reporting seems to betray her trust. Yet accepting the past and going on courageously promises a better future.
I Live My Life (1935
b 97') En: 5, Ed: 5
A woman from New York society meets an Irish archaeologist, who wants to marry her; but they disagree on what their future life-style is to be.
This comedy contrasts the values of a free spirited intellectual with the superficiality of the wealthy in New York.
I Loved a Woman (1933
b 91') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from David Karsner's novel, the son of a meat-packer takes over the business and is urged by his mistress to be ruthlessly ambitious.
Instead of nurturing his own inclinations, John runs his father's business and marries a meat-packer's daughter; but his interest in an opera singer ruins his marriage. When he ignores his conscience, he hurts many and becomes a major criminal.
Ice Follies of 1939
(1939 b 82') En: 5, Ed: 4
A marriage of ice skaters is divided when she becomes a movie star; but he becomes her equal by producing ice follies.
In this Hollywood fairy-tale a woman becomes a star in one year, and her husband becomes a successful producer even faster. Although the studio attempts to control her marrying, they survive the separation caused by her career and his discomfort with being supported by his wife.
Idiot's Delight (1939 b 106') En: 6, Ed: 7
Adapted from Robert Sherwood's play, a Vaudeville performer meets a Russian woman in Omaha and again in Europe as another world war begins.
Released seven months before World War II actually started, this drama prophesies another disastrous war. Only the arms manufacturer and the pacifist seem to understand that wars are caused by greed for others' property.
If I Had a Million (1932 b 83') En: 6, Ed: 6
A dying millionaire randomly gives a million dollars to eight different people.
Numerous writers and directors contributed to these stories that fulfill fantasies of sweet revenge or ironically fail to help those who may be undeserving.
If I Were Free (1933 b 66') En: 6, Ed: 6
Two people from unhappy marriages fall in love, but he can't get a divorce in this adaptation of John Van Druten's play Behold We Live.
This story explores how two people who made unfortunate marriages can learn to love each other. The process is made difficult by Gordon's wife; but in the end his mother asks Katharine to take the change graciously, and the couple find their own private heaven with a friend.
If I Were King (1938 b 101') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a play by Justin H. McCarthy, the poet Francois Villon kills the constable but is given his job to save Paris and himself from hanging in 1463.
The great poet Francois Villon was in and out of prison often for murder and theft. He was nearly hanged in 1463 but was banished from Paris for ten years instead; but his becoming constable and fighting the Burgundians is a complete fabrication, showing an unfortunate increase of the war spirit.
Illicit (1931 b 80') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a play by Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin, a woman, fearing marriage will ruin love, marries and finds it difficult.
This mature drama explores whether those not yet committed to family should marry for social respectability when they would rather be free to play as free individuals.
I'm No Angel (1933 b 87') En: 8, Ed: 7
Mae West wrote the snappy dialog in this comedy about a lion tamer who juggles men until she finds the richest one she wants to marry.
The witty, charming, sassy, and sexy Tira shows how a woman can use her powers to get what she wants. She goes through men by giving little and getting plenty until she finds the man she wants, accepting marriage as a last resort.
Imitation of Life (1934 b 110') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on Fannie Hurst's novel, a white woman gets rich with her black housekeeper's pancake recipe; they are friends but have conflicts with their daughters.
This is one of the rare films of this era to face racism; in this case it leads a light woman to try to pass for white by avoiding her black mother. The white mother also sacrifices her immediate happiness so as not to hurt her daughter's feelings.
In Caliente (1935 b 84') En: 5, Ed: 4
A magazine partner takes his editor to Caliente and hires a Mexican dancer to save him from a scheming blonde with unexpected results.
Busby Berkeley choreography highlights this romantic comedy in which Harold tries to use money to solve problems. The credibility of the alcoholic Larry is questionable; Harold gets taken with his money; and Jose continues to make his living with tricks.
In Name Only (1939
b 94') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a novel by Bessie Breuer, a man falls in love with a young widow, but his selfish wife resists giving him a divorce.
This dramatic triangle contrasts a loveless marriage based on social status to a real friendship and romance that could lead to a happy marriage were it not for the obstacles of the ruthless wife.
(1939 82') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on the 1932 film The Crowd Roars and using its footage, a racer reluctantly helps his younger brother become a champion.
Joe wants a better life for his brother but finds that telling him to do as he says, not as he does, does not work. Joe judges Frankie harshly but eventually comes to realize the value of the love he gets from Lee.
Informer, The (1935 b 92') En: 8, Ed: 8
Based on the novel by Liam O'Flaherty and winner of Academy Awards for direction, screenplay, actor, and musical score, a poor Dubliner informs on his friend for twenty pounds and is executed by the Irish Republican Army.
This poignant study of the pressures on a poor man in an underground movement fighting for their rights and survival portrays the moral weakness and lack of awareness in a physically strong man.
b 70') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on the 1936 Swedish movie of the same name, also with Ingrid Bergman, a married violinist has an affair with his new accompanist.
This poignant love story contrasts the happiness of a new affair with the sadness it causes the family. The child's accident symbolizes the harm done to a child by the parents' broken relationship.
International House (1933 b 68') En: 7, Ed: 6
Eccentrics gather at a Chinese hotel to bid on newly invented television, resulting in entertainment for all except maybe the Legion of Decency.
This farce made before the censorship crackdown by the Hayes Commission gives some of the flavor of vaudeville and burlesque and yet looks ahead to the television revolution. Burns and Allen are scintillating.
Invisible Man, The (1933 b 71') En: 7, Ed: 7
A scientist made invisible by a new drug causes havoc in this adaptation of the novel by H. G. Wells.
This H. G. Wells parable shows how power can drive a man insane. Invisibility sets Griffin apart; unable to get back, he turns to mischief and crime to escape the repercussions of his actions, scheming how his discovery could create an invisible army to take over the world (foreseeing current stealth technologies). Yet the world united against him to stop his rampage of crime.
(1939 b 81') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from a book by warden Lewis E. Lawes, a parolee tries to go straight and keep his brother out of crime but succumbs to bank robbery.
This gangster drama shows the difficulty an ex-con can have getting a good job; but despite Cliff's efforts to keep his brother honest, he falls himself into violent bank robbery that proves to be a dead end for the criminals.
Irish In Us, The (1935 b 84') En: 5, Ed: 4
A policeman, fireman, and boxing manager live with their mother; the boxer wins over his brother's girlfriend in this family comedy.
The comedy and sentiment among the family are pleasantly entertaining; but the boxing plot is far-fetched and brutal. The sons' devotion to their mother is heart-warming, and their conflicts with each other are understandable.
Island of Lost Souls (1933 b 70') En: 7, Ed: 7
Based on H. G. Wells' novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, this horrifying film about a scientist changing animals into humans was banned in England and parts of the United States.
This nightmarish movie explores fears that scientists will create animals that seem human but still are beasts. Since humans evolved from lower animals, other animals might evolve into human-like creatures. The heroes escape the experimentation, and the creatures revolt from their master, who used pain as his primary method of behavior modification.
It Happened One Night (1934 105') En: 9, Ed: 8
This romantic comedy about a bride running away from her rich father with a reporter won the Oscars for best picture, director, actor, actress, and adapted screenplay.
Once again Capra pokes fun at the rich and high society by showing how working-class people with common sense have fun with life's daily challenges while broke and hungry during the Depression.
It's a Gift (1934 b 68') En: 6, Ed: 5
A hen-pecked grocer uses an inheritance to buy an orange grove in California; but it turns out to be a miserable place he sells for a fine grove.
Fields fans will find this satire of a hen-pecked husband seeking a California paradise hilarious. The story reflects the movement west for new opportunity.
It's a Wonderful World
(1939 b 86') En: 6, Ed: 5
A detective is convicted of hiding his innocent client for a murder but escapes to find the killer with a poetess he meets in this odd-ball comedy.
This uneven star comedy seems to be exploiting the screwball-comedy-adventure genre. Guy's low opinion of women is somewhat modified as he realizes Edwina is not just a clinging female but can be clever too. Police are satirized for their incompetence.
It's Love I'm After (1937 b 90') En: 7, Ed: 6
A couple of actors love to quarrel, and he postpones marriage to try to discourage an adoring admirer for her fiancé's sake in this screwball comedy.
Although absurd, this comedy is hilarious, as the emotionally varied lives of actors cause excitement and conflict. The helpful valet must constantly adjust to changes; Henry fights for his girl and detaches; Marcia follows her feelings; Joyce uses clever strategy; and Basil, after flirting with an adoring youth, realizes he would rather have a mature sparring partner.
It's Tough To Be Famous (1932 b 79') En: 5, Ed: 5
A submarine captain becomes a hero; but the adulation, publicity, and exploitation of his fame upset his private life.
This modern story shows the pitfalls of being a sudden celebrity. McClenahan is not prepared for fame and has trouble adjusting.
I've Got Your Number (1934 b 68') En: 6, Ed: 5
A cocky telephone repairman woos an operator and rescues her from a false accusation by catching a gang of criminals.
This comedy reflects how useful telephones have become for people in this era as Terry uses his technical skill to trace a gang of criminals.
Jalna (1935 b 78') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from Mazo de la Roche's novel, a large family copes with the consequences of various marital choices.
This family drama explores various relationships that have gone awry. Meg is bitter because she did not marry Maurice, who has become an alcoholic. Renny loves Eden's wife, and Eden loves Piers' wife. The process of finding the right mate is sometimes complicated.
Jamaica Inn (1939
b 99') En: 6, Ed: 6
Adapted from Daphne Du Maurier's novel, a young woman discovers her aunt is surrounded by pirates preying on wrecked ships for the local judge.
This under-rated Hitchcock film exposes early 19th century piracy and the greedy judge who leads the cut-throats. Courageous Mary and Trehearne manage to catch the criminals who murder witnesses so they won't hang.
Jericho (1937 b 76') En: 5, Ed: 5
A black soldier, unfairly convicted of murder, escapes and becomes a leader in the African desert.
Fine singing enhances this adventurous story of an African American fleeing a faulty judgment after his heroic action. Mack's punishment emphasizes military injustice, while Jericho finds a new life in Africa.
Jesse James (1939
c 106') En: 7, Ed: 6
In this romanticized version the notorious outlaw brothers rebel against the oppressive railroad before going on their crime spree.
This mixture of fact and fiction makes folk heroes of the James brothers, who in history after the war continued the raiding they did for the Confederacy. A horse being killed in the cliff jump resulted in the American Humane Association monitoring subsequent movies to protect animals.
Jewel Robbery (1932 b 68') En: 6, Ed: 5
Adapted from Ladislaus Fodor's play, a witty charmer steals jewels and woos a baroness at the same time.
This sophisticated robber transcends the American crimes of "stick 'em up and shoot 'em down" but apparently is obsessed with the glittering objects. Yet his charm is enough to pull a baroness away from her rich husband and young lover. This film introduced the nameless marijuana to theater audiences, and the studio was sent letters asking what it was.
Jezebel (1938 b 104') En: 8, Ed: 8
Based on a play by Owen Davis, a willful southern belle loses her fiancé and causes a duel before an epidemic carries off the man she loves.
This melodrama reflects the peculiar values of ante-bellum Southern society in which arrogance, willfulness, and stubbornness multiply problems into major tragedies.
Jimmy the Gent (1934 b 68') En: 6, Ed: 5
Two clever operators compete in the business (racket) of finding lost heirs for rich estates, one trying to win back a pretty assistant by becoming respectable.
This complicated intrigue is played for comedy and shows that Jimmy has a good heart even though Joan calls him "the greatest chiseler since Michelangelo."
Journal of a Crime (1934 b 65') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a play by Jacques Deval, a wife kills her husband's mistress and escapes undetected except that her husband knows.
This story explores the feelings of a wronged wife who commits a crime of passion. When so much of a woman's identity and self-esteem result only from her relationship with her husband and when his loyalty becomes divided, such extremes are possible.
Joy of Living (1938 b 91') En: 6, Ed: 5
A Broadway star supports her parents but is persuaded by a wealthy playboy to have fun with him instead.
This charming musical comedy encourages the audience to forget their troubles and have fun as Margaret finds release from a show-business family that brought her up on work. Yet in the real world how many have enough inherited wealth not to work?
b 121') En: 7, Ed: 8
Based on history and the play by Franz Werfel from Bertita Harding's novel, elected Mexican President Juarez overcomes the imposition of Maximilian.
This drama is fairly accurate (except for Uradi's attempted coup; also in fact Diaz escaped) and shows how a great native American (Juarez) made Mexico a democratic nation under a constitution despite imperialistic intervention by France and Maximilian.
Judge Hardy and Son
(1939 b 90') En: 6, Ed: 7
When Andy's mother gets pneumonia, he realizes his problems are not so big and gets along better with his sister and father.
Although Andy jokes about a husband beating his wife if she does not cook well, this heart-warming family comedy presents model behavior and attitudes from small-town America, where even a policeman loans his car. A daughter of immigrants learns not to be ashamed of her parents.
Judge Hardy's Children (1938 b 78') En: 5, Ed: 6
The Hardy family travels to Washington for the Judge to head a commission, but complications arise from romances of his son and daughter.
While preserving his integrity in standing up for democracy against corruption, the Judge teaches his children his values while letting them learn from experience.
Judge Priest (1934 b 80') En: 6, Ed: 5
A judge in a southern town helps his nephew get the right woman and rescues his nephew's first legal client by appealing to Confederate sentiment.
The common-sense wisdom and humor of Judge Priest salvage this film that ends as a shameless celebration of Confederate war patriotism, which really should have had nothing to do with the trial. The politician Maydew is also satirized as an ambitious fool.
Just a Gigolo (1931 b 66') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Alexander Engel's play, an upperclass British playboy tests the woman his uncle wants him to marry by pretending to be a gigolo.
This story flirts with and affirms the double standard that allows men to sow wild oats before marriage, while women are supposed to remain virgins. Yet the character of Roxana teaches Robert that faithful love is possible and more promising than easy conquests.
Just Around the Corner (1938 b 71') En: 6, Ed: 6
In this musical comedy a little girl helps her jobless father by getting his fiancé's wealthy uncle to provide jobs, thinking he is Uncle Sam.
Since the Hoover administration, people had been told that prosperity was "just around the corner," but in 1938 many were still unemployed and suffering. This musical brings child-like optimism and escape entertainment to the confidence problem to suggest that the wealthy could help by hiring people.
Kennel Murder Case, The (1933 b 73') En: 6, Ed: 5
Detective Philo Vance solves a double murder that starts as an obvious suicide case in this adaptation of S. S. Van Dine's novel.
This murder mystery is cleverly contrived with numerous suspects having motives. The audience is kept guessing until the end as the persistent Philo adds clue to clue until the whole puzzle comes together.
Kentucky (1938 c 95') En: 6, Ed: 5
John Taintor Foote helped adapt his novel in this romance of feuding horse-breeders that won an Oscar for Walter Brennan's crotchety performance.
Stereotyped portrayal of blacks on the farm indicates this film could have been set in the 19th century. Young love overcomes traditional hatreds.
Kentucky Kernels (1934 b 75') En: 6, Ed: 5
Two magicians adopt a boy, who inherits a Kentucky estate that embroils them in a family feud.
This farce satirizes the absurdity of feuds between rustic families.
Key, The (1934 b 71') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a play by R. Gore-Brown and J. L. Hardy, a British officer sacrifices himself to save the husband of his old flame amidst the British-Irish conflict in Dublin.
The historical British-Irish conflict provides a somewhat educational context for this romantic melodrama in which a romantic bachelor saves his friend by gallantly breaking army rules. Meanwhile the wife learns the difference between a romantic affair and a loving marriage.
Kid Comes Back, The (1938 b 61') En: 5, Ed: 4
A young Texan becomes a boxer and has to decide whether to fight his fiancé's brother for the title or not.
This boxing story shows how anger can cause fights outside the ring and how more powerful forces can make two friends fight in the ring in spite of their relationship.
Kid From Kokomo, The
(1939 b 93') En: 5, Ed: 4
A conniving boxing manager gets a thieving actress to play the lost mother of his rustic fighter.
This comedy plays on the ironic contrast between the city slickers and the simple values of the gullible country kid. With movies like this reaching the small towns such disparities would soon diminish.
Kid from Spain, The (1932 b 96') En:5 , Ed: 4
Busby Berkeley did the choreography for this musical comedy about a fugitive who mascarades as a bullfighter in Mexico.
Eddie is funny with clever lines; but some stereotypes are exploited, such as Mexican firing squads and bandits. The white men out-compete the Mexican men for the Mexican women, who look rather white.
Kid Galahad (1937 b 102') En: 6, Ed: 5
A bellhop becomes a prize fighter and falls in love with his manager's daughter while his manager's girlfriend falls in love with him.
This drama contrasts the violence of the fight racket with the purity Nick tries to preserve for his family, a conflict combined in a knight like Galahad. Both managers used crooked strategies; because of the greater violence of Morgan, both are killed for their crimes.
Kid Millions (1934 b 90') En: 5, Ed: 4
Eddie inherits treasure, but he has to go to Egypt and compete with others before he can make free ice cream for kids.
This comical, musical fantasy offers those suffering from the Depression escape entertainment. Eddie wants kids to be happy with shows and sweets. No one except the sheik seems to be bothered by the stealing of Egyptian treasure for Americans.
Kind Lady (1935 b 76') En: 5, Ed: 5
A generous woman has a poor artist with his family and friends move in with her; they sell her paintings and try to get her money.
This nightmarish story reflects deep conflicts between the wealthy and the poor. The wealthy fear the poor will take away their lifestyle, while the poor often are envious and hostile to the rich, though seldom are these tactics used.
King and the Chorus Girl, The (1937 b 94') En: 5, Ed: 4
A former king stops drinking long enough to fall in love with a chorus girl.
This romance shows a useless man with idle time shift from drinking to an American chorus girl, who believes in the sacredness of romance.
King Kong (1933 b 100') En: 8, Ed: 7
A movie director takes a girl to make a film about a monstrous ape and brings it back to New York for display.
This archetypal story expresses fears of gorilla-like men (Negroes) and symbolizes their capture and enslavement while portraying the subconscious sexual desires of women for their virility and the sense that they can be human in being gentle to a beauty. The natives are stereotypically primitive, and the white men are the usual exploiters.
King of the Underworld (1937 b 67') En: 5, Ed: 4
A physician treats gangsters and is killed; his wife also treats them while trying to keep her license.
This gangster drama shows the ignorance and blindness of gangsters who kill for gain. Joe thinks "moronic" is a compliment, and Carole and Bill can communicate without the gangsters being aware. Her clever trick symbolizes their moral blindness especially when they shoot in that condition.
King Solomon's Mines (1937 b 80') En: 6, Ed: 5
Based on H. Rider Haggard's novel, English hunters follow the Irish trying to find ancient diamond mines in Africa.
Filming with authentic African tribes added some realism to this rather fantastic story of an African prince reclaiming his heritage at the site of a fabulous mine. While Henry romances Kathy, Good covers his fear with witty quips while the reluctant Quartermain is led on by Kathy's zeal.
Kongo (1932 b 86') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a play by Chester de Vonde and Kilbourn Gordon, a crippled man rules African natives with magic and seeks revenge against the daughter of the man who stole his wife and injured his spine.
This story of a man turned sadistic in order to gain revenge finally reveals he has tormented his own daughter. His own petty tyranny destroyed himself.
Ladies of the Jury (1932 b 63') En: 5, Ed: 4
In this comedy a talkative woman asks questions during a murder trial and persuades the rest of the jury the woman is innocent.
This satire shows how petty human concerns may affect jurors deciding a question of life or death. Only an outspoken and independent woman prevents a great miscarriage of justice.
Ladies They Talk About (1933 b 69') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on the prison experience and a play by Dorothy Mackaye, a woman involved in a bank robbery has a love-hate relationship with an evangelist after he turns her in.
This hard look at women in prison raised objections in the Hayes office, but the code was not cracking down yet. The relationship between Nan and Slade explores attitudes toward crime, forgiveness, and responsibility. Stool pigeons and the fanatical Suzie are shown unfavorably as is usual in prison culture.
Lady for a Day (1933 b 96') En: 8, Ed: 8
The Capra-Riskin team adapted Damon Runyon's story about a poor woman's social transformation aided by a powerful gambler.
This heart-warming story makes fun of class distinctions by fooling European aristocracy. The democratic theme is reinforced as the top elected leaders cooperate with the charade to help the poor woman.
Lady Killer (1933 b 75') En: 6, Ed: 5
In this satire of Hollywood a gambler gets involved in robberies, flees to California, and becomes a movie star but gets blackmailed by his old gang.
The personality of Dan (Cagney) carries this combination movie satire, gangster melodrama, and romantic comedy, allowing the audience to escape daily life for the intrigue of crime, the glamor of movies, and the fantasy of romance.
Lady of Scandal, The (1930 b 76') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from Frederick Lonsdale's play, an actress engaged to a member of an aristocratic family falls in love with a duke already committed to a married woman.
Although the head of their family is having an affair with a married woman, these aristocrats are scandalized one of them might marry an actress. This does not bother the free-thinking duke. Yet when he falls for the actress, she realizes he is still committed.
Lady of the Tropics
(1939 b 92') En: 5, Ed: 6
An American marries a half-French, half-Vietnamese woman, but a wealthy Oriental tries to win her over with manipulation.
In this romantic tragedy racism against Asians, the manipulation of a jealous rich man, and the lies of Manon all contribute to her self-sacrificing death in this modern variation of the 18th century novel Manon Lescaut. The naïve American is caught in this web despite his unprejudiced love, symbolizing the current American isolation from old-world politics.
Lady Vanishes, The (1938 b 95') En: 7, Ed: 6
Based on a novel by Ethel Lina White, in this spy story a governess disappears on a train, and a young woman and man try to find her.
In this spy mystery the audience experiences the frustration of Iris at her concern being ignored by a spy conspiracy or those who don't want to become involved. Gilbert helps her but quickly starts shooting the men outside as a judge is ridiculed for being a pacifist. The irresponsible message of this over-rated film seems to be shoot first and ask questions later.
Lady's Morals, A (1930 b 87') En: 4, Ed: 5
This story of Swedish opera star Jenny Lind focuses on her difficult romance.
This story explores the difficulties a great opera star might have in romance, for Paul refuses to become the husband of a prima donna. Jenny Lind did in fact marry her accompanist, who was several years younger; she was promoted in America by P. T. Barnum; and she retired to a life of piety while still middle-aged.. This film combines a sensitive romance with opera music.
Last Days of Pompeii, The (1935 b 96') En: 6, Ed: 6
A blacksmith becomes a gladiator, captures slaves, and steals horses to gain money; but his adopted son is influenced by a life-saving encounter with Jesus and helps slaves escape during the volcanic eruption.
Using the title and setting but not the story of Bulwer-Lytton's novel, Christian values are contrasted to the brutality of gladiators and slaves. By making money his god Marcus rejects the former for the latter until the end.
Last Gangster, The (1937 b 81') En: 6, Ed: 6
A gangster is imprisoned for income tax evasion; when he gets out ten years later, he finds he lost his gang, his money, and his family.
This drama reflects the changed status of gangsters since Prohibition by showing the consequences one faced. The contrast between the Napoleonic Joe and the Boy Scout values of Paul is seen in the father-son interactions.
Last of Mrs. Cheyney, The (1937 b 99') En: 6, Ed: 5
In this second adaptation of Frederick Lonsdale's play a conscience-torn woman tries to steal pearls from a trusting lady for her loyal friend.
Fay believes that a woman can only become wealthy by marriage or stealing and converts to the less dangerous option even though her thieving partner is a fine friend, who sacrifices himself for her. The upper class is portrayed as more concerned about their reputations than about justice.
Last of the Mohicans, The (1936 b 92') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on Cooper's famous novel, an American scout with his Mohawk friends helps the British against the French and the Hurons.
This version changes the novel's ending but captures the frontier spirit of colonial America torn apart by a European conflict and Huron enmity toward the Iroquois League.
Last Train from Madrid, The (1937 b 78') En: 6, Ed: 7
During Spain's civil war a captain helps his friend flee Madrid with his fiancé and others.
Contemporary scenes of planes bombing civilians indicate what is actually happening in Madrid in 1937, though the film's prolog indicates it does not take sides but portrays the drama of war. Danger accelerates two quick romances, and Alvarez sacrifices his life for his friend Eduardo.
Laugh and Get Rich (1931 b 72') En: 5, Ed: 4
A family with boarders struggles to gain money with various schemes while their daughter is courted.
This Depression comedy reflects wild schemes people imagine for making money in a very difficult economy in which everyone seems to be trying to get money from others, but few have any to spend.
Laughing Sinners (1931 b 72') En: 4, Ed: 5
This morality tale of a jilted dancer who joins the Salvation Army is based on the play Torch Song by Kenyon Nicholson.
This story attempts to take on the prejudices of usual movie audiences to groups like the Salvation Army. Ivy herself has a low opinion of them at the start, but a glimpse of the helpful work they can do for the poor and those who need help changes her mind and may reach a few hearts in the audience as well. Surely this is a better choice for her than being used occasionally by a married traveling salesman. One hopes that once the hurt of that affair is healed, she'll probably find a more healthy relationship.
Lawyer Man (1933 b 68') En: 6, Ed: 6
A lawyer's ambition takes him from the east side uptown until he learns what kind of lawyer he wants to be.
By identifying with the young lawyer or his wise secretary the audience gets to face the challenges of feminine seduction while taking on the political machine. We see how a lawyer can work to help people, go after the corrupt, or fight for revenge. One can seek wealth and power or concentrate more on helping people in need.
Let Freedom Ring (1939 b 87') En: 6, Ed: 5
A singing lawyer pretends to go along with a railroad capitalist oppressing a town while secretly publishing a newspaper to awaken voters.
In this musical western a railroad magnate is overthrown by a young lawyer, who steals two presses to publish stories that expose the local injustices. The strength of immigrant diversity and freedom triumphs.
Let Us Be Gay (1930 b 79') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on the play by Rachel Crothers, a woman divorces her philandering husband and later comes between him and a second marriage.
This romantic comedy suggests that a woman can also adopt the playful life-style popular with men in order to allure men and find fulfillment. Mrs. Bouccicault cleverly rescues her daughter from Bob.
Let's Try Again (1934 b 68') En: 4, Ed: 5
Based on Vincent Lawrence's play, a couple nearly divorces after ten years of marriage.
This stagy drama explores the realistic situation of a marriage that has lost its initial excitement, forcing the partners to evaluate their relationship and consider other options.
Libeled Lady (1936 b 98') En: 7, Ed: 6
Two newspapermen in order to stop a libel suit try to frame an heiress by having one's fiancé marry the other.
Four great stars in humorous situations make this picture a lot of fun even if it is absurd to use a phony marriage to set the trap, though it is oddly pleasing to see Connie drop her guard for a ruse. Then the audience is taken in when Bill really falls for her. Gladys is fooled by attention from Bill when she really loves Haggerty, who through jealousy learns to value Gladys.
Life Begins (1932 b 71') En: 6, Ed: 6
This adaptation of Mary Axelson's play about a maternity ward focuses on the risky case of a woman from prison and an entertainer planning to give up her twins for adoption.
This melodrama portrays an urban hospital where the drama of human birth is shared by the women in the ward. Florette's attitude is completely transformed after her twins are born. The death of convicted murderer Grace while her child lives symbolizes rebirth after imprisonment in the body.
Life of Emile Zola, The (1937 b 117') En: 8, Ed: 9
The famous French novelist helps free a Jew wrongly convicted by French generals in the infamous Dreyfus case.
Actually Dreyfus was tried and convicted again, and he was not exonerated until several years after Zola's death. Yet the tremendous challenge that Zola courageously undertook to right a wrong is a true story and portrayed fairly accurately. This film is a fine memorial to a great novelist, who worked so hard to reveal the truth about his times.
Life of Jimmy Dolan, The (1933 b 89') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a play by Milhauser and Dix, a boxer accidentally kills a reporter; but when police believe he is dead, he escapes to fall in love at a charitable ranch.
Adversity and friendly people in a rural setting help a cynical urban boxer to learn about idealism and caring for others. Even the detective passes up a chance to redeem his reputation so that Jack can continue his new life.
Life of the Party, The (1937 b 77') En: 5, Ed: 4
In this Kalmer-Ruby musical a young man courts an aspiring singer even though he will lose a large inheritance if he marries before he is thirty.
Sexual innuendo and Parky's word-play highlight this mildly amusing musical comedy that explores the tension between romantic attraction and the desire for money.
Life of Vergie Winters, The (1934 b 82') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Louis Bromfield's novel, a politician marries the wrong woman and continues to love his mistress, who has his child he adopts and raises.
This sentimental drama explores the suffering resulting from a mistaken marriage and the social stigma of divorce that would destroy a politician's career.
Light That Failed, The
(1939 b 97') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on Rudyard Kipling's novel, a successful artist is going blind from a war wound but paints one more picture.
This drama symbolizes how unforeseen consequences of war can ruin an artist's ability to function. The tragic ending of Kipling's early novel portends the destruction of British imperial militarism, which preoccupies men so much they have little time for a relationship with a female.
Lilly Turner (1933 b 65') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from a play by Phillip Dunning and George Abbott, a woman marries a bigamist who deserts her, then an alcoholic when she is pregnant before meeting the man she loves while working in a medicine show.
This slice of life shows people struggling for survival and trying to find someone to love. Rex is a scoundrel; Dave is kind but hopelessly alcoholic; Fritz is mentally unbalanced; Mrs. and Mrs. McGill are unsatisfied; Lilly and Bob are a good match but have obstacles to their union.
Listen, Darling (1938 b 75') En: 5, Ed: 5
A daughter and her friend try to find a husband for a widow planning to marry a banker to provide for them.
Dottie and Richard grapple with the dilemma between the freedom of a carefree life versus the responsibilities for loved ones. The woman naturally puts her children first, and the man gives up his freedom for a woman he loves. This traditional story is enlivened by the plotting of the youngsters and three fine songs.
Little Big Shot (1935 b 73') En: 5, Ed: 4
Two con-artists find themselves with an orphaned girl, have trouble with gangsters, but go straight to gain custody of her.
This sentimental story combines melodrama, comedy, and songs. The innocence of a child is contrasted to the violence of gangsters and transforms a chiseler into being more responsible.
Little Caesar (1930 b 79') En: 7, Ed: 6
This prototype gangster movie depicts the rapid rise and fall of a Prohibition era hoodlum reminiscent of Al Capone.
This story shows the futility of Caesar's way of violence, although it may temporarily make one feel like a big man. Ultimately his love for a friend softens Rico's hard methods enough to bring about the inevitable turning point that leads to his downfall. A society that attempted to outlaw alcohol and gambling while allowing all kinds of guns fostered a lawless underworld in which the most ruthless could dominate until they too are knocked off their little perches.
Little Colonel, The (1935 b 81') En: 6, Ed: 6
Adapted from a novel by Annie Fellows Johnston, a little girl struggles with temper and bridges the gap between her mother and her grandfather.
Young Lloyd works on the family traits of anger and stubbornness in herself and others. Shirley Temple's usual charm, and the dancing of Bill Robinson enrich the entertainment.
Little Giant, The (1933 b 76') En: 5, Ed: 5
As Prohibition is ending, a former bootlegger tries to enter high society but is swindled and has to use his gangster tactics to get even.
In this satire a brutal gangster trying to be cultured attracts a greedy family more crooked than he is, but not as tough. Bugs finally realizes that he found real quality in Ruth.
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936 b 99') En: 7, Ed: 7
This sentimental story about the loving grandson of an English aristocrat and son of an American mother was based on the 1886 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Although the ending is rather contrived, the innocent love of the boy melting his grandfather and all whom he meets is a moving drama, showing there is always hope in the next generation.
Little Man, What Now? (1934 b 98') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on the novel by Hans Fallada, a young couple struggles to survive economically during the Depression in Germany.
This poignant story portrays how even the middle class struggled desperately during the Depression, while some of the unemployed "marched" for their rights and were put down by police.
Little Minister, The (1934 b 110') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on the play by James M. Barrie, a new minister in a small Scotch town falls in love with a gypsy woman.
Hepburn shines in this story that combines romance with spirituality. The rebellious gypsy radical finds her match in the forthright and sincere preacher, who cares about people and opposes fighting.
Little Miss Broadway (1938 b 72') En: 5, Ed: 4
In this musical comedy an orphan is adopted by managers of a hotel for actors, and she helps to save the place with her charm and talent.
Shirley Temple fans will like this for the singing, the dancing, and the story-book tale that makes audiences feel good while being entertained.
Little Miss Marker (1934 b 79') En: 6, Ed: 6
In this Damon Runyon story a little girl is left as a marker with a bookie and becomes the owner of a horse for a fixed race; but her sweetness helps reform the gamblers.
Tough gamblers are contrasted to the innocence and charm of a child, while Bangles tries to keep Marthy from becoming hardened. Jones prays to save Marthy and has the grace to give up his crooked plan.
Little Princess, The
(1939 c 93') En: 6, Ed: 6
Adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, a girl is put in a school and has to work after her prominent father's death is reported.
The spirited Shirley Temple challenges a mean school authority and demonstrates kind and generous behavior as she overcomes the loss of her father in war.
Little Women (1933 b 116') En: 7, Ed: 8
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, four sisters become adults while their father is away in the Civil War.
This cultured New England family demonstrates the values of caring for each other and self-sacrifice while enjoying life immensely. Each sister has her own talent and goals in life she must fufill, and yet they all support each other and their mother.
Littlest Rebel, The (1935 b 74') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a play by Edward Peple, during the Civil War a girl's mother dies, and her father is arrested as a spy; but she gets him pardoned.
In this drama a little girl has been raised to be loyal to the South. Yet by her loving nature she is friendly with the slaves and is able to befriend enemy soldiers, implying that war and killing are absurd ways to try to solve human conflicts.
Live, Love and Learn (1937 b 79') En: 5, Ed: 5
A woman renounces wealth in marrying a poor painter but separates from him when he is seduced by commercial success.
This comedy deals with the conflict between making economic sacrifices for artistic integrity versus selling one's talent for commercial gain by catering to the wealthy. The wife fighting for the former against the artist's indulgence in the latter provides the dramatic reversal.
Lives of a Bengal Lancer, The (1935 b 109') En: 8, Ed: 7
Based on the novel by Major Francis Yates-Brown, three British officers in India disagree with their colonel about how to keep guns out of the hands of a Muslim rebel.
This action film applauded for its camaraderie among the colonial officers inadvertently exposes the violence and oppression of paternalistic British colonialism in India. Sadly, all the colonel can look forward to in retirement is his son being in his old regiment. What is so heroic about men risking their lives to govern people from another culture and religion?
Living on Velvet (1935 b 76') En: 4, Ed: 5
An aviator loses his family in a crash and becomes eccentric while falling in love and getting married; his loving wife tries to help him.
This romantic drama depicts a man who has been badly shocked into a peculiar way of living without responsibility; but the love of a woman helps him eventually to find himself in his relationship with her.
Lloyds of London (1936 b 117') En: 7, Ed: 7
A boyhood friend of Admiral Nelson joins an insurance syndicate, falls in love with a married woman, and tries to preserve Nelson's fleet for England.
This story explores the dilemma of insuring shipping during the war against Napoleon. Jonathan wavers between romance and cynicism; then he risks fraud to help his Navy friend protect England rather than its ships.
Local Boy Makes Good (1931 b 68') En: 5, Ed: 5
Suggested by the Nugent play, a shy botanist student becomes a track star in order to win a girl-friend.
This comedy satirizes psychoanalysis by showing how tapping into the powerful resources of the unconscious can turn inward energies outward, transforming a shy scientist into a romantic athlete.
Looking Forward (1933 b 82') En: 6, Ed: 7
Adapted from a play by C. L. Anthony, the owner of a department store lays off an employee of forty years and considers selling the store.
This story shows how the Depression caused chain reactions of lay-offs, forcing people to scramble for new opportunities. Economic pressures challenge relationships and personal motivations.
Lord Jeff (1938 b 86') En: 5, Ed: 6
An arrogant orphan caught stealing jewelry is sent to a nautical school, where he learns a better code of behavior.
Geof's attitude is so obnoxious that the audience is relieved when he learns to be less selfish in following the example of the good Terry.
Lost Horizon (1937 b 132') En: 8, Ed: 9
Adapted from James Hilton's novel, a British diplomat is taken to a mystical Tibetan valley of peaceful happiness, but his brother tries to leave.
Unfortunately some of this great film was lost, though all of the sound-track has been restored. This story of Tibetan mysticism appeals to western audiences by making the Lama a Belgian priest, and in the novel Robert falls in love with a Tibetan woman. Yet this drama prophetically warns against human destruction from greed and war while appealing to simple kindness and moderation.
Lost Lady, A (1934 b 62') En: 4, Ed: 5
A woman sees her fiancé murdered, is lost in despair, and marries a wealthy lawyer; but a younger man awakens love in her again.
Willa Cather was so disappointed that her story was changed so much that she never allowed another adaptation of her work during her life. Yet in this drama Marian learns that honesty and caring are essential to true love and that what is often called love is merely sexual attraction.
Lost Patrol, The (1934 b 65') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on the novel by Philip MacDonald, a British patrol in the desert is killed one by one by unseen Arabs.
This bleak story exposes the futility and waste of war and the killing of enemies. Instead of offering consolation or understanding, a religious fanatic gets on the others' nerves. The sergeant doesn't know where they are going nor why. The enemy is unseen until the end when they are all killed, emphasizing the mysterious dehumanization of war.
Lost Squadron, The (1932 b 79') En: 5, Ed: 6
An air squadron of four men stay together after the world war to do movie stunts and sacrifice their lives for each other.
These four men in facing danger and death developed a deep friendship and loyalty to each other that made it natural for them to sacrifice themselves for one of the others. This is contrasted to the crude power and ambition of von Furst and Jolette, who admitted she became ambitious and weak.
Lottery Bride, The (1930 b 67') En: 5, Ed: 5
This Arthur Hammerstein operetta with music by Rudolf Friml uses a contrived plot to separate and bring back together young lovers Chris (John Garrick) and Jenny (Jeanette MacDonald).
The over-active mind of college-man Chris jumps to the wrong conclusion, causing all the fuss, while Jenny simply is trying to be friendly with everyone. Dating movie audiences naturally expect their heroes and heroines to marry only for love, and so they identify with the struggle of Chris and Jenny and are happy when love finally conquers all no matter how artificial the contrivances. Using a lottery goes against the free choice involved in personal love.
Love Affair (1939
b 88') En: 8, Ed: 7
An engaged French playboy falls in love with an American woman on a ship and plans to meet her in six months after working; but she is detained.
Surely one of the most romantic films ever, a grandmother and a beautiful woman inspire a loafer to work and become a successful artist as he matures and realizes he has found the one woman for him despite the tragedy that kept them apart for a while.
Love Begins at 20 (1936 b 58') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on Martin Flavin's play, a nagged husband is robbed and loses his job; but he lets his daughter get married and gains his wife's respect.
This comedy shows the transformation of a hen-pecked husband as his daughter marries a young man, who assists in the capture of the man the nagging wife always cited as a better example. The husband realizes how he has let his wife dominate him.
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938 b 91') En: 5, Ed: 6
Andy is buying a car and finds himself juggling three girls before the coming dance.
This realistic domestic comedy portrays the difficult early stages of teen romance and parental concern.
Love, Honor and Behave (1938 b 71') En: 5, Ed: 5
Parents of opposite extremes divorce over competitiveness, and their son struggles to find a self-assertive balance with his aggressive wife.
This drama explores the extremes of fighting or submitting. The dialog suggests a moderate balance; but the dramatic action implies the reactionary approach of force instead of intelligent and loving action. Surely one can be understanding and fair instead of selfish without being weak.
Love in Bloom (1935 b 75') En: 5, Ed: 4
A woman from a carnival family is broke with a songwriter, but they find a job selling music and fall in love.
This story of two poor people struggling to survive entertains Depression audiences with music and the comedy of Gracie and George.
Love Is a Headache (1938 b 73') Ed: 6, Ed: 5
A Broadway star and a columnist vie with each other over her career and the adoption of two orphans in this madcap comedy.
This nifty comedy plays on the sexual tension between two career people, who oddly are pulled together by two orphans not wanting to be separated.
Love Is a Racket (1932 b 72') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from a novel by Rian James, a gossip columnist helps the woman he loves get out of trouble only to find she married someone else.
Cynical Aunt Hattie told Mary that all men either want to take all they can get or don't have anything to give, and apparently Mary believed her, taking what she could get. Stanley and Jimmy committed murder for her and feel like getting drunk. Amidst this pessimism the hope of Sally shines brightly.
Love Me Tonight (1932 b 88') En: 8, Ed: 8
Rodgers and Hart wrote the music and lyrics for this ground-breaking musical about a romance between a Paris tailor and a princess based on the play by Leopold Marchant and Paul Armont.
Poetic lyrics enhance this fine musical with the theme of romance and marriage between those in different social classes. The charm of Maurice is so charismatic he can even stop a brutal hunt.
Love on a Bet (1936 b 77') En: 6, Ed: 5
A would-be play producer bets his meat-packing uncle he can find a girl and get to Los Angeles in ten days to prove his play has merit.
This Depression romantic comedy cleverly helps its audience appreciate the challenge of being poor, and the ultimate irony is that fortune-hunter Paula intends to make Michael take the meat-packing job instead of produce the play.
Love on the Run (1936 b 80') En: 6, Ed: 5
An heiress flees her wedding with an incognito reporter, and both are chased by spies and his rival reporter in this romantic comedy.
This story replays in a European setting the working-class reporter romancing the fleeing heiress; his ruthless treatment of a rival reporter and friend satirizes the fierce competition in journalism.
M (German 1931 b 99') En: 6, Ed: 8
When the police do not catch a serial child murderer, the criminal underground organizes to capture him and put him on trial.
This film creates a powerful mood of danger, fear, and suspicion, as the innocence of children is threatened by an unknown murderer. The underworld proves to be more effective than the police, though their trial has to give way to society's laws. The final question haunts the issue of whether capital punishment merely makes society murderers too.
Mad Genius, The (1931 b 81') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Martin Brown's play, a puppeteer adopts an abused boy and makes him a ballet star but wants to control his career and manipulates his life.
This melodrama portrays a manipulator who goes too far and is defeated by the power of young love. Ivan compensated for the pain of his childhood by living vicariously in the dancer he made but failed to let him live his own life.
Mad Love (1935 b 68') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a novel by Maurice Renard, a psychotic surgeon transplants a murderer's hands on to the pianist husband of the woman he loves.
In another story of independent medical experimentation with corpses a skillful but mad surgeon tries to compensate for being utterly foolish at attracting a woman.
Mad Miss Manton (1938 b 80') En: 6, Ed: 5
A debutante sues an editor after finding a murder victim that disappeared; but her friends help her solve the murder, and the editor wants to marry her.
This comedy-mystery challenges the prejudices of male police who doubt women could ever solve a crime. Yet the romantic editor shows he is liberated enough to live on a debutante's wealth.
Madam Satan (1930 b 116') En: 6, Ed: 5
Cecil B. DeMille directed this musical extravaganza.
When another woman takes her husband away, Madam Satan uses her sexual power to get him back, as her husband's tendency to stray ironically pulls him back to his own wife. The audience gets to see a charming seduction, but it's more acceptable because they are really married.
Madame X (1937 b 72') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a play by Alexandre Bisson, an unfaithful wife is cast out by her husband, becomes an alcoholic, and commits murder.
This sad story shows how the failure to forgive one sin results in a wasted life that is poetically redeemed by sacrificing the lives of a blackmailer and herself; but for what? - to save her son from learning the truth about her or to protect her husband's reputation?
Made for Each Other
(1939 b 93') En: 6, Ed: 5
Newly weds struggle with a criticizing mother, economic difficulties, and a sick baby.
This rather uneven comedy-drama explores the common problems of a young couple. The melodramatic delivery of a serum by plane was based on an experience of producer David O. Selznick. Such an event is dramatic in real life but seems contrived in a film. The nagging of the mother-in-law indicates why many young people don't want a parent living with them.
Maid of Salem (1937 b 86') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on historical records of colonial Salem, several innocent people are accused of witchcraft and hanged before the hysteria ceases.
This drama depicts actual events from a time of religious hysteria, which resembles the current Nazi hunting of Jews. Why are people so eager to execute people when emotions rage since errors committed during such frenzies cannot be corrected? In this case the delusions were so obvious that they repented when reason regained control.
Make Me a Star (1932 b 86') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Harry Leon Wilson's novel and the play by George Kaufman and Marc Connelly, a grocery clerk determined to be a western movie star is exploited.
More dramatic than comic, this story explores the gap between a naive actor's hopes and the practical business of movie-making that is open to few. Fine acting by Blondell and Erwin make the story a realistic tragic farce.
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937 b 92') En: 6, Ed: 7
Adapted from Josephine Lawrence's novel and the play by Henry and Noah Leary, an elderly couple lose their home and must live with their children.
This drama is tremendously sad when Ma and Pa are separated and bothersome in their children's' homes; but it is balanced by the few happy hours they spend together on their last honeymoon that demonstrates how well they love each other even though their children do not love them much.
Man About Town (1939
b 85') En: 5, Ed: 4
A producer, considered unromantic, tries to make his friend jealous but gets caught in the same trap by two wives out to make their husbands jealous.
This comedy contrasts unromantic business people to show personalities. The schemes of the wives are an effort to get their husbands to pay attention to them. Jack Benny wants to be romantic and has fun making others jealous.
Man of Conquest (1939 b 99') En: 6, Ed: 7
In this biographical drama Sam Houston helps the Cherokee and leaves Tennessee to fight for the independence of Texas.
Houston did live with the Cherokee and was a counter-force to Jackson's oppressive policies against that tribe. In Texas the liberal Austin balanced the boldness of Houston, who won an important battle at San Jacinto in 1836. These adventurous personalities and historic events are truly portrayed.
Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935 b 65') En: 6, Ed: 5
A memory expert has a long day of troubles that include a nagging wife, burglars, being arrested, traffic citations, a flat tire, a black eye, and being fired.
W. C. Fields offers comic relief as a husband hen-pecked by wife and mother-in-law, whom he subconsciously kills by inventing her funeral as an excuse to see wrestling so he might release his pent-up aggression.
Man Who Could Work Miracles, The (1936 b 82') En: 6, Ed: 7
H. G. Wells wrote this story about a man given the power to perform any physical miracle but not psychological ones.
This modern parable puts in perspective the petty drives and ambitions of humans, implying that we could end wars and have prosperity and justice if we acted intelligently.
Man Who Found Himself, The (1937 b 67') En: 5, Ed: 4
A young doctor runs away from a scandal after a flying accident and becomes a mechanic; but a nurse urges him back to his true calling.
In this drama Jim needs freedom from his family's medical tradition and experiences other things like flying before he can settle down to being a physician like his father. An attractive nurse in a similar situation leads him back to his duty.
Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934 b 75') En: 6, Ed: 5
Alfred Hitchcock directed this suspense thriller about a couple whose daughter is kidnapped so they won't tell the police about an assassination.
Though suspenseful, the gang seems merely evil, since their motives for assassinating are not explained. The shoot-out was based on a recent event in England and showed the British police's unfamiliarity with guns. The wife and daughter are both portrayed as bold and brave.
Man Who Played God, The (1932 b 81') En: 6, Ed: 7
In this adaptation of Jules Eckert Goodman's play The Silent Voice a pianist goes deaf, learns to read lips, and becomes a philanthropist.
This spiritually uplifting story shows how, when forced to give up his greatest talent, a man finds new meaning in life by helping others. He is wise enough to realize it would not be good for Grace to sacrifice herself for him when she is now in love with a man her own age.
Man With Two Faces, The (1934 b 73') En: 5, Ed: 4
Adapted from the play by George S. Kaufman and Alexander Woolcott, an actor assumes a disguise to murder his sister's sinister husband.
Because Vance is portrayed as such a scoundrel, everyone's sympathies are to do away with him - except for the censors, who insisted that Damon not be allowed to get away with murder. Otherwise a skilled character actor might have been able to fool everyone if he hadn't left the mustache clue.
Mandalay (1934 b 65') En: 5, Ed: 5
A woman is forced to become a hostess in a Rangoon nightclub until she is deported, blackmails the police commissioner, falls in love with an alcoholic doctor, and murders her former lover who had abandoned her.
This film got by the censors before they cracked down, but it could not be shown again in 1936. Murder in the movies had to be punished. The sex trade, only hinted at by innuendo, drove Tanya to murder. She and Burton, both desperate, planned to risk likely death to help fever victims, suggesting they wanted to redeem themselves and start anew.
Manhattan Melodrama (1934 b 90') En: 7, Ed: 7
Arthur Caesar won an Oscar for this original story about boyhood friends who become a murdering gambler executed by a prosecuting governor.
Ironically Dillinger was killed after watching this movie. This story personalizes the way a prosecutor's career can be promoted by getting murderers murdered by the state. The friendly attitude and motives of Blackie give this story style as he willingly gives up his life for his ethical friend, who cannot stay in an office obtained by killing his friend.
Mannequin (1938 b 95') En: 5, Ed: 5
A woman marries to get out of a poor neighborhood and then is wooed by a wealthy ship owner, who is superior to her devious husband.
This drama portrays how the desire to get out of poverty can express in varying ways. Jessie realizes from her parents' examples and her hasty marriage that women do not have to be weak especially when their husbands are.
Marie Antoinette (1938 b 149') En: 7, Ed: 7
Partly based on the biography by Stefan Zweig, an Austrian princess becomes Queen of France until the revolution takes revenge.
This personal drama skips over Marie Antoinette's political influence with her husband and efforts with Austria, but it reflects quite well the extravagant pre-revolutionary French court and the terror of the revolution.
Marius (French 1931 b 125') En: 7, Ed: 7
Marcel Pagnol wrote the screenplay for this first in his trilogy of films named after the characters Marius, Fanny, and Cesar.
These characters are all quite likable even though they are often at cross-purposes. The French seem to have a way of arguing with each other without giving or taking offense that is quite refreshing. Marius is able to explore his deep desire for adventure and travel, while Fanny graciously sacrifices marriage because she really loves Marius and is willing to let him have what he wants.
Mark of the Vampire (1935 b 61') En: 6, Ed: 5
Director Tod Browning created the eerie mood of vampires roaming around at night. For the surprise ending, see (or don't see) below.
Horror fans are often disappointed by this ending that spoofs the basis of the terror created. Yet from realistic and dramatic perspectives it effectively shows how a drama can create such a strange mood out of people's fears.
Marked Woman (1937 b 96') En: 6, Ed: 6
A hostess at a night-club testifies against the gangster boss after her sister is murdered.
This realistic drama was inspired by the life of Lucky Luciano. The point is made that honorable men were unable to stop this crime syndicate until five courageous "hostesses" spoke against them.
Mary of Scotland (1936 b 123') En: 7, Ed: 8
Based on Maxwell Anderson's play, the Scot queen chooses a husband, regrets it, marries for love, faces civil war, flees, is imprisoned and executed.
This drama broadly describes this historic conflict, emphasizing Mary's romantic marriage to Bothwell that gave them only three weeks of bliss. Elizabeth is seen as a ruthless queen, who killed Mary to preserve her power.
Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933 b 72') En: 5, Ed: 5
Adapted from Virginia Kellogg's novel, a woman doctor has a child by her doctor friend whose divorce is delayed.
This story shows the prejudice against female doctors at this time. Before the code was enforced, Mary could have a child by a married man. After 1934 the Hayes Commission would not allow such things in the movies.
Mask of Fu Manchu, The (1932 b 68') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on a story by Sax Rohmer, the British struggle to keep the evil Dr. Fu Manchu from getting the sword and mask of Genghis Khan.
This horror story reflects fears of Asian imperialist aggression at a time when Japan had just taken over Manchuria with military force and was likely to continue expanding its militaristic empire.
Mata Hari (1931 b 89') En: 6, Ed: 7
This film portrays the final days of the famous Dutch erotic dancer, who was executed by the French for spying on October 15, 1917.
The real Mata Hari claimed she was spying on the Germans, and the French have refused to reveal the evidence. Mata Hari is notorious for using her sexuality to spy; the film leaves little doubt she betrayed the Russians and French. Such intrigues are also casualties of war.
Match King, The (1932 b 79') En: 5, Ed: 6
Adapted from the novel by Einar Thorvaldson based on the life of Ivar Kreuger, a clever manipulator uses loans and government deals to monopolize the match business until his fraud is exposed.
Ivar Kreuger did use loans to control most of the match business and left behind bankrupt companies when he shot himself in 1932.
Matrimonial Bed, The (1930 b 69') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on a play by Yves Mirande and André Mouézy-Eon, a husband believed dead returns and is hypnotized out of his amnesia.
This comedy plays upon the discoveries of hypnotism and amnesia to make a confusing and bizarre situation. Adolphe demonstrates his real love for Juliette by giving her up for the new life both have made.
Maybe It's Love (1935 b 63') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on Maxwell Anderson's play, two employees in a triangle with the boss's son get married and struggle to stay together.
This romantic comedy explores the trials of young love when threatened by a wealthy third party and the distractions of in-laws.
Mayerling (French 1936 b 93') En: 7, Ed: 8
Adapted from Claude Anet's novelization of a true story, an Austrian prince falls in love with a mistress but is forbidden to see her again.
The liberal Rudolph was shut out of his father's conservative government over the Hapsburg empire, and evidence for the speculation that he was assassinated was found; suicide may have been used as a cover. The film presents the tragic story of two lovers who chose death rather than be separated by politics.
Mayor of Hell, The (1933 b 90') En: 7, Ed: 8
An oppressive reformatory is reformed by a politically appointed racketeer.
This story contrasts authoritarian regimentation with liberal self-government. Although implemented by a corrupt racketeer, the enlightened nurse's humanitarian reforms stimulate him to change too. It shows how little and big gangsters can be educated by humane treatment to learn democratic methods that result in more justice for everyone.
Maytime (1937 b 132') En: 6, Ed: 6
Adapted from the operetta by Rida Johnson Young, an opera singer agrees to marry her mentor but then falls in love with a baritone.
Music lovers will enjoy this romantic operetta. Marcia persuades Barbara to give up her career for Kip. Yet Marcia could have had both if she had not made the mistake of confusing the two by marrying Nicolai out of gratitude.
Meanest Gal in Town, The (1934 b 62') En: 5, Ed: 4
A stranded actress draws men into a barbershop as a manicurist, causing the barber's fiancé to become jealous.
Lulu cleverly uses her sexuality to get what she wants, and this is contrasted to the conservative approach of Tillie. Each wins a man susceptible to their divergent methods, while salesman Jack seems after only temporary gains.
Men Are Such Fools (1938 b 69') En: 5, Ed: 4
A woman in advertising marries a salesman; but frustrated by his lack of success, she leaves him and goes back to work.
This comedy explores conflicts that develop when an ambitious woman wants a successful career as well as marriage. Linda even separates from her husband so that he will work harder to succeed and so that she can work too.
Men In White (1934 b 74') En: 5, Ed: 6
In this adaptation of Sidney Kingsley's play a promising intern is torn between studying with his mentor or taking a position so he can marry.
This story portrays a dedicated intern facing difficult career and life choices. Unfortunately the woman who shares his concern dies.
Men Must Fight (1933 b 72') En: 6, Ed: 8
Based on a play by Reginald Lawrence and S. K. Lauren, a nurse's lover is killed in the war, and she vows their son will never fight.
This amazingly prophetic 1933 anti-war movie showing war breaking out in 1940 has unfortunately been neglected and rarely shown. Cities were destroyed and at the end of the war by worse than gas. If the aims and efforts of people like Laura had been more widely practiced, that terrible war and others could have been prevented. Yet this story shows how their visionary ideas were ahead of their time.
Men Without Women (1930 b 73') En: 5, Ed: 4
Subtitled "A Story of Submarine Service," sailors struggle to survive as air runs out in a submerged submarine until they are rescued.
Not for the claustrophobic, this story explores the dangers and sacrifices of submarine sailors. Since one man has to die, Burke sacrifices himself for the woman he loves even though her spying cost lives.
Merry Frinks, The (1934 b 68') En: 5, Ed: 4
A family that depends on the mother and has numerous problems changes their attitudes after she leaves with an inheritance.
This comedy presents the numerous problems of the poor, but their lives are drastically altered by an absurdly large will from the uncle who never has any money, making the family realize that Mom held them together. When she agrees to return, magically they all realize they have been wrong.
Merry Widow, The (1934 b 99') En: 6, Ed: 6
Ernst Lubitsch directed Franz Lehar's operetta about a small kingdom that orders their greatest womanizer to marry a very rich widow.
This musical fantasy has an extraordinary lover fall in love with a beautiful and rich widow in elegant waltz time, offering great entertainment stylishly done.
b 94') En: 7, Ed: 6
A broke woman in Paris pretends to be a baroness and is hired to take a lover from a man's wife, but she falls for a taxi driver.
Accused of being a gold-digger, after these pranks Eve accepts a poor man, because she loves him much more than the superficial, flirting Jacques. She realizes that being truthful is easier than scheming lying.
Midnight Mary (1933 b 74') En: 5, Ed: 5
A woman on trial for murder recalls how poverty caused her to become involved with gangsters.
In the depth of the Depression the audience can empathize with Mary's plight that only favors from the rich seem to help.
Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1935 b 144') En: 7, Ed: 8
Max Reinhardt directed this version of Shakespeare's comedy about forest fairies using magic to make merriment of young lovers' affections while workers prepare a play for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.
This magical play of fairy spirits makes fun of human affections and the amateur theatrics of men used to working with their hands. It shows a hidden side of life usually seen only by few and makes use of playful imagination.
Millie (1931 b 85') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on a novel by Donald Henderson Clarke, a woman marries, has a child, divorces, and refuses to marry again.
After divorce Millie declines to be a chorus girl while young but gradually slips into drinking and partying when the second man she loved betrays her also. When a third man preys on her young daughter, she goes over the edge, dramatizing her frustration with faithless men.
Million, Le (French 1931 b 81') En: 7, Ed: 6
René Clair adapted Georges Berr's musical comedy about an artist and his friend searching for a winning lottery ticket.
This stylized musical comedy stretches the momentary joy of a poor artist winning the lottery by taking all day to find the elusive ticket. His friend Prosper and all his neighbors hope that he will share with them.
Million Dollar Legs (1932 b 62') En: 6, Ed: 5
A brush salesman in love with the President's daughter gets athletic Klopstokia to enter the Olympic games.
Political power is satirized as based on physical strength. Ironically winning amateur athletics is seen as the way to gain money for the country.
Millionaire, The (1931 b 80') En: 6, Ed: 6
An auto executive must retire because of health; after deteriorating for six months he regains his health by buying and working at a new gas station.
Alden finds that a change and doing what he enjoys cures his ailments better than medicine, while Merrick, blocked from his ambition by the Depression, gains the capital to pursue his goal.
Min and Bill (1930 b 66') En: 5, Ed: 5
This waterfront story portrays an uneducated woman, who makes a violent sacrifice for her adopted daughter.
Although the audience sympathizes with Min's efforts to save the girl she raised from her selfish mother, it is hard to justify murder as a solution. Min and Bill have a tempestuous relationship, and it is obvious that Min exploited the labor of the child for many years. Yet in spite of all this, education is valued and is seen as a way for the poor girl to find and marry into a much better life.
Mind Reader, The (1933 b 70') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Vivian Cosby's play, two con artists go into fortune telling; Chandra marries, and his wife finds out he is a fake. He gives it up, but they go back to it on Park Avenue with serious consequences.
In this Depression story desperation leads to dishonesty. Some take the wrong advice and suffer; wives find out things their husbands don't want them to know. Seeing his wife's life endangered, Chandra finally gives up.
Miracle Woman, The (1931 b 90') En: 6, Ed: 7
Frank Capra directed this story of an evangelist similar to the contemporary Aimee Semple McPherson.
This story shows how evangelists can exploit people for money while inspiring many of them. In desperation John finds faith and a friend, while Florence realizes she has to get away from the fraud.
Miserables, Les (1935 b 109') En: 7, Ed: 8
In this fine adaptation of Victor Hugo's great novel Jean Valjean is imprisoned for stealing bread, is forgiven for stealing silver, becomes mayor, and is hounded for years by a persistent lawman.
This powerful story contrasts the legalism of Javert to the mercy that rehabilitates Valjean. The bishop's faith and charity transforms Valjean's life, and his goodness in turn eventually causes the strict Javert to turn against himself.
Miss Pacific Fleet (1935 b 66') En: 5 Ed: 4
Two women, who want to get back to New York, try to win a popularity contest and are helped by a boxing sailor.
The underlying desperation of Gloria and Mae is relieved by the comedic fantasy of winning a popularity contest though such slim hopes are realized by few people. Boxing may seem entertaining, but what is happening to the pummeled brains of the fighters?
Moby Dick (1930 b 77') En: 5, Ed: 4
This film adapts Melville's novel into a romance between Ahab and a parson's daughter. The screenwriter even re-wrote the beginning of the book and put Herman Melville's name on it.
Though Melville's themes are obscured by this sentimental story, Ahab eventually learns that Faith loves him in spite of his being maimed. Ahab's obsession with the great beast does not result in the humans' destruction but the whale's, which in a way is more true to life.
Modern Hero, A (1934 b 71') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Louis Bromfield's book, a circus performer fathers a son and gets rich in the automobile business; but his relationships fall apart, and he loses it all.
This modern parable of the ambitious businessman, whose drive to success allows little time for meaningful relationships, spans the first third of the 20th century. Has he or the audience learned from his failures?
Modern Times (silent 1936 b 87') En: 8, Ed: 9
A factory worker is driven crazy by his job, meets an orphan girl, and tries to earn money so they can have a home.
This prophetic satire of the machine age portrays the exploitation and dehumanization of workers followed by repression when they protest. While the capitalist class expects to be waited on, the unemployed suffer hunger. The Worker is even spied on electronically during a bathroom break and is told to get back to work.
Monkey Business (1931 b 77') En: 7, Ed: 6
The four Marx brothers stow away on an ocean liner and fraternize with racketeers in this punny comedy written by S. J. Perelman and Will B. Johnstone.
This zany story is filled with wit and charm by the immensely talented brothers, who use their wits to survive on nothing among the rich. The absurdity of wealthy people on a luxury cruise during the depression and a racketeer throwing a high society party are the background for their antics that seem to make fools of just about everyone.
Moonlight Murder (1936 b 66') En: 5, Ed: 4
An opera singer is murdered during a performance; a detective and his girl-friend discover the surprising killer.
Some fine opera music and occasional comedy enhance this clever mystery story. The audience is kept guessing until the end, when the killer's motive appears honorable, although Louisa's death is his fault too.
Morning Glory (1933 b 74') En: 5, Ed: 6
Based on a play by Zoe Akins, a confident young actress strives to get a break on Broadway and succeeds.
This story portrays the struggles of actors during the depression. Hepburn herself had been fired from four plays before they opened; so she clearly had the experience for this role, which won her an Oscar.
Morocco (1930 b 90') En: 6, Ed: 6
Based on a novel by Benno Vigny, a cabaret singer has to choose between a millionaire and a soldier in the French Foreign Legion.
This drama subtly portrays how the magnetic power of sexual attraction can overcome the lures of wealth and comfort. Both Amy and Tom seem to have run away from previous relationships, but neither can escape the other.
Most Dangerous Game, The (1932 b 63') En: 6, Ed: 7
Based on a famous story by Richard Connell, a big game hunter is hunted by a fanatic on his island.
This story brilliantly reveals to humans what it is like to suffer from predators who hunt for sport. Hunters are shown to be even more savage than carnivorous beasts who hunt to survive. For Zaroff the thrill of hunting has become confused with sexual ecstasy that may follow it.
Mountain Justice (1937 b 83') En: 5, Ed: 5
A daughter escapes from the violence of her hillbilly father to found mountain clinics while postponing marriage to the lawyer she loves.
This melodrama contrasts the violence and religious bigotry of uneducated mountain folks with more enlightened medical workers and a lawyer. Perhaps such films might bring some light to the dark corners of society where the ignorant still persecute others they don't understand.
Mouthpiece, The (1932 b 87') En: 7, Ed: 7
Based on the career of William Fallon, a skillful prosecutor changes to defending criminals, but a young secretary awakens his conscience.
By dramatizing the dangers of a lawyer being too skillful in an adversarial system this true story shows how judicial mistakes can result in deadly consequences.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936 b 115') En: 8, Ed: 8
A poet from a small town inherits a fortune, becomes disgusted by people in New York, and plans to give it to the unemployed as small farms.
This Frank Capra film contrasts simple wisdom with city slickers, turning capitalist society on its head by suggesting that the rich could use their wealth to give the poor needed opportunity. Deeds' main flaw seems to be his habit of punching obnoxious people in the face.
Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937 b 87') En: 5, Ed: 4
A singer from a small town becomes a radio star pursued by women and those who want his radio invention.
This musical comedy satirizes the temptations a young singer faces from fans' adulation and sudden wealth.
Mr. Smith Goes
to Washington (1939 b 130') En:
9, Ed: 9
An idealist is appointed to the U. S. Senate, discovers corruption, and is nearly expelled based on false charges; but he stays to filibuster.
This Capra-directed classic exposes political corruption in the "land of the free." Unfortunately the film is still topical in 2001 as popular opinion is shaped by capitalist interests that control the media and buy the politicians.
Mr. Wong Detective (1938 b 69') En: 5, Ed: 4
A Chinese detective solves a triple murder involving poison gas and its chemical manufacturers.
This mystery plays upon the subconscious fear of invisible poison gas that could be used in the next war as the astute and courteous Wong demonstrates to the police detective how to solve crimes.
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934 b 80') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Alice Megan Rice's novel and Anne Crawford Flexner's play, a poor woman with five children receives timely help from a young couple.
Though set in the 19th century, this story reflects the deep poverty of the Depression. Yet this poor family has happy attitudes, and they are blessed by thoughtful assistance from two young people.
Mummy, The (1932 b 73') En: 7, Ed: 7
Karl Freund directed this story of an ancient Egyptian mummy, who comes back to life to seek the reincarnated princess he loved.
This story draws on mysteries of Egyptian culture that placed so much emphasis on death and rebirth. Helen's reincarnation is more believable than a mummy reviving; but this enables the audience to experience fear of supernatural powers and their eventual defeat by the heroic young archaeologist.
Murder in the Fleet (1935 b 70') En: 5, Ed: 4
A U. S. Navy lieutenant finds the murderer who is sabotaging the cruiser's new fire-control system.
This story reflects U. S. naval preparations and in retrospect ominously portends the Japanese threat. Capitalist and foreign competition appears to endanger military security.
Murder Man, The (1935 b 69') En: 6, Ed: 6
A reporter helps solve a murder case, and his testimony sends his enemy to death row until he writes the final story that frees him.
This effective murder mystery forces the audience to face its prejudice in favor of the reporter hero and realize the complicated motivation that would lead to such an unusual case.
Murder on a Honeymoon (1935 b 74') En: 5, Ed: 4
Based on a novel by Stuart Palmer, an amateur detective and a New York police inspector solve two murders at Catalina island.
In this amusing mystery Piper keeps arresting the wrong person while he competes with Hildegarde, who commits a federal offense by robbing $10,000 from a mailbox, thus helping to cause one of the murders.
Murders in the Zoo (1933 b 62') En: 5, Ed: 4
A jealous husband uses animals he collects for zoos to murder his wife's lovers.
This macabre melodrama portrays how extreme jealousy can lead to murders, suggesting with animals how cruel and poisonous jealousy can be. Ruggles offers comic relief as an alcoholic afraid of animals.
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 b 133') En: 8, Ed: 8
Based on a true story and novels by Nordhoff and Hall, a crew mutinies against a tyrannical captain after enjoying Tahiti.
In history the three deserters were hanged; Bligh went on to survive two more mutinies and was promoted to vice admiral. Gable's lack of a British accent brings home the theme that this story re-creates the American revolution against British tyranny. Even in real life apparently the contrast between the pleasures of Tahiti and the cruelty of the tyrannical breadfruit captain were too great for the crew to stand. The movie suggests that this experience helped bring reforms to British naval laws.
My Bill (1938 b 65') En: 5, Ed: 5
Based on Tom Barry's play, a widow runs out of money, and three children abandon her; but she is helped by a long-time love and her fourth child.
This drama explores the financial difficulties facing a family in the Depression, uncovering a long-time secret love and the fine character of the youngest love child.
My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937 b 74') En: 5, Ed: 5
A young woman inherits a newspaper and becomes its first female reporter to show that she can get stories.
This feminist comedy satirizes a newspaperman who doubts that women could do that job. Although the final plot gets a little silly, Martha is determined to get her rights; Ken is a cordial chauvinist; and Mrs. Atherton is delightfully suspicious of New York ways.
My Man Godfrey (1936 b 93') En: 8, Ed: 8
Adapted from Eric Hatch's novel, an eccentric rich family hires a homeless man as a butler, who brings intelligence to their shallow lives.
This Depression comedy contrasts the foolish rich with the plight of the jobless, though the homeless man who saves both groups has a Harvard education and the intelligence to solve problems. No wonder Irene is madly in love.
My Past (1931 b 72') En: 4, Ed: 5
An older boss and a young married employee both love the same actress, and the young man's wife asks for a divorce.
This drama explores the difficulty of changing partners after being married, and the older man realizes his love is unrequited friendship. The emotional changes are difficult; but everyone seems to mature some in the process.
Mystery of Mister X, The (1934 b 84') En: 6, Ed: 5
Philip MacDonald adapted his own novel about a jewel thief who helps Scotland Yard catch the murderer of seven policeman while he romances the commissioner's daughter.
Sophisticated comedy lightens this murder mystery about an insane criminal's revenge against law officers. Love turns Nick from a thief to a hero.
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933 c 78') En: 5, Ed: 5
In this adaptation of Charles Belden's play a sculptor of wax figures is maimed in a fire but recreates his work by using murder victims.
This bizarre story of murdering people to make wax figures of them attempts to be explained psychologically by the trauma Igor experienced in the fire, though it's hard to believe a person could be so badly twisted.