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many August pre-codes with Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell


racketbuster

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I'm very excited about the Summer Under The Stars lineup this year. seems like more 30's films than usual. I'm especially excited about Ann Dvorak day (Aug. 9), since i think she was the one of the best and most underrated actresses of the 30's, and i haven't seen a lot of the movies in the lineup.

 

Also intriguing is the sheer number of Joan Blondell movies featured, not just on her day, but on other star's days too. Since I've already seen all the movies on the Joan Blondell day (Aug. 24), here is my recommendations of what to skip and what not to miss (from the biased perspective of a Blondell fan):

 

*The Reckless Hour* (’31) - decent drama starring Dorothy Mackail, with Blondell playing kind of a comic relief role as the younger sister. she gets all the best lines. classic Blondell. Don't miss it.

 

 

*Big City Blues* (’32) - I love this movie. classic Blondell. She and Eric Linden seem to have a lot of chemistry. you will find yourself rooting for them to end up together. Don't miss it.

 

 

*Central Park* (’32) - It's got a nice meet-cute scene in the first few minutes, but i didn't care much for Wallace Ford as the male lead (played it too serious), and the movie itself looks a bit too much like a rush job, and the plot is kind of a mess. watchable, but not essential viewing.

 

 

*Lawyer Man* (’33) - Blondell never looked or acted more adorable than she does in this movie. You will fall in love! and it co-stars William Powell. and its got Sterling Holloway and Claire Dodd. The lawyer plot is kind of creaky but the cast is great enough that you won't care. Don't miss it.

 

 

*Traveling Saleslady* (’35) - Good light romantic comedy where Blondell sells cocktail flavored toothpaste. nothing pre-code about it, but Blondell looks good and the script moves along nicely. Glenda Farrell is in it too. I recommend it.

 

 

*Colleen* (’36) - A musical comedy starring the usual suspects of 30's WB musicals, and comedian Jack Oakie, who i think is underrated. not as essential-viewing as the similarly-casted Gold Diggers of 1933, or even Gold Diggers of 1937, but i still think it is worth catching if you enjoy the genre.

 

 

*We’re in the Money* (’35) - one of the many similar "gold digger" comedies Blondell made with Glenda Farrell. not my favorite of the bunch (it's a tie between 'Havana Widows' and 'Kansas City Princess') but still a must-see for any Blondell or Glenda Farrell fan.

 

 

*Gold Diggers of 1933* (’33) - See it!

 

 

*Footlight Parade* (’33) - See it!

 

 

*He Was Her Man* (’34) - Cagney gangster drama. Blondell is good as a prostitute trying for a better life, (and Cagney is also good as usual). The opening scenes are memorable, but overall i think the movie really drags once it gets to the main love triangle plot. can't really recommend it.

 

 

*Sinner’s Holiday* (’30) - Blondell's first movie! Cagney's first gangster movie, playing essentially the same character he did in Public Enemy! Based on a broadway play Cagney and Blondell starred in! and lovely Evalyn Knapp co-stars, and has a very pre-Code scene. i love this underrated early talkie. don't miss it.

 

 

*Dames* (’34) - Blondell has some funny scenes with Guy Kibbee. Best part of it by far is the gorgeous 'I Only Have Eyes for You' musical number starring Ruby Keeler. otherwise not my favorite Busby Berkeley musical comedy. (Yes there is a such thing as too much Hugh Herbert)

 

 

*Stand-In* ('37) - Blondell is excellent as a former child star de-moted to being a stand-in for a more famous actress. her part seemed almost autobiographical in some ways. The movie starts out unpromising with some boring scenes of Leslie Howard being his usual nerdy self, but the last half is solid. Bogart is in it too. Don't miss it.

 

 

*Cry 'Havoc'* ('43) - WW2 propaganda film starring an ensemble cast of actresses playing nurses in a dangerous part of the Pacific. i barely remember Joan Blondell in it. I'd skip it.

 

 

*Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter* ('57) - See Joan Blondell middle-aged. no thanks.

 

 

*Kona Coast* ('68) - Among the worst movies i've ever seen. i think everyone was high when they made this. even an aging Joan Blondell wearing a hip black-and-blonde bob hairstyle can't save this mess.

 

 

{font:Times}Stand-In (’37) Cry ‘Havoc’ (’43) Will Success Spoil rock Hunter? (’57) Kona Coast (’68){font}

 

Edited by: racketbuster on Jul 31, 2011 7:13 PM

 

Edited by: racketbuster on Jul 31, 2011 7:22 PM

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hopefully, someone who has seen the Ann Dvorak films can chime in on which ones are most essential viewing. I've only seen G-Men, Scarface, Three on a Match, and The Crowd Roars (the latter two also feature Joan Blondell), and i think all are worth seeing if you are into Ann Dvorak. ('The Crowd Roars' is not too great but Dvorak is very good in it)

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Racketbuster, GREAT post, thank you! I also am totally looking forward to both Ann Dvorak and Joan Blondell's days! And I'd give a shout out for Ralph Bellamy's day also, which features some sizzling pre-codes, and a few obscure ones!

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