Starring Will Rogers, Louise Dresser, Joel McCrea, Helen Cohan, Jason
Directed by Henry King
Runtime: 96 min.
Print quality: B
Lightnin' is based on the 1918 stage play by Winchell Smith and Frank
Bacon, in which Bacon (the father of director Lloyd Bacon) had starred for
years on Broadway and "the road." Will Rogers steps into the leading role
as "Lightnin'" Bill Jones, the slow-moving husband of Mary Jones (Louise
Dresser). Mr. and Mrs. Jones are co-owners of a hotel built right on the
borderline between California and Nevada, used as the temporary home
of divorcing wives so that they may pretend to be in the "California" half
of the hotel while establishing residency in the "Nevada" half. Lightnin'
befriends lawyer John Marvin (Joel McCrea), at present residing in the
California half to avoid arrest on a trumped-charge. When Lightnin'
refuses to sell his share of the hotel to a gang of stock crooks headed by
Raymond Thomas (Jason Robards Sr.), Mary is coerced into divorcing her
husband so that she can sign over the deed herself. In the semi-serious
courtroom finale, Lightnin' not only convinces Mary that she's still in love
with him but also manages to clear John Marvin's name. Director Henry
King clearly exercised no control over Will Rogers, whose incessant
ad-libbing, amusing though it is, slows the film to a crawl. Still, Lightnin'
proved to be just as successful as any other Rogers talkie vehicle,
proving that audiences came to see the star and not the story.
Starring Jack Oakie, Thomas Meighan, Marian Nixon, William Collier Sr., Zasu Pitts
Directed by Harry Joe Brown
Runtime: 74 min.
A goodly portion of this boxing drama was filmed on location at the real-life Madison Square Garden. Jack Oakie stars as Eddie Burke, a wise-guy pugilist whose talent is unevenly matched by his ego. Despite his character flaws, Eddie knows the meaning of loyalty. When his manager Doc Williams (William Collier Sr.) is offered the opportunity to stage a match at Madison Square Garden, but only if he gets rid of his stable of fighters, Eddie fabricates an alibi and stages a walkout on Doc. Our hero returns to the fold in time to foil a gang of gambler-bootleggers, headed by Sloane (William "Stage" Boyd) and Roarke (Lew Cody). Thomas Meighan, one of Paramount Picture's most popular silent-era leading men, made his last appearance for his home studio as the leader of the Garden's board of directors. Madison Square Garden includes cameo appearances by such famed athletes as Jack Johnson, Tom Sharkey, Ted Sloan, and Mike Donlin and by such stellar sports reporters as Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice, Westbrook Pegler, Paul Gallico, Jack Lait and Edward W. Smith.
Starring Victor Mature, Mari Blanchard, Virginia Field, Guy Rolfe, James Arness, Leon Askin
Directed by George Sherman
Runtime: 82 min.
Print Quality: B
It's a toss-up as to who looks better unclothed in Universal's Veils of Bagdad: Hero Victor
Mature or heroine Mari Blanchard. Mature plays a Robin-Hood type named Antar, who
travels with a troupe of jugglers and wrestlers, all of whom double as thieves, pickpockets
and second-story men. When the evil Pasha of Bagdad (Leon Askin) conspires with the
equally evil Vizier (Guy Rolfe) to steal tax money to finance a private war, Antar and his gang
swings into action. Blanchard plays Selima, the toothsome daughter of a murdered tribal
chieftain who works as a cabaret dancer while searching for her dad's murderer. TV fans
are advised to keep an eye out for future Baretta star Robert Blake, who shows up in a bit
as a youthful beggar.
Starring George O'Brien, Helen Chandler, William Janney, Stepin Fetchit, Frank Albertson,
Joyce Compton, David Butler, Ward Bond, Lee Tracy, John Wayne
Directed by David Butler, John Ford
Runtime: 84 min.
Print Quality: B
John Randall is an Army cadet at West Point. His younger brother Paul is a midshipman at
the Naval Academy. John contrives to help Paul's timid romantic interest in Nancy Wayne by
pretending to be interested in her himself. Paul, however, takes offense, and determines to
beat his brother in the Army-Navy football game on purely personal grounds. Meanwhile,
Paul and fellow midshipman Albert Price are hazed and tormented by upperclassmen.
Starring Lex Barker, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jeffrey Stone, Maurice Manson, Willaim Schallert
Directed by Russell Birdwell
Runtime: 81 min.
Zsa Zsa Gabor plays twin sisters in this campy Red Scare espionage thriller from the late 1950s. She plays the nurse to Joseph Stalin, who didn't die in 1953 after all. The death was all a nefarious scam in which the leader faked his death, had his face surgically rearranged and then moved to Greece with a fortune in Soviet currency. Nurse Zsa Zsa, who is also Stalin's lover. Unfortunately, she told no one where she was going. When her twin discovers her missing, she worries and hires an ex O.S.S. agent to find her. After much searching and danger, the agent finds the wicked dictator and sees that he this time his reign of terror is permanently ended.
Starring George Bancroft, Fay Wray, Richard Arlen, Tully Marshall, George Irving
Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Runtime: 85 min.
Print Quality: B
Thunderbolt was Josef von Sternberg's first American talking picture. George Bancroft, a
von Sternberg regular (despite frequents clashes between the two men), plays a death row
inmate who may be on the eve of eternity, but who has still one more murder on his mind.
He plans to kill the young lover (Richard Arlen) of his former girl friend (Fay Wray);
fortuitously the lover is incarcerated in the same prison where Bancroft awaits the chair.
Starring June Havoc, John Russell, Dorothy Hart, Connie Gilchrist, Cathy Lewis
Directed by Crane Wilbur
Runtime: 79 min.
Print Quality: B
Molly's husband Rick was a gang leader somewhere in the middle west. When he's shot, the tough woman moves to S.F. with a couple of the gang to start anew. Disguised as a noble woman, she and her gang rob security transports. But when one day Rob confesses to her that he killed Rick out of jealousy, she shoots him down immediately. In lack of proof she can't be convicted for the murder, but she goes to jail for the robberies. It's a new and very open female prison, where she learns a profession for the first time in her life.
Starring Irene Dunne, Dean Jagger, Joan Evans, Richard Crenna, Edith
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Runtime: 84 min.
The Baxters are a typical happy American family trying to live on too little
money. Mrs. Polly Baxter acquires two mysterious trees that got into a
nursery shipment by mistake. Guess what: they turn out to be money
trees! After initial problems, Polly decides to spend the money. But
there's one logical consequence of money grown on trees that no one's
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