In early 1930s, a sensational true story titled I Am A Fugitive From A Georgia Chain Gang! landed on Warner Bros desk. The story documented Robert Burns’ incarceration in a brutal chain gang and subsequent escape. The board was apprehensive to adapt due to the story’s violence, suspected uproar in the South, and an oppressive […]Read more "I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang! (1932)"
Another chaotic day of shooting Scarface wrapped and Ben Hecht wearily retired to his L.A. hotel room. What he wanted was peace, what he got was two henchmen demanding to know why he wrote a film about Capone. Hecht assured them he didn’t and that ‘if you call the movie Scarface, people will think it’s […]Read more "Scarface (1932)"
Music has been the backbone of the cinema experience since Méliès visited the moon. Live pianists acted as soundtrack, from lightheartedly accompanying The Tramp’s adventures, to striking a dagger-like chord in Nosferatu. But The Jazz Singer changed everything as it synchronised the act with the beat. Ingenious filmmakers discovered ever more inspiring ways to wield […]Read more "Love Me Tonight (1932)"
Have you ever had that moment after walking away from a heated debate, or lying in bed long after a discussion ended, and the perfect one liner pops in your head? That moment doesn’t exist in screwball comedy land. A time in filmmaking when physical gags were gunned down by quick fire dialogue. A place […]Read more "Me and My Gal (1932)"
On a train barreling through Civil-War-torn China, a country thick with spies, backstabbing and danger, a great cinematic beauty emerges into her limelight. To witness this entrance is an ex-lover, the dashing Captain ‘Doc’ Harvey (Clive Brook). Line after line of verbal foreplay could roll forever without end until she moves to check mate – […]Read more "Shanghai Express (1932)"
Renoir once said ‘A director only makes one film in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again’. The Bitch was a jigsaw puzzle comprised of cold blue class cynicism, red hot infidelity, and shameful shades of black moral turpitude. Boudu Saved From Drowning is a assembled from these pieces, but […]Read more "Boudu Save From Drowning (1932)"
Rom-com is an ugly word. It groaningly prods memories of insipid ‘will they won’t they’ scenarios resolving unsurprisingly. It is not that this premise can not work, it becomes formula because it works far too well, but without disguising this format, the mantra ‘opposites attract’ is laid blatantly on show and leaves little interest in […]Read more "Trouble In Paradise (1932)"
Film is a format of possibility able to represent reality starkly as the Lumiere brothers originally intended, or distort the world into Méliès magic. I remember first setting my eyes on the fabulous destiny of Amelie unfolding in a Paris of impossibility on an Earth that doesn’t exist. Jean-Pierre Jeunet recreated life on his terms. […]Read more "Freedom For Us (1931)"
A World War shaped a generation, a tyrant was rising in Germany, the Wall Street Crash ushered in a Great Depression, and prohibition gave rise to wider organised crime. The progressive touch of the twentieth century reached across the globe and altered everything in its path… except for the Little Tramp who waddled back in […]Read more "City Lights (1931)"
In 1931, Al Capone, America’a most notorious gangster, was sentenced to eleven years in the inescapable island jail of Alcatraz. The newly introduced inmate swaggered through his new abode and bypassed a long and hungry lunch line. A waiting convict grabbed the Chicago mob boss by the lapels, Capone sneered ‘Don’t you know who I […]Read more "The Public Enemy (1931)"