Love Me Tonight (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 […]

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Me and My Gal (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 […]

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Shanghai Express (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 – […]

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Trouble In Paradise (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 […]

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Freedom For Us (1931)

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. […]

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City Lights (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 […]

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Pandora’s Box (1929)

First, Betty Compson smouldered in the misty Docks of New York as she rumbled the hero’s world, but without an ounce of malicious intent. Brigitte Helm drew the panting men of the dizzying Metropolis with her apocalyptic dance. But this was only a machine double of the virtuous heroine. Pandora’s Box presents a whole other […]

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A Throw of Dice (1929)

Vicarious exploration is easy to take for granted when the entire world is visible at the touch of a button. For many years, and especially in 1929 when this picture was released, cinema held the distinction beyond static photographs and restricted phonographs of transporting audiences to alien landscapes through living images. Franz Osten was one […]

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The Docks of New York (1928)

The phrase ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ succinctly characterises film in the first quarter of the 20th century. A combination of ingenuity and requirement to tell better stories founded techniques we witness every time we enter the cinema. However, not every film can invent or reinvent rules. Instead, some pictures are exemplary examples of […]

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