Next program: Monday next Nov.28th:
WE'RE RICH AGAIN (1934, William Reiter): Edna May Oliver, Marion Nixon, Buster Crabbe, Reginald Denny, Billie Burke; zany depression comedy.
WE'RE ONLY HUMAN (1935, James Flood): Jane Wyatt, Preston Foster, James Gleason; an Rko that looks and sounds more like a Warner; strong crime melodrama.

 

The Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society

 

March 22 1976
SCARLET RIVER (Rko Radio, 1933) Directed by Otto Brower

Story and screenplay by Harold Shumate; Camera, Nicholas Musuraca; 62 minutes

With Tom Keene, Dorothy Wilson, Lon Chaney jr., Edgar Kennedy, Betty Furness, Hooper Atchley, Roscoe Ates, Yakima Canutt, James Mason, Billy Butts, Jack Raymond, and as themselves, Myrna Loy, Rochelle Hudson, Joel McCrea, Bruce Cabot and Julie Haydon.


The "B" western series that Tom Keene made for Rko in the early thirties was a generally superior product in terms of plot, action and production values, although they date through their lack of background music, their sometimes labored comedy content, and above all through their preservation methods: 16mm negatives made without much care, and which rob the films of their original photographic quality. Nevertheless, most of them are still very entertaining and off-beat (Saddle Buster, for example, had no crime and no villain) and thanks to the omnipresence of Yakima Canutt in most of them, the stunt work is often quite spectacular. Scarlet River, while not one of the more eventful in the series, is one of the most unusual and enjoyable by virtue of its being about the making of Westerns. This wasn't exactly a novel ploy - Buck Jones, Tom Tyler and others had done it in the silent period, and in talkies George O'Brien, Buck Jones, Charles Starrett, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Monte Hale and others all got around to it, sometimes several times. Still, considering the hundreds that were churned out, the movie-making theme still remained a relative novelty in "B" westerns, and here it's treated with humor and relative realism -- the latter of course not including the always anachronistic plot juxtaposition of a contemporary period, and very decidedly earlier-decade villainy! Although Tom Keene always tried a little too hard as an actor, and never fully overcame his dislike of horses, he makes a virile hero here, and it's always a pleasure to see the graceful, charming and much underused Dorothy Wilson, even in a conventional role.

 

EXCLUSIVE (Paramount, 1937) Directed by Alexander Hall

Produced by Benjamin Glazer; Screenplay by John C. Moffitt, Sidney Salkow and Rian James from a play by Moffitt; Camera, William Mellor; Art Direction, Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegte; 75 minutes

With Fred MacMurray, Frances Farmer, Charlie Ruggles, Lloyd Nolan, Ralph Morgan, Fay Holden, Edward H. Robins, Harlan Briggs, Willard Robertson, Horace McMahon, William Mansell, Gaylord Pendleton, Cheater Clute, Irving Bacon, Frank Bruno, Bennie Bartlett, Billy Arnold, Mack Gray, Edward Churchill.


Newspaper stories seem to have gone a little out of favor lately, perhaps because after All The President's Men there was no possible way for any editor to come up with that "big story" or "scoop" to top its story. Back in the thirties of course, it was a different story, and the newspaper melodrama was a genre in itself. Exclusive is far more sober and restrained than most of them, owing its realism perhaps to the writers Moffit and James, and producer Glazer, all of them former reporters; and its basic good taste to Alexander Hall. Hall was an interesting director who managed to turn in good thrillers in a graceful, non-sensational manner, and even added sophistication and decorum to a Mae West film. After 1939, he seemed to concentrate entirely on comedy, turning out some twenty of them before his final film in 1956. Although never a major film, Exclusive is oddly enough well remembered for one comic (if over-prolonged) scene involving a refrigerator. Big scale and exciting in its climax, it nevertheless tells most of its tale via good dialogue and good acting. It marked Fred MacMurray's 15th film in only two years - new stars were really exposed then, and was also released the same week as another Frances Farmer film, The Toast of New York. Incidentally, for the record, the extra that looks like Susan Hayward - isn't.

 

----WKE----          

 © William K. Everson Estate