Saturday, July 28, 2012


Here's a brief rundown of the 1932 movies that I've watched recently.

Red Dust features a very similar plot to China Seas and the same two leads. China Seas is charming once it gets going. Red Dust is suffocatingly mundane in its exploration of the same themes.

Boudu Saved From Drowning is a disarmingly confrontational film. Boudu confronts silly bourgeois conventions, but is also just as clear that the anarchic spirit of this lower class guest is not to be desired.

Freaks is remarkable for its genuine tenderness. The "freaks" on display are humanized because, well, they're human.

I'm not sure if Chris has seen The Most Dangerous Game, but he should. Killing creatures for sport is under the lens here and it doesn't come out looking all that great.

A Farewell to Arms was the big surprise. I'm not sure why I like it so much. The staging and photography are incredible. The relationships are meaningful and the realities of war are fully on display. It's probably the most insistently human of all of the films on display in 1932.

I Was Born, But felt like an arthouse edition of The Little Rascals. There are some great moments in this, but I'm not a big fan of children in movies and I'm not really convinced by the movie's message.

No Blood Relation would put Brandon into a coma. It opens with one of the greatest whip-pans in cinema history and is immediately striking in its use of the camera. Naruse has discovered zooms. By the end of the film, Naruse has lost control of his camera. Every shot is a zoom, focusing intently on faces and responses.

Scarface is a lot better than I had previously given it credit for. I may possibly be influenced by watching this in the light of Walter White's rise to power, watching Scarface and gaining satisfaction thinking about White's end.

The Old Dark House has some good moments, but fails because it's not really scary and because none of the travelers are all that interesting in their interactions. I'm a James Whale fan, though, and is touches are evident all over this picture. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his films.

So, after that binge watching, here's my current '32 list. Notably, Chain Gang has fallen significantly. Mostly, this is because I can never remember anything about it. The last time I watched it, I was surprised to discover that I had already seen it. Thinking about it the other day, I realized that I could not remember a single thing about it. I had to read an online plot synopsis to remind me. So, based on its strong forgettability, I've decided to lower it way down on the list.

My Top Ten 1932

1. A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage)
2. Scarface (Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson)
3. One Hour With You (Ernst Lubitsch)
4. Boudu Saved From Drowning (Jean Renoir)
5. Freaks (Tod Browning)
6. The Most Dangerous Game (Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack)
7. I Was Born, But... (Yasujiro Ozu)
8. Once in a Lifetime (Russell Mack)
9. No Blood Relation (Mikio Naruse)
10. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy)

Honorable Mentions: The Blood of a Poet (Jean Cocteau), Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod), Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer)

Mentions: The Mummy (Karl Freund), The Old Dark House (James Whale), Red Dust (Victor Fleming), Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch),

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