Tag Archives: 70 years of cinema

70 Years of Cinema-1939: Dark Victory

10 Jul


DARK VICTORY (Not rated-probably G equivalent) 104 min. Directed by: Edmund Goulding. Written by: Casey Robinson from the play by George Emerson Brewer Jr. Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan. Cinematography:  Ernest Haller. Original Music by:  Max Steiner, Howard Jackson.


“I think I’ll have a large order of prognosis negative”–Judith Traherne.

cinemagrade bBette Davis was on quite a roll by the time 1939 came around. She had already been nominated thrice for the Best Actress Oscar and had won it twice. When she landed the role of Judith Traherne in Dark Victory, it would be her 39th screen appearance and  fourth Oscar nomination. And what an appearance it is. Surrounded by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, George Brent and Ronald Reagan, Davis shines like a big, bright, creepy-eyed beacon in the middle of a vast sea of melodrama. Dark Victory is the kind of movie that needs her charms the most; She flits from place to place as a high-minded socialite and then later as a woman on her death bed, she channels all her emotional energies. Her malignant brain tumor conveniently lets her keep her looks and health, but takes her eyesight.  Towards the end of the film Davis blindly gropes her way around her home, eerily echoing Christ’s Stations of the Cross as she faces the great beyond with serenity and dignity. Goodness, how did they manage to write this stuff without snickering? Less cynical times, I guess. But, hey, you want to know the truth? It worked for me! And I give Bette Davis complete credit for that little miracle. Continue reading

70 Years of Cinema-1939: The Son of Frankenstein

8 Jul


 THE SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (no rating–today it would probably be a PG) Directed by: Rowland V. Lee. Written by: Wyllis Cooper. Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson. Cinematography: George Robinson Original music by: Frank Skinner

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I honestly can’t believe that I had never seen this until now. I imagine I would have gone on not seeing it too, if it weren’t for this little experiment. The weirdest part is, I’m a huge Frankenstein fan. I adore Shelly’s book, absolutely love  James Whales’ first two films (did a double feature of both back at Halloween) and have watched pretty much every other incarnation of the character. As a child I was enchanted by Karloff’s version of the monster; it was then, and still is, the only one that mattered. In the mid  80s there was a Philly(I think) station that used to run a Saturday evening double horror feature hosted by a guy called Dr. Morgus. Living in the boonies of Maryland, with a cheap attenna, somehow we managed to pick it up.  Any of you out there remember him? If so, check this out. Continue reading

Celebrating the Senator and 70 Years of Cinema!

8 Jul

2009 098

July 8th, 2009–

Well, I’ve finally got around to starting this one. From the very beginning of the blog, a few months ago, I had gotten an idea for a new column inspired by the fact that the nearby classic theater, The Senator, which  stopped showing films in March, had been previously operational since 1939. 70 years! What a phenomenal span of time, and imagine how much the films and the industry have changed since then. I just turned 30 in April, and I haven’t even been around half that long, so it got me to thinking about all of the films, particularly those some 50 years old now, that I have never seen. And thus, this project was born.

Unfortunately, things are rather up in the air for the future of the old historic theater, and if you check the website you can learn more, including the date for the upcoming auction. Meanwhile, I’ll keep updates on the current situation linked right here in the column. Go to The Senator Theatre site HERE.

As for this column, the plan is this: Starting with 1939, and progressing through 70 years of films, I will cover one year a week(Wednesday to Wednesday). For each year, I’ll find 3 films that I haven’t seen, watch them, and write them up.  That’s pretty much the whole gist of it. When I checked out 1939 for choices though, I discovered some egregious holes in my film knowledge; stuff I was sure I had seen, but upon further inspection I realized, no, I hadn’t. So, the 1939 segment of this column will feature 3 films that I probably should have checked out long ago, but for whatever reason, didn’t. Continue reading