Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Columbia Pictures 1939.

Before watching the movie:

So, the underdog political fable. The everyday guy who comes to Congress and fixes corruption with dogged determination and fillibustering. What’s sad is that it seemed plausible then, but not anymore, and the fillibuster it hinges on is now a tool of the kind of problems this movie wants to fix.

That’s the reputation, anyway. The changed political landscape is why I’m not sure I’ll get out of this movie what was intended. Continue reading

Young Mr. Lincoln

Young Mr. Lincoln. Twentieth Century Fox 1939.
Young Mr. Lincoln. Twentieth Century Fox 1939.

Before watching the movie:

Okay, here’s one I’m completely unfamiliar with. It just came up in algorithmic suggestions, and I’m not really sure what to make of it. It occurs to me that in 1939, there were probably still people alive who had seen the Civil War, perhaps even usefully remember it.

I would not be surprised if this is a mostly fictional story suggested by Lincoln’s career as a lawyer. It looks on the surface more like a piece to venerate him than to explore a historical event worth exploring, but it’s going to be interesting to see how the late 30s remember one of our most notable presidents.

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Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver's Travels. Fleischer Studios 1939.
Gulliver’s Travels. Fleischer Studios 1939.

Before watching the movie:

This is a story that gets remade every so often, probably because the state of film technology marches on and someone decides they can do better than the last one. Certainly, the recent version with Jack Black established the look very realistically. However, hardly anyone has adapted the entire book, and the title is almost universally considered to refer to only the Lilliput section, which this appears to do. Brobdingnang sometimes gets included since it’s just the reverse of the scale effect, but to my knowledge no version, or at least no enduring version, has attempted, for example, the island of the horse people. Not even the Harryhousen-powered The Three Worlds of Gulliver tried.

This is a staging by another great name in animation and effects, Fleischer Studios. I feel animation is underrepresented on this site, and I’m glad to bring in a historically significant animated feature now. I’ve never really cared much for the Fleischer style, so much as I’ve seen it, but Fleischer didn’t really endure long enough to develop as well as Disney and Warner Bros. did. But it should serve to tell the story adequately.

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The Flying Deuces

May is Non-Alliterative Silver Screen Classic Movie Month!

The Flying Deuces. Boris Morros Productions 1939.

Before watching the movie:

This is the only film I hadn’t heard of when planning this series, but I wanted a Laurel and Hardy. Well, I wanted a Buster Keaton and a Harold Lloyd, but suitable Keaton and Lloyd films weren’t available to me. Anyway, I wanted something fun to follow last week. I’ll close the month on a serious film.

So, Laurel and Hardy in the Foreign Legion. Comedy ensues, of course. Having so little go go on, I have a hard time conveying how much I’m looking forward to it. I expect a lot of schemes to getout of the Foreign Legion.

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