Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The five films made by the four Marx brothers at Paramount between 1929 and 1933 are the stuff of legend, and the basis for what is likely the most famous career of any comic team in history (and this despite the first of those films, The Cocoanuts, sagging under the weight of an insipid romantic […]

The most expensive movie ever made as of 1930 was an independent production. That’s a weird thing on the face of it, except that in 1930, there was a fellow named Howard Hughes running loose in the world, and for all the wonderful advances made in the post-WWII world, we don’t have madcap billionaires to […]

You know Tay Garnett? You probably haven’t heard of Tay Garnett. The fact of the matter is, Tay Garnett really isn’t a terribly important film director, though there are those among us who perk up at checking out what promises to be yet another ’30s or ’40s programmer, and unexpectedly find his name attached. I […]

With the benefit of hindsight and the tendency of time periods to compress as we get further from them, it’s not uncommon to think of Universal Studios initial wave of monster movies as comprising a boom that stretched from 1931 to 1945, but it was nothing of the sort. There was an initial flurry of […]

The rise of horror as a real thing in American cinema was not an uncontroversial process; concerns over propriety and morality kept the genre from ever taking hold in the States during the silent era the way it so vitally did in Germany. When the dam finally broke in the early sound days, with Universal’s […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: when it’s not busy blowing Google, The Internship attempts to draw broad, crowd-pleasing laughs out of the very real […]

In all of movie history, Victor Hugo’s 1862 goliath of a novel Les Misérables has been filmed more times than any other single work of literature by a writer not named Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare; shockingly, only twice was that filming done in Hollywood, where prestigious, dour literature goes to be tricked out with […]

Once upon a time, there was a film director named Leo McCarey, who was beloved. He was beloved by mainstream Hollywood, who gave him several Oscar nominations and a victory for Going My Way in 1944,; he was beloved by French critics, who spent a lot of energy exploring how brilliantly he made films in […]

To a certain kind of film lover – the kind writing this film blog, for starters – the phrase “pre-Code” sparks a particular kind of joy. It refers to the thin window between the arrival of sound in 1929 and the time late in 1934 when the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, and the […]

With a thin week of wide releases and nothing in the art house looking worth the trip the best course of action seemed to be to arbitrarily pick a few DVDs that have been staring me in the face, unwatched, and make a theme of it. Thus do I declare the first day of ’30s […]

Every Sunday this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: eight years after making pirates the toast of pop-culture once more, Johnny Depp and friends are back to try […]

After White Zombie made a splash in 1932, introducing the very idea of “zombies” to American filmgoers, it would seem like the next logical step would be for a small explosion in zombie pictures. This was the ’30s, after all, when Hollywood was in arguably the most knock-off friendly period in its history. And yet, […]