Seventy-five years ago, today, the adventure film Frenchman’s Creek was released (or New York opening). Directed by Mitchell Leisen, it was based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Starring Joan Fontaine (sister of Olivia de Havilland), Arturo de Córdova, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Cecil Kellaway, it was produced by Buddy DeSylva (co-founder of Capitol Records) with Talbot Jennings (The Sons of Katie Elder) crafting the screenplay. The musical score included Claude DeBussy‘s Clair de Lune.
An English lady bored with London society brings her [two] children to their country home. Her servant William is also working for a French pirate who holds up with his ship and crew off the coast. They soon meet and she embarks on an adventure with the pirates!
As a beautiful, learned lady of means, Dona St. Columb had it all…and a loveless marriage. After years of being royally subjected to mistreatment, she retreats with her most prized possessions, her two children, to a secluded manor overlooking Britain’s Atlantic shoreline. [She] is enthralled with the tall tales of a scoundrel of a pirate, who has been plundering nearby coastal villages. Full of adventure and fueled by years of neglect, she sets forth to seek him out and, it is not long before she finds him…
“A Lady of Fire and Ice…A Rogue of Steel and Gallantry”
♦ The only film featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in which they do not play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
♦ To make Arturo de Córdova appear taller than Joan Fontaine, he had to wear lifts in his shoes, causing him to teeter when he walked.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any video clips of this movie. There are clips of the 1998 remake. ~Vic
Eighty years ago, today, the crime–mystery Dick Tracy’s G-Men was released. A serial film with fifteen chapters, it was co-directed by John English and William Witney and, is over four and a half hours long in total. Produced by Robert Beche, it starred Ralph Byrd, Irving Pichel, Ted Pearson, Phyllis Isley (also known as Jennifer Jones) and Walter Miller (his last film). Based on Chester Gould‘s Dick Tracy comic strip, this serial had Tracy working for the FBI. As a sequel to the original serial, Gould’s contract barred him from production and payment. It was re-released on September 19, 1955.
A mad doctor named Zanoff uses a drug to bring himself back from the dead after his execution in prison. Dick Tracy sets out to capture Zanoff before he can put his criminal gang back together again.
International spy, Zarnoff, in the employ of “The Three Powers” (presumably a fictionalized reference to the Axis) is captured by Dick Tracy at the start of the serial, [then] tried and sentenced to death. However, through the use of a rare drug embedded by his agents in[to] the evening newspaper, he escapes from the gas chamber. His men pick up his “corpse” by ambushing the hearse and, administering another counter-drug. He continues his espionage plans, while taking the opportunity of revenge on Tracy.
From historian William Cline:
[Dick Tracy serials were] “unexcelled in the action field” [and] “in any listing of serials released after 1930, the four Dick Tracy adventures from Republic must stand out as classics of the suspense detective thrillers and the models for many others to follow.”
Dick Tracy Depot (Watch all 15 chapters)
Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.
In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.
The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic
Ninety years ago, today, the melodramatic silent film Thunder was released. Written by Ann Price and Byron Morgan, it was directed by William Nigh. Considered a lost film, it starred Lon Chaney, Sr. (The Man of a Thousand Faces), Phyllis Haver, James Murray, Tom Keene, Frances Morris (Adventures of Superman (TV Series)/Sarah Kent) and Wally Albright. Though a silent movie, it did have sound effects and a musical score. Only half of the reel survived and this was Chaney’s last silent. [During filming], Chaney caught a cold during the snow scenes which, then, developed into walking pneumonia. Production was shut down for a time but, was eventually completed. Chaney’s illness, combined with his throat cancer, led to his death two months after the release of his last film, and only talkie, 1930’s The Unholy Three.
Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. By the story’s end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.
“Grumpy” Anderson is an old railroad engineer that is obsessed with keeping his train on schedule, no matter the cost. His two sons are also railmen but, don’t share his single mindedness, which leads to one son’s death and a fight with the other on the first son’s funeral car. [This] leads to a crash and demotion of Grumpy to mechanic in the yards. His redemption comes during the Mississippi flood when he is, again, pressed into service to pilot a relief train along with his surviving son.
Thunder (the book) from Creepy Classics
Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent drama Being Respectable was released. Based on the novel of the same name written by Grace Flandrau, it was adapted by Dorothy Farnum. Directed by Phil Rosen, it starred Marie Prevost, Monte Blue, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich, Theodore von Eltz, Frank Currier, Eulalie Jensen, Lila Leslie, Sidney Bracey and Charles French.
Wealthy young Charles Carpenter is pressured by his family to marry Suzanne, even though he is really in love with young “flapper” Valerie. He gives in to his family’s pressure, however and marries Suzanne, after which Valerie leaves town. Years later, after Charles and Suzanne have had a child, Valerie comes back to town and, Charles realizes he is still in love with her…and she with him. Complications ensue. [Source]
Through the scheming of his respectable, and wealthy family, Charles Carpenter is obliged to marry Suzanne, although he is in love with young flapper Valerie Winship. Years later, when Valerie is back in town, they renew the affair and, Carpenter plans to leave his wife and child for her. […] in the end, he yields to family duty and respectability. [Source]
New York Times Review [August 4, 1924]
I could not find any video clips of this movie. ~Vic