Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Match King (1932)

The Match King is about a man named Paul Krall (Warren William). Paul is a Swedish immigrant living and working as a janitor in the Midwestern United States. Paul is not an honest man. He has another man fired so he could get someone else a job. That someone else happens to be the husband of a girl he has been sneaking around with.
            One day Paul receives a letter from his uncle who owns a match factory back in Sweden. The uncle needs help with his factory and business. Paul decides to go back home. He makes the girl he has been seeing think she is coming with him but he plans on leaving her behind.
            At the factory Paul suggests a merger between his company and another one. He tells someone from the bank that he has vast holdings in America that he can repay the loan with. The story about the holdings is a lie but Paul is very confident he can have the company making money. Over some time the factory becomes successful. Paul wants to buy up all the match factories in the country. He really wants money and power above everything else.
            When the company becomes powerful and successful Paul comes up with the idea to play people’s superstitions by advertising it is bad luck to use one match to light three cigarettes so people will buy their own matches. Paul wants to buy into the Polish match business. He uses a woman named Sonia as blackmail. He has no fully become an immoral businessman who knows information on all the important people in Europe. He tells someone he does not even like matches and uses a lighter to light his own cigarettes. The company corners the match market in Germany. Paul now has a monopoly on matches in Europe.
            While Paul is out with a woman in Paris he sees a beautiful woman named Marta (Lili Damita) walk into the nightclub. He is completely taken with her the moment she walked in. The next day he sends Marta a diamond bracelet with a note to meet him for dinner at seven o’clock. Marta never shows and at ten o’clock she sends a messenger over with the bracelet. Marta had the messenger deliver the bracelet at that time and also had the hotel operator at the hotel she was staying at tell Paul she was on her way when in reality she had left hours before. Paul eventually finds Marta at a hotel in the mountains.
            Marta keeps herself in her room because she is mad at Paul when he shows up. She listens to a record over and over by a violinist. That night the violinist was supposed to be playing in Berlin. When her record stops she hears the violinist playing outside her room. Paul arranged for the violinist to come play for her.
            Paul is creating problems by taking out loans to take other factories over. Once again he is not worried. Even though the company is successful his finances are never very good. By this time Paul has become extremely corrupt and willing to do anything to make money. He hears about a scientist who has created a match that can be struck over and over again. To bring this new scientist on board at the company he has the current scientist sent to the asylum on false charges of insanity. Paul meets with a man to obtain fake money so he can make an expensive deal. He does not let the man go he kills him so no word of their deal will ever be known.
            Paul meets with Marta in New York City after a few years of not seeing her. He wants to marry her but she has fallen in love with the violinist while she was waiting for Paul to return.
            The bankers come to see Paul. They know what he has done. Paul cannot live with himself for all he has done in his life. He kills himself before he can be arrested.

            The Match King does not have a very happy ending nor is it a very cheerful film. It was not bad at all even though it was a moral lesson in how creed for money and power can corrupt a person. The main character is an ass and a sleaze yet I liked him. Maybe I liked him because Warren William is just awesome and I love seeing him in a film no matter how bad he is. Lili Damita was barely in the film. Warner Bros. probably had no clue what to do with her at this point in her career and just decided to stick her in this or they just wanted another name in it. Whatever the case may be I felt bad Damita had such a small insignificant role. The Match King, as I said, was good but it is not a film that I highly suggest seeing. I can only suggest watching The Match King if you like Pre-Codes or Warren William. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Professional Sweetheart (1933)

“I wanna sin and suffer. I’m just sufferin’”

            It always amazes me with Old Hollywood how the studios tried to make their stars look like perfect human beings who never sinned and were not allowed to be human beings. I blame America for always trying to be morally decent for there not being a separation of church and state at the time and for the Breen Code (I always think the men and women of the Catholic League and the all the decency groups that protested Hollywood films back then would have a stroke with today’s TV shows let alone movies! Can you imagine them watching Game of Thrones or Knocked Up?!). Anyway… based off of watching Professional Sweethearts it seems this decency and hiding a star’s true identity extended into the radio business.
            Glory (Ginger Rogers) is a radio singer known across America as the Purity Girl. Her program is sponsored by a company called Ippsie Wippsie. Glory is anything but pure. She is dying to go out to night clubs in Harlem to dance all night and drink and meet people and eat whatever kinds of food she wants. Most of all Glory wants a pair of racy lacy black underwear. She blackmailed Ipswich, the owner of Ippsie Wippsie, to buy her the underwear otherwise she would blow her purity cover on the air. Glory is getting upset with being treated like a little girl for the company.
            The men surrounding her want her to sign a new contract. Glory refuses because they will not let her do what she wants. They all come up with an idea to get her a sweetheart by having Glory sing about wanting one. Glory does not want a sweet boy she wants an international playboy. Unfortunately the men pick one out her from a piece of fan mail that is a WASP from the south. They have picked a guy named Jim from Kentucky.
            A reporter named Elmerada (Zasu Pitts) comes up to interview Glory. The men have set the fan letter up for Elmerada to see so she can report on it. She wants on the information on Glory’s new boyfriend. Obviously Glory has no clue what Jim is like and has no idea what his letter even says.
            Jim arrives in town a few days later. He is wearing an everyday suit. The men want Jim to look like he is from the mountains for they stick poor Jim in flannels and heavy clothes. The press wants Glory and Jim to get married. All Glory cares about is going to Harlem.
            A man named O’Connor works for a rival radio sponsor. He hears that Glory has not yet signed her contract with Ippsie Wippsie  and desperately wants her.
            One of the men named Speedy talks Jim into proposing to Glory. He asks her if she is happy. She says no and he tells her he wants to make her happy. Jim kisses Glory and she likes it. The men arrange for Glory and Jim to get married on the air. They think she will sign her new contract they give her for a wedding present.
            The other sponsor arranges a honeymoon for Jim and Glory in Atlantic City to get her to sign for them. The sponsor lets slip to Jim that everything that has happened was a publicity stunt. Glory hears the sponsor talking. The guy says he will let her smoke and drink and be immoral. Jim is upset when he hears Glory is excited for these things. Jim manages to sneak her away down to Kentucky.
            Once down in Kentucky at Jim’s place, Glory gets back at him by busting his chops. She tells him she has been with hundreds of men and she takes off her dress right in front of him in the living room. He grabs Glory and starts spanking her. She starts to fight back and he punches her out. Glory is fine she is just faking being hurt so she can get some attention.  
            Everyone in New York City is going crazy looking for Glory. They have the radio lie saying she is still away on her honeymoon. Speedy and another guy from the rival radio sponsor get the idea that Glory is with Jim at his place. Both men head down to Kentucky as quickly as they can.
            Glory has now been domesticated and likes it. She now cooks and cleans for Jim when all she had ever wanted to do was go out and be immoral and have a great time. Now she does not even want to go to Harlem anymore in fact she does not even want to go back to New York City. Speedy is not happy with Glory but he comes up with the idea to Vera, Glory’s black maid, on the air to get Glory jealous and want to come home. The other sponsor shows up. Jim likes his contract better and has Glory sign the rival’s contract.
            Back in New York Speedy signs Jim. Since both Jim and Glory are so popular the two companies wind up merging (they are both hand towel manufacturers if my memory is correct). Glory sings and Jim recites poetry.
            Ginger Rogers was hilarious. I love her in Pre-Code films because she was so modern and so saucy and so snarky and incredibly hilarious. I was dying laughing with her when Glory threw a tantrum and was crying. Rogers was so funny she did not hold back at all.  It was interesting to seeing Rogers walk around in her underwear and play a character that wanted to drink and be immoral because she was one of the most moral and straight laced actresses in Hollywood in any decade she made films in. This is the only film where Rogers was ever voiced over for the music numbers. The voice was terrible it did not fit her at all! If you have seen her even in her early musicals with Fred Astaire, Rogers is not a bad singer. 

            Professional Sweetheart is cute. The story about a corporation trying to control someone drove me insane. It was definitely a rip on the studio system. I love Old Hollywood but I hate what the system did to their actors and actresses and what they made them do just to make them look perfect. Professional Sweetheart is definitely a film I only recommend the Ginger Rogers fans to watch. It is a good example of a Pre-Code  though so maybe if you are a Pre-Code fan too.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Silent Sundays: The Blue Eagle (1926)

“This is about two rough necks who love the same girl. They’re shipmates now- but when the war is over, all the patriotic stuff is OUT!”

            The quote above perfectly sums up John Ford’s 1926 silent film The Blue Eagle. But there are a few things in between and honestly the girl the “two rough necks” love is in the film very little.
            George Darcy (George O’Brien) and Tim Ryan are on the same battleship during World War I. At home they are part of rival gangs and, to make matters worse, they are in love with the same girl named Rose Kelly (Janet Gaynor). Rose sends them both letters. Tim starts a fight with George for having a photograph of Rose in his locker. The chaplain Father Joe stops the fight in the locker room. He has them box each other to get the fight out of their system. In the middle of the fight an enemy ship comes along. All the men quickly get to their places. George and Tim work the boilers. Their ship destroys the enemy but more danger comes when the boilers have been filled too much and a fire starts. Tim tries to save a man named Rohan but he is too late and the poor man dies.
            When the men return home from the War they walk through the streets in a parade. Rose finds George and Tim and she walks arm in arm with them. George goes home to his younger brother Limpy. While George was away their mother died and Limpy fell in with a bad crowd selling dope. A dance is thrown for the men. Tim gets to Rose first. George grabs an older larger lady and dances with her and gives her his sailor hat to make Rose jealous. George winds up getting Rose before the dance is over.
            George takes Rose out on a date some time later for a walk around the docks. Tim shows up. Rose was supposed to be out on a date with him that night. Tim makes her choose between the two of them. She says she chooses neither and runs away when her father Sergeant Kelly walks by.
            George has been working with Father Joe. He follows the priest to a neighborhood which happens to be Tim’s gang’s turf. A woman has died of a dope overdose and has left a note for Father Joe to take care of her young son. Father Joe has George take the baby which turns out to be a good thing for him because a group of Tim’s men were ready to beat him to a pulp!       Sergeant Kelly is looking Limpy the kid is in trouble.Father Joe wants to help in the fight against dope especially seeing a young mother die from taking it. He wants George and Tim to work together to help him. He tells the boys they can fight their personal issues out the following week at the gym.
            Limpy is seen by an officer and runs away. Rose sees Limpy running away and she manages to get to George to tell him his brother is being chased.  Limpy manages to get away to a submarine that carries the town’s dope supply. George gets caught by the police for aiding Limpy in getting away and has to be taken to Federal Island for questioning. On the way to the island they see Limpy on the outside of the dope submarine the people inside are not letting him in. They cowardly submerge and drown Limpy. On land, Tim’s cop friend Dizzy is shot and killed by dope fiends. Now George and Tim are united in helping Father Joe. They push around a dope runner into tell them where the submarine is kept. The runner tells them that the submarine is located at Rock Island. A whole gang of men go to the island to take down the submarine. They all manage to blow up the submarine.
            George and Tim are prepared to fight each other at the parish gym. Even before they get into the ring they are ready to beat the other. No one but Father Joe, who is the referee, is allowed to be in the gym. Rose hears about the fight from her father. She says that Tim is going to kill George and rushes out of her house down to the gym. Both of the men are winded and tired. Tim lets George win. When Rose gets to the gym she tells George she chooses him.
            The next day Father Joe has Tim come to his office. The widow of the dead sailor Rohan has come to Father Joe’s office as well. He tells the widow that Tim tried to save her husband and that she can take the poor little boy who lost his mother. Tim winds up with the widow.
            And yes, Tim and George become friends since they no longer have to fight over Rose.

            The Blue Eagle was good even if the middle of the story with the submarine as dope runner was really silly. I can understand the story that in the end George and Tim no matter their differences are Blue Eagles.  I liked the cast. I love George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor together, well my love for their pairing comes from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans not so much this film since they were barely in any scenes together. This was an odd film for John Ford even as a silent film. It was not very manly or of his caliber that I am used to seeing from him. There were a few scenes that were funny and cute. The film is not completely bad. I can only suggest watching The Blue Eagle is you are a fan of Janet Gaynor or George O’Brien or John Ford otherwise skip it. It is available to watch in full on Youtube