A Place in the Sun

  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Producers: George Stevens
  • Writers: Screenplay, Michael Wilson, Harry Brown, Novel, Theodore Dreiser, Play, Patrick Kearney
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere

George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), the nephew of industrialist Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes), takes a job in his factory to learn the business. While working there, he starts dating factory worker Alice “Al” Tripp (Shelley Winters), who becomes pregnant.

At the same time, he meets society girl Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor), and loses interest in Al. Shortly after Al tries to blackmail George into marrying her by threatening to expose their relationship to Angela, she is killed in a boating accident, while out on the lake with George. The film ends when George is convicted of her murder.

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

  • Directors: Tim Burton
  • Producers: Richard D Zanuck, John Logan, Walter F Parkes
  • Writers: Musical, Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler, Play, Christopher Bond, Screenplay, John Logan
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Musical, Thriller
  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Laura Michelle Kelly, Jayne Wisener, Ed Sanders

Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp), a skilled barber, is falsely charged and sentenced to a life of hard labor in Australia by the corrupt Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who lusts after Barker’s wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly). Now under the assumed name “Sweeney Todd”, Barker returns to London with sailor Anthony Hope (Jamie Campbell Bower). At his old Fleet Street lodgings above Mrs. Nellie Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) pie shop, he discovers that Lucy, having been raped by Turpin, has poisoned herself, and his teenage daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) is now Turpin’s ward, and like her mother before her, is the object of his unwanted affections. Todd vows revenge, reopening his barber shop in the upstairs flat.

While roaming London, Anthony spots Johanna and falls in love with her, but is ejected from the Judge’s house by Turpin and his associate, Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall). Far from being discouraged, the sailor becomes determined that the pair will elope. Meanwhile Todd, during a visit to the marketplace, denounces a fraudulent hair tonic (describing it as a mixture of “piss and ink”) by faux-Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen), and later humiliates him in a public shaving contest. Pirelli and his boy assistant Toby (Ed Sanders) visit Todd’s barbershop; Lovett keeps Toby occupied downstairs, while in the parlor Pirelli reveals himself to be Todd’s former assistant and attempts to blackmail him. To protect the secret of his true identity, Todd murders Pirelli.

An insane beggar woman, who has been pestering Todd, Lovett, and Anthony throughout the film, now makes her way into the shop. As Todd enters, she claims that she recognizes him. Just then, Turpin’s voice is heard. Todd quickly slits the beggar woman’s throat and deposits her body through the trap door. As Turpin enters, Todd explains to him that Johanna had repented, and offers a free shave. Todd then reveals his true identity and stabs Turpin in the neck numerous times before finally slitting his throat and dropping him through the trap door. As Johanna peeks out of the trunk, Todd spots her and prepares to slit her throat as well, not recognizing her as his daughter. A scream from Lovett diverts him to the basement, where she tells him that Turpin had still been alive and tried to grab at her dress before bleeding to death. Viewing the corpses in the light of the bakehouse fire, Todd discovers that the beggar woman was his wife, Lucy, whom he had believed to be dead based on Lovett’s account of the poisoning. Todd realizes that Lovett knew Lucy was alive. Lovett points out that she never said Lucy died; and, after attempting to convince Sweeney that she misled him for his own good, she confesses she lied because she loves him and would be a better wife than Lucy ever was. Todd pretends to forgive her, waltzing maniacally with her around the bakehouse before hurling her into the open oven, where he watches her burn to death. He returns to Lucy and cradles her dead body as Toby emerges from the sewer, picks up the discarded razor, and slits Todd’s throat. The film ends with Todd bleeding over his dead wife as Toby walks away.

Hamlet

  • Directors: Laurence Olivier
  • Producers: Laurence Olivier
  • Writers: Play, William Shakespeare, Screenplay, Laurence Olivier
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Basil Sydney, Eileen Herlie, Jean Simmons

The film follows the overall story of the play, but cuts nearly half the dialogue, and includes an opening voice-over that represents Hamlet’s fundamental problem as indecision.

The film begins with a narrator quoting some of Hamlet’s lines from Act I Scene IV:

The narrator then breaks from Shakespeare’s words to inform us “This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.”

The action begins on the battlements of Elsinore where a sentry, Francisco, (John Laurie) is relieved of his watch (and questioned if he has seen anything) by another sentry, Bernardo (Esmond Knight), who, with yet another sentry, Marcellus (Anthony Quayle), has twice previously seen the Ghost of King Hamlet. Marcellus then arrives with the skeptical Horatio (Norman Wooland), Prince Hamlet’s friend. Suddenly, all three see the Ghost, and Horatio demands that the ghost speak. The ghost vanishes then, without a word.

Inside the Great Hall of the castle, the court is celebrating the marriage of Gertrude (Eileen Herlie) and King Claudius (Basil Sydney); old King Hamlet has died under mysterious circumstances and his wife, Gertrude, has, within a month of the tragedy, married the late King’s brother. Prince Hamlet (Laurence Olivier) sits alone, refusing to join in the celebration, despite the protests of the new King. When the court has left the Great Hall, Hamlet fumes over the hasty marriage, muttering to himself the words “and yet, within a month!” Soon, Horatio and the sentries enter telling Hamlet of the ghostly apparition of his father. Hamlet proceeds to investigate, and upon arriving on the battlements, sees the ghost. Noting that the ghost beckons him forward, Hamlet follows it up onto a tower, wherein it reveals its identity as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father. He tells Hamlet that he was murdered, who did it, and how it was done. The audience then sees the murder re-enacted in a flashback as the ghost describes the deed – Claudius is seen pouring poison into the late King Hamlet’s ear, thereby killing him. Hamlet does not at first accept this as the truth, and then prepares to feign madness, so as to test Claudius’ conscience, without jumping to conclusions.

Hamlet meets Laertes’ challenge, and engages him in a duel. Hamlet wins the first two rounds, and Gertrude drinks from the cup, suspecting that it is poisoned. Whilst in-between bouts, Laertes rushes Hamlet, and strikes him on the arm, fatally poisoning him. Hamlet, not knowing this, continues to duel. Hamlet eventually disarms Laertes, and switches blades with him. Hamlet then strikes Laertes in the wrist, fatally wounding him. Gerturde then submits to the poison, and dies, warning Hamlet not to drink from the cup. Laertes, dying, confesses the whole plot to Hamlet, who flies at Claudius in a fit of rage, killing him, before finally expiring himself. Horatio, horrified by all this, orders that Hamlet be given a decent funeral, and the young prince’s body is taken away, while the Danish court kneels and the cannons of Elsinore fire off a peal of ordinance in respect. (A few women can be seen weeping quietly in the background.)

Gold Diggers of 1933

  • Directors: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Producers: Robert Lord, Jack L Warner
  • Writers: Play, Avery Hopwood, Screenplay, Erwin S Gelsey, James Seymour, Ben Markson, David Boehm
  • Genres: Musical
  • Actors: Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers

The “gold diggers” are four aspiring actresses: Polly the ingenue (Ruby Keeler), Carol the torch singer (Joan Blondell), Trixie the comedienne (Aline MacMahon) and Fay the glamourpuss (Ginger Rogers).

The film was made in 1933 at the nadir of the Great Depression and contains numerous direct references to it. In fact, it begins with a rehearsal for a stage show, which is interrupted by the producer’s creditors who close down the show because of unpaid bills.

At the unglamorous apartment shared by three of the four actresses (Polly, Carol, and Trixie), the producer, Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks), is in despair because he has everything he needs to put on a show, except money. Then he accidentally hears Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), the girls’ neighbor and Polly’s boyfriend, playing the piano. Brad is a brilliant songwriter and singer who not only has written the music for a show, but also offers Hopkins $15,000 in cash to back the production. Of course, they all think he’s pulling their legs, but he insists that he’s serious – he’ll back the show, but he refuses to perform in it, despite his talent and voice.

Brad comes through with the money and the show goes into production, but the girls are suspicious that he must be a criminal since he is cagey about his past, and will not appear in the show, even though he is clearly more talented than the aging juvenile lead they’ve hired. It turns out, however, that Brad is in fact a millionaire’s son whose family does not want him associating with the theatre. On opening night, in order to save the show when the juvenile can’t perform (due to his lumbago acting up), Brad is forced to play the lead role.

Lawrence mistakes Carol for Polly, and his heavy-handed effort to dissuade the “cheap and vulgar” showgirl from marrying Brad by buying her off annoys her so much that she goes along with the gag in order to eventually pull the rug out from under him. Trixie meanwhile targets “Fanny” the lawyer as the perfect rich sap ripe for exploitation. But what starts as gold-digging turns into something else, and when the dust settles, Carol and Lawrence are in love and Trixie marries Fanuel, while Brad is free to marry Polly after all. All the “gold diggers” (except Fay) end up married to wealthy men.

The Philadelphia Story

  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Play, Philip Barry, Screenplay, Donald Ogden Stewart, Waldo Salt
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart

Tracy Samantha Lord Haven (Hepburn) is a wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite who had divorced C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and is about to marry nouveau riche “Man of the People” George Kittredge (John Howard). The situation is complicated when she is blackmailed by publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) into granting exclusive coverage of the wedding to tabloid reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). In exchange, Spy magazine agrees to refrain from exposing the antics of Tracy’s philandering father, Seth (John Halliday). As the wedding nears, Tracy finds herself torn between her fiancГ©, her ex-husband, and the reporter. The challenging personalities of Mike and Dexter force the stolid Kittredge into the background.

The night before the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life and takes an seemingly innocent swim with Mike, though they hint at something more. When George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterwards (both of them wearing only bathrobes), he thinks the worst, that his bride-to-be has disgraced herself. The next day, he tells her that he was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy takes exception to his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Liz’s distress), but Tracy graciously declines. At this point, Dexter makes his successful bid for her hand.

Frankenstein

  • Directors: James Whale
  • Producers: Carl Laemmle Jr
  • Writers: Novel, Mary Shelley, Play, Peggy Webling, Adaptation, John L Balderston, Screenplay, Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, Uncredited, Robert Florey, John Russell
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff

Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), an ardent young scientist, and his devoted assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), a hunch-back, piece together a human body, the parts of which have been secretly collected from various sources. Frankenstein’s consuming desire is to create human life through various electrical devices which he has perfected.

Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), his fiancГ©e, is worried to distraction over his peculiar actions. She cannot understand why he secludes himself in an abandoned watch tower, which he has equipped as a laboratory, and refuses to see anyone. She and her friend, Victor Moritz (John Boles), go to Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), his old medical professor, and ask Dr. Waldman’s help in reclaiming the young scientist from his absorbing experiments. Elizabeth, intent on rescuing Frankenstein, arrives just as the eager young medico is making his final tests. They all watch Frankenstein and the hunchback as they raise the dead creature on an operating table, high into the room, toward an opening at the top of the laboratory. Then a terrific crash of thunder—the crackling of Frankenstein’s electric machines—and the hand of Frankenstein’s monster begins to move.

The manufactured monster (Boris Karloff), a strangely hideous, startling, grotesque, gruesome, inhuman form, is held in a dungeon in the watch tower. Through Fritz’s error, a criminal brain was secured for Frankenstein’s experiments which supposedly result in the monster knowing only hate, horror and murder. However, when we are first introduced to the ‘Monster’ it seems that it is not, in fact, a malevolent beast, but a simple, innocent (if scary looking) creation. Frankenstein welcomes it into his laboratory, and asks his creation to sit, which it does. Fritz, however, enters with a flaming torch which frightens the monster. Its fright is mistaken by Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman as an attempt to attack them, and so it is taken to the cellars where it is chained. Thinking that it is not fit for society, and will wreak havoc at any chance, they leave the monster locked up where Fritz antagonizes it with a torch. As Henry and Dr. Waldman consider the fate of the monster they hear an unearthly, terrifying shriek from the dungeon. Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman rush in to find the monster has strangled Fritz. The monster makes a lunge at the two but they escape the dungeon, locking the monster inside. Realizing that the creature must be destroyed Henry prepares an injection of a powerful drug and the two conspire to release the monster and inject it as it attacks. When the door is unlocked the creature emerges and lunges at Dr. Frankenstein as Dr. Waldman injects the drug into the creature’s back. The monster knocks Dr. Waldman to the floor and has nearly killed Henry when the drug takes effect and he falls to the floor unconscious.

Later, back at Frankenstein Castle, Frankenstein’s father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr) celebrates the wedding of his recovered son with a toast to a future grandchild.

His Girl Friday

  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Play, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Screenplay, Charles Lederer
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a hard-boiled editor for The Morning Post whose ex-wife and former star reporter, Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is about to marry bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and settle down to a quiet life as a wife and mother in Albany, New York – but Burns has other ideas. He entices the reluctant Johnson into covering one last story: the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen).

Walter does everything he can to keep Hildy from leaving, including setting Bruce up so he gets arrested over and over again on trumped-up charges. He even kidnaps Hildy’s stern mother-in-law-to-be (Alma Kruger). When Williams escapes from the bumbling sheriff (Gene Lockhart) and practically falls into Hildy’s lap, the lure of a big scoop proves to be too much for her. She is so consumed with writing the story that she hardly notices as Bruce realizes his cause is hopeless and leaves to return to Albany.

The crooked mayor (Clarence Kolb) and sheriff need the publicity from the execution to keep their jobs in an upcoming election, so when a messenger (Billy Gilbert) brings them a reprieve from the governor, they try to bribe the man to go away and return later, when it will be too late. Walter and Hildy find out just in time to save Walter from being arrested for kidnapping.

Afterwards, Walter offers to remarry Hildy, promising to take her on the honeymoon they never had in Niagara Falls, but then Walter learns that there is a newsworthy strike in Albany, which is on the way to Niagara Falls by train.

Rope

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein
  • Writers: Play, Patrick Hamilton, Adaptation, Hume Cronyn, Screenplay, Arthur Laurents, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier

On a late afternoon, two brilliant young aesthetes, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) murder a former classmate, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), in their apartment.

After hiding the body in a large antique wooden chest, Brandon and Phillip host a dinner party at the apartment which has a beautiful panoramic view of the city skyline (in what appears to be Manhattan). The guests, unaware of what has happened, include the victim’s father (Cedric Hardwicke) and aunt (Constance Collier) (his mother is not able to attend), as well as his fiancee, Janet Walker (Joan Chandler) and her former lover Kenneth Lawrence (Douglas Dick), who was once a close friend of David’s. In a subtle move, Brandon uses the chest containing the body as a buffet for the food, just before their maid, Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson) arrives to help with the party. “Now the fun begins,” Brandon says when the first of the guests arrives.

Brandon’s and Phillip’s idea for the murder was inspired years earlier by conversations with their erstwhile prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). While at school, Rupert had discussed with them, in an apparently approving way, the intellectual concepts of the Гњbermensch and the art of murder, a means of showing one’s superiority over others. He too is among the guests at the party since Brandon in particular feels that he would very likely approve of their so-called work of art.

As the sky outside the apartment darkens into night, the sirens of police cars can be heard heading their way.

Casablanca

  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Producers: Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Play, Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Screenplay, Julius J Epstein, Philip G Epstein, Howard Koch, Casey Robinson
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a bitter, cynical American expatriate in Casablanca. He owns and runs “Rick’s CafГ© AmГ©ricain”, an upscale nightclub and gambling den that attracts a mixed clientГЁle of Vichy French and Nazi officials, refugees and thieves. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, it is later revealed that he had run guns to Ethiopia to combat the 1935 Italian invasion, and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War against Francisco Franco’s Nationalists.

Ugarte (Peter Lorre), a petty criminal, arrives in Rick’s club with “letters of transit” obtained through the murder of two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and from there to America. The letters are almost priceless to any of the continual stream of refugees who end up stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to make his fortune by selling them to the highest bidder, who is due to arrive at the club later that night. However, before the exchange can take place, Ugarte is arrested by the local police, under the command of Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), a corrupt opportunist who later says of himself, “I have no convictions … I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.” Unbeknownst to Renault and the Nazis, Ugarte had entrusted the letters to Rick because “… somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.” (Ugarte dies in police custody without revealing the location of the letters.)

Major Strasser drives up by himself, having been tipped off by Renault, but Rick shoots him when he tries to intervene. When police reinforcements arrive, Renault pauses, then tells his men to “Round up the usual suspects.” Once they are alone, Renault suggests to Rick that they leave Casablanca and join the Free French at Brazzaville. They walk off into the fog with one of the most memorable exit lines in movie history: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”