The original ‘Frankenstein’ on Peacock

“It’s alive! Alive! In the name of God now I know what it’s like to be God!” James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) is the granddaddy of modern monster movies. Universal was looking to a follow up to the tremendous success of Dracula when it assigned sophomore director Whale to helm an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous novel […]

‘The Big House’ – the original prison picture on Criterion Channel

The 1930 The Big House, directed by George Hill from a script by France Marion, is the original men-in-prison drama in terms of the way it established the conventions. There’s the pecking order of tough guys behind bars, the culture of loyalty, the sniveling snitches, the prison reform speech from the tough but committed warden […]

Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman in the original pre-code 'Star is Born' from George Cukor

‘What Price Hollywood?’ – the pre-code ‘A Star is Born’ on The Criterion Channel

What Price Hollywood? (1932) is one of the wittiest and most interesting Hollywood movies about Hollywood culture ever made. It’s a shame it’s not better known. This pre-code comedy stars Constance Bennett as an aspiring actress waiting tables at The Brown Derby who gets her big break when a drunken film director (Lowell Sherman) invites […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

Felix E. Feist's 1933 'Deluge,' the first end-of-the-world disaster movie

Blu-ray: ‘Deluge’ – The original end-of-the-world disaster movie restored

Deluge (1933) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, DVD), the original end-of-the-world thriller, is a curious and often fascinating artifact. Produced in 1933, before the production code came down on Hollywood, on a relatively modest budget, it imagines not just the destruction of civilization in (unexplained) earthquakes and cataclysmic storms but life after the flood, so […]