Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Now Playing: DEC. 4, 1933

Universal was the big winner in Milwaukee last week as The Invisible Man gets held over at the Alhambra.

Meanwhile, Footlight Parade lasted only two weeks in first run, failing to reproduce the blockbuster five-week run of Gold Diggers of 1933. The city's flagship Warner Bros. theater doesn't have a studio picture to run this week, but RKO does.

Family fare wasn't alien to Pre-Code cinema, after all. Meanwhile, here's The Tudors, Pre-Code style.

Charles Laughton would win the Oscar for his work here, and he would also set a precedent for future audiovisual Henries by later playing a monster. Posterity may not find Cimarron so vital nor She Done Him Wrong so sensuous, but Laughton's performance probably remains the image of the default image of the king to this day.

In terms of newspaper ad space, our next picture is probably the most ambitious of the week.

In the other Milwaukee paper the Man's Castle ad takes up nearly half a page.  The Frank Borzage film (hence the reference to Seventh Heaven, the director's silent smash) was one of Columbia's increasingly frequent bids for prestige (hence the reminder of Lady For a Day, from earlier this year). For Spencer Tracy it was a break from his mostly unfulfilling dues-paying years at Fox. For comparison purposes, here's a review of this and two of his better-regarded Fox pictures.

Finally, another case of the stage attraction overshadowing the feature movie.


The movie on the program (if you can make out the title in the lower right-hand corner) was another of those Spencer Tracy films for Fox, this one controversial even for Pre-Code cinema because its kidnapping storyline was thought insensitive during a period of high-profile real-life crimes. It might actually be worth seeing for that, but the Wisconsin management probably made the right call by going with the cheesecake.

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