This year, I watched and reviewed 100 American Breen Era (1934-1954) movies that I had never seen before as part of my series 100 New Code Films. I watched and reviewed some extra new Code films in July as part of #CleanMovieMonth2020. However, as I have now come to the end of the year, I find that there are a few extra films which I watched but didn’t review as part of a series. I’ll write a little blurb about each one now.
Daughters Courageous (1939) is the successor of Four Daughters (1938). It isn’t a technical sequel, since it doesn’t contain the same characters; that honor goes to Four Wives. It is just a reteaming of a very successful group of performers. It stars real sisters Priscilla, Rosemary, and Lola Lane as sisters and Gale Page as the fourth sister. Claude Rains is again their father. This time, they have a mother as well, played by Fay Bainter. As in the first one, there are four beaux, but they can’t seem to work things out so that there is one man per sister. In this film, John Garfield and Jeffrey Lynn are again vying for the affections of Priscilla Lane. Frank McHugh is still Lola Lane’s fiancé. This time, Dick Foran can’t choose between the other two sisters. May Robson is the faithful family maid instead of the spinster aunt. The story is really fascinating. After being gone for years, the wayward father comes home, eager to be part of the family again. However, his ex-wife is now engaged to a very steady, wealthy, dull man played by Donald Crisp. At first, the daughters are furious with him, but his charm soon wins them over. Can the love of the carefree drifter ever compete with the material things his rival can offer? Meanwhile, the youngest daughter is falling in love with a shiftless fisherman who is much too much like her father. I loved this movie, but I hated its ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but I was so disappointed by the ending, which I found terribly sad, that it spoiled the rest of the movie for me. I hate when films take the practical road instead of the romantic “Hollywood” ending. Also, the ending made this movie a poor Code film when it could have been a good one. That was a real disappointment, but it still was highly entertaining before that!
I also recently watched The Great Diamond Robbery, starring Red Skelton, Cara Williams, and a cast of familiar character actors. We added several Red Skelton comedies to our Amazon Prime watchlist recently, so we’ve been enjoying several of these short but hilarious films. This is one such film. It has a really unusual but hilarious premise. It is about a diamond cutter (Red Skelton) who is unhappy because he is a foundling who was abandoned in Central Park as an infant and thus has no knowledge of his family. A shifty lawyer (James Whitmore) learns about his sad story and decides to help him by finding his family. He hires a gang of fellow crooks to pose as his parents, sister, and uncles, all while plotting to steal his few thousand dollars of savings. However, one of the “uncles” (Kurt Kasznar) is a big time crook who decides to steal the priceless diamond that the young man believes he can cut. It is really funny, and it features some great performances from different actors. The way Ambrose (Red) falls in love with his new family is both hilarious and heartbreaking. His honest, simple trust melts the hearts of the audience and even some of the criminals! This is a great one for Red Skelton fans and a good Code film.
This is another great Red Skelton film. It features an elaborate series of twists and turns in its interesting plot. The story is about a jinxed inventor (who else) who is unbelievably accident prone. He has invented a new kind of unbreakable glass, but bad luck and a couple of conmen are determined to keep him from selling the idea. Meanwhile, he meets a pretty young woman from the claim department of a cab company (Gloria De Haven), who soon gives him a reason to stay in one piece! There are some hilarious moments with Red both as an inventor and later as a cab driver. The finale, in the house of the future, is unbelievable! It is a long-running game of cat and mouse in a dark convention center, the perfect setting for an endless series of gags! If you’re a comedy fan, you’ll enjoy this good Code film.
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