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Mar 6, 2022

We start off 1939 with a bang with two Paramount movies that gave us a lot to discuss. First, Cafe Society (directed by Edward H. Griffith), the first of several pairings of Fred MacMurray with early Hitchcock blonde Madeleine Carroll, with an original screenplay by future Columbia Pictures producer Virginia Van Upp, takes the screwball (for the most part) out of class-conscious 30s romantic comedy, replacing it with a high degree of sexual tension and, especially, an unusual focus on the moral growth of the heroine. We discuss the textual evidence of female auteurship and note certain similarities with Dorothy Arzner's The Wild Party (discussed in our Clara Bow series). Next, we explain why Frank Borzage's Disputed Passage, based on the Lloyd C. Douglas novel, is really a superhero movie, in what sense it is and isn't a soap opera, and how it's not about the proper way to be a doctor but rather about the proper way to lead the religious life. And in our returning (again) Fear and Moviegoing in Toronto segment, we revisit the great I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932) and its subtextual subject matter of the corruption and perversion of the South by slavery, as a particular instance of the human tendency to find opportunities to create systems of cruelty.   

Time Codes:

0h 01m 00s:     CAFE SOCIETY [dir. Edward H. Griffith]

0h 37m 19s:    DISPUTED PASSAGE [dir: Frank Borzage]

1h 13m 45s:    Fear and Moviegoing in Toronto – I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (revisited)


Studio Film Capsules provided The Paramount Story by John Douglas Eames

Additional studio information from: The Hollywood Story by Joel W. Finler



* Marvel at our meticulously ridiculous Complete Viewing Schedule for the 2020s

* Intro Song: “Sunday” by Jean Goldkette Orchestra with the Keller Sisters (courtesy of The Internet Archive)

* Read Elise’s latest film piece on Preston Sturges, Unfaithfully Yours, and the Narrative role of comedic scapegoating.

* Check out Dave’s new Robert Benchley blog – an attempt to annotate and reflect upon as many of the master humorist’s 2000+ pieces as he can locate – Benchley Data: A Wayward Annotation Project! 

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