Roaring Twenties, The (1939)

“You want the Brooklyn Bridge, all you gotta do is ask for it. If I can’t buy it, I’ll steal it!” Synopsis: A kind speakeasy owner (Gladys George) helps three WWI veterans — a car mechanic (Jimmy Cagney), a saloon owner (Humphrey Bogart), and an aspiring lawyer (Jeffrey Lynn) — earn a living through bootlegging […]

Up in Smoke (1978)

“You wanna get high, man?” Synopsis: Two hippie stoners (Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin) accidentally drive a truck made of marijuana across the border from Mexico to the United States, pursued by an irate cop (Stacy Keach) and his incompetent men. Genres: Comedy Drug Dealers Stacy Keach Films Response to Peary‚Äôs Review: Peary notes that […]

Black Fury (1935)

“You’ve gotta put up a fight if you want your rights!” Synopsis: When his girlfriend (Karen Morley) leaves him for a chance at city-life with a policeman (William Gargan), a heart-broken coal miner (Paul Muni) is lured by a corrupt agitator (J. Carroll Naish) into leading a new union, much to the chagrin of his […]

Dawn Patrol, The (1930)

“You’ve learned how to fly — but things are different up here.” Synopsis: The commanding officer (Neil Hamilton) of an RFC squadron in WWI-era France drinks heavily while enduring the wrath of his two ace pilots, Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who blame him for sending young recruits into the air too soon — […]

Trader Horn (1931)

“That’s Africa for you: when you’re not eating somebody, you’re trying to keep somebody else from eating you.” Synopsis: An experienced trader (Harry Carey) and his young companion (Duncan Renaldo) in 19th century Africa promise a missionary (Olive Carey) to look for her missing daughter (Edwina Booth), who was captured by a tribe years earlier […]

Penthouse (1933)

“I like the troubles of bootleggers, chorus girls and head waiters. They’re human! They’re alive!” Synopsis: After successfully defending a racketeer (Nat Pendleton) against a murder charge, a thrill-seeking lawyer (Warner Baxter) is ostracized by his co-workers and his fiancee (Martha Sleeper), who leaves him for another man (Phillips Holmes). When Holmes breaks up with […]

King of Jazz, The (1930)

“Oh, how I’d love to own a fish store!” Synopsis: Jazz band leader Paul Whiteman introduces a revue of musical and comedic acts. Genres: Episodic Films Musicals Review: This musical tribute to bandleader Paul Whiteman features some surprisingly creative camerawork for such an early cinematic outing, but is decidedly hit-and-miss in terms of its overall […]

Gorilla at Large (1954)

“All I know is a couple of gorillas around here, and one of them’s a killer.” Synopsis: A carnival barker (Cameron Mitchell) hoping to earn enough money to marry his girlfriend (Charlotte Austin) agrees to be part of a trapeze act involving a daring aerialist (Anne Bancroft) and a huge gorilla (George Barrows) cared for […]

Street Scene (1931)

“Every person in the world’s gotta have somebody to talk to!” Synopsis: An unhappy housewife (Estelle Taylor) has an affair with a local milk collection man (Russell Hopton), while her neighbors — including nosy Mrs. Jones (Beulah Bondi), whose grown son (Matt McHugh) is a bullying racist — worry Taylor’s husband (David Landau) will find […]

Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)

“You couldn’t give me a cold.” Synopsis: A Prohibition-era jazz band leader (Jack Webb) is pressured into being “managed” by a local gangster (Edmond O’Brien) after his uncooperative drummer (Martin Milner) is gunned down, prompting his longtime bandmate (Lee Marvin) to hit the road. Meanwhile, a beautiful socialite (Janet Leigh) doggedly pursues Webb, and O’Brien […]