Glass Key, The (1935)

“That’s between me and Shad and the lamppost. And you ain’t no lamppost!” Synopsis: The loyal bodyguard (George Raft) of a politician (Edward Arnold) in love with the daughter (Claire Dodd) of another politician (Charles Richman) tries to protect his boss when he’s accused of murdering Richman’s son (Ray Milland). Genres: Amateur Sleuths Edward Arnold […]

It Happens Every Spring (1949)

“The more you talk, the more mysterious it gets!” Synopsis: When a chemistry professor (Ray Milland) accidentally discovers a serum that repels wooden bats from hitting baseballs, he realizes he has a surefire money-making idea which would allow him to finally marry his fiancee (Jean Peters) — so he goes undercover as a major league […]

Cleopatra (1934)

“My wits have failed, and I’m in your hands!” Synopsis: When wily Queen Cleopatra (Claudette Colbert) is kidnapped and taken to Rome, she woos both Julius Caesar (Warren William) and his successor, Marc Anthony (Henry Wilcoxon), in an attempt to gain power — but soon she finds herself genuinely in love. Genres: Ancient Greece and […]

Devil and Daniel Webster, The (1941)

“I’ve had more than my share! Nothing ever goes right for me!” Synopsis: A poverty-stricken New England farmer named Jabez Stone (James Craig) sells his soul to the devil (Walter Huston) in exchange for seven years of prosperity, and soon finds his luck changing entirely — but his loyal wife (Anne Shirley) and no-nonsense mother […]

Pawnbroker, The (1964)

“I am not bitter. No, that passed me by a million years ago.” Synopsis: A traumatized Holocaust survivor (Rod Steiger) running a pawn shop in Harlem reluctantly trains an eager employee (Jaime Sanchez) while fending off advances from a friendly social worker (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and bargaining ruthlessly with his down-and-out customers. Genres: Flashback Films Geraldine […]

Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

“I have been caught in this web of flesh — caught and tortured!” Synopsis: When Death (Fredric March) decides to take a holiday-in-disguise in the home of a duke (Guy Standing), he falls in love with the girlfriend (Evelyn Venable) of the duke’s son (Kent Taylor), much to the consternation of both Standing and Taylor. […]

Papillon (1973)

“I accuse you of a wasted life. The penalty for that is death.” Synopsis: A French prisoner (Steve McQueen) sent to Devil’s Island offers protection to a wealthy forger (Dustin Hoffman) in exchange for monetary help in attempting to escape. Genres: Dustin Hoffman Films Escape Friendship Fugitives Prisoners Steve McQueen Films Survival Review: Based on […]

In This Our Life (1942)

“I’d rather do anything than keep still!” Synopsis: When the spoiled daughter (Bette Davis) of a failing businessman (Frank Craven) steals the husband (Dennis Morgan) of her sister (Olivia de Havilland), de Havilland and Davis’s fiance (George Brent) begin a romance — but Davis can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Will her doting […]

Dodsworth (1936)

“A man’s habits get pretty strong in 20 years.” Synopsis: A retired automobile magnate (Walter Huston) goes on a European tour with his wife (Ruth Chatterton), who is eager to “have a fling” and feel young again. After an embarrassing flirtation with a roue (David Niven), Chatterton falls for a playboy (Paul Lukas) and then […]

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

“I’d like to keep him on the ward. I think we can help him.” Synopsis: A rebellious prisoner (Jack Nicholson) is sent to a psychiatric hospital for assessment, where he quickly butts heads with the strict head nurse (Louise Fletcher) and does what he can to bring autonomy and fun to his fellow inmates’ lives. […]