Movie Diary 7/25/2016

Dr. Broadway (Anthony Mann, 1943). Mann’s feature debut, a spirited B-picture that was evidently meant to be a series but stalled out. The Damon Runyon atmosphere gets a little thick, and Macdonald Carey is (think of word that is the opposite of “electric”) in the lead role, a Manhattan physician who mixes with underworld characters. But otherwise it’s a snappy little picture.

The Guilty (John Reinhardt, 1947). Based on a Cornell Woolrich story, which surely can’t be as tangled as the movie. It has twins (Bonita Granville), and a stolid narrator (Don Castle) telling his story in flashback, and a neurotic WWII veteran, and some good sleazy atmosphere. Bargain-basement, but gratifying.

The Flying Ace (Richard E. Norman, 1926). I am watching some titles in Kino’s “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” box set (more below). This one’s a murder mystery, shot in Florida, that includes a couple of pilots as characters. A good one. Includes a sequence of a one-legged man firing shots from a rifle (hidden in his crutch) while riding a bicycle.

The Symbol of the Unconquered (Oscar Micheaux, 1920). A KKK-like organization rises up to terrify a black homesteader, in a story with many underlying threads about black people passing as white. Some of the climax, a kind of rejoinder to the Klan triumph in The Birth of a Nation, is missing. The shots of the Klansmen at night – lit only by their torches – are incredible.

Ten Nights in a Bar Room (Roy Calnek, 1926). On the one hand, a well-managed melodrama about Demon Rum. On the other, an entire social system is explored, as a community is revealed to be corrupt at almost every level. The star is Charles Gilpin, an important black stage actor of the era who originated the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones.

Eleven P.M. (Richard Maurice, 1928). Made in Detroit, this fairly daft scenario unfolds as a dream. The crime melodrama is difficult to synopsize, but it culminates in the reincarnation of a man as a dog.

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