Rotha's Classic Film Club 🎞️

Classic British Comedy Playlist 🇬🇧 ~

The Magnet is a British comedy-drama from Ealing Studios, Directed by Charles Frend; Produced by Michael Balcon. Featuring Stephen MURRAY, Kay WALSH, and James FOX. With Meredith Edwards, and Thora Hird. Written by T. E. B. Clarke. Cinematography by Lionel Banes; Music by William Alwyn.

In his first starring role, an 11-year-old James Fox (then known as William) plays Johnny, an over-imaginative child who tricks a younger boy out of his prized magnet. Troubled by his conscience, he gives the magnet away - but the guilt isn't so easy to lose.

The Magnet was clearly Ealing Studios’ attempt to repeat the success of its boys’ own crime caper Hue and Cry, but this time we're presented with a more earnest message around individual morality, in contrast to the ensemble japes of the earlier film, reflecting director Charles Frend’s reputation for more serious material (The Cruel Sea, Scott of the Antarctic). The film remains fascinating today for its earthy depiction of post-war Merseyside locations and inhabitants, including a scene featuring a young boy of Chinese heritage (conversant in both Chinese and fluent scouse); an unusual sight for British cinema of the time. While not as well-known as some of the more established Ealing classics, The Magnet is a thoroughly enjoyable fable that retains its power of attraction.

Rotha's Romantic Playlist 💘 ~

Goodbye, Mr. Chips! is a romantic drama: Directed by Sam Wood. Starring Robert DONAT and Greer GARSON. With Paul HENREID, Terry Kilburn, John Mills, and Judith Furse. Screenplay: R.C. Sheriff, Claudine West and Eric Maschwitz. Based on the Novel by James Hilton. Cinematography: Freddie A. Young; Art Direction: Alfred Junge. Music: Richard Addinsell.

The film tells the story of Mr Chipping: a beloved schoolmaster and former headmaster of Brookfield (an English, elite boarding school), who recalls his career and personal life over the decades...

Goodbye, Mr. Chips! location shooting was at Repton School, founded in 1557. This was considered such a great honour for the school that students and teachers gave up their summer vacations to appear in crowd scenes and otherwise help out on the production. Their sacrifice was amply rewarded when the film became the biggest hit yet from the Denham studio.

MGM invaded England and conquered the hearts of the world when it transferred one of production chief Irving G. Thalberg's last projects to the studio - recently acquired studios in Denham. Although owning a studio in England must have had a special charm for studio head Louis B. Mayer, a renowned Anglophile, the move was purely economic. England operated under a quota system that required a strict balance between British and imported films. By shooting some films in England, MGM could get more of its pictures into the sceptered isle.

Denham had already given MGM two hits in 1938: A Yank at Oxford, starring Robert Taylor as an American student abroad, and The Citadel, with Robert Donat as a young doctor led astray by riches and social prestige. The latter was such a big hit, that Mayer chose Donat over Brian Aherne and Charles Laughton for Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Donat had appeared in American films, but only sporadically, following his international success in Alfred Hitchcock's 1934 The 39 Steps. But ill health had cost him the lead in Captain Blood (1935) while his devotion to the stage led him to refuse other offers. With Goodbye, Mr. Chips, which allowed him to age from 25 to 83, he had the part for which he would always be remembered. It even made him a surprise Oscar winner in 1939, the year when Gone With the Wind swept the Academy Awards®, and Clark Gable was considered a major contender for Best Actor.

To play Chips' wife, Kathy, MGM needed an actress with just the right combination of gentility and high spirits. Elizabeth Allan, who had played the mother in David Copperfield (1935) was originally considered for the role. Then Rosalind Russell was assigned the female lead in The Citadel, a role first assigned to Allan. The actress sued for breach of contract, effectively ending her Hollywood career.

With no leading lady in mind, director Sam Wood started looking through old screen tests. Then he spotted the test for a beautiful Irish actress Louis B. Mayer had discovered in London. Greer Garson was already on the lot, but had had nothing to do since signing with MGM. She thought she'd soon be headed back to England a total failure, but instead returned as the star of a major motion picture. The film would establish her as MGM's top female star and win her the first of seven Oscar nominations (she would win in 1942 for another British story, Mrs. Miniver).
** by Frank Miller **


The Westerns Playlist 🤠 ~

The Man from the Alamo is an American Western, Directed by Budd Boetticher: starring Glenn FORD, Julie ADAMS, and Chill WILLS. Screenplay by Steve Fisher, and D.D. Beauchamp. Cinematography by Russell Metty.
Music by Frank Skinner. With Hugh O'Brian, Victor Jory, Neville Brand, and Marc Cavell.

When a soldier (Ford) fighting at the Alamo is randomly selected to check on families back at home, he is spared from massacre but branded a coward. After leaving a young survivor with a kind young woman (Julie Adams) in a wagon train, Ford seeks revenge on the bandit responsible for killing his family — but can he help the entire wagon train stay safe, and earn back his honor..?

According to a September 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Glenn Ford suffered three broken ribs during production when he was thrown against a tree by a horse. Filming was suspended for approximately five weeks. Studio publicity materials note that Francis the Talking Mule, for whom Chill Wills provided the voice in the "Francis" film series, was to have a cameo in The Man from the Alamo, but was replaced by the mule's stand-in, Jed. Some scenes were shot on location at the Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA.

The Humphrey Bogart playlist ⭐ ~

Action in the North Atlantic (also known as Heroes Without Uniforms) is a war drama Directed by Lloyd Bacon. It stars Humphrey BOGART and Raymond MASSEY as officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. Screenplay by John Howard Lawson. Cinematography by Ted D. McCord, and Music by Adolph Deutsch.

Action in the North Atlantic (1943) was conceived as a short film tribute to the Merchant Marines, but it was soon expanded into a full-length feature. Because of the immediacy of the heavy losses incurred by the merchant marine ships in the early days of America's involvement in World War II, producer Jerry Wald had Action in the North Atlantic in production just five weeks after being given the assignment. Remarkably, two ships were built on Warner stages before screenwriter John Howard Lawson even completed the script for the film, which bore the working title "Torpedoed."

Warner Bros. veteran Lloyd Bacon was assigned as director and the whole film was shot on a Warner sound stage. The film required a great deal of elaborate special effects that needed to be housed in a controlled environment that only a sound stage could provide. The old freighter that is destroyed in the film burned brightly for several days before sinking, all in a tank on the studio's "Stage Nine." The effect of the burning ships was achieved by dozens of gas jets controlled at a set of valves that looked like an organ console. This was operated by a "smoke bum" who played the valves with such precision that the actors appeared to be walking through flames. But others on the set got closer to the flames than comfort and safety would allow. Director Lloyd Bacon and his assistant often had to don masks because of the intense heat and smoke emanating from the arc lights and special effects fires and on one occasion Bacon almost choked to death from smoke inhalation. It's no wonder the special effects frightened many in the cast and crew and forced them to stay on their toes.

The production eventually went 45 days over schedule. Jerry Wald, completing his last movie before going into the service, produced a few ulcers as well. Some speculated whether it was the fear of military service that gave him ulcers, or the protracted production of Action in the North Atlantic. At the New York premiere, more than a dozen merchant mariners and several hundred U.S. sailors presented Jack Warner with the Merchant Marine Victory Flag. Henry J. Kaiser, the ship-building magnate, thought the film was such a morale booster that he wanted it shown to all his war builders.

Despite the undeniable patriotic fervor on display in Action in the North Atlantic, there was a politically combustible side to John Howard Lawson's screen story. Appearing in 1943 when America and Russia were still friendly allies, the film occasionally focused on our ties with the Soviet Union. But in the postwar era of chilly American-Russian relations, parts of the film would prove to be an embarrassment to Warner Brothers, namely the climactic "tovarich" (comrade) scene, in which the heroic Bogart and his men are greeted by Russians cheering wildly. Bogart does not return in kind, prompting a crewman to ask why he remains silent. Bogart says, "I'm just thinking about the trip back." That line served a dual purpose. Indeed, the trip back home would be rough going, but it also implied that the comrade stuff is acceptable up to a certain point. The Cold War validated the line's prescience. In fact, the line was often omitted from Action in the North Atlantic when it used to play on broadcast television.
** by Scott McGee **

** Historical / Period Films playlist 🎩 ~

The Adventures of Mark Twain is an American film dramatization of the life of Samuel Clemens / Twain.
Starring Fredric MARCH as Samuel Clemens, and Alexis SMITH as his wife, Olivia. Directed by Irving Rapper. Cinematography by Sol Polito. Music by Max Steiner. With Donald CRISP, C. Aubrey SMITH, Alan HALE, John CARRADINE. Produced by Warner Bros. - it was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Max Steiner for Best Music.

The dramatized life of immortal humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, from his days as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River until his death in 1910, shortly after Halley's Comet returned.

Director Irving Rapper said he did not want to make the film and had to be talked into it by Hal B. Wallis.

Film Noir Playlist 🎥 ~

The Hitch-Hiker is an American film noir, Directed by Ida Lupino: with Edmond O'BRIEN, Frank LOVEJOY, and William TALMAN. Screenplay by Ida Lupino and Collier Young. Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Music by Leith Stevens

Many, including Lupino herself, have called The Hitch-Hiker her best film. It is her only classic noir, a tour-de-force thriller in which agony is externalized in striking camerawork and on-pulse editing. Two Americans on a Mexican fishing trip pick up a hitch-hiker, and their car and lives are suddenly commandeered by a psychopathic gunman with one eye that never closes, even in sleep. In the pitiless no-man’s-land of the Mexican desert, they attempt to outwit the unpredictability of evil. The Hitch-Hiker transcends a paranoid cautionary tale about the menace of strangers to focus on the existential crisis of Americans after they have glimpsed the other side.

Beyond its obvious cultural significance as the only classic film noir directed by a woman (Ida Lupino), The Hitch-Hiker is perhaps better remembered as simply one of the most nightmarish motion pictures of the 1950s. Inspired by the true-life murder spree of Billy Cook.

Renegade film-making at its finest, The Hitch-Hiker was independently produced, which allowed Lupino and ex-husband/producer Collier Young to work from a treatment by blacklisted writer Daniel Mainwaring, and tackle an incident that was too brutal for the major studios to even consider.

** The Classic British Comedy playlist 🇬🇧 ~

The Love Lottery is a comedy from Ealing Studios: Directed by Charles Crichton. With David NIVEN, Peggy CUMMINS, Anne VERNON and Herbert LOM. Screenplay: Harry Kurnitz. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Music By Benjamin Frankel. It was one of several Ealing Comedies that veered away from the standard formula.

Jaded Hollywood film star Rex Allerton (Niven) buys his way out of his contract and returns home to London, but finds little work offered in new kinds of roles. Plagued by dreams of being chased and mauled by fans, he travels for a rest to beautiful Tremaggio, where he hopes to find anonymity. There he falls foul of a secretive international gambling syndicate whose chief, Amico (Lom), corners Rex into offering himself as first prize in lottery; the winner will be able to marry him. As lottery fever sweeps the world, Rex realises that he loves the maths genius who works for the syndicate. It is too late; the lottery must take place and nobody wants to win it more than Sally, a girl in England who longs to travel and experience a glamorous lifestyle.

The Film Noir Playlist 🎥 ~

Pickup on South Street is a Spy Noir: starring Richard WIDMARK, Jean PETERS, Thelma RITTER. Directed by Samuel Fuller. Cinematography by Joseph MacDonald and Music by Leigh Harline. Screenplay by Samuel Fuller (based on the story Blaze of Glory by Dwight Taylor).

Samuel Fuller wasn't the type of director to beat around the bush, and his economic narrative style is highly evident in Pickup on South Street (1953), one of the all-time great film noir pictures. A brutal examination of losers on the outer edges of society, the story revolves around the Communist underworld. But Fuller always insisted that Pickup on South Street is apolitical, and he wasn't being disingenuous when he said it. Notice that the main characters - all of whom are exceptionally unsavory - only strike back against Communists when their own well-being is in jeopardy. They're simply looking out for themselves, regardless of who's victimizing them.

In a lot of ways, this is a mean little movie; Fuller isn't aiming to seduce anyone. The borderline ludicrous story is set into motion when, in a brilliantly-crafted opening sequence, a pickpocket named Skip (Richard Widmark) steals a wallet from Candy (Jean Peters), a low class woman who's riding on a crowded New York City subway car. Candy soon discovers her boyfriend (Richard Kiley) is a Communist spy - and now he's threatening her because he had some microfilm stashed in her wallet!

Both Candy and the Feds, who are trying to find Skip for different reasons, get information on his whereabouts from an ex-pickpocket (Thelma Ritter, in a heartbreaking, Oscar-nominated performance) who has no problem selling what she knows to the highest bidder...until she meets a Commie. Candy, in case you couldn't see it coming, winds up falling for Skip. But Skip, who couldn't care less about Communists, only knows that the microfilm is obviously worth a lot of money. From there, it's Skip being none-too-kind to Candy, and eluding a bevy of pursuers around the city. If this movie were made today, critics would complain that there's nobody to root for, but that's half the fun. There are moments when your jaw drops over how tawdry it all is.

Fuller, a former newspaper reporter, often utilized recent headlines to add punch to his screenplays, and you couldn't get any hotter than Communists in 1953. He realized, however, that the average American didn't even know what a Communist was - they just knew that they were supposed to be appalled by their very existence. So he peppered Pickup on South Street with the Red Menace without delving into what's supposed to be so menacing about it. "I had no intention," Fuller later said, "of making a political statement in (Pickup on South Street), none whatsoever. My yarn is a noir thriller about marginal people, nothing more, nothing less."

His intention, Fuller said, was to "poke at the idiocy of the cold war climate of the fifties." Yes, he knew there were Communists who were fervent followers of Marx and Lenin, but his years on the newspaper beat taught him that there were people who would deal with literally anyone, so long as there was a decent payoff in the end. Not everybody, however, was convinced of Fuller's objective. Shortly after the release of Pickup on South Street, the director and 20th Century Fox's production head, Darryl Zanuck, were actually summoned to a meeting at a high-end restaurant with J. Edgar Hoover!

The famous FBI director, of course, was no stranger to blackmail and assorted criminal intrusions himself, but was always ready to rake the entertainment industry over the coals for its perceived threat to the American way. Years later, Fuller recalled Hoover getting especially bent out of shape by an F.B.I. agent in the movie who pays a criminal for information. Hoover insisted that the Department of Justice would never do such a thing, but Fuller was having none of it. "Mr. Hoover," he told the Director, "I was a reporter in the precincts myself. I've seen cops haggling with the Feds about fink money. I've even seen the Feds give cash to the cops for stoolies." Fuller also stood his ground on the characters' casually unpatriotic attitudes, saying that they were characters, and that their opinions in no way reflected his own.

A pair of bodyguards in black suits were sitting at a table next to Hoover's, keeping an eye on their Hollywood quarry as if they were enemy agents who might do harm to this Great American. The only harm done, however, was to Hoover's monumental ego. Neither Fuller nor Zanuck backed down, and not a second of footage was excised from Pickup on South Street. Hoover would just have to accept the unforgiving vibe, like any other viewer of a Sam Fuller picture. * By Paul Tatara *

Historical / Period Films playlist 🎩 ~

Blanche Fury is a British drama directed by Marc Allégret: starring Valerie HOBSON, Stewart GRANGER, and Michael GOUGH. Cinematography by Guy Green, Geoffrey Unsworth. Music by Clifton Parker. It was adapted from a 1939 novel of the same title by Joseph Shearing.

Valerie Hobson stars as the titular character in the Victorian melodrama. After becoming governess of Fury mansion she falls for the aggrieved Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger) and the pair scheme together to try and take over the Fury estate. But their murderous plans end up driving a wedge between them.

With its labyrinthine plot, wanton cruelty and sweeping dramatic turns, Blanche Fury is a prime example of the Gothic melodrama at which Rank Studios excelled in the 1940s. But unlike many of those films, this one is unusual for being shot in Technicolor, and Swiss-born director Marc Allégret adds an eerie, unsettling atmosphere to the macabre proceedings.

The Film Noir / Crime / Gangter Playlist 🎥 ~

The Roaring Twenties is a crime thriller Directed by Raoul Walsh: starring James CAGNEY, Priscilla LANE, Humphrey BOGART, and Gladys GEORGE. The film, spanning the periods between 1919 and 1933, was written by Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay and Robert Rossen. Cinematography: Ernest Haller. Original Music: Ray Heindorf, Heinz Roemheld.

The Humphrey Bogart playlist ⭐ ~
The speakeasy era never roared louder than in this gangland chronicle directed by Raoul Walsh (White Heat). Against a backdrop of newsreel-like montages and narration, The Roaring Twenties follows the life of jobless war veteran Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) who turns bootlegger, dealing in "bottles instead of battles." However, battles await Eddie both inside and out of his growing empire. Outside are territorial feuds and gangland bloodlettings and inside is the treachery of his double-dealing associate George Hally (Humphrey Bogart).


Adventure / Swashbuckler Films ⚔️ ~

The Four Musketeers is a British swashbuckler, Directed by Richard Lester: starring Oliver REED, Raquel WELCH, Richard CHAMBERLAIN, Michael YORK, Faye DUNAWAY, Charlton HESTON, Christopher LEE, Frank FINLAY, Geraldine CHAPLIN, Jean-Pierre CASSEL, and Simon WARD. Written by George MacDonald Fraser. Based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Cinematography David Watkin. Music by Lalo Schifrin. Produced by: Alexander Salkind, Ilya Salkind, Michael Salkind.

A sequel to the 1973 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers covers the second half of Dumas' classic novel. Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) has another evil plot, this time ordering the kidnap of Constance de Bonancieux (Racquel Welch), dressmaker of the Queen of France. The Musketeers must help Constance and the Queen, and protect them from the Cardinal, and his spy, Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway).
Historical / Period Films Playlist 🎩 ~


Rotha's Romantic Playlist 💘 ~

Lady Hamilton is an historical drama: starring Vivien LEIGH and Lawrence OLIVIER. Produced and Directed by Alexander Korda. Screenplay: Walter Reisch & R.C. Sherriff. Cinematography: Rudolph Maté. Music: Miklos Rozsa. With Alan MOWBRAY, Sara ALLGOOD, Gladys COOPER, and Henry WILCOXON.

One of cinema’s most dashing duos, real-life spouses Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier live their greatest on-screen romance in this visually dazzling tragic love story from legendary producer-director Alexander Korda. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars of the late eighteenth century, That Hamilton Woman is a gripping account of the scandalous adulterous affair between the British Royal Navy officer Lord Horatio Nelson and the renowned beauty Emma, Lady Hamilton, the wife of a British ambassador. With its grandly designed sea battles and formidable star performances, That Hamilton Woman (Winston Churchill’s favorite movie, which he claimed to have seen over eighty times) brings history to vivid, glamorous life. ⚓
The Drama / Thriller Playlist 🎭 ~


Pal Joey is a musical comedy, starring Rita HAYWORTH, Frank SINATRA, and Kim NOVAK. Directed by George Sidney. Screenplay: Dorothy Kingsley (loosely based on the musical play by John O'Hara, Richard Rodgers, and Lorenz Hart). Cinematography: Harold Lipstein. Music: Morris Stoloff.

In San Francisco, out of work singer Joey Evans (Sinatra), a heel known for his womanizing and irresistible charm, dreams of owning a nightclub of his own...


Seventeen years after its premiere on Broadway in 1940, Pal Joey (1957) finally made its way to the silver screen after numerous attempts by Columbia studio boss Harry Cohn to cast and produce it. Along the way, the central character, Joey Evans, evolved from an irredeemable, womanizing heel who preys on chorus girls to a likable nightclub crooner torn between his love for a struggling singer and a chance to further his career with a rich, predatory club owner. The stage musical starred Gene Kelly and was based on a series of short stories by author John O'Hara.

When Cohn first purchased the rights to the play, he wanted Kelly for the lead but the latter was already under contract to MGM and Louis B. Mayer wanted too much money for Kelly's services. Cohn then pursued James Cagney and later Cary Grant for the title role. As for the character of Vera Simpson, Joey's wealthy sponsor, such actresses as Gloria Swanson, Grace Moore, Ethel Merman, and Irene Dunne were considered. The advent of World War II put the project on hold until the early fifties when the play was successfully revived on Broadway. Cohn began his casting search again, considering Marlon Brando and Mae West for the key roles. But it was Frank Sinatra who snagged the lead through his production company, Essex, which partnered with director George Sidney and producer Fred Kohlmar to bring it to the screen.

Frank Sinatra was gracious enough to allow Rita Hayworth to take top billing over him on the marquee in honor of her long-standing relationship with the studio. Despite the fact that she didn't do her own singing (she was dubbed by Jo Ann Greer), her co-star Kim Novak didn't sing either (Kim was dubbed by Trudi Erwin). Of course, the songs were always the best part about Pal Joey and the film version kept ten songs by Rodgers and Hart from the original musical score and added four new ones, also by Rodgers and Hart. The new additions were "My Funny Valentine," "There's a Small Hotel," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and "The Lady is a Tramp" which is given the definite treatment by Sinatra with a killer Nelson Riddle arrangement.
by Jeff Stafford


** The Drama / Thriller Playlist 🎭 ~

Night of the Hunter is a thriller Directed by Charles Laughton: starring Robert MITCHUM, Shelley WINTERS, and Lillian GISH. With James Gleason, Peter Graves, Billy Chapin, Sally-Jane Bruce. Screenplay: James Agee, Charles Laughton (uncredited): based on the novel by Davis Grubb
Cinematography: Stanley Cortez. Music: Walter Schumann

In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the rural South, Ben Harper has committed murder while robbing a bank to get enough money to keep his family from being hungry and homeless. Awaiting hanging, Harper shares a cell with Harry Powell, a deranged, self-appointed preacher with the words LOVE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles. Harry, temporarily in the pen for car theft, tries to get Harper to tell him where he hid the cash, but all he learns is the location of Harper's family...
In his own words, director Charles Laughton described The Night of the Hunter (1955) as "a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale." Based on a popular novel by David Grubb, the film takes place in West Virginia during the Depression and follows a homicidal preacher as he stalks two children, a brother and sister, across the rural landscape. The reason for his pursuit is $10,000 in cash and it's stuffed inside a doll the little girl is carrying.

Laughton worked with James Agee on the screenplay but the famous author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men had a severe drinking problem (he died the same year) and the screenplay he delivered was a mammoth script by Hollywood standards that Laughton had to whittle down to an acceptable length. Although Agee biographer Lawrence Bergman maintained that Laughton had to rewrite most of screenplay, the discovery of Agee's first draft of the script in 2004 proved that it reflected Laughton's final release version, almost scene for scene.

Laughton had a much more positive working experience with his second-unit directors, Terry and Denis Sanders, whose documentary film, A Time Out of War (1954) won an Oscar, and cinematographer, Stanley Cortez. The latter once remarked: "Apart from The Magnificent Ambersons, the most exciting experience I have had in the cinema was with Charles Laughton on Night of the Hunter...every day I consider something new about light, that incredible thing that can't be described. Of the directors I've worked with, only two have understood it: Orson Welles and Charles Laughton."

The casting was also exceptional and Laughton coaxed excellent performances from Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish. However, he developed an aversion to the two child actors and when he overheard the little boy, Billy Chapin, brag about winning the New York Critics' Circle Prize for a recent play, Laughton roared, "Get that child away from me." After that, the two children took their direction mostly from Mitchum. The only other problem Laughton encountered was having to juggle his shooting schedule so that Mitchum could begin work on his next film, Not as a Stranger (1955).

Ignored and misunderstood at the time of its release, except by a handful of critics, The Night of the Hunter had to wait several decades before it took its rightful place alongside other revered works of the American cinema like John Ford's The Searchers (1956) and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). It was the sole directorial effort of actor Charles Laughton and he took the film's commercial failure very hard, abandoning any future plans to direct another film.

Yet, The Night of the Hunter is anything but a failure and is chock full of riches: Robert Mitchum creates a chilling portrait of evil in one of his finest performances (and one of his personal favorites); the rock-steady presence of Lillian Gish is both a homage and a direct link to the films of D.W. Griffith, the film pioneer Laughton pays tribute to with this movie; the shimmering beauty of Stanley Cortez's cinematography also recalls the shadows and lighting of other silent era classics by Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, and the music score by Walter Schumann is unusually evocative, mixing hymns, children's songs, and orchestral effects.
by Jeff Stafford


Rotha's Romantic Playlist 💘 ~

Cluny Brown is a romantic comedy, Directed by Ernst Lubitsch: starring Jennifer JONES and Charles Boyer. With Peter Lawford, Reginald Gardiner, Helen Walker, Reginald Owen, and C. Aubrey Smith. Cinematography by Joseph LaShelle. Music by Cyril J. Mockridge. The screenplay was written by Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt based on the 1944 novel by Margery Sharp.

The final film completed by Ernst Lubitsch, this zany, zippy comedy of manners, set in England on the cusp of World War II, is one of the worldly-wise director’s most effervescent creations. Jennifer Jones shines in a rare comedic turn as Cluny Brown, an irrepressible heroine with a zeal for plumbing. Sent to work as a parlourmaid at a stuffy country manor, she proceeds to turn the household upside down—with plenty of help from Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), an eccentric Continental exile who has fled the Nazis but is still worried about where his next meal is coming from. Sending up British class hierarchy with Lubitsch’s famously light touch, Cluny Brown is a topsy-turvy farce that says nuts to the squirrels and squirrels to the nuts. 🐿️

Historical / Period Films playlist 🎩 ~

A Man for All Seasons is an historical drama: Directed and Produced by Fred Zinnemann, adapted by Robert Bolt from his play of the same name. Starring Paul SCOFIELD, Wendy HILLER, Leo McKERN, Robert SHAW, Orson WELLES, and Susannah YORK. With Cinematography by Ted Moore, and Music by Georges Delerue.

Based on the historical events leading up to the execution of More, the 16th-century Chancellor of England, who refused to endorse Henry VIII's wish to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn.

The play portrays More as a man of principle, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people and by his family.
“Zinnemann has done a fine job of putting upon the screen Robert Bolt’s play, and presents us with an awesome view of a sturdy conscience and a steadfast heart.”
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1966

The archetype of probity and principle, Thomas More (Paul Scofield) is the only courtier who refuses to abet the scheming of King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon. The drama springs from the consequences of More’s “moral squint” (in the memorable words of Orson Welles’ bilious Cardinal Wolsey), as unscrupulous enemies plot his downfall.

The film’s wordiness and stagy direction betray its theatrical origins, making it an atypical project for director Fred Zinnemann, better remembered for the likes of High Noon (1952) and The Day of the Jackal (1973). Paul Scofield gives a career-defining performance (he won an Oscar for Best Actor, one of six awarded to the film), reprising the role from the play’s West End and Broadway runs. " ** Courtesy of BFI **

Rotha's Romantic Playlist 💘 ~

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a romantic musical: starring Howard KEEL and Jane POWELL. With Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, and Tommy Rall. Directed by Stanley Donen. Music by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul, Lyrics by Johnny Mercer: Choreography by Michael Kidd. Screenplay by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Dorothy Kingsley. Based on "The Sobbin' Women" by Stephen Vincent Benet.

The rugged Pontipee brothers are living a life of self-sufficiency in the Oregon mountains during the 1850s. When the eldest brother, Adam, brings home his pretty new wife from town (Jane Powell) the brothers decide that they too should find brides. First, however, Milly must teach the well-meaning but ignorant brothers how to behave so that they can successfully woo the women of their choice.

*** Drama / Thriller Playlist 🎭 ~

The Wreck of the Mary Deare is a British-American thriller: starring Gary COOPER and Charlton HESTON. Directed by Michael Anderson. The screenplay by Eric Ambler was based on the 1956 novel of the same name by Hammond Innes. Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg. Music by George Duning. Featuring Michael REDGRAVE, Cecil PARKER, Richard HARRIS, Emlyn WILLIAMS, Alexander KNOX, and Virginnia McKENNA.

Based on Hammond Innes’ novel of the same name, screen legends Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston star in this suspenseful tale of the ship, Mary Deare, found adrift at sea by a salvage hunter (Heston). Boarding the steam vessel, he finds only one man (Cooper), the ship’s first officer, attempting to save it. With high seas trapping the salvager on the Mary Deare, the mystery and suspense behind what happened to the ship and the crew deepens...

The Classic British Comedy Playlist 🇬🇧 ~

Innocents in Paris: Directed by Gordon Parry. Starring Alastair SIM, Ronald SHINER, Claire BLOOM, Margaret RUTHERFORD, Claude DAUPHIN, Jimmy EDWARDS, Mara Lane, James Copeland, Gaby Bruyère, Monique Gérard, and Peter Illing. Screenplay by Anatole de Grunwald. Cinematography by Gordon Lang. Music by Joseph Kosma.

Margaret Rutherford Playlist ⭐ ~

The film is a romantic comedy about a group of Britons flying out from The London Airport for a weekend in Paris in a British European Airways Airspeed Ambassador. An English diplomat (Sim) is on a working trip to obtain an agreement with his Russian counterpart (Illing); a Royal Marine bandsman (Shiner) has a night out on the tiles after winning a pool of the French currency held by all the Marines in his band; a young woman (Bloom) finds romance with an older Frenchman (Dauphin) who gives her a tour of Paris; an amateur artist (Rutherford) searches out fellow painters on the Left Bank and in the Louvre; a hearty Englishman (Edwards) spends the entire weekend in an English-style pub; and a Battle of Normandy veteran (Copeland) is an archetypal Scotsman in kilt and Tam o' Shanter, who finds love with a young French woman.

The Bette Davis Playlist ⭐ ~ | See Link Below!

Pocketful of Miracles is a comedy: Produced and Directed by Frank Capra. Starring Glenn FORD, Bette DAVIS, Hope LANGE, Arthur O'CONNELL. With Thomas MITCHELL, in his final screen appearance, Peter Falk, Edward Everett Horton, and Ann-Margret in her screen debut. Screenplay by Hal Kanter and Harry Tugend: based on the short story "Madame la Gimp" by Damon Runyon, and the film Lady for a Day written by Robert Riskin. Cinematography: Robert J. Bronner. Music by Walter Scharf

New York gangster 'Dave the Dude' (Glenn Ford) and his girlfriend attempt to turn street pedlar 'Apple Annie' (Bette Davis) into a society lady when the peddler learns her daughter is marrying a European aristocrat...
Christmas / Family Movies Playlist 🎄 ~


** See Links Below for the Margaret Lockwood ⭐ | Romantic Films Playlists 💘

Love Story is a British romance: Starring Margaret LOCKWOOD, Stewart GRANGER, Patricia ROC. Directed by Leslie Arliss. Cinematography by Bernard Knowles. Screenplay by Leslie Arliss and Doreen Montgomery. Music by Hubert Bath. With Tom WALLS, and A.E. MATTHEWS. It was based on "Love Story" by J. W. Drawbell. The film was produced by Gainsborough Pictures.

Concert pianist Felicity Crichton (Lockwood), leaves her successful music career to devote herself to the British war effort. She applies to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, part of the RAF, but is rejected for health reasons. Learning that she is dying of heart failure, Felicity decides to spend her last days incognito in Cornwall. While there, she meets Kit Firth (Granger) and a romantic attraction forms. But Kit has a secret of his own...

The film's spectacular outdoor theatre scenes were filmed at Cornwall’s world-famous, open-air Minack Theatre: although bad weather forced a number of the scenes to be shot in a studio mock-up.
Margaret Lockwood Films ⭐ ~
Rotha's Romantic Playlist 💘 ~


The Film Noir Playlist 🎥 ~

The Big Clock is a film noir Directed by John Farrow: starring Ray MILLAND, and Charles LAUGHTON. With Maureen O'Sullivan, George Macready, Rita Johnson, and Elsa Lanchester. Screenplay by Jonathan Latimer: based on The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing. Cinematography: Daniel L. Fapp and
John Seitz. Music by Victor Young,

Earl Janoth (Laughton) is a tyrannical publishing magnate who murders his mistress and then attempts to implicate one of his employees, George Stroud (Milland). Stroud, a star reporter for Janoth’s crime magazine - who has built his reputation on solving high-profile cases - begins investigating the murder. However, the more light he sheds on the case, the more he implicates himself...

** The Drama / Thriller Playlist 🎭 ~

Grand Hotel is a drama starring Greta GARBO, Lionel BARRYMORE, Joan CRAWFORD, Wallace BEERY, and John BARRYMORE. With Lewis Stone, and Jean Herscholt. Directed by Edmund Goulding. Produced by Irving Thalberg. Cinematography: William H. Daniels. Music: William Axt.

Five different characters staying at the luxury hotel over the course of two nights intersect in unexpected ways. Linked together by varying forms of desperation, the characters include Grusinskaya, a fading suicidal ballerina; the charming and destitute Baron Von Gaigern who plans to rob Grusinskaya of some valuable pearls; Mr. Preysing, the ruthless industrialist whose entire future rides on a business merger that may not go through; Kringelein, a meek, terminally ill accountant who intends to blow his life savings living his last days in style; and Flaemmchen, an ambitious stenographer willing to do more than just take dictation to get ahead. All of their lives will change during their brief stay, some for the better, some for worse.

Why GRAND HOTEL is Essential

The multiple intersecting storylines featuring different characters in Grand Hotel was a revelation in how to tell a cinematic story and had a huge influence on how films were made after its release in 1932.

Production Head Irving Thalberg's idea to use all of MGM's greatest star power in the same film was a revolutionary idea. With the film's publicity boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled," Grand Hotel delivered all of the studio's top talent at the same time. It was a calculated gamble that paid off and soon became a common format for big budget studio pictures. It was Hollywood's first all-star film. Grand Hotel was a risk that turned into a huge hit for MGM. Its success gave a boost to the careers of all involved, and helped MGM survive an economic depression.

Grand Hotel was influential in contributing to the ongoing myth of the Great Garbo, remembered forever as talented and beautiful as well as complex, elusive, and aloof. Her Grand Hotel character Grusinskaya's oft repeated "I want to be alone" line became synonymous with the actress herself and contributed to her mysterious image that followed her throughout her life.

This is the only film in which Greta Garbo and John Barrymore ever starred together. As two of the greatest actors and stars ever to grace the silver screen, seeing them play off of each other is a rare and delightful treat.

Joan Crawford's role as the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel was responsible for giving her career a big boost as she moved towards A-list stardom as a leading lady. Having successfully transitioned to sound film, this part gave her the chance to hold her own against some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, including Garbo, one of her idols.

by Andrea Passafiume


The Film Noir Playlist 🎥 ~

Framed is a film noir: Directed by Richard Wallace. Starring Glenn FORD: Janis CARTER, and Barry SULLIVAN. With Edgar Buchanan. Screenplay: Ben Maddow; John Patrick (story). Cinematography: Burnett Guffey. Music: Marlin Skiles.

Mike Lambert (Ford), trained as a mining engineer, has fallen on hard times and is driving a truck when his rig breaks down in a small town. Soon meets the seductive Paula Craig (Janis Carter) at a cafe, and is drawn into her web of intrigue, larceny and murder...

Madonna of the Seven Moons is a British drama, Directed by Arthur Crabtree for Gainsborough Pictures. Starring Phyllis CALVERT, Stewart GRANGER, and Patricia ROC. The film was produced by R.J. Minney, with Cinematography by Jack Cox: Screenplay by Roland Pertwee: Music by Hans May. It was based on 'The Madonna of Seven Moons' by Margery Lawrence.

A buried trauma from the past holds the key to the disappearance of a respectable married woman. Maddalena has a dual personality which leads her to forsake her husband and daughter, to flee to the house of the Seven Moons in Florence...


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Classic Films for Historical Research and Education. See the Playlists! 🍿