A Dozen Great Depression Double Bills at Film Forum


Man’s Castle (Frank Borzage, 1933) & American Madness (Frank Capra, 1932). Tough young Spencer Tracy shacks up with Loretta Young’s teenage drifter in a Manhattan shantytown; honest banker Walter Huston struggles against mass panic in a movie Variety hailed as “swell propaganda against hoarding, frozen assets and other economic evils which 1932 Hooverism has created.” February 7 through 9

Our Daily Bread (King Vidor, 1934) & Stand Up and Cheer! (Hamilton MacFadden, 1934). Two cures for the Great Depression: The unemployed organize a rural kolkhoz as the federal government nationalizes vaudeville. February 9

Employees’ Entrance (Roy Del Ruth, 1933) & Skyscraper Souls (Edgar Selwyn, 1932). As oily as he is ruthless, capitalist swine Warren William runs a department store in one movie and an office tower in the other, gleefully ruining lives and bedding timorous young employees in both. February 10

Heroes for Sale (William Wellman, 1933) & Wild Boys of the Road (William Wellman, 1933).Wellman’s one-two punch focuses on two successive lost generations. The hero of Heroes for Sale fights in World War I and parties through the Roaring ’20s, only to wind up on the breadline, while the boys of Wild Boys wander the countryside in search of work. February 13

Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933) & Blessed Event (Roy Del Ruth, 1932). They don’t make ’em like this anymore: Barbara Stanwyck flees the coal town speakeasy, where she’s pimped by her father, for the big city, systematically sleeping her way to the pinnacle of economic power; Lee Tracy, the fastest-talking man in movies, plays another opportunistic force of nature, based on gossip-columnist Walter Winchell. February 15

Gabriel Over the White House (Gregory La Cava, 1933) & Washington Merry-Go-Round (James Cruze, 1932). How to clean up the mess in D.C.: Walter Huston’s divinely inspired president turns Mussolini-style dictator; Lee Tracy’s newly elected Congressional reformer drafts the Bonus Army to fix a corrupt government. February 16

Night Nurse (William Wellman, 1931) & Hold Your Man (Sam Wood, 1933). Hard-boiled and delicious, working gal pals Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell handle the low life, while Jean Harlow’s equally tough floozy sticks by her criminal boyfriend Clark Gable. February 17

Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932) & Blood Money (Rowland Brown, 1933). Paul Muni chews the scenery to a pulp in the era’s most notorious gangster flick. Karen Morley takes a respite from careworn wives to play the ultimate moll, but spitfire Ann Dvorak is the real object of the antihero’s incestuous desire. More gangsta romance: A madam loves a bail bondsman who longs for a masochistic debutante who lusts after a bank robber. February 21

Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931) & Two Seconds (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932). Angry little man gets his comeuppance: Edward G. Robinson stars as a megalomaniacal mobster who rises to the top and dies in the gutter, then a hapless wife-murderer whose life flashes before his eyes before he fries in the chair. February 25

King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933) & 42nd Street (Lloyd Bacon, 1933). Showmanship runs amok in this pairing of two 1933 blockbusters: If 42nd Street was the King Kong of backstage musicals, King Kong is the 42nd Street of giant ape flicks. February 28

Me and My Gal (Raoul Walsh, 1932) & Central Park (John G. Adolfi, 1932). Spencer Tracy’s insouciant flatfoot romances Joan Bennett’s saucy hash-slinger in a delightfully lumpen comedy; homeless cutie Joan Blondell teams with jobless hunk Wallace Ford for a series of madcap adventures on the wild side of New York’s most famous park. March 2

Upperworld (Roy Del Ruth, 1934) & Night World (Hobart Henley, 1932). The tawdry and the tawdrier: Lonely rich guy Warren William spells doom for Ginger Rogers’s nice young stripteaser; Boris Karloff’s sleazy nightspot provides a venue for betrayal, murder, and assorted drunken antics, not to mention a lascivious Busby Berkeley dance number. March 5

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