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Cast: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Godfrey Tearle, Lucie Mannheim, Wylie Watson
Running Time: 87 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

This classic British thriller was one of Alfred Hitchcock's first major international successes, and it introduced a number of the stylistic and thematic elements that became hallmarks of his later work. Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a Canadian rancher on vacation in England, attends a music hall performance by "Mr. Memory" (Wylie Watson); in the midst of the show, shots ring out and Richard flees the theater. Moments later, a terrified woman (Lucie Mannheim) begs Richard to help her; back at his room, she tells him that she's a British spy whose life has been threatened by international agents waiting outside. Richard is certain that she's mad until she reappears at his door in the morning, near death with a knife in her back, a map in her hand, and muttering something about "39 Steps." Discovering that a group of thugs are indeed waiting outside, Richard slips away and takes the first train to the Scottish town on the dead woman's map. Richard learns that he's now wanted by the police for murder, and he must find a way to clear his name. He begins trying to do so with the help of a woman he meets en route, Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), who serves as his unwitting assistant, even after she tries to turn him in. The 39 Steps was later remade in 1959 and 1978 -- both without Hitchcock's participation.

 

Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Hillary Brooke, Max Baer, Buddy Baer, Clyde Beatty, Frank Buck, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser
Running Time: 79 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

In the opening scenes of this wacky Abbott and Costello comedy, Lou is frightened by a little kitten -- Everyone who has ever seen an Abbott and Costello film of course knows what will happen next: Before you can say African diamonds and Hillary Brooke, a horrified Lou is confronted with all kinds of wildlife fauna, from Burton Wenland in a gorilla suit to Clyde Beatty's caged lions. Beatty testing his captured beasts before shipping them off to the circus is just one of the many politically incorrect episodes in this comedy. Lou Costello was famously frightened by Universal's veteran monster stars in the well-received Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), and Africa Screams takes full advantage of the comic possibilities that his terror provides.

 

Cast: Charlotte Henry, W.C. Fields, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Edna May Oliver, William Austin, Sterling Holloway, Jack Oakie, Edward Everett Horton, Richard Arlen, Charles Ruggles, Baby LeRoy, May Robson, Ned Sparks
Running Time: 76 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Lewis Carroll's classic tale of an imaginative girl in 19th century England got an all-star treatment in Paramount's 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland -- The movie actually combined two Carroll novels, Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass.

An imaginative and adventuresome girl, young Alice discovers that her library mirror is a portal to another world. She encounters a perpetually-late White Rabbit, a dodo, a caterpillar, the confusing Cheshire Cat and others as she tries to make sense of this strange new place. There isn't much sense to be found as Alice attends a wacky tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse, then meets the Queen of Hearts.

The film breaks into animation when twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee recite the poem, "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Giant egg Humpty Dumpty relates another of Carroll's poems, "Jabberwocky," then falls off and shatters. Naturally, the poor White Knight can't put Humpty together again. Before she even knows what's going on, Alice becomes a queen, enrages the Red Queen, and needs to find a way back home before the angry Queen exacts her vengeance.

Just as important as the star-studded cast to the film's success was the splendid art direction of William Cameron Menzies (who also co-wrote the screenplay), faithfully transposing storybook drawings into a live-action setting. The fantastic sets and costumes captured the imaginations of moviegoers, as Alice in Wonderland set the standard for every adaptation of Carroll's classic that followed.

 

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre
Running Time: 89 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Adventure at its boldest! Bogart at his best! Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa -- This Was Their Road to Adventure and a Fabulous Fortune -- A Dangerous Band of Desperate Men Goaded on By Two Beautiful Women -- All of Them Out to Beat the Devil at His Own Game. Huston and Bogart, who had previously collaborated on classics ranging from The Maltese Falcon to The African Queen, teamed up for the last time on Beat the Devil, the least known and most unfairly underrated of their five joint efforts. An exquisitely dry comedy with a witty script by Truman Capote and John Huston, the film finds subtle, absurdist laughs in the misadventures of Bogart's tough customer, who becomes involved in a complex scheme to gain control of a patch of uranium-rich land in Africa. Directed by John Huston. Screenplay Truman Capote and John Huston.

 

Cast: Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Dave "Tex" O'Brien, George Humbert, Hally Chester, Frankie Burke, Donald Haines, Vince Barnett, Minerva Urecal
Running Time: 62 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

In their second Monogram caper, Knuckles and the East Side Kids are on their way to camp in the Adirondacks when they offer a lift to Judge Parker and his ward Louise, who are having car trouble -- the learned jurist's secluded mansion proves to be in the haunted house category complete with sliding panels, hidden passageways, and a deranged housekeeper. When the judge is found murdered and his ward missing, henchmen Giles (Denny Moore) and Simp (Vince Barnett) naturally accuse Knuckles, who has a motive but no alibi. In their bumbling search for the judge's missing ward, the boys stumble across a prowling detective (Alden Chase), however, and the real culprit is soon unmasked to be none other than -- well, suffice it to say, the killer is the least likely candidate, the East Side Kids, Louise, and Knuckles not included.

 

Cast: Raymond Burr, Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney Jr.
Running Time: 57 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Written and directed by Curt Siodmak, writer of such films as The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), and Son of Dracula (1943), all three which also starred Lon Chaney, Jr. A Blonde Beauty and a Savage Beast... alone in the Jungle! Raymond Burr (Godzilla, Rear Window, TVs Perry Mason, Ironside) is Barney Chavez, south american plantation foreman. He's been having an affair with his boss' wife Dina (Barbara Payton), while stringing along a beautiful native gal. Barney gets his boss out of the way by means of a poisonous python. Unfortunately a servant woman, who just happens to be a witch, witnessed the murder. She decides to use her dark arts to turn Barney into a savage gorilla, or so he thinks...

 

Cast: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Dolores Fuller, Paul Marco
Running Time: 70 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

To most outside observers, Bride of the Monster probably seems like a ridiculously inept horror film, and in many ways it is just that -- to connoisseurs of the work of director Ed Wood, however, it is the biggest budgeted film in his entire output, made with the resources of a normal B-movie (as opposed to his usual totally emaciated finances) and the most easily accessible of his three horror films. Bela Lugosi, in his final complete performance, portrays Dr. Eric Vornoff, a renegade Eastern European scientist with a plan to create a race of atomic supermen, giants charged with radioactivity. The problem is that the hapless hunters and other passersby at Lake Marsh, where he has set up shop with his hulking, mute assistant Lobo (Tor Johnson), whom the pair waylay, keep dying when he straps them in and switches on his atomic ray machine (which is a not-at-all disguised photographic enlarger). A dozen victims later, reporter Janet Lawson (Loretta King) goes out to investigate the disappearances -- attributed to a monster -- and falls into Vornoff's hands, with her police detective fiance Dick Craig (Tony McCoy) hot on her trail, and a devious spy (George Becwar) from Vornoff's former nation also nosing his way around the swamp and the old house. Vornoff dresses Lawson in a wedding gown and plans to irradiate her but Lobo refuses to allow it, straps Vornoff into the machine, and turns him into a radioactive giant (and into stuntman Eddie Parker, totally unconvincing in his doubling for Lugosi). With his laboratory in flames and the police closing in on all sides, the now super-strong Vornoff goes up in a mushroom cloud when he falls into the clutches of the giant octopus that he uses to dispose of his victims.

 

Cast: Charles Laughton, Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, Reginald Owen, John Carradine, Gilbert Roland
Running Time: 80 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

It's every man for himself when Charles Laughton bites into the role of infamous 17th century pirate captain William Kidd -- Hoping to further increase his ill-gotten gains, Captain Kidd persuades King William III (Henry Daniel) into appointing him the "patriotic" protector of a valuable treasure ship. Ostensibly hired to fend off enemy vessels, Kidd intends to steal the ship's cargo for himself with the aid of his swarthy lieutenants William Moore (Gilbert Roland) and Orange Povy (John Carradine). The romantic subplot is carried by "honest" brigand Adam Merry (Randolph Scott) and kidnapped noblewoman Lady Ann Falconer (Barbara Britton). Charles Laughton reprised his part in the 1952 farce Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.

 

Cast: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levitt
Running Time: 78 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Carnival of Souls has a look and feel decidedly different than that of any horror movie of its time. Concerning itself with a woman caught in a spiritual netherworld between life and death, Carnival of Souls has a cool, slightly forbidding tone and a desolate beauty in its visual style that stands apart from most B-horror pics of the period. Director Herk Harvey's years in industrial filmmaking certainly served him well while making Carnival of Souls, which looks surprisingly glossy and distinctive given its shoestring budget. Carnival of Souls is that rare cult movie that truly deserves its reputation.

 

Cast: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, John Beal, Douglass Montgomery, Gale Sondergaard, George Zucco, Charles Lane
Running Time: 74 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

The classic "old dark house" motif is given sterling treatment in this second filmed version of the hit play -- Bob Hope's status as a star was assured with his role as Wallie Campbell, the cowardly protector of Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard), who must spend one night in the eerie mansion of her late, eccentric, millionaire uncle. If she can make it through the night without losing her mind, Joyce stands to inherit her uncle's entire fortune. Of course, all the other potential heirs now have a motive to drive her insane. The frights are nonstop as hands reach out from nowhere, people disappear between trap doors, the halls echo with terrifying sounds, and secret doorways lead to hidden passageways. Three people are murdered before Wallie solves the mystery and sees Goddard through the night. Hope integrates his wiseacre comedic style into a essentially straight role, with the humor well-placed in the otherwise moody material. Creepy lighting and music also aid director Elliott Nugent in crafting an effective and fun version of one the genre's archetypal stories.

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