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Showing posts from February, 2017

Variety: Universal's other movies of the early '30s (Part 1)

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Viewers only familiar with the classic monster movies created by Universal Pictures, specifically in the period of 1931 until 1936, may not have accessed or even cared to investigate other types of product the studio released during the same period. The fact is, Universal's aspirations to stand among the filmmaking greats of the time such as M-G-M, Warner Bros. and Paramount yielded a variety of productions in genres as dependable as the western to the more rarified romantic dramas, some of variable quality and others striving for greatness, all offering proof of Universal's desire to break away from an image as a supplier of bread-and-butter pictures for small-town and independent auditoriums.

Carl Laemmle Jr., son of Universal founder Carl Laemmle, was famously awarded production chief duties on achieving his 21st birthday in 1929, inheriting two seasons of lackluster response to what Universal was selling. While the studio was free of the responsibility borne by other top co…

Variety: Universal's other movies of the early '30s (Part 2)

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Universal in the early 1930s was also the place where directors of note in Hollywood received initial opportunities to practice their craft, in addition to employing known talent such as John Ford. Among the newer crop to find work at Big U, reportedly because of Carl Laemmle Sr.'s famous tendency toward nepotism, was William Wyler (born William Weiller) whose own emphasis on bringing heavy drama to life cinematically was evident when he directed A HOUSE DIVIDED (1931), taking a soap-operatic plot in the Dale Van Every-John B. Clymer script and giving it a certain sensitivity in collaboration with its three stars, Walter Huston, Helen Chandler and Douglass Montgomery.

A HOUSE DIVIDED is occupied by brutish fisherman Seth Law (Huston) and his meek son Matt (Montgomery), who yearns to leave the dismal beach community in which he was raised. A widower who's worn out too many housekeepers with his demanding ways, Seth advertises in a magazine for a replacement and believes he's…