This post is part of the 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge hosted by Raquel of Out Of The Past. Find out more about this event here and stayed tuned all summer for more reviews!
Many classic film fans when asked what the best year for movies was would answer 1939. So many great movies came out that year, in fact so many great films came out in the 1930s as a whole. How can one film fan remember them all? And what of the fabulous stars of the 1930s? Well never fear, have I got a book for you!
Found at a library book sale with a very ripped dust jacket I present to you THOSE FABULOUS MOVIE YEARS: THE 30s. This book is a collection of films made in the 1930s as well as the actors and actresses who starred in them. Published in 1975 and written by Paul Trent each entry in this book gives a brief overview of the films and the stars. The entries written for the actors and actresses limit themselves to discussing their careers in the 1930s only. The films are given very brief overviews with some details about their productions and box office success. It is interesting to read some of the opinions about such great films as THE WIZARD OF OZ (…”It was an irresistable magnet for sentimentalists and romantics willing to believe and one that thrust Garland into superstardom…”), GUNGA DIN (…”is a period piece, appropriate only for a day when chauvinism was an acceptable word and audience’s believe in the White Man’s Burden. Its themes, sensibilities, and social mores date the film.”, and DINNER AT EIGHT (“When the film ends, the viewer feel he’s been to one heck of a party.”).
Those looking for a more in depth review of films made in the 1930s will most likely be disappointed. But this book does give quick information, almost like an encyclopedia, and could be useful for quickly trying to look up who was in that movie that you forgot you liked. One thing this book does have going for it are the pictures. Every page is covered in black and white, and some color, photographs of the stars and movies that we love. It is an odd sensation to read the entries of people like Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joel McCrea with no final date listed after their birth. We read the book knowing that they are gone, but in seeing this blank space where the date of death usually goes we get to have a moment of believing that they haven’t left us yet.