Thursday, November 3


My first blog list

In honor of the Paramount pre-code series that begins at the Balboa tonight and runs through November 24th, here are my current ten favorite Paramount feature films from the period, each accompanied by a favorite quote:

1. Love Me Tonight (Nov. 11)
Jeanette MacDonald: "Do you ever think of anything but men?"
Myrna Loy: "Yes, schoolboys."
2. Shanghai Express (Nov. 12)
Anna May Wong: "I confess I don't quite know the standard of respectability that you demand in your boarding house, Mrs. Haggerty."
3. Trouble in Paradise (Nov. 20)
Kay Francis: "Marriage is a beautiful mistake which two people make together."
4. Design For Living (Nov. 11)
Edward Everett Horton: "Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."
5. Morocco (Nov. 23)
Marlene Dietrich: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away, while his pretty young wife has the time of her life."
6. the Smiling Lieutenant (Nov. 20)
Miriam Hopkins: "I got all my knowledge out of the Royal Encyclopedia. A special edition arranged for Flausenthurm, with all the interesting things left out."
7. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Nov. 15)
Holmes Herbert: "Perhaps you're forgetting, you're engaged to Muriel."
Frederic March: "Forgotten it? Can a man dying of thirst forget water?"
8. the Scarlet Empress (Nov. 5)
John Lodge: "You have old-fashioned ideas. This is the 18th century!"
9. Horse Feathers (Nov. 13)
Groucho Marx: "Whatever it is, I'm against it."
10. the Love Parade (not scheduled to play)
Maurice Chevalier: "I've blushed to admit, I've still plenty of it,
But nobody's using it now!"

I hope to revisit a number of these, as well as some others that didn't quite make the list, and see as many still-unseen films as I can over the next few weeks, so I expect there will be some changes. My lists are never set in stone. For good measure, here are five of my favorite Betty Boop cartoons; I imagine most or all of them will be among the cartoons peppered in with the features for this series.

1. Bimbo's Initiation
2. Snow-White
3. Betty Boop's Ups and Downs
4. Ha Ha Ha!
5. The Old Man of the Mountain

Brian, this is a cool idea+list.

I'm a rabid fan of Love Me Tonight.
The most Lubitschian of films not made by Lubitsch. And with those terrific songs by Rodgers & Hart.

I've never seen a single Betty Boop cartoon. I've been remiss--will have to, on DVD.
Howdy Brian,

FYI, a fair few Betty Boop cartoons are in the public domain, and some (including a few that you mention) are available for free download here:

Thanks to the good folks at

Thanks for the tip, John. I'd forgotten about those.

girish, the downside to the fact that so many Fleischer Bros. cartoons are in the public domain is that poor-quality prints tend to proliferate. I've never seen a Betty Boop short on DVD that had nearly as good an image as that found on the VHS box set released by Republic Pictures a number of years ago. If you still have a player and a nearby mom-and-pop rental store with a good selection, I'd highly recommend renting tapes #2 and #3 in that particular collection to get the optimal Betty home viewing experience.

According to Jeffrey Anderson's column in this morning's Examiner, a print of Bimbo's Initiation will be playing between Duck Soup and Million Dollar Legs this Sunday.
Thanks, Brian, for the tip. I'll keep those specific volume numbers in mind. Yes, I still have and use my VCR. I have a closet full of films on VHS, most of them taped off TCM.
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