A NIGHT AT EARL CARROLL’S
1940, Universal, 62 min, USA, Dir: Kurt Neumann

Perhaps Hollywood's most glamorous club ever, the Earl Carroll Theatre stood on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine - an Art Deco palace emblazoned with cement slab movie star autographs (much like Grauman's Chinese) and a huge neon sign of dancer Beryl Wallace surrounded by the incantation “Through These Portals Pass the Most Beautiful Girls in the World.” Released one week after FANTASIA, this musical stars Ken Murray with Rose Hobart, plus radio stars Brenda & Cobina (Blake Steward and Elvia Allman) and songs by Hobart, William Brady, Mary Lou Cook, Lillian Cornell and an old vaudeville dance by Lela Moore. The thin plot revolves around Earl Carroll (playing himself) being kidnapped by mobsters at a mayor's convention. A glorious artifact for those with an interest in the revival of burlesque!


DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
1931, Warner Bros., 97 min, USA, Dir: Rouben Mamoulian

Although it’s not as nuanced as the later Spencer Tracy version, many people prefer this pre-Code shocker. Fredric March won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, going way over the top with facial tics and bestial mannerisms in his Hyde persona, coming off like an urbane, simian werewolf with the gift of speech. Miriam Hopkins is the unfortunate barmaid Ivy, and Rose Hobart is Muriel, Dr. Jekyll’s devoted fiancée. Director Rouben Mamoulian and cinematographer Karl Struss make revolutionary use of the camera, doing things way ahead of their time in movement, point of view and editing, endowing many sequences with a fluid feel in what is essentially a set-bound piece. The characters of Muriel (Beatrix in the Tracy version) and her father did not appear in Stevenson’s original story, but were invented later by playwright T.R. Sullivan in an 1887 stage adaptation.


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