1928, Warner Bros., 85 min, USA, Dir: Harry Beaumont

Joan Crawford shot to stardom as a good-hearted party girl vying for the affections of millionaire John Mack Brown while golddigging Anita Page lies in wait. Though it was produced at the very end of the silent era (and includes some music and sound effects), the 1920s roar throughout this drama, with flappers Crawford and Page looking their best thanks to George Barnes’ Oscar-nominated cinematography.

1953, Paramount, 85 min, USA, Dir: Byron Haskin

Gene Barry and Ann Robinson battle invading Martian war machines in this still amazingly visceral, comic book-style feast of apocalyptic images – one of the defining sci-fi films of the 1950s. Produced by George Pal, based on the classic novel by H.G. Wells.

1933, Warner Bros., 104 min, USA, Dir: Lloyd Bacon

When the Depression forces a director (James Cagney) off the stage, he tries the screen, creating musical “prologues” to be staged in movie theaters before films; to land a big contract, he must mount three massive production numbers in a single night. Cagney is magnetic in a performance arguably superior to his Oscar-winning YANKEE DOODLE DANDY turn, and Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell are equally entertaining in supporting roles. This fast-paced pre-Code dazzler was named to the National Film Registry, thanks at least in part to Busby Berkeley’s spectacular dance sequences.

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