BY CANDLELIGHT
1933, Universal, 70 min, USA, Dir: James Whale

Universal horror specialist James Whale proves equally adept at romantic comedy in this stylish pre-Code gem. Paul Lukas stars as a butler in service to prince Nils Asther, who is mistaken for his boss by Elissa Landi – a charade the prince happily furthers when he takes a liking to the young woman himself.


ALICE ADAMS
1935, Warner Bros., 99 min, USA, Dir: George Stevens

George Stevens left the world of B-movie comedies for A-list prestige fare with this heartfelt adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel. Katharine Hepburn gives one of her most subtle performances as an ambitious young woman seeking to escape her small-town background; although the character is superficially unappealing, Hepburn and Stevens allow the viewer to empathize with her in all her complexity. Solid supporting work from Fred MacMurray is an additional asset in this impeccably mounted drama. Co-starring Hattie McDaniels (GONE WITH THE WIND) and Fred Stone, who nearly steal the film.


PUTNEY SWOPE
1969, AGFA, 84 min, USA, Dir: Robert Downey Sr.

Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson), the only African-American exec at his advertising firm, is unexpectedly elected its president and turns the industry on its ear through a series of outrageous, taboo-busting TV commercials (strewn throughout the film like comedic landmines). As Swope becomes the Generalissimo of Madison Avenue, Downey takes no prisoners and skewers the entire political spectrum. An unforgettable masterpiece of late-’60s counterculture, it remains a vital provocation on race, pop culture and America. “Funny, sophomoric, brilliant, obscene, disjointed, marvelous, unintelligible and relevant. If anybody tries to improve it, they should be sentenced.” - Vincent Canby, New York Times.


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