Tag Archives: Porter Hall

The Set of 400: #68 – My Favorite New Year’s Eve Party

Today! Because the murderer is right in this room. Sitting at this table. You may serve the fish –

The Thin Man (1934)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke (x2)

Starring William Powell (x3), Myrna Loy (x2), Maureen O’Sullivan (x3), Porter Hall (x3), Minna Gombell, Harold Huber, Cesar Romero, Natalie Moorhead, Nat Pendleton, Henry Wadsworth, William Henry, Edward Brophy, Edward Ellis

Dashiell Hammett’s hard drinking detective and wife pair Nick and Nora Charles first gloriously came to life in this 1934 classic, altering a few keys elements from the book in terms of character and tone, but maintaining the twisty, red-herring filled plot about the search for Clyde Wynant, a.k.a. The Thin Man. And yes, it’s weird that all the sequels still used “The Thin Man” in the title, as though Nick Charles was on a perennial diet, when Wynant only appears in the first film. But hey, they needed that name recognition! If they knew what a hit they’d have on their hands, undoubtedly this would’ve been called Nick and Nora or Mr. and Mrs. Charles or Asta, the Wonder Dog.

Forever the MVP, and a frequent crossword puzzle answer!

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The Set of 400: #382 – My Favorite Pile of Lies

Today! Because Helen Bartlett is not Helen Bartlett alone. Helen Bartlett is womankind –

True Confession (1937)

Directed by Wesley Ruggles

Starring Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore, Edgar Kennedy, Porter Hall, Una Merkel, Lynne Overman, Hattie McDaniel, Byron Foulger, Irving Bacon

Just as a quick preface – herein is the first list appearance of the great Carole Lombard, maker of many a screwball romantic comedy of the 1930s and early ’40s, many of which are basically the same film over and over, the only difference being sometimes Carole was a socialite romantically involved below her, or she was a struggling working girl (no, not a prostitute, except in that one movie) romantically involved above her. I know this, as I watched every single one of her movies in 2018, mainly because they’re interchangeably nice and inoffensive and it was something to do. Some of these are still pretty good movies, but a handful manage to break away and really do something different.

Which brings us to True Confession, her second pairing with the fantastic John Barrymore and her fourth, final, and best film co-starring Fred MacMurray, this time as her lawyer husband trying to get her out of a murder rap. The grim set up is compounded by Carole’s character Helen being a chronic liar, mostly in the cause of doing good, but vastly complicated when on trial for her life. Naturally, hijinks ensue, including much complication brought about by Barrymore’s shady trial attendee and pub frequenter Charley, whose motives aren’t clear until well into the picture. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #384 – My Favorite Hobo Appropriation

Today! Because if they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh –

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Directed by Preston Sturges

Starring Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Porter Hall, Byron Foulger, Margaret Hayes

Preston Sturges’ masterpiece brings us to another sub-genre I’ve got a soft spot for – movies about movies. I also like plays about plays, books about writers, movies about plays, books about movies, but not necessarily movies about writing, as that doesn’t often translate well. Make sense? So get out of here with your Finding Forrester!

“Punch the keys” my ass

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