Friday, July 29, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Crashing Hollywood (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938) is the third film I've reviewed from the new Lee Tracy RKO 4-Film Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

When I first saw CRASHING HOLLYWOOD in 2013, I found it to be a particularly fun discovery, and that impression remained the same on this viewing, 3-1/2 years later.

The film has one of Tracy's most appealing performances, plus the very funny Richard Lane and Paul Guilfoyle. There are also great settings on a train and later on the RKO lot, aka "Wonder Pictures." It's an enjoyable, fast-moving 61 minutes.

Tracy plays Michael Winslow, who heads for Hollywood hoping to be a screenwriter. On the train to California he meets Barbara (Joan Woodbury), an aspiring actress, and ex-con Herman Tibbets (Guilfoyle), who is just out of prison and wants to be a duck farmer. Herman's wife Goldie (Lee Patrick) is hoping he'll do something more lucrative, and as it turns out, Michael and Herman are hired by studio production chief Hugo Wells (Lane) to write crime dramas.

Michael and Herman are a success, although they run into trouble when one of their films is based on a real unsolved crime. There's also the complication that lead actor Tom Darcy (Bradley Page) is a dead ringer for a real crook named "The Hawk."

Tracy tones down his often manic persona in this film, being perhaps the most level-headed character of the bunch. He's positively calm compared to Lane as the fast-talking (and hilarious) studio boss. Hugo's solution to any situation is to offer a studio contract. And I loved his repeated request to Michael for "Eight pages a day!"

The young Jack Carson plays a movie director, and the cast also includes Tom Kennedy, George Irving, Frank M. Thomas, Jimmy Conlin, Alec Craig, and Willie Best.

Lew Landers, a "B" director whose films I particularly enjoy, was the director, with cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca and Frank Redman. The film was inspired by a play called LIGHTS OUT.

I've previously reviewed two other films in this set, BEHIND THE HEADLINES (1937) and CRIMINAL LAWYER (1937). I'll be reviewing the final film, FIXER DUGAN (1939), at a future date.

I'm glad that this fun film will have a wider audience thanks to the Warner Archive. The Archive DVD is a good-looking print. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Sounds like a fun set. My Christmas list is starting to get unwieldy.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think you'll enjoy it! I'm looking forward to catching the last film soon. Hope there will be another Lee Tracy set in the future...or perhaps a set of Lew Landers "B" films? I'd love a set with titles like FLIGHT FROM GLORY, DOUBLE DANGER, and NIGHT WAITRESS, which have all been reviewed here thanks to TCM. I'd be thrilled if they came out on DVD!

Best wishes,

1:54 PM  

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