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"Rain or Shine" (U.S., 1930)
Restored Vault Print

A film that’s all personality and linguistic pyrotechnics, with only the slimmest of plots, this early talkie is a delightful showpiece for the forgotten Joe Cook, one of Broadway’s most endearing clowns, whose stage hit Rain or Shine is the basis of the film. As circus comic Smiley, Cook is a fount of wisecracks and physical feats, all the razzle-dazzle covering an undercurrent of melancholy. The film has a Beckett-like sense of absurdity and is visually compelling as well: Capra and cameraman Joseph Walker managed expressive and technically impressive camera movements incorporating live sound recording. Joseph McBride noted, “In retrospect, it is impossible not to read the film version of Rain or Shine as an allegory of the Depression, despite its seemingly frivolous subject matter. . . . Cook’s Smiley, the indefatigable optimist, can be seen as a Franklin Roosevelt precursor, galvanizing the demoralized troupe with his energy and courage.”

• Written by Dorothy Howell, Jo Swerling, based on the play by James Gleason and Maurice Marks. Photographed by Joseph Walker. With Joe Cook, Louise Fazenda, Joan Peers, William Collier Jr. (87 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Sony Pictures)

"Platinum Blonde" (U.S., 1931)
Restored Vault Print

In its comic opposition of two strata of American society—the aristocracy, with their sham superiority, and the democratic sector, represented here by two bright newspaper reporters—Platinum Blonde contains the seeds of what would become Capra’s favorite theme. (The dialogue is by Robert Riskin, who did a great deal to shape the film’s social attitudes and those of Capra’s later films.) Jean Harlow, in one of her best early roles, is the spoiled socialite who seduces newsman Robert Williams into her gilded cage and away from fellow journalist Loretta Young. When the glow wears off, “The Cinderella Man” rebels by engineering an assault on his own privilege that would make Mr. Deeds proud. Sophisticated performances by eighteen-year-old Young and twenty-year-old Harlow are a delight.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Robert Riskin, Jo Swerling, Dorothy Howell. Story by Harry E. Chandler, Douglas W. Churchill. Photographed by Joseph Walker. With Jean Harlow, Robert Williams, Loretta Young, Halliwell Hobbes. (88 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Sony Pictures)

Added by Enric on February 7, 2010

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