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The Mad Game  /  365 Nights in Hollywood

365 Nights in Hollywood
March 11, 2017 - 3:00 pm
author James Curtis, film preservationist Miki Shannon.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The Mad Game  (1933)

Described by the New York Times as “a picturesque and exciting melodrama, loaded with convincing underworld detail and authentic criminal argot,” The Mad Game stars Spencer Tracy as notorious gangster Edward Carson, the former head of a bootlegging gang, currently serving time for income tax evasion.  Prohibition ends and while Carson is locked up, his old gang, led by the double-crossing Chopper, takes up kidnapping and abducts the son and daughter-in-law of a prominent judge—the very judge who sentenced Carson to jail.  Carson makes a deal with the prison warden to go undercover in order to infiltrate his former gang, find the kidnapped couple, and exact his revenge on his double-crossing friend.

Tracy and Claire Trevor, who plays a journalist and the friend and biographer of Carson, were both lauded for their acting.  Tracy's performance was described as “superlatively real” in the Times, and Variety praised Trevor as “about the best portrayal of a newspaper gal which the studios have submitted.”

The Mad Game was not without its controversy, however, and the Hays office expressed concern over the theme of the film, which debuted just one year after the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.  The Mad Game passed the censors on the condition that scenes of the actual abduction would be removed.  On its release, the film was generally praised for its treatment of kidnapping, as it displayed the dire consequences of the crime and it described ways in which the government was acting to reduce it.  —Staci Hogsett

35mm, b/w, 74 min.  Director: Irving Cummings.  Production: Fox Film Corporation.  Distribution: Fox Film Corporation.  Producer: William Fox.  Screenwriters: Henry Johnson, William M. Conselman.  Cinematographer: Arthur C. Miller.  Music: Samuel Kaylin.  Cast: Spencer Tracy, Claire Trevor, Ralph Morgan, J. Carrol Naish, Kathleen Burke.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print and the 35mm French nitrate dupe negative.  Laboratory services by YCM Labs, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Inc., Pacific Title & Art Studio.  Special thanks to: The Academy Film Archive, Schawn Belston, Caitlin Robertson, Victoria Stevenson.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute

365 Nights in Hollywood  (1934)

This early musical for Jean Harlow look-alike, Alice Faye, stars James Dunn (Oscar winner for his role in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) as the one-movie-wunderkind, Jimmy Dale, who has now fallen into the bottle.  Dale is given another chance teaching at J. Walter Delmar's shady acting school.  When Delmar sets out to fleece an unknowing investor, Dale sees an opportunity to make a comeback picture starring Alice Perkins (Faye), a new school enrollee.  Alice's road to success is not all bright lights (as one promoter asks, “She does sing, doesn't she?”) but she eventually masters the sultry love song, “(I'd Like to Say) Yes to You”, in an art deco musical number that must have brought great delight to Depression-era moviegoers.

Director George Marshall (Destry Rides Again) showcases Faye, who, like her alter ego in the film, went on to be one of the most popular singers of the decade.  There are several side steps in the plot featuring the comic relief of Mitchell and Durant and other specialty acts which might have been better left on the cutting room floor, but, as the director of the movie-within-the-movie asserts in the climax, “It's a new idea, it can't miss!”  —Miki Shannon

35mm, b/w, 77 min.  Director: George Marshall.  Production: Fox Film Corporation.  Distribution: Fox Film Corporation.  Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel.  Screenwriters: William M. Conselman, Henry Johnson.  Cinematographer: Harry Jackson.  Art Direction: Duncan Cramer.  Musical  Director: Samuel Kaylin.  Cast: James Dunn, Alice Faye, Mitchell and Durant, John Branford, Grant Mitchell.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Film Technology Company, Audio Mechanics, Simon Daniel Sound, DJ Audio, Inc.