Cast: Robert Walker, Van Heflin, Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, June Allison, Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Lucille Bremer, Dorothy Patrick
Running Time: 135 mins.

The mammoth musical of Jerome Kern's dramatic life story! The film's biggest drawing card was its lineup of all-star MGM talent, performing Kern's most famous numbers. Judy Garland (as Marilyn Miller) sings "Look for the Silver Lining"; Dinah Shore performs "The Last Time I Saw Paris" before a back-projected "Gay Paree"; Kathryn Grayson does a Rita Hayworth imitation with "Long Ago and Far Away"; Virginia O'Brien deadpans "A Fine Romance"; Tony Martin warbles "All the Things You Are"; June Allyson and Ray McDonald team up for the title number; and Frank Sinatra, incongruously dressed in white tuxedo, runs through "Ol' Man River." In addition, other musical contributions are made by Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Gower Champion, and Lucille Bremer (cast as Van Heflin's daughter). The film's high point comes at the very beginning with a Reader's Digest edition of Show Boat, featuring Lena Horne, as Julie (the role she was born to play, but never did again on screen), delivering a powerhouse rendition of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man."


Cast: Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carole Landis, Billie Burke, Dennis O'Keefe, Patsy Kelly, H.B. Warner, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, George Zucco
Running Time: 88 mins.

The third of producer Hal Roach's Topper films, Topper Returns eschews the frothy "screwball" format of the first two in favor of an "old dark house" comedy-mystery. Roland Young returns as banker Cosmo Topper, who gallantly offers a lift to pretty hitchhikers Gail Richards (Joan Blondell) and Ann Carrington (Carole Landis). This results in a few baleful glances from Topper's wife, Clara (Billie Burke), but the worst is still to come. It seems that Gail and Ann are en route to a chilly old mansion, recently inherited by Ann and populated by all manner of sinister types, including old reliable menaces Dr. Jeris (George Zucco) and Lillian (Rafaela Ottiano). The only person whom the girls can trust -- or can they? -- is Ann' father (H.B. Warner). Unable to sleep in the creepy mansion, Gail suggests that she and Ann exchange bedrooms. This proves to be a major mistake when a mysterious, hooded assailant, intending to murder Ann, kills Gail instead. Seconds later, Gail's ghost arises from her body and heads to the nearby summer house where Mr. and Mrs. Topper are staying. Having had his fill of ghosts in the first two Topper films, Topper wants nothing to do with Gail's spirit, but she finally convinces him to help her identity her killer, and to rescue Ann from a similar fate. Some of the film's best moments belong to Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as Young's eternally frightened chauffeur (at one point, Anderson threatens to quit the Toppers and go back to Jack Benny)! More contrived and slapstick-oriented than the earlier Toppers, Topper Returns still works as a neat and entertaining comedy.


Cast: Gene Raymond, Nancy Carroll, Jack Benny, Sydney Howard, Mitzi Green, Sid Silvers,
Running Time: 90 mins.

While crossing the Atlantic aboard a luxury liner, a radio troupe (led by Jack Benny) becomes involved in a murder mystery among a buffet of romance, music, trickery and blackmail -- ornamented with wonderful musical numbers.


Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Suzy Delair, Max Elloy
Running Time: 82 mins.

Laurel and Hardy's final feature has the boys heading for a newly inherited island, where they are shipwrecked and marooned on an atoll which has just emerged from the sea. Along with their cook, a stowaway and a girl who is fleeing her fancy, they set up their own government on the atoll. Uranium is discovered and world powers begin fighting over ownership of the island.


Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Maude Eburne, George E. Stone, Dwight Frye
Running Time: 59 mins.

Often cited as the cream of the crop among independently produced chillers of the 1930s, The Vampire Bat does indeed pack a wallop. Perhaps no longer able to frighten a modern, so-called more sophisticated audience, Frank Strayer's compact little horror treatise is nevertheless so well cast and produced with such élan as to consistently entertain. The physical trappings are entirely comparable to the Universal horror films of the era -- in fact, filmed on the studio lot, The Vampire Bat benefits from several of the famous standing sets -- and the cast is perhaps even better than what the larger studio would be willing to provide. Lionel Atwill adds yet another of his patented devilishly calculating Mad Doctors and Fay Wray is as comely as ever, even if she doesn't scream a single time. Add to that a young Melvyn Douglas as the male ingénue (a major improvement over Universal's tepid David Manners) and such grand genre perennials as Dwight Frye, Lionel Belmore, Robert Frazer, and Maude Eburne, and there is nary a dull moment. Eburne, incidentally, as Wray's hypochondriac aunt, becomes the subject of one of filmdom's funnier closing lines.


Cast: Mamie Van Doren, Mary Marr, Paige Lee, Gennadi Vernov, Margot Hartman
Running Time: 79 mins.

A team of astronauts crash-land on Venus, and find themselves under attack by prehistoric monsters under the control of Venusian women in clam shell bikinis. They kill one of the monsters that turns out to be a god to the Venusian women, bringing the wrath of the alien women down on them and making them determined to destroy the "intruders". Director "Derek Thomas" is actually Peter Bogdanovich, who also narrates!


Cast: John Agar, Wendell Corey, Susan Bjurman, Neil Fletcher, Pat Delaney, Anthony Houston
Running Time: 81 mins.

Scientist John Agar discovers his disgruntled friend Anthony Houston has established contact with the sinister alien, and has invited it to hitch a ride to Earth on Agar's recently launched satellite. Once hidden in a cave outside Dallas, TX, Zontar begins enslaving the locals with his flying "injectopods," which fasten themselves to their victims' necks and override their mental functions. Agar soon finds himself pitted against former friends and family as he attempts to halt the creature's plans for world domination!