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"Sin's Pay Day" - Great Depression Crime Drama
released on March 1, 1932
The Actors: Forrest Stanley (lawyer James Markey), Mickey Rooney (Chubby Dennis), Dorothy Revier (Iris Markey), Alfred Cross (Doctor David Lee), Hal Price (henchman Jake Bernheim), Harry Semels (gangster Louie Joe), Lloyd Whitlock (Robert Webb), Bess Flowers (Jane Webb), Ben Hall (henchman Rusty Dugan), Paul Panzer (derelict)
Motion Picture History
The winter of 1950-1951 was a brutally cold one in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania so Donald and Mae Berkey snuggled a lot to keep warm. They had five daughters and one son already and were surely too old to have any more children . . . but alas, the next fall I burst into life. Having parents that were as old as most kids grandparents was a real blessing for me, because it gave me a great respect for older people and a great curiosity about their younger days. My dad and mom got married in 1929 just a couple of months before the stock market crash and the Great Depression, and I was always fascinated when Dad would tell stories from their young married life in the 1930's . . . I imagine that those stories are part of the reason that my passion for movies from the 1930's and 1940's are among my favorites. I believe that when times are really tough, like during the Great Depression, people either struggle and grow or give up and die . . . and I guess that for me it is a bit like watching a train wreck or a racing car pile-up . . . I just can't turn away . . . I must see whether the outcome will be disaster or triumph over all the odds. So it is with some of the Great Depression movies like this one. Forrest Stanley is a wealthy lawyer who keeps the gangsters out of jail, but when his wife leaves him because she doesn't like the way he earns his money his life falls apart. Finally when he is a homeless drunkard he meets a little ragamuffin boy named Chubby Dennis, played by a very young Mickey Rooney. Mickey Rooney becomes the inspiration for the lawyer to start a meaningful life over again, and it looks like the two will rise from poverty to better things . . . until one night as the lawyer and little Mickey Rooney are walking along the street and one of the gangsters that the lawyer defended in the past starts a machine gun shootout with a rival. Little Mickey Rooney is hit in the crossfire and lays dying in the street. Once again the lawyer is at a life-changing moment, about to once again lose the person that he loves the most, but this time instead of running away from life he determines to do whatever he can to put the gangster that killed his little friend in prison. In the teaser title I mentioned motion picture history . . . We know that the lawyer will be successful in getting the gangster convicted . . . but he will use a bit of cutting edge science and invention from 1932 that is the first time in a motion picture that this kind of evidence was ever used in a courtroom. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people want to go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise . . . Mary Pickford
Some of my Favorites:
Probably my all time favorite movie, My Man Godfrey in 1936 not only gives us an comedic peek at the wealthiest and poorest during the Great Depression, but also was the vehicle for Carole Lombard to create the movie icon of the 'dumb blonde screwball comedy' that is a popular theme even today.
Meet John Doe - 1941: The Frank Capra classic set in the Great Depression era that pits the common man against the political masters. You can't be a fan of old movies until you watch Frank Capra's old movies. This one premiered seventy years ago, and it still stirs our emotions and thoughts now. It is as timely as if it were produced today.
Angel and the Bad Man - 1947: One of the great teachers of the Secret Law of Attraction is Dr. Joe Vitale . . . but before he was even born actor John Wayne paid for and produced this Cowboy Western that featured The Law of Attraction.
The Time of Your Life - 1948: James Cagney financed this strangely different feel-good movie, and he plays the part of Joe, a barfly that tries to live his life by making everyone around him better. I watch this one often, and try to become more like Joe every day.
Painted Faces - 1929: Comedy legend Joe E. Brown is a circus clown in a surprisingly serious role as a juror in a Christmas week murder trial who tells the other jurors a story that will change their verdicts in a pre-code drama that could not have been made a few years later.
Charade - 1963: It doesn't get much better than Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in a tale of death, deception, spies and lost wealth as a woman tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in this cold-war spy thriller love story.