This week’s mystery movie was the 1935 film Becky Sharp, with Miriam Hopkins, Frances Dee, Cedric Hardwicke, Billie Burke, Alison Skipworth, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray, G.P. Huntley Jr., William Stack, George Hassell, William Haversham, Charles Richman, Doris Lloyd and Colin Tapley.
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
Screenplay by Francis Edwards Faragoh. From the play Becky Sharp by Langdon Mitchell.
Photographed by Ray Rennahan. Technicolor director Natalie Kalmus.
Associate art director W.B. Ihnen. Assistant director Argyle Nelson.
Musical director Roy Webb. Dance director Russell Lewis.
Chief electrician Bert Wayne.
Properties by George Hazenbush.
Recorded by Earl A. Wolcott. Edited by Archie F. Marshek.
Produced by Kenneth MacGowan.
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian.
Becky Sharp is available on Blu-ray from Critics’ Choice Videos.
More on the history of the film is available from the AFI catalog.
Becky Sharp was a random choice. I had never seen the film and it hasn’t aired on TCM since 2005; I’m trying to get away from films that are in the TCM rotation, which seems to me to be increasingly repetitive. The color is indeed spectacular. The plot is weak and the direction is very stagey. What appears to be the last reel or so is somewhat unfocused, though the rest of the film is tack-sharp.
The film opened in 1935, a bit early for Bosley to go to town on it. Possibly Andre Sennwald favored readers with his views.
Indeed, it is Sennwald (The New York Times, June 14, 1935):
Science and art, the handmaidens of the cinema, have joined hands to endow the screen with a miraculous new element in Becky Sharp, the first full-length photoplay produced in the three-component color process of Technicolor. Presented at the Radio City Music Hall yesterday for its first public showing, it was both incredibly disappointing and incredibly thrilling. Although its faults are too numerous to earn it distinction as a screen drama, it produces in the spectator all the excitement of standing upon a peak in Darien and glimpsing a strange, beautiful and unexpected new world. As an experiment, it is a momentous event, and it may be that in a few years it will be regarded as the equal in historical importance of the first crude and wretched talking pictures. Although it is dramatically tedious, it is a gallant and distinguished outpost in an almost uncharted domain, and it probably is the most significant event of the 1935 cinema.
For Monday, we have a mystery lad. His mystery companions have been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear later.
For “Hm Wednesday, we add this mystery chap.
For “Aha Thursday,” Here’s the rest of the mystery crew in a different frame so the mystery woman on the left doesn’t have her eyes closed.
Update: This is, from left, Billie Burke, Finis Barton, Nigel Bruce and Jimmy Robinson.
For “Tricky Tuesday,” we two mystery guests and Back of the Head Guy. Well, it IS tricky, after all.
Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery lad and companion cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness) and Blackwing Jenny (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery lad).
Update: This is Francis Dee, left, and Miriam Hopkins in silhouette, with G.P. Huntley Jr. as Back of the Head guy.
Note to Robert: A different film, but you’re absolutely right — the color in this film is gorgeous.
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery fellow.
Update: This is G.P. Huntley Jr.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery lad, Tuesday’s mysterious silhouettes and Back of the Head Guy) and Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mysterious silhouettes and Back of the Head Guy).
For “Aha Thursday,” we also have these mystery individuals.
Update: This is May Beatty, Alan Mowbray and Alison Skipworth.
And this mystery fellow. His mystery companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday.
Update: For Friday, we add the leading lady.
Update: This is Cedrick Hardwicke and Miriam Hopkins.
Brain Trust roll call: Robert Morrissey (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery fellow No. 1), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Jenny M. (mystery movie, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery fellow No. 2), and Megan and Thom (mystery movie and all mystery guests).
For Friday, our leading ladies.
Update: This is Miriam Hopkins and Francis Dee.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (uncropped mystery guests and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sarah (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery officer), Howard Mandelbaum (uncropped mystery guests and Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (uncropped mystery guests and Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery officer), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Greg (Thursday’s mystery officer), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Benito (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery fellows) and Anne Papineau (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery woman No. 1, Thursday’s mystery dowager and mysterious soldier).