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The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Adventures of Don Quixote (1933)

"I've got chivalry in me head but me stomach craves for food." - Sancho Panza
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Continuing this month's theme of movies adaptated from books brings us to director G.W. Pabst's Adventures of Don Quixote, based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes and starring Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, who played the character in Massenet's 1910 opera of the same name. In 16th Century Spain, Don Quixote finds himself longing for the days of chivalry. Considered mad by his fellow townsfolk for selling off his land to buy books, he and his trusted squire, Sancho Panza (George Robey), set out to find adventures worthy of a knight, though Don Quixote always misreads the situations.

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Great Expectations (1946)

"I realized that in becoming a gentleman, I had only succeeded in becoming a snob." - Pip
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While many work at writing their novels during NaNoWriMo, November seems like a perfect time to look at film adaptation of books. David Lean's Great Expectations is the third time Charles Dickens' classic novel appeared on the silver screen. It tells the story of Phillip "Pip" Pirrip (played by Anthony Wager as a young boy and John Mills as an adult ) who is trained to be a gentleman by a mysterious benefecator. In his younger days, Pip made frequent visits to Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt), a wealthy spinster at whose home he meets Estella (Jean Simmons as as

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

"If I am the Phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so...If I shall be saved, it will be because your love redeems me." - Erik
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Spend Halloween weekend enjoying a landmark in cinema history. Based on the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom (Lon Chaney) haunts the Paris Opera House and issues threats if his beloved Christine (Mary Philbin), understudy to the lead, isn't allowed to sing the role of Marguerite in the current production of Gounod's Faust. Knowing that Christine is involved with the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry), the Phantom kidnaps her to live with him in his underground liar, leading Chagny and others to come to her rescue. Lon Chaney shocked audiences with his inventive, iconic

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

"Shut up and bring on the food!" - Audrey Jr.
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The SPDM returns with the second, and most famous, film by producer/director Roger Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith. The Little Shop of Horrors finds nebbish Seymour Krelboyne (Jonathan Haze) working in the flower shop of Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles). Seymour creates a new plant by crossbreeding a butterwort and a Venus Flytrap, which he names "Audrey Jr." after co-worker Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph), who he has a crush on. One night, Seymour discovers Audrey Jr. likes human blood and it helps the plant grow. The larger Audrey Jr. gets the more popular it becomes, which benefits the store,

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: A Bucket of Blood (1959)

"Life is an obscure hobo, bumming a ride on the omnibus of art." - Maxwell H. Brock
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After American International Pictures gave him a $50,000 budget and a five-day shooting schedule to create a horror movie, producer/director Roger Corman teamed up with screenwriter Charles B Griffith for their first of three films to create A Bucket of Blood, which was inspired by House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent Price. Dick Miller stars as Walter, a shy bumbling busboy working at a beatnik coffee house. He wants to be a sculptor although he has no skills. One evening he accidentally kills his landlord's cat, and to hide what happened, he covers the cat in clay and turns

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Penalty (1920)

"At twelve noon on that day I shall loot the City of San Francisco." - Blizzard
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The Saturday Public Domain Movie returns with The Penalty starring Lon Chaney before his landmark performances in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Based on the pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris, Chaney stars as Blizzard, a San Francisco crime boss who vows revenge on the doctor who mistakenly amputated both his legs after a traffic accident when he was a young boy. Ethel Grey Terry stars as Rose, a secret service agent who goes undercover to bust up Blizzard's gang but soon finds her alliances shifting. The Penalty has some odd things

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Detour (1945)

"That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you." - Al Roberts
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Here's a classic film noir for your viewing pleasure this Labor Day weekend. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and based on the novel of the same name by Martin Goldsmith, who co-wrote the screenplay, Detour stars Tom Neal as Al, a piano player who gets gets sidetracked by fate while traveling to California to be with his fiancee. He gets picked up hitchhiking by Charles Haskell Jr (Edmund MacDonald). During Al's turn to drive, Charles dies of natural causes. Scared that the police won't believe his story, Al decides the best thing to do is ditch Charles' body and

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Last Mile (1932)

"I think I'll go get a little air." - Killer Mears
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Based on Jon Wexley's play, which the movie poster claims "rocked the nation," The Last Mile stars Howard Phillips as Richard Walters, a man sentenced to death row for a murder he denies committing. While his friends on the outside try to prove his innocence, Walters finds himself in the middle of an uprising. Killer Mears (Preston S. Foster) leads fellow inmates in taking the prison guards hostage and control of a cell block. Mears makes demands, but Warden Lewis (Frank Sheridan) has other ideas to end the stand-off. Director Sam Bischoff must have intended The Last Mile to

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

"Oh, I`ve been longing to sink my fingers into your fat, greasy, little throat." - Faux Sir Percival Glyde
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Tod Slaughter stars in this British thriller Crimes at the Dark House based on Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman in White, though to what degree is not clear to me as I don't know either. The film opens in Australia where Slaughter's unnamed character murders Sir Percival Glyde while he's sleeping and then impersonates Sir Percy back home in England thinking he going to come into a great fortune. But Sir Percival wasn't as well off as he appeared. Faux Percival quickly discovers the estate in debt and to his great suprise Lady Catherick (Elsie Wagstaff) shows up claiming

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Beat the Devil (1953)

"Only phonies like it." - Humphrey Bogart
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Beat the Devil is the fifth and last film Humphrey Bogart and John Huston made together and is a spoof of their first, The Maltese Falcon (1941). It tells the story of a cast of characters stuck in a small Italian port who are trying to get their hands on uranium-rich land in Kenya. Huston co-wrote the script with Truman Capote, which was based on the novel of the same name by James Helvick. Bogart starred in and produced the film; the poor reception upon its release likely explains the quote attributed to him: "Only phonies like it." The

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Twelve Crowded Hours (1939)

Happy 100th birthday to America's favorite redhead.
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Even though Hollywood couldn't find a way to turn one of the funniest comediennes into a movie star, Cinema Sentries wants to honor the centennial of Lucille Ball's birth with a Saturday Public Domain Movie screening. She was a contract player for RKO in the 1930s, appearing in small parts alongside the likes of the Three Stooges (Three Little Pigskins, 1934), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Top Hat, 1935), and the Marx Brothers in Room Service (1938). She became known as the "Queen of the B's" but it was her success on the radio program My Favorite Husband, which

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Two Women (1960)

"Do you know what they have done those "heroes" that you command?" - Cesira
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Based on the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia, Vittorio De Sica's Two Women (La ciociara) is a powerful film about the horrors of war experineced by innocent bystanders stuck in the middle of it. Sophia Loren, in an internationally acclaimed performance that earned the first ever Best Acting Oscar presented to a foreign film, stars as Cesira, a widow living in Rome with her young daughter Rosetta (Eleonora Brown). To avoid the city's bombing by Allied Forces, the two head to the province of Ciociaria in Central Italy where Cesira is from. There she meets Michele(Jean-Paul

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Attack of the Monsters (1969)

"Let's make the Earth a great place to live, without war, and traffic accidents." - Aoki
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With Comic Con International: San Diego 2011 in full swing, I wanted to this week's selection for the Saturday Public Domain Movie to be one that would be right at home if it was screened there and could also help pass the time for those waiting in line with nothing to do because they've read all their comics and magnas. It's also a fun choice for anyone not in San Diego. Attack of the Monsters is the English-dubbed version of Gamera vs. Guiron, the fifth movie in the Japanese kaiju series starring Gamera, the giant, flying turtle. In this

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: The Navigator (1924)

"Rollo Treadway - Heir to the Treadway fortune - a living proof that every family tree must have its sap"
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This week's installment of the Saturday Public Domain Movie presents our first silent movie: The Navigator, starring and co-directed by Buster Keaton. In his fourth feature film, Keaton portrays Rollo Treadway, a wealthy young man who one day at the spur of the moment decides to propose to his neighbor across the street, Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire). She rejects him and though disappointed he decides not to waste the honeymoon tickets to Hawaii. Through a mix-up, he unknowingly boards the Navigator, a ship owned by Betsy's father John (Frederick Vroom), which has been sold to an unnamed country at

The Saturday Public Domain Movie: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

"All you of Earth are idiots!"
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Welcome to The Saturday Public Domain Movie. Our first installment is Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. The movie mixes elements of science fiction and horror as aliens come to Earth and resurrect the recently deceased, but for what purpose?! And can they be stopped?! Does our military have the capabilities to defeat both aliens and the undead? Tune in and find out. Starring Vampira, Tor Johnson, and a posthumous appearance by Bela Lugosi from footage intended for other films, Plan 9 has gone on to become a cinema classic in spite of itself, immortalized in Tim Burton's

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