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Back when Hollywood played it fast and sassy

January 27, 2008|KENNETH TURAN | ON FILM

Aside from Mamoulian, the other major director represented here is James Whale, who inexplicably chose "Impatient Maiden" as his follow-up to "Frankenstein." This cynical romantic comedy stars Mae Clarke as someone who feels men should be experienced like bootleg liquor: "Gulp it down, hope for the best." The film is also notable for documentary glimpses of Bunker Hill and the sight of eternal sidekick Andy Devine before he put on all those pounds.

One of the two UCLA repeats in this series is 1931's memorable "The Cheat," a George Abbott film that stars a convincing Tallulah Bankhead as a bored and fearless society wife who is also a compulsive gambler. After she loses $10,000 intended for, of all things, the Milk Fund, she begins a flirtation with an impossibly wealthy and extremely oily seducer who has the nasty habit, picked up from years in the Orient, of branding everything he possesses. Yes, everything.

Another of the series' true curiosities is "Okay, America!" It stars Lew Ayres as a Walter Winchell-type newspaper columnist read by everybody in New York who ends up involved in a story so screwy he has to go to the White House and brief an outraged president to straighten it out. They don't make them like this anymore, which is why we're so crazy about them today.

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kenneth.turan@latimes.com

A schedule for the series appears in The List on Page 28.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, January 31, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
1931 film: A caption in Sunday's Contents in the Calendar section referred to the photo as being from 1931's "The Kid." The still was from that year's "City Streets."

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