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DVDs : Feature Films, 1920s-1960s
This guide highlights DVDs in the SUNY Old Westbury Library. View trailers and synopses for selected, recently acquired DVDs in the "Documentaries" and "Feature Films" sections. Click on "All DVDs" for a list of all our DVDs.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 1936.
The sixth of RKO’s Fred Astaire -Ginger Rogers pairings of the 1930s, Swing Time starts off with bandleader Astaire getting cold feet on his wedding day. Astaire’s bride-to-be Betty Furness will give him a second chance, providing he proves himself responsible enough to earn $25,000. Astaire naturally tries to avoid earning that amount once he falls in love with dance instructor Ginger Rogers. Numerous complications ensue, leading to the “second time’s the charm” climax, with Ginger escaping her own wedding to wealthy Georges Metaxa in order to be reunited with Astaire.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1941.
A successful Hollywood director disguises himself as a bum and sets off to see America from the bottom up. In the midst of the brutality and despair, he makes a valuable discovery-- that what the downtrodden need most is laughter.
When troubled beauty Alicia Huberman is recruited by American agent T.R. Devlin to infiltrate a German spy ring in postwar Rio, she accepts. When she receives orders to seduce a Nazi kingpin, Alicia must sacrifice the only happiness she’s ever known for a perilous mission that could ultimately cost her and Devlin their lives.
A vacationing young lady meets, falls in love with, and marries handsome and wealthy widower Maxim de Winter. He takes his new bride home to his estate, Manderley. But the new Mrs. de Winter finds her married life dominated by the sinister, almost spectral influence of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca, who still rules from beyond the grave.
Dr. Constance Peterson is a dedicated psychiatrist who puts all her passion into her work--until she falls in love with Dr. Edwardes. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Edwardes is an impostor--an amnesiac--who may or may not be a cold-blooded murderer. Pursued by the police, Constance must decide whether to turn in her mysterious lover...or risk her life by trying to unlock the dark secrets in his mind.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1945.
Robinson portrays a middle-aged clothing store cashier whose life is tragically changed when he becomes involved with Kitty, a predatory manipulating woman. He is a quiet and mild-mannered man, but his wife is a total shrew and so his chance meeting with Kitty leaves him easy prey for her schemes, which pull him deeper and deeper into a world of crime and deception. Events take an unexpected turn and the ending is one of those neat twists that go against the usual formula.
Publication Date: Harlem Rides the Range 1939; Murder in Harlem 1935
A double bill of vintage films from early independent African-American filmmakers Oscar Micheaux and Spence Williams, Jr., each weaving a story of fighting and injustice, whether in the wild west or "back east!"
Harlem Rides the Range
Tall and true in the saddle, Bob Blake and his comic sidekick, Dusty, ride into trouble when the owner of a radium mine is murdered and evidence points to Blake! When the real killer reveals himself and threatens to kill the miner's beautiful daughter, Blake must bust out of jail to set things straight!
Murder in Harlem
A night watchman discovers the body of a murdered woman. Reporting it to the police, the watchman himself is accused of the crime, and so begins his nightmare, trying to clear his name and prove his innocence.
Publication Date: Moon over Harlem 1939; Swing!1938
Moon over Harlem
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
A Harlem widow marries a shady gambler who is after her money and her attractive daughter, Sue. Sue is in love with Bob, an idealist who decides to organize the community against local racketeers and does not realize that his would-be father-in-law Dollar Bill is one of them.
Written & Directed by Oscar Micheaux
Ted Gregory is trying to become the first black producer to mount a show on Broadway but his star singer is getting in the way. When the singer breaks her leg in an accident, a wardrobe girl for Gregory steps up to fill in for the injured star.
A young Secret Service agent falls in love with a schoolteacher in a small Mississippi town. Later in New York, he has to save her friend from the numbers racket and is accused of murder. Micheaux produced an earlier, silent version of this crime melodrama in 1926 under the title The spider’s web. The film is controversial because Micheaux was accused of selecting his stars on the basis of their "high yellow" skin color.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in Germany in 1927; then restored in 1984 with a soundtrack
Freder Fredersen is the son of Joh Fredersen, who reigns over the great city of Metropolis. Freder is surprised to discover his lifestyle has been built on the unseen but backbreaking labor of an entire class of unseen workers who tend the machines that make the city run, and he descends to the subterranean levels of Metropolis in an effort to understand their lives. In 1981 Giorgio Moroder began a three-year endeavor to restore the science fiction classic Metropolis.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 1952.
With fame, fortune and fans galore, silent screen idol Don Lockwood thought he had it all. But one look at aspiring actress Kathy Seldon, and he knew exactly what he was missing. Now he’s swinging from lampposts, singing in the raindrops and ready for love. With talking pictures on the rise, Don sets out to make a musical with the woman of his dreams, but one thing stands in his way, his jealous co-star who wants Don--and the leading role--all to herself.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1967.
"His crime: nonconformity. His sentence: the chain gang. Paul Newman plays one of the best-loved roles as Cool Hand Luke, the loner who won’t -- or can’t -- bend to the arbitrary rules of his captivity."
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1952.
Gary Cooper won the Oscar for Best Actor in this classic tale of a lawman who stands alone to defend a town of cowardly citizens against a gang of killers seeking revenge. In one of the greatest showdowns in cinema history, Cooper's Sheriff Will Kane stands to lose not only the town, but also his bride, played by Grace Kelly.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in April 1957.
Tempers rise as a jury of middle-aged men find themselves unable to sway a single member of their group to the majority opinion. Confronted with a seemingly clear-cut case, bolstered by opinions and assumptions, but with no verdict in sight the group threatens to become deadlocked. Will the 12th juror, stubbornly convinced of a young defendent’s innocence, be able to sway the entire group to his viewpoint, or will the group ultimately force the holdout to forego his concerns, potentially ignoring truth in a rush to judgment?
Publication Date: Originally produced as motion pictures in 1934 and 1959.
Two movie special edition
1 hr. 51 mins. (1934)
2 hr. 5 mins. (1959)
Based on the 1933 best-selling novel, this emotionally charged drama chronicles the lives of two widows and their troubled daughters as they struggle to find true happiness in a world plagued by racism.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 1960
Norman Bates is a troubled son who believes "a boy’s best friend is his mother." Marion Crane is an ill-fated traveler who checks into the eerie Bates Motel wanting only a hot shower and a warm bed. Her journey ends sooner than she planned in the shocking scene that has haunted generations of movie-watchers. The tension and horror mount when a private detective and Marian’s sister search for her, and the identity of the mysterious Psycho.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1959.
Roger Thornhill is a New York advertising executive who is kidnapped by a gang of spies led by Philip Vandamm, who believes Thornhill is CIA agent George Kaplan. Thornhill escapes, but must find Kaplan in order to clear himself of a murder that Kaplan is accused of committing. Following Kaplan to Chicago as a fugitive from justice, Thornhill is helped by beautiful Eve Kendall. In Chicago, she delivers a message to Kaplan that almost costs Thornhill his life when he is chased across a cornfield by a crop-dusting plane.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 1958
Scottie Ferguson, a recently retired San Francisco police detective, is hired to shadow a rich shipbuilder ’s tragically suicidal wife, Madeleine Elster. After he saves her from drowning in the San Francisco Bay, Scottie’s interest in the beautiful but icy blonde shifts from business to romance. But when tragedy strikes again, Scottie must overcome the vertigo that haunts his dreams in order to unravel the secrets of the past and find the key to his future.