Thunder Road (1958)

He’s got the need, the need for speed.

Jamming his foot through the gas pedal, Robert Mitchum outraces all the flatfoots in town in this fast-paced look at life among the Kentucky moonshiners.

Back from the Korean war and looking for some spending cash, the lanky, laconic one lights up another cigarette and goes to work for his daddy, staying one step ahead of the revenuers.

A little boozin’, a little fightin’, a lot of tires squealing add up to a genre classic.

A long-running staple at drive-in theaters, it played for decades, and can still rev its motor.

 

Fire!!

Don’t snub the Snub!

He’s not Keaton or Chaplin, but Australian-born silent film comedian “Snub” Pollard, born Harold Hopetown Fraser, had a pretty dang impressive career.

Pumping out films like mad, he left 600+ credits on IMDB — many of which, unfortunately, have been lost to the passage of time.

One which endures is this fast ‘n frantic tale of a house detective turned fire inspector who creates havoc at a hotel.

Snub is hot on the heels of winsome Gladys Harvey, who appears to have retired after this film, and out to get in as much trouble as possible.

 

The Old-Fashioned Way

Two giants slugging it out.

The fat man and the tiny tyke square off in one of the great comedy scenes of all time, the highlight of an otherwise mostly-forgotten film.

W.C. Fields, doing double-takes and exasperated reactions like no one else could, stares down Baby LeRoy, a two-year-old titan of terror capable of stealing most scenes out from under his co-stars.

Locked in battle at the dinner table, they one-up each other until Fields delivers the coup de grâce with arguably the best kick ever captured on the silver screen.

A chef’s kiss to everyone involved.

 

A Day at the Races

“I’ll get it in a minute, won’t I?”

Shysters and con men have a merry old time in this first-rate Marx brothers film, which centers around hijinks at a sanitarium and the race track.

Groucho, playing Dr. Quackenbush, is a fast-talking, side-eye-giving delight, especially in the scene where he drives a rival bonkers over the phone.

Using an electric fan to simulate a hurricane, he keeps the guy on the other end of the line bouncing back and forth between being frustrated and royally ticked off, and it’s a master class in well-timed comedy.

Just like the entire film.

 

The Black Swan (1942)

Big, bold, and bright.

While the photo above is in black and white, the film itself, one of the better swashbucklers from Hollywood’s golden age, won the Oscar for Best Cinematography (Color), back when the Academy still gave out two awards.

Taking home the little golden man was Leon Shamroy, who copped 18 nominations and four wins in a career which lasted 40+ years.

In front of the camera is the ever-dashing Tyrone Power and the transcendent Maureen O’Hara, as a roguish, frequently bare-chested sorta-former pirate and a spunky noblewoman, respectively.

They set off sparks, which shower us in their glory.