Hearts of Humanity (1932, B&W):
After a burglar kills policeman Tom O'Hara in Sol Bloom's antique store, the Jewish shopkeeper is entrusted with raising the murdered cop's young son. This does not set sit well with Sol's boy Joey - a streetwise troublemaker on the fast track to a life of crime. In contrast, little Shandy O'Hara proves to be a model addition to the Bloom household, scoring straight-A's in school and putting others before himself. The Irish lad's generosity, however, is exploited by his stepbrother, who steals money from the family cash register and even swipes Shandy's pocketknife.
Hearts of Humanity, a heartfelt and beautifully acted independent production, was filmed for $30,000 in six days at Hollywood's Tec-Art Studios on Melrose Avenue. Danish-born star Jean Hersholt was a leading screen actor during the 1920s in such memorable masterworks as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Greed, and Don Q - Son of Zorro. After the coming of sound, he brought a dignified presence to such MGM classics as The Mask of Fu Manchu, Dinner at Eight, and Mark of the Vampire. He is best remembered for his role as Grandfather in Heidi (1937) and for his starring performances in a series of six Dr. Christian films (1939-1941).
Starring Jean Hersholt, Claudia Dell, Jackie Searle, J. Farrell MacDonald; Directed By Christy Cabanne.
Hotel Continental (1932): Paroled from a five-year prison stretch, Jim Bennett returns to the scene of the crime: the soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Continental. This is where the suave thief stashed his stolen loot, and he plans on retrieving it during a fancy farewell party on the eve of the hotel's demolition. Unfortunately, two gangsters are in pursuit of the amiable swindler, intent on appropriating the cash. They use beautiful Ruth Carleton as bait to snare their target, and Bennett falls for her in a big way. His sincerity prompts the femme fatale to reconsider the scheme, but her bosses threaten to kill Bennett if she pulls out of the job.
Released seven months before Grand Hotel, this classy independent comedy thriller boasts impressive production values and a colorful cast that includes Birth of a Nation star Henry B. Walthall. Co-star Theodore von Eltz was previously a dashing romantic lead in silent films and later made colorful cameos in Topper, Sergeant York, and The Big Sleep.
Starring Peggy Shannon, Theodore Von Eltz, Alan Mowbray, Henry B. Walthall; Directed By Christy Cabanne.