Shot in India by the German director Franz Osten in 1929, “A Throw of Dice” is an unexpected visual treat, a film that blends the highly sophisticated technique of late silent, Weimar cinema with an expansive use of Indian locations — the sort of thing that Alexander Korda would be straining to reproduce in the studio just a few years later. From Kino, and a real pleasure.
At Republic Pictures, they took their serials seriously, and VCI has released another fine example of the action craftsmanship of William Witney and John English in the form of the fifteen chapter “Dick Tracy Returns” from 1938. Another independent distributor, Restored Serials, is offering a digitally restored version of “The Green Archer,” a 1940 fifteen chapter serial from Columbia, where they definitely did not approach their work with a straight face. Filmed by the veteran comedy director James W. Horne (Keaton’s “College,” the Laurel and Hardy “Way Out West”), the serial becomes a hilariously extended study in frustration starring James Craven as a criminal mastermind continually frustrated by his incompetent henchman, whom at one point are observed playing Tiddlywinks.
All this in today’s thrilling installment of The New York Times.