Leonard  Maltin recently mentioned a version of CASABLANCA which I had never heard of.

In 1955, the LUX VIDEO THEATRE produced for television a live ,one hour version of the classic film. It starred PAUL DOUGLAS as ‘Rick’, ARLENE DAHL as ‘Ilsa’ and HOAGY CARMICHAEL as ‘Sam’.

Unfortunately, even Leonard Maltin can’t find a copy of the broadcast. I could only find a few  photos – see below.


Paul Douglas, Arlene Dahl.

The rest of the cast included Carl Esmond as ‘Victor Laszlo’, John Hoyt as ‘Captain Renault’, Dan Seymour as ‘Ferrari’ and Ivan Triesault as ‘Major Strasser’.

A strong supporting cast, but anyone involved must have realised that comparisons with the very well known movie version  would be made. Most of the TV audience in 1955 would still remember the 1942 film which I’m sure must have been reissued in cinemas after the war.

Paul Douglas was a fine  actor, but I just can’t see him as ‘Rick’. Would they really make Paul say that iconic line …..”Of all the gin joints in all the towns……”, or “Here’s looking at you,kid.”

These lines belong to Bogart.

Condensing the plot into an hour, I wonder what was left out.


Paul Douglas

Unless some changes were made to the script , Paul Douglas seems a strange choice for ‘Rick’.


Arlene Dahl

Arlene Dahl as Ilsa. Did she try a European accent, I wonder.


Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy Carmichael was certainly at home in a Bogart film, singing and playing piano in “To Have and Have Not.”

But although Dooley Wilson didn’t play the piano, he is perfect as ‘Sam’.


In the Lux Show, Dan Seymour ( the doorman in the original film) was promoted to the role of Ferrari. Ivan Triesault was Major Strasser.


All the great performers in the original “Casablanca”:

Ingrid Bergman


Paul Henreid



Dooley Wilson


Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre


Sidney Greenstreet, Humphrey Bogart


Claude Rains


Conrad Veidt




Claude Rains: ”I’m  shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”

Marcel Dalia:”Your winnings, sir.”


Ludwig  Stossel: “Liebschen, sweetness heart – what watch?”

Ilka Gruning: “10 watch.”

Ludwig Stossel: “Such watch?


The beginning of a beautiful friendship.





The one and only Bogart. If ever there was an iconic role, this is it.


LUX VIDEO THEATRE ran from 1950 to 1957. It followed the long running Lux Radio Theatre (1934 – 1955).

In 1944, Lux Radio Theatre had two broadcasts of Casablanca – one with Alan Ladd and Hedy Lamarr. The film cast of Bogart, Bergman and Henreid also did a radio version.


It would be interesting to catch some of the Lux TV broadcasts, like MILDRED PIERCE with Virginia Bruce as ‘Mildred’, Colleen Miller as ‘Vida’, Patric Knowles as ‘Bert’. And Zachary Scott reappearing his original role of ‘Monte’.

Or TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT with Edmund  O’Brien, Beverley Garland and John Whalen as ‘Eddie’.


Edward G. Robinson, Andrea King.WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION.

Edward G. Robinson made his TV debut in WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION ,with Andrea King.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY, with Loraine Day, Ray Collins and Frank Lovejoy  as ‘Neff’.

SHADOW OF A DOUBT, again with Frank Lovejoy . Barbara Rush in the Teresa Wright role.

WITNESS TO MURDER, with Audrey Totter.

Doesnt seem likely any of them could match the originals, but I wouldn’t mind seeing these casts.


The Broadway cast of BORN YESTERDAY in 1946. Seems a shame that Paul Douglas and Gary Merrill didn’t make it into the film version, though, of course, Judy Holliday did.

The above photo shows Gary Merrill far right, Judy Holliday in the middle ,and Paul Douglas in the chair .

Paul Douglas, Judy Holliday

Douglas  and Merrill were replaced on screen by Broderick Crawford and William Holden.

Jean Arthur was originally cast in the stage production but left the show before it opened on Broadway, giving Judy Holliday the chance of a lifetime.

Jean Arthur in rehearsal for Born Yesterday.


”Born Yesterday” ran for three years on Broadway and one of the replacement cast included Jan Sterling (wife of Paul Douglas) in the Judy Holliday role of ‘Billie Dawn’.

I’m not sure if Jan and her husband were in the show at the same time.

Paul Douglas did get to do a film with Judy Holliday – “The Solid Gold Cadillac.”

Thinking of Gary Merrill , one of his first films was TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH , one of the best films of 1949 , and he proved what a fine actor he was in “All About Eve”, but never really got another  part equal to it.

Gary Merrill, Gregory Peck, Millard Mitchell. 12 O’Clock  High.



Gary Merrill, Bette Davis. ALL ABOUT EVE


He made the most of a (rare for him ) bad guy role in “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, as Tommy Scalise, the gangster with the sinus problem.

Dana Andrews, Gary Merrill, Karl Malden.

Gary Merrill (1915-1990) made two more films with his wife, Bette Davis – ANOTHER MAN’S POISON and PHONE  CALL FROM A STRANGER, but neither had strong scripts.


Gary mainly did TV in the 1950s and 60s. He played Dr. Gillespie in ‘Young Doctor Kildare’ for 24 episodes in 1972/73.

He continued working till 1980, on TV and on stage.


Rita Hayworth, Gary Merrill

I only read recently that Merrill and Rita Hayworth were close for a number of years in the 1960s.






















Ida Lupino, Raoul Walsh

Raoul Walsh (1887 – 1980) directs Ida Lupino in THE MAN I LOVE (1947).

Walsh, real name  Albert Edward Walsh, was in movies from 1913. His last film was A DISTANT TRUMPET in 1964. He lost his right eye in an accident in 1928 while on location for IN OLD ARIZONA.

He also directed Ida Lupino in ARTISTS AND MODELS (1937), HIGH SIERRA (1941) and THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940).


Raoul Walsh, Olivia De Havilland. THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE.



I can identify Eve Arden, second from left, Raoul Walsh, Marlene Dietrich, and Joyce Compton at far right. I don’t know the other two girls.



Gladys George, James Cagney.THE ROARING TWENTIES.

…..He used to be a big shot.”

Walsh also directed Cagney in WHITE HEAT.

One of Warner Brothers’ top directors.


NIGHT PEOPLE (1954) is a Cold War thriller set in 1950s Berlin when the city was controlled by the four powers, America, Britain, France and Russia. There is no Berlin Wall yet, but relations between the western allies and Russia are precarious.

A young corporal, Johnny Leatherby ( TED AVERY) is kidnapped by the Soviets in West Berlin and offered in exchange for an elderly German couple.

GREGORY PECK is a counter-intelligence officer, Colonel Steve Van Dyke whose job it is to negotiate the young soldier’s release.


Buddy EBSEN, Rita Gam, Gregory Peck.

BUDDY EBSEN , as Eddie, is the Colonel’s right hand man, and RITA GAM is Ricky Cates, Van Dyke’s secretary.

Before Steve can get to work, he has to contend with  the kidnapped soldier’s father, Charles Leatherby (BRODERICK CRAWFORD) who is a wealthy business man from Ohio who immediately flies to Berlin and demands action.

Van Dyke  is prepared for him and says, “So you’re the guy who came over here to tell me how to do my job.”

Leatherby thinks   he can wheel and deal and buy his son’s release. But he is told, “This  is a situation where your money is not of the slightest importance.”

Van Dyke tells him, “These are cannibals – head hunting, blood thirsty cannibals who are out to eat us up.”……”Do you have much experience in swapping human beings?”

(Not much propaganda there!)

Van Dyke assigns  his best informant, ‘Hoffy’ Hoffmeyer (ANITA BJORK) to find  out what how the trade will take place. (The two have ‘history’ together.)


Anita Bjork, Gregory Peck.

One of the few outdoor locations .



Gregory Peck, Broderick Crawford.

Van Dyke takes Leatherby to a night club and shows him the couple the Russians want – Leatherby   sees a grey haired lady playing piano , and her husband, who is blind, sitting at a nearby table.

JILL ESMOND (Laurence Olivier’s first wife) is impressive  in the small role of Frau Schindler whose husband is a German general. One of the plot twists is that Jill Esmond’s character is not German. She is an English woman who had married before the war. This gives  Van Dyke more diplomatic problems.

Even then, Leatherby doesn’t care, he just wants his son back, at any cost.

The plot builds up to an exciting climax in the U.S. military hospital where the exchange is due  to take place.


Buddy Ebsen, Ted Avery, Broderick Crawford, Gregory Peck, Walter Abel, Anita Bjork.



Gregory Peck, Rita Gam.

I wish Rita Gam had been given more to do. She is wasted in a small role.


Buddy Ebsen  injects a lighter tone  to the serious story and I liked him a lot.


Also in the cast:

Peter Van Eyck, Max Showalter, Walter Abel.



Gregory Peck and Rita Gam on set.



The happy ending. Leatherby is reunited with his son ( and his son’s German girlfriend, played by MARIANNE KOCH.)


This is a film I always enjoy watching , with my most recent viewing  on the Kino Lorber blu ray. It was the first film which writer Nunnally Johnson directed. ( He also produced and wrote Night People.)

Twentieth Century Fox made the film in Germany, though the use of locations in Berlin were far too limited. In fact most of the film was set indoors , with interiors filmed in a Munich studio.

Such a waste, even if the company may have been limited in what they could film on the streets  of Berlin.

So the argument that Fox made the film abroad for tax reasons makes sense. Studios could use so called ‘frozen funds’ to make pictures. (European countries restricted the amount of currency that studios could return to Hollywood.)

I have  to admit there are a couple of things in the film which I didn’t  understand, so I hope I might get some  comments on the following .

We are told that the ‘other side’ took the chance of kidnapping  an American soldier in order to get  hold of an anti-Nazi German couple who had been involved in the plot to kill Hitler. Some mention is made of some of Himmler’s men being behind the kidnapping.

Why would the Soviets agree to this plan?

And, as one reviewer said, why didn’t they just kidnap the couple!

Also, why  does Van Dyke(Gregory Peck) go to all the trouble of getting poison at the end of the film?

Were colour and CinemaScope necessary? I could see this story in stark black and white.

Am I asking  too many questions!

I liked NIGHT PEOPLE and would recommend  it. Not a stretch for Peck, but he plays  it well and is surrounded by a fine  supporting cast.




Norma Desmond’s car is a 1929 Landaulet limousine model of the Italian car, the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A. It cost Norma $28,000 (now $400,000).


William Holden, Erich Von Stroheim.


Erich Von Stroheim, William Holden, Gloria Swanson.

Director BILLY WILDER rented the car and upholstered it in leopard skin to match Norma’s outfit. Norma Desmond’s initials were also monogrammed  on the car.

Ironically, Erich  Von Stroheim ( Max ) could not drive and the car had to be towed by another car.


Norma arriving at Paramount is greeted by a guard,Jonesy,  who recognises her.



The company was formed in 1900 by Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini.

The makers promise that the car will go to a maximum of 93 mph.

The car used in the film has survived and is now back in Italy on display at the National Automobile Museum in Turin.



Joe Gillis (William Holden) sees Norma’s crumbling mansion for the first time.

Norma’s  address is 10086 Sunset Boulevard, but in fact the house which Paramount featured was at 641 South Irving Boulevard. It was built in the 1920s and rented by Paramount from the  J.Paul Getty family.

It was demolished in 1957.

Had it survived, one can only imagine what a magnet it would have been for fans of the film today.


A picture showing the house in the process of being demolished in February,1957.


The house did not have a swimming  pool, so Paramount excavated one as it was crucial to the plot.


That iconic start to the film.


William Holden and Gloria Swanson being filmed.

Only exteriors of the house were used. All interiors were  beautifully constructed on a Paramount sound stage.


Like the ending of DOUBLE INDEMNITY which was filmed twice, the beginning of “Sunset Boulevard” was first filmed with Gillis’s body arriving at the city morgue, and Joe talking to the other dead bodies there!

That first scene  is shown partially in script form above.

Wilder fully intended that this would be how the film  would start, but preview audiences determined otherwise, apparently laughing at the dead bodies talking to each other.

It certainly sounds a unique opening, and , like the discarded end scene in Double Indemnity, everyone still hopes that  one day the morgue footage will turn up.

But who can disagree that  Wilder outdid  himself when he filmed that iconic shot of the body in the pool.


Norma is finally over the edge and in her own world where she is still a star.


Descending the staircase, getting  ready for her closeup. Norma is Salome and promises there will be more films after this one.



Billy Wilder takes William Holden’s  place in rehearsal.


Norma meets Cecil B. DeMille, watched over by Billy Wilder.

Sunset Boulevard has an amazing mixture of fact and fiction.

Considering Gloria Swanson was not the first choice to play the silent screen star – Mary Pickford was first approached.

But when Swanson auditioned and was cast, the script included various references to her career in silents – the casting of Cecil B. DeMille for instance. DeMille was filming SAMSON AND DELILAH on the Paramount lot, so, always ready for any publicity, Paramount had the scene where Norma meets DeMille filmed on the actual set of Samson and Delilah!

In the fictional story, Norma Desmond and DeMille had made films together in the past. And in fact Swanson and DeMille made 5 films together.

When they worked together in the early part  of the 20th Century, DeMille called Swanson ‘Young fella’.

In Sunset Boulevard, DeMille also called Norma by the same nickname.

On the set with Anna Q. Nilsson, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, William Holden, Erich Von Stroheim and H. B. Warner.


On the staircase.


09 Dec 1949 — Original caption: Ever-glamorous Gloria Swanson shows off a lovely trio of White Ermine accessories created by Paramount’s Edith Head for the star’s role in “Sunset Boulevard.” The black capelet is lined with fur to match the hat and cuff muff. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


Gloria Swanson (1899 -1983) has said that after Sunset Boulevard she was only offered similar type roles which she declined.

Gloria was no Norma Desmond. She was a mother and grandmother and had 6 ex-husbands. She was in movies between 1915 and 1934. For INDISCREET in 1931, her salary was $250,000!

(For Sunset Boulevard, she received $50,000)

AIRPORT 75 was her last film. She led a healthy lifestyle and looked glamorous to the end.

Why Hollywood didn’t offer her more roles in sound  pictures, remains a mystery.

I’m glad Mary Pickford said no. Gloria Swanson owns that role and should have won an Oscar. (She lost to Judy Holliday for “Born Yesterday”)

And it’s ironic that Sunset  Boulevard lost out as Best Picture to another behind-the-scenes  film, ALL ABOUT  EVE.

As much as I love the latter, it doesn’t have the same  impact of Sunset Boulevard – that final scene where Norma descends into full blown madness is unforgettable.

In a two year period – 1950 to 1952, Hollywood made three of the best films about Hollywood – SUNSET BOULEVARD, IN A LONELY PLACE and THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

We out here in the dark enjoyed them but they highlighted the price that  can be paid for a shot at fame.


Great picture of cast and crew, but no Billy Wilder.


Erich Von Stroheim as Max

Another instance  of deliberate attempts to mingle fact and fiction , casting Von Stroheim as Norma’s ex-husband and Director who is now reduced to being her butler.

In the film, William Holden’s character, Joe Gillis describes how every night Norma would screen her own films from the past, one of which is QUEEN KELLY which Von Stroheim had directed Swanson in.

So Gloria Swanson,as Norma, is sitting watching a clip from the film which Von Stroheim never completed!


William Holden, Gloria Swanson






In 1956, MARY ASTOR starred in a live TV production of “Sunset Boulevard”, with Darren McGavin as Joe Gillis.  It was broadcast as part of the series “Robert Montgomery Presents”.

It can be seen on You Tube.  I watched some  of it, but, as much as I like Mary Astor, it suffered in comparison. Small budget and sets.



THE DESPERADOES, from left: Randolph Scott, Evelyn Keyes, Glenn Ford, Edgar Buchanan, strolling along the western street of the Columbia Pictures Ranch at lunchtime, 1943

Another shot of the stars of THE DESPERADOES, this time  in costume.


Randolph Scott, Glenn Ford.

This photo is listed as being on the set of Glenn Ford’s LUST FOR GOLD which was released in 1949. I’m not sure which film Randolph Scott was making at the time – depends when “Lust for Gold” was filmed.  Both stars may have been filming at the Columbia/Warners ranch.


Another rare shot on the set of THE DESPERADOES, with Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes, Randolph  Scott and Edgar Buchanan – again, all are in modern dress.


Goofing about. Scott, Ford and Williams.


Randolph Scott, Glenn Ford. THE DESPERADOES


”The Desperadoes “ was Columbia ‘s first full  Technicolor feature.


Guinn Williams, Glenn Ford.

Still in his 20’s, Glenn Ford was being  groomed for stardom by Columbia .


Randolph Scott , Glenn Ford, Guinn Williams.


I don’t know which comic featured the film.


A later Glenn Ford western, THE MAN FROM COLORADO (1948) . Dick Powell visits Ford and William  Holden on the set.

Ford and Holden had costarred previously in TEXAS in 1941 – Claire Trevor and Edgar Buchanan were  also in that one.


Glenn Ford and William Holden on the set of TEXAS.


Charles Vidor

The director of “The Desperadoes “, CHARLES VIDOR (not to be confused with director King Vidor) married  Evelyn Keyes in 1944 but the marriage only lasted a year. He had previously been married to Karen Morley from 1932 to 1943.


Charles Vidor was a Columbia director in the 1940’s. In the above photo from the set of COVER GIRL, he is seen with Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers.


On the set of GILDA, which Vidor also directed.


Charles Vidor directing Doris Day on LOVE  ME OR LEAVE ME.


Orson Welles ( who was making  LADY FROM SHANGHAI) visiting Charles Vidor, Rosalind  Russell and Melvyn  Douglas who were  filming  THE GUILT  OF JANET AMES.