THE TRAP (1959)

I don’t know how how this Richard Widmark technicolor  drama has escaped me until now. It’s been out on blu ray since 2012 and I am glad to have caught up with it.

The film was co-produced by Widmark’s  Heath Productions and Melvin Frank and Norman Panama’s Parkwood Enterprises. Panama directed.

Set in a remote  location (the southern Californian  desert),  Ralph Anderson (Richard Widmark) is a mob lawyer who returns to the small town of Tula where his father Lloyd ( Carl Benton Reid) is the sheriff and his brother Tip  (Earl Holliman) is the deputy.

Ralph had left town ten years earlier under a cloud and his girl Linda (Tina Louise) has married his brother.

Richard Widmark

The  reason for Ralph’s return is to persuade his father to take guards of the local airstrip, so gangster Massonetti (Lee J. Cobb) can evade the law and take a private plane to Mexico.

The plot builds as Ralph’s father is killed , phone lines are cut in Tula and Ralph resolves to get Massonetti to the authorities in the town of Barstow.

 

Earl Holliman

Younger brother Tip, has a drink problem and his wife, Linda is about to leave him.

 

Lee J. Cobb, Richard Widmark, Earl Holliman, Tina Louise.

Ralph and Tip fight over whether they should let Massonetti go. Massonetti’s gang are tracking them through the desert.

 

Tina Louise, Lee J. Cobb, Richard Widmark

Tina Louise is the weak link in the otherwise good cast. Her acting is pretty wooden.

 

Lee J. Cobb, Earl Holliman

Massonetti tries to bribe Tip, with a bundle of money.

 

Ralph rescues  Massonetti from the crashed plane near the end of the film.

“The Trap ” is action packed as Richard Widmark fights the odds to bring the mob boss to justice, and redeem himself.(Earlier, he says to Linda, “My clientele is very distinguished. I worked my way up to Massonetti.”)

Widmark and Cobb play their respective antagonistic roles as only they can . Perfectly!

I liked “The Trap” a lot and it’s good to see it in such a good print.

 

 

 

 

 

YOU AINT HEARD NOTHIN’ YET.

In this fascinating book just out , James Bawden and Ron Miller have brought together a compendium of 40  interviews they did in the 1970s and 80s, with classic era  stars. So many names – Jane Russell, Yvonne de Carlo, Jack Elam, Ernest Borgnine, Joan Leslie, Jane Wyatt, Esther Williams,Cornel Wilde…..

Just a few examples below. It really is a book you can’t put down. Who knew that Fred Astaire was supposed to direct ‘Up In  Central Park’, or that Bette Davis wanted to do ‘The African Queen’ – or that John Carradine sang in musicals!

HENRY FONDA:  “I got the role of a lifetime,the lead in ‘Mr Roberts.’ We opened in February 1948 and I never wanted to leave it….I did over 1000 performances.”

Henry Fonda

 

BETTE DAVIS:    “I was going to star in ‘The African Queen’ opposite John Mills for a British company. Then finances fell through. John Huston brought the property…..”

                                “If you hire me, you get 40 years of professionalism, a few Oscars and a link both to the past and present.”

Bette Davis

 

JAMES STEWART:     “I wasn’t the first choice for ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – both Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur turned Frank Capra down.”

James Stewart

 

JANET LEIGH:    “My first day on set for ‘That Forsyte Woman’,  I got a handwritten note from Greer Garson welcoming me on board. What a gracious lady.”

Greer Garson, Janet Leigh

 

James Bawden asked PATRICIA NEAL, “Would you indulge me by saying the famous line from ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

Patrica Neal:   “Alright.    Gort, Klaatu, Barada, Nickto.”

Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie.

 

WALTER PIDGEON: On his longevity in Hollywood,   “Maybe it was better never to become red hot….maybe a long glow is the best way.”

Walter Pidgeon

 

JOHN HOUSEMAN made his acting debut in ‘Seven Days In May.’

I played a small part of a treasonous admiral. I worked for half a day and that was it. I didn’t do it again for 10 years.”

(Among the many films Houseman produced were  Executive Suite, Lust For Life, The Bad and the Beautiful and The Blue Dahlia.)

John Houseman

 

In 1974, James Bawden, on a trip to Los Angeles, found a listed phone number for Anne Shirley Lederer (ANNE SHIRLEY was married to the writer Charles Lederer.) He called her up and got a two hour interview in person.

Anne mentioned how she replaced Olivia de Havilland in ‘Saturday’s Children’ at one day’s notice.  “The clothes fit perfectly.!”

 

JOHN CARRADINE mentioned that he was a singer.

I’ve done Paint Your Wagon on stage several times and I had more songs than the lead actor.”

John Carradine

 

VINCENT PRICE:    I was Boss Tweed in the Deanna Durbin musical, ‘Up In Central Park ‘. at  Universal. I took the part because Fred Astaire was going to direct, but he quit on the opening day of filming.”

Vincent Price

 

RAYMOND MASSEY loved doing westerns  –  “It got me out of the backlot and into the outdoors.” He called Humphrey Bogart “the best movie actor of all time“, and he still enjoyed  watching ‘Arsenic and Old Lace ‘ on television.

Cary Grant, Raymond Massey.

ON THE SET 35

 

Scott Brady, Barbara Stanwyck. Barry Sullivan. The Maverick Queen

 

Jeanne Crain, Joseph Mankiewicz.A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.

 

Dorothy McGuire, Gregory Peck, Elia Kazan.GENTLEMAN’S  AGREEMENT

 

 

Mary Astor, Lizabeth Scott.DESERT DURY

 

Bette Davis, Leslie Howard,,Olivia De Havilland. IT’S LOVE I’m AFTER

 

Ann Sheridan, Zachary Scott, Lew Ayres.THE UNFAITHFUL

 

 

Judy Garland, Gene Kelly.THE PIRATE.

 

 

Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable.TO PLEASE A LADY

 

 

Bette Davis. JEZEBEL.

 

Lana Turner, John Garfield.THE POSTMAN ALWAYS  RINGS TWICE.

 

Olivia de Havilland and “Feud”

Olivia De Havilland

In June, 2017, lawyers for OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND filed a lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions regarding her portrayal in their series  “FEUD”, about the fractious relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette  Davis .

Olivia signed a declaration, which included the following:

“I did not give my permission to the creators of ‘Feud’ to use my name, identity or image in any manner.”

“I did not tell any director or producer that my sister Miss Joan Fontaine was a bitch. This kind of vulgarity is not language that I use.”

“I reside in Paris, France. My date of birth is July  1, 1916 and am at present 101 years old.”

 

Olivia De Havilland, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays Olivia in the series and is seen being interviewed about Joan and Bette, an interview which is fictitious.

The producers have claimed their First amendment right to create works about matters of public interest. Ryan Murphy is quoted as saying that he did not want to trouble Ms de Havilland.

A judge has ruled that there should be a jury trial on Nov.27. 2017.

FEUD is due on BBC 2 at Christmas.

Lara Fowler of Backlots.net (http://backlots.net) will be at the trial in Los Angeles as a press member and will provide updates.

 

 

 

ANITA LOOS: A GIRL LIKE I

She worked on D.W.Griffith’s INTOLERANCE in 1915. She wrote the MGM blockbuster, SAN FRANCISCO. And is probably best remembered for writing GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES.

San Francisco born ANITA LOOS (1888 – 1981) started writing from an early age. In 1912, she sent scripts to the Biograph Studio in New York . Her story, the one-reeler THE NEW YORK HAT was directed by D.W.Griffith and starred Mary Pickford.

In 1913, she sold 36 scripts to various studios.Biograph came to rely on her for scripts for Lillian Gish.

By 1915, Griffith was in Hollywood, at Triangle Pictures, with Thomas Ince and Mack Sennett.

Griffith now had Douglas Fairbanks,and Constance and Norma Talmadge under contract. He offered Anita $75 a week plus a bonus if one  of her scripts went into production.

Anita  was assigned an adaptation of Macbeth, starting Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Anita got her first credit – “Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Anita Loos!

 

The first version of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, with Alice White and Ruth Taylor. ( Anita is in the middle).Director Mal St. Clair .

Griffith also asked Anita to  help with explanatory titles for INTOLERANCE. It’s not confirmed how much Anita contributed.

Anita had met director John  Emerson on ‘Macbeth’ and they were married in 1919.

In  two years, Anita, Emerson and Douglas Fairbanks made 9 films. When Fairbanks moved to Famous Players-Lasky in 1917, Loos and Emerson  went with him.

 

Anita’s international best seller, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was based  on a collection of magazine stories in Harper’s Bazaar ,about the mercenary but not so dumb Lorelei Lee and her friend Dorothy. Amazingly, the book is still in print  90 years later.

Her follow up book, “But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” came two years later and was also successful.

 

The silent film version of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1928 is considered a lost film.

Anita adapted ‘Blondes’ as a Broadway musical in 1949, starring Carol Channing. Its success led to the famous film version in 1953, though Anita was not involved in the film.

Carol Channing, Anita Loos.

 

In 1931, Anita joined MGM and wrote 5 Jean Harlow films including RED HEADED WOMAN and SARATOGA.

She also scripted RIFF RAFF, WHEN LADIES MEET and I MARRIED AN ANGEL and co-scripted THE WOMEN.

Anita co-wrote SAN FRANCISCO and was Oscar-nominated for it.

Jean Harlow, Anita Loos

Anita also worked on Broadway and adapted GIGI for the stage, in 1951, starring AUDREY HEPBURN.

 

Anita LOOS, Audrey Hepburn.

 

Anita LOOS wrote two volumes of  autobiography and Gary Carey did  a biography in 1988.

Her career lasted over four decades. She was called “the soubrette of satire.”  She will forever be known as the writer who gave us “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Alice White, Ruth Taylor. 1928 version.

 

 

With Carol Channing and Audrey Hepburn

 

Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe.

 

 

PHOTO MIX 31

Lauren Bacall unwraps Humphrey Bogart’s bandages  in DARK PASSAGE.

As Vincent Parry, Bogart has had plastic surgery to conceal his identity after he escapes from prison.

 

Great advert for NOTORIOUS – the key is so important and leads to one of Hitchcock’s most famous shots.

 

Lovely color picture of  Ingrid Bergman in  CASABLANCA.

 

A star War Bond drive.

Front row:

Charlotte Greenwood, Joan Bennett, Joan Blondell, Claudette Colbert, Charles Boyer, Cary Grant, Oat O’Brien.

Back Row includes Frank McHugh, Groucho Marx, Desi Arnaz, Laurel and Hardy.

 

 

A  1954 TV production of THE  MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, with Bert Lahr, Zasu Putts, Buster Keaton.

Merle Oberon, Monty Woolley and Joan Bennett.

 

The end of THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, with Gregory Peck and David Jiven.

 

The dark city beginning of ON DANGEROUS GROUND, with cops  Robert Ryan and  Anthony Ross on patrol. ( Ross is very good as Ryan’s partner – he died in 1955 aged 46.)

Ryan will soon be going out of town where he will meet Ida Lupino.

 

William Talman is in the back,  with a gun on Frank Lovejoy and Edmund O’Brien in Ida Lupino’s THE HITCH HIKER.

 

Randolph Scott and Karen Steele in RISE LONESOME.

 

 

Nina Foch, Rosalind Russell.THE GUILT OF JANET AMES

A film with ambition but the script wasn’t quite good enough. Nina Foch had one small scene. Would love to have seen more of her.