NEVER TRUST A GAMBLER (1951)

 

NEVER TRUST A GAMBLER is a neat little thriller, with a twist half way through which I didn’t see coming.(Though I should have remembered the title of the movie!)

DANE CLARK is on the run from the authorities. He is due to testify in a murder trial, but feels his testimony will send his friend to the chair.

He ends up in San Francisco at the house of his ex-wife ( CATHY O’DONNELL) who has left him because of his gambling. He assures her he is a reformed character and even has a job and bank book to prove it.

 

Dane Clark

Things don’t go smoothly of course. Detectives TOM DRAKE and JEFF COREY are on the lookout for him, and Cathy is followed out of a shop by RHYS WILLIAMS , also a cop but one who thinks any woman is an easy target for him.

Rhys ends up accidentally dead and Dane decides to dispose of the body and not to tell the police.

Tom Drake, Rhys Williams, Jeff Corey

Drake and Corey make a good team as they tie all the pieces together and Drake falls for O’Donnell.

 

Myrna Dell

Always reliable MYRNA DELL would have been preferable in the lead female role but only has a few scenes as  a friend of Cathy O’Donnell. ( O’ Donnell is just too one- note for me).

I wish this film was out on DVD. I caught it on You Tube.

 

This poster actually gives too much away, indicating Dane Clark as a killer.  But is he!

PRINT THE LEGEND

The line of dialogue supposedly spoken by Tony Curtis in either THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF or THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH – or THE SON OF ALI BABA  is :

Yonder lies the castle of my father.”

But the legend goes than Tony Curtis, born in the Bronx,New York, said:

Yonda  lies da castle of  my faddah.” 

Thus making fun of , and implying that Tony had a pronounced and modern accent in an Arabian Nights fantasy.

But the fact is that Tony very quickly lost his Bronx accent after entering movies. And there is no such dialogue line in any of these films.

The nearest is in “Son Of Ali Baba”, in which he says, quite clearly and plainly,  “This is my father’s castle. And yonder lies the  valley of the sun.”

But, as Carleton Young said to James Stewart in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”,

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

 

Tony Curtis, in his autobiography, indicated he felt  a little hurt by the comment and said it might have originated with Debbie Reynolds!

Just as anyone impersonating James Cagney will always say, “You dirty rat!”  Or Cary Grant pleading , “Judy! Judy! Judy!”,  I guess the phrase tagged with Tony’s  name will always be known in Hollywood.

Still,Bette Davis fans know that she really did say, “What a dump!” – in BEYOND THE FOREST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Janet Leigh

 

 

 

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

The 2017 documentary about HEDY LAMARR is by writer/ director Alexandra Dean and is now available on DVD . I saw it for the first time at the Glasgow Film Festival. I enjoyed it very much and have the DVD on order.

Known  for her glacial beauty, MGM starred Hedy with all its biggest names from Gable to Tracy to Robert Taylor. She graced countless magazine covers. Though   her acting range was quite limited, MGM persevered in the seven years they had her under contract from 1938.

Notably, they did not renew her contract.

The documentary is not primarily a study of Hedy’s film career but concentrates more on an aspect of Hedy’s  life which only came to light in recent years.

Hedy was an inventor, she was mechanically minded and said,

“Inventions are easy for me to do – I have an inventive  mind.”

Born Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna in 1914, Hedy was very close to her banker father who encouraged her interest in how things work. And her first husband , Freidrich Mandle , was a munitions manufacturer in Berlin.

The young Hedy Lamarr

 

In the 2011  book, “Hedy’s Folly, The Life and Break Through Inventions of Hedy Lamarr”, author Richard Rhodes points out that some inventors have been artists –

“Samuel L.Morse, the co-inventor of the telegraph, was a professional painter……But many inventors have been people with no obvious qualifications for inventing. Hedy Lamarr was an inventor.”

The documentary makers were fortunate to make contact with a journalist ,Fleming Meeks ( a reporter at Forbes  magazine) who had audio tapes of interviews with Hedy  in 1990. Listening to Hedy talk about herself is fascinating.

She said, “The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with smallest minds. Think big anyway.”

Maybe she was still smarting at the U.S. Government for rejecting the invention she and her friend George Antheil had offered in 1940. The Government officials  suggested she sell war bonds – which she did.

What she and George Antheil had invented was a way to protect the radio transmissions  that controlled torpedoes so they could not be jammed.  (German U -Boats were sinking North Atlantic shipping).

A patent was filed in 1941 and expired in 1959. When the U.S military, many years later,  finally realised the importance of the invention, there was no recognition or compensation for Hedy.

The patent was filed under Hedy’s married name, Hedy Kiesler Markey ( her second husband was producer Gene Markey).

It has been written that Hedy’s invention, Spread Spectrum  technology ,was the forerunner of Wi-Fi and GPS.

 

 

With Clark Gable, COMRADE X

 

Hedy set up an inventor’s corner in the drawing  room of her Hollywood  home.

Apparently, while friends with Howard Hughes, Hedy discussed  a more aerodynamic design for plane wings after observing birds and fish!

 

At the height of her beauty, in ZIEGFELD GIRL

 

 

With John  Loder,one of her 6 husbands.

 

Hedy on the cover of the scientific magazine ,”Invention and Technology.”

In 1997, three years before her death, Hedy received  an award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Her son accepted for her.

In 2014, she and her co- inventor George Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. They were honoured for contributing an important development in wireless communication.

Hedy died, aged 85 ,in 2000. In her last years she was a recluse. I saw some footage of her in her apartment on You Tube . Her many plastic surgeries were evident and very sad. Grotesque in fact.

 

It was announced in September , 2017 that Diane Kruger (  who appears in the documentary ) will play Hedy in a proposed TV mini series  based on Richard Rhodes’ s book, Hedy’s Folly.

 

 

 

 

I’ve caught up on some of Hedy’s films after seeing the documentary. I’m afraid none of her performances have impressed me. Partly let down by poor scripts, but ,apart from looking gorgeous, she is generally  overshadowed by others in the casts.

 

With Robert Taylor. LADY OF THE TROPICS

 

With Lana Turner and Judy Garland. ZIEGFELD GIRL.

 

With Spencer  Tracy and John Garfield.TORTILLA FLAT

One I haven’t seen,TORTILLA FLAT had Hedy alongside two powerhouse performers, Spencer Tracy and John Garfield.

 

With John Hodiak. A LADY WITHOUT PASSPORT

 

Hedy  was ushered back to MGM after the success of SAMSON AND DELILAH, but, again, MGM’s script for A LADY WITHOUT PASSPORT was just not good.

 

With Bob Hope.

 

With June Allyson and Robert Walker.HER HIGHNESS AND THE BELLBOY

 

That famous MGM assembly of stars, with Hedy to the left of Katharine Hepburn

Hedy  front and centre in the MGM star photo from 1943. She was always so elegant looking.

 

BOMBSHELL is the first production of Reframed Pictures ,from Susan Sarandon, Alexandra Dean and Adam Haggiag.

It’s a fascinating story.

 

SELL THAT MOVIE! 2

Vm

Love that headline: ” NATURE AND MGM…….

I’m about to see this film for the first time. Hope it’s better than other Hedy Lamarr films I’ve watched lately  (COME LIVE WITH ME, I TAKE THIS WOMAN, LADY WITHOUT A PASSPORT, LADY OF THE TROPICS, H.M.PULHAM ESQ.)

Sorry, I didn’t like any of them. Anyone care to argue?!

 

 

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Paramount reminds folk that they have won major Oscars in the last 3 years. Gotta toot your own trumpet!

GOING MY WAY –  THE LOST WEEKEND-  TO EACH HIS OWN.

 

 

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Described as Judy’s first solo role.

 

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Studio publicists often find that titles  can change.

SENATE PAGE BOYS, starring Herbert Marshall and Virginia Bruce , became FEMALE CORRESPONDENT and eventually ADVENTURE IN WASHINGTON.

A GIRL’s BEST FRIEND IS WALL STREET , starring Franchot Tone and Joan Bennett, became SHE KNEW ALL THE ANSWERS.

THEY DARE NOT LOVE  remained the same. It starred George  Brent as an Austrian prince!

 

 

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Impressive ad for 1931/32 season of RKO Radio – “….THE RADIO TITAN ON HIS  TRIUMPHANT  MARCH TO NEW CONQUESTS!

Irene Dunne stars in two of the new films, CIMARRON and SYMPHONY OF SIX MILLION.

 

 

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Four big MGM stars. That’s all it takes to sell the movie.

 

 

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It’s definitely GABLE selling this film. Miss Box Office knows who she likes.

 

 

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Going to the movies in the 1950s. Lots of stars in sci-fi, comedy, melodrama.

 

 

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THE DESPERADOES.

Randolph Scott: “A man of big heart.”

Evelyn Keyes: “A panther in love!”

Claire Trevor: “An adventurous woman!”

 

ROD TAYLOR, PULLING NO PUNCHES

It was interesting to see the documentary , ROD TAYLOR, PULLING NO PUNCHES (2016) in the presence of the two Australians who made the documentary – director Robert de Young and producer Stephan Wellink.

The screening at the Glasgow Film Festival in February, 2018 was the first time the documentary has been shown in the U.K.

Born in Sydney, Rod Taylor (1930 – 2015) started off in radio in the early 1950s but made his way to Hollywood by 1954.

MGM gave him a seven year contract in 1955 and put him in THE CATERED AFFAIR, with Bette Davis and  Debbie Reynolds.

Rod is best remembered for THE TIME  MACHINE (1960), THE V.I.P.’S ( one of the few times he played an Aussie), YOUNG  CASSIDY and THE BIRDS.

 

With Debbie Reynolds in A Catered Affair.

 

THE TIME MACHINE

 

With Tippi Hedren.THE BIRDS

 

With Doris Day.THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT

 

With Ida Lupino

Rod did quite a lot of TV including 26 episodes of a series called HONG KONG (1960/61). Ida Lupino was one of the directors.

Another series called OUTLAWS (1986/87) only lasted 12 episodes but looked interesting when I watched an episode on You Tube – time travelling cowboys  from 1896 find themselves in 1986!

 

With Maggie Smith. THE V.I.P’S

Maggie Smith was interviewed and said Rod was incredibly generous.

 

Three of my favorites :

With Glenn Ford. FATE IS THE HUNTER

 

With James Garner.36 HOURS

 

With  Ben Johnson.    THE TRAIN ROBBERS.

 

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Rod’s biographer,Stephen Vagg is also interviewed. His book is ROD TAYLOR,AN AUSSIE IN HOLLYWOOD (2010).

Having read the extensively researched and interesting book, I’d only take exception to Mr. Vagg’s description of one of my favorite westerns,”The Train Robbers” as lacking excitement and originality!

Also interviewed are Tippi Hedren and Angela Cartwright from “The Birds”

 

The heart of the documentary is a series of interviews Rod did in 2012. He comes over as open, candid and humorous.

 

The DVD of the documentary came out in Australia in January 2018 from UMBRELLAENT.COM.AU

It’s well worth seeing and I hope it gets a release in the UK and the States.

I’ve been a Rod Taylor fan for a long time. Even in a small part in Alan Ladd’s HELL ON FRISCO BAY in 1955,  he stood out as someone to watch.

With William Demarest, Alan Ladd. HELL ON FRISCO BAY

 

There’s lots of info about Rod on the website http://www.rodtaylorsite.com

 

 

 

CROSSROADS. (1942)

I  liked CROSSROADS, though Hedy Lamarr didn’t really deserve costar billing with William Powell.

Claire Trevor, Basil Rathbone and   Felix Bressart  had more to do in this slick MGM story about amnesia and blackmail.

Set in Paris in 1935.  William Powell plays a French diplomat married to the glamorous Hedy. Powell’s  character is an amnesiac after a train wreck 13 years earlier. He remembers nothing of his former life.

Claire Trevor and Basil Rathbone claim they knew him before he lost his memory and threaten blackmail, saying he was involved in robbery and murder.

Not knowing the truth , he offers Claire 50,000 francs, to which she replies, “You’re talking about cabbage – I want  Caviar.”

She even says his mother is still alive and gives him her address.

Margaret Wycherly is so good pretending to be the little old lady who mourns her son.

 

Hedy Lamarr, William Powell

It’s all an elaborate con and Powell eventually catches on.

There’s a lovely scene where the three conspirators get together – Trevor, Rathbone and Wycherly, arguing among  themselves while figuring out the final part of their plan.

I’d have settled for a film starting these three!

Claire Trevor’s character is  a night club singer and she delivers a Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz song, ‘Till You  Return’, dubbed by Connie Russell.

Poor Hedy is mere decoration, as the devoted wife.

Felix  Bressart plays Powell’s doctor and has a good scene in court with Sig Ruman, as they argue over the meaning of memory loss.

William Powell is never disappointing and, after a string of comedies, it was good to see him in a dramatic role.

The setting in Paris was typical Hollywood and couldn’t have been less convincing. Why they didn’t just relocate the plot to New York or Los Angeles, I don’t  know.

The plot was used  three times within a 4 year period. In 1938, the French film CARREFOUR was directed by Curtis Bernhardt ( Carrefour meaning crossroads).

Then, in 1940, there was a British version called DEAD MAN’s SHOES, starring Leslie Banks.

“Carrefour ” is on You Tube, but, alas, no subtitles.

It would be interesting to compare the three films.

 

Margaret Wycherly, William Powell

 

Claire Trevor, Basil Rathbone

 

Two publicity photos for the film:

Basil Rathbone, Claire Trevor, William Powell, Hedy Lamarr

 

Claire Trevor, William Powell, Hedy Lamarr , Basil Rathbone

 

 

 

 

RUDY WISSLER, THE YOUNG JOLSON

 

Hollywood biopics were never very accurate and you have to accept them for what they were – fictionalised biographies .

I had never in the past bothered to find out who sang for Scotty Beckett who played the young Jolson in THE JOLSON STORY,  but I always remember that beautiful tenor voice singing ‘After the Ball’, ‘On the Banks of the Wabash’ and ‘When you were Sweet 16’.

 

Scotty Beckett

 

Scotty Beckett’s voice was provided by RUDY WISSLER who was a teenager when he was hired to dub for Beckett.

Rudy Wissler

Young Rudy didn’t even get a credit in the film, but dubbing was a Hollywood secret back then – though the public knew LARRY PARKS wasn’t singing.

It was amazing to see , courtesy of You  Tube, Rudy  Wissler reprising ‘On the banks of the Wabash’ at  a  meeting of the International Al Jolson Society in 1999 – and still with that beautiful voice.

Rudy commented: “We did a number of takes of each song.” Rudy worked on the film for 5 weeks in 1945 and made the recordings with Saul Chaplin on piano- the orchestra was dubbed in later.

Rudy was a regular on radio’s  Edgar Bergen Charlie McCarthy show, singing with the Ray Noble orchestra . He made a few more films but his career was mainly on radio,  in nightclubs and in stage musicals.

In the 1960s and 70s, he was part of a barbershop quartet called the Pacificaires.

(info from Jolson.org)

RUDY WISSLER (1928 – 2007)

 

Scotty Beckett (1929 – 1968) had been in movies from the age of 4, but couldn’t find work in Hollywood by the end of the 1950s. He had brushes with the law, was married three times and died of a possible drugs overdose at the age of 38.  So sad.

Like Larry Parks, young Scotty  did a great job of miming.

Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Keyes was also dubbed, by Virginia  Rees.

 

Larry Parks

Surely Larry Parks’s greatest role. Larry’s career never really took off after his remarkable performance as Jolson. And the Blacklist ended his film career.

I love Jolson’s voice and the songs he sang, but , 70 years on, the Jolson blackface is hard to watch.