MARGE CHAMPION (1919-2020)

Gower Champion, Marge Champion.

Another sad loss with the death of dancer Marge Champion at the age of 101.

Known for her 1950s MGM musicals as part of a team with her then husband Gower Champion.

Born Marjorie Celeste Belcher, Marge’s father Ernest was a Londoner who emigrated to America. He was an entertainer in the British music halls and a dancer/ choreographer.
He ran the Ernest Belcher School of Dancing in Los Angeles where Marge  began dancing as a young child.
She and Gower Champion went to the same Junior High School.

Marge’s father was so impressed with Gower that he gave him a full sponsorship to his school of dance.

Marge Champion.

At the age of 14, Marge auditioned to be a live action model for Walt Disney animators working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Marge would work at the Disney  studio, being filmed on 16mm film which the animators would use while creating the Snow White character.
In an interesting  interview Marge did in 1998 for the Television Academy ( interviews.televisionacademy.com), she said, “I worked one or two days a month – for two years on and off. We were shown storyboards and asked to react to situations.”

( She also worked on Pinocchio and Fantasia.)

Marge’s first husband was Art Babbit, an animator at Disney.

 

From that early age, Marge’s smile dazzled.

Love that T-Shirt  with a touch of Mae West! – “I was Snow White but I drifted.”

 

Marge with a Disney Snow White.

 

Marge can be seen behind Ginger Rogers in The Story of Vernon and Irene  Castle. She had a few more uncredited parts in 1939 as Margery Bell.

 

In the 1940s she teamed up with Gower as “Gower and Bell” and they played supper clubs and eventually appeared on early television shows.

In 1950 Marge and Gower (who had married in 1947) appeared as themselves in Bing Crosby’ s Mr Music.

And then came their string of hits at MGM, starting with Show Boat  in 1951, then Lovely To Look At, Everything I Have Is Yours, Give A Girl a Break , Jupiter’s Darling and finally Three For The Show.

I always think of the Champions being in lots of movies but in fact their movie fame amounted to these 6 films. Just shows what an impression they made on musical fans.

After “Lovely To Look At” ( the remake of ROBERTA), in which they played the Astaire /Rogers roles, there was talk of remakes of other Astaire/Rogers films, but that did not materialise – wisely!

 

 

Betty Grable, Jack Lemmon, Marge and Gower Champion.

 

 

 

With Debbie Reynolds. GIVE A GIRL  A BREAK.

 

After their film successes, Marge and Gower had a short lived TV situation comedy, The Marge and Gower Champion Show which ran only 6 episodes in 1957.

 

After Marge and Gower divorced in 1973, Marge remarried in 1977 to television director Boris Sagal who tragically died in an accident in 1981.

Marge taught dance in later years while Gower achieved great success in his Broadway directorial career in the 1960s onwards. (Two of his biggest  hits being HELLO DOLLY and FORTY SECOND  STREET.)

Gower died in 1980 of a rare form of blood cancer, on the day that “42nd Street” opened on Broadway.

The stunned shock on the cast members’ faces as producer David Merrick announces that Gower Champion  had died that morning – so thoughtless of David Merrick  to announce the tragic news to the audience and cast onstage at the end of a triumphant first night of FORTY SECOND STREET.

One of the show’s stars, Jerry Orbach, leans forward as if to say ‘What did you just say?’

 

Marge’s last TV appearance was in an episode of the series FAME,   in 1982.

 

With Donald Saddler in FOLLIES .

Marge returned to the stage for the 2001 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, partnering Donald Saddler , a dancer in many Broadway shows and co-founder  of the American Ballet Theatre.
Subsequently Marge and Donald would meet up twice a week at a New York studio they rented and just enjoy themselves dancing and keeping fit.

There is a delightful 20 minute documentary,Keep Dancing, on You Tube, from 2009, showing  the two of them together, creating dances for themselves. Both aged 90!

 

 

Marge is survived by her son Gregg and three grandchildren. She had been staying at her son’s home in L.A during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The following two sequences show the skill and talent of Marge and Gower, going from the sheer romanticism of “Smoke Gets In Your  Eyes” (LOVELY TO LOOK AT) to the comedy of  “I might Fall Back on You” (SHOW BOAT).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARY GRANT: The Making Of a Hollywood Legend

My first participation in a Zoom live conversation!
Charlotte Crofts, organiser of the biennial  Cary Comes Home festival in Cary’s home town Bristol, interviewed Mark Glancy, author of a new book on Cary Grant, Cary Grant, The Making of a Hollywood Legend.

During an hour’s conversation, viewers could  ask questions  and have them answered by the author or Charlotte.

I was very impressed!

Mark Glancy.

I had hesitated about buying yet another biography of my favourite actor, but after listening to Mark Glancy, I realise his research over many years has revealed much new information about Cary and his career.

Amazing to hear that Cary, who was an avid collector of memorabilia connected with his own career, had built a vault in his home where he kept all his archives.

Mark Glancy was able to visit this vault at Cary’s last home. The contents of the vault were given to the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles.
Cary kept a diary from the age of 14, and Mark, with white gloves on, was able to look at the diaries. (Can’t wait to read whatever extracts are in the book!)

 

With Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock.

 

There are 24 huge scrapbooks in the collection. One file contains all Cary’s correspondence with Alfred Hitchcock.Cary said that working with Hitchcock was a dream. On the set, Cary liked Hitchcock’s planning – apparently Cary could be quite nervous on the set.

Cary and Hitchcock both came from working class backgrounds in England. They had a strong personal bond. Hitch wanted to toy with Cary”s image eg Suspicion.

Cary meticulously saved press clippings and would attach notes about inaccuracies in newspaper or magazine articles.

 

With Ingrid Bergman. NOTORIOUS.

 

During the hour long chat, the discussion included conversation about Cary being one of the first stars to become independent from the major studios.  Having made 26 films at Paramount , he was expected to re-sign in 1937. His decision to go freelance , choose which films he would make and who he would work with, was a bold and successful move.

(Cary’s first three films as an independent were Topper, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby.)

 

 

Mark Glancy is a reader in Film History at Queen Mary University Of London. He was editorial consultant on the documentary, Becoming Cary Grant(2017). For this book, he saw all of Cary’s 72 movies.

The new biography is out in America and is published in the U.K in January,2021. It’s 568 pages. Cost is $34.16 in America and will be £26.75 in Britain.

it was fun being part of a conversation  all about Mr. Grant, so my thanks to Charlotte Crofts and Mark Glancy.

 

2020 is the 100th anniversary of the date when Archie Leach emigrated to New York, where he spent the next 10 years before crossing the continent to Hollywood and becoming CARY GRANT.

 

Wouldn’t want these two hovering over me!

 

And, by the way, I wish some philanthropic organisations would contribute to the digitising of some of the marvellous film archives which can only be seen by a few and in person.

RHONDA FLEMING (1923-2020)

So sorry to hear that Rhonda Fleming has passed away at the age of 97.
Rhonda, the red headed beauty, had a long career in films,TV and the stage. She was a trained singer but didn’t often get to sing in her films. She made many westerns including four with Ronald Reagan;  she was Robert Ryan’s wife in 1953’s Inferno, leaving him to die in the desert;

She was a gambler in The Gunfight At OK Corral; 

And she was ideal for swashbuckling adventures like The Golden Hawk with Sterling Hayden. 

 

With William Lundigan. INFERNO.

 

 

Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, Rhonda was spotted at age 16 by a top Hollywood agent and signed, without a screen test,  by David O. Selznick who cast her in Spellbound and The Spiral Staircase. She later had a deal with Paramount and costarred with Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee.

Rhonda was in many TV shows, as well as having a one woman show at the Hollywood Bowl and headlining in Las Vegas.

Married six times, Rhonda’s  5th husband was Ted Mann of Mann’s Chinese Theatre. Married from 1978 till his death in 2001, Rhonda and her husband supported many charitable organisations .

 

 

With John  Payne, Ronald Reagan. TENNESSEE’S PARTNER.

 

With Glenn Ford, Edmond O’Brien. THE REDHEAD AND THE COWBOY.

 

With Ronald Reagan.

 

With Burt Lancaster. THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL.

 

With Arlene Dahl. SLIGHTLY SCARLET.

Rhonda and Arlene Dahl  were well cast as sisters in Slightly Scarlet.

 

With Dana Andrews. WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS.

 

 

In 2019 , I remembered Rhonda on her birthday ( https://viennasclassichollywood.com/2019/08/11/Rhonda-Fleming-birthday-tribute

 

 

PUBLICITY SHOTS 21

Barbara Brittain, Randolph Scott, Dorothy Hart. GUNFIGHTERS (1947)

 

 

Herbert Marshall, Bette Davis. THE LETTER.

 

 

Some of the cast of THE OPPOSITE SEX.

Charlotte Greenwood, June Allyson, Jeff Richards, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead.

 

James Stewart, Julie Adams, Arthur Kennedy. BEND OF THE RIVER.

 

The stars  of the drama, IN NAME ONLY , Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis.

 

Lizabeth Scott, Victor Mature, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts.EASY LIVING(1949). Not to be confused with Jean Arthur’s “Easy Living”(1937).

 

Walter Pidgeon , Rosalind Russell, Edward Arnold.DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941).
Reminds  me I have quite a few Roz Russell films to see.

 

 

Two shots for  LONE STAR,1952. Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Broderick Crawford. Different outfits.

 

I love finding photos I have never seen before and the following one from PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET is a real find.

Stars, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter and Richard Widmark and two extras , names unknown.

ONCE UPON A TIME

Call myself a Cary Grant fan and I have only just seen 1944’s Once Upon A Time which I thoroughly enjoyed and will watch again.

Written surely to cheer up wartime audiences, Cary plays Jerry Flynn ,a New York theatre owner who, despite his firm belief in himself, has had three flops in a row and the bank want the $100,000 he owes them.

Coming out of the theatre one night, he sees two young boys, one who is playing ’Yes sir, that’s my  baby’  on his harmonica while the other boy charges a nickel to see a dancing caterpillar in a shoe box!

Yep, that’s what this film is about – a dancing caterpillar – which you never see!

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson,Mickey McGuire

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson.

Ted Donaldson is Pinky who owns the dancing worm (called Curly). Pinky lives with his showgirl sister Jeanne (Janet Blair).

Jerry is so impressed by what he sees in the box when Pinky plays that tune ,  he calls in the press but they aren’t impressed until two scientists are invited to view the evidence. They declare this is a miracle of science!

The scientists examine what’s inside the box.

 

Of course  nothing goes smoothly as Jerry tries to sell Curly to a Walt Disney representative! Poor Pinky doesn’t want to lose his friend and his big sister Jeanne initially doesn’t like Jerry.

In a dramatic scene, Pinky hides Curly just as Jerry is about to get the money to save his theatre. Angry with the boy, Jerry slaps him. Pinky has grown so fond of Jerry, the slap makes him hand over the box and leave.  It hits Jerry what he has done and of course all is right in the end.

There is a lovely scene when Jerry sits at the piano and plays the tune Curly  dances too.  Suddenly a butterfly appears and both Pinky and  Jerry  see it fly out an open window.

It’s a charming fantasy. The cast includes James Gleason as Jerry’s assistant, William Demarest as a reporter who brings in the scientists to debunk the story.

And is small parts, Iris Adrian, Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Donnell, Pierre Watkin , Ian Wolfe.

Considering Janet Blair was a singer and plays a showgirl in the film, it seems a pity she didn’t get a number to do.

 

Cary Grant, Janet Blair, James Gleason, Ted Donaldson

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson, Mickey McGuire

I was impressed by the little boy who played Pinky’s  pal, Fatso. Mickey McGuire (1936-1956) was only a few scenes but was very natural . In his brief career, Mickey unfortunately was often given a name like Fatso. 
In “The Return of Rusty” (1946) and also with Ted Donaldson, his character name was Porky.
And in “Danny Boy” (1945), 
he was Pudgie.

 

Ted Donaldson

Ted Donaldson ( born 1933) can be seen in a You Tube interview in 2019 with Anne-Marie Gatti of the Classic Movie Hub. (www.classic movie hub.com)

Ted had been in a 1943 play,”Sons and Soldiers”, with Gregory Peck, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Karl Malden, Millard Mitchell. ( some cast!)

Ted auditioned for Columbia’s Harry Cohn and got the role of Pinky.

Cary Grant and Betsy Drake attended Ted’s high school graduation, sitting  with Ted’s parents.
In  1974, when Ted wrote to Cary regarding the 30th anniversary of the film , Cary called him.

 

 

Ted was in films till 1953 including A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in 1945.

He was in the radio version of “Father Knows Best”, from 1949 to 1954 but said no to the TV version of the show.

Director of Once Upon a Time Alexander Hall (1894-1968) made a variety of movies including Little Miss Marker, Torch Singer, Here Comes Mr.Jordan, My Sister Eileen.

 

Ted Donaldson

Ted was one of the many fine young child actors of vintage Hollywood .

During these rocky times, any film that cheers you and makes you smile is great to find. ONCE UPON A TIME does it for me. I’m glad I finally caught up with it.

Another Cary Granter I have yet to see was made two years earlier in 1942, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON. Reviews on IMDB are mixed. Still, it’s Cary!

 

We never do get to see that dancing Curly, but we believe he is in that box!!

 

 

THE 8TH WONDER!

 

TOMMY RALL

Farewell to Tommy Rall  who has died at aged 90.

A terrific dancer in KISS ME KATE, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, MY SISTER EILEEN. A fine singer too.

Thinking about Tommy’s brief film career, it’s a shame he didn’t make more films , and not just musicals.

 

With Ann Miller, Bob Fosse and Bobby  Van. Kiss Me Kate .

 

With Ann Miller in Kiss Me Kate .

 

With Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn.

 

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

 

Tommy with his wife of over 50 years, Karel Shimoff.

 

Two numbers which display Tommy Rall’s dancing skills.

With Bob Fosse in My Sister Eileen.

 

The sublime “From This Moment On” , with Tommy Rall, Ann Miller, Bobby Van, Jeanne Coyne, Bob Fosse, Carol Haney. Kiss Me Kate.

 

MARION DAVIES: NEW BIOGRAPHY

Marion Davies (1897-1961) had a 20 year film career in both the silent and sound eras. Her costars in the 1930s included Clark Gable, Bing Crosby , Gary Cooper, Dick Powell.
She was an excellent light comedienne whose career was rather overshadowed by her private life as the mistress of newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. 

Good news that a new biography of Marion Davies is coming in 2022 – Captain Of Her Soul: The Life Of Marion Davies (UC Press) by Lara Gabrielle , a California based classic film writer and historian.
Lara kindly  agreed to talk about her book and interest in Marion Davies. Thank you ,Lara for answering  my questions !

        ”It’s been an absolute joy from the moment I started .My research has been conducted both in the United States  and Europe, primarily Los Angeles, Washington,D.C., UC Berkeley, New York, London and the south of France.

I went through both personal and professional archives, private letters, taped interviews, Marion’s autobiographical tapes, and I interviewed friends and acquaintances still alive.”

 

 

“I discovered Marion when I was about 13. I read ‘The Times We Had’, which is Marion’s autobiographical tales distilled into memoir form after her death.
I was struck by what a fascinating  woman she was . …she was incredibly  strong  and dealt with a lot in her life, and she always met the challenge and rose above it.”

 

 

“I have seen all of Marion’s films that still survive. There are several from the early days that are lost forever (that is….until they show up in somebody’s barn or attic!)

I like many for different reasons – I think BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES is maybe her most 3-dimensional character, she rarely got to play those because Hearst  was protective of her image, and she is fabulous.
Of course I love SHOW PEOPLE, that’s an absolute masterpiece of silent cinema.”

 

 

With Robert Montgomery. BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES

 

“Marion was head of her own production company within Cosmopolitan…..Hearst respected Marion enormously and essentially let her have director and leading man approval….she called all her own shots.

She was a phenomenal businesswoman….with real estate holdings , investments and knew instinctively how to deal with finances ( with only an 8th grade education.)

 

 

“Citizen Kane” is a great film that has been horribly misunderstood.People assume that ‘Susan Alexander’ is Marion but in fact all the characters are composites.

Hearst and Marion are the most well known of the composites so they got the brunt of it – Marion sort of shrugged off the movie – she claimed to not have been affected by it.”

 

My thanks to Lara for her observations . It’s a wait till 2022 but I am sure it will be worth it. Meanwhile Lara’s blog is at https://backlots.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HELEN HAYES: “The Play is Over”

………Watching Helen Hayes as the Dowager Empress in ANASTASIA, I was reminded this is an actress I hardly know. It is well into the film before she makes her first appearance, but like any great performer, she commands the screen.

I hadn’t watched this film in a while and enjoyed seeing it again. Twentieth Century Fox spared no expense in dramatising the story that one of the  Tsar’s  children escaped death in the 1918 Russian Revolution.

ANASTASIA (1956 ) is the mystery melodrama which brought Ingrid Bergman back to Hollywood and won her a  second Oscar.

She and Yul Brynner are perfectly cast .
Helen Hayes is probably only in about a third of the film but it is she who has the final line of dialogue at the film’s end and although it is only a few lines, she says them with such style.

Anastasia and Bounine (Brynner) have left the palace just before the Dowager Empress  is due to announce to the assembled guests the engagement of Anastasia and her nephew,Prince Paul (Ivan Desny) .

The Empress  has accepted that Anastasia and Bounine should be together. As she and Prince Paul are about to descend the grand staircase, Paul says, “But what will you say?”

Taking his arm, she says, “Say? Oh, I will say the play is over. Go home.”

Helen Hayes says the line with such dignity and class. Audiences possibly felt cheated not seeing the two stars at the end, but it just seemed so appropriate to give the final scene to this wonderful actress. 

 

Helen Hayes, Ivan Desny.

 

 

 

Helen Hayes, Yul Brynner, Ingrid Bergman.

 

 

The Empress  does not want to believe that this woman could be her granddaughter. 

 

Helen Hayes (1900-1993) only made ten films between 1931 and 1935 before returning to the stage where she was a big star. In between her stage roles, she did a lot of TV from the 1950s on, and made only  a few more films.

Yet she managed to win two Oscars – Best Actress in 1931 for The Sin Of Madeline Claudet , Best Supporting for Airport in 1970.

With her Oscar in 1931.

 

With Jean Seberg and Burt Lancaster. AIRPORT.

 

 

Her 1930s films included Arrowsmith and A Farewell To Arms. 

Can anyone recommend any of the films she made in the 30s?

The White Sister with Clark Gable.

 

With Gary Cooper. A FAREWELL TO ARMS.

 

With Ronald Colman.ARROWSMITH

 

Helen was married to writer Charles MacArthur from 1928 till his death in 1956. MacArthur co-wrote The Front Page and Twentieth Century – with Ben Hecht. They also wrote the screenplay for “Wuthering Heights.”

With Charles  MacArthur.

 

 

 


The Helen Hayes Awards began in 1983 in Washington D.C., Helen’s home town. (Washington having the most number of theatres outside of New York.)

 


Having seen her performance in Anastasia, I wish more dramatic film roles could have come her way in the 50s or 60s. Her film roles in later years seemed to be comedies most of the time,  and if course she was adept in these roles. 

 

Visiting Mae West, Wesley Ruggles. “I’m No Angel.”

 

Helen’s adopted son, James MacArthur. 
Helen’s daughter,Mary died aged 19 of polio.

 

 

By the way, I loved Martita Hunt in Anastasia. She is excellent as the lady-in-waiting to the Empress. She gives a much needed levity to the proceedings . 

Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes, Martita Hunt

 

 

DOES ANYONE STILL WEAR A HAT

Katharine Hepburn. Winter wear.

 

Jeanette MacDonald. Is that a butterfly wing !

 

Gene Tierney. Very Stylish. The arrow has landed.

 

Greer Garson. Leaves and spaghetti.

 

It’s Marlene so she carries a spare.

 

 

Bebe Daniels. Perfect. Trying to outdo Marlene.

 

Marie Windsor. Auditioning for the part of ‘Feathers’ in “Rio Bravo.”

 

Ava Gardner. Matching.

 

Eve Arden. I’d prefer it without the bunched up look. Pretty in red.

 

Ginger Rogers. Scarf to match. That’s a big bow.

 

Lovely Alice Faye. A touch of yellow.

 

 

Gene Tierney. Mysterious in green.

 

It’s the wearing of the green for Maureen O’Hara. And good luck to all!

 

 

Myrna Loy. Nothing fancy. But struggling to see.

 

Pretty as a picture. Complimentary hats for Kay Francis, William Powell.

JOHN BOLES

John Boles

I’ve become quite attached to John Boles after seeing him in Craig’s Wife (1936), which is really Rosalind  Russell’s picture, but John is fine in support.

Tall,dark and attractive ,  John Boles (1895-1969) had a fine singing voice too.

Wounded twice in World War One, John dropped his medical studies and studied music in New York . Universal signed him and he initially appeared in musicals like the first sound version of The Desert Song, King of Jazz  and Rio Rita.
His singing style was very much of the period, with a clipped pronunciation. But his speaking voice was very natural, soft and with a slight southern drawl. ( He was Texan.)

 

With Bebe Daniels. RIO RITA

 

King of Jazz

I love King Of Jazz and in particular John’s numbers, ‘It Happened in Monterey’ and ‘Song of the Dawn.’

 

He was kept busy in the  30s in films like Back Street, Music in the Air, A Message to Garcia , Stella Dallas, Craig’s Wife.

I counted 9 films alone in 1934, yet by the end of the 1930s John had deserted Hollywood . In 1943 he was on Broadway, costarring with Mary Martin in the musical, One Touch  Of Venus.

He  eventually returned to Texas and founded a very successful oil service company. He had been married to his college sweetheart since 1917.

In 1961 John helped  promote the third version of Back Street with John Gavin.The two Johns were in a way similar types, both quiet spoken and never overshadowing their female costars.

John Boles, John Gavin.

I found myself seeking out John’s films and in the process, seeing films (thanks to You Tube) I might not have watched otherwise.

 

John’s role in Six Hours  To Live (1932) is minor. The star is Warner Baxter as the government representative of a European country attending an international trade conference and is the only hold-out on a treaty.

As a result his life is threatened and he is murdered before a final vote is due to be taken on the treaty. A scientist revives him with a special ray but doesn’t know how long Baxter will live.

John Boles plays Baxter’s lawyer and English actress Miriam Jordan made her Hollywood debut as the baroness in love with Baxter.

Baxter finds that he has clairvoyant powers and the film develops nicely as he confronts his murderer!

And if you’re wondering how long Mr. Baxter survives, the clue’s in the title!

 

 

Child of Manhattan (1933) starred Nancy Carroll as Nancy McGonigle ,a dance hall girl who meets John Boles as  Paul Vanderkill,whose excuse for visiting the dance hall is because his family company owns the property .
Buck Jones was very likeable  as a westerner who wants to marry Nancy but she only has eyes for John who plays a widower with a daughter we never see.

Nancy’s mother is played by Jane Darwell with an Irish accent. Betty Grable has a tiny part as Nancy’s sister.

It’s a typical pre-code melodrama. Nancy and John marry secretly (in view of his position in society and his never seen daughter!);she has a baby that dies and she leaves for a quickie divorce in Mexico accompanied by Jessie Ralph (her first film at the age of 68.) But there is a happy ending!

The print on  You Tube is poor.

 

Sinners in Paradise(1938) was a 65 minute programmer made on a small budget with no location shooting. Rather sad to see it was directed by James Whale who couldn’t do much with the story of a seaplane crash In which the small group of passengers survive (with not a scratch on them) while the plane’s crew , other than the steward, are killed.

The crash is conveniently near  a desert island whose only inhabitants are John Boles and his servant.

The survivors include Bruce Cabot as  a gangster on the run ; Don Barry as the crew member; Gene Lockhart as a pompous  politician; heiress Charlotte Wynters;  Madge Evans as a nurse running away from a loveless marriage;  Milburn Stone and Morgan Conway as two arms dealers; and best of all ,Marion Martin as a brassy gal who hooks up with Cabot.
How they will all get off the island and the mystery of why Boles is there is the substance of the plot and it just isn’t as well done as, for example, Five Came Back. 

And whatever happened to  James Whale’s career.

 

John Boles, Bruce  Cabot. SINNERS IN PARADISE.

 

Marion Martin, Bruce Cabot.

 

Despite it’s title, Bottoms Up was an enjoyable Fox movie mainly because Spencer Tracy, Herbert Mundin and Sid Silvers make up a funny and likeable trio of con men.
Led by Tracy, a fast talking promoter, they take Hollywood by storm and make young ingenue, Pat Paterson a star. To get in the door, Tracy passes Pat and Herbert off as a wealthy English  nobleman and his daughter.

John  Boles plays a screen idol who is fed up with the roles he is getting, especially the ones opposite Thelma Todd (think Lina Lamont).

 

U

This was English actress and singer Pat Paterson’s first Hollywood film. She sings ‘I’m Throwing my Love Away’ well, while John  Boles gets possibly one of the poorest production numbers I’ve ever seen, ‘Waiting at the gate for Katy.’

 

John Boles, Thelma Todd.

More Thelma Todd would have been welcome. She brightens up all the scenes she is in.

I wish this film was on dvd .

 

 

Pat Paterson, Charles Boyer.

Pat Paterson (1910-1978) married  Charles Boyer and retired from the screen.

 

Only Yesterday is worth seeing for Margaret Sullavan’s first screen appearance. John Boles is absent for much of the film!
The plot can be summed up quickly. Margaret is a young girl  who has a one night stand with a soldier  John Boles who  is about to leave for duty in the First World War In 1917.
When the war ends a year later, the girl has had a baby and eagerly awaits his return, except that he doesn’t recognise her!
She doesn’t tell him and he goes on to marry (Benita Hume).

Margaret’s parents send her to stay with an aunt in New York. The aunt is Billie Burke, getting away from her usual fluttery roles and playing an independent business woman who is pursued  by Reginald Denny.

There are some lovely scenes between Burke and Denny as he visits her apartment and often plays her piano, with Billie joining him in singing ‘Shine On Harvest Moon’.

The film fast forwards to 1929, Billie and Reginald are married and blissfully happy. Poor Margaret is running a shop and devoting herself to her young son ( played very well by Jimmy Butler).

Margaret and John  meet up again but don’t look for a happy ending.

The script is based on the novel which Letter From An Unknown Woman’ also used.  (“Only Yesterday “ opens in 1929 and the Wall Street  Crash – John  Boles’ character has been wiped out and is contemplating suicide when a letter is delivered to him . This starts the flash back to 1917.)

Director John Stahl  had four hits in a row, starting with Back Street in 1932, then Only Yesterday, Imitation of Life in 1934 and Magnificent Obsession in 1935. (With quite a change in 1945 when he made Leave Her to Heaven.)

 

Billie Burke.

 

Reginald Denny

 

Margaret Sullivan, Jimmy Butler.

 

Some of John’s films I’d like to see: Some are on You Tube.

 

 

 

A MESSAGE TO GARCIA, with Barbara Stanwyck.

 

 

Most impressive so far of John Boles’s films has been CRAIG’S WIFE which I hope to review once I’ve watched it again. It was interesting to hear a radio version with Orson Welles and Ann Harding .