PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A SHORT HISTORY

The BBC seem to like to mount a new production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE every decade or so, but I only recently discovered that early television in the UK included an hour long adaptation in 1938. The BBC transmissions at the time had a range of only 25 miles, and probably only a few hundred people in the London area had the receivers (with 6 inch screens) to watch these early experimental TV services.

The picture below shows a typical page from the Radio Times of May,1938 and lists the cast of “Pride and Prejudice” which was screened twice.

 

Andrew Osborn and Curigwen Lewis as Darcy and Elizabeth. BBC 1938.

I guess we’ll never know how much of Jane Austen’s novel was condensed into an hour. It was performed twice – live. Mervyn Johns and Andre Morell were also in the cast.

 

 

Madge Evans, John Baragrey

The BBC didn’t do the Austen story in the 1940s, but in 1949 the Philco Television Playhouse in America took on Pride and Prejudice. I can definitely see John Baragray as the supercilious Mr. Darcy.

 

Peter Cushing as Mr Darcy? Yes, in the BBC production of 1952, with Daphne Slater as Elizabeth.

 

The BBC tackled the story again in 1958, with Jane Downs and Alan Badel.

 

Also in 1958, there was a Canadian adaptation with Patrick MacNee  as Darcy. (Part of the series, “General Motors Presents”. ) This production was shown in the U.S. on the ABC network. Kay Hawtrey played Elizabeth.

 

Virna Lisi, Franco Volpi

Italian TV also filmed it in 1957. “Orgoglio e Pregiudizio”.

 

And how about a Dutch version in 1961. The title was no longer ‘Pride and Prejudice’, it became “The Four Bennet Daughters” – no ‘Kitty’ in this version!

 

Ramses Shaffy as Darcy .1961

The Dutch production is, amazingly ,on You Tube. Looks like they played fast and loose with Jane Austen’s words.

 

Lewis Flander, Celia Bannerman in the 1967 production.

 

Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in the 1980 production. This is the first BBC production I remember.

 

Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth

And my favourite TV version from 1995.

If not for the film version in 2005 (with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen), no doubt  the BBC would have considered a new version.

There was talk of a new production for ITV in 2017  by the company Mammoth Screen, But I’ve heard nothing  more.

 

But my  favourite Pride and Prejudice will always be the 1940 film. It was the first version I saw and I think the cast was first class.

The only film version for several decades, Jane Austen scholars regarded it as a travesty of the novel, or a ‘most horrendous mangling  of a perfectly good book’.

I loved it, especially because of the cast which seemed ideal to me.

 

Maureen O’Sullivan, Greer Garson, Marsha Hunt, Mary Boland.

Mrs Bennet: “£5,000 and unmarried. That’s the most heartening piece of news since the battle of Waterloo!”

 

Greer Garson, Edmund Gwenn

Mr. Bennet: “An unhappy alternative is before you,Elizabeth. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins. And I will never see you again if you do!”

 

Melville Cooper as pompous ‘Mr.Collins’, Greer Garson as ‘Elizabeth’.

 

Bruce Lester, Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson, Karen Morley.

Mr Darcy: “Yes, she looks tolerable enough, but I am in no humour tonight to give consequence to the middle classes at play.”

 

Elizabeth: ”I might as well enquire why, with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me  you chose to tell me you liked me against your will, against your reason and even against your character.”

 

 

To hear Marsha Hunt’s ( as Mary ) rendition of “Flow gently, sweet Afton “ is a comic treat though  painful to the ear!

 

Nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice, but this photo shows Marsha Hunt and others at the hearings of the House Un-American  Activities committee in 1947.  I can spot Paul Henreid, Jane Wyatt, Evelyn Keyes, June Havoc and Humphrey Bogart in the row behind.

Is that Sam Wanamaker behind Evelyn Keyes? And who is that actor to the left of Paul Henreid? His face is familiar.

Looks  like three of the Hollywood Ten beside Sam  Wanamaker.

 

Judy Garland visits  Laurence Olivier on the set.

 

Greer Garson, Edna Mae Oliver

That’s a  huge hat!

 

Blithely assuming Elizabeth knows nothing about archery, Darcy gives her some pointers. She’ll show him!

 

 

Ann Rutherford,Marsha Hunt, Greer Garson, Heather Angel, Maureen O’Sullivan.

Mrs Bennet (  Mary Boland) : “Look At them! Five of them without dowries. what’s to become of them?”

Mr Bennet (Edmund Glenn): “Yes, what’s to become of the wretched creatures? Perhaps we should have drowned some of them at birth.”

 

The costumes were all wrong for the period, but MGM liked ‘lavish’  so just changed the era to forty years on! Regency period dresses were considered just too plain.

 

Happy Ending!

 

 

A pity MGM didn’t  splash out on colour.

 

Mary Boland, Edmund  Gwenn

 

Edward Ashley

 

Edna Mae Oliver

 

Melville Cooper

Great cast including Edna Mae Oliver, Bruce Lester, Edward Ashley, Maureen O’Sullivan, Melville Cooper, Mary Boland, Edmund Gwenn.

Freida Inescort, Laurence Olivier

Freida Inescort, just perfect as the imperious  Miss Bingley.

And not forgetting Heather Angel and Ann Rutherford.

 

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How to sell Jane Austen to audiences. “FIVE LOVE HUNGRY BEAUTIES IN SEARCH OF HUSBANDS!”

Or: “BACHELORS BEWARE! HISTORY’S GREATEST MAN-HUNT IS ON!”

 

“STRONGER THAN PRIDE”

 

The MGM film was partially based on a 1935 stage adaptation by Helen Jerome. In the Broadway production, Adrienne Allen (wife of Raymond  Massey from 1929 to 1939) played Elizabeth. Lucille Watson was Mrs. Bennet.

 

And in the London production in 1936, Celia Johnson played Elizabeth and Hugh Williams was Darcy.

Celia Johnson, Hugh Williams.

 

Did I say a short history! Well, who knew I was going to find so many versions from so many different countries. Such a pity we’ll never see all of them. Still, I guess that the BBC still has the monopoly on Jane Austen .

Oh, did I mention the various radio adaptations over the years?   Maybe I should leave that for another post!  (I did find a 1949 NBC broadcast starring Angela Lansbury as Elizabeth and Norma Varden as Mrs. Bennet. )

 

BETTE DAVIS: LARGER THAN LIFE

This beautiful 264 page coffee table book is big and luxurious and only cost me £4.50 in a second hand book shop. Published in 2009, it is quality printing  and photo reproduction.

George Perry provides a mini-biography and cast lists/synopsis for Bette ‘s films, all with excellent illustrations.

And there’s a sublime 30 page introduction by Richard Schickel. His analysis is so well written – and he introduced me to two words completely new to me!

The Man Who Played God was the PALIMPSEST for many roles to come.”    (Palimpsest means something re-used or altered.)

A Bette Davis film was usually an exercise in SOLIPSISM.”

(Solipsism is the quality of being self- centred or selfish.)

 

Some of Schickel’s comments:

”I like JEZEBEL more than I do Gone With The Wind, that glacially paced faux epic which remains, for me, a triumph of publicity over filmmaking.”

 

”Her movies in the 70s and 80s tended to be carelessly horrific…..but, so far as one can tell, she never patronised her roles. She gave her all to them, as if it were still 1940 and she was still queen of the Warner lot.”

 

”The omnipresent cigarette, the clipped words, the abrupt gestures…….”

 

There have been many books about Bette Davis and this one is a fine addition to the list. Definitely to be displayed prominently on the coffee table!

It’s currently on Amazon for $5! (and Amazon UK).

And some of the terrific photos in the book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

With William Wyler

 

HARRY WARREN: YOU’LL NEVER KNOW

 

Harry Warren

One of my favourite composers, HARRY WARREN (1893-1981) had 11 Oscar nominations and won the Best Song  category three times – “Lullaby of Broadway” (with Al Dubin); “You’ll Never Know” (with Mack Gordon); and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” (with Johnny Mercer).

Harry , a native New Yorker, was born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna. He taught himself to play the piano and played in silent movie theaters and at the Vitagraph Motion Picture Studios. His first hit was in 1922 – “Rose of the Rio Grande”.

Moving from New York to Hollywood , his first assignment at Warner Brothers was writing three songs for SPRING  IS HERE in 1929.

In 1932 he was assigned to FORTY SECOND STREET and he was teamed with lyricist Al Dubin.

He went on to write the music  for 18 Busby Berkeley musicals.

Al Dubin, Busby Berkeley, Harry Warren.

 

Warren and Dubin split up as a team in 1938 and for several years in the 1940’s , Harry wrote with Mack Gordon at Twentieth Century Fox. Their songs were in DOWN ARGENTINE WAY, THAT NIGHT IN RIO, WEEKEND IN HAVANA among many.

The song, “You’ll Never Know” ,first sung by Alice Faye, has been recorded over 50 times.

 

Harry Warren

 

 

And he wrote for MGM also  –  HONOLULU, ZIEGFELD FOLLIES,THE HARVEY GIRLS, SUMMER  STOCK, THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY.

 

Eleanor Powell, Gracie Allen. HONOLULU

 

 

An impressive congregation of songwriters at Hollywood’s famed Trocadero nightclub on the Sunset Strip in 1938. Front row from left to right: Lorenz Hart and Hoagy Carmichael. Back row from left to right: Al Dubin, Mack Gordon, Leo Robin, Harry Revel and Harry Warren.

 

 

Al Dubin, Harry Warren

Always interesting to know, what comes first, the words or the music.   Harry said ,with Al Dubin, he’d provide the melody first, but with Johnny Mercer, they’d work on a song together.

(Though Sammy Cahn’s answer to that question was, “The phone call!”

 

“Lullaby of Broadway”, Harry’ s first Oscar with Al Dubin, for Best Song in 1935.

 

“Remember My Forgotten Man”.

 

By the 1950s, Harry was working at Paramount.

Harry’s last Oscar nomination.

 

A recording showing many the great singers who loved to sing a Warren tune.

 

I found a fascinating 15 minute interview from 1972 with Harry Warren on You Tube. I wish it had been much longer and with more informed questions, but it was great to hear Harry playing and singing some  of his hits, including ‘You’ll Never Know” and “I Love My Baby, My Baby Loves Me”.

Some of Harry’s comments during the interview by Ian Whitcomb:

“Mr. Zanuck had a script of “Forty Second Street” and said he thought it would make a good picture. He said, ‘why don’t you fellas read it and come up with some songs for it.’

I remember I gave Al Dubin some music and he came back from San Francisco with the lyric for ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo’ written on a menu card,! Busby Berkeley said, “I can do a lot with that number.”

Busby never turned down any of our songs.”

 

On his 80th birthday, Harry was elected to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. There’s a Harry Warren Theatre in Brooklyn.

Harry kept a low profile in Hollywood and said he never socialised with Hollywood people. Perhaps that’s  why he is regarded as the least known of the most successful composers in Hollywood.

There is a few scenes in TV’s ‘The Nat King Cole Show’ on  You Tube, in which Nat talks to Harry then sings Harry’s ‘September in The Rain’ and ‘Lullaby of Broadway.’

Harry was married from 1917 to Josephine Wensler who died in 1993.

A year before Harry’s death in 1981, FORTY SECOND STREET became a hit all over again in a great Broadway production  directed by Gower  Champion. I wonder if Harry saw the production.

What a composer. Working at all the major studios throughout his life and leaving us with a wealth of the greatest film songs.

Favourites? There are so many to choose from – I love his songs for Carmen Miranda and ‘Shanghai Lil’ from “Footlight Parade “, and of course ‘Remember My Forgotten Man’, the title song from HONOLULU (sung by Gracie Allen, lyrics Gus Kahn );  ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’.

One great discovery for me when researching Harry  Warren’s career was discovering for the first time a Warren/Dubin song called “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, sung by Constance  Bennett in MOULIN ROUGE (1934). The song is done as a big production number and  can be seen on You Tube. I wish the film was on dvd.

i wondered if Constance was doing her own singing. Apparently yes.

Warren and Dubin were loaned to Darryl Zanuck for this film, only one of two loanouts Warners allowed them. The other was to Samuel Goldwyn  for ROMAN SCANDALS.

 

 

Two useful websites. http://www.americansongwriters.com and http://www.harrywarrenmusic.com

 

 

JAMES STEWART LEADING MAN

I picked up this 1994 well illustrated book on James Stewart by Jonathan Coe for £3. A real bargain.

The author covers Stewart’s career in some detail in under 200 pages. And Jonathan Coe doesn’t hesitate to criticise as well as praise.

Every Stewart film is covered, the early career when he ‘began  to climb up the MGM star roster with surprising agility.”. 

How some admirers see in Stewart “the cinematic equivalent of Mom’s apple pie.”……. but pointing out how many of his key performances are subversive of his image…..working with directors Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock.

The author has no problem stating his own likes and dislikes of James Stewart’s films. He doesn’t like YOU CANT TAKE IT WITH YOU; he thinks SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is  Stewart’s best pre-war film; he rates THE GLENN MILLER STORY above MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON  and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

And each view is explained very well, with examples of why the author feels the way he does, whether you agree with him or not.

 

”It’s a Wonderful Life” is described  as ‘having been elevated to a realm above and beyond the reach of criticism.’

Apparently when James took to the stage in 1947 in HARVEY, he got some of the worst reviews of his career – (I wish I could find some of these reviews.)

Some of the films are (rightly) described as “pot boilers” – MAGIC TOWN, MALAYA, YOU GOTTA STAY HAPPY.

BROKEN ARROW brought Stewart back to the western for the first time since DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. And there is a detailed look at the Mann and Hitchcock films.

It was interesting to read how James’s agent ,for WINCHESTER 73, negotiated  50% of the profits instead of a flat fee, making the actor $600,000! And that he had the same percentage deal on “The Glenn Miller Story.”

And I didn’t know that Beulah Bondi played James’s mother five times! ( OF HUMAN HEARTS, VIVACIOUS LADY, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and in an episode of The Jimmy Stewart Show in 1971.)

Well worth a read.   (Jonathan Coe has also written a biography of Humphrey Bogart, TAKE IT AND LIKE IT which I hope to get hold of.

 

 

On the set of NO HIGHWAY.

JACK PALANCE AT THE CIRCUS

Lucille Ball, Jack Palance. “The Greatest Show On Earth.”

 

News to me. JACK PALANCE (1919 – 2006) starred in 30 colour episodes of a 1963-64 TV series, “The Greatest Show On Earth” .

One of Hollywood’s best baddies finally got to be a good guy, as Johnny Slate, manager of a travelling Circus.

Inspired by the Paramount film of the same name, the series was made by Desily in conjunction with the famous Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Lucille Ball, maybe to boost ratings,  made a guest appearance in the episode, ‘Lady in Limbo’, and for the first time in many years, Lucille played a serious role. She’s a circus performer who has an equestrian act – though we never seen her on a horse!

Lucille’s episode (in B&W)  is the only one I could find on You Tube.

Palance is such a good actor, he is perfectly natural as the caring manager, always ready to help his troup with any problems they may have.

Having access to the famous circus obviously helped the production.

Such a pity that Palance  in movies was pretty well type cast, with a few exceptions.

 

Russ Tamblyn, Tuesday Weld, Jack Palance

 

Ruby Keeler, Ken Murray,  Jack Palance

 

Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown.

Would  love to see this episode with Keaton and Brown.

 

Jack Palance

 

Stuart Erwin

Stuart Irwin had a recurring role as Palance’s assistant.

 

Jack Palance, Julie Newmar.

 

 

Some of the other  stars in “The Greatest Show On Earth.” (Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde from the 1952 film guest starred.)

 

Jack with his 1957 Emmy for his live performance in “Requiem for a Heavyweight”. In the 1962 film version, Anthony Quinn took the lead.

 

Jack also starred in the series BRONK in 1975-76, playing a police detective.

 

With Billy Crystal in “City Slickers” for which Jack won an Oscar.

 

 

Also news to me, Jack released an album of country music songs ( some of which he wrote) in 1970. I’ve hear a few numbers and his voice suits the songs. I love how one of the songs he wrote is called ‘The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived.’ !

 

 

 

My favourite Palance performances.

‘Blackie’ in PANIC IN THE STREETS. Jack’s first film and what a debut.  Could never understand why there was no Oscar nod for him.

Jack had understudied Marlon Brando on Broadway in “A Streetcar Named Desire” which was directed by Elia Kazan. (Jack did get to go on for a few performances). So When Kazan did ‘Panic in the Streets’, he obviously knew Jack’s ability.

With Zero Mostel.

 

‘Wilson’ in SHANE.

Jack did get an Oscar nomination for “Shane” (and “Sudden Fear”).

Who  can forget the quiet,soft spoken killer in black who guns down little Elisha  Cook . To say Palance is menacing is an understatement- he devours the screen!

 

As ‘Lester Blaine’  with Joan Crawford in SUDDEN FEAR.

One of the things I like about “Sudden Fear” is the chance to hear Jack’ s beautiful speaking voice, as he quotes  poetry to Joan.

Of course, he and Gloria  Grahame make a dynamic  team as they plot and scheme against Joan.

 

 

 

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY: HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY(1941),  being filmed on an 80 acre set in the Santa Monica mountains near Malibu.

The area in California is now the Malibu Creek State Park.

I always remember the first time  I saw this scene with the miners filing down the road past the houses, I thought I was in Wales!

The shot in the film;  the miners, led by Donald Crisp, descend form the mine.

 

The design of the village set by art director Richard Day was based on actual Welsh villages in the Rhondda Valley.

The Morgan family, with Donald  Crisp, Sara Allgood, Roddy McDowall and Maureen O’Hara.

 

On the set photo, with Patric Knowles, Sara Allgood, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowell, Maureen O’Hara, Walter Pidgeon (not in costume) and John Loder.

 

Walter Pidgeon, as the minister, was borrowed from MGM and Donald Crisp was on loan from Warner Brothers.

 

A company photo, with cast and crew. John Ford, Roddy McDowell, Donald Crisp, Sara Allgood, Rhys Williams.

 

Great cast, great film. One that lives in the memory.

Should it have been in colour? Maybe.

Were the accents a mixture of Scottish, Irish and English? Yes, but it didn’t harm the film (unless you are Welsh!)

The film won five Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Supporting actor (Donald Crisp), Best Art direction and cinematography.

Was  it better than THE LITTLE FOXES, THE MALTESE FALCON or CITIZEN KANE. Ah, that’s the question!

 

Roddy McDowell

 

 

BOB ANDERSON: YOUNG GEORGE BAILEY

Bob Anderson (1933 – 2008), seen here in a 1946 publicity still from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE at the age of 12.

Bob Anderson will forever  be remembered for playing the young James Stewart in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

Bob’s father, Gene, was an assistant director and production manager in Hollywood .His uncles were directors William Beaudine and James Flood.

At the age of seven, Bob first appeared on screen in Shirley Temple’s YOUNG PEOPLE.  He had some uncredited roles in the early 1940’s  then won the role of young George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

 

Young George always wanted to travel.

 

 

With H.B.Warner.

The famous scene where young George saves the druggist Mr.Gower from putting poison by mistake into a prescription. George refuses to deliver the prescription and Mr. Gower hits him.

( Mr.Gower has been drinking after getting the shattering news that his son has been killed in the war.)

 

With H.B.Warner as Mr. Bower.

Bob later said that H.B.Warner actually blooded Bob’s ear when he slapped him, though the elderly actor hugged him afterwards.

It is Mr.Gower who, at the end of the film, collects money to help George.

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Ward Bond, Todd Karns, Beulah Bondi, H.B.Warner, Gloria Grahame, Frank Faylen, Thomas Mitchell.

 

With Thomas Mitchell as ‘Uncle Billy’.

 

”I wish I had a million  dollars. Hot dog!”

 

James Stewart, H.B.Warner.

 

Despite  an excellent performance, the classic film did not lead to other leading roles. Bob had minor roles in THE BISHOP’S WIFE, KIDNAPPED and SAMSON AND DELILAH.

Bob, behind Cary Grant in THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947).

 

Bob, as the young Zachary Scott in RUTHLESS (1948).

Bob’s character again saves someone from drowning – in this film, Ann Carter.

 

Raymond Burr appeared briefly in RUTHLESS, playing Bob’s father .

 

On two occasions, Bob was in films directed by his uncle, William  Beaudine – KIDNAPPED (1948) and BORN TO THE SADDLE (1953).

 

Bob, in 1995.

From the 1950s, Bob worked behind the scenes, as an assistant director and production manager, like his father. He worked up till 1993, including TV series, THE TIME TUNNEL, POLICE WOMAN and WONDER WOMAN.

Bob served in the Navy during the Korean War as a photographer on aircraft carriers.

 

Bob wrote the foreword for Stephen Cox’s book, “It’s A Wonderful Life, A Memory Book.”

Bob said,  “It was nice to know that after slugging it out with the studios as a production guy for more than 30 years, people remembered my on-camera work when I was young, and that they appreciated my performance.”

Bob made an appearance on NBC’s Today show in 1997. Would love to see it.

 

Seneca Falls

The small town of Seneca Falls, New York claims to be the inspiration for Frank Capra’s Bedford Falls and in 2010, local resident  Chris Podzuwelt started a museum devoted to the classic film.There is now an annual festival ( the next one is December 5th to the 9th).

Guests at the 2018 festival will include Karolyn Grimes who played ‘Zuzu’ and Jimmy Hawkins who played ‘Tommy Bailey’, plus Frank Capra’s granddaughter ,Monica  and Mary and Tony Owen, children of Donna Reed.

 

This truss bridge in Seneca Falls resembles the famous bridge in the film when George Bailey meets Clarence.

Although Frank Capra had been in Seneca Falls in the early 1940’s, he said that Bedford Falls was a collection of small towns.

(http://therealbedfordfalls.com)

 

 

I came across this lovely picture of H.B.Warner and his son in 1927.

H.B. Warner (1876 – 1958) was born in London.

 

Roscoe Karns (1891-1970) and his son Todd Karns (1921-2000) who played Harry Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Roscoe  Karns had a long career as a character actor in Hollywood , and Roscoe and Todd appeared together in the TV series, ROCKY KING, DETECTIVE (1950-1954) – with Roscoe as Rocky King. Must catch an episode on You Tube.