CLASSIC NEWS 4

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James Cagney, Joan Blondell

 

………….The UCLA Film and Television Archive are honouring JOAN BLONDELL in the Billy Wilder Theatre from 4th November 2016 to 10th December.

14 films will be shown including BLONDIE JOHNSON, THREE ON A MATCH, DAMES, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, BLONDE CRAZY, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. Also some rare home movies will be screened.

 

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Matthew Kennedy, author of JOAN BLONDELL, A LIFE BETWEEN TAKES will be on hand to sign copies of his book.

 

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With Dorothy McGuire.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 

………….At the age of 94, Hollywood song dubber, ANNETTE WARREN is doing a one- woman show called “I Ain’t Done Yet” at Michael Feinstein’s 54 Below in NewYork on 30 March, 2017.

Annette Warren

Annette Warren

Annette Warren sang in nightclubs and on radio before Paramount hired her in 1948  to sing for Iris Adrian in THE PALEFACE.

Annette also dubbed Lucille Ball in FANCY PANTS and SORROWFUL JONES, and most famously dubbed Ava Gardner in SHOW BOAT.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

 

Iris Adrian, Bob Hope

Iris Adrian, Bob Hope

 

Ava Gardner. Show Boat

Ava Gardner. Show Boat

(I read that  Dinah Shore, Ginny Simms and Lee Wiley also auditioned for the Show Boat dubbing.)

Oh to have seen Annette when she toured in a show called “Hollywood’s Secret Singing Stars”, alongside India Adams, Betty Wand and Jo Ann Greer.

Annette is completing a brand new album for release next March.

 

 

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………….On October 27, 2016,the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood Boulevard screened the MARX BROTHERS’  “ANIMAL  CRACKERS.

The author of a new book on the Marx Brothers, Robert S Bader was present to sign copies – the hook is called FOUR OF THE THREE MUSKETEERS and covers the brothers’ stage careers.

(The book’s title comes from a song which was in the stage version of Animal  Crackers.)

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For everything Marx, check http://www.marxbrothers.net

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…………….On 10 January, 2017, the Criterion Collection are releasing HIS GIRL FRIDAY on region A Blu Ray and on upgraded DVD , both on two discs. The famous Howard Hawks comedy has lingered in the public domain for a long time in varying print qualities.

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The eye catching bonus features include:

A  new restoration of the 1931 THE FRONT PAGE.

Archival interviews with HOWARD HAWKS.

Featurettes from 1999 about Hawks, Rosalind Russell and the making of His Girl  Friday.

Radio adaptations of The Front Page from  1937 and 1946.

A booklet featuring essays on the film.

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

 

 

………..And finally , I  was watching an episode of the Tv series,  Blue Bloods. A nice touch in the writing – one character was called Mr. Gutman and another one was Mr. Cairo. And the line , “the stuff that dreams are made of” is also delivered.

 

 

13 responses »

  1. Vienna: Re Annette Warren, yes, she did dub Ava Gardner’s singing in “Show Boat.” But only on film. For some bizarre reason, MGM’s soundtrack album used Ava’s own voice. That’s Ava Gardner singing on the album. One of the many unexplained mysteries of Hollywood!

  2. Joe, I’ve been reading up on Ava’s singing of ‘Bill’ and ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man’.
    She was very keen to do her own singing and was coached by Roger Edens at MGM and recorded them.
    The studio, for insurance ,had trained singer Annette Warren record the two songs also.
    After previews , a decision was made to go with Annette Warren’s voice.
    According to TCM, the MGM legal dept said that they couldn’t use Ava’s name and image on the album cover without including Ava on the LP record.
    Does this explantation make sense when you think of other records like The King And I and West Side Story .
    Maybe Ava had a legal team who took on MGM and refused to let her image be used on the record if they weren’t going to use her voice.
    I listened again to Ava, Annette and Lena Horne singing ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man’. Personally I preferred the rich tones of Lena. It is clear Ava isn’t a trained singer . She partially talk-sings, she has no range or ability to hold notes, but her interpretation is very moving and I think MGM should have kept her on the soundtrack.

    • Vienna: Dubbing is one of the magical mysteries of movies. Generally, I disapprove of it, unless the singer can approximate the sound and inflections of the actress in question. Lisa Kirk nailed Roz Russell’s voice for “Gypsy.” And Marni Nixon did a great job dubbing Deborah Kerr in two films (:The King and I” and “An Affair to Remember”) but was a bad choice for Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and especially Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” I mean, Hepburn had a distinctive voice. It was awful to see her open her mouth and hear Nixon’s beautiful but souless voice come out of it. I wanted to hear Audrey, bum notes and all. (She did fine in “Funny Face.”) I’m not a film musical purist; I don’t think an actor has to necessarily be a great singer to do a musical. I’d much rather hear the actor sing. In fact, I get a kick out of it. And it should be noted (as you already know, I’m sure) that such “musical film” actresses as Rita Hayworth and Cyd Charisse were routinely dubbed in their films. They could dance. They just couldn’t sing. Still, I would have loved to hear Rita do her own singing in “Pal Joey.” But that’s just me. One more note: Movie fans continually complain about Clint Eastwood’s singing in “Paint Your Wagon,” while I find his singing voice not just acceptable but quite wonderful. End of rant! -J

  3. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, Joe! I think great songs deserve the best singers. When you mention Paint Your Wagon, I think of Harve Presnell’s thrilling ‘They Call The Wind Maria’, not Clint Eastwood’s ‘I Talk to the Trees’.
    A lot of time and effort went into getting the dubbers’ voices to match the actor/actress and mostly they succeeded – in Rita Haworth’s case, three different singers made you believe you were listening to Rita.
    As you said, Lisa Kirk nailed it for Roz Russell.
    For me, Audrey Hepburn or Natalie Wood couldn’t have done justice to Frederic Loewe or Leonard Bernstein’s glorious music. Audrey could never have reached the high notes at the end of ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’.
    At least today we can acknowledge the dubbers who were unknown to the public in the classic era.

  4. Vienna! We don’t entirely disagree. Yes, Both Hepburn and Wood could not handle the rigors of the song scores in their films, but if some power decides that a voice should be dubbed for singing purposes, that person should work harder to find a voice that at least approximates the actress’s speaking voice. Nixon didn’t do that for me in “MFL” or “WSS.” At least, when she dubbed Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” she sounded like Kerr. Singing for Heburn and Wood, she simply sounded like … herself. Kind of lazy. That said, a question: Why was Juanita Hll who played Bloody Mary on Broadway in “South Pacific” dubbed for the film version by Muriel Smith, who played the role on stage in London? There was nothing wrong with Hall’s husky voice. In fact, it was better suited to the character than Smith’s operatic take on “Bali Hai.” As for Harve Presnell, here we do disagree. Way too BROADWAY for me in that film. I prefer Clint’s modest “I Still See Elisa.” Sign me, The Contrarian

  5. I do love Juanita Hall’s singing ‘Bali Hi’ . She created the role of Bloody Mary on Broadway and won a Tony for her performance. All I’ve been able to find is that Richard Rodgers preferred Muriel Smith who had played the role in London. He was wrong!

    • My final response. I promise. Then I’ll leave you in peace. Re Rodgers, he was also the one who vetoed the idea of Maureen O’Hara playing Anna in the film of “The King and I.” Fox wanted her and she was perfect for the role – both in temperament and singing chops. I mean, she could really sing. Rodgers apparently didn’t like the fact that she had just appeared in a pirate film and therefore wasn’t good enough for his work. Sounds elitist to me, I could go on, Vienna, but won’t! -J

  6. Dubbing has always fascinated me – and all the comments above are so interesting – there are points for and against using untrained actors using their own voices, but as Vienna says, there’s nothing as thrilling as hearing a glorious singing voice doing justice to the Broadway and Hollywood classic songbook. (And I don’t mean classically-trained singers like Kiri Te Kanawa!) – that’s a whole ‘nother subject!

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