Author Archives: Vienna

IDA LUPINO COLLECTION

Start saving now. Kino Lorber are doing us a big favour on  September 24th by releasing on  blu-Ray four of the films that IDA LUPINO directed from 1949 to 1953. (Region A only at the moment.)

NOT WANTED.

NEVER FEAR

THE HITCHHIKER

THE BIGAMIST.

A pity they couldn’t have made it six, with  OUTRAGE  and HARD FAST AND BEAUTIFUL to complete the set.

All have audio commentaries , and accompanying the set is an 80 page booklet about Ida as auteuress ( a word new to me, what’s wrong with auteur?)

 

When Ida Lupino started The Filmakers with her then husband Collier Young , was she brave or foolhardy, choosing issues such as unwed mothers, polio, rape and bigamy for her first films as a director.

I’d like to think Lupino and Collier decided that if they were going to make their own films, the subject matter would be what they wanted to investigate. It’s obvious the big studios of the early 1950s would never have considered such films.

In 1950, she was 32 and became officially the only working female director in Hollywood. No mean feat.

 

Made on a shoestring, Ida ‘s films gave strong roles to new young performers such as Mala Powers, Sally Forrest, Hugh O’Brian, Keefe Brasselle .

 

The Hitch-Hiker, an gripping story which should have guaranteed Ida more work as a director,  was Filmakers’ s most commercially successful film. But a distribution contract with RKO didn’t work out.

 

 

While writing and directing these films, Ida was also still acting as well in films like Beware My Lovely, Lust For Gold, Woman in Hiding, Jennifer – and the classic ON DANGEROUS GROUND.

 

Sally Forrest, Ida Lupino

 

Ida learned about directing from the best. She said,”Raoul Walsh used to let me watch him in the cutting room. I wouldn’t bother him, but I’d ask him certain things.”

 

Ida directs Mala Powers and Robert Clarke in Outrage.

 

 

Sitting at the back of the projection room is Ida, with Collier Young on her left and actor Robert Clarke two along from her . So I presume the film is Outrage. Everyone is concentrating!

 

A photo I love, as Ida, Edmund O’Brien and William Talman discuss a scene for The Hitch Hiker. Ida in sneakers, slacks and a ball cap.

Wish we’d had a chance to speak to the actors about being directed by Ida.

 

A plea for independent productions outside of the studio system.

 

We do indeed remember the 70 minutes of The Hitch-Hiker!

 

Ida directing a 1961 episode of The Rifleman, with Chuck Conners.

Television welcomed  Ida as a director in the 50s and 60s, but not one Hollywood studio gave her work – which speaks for itself. ( her last film as a director was The Trouble With Angels.)

In the entire 156 episode run of The Twilight Zone, Ida was the only female director.

Ida was the first woman ever to direct herself (The Bigamist), and only the second female member of the Screen Directors Guild. (Dorothy Arzner was the first). True or not, it was said that at meetings of the Guild which she attended, the address was “Gentlemen and Miss Lupino.”

 

I expect this box set will be expensive. But for Lupino fans, it’s irresistible!

 

ON THE SET 42

Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn. WOMAN OF THE YEAR.

 

Relaxing in the jungle. Lauren Bacall, John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn. THE AFRICAN QUEEN.

 

 

Nigel Bruce, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine. SUSPICION.

 

Olivia De Havilland, George Brent. GOLD IS WHERE YOU  FIND IT (1938)?

 

Joseph Mankiewicz, Linda Darnell. A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.

 

Monty Woolley, Bette Davis.THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.

Bette without a cigarette in her hand, very unusual.

 

Fred Zinnemann, Grace Kelly. HIGH NOON.

 

Ronald Colman, David Niven, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. THE PRISONER  OF ZENDA.

 

Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter. 1947 THE HIGH WALL.

 

Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse.  PARTY GIRL 1958

DARK CITY ON BLU RAY

To be released on blu-ray in the UK on 2nd September, 2019 is DARK CITY. Extras include an Alan K.Rode commentary and a booklet (on the first pressing only).

“Dark City “ (1950) had the Hollywood debut of 26 year old Charlton Heston and costars include Lizabeth Scott, Jack Webb and Harry Morgan.

I like this new art work for the cover.

My pre-order is already done on Amazon.

DON MCGUIRE

Don McGuire

He’s in one of my favourite films, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and he stands up well alongside the screen grabbing Charles McGraw.

Every time I watch “Armored Car Robbery”, Don McGuire (1919-1999) impresses me. He is just so likeable , with a self deprecating style which contrasts nicely with the always deadly serious McGraw who plays ‘Lt. Jim Cordell.’

As ‘Danny Ryan’, Don is a rookie detective assigned to work with   Cordell (McGraw), who has just seen his longtime partner, ‘Phillips ‘ (played by James Flavin) gunned down  during a robbery. Typical of a McGraw character, Cordell expresses little emotion as he greets the young and eager Ryan:

“You’re replacing Phillips. That’s just dandy.”

Later in the film, when they find the robbers’ abandoned car, Ryan says, “Someone lost a lot of blood.”

Cordell’s reply, “Not enough for me”.

 

Don McGuire, Charles McGraw 

In another scene where Ryan has suggested going undercover , Cordell says, “Go Ahead, what have we got to lose.”

Ryan replies,laconically, “Only me.”

And Don, as Ryan, gets my favourite quote in the film: when he sees burlesque queen ‘Yvonne LeDoux’ at work – “Imagine a dish like this married to a mug like Benny McBride – the naked and the dead.”

Adele Jergens

Two screen grabs, just to show that McGraw could smile! At the end of the film,McGuire’s character was injured and he gets a small mention in the newspaper.

 

 

Don McGuire’s acting career never really took off. He had a Warners contract from 1945. If you blinked, you’d miss him in HUMORESQUE, THE MAN I LOVE, POSSESSED.

But by 1951, he had started screen writing ( having a background in journalism.) He has a small role, again with  Charles McGraw, in THE THREAT, but ”Armored Car Robbery “ was probably his most substantial role .

 

Don (plus moustache)played the lead role in the 15 part serial CONGO BILL, a 1948 cliffhanger from Columbia. Cleo Moore costarred.

 

Turning to writing and directing by 1951 when he was in his early 30s, McGuire wrote the story and screenplay for Frank Sinatra’s  MEET DANNY WILSON and subsequently wrote  and directed Sinatra in JOHNNY CONCHO.

When Don married Goldwyn girl Karen Gaylord In 1948, the wedding was held at Frank Sinatra’s Toluca Lake home , and Frank and his wife Nancy were best man and matron of honour.

 

He co-scripted two Martin and Lewis films, ARTISTS AND MODELS and THREE RING CIRCUS, and then wrote/directed the Jerry  Lewis film, THE DELICATE DELINQUENT.

 

Darren McGavin, Martha Hyer.

 

I vaguely remember enjoying the third  film he directed , HEAR ME GOOD, starring Hal March.

 

In 1959, McGuire created a TV series, HENNESSEY, starring Jackie Cooper. It ran for three seasons.

He also adapted for the screen the short story ,”Bad Time at Honda” that became  BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK. The final script was by Dalton Trumbo under the pseudonym  of Howard Kaufman ( as Trumbo was blacklisted.)

Spencer Tracy. BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.

And in the 1970s, he came up with the story of an unemployed actor who disguises himself as a woman to get a job in a soap opera. That story became TOOTSIE.

Not a bad career behind the camera, but every time  I watch him in “Armored Car Robbery”, I wish he had been luckier in his acting roles.

A shame no one  thought to try and get an interview with him  in his later years.

 

A few more shots from “Armored Car Robbery”.

William Talman as ‘Dave Purves’, Douglas Fowley as ‘Benny McBride’.

The start of the well planned robbery that all went wrong!

 

Cordell and Ryan corner Steve Brodie.

 

Is Ryan out of his depth? He’s dealing with Miss. LeDoux (Adele Jergens).

 

He is out of his depth. William Talman has a gun on him.

 

The man who plans everything to the Nth degree. He takes labels of his shirts ,”I don’t like labels. No loose ends.”

 

Made for each other. ‘Dave Purves’ and ‘Yvonne LeDoux’.

 

 

 

 

TORCH SINGER (1933)

 

Who knew. I didn’t – Claudette Colbert could sing -sort of! Definitely not dubbed . Her voice goes from quite deep to quite high. A touch of Dietrich?

 

 

I love that song! ( by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.)

I only really know Claudette’s  films post the production code when she was the leading lady in the Norma Shearer/ Irene Dunne mold , always the classy sophisticated leading lady.

Her image,pre-code, gave her varied opportunities  from playing a seductive “Cleopatra “ to an evil Empress Poppaea In “Sign of the Cross”.

And in “Torch Singer”, she is a an unmarried mother, ‘Sally Trent’ who gives up her child and then becomes a successful singer who enjoys a hedonistic life style, calling herself ‘Mimi Benton’.

 

When you think of the  Colbert persona from 1935 onwards, she was rarely seen smoking or drinking, both of which she does in abundance in “Torch Singer”!

 

Claudette at the start  of the film, a young chorus girl who has been left by the father of her child. She meets Lyda  Roberti, another expectant mother. To save money , they share a flat with their two babies.

The first anomaly in the film – Lydia Roberti makes a welcome if fleeting appearance , but suddenly disappears from the film. We are only told later that she left town with her baby to marry someone back home.

And then I began to wonder if the version I saw had scenes cut. There would surely have been a farewell scene between Claudette and Lyda.

 

Lyda Roberti

 

Claudette has to give her baby up for adoption after a year, as she can’t manage on her own.

Then when we get one of these Hollywood montage scenes where she is seen singing in a small cafe, then a slightly larger place, and then in a flashy nightclub with an orchestra behind her! – all in one minute flat!

Claudette Colbert, Mildred Washington.

She has a swanky apartment and a maid ( played by Mildred Washington) whom she treats as a friend, reminiscent of Mae West and her maids  in “I’m No Angel”.

It was sad to read that Mildred Washington died in 1933 at the age of 28.

Claudette  delivers the songs well. And wears some gorgeous gowns by Travis Banton.

 

 

For once Ricardo Cortez plays the good guy who loves Mimi. He runs a radio station and Mimi, by a silly sequence of events, ends up as ‘Aunt Jenny’ who tells stories and sings to children over the air waves. There’s nice irony as she stands before the microphone with a drink  and cigarette in her hand.

Mimi decides to use the radio show to try and find her child who was adopted 4 years earlier.

 

 

 

David Manners has only a few scenes as the boyfriend who went abroad not knowing  Claudette’s character was expecting his baby.

It might be pre-code, but the ending is the typical one you would expect. He convinces her to marry him and raise their child together.

The fact that the child has been adopted for 4 years isn’t even addressed . He gets the child back.  Bad writing, or again, were some scenes cut?

Also, the second last scene has Ricardo driving Mimi to David Manners’ house. He is seen waiting in the car for her. But the last scene is Mimi re-united with her child and deciding to stay with Manners.

i guess Ricardo is still waiting outside!

 

“Torch Singer” is one of 6 films in the set, Pre-Code Hollywood Collection.

I must try and see more of Claudette’s pre-codes. She made an amazing 19 films from 1930 to 1933. One on You Tube is “Young Man of Manhattan”(1930) in which she costars with her first husband, Norman Foster.

I’ d also like to see MANSLAUGHTER, THE WISER SEX, SECRETS OF A SECRETARY and TONIGHT IS OURS.

Charcoal Drawings

These charcoal drawings were found in a flea market in France. Can anyone identify the artist and the second subject. Could the first one be Ginger Rogers? If it is Ginger, it looks like 1940s period.

I’ve tried searching under French artists but with no luck.

 

 

2F3C52AE-DDF4-457F-ADDD-589D6A393564

 

The artist’s signature.

FILM CIGARETTE CARDS

I bought the above page of cigarette cards of Irene Dunne a long time ago. Someone must have put them together from different sets.

Collectible cards were issued by cigarette manufacturers to stiffen packaging and advertise brands, The cards featured many different subjects, starting in 1875 and carrying on through the 1940s.

Hundreds of film star sets were issued in the UK in the 1930s, but I was surprised to read they were virtually non-existent in America. ( American companies concentrated on sports stars.)

Presumably with the cooperation of the various film companies, these little cards became  very collectible, especially full sets. And there could be as many as 54 cards in a set – so that’s 54 packs of cigarettes!

Albums to store the cards in were available from tobacconists – for a penny !

Jean Harlow

Each set had a title – “Film Partners”; “Portraits of Famous Stars”; “Stars of Screen and Stage”; “Champions of Screen and Stage”: “Shots from Famous Films” etc

In 1939, one set was called “My Favourite Part”, all of which I’m sure were written by the studio publicity dept.

Myrna Loy said, “It’s a real joy to be reunited with Clark Gable In “Too Hot To Handle” after the fun we had in ‘Test Pilot’.

In this new film I play a modern woman aviator,self reliant and with a subtle sense of humour.”    

Myrna Loy.

 

A young Judy Garland was quoted on her favourite part:

”I’ve always liked unusual things and that’s why my part in “Wizard of Oz” is my favourite so far……I have an opportunity for singing too and the picture is in Technicolor. But I’m quite young yet, so I’ve time to have plenty more favourite parts.”

 

 

By 1940, with Britain at war, the UK government banned the cards as a waste of valuable paper.

 

 

Robert Donat

 

Claudette Colbert, Henry Wilcoxon

 

William Powell

 

 

 

When this card was issued, Loretta Young was 22 and lived with her mother and sisters. Her real name was Gretchen Belzer.

 

The “Turf” set look a bit odd with the large heads.

M

 

 

The two pages below are the only other cigarette cards I have:

(I see there are two of the same card of Paul Muni here.)

 

Katharine Hepburn’s card says she is shortly to star in JOAN OF ARC.

Still collectible, full sets can be found for sale on the net and elsewhere.