Author Archives: Vienna

THE WIZARD OF OZ: 80 years young

Made 80 years ago in that magical year of 1939, the making of the classic THE WIZARD OF OZ would make a fascinating mini-series.

Casting possibilities included Fannie Brice and Edna May Oliver as the witches; Ed Wynn and W.C.Fields was  considered as the Wizard.

Not just Shirley Temple, but Deanna Durban was considered for the part of Dorothy.

 

Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger.

 

 

Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion.

”Put  ‘em up, out ‘em up! Which one of you first!”

”I could show you my prowess,

Be a lion not a mowess….”

”Read what my medal says, ‘Courage’ – ain’t it the truth!”

 

 

 

 

 

Tagline: “the biggest screen sensation to Snow White….Amazing sights to see!………trees that talk and throw apples!”

 

 

 

Director Victor  Fleming.

Vixtor Fleming was released from his directing duties in order to work on “Gone With The Wind.”

The haunted forest has a sign: “Haunted Forest. Witch’s  castle,one mile. I’d turn back if I were you.”

Of the many songs by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg for the film, “The Jitterbug” was cut, but some film footage exists because Harold Arlen took  some home movies of the song being filmed.

It’s a great little number referenced by the wicked witch when she sends her winged monkeys to capture Dorothy, saying “I’ve sent a little insect ahead to take the fight  out of ‘em!”

 

Margaret Hamilton as the wicked witch of the west.

”I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.”

 

Great special effects where the wicked witch , on her broomstick, sky-writes a message to Dorothy. The original message said, “Surrender Dorothy or die – WWW”

And this famous phrase wasn’t in the Baum book.

 

Billie Burke as the Glinda, the good witch of the North.

 

 

The magical world of Oz, Emerald City.

Wonderful special effects including the cyclone.

The splendid 3-strip Technicolor for the fantasy scenes was an amazing contrast to the black and white scenes in Kansas.

 

Rare picture of Buddy Ebsen (before he was replaced due to a severe reaction to makeup ), Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger.

 

Judy on the set.

 

 Which hair-do!

 

A ticket to the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese.

 

 

Loew’s Capitol, New York.

Amazingly, Judy and Mickey performed after each screening for two weeks in August 1939.

Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger joined Judy in the third week.

 

 

Bert Lahr, Judy, Ray Bolger.

Wonder if they did only Oz songs.

 

 

Yellow Brick Road in Cross Roads, Texas.

 

 

A re-issue with a picture of Judy from “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

 

Another reissue with a photo of Judy, not from the film.

 

Dorothy to the Scarecrow before she returns to Kansas,

“I think I’m going to miss you most of all.”

 

CIRO’S : NIGHTCLUB OF THE STARS

 

This incredible scroll , 42” by19”, was signed by all the stars who frequented Ciro’s Nightclub on Sunset Blvd in the 1940 and 50s.

It’s fun to spot all the signatures, over 95 stars.

The scroll was auctioned in 2014 by Heritage Auctions, but I don’t know how much it sold for.

Ciro’s opened at 8433 Sunset Blvd. in 1940 by Billy Wilkerson who also ran the Hollywood Reporter. The club ran till 1957.

There’s a book, CIRO’S :NIGHTCLUB OF THE STARS which is full of photos.

 

 

 

Apparently the space for dancing was quite small.

 

Lex Barker and Lana Turner.

 

Carole Lombard, William Powell.

 

Louis B. Mayer, Tony Martin, Judy Garland and her husband David Rose.

 

 

Ginger Rogers and Jack Benny.

 

Carole Landis  and Franchot Tone.

 

Columnist Sheila Graham with Marilyn.

 

Buddy Rogers and Mary Pickford.

 

Kirk Douglas and Rita Hayworth.

 

Ida Lupino and Orson Welles

Wonder what Orson is saying to make Ida give him that look!

 

 

Back row: Darryl Zanuck ,Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Walter Winchell, Jane Russell.

Front row: Lucille Ball, Jimmy McHugh, Louella Parsons

 

Rosalind Russell and husband Frederick Brisson.

 

James Stewart and Myrna Dell.

 

The club photographer captures Paulette Goddard and Charlie Chaplin.

 

Kirk Douglas and Rita Hayworth.

 

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

 

Gregory Peck, his first wife Greta and Fred Clark.

 

Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart.

 

John Payne, Shelley Winters, Herman Hover.

 

 

BEST WISHES TO ANN BLYTH

Birthday greetings to ANN BLYTH who is 91 today.

Ann was active in Hollywood films in the 1940s and 50s, but after THE HELEN MORGAN STORY in 1957, she worked exclusively on stage and television till her retirement in 1985.

Her lovely singing voice was heard in KISMET, ROSE MARIE, THE STUDENT PRINCE, though not in The Helen Morgan Story (in which she was dubbed by Gogi  Grant.)

At the age of 16 Ann was Oscar nominated for her fine performance as the venomous Veda In MILDRED PIERCE.

With Gregory Peck in THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS.

 

With Robert Taylor  and Stewart Granger in ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALIANT.

 

With Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE.

 

PHOTO MIX 35

CRY OF THE CITY.  Richard Conte, Debra Paget, Victor Mature.

 

 

Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner. DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE.

 

Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn.THE AFRICAN QUEEN.

Happy moment.

 

Cary Grant, Sonia Henie.

Snazzy  shoes!  Don’t know the occasion.

 

Royal Film Performance. 1951. WHERE NO VULTURES FLY which starred Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan.  Based on a true story of the first game reserve in Kenya.

Lizabeth Scott, Jane Russell, Margaret Rutherford, Joan Rice, ? Merle Oberon, Fred MacMurray, Peter Lawford, Burt Lancaster.

According to the Pathe News footage of the event, Lizabeth Scott was introduced to the Queen as Zachary Scott ( who was standing to the right of Lizabeth!)

Who’s between Joan Rice and Merle Oberon?

It’s been pointed out to me (thanks, Vi) that the stars are standing in alphabetical order. Makes sense, I suppose. So the mysterious chap’s surname must  start O or R.

 

Virginia Mayo, Ronald Reagan.SHE’S WORKING HER WAY THROUGH COLLEGE

 

Fred and Gene Kelly,  ‘I love to go swimmin’ with wimmen’ from DEEP IN MY HEART.

 

 

Margaret O’Brien presents an award to Claude Jarman Jr. for  his role in THE YEARLING. . The award was from The Parents Magazine, recognising wholesome and family entertainment.

(That’s some  size of award!)

 

Irene Dunne presents the Best Director Oscar to Fred Zinnemann for “From Here To Eternity.”

 

Lew Ayres, Greer Garson, Robert Taylor. REMEMBER.

Is it well remembered?

 

Irene Dunne, Robert Montgomery.UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Finally caught up with this. Stars let down by poor script.

 

 

 

 

RHONDA FLEMING: Birthday Tribute

Birthday wishes to RHONDA FLEMING who was 96 on 10th August, 2019.

Rhonda was born Marilyn Louis in Los Angeles in 1923. She wanted to be a singer but was spotted by an agent who worked with David Selznick, resulting in a contract for Rhonda.

 

With Ingrid Bergman. SPELLBOUND.

Rhonda had a small part as Ingrid Bergman’s patient in SPELLBOUND.

In an interview I heard recently ,Rhonda said that Hitchcock was very nice to her. She also said, “ I adored Ingrid  Bergman – she was wonderful to me.”

(The 20 minute interview can be heard at pdl.warnerbros.com)

 

With Dorothy McGuire.

Another small role, as George Brent’s assistant , in THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945).

 

With Robert Mitchum. OUT OF THE PAST.

 

With Bing Crosby

On loan to Paramount for A CONNECTICUT YANKEE AT KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1949), Rhonda’s singing voice was heard  for the first time and this was her first Technicolor film.

(My memory of this film is the wonderful number, ‘Busy Doing Nothing’ with Bing ,Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix.)

 

With Raymond Burr.

I haven’t seen SERPENT OF THE NILE (1953), but it looks fun , with Rhonda as Cleopatra and Raymond Burr as Mark Anthony!

 

THE LAST OUTPOST (1951). (His Last Betrayal.)

Rhonda said she got on well with Ronald Reagan, with whom she made four films.

 

With Dick Powell.

Rhonda got into femme fatale territory in CRY DANGER.

 

RHONDA also made  4 films with John Payne.

 

Rhonda was Joseph Cotten’s wife in THE KILLER IS LOOSE – she is stalked by Wendell Corey.

 

With Sally Forrest and Ida Lupino. WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS.

Rhonda joined an all star cast in “While the City Sleeps” in which she played the unfaithful wife of newspaper publisher, Vincent Price.

 

 

With director Fritz Lang. WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS.

 

With John Payne and Arlene Dahl. SLIGHTLY SCARLET.

Rhonda was the sensible sister of Arlene Dahl in “Slightly Scarlet.” They were convincing as the siblings.

 

Another good role as the scheming wife of Robert Ryan in INFERNO.

 

One of my favourite Fleming roles, in GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K.  CORRAL. Rhonda plays a gambler whom Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) falls for.

 

The RHONDA  FLEMING ROCK at Iverson Movie Ranch. (from TENNESSEE ‘S PARTNER).  Yes, a rock which is named for Rhonda!

 

It was pretty much a given that Rhonda would get her name at Grauman’s Chinese ( and deservedly so), as her husband Ted MANN owned the theatre in 1981.

Rhonda wrote : “To my Mann, Ted. Love Rhonda Fleming. 9-28-81.”

Rhonda was married to Ted Mann from 1977 for 23 years till his death in 2001.

 

 

Rhonda took to the Las Vegas stage in 1957 at the Tropicana club. One review said, “Her voice was the big surprise of the evening. As a film actress, she has hardly been called  upon to do any singing – she offered a variety of songs – ‘With a song in my Heart’,  ‘So In Love’ and ‘Hello Young Lovers.”

 

And there is a recording Rhonda did, some of which can be heard on You Tube.

 

”The Queen of Technicolor.”

 

 

By coincidence, ARLENE DAHL was 94  today.

Arlene Dahl, Joel McCrea. THE OUTRIDERS.

Two lovely ladies.

PHANTOM LADY (1944)

Murder, intrigue, madness, a life in peril, a fight against the clock. PHANTOM LADY has it all!  Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel and directed by Robert Siodmak, this is definitely film noir.

 

Scott Henderson ( Alan Curtis) ,after an argument with his wife, goes to a bar and starts a conversation with a mysterious lady who wears a fancy hat.

 

Scott had tickets for a show and persuades the mystery lady to come with him – they decide not to exchange names.

(Whoever was sitting behind the hat lady had every right to ask her to take it off!)

 

When Scott’s wife is found murdered on the same night, he is an immediate suspect, mainly because he can’t produce the woman he was with at the time of the murder, or anyone to substantiate his claims that he was in the bar then took a taxi to the theatre.

Thomas Gomez, Alan Curtis, Regis Toomey, Joseph Crehan

Scott is quizzed by the police led by Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez). They arrest him. ( his wife was strangled with one  of his ties.)

Burgess is sympathetic to Scott, saying, Only a fool or an innocent man would have stuck to that alibi.”  

 

Ella Raines.

Enter Ella Raines as  ‘Carol”, Scott’s secretary who decides to do everything she can to prove Scott’s innocence after he is convicted of the murder. (of course, she is secretly in love  with her boss.)

This really is Ella Raines’ film ( surely her best film), and she does a great job, driving the plot and uncovering the murderer. She’s relentless! Scott calls her ‘Kansas’ ( she’s from Wichita).

Two  shots of Carol visiting Scott in prison. Great b&w photography by Elwood Bredell. The scene typifies Film Noir – low key lighting, shadows, angles.

The room almost looks like a boxing ring, with that shaft of light from the barred window.

 

 

Thomas Gomez, Ella Raines, Franchot Tone.

Scott’s friend, Jack Marlowe (Franchot Tone) wants to help prove Scott’s innocence. Or does he?

Love  the comment Marlowe makes to Carol, telling her she should go back to Kansas – “ look, this is a man’s job.”

 

Ella Raines.

The bartender who served Scott and the mystery woman  denies seeing anyone with Scott. Carol goes to the bar every night, just sitting on her own and staring at the bartender (Andrew Tombes).

 

 

Ella Raines.

Carol then takes on the drummer at the theatre whom Scott remembered kept looking at his companion.

Dressing as trashily as possible and chewing gum, Carol sits in the front row of the theatre and Cliff (Elisha Cook) doesn’t miss her!

 

Elisha Cook, Ella Raines.

 

Elisha Cook

Cliff takes her to a club where musicians are jamming. Trying to impress her, Cliff’s drumming becomes more and more frenzied.

I like the IMDB quote, “Elisha Cook pounds his drum kit to a climax as Raines smoulders!”

 

Elisha Cook

Back at Cliff’s apartment, he brags to Carol that he was paid $500 for his false testimony. “I’m an authority on hats. I get paid for knowing about hats. 500 smakeroos for looking at a dame and saying I didn’t.”

Poor Cliff  ends up dead too .

 

Aurora Miranda channels her sister Carmen, as the star of the show Scott goes to see – the coincidence being that Aurora’s  character wears the same hat as the mystery woman sitting with Scott in the theatre.( The show is called “Chica-Boom Boom!)

 

Franchot Tone.

Another great noir shot of the  increasingly dangerous Franchot Tone.

 

Ella Raines, Franchot Tone.

 

Ella Raines, Alan Curtis.

Alan Curtis is very much side-lined,  as his character spends most of the film in prison, but he’s convincing as the man wrongly convicted of murder.

Definitely one of my favourite thrillers.  A solid plot with lots of twists.

 

 

 

Ella Raines on set.

 

THE UNKNOWN LADY

 

THIS ‘N THAT 9

Robert Mitchum, William Tallman.

 

……..Re-watching THE RACKET (1951), Robert Mitchum ‘s ‘Captain McQuigg’, several times refers to William Tallman as a great young cop – as if Tallman ‘s character was in his early 20s, or at least much younger than Mitchum.

WIlliam Tallman was two years older than Mitchum and they looked like contemporaries age wise.

In The Racket,  I kept expecting  we’d find out who was ‘the old man’, (the head of the criminal organisation)  but we never did. I was sure it was one of the group at the start of the film when the special prosecutor gets the support of the state governor to pursue .

 

……….MYRNA LOY did an interview with Dick Cavett in 1980. She was 74 at the time and proved to have a very good memory, ready to talk in detail about her career.

Myrna pointed out that she was a dancer in the 1920s at Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theatres and credited Sid Grauman for her first job. Hence her comment below.

Myrna said, “I was an exotic and stayed that way for a long time……then I went to MGM and became a star.”

“We made The Thin Man in about 21 days.”

As I’ve commented several times before, if only someone like Leonard Maltin or Robert Osborne had been able to sit down with Myrna for a couple of hours, what an interview that would have been!

 

 

……….. I came across a 1950 radio series  in which TED DE CORSIA (1903-1973) played a Scotland Yard inspector, with an impeccable British accent. And I am not the first to think that Ted sounded just like Ronald Colman!

The link is at oldtimeradiodownloads.com. The series was called “Pursuit.”

He also played Mickey Spillane’s ‘Mike Hammer’ on radio in 1953/54, under the title, “That Hammer Guy”!

Mr. de Corsia had a long career on stage and radio before starting in Hollywood in 1947. With his looks and gruff voice, it wasn’t long before he was typecast as the gangster in most of his films. He had the menace that brought him plenty of parts.

 

Ted de Corsia.

 

As a judge in A PLACE IN THE SUN.

 

 

…………I caught up recently with COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA, but didn’t particularly like it. But I was impressed with SHIRLEY BOOTH(1898-1992) who had a distinguished career on stage – she was the original  ‘Liz Imbrie’ in “The Philadelphia Story”.

 

Cover of Time, by Boris Chaliapin. 1953.

 

With Joseph Cotten, Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story.

 

After the Broadway success of “Come Back Little Sheba, (for which she won the Tony), Shirley got the chance to make the film version, promptly winning an Oscar.

But other roles she created on Broadway went to other stars. Shirley was ‘Ruth Sherwood’ in MY SISTER EILEEN ,but the film role went to Rosalind Russell. She was ‘Bunny’ in THE DESK SET ( Kate Hepburn in the movie); and her play THE TIME OF THE CUCKOO (1953) became SUMMERTIME in 1955, with Kate Hepburn.

Eve Arden replaced Shirley in the Joan Crawford film of GOODBYE MY FANCY.

 

With Fredric March

 

THE MATCHMAKER

Shirley actually only made less than a dozen films.  She was very good in 1958’s THE  MATCHMAKER, and I would love to have seen her in the musical remake, “Hello Dolly” . She was also a singer and did a Broadway musical version of A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1951) in which , as ‘Cissy ( the Joan Blondell role) ,she sings ‘He Had Refinement’ – which is very funny.

 

With Robert Ryan in ABOUT MRS.LESLIE.

Another of Shirley’s films which disappointed me unfortunately.

In the 1960s, Shirley had further success on television as HAZEL, winning two Emmies in the hit comedy.

Quite a talent who should have done more films.

 

………….And finally, NEHEMIAH PERSOFF turns 100 on the 2nd of August, 2019. A fine character actor, active till 2003.

He made his film debut in 1948 in THE NAKED CITY and played many varied roles throughout the 1950s and 60s. A member of The Actors’s Studio, he was ‘Little Bonaparte’ in SOME LIKE IT HOT,  and had roles in ON THE WATERFRONT, THE HARDER THEY FALL.

Nehemiah Persoff.

I remember him in THE BIG SHOW, a remake of HOUSE OF STRANGERS, in which he took on the Edward G. Robinson role. In 1983, he played Barbra Streisand’s  father in YENTL.

Nehemiah was in every TV show you care to mention, and played everything from Ali Baba to Mussolini! Generally he played pretty intense characters ( that Actor’s Studio training!)

Nehemiah took up painting in the 1980s and there is a website, http://www.nehemiahpersoffpaintings.com where you can view his work.

With his wife, Thia .

 

His second film, ON THE WATERFRONT.