Author Archives: Vienna

THIS ‘N THAT 19

…………..The amount of smoking that went on in vintage movies, the cigarette manufacturers must have sent boxes of free samples to studios. Of course it was an easy ‘bit of business’ for actors. Take out the pack ,or the cigarette case, and light up. The scene is set!

Finding a photo of Bette Davis without a cigarette in her hand is almost impossible.

Yet, there were some stars who rarely smoked on film – mainly women – Doris Day, Claudette Colbert, Jean Arthur , Irene Dunne, Kate Hepburn, Myrna Loy. And some men – Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Melvyn Douglas.

I wonder if that was their  choice?

 

 

………..I saw “Suspense” (1946) for the first time recently. It was interesting to see gravel-voiced Eugene Pallette in a non- comic role. Eugene is remembered for “My Man Godfrey” (the put-upon father of Carole Lombard) , and “The Adventures  of Robin Hood” ( as ‘Friar Tuck’).
Active  in films from 1913 according to IMDB, ”Suspense” was his  last film – and a nice touch was that Eugene got the last line in the drama. And SUSPENSE certainly showed he was quite capable of roles out-with comedy. 

Eugene Pallette

SUSPENSE starred Belita, Barry Sullivan and Albert Dekker. Made by Monogram but with a grander budget than usual, I liked Belita who showed was a great skater she was. She made one more with Barry Sullivan – “The Gangster”, and my favourite , “The Hunted”, with Preston Foster.

I wonder that Belita wasn’t snapped up by any of the other studios. She showed she was quite capable of succeeding in films aside from her skating prowess. And for an English girl, her American accent sounded fine to me.

Belita, Barry Sullivan.

 

…………Good quote from Alfred Hitchcock:

“I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”

Alfred Hitchcock

 

………….Initial casting for The Yearling was to have Spencer Tracy starring alongside Anne Revere in 1941. Gene Eckman was cast as young ‘Jody’, Victor Fleming directing.

MGM had bought the rights to the Marjorie Kennan Rawlings novel of 1938. Filming has started in Florida and half a million dollars had been spent on the production. But for various reasons – bad weather, creative disputes ,  –  the production was shelved. Tracy did WOMAN OF THE YEAR instead and started his association with Katharine Hepburn.

There was an announcement from MGM in 1942 that filming would re commence, still with Tracy, but Roddy McDowell would play ‘Jody’. The film would be shot entirely at the studio.

That didn’t happen, and finally in 1945, Clarence Brown took over as director; Claude Jarman Jr. was ‘Jody’;  Gregory Peck  was the father; Jacqueline White was the mother and did some scenes in the early summer.

But again, for a month or so, shooting was stopped and then Jane Wyman took over the lead. Many of the location shots done by the second unit crew in Florida in 1942 were used.

The film finally premiered in December 1946 and turned out to be a big success, though not making a big profit in view of the production costs.

Who knows, maybe some of the footage with Tracy, Revere or even Jacqueline White will surface some day.

I haven’t  been able to find anything on the young boy, Gene Eckman except that he  was born in Atlanta and didn’t make any movies.

 

Claude Jarman, Jr., at age 11, holding a fawn on the set of The Yearling in 1946.

 

CHARLES GATES SHELDON

 

Greta Garbo

Lovely portraits by artist Charles Gates Sheldon (1882-1960)  who had a studio at Carnegie Hall in  New York.

His work included magazine covers of Hollywood stars. In the 1920s, stars would sit for him but in the 1930s his portraits would be done from black & white studio publicity shots.

 

Katharine Hepburn

 

Claudette Colbert

 

 

 

Jean Harlow

 

Norma Shearer.

 

Claudette Colbert

 

Myrna Loy

 

Carole Lombard

 

 

 

 

Charles Gates Sheldon

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM….

At home in the 1930’s, millions listened to the radio.

On October 30th, 1938, the night before Halloween,  at 8pm, CBS , from their Madison Avenue radio studio, made this announcement: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present  Orson Welles and  The Mercury Theatre On The Air in “THE WAR OF THE WORLDS” by H. G. Wells.”

So far ,so good. The Mercury Theatre of the Air had been on the air for several months, presenting  adaptions of literary classics (Dracula, The 39 Steps, Jane Eyre). The series did not have a sponsor, therefore there were no commercials . It was done on a small budget but had a  loyal following.

Screenwriter Howard Koch adapted Wells’ 1898 science fiction novel of an invasion of the Earth by Martians.
Koch, producer John Houseman and Welles used an unusual technique in telling the story . As Welles said, “I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually appear to be happening.”

The company had a week to prepare each live broadcast.

After an introduction by Welles, the drama starts very low key – a weather report is followed by the announcer telling listeners that they are being taken to “The Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, with the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.

Then began a series of interruptions to the light music – news bulletins of strange activity on the surface of Mars , then mysterious lights and fires in an area of Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
In a short space of time, the drama is amped up as reporters visit the scene, scientists are interviewed and it becomes clear the Martians have landed!

The hour long broadcast can be heard on You Tube and I can only praise the actors, the superb sound effects, and the excellent script.
You hear sirens, the screams of spectators, crashing autos. Reporters on the spot described the  Martian walking  war machines, the heat ray  weapons and the poison gas!

It really is perfect radio. Your  imagination takes over!

 

Orson Welles, 1938
Shown in rehearsal, standing, center background: director Orson Welles; seated, right: composer Bernard Herrmann
NB: directing his Mercury Theatre of the Air troupe, such as created panic on the CBS radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, October 30, 1938

 

At the end of the first part of the broadcast, a forlorn, desperate voice says, “Is there anyone on the air? …..is there anyone?”

Then  a CBS station announcer  ( 40 minutes into the broadcast) reminded listeners that this is a Mercury Theatre On The Air production.

The remaining 20 minutes is in the form of an epilogue, with Welles as the astronomer reflecting on what had happened after the Martians seemed to be taking over the world.
He walks around an empty Times Square in NY and then realises that the Martian activity has ceased – they have efficiently prepared their invasion but had no immunity to human diseases. So their invasion failed . Human germs killed them.

 

Orson Welles, Bernard Hermann.

Orson Welles ended the broadcast: “This is Orson Welles, out of character, to assure you that War  of the Worlds  was the Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping  out of a bush and saying boo!”

 

”Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, strange beings who landed in New Jersey  tonight  are the vanguard of an invading army from Mars.”

Howard Koch

Howard Koch was a lawyer who started writing for radio and was contracted for Mercury Theatre of the Air. He dramatised  “War of the Worlds” for the Halloween radio broadcast.
(Howard Koch shared a Best Screenplay Oscar with Philip and Julius Epstein for CASABLANCA. His career was cut short in Hollywood after he was blacklisted.)

 

Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart was associate producer of the show and contributed  to the writing and also directed rehearsals. He also played one of the roles . (Welles was heavily involved in directing a play (Danton’s Death) which was due to open within a few days. On the night of the famous broadcast, Welles went directly the theatre after the broadcast ended.)

 

Ora Nichols

Ora Nichols was the head of sound engineering at CBS and was responsible for the marvellous sound effects.

 

According to the press the next day after the broadcast, the country had experienced mass hysteria, believing that the CBS program was real. CBS had to hastily arrange a press conference in which a chastened and contrite ( though enjoying the publicity) Welles tried to explain he had never intended that anyone would believe that his play was real.

Public response at the time was perhaps not as wild as the press indicated.

In 1988, an A T&T telephone operator who had been on duty that night in 1938 said:”Our boards lit up when they announced the Martians were crossing the George  Washington bridge.”

One person wrote: “I was one of the thousands who heard this program and did not jump out the window, did not see the Martians landing in the park across the street, but sat serenely entertained by the fine portrayal of a fine play.

The Mercury Theatre has been one of the radio highlights of the week for me this fall.”

The broadcast was on at the same time as NBC’s  popular Chase and Sanborn Hour, starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Ten minutes into the variety show, Dorothy Lamour started singing “Two Sleepy People” and it has been speculated listeners started twiddling their dials and ended up listening to the Welles program just as the Martians’ first attack in New Jersey!

Radio was the way people consumed daily news . Big media events would have forty million listeners. Radio was trusted. Some undoubtedly did think it was a live news broadcast, especially since there were no commercials.

The C.E. hooper ratings company , that night, telephoned  5,000 households for its national ratings survey.  Only 2% said they were listening to War of  the Worlds.

There were no reports of a spike in hospital admissions.

Newspapers had taken a huge advertising hit with the advent of radio. Radio stations could deliver news as it happened. The print media were happy to blame Radio for the panic.

 

Orson Welles , at the age of 23, had already been on the cover of TIME magazine a few months early ( for his stage work with the Mercury  Theatre). The notoriety of the broadcast helped secure him a Hollywood contract and would produce CITIZEN KANE.

Radio networks agreed to be more cautious in their programming.

A few days after the broadcast Mercury Theatre On The Air got its first sponsor – Campbells Soup.

With hindsight it’s obvious that even the Martians couldn’t leave their planet, land on earth and destroy everything on sight -in the space of an hour!

 

One of the thousands of letters Orson Welles received.

 

 

Orson Welles, H.G. Wells.

Orson  met H.G.Wells once, in 1940 and they did a radio interview which can be heard online.
Wells said of Orson, “He carries my name, with an extra’E’!”

The author seemed to accept the scepticism about the extent of the panic.  He also asked Orson about his new film, CITIZEN KANE. They joked about Wells giving the film a plug.
Amazing to hear the voice of the great author.

H.G.Wells , born in 1866 in Kent, has been called The Father of Science  Fiction. Before “The War of the Worlds”, he had written “The Time Machine “ and “The invisible Man.” He also wrote “The Island  of  Dr. Moreau.”

 

In a 1978 musical version of the story by Jeff Wayne, there is a narration by Richard Burton. The rich Burton tones can be heard : “Across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly and surely they drew their plans.”

 

A jovial Orson Welles was interviewed by Dick Cavett in the 1970s.
Referencing Edgar Bergen, Welles told Cavett of a telegram he got from Alexander Woollcott (theatre critic and inspiration for The Man Who Came To Dinner): This only  goes to prove, my boy, that all intelligent people were listening to Bergen!”

 

The 1953 George Pal production of The War of The Worlds won an Oscar for special effects. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

Pal had been responsible for Destination Moon and When Worlds Collide. His film of the H.G.Wells story is well regarded but personally I don’t rate it alongside The Thing From Another World and The Day The Earth Stood Still.

 

 

The size of the building miniatures in the 1953 film.

 

In 1988, the small township of Grovers Mill, New Jersey , in memory of their claim to fame, erected a seven foot bronze monument to The War of the Worlds broadcast. It showed a family listening to the broadcast, a Martian tripod machine and Orson Welles at the microphone.
It bears the inscription, “He fooled us.”

86 year old Howard Koch attended the unveiling.

 

 

The fascination with the H.G.Wells story continues . There was another film version starring Tom Cruise in 2005, and In 2019, the BBC produced a three part adaptation of the novel, set in Edwardian times ( not the original Victorian setting.)

STAR TREK casts ,in 2002, recreated the original Welles broadcast.

There was talk in  2019 of a new film about the making  of the radio broadcast, with Martin Freeman as John  Houseman . No other casting was announced.

And, as I write this, the NASA probe has landing on the surface of the Red Planet.

Are we alone! Watch the skies!

 

 

 

 

 

FOXY LADY, LYNN BARI: Part Two

Lynn’s career after leaving Twentieth Century Fox  in 1947 actually became more varied. She had been active in radio and later, in television, and she took to the stage also as her film roles diminished.
Lynn: “Radio was very easy and very lucrative. For a period in 1943 I was making more money in radio than in the movies – $1,000 to $1,500 per show. – Fox took half our salary!”

Among her radio appearances, Lynn did Golden Boy with  John Garfield , and Each Dawn I Die with George Raft, Franchot Tone.

With George Raft

On the CBS long running series, SUSPENSE, Lynn had a starring role in 1947’s “Murder By An Expert”, as a woman planning the murder of her husband. I heard it online and it was very good. (https://starsonsuspense.libsyn.com) Episode 214.

Lynn also costarred with Pat O’Brien in a short lived radio series in 1947, with O’Brien as a small town druggist and Lynn as a nurse.

 

 

Lynn starred in two short lived TV series , the first in 1950, called “Detective’s Wife.” She and Donald Curtis played a husband and wife detective duo.
(Donald Curtis had played Lynn’s husband in “The Amazing Mr. X”.)

Donald Curtis

(Curtis is a very smooth villain in “The Amazing Mr. X”)

 

In 1952, Lynn tried series TV again , playing the lead in Boss Lady, costarring Glenn Langan, Lee Patrick. It ran 13 weeks. Lynn played the CEO of a construction company.

( I couldn’t find copies of any episodes of either series on You Tube.)

With Glenn Langan. BOSS LADY

In 1956, Lynn was back on TV in a production of “Old Acquaintance “ with Ruth Hussey.

 

 

Lynn made her stage debut in a national tour of the Moss Hart play, LIGHT  UP THE SKY in 1949.

Other stage appearances included a solo show in Los Angeles, “The World of Robert Burns” , reading Burns verse.

Other rare stage roles included the Kay Kendall role in SIMON AND LAURA , and she appeared in BYE BYE BIRDIE, with Sheree North .

 

In the Stephen Sondheim musical, “FOLLIES”, in 1973, Lynn played the part originated on Broadway by Yvonne De Carlo. Lynn sang the classic song, “I’m Still Here.”

 

 

One of Lynn’s TV roles was in the series “Overland Trail”, with William Bendix and Doug McClure.

Other TV shows Lynn appeared in included Ben Casey, Perry Mason, Bronco. Her last appearance was in a 1968 TV movie, “The Young Runaways.”

 

Lynn’s few big screen roles in the 1950s included ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS and FRANCIS JOINS THE WACS. She was in her 30s, with plenty of film experience but seemed to be completely overlooked by film makers. Not having a studio contract at  that time  didn’t help.

 

With her second husband, Sid  Luft.

Lynn’s private life could be described as tumultuous . Her father committed suicide in 1927; her first child died in 1945, just after birth; she was married three times; her mother , Marge Fisher gave Lynn many problems.

Lynn’s first marriage in 1939 was to Walter Kane, an agent. They were divorced in 1942.  A year later she married Sid Luft .

As for her studio:

”When it had been announced that I was pregnant – boom! – I was suspended with no pay.”

In 1948, Lynn had a son, John Luft , and by 1951 ,Lynn and Sid Luft were divorced. In the 1950s, Lynn and her ex-husband were quite often in court, over custody of their son John and non payment of child support payments.
Judy Garland, now married to Sid Luft, was even  called into court , as it was claimed Luft “got a huge chunk of Judy’s  earnings in the previous year.” – which would boost payment of child support for young John.

Lynn’s third marriage (1955-1972) was to a Los Angeles psychiatrist,Dr. Nathan Rickles.

As time and ill health took its toll on Lynn- she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis- her son John  came to live with her, and her brother ,also called John, looked after her. (Lynn called them “My two John’s”. )

 

I think Lynn would have approved of Jeff Gordon’s book. As well as his correspondence and conversations with Lynn, Mr. Gordon sent Lynn videos of some of her films which she hadn’t seen for decades – “Hotel For Women” and “Meet The Girls” among them.
With over 150 roles in films and television, there are two stars on Hollywood Boulevard for Lynn.

  • (Born Marjorie Fisher, Lynn said she took her name from the stage actress Lynn Fontanne and the author J.M.Barrie)

Lynn Bari’s life and career is very well documented in Jeff Gordon’s book and it  is a fine history of one actress’s life in Hollywood during the Classic era.
I think Lynn Bari showed clearly she was a fine actress who suffered from typecasting . As Lynn herself said, in the ‘B’s she was the heroine, but in the ‘A’ features, she was the heavy.

She obviously loved acting and she embraced radio ,  live performance and television when the film roles dried up.

As a Lynn Bari fan, I’m glad we have this fine biography and I look forward to catching up on more of Lynn’s films.

 

 

Another of Lynn’s films I have now seen and enjoyed is THE AMAZING MR. X, which I hope to review later.

 

TAMPICO.

 

Atmospheric photo of Lynn with Lloyd Nolan and Mary Beth Hughes in “Sleepers West.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO MIX 39

  • Ruritarian  princess at a masked ball meets handsome Frenchman . Sounds fun.  Claudette Colbert/Fredric March.
  • TONIGHT IS OURS (1933)

 

Hitch and Jane Wyman.  ? Travelling to London to film STAGE FRIGHT.

 

 

Don’t trust him , Joan! (Gloria Grahame is more his type.)

Joan Crawford, Jack PALANCE. SUDDEN FEAR.

 

This traffic cop is never going to make detective.

Lauren hides Bogie. DARK PASSAGE.

 

Yep, they’re after you,Cary.
Cary Grant. NORTH BY NORTHWEST. 

 

 

 

Gloria Grahame at her most glamorous.

 

 

Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Preston. UNION PACIFIC.

 

Looking great as always, Jean Harlow.

 

Better title than the original?  NORTH WEST FRONTIER.

Still think Kenneth More/ Lauren Bacall  was odd combo. But I love this film.

 

j

Sir Harry Lauder, Marlene Dietrich, Ernst Lubitsch.

On the set of ANGEL?

Ernst Lubitsch made 50 silents films and only 20 talkies. He passed away at the age of 55 in 1947.

FOXY LADY: LYNN BARI

What makes this 2010 biography of Lynn Bari (1919 – 1989) special  is that Lynn herself cooperated with the author, Jeff Gordon who was able to tape conversations with  Lynn in 1989.

Lynn’s comments throughout the book add so much to what might have been just a standard star biography.

Also Jeff Gordon spoke to work colleagues and family members , and through a tremendous amount of research, he provides one of the most comprehensive film star biographies I have ever read.

Sadly, Jeff died in 2020. It is sad too that Lynn died before Jeff could show her the first draft of the book.

 

Lynn is far left, top row, looking like the 13 year old school girl she was when she and her mother (who had moved to Hollywood) saw a newspaper ad: “WANTED:TALL GIRLS FOR MUSICAL AT MGM. BRING BATHING SUIT.”

Even at 13, Lynn was 5’ 7 and looked older ( a fact that was to affect her later career.) She landed a chorus role in “Dancing Lady”, not admitting how young she was.

Over the next few years, Lynn learned the business, appearing in many uncredited roles. In 1937 , her face could be seen in 20 films!

A contract with Twentieth Century Fox gave the teenager $50 a week, quite a sizeable salary at the time.

 

With Cornel Wilde. THE PERFECT SNOB (1941)

In “The Perfect Snob”, Lynn plays the daughter of Charlie Ruggles and Charlotte Greenwood, with Cornel Wilde as Lynn’s romantic interest.

Lynn:  “I spent my spare time on sets – Loretta Young was the best picture actress I ever saw. She knew more about the camera than the cameraman!”

It took a few years but eventually Lynn started to get speaking roles in ‘B’ features.

Lynn: “Was I cooperative? You bet! I took any part that they handed me.”

 

Lynn: “Lloyd Nolan and I did 5 pictures together. I was always delighted when I was going to be in a film with him. He was a helluva actor.”

 

The following contains my favourite quote from Lynn – “It’s so hard to be active and alive in something that’s dead weight. I always tried like hell, but on some of these pictures – well, as they say, “If it ain’t there, you  can’t fix it.”

 

The tide seemed to be turning for Lynn in the early 40s. It looked like Fox were ready to promote Lynn to the ‘A’ league, but typecasting was so easy for the casting directors . Lynn was tall, distinguished looking with a deep,rich voice, and looked older than she was .

And so she was being cast in the second lead, often as a society matron.
As Lynn said : “I  was always the heavy in the ‘A’s , but in the ‘B’s, I was the heroine. I never had any desire to act like the snooty other woman parts that I played.”

In TAMPICO (1944) , Lynn was cast opposite Edward G. Robinson. She was 24, he was 50. Lynn enjoyed working with Edward G. 

 

 



Henry Fonda, Lynn Bari, Don Ameche.

Lynn did star with Henry Fonda in “The Magnificent Dope”(1942), but it didn’t do so well at the box office and didn’t improve her standing at Fox.

(The film was to be called ‘The Magnificent Jerk’, but the Hays Office found the word ‘jerk’ vulgar!)

 

Lynn Bari, Joseph Allen, Mary Beth Hughes. THE  NIGHT BEFORE THE DIVORCE.

Lynn was directed by Robert Siodmak in the 1942 THE NIGHT BEFORE  THE DIVORCE .

Lynn: “I liked Robert Siodmak, a very interesting  guy.  Mary Beth Hughes was good in it, but the studio never gave her a fair shake.”

And the film didn’t do anything for Lynn. Her leading man, Joseph Allen , played in a few ‘B’s during WW2 .)

 

Lynn became a band singer in two big Fox successes, ORCHESTRA WIVES and SUN VALLEY SERENADE. But she still wasn’t heading the cast. Her songs  with Glenn Miller were dubbed by Pat Friday.

Lynn played a similar role in 1944’s SWEET AND LOW DOWN, as vocalist for Benny Goodman. (This time, Lynn was dubbed by Lorraine Elliot.)

 

With John Payne.

 

Pat Friday

Credit is due to Pat Friday (1921-2016) who sang for Lynn in Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and Orchestra Wives (1942.)

Like many of the song dubbers of the era, Pat’s participation in the two musicals was never known till years later.
Interviewed in later years, Pat made it clear that a professional career was not for her . She had married in 1940 and followed her husband in his military postings during the war.

Pat said, “Singing was never my day job.”

She sang at military bases and on radio ( with Bing Crosby and Roy Rogers). And Pat spent two years in Britain (1950-52) when her husband was studying at the University of London.

She said Glenn Miller had heard her on the radio and arranged for an audition for the first musical.

”I was paid about $500 per film, with no residuals for recordings, re-issues etc. And no credits for many years.”

Despite being short and blonde, Pat’s voice perfectly suited the tall brunette of Lynn Bari ( though Lynn didn’t think so!)

So, Pat Friday’s short career is forever captured on these two films as we hear her lovely deep voice singing ‘At Last’, ‘I Know Why’, ‘Serenade in Blue.’

 

 

 

I watched SHOCK (1946) on You Tube recently and will file it under “could have been so much better”. With a better script and direction, I’m sure Lynn and Vincent Price could have made this a good film noir. As it is, Vincent walks through the film with an almost robot-like delivery of his lines, and Lynn’s part is so poorly written, there really is nothing she can do with it.
I don’t often agree with the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther, but his 1946 review summed them up – “….the morose performance of Vincent Price and the purely mechanical iciness of Lynn Bari…”
It’s always annoying when you can see a good plot which needs better scripting and direction to bring it to life.
( as Lynn said, “If it ain’t there, you  cant fix it.”)

Vincent Price (playing a psychiatrist) gets the best line in the film when , having murdered his wife and tried to drive one of his patients insane, says to Lynn : “There’s a limit beyond which even I can’t go.” 

Anabel Shaw, who played the victim of Price and Bari in the film, had also been in Lynn’s film, Home Sweet Homicide, and said Lynn couldn’t have been nicer.

 

Lynn had starring roles in the independent The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944) and Captain Eddie (1945), but still fully fledged stardom eluded her.

With Fred MacMurray. CAPTAIN EDDIE

Author Jeff Gordon keeps hoping Lynn’s star will rise at Fox – “Her durability, combined with her appearance in the prestigious “Captain Eddie”, reinforced the long standing assumption that Bari was destined for the top.”

This sentiment is repeated several times throughout the book, but Twentieth Century Fox never really gave any indication that they considered adding Lynn to their list of top female stars.

 

RKO borrowed Lynn for NOCTURNE (1947) which gave Lynn a good role opposite George Raft. A pity Lynn couldn’t have done more for RKO.

Lynn said: “George Raft was fine – very professional.”

 

Peggy Ann Garner, Dean Stockwell, Randolph Scott, Lynn Bari, Connie Marshall. HOME SWEET HOMICIDE (1946)

Lynn was only 26 but played mother to Peggy Ann Garner, Dean Stockwell and Connie Marshall. Maternal roles were to become regular  for the young actress .

Despite willing to stay at Fox, Lynn’s contract was terminated in 1947, a shock for Lynn who’d been with the studio for nearly 15 years.
Roddy McDowall commented to the author: “I never understood why Lynn never made it into the first rank.”

Film roles became sporadic and Lynn only made ten films in the 1950s. In HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL , she was 32 and played the mother of Piper Laurie who was 22.

 

PART TWO  coming up – Private Life and life after Fox.
Stay tuned!

 

THIS ‘N THAT 18

 

………Back in the day actors, if they were lucky,  got an apprenticeship  before stardom.

I recently saw Ginger Rogers in a 1931 film, Honor Among Lovers which starred Claudette Colbert and Fredric March. A black haired Ginger was almost unrecognisable and she had at best two lines of dialogue as the dumb blonde( brunette) girlfriend of Charlie Ruggles.
She was 20 at 
the time and would make 17 more films in the next two years before partnering Fred Astaire in FLYING DOWN TO RIO.

That’s an apprenticeship!

Ginger Rogers, Charlie Ruggles.

 

 

The Ginger we know.

 

……….I enjoyed  Honor Among Lovers . Claudette Colbert and Fredric March costarred four times in the early 1930s and worked very well together. Their other films were MANSLAUGHTER (1930), SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932) and TONIGHT IS OURS (1933).

 

With Cecil B. DeMille. SIGN OF THE CROSS.

 

Would love to see “Manslaughter” and “Tonight Is Ours”. Interesting  to read that “Tonight is Ours” is based on  a Ruritarain romance by Noel Coward.

TONIGHT IS OURS.

 

……………Eugene Robert Richee (1896-1972) was a photographer who headed Paramount’s portrait studio and was at that studio for 20 years from 1921. He also worked at Warners and MGM.
He was the first to photograph  Veronica Lake and her blonde tresses in I Wanted Wings (1940).

Here are a few of his photographs.

 

The famous 1928 portrait of Louise Brooks, wearing the long string  of pearls in stark black and white.

 

Marlene Dietrich

 

Veronica Lake

 

Frances Dee.

 

Sylvia Sidney

 

………….RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES!

Fictional newspaper headlines always looked good when splashed across a screen. Must have been fun writing these pages.

 

Joan Bennett , Woman in the Window.

(Poor Edward G.)

 

Cagney as the gangster who goes crazy and reaches the top.WHITE HEAT.

 

Klaatu comes to town but goes underground. Gort  remains on guard.  THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

 

Not a newspaper but done in the tabloid style for the press book of The Hoodlum. (Would love to see some of these press books.)

 

………….A page from the press book for ”Dark City”. Cinema managers are given ideas on how to exploit  the film – simplest displays are giant blow-ups of stills. ( boy, would we like to own some of these!);  Charlton Heston, Hal B. Wallis’s new discovery, is ‘the key exploitation figure.’
I
love how this page reveals who Heston has the final fight with! Mike Mazurki is never seen for most of the film.

It is suggested exhibitors have a midnight premiere to tie in with the film’s title.

Dark City‘s plot is centred around a gambling den.

Best of all is the suggestion that there could be a roundup of gambling equipment for a lobby display – roulette wheel, slot machines – the Police dept.  might cooperate in working up such a display!  (From gambling equipment they have confiscated??)

 

 

………..Warners to film Forester novel: Warner Brothers have bought the screen rights to C.S. Forester’s novel, The African Queen, a story of adventure and romance on an African river boat, which will be a co-starring vehicle for Ida Lupino and Paul Henreid.
Production is planned for late summer.

Didn’t happen of course.

SEVEN SINNERS

Universal pulled out all the stops in Marlene Dietrich’s follow-up film to her very successful DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.

A South Seas setting, a large cast and a wardrobe to die for!

Seven Sinners (1940) is an action/ adventure designed to entertain- which it does extremely well.
The film belongs to Marlene as a cafe entertainer called Bijou who is continually being deported from South Sea islands for causing riots.

  • The ship she is put onto is going to the island of Boni Komba which is  a U.S.protectorate. On board, the ship’s doctor, Albert Dekker is -of course- attracted to her.

 

Also deported are Bijou’s two followers, Broderick Crawford as ‘Little Ned’ who designates himself as her bodyguard, continually shouting ‘Gang way!’ whenever  he is accompanying her.
Mischa Auer plays a magician/pickpocket who also works at the Seven Sinners cafe where Bijou sings.

Bijou is happy to get back to the island  and to the Seven Sinners cafe where she has performed before.

 

Billy Gilbert, Marlene Dietrich, Oscar Homolka.

Billy Gilbert,in his usual harassed persona, runs  the Seven Sinners.

Oscar Homolka is suitably threatening as an admirer of Bijou .

 

Albert Dekker.

Albert Dekker has only a few scenes at the beginning and end of the movie. I liked him and wish he’d had a larger part.

 

 

Gowns by Irene. 

 

Marlene in a stunning outfit for her song, ‘The Man’s in the Navy’.

 

 

On board the ship, Marlene does a lovely version of ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.’

 

Anna Lee has a small part as the daughter of the island’s governor.

 

The actor, far left, has his eye on the camera instead of Marlene !

Some wonderful stunt  work in the final cafe brawl which must be one of the longest on record.

 

 

I was surprised that there was no conventional happy ending ie Bijou and Dan had declared their love , but in the end, Bijou is seen getting on to another ship while Dan pursues his naval career ( after all he is the son of an admiral).
Though there is some hope Bijou will  find happiness with the ship’s doctor.(Albert Dekker). ( It’s the same ship she arrived in – conveniently).

 

 

One 1940 review of the film damned with faint praise:

“The picture is well played and its rather rowdy combination of comedy, romantic and action sequences should appeal to audiences who like their entertainment forthright, if not significant.”

 

This was the first of three films Marlene made with John Wayne , the others being PITTSBURGH and THE SPOILERS. In each of them, Marlene had top billing.

In this one Wayne is Dan ,the unlikely scion of a naval family and is persuaded marriage to Bijou would be a mistake.

 

HOUSE OF SEVEN SINS.

 

 

THE TAVERN OF THE SEVEN SINS.

Re-issued,  John Wayne is now the top star, and Broderick Crawford gets third billing.

 

Seven Sinners is one of the four Universal films in the new Blu-Ray set from the British Film Institute , just issued this month. The others are THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS, THE SPOILERS, PITTSBURGH.

( that cover just isn’t Marlene.)

There is an accompanying 56 page booklet about the films.

This was my first viewing of “Seven Sinners” and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Love Marlene’s line, “I’m a ba-a-a-d influence!”

CRY OF THE WEREWOLF

Cry of the WereWolf (1944) has its moments but none of them include a werewolf as portrayed in the above poster.

The film opens with the matter-of- fact tones of museum guide John Abbott showing a group round a museum of horror and vampirism. He shows them the Voodoo room and reveals  that the building was once the home of ‘Marie LaTour’ who was a werewolf and is thought to be buried somewhere in the grounds.

 

The guide demonstrates how you kill a vampire . Of course you know it’s a stake through the heart.

 

The museum is run by Dr. Morris (Fritz Leiber) who is involved in psychic research, aided by his assistant Elsa  (Osa Massen) who is in love with the doctor’s son Bob (Stephen Crane).
Dr. Morris indicates he knows where the mysterious Marie LaTour is buried.

 

Osa Massen

 

Also working at the museum is creepy caretaker Jan (Ivan Triesault). Jan goes to the gypsy encampment where he reports to Princess Celeste (Nina Foch) and Bianca (Blanche Yurka).

Celeste is the daughter of Marie LaTour , and is also a werewolf. Bianca reminds her she must  fulfil her destiny , joining the next museum tour and murdering Dr. Morris in her werewolf alter-ego.
No blood or gore, just screams and animal howls from inside a hidden room. Unfortunately the tour guide sees the hidden room opening and goes in. When he comes out, he’s lost his mind!

Blanche Yurka, Nina Foch, Ivan Triesault

 

The police, led by Barton MacLane, are called in and find the doctor’s body showing he has been attacked  by an animal.

When we finally see the ‘werewolf’, it looks like a moderate sized Alsatian dog and not at all threatening!

 

it might have been more convincing if we had only seen the shadow.

One gripping scene with a Val Lewton touch takes place in a mortuary with  Stephen  Crane being stalked by Nina Foch. Of course, it is dark and we only see and hear Nina’s clicking footsteps which gradually morph  into the wolf’s paws padding along the floor!

When the cops finally corner the werewolf and pull out their guns, Barton MacLane says, “Aim at its eyes!”

They fatally wound the animal and another good scene shows blood dripping down the Princess’s arm and the screen changes her  into the wolf’s legs which also have blood on them.

 

 

 

Nina Foch, Stephen Crane, Milton Parsons.

(Another good character actor, Milton Parsons, plays an undertaker whom the gypsies ( did I say they were from Transylvania?) bring their dead for special ceremonies.

 

Stephen Crane, Osa Massen, Nina Foch.

Now that looks like a Werewolf!

 

Nina Foch, and the dangerous werewolf.

 

Nina Foch  is the nominal lead but is not seen for the first 20 mins. of the 63 minute running time. Under contract to Columbia early in her career, Nina never got the roles to show what a fine  actress she was.
Stephen Crane (one of Lana Turner’s husbands) only made three films before becoming a successful restauranteur. He didn’t stand out amidst all the good character actors in this movie.

Whenever I see Osa Massen, I always think of her as the whining wife of Melvyn Douglas in A WOMAN’S FACE. She’s ok here, even as she is hypnotised by the Princess Celeste who tells her, “when you awaken, you  too will be the daughter of a werewolf!”

One is used to seeing Ivan Triesault  as an autocratic spy or Nazi  ( think  “Notorious”) A powerful presence in most of his films, but this film was early in his career and he didn’t have much to do as the caretaker .

Hollywood, always rich in character actors, had Fritz Lieber as the museum director. Although only in a few scenes, he was impressive and believable.
Barton MacLane is his usual gruff self as the sceptical policeman who, at the end, turns to uncredited Ray Teal and says, “ You can say I saw it with my own eyes.”

I’m always surprised how much story can be told in just over an hour and although I may be making some fun of the film, aside from the unrealistic wolf, I enjoyed it a lot, especially because of the good cast. If only director Henry Levin ( his first film as director) had left the werewolf to shadows and sounds.

I watched it on You Tube.

 

THE GYPSY MOON

 

THE WEREWOLF’S DAUGHTER.

HOLLYWOOD SNAPSHOTS

I often mention my regret that more Classic Hollywood talent, both before and behind the camera, weren’t interviewed in their later years when they had the time to reminisce and tell us more of what it was like in that golden period of the studio era.
So I was delighted to come across a 2017 publication called Hollywood Snapshots, The Forgotten Interviews by Michael B. Druxman .

Mr. Druxman worked in Hollywood for many years as a publicist and writer. In the 1970s, he contributed a monthly column to a magazine called Coronet. The column was called ‘Yesterday At the Movies’ , and this book contains some of his columns( mainly from 1974.)

The author spoke in person to many stars, including Jack Oakie, Claire Trevor, Ann Miller, Paul Henreid,Howard Keel, Mary Pickford, Gale Sondergaard.

One could only wish that they had been filmed.

Here are some excerpts :

Claire Trevor. 

Claire Trevor ( real name, Claire Wemlinger) made 22 ‘B’ pictures between 1933 and 1937. Even an Oscar nod as Bogart’s  ex- girlfriend in DEAD END didn’t help. Darryl Zanuck at Fox sent her back to the B’s.

On KEY LARGO, she said:

I didn’t think that ‘Key Largo’ was that good. I’d seen the play and didn’t like it……But it was a happy cast, very relaxed. John Huston took his time, which drove Jack Warner  crazy.

Harry Lewis, who played ‘the kid killer’ wound up owning the Hamburger Hamlet restaurants.”  (Which he subsequently sold for millions of dollars.)

In those days every actress had a label. I didn’t want to be known as ‘The Ear’ or ‘The Toe’ .

I wanted to do The African Queen, The Yearling, A Street Car Named Desire, None But the Lonelyheart”.

 

Harry Lewis,  Claire Trevor. KEY LARGO.

 

Paul Henreid: 

“When I first read the script for “Casablanca”, it was nothing like it turned out to be. In fact I considered it a melodrama of very little significance.

I loved working with  Bette Davis. She’s a perfectionist and more intelligent than many people you  work with.”

Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henreid. CASABLANCA.

 

 

Gale Sondergaard: 

“I enjoy doing comedy. I did four movies with Bob Hope. I would come home from the set with my ribs aching from laughing.

Luise Rainer’s  role in “The Good  Earth”  is a part I wanted.

I’m proud I was part of that period. (The Hollywood Blacklist). People had to take a stand back then and I am glad my husband (Herbert Biberman)  and I had the courage to do so.

The real losers were the public. They were denied the talents of some truly great artists for nearly 20 years.”

 

Gale Sondergaard

 

The author also provided excerpts from his 1975 book, “Play It Again, Sam”, on the subject of remakes. It was interesting to read that, on several occasions, the original writer and/or director did both films.

He spoke to  Stanley Rubin, producer of “Destry.”:

“Universal wanted to  redo ‘Destry Rides Again’ as a vehicle for Audie  Murphy who was under contract and was a good box office property. I wasn’t too excited about the project but the fact that George Marshall (director of the original film) was agreeable to come back and direct this new version was a major reason I decided to go ahead with it.

The studio insisted I use  a contract player in the Marlene Dietrich role. Mari Blanchard was the only girl on the lot who seemed to have any of the Dietrich quality that we wanted to recapture.”

 

 

John  Lee Mahin  was the screenwriter of both Red Dust and Mogambo.

“Red Dust (1932) was based on a stage play by William Collison. The original gave me the bare beginnings of my screenplay. It was a heavy ,turgid drama, nothing like we finally wound up with.

Clark Gable was not the original choice for the leading role of ‘Dennis Carson’. John  Gilbert was supposed  to do that part until I saw Clark in ‘Night Nurse’ and suggested him for the role.

On doing the remake, Mahin said: “I was enthusiastic about the project. It gave me the opportunity to fix my mistakes; to polish what I had done on the first version. Actually, I think the story worked better in the new situation  (MOGAMBO was set in Africa, Red Dust, in Indochina.)

“I wouldn’t have done the remake without Gable.”

Jean Harlow, Clark Gable. RED DUST.

 

Ava Gardner, Clark  Gable. MOGAMBO.

 

STAGECOACH . 1939.  1966:

Claire Trevor: “It should never have been remade. The remake ‘missed the boat.’

John Carradine: “They deserved to lose their shirts on the remake. Nobody could have been better than John  Wayne, Berton Churchill, Thomas Mitchell or me.

Great classics should never be remade.”

Claire Trevor , John Wayne.STAGECOACH.

 

Director Raoul Walsh  did both High Sierra and Colorado Territory (1941 and 1949) and writer W.R Burnett wrote High Sierra.

W.R.Burnett:  “There was no real factual basis for “High Sierra”, but it was inspired by John  Dillinger.
Paul Muni and George Raft both turned down the project, so we went with Humphrey Bogart, which was lucky for us.

 

Raoul Walsh:   “Warners needed  a picture to fill out their release schedule. I didn’t have a project I was interested in at the time and there were no scripts ‘on the shelf’ that I liked.
              So I suggested we change ‘High Sierra’ to a western format. It was a relatively easy task and we found that we could shoot the picture very quickly.”

 

Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart.HIGH SIERRA.

 

Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo. COLORADO TERRITORY.

 

 

The Sea Wolf (1941), another drama turned into a western, Barricade (1950):

Henry Blanke (Producer of “The Sea Wolf):

“The Sea Wolf was supposed to be a vehicle for Paul  Muni, but when he turned it down, we cast Edward G. Robinson as ‘Wolf Larsen’.

 

William Sackheim (screenwriter of Barricade’):

“Saul Elkins had a low budget production unit on the Warner lot, and it was his idea to turn ‘The Sea Wolf’ into a western. I was assigned to adapt the Robert Rossen script.

They ran the Robinson film for me, and then they announced that the project would be titled ‘Barricade.’  To this day, I have no idea what the title meant.”

 

Ruth Roman:  “I wasn’t aware that it was a remake at the time we made it.  Dane Clark really got shot in that film. He zigged when he should have zagged.”

 

Dane Clark:  “I was sick about it. It was an ugly experience, a ‘B’ picture. I had just come off suspension at the time and the studio assigned me this as punishment.”

 

 

Ida Lupino, Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield. THE SEA WOLF.

 

Dane Clark, Ruth Roman. BARRICADE.