Author Archives: Vienna

THE EX – MRS. BRADFORD (1936)

I usually don’t write about films I haven’t liked, but watching The Ex-Mrs. Bradford with two favourite stars, William Powell and Jean Arthur made me realise that if ever proof was needed that a good script is everything, this film is it.

It really is weird and wonderful how we all see films differently.
To some folk on IMDB, this film is “a sheer delight”,  “has witty and sharp dialogue”.

For me, I found the flimsy plot boring and the comedy dialogue not very funny.  And a real waste of the talent of the two stars who were at the height of their popularity.The plot, by James  Edward Grant and Anthony Veiller, concerns the death of a jockey at the racetrack, with Powell and Arthur as an amicably divorced couple who investigate.
Powell is ‘Brad’ Bradford a surgeon and Jean is Paula Bradford, a wealthy mystery writer.
The supporting cast had little to do – Eric Blore as Brad’s butler, James Gleason as  a police inspector ( James ‘s wife Lucille Gleason had a small role), Robert Armstrong as a bookie.
And a young Paul Fix in his early career when he was usually a gangster.

 

William Powell, Jean Arthur.

I was interested to read about the film’s director , Stephen Roberts who died at the age of 41 not long after the film’s release.

In 1935, Roberts had directed William Powell and Ginger Rogers in “Star of Midnight“ and Romance in Manhattan, with Ginger Rogers.

Roberts’ career had been mainly directing shorts in the 1920s. His first full length film ,Sky Bride was  only 4 years earlier in 1932.

 

Among the ‘funny’ jokes; Jean trying to knock out the bad guy and ,on two occasions ( as if once wasn’t enough) , hitting William instead.

And here is some of the witty dialogue:

“I didn’t know you went in for opening safes, Doc.”

Oh, we surgeons open anything.“

 

Paula: Did you inoculate  him?

Brad: “With a little difficulty.”

Paula: ”Oh, I thought you used a hypodermic”.

 

According to IMDB, the film was very popular and very profitable for RKO. I was surprised that MGM lent William Powell to RKO and Columbia lent Jean Arthur.

Personally, I just felt cheated because I love both the stars and this film just wasted them. If anyone wants to disagree, please do!

Jean and William had previously appeared together in three films in 1929 and 1930.
Such a shame they didn’t get back together.
No doubt comparisons are made with this film and The Thin Man films because of the sleuthing comedy couple. Jean isn’t Myrna Loy ( and Myrna isn’t Jean Arthur). Both wonderful in their own way but The Ex Mrs. Bradford did Jean no favours – in my opinion of course!

 

WOMAN IN HIDING (1950)

Not to be confused with Ann Sheridan’s “Woman on the Run”, Ida Lupino  stars in Universal’s Woman in Hiding (1950) as the woman who finds out ,rather dramatically, that her husband is trying to kill her.

Ida Lupino

A compelling opening has Ida, as Deborah Chandler Clark, in voice over, observing a scene below her of  a river bank and people searching for something.

“That’s my body they’re looking for.”

(Her ‘devoted’ husband has tampered with her car breaks.)

You are immediately drawn into Deborah’s story as she goes on the run to escape her husband Selden Clark (Stephen McNally) who tried to kill her.
(I know, McNally doesn’t look like a ‘Selden’).

In the subsequent flashback, we learn Deborah is the daughter of a rich mill owner (John Litel ) in the small town of Clarksville – which is named after Selden Clark’ s great grandfather. Selden is the plant manager who plans to marry Deborah. He is utterly ruthless in his ambition to make Clarksville great again.

When Deborah’s father becomes an obstacle to Selden’s plans, he kills the older man and makes out it is an accident in the factory.

  • A grief stricken Deborah turns to him and they are soon married. So now he runs the mill and continues seeing his girlfriend Patricia (Peggy Dow in her first film).

Stephen McNally

That dangerous McNally look!

While Deborah escapes ,Selden realises she isnt dead and sets about tracking her down.

Trying to keep out of his clutches, Deborah changes her name and arrives in another town and meets Keith Ramsey (Howard Duff) and Pops (Irving Bacon) at the bus depot news stand.

 

Howard Duff, Irving Bacon,  Ida Lupino.

 

 

Howard Duff, Ida Lupino

 

Deborah is lured back to the factory by Selden’s girlfriend and in a scene similar to the end of Sudden Fear, Selden kills the wrong girl.

 

 

Ida Lupino, Peggy Dow.

 

With similarities to WOMAN ON THE RUN, the Ann Sheridan thriller edges it for me.

( By the way, shouldn’t Woman on the Run be Man on the Run?)

We are so used to Ida in wise-cracking, hard-boiled mode and I missed that. The rather passive character she plays is in contrast to Ann Sheridan in Woman on The Run.

Howard Duff is along for the ride (he and Lupino were married in 1951), but Stephen McNally does what he does best – be very menacing!

In the supporting cast, Don Beddoe and I. Stanford Jolley ( I love that name and am proud to say I can now name Mr. Jolley when I see him in a picture.)

A good thriller but not really a great role for Ida.

 

 

 

HIDDEN WOMAN

 

 

TWILIGHT TIME

Sorry to hear that Dvd/blu-Ray distributor Twilight Time is closing after 9 years .

Twilight Time released limited run titles – 3,000 units per film, from Fox, MGM, Universal, Columbia. (The licensing agreement only authorised  the company to sell that  number of copies.)

At present they have a sale, with many titles at $11.95, more than half the original price.  The sale lasts till 30th June,2020 when the remaining inventory will be at Screen Archives.com

i would have bought The Whole Town’s Talking but postage to the U.K. was a bit steep at $17. This title is in the recent John Ford  Box set so maybe it will come out individually.

I love all these covers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROBERT L. LIPPERT: QUICKIE KING

I enjoyed this 2014 biography of producer Robert L. LIPPERT by Mark Thomas McGee. It’s a detailed, extremely well researched look at the career of a man who loved making deals – and money!

Robert Lippert (1909 – 1976) was a businessman who never tried to compete with the big studios. He knew he could make low budget movies , sell them and make a profit. His motto was “I don’t worry what the critics say, I make pictures people want to see.”

  • He never came to the set, he didn’t watch rushes. But, as the author says, “a lot of filmakers got started with Lippert because he knew first timers were willing to work cheap!”

Going over budget was taboo! He was able to get producers, directors, writers and actors for minimal pay and tight schedules.He was able to sign major studio talent when their studios released them.

For instance, he signed George Raft   to a two-picture deal in 1952, paying Raft $25,000 per picture and 25% of profits. ( the films were Loan Shark and I’ll Get You.) 

In 1960, Raft got $31,000 as part of his profit participation!

 

He made around 200 films ( while still running his Theater chain) but didn’t rate a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But it is in Lippert   films  you’ll find many well known faces – Veronica Lake, Sabu, George Reeves, Preston Foster, Zachary Scott, Cesar Romero, Richard Arlen, Ellen Drew, Dan Duryea,Tom Neal, Lloyd Bridges, Vincent Price, Audrey Totter, Alan Curtis, Evelyn Ankers .  To name a few.

 

Robert L. Lippert.

Lippert , in the 1940s, owned a chain of  cinemas . According to legend  he said, “Every Theater owner thinks he can make better pictures than the ones they sent him – so back in 1943 I tried it.”

Cinemagoers felt cheated if they didn’t get two pictures. All the big studios had B picture units, but there was still space for small Independents. B movies had to be kept alive.

He likes westerns and the old saying, “If you wanna make money, make a western!”

In 1945, Lippert set up two companies with a fellow Theater owner, John J. Jones : Action Pictures for production and Screen Guild for releasing . (Jones later left the company.)

 

 

WILDFIRE (1945) was his first release, made in Color. It cost $36,000 and made $350,000. Lippert used rental stages and the Corrigan movie ranch.

( I love the sentence below the title in the poster- The Story of a Horse.)

 

 

Rip Roaring  Action!  That’s what the folks wanted and that’s what they got from a Lippert film. Mostly running not much more than an hour, and  a whole lot cheaper for exhibitors to rent.

Lippert had almost a repertory company of actors who appeared in his films – Richard Arlen , Robert Lowery, Cesar Romero, Mary Beth Hughes,Reed Hadley,Richard Travis,Marie Windsor – all found work at Lippert Pictures..

 

Director Sam Fuller got his chance with Lippert . To write and direct I Shot Jesse James, Fuller got $5,000 plus a percentage of the profits. It did well at the box office and Fuller went on to do two more for Lippert – The Baron of Arizona and The Steel Helmet.

And , ideal for a director, Lippert left Fuller alone to make the movies his  way.

The Steel Helmet, about an army unit in the Korean war, went on to make $2 million at the box office  at a time when most of Lippert’s productions cost between $100,000 and $200,000.

Gene Evans probably had the best role of his career in Steel Helmet, as the tough as nails sergeant who has to take charge when his group has a weak officer (Steve Brodie).

Incidentally, Lippert wanted Larry Parks to play the Sergeant but Fuller got his way and insisted Gene Evans was right for the part.

Fuller’s talent was recognised. As one IMDB reviewer said, “it is shot  with a conviction and passion few A-list movies can muster.”

 

Rimfire, poster, US poster, James Millican (left), right from top: Mary Beth Hughes, Reed Hadley, Henry Hull, Victor Kilian, Fuzzy Knight, 1949. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

Must catch up on this one.

 

 

 

Another Lippert Film I have yet to see, Rocketship X-M had a big cast , with a script by Kurt Neumann and involvement by Dalton Trumbo. It made a tidy profit of $500,000.

And it was another example of Lippert know-how. He managed to get his film out a few weeks before Destination Moon. Both films started the sci-fi Film boom of the 1950s.

 

Hugh O’Brien, Osa Massen, Lloyd Bridges, John Emery, Noah Beery.

 

Rocketship X-M.

Face masks on.

 

Lippert made a deal with Hammer Films in England, to co-produce, lend American actors, writers, directors  and distribute the films in America. The first co-production was The Last Page (Man Bait in the U.S.) in 1952, with George Brent and Diana Dors.

Hammer made about 14 films with Lippert including Spaceways, Terror Street, Paid To Kill, Break in the Circle, A Stolen  Face.

 

 

 

Lippert also struck a deal with Twentieth Century Fox in 1955 to produce B films under his Regal Films banner.

Lippert had sold a package of his films to television in the early 50s, and entered into a dispute with the Screen  Actors Guild over residual payments. As a result , his name did not appear on any of the 100 or so films he made for Fox  from 1955 to 1964.

The Fox films included The Big Show, Cattle Empire, The Fly  Forty Guns. 

Lippert finally left Hollywood and returned to San Francisco. In the course of the next ten years he doubled his cinema chain. He died peacefully at home  in 1976.

 

 

With Paulette Goddard. SINS OF JEZEBEL (1953)

 

Cesar Romero, George Brent. FBI GIRL (1951)

 

Audrey Totter in FBI GIRL.

 

 

Dorothy Hart, George Raft. LOAN SHARK.

 

One of the portions of the book I loved was the frank and sometimes contradictory views of exhibitors about Lippert films.

 

No holding back!
I think we’d have been better off if we had left it lost.”

 

Three Desperate Men, US lobbycard, from left: Jim Davis, Preston Foster, Virginia Grey, Ross Latimer, 1951. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

Tell it like it is!

  The three desperate men were my assistant, my operator and myself. Desperate about what to do to try to bring them in for this mediocre western.”

 

Damning verdicts :

“The only good thing about this was the print….”        

 “The general comment was that Mary Beth Hughes should have played the lead.”

 

Contrasting views:

“Nobody gives a hoot what happened to Bob Ford. They thought they’d see some Jesse James action  And we’re disappointed.”

“Buy this picture while it is hot.”

“Thanks, Lippert, for a bread and butter picture.”

 

Even the Hollywood Reporter took a swipe:

“Flight To Nowhere is just that!”

 

JUNGLE GODDESS:I hardly paid the electricity  bill.”
“ Some of the supposedly tense and serious scenes were actually humorous due to the ineffectiveness of the meek looking cast of native cannibals.”

 

 

Kit Parker Films  own the rights and distribute over 100 Lippert films.

 

 

 

 

Time Magazine  called him “The Quickie  King.”

Robert L.Lippert is part of Hollywood history and there are a few of his films I need to catch up. As we have discovered before, there may be a little gem among them.

 

 

 

Lippert’s family set  up a permanent display in the  museum in Alamada , his home town in California.

 

JOHN ERICSON

JOHN ERICSON  has died at the age of 93.
Known for his appearance in Bad Day At Black Rock, John’s career started very promisingly at the age of 25 when he got the role of ‘Sefton’ (played by William Holden in the film version) in the Broadway hit, Stalag 17. 

Born Joseph Meibes in Germany,John’s  parents moved to America and John studied acting, along side Grace Kelly and Jack Palance in New York.

An MGM contract took John to Hollywood and he was quickly cast in several films, his first being Teresa in 1951.

 

With Elizabeth Taylor in Rhapsody (1954).

John played a classical pianist , along with Vittorio Gassman as a violinist – both competing for the beautiful Elizabeth.

 

In Green Fire, John played Grace Kelly’s brother.

 

A rather different looking John in The Student Prince with Ann Blyth. (Edmund Purdom does a great job lip synching the glorious voice of Mario Lanza.)

 

Not usually cast in villainous roles, John did well as the nasty younger brother of Barbara Stanwyck in Forty Guns.

 

But it is for being part of the ensemble cast of Bad Day at Black Rock, that John will be remembered by film buffs.

This time he plays the brother of Anne Francis and although he is part of the conspiracy led by Robert Ryan, his character is much less threatening than Lee Marvin or Ernest Borgnine.

 

Robert Ryan, John Ericson. BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.

 

John’s film career was sporadic after the 50s and he turned to television, appearing in many shows.

He was reunited with Anne Francis in her series, Honey West.

With Anne Francis

I’m surprised he never got a series of his own.

One film of his I am curious about is The Cruel Tower (1956) which costarred Mari Blanchard and Charles McGraw?  Has anyone seen it.

John continued acting till 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masking

Red bubble.com is the place to go for face masks. Even if only to mark this horrible period in time.

You can probably guess which one I’ve chosen though I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLORIS LEACHMAN

The start of Kiss Me Deadly..

Born on 30/4/26, Cloris Leachman has turned 94 and we wish her very best wishes.

Cloris is someone I always remember as she appeared in one of my favourite films, KISS ME DEADLY.

She made an impressive film debut in the Mickey Spillane story, with her dramatic appearance at the very start of the thriller, as she flags down Ralph Meeker . It is her story which starts Mike Hammer on his quest.

Kiss Me Deadly.

 

With Ralph Meeker.

 

I had never seen this photo before. Presumably a publicity still, certainly not a scene in the film.

Cloris , who was still acting in 2020, made her TV debut in 1948 and it was television where her career was primarily made.
And although she did not make many films, she won a Best Supporting Oscar in 1971 for The Last Picture  Show.

She also did stage work and starred in a production of South Pacific in 1949 and was in a production of As You Like It with Katharine Hepburn in 1950.

 

Cloris Leachman and Katharine Hepburn in a scene from the 1950 play As You Like It. Leachman starred as Celia, daughter to Frederick, and Hepburn as Rosalind, daughter to the banished Duke. (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

 

Cloris was a regular on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and appeared in countless TV series through the years.

 

PHOTO TIME

Time on my hands so I decided to mix up my usual photo posts.

This one came as a surprise. Back in 2017 I wrote a piece about little known producer Voldemar Vetluguin who had produced one of my favourite films, East Side, West Side.

A few days ago I was checking the stats on the blog and discovered that the post of Mr.Vetluguin had been viewed 126 times in the past week. Very surprising .

Anyway, I happened to look up this producer on IMDB and this it what I found. A picture of Harry Lauter ! I guess I should correct it.

(ps. I did)

 

Joan Blondell on the Warner Bros. lot  Is that sound stage 3 behind her.

 

Ann Blyth in costume as Helen Morgan in Both Ends of the Candle.

Heavens knows why Ann was dubbed in this film.  Her voice suited Helen Morgan’s.

 

Nice publicity shot of Constance Towers and Jeffrey Hunter in Sergeant Routledge.

 

On the set of Hell On  Frisco Bay?

Alan Ladd, Jack Warner, Edward G. Robinson.

 

Randolph Scott, Ann Richards. Badman’s Territory.

 

Fun on the set of High Society.
Bing, Grace, Celeste , Frank.

 

Interesting to see how this publicity pose was set up.

Ann Sheridan, Cary Grant. I Was  a Mail Order Bride / You  Can’t Sleep Here.)

 

And Cary and Ann on location.

 

Lovely sunny closeup of Bette Davis.

INDIA ADAMS R.I.P

The death of singer India Adams has been reported. She was 93.

Known for being the voice of Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon and Joan Crawford in Torch Song, India’s deep, rich tones add so much to songs like “Tenderly” in Torch Song and “A New Sun in the Sky” in Band Wagon.

India was performing in nightclubs well into her 80s and joined up with two other famous dubbers, Annette Warren and Betty Wand  to perform round the country as “Hollywood’s Secret Singing Stars”.
India ‘s singing in these films did not lead to a film career but she did appear on stage in Can Can and Brigadoon.

During her relocation to London during the 1960s, India was Ginger Rogers’  standby in MAME AT Drury Lane.

Back in America, India continued singing in nightclubs and on cruise ships.

In a 1995 interview, India spoke of revealing at one concert that she had sung for Cyd Charisse. Cyd was in the audience but did not come backstage to see India.

India was full of praise for Joan Crawford who sent her a thank you note and said, “I hope that I can do as good an acting job as you did a singing job.”

It was quite a coincidence that India had sung Two Faced  Woman for Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon, but the number wasn’t used until Torch Song .

 

India Adams, Joan Crawford.

 

Note the term ‘Protege’ on the back of this publicity photo. As India said, “They swore you to secrecy.”

 

 

With Ginger Rogers at Drury Lane, London,1969.

 

Betty Wand sang for Leslie Caron in GIGI, and Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY.

Annette Warren sang for Ava Gardner in SHOW BOAT and in several films for Lucille Ball.