Author Archives: Vienna

CASTING CHOICES: Timeline for CASABLANCA

The Hollywood Reporter in January,1942 reported that Warner Brothers would be filming “Everyone Comes To Ricks”, starring Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan.

 

Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan

 

 

February 1942: Producer Hal Wallis learns Hedy Lamarr is not available……..

 

 

April, 1942: Warners hope David Selznick will let Ingrid Bergman join the cast…….

 

April,1942: Jack Warner suggests George Raft. Hal Wallis says Raft isn’t right and the film is being shaped for Humphrey Bogart….

 

April,1942: Michelle Morgan and Jean-Pierre Aumont  test for ‘Ilsa’ and ‘Lazlo’…….

 

May,1942: Paul Henreid  gets co-star billing……

Conrad Veidt  signed to play ‘Major Strasser’…….

Peter Lorre signs as ‘Ugarte’…..

 

May 25th, 1942: Shooting begins…..

 

June,1942: S.Z. Zakall  joins the cast as ‘Carl’……

 

August 3rd, 1942: The last  official day of shooting……

 

August 21st, 1942: Hal Wallis decides the final line,

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

 

March 1944: Casablanca wins three Oscars, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay.

 

Casting is so important. Casablanca has surely one of the finest casts ever.

 

 

 

 

Sydney Greenstreet, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson.

 

 

S.Z. Zakall.

 

Dan Seymour, John  Qualen, Joy Page, Norma Varden.

 

Leonid Kinskey,   Marcel Dalio, Helmut Dantine,Ludwig Stossel,  Ilsa Gruning

 

Gerald Oliver Smith, Curt  Bois, Norma Varden.

So many wonderful images.

 

 

 

 

In 1992 , ‘Casablanca, As Time Goes By, 50th anniversary Commemorative’  is published. Written by Frank Miller, it is an excellent and profusely illustrated history of the film. It is still available at reasonable prices.

CARY GRANT IN FRAME

These fine illustrations were done to advertise eyewear brand, Oliver Peoples  who joined with the Cary Grant Estate  to create a line of optical and sunglasses, inspired by the frames Cary wore in North By Northwest.

Cary’s widow, Barbara Grant Jaynes and his daughter Jennifer helped design the glasses in 2019. This was the first time that Cary’s name or likeness was loaned to any brand.

The glasses have a CG monogram and prices range from $300 to $600.

 

These two paintings of Cary are by artist Tony Stella (www.tony-stella.com). This artist specialises in movie posters and cover art. Here are some samples of his Classic Hollywood work.

 

 

Joan Crawford. Johnny Guitar.

 

Kirk Douglas. Ace in the Hole

 

James Cagney

 

 

 

MARLAND STONE PORTRAITS

A fine artist who did portraits of Hollywood stars, Marland Stone (1895-1978).

Another instance where you wish someone had had the foresight to interview Mr. Stone who may have had many good stories to tell!

He must have been proud to have so much of his work on the magazine covers. Nice too that his name is on the portraits.

Can you imagine how lovely some of these covers would look if framed and on your wall!

I love some of the article highlights on the covers.

 

 

“Wallace Beery tells how it feels to be ‘Dead’ for an hour.”
Gosh, whatever happened to Wallace Beery! Probably nothing  as sensational as the title implies.

 

Ann Dvorak when Warner Brothers still intended to showcase her as one of their stars. Any chance I  get I always say she was the one that got away.
Not sure what the year is , but a bit of history there talking about prohibition .

 

 

“The girl who wanted to be a lady.”

Wonder who the girl was, unless it’s Bette.

 

 

One of the few male  star covers I could find. I guess the biggest percentage of covers were of female stars.

This is one of my favourites of the Stone paintings.

 

Rosalind Russell.

Delivered  right to  your door, in this case LaSalle, Illinois.

”Hollywood’s frank  opinion of Katherine  Hepburn.”

That frank opinion might be interesting, depending on whose opinion it is. A pity when they can’t even spell the great Kate’s name correctly.

 

 

Loretta Young.

25 cents, reduced to 15 cents. Wonder why.
And I bet Clark  Gable didn’t answer the questions! ( That’s what the publicity dept is for.)

 

 

Kay Francis

 

 

Love this one of Bebe Daniels.

”Are Film Fights faked?”

Gosh, how dare anyone suggest film fights are faked!

 

Garbo, Robert Taylor.  CAMILLE

 

And my favourite, Constance Bennett. 

DEADLINE USA

 

Deadline USA is the story of a newspaper ‘The Day’ and its editor, Humphrey Bogart.

The newspaper is about to be sold, against the wishes of the owner’s widow , Ethel Barrymore whose two daughters out-vote her regarding the sale.

This film has some relevance today as the crusading editor played by Bogart makes it clear that the newspaper should have “No allegiance to any political party.”

And “A free Press , like a free life, is always in danger.”

 

Bogart leads a team of 1500 staff at The Day and we meet several of the newspaper’s staff, including Ed Begley, Jim Backus, Warren Stevens, Paul Stewart, Willis Bouchey,  Dabbs Greer, John Doucette.

A strong cast but writer/director Richard Brooks doesn’t provide them with good character development – or maybe there were just too many of them!  Bogart seems to get about 90% of the dialogue!
But it is annoying when someone as good as Paul Stewart is only in a few scenes.

Even Ethel Barrymore seems wasted , though she has a few good scenes with Bogart.

 

Ethel Barrymore never disappoints but has little to do .

 

Ed Begley, Warren Stevens.

 

 

Ed Begley, Bogart’s friend and veteran journalist. Jim Backus is seen briefly as the paper’s society columnist.

 

Kim Hunter, as Bogart’s ex wife who is about to remarry .  Not much of a part.

 

 

The staff of “The Day”, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Dabbs Greer.

The cast at the ‘wake’ for the paper.
But Bogart is determined not to go down without a fight and one last headline for The Day. – taking down gangster Martin Gabel.

 

 

Joe De Santis , impressive as the hoodlum who provides information  which results in his violent death.

 

 

Philip Terry ( one of Joan Crawford’s husbands), in another brief role as Kim Hunter’s boyfriend. (You  just know Kim isn’t going to settle for Terry!)

 

Martin Gabel suitably nasty as the gangster whom Bogart is determined to bring down.

 

Another memorable appearance by Kasia Orzazewski who holds the key to convicting Martin Gabel. ( I always remember her from Call Northside 777.}

Kazia (1888-1956) only  made 9 films.

 

 

A Bogart film I had never seen before. I enjoyed it but it can’t be classed as one of his best,mainly because his character doesn’t have a lot of depth or conflict . His sole purpose is to save the newspaper. But does he?

Oh, and there is one female reporter in the room with the lads – well played by Fay Baker.

There are good scenes,filmed at the New York Daily News.

It was re-issued as “Deadline”.

 

 

Foreign posters for the film: (Translations dodgy).

DOWN THE MASK

 

DOWN THE MASKS.

 

THE LAST THREAT

 

And surely one of the poorest film posters ever!

JOURNALIST WAR

MARGE CHAMPION (1919-2020)

Gower Champion, Marge Champion.

Another sad loss with the death of dancer Marge Champion at the age of 101.

Known for her 1950s MGM musicals as part of a team with her then husband Gower Champion.

Born Marjorie Celeste Belcher, Marge’s father Ernest was a Londoner who emigrated to America. He was an entertainer in the British music halls and a dancer/ choreographer.
He ran the Ernest Belcher School of Dancing in Los Angeles where Marge  began dancing as a young child.
She and Gower Champion went to the same Junior High School.

Marge’s father was so impressed with Gower that he gave him a full sponsorship to his school of dance.

Marge Champion.

At the age of 14, Marge auditioned to be a live action model for Walt Disney animators working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Marge would work at the Disney  studio, being filmed on 16mm film which the animators would use while creating the Snow White character.
In an interesting  interview Marge did in 1998 for the Television Academy ( interviews.televisionacademy.com), she said, “I worked one or two days a month – for two years on and off. We were shown storyboards and asked to react to situations.”

( She also worked on Pinocchio and Fantasia.)

Marge’s first husband was Art Babbit, an animator at Disney.

 

From that early age, Marge’s smile dazzled.

Love that T-Shirt  with a touch of Mae West! – “I was Snow White but I drifted.”

 

Marge with a Disney Snow White.

 

Marge can be seen behind Ginger Rogers in The Story of Vernon and Irene  Castle. She had a few more uncredited parts in 1939 as Margery Bell.

 

In the 1940s she teamed up with Gower as “Gower and Bell” and they played supper clubs and eventually appeared on early television shows.

In 1950 Marge and Gower (who had married in 1947) appeared as themselves in Bing Crosby’ s Mr Music.

And then came their string of hits at MGM, starting with Show Boat  in 1951, then Lovely To Look At, Everything I Have Is Yours, Give A Girl a Break , Jupiter’s Darling and finally Three For The Show.

I always think of the Champions being in lots of movies but in fact their movie fame amounted to these 6 films. Just shows what an impression they made on musical fans.

After “Lovely To Look At” ( the remake of ROBERTA), in which they played the Astaire /Rogers roles, there was talk of remakes of other Astaire/Rogers films, but that did not materialise – wisely!

 

 

Betty Grable, Jack Lemmon, Marge and Gower Champion.

 

 

 

With Debbie Reynolds. GIVE A GIRL  A BREAK.

 

After their film successes, Marge and Gower had a short lived TV situation comedy, The Marge and Gower Champion Show which ran only 6 episodes in 1957.

 

After Marge and Gower divorced in 1973, Marge remarried in 1977 to television director Boris Sagal who tragically died in an accident in 1981.

Marge taught dance in later years while Gower achieved great success in his Broadway directorial career in the 1960s onwards. (Two of his biggest  hits being HELLO DOLLY and FORTY SECOND  STREET.)

Gower died in 1980 of a rare form of blood cancer, on the day that “42nd Street” opened on Broadway.

The stunned shock on the cast members’ faces as producer David Merrick announces that Gower Champion  had died that morning – so thoughtless of David Merrick  to announce the tragic news to the audience and cast onstage at the end of a triumphant first night of FORTY SECOND STREET.

One of the show’s stars, Jerry Orbach, leans forward as if to say ‘What did you just say?’

 

Marge’s last TV appearance was in an episode of the series FAME,   in 1982.

 

With Donald Saddler in FOLLIES .

Marge returned to the stage for the 2001 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, partnering Donald Saddler , a dancer in many Broadway shows and co-founder  of the American Ballet Theatre.
Subsequently Marge and Donald would meet up twice a week at a New York studio they rented and just enjoy themselves dancing and keeping fit.

There is a delightful 20 minute documentary,Keep Dancing, on You Tube, from 2009, showing  the two of them together, creating dances for themselves. Both aged 90!

 

 

Marge is survived by her son Gregg and three grandchildren. She had been staying at her son’s home in L.A during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The following two sequences show the skill and talent of Marge and Gower, going from the sheer romanticism of “Smoke Gets In Your  Eyes” (LOVELY TO LOOK AT) to the comedy of  “I might Fall Back on You” (SHOW BOAT).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARY GRANT: The Making Of a Hollywood Legend

My first participation in a Zoom live conversation!
Charlotte Crofts, organiser of the biennial  Cary Comes Home festival in Cary’s home town Bristol, interviewed Mark Glancy, author of a new book on Cary Grant, Cary Grant, The Making of a Hollywood Legend.

During an hour’s conversation, viewers could  ask questions  and have them answered by the author or Charlotte.

I was very impressed!

Mark Glancy.

I had hesitated about buying yet another biography of my favourite actor, but after listening to Mark Glancy, I realise his research over many years has revealed much new information about Cary and his career.

Amazing to hear that Cary, who was an avid collector of memorabilia connected with his own career, had built a vault in his home where he kept all his archives.

Mark Glancy was able to visit this vault at Cary’s last home. The contents of the vault were given to the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles.
Cary kept a diary from the age of 14, and Mark, with white gloves on, was able to look at the diaries. (Can’t wait to read whatever extracts are in the book!)

 

With Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock.

 

There are 24 huge scrapbooks in the collection. One file contains all Cary’s correspondence with Alfred Hitchcock.Cary said that working with Hitchcock was a dream. On the set, Cary liked Hitchcock’s planning – apparently Cary could be quite nervous on the set.

Cary and Hitchcock both came from working class backgrounds in England. They had a strong personal bond. Hitch wanted to toy with Cary”s image eg Suspicion.

Cary meticulously saved press clippings and would attach notes about inaccuracies in newspaper or magazine articles.

 

With Ingrid Bergman. NOTORIOUS.

 

During the hour long chat, the discussion included conversation about Cary being one of the first stars to become independent from the major studios.  Having made 26 films at Paramount , he was expected to re-sign in 1937. His decision to go freelance , choose which films he would make and who he would work with, was a bold and successful move.

(Cary’s first three films as an independent were Topper, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby.)

 

 

Mark Glancy is a reader in Film History at Queen Mary University Of London. He was editorial consultant on the documentary, Becoming Cary Grant(2017). For this book, he saw all of Cary’s 72 movies.

The new biography is out in America and is published in the U.K in January,2021. It’s 568 pages. Cost is $34.16 in America and will be £26.75 in Britain.

it was fun being part of a conversation  all about Mr. Grant, so my thanks to Charlotte Crofts and Mark Glancy.

 

2020 is the 100th anniversary of the date when Archie Leach emigrated to New York, where he spent the next 10 years before crossing the continent to Hollywood and becoming CARY GRANT.

 

Wouldn’t want these two hovering over me!

 

And, by the way, I wish some philanthropic organisations would contribute to the digitising of some of the marvellous film archives which can only be seen by a few and in person.

RHONDA FLEMING (1923-2020)

So sorry to hear that Rhonda Fleming has passed away at the age of 97.
Rhonda, the red headed beauty, had a long career in films,TV and the stage. She was a trained singer but didn’t often get to sing in her films. She made many westerns including four with Ronald Reagan;  she was Robert Ryan’s wife in 1953’s Inferno, leaving him to die in the desert;

She was a gambler in The Gunfight At OK Corral; 

And she was ideal for swashbuckling adventures like The Golden Hawk with Sterling Hayden. 

 

With William Lundigan. INFERNO.

 

 

Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, Rhonda was spotted at age 16 by a top Hollywood agent and signed, without a screen test,  by David O. Selznick who cast her in Spellbound and The Spiral Staircase. She later had a deal with Paramount and costarred with Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee.

Rhonda was in many TV shows, as well as having a one woman show at the Hollywood Bowl and headlining in Las Vegas.

Married six times, Rhonda’s  5th husband was Ted Mann of Mann’s Chinese Theatre. Married from 1978 till his death in 2001, Rhonda and her husband supported many charitable organisations .

 

 

With John  Payne, Ronald Reagan. TENNESSEE’S PARTNER.

 

With Glenn Ford, Edmond O’Brien. THE REDHEAD AND THE COWBOY.

 

With Ronald Reagan.

 

With Burt Lancaster. THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL.

 

With Arlene Dahl. SLIGHTLY SCARLET.

Rhonda and Arlene Dahl  were well cast as sisters in Slightly Scarlet.

 

With Dana Andrews. WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS.

 

 

In 2019 , I remembered Rhonda on her birthday ( https://viennasclassichollywood.com/2019/08/11/Rhonda-Fleming-birthday-tribute

 

 

PUBLICITY SHOTS 21

Barbara Brittain, Randolph Scott, Dorothy Hart. GUNFIGHTERS (1947)

 

 

Herbert Marshall, Bette Davis. THE LETTER.

 

 

Some of the cast of THE OPPOSITE SEX.

Charlotte Greenwood, June Allyson, Jeff Richards, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead.

 

James Stewart, Julie Adams, Arthur Kennedy. BEND OF THE RIVER.

 

The stars  of the drama, IN NAME ONLY , Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis.

 

Lizabeth Scott, Victor Mature, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts.EASY LIVING(1949). Not to be confused with Jean Arthur’s “Easy Living”(1937).

 

Walter Pidgeon , Rosalind Russell, Edward Arnold.DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941).
Reminds  me I have quite a few Roz Russell films to see.

 

 

Two shots for  LONE STAR,1952. Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Broderick Crawford. Different outfits.

 

I love finding photos I have never seen before and the following one from PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET is a real find.

Stars, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter and Richard Widmark and two extras , names unknown.

ONCE UPON A TIME

Call myself a Cary Grant fan and I have only just seen 1944’s Once Upon A Time which I thoroughly enjoyed and will watch again.

Written surely to cheer up wartime audiences, Cary plays Jerry Flynn ,a New York theatre owner who, despite his firm belief in himself, has had three flops in a row and the bank want the $100,000 he owes them.

Coming out of the theatre one night, he sees two young boys, one who is playing ’Yes sir, that’s my  baby’  on his harmonica while the other boy charges a nickel to see a dancing caterpillar in a shoe box!

Yep, that’s what this film is about – a dancing caterpillar – which you never see!

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson,Mickey McGuire

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson.

Ted Donaldson is Pinky who owns the dancing worm (called Curly). Pinky lives with his showgirl sister Jeanne (Janet Blair).

Jerry is so impressed by what he sees in the box when Pinky plays that tune ,  he calls in the press but they aren’t impressed until two scientists are invited to view the evidence. They declare this is a miracle of science!

The scientists examine what’s inside the box.

 

Of course  nothing goes smoothly as Jerry tries to sell Curly to a Walt Disney representative! Poor Pinky doesn’t want to lose his friend and his big sister Jeanne initially doesn’t like Jerry.

In a dramatic scene, Pinky hides Curly just as Jerry is about to get the money to save his theatre. Angry with the boy, Jerry slaps him. Pinky has grown so fond of Jerry, the slap makes him hand over the box and leave.  It hits Jerry what he has done and of course all is right in the end.

There is a lovely scene when Jerry sits at the piano and plays the tune Curly  dances too.  Suddenly a butterfly appears and both Pinky and  Jerry  see it fly out an open window.

It’s a charming fantasy. The cast includes James Gleason as Jerry’s assistant, William Demarest as a reporter who brings in the scientists to debunk the story.

And is small parts, Iris Adrian, Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Donnell, Pierre Watkin , Ian Wolfe.

Considering Janet Blair was a singer and plays a showgirl in the film, it seems a pity she didn’t get a number to do.

 

Cary Grant, Janet Blair, James Gleason, Ted Donaldson

 

Cary Grant, Ted Donaldson, Mickey McGuire

I was impressed by the little boy who played Pinky’s  pal, Fatso. Mickey McGuire (1936-1956) was only a few scenes but was very natural . In his brief career, Mickey unfortunately was often given a name like Fatso. 
In “The Return of Rusty” (1946) and also with Ted Donaldson, his character name was Porky.
And in “Danny Boy” (1945), 
he was Pudgie.

 

Ted Donaldson

Ted Donaldson ( born 1933) can be seen in a You Tube interview in 2019 with Anne-Marie Gatti of the Classic Movie Hub. (www.classic movie hub.com)

Ted had been in a 1943 play,”Sons and Soldiers”, with Gregory Peck, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Karl Malden, Millard Mitchell. ( some cast!)

Ted auditioned for Columbia’s Harry Cohn and got the role of Pinky.

Cary Grant and Betsy Drake attended Ted’s high school graduation, sitting  with Ted’s parents.
In  1974, when Ted wrote to Cary regarding the 30th anniversary of the film , Cary called him.

 

 

Ted was in films till 1953 including A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in 1945.

He was in the radio version of “Father Knows Best”, from 1949 to 1954 but said no to the TV version of the show.

Director of Once Upon a Time Alexander Hall (1894-1968) made a variety of movies including Little Miss Marker, Torch Singer, Here Comes Mr.Jordan, My Sister Eileen.

 

Ted Donaldson

Ted was one of the many fine young child actors of vintage Hollywood .

During these rocky times, any film that cheers you and makes you smile is great to find. ONCE UPON A TIME does it for me. I’m glad I finally caught up with it.

Another Cary Granter I have yet to see was made two years earlier in 1942, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON. Reviews on IMDB are mixed. Still, it’s Cary!

 

We never do get to see that dancing Curly, but we believe he is in that box!!

 

 

THE 8TH WONDER!

 

TOMMY RALL

Farewell to Tommy Rall  who has died at aged 90.

A terrific dancer in KISS ME KATE, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, MY SISTER EILEEN. A fine singer too.

Thinking about Tommy’s brief film career, it’s a shame he didn’t make more films , and not just musicals.

 

With Ann Miller, Bob Fosse and Bobby  Van. Kiss Me Kate .

 

With Ann Miller in Kiss Me Kate .

 

With Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn.

 

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

 

Tommy with his wife of over 50 years, Karel Shimoff.

 

Two numbers which display Tommy Rall’s dancing skills.

With Bob Fosse in My Sister Eileen.

 

The sublime “From This Moment On” , with Tommy Rall, Ann Miller, Bobby Van, Jeanne Coyne, Bob Fosse, Carol Haney. Kiss Me Kate.