Author Archives: Vienna

GEORGE CUKOR in person

It’s a LONG time ago but I was fortunate enough to to see George Cukor In person when he was interviewed  at the National Film Theatre in London.
The NFT was full to capacity and it was recorded for television.

I took some hurried notes as he was asked questions by John Gillett of the British Film Institute. All the folllowing quotes are directly from the famed director.

George Cukor

 

He started out as a dialogue director on ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT:

“They shipped out stage directors. The hardy  ones – me – stayed!”

He was of course asked about GONE WITH THE WIND:

“I  prepared the picture, with the sets, the clothes and casting – and directed for a week or two before I was put off…….Vivian Leigh was a great friend of mine – an adorable girl.”

George Cukor, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable

He emphasised that he was a director, not a writer:

“The script means a great deal to me. I don’t improvise – I work from a script – that’s  because I was trained that way. I don’t believe in improvisation, maybe because I started in the theatre.”

On working with Garbo:

She had humour, she was very precise, very prompt and intelligent -charming to work with. We did two pictures, one was a success, one wasn’t. The second (TWO FACED WOMAN) has improved in time. She never worked anywhere else but Metro. She trusted people there.”

Garbo, George Cukor

On Norma Shearer:

“A very disciplined actress – married to an extraordinary man ( Irving Thalberg). He watched her career with love and care.”

 

Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer.ROMEO AND JULIET

On the “ Moviola”  series:

”That was a load of crap! I really didn’t like it….there certainly was no great love affair between Selznick and Crawford.”

Mr.Cukor  expressed his dislike of the label, ‘A woman’s director’:

“It made one a kind of superior beautician.”

 

That wonderful shot of Cukor and the cast of THE WOMEN. Wish it had been in colour.

 

 

Directing Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn on the set of HOLIDAY.

 

Script in hand, directing  Tracy and Hepburn on KEEPER OF THE FLAME.

 

 

 

With Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman. GASLIGHT.

 

Great poster for A DOUBLE LIFE.

 

 

Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden.BORN YESTERDAY.

 

A STAR IS BORN

 

 

Cukor won his only Oscar for MY FAIR LADY.

 

MOVIOLA was a 1980 three part television series based in part on Garson Kanin’s 1979 novel of the same name.

The three episodes were called “The Silent Lovers” ( about Garbo and John  Gilbert); “This Year’s Blonde” (Marilyn Monroe); “The Scarlett O’Hara Wars.”

A slew of Hollywood stars were portrayed , not always very well, but I recall it was an entertaining series, if only for all the name-dropping!

(There are copies of ‘The Silent Lovers’ and ‘The Scarlett O’Hara Wars’ on You Tube.)

Morgan Brittany as Vivien Leigh  and Tony Curtis as David Selznick. (Morgan had played  Leigh in an earlier TV show).

 

 

 

 

Comedy, romance, drama, musicals, George Cukor  did it all.

PHOTO MIX COLOUR: 3

Sorry, Ronald, but your  competition is Cary Grant!

Ronald Colman, Jean Arthur. TALK OF THE TOWN.

 

 

  • Taking a break. Three of The Sons of Katie Elder.

Michael Anderson, Dean Martin, John Wayne.

Missing?

  • Doris Day.

 

  •  Lizabeth Scott.

 

  • An early “MASH?    BATTLE CIRCUS (1953)
  • Still think it’s an odd pairing – June Allyson, Humphrey Bogart. 

    And you don’t have to guess who’s the doctor and who’s the nurse.

 

  • Tab Hunter. Handsome guy, good actor.

 

  • Victor Mature.

 

Love this shot of Jeanette MacDonald.

 

They made four films together and I haven’t seen any of them. Must start looking.

  • Joel McCrea, Constance Bennett.
  • BORN TO LOVE.  THE COMMON LAW. Both in 1931.
  • ROCKABYE (1932).
  • BED OF ROSES (1933)

 

Bette Davis,

Why is Bette wearing a Swedish National costume?

PHOTO OF THE DAY: GINGER ROGERS

Amazing  picture of Ginger Rogers ,taken in 1939 at her hilltop Beverly Hills home which she lived in from 1937 till the 1960s.

A lady with a head for heights !  But rather dangerous looking. That’s quite a drop.

 

A close-up of that photo.

A little safer. She is on the other side of the railing.

 

And a view of the house today.

My thanks to Peter Bryant for these photos. (Peter is on Twitter at @pmbryant )

I found a few other  photos of this home which Ginger had built in 1937.  Ginger said the view, high up in Coldwater Canyon, encompassed the entire coast down to Long Beach.  

Another view.

 

 

a view of the house, showing its height.

 

Until recently, I didnt know Ginger had wanted to star in  the film version of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Or that she had played ‘Annie Oakley’ on stage.

 

Ginger toured in the musical  starting in 1960. One of her costars was Byron Palmer ( whose wife was Georgina Darcy – ‘Miss Torso’ from REAR WINDOW.)

And another poster for the show, with a modern looking Ginger.

 

One of the summer theatres where Ginger played ( Warwick Musical Theatre) had quite a season. Stars included James Garner, Eve Arden, Howard Keel, Gordon McCrae, Robert Horton.

 

FAMOUS LAST LINES: THE TALL T

This gallery contains 3 photos.

If you know anything  about Randolph Scott westerns, you’ll recognise that Scott very rarely has anything to smile about. He’s either a sheriff, a bounty  hunter, a soldier, a loner, usually out for justice or revenge . The best of the bad hombres go up against him – Raymond Massey, Lee Marvin, Michael Pate , but you know  the […]

YOU KNOW THE FACE: CHARLES LANE

I found an 8 minute interview with character actor Charles Lane on You Tube. He was 77 when he appeared on the David Letterman Show in 1982.  One could have wished it was longer and conducted by Eddie Muller or Leonard Maltin who would have delved into his many Hollywood roles.

This man had a terrific career – in Hollywood from 1928 and wisely getting into television from the 1950s when film roles dried up. He was generally typecast in films as mean, miserly, bureaucratic , and the label stuck.

His first movie was SMART MONEY (1931), starring Edward G. Robinson,James Cagney. He was in so many classic films such as BALL OF FIRE! NOTHING SACRED, MR. DEEDS GOES  TO TOWN.

 

With Edward G. Robinson

What tales he must have to tell, being on the set with the top stars and directors.

As he said in the interview,

……The age old problem that we’re all faced with in Hollywood – typecasting.”

But he also said later, “If you have a type established and you’re any good, it can mean considerable work for you.”

But Mr.Lane was never out of work. He commented:

“When I started  at Warner Brothers, my salary was $35 a day. I’d go over to Stage 26 at 11 o’clock and play an elevator operator with four lines, and do another one at 3 o’clock, then I’d  go over to Stage 13 and do a taxi driver for four lines.

I’d do three pictures in one day, all for the same $35. That was before we had the Screen Actors Guild.”

 

 

Charles did mention Clark Gable,

“One of my favourites. He was a lovely, lovely man and I think of  him with great affection.”

 

With Clark Gable. TEACHER’S PET.

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN

 

With Ginger Rogers. THE PRIMROSE PATH.

(Several years ago, there was talk of a documentary about Charles , to be called “YOU KNOW THE FACE. I wish it had been completed.)

 

Colorised still  from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. He’s the rent collector who stands up to ‘Mr. Potter.’

Charles was a popular choice for Frank Capra and appeared in several Capra films.

Charles, far left, escaping a punch from James Stewart in MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON.

 

with Lionel Barrymore, Dub Taylor. YOU CANT TAKE IT WITH YOU.

 

 

With  Bette Garde ( the one and only ‘Wanda Skutnick’) In CALL NORTHSIDE 777.

Looking at his credits on IMDB, he appeared in 24 films in 1940, and 22 in 1942!
He was friends with Lucille Ball  and guest starred in her TV show several times.

With Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

 

A smiling Charles Lane, with William Frawley in I LOVE LUCY.

His last feature film was “The Computer  Wore Tennis Shoes” in 1995.

 

Honoured  by the American Cinemateque, at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica in 2005, Charles ruefully said it was the first time his name appeared on a theatre marquee.

 

  • Charles was also celebrated for his hundreds of TV roles at the TV Land Awards  in 2005, on his 100th birthday. In a still wonderfully clear voice, he said, “If you’re interested, I’m still available!”

He was one of the first members of the Screen Actors Guild. He was married in 1931 until his wife’s death in 2002. He died, aged 102, in 2007.

Charles and his wife, Ruth.

 

The Screen Actors Guild paid tribute to Charles in 2007, celebrating a life of more than 60 years in the acting business.

 

Charles Lane is one of the many wonderful character actors who thrived in vintage Hollywood. Casting directors knew they would get a thoroughly professional performance .
Just a pity, like many others, he wasn’t given the chance to show his considerable acting talent in bigger roles.

On the other hand, I think he was happy to do his work and then get home  to his family in Pasadena – and indulge in his favourite pastime, golf.

Oh, and he regretted not being in a western , since he was a good horseman!

 

FOREIGN POSTERS 27

BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND DAWN…….POLICE CAR 13

 

HOLD BACK THE DAWN………DOOR OF GOLD

Not exactly the best painting! Vague  resemblance to the three stars.

 

 

LADY IN THE LAKE……..””The most sensational innovation in the history of the cinema!”

Except it didn’t really catch on!

 

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK………CURSED DAY.

Love this one , with all the stars featured. Pity it’s not in color.Hasn’t quite got Walter Brennan.

 

 

ACROSS THE PACIFIC……..ADVENTURE IN PANAMA

Dull poster.

 

DARK MIRROR……….THE DOUBLE ENIGMA

Poor illustration of Olivia.

 

FLAMINGO ROAD……….BOULEVARD OF PASSIONS.

 

INVISIBLE STRIPES.

A good idea sometimes just to use photographs – and stripes.

 

 

TALL MAN RIDING…………THE FURIOUS RIDE

Nice shot of Randolph with Peggie Castle whom I liked a lot in this one.

 

ALL ABOUT  EVE.

Eve’s a flaming redhead!

 

This selection of foreign posters shows the good and the bad! Title changes sometimes unfathomable.

Always interesting to see how many foreign words are easy to translate.

The Brief, Madcap Life of KAY KENDALL

 

I enjoyed this 2021 paperback re-issue of Eve Golden’s 2002 biography of Kay Kendall (1927-1959).

For anyone not familiar with this wonderful actress, this book provides all you need to know about Kay’s films, her private life and her untimely death from cancer at the age of 32 in 1959.

Kay Kendall, born Justine Kay Kendall McCarthy, was tall, elegant, uninhibited, a wonderful comedienne. If she had been in Hollywood in an earlier era , there’s no doubt she would have been in the same class as Carole Lombard or Rosalind Russell – and getting film roles worthy of her.
But it took filmland quite a while to realise what a star Kay was. She had a very long apprenticeship starting in 1944 in a few bit parts in between modelling and stage work . Seeing her later films, it seems unfathomable that no one spotted her unique talent for nearly a decade.

But then she sprung on the film world as the zany trumpet playing girlfriend of Kenneth More in “Genevieve “. And sadly, she only made about ten more films before her death.

 

 

Under contract to Rank, they dubbed Kay, “Britain’s Lana Turner” but did nothing to find good roles for her. She was only 19 when she appeared in LONDON TOWN which, unfortunately, flopped.

 

Another small role as Paul Henreid’ secretary in MAN TRAP. She was also Cesar Romero’s secretary in HAPPY GO LOVELY. (Films made in the U.K. )

 

Kenneth More, Dinah Sheridan, John Gregson, Kay Kendall.

 

Michael Balfour  looks on as Kay surprises everyone with her trumpet solo. (Kenny Baker’s playing).

 

On location with Dirk Bogarde (who became a close friend) for DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE.

 

Kay and Peter Finch play a feuding husband and wife acting team, pretending to be a happy family for a television show. Kay and Peter were excellent , as was Ian Carmichael  as the hapless TV producer.

(Wikipedia lists “Simon and Laura” as a drama!)

 

Kay played opposite Robert Taylor in THE ADVENTURES OF QUENTIN DURWARD, playing a French noblewoman  to Taylor’s Scottish knight!

And still no one in America called out to her. Having met Rex Harrison while filming THE CONSTANT HUSBAND (1955), Kay and Rex began an affair. She followed him to New York when he starred in MY FAIR LADY. They married in  1957 , after Rex amicably divorced Lilli Palmer.
Rex 
had discovered that year that Kay had leukaemia and might only live another two years. Without consulting Kay , or her family, he decided she would not be told.
And yet during the following two years , it became obvious several people knew about the diagnosis. Including perhaps Kay.

 

Kay Kendall, Rex Harrison, John Saxon, Sandra Dee.

The Reluctant Debutante was shot in Paris in 1958. Kay tired quickly during filming.

 

Kay got a chance in a big Hollywood musical, LES GIRLS (1957) and held her own with Gene Kelly, Tania Elg, Mitzi Gaynor.

 

Kay guested on THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW .

 

Kay’s last film released in 1960, ONCE MORE WITH FEELING.

 

Stage appearances I’d love to have seen Kay in – as ‘Eliza’ in  a touring company of PYGMALION.

After Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer had starred in BELL BOOK AND CANDLE in London, Kay toured in it with Robert Flemying.

Kay also played  ‘Elvira’ in BLYTHE SPIRIT in 1954.

 

 

 

 

Kim Kendall Campbell.

This plaque, unveiled by Kim Kendall Campbell in 2014, was placed outside the house in Withernsea ,near Hull in Yorkshire where Kay was born.

 

 

Kay and Gene Kelly Perform “You’re Just Too Too” from LES GIRLS.

Once described as “A lanky beauty of thoroughbred features”, Kay Kendall shone brightly in the few films which gave her the chance to show her enormous talent.

WOMAN’S WORLD

 

In an all-star cast, Clifton Webb plays the owner of Gifford Motors who needs a new general manager. He brings three candidates to his headquarters in New York – along with their wives . It’s Gifford’s reckoning that the right wife is very important to his choice.
So the three couples arrive from out of town – Dallas, Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Elliot Reid  plays Clifton Webb’s nephew who ferries the wives around New York so they can take in the sights.

 

June Allyson, Lauren Bacall

The girls go shopping as Lauren helps June pick a dress.

 

The boys get to see what’s coming down the line in the new designs.( all from the Ford motor company.)

 

June Allyson, Cornel Wilde

 

June Allyson

  • June Allyson, as Cornel Wilde’s wife, plays pretty much the same character she did in “ Executive Suite” also in 1954 – sweet, funny, home loving, supportive – and seemingly unaware of the importance of this trip to New York .

 

Fred MacMurray, Lauren Bacall

Fred has an ulcer but he still wants the top job.

 

Lauren Bacall, Fred MacMurray

Lauren agrees to support Fred , though she wants a divorce.

 

Arlene Dahl, Van Heflin

Arlene wants the job as much as Van, if not more.

 

Arlene Dahl, Clifton Webb

And Arlene is willing to be very grateful to Clifton if her husband gets the job.

The film is an easy watch, with so many stars in it. There are sufficient contrast between the three couples, but, personally, I thought Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl were the most interesting duo.

Clifton Webb, as always, is very good.

 

Clifton Webb, Cornel Wilde, June Allyson, Margalo Gillmore, Van Heflin.

  • I was impressed with  Margalo Gillmore as Clifton Webb’s sister who opens her country home on Long Island for a weekend gathering of the couples.
    (Margalo worked primarily on the stage. She created the part of ‘Mary’ in THE WOMEN, and ‘Kay Thorndike’ in STATE OF THE UNION – parts played by Norma Shearer and Katharine Hepburn  in the film versions.

She was born in London but came to America and debuted on Broadway in 1917. She acted on stage with Edward G. Robinson,Leslie Howard , Laurence Olivier, Charles Boyer .

Margalo and Clifton Webb played husband and wife in a 1951  picture called ELOPEMENT.  She also played Grace Kelly’s mother in HIGH SOCIETY. She only made about a dozen films, her last being THE TROUBLE  WITH ANGELS.

 

  • Director Jean Negulesco indicates to a June Allyson exactly what he wants. Cornel Wilde looks on.

 

Jean Negulesco, Lauren Bacall, Van Heflin

Jean Negulesco (1900-1993) had given Twentieth Century Fox two winners previously, with HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE and THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN.

The Romanian born director came to America in 1927 but didn’t make his first feature till 1944 (MASK OF DEMETRIOS). His other films include HUMORESQUE, ROAD HOUSE, JOHNNY  BELINDA.

 

 

Theme song from the film.

 

 

WOMEN RULE THE WORLD. The men are only puppets in this French poster!

The film was based on a McCalls’ magazine story called “MAY THE BEST WIFE WIN.”

 

THE WOMAN’S WORLD.

 

STAR CASUAL 5

Jane Bryan

Jane Bryan (1918-2009) made less than 20 films between 1936 and 1940. She left acting when she married  industrialist Justin Hart in 1939.  She was in several films with Bette Davis, including THE OLD MAID, THE SISTERS, MARKED WOMAN and remained friends with Bette. 

Jane received praise for her performance in WE ARE NOT ALONE, with Paul Muni. 

 

Ginger Rogers

  • Nice shot of Ginger Rogers as she boards a plane.

 

Cary Grant

  • Oh for the days when you could find a star like Cary Grant willing to stop for an autograph and photo.

 

Greta Garbo

Was Garbo ever casual! Looks like she is on board a ship.

 

 

 

Lucille Ball

Lucille looks suitably casual .

 

Hedy Lamarr

Could Hedy ever look casual! So modern looking in slacks.

 

Irene Dunne and her husband, Dr. Francis Griffin

Well,  maybe not casual.

 

 

Alan Ladd

Alan smiling for a fan.

 

 

Clark Gable

Love the shoes! Wonder who  Clark  is posing for.

 

James Stewart, Doris Day.

Present for Mr. H.?

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO EVA MARIE SAINT

Eva Marie Saint is 97 today, the 4th of July,2021.

A fine actress who won a Best Supporting Oscar for her film debut in On The Waterfront” in 1954, and became one of Hitchcock’s blondes in “North By Northwest”.

 

Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint

Eva had studied at the Actor’s Studio in New York and was active in television from 1948. She played ‘Wilma Deering’  in  a short lived version of “Buck Rogers”  in 1950.

She continued with her TV Appearances in the 1950s, only making 3 more films after “On The Waterfront” before being cast in “North By Northwest.”

  • She made two films with Bob Hope – “That Certain Feeling” and “Cancel My Reservation”; a western with Gregory Peck (“The Stalking Moon”); “Exodus” with Paul Newman.

Don Murray, Eva Marie Saint. A HATFUL OF RAIN.

One of my favourites (aside from “North By Northwest”) is “36 Hours”  with James Garner.

 

Eva Marie Saint, James Garner

 

Eva was married to director Jeffrey Hayden from 1951 till his death in 2016.

Jeffrey Hayden, Eva Marie Saint

 

Eva continued acting through the decades, and makes personal appearances at the Oscars and on TCM.

I think Eva chose her acting roles carefully, with  her family life always at the forefront.

That red dress in ‘North  By Northwest”.

 

 

ON THE WATERFRONT

 

 

And that famous scene in NORTH BY NORTHWEST when the little boy in the background covers his ears before Eva shoots Cary.