Author Archives: Vienna


Two great new blu ray and dvd releases are coming  from The Criterion Collection in March,2020. The 1936  SHOW BOAT and 1945’s LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN.

Heaven indeed to get these two classics restored and re-issued.

I love the art work for the covers – Show Boat design by Brooklyn based Raphael Geroni and Leave Her To Heaven by French graphic designer, Flore Maquin.

Not much in the way of extras on the Gene Tierney film, but Show  Boat has quite a few – a 1989 audio commentary by Show  Boat expert, Miles Kreuger; an interview with James Whale biographer, James Curtis; a 1979 tribute to Paul Robeson;  two radio adaptations, one featuring Orson Welles ; and 20 minutes of silent excerpts from the 1929 version of Show  Boat, with audio by Miles Kreuger.

(I never did figure out what the point  was of filming Show Boat without the glorious Jerome Kern  music).

Apparently the Warner Archive had plans for an “Ultimate Show Boat Collection”, but it didn’t happen. I did read that MGM/UA Home Video released all three film versions on laser disc in 1995. I wonder if anyone has this collection!

I love the 1936 Show Boat because director James Whale tried to stay as faithful as possible to the classic Broadway show of 8 years earlier. From the stage version he brought Helen Morgan,Charles  Winninger, Irene Dunne,Paul Robeson, Sammy White . (Irene and Paul weren’t in the first Broadway production but Irene toured in it, and Paul played it in London and in the 1932 revival.)

Universal had hoped to borrow Nelson Eddy from MGM, but the role of Ravenal went to Allan Jones. ( John Boles was also considered.)

I like how Frank S. Nugent ends his 1936 review of Show Boat:

”Universal is to be congratulated – Show Boat is in port again, and we hope it finds a safe harbour.”

If only it had been in color. Ten years later, Leave Her To Heaven was made in blazing Technicolor.

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is released on March 24th, 2020. SHOW BOAT is March 31st.



Allan Jones, Irene Dunne.


The Cotton Blossom


Paul Robeson. “Ol’ Man River.”


Charles Winninger as ‘Captain Andy’


Sammy White, Queenie Smith.



Cornel Wilde, Gene Tierney


Gene Tierney


Bad sister, good sister! Gene Tierney, Jeanne Crain. They did look alike.


Who can forget that scene on the lake!!!


( Here are two further designs , not connected to the disc releases, by Flore Maquin and Raphael Geroni:)

By Flore Maquin.



Book cover by Raphael Geroni.




BONHAMS AUCTION: 1939 HOLLYWOOD’S GREATEST YEAR in Los Angeles held an auction, TCM PRESENTS HOLLYWOOD’S GREATEST YEAR, 1939 on 10th December,2019.

Highest selling item was a test wand used by  Billie Burke as the Good Witch, Glinda  in THE WIZARD OF OZ. It sold for £304,327!

Billie Burke.


A handwritten letter from Carole Lombard to Pandro Berman (head of RKO)  went for £533. From the letter (sent  December 28, 1939) , it seems that Pandro Berman had sent Carole a gift of brandy. The letter is signed “Carole and  Clark.)

The lot included a 1942 telegram from Pandro Berman to Corporal Clark Gable who was attending Officers Candidate school in Miami Beach.


A water colour painting by Katharine Hepburn sold for £19,073.


An Emerald City citizen’s coat from THE WIZARD OF OZ made £9565. (Design by Adrian.)


A portrait of Ginger Rogers ( signed by her to Pandro Berman) sold for £872.



A hand painted promotional display for CASABLANCA sold for £9090.



Marion Davies was effusive in her signed photo to Louella Parsons, describing Louella as “the greatest friend I have  ever had.” (£436.)



A concept painting of the Vandamm house atop Mount Rushmore in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, designed at MGM in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. (The house was a matte painting , with the interiors in the studio, but it’s still an iconic image.)

The painting sold for £3099.



A necklace worn by Vivien   Leigh in GONE WITH THE WIND made £23,828. Centred with amethysts, the necklace was designed by Joseff/Hollywood.


Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer sent signed letters to fans regarding the casting of Scarlett O’Hara. Both gave reasons why they would not be playing the role!

Joan said she’d like to play Scarlett but….”it will be impossible for me to do it. The picture rights are owned by a studio where  I am not under contract, and my own studio can not lend me for the part.”

(Still, MGM managed to loan their biggest star, Clark Gable!)

Joan Crawford. 1937.


Norma Shearer, who has been announced as a possible Scarlett, let herself off the hook, pleading Scarlett’s character wasn’t a suitable role for her!    “I felt I had been associated with such idealistic characters in the past few years, that to play Scarlett whole -heartedly might be offensive and leave an unpleasant impression on the minds of the public.”


Norma Shearer .1938

The Crawford/Shearer letters didn’t sell.


Also up for auction but not sold was Margaret Mitchell’s signed contract, selling the film rights OF GONE WITH THE WIND TO David Selznick. ( if it was sold, it’s not showing on the Bonhams site.)

According to the auction details, Leslie Howard’s contract for GONE WITH THE WIND, shows that he was to be paid $7500 per  week, more than Gable, De Havilland and Leigh combined!  ( for some reason, Selznick wanted Howard badly.)

Thomas Cornwell Jackson, Gail Patrick.

As president of Paisano Productions and executive producer of the TV series PERRY MASON from 1957 to 1966, GAIL PATRICK (1911-1980) was one of the first female TV producers, and the only female executive producer during the Perry Mason years.

Gail Patrick Jackson, Raymond Burr.

Gail’s husband ,Thomas Cornwell Jackson, was literary agent for author Erle Stanley Gardner . Gail shared Gardner’s love of the law (she had done two years of law school at the University of Alabama).

Gail, her husband and the Perry Mason author formed Paisano Productions and Gail developed Perry Mason and sold it to CBS. Gail’s mansion on La Brea Terrace was sometimes a shooting location for the show.


Gail with her family. She is described as ‘the former movie star.’


Gail, with Erle Stanley Gardner and columnist Norma Lee Browning.


Gail on the set of Perry Mason, with Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale.
Interesting 1950s article about women in business, with the quote, “A woman who undertakes two jobs excels at neither.” (compromising her ‘traditional role’).


Gertrude Michael, Wendy Barrie, Gail Patrick, Ann Sheridan, Katherine DeMille, ?

Gail Patrick made 60 films between 1932 and 1948. When she stopped acting, she said, “I never formally retired. I just quit and it was a good time as TV started taking over.”

Of her career, Gail said, “My Man Godfrey”, that’s  the movie that typed me.”

And that is so true. In ‘A’ features, Gail was generally aloof, unsympathetic, snooty, devious. While in her ‘B’ films, Gail often played the heroine and even on one occasion, the title role in a comedy – UP IN MABEL’S ROOM (1944) – which I’d love to see for the title alone.

Was it partly because she was tall and statuesque and spoke with an upper class accent? Typecasting seemed inevitable for some actors.


Gail was Carole Lombard’s snooty sister in MY MAN GODFREY. She was the only unlikeable girl in STAGE DOOR. And of course she didn’t stand a chance as the second wife in MY FAVORITE WIFE.

(She reportedly helped director Leo McCarey write the judge’s lines in the second courtroom scene in “My Favorite Wife.”)


With Melvyn Douglas. THE LONE  WOLF RETURNS.

I’ve caught up with three of Gail’s ‘B’ movies on You Tube, and what a difference it is to see her in roles that were more than one dimensional.
In The Lone Wolf Returns (1935), she’s the romantic lead opposite Melvyn Douglas.


Carole Lombard, William Powell, Gail,Patrick. MY MAN GODFREY


Trading barbs with Ginger Rogers in STAGE DOOR.


With Cary Grant in MY FAVOURITE WIFE.


Gail is the wife of district attorney Warren William in WIVES UNDER SUSPICION. A young Constance Moore plays Gail’s cousin and William Lundigan is a family friend.

It’s Warren William’s film but Gail is fine in her scenes as the neglected wife.


I haven’t been able to see HER HUSBAND LIES. IMDB has only one review and indicates Gail plays a cabaret singer who marries a racketeer played by Ricardo Cortez.


With Ricardo Cortez


Gail has a good part in DISBARRED, as a young lawyer hoodwinked by crooked lawyer, Otto Kruger who represents gangsters. A young Robert Preston works for the D.A’ s office.


Gail Patrick, Lew Ayres, Joyce Compton.

Another Paramount title , MURDER WITH PICTURES (1936) is also on You Tube . Gail starts off as a mystery woman who comes into the life of breezy newspaper cameraman,Lew Ayres who is covering a murder trial.

I love how this little 69 minute thriller gets a full review in Variety – ……”it has writing flaws, but first rate performances. It provides Lew Ayres with a swell chance to shine……easily his best in months. It will prove entertaining for audiences who like sleuth bafflers!”

Oh, and Joyce Compton ( who plays Ayres’ girlfriend) gets a mention- “Joyce Compton is entirely sufficient!”


Despite appearing in major films and many ‘B’ features, Gail never got that contract with a studio who would work on making her a star. Typecasting won out.


Likeness? Both tall and dark. Gail Patrick and Lynn Bari.



A Universal City tribute to Carl Laemmle , the head of Universal Studios in 1932.

Many familiar faces, presumably all under contract.

Back Row:

Boris Karloff, Genevieve Tobin, John Boles, Tala Birall, James Whale, James Flavin, Bela Lugosi, ?  Raymond Massey.

Middle Row:

Leo Carillo………. I can only recognise Tom Mix, Lew Ayres,,Noah Beery Jr, Lola Lane at far right.

Front Row:

A very young Mickey Rooney, and Carl Laemmle in the middle.

Any other names? Maybe some local politicians?


Cary Grant portrays Cole Porter in NIGHT AND DAY.


Nice shot of Randolph Scott and Mariette Hartley from RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY.



Randy Stuart and Grant Williams on the set of THE INCREDIBLE  SHRINKING MAN.


Publicity shot for THE SET UP, with Robert Ryan and Audrey Totter.



Not sure who the cake is for. Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Alan Ladd.


Donald Meek on the dance floor in YOU CANT TAKE IT WITH YOU. Also seen are James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold,Spring Byington, Ann Miller.


Must be a good story from Turhan Bey.   Lana Turner is well amused!



George Bernard Shaw, Marion Davies, Louis B Mayer and Clark Gable  at MGM in 1933.

No one told them to smile.


The wedding of Joan Blondell and Dick Powell in 1936.