Author Archives: Vienna

CASABLANCA: THE GIN JOINT CUT

The Oran Mor venue has been staging lunchtime plays under the title of A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT since 2004.  And that’s what you get – a very tasty pie, a drink and an hour long play, all for £12.50.

To celebrate the 500th performance since  2004, one play, written and directed by Morag Fullarton, CASABLANCA,THE GIN JOINT CUT was chosen for revival.

First performed in 2010, this little gem is a spoof and also homage to the 1942 film. It’s been performed at the Edinburgh Festival, in London and  Paris ( with its original cast of three – Gavin Mitchell, Jimmy Chisholm and Claire Waugh).

 

When  I saw the play for the first time this year, I knew nothing about it. I  came away completely captivated with Morag Fullarton’s writing and the performances of Mitchell, Waugh and Kevin Lennon (replacing Chisholm).

The three performers play all the parts – brilliantly. Gavin Mitchell is ‘Rick’, Kevin Lennon is Ugarte, Lazlo and Renault and Claire Waugh is Ilsa- and Major Strasser!  Costume changes are minimal but convey whatever character they are playing.

Much of the original dialogue is used. There’s action and laughs . Of course the story is condensed but the three performers are simply superb.Sound effects and music add great atmosphere.

 

Gavin Mitchell – and Sam.

Oran Mor has a small stage area and one of the funniest scenes involves the scene where Rick says the famous line,  “Play it,Sam.”

Only what we see is a small wooden Sam sitting at a tiny piano! ( singing ‘As Time Goes By’ of course).

 

We all  got to sing along to ‘La Marseillaise’!

So many funny touches – a watering can is handy when Rick reads Ilsa’s farewell letter at the Paris station!

And when Rick and Renault watch the plane leaving with Lazlo and Ilsa, Rick says the immortal words about a beautiful friendship – and they both duck as the sound of the plane is heard above them!

 

 

Gavin Mitchell as Rick Blaine and Jimmy Chisholm as Victor Lazlo, with the letters of transit.

 

Gavin Mitchell.

The play was well  received in Paris . I know a New York engagement was a possibility but I don’t think it happened.

 

The Oran Mor, in the west end of Glasgow. ‘Oran Mor’ meaning ‘great music’, was originally a church built in 1862 before becoming a music and theatrical venue.

 

To Scottish audiences, Gavin Mitchell is known for playing Boaby the barman in the hit comedy tv series, “Still Game”.

Gavin has the Bogart look and his accent is spot-on.

 

The applause at the end of the show was roof shattering!  I wish I could convey  just how funny this play is and how skilfully it is done with just a cast of three on a small stage ( the Oran Mor only  seats about  200). I wish I had discovered it sooner.

All I  can say is – and I admit to quoting from one review – if it comes your way, don’t miss it – you might regret it, maybe not today………..

 

The real thing.

DORIS DAY: 1922-2019

The announcement of Doris Day’s death at the age of 97 made headline news all round the world. Sad news indeed.

Doris was happy in  retirement for nearly half her life, leaving the entertainment industry in the mid 1970s, moving to Carmel in California and devoting herself to animal welfare.

 

A young Doris who had an enormous hit with ‘Sentimental Journey’ in 1945 when she was with Les Brown’s  band.

 

The first band that Doris sang with , the  Barney Rapp Band In 1939.

 

With the Bob Crosby band.

 

Doris’s first film in 1948 in which she had a another massive hit, ‘It’s Magic’. With no acting experience, she proved to be a natural ,making 17 films for Warner Brothers in 7 years.

 

With Gene Nelson

 

As a young  girl, Doris wanted to be a dancer but a car accident at the age of 12 meant she could not continue training. In a long recovery period (she had a serious leg injury), Doris started singing and her mother Alma arranged voice lessons, leading to work with a local band in Cincinnati.

Fortunately Doris was able to resume her dancing in many of her Warners musicals, showing how good she was.

With her mother, Alma.

 

 

Terrific  as Calamity Jane (my favourite of all her films), Doris left Warners at the end of her contract after YOUNG AT HEART.

 

Doris continued with success after success, marvellous in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME and starring opposite James  Stewart in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH.

Love Me Or Leave Me

 

 

On the set of The Man Who Knew Too Much.

 

Then THE PAJAMA GAME and TEACHER’S PET  before teaming with Rock Hudson in PILLOW TALK, another huge hit.

With John Raitt

 

Pillow Talk

 

 

With Rex Harrison. “MIDNIGHT LACE.”

 

With Cary Grant in THAT TOUCH OF MINK.

 

My favourite Day films are from the 50s – YOUNG AT HEART, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, CALAMITY JANE , TEACHER’S PET and THE PAJAMA GAME.

 

Doris had two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd, one for movies and one for recording, both given in 1960.

Along with Judy Garland (who was born the same year as Doris), she was the only major female  recording artist to also have a substantial film career. She recorded around 800 songs.

 

With her son, Terry who predeased  her. Terry was responsible,for one of Doris’s  last record hits, “Move Over Darling” which I love.

 

Doris’s private life was turbulent but on screen and on record , she conveyed a warmth  which appealed to so many of us. The film industry recognised her talent . These are some of her awards:

Oscars for Best Songs, “Secret Love” and “Que Sera, Sera”.

Two Golden Globes.

Cecil B. DeMille award for outstanding achievement (1989).

Photoplay Gold Medal For LULLABY OF BROADWAY in 1951.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doris, we’ll miss you but won’t forget you.

 

 

 

 

 

FOREIGN POSTERS. 23

As usual, foreign translations of Hollywood titles  can be – unusual!

WITHOUT LOVE.    (Too Smart For Love)

NIGHT PASSAGE

 

M

DESIRE

 

M

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS…  (Intrepid Captains)

 

 

M

GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL.    (Clash of the Titans)

 

 

M

PAY THE DEVIL. (The Devil’ s Salary)

 

 

M

DOWN TO EARTH.        (Beauties in the Sky)

 

 

M

TOO HOT TO HANDLE.      (It Happened in China)

 

DAY OF THE BADMAN.          (The Day of the Violent)

 

THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.        (Captives of Evil)

MARIE DRESSLER : Scrublady to Dowager

She will forever be remembered for her exchange with Jean Harlow in DINNER AT EIGHT. ( more of that later).

MARIE DRESSLER (1869-1934) became an unlikely star and Oscar winner in her sixties ,  but sadly she died just  4 years after winning her Oscar  for MIN AND BILL in 1930.

With  Charlie Chaplin in TILLIE’S PUNCTURED ROMANCE in 1914, her film debut ,based on her Broadway success of the ‘Tillie’ character and made by  Mack Sennett.

 

Marie (born Leila Marie Koerber) was in show business from a young age, she sang in light opera, she wrote and performed her own material in vaudeville.and even became a producer.

In one sketch on stage, the curtain goes up and Marie is standing on her head. After a while she drops down and stretches, saying, “Best rest I’ve had in weeks.”

The stage  was her home for most of her life.

Merry Marie! “Herself, not pictures!”

 

Marie was a champion of women’s suffrage. In 1919 she took part in the stage actors strike, along with Ethel Barrymore.

 

Marie was with the elite of Hollywood, doing bond selling tours during the First World War.  She is seen kneeling next to Charlie Chaplin, with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford behind her – and Franklin Roosevelt on the left!

 

 

Despite making several shorts, Marie’s film career didn’t take off and she wasn’t on screen again till a writer friend Frances Marion wrote THE CALLAHANS AND THE MURPHYS for her in 1927. Marie was out of work at the time.

Marie adapted well to talkies and made 19 films between 1929 and 1934. Audiences loved her down to earth,honest characters, though she was equally at home playing dowagers.

She could chew the scenery if not held back, but her stage and vaudeville experience gave her a powerful presence on screen.

 

I love Marie’s rendition of “For I’m the Queen’ in HOLLYWOOD REVUE. And in that wonderful finale, when all the stars line up and warble ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, Marie pops up a tiny umbrella as she smiles at the camera.

Sorry, poor screen grab.

 

 

With Garbo In ANNA CHRISTIE(1930), Marie only had a few scenes but was totally convincing as the waterfront drunk ,’Marthy’, who shares Garbo’s first talkie conversation.

 

Anna Christie.

 

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As Marion Davies’ mother in THE PATSY.

 

Marie and fellow comedian Polly Moran made a series of films , only   one of which I have seen – POLITICS. They usually argued -loudly- with one another and I  cant say their broad comedy appealed.

With Polly Moran

 

 

The cast of TUGBOAT ANNIE with Wallace Beery and Mervyn LeRoy on either side of Marie. Cinematographer Gregg Toland is behind Marie and writer Norman Reilly Raine is next to Mervyn LeRoy.

 

Love this shot of Marie with Mervyn LeRoy and Wallace  Beery between takes of “Tugboat Annie”. Putting their feet  up!

 

With Wallace Beery and Robert Young (playing her son) in “Tugboat Annie).

The tugboat used in the film is preserved in Seattle where many scenes were filmed.

 

Marie had another Oscar nomination for her role as a housekeeper who marries her employer in  EMMA which also starred Myrna Loy.

“Emma” is one of several Dressler films I would  love to see – ONE ROMANTIC NIGHT (1930) in which she plays a princess and Lillian Gish’s mother!   – CHASING RAINBOWS (1930) in which she sings ‘Pure  but Honest’ – THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN ( her last film ).

 

 

On the cover of Time magazine in 1933.

 

Marie’s is a Cinderella story, working and struggling all her life , experiencing both success and failure, only to find fame in her 60s and winning an Oscar. She had known early success but had a long period out of the limelight. By some  twist of fate, her talent became recognised as talkies took the place of silent films  and the public adored her.

 

With Wallace Beery in MIN AND BILL.

Despite being a heavy built lady, Marie always exuded energy on screen. In ”MIn And Bill”, she and Wallace Beery have a knock-down, no holds barred fight  which is very funny.

 

A rare shot of a serious Marie at the end of “Min And Bill”, reminiscent of “Stella Dallas” when she sees , for the last time, the girl she has raised as a daughter go off to a better life.

 

Some quotes from Marie:

”Fate cast me to play the role of an ugly duckling with no promise of swanning.”

On success at the age of 60:

”At sixty, nobody envies you. Instead everybody rejoices generously in your good fortune.”

 

 

The famous exchange at the end of DINNER AT EIGHT.

Marie, as faded stage star Carlotta Vance is walking alongside Kitty (Jean Harlow) into the dining room of their hosts, Lionel Barrymore and Billie Burke.

This is how the conversation goes:

Kitty: “I was reading a book the other day.”

Carlotta stops in her tracks: “Reading a book?”

(Marie does the perfect double take!)

Kitty: “Yes, it’s all about civilisation or something. A nutty kind of book. Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of Every profession?”

 

That’s when Marie , with perfect timing, delivers the  iconic line after looking Kitty up and down:

“Oh my dear, THAT’S something you need never worry about!”

Dinner At Eight was a 1932 Broadway play by George Kaufman and Edna Ferber, but they didn’t have this scene in the play.

The film’s script was by France Marion and Herman J. Mankiewicz, so one of them must take the credit for that dialogue.

(Constance Collier played Carlotta in the stage production.’)

 

 

With Lionel Barrymore who won for A FREE SOUL.

Amazingly Marie was the third  Canadian in a row to win the Best Actress Oscar –  Mary Pickford had won for COQUETTE and Norma Shearer for THE DIVORCEE.

 

With Wallace Beery  making their mark at Graumans Chinese Theatre in 1931.

 

M

 

With  Clark Gable.

MGM gave a lavish birthday party for Marie in 1933.

 

 

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Nice to know that Marie is remembered in her hometown of Cobourg, Ontario.

In 1992  a vintage film festival was started there to showcase Marie’s films and those of her contemporaries.

The 2018 festival  celebrated the 150th anniversary of Marie’s birth and featured ANNA CHRISTIE, POLITICS, THE PATSY.

More details at http://www.mariedressler.ca

 

 

Amazingly, Marie’s 1924 memoir has been reprinted and is an interesting read, concentrating on her career up to that date.There have been two biographies which I hope  to read soon.

Little did she know what the future held for her.

 

 

STAR CASUAL 4

Rosalind Russell wearing a highly decorated suit. The sun’s blazing but the gloves are on.

 

 

 

Fresh faced Ann Sheridan.

 

It’s a quizzical Jimmy Stewart.

 

Studiously casual, Miss Norma Shearer.

 

Was that a fan taking this photo of Dennis O’Keefe. Love the bow tie.

 

Well, maybe not so casual. Carmen Miranda out for the evening in a dazzling outfit.

 

A very young Judy Garland with her frequent costar Mickey Rooney.

 

Jean Harlow, casual in slacks.

 

Caught in the wind, Betty Grable.

 

Relaxing by the pool,  Mr and Mrs Glenn Ford (Eleanor Powell).

 

The always dapper George Raft.