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INTOLERANCE: BABYLON COURT

The three and a half hour 1916 epic, INTOLERANCE had some incredible sets including the above scene.

This film, by D.W. Griffith really was amazing in its concept – four story lines separated in time by several centuries.

The above set was for the story of the fall of the Babylonian Empire at the court of King Belshazzar.

I have read that D.W.Griffith financed most of the film which was seen  as an answer to the criticism he had received for Birth of a Nation. INTOLERANCE showed religious and political persecution  through the ages.

Stars of the film included Bessie Love, Lillian Gish, Constance Talmadge, Mae Marsh, Eugene Pallette, Donald Crisp, Douglas Fairbanks.

Amazing too to see all the future directors who were assistant directors on the film – Allan Dwan, Victor Fleming, Tod Browning, Jack Conway .

I’ve only seen clips from the film and it does look very impressive. Surely one of the very first big budget epics. To think that a set from over 100  years ago still remains one of the cinematic wonders.

 

The Babylon set was built near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard and stood for several years until it was finally dismantled in 1919.
(One can only imagine that this area was very much different from today  in 1916 ie plenty of space!)

 

Just recently a friend sent me an article related to this famous set and it was interesting to read that in 2001, the Hollywood and Highland shopping centre opened with the courtyard  of the centre being a scale replica of the archway and the elephant topped columns from the long lost movie.

 

Called Babylon Court, there was a plaque with information about the 1916 film.
I love how the arch frames the Hollywood sign.

But time marches on and the Intolerance replica arch and elephants are to be removed in a redevelopment of the shopping centre.

 

 

The advertising in 1916 described the movie as “the world’s mightiest spectacle!” and “D.W. Griffith’s masterpiece.“

 

 

 

Construction of the arch.

 

Amazing shot of Griffith in a balloon to oversee the scene!

 

You can see the colossal set size next to the man standing in the middle .

 

I guess it’s time to dip into a little more of this historical film.

 

Hollywood advertising, right  from the beginnings – “67,000 Actors!”

PHOTO TIME

Adele Jergens. ARMORED CAR ROBBERY.

 

Marie Windsor. THE NARROW MARGIN.

One of my favourite bloggers, Nitrate diva (http://nitratediva.wordpress.com) spotted that Marie Windsor and Adele Jergens wore the same dress in their films, The Narrow  Margin (1952) and Armored Car Robbery (1950).

Both films were RKO features so I guess both dresses came from the studio wardrobe dept.

 

In response to Nitrate Diva’s Twitter post, Norman Charles pointed out four newspaper headlines which featured the same headline (“Meteorite falls Near Baby” ) in each of the following  films – Over 21, The Bamboo Blonde, Black Angel, Framed.

The four films are from different studios, Columbia, RKO and Universal and were made in 1945, 1946 and 1947.

I cant explain this odd coincidence but well spotted by Mr. Charles.

I hope the baby was ok!

OVER 21.

 

Frances Langford. Bamboo Blonde.

 

BLACK ANGEL.

 

Edgar Buchanan. FRAMED.

 

Amazingly, I found another reference to the meteorite/baby reference.

According to the source I read, this photo comes from the animator’s desk at the Disney attraction, One Man’s Dream.

 

 

 

Another mystery, more easily identified I’m sure.  Who’s holding the cup in which film? And what’s  the significance of the cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO MIX 38

 

Ann Sheridan signs a poster of herself  during a USO tour.

 

Lauren Bacall, Kenneth More. NORTH WEST FRONTIER.

Always thought Lauren Bacall was unusual casting in this very good film.

 

John Ericson, Barbara Stanwyck.40 GUNS

To Barry Sullivan: “You shot my sister. I don’t believe it!”

 

 

Johnny Rocco and his gang.

Harry Lewis, Dan Seymour, Edward G.Robinson, William Haade, Thomas Gomez. KEY LARGO.

Be afraid, Bogie, be very afraid!

 

Walter Brennan. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT.

”They are all around, waiting to sting you.!”

 

Alan Ladd in APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER. (His character’s name is ‘Goddard’). Ladd plays a postal inspector.

 

Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges.HIGH NOON

He won’t be a deputy for long.

 

 

Glenn Ford. COWBOY.

I thought this pic was from 3.10 to Yuma but good friend to the blog ,Walter confirmed it’s a still from “Cowboy.“

 

The entire cast of THE NAKED SPUR.

Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell, James Stewart, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh. Trying to figure out what’s what and who’s who.

 

 

Michael Curtiz, Ingrid Bergman, Hal Wallis. CASABLANCA

The director , star and producer of the classic.

 

 

Richard Conte, Hope Emerson;.CRY OF THE CITY.

Take it easy, Hope. It’s only a movie!”

 

Fredric March, New York. 1944.
“Hurry up, son. the weather’s no improvin’ .”

 

 

 

STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1941)

 

You cant go wrong with Raoul Walsh directing,the Epstein brothers scripting   and a cast of James Cagney, Olivia De Havilland and Rita Hayworth. 

The plot ( from a play by James Hogan) was so popular that it was used three times in Hollywood- in 1932 ( with Gary Cooper) and later in the 40s as One Sunday Afternoon (1948, still with Raoul Walsh in the director’s  chair).

Set in New York in the 1890’s, the film was a nice change of pace for both Walsh and Cagney, with Cagney playing Biff Grimes, a pugnacious, quick tempered man who “don’t take nothing from nobody” because “that’s the kind of hairpin I am!”

 

All the men gather outside the barber shop as Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth) saunters by. Biff’s pal Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson) is in the group.

I had forgotten that this film is not all comedic in tone, though played with a light touch. Much of the film is in flashback as we learn how Biff ended up doing a five year prison stretch . And how his father (Alan Hale) is killed on a building site run by Biff’s friend ,Hugo.

Rita Hayworth, Olivia De Havilland, James Cagney, Jack Carson.

Hugo manages to arrange a double date with Virginia and her friend Amy who is a nurse with progressive ideas !

 

Biff is besotted with Virginia who goes off with Hugo.
The scenes with Biff and Amy have some great dialogue.

Amy is a woman with women’s rights on her mind and her ideas shock Biff as he says to her, “Wouldn’t you like a nice young man to marry you some day?”

Her reply,  “Not particularly!”

 

She asks for a cigarette and again surprises him, “…..I’ve been around, they can say an  awful lot of things about Biff Grimes,but not that he ever gave a girl a cigarette.”

He really  cant understand Amy:”Well, your mother’s a bloomer girl, you’re a nicotine fiend, are there any more at home like you?”

Amy: “I have an aunt who’s an actress!”

 

 

Olivia is a delight as the forward thinking Amy whom Biff comes to realise is the girl he loves and marries and sticks by him when he goes to prison after trusting Hugo who has been using substandard material in his building  work . (He had persuaded Biff to work for him and got Biff to sign contracts which made him liable when things went wrong).

 

George Tobias is Biff’s loyal friend, the barber Nick. 

 

Alan Hale is Biff’s father who can’t hold down a job and is always having trouble with his teeth – which is convenient for Biff as he is taking a correspondence course in dentistry.

 

 

Although Hugo has become a successful business man, his marriage to Virginia is not doing well.
And by coincidence, he need a dentist at short notice. Guess who he is referred to. Yes, it’s Biff who has continued his dental course in prison.

When Hugo and Virginia come to him, Biff is understandably still sore  at the time he spent in prison and pulls Hugo’s tooth.

Hugo:”What’s the idea. I wanted gas.”

Biff: “I haven’t got anything against you  any more, Hugo, but I wouldn’t be quite human  if I didn’t take a little revenge!”

 

It’s a pleasure to hear the good old songs featured in the film,  In The Good Old Summertime, Wait still The Sun Shines, Nellie , When You Were Sweet Sixteen and The Band Played  On. And of course there is a barber shop quartet.

The film’s end credits has sing-a-along lyrics on the screen to And The Band Played On. Sending everybody home with a smile on their faces I’m sure.

The film cried out for color. According to the A.F.I Ann Sheridan was set to play Virginia Brush but was in a salary dispute with Warner Brothers. I thought Rita Hayworth was just fine and conveyed how the older Virginia was not at all happy though having wealth and position in society.

In the 1933 stage play, Lloyd Nolan played Biff. And in the 1948 musical version, Dennis Morgan took on the Cagney role.
I haven’t seen either of the other film versions, so can’t compare them, but everything worked in the ‘41 version.

 

 

 

And a final piece of Epstein dialogue:

Amy: “I just can’t get over that electric light. Isnt it dangerous?”

Hugo: “Not if you pay the bills.”

 

 

VARIETY: JULY 8th, 1936

I wonder how many American  filmgoers in 1936 purchased the trade paper Variety,  or did they stick to the various fan movie magazines they could purchase every week.
The front page of Variety on July 8th,1936 had lots of interesting news:

 

Bette Davis in London.

……….”BETTE DAVIS SALARY TIFF WITH WARNER BROTHERS”

She’s left town and Jack Warner is standing pat on his suspension edict. He said there’s a principle whether or not a player can snap her fingers at a moral and legal obligation to the studio which employs her.
Miss Davis walked out of the picture,’God’s Country and the Woman’, demanding her salary of $1250 be doubled, or else.
Warner said her demands were exorbitant and she would remain on suspension.

(Bette went to London but had to return eventually. Warner Brothers did give her a bigger salary and better contract.

The picture, “God’s Country and the Woman” (That’s a title and a half!) was made with Beverly Roberts and George Brent. Must admit I don’t know Ms. Roberts. She was at Warner Brothers from 1936 to 1939 and then returned to singing and acting on the stage.)

Beverly Roberts

 

 

Ann Dvorak

……..Ann Dvorak who tiffed in the courts with Warner Brothers was reinstated after an 8 month suspension and reported back for work.

(Sadly Ann, whom I think would have been one of Warners’ biggest stars, did not get the roles she deserved after her quarrel with the studio.)

 

Lily Pons

………Theme songs from pictures are much in demand when Grace Moore, Lily Pons and Lawrence Tibbett tour the country – ‘One Night of Love’ – ‘I Dream Too Much’  – and Tibbett is still singing ‘The Rogue Song’.

(Imagine going to a concert with any of these singers!)

Grace Moore, Lawrence Tibbett.NEW MOON.

 

……….Overcoming Breen objections To “Valiant is the Word  for Carrie”, Paramount self-censored in a scene with Gladys George who raised her eyebrows  and gave rise to a questionable implication in the line.

(Gosh, I wonder what the line was! Has anybody seen this film?

And what a thrill for Salt Lake City fans, to have Gladys George there in person.)

 

 

Adele Astaire

………Lady Charles Cavendish (Adele Astaire) is leaving  for Hollywood in a one a year deal with David Selznick  for four years.

(Well, that definitely didn’t happen. It would have been wonderful to have Adele Astaire recorded on film. )

 

………At the Pan-American Auditorium 14,000 spectators witnessed the spectacular Actors  Fund Benefit On July 1st.
Gable, Colbert and Capra did the hitch hiking scene. Bette Davis, Robert Montgomery, Nelson Eddy, Eddie Cantor and others also performed.

Busby Berkeley and LeRoy Prinz contributed to the staging.

(Wow. What a concert that must have been. Wonder what Bette Davis did, and who were the ‘others’.)

Frank Capra,Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable.

 

Love these foreign posters for It Happened One Night.

 

 

 

……….Sigmund Romberg is composing new tunes for “Maytime”, with Gus Kahn doing lyrics.

ARIZONA’S HOLLYWOOD IN THE DESERT

M

Director Wesley Ruggles (1889-1972), younger brother of Charlie Ruggles, was active In films from 1917 and yet after the big budget Arizona in 1940, he only directed 5 more films. Reasons unknown.

Ruggles, for this western, scouted locations 12 miles from Tucson, and leased a 320 acre site which had a photographically perfect mountain, Golden Gate Peak, for a backdrop.He created 1860s Old Tucson  with the film’s budget of $2.3 million to work with.
There’s an unpublished paper, “Old Tucson and the filming of Arizona “ by Mary Huntington Abbott in 1968 which is held at the University of Arizona’s Western History.  Such a shame we can’t see it.

When the lease to the area  ran out in 1944, Columbia donated the entire site to Pima  County. There was no filming there after Arizona and the 50 buildings which were built for the film fell into disrepair. One report in the Tucson Daily Citizen said that “Phoebe Titus’s pie shop Is almost in shambles.”

Then in the late 40s  filming began again and many westerns were filmed there including  Winchester 73 , Rio Bravo , El Dorado , Buchanan Rides Alone and 3.10 To Yuma. It was a favorite location for John Wayne.

In 1959,  an entrepreneur Robert E. Shelton leased and restored the sets and by 1960, Old Tucson was open to the public and was heavily used for movie and TV.

In 1966 many props from John  Wayne’s The Alamo – cannons, saddles, wagons were given to Old Tucson.  And in 1970 , 100’s of pieces of wardrobe from the MGM auction were also purchased.

There was a big fire in 1995 and many buildings and sets, costumes were destroyed, but the local community rebuilt the movie set town and it is still open today.

So it’s unlikely any of the original Arizona buildings survive, though the Main Street is still there .

 

 

 

Howard Hawks, John Wayne. RIO BRAVO.

 

A shot from Rio Bravo. If you  know the film well, you’ll recognise the scene, with the sleeping Mexican.

 

The cast of McLintock, including John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan, Patrick Wayne.

 

I love how this tribute to the tribal members who helped with the construction of old Tucson in 1939 for Arizona has a picture of John Wayne! Where’s Jean Arthur or William Holden.

 

 

Greer Garson, Dana Andrews. STRANGE LADY IN TOWN.

 

Alan Ladd in Old Tucson for The Badlanders.

 

The Badlanders  under another title ,ARIZONA FEDERAL PRISON.

 

 

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MARY C. MCCALL, Behind the Scenes

Enjoying  the western, Ride The Man Down (1952, Rod Cameron, Ella Raines), I was interested to see the script was by Mary C. McCall (1904-1986) who was new to me.
In 1932, this writer had her first novel, “The Goldfish Bowl” purchased by Warner Brothers. She was hired on a 10 week contract to write Street of Women(Kay Francis).

(‘The Goldfish Bowl’ was filmed as It’s Tough  to Be Famous, with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,though Mary didn’t get to do the script.)

By 1934 she had a long term contract with Warners and she became active in the Screen Writers Guild, helping secure the Guild’s first contract with the studios and a wage minimum increase from $40 to $125 per week for writers in 1942.

She was the first female president of the Screen Writers Guild ,1942-44. In the 1930s  and 40s, MGM had nearly 50 full time writers, and 25% were women.

 

Also know as Mary McCall Jr. her  most famous  scripts , which resulted in a long running series , happened when she adapted a novel, ‘Dark Dame’ into  Maisie in 1939.

 

Prior to Maisie at MGM,  she also wrote at Columbia for three years. When she scripted Craig’s Wife , director Dorothy Arzner  had Mary on the set for consultation. Having the writer on set was unheard of and Mary said it was a great experience.
The photo below is rare , showing 4 of the women involved in the film:

Viola Lawrence (editor), Rosalind Russell, Mary McCall, Dorothy Arzner.

(Viola Lawrence (1894-1973) was active from 1917 and worked at Columbia from 1931 to 1960, becoming their head editor. She edited Only Angels Have Wings, Cover Girl, In a Lonely Place.)

 

(Later remade as Harriet Craig with Joan Crawford.)

There’s a good print of Craig’s Wife on You  Tube and I watched it for the first time – and was very impressed. Much preferred it to the Joan Crawford remake. Rosalind Russell proving what a fine actress she was as the cold, manipulative wife of John Boles who adores her though all she cares about is her status in society and her house. And finally that’s all Harriet Craig has – the house . Everybody leaves her. Nice to see Alma Kruger in a sympathetic role as Craig’s aunt who finally tells him what she really thinks of his wife.
Jane Darwell  also very good as the housekeeper  and Billie Burke as a kindly neighbour. Thomas Mitchell has a small but crucial role at the beginning of the film.

Interesting too to see Raymond Walburn , as a friend of Craig’s, not his usual bumbling,comic character.
And Bess Flowers too!
By the way, I thought John Boles played the husband very well though his realisation that his wife doesn’t love him came rather suddenly.

John Boles, Rosalind Russell

 

Rosalind Russell, Jane Darwell

 

 

On the set with director Dorothy Arzner, Billie Burke, Rosalind Russell.

 

In addition to 8 Maisie screenplays, Mary scripted Dr. Socrates, A Slight  Case of Murder , Panama Hattie, Keep Your Powder Dry, The Fighting Sullivans.

For The Fighting Sullivans in 1944, Mary got $15,000 and 5% of the producers’ profits. Her salary by 1945 was $3,000 per week, putting her in the top tier of screenwriters.

 

 

 

Mary was very active in the Screen Writers Guild and in politics generally. According to J.E. Smyth, author of “Nobody’s Girl Friday” (2018), Mary was fired  by Warner Brothers in 1936 for union activities.
Mar’s first husband, Dwight Franklin was a costume designer and her second husband David Bramson was also a writer. She had four children and in 2017, her two daughters Mary- David and Sheila discussed their mother’s career after a screening of Craig’s Wife at the Screen Writers Guild  Foundation .

Although exonerated by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954, her name was listed in the publication, Red Stars in Hollywood and work dried up.
She worked briefly on television on shows like Sea Hunt, I Dream Of Jeannie.

I’m still reading J.E.Smyth’s book, Nobody’s Girl Friday ( which is subtitled ‘The Women Who Ran Hollywood‘,)  and look forward to finding out more about the few women behind the scenes during the studio system.
They didn’t run Hollywood but when given the chance, their contribution added a lot to the classic films we love. People like Mary C.McCall deserve more than a footnote in Hollywood history.

On the book’s cover is Barbara McLean(1903-1996) who was chief editor at Twentieth Century Fox. She edited The Rains Came, All About Eve, The Robe and won an Oscar for Wilson (1944).

Half of her editing output was for director Henry King’s films including one  of my favourites , Twelve O’ Clock High.

MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951)

Reading Colin’s review of Coroner Creek (http://livius1.wordpress.comgot me started re-watching some of my favourite Randolph Scott westerns.


Man In The Saddle 
is a rather nondescript title for this Randolph Scott western which has a lot going for it. – range wars, jealousy, obsession, stampedes, storms and a love triangle! All you can hope for in a good western.

The film opens in the middle of the story. We learn quickly that big landowner Will Isham (Alexander Knox) is about to marry Laurie Bidwell (Joan Leslie) who has previously been involved with rancher  Owen Merritt (Randolph Scott).

It also becomes clear that Isham wants to buy up all the small ranches around him and that includes Merritt, Bourke Prine (Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams) and  Pay Lankershim (Clem Bevans).

 

Merritt isn’t too happy that Laurie is marrying  Isham.

 

Ellen Drew, Randolph Scott.

Ellen Drew  is Nan Melotte whose small holding is next to Owen’s ranch. She and Owen and Bourke Prine are about to start their drive to market to sell their cattle.

 

Alexander Knox is suitably cold and menacing as Isham .  He becomes convinced  his new wife still has feelings for Merritt.

 

Richard Rober, always good in villainous roles. Sadly he died in a car accident shortly after Man In The Saddle was completed.

He plays the Isham’s hired gun who stampedes Owen’s cattle and brings death and destruction to the peaceful ranchers.

 

John Russell’s character, Hugh Clagg is a surprising addition to the film’s plot. He plays a loner whom nobody really likes, but he is obsessed with Ellen Drew’s Nan who is kind to him.

 

 

Richard Crane and Cameron Mitchell as the Vird  brothers who work for Owen.

 

Clem Bevans

Always a pleasure to see Clem Bevans as Pay Lankershim  (love that name!). Unfortunately Clem is only in the film briefly. Pay reluctantly accepts Isham’s generous offer to buy him out.

 

Guinn Williams, Ellen Drew, Randolph Scott.

One of the few lighter scenes where anyone smiles in the film. The light moments come from Alphonso Bedoyo as Owen’s ranch cook.

 

 

Man In The Saddle was a Scott/Brown production, written by Kenneth Gamet from Ernest Haycox’s novel.

Producer Harry Joe Brown and Randolph Scott had known each other since 1941’s Western Union and The Desperadoes and continued their association from 1947 through the 1950s. No doubt a lucrative partnership for the two men who could turn out good westerns at not too great a cost.

Man in the Saddle has great locations in the Alabama Hills in California . And fortunately it was in color. Though there were too many night scenes which weren’t well lit – where was the ‘moonlight’.

It was the first of six films Andre De Toth made with Randolph Scott. The others are Carson City, The Stranger Wore A Gun, Thunder Over The Plains, Riding Shotgun, The Bounty Hunter.
Deserving of a box set release. I particularly like Carson City and The Bounty Hunter.

The screenwriter was Kenneth Gamet  whom I discovered did the scripts for 8 of Randolph Scott’s westerns.  He also co-founded the Screen Writers Guild.Like Scott’s producing partnership with Harry Joe Brown, it makes sense that this writer would become familiar with the Scott formula.

It’s interesting that in many of Scott’s westerns there was a group of actors common to many of them – Lee Marvin, Frank Faylen, Michael Pate, Dorothy Malone, Clem Bevans, Ray Teal.

Clem Bevans had a much bigger role in Scott’s Hangman’s Knot the following year, whereas Guinn Williams , a solid friend of Owen in Man in the Saddle, returns to his more usual type of role as a blustering bad guy in the latter film.

Question. Owen’s trail herd seems to be forgotten as the film progresses, or is it being tended by Tennessee Ernie Ford who plays a ranch hand and sings the title song round their campfire !

Tennessee Ernie Ford, Alfonso Bedoya.

 

Publicity shots:

Joan Leslie, Randolph Scott, Ellen Drew.

 

Randolph Scott, Ellen Drew.

 

Love this rare picture on the set, with director Andre de Toth on left, Randolph Scott, Ellen Drew, Guinn Williams.

 

On her wedding night, Laurie gets a visit from Owen . She makes it clear she will marry Isham. Owen says, “You always figured you could make your  mind pull your heart along. I hope you can.“

I liked Joan Leslie as Laurie who has plans to better herself by marrying the rich Isham. She can be ruthless – when her father (Don Beddoe) drinks and talks too much at her wedding reception, she simply tells him to leave the area and she’ll send him money.

Her marriage to Isham is strictly  a bargain, in name only. “I’ll play the part you  want me to play.”

But Isham doesn’t share anything, be it land or a woman – his philosophy is “Whatever I have is mine and mine alone. I’ll share with no one.”

Later he warns Owen, “Stay away from everything that belongs to me.”

So that’s the set up for this 87 minute film which is well paced and full of action.

 

HELL LAND.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOWARD DIETZ: DANCING IN THE DARK

 

 

Howard Dietz

Published in 1974, “Dancing in the Dark, Words By Howard Dietz” is the autobiography of the man who was head of publicity at MGM from its inception in 1924 till well into the 1950s.

However, if I read this book expecting to get inside stories  about MGM during the golden years, I was mistaken. The contents are episodic and related more to Howard Dietz’s songwriting career – which is fine with me, but it was very disappointing that there was so little emphasis on his work for MGM.

Howard Dietz (1896-1983) came from an advertising background. The agency he worked for had Samuel Goldwyn as a client. Goldwyn needed a trademark for his company and according to Dietz,

“Leo the Lion with the Latin “Ars Gratia Artis” (art for art’s sake) was my idea.”

Dietz then worked for Goldwyn who later sold the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. A new studio was created when Marcus Loew of the Metro Company and Louis B. Mayer amalgamated, forming Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

(I never understood why Goldwyn’s  named was retained in the title of the new company.) Goldwyn of course went on to a very successful career as an independent producer.

Of Goldwyn, Dietz  said, “A large percentage of the many jokes attributed to Goldwyn was true. His secretary came to him and asked if she could destroy files from ten years back. Goldwyn said, “yes, but keep copies.”

 

Dietz joined MGM as director of advertising and publicity. One of his major successes was coining the phrase that MGM had “More stars than there are in heaven.”

 

Dietz said that he learned a lot from producer Hunt Stromberg about film exploitation, with advice to theatre owners on promoting a picture eg

“Hire an elephant from a nearby circus and have him parade through the town….!”

He ran a competition to rename Lucille le Sueur in Motion Picture Magazine. The winning name was ’Jane Crawford’, but they settled on JOAN.

He is also famous for the slogan which re-introduced audiences to a back from the war Clark Gable in ”Adventure” –

 Gable’s back and Garson’s got him!”

His dept. wrote synopsis of every current movie , and biographies of the stars under contract.

Dietz was a New Yorker and he was based in his home town as MGM had a big office there .
So he was able to pursue his other talent – lyric writing. Teamed with former lawyer, Arthur Schwartz , they wrote some memorable songs such as ‘Dancing in the Dark‘, ‘I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan’.

From 1922 to 1963, he wrote 16 Broadway shows, mostly with Schwartz, though in 1922, the great Jerome Kern asked him to write with him on a show called Kind Sir. 

Alan Jay Lerner called him “The Astaire, the Chevalier, the Molnar, the Lubitsch of lyric writers.”

Dietz and Schwartz wrote The Band Wagon songs for Fred and Adele Astaire in the 1920s.
Great songs like ’Triplets’, ‘Dancing in the Dark’, ‘Louisiana Hayride’.

Thirty years later when the  The Band Wagon film was made , the two song writers got together again and came up with ‘That’s Entertainment’.

The quality of Dietz’ s lyrics speak for themselves :

”It might be a fight like you see on the screen,

A swain getting slain for the love of a queen,

Some great Shakespearean scene,

Where a ghost and a prince meet,

And everyone ends in mincemeat!……..”

 

Several of the songs in the Astaire Band Wagon were interpolated from other Dietz and Schwartz shows. ‘Triplets’ and ‘By Myself’ were from a show called “Between The Devil” .
When 
Dietz was involved in the Band Wagon film, I like  how he inserted a reference not in the original lyric – “MGM has got its Leo, but mama has got her trio…..”

Most musical fans love Astaire and Jack Buchanan doing ‘I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan‘ – this song was written for Clifton Webb in the 1929 revue, “The Little Show”.  And yes, Clifton Webb could sing!

 

 

Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz.

 

‘That’s Entertainment’. THE  BAND WAGON

Oscar Levant, Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan, Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray.

 

’I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan.‘. Jack Buchanan and Fred Astaire.

 

Fred Astaire did a quiet, reflective version of Dietz/Schwartz’s ‘By Myself’. And Judy Garland gave it a completely different interpretation in “I Could Go On Singing.”

 

He had Howard Strickling as his assistant at MGM and however much time he was spending on his Broadway shows, his bosses at the studio must have been happy with his output because he was made Vice President in charge of publicity in 1942.
He also hosted MGM Theater of the Air from 1949 to 1951. 60 minute versions of MGM films were broadcast and archive.org has about a dozen of them.

Howard Dietz saved copies of every public  campaign for every MGM film he worked on. Now if I could only access the New York Public library where his papers are archived.

And the second hand copy I got of this book is signed by Mr. Dietz!