Category Archives: Uncategorized

THIS ‘N THAT 20

…………GWTW Flash: May,1940.

British premiere of GONE WITH THE WIND was the greatest in London’s history. Notables attending  included  Winston Churchill,Robert Donat, Robert Montgomery and Leslie Howard.
Triple opening packed three theaters, Empire, Palace and Ritz. It is unlikely to be seen outside London till mid-autumn.

 

 

………..Picked up hardback copy of The Films Of Alice Faye (published 1972), and found it was not only signed by the author,W.Franklyn Moshier, but also by Miss Faye herself.

How lucky can you get!

 

The book covers all of Alice’s films, with wonderful illustrations and a foreword by director Henry King  who helmed IN OLD CHICAGO, ALEXANDER’S  RAGTIME BAND, LITTLE OLD NEW YORK.

Henry King details how “In Old Chicago” had a working title of “Mrs.O’Leary’s Cow” and that Darryl Zanuck wanted Jean Harlow and Clark Gable for the two lead roles.
Jean’s tragic death that summer almost ended in an indefinite postponement of the film.

King convinced the studio that Tyrone Power and Alice Faye would be ideal.

 

……….Coming on July 6th, 2021 from the Criterion Collection, BRINGING UP BABY on blu-Ray. Extras include a 1969 audio interview with Cary Grant; a 1977 interview with Howard Hawks; the 1937 short story by Hagar  Wilde on which the film is based.

 

…………It’s May , 1934 and your  Screenland movie magazine has a competition.

  • According to the rules, Clark Gable, no less, is offering  an Eastman Cine-Kodak 8 and projector if you can provide a pen portrait of no more than 15 words on any one of the following stars – Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Madge Evans, Jean Parker.
  • One of the examples given is for Joan Blondell:

“Shop girl’s holiday ; torch singer on a pianola.”

(any ideas which Blondell films are being referred to?)

I imagine the movie camera and projector would be quite an expensive buy.

 

 

 

ALICE FAYE and BETTY GRABLE: CD RELEASES

Further to my post of 18/3/21 (“The Fox Blondes.) regarding the release of these 2 CD sets of Betty Grable and Alice Faye, I’ve now had a chance to listen  to them, courtesy of Richard Tay of Sepia Records in London.

Betty Grable’s 2 CD set covers the period 1940 ( when she joined Twentieth Century Fox) up to 1944.

Alice Faye’s set is from the years 1934 to 1939.

There is just so much to listen to – around 60 tracks for each set – including many of Betty and Alice’s co-stars .

The terrific numbers are by some of the best songsmiths  in Hollywood – HarryWarren/Mack Gordon; Irving Berlin; Ralph Grainger/Leo Robin.

 

Back cover of Betty Grable set.

So many highlights.

There’s a great version of “Are You Kiddin’ by Betty ,followed by a superb orchestral arrangement of the song , with the Fox studio orchestra .

I could listen indefinitely to Harry James’ trumpet in ‘You Made Me Love You’ ( by James V. Monaco and Joe McCarthy).

’Down Argentine Way’  is another catchy number by Betty.
Jack Haley and Charlotte Greenwood duet on ‘Is That Good’.

I don’t know why Jack Haley was dubbed by Buddy Clark in WAKE UP AND LIVE, but Clark does well with ‘Never in a Million Years’ – which became one of Alice’s biggest hits when she recorded it on the Brunswick  label. ( heaven knows why she didn’t sing it in the movie.)

We also hear a version  of ‘Never in a Million Years ‘ by Ann Sothern and Don Ameche from ‘ Fifty Roads to Town’. ( Would love to see this film.)

One of my favourites is Betty’s ‘My Heart Tells Me’ from SWEET ROSIE O’GRADY. 

Good too to hear Betty’s song , cut from I WAKE UP SCREAMING – ‘Daddy.’ ( this number can be seen on You Tube.)

 

Other stars featured include  Joan Davis, Phil Silvers, Carmen Miranda , John  Payne, Phil Regan, Dick Powell, Tony Martin, Jimmy Durante.

Not featured on Alice’s set – ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND and ROSE OF WASHINGTON  SQUARE , as their soundtracks have been featured in previous recordings. 

 

  • it’s great to hear the Twentieth Century Fox orchestra under the direction of  composers Alfred Newman and Emil Newman , Louis Silvers, David Buttolph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back cover of Alice Faye set.

 

Irving Berlin wrote some dazzlers for ON THE AVENUE, and they are all featured  – Alice and Dick Powell doing ‘I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm’ – Alice’s ‘This Year’s Kisses’, ‘He Ain’t  Got  Rhythm’ and ‘Slumming On Park Avenue’.

 

Another rarety is a song cut from one of Alice’s few non-musicals, BARRICADE, called ‘There’ll be Other Nights’. (This film is rarely seen. I saw it many moons ago but don’t recall anything about it, except Alice and Warner Baxter were a surprising combination.)

 

‘You Turned the Tables on Me’, from SING BABY SING.

 

Love this number, ‘Slumming on Park Avenue’ from ON THE AVENUE.
Cries out for colour.

 

‘There’s a Lull in My Life’ from WAKE UP AND LIVE.

SEPIA RECORDS website: http://www.sepiarecords.com

Email at info@sepiarecords.com

Each set is £10.99 in the U.K./ £12.99 in Europe / £13.99 in USA  ( post included).

Hopefully, the planned  Volume two for Alice and Betty will go ahead, covering later years for both singers.

Thanks are due to Bryan Cooper who produced the CDs and provides informative liner notes, and sound engineer Robin Cherry for remastering these rare recordings for Sepia.

This is a bumper crop of magical musical moments. I just want to watch every one of the Faye and Grable musicals  again!

I couldn’t resist adding  a few video clips.

 

DEAN STOCKWELL: Life in Hollywood

Dean Stockwell

It was rather sad,listening to interviews Dean Stockwell did in his later years.

Dean made it clear that acting was not fun:

“I had to work in a high pressure situation with adults…..my childhood went out the window. I didn’t have the freedom to play.

I was the breadwinner – my mother was paid a salary as my guardian – that was a pressure situation.

When I said to my mom, ‘I don’t want to do this’, she said, ‘We have to, we have no choice. We are under contract.’

”I had one vacation in nine years. I had no friends except for my brother. I never did what I wanted to do.”

(Dean’s brother was actor, Guy Stockwell.)

If it had been up to me I would have been out of it by the time I was 10.”

 

Gene Kelly, Dean Stockwell, Frank Sinatra. ANCHORS AWEIGH.

 

Dean Stockwell was born in Hollywood in 1936. His father, Harry Stockwell was an actor/singer (Harry replaced Alfred Drake on stage in “Oklahoma”).
His parents separated when he was 6 yrs. old. Dean was seen in a play on Broadway in 1943 by a talent scout and he was signed by MGM.

Over the next several years up to 1951, Dean made nearly 20 films. He was Nick Charles Jr. in “The Song of the Thin Man”; he was Gregory Peck’s son in “Gentleman’s Agreement”; he worked with Joel McCrea, Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Richard Widmark, Lionel Barrymore.

 

With Myrna Loy and William Powell.

 

With  Brian Roper, Margaret O’Brien in “THE SECRET GARDEN.”

Dean talked about his intermittent schooling at the MGM school house – three hours of school a day, sometimes split up into 15 minute slots, depending  on the filming schedule. As he said, “Not the ideal set up for an education.”

 

With Joel McCrea and Ellen Drew in “Stars in My Crown”.

 

With Gregory Peck in GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT.

 

Dean spoke favourably about the stars he worked with –
Errol Flynn, Joel McCrea and Richard Widmark.

For me, Errol Flynn was the best. He and Richard Widmark didn’t have a condescending attitude – they were straight with  me, like I would imagine a father would be to a son  – and I didn’t have a father with  me.”

Later in his career  he said of “Sons And Lovers”(1960) ;

“I had a fantastic time working with Wendy Hiller, Mary Ure, Trevor Howard and Donald Pleasance.”

With Richard Widmark. DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS.

 

After leaving films in 1951, Dean did a year at the University of California and dropped out. He later said, “Acting was the only thing I knew how to do”, so by 1956 he was back in films , but mainly in television.
He admitted that there are some of his films he has never seen.

With Jeffrey Hunter and Fred MacMurray in “Gun For A Coward” (1956), playing MacMurray’s brother.

 

In 1957, Dean costarred with Roddy McDowall in the play, “Compulsion”.  When Hollywood filmed it in 1959, Bradford Dillman replaced McDowall.

 

With Bradford Dillman in “Compulsion”. (1959).

From being  a cute, curly headed juvenile, Dean emerged as a serious looking, intense adult; despite the fact he loved comedy, drama was mainly his casting. He was Oscar nominated in 1988 for the comedy,  “Married to The Mob.”

 

 

Dean worked steadily through the next few decades, finding fame again in the long running TV series, “Quantum Leap”, in which he played a hologram!

He said he never really enjoyed acting till he was in his late 30s. He was married to the actress Millie Perkins from 1960 to 1962. With his second wife, Joy,  he had two sons . After the birth of his son, Austin, he said, “I’d just as soon that he enjoyed his childhood – and play!”

With Millie Perkins.

 

With Scott Bakula in QUANTUM LEAP ( 1989-1993).

Finally in 2015, Dean retired for health reasons. He was proud of his staying power – over 60 years in the business.
He was also an accomplished collage artist, exhibiting under his full name, ‘Robert Dean Stockwell.’

Dean Stockwell was one of the few stars who survived a turbulent childhood and continued to have success as an adult. A fine actor, man and boy. And still with us.

(in addition to an interview I saw with Dean on You Tube, from TCM, I also read interviews by Michael Buckley ( Films in Review) and with Craig Edwards.)

 

Dean, the inveterate cigar smoker.

 

 

 

PHOTO MIX COLOUR : 1

One of the best villains, Basil Rathbone in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

 

Jeff Chandler. Love the shirt.

 

Richard Widmark, Jean Peters.  Publicity for “Pick Up On South Street.”

 

Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden. “Johnny Guitar.”

 

Dean Martin as ‘Dude’, puts his deputy badge on again and helps the sheriff, ‘John T. Chance’ (John Wayne) in RIO BRAVO.

 

 

Sabu, Maria Montez, Jon Hall. Had to be colour. “Cobra Woman.”

 

A young Robert Wagner makes an impression in “With A Song in my Heart”, with Susan Hayward  as Jane Froman.

 

Margaret Sullavan. A short but memorable film career.

 

James Stewart. Enough said.

 

One of my favourite films, “The Unfaithful”, with Ann Sheridan, Lew Ayres.

 

Gloria Grahame, Oscar winner (“THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL”) .

 

A colorised photo from “Dark Passage.”  Humphrey Bogart gets a new face. Lauren Bacall likes it.

THE STORY OF ‘CUDDLES’

This rare 1954 memoir by S. Z. ‘Cuddles’ Sakall  (1883-1955) can be read online at Archive.org and I have put the link at the end of this post.

The bulk of the book covers Cuddles’s life  in Europe , but there are some good stories about his life in Hollywood.

His real name was Gero Jeno and he was also known as Szoke  Szakall. His wife called him Yani.

Born in Budapest, he was a stage actor/ writer/ producer in Austria and Germany , and he made many films in Hungary. He married in 1920. Sadly, during the war, his three sisters died in concentration camps.

 

Universal producer Joe Pasternak was a relative by marriage and he offered Cuddles a role in Deanna  Durbin’s It’s a Date ” in 1940 and so he and his wife moved to Hollywood.  He played a playwright visiting from Vienna.

That same year he was in another Deanna Durbin film, “Spring Parade” .  And shortly after he joined Warner Brothers and remained there for the rest of his career.

 

With Deanna Durbin in SPRING PARADE.

 

I love the comic scene with Humphrey Bogart in Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Cuddles comments on this film:

“The picture “Thank Your Lucky Stars” is one of my unforgettable experiences. It was in this film that I became acquainted with David Butler, one of the kindest men in the world, who is also an outstanding director.
We have made ten pictures together……Butler was very fond of me…..he crowded my roles with jokes and gags.

I met many interesting people while making “Thank Your Lucky Stars”: Dinah Shore, Edward Everett Horton, Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning and of course Eddie Cantor……I was enchanted with his versatility….a charming, unaffected man..

But the most fascinating person was the producer himself, the late Mark Hellinger of blessed memory……Everybody without exception loved him. “

 

 

 

Probably his most famous role, ‘Carl’ in CASABLANCA. The waiter who admires how his boss ‘Rick’ helps the young couple at the gambling tables.

 

 

Humphrey Bogart, Helmut Dantine,  Joy Page.

 

That lovely scene where Cuddles drinks with the couple who are leaving for America – Ilka Gruning, Ludwig Stossel.

 

Cuddles describes , in comedy terms how an actor gets a role:

“From its birth to completion, each picture goes through so many phases…….it all begins with the actor walking harmlessly ,without suspicion, on the studio lot.
A writer meets him and tells him that he is writing a wonderful part for him…..he even relates one or two scenes.

When the writer has finished describing the story, he places his index finger on his lips and looks at the actor with a serious, pleading expression. This means that the actor mustn’t say a word to anybody about the whole business…..WHY it’s supposed to be a secret, the writer doesn’t know, not does the executive who has told him to keep his mouth shut.

A few weeks later the actor is told by the producer that he is in the film, but this isn’t ‘official’ yet.

The next  mystery is the question  is when the shooting script will be finished and when actual production can start …….If I didn’t  know that these people were engaged in making pictures, I would think they were manufacturing counterfeit five-dollar bills….”

 

With Barbara Stanwyck in Christmas in Connecticut (1945).

 

Cuddles in the middle. Ball of Fire .

 

Cuddles:  “After the shooting of “The Time, The Place and the Girl”, I received a great honour. My boss bestowed on me the nickname of “Cuddles”. I was very happy, though people poked a lot of fun at me.

(Did he mean Jack Warner?)

 

Mr and Mrs. Sakall.

Mrs.Boszi Sakall often wrote home to her relatives , and one of her letters in 1941 is quoted:

  •       “I am so happy to tell you that Yani has signed a contract with Warner Brothers…..the studios are owned by three brothers. In the Burbank studio there  are only two of them. Perhaps there isn’t a third at all – perhaps he was invented for tax purposes only…..we still haven’t seen any one of them yet.
  •      As for the studio, I must tell you it is a dream city…..each studio is a separate little country. It has its own police, its own post office, its own hospital. It hasn’t got its own cementary, though.
  •      The studio has its own king too. Usually the vice-president is the king. The subjects of the little country are without exception royalists. If the king tells a joke, the whole studio laughs. The king is master over life and death.
    The film kings are on very cordial terms, and if one of them gets angry with somebody he can ruin his career even in the neighbouring ‘countries.’
  •       Both Yani and I have grown very fond of the studio. Everybody says that the boss Jack Warner is always joking and laughing. His brother Harry Warner is just the same. Both are very decent people and tops the lists of any charity appeal.
  • By the way, today we’ve seen Albert Warner, who’s not only a real person, but a colonel and a very nice guy.

PS – Yesterday we went to a cinema where you could drive in with your  car. Yani liked it very much. In Europe he drove only once into a cinema with his car, and they took away his driver’s licence.”

(Mrs. Sakall displays quite a sense of humour !)

 

Cuddles! “When  I made the picture “Sugarfoot”, I fell down a flight of stairs. It was a painful experience. I hurt myself badly. Later, when I saw the picture, I realised that I had deserved the punishment  – in advance!”

His last film was THE STUDENT PRINCE in 1954.

One of Hollywood’s best remembered character actors.

 

Link to the book:

https://archive.org/details/dli.ernet.527200

“DEAD END” and THE EAST END KIDS

Allen Jenkins

 

In ”Dead End “ (1937), Allen Jenkins as ‘Hunk’, delivers  a classic line to his boss ‘Baby Face Martin’ (Humphrey Bogart):

“We all make mistakes,Boss. That’s why they put the rubber on the  ends of pencils.”

Allen Jenkins (1900- 1974), a Warners contract player,  made 158 films according to IMDB. A scene-stealer of the highest order, likeable, down to earth , a gruff  Brooklynese accent.  Usually a henchman, with names like Mugsy – Lefty – Spudsy -Pinky – Gyp – Dodo – Fishcake – Okay.

Allen was in the original stage production of THE FRONT PAGE in 1928. ( and in a tribute to him, Billy Wilder had Allen in his 1974 version of The Front Page. It was Allen’s  last appearance.)

His voice was perfect for ‘Officer Dibble’ in “Top Cat.”

 

“DEAD END” has quite a history. A Broadway hit play which ran for nearly two years. ( In the cast, making his Broadway debut,  was Dan Duryea as a G-Man., also Marjorie Main.)

Sam Goldwyn bought the film rights and hired William Wyler  to direct.

 

The title says it all. A rundown neighbourhood in New York’s lower east side next to the East river.Alongside the slums are the ritzy apartments of the well-to-do who want a river view.

There  is even a sign at the water’s edge that literally  says DEAD END.

Humphrey Bogart  is ‘Baby Face Martin’, a killer the police are on the look out for. He has had plastic surgery to change his appearance. He’s taking a chance , returning to his old neighbourhood to see his mother and his old girlfriend.

 

The boys from the Broadway cast:

Gabriel Dell, Leo Gorcey, Billy Halop, Bernard Punsly.

Front row: Bobby Jordan, Huntz Hall.

These boys are the stars of the film for me, so natural and comfortable with each other. They are so real. They support each other in the environment they live in  where they can’t rely on anyone but themselves.
Although never mentioned, I presume school is out. It’s a hot summer’s day and the action takes place over a 24 hour period.

 

  • The boy’s leader is Billy Halop whose sister is played by Sylvia Sidney who worries about her brother being in a  gang and wants to take him out of the neighbourhood. She’s a factory worker who is on strike.

 

Having decided not to film on location in New York, Sam Goldwyn had Richard Day design a massive set based on the stage set by Norman Bel Geddes.

To the left of this photo is the rear entrance to the apartment building where the rich folk live.

Of course an indoors studio set allows the director to be in complete control. Unfortunately it has never really been possible to convey the feeling of being outdoors .  It also adds to the claustrophobic stage bound appearance , but is a terrific set.

 

William Wyler, seated bottom right, looks up at the action taking place.

 

Another shot showing the pier where the boys dive in for a swim.

 

Ward Bond in a small role as the doorman for the swanky apartment block. He’s at the service entrance which the tenants are being forced to use at the moment, causing close interaction between rich and poor which wouldn’t normally happen. 

 

  • Sylvia Sidney as ‘Drina’ who worries about her brother ‘Tommy’ and  longs to take him away.

 

Joel McCrea, Wendy Barrie.

Joel McCrea  as ‘Dave’ has tried to better himself  and has qualified as an architect , but is looking  for work. It doesn’t help that the girl he likes (Wendy Barrie) is a rich man’s mistress who lives in the luxury apartments.

(Can’t imagine how they met).

 

Marjorie Main, Humphrey Bogart.

Seeing Marjorie Main  , as Bogart’s mother ( though only ten years older than him) , makes you wonder whether she might have had more varied  roles in her career after this performance.
She is so good as the care-worn woman who despises her son whom she hasn’t seen for ten years. He thinks he’ll be welcomed ( though it appears he has done nothing for her).

The mobster says, “Aint you glad to see me?”

 She shocks him by slapping his face and replying ,

”That’s how glad I am – you  ain’t no son of mine.”

it’s interesting that Claire Trevor was Oscar nominated for the 5 minute scene she was in. As much as I like Claire, in this film, it’s Marjorie Main whom I remember in her brief scene.

The following year Marjorie was back on Broadway in “THE WOMEN  “, in the career defining role of ‘Lucy’, the Reno dude ranch owner. She went on to do the film version.

And her film persona was set – comedic, raucous, opinionated . Completely typecast when she was obviously capable of serious roles.

 

Marjorie Main, Humphrey Bogart.

Mrs. Martin and her son ‘Baby Face’ Martin. He’s well dressed . She’s in rags.

I understand George Raft turned down the Bogart role.

 

Claire Trevor

Claire Trevor as ‘Francey’. The ten years since ‘Baby Face’ has seen her haven’t been kind to her. She’s a prostitute ( though in 1937, it couldn’t be said out loud). But the look of horror on Bogie’s face is obvious. Their meeting doesn’t last long, he gives her some money to get rid of her.

 

 

One and only time Allen Jenkins got the same size billing as Bogart?

Funny how billing on posters change as years go by. In 1937, Sylvia Sidney was top billed.

From being third billed, Bogart’s star status means his name comes first in re-issues of the film.

 

”THE DEAD END STREET.” ( this poster isn’t even an accurate picture of Humphrey Bogart in the film – it looks like a photo from a later era.)

 

DEAD POINT.

 

Huntz Hall, Billy Halop, Bernard Punsley, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey.

The boys became known as the Dead End Kids after the film was released.

At the film’s premiere, all spruced up.

 

And this is them in the  1950s, appearing  on a TV show hosted by Ben Alexander,

Bernard (now Dr.Punsley), Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan, Ben Alexander, Huntz Hall, Billy Halop.

 

A family photo: Leo Gorcey, his brother David and his father Bernard. David and Bernard were in later Bowery Boys films.

 

David Gorcey  who didn’t look much like his brother Leo, and was always in Leo’s shadow. He often used the name David Condon.  David became a clergyman.

Interchanging groups of the boys worked for Warners, Monogram  and Universal . They became the East Side Kids from 1940 to 1945.

 

 

 

In 1946, Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall formed a company with their agent and took the name “The Bowery Boys”. Leo owned 40% of the company. He produced and contributed to scripts.Bobby Jordan and Gabriel Dell were in them, plus Billy Benedict, David Gorcey.

There was a shift to slapstick  comedy. Monogram distributed the films.

Leo Gorcey quit the series  in 1956 and Stanley Clements took his place in the remaining films of the series.

Having seen more and read about Hutnz Hall, I think he deserves a lot of credit for the character he played on screen – a Chaplinesque dimwit., full of action and facial expressions.

Huntz Hall

But, like nearly all of  the fine young actors in DEAD END, Huntz couldn’t escape type casting. He and the others made a living out of the series , from the Dead End Kids to The Bowery Boys.

Huntz got one opportunity away from slapstick and that was in A WALK IN THE SUN, a wartime film made in 1945 and starring Dana Andrews. I haven’t seen it but it has a good reputation.

 

In 2018, IMDB listed a documentary in production called BOWERY RHAPSODY, THE RISE AND REDEMPTION OF HOLLYWOOD’S ORIGINAL BRAT PACK.
The producer was listed as Leo Gorcey Jr. who also wrote a 2003 biography of his father, “Me and the Dead End Kid.”

Leo Gorcey’s autobiography came out in  1967 and is now listed for sale on Amazon at £176!

I’ve just ordered “The Films of the Bowery Boys” and I look forward to reading  more about them. 

 

Leo Gorcey Jr.

 

Those 6 young men whose lives were changed forever  when Samuel Goldwyn brought them to Hollywood.

 

 

 

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

A young Cary Grant.

 

Tony Martin and Alice Faye.

 

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

 

Norma Shearer and her husband Marty Arrouge.

 

Alan Ladd

 

William Powell and Myrna Loy and Asta.

 

Audrey Totter.

 

 

Didnt happen often. Randolph Scott.

 

Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.

 

You can’t make me.

PHOTO MIX 40

It’s Fred MacMurray pretending to be Barbara Stanwyck’ s husband in DOUBLE INDEMNITY. The duo are in the middle of their elaborate murder plot. But beware Edward G.

 

Ginger Rogers and Basil Rathbone in HEARTBEAT (1946).

One I haven’t seen so I don’t know why Ginger looks so quizzical. Mixed reviews on IMDB. Some  positive but others query Ginger playing an 18 year old and that it was a scene for scene remake of the 1939 French film “Battement de Coeur”, starring Danielle Darrieux.

Rathbone plays a Fagin like pickpocket.

 

 

Nice of the tiny PRC  studio to congratulate Warner Brothers on their 20th anniversary. PRC wouldn’t last that long.

 

 

Bette Davis in THE STAR. Reminds me of the start of THE BAND WAGON and the sale of the personal  effects of Fred Astaire’s character, ‘Tony Hunter.’

Reviews of “The Star” compared Bette’s character to her ‘Margo’ in “All About  Eve”.

 

 

Joan Crawford and Dana Andrews in DAISY KENYON.

 

 

Known primarily for comedy, Jean Arthur played Saint Joan in the National stage tour in 1954. She left the play abruptly after suffering  from a nervous condition before the Chicago opening.
Interesting to see that the Saint Joan cast included George Macready and Sam Jaffe.

Jean had been very keen to play Saint Joan and was contracted  for 30 weeks, coast to coast, ending on Broadway. She did not get on well with the play’s  director, Harold Clurman.

 

 

Mount Rushmore before construction, 1905.

 

Construction underway, with Jeffferson to the left of Washington before unstable rock necessitated a change in design.

Construction lasted from 1927 to 1941.

 

From left to right, Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.Roosevelt. The faces were 60 feet high.

( My mistake. The order is Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.)

Mount Rushmore was named after New York lawyer, Charles E. Rushmore who travelled to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1885.

 

 


Hitchcock knew how well Mount Rushmore would look in “North By Northwest”.

FRIENDS OF MR SWEENEY

Ann Dvorak, Charlie Ruggles

What  an enjoyable little comedy from Warners in 1934. Charlie Ruggles is the star, playing ‘Asaph’, a mild mannered writer on a political magazine,’The Balance’.

Ann Dvorak is ‘Beulah’, his secretary who has a secret crush on him. Despite the fact that Charlie  Ruggles is aged 48 at the time of the film,  Charlie always looked far older. Here he looks as if he could be Ann Dvorak’s father.
That aside, I’ve always liked Mr. Ruggles and he is ideally cast as someone whom life seems to have passed him by.

Near the beginning of the film, Asaph goes to a lunch counter which is busy. His order is completely ignored by the waiter who shouts at him . Asaph finally gets up and leaves.

His boss (played by Berton  Churchill) badgers Asaph into writing  a favourable piece  on a corrupt politician.

When an old college friend ( Eugene Pallette as ‘Wynn) arrives in town, he reminds Asaph what their lives used to be like. Asaph finally asks Ruth out and they go on the town.

Getting braver by the minute, Asaph (now ‘Ace) gets them into a private casino by saying they are ‘friends of Mr. Sweeney’. Nobody knows who Mr. Sweeney is but it is reckoned he must be Somebody!

’Ace’ stands up to his boss and gets the girl too.

 

Robert Barrat

Robert Barrat is funny as a Russian friend of  Beulah’s.

 

Eugene Pallette

 

Final scene of the film.  ‘Ace’ gets his own back on the counter assistant who was rude to him at the start of the film.

 

Ann Dvorak shows yet again that she should have been a bigger star.

I’d love a dvd of this film. My copy had poor sound unfortunately.

MIDNIGHT ALIBI

I only know Richard Barthelmess from “Only Angels Have Wings”  in which he played Rita Hayworth’s husband. It wasn’t an easy role to play and I thought he did very well.

Barthelmess was born in 1895 and was a big star in silent films. He made 75 films from 1916 to 1936, and after that he only made another 6 films up to 1942 when he retired, aged 47. A wealthy man from his long career, he passed away in 1963 – yet another star whom you could wish had done extensive interviews in his later years.

Midnight Alibi (1936) was Richard’s last film under his Warner Brothers contract.
Based on Damon Runyon’s 1933 short story,”The Old Doll’s House”, Richard plays a gangster,’Lance McGowan’ who meets and falls for ‘Joan’( Ann Dvorak ) who just happens to be the kid sister of one of his competitors, ‘Angie the Ox’ (Robert Barrat).

 

Robert Barrat, Ann Dvorak, Richard Barthelmess

‘Angie’ tries to bump ‘Lance ’ off, but  Lance jumps over the wall of a large old mansion where a rich old lady lives. She thinks Lance looks like her long lost love and there is a longish flashback describing how her fiancé died.
I have to admit I didn’t realise that Barthelmess played the fiancé too!

 

Helen  Lowell

(That little dog is ‘Asta’). As the reclusive old lady, Helen Lowell’ s character has stopped all the clocks in her house to the time when her fiancé died.

 

In an ensuing fight. one of Lance’s men ‘Babe the Butcher’ ( Paul Hurst) shoots in self defence , but Lance takes the gun and is arrested  – he is so sure his lawyer will get him off.

But it only when the ‘Old Doll’ testifies that Lance was with her (the ‘Midnight Alibi’) that he is released and reunited with Joan.

A running time of 60 minutes seems about right.

I generally like any film based on a Damon Runyon story and this is no exception. Barthelmess leads a good cast and I wish he had made more films in the 1930s and 40s.

I’m a big fan of Ann Dvorak and wish her role had been bigger. Robert Barrat is always impressive and is very good here as the gum-chewing gambler who is very protective of his sister.

In a small  role is future director Vincent Sherman.

Helen Chandler plays the ‘Old  Doll’ in the flashback.

Vincent Sherman

 

(Dvorak and Barthelmess.) Presumably an advertising still or cut scene. . It is not  in the film.