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SELL THAT MOVIE! (3)

How many descriptions can you get into just one poster.
Well, this one for Double Indemnity goes into overdrive.

Why not  remind folk of other Paramount titles like “Lady In The Dark”, “Going My Way”, “And The Angels Sing”.

“Thrills”  “ and “ Novelty”,  fair enough, but “Laughs”? Don’t think so!

An Unholy Love!”    “An Almost Perfect Crime!”

And why not give away part of the plot – and ending ! – – –

He got them both when they murdered her husband for “Double Indemnity!”

And why not show the actual murder!

But don’t try to explain what ‘double indemnity’ means.

Great poster!!

 

 

Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson.

 

 

  • For once, the directors get a shout-out, Paramount’s Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra, William Wyler, Leo McCarey, Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder.

Frank Capra is said to be preparing a film to be called THE TRIAL.. According to IMDB, Capra’s next film after “Here Comes  The Groom” was a short called “The Fallbrook Story” (1953) about a dispute over water rights in California.

Billy Wilder was preparing an Untitled Musical. ( Wilder’s next film after “Ace in the Hole” was “Roman Holiday”).

 

Not sure which year this is, but assuming it’s the 1940s, Rosalind Russell will make two pictures a year for Columbia over the next three years.

Well, not quite six movies but Rosalind made at least four for Columbia up to 1950.

 

Hal Wallis advertises the stars under personal contract.

Who is Derek Cooper? I could only find that he was signed by Wallis in 1946 and was to appear in LOVE LETTERS(1945), but there is no indication he was in the film.

Derek Cooper

 

Better than THE MALTESE FALCON? Don’t think so.

 

 

”Great books make great pictures!”

 

Cinema owners outdo themselves to attract audiences.

“The Plainsman” is playing in Baltimore and a four-goat team is pulling a mini- covered wagon!

The onlookers look a little puzzled ! The goats don’t look too happy either.

This is described as ‘street bally’ (short for ballyhoo I guess.)

 

TEN YEARS ON

Is it really ten years this month since my first tentative entry into the film blogosphere. Yes it is , and where has the time gone!

It’s always been good to hear from fellow fans around the world who also enjoy vintage Hollywood. And to follow other bloggers who write so well and introduce me to films I don’t know.

it’s also been good , continuing to see films for the very first time and researching stars and films and finding interesting illustrations.

I am grateful to WordPress for providing the platform for the blog.

And any excuse to feature favourite photos!

Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy. TOO LATE FOR TEARS.

of course we’ll keep the money.

 

Gale Sondergaard. Bette Davis. THE LETTER

 

 

Katharine Hepburn.STAGE DOOR

Those darn calla lilies – in bloom again.

 

Love THE THING  FROM ANOTHER WORLD!

 

THE WOMEN.

Wish it had been in color. Some cast.

 

MacDonald Carey and Teresa Wright on the set of SHADOW OF A DOUBT.

 

 

Thelma Ritter, Anne Baxter.ALL ABOUT EVE.

’Birdie’ isn’t fooled.

 

Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter.LADY IN THE LAKE.

I’d like to have seen more of Robert!

 

How could I miss out Mr. Grant.

CRAIG’S WIFE (1936)

Harriet Craig (Rosalind Russell) is honest with her niece Ethel (Dorothy Wilson – Love is a liability in marriage. I married to be independent – independent of everybody. I saw to it my marriage was a way forward to emancipation for me.”

Rosalind  Russell, Dorothy Wilson

Harriet’s home is her palace, it means everything to her. Her housekeeper,Mrs. Harold (Jane Darwell) and the maid, Mazie (Nydia  Westman) know what a perfectionist she is . The living room is ,as Mrs. Harold describes it: ‘’the holy  of holies’’.


There can be no flowers in the room . A kindly neighbour,Mrs Frazier (Billie Burke)  leaves flowers from her garden for Harriet – who tells Mrs. Harold  – “Take  them out. I can’t be picking up petals.”

Harriet almost marches round her home, ramrod straight back, a general in charge of all she surveys. Her house is a museum and she is the curator, but unlike other museums, no visitors are welcome.

This character really needs , but never gets psychiatric help.

Rosalind Russell.

 

 

 

John Boles, Rosalind Russell

 

John Boles

I’ve become quite a fan of John Boles who started in silent pictures in the 1920s and was very active in the 1930s, in musicals, dramas and romances.
As ‘Walter Craig’, his devotion to the stony-hearted Harriet is hard to fathom, but when his eyes are finally open, he has some great scenes at the end of the film.

 

  • There’s a great scene between Walter  and his aunt  ( played impressively by Alma Kruger.) She can no longer stay in Harriet’s house and tells Walter a few home truths- “She’s left you practically friendless.” She reminds him his friends haven’t been to the house for a long time. She’s cut you  off, isolated  you in this precious house……I have a feeling when I look at these rooms that they have died and are laid out.”

She tells him about a conversation she overheard a man saying to his wife, “Who do you think you are? – Craig’s wife.”

 

Everyone leaves Harriet – Walter says, “You married a house . I’ll see to it that you have it always.”

 

Jane Darwell, Rosalind Russell, Nydia Westman

Harriet fires her maid , and even the housekeeper ‘Mrs. Harold’  leaves her.

 

Harriet admits: “I’m interested only in the respect of the community we live in.”

The only,partial, explanation for Harriet’s behaviour comes when she says her mother died of a broken heart when her father was unfaithful.

Harriet has married for financial security and social position.

 

Billie Burke, Rosalind Russell

 

Thomas Mitchell

Also in a small but important role was Thomas Mitchell as a friend of Walter’s.

 

Dorothy Wilson , who had the small role of Harriet’s niece, was the wife of director Lewis R. Foster . Although playing the part of Rosalind’s niece, she was only two years younger than Roz.

Dorothy Wilson

Elisabeth Risdon, as Harriet’s sister, seemed odd casting – Elisabeth was 20 years older than Roz.

 

The play, “Craig’s Wife” was written by George Kelly and won the Pulitzer Prize for Best original American play. It ran on Broadway in 1925/26. (George Kelly was Grace Kelly’s uncle.)

 

 

First film version.

Also remade as HARRIET CRAIG, with Joan Crawford.

 

 

 

On the set.

 

Rosalind Russell, Jane Darwell .

 

Rosalind was borrowed from MGM for this  Columbia  picture.  I think her performance was stunning and Oscar worthy . She was only about 29 when she made “Craig’s Wife” and yet was totally convincing as the older woman .
She  becomes Harriet, with her perfect posture and clipped tones.

Hollywood’s only female director at the time, Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979), does a great job. It’s a shame she left Hollywood in 1943 after directing 16 films from 1927.

”Craig’s  Wife” is high melodrama. If you like Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” or “All That Heaven Allows”, you’ll like this!  Wish it was out in blu-Ray.

 

 

 

 

R.I.P HENRY SILVA

Yet another loss to Hollywood history. The death of Henry Silva has been announced. Henry died on 14th September,2022, at the age of 95.

Remembered as one of the best villainous characters in Hollywood movies, I profiled him just under a year ago, on 6th October,2021.
A fine actor whom I’ll always remember in THE TALL T, THE BRAVADOS and THE MANCHURIAN  CANDIDATE.

A New Yorker who was a member of the famed Actors Studio, there is a striking contrast between his utterly heinous character in “The Tall T”, and his sympathetic portrayal in “The Bravados”.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Janis Paige

Reaching the grand age of 100 today is Janis Paige who was born on the 16th September 1922. We wish her well.
In Hollywood , at Warner Brothers, from 1944, Janis made over 100 film and television appearances.

Janis Paige

When film roles dried up in 1951, Janis showed her fine singing voice on stage and in cabaret while taking roles on many TV shows.

She will be remembered for creating the role of ‘Babe Williams’ in The Pajama Game on Broadway and her role in Silk Stockings, dancing and singing with Fred Astaire.

I paid tribute to Janis in my post of 9th July 2020.

i’ve still to catch her 1949 film with Wayne Morris, “ House Across the Street”.

With Fred Astaire

 

R.I.P. MARSHA HUNT

Marsha Hunt

With a career that started at Paramount in 1935 when she was only 17, it was sad to hear of the passing of Marsha Hunt at the wonderful age of 104.

Marsha’s career spanned periods at Paramount and MGM.
She was leading lady to John Wayne in “Born To The West”(1937) and sister to Greer Garson in “Pride and Prejudice(1940).

 

With Tom Keene, Leif Erickson. DESERT GOLD.

 

With  John Wayne.

Marsha made four films with Robert Cummings – THE VIRGINIA JUDGE, DESERT GOLD, THE ACCUSING FINGER, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.

 

HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD

Looking  forward to seeing this one on ok.ru website.

With Robert Cummings. HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.

 

Marsha shone  as the comical bookworm ‘Mary’  whose singing was a source of embarrassment to the Bennett family in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Marsha was actually a fine singer and appeared in stage productions of THE KING AND I and STATE FAIR.

In an interview with Eddie Muller, Marsha said,

“I never got a whiff of playing comedy before “Pride and Prejudice” and I was ready. The darling director Bob Leonard turned me loose and I got to squint and wear nearsighted glasses – and  singing off-key.

If you are at all musical – and I am – it’s hard! I had a wonderful time.

 

Marsha also played Greer’s sister in BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST.   In  VALLEY OF DECISION, Greer played the maid in Marsha’s family.

 

With Margaret O’Brien in LOST ANGEL.

 

 

 

With Franchot Tone and Gene Kelly in PILOT NO.5

 

 

With Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor. RAW DEAL.

 

 

So many Marsha Hunt  films I’ve  never seen , especially some of her earlier films including THE ACCUSING FINGER (1936) which is on You Tube.

I did catch MARY RYAN DETECTIVE (1949 on Y.T and enjoyed it. Only surprise was the small role played by June Vincent. 

 

Marsha between Paul Henreid and Richard Conte.

 

In a 2007 interview with Eddie Muller,Marsha said:

“A storm was gathering in Hollywood. A committee in Congress decided to accuse Hollywood of being riddled with communists.”

Marsha was part of THE COMMITTEE FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT which expressed their disgust and outrage “by the continuing attempt of the House Committee on Un-American Activities to smear  the Motion Picture Industry.”

 

Simply for being part of this committee, Marsha was named as a communist sympathiser in ‘Red Channels’ newsletter in 1950, and she was blacklisted. She was never called before HUAC and was not a member of the Communist party.

Guilt by association was the order of the day.

After appearing in over 50 films in the 1930s and 40s, Marsha’s film career dried up. She made stage appearances and did many TV roles.

Her life changed and she became an advocate for humanitarian causes and worked for the United Nations.

She had a successful second marriage to screen writer ,Robert Presnell Jr.

 

In 1950, Marsha appeared on stage in THE DEVIL’S  DISCIPLE, with Maurice Evans, Dennis King and Victor Jory.

Marsha also had a short lived TV series in 1959, PECK’S BAD GIRL , in which she and Wendell Corey played the parents of Patty McCormack.

 

I have’t been able to see this 2015 documentary about Marsha but I imagine it would be very good.

 

Marsha’s book, “THE WAY WE WORE; STYLES OF THE 1930s and 40s “ came out in 1993. It’s around £200 on Amazon!

 

 

Marsha was feted over the years and attended film festivals and did many interviews.
Yet another link to the classic years is gone but will be long remembered.

ERNEST LEHMAN. THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

Thanks to the University Press of Kentucky, there is a new biography of screenwriter and producer Ernest Lehman who will forever be remembered  for writing NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

 

Written by Jon Krampner, the book gives an excellent overview of Ernest Lehman’s career, from his early days as a Broadway press agent, journalist and short story writer; to his adaptations of Broadway hits like WEST SIDE STORY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and HELLO DOLLY; and his original story for THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS ; and of course his original script for Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

 

Ernest Lehman

 

 

Lehman was invited to Hollywood and adapted the novel, Executive Suite, directed by Robert Wise, with whom the writer would work in the future.

Lehman’s  novella, Sweet Smell  of Success became a successful film.

Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster

Lehman confirmed “a bitter feud’ between  Humphrey Bogart and Billy Wilder on the set of SABRINA – Bogart thought that Wilder favoured Audrey Hepburn.

 

THE COMEDIAN was originally a Lehman short story for Colliers magazine in 1953. It became  a successful TV movie adapted by Rod Serling and starring Mickey Rooney as a monstrous comic with his own TV show who treat everyone around him with contempt –  his brother (Mel Torme) ,his head writer (Edmond O’Brien).

Constance Ford, Edmond O’ Brien, Mickey Rooney, Mel Torme, Kim Hunter.

A Playhouse 90 production directed by  John Frankenheimer. Amazing to think the drama was broadcast live over 90 minutes.Rooney won an Emmy for his performance.

 

Lehman was introduced to Alfred Hitchcock by their mutual friend, Bernard Hermann.  Lehman and Hitchcock were attached to an adaption of Hammond Innes’s THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE, but that fell through and they started on NORTH BY NORTH WEST.

A rare photo of the Mount Rushmore brochure( held at the University of Texas), with notes made by Lehman when he visited the site. The notes indicate the detail of Lehman’s script.

Lehman hired a guide and tried to climb to the top of the famous memorial- he gave up half way up!

Another example of Lehman’s detail, describing the scene where the gasoline on the truck blows up and Thornhill escapes, unhurt. Fascinating.

 

 

Cary Grant. NORTH BY NORTHWEST.      It is suggested that audiences didn’t get the link between Thornhill calling for a page boy just as ‘Mr. Kaplan’ is paged by Vandamm’s men.

 

  • Filming at the the United Nations  building in New York wasn’t permitted  – “The only way they were able to get the establishing shot was to conceal a VistaVision camera in a carpet- cleaning truck across the street.  And hope that no one would recognise Cary Grant walking up the steps!
  • Cary Grant at the top of the steps.

In July 1958, Lehman, presumably with Hitchcock’s consent, sent an early version of the script to Elizabeth Taylor, offering her the part of Eve Kendall. But her agent rejected it.

………‘George Kaplan’ was a plot device dreamed up by Hitchcock.

………..An initial title for the film was “In a Northwesterly Direction.”

……..’Roger O. Thornhill’ – Roger was the name of Lehman’s son.

………Hitchcock  went off to shoot VERTIGO while Lehman did extensive research, visiting the Plaza Hotel,N.Y., the United Nations , Chicago and Mount  Rushmore. He took the Twentieth Century Limited from Grand central to Chicago. And visited various art galleries.

………Lehman was struck by the view from the Mount  Rushmore  cafeteria and subsequently set the scene where Eve shoots Thornhill.

………Hitchcock wanted a tornado  in the desert scene – Lehman gave him a crop duster!

 

That famous shot of Cary and Malcom Atterbury.

 

Jessie Royce Landis, Cary Grant, Edward Platt.

I love the fact that fans can visit the Glen Cove courtroom portrayed in the film. (Thornhill’s arrest was filmed at the actual Glen Cove (Long Island) police station and courthouse – now part of the North Shore Historical Museum.)

 

Ernest Lehman, Alfred Hitchcock.

It’s not clear why Lehman didn’t write more original scripts after the colossal success of “North By Northwest” – he usually said that originals weren’t highly regarded  – well known plays and books came first.

 

Lehman scripted THE PRIZE (1963) from the Irving Wallace novel. A good thriller, worthy of Hitchcock ( directed by Mark Robson and starring a Paul Newman, Elke Sommer and Edward G. Robinson. As one reviewer on IMDB said, “If only the Nobel Prize ceremonies were always this intriguing!’

 

HELLO DOLLY  is described as ‘inconsequential piffle’ – quite a criticism of Mr. Lehman.   He also says this musical ‘bombed.’ And that Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau hated each other.’

I’ve read the film was the fifth highest grosser in its years of release and took a while to make a profit because  of its huge cost in production.

I liked it.

 

Lehman wrote the script for Hitchcock’s final film, FAMILY PLOT (1976).

In  2001, Ernest Lehman became the first screenwriter to be awarded an Honorary Oscar.

In a book of just under 400 pages, almost a quarter is taken up with the Index and Notes.

I don’t doubt the tremendous amount of research done by Mr. Krampner, but the relevance of the pages and pages of references escapes me. I’d rather have had even more discussion about North By Northwest!

Note: All illustrations in the book are black and white. I have added some photos to my review.

There is a very good 50 minute interview with Ernest Lehman at cinephiliabeyond.org.

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO VERA MILES

With Jeffrey Hunter. THE SEARCHERS

  • It’s nice to know Vera Miles (born 1929) had a birthday recently.
    In films ( and television ) from the early 1950’s, Vera costarred with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood – Henry Fonda (THE WRONG MAN); John Wayne (THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, HELLFIGHTERS); James Stewart (LIBERTY VALANCE, THE F.B.I.STORY); James Mason (A TOUCH OF LARCENY); Fred MacMurray (FOLLOW ME BOYS.)
  • And of course, PSYCHO!

And not always the heroine. Vera showed her versatility in BACK STREET and AUTUMN LEAVES – nasty to Susan Hayward and Joan Crawford.

Her list of television credits is amazing. Name a TV show and Vera guested in it.
I wrote about Vera in more detail in 2018. Interesting to note that her birth name was Vera Ralston!

With John  Wayne.THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

 

With Van Johnson.

A good thriller.

 

 

FOREIGN POSTERS 29

  • Journey to the centre of the Earth  –  Trip to the Center  of the Earth.

I love this film and the great Bernard Hermann soundtrack.

(As a Scot, the only drawback is Pat Boone’s accent!)

 

  • Dial M For Murder.     The Phone Rings at 11pm.

The original title is definitely better.

 

 

  • The Las Vegas Story.      The City of Pleasure.

Another film I  can watch anytime. Victor Mature, Jane Russell, Vincent Price – all re-united from “His Kind of Woman”, a year earlier.  Plus Hoagy Carmichael at the piano.

 

  • Hell On Frisco Bay.        The Bay of Hell.

I guess American place names weren’t considered a draw overseas.

Can anyone explain that hand on Alan Ladd’s cheek. Looks odd. Can’t be Joanne Dru from that angle.

 

  • Bringing Up Baby.       He,She,and the Leopard.

Well, that’s pretty basic and true!

 

Edge of Darkness.       Freedom Struggle.

One of a very few war films I can watch any time. Great cast and story.

 

 

If I Had a Million.      One I’d like to see. Big cast. And it’s Ernst Lubitsch.

 

Crossfire……….Crossroads of Hatred.

A great thriller which I always think of as ‘The Three Roberts’!

Good painting of Robert Young, not so much for the other two or Gloria Grahame.

 

 

  • Honky Tonk………I Want You As You  Are.

Lovely color poster. Presumably the American slang expression wasn’t acceptable. But the alternative is a bit pedantic.

Lana’s hair is outstanding!

 

Show Boat………..Magnolia.

Can’t think what is wrong with Show Boat. The musical isnt just about ‘Magnolia.’
Noted  that Ava Gardner gets top billing.

ELISHA COOK JR.

Elisha Cook Jr. (1903-1995) represents the great Hollywood character actors – never out of work and never having the worries of a star. Maybe even being able to walk down Hollywood Boulevard in relative anonymity.

Elisha fought with Bogie, wed Marie Windsor, befriended Lawrence Tierney, was like a son to Sydney  Greenstreet and stood up to Jack Palance  in “Shane”.

Did he ever get to smile?  Yes, he did in “ Stranger on the Third floor”(1940), though he’s accused of murder.

He was mostly timid, quietly menacing , small time gangster, and always believable.

 

In Born To Kill”, he matter-of-factly  tells Lawrence Tierney,

“You can’t just go around killin’ people whenever the notion strikes you – it’s not feasible.”

In “The Maltese Falcon”, Sidney Greenstreet tells him:

“ Well  Wilmer, I’m sorry indeed to lose you. But I want you to know I  couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son.

But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.”

 

 

With Bogart, The Maltese Falcon

 

PHANTOM LADY

As the drummer in “Phantom Lady”, reacting to the come-on from Ella Raines.

 

With Claire Trevor, Lawrence Tierney.BORN TO KILL

 

With Marie Windsor. THE KILLING.

Willing to take part in a robbery to keep his ever loving wife (played by Marie Windsor) in the style which she’d like to become accustomed.

 

As ‘Stonewall’ Torrey in SHANE.

 

Handsome young man.

Elisha was active in films and television till the 1980s.