Category Archives: Uncategorized

KELLY AND FAIRBANKS

GENE KELLY made no secret of his admiration for DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS.

 

 

Gene Kelly in THE THREE MUSKETEERS

 

Douglas Fairbanks

 

THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Van Heflin, Gene Kelly, Gig Young, Robert Coote, June Allyson, Lana Turner

 

Douglas Fairbanks. The Black Pirate

 

Gene Kelly, in THE PIRATE, does Fairbanks gymnastics. Some of Gene’s stunts in The Pirate are breathtaking.

Side thought: Isnt  it good that our two greatest dancers were so different . I can’t see Fred Astaire in that outfit above!  Or playing D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers.

Fred was the epitome of style  and sophistication. Gene’s athleticism showed through in all his dances. It’s no surprise he saw possibilities for choreography in the actions of the silent film star who almost invented swashbuckling .

 

Not really related, but I just liked this picture of the two Fairbanks.

Father and son.

THE AWFUL TRUTH on DVD and BLU

Criterion are releasing THE AWFUL TRUTH on DVD and Blu-Ray on 17 April, 2018.

Extras include the 1939 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the film, with Cary Grant and Claudette Colbert ;  A 1978 audio  interview with Irene Dunne;  A video essay on Cary Grant’s performance.

A must buy for Dunne and Grant fans!

The Awful Truth ( 1937) was the first of three teamings of Irene and Cary, and it was one of the first screwball comedies.

Irene Dunne, Cary Grant

That little dog had also worked with Myrna Loy and William Powell in the Thin Man films.

 

Irene Dunne, Leo McCarey, Cary Grant

Diretor Leo McCarey would work with Irene on LOVE AFFAIR, and with Cary in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, the remake of Love Affair.

 

THE AWFUL TRUTH, Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, 1937

 

THE NAUGHTY PURITAN!

 

 

PEGGY CUMMINS 1925 – 2017

Peggy Cummins, John Dall. GUN CRAZY

PEGGY CUMMINS, born Augusta Fuller, died in London on December 29th, 2017 aged 92.

Although born in Wales, Peggy was Irish and  spent her early  childhood in Dublin.

Moving to London , she was spotted in a West End play and signed by Twentieth Century Fox  in 1945 when she was 20.

Peggy did have some film experience, having appeared in 5 British films from 1940 to 1944.

 

Signing her Fox contract aged 20.

 

Peggy’s first film was to be FOREVER AMBER . Filming started in March  1946 but by May, the production was shut down . DARRYL ZANUCK decided Peggy  was too inexperienced .

In costume for FOREVER AMBER

In later interviews, Peggy said,

” I had three directors on ‘Amber’. First there was JOHN DAHL – hired then fired. Then HOWARD HAWKS who said he would do the picture with me. Finally it was OTTO PREMINGER.It was a merry-go-round. Not only were the directors replaced  ,but also several actors.”

(RICHARD GREENE replaced VINCENT PRICE and GEORGE SANDERS replaced REGINALD GARDINER.And SARA ALLGOOD replaced ETHEL GRIFFIES.)

A young LINDA DARNELL became Amber.

 

Peggy was then cast as RONALD COLMAN’s  daughter in THE LATE  GEORGE APLEY (1947) and she also starred in MOSS ROSE  the same year.

 

Peggy was back in the Uk for ESCAPE in 1948, with Rex Harrison.

In fact, counting  GUN CRAZY  for which she is best known , Peggy’s Hollywood career only amounted to three films.

She was in GREEN GRASS OF WYOMING (1948), then two films made in London, THAT DANGEROUS AGE (1949, with MYRNA LOY) and OPERATION X ( aka My Daughter Joy), with EDWARD G. ROBINSON.

 

With Robert Arthur

 

In 1950, Peggy married Derek Dunnett and moved back to England. They were together until Derek’s death in  2001.

 

With Edward G. Robinson.OPERATION X

 

 

RICHARD GREENE costarred in two of Peggy’s films, That Dangerous Age and Operation X.

 

With Myrna Loy, Richard Greene.THAT DANGEROUS AGE

I didn’t know Myrna Loy had made a film in England. She and ROGER LIVESEY play Peggy’s parents in this romantic drama.

Also known as :

 

In recent years Peggy had discovered new fans of her last Hollywood film, GUN CRAZY. She was invited to film festivals in the UK and the States.

Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation has written a book about Gun Crazy and  he most recently visited Peggy in London in November,2017.

Peggy’s interview with Eddie Muller at the TCM  Festival in 2012 can be seen on You Tube.  She also appeared at the San Francisco Noir Festival in 2013.  Her delight in this new  interest in Gun Crazy was clear.

With Eddie Muller

Gun Crazy was written by blacklisted DALTON TRUMBO and produced by the King Brothers. How sweet, wholesome Peggy  got cast as the travelling carnival sharp-shooter, is a mystery, but ,as Peggy said,

“It was a part I  felt I could play – don’t ask me why.”

“I always wanted to play all the Bette Davis parts.”

Peggy also commented : “John Dall was a very good actor – he died too young. And Joseph Lewis was a very good director.”

“We were on location in a small town, Montrose, east of Los Angeles”.

 

As Annie Laurie Starr  in GUN CRAZY

Most discussed scene  in Gun Crazy is the bank robbery sequence   which  was filmed in one take lasting 4 minutes. A great tracking shot filmed from the back seat of the  car.

As Peggy described it,

” I was driving. Behind me was the camera, the crew, the sound – they were breathing down my neck.”

“Joe told me, ‘You’ll both be in the car. You’ll be driving,Peggy. Cameraman Joseph Harlan and sound man Tom Lambert will be behind you.”

” For that scene, Joe left it up to John and me, and we managed it in a single take.”

When Joseph Lewis died in 2000, his daughter wrote to Peggy saying that he had great affection for Peggy and that he told audiences that Peggy made the picture .

 

With John  Dall

 

On the set photo

 

GUN CRAZY

 

Eddie Muller’s book on GUN CRAZY

The book ( GUN CRAZY, THE ORIGIN OF AMERICAN OUTLAW CINEMA) is only available from eddiemuller.com.

 

With David Niven. THE LOVE LOTTERY

Peggy’s films in the UK after 1950 were mainly comedies like The Love Lottery, Meet Mr. Lucifer, To Dorothy A Son (aka Cash on Delivery ), costarring  Shelley Winters).

But she did two dramas which are well respected, both in 1957 – HELL DRIVERS ( with Stanley Baker) and NIGHT OF THE DEMON.

The latter brought DANA ANDREWS over from the USA, plus director  JACQUES TOURNEUR.  Dana playing a scientist out to prove that NIALL MACGINNIS’s black magic ability to summon a demon from hell is phoney.

Peggy plays a teacher whose uncle may have been a victim of the Demon. She described her character Joanna as pretty strong and inquisitive.

Director Jacques Tourneur of CAT PEOPLE fame, did not want to show the demon but he was overruled by his producers .

In 2013, Peggy introduced Night of the Demon in the British Museum courtyard, a location which features prominently in the film.

 

With Dana Andrews. NIGHT OF THE DEMON.

 

 

The trajectory of her career is interesting.  Contracted to one of the big Hollywood studios, they didn’t seem to know how to develop  her talent,  and basically they gave up after a few films.

One could presume Peggy had the standard 7 year contract at Fox, and therefore, did she break her contract before the  7 years were up, or did they just let her go.

There are quite a few of Peggy’s films I hope to catch up with.

 

 

 

 

COSTUMES TESTS 6

Marilyn Monroe in  the unfinished “Something’s Got To Give.”

The film was abandoned after  Marilyn’s death in August 1962.

In  1963, filming was resumed with a new title, “Move Over Darling” starring Doris Day and James Garner.

 

Elizabeth Taylor.LIFE WITH FATHER .

This was Elizabeth’s 7th film. She was 15.

 

Barbara Stanwyck in TITANIC.

Barbara played the wife of Clifton  Webb in this version of the Titanic disaster .

 

Judy Garland. THE WIZARD OF OZ.

 

Ginger Rogers. MONKEY BUSINESS.

Ginger’s second film with Cary Grant.

 

Bette Davis. ALL ABOUT EVE.

 

 

Joan Crawford. DAISY KENYON.

The board tells us the date is June 6, 1947 and the costume is for the interior of the Stork Club, Scenes 88 and 89.

 

Three photos of Joan Crawford costume tests for MILDRED PIERCE.

 

 

 

Wonder if the number 638 means this is the number of Warners films to that date.

 

BETTE DAVIS REFUSES MILDRED PIERCE

In the recent TV series FEUD , it was clear BETTE DAVIS hoped she might win her third Oscar for WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE . But it  wasn’t to be. Bette was nominated but didn’t win.

In “Feud” it’s  a wonder Joan  ( Jessica Lange) didnt refer to “Mildred Pierce” as a possible third  Oscar for Bette (Susan Sarandon) – IF she had accepted the role!

In the 1940s, there was a period of several years when Bette and Joan both worked at Warner Brothers.

After 18 years at MGM, Joan had joined Warner Brothers in 1944 on a 3 picture deal, at a salary two thirds less that she had at MGM.

Joan was offered several scripts but until “Mildred Pierce ”  came along, she only did a guest spot in HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN in 1944.

Joan presumably knew that the part of Mildred was first offered to Bette who refused it because she didn’t want to work with MICHAEL CURTIZ again.

Director Michael Curtiz wanted BARBARA  STANWYCK.

In his new  book “Michael Curtiz, A Life On Film”, author Alan K. Rode  says that, later in life, Barbara Stanwyck said that she very much wanted to play Mildred.

Like  Bette replacing CLAUDETTE COLBERT in the role of Margo Channing in ALL ABOUT EVE, Joan might not have been first choice for Mildred Pierce, but she gave an Oscar winning performance which revived her career.

 

 

Apparently the Monty Beragon beach house in “Mildred Pierce” was owned by the film’s director, Michael Curtiz. Built in 1929 in Malibu, the house collapsed into the ocean in 1983 after storms.

(This information from Hookedonhouses.net.)

 

Too nervous to attend on Oscar night, Joan took to her bed and Michael Curtiz presented her with her Oscar . ANN BLYTH ,who played Mildred’s scheming daughter Vida ,was there too at Joan’s bedside, along with the photographers.

 

 

Bette herself wasn’t the first choice for NOW VOYAGER.

In a 1980s interview with James Bawden, Bette said,

“Hal Wallis  bought Now Voyager for Irene Dunne who was freelance and her salary was $200,000 a picture……I stormed  into  Jack Warner and convinced him I was cheaper……I was only on $3,000 a week. And Jack said sure ,purely on the economic angle.”

Bette had wanted to play in LIFE WITH FATHER, and said,

“I slipped into the studio late at night to audition for Life With Father, but Mike Curtiz was going to direct it and he said I just wasn’t right.”

(This time Irene Dunne did get the role opposite WILLIAM POWELL.)

 

The ‘new’ Charlotte in Now Voyager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOLDEMAR VETLUGUIN

So it’s farewell to 2017 and I leave with another obscure name which intrigued me.

VOLDEMAR  VETLUGUIN was the Russian born producer of one of my favorite films,  EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE.

And he also produced Lana Turner’s A LIFE OF HER OWN.

Both films within a two year period, 1949/1950.

 

Information on this writer/producer is sparse.

He was a writer and associate editor at REDBOOK magazine from 1933 to 1943. He then joined MGM and was at some point head of the MGM story dept. I don’t know whether he actually wrote any screenplays.

 

This may be a picture of Mr. Vetluguin.

In 1939, author Margaret Mitchell wrote to Vetluguin at Redbook, concerning an article he intended writing about GONE WITH THE WIND. Ms Mitchell apologised for spelling his name wrong.

 

Beverly Michaels

During the filming of East Side, West Side, Vetluguin  met and married BEVERLY MICHAELS  ( who has a small but memorable part in the movie.) He was 54 , Beverly was 21. They were divorced in 1952 and he died a year  later.

Which gets me onto the subject of Beverly Michaels who only made a handful of films . After making BLONDE BAIT in the Uk in 1956, Beverly retired from the screen and declined all interviews.

I’ve just watched Blonde Bait on YouTube and have discovered some interesting facts about it.

The film was called WOMEN WITHOUT  MEN in Britain, but before it was released as Blonde Bait in America, major changes were made to the plot and 4 American actors  filmed new scenes.

From the British version, PAUL CARPENTER was replaced by JIM DAVIS.

RICHARD TRAVIS, Paul CAVANAUGH and HARRY LAUTER were added to the cast.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see Women Without  Men. It would be interesting to compare them.

In Blonde Bait,  Beverly Michaels is overshadowed by the British cast led by THORA HIRD and JOAN RICE . All three are in prison but an escape is arranged so that Beverly’s character can meet up with her boyfriend (Jim Davis) who is wanted in the States. I enjoyed it though Beverly was disappointing in the lead.

I presume the new scenes were filmed in America.

I didn’t know that Beverly had been chosen by director HUGO HAAS for two of his films – PICKUP and THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE, both of which I want to see.

Haas then decided to use CLEO MOORE in his subsequent films.

Beverly married  writer/director RUSSELL  ROUSE in 1955  and they remained together until his death in 1987 .

Rouse directed Beverly in WICKED WOMAN which I saw recently and enjoyed – probably Beverly’s best film.

(Rouse co- wrote DOA and directed THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE and NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL.)

 

Any further information on Mr. Vetluguin would be welcomed.

 

A very Happy New Year  to everyone. 🎉🎊