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PHOTO MIX 44

Dorothy Lamour adding her name , with a small paint brush, to a car which is  covered with celebrity autographs in white paint.
It’s  1939 and the photo is taken on the lot of Paramount studios. The story goes that the car was owned by fan, Jack Pinney who waited in front of studio by day and clubs by night to collect his autographs…. A unique autograph book!
I wonder if that is Jack standing next to Dorothy.

I spotted several signatures on the car – Allen Jenkins, Betty Grable, Alice Faye , Patsy Kelly, Franchot Tone, Stuart Erwin, Rochelle Hudson, Virginia Bruce, Tom Brown.

Dorothy was filming ST.LOUIS BLUES which I’ve never seen. It looks fun and features jazz singer Maxine Sullivan (1911-1987) reprising  her 1937 hit, ‘Loch Lomond,’ the Scottish folk song – which she went onto record many times.  How this old song came to her attention would make an interesting story – if anyone knows! She was even nicknamed  ‘Miss Loch Lomond.’

This was Maxine’s only full length feature.  She toured the U.K. in  1948 and 1954. Wonder if she ever visited Loch Lomond. She was still active till the year before her death.

 

Maxine Sullivan

 

A tad careless. A picture of Brian Donlevy shown as Randolph Scott. (Both were in the movie.)

 

Charles McGraw, always a powerful presence. Big fan. A smallish role in HIS KIND OF WOMAN.

 

 

Lovely photo of Deanna Durbin and Jeanette MacDonald.

Late 1940s?

 

James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Day.

The premiere of THE MAN WHO  KNEW TOO MUCH.

Doris and Hitch exchange words. Hitch  says, “Who me?”!

 

Dramatic shot of Fredric March, Humphrey Bogart. “THE DESPERATE HOURS”. Love the shadows.

 

Jack Palance.Smiling. Whatever next. 

 

The stars of PARTY GIRL. Lee J.Cobb, Cyd Charisse, John Ireland, Robert Taylor.

Musical star Cyd Charisse made a few dramas – TENSION, EAST SIDE ,WEST SIDE, TWILIGHT FOR THE GODS.

 

Don’t worry, they are friends by the end of STAGE DOOR, the story of aspiring actresses.Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn.

 

 

Lots of Hollywood stars were  Canadian:

Top row: Deanna Durbin, Walter Huston, Ruby Keeler, Bobby Breen, Rosina  Lawrence, Ben Blue.

Middle row: Raymond Massey, John  Qualen, Katharine DeMille, Berton Churchill, Cecilia Parker, Douglas Dumbrille, Mary Pickford.

Bottom row: Gene Lockhart, Fay Wray, Walter Pidgeon, Ann Rutherford, Donald Woods, Norma Shearer.

Ontario seemed to produce the most stars.

I didn’t recognise Rosina Lawrence (1912-1997). She was active in the 30s but retired when she married in 1939.  She was in Laurel and Hardy’s “Way Out West”, and I’ve just learned that she provided the high soprano voice for Stan Laurel’s ‘On the trail of the Lonesome  Pine’.

On the death of her first husband in 1973, Rosina later married Laurel and Hardy biographer, John McCabe in 1987. They met at a ‘Sons  of the Desert’ convention.

 

Dana Wynter, Kevin McCarthy.  Nice closeup.INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. 

 

ARGYLE SECRETS (1948)

Reading that ARGYLE SECRETS (1948) was part of the “Noir City Hollywood Festival” this April,I found that the film was available to view on You Tube.

Fans in Hollywood will see a pristine print restored by The Film Noir Foundation. I watched a copy which strained the eyes. Still, I could follow the movie’s short 64 minutes .

William Gargan plays a  Washington reporter who gets caught up in what might be the biggest scoop of his career – the search for a dossier called The Argyle Album which contains  the names of war profiteers.

Along the way, Gargan is pursued by the police ( led by a clueless Ralph Byrd) and by a motley band of crooks who want the album for blackmailing purposes.

The crooks include John Banner ( yes, that John Banner from “Hogan’s Heroes), Jack Reitzen ( looking like  Sydney Greenstreet and doing his best to remind us of Peter Lorre in “The Maltese Falcon”) and Marjorie Lord in full Mary Astor /Brigid O’Shaughnessy  mode .

There is a touch of “The Big Sleep”, as the plot thickens to such an extent I wasn’t sure what was happening.
Not helped by the fact that the script betrays its radio origins – director/writer Cy Endfield adapted his 30 minute 1945 “Suspense” episode called ‘The Argyle Album’. – although there is plenty of action, there are a couple of scenes where Gargan simply stands and tells you what’s going on.  The film literally comes to a stand still.

William Gargan

And yet, there is much to enjoy in this film.I liked William Gargan as the reporter who won’t give up even though he is beaten up, shot at and accused of murder.

There are a couple of enjoyable lighter scenes and I wished the film had given more screen time to Marjorie Lord who impressed as the femme fatale who is ready to change sides if it suits her.
I do hope there will be a dvd release as I’d like to see it properly. It’s not perfect but it has a lot going for it.

It will be interesting to see reviews after the Hollywood  screening.

As usual, I’m always amazed how much  plot you  can get in just over an hour..

Marjorie Lord

I’m not aware I’ve seen Marjorie Lord (1918-2015) in anything else. She was active in the late 30s and in the 40s but found fame on television in “The Danny Thomas Show”  for seven years.

Her first husband was John Archer and her daughter Anne Archer is also an actress.

 

Ralph Byrd

Not a great part for Dick Tracy but Byrd does his best in the few scenes he is in.

Favourite scenes: “North by Northwest”

One of the memorable scenes in North By Northwest ,in the airport where the Professor (Leo G. Carroll )  sets the record straight about Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint ).

In the Northwest terminal of Chicago’s Midway airport, the Intelligence Agency chief needs the help of Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) so he starts explaining to Thornhill what Eve’s role really is in relation to Vandamm (James Mason), and about the MacGuffin ( Government secrets being taken out of the country)

 

Cary Grant, Leo G. Carroll

Part of the conversation is drowned out by the planes’ engines ( presumably the part where the Professor tells Thornhill what he wants him to do at Mount Rushmore.)

Even as he explains Eve’s position, the Professor is still keeping Thornhill in the dark about the ultimate outcome – Eve flying off with Vandamm.

 

Cary Grant

Thornhill’s belated realisation that he had been all wrong about Eve Kendall – not his fault , but now he fears for her safety.

 

Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint.

This isn’t the happy ending -not quite yet! Roger thinks he and Eve are now free to pursue their relationship- until she tells him she is due to re-join VanDamm.

 

Martin Landau, James Mason

Two comments, wonderfully delivered by James Mason :

Games –  must we?!”

And , near the end of the thriller: ”This matter is best disposed of from a great height – over water!”

(The ‘matter’ being Eve Kendall.)

 

Ken Lynch, Cary Grant, Patrick McVey

Two bored cops ,having arrested Thornhill at the auction, suddenly find they are transporting America’s most wanted man!

 

Question: Did Eve realise she was sending Thornhill to his death at the Prairie bus stop, Highway 41. Or can we hope she didn’t know what Vandamm had planned.

 

Also love this ad: “…..run from the cops,killers,secret agents, beautiful agents……..and see if you can do all this without wrinkling your suit!”

 

We’ll never really know how the film was called NORTH BY NORTHWEST. It isn’t a compass setting ( though Northwest by North is). It was described as a working title during filming. I doubt it  had anything  to do with HAMLET’s reference ( “I am but mad north-north-west).

Hitchcock , in 1963, said:

“It’s a fantasy. The whole film is epitomised in the title -there is no such thing as north-by-northwest on the compass.”

In the scene  I described above at the airport, there is reference to Northwest Airlines.

 

 

Bernard Hermann ’s  fantastic overture over Saul Bass’s opening titles. Intense, driving and conveying the subsequent chase Cary Grant endures across America. 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS ‘N THAT 26

………Love watching  the live Sunday podcasts with Leonard and Jessie Maltin. “Maltin on Movies.” (Available on You Tube/Instagram/Face Book).

An hour of movie discussion with a chance to comment and ask Leonard and his daughter Jessie questions. Often about current films, but I usually sneak in something vintage and Leonard is such a fund of knowledge.
Recently he talked about the career of Preston Sturges – no notes, simply a lifetime of loving films.

Jessie has been following in her father’s footsteps, confident  in front of the camera and sharing her opinions on the film scene.

Jessie and Leonard Maltin

http://www.leonardmaltin.com

 

Noir heaven is back in the U.S. after cancellation last year. Noir City: Hollywood returns in April 2022 at the Hollywood Legion Theater, presented by The Film Noir Foundation, the Hollywood Legion Theater in association with the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the American Cinemateque.

Hosted by Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode, the usual ten day festival is shortened to a three day event and featuring eight Noirs in glorious 35mm prints.

 

Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier.NO WAY OUT.

 

THE ARGYLE SECRETS (1948) has been restored by The Film Noir Foundation. A reporter ( played by William Gargan) sets out to find a album with the names of war profiteers and traitors.

 

 

Lloyd Bridges and Frank Lovejoy star in TRY AND GET ME, the story of a kidnapping which goes wrong.

 

Evelyn Keyes and Van Heflin tangle in THE PROWLER.

 

 

 

 

Considered the more faithful version of the Ernest Hemingway story – most  of us know  the earlier TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. I suppose I should catch up with this one being a fan of John Garfield.

Noir fans in Seattle also had a festival in February,2022, hosted by Eddie Muller and featuring another super group of thrillers – THE KILLERS, SHAKEDOWN, NAKED ALIBI, THE STORY OF MOLLY X, HE WALKED BY NIGHT, THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK.

 

 

………Catching  up with Lee Marvin ‘s hit TV series ,”M -Squad” (1957-1960) in which Marvin plays Lt. Frank Ballinger of M SQUAD, a special unit of the Chicago Police.
Marvin made 117  half hour episodes , all of which are available on dvd. ( I saw some episodes on You Tube.)

Similar to DRAGNET, the stories are police procedural. The Marvin character has no private life or sidekicks. The only regular character is Paul Newlan who plays his boss.

The series boasts a host of Hollywood faces. I’ll name a few – Morris Ankrum, John Hoyt, June Vincent, Whit Bissell, Kent Smith, Ted de Corsica, Connie Gilchrist, Percy Helton, Jack Elam, Mike Mazurki, Myron Healey.

There was location shooting in Chicago but the city’s mayor Daley refused cooperation since one episode had a city cop taking bribes. And the portrayal of the city as crime-ridden.

Lee Marvin (whose company Latimer Productions co-produced the series) said:

“We’d shoot locations twice a year. No,permit,no cooperation. They didn’t want any part of us. We’d shoot and blow.”

Marvin did plenty of TV guest spots in the early 60’s but three films with John  Wayne set off his film career into high gear  and television was left behind. THE COMMANCHEROS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, DONOVAN’S REEF.

 

………Too easy, but name the film ,director and Bogie’s costar.

 

……..Not so easy. Who’se this enjoying himself fishing.

Bryan Foy. Keeper of the B’s

Producer/director BRYAN FOY (1896-1977) was the oldest of the famous vaudeville act called “The Seven Little Foys”. He toured with the family for ten years – one of his brothers was Eddie Foy Jr. As the oldest, I assume, Bryan is first on the right of the picture.
Their story was told in the Bob Hope starrer of the same name.

Bryan left the family act in 1918 and served in World War One.
In the course of his career, he had an astonishing number of films which he either produced or directed – IMDB lists 200 plus titles as a producer, and over 90 as director.

He worked at Fox Studios in the early 1920s.

Slim Summerville

One of his shorts In 1924 was  WILLIAM TELL , with Slim Summerville in the lead!

By 1927 he was with Warner Brothers and for three years, from 1927 to 1930, he produced and directed Vitaphone Shorts which allowed the ambitious Warners studio to experiment with sound. ( filming  at the Vitagraph studio in Flatbush, New York).

The one reel shorts were between 4 and 10 minutes.

Warner Brothers leased the ‘ sound on disc’ technology from Western Electric in 1926 with a view to providing music and sound effects for their movies – not for speech.  The studio owned cinemas wouldn’t need to hire musicians to accompany  the films.

Many of the shorts can be seen at  doctormacro.com ( thanks,Alistair)  and on You Tube.

Based in New York, Foy could employ performers appearing there – orchestras, vaudevillians, comedians. ( a young George Burns and Gracie Allen do a sketch in one short.)

Bryan Foy, Georgie Price

Bryan Foy is seen on screen in his short,”Don’t Get Nervous” in which he is reassuring vaudeville performer Georgie Price who says he is missing an audience. Subsequently, Price ( who sings well in the style of Eddie Cantor) simply sings ‘Hello Sunshine Hello’ as he would in a theatre. The camera never moves.

Another short “Baby Rose Marie, The Child Wonder”(1929) featured 5 year old Rose Marie ( later in “The Dick Van Dyke Show”) singing three songs  and showing  what a trouper she was. She was called ‘The Sophie Tucker of Tomorrow!’

Baby Rose Marie

Foy featured his own family in  1928’s “The  Foys for Joys “.

Just watching some  of these shorts makes it easy to realise what a winner Warner Brothers were onto. They weren’t expensive to make and Warners would screen them before their latest releases. The audiences were excited to hear the performers talk and sing.

The sensation that was The Jazz Singer in 1927 certainly made the other studios realise the public demanded sound. (Though, when The Jazz Singer opened, only around 100 cinemas were wired up for sound.)

The sound discs provided by Warners had to be linked up to the projector for synchronisation. Providing  the film didn’t break or the disc didn’t skip a groove, audiences could  start to enjoy the new sensation of sound effects and hearing the actors.

The transition to sound was dramatically fast. The entire industry  was re-tooled by 1929 costing millions of dollars. Warner Brothers ended up following the other studios with ‘sound on  film’ replacing the disc system.

Billed as “The first 100% talkie”, Bryan Foy’s very first full length feature ,LIGHTS OF NEW YORK (1928) is part of Hollywood history. Only 57 minutes and displaying all the problems of early talkies, yet it made a big profit for Warner Brothers.

“THE JAZZ SINGER” is often described as the first talking  picture, but that honour really belongs to “Lights of New York”. The Jazz Singer only had a few moments of dialogue.

Variety said, “…..this talker will have pulling power and the Warners should get credit for nerve, even if they did it do it with a polish.”

The New York Times review was prophetic: “..It is novel and may,in its halting manner, be pointing the way to the future.”

At a cost of only $23,000 , the film eventually made a million dollars.
Cinema owners scrambled for sound equipment.

The film didn’t produce any stars except for Eugene Pallette whose distinctive voice would be heard in many films to come. As parodied in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, there were many static scenes in  “Lights of New York” as actors had to be near the microphones and the camera, in a sound proof booth, didn’t move.

The famous quote from Lights of New York:

”I want you guys to make him disappear.”

“You mean?…..”

“Take – him – for – a – ride.”

The story of bootleggers on Broadway, it starred Helene Costello, sister of Dolores Costello.

Another full length feature directed by Bryan Foy was QUEEN OF THE NIGHT CLUBS (1929), which was the film debut of George Raft.
Eddie Foy jr. was 
 also in it. Texas Guinan had a style similar to Mae West but she only made a few films and died in 1933.

I like the film’s ad:

See this marvellous picture!….

Wine, Women and Wrong!

Another film presumed lost.

Father of Joan and Constance Bennet, Richard Bennett starred in THE HOME TOWNERS in 1928 which Bryan directed. It is a lost film.

By 1932, Bryan had stopped directing and concentrated on producing duties. It would be interesting to know why he took this path in his career.
He became  head of Warner Brothers’ ‘B’ picture unit. Hence the nickname, ‘Keeper of the B’s”.

Considering the shorter running times and small budgets, I’m sure the Foy films were good earners  for Warners.And I’m sure Foy must have enjoyed the autonomy he would have had.

Foy produced several films I’d like to see. Could only find trailers for some on You Tube.

Starring Lee Patrick , THE NURSE’S SECRET looks fun.

Glenda  Farrell and Margaret Lindsay as partners in their own law firm.

Humphrey Bogart,Margaret  Lindsay, Donald Woods. ISLE OF FURY.

An early Bogart . Comment: Lose the moustache.

Anything with Ann Dvorak!

PERSONAL MAID’S SECRET (1935).

Margaret Lindsay, Warren Hall, Anita Louise.

(The maid in question is Ruth Donnelly who apparently steals the film.)

Lynn Bari .THE MAN FROM TEXAS

( ok, she’s not the Texan, but it’s a nice photo!)

Of the series of prison movies he made (Crime  School, Murder in the Big House, Alcatraz Island), Foy said: 

“The main difference with prison pictures is getting some love interest into them. About all you can do is show women in the visitor’s room!”

Bryan produced the popular NANCY DREW series with Bonita Granville. And TORCHY  BLANE with Glenda Farrell.

In the 1940s, he produced at various studios and got back to directing at Fox with two Laurel and Hardy films, THE DANCING MASTERS and THE BULLFIGHTERS.

Some of his productions in the 40s and 50s.

Steve Cochran.HIGHWAY 301.

Phyllis Kirk, Gene Nelson. CRIME WAVE.

WOMEN’S  PRISON

And Repeat Performance , recently out on blu-Ray and which went rapidly out of stock on Amazon.

The last film he produced was “P.T.- 109”  in 1963.

Bryan Foy

Bryan Foy surely deserves a biography.

I wonder if any Foy family members have ever been interviewed about him.

I’ll be writing next about THE VITAPHONE PROJECT.

COLOR PHOTO MIX 6

Lee Marvin, J. Carrol Naish, Victor Mature, Stephen McNally.

The hero with the three villains. VIOLENT SATURDAY. And an unusual role for Ernest Borgnine.

 

Audrey Totter

 

Alan Ladd.

 

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS.

Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman. 

 

Gary in GARDEN OF EVIL which has a terrific Bernard  Herrmann score

 

Lovely to see Carole Lombard in color. NOTHING SACRED.

 

James Stewart, Eleanor Powell  . BORN TO DANCE.

 

Hepburn film very rarely  written about.  Kate plays two roles as she romances Franchot Tone. 

 

It’s a rehearsal in EASTER PARADE. Judy and Fred.

 

Richard Widmark is up against Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn in WARLOCK. But Dorothy Malone is on his side.

RKO REMEMBERED

I purchased this invaluable book about RKO in 1982 when it was first published. (And it’s  still available at reasonable prices.)

Glancing through it again recently, it struck me that many of my favourite movies had the RKO logo attached to them – The Narrow Margin; Blood on the Moon; Sudden Fear; The Thing from Another World;Nocturne;On Dangerous Ground; I Remember Mama; The Set up; Notorious; In Name Only; Bringing Up Baby; Carefree. And that’s just some of them!

RKO had two locations – one in Hollywood at 780 Gower Street , and in Culver City at 9336 West Washington Boulevard.

 

Great pictures of the Gower Street complex, with the globe and radio tower.

The above picture shows a poster for JET PILOT (1957) and the one below shows IN PERSON (1935).

Love how the row of cars show the 22 year difference.

 

This RKO Gower st. frontage , with the canopies, was built in 1931. It’s now a side entrance to Paramount.

 

  • Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz exiting the Gower Street RKO entrance.

In 1967, Desilu sold the Gower street complex and the Culver City properties to Paramount. ( they had originally bought the studio for $6 million in 1957.)

The Gower street studio was absorbed into the adjacent Paramount lot( which was MGM).

 

Paramount restored the RKO globe at the Gower st. entrance, but  not the radio tower.

(Farmer John Gower built his home there and eventually the street was named after him.)

 

What a history the Culver City  RKO lot has.

Culver City is about ten miles from downtown Los Angeles. Realtor, Harry Culver had bought a tract of land and eventually it became Culver City. ( Nothing to beat having a city named after you.)

Harry Culver

1920’s film producer Thomas Ince was persuaded by Harry Culver to relocate there.

Having first had his studio further along West Washington Boulevard ( which became MGM), Ince moved to 9336 W.Washington Blvd. and   built the imposing landmark mansion , with its grand  columns , which became known to the public when David Selznick leased the lot and made the mansion his trademark.

 

INCE STUDIOS.

Behind the Mansion are sound stages and outdoor sets.

 

The Culver City RKO lot became known as ‘40 Acres’ ( even although the area amounted to about 29 acres!)

This is where many “Gone With The Wind” scenes were filmed.

‘The Mansion’ now has landmark status. Good to know it will be preserved.

The Atlanta railroad set for “Gone With The Wind”  on the backlot.

 

 

The Mansion is now called “The Culver Studios”.

 

The Culver City seal – “California’s Film Capital – The Heart of Screenland.”

Culver City, rightly, objected to films being described as “Made in Hollywood”, when in fact the biggest studio ,MGM, was not in Hollywood but little Culver City!

Interestingly, the MGM studios were located at 10202 West Washington Boulevard while RKO was at 9336 West Washington Boulevard.
( I would love to walk along that Boulevard in Culver City!)

RKO  ceased making films in  1957.

Forty Acres was sold to a developer who demolished what was left of the famous backlot.

 

Amazing three-tier set for ROBERTA. Top tier shows Randolph Scott and Fred Astaire.

 

Lucille Ball, in the 1930s at RKO. Two decades later, she would run the studio.

 

Some shots of RKO cinemas: ( in the days when all the big studios had their own block of cinemas for releasing their product.)

 

 

THE STRANGER” at the RKO Palace.

 

 

Reminding folk that RKO stood for Radio-Keith-Orpheum.

RKO came into being when Joseph P.Kennedy’ s Film Booking Office combined with Keith Albee Orpheum ( a theatre chain) and Radio Corporation of America.

 

 

The original RKO logo, with the spinning globe  and the radio tower beaming out “An RKO Radio Picture” in morse code.

 

RKO advertising:

I like that pledge, “Productions, not Predictions.”

Not sure about Hepburn’s  stare.

 

Would love to see the RKO Radio Picture Book.

Great ad for the RKO stars, producers, directors. Surnames only. David Selznick in charge of production.

 

 

The doors of Radio City Music Hall are stormed ! They can’t wait to see Katharine Hepburn’s latest.

 

 

 

 

Quite a lineup.

 

RKO winning Oscars.

 

RKO well featured , with James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, Loretta Young.

 

Not sure I’d want to see NOCTURNE at 10.30 in the morning! But it’s a trade showing.

 

 

  • Reference to the purchase of RKO by the General Tire and Rubber  company ( which had a television subsidiary ). Howard Hughes , after seven years in charge, got $25 million.

 

It’s amazing really that, despite its chequered history, RKO managed to produce quite a few memorable films.

Neat 1958 video with commentary by Desi Arnaz:

JOHNNY GUITAR: Watch it again – and again

  • Very happy to welcome back one of my favourite bloggers, CineMaven who hosts this Blogathon about movies we love so much, we can watch them again at the drop of a hat.

(https://cinemavensessaysfromthecouch.wordpress.com/2022/01/18/for-the-umpteenth-time-blogathon/

In no particular order, some thoughts – and lots of pictures from one of my favourite westerns, JOHNNY GUITAR which I view every so often. So excuse me while I rave on.

……..It’s a film which modern critics love to write about, calling it ‘bizarre’;   ‘operatic’;  ‘subversive’;   ‘ a Freudian psycho drama’ ; ‘twisted’ ; ‘a very strange film’; ‘the weirdest western ever shot’!

What am I missing!

For me, it’s simply a favourite western of the 1950s ( which is my favourite decade for the genre). It’s beautifully filmed and directed by Nicholas Ray, with a strong  plot, great cast and a fabulous set.

And it isn’t the only western with strong female characters leading the plot ( though there weren’t many.)

Maybe an unusual choice for Joan Crawford,but she fits the character of Vienna as far as I am concerned – strong, single minded and willing to fight for what she wants.

If all the stories are to be believed, it was not a happy set, but for picturegoers, it’s a colourful,exciting western with plenty of action , though many of the leading characters bite the dust! – Tom, Turkey, Corey, The Kid and Emma.

 

………..My copy of Picture Show magazine from July 1954. I always liked how Picture Show would have a page featuring the story of the film in pictures.

 

……..It’s always interesting to see reviews when the film was released.

Joan Crawford’s first western ,”Montana Moon”(1930)  was referenced in one article about the film. And why not reveal the ending – ……the two women tangle in a unique gun battle, with Miss McCambridge the loser.”

Another article in ‘Harrison’s Reports’ of May,1954 also felt it was ok to give away the finale – “Miss McCambridge, after failing to have Miss Crawford lynched, loses her life in a gun duel with her.”

And another reviewer said, “It is overburdened with a number of talky passages.”

In contrast, a more positive comment  – “Crawford shines in a sock role. McCambridge as venomous as they come. Peggy Lee song a potent selling point.”

Still, despite mixed reviews, JOHNNY GUITAR did well at the box office.

 

……….Interesting notice about a song  title change. Patti Page had released a record called “Johnny Guitar” in February 1954 and the record company was threatened with litigation by Republic – their film was due to debut the following  month.

The song title was changed, but not the lyrics which contain frequent references to ‘Johnny Guitar’ – “Johnny Guitar, my restless lover ; Why is my Johnny Guitar a rolling stone….”

Very far removed from the haunting Victor Young /Peggy Lee song.

 

………..The Variety review didn’t pull any punches:

“Crawford should leave saddles and Levi’s to someone else and stick to city lights for a background. “Guitar” is only a fair piece of entertainment, seemingly headed for spotty returns,even with exploitations……it will be a major disappointment to loyal Crawford  fans.

Scripter Yordan and director Nicholas Ray become so involved with character nuances and neuroses all wrapped up in dialog, that Johnny Guitar never has enough chance to rear up in the saddle and ride at an acceptable outdoor pace.”

 

Sterling Hayden

The start of the film, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden ) heading for Vienna’s  saloon . He’s been hired to play the guitar – and maybe use the gun in his saddle bag.

 

Vienna (Joan Crawford) seems to have sent for Johnny, though it’s not clear why she would, considering they haven’t seen each other for five years.  At one point she says to him, “I hired you for protection.”Though  she doesn’t look surprised when she first sees him in the saloon with a guitar slung over his shoulder. Has she been keeping tabs on him?

 

Vienna’ s private quarters are as different from the saloon downstairs as she can make it. In this scene with Mr. Andrews (Rhys Williams )there is a bust of Beethoven in the middle of the shot!

( The German born Beethoven stayed in Vienna for over 30 years.)

We never learn what Vienna’s real name is , (assuming it isn’t Vienna.)

One of the best lines in the film , after the train company executive, Mr. Andrews  asked Vienna how she knew the train route was coming through the land she owns:

“I ran into your surveyor and we – exchanged – confidences.”

 

Vienna to the mob:

    “Who are you? And you, and you, to break into my house, with your angry faces and evil minds.”

(McIvers (Ward Bondand Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge , both big ranchers  who more  or less run the nearby town. Emma hates Vienna – with a vengeance!  There’s obviously quite a backstory between the two women, but my impression is that Vienna doesn’t spend much time thinking about Emma.  It’s all on Emma’s side. She obviously resents another woman challenging her power in the community – and that Vienna attracts men as easily as Emma doesn’t!

……..Republic’s Tru Color isn’t Technicolor but I think it looks great. The costumes and contrasting colours add so much to the look of the film. ( And the recent U.K. blu-Ray release from Eureka is just a beautiful digital restoration , making it look as if it was just made, with even better technology than 1954 when it was released).

This is one western I would never want to see in black and white. And one I would love to see on the big screen.

 

……The Dancin’ Kid (Scott Brady) senses Vienna and Johnny have a history. Later he says to Vienna, ”What’s wrong with me. tell me. What don’t you like?”

She replies, “Nothing. I like you.”

 

I love this scene where we learn Johnny has left Vienna five years earlier. He asks her to pretend that things are as they were before.  He says: “Lie to me. …tell me that all these years you’ve waited….”

She repeats what he says , with no feeling until the very end of the scene when she admits she has  waited for him.

A very unusual and powerful love scene.

 

We know what Vienna’s been doing the last 5 years,but we never hear how Johnny has spent these years and what made him substitute a guitar for a gun.

 

 

John Carradine as Tom who works for Vienna.

 

Ben Cooper as ‘Turkey’.

 

Is this not one of the best sets in any western – a saloon with a back wall built against the red rock face of the cliffs.

I have no problem with the first half hour of the film being set in the cavernous saloon.

The long white dress is a dramatic change of costume for Vienna , but when would she ever wear it?
She plays the haunting title song.

 

 

Emma’s brother has been killed in a stagecoach  robbery and she blames the Dancin’ Kid– and Vienna – with no evidence. She just wants them dead.

The posse don’t even wait to change their funeral clothes ( after the bank is robbed by the ‘Dancin’ Kid’), before going after him.

At the bank robbery in town, Vienna just happens to be closing her account when the Dancin’ Kid and his men arrive.

Johnny is with her and makes it clear he won’t be interfering, saying , ”I’m a stranger here myself.”

( There’s a great song called ‘I’m a stranger here myself’ , written by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash and sung by Mary Martin in the 1943 musical, “One Touch of  Venus”.)

No trial, it’s mob justice.Emma offered the men $100 to whip the horse from under Vienna but is told, “You’ll have to do it yourself, Emma.”

And she would have done it if Johnny hadn’t rescued Vienna.

 

Not quite the burning  of Atlanta, but still quite a dramatic scene when the saloon is in flames. Emma takes maniacal delight in destroying Vienna’ saloon.

Mercedes McCambridge stands  out in all her scenes.

 

Vienna and Johnny escape from the posse through the waterfall that leads to the Dancin’ Kid’s hideout.

Not a real waterfall, but who cares.

 

On the set during the waterfall scene.

 

The Dancin’ Kid’s hideout. Joan visible at the top.

Another impressive outdoor set.

 

And the final shoutout between Vienna and Emma.

 

Of course, Joan Crawford is still with us at the end of the film.

 

 

The frontage for the saloon, against the Arizona rocks. Republic Pictures , with  Joan Crawford as their star, spent more than they usually would on a western.

 

Johnny Guitar street in Sedona. Arizona. ( many streets in Sedona were named after movies filmed there.)

 

WHEN WOMEN HATE.

 

With director Nicholas Ray’s help, Joan prepares for that scene where she faces the posse assembled below.

 

One poster with Johnny Guitar himself on the cover and a devilish looking Ernest Borgnine in the background. No sign of Vienna. It’s called “Johnny Guitar” but of course it is Vienna’s  story.

 

Publicity shot.

 

Robert Osterloh, Royal Dano, Will Wright.

Rhys Williams, Ian MacDonald, Paul Fix.

 

 

Sterling Hayden’s name before Joan’s! ( Unusual to see the male actors listed on one side, and Joan and Mercedes on the other.)

 

Some good black and white stills which I found on the site forumwesternmovies.fr

 

 

Only at the end of the film do we hear Peggy Lee sing the title song she wrote with prolific composer Victor Young. I simply love this haunting song. Relatively simple lyrics, but that beautiful arrangement by Young.

 

 

 

 

P.S. I just played it again.

 

 

 

 

 

COLOR PHOTO MIX 5

This almost looks like a painting – Joan Crawford is disinterested, or is she. Jeff Chandler keeps trying. FEMALE ON THE BEACH.

 

Great artwork from  Alejandro Mogolla.

Bette Davis. ALL ABOUT  EVE.

 

Why not advertise your  latest movie (DRUM BEAT) while wearing the latest ( expensive) sportswear ; Alan Ladd  displays a suede sport coat, only $47.50 and a jacket going for $25.

($47 in 1954 would be equivalent to over $400 today!)

I don’t think the California Sport Wear Company of Los Angeles is still in business.

 

 

Spotting Hollywood’s best known extra, Bess Flowers,seen here  in the centre of the scene from DOUBLE INDMENITY.

 

 

 

Always happy to see these two stars from PICK UP ON SOUTH STREET – Richard Widmark, Jean Peters.

 

 

Another film I wish had been in colour. Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

 

 

FRED AND GINGER . “CAREFREE”. A shame they weren’t in colour till ”The Barkleys  of Broadway.”

 

 

The three sergeants in “Gunga  Din”.  Cary Grant, Victor McGlaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

 

GOODBYE MR. CHIPS brought Greer Garson to American audiences. Robert Donat won an Oscar.

 

Don’t know what Barbara Stanwyck is giving a thumbs down to, or what that picture in her dressing room is.

 

Big fan of Audrey Totter, here with Robert Taylor in THE HIGH WALL

SIDNEY POITIER R.I.P

So much has been said in the media about the sad news of Sidney Poitier’s passing, the following photos are my small tribute to this fine actor who blazed a trail for others.

 

Playing a High School student in BLACKBOARD JUNGLE.

 

With Tony Curtis.THE DEFIANT ONES.

 

With Ruby Dee. A RAISIN IN THE SUN

I haven’t seen either “A Raisin In The Sun” or “Lilies of the Field”, but hope to catch up with them soon.

 

 

Best Actor  Oscar for LILIES  OF THE FIELD.

 

With Katharine Houghton.GUESS WHO’SE COMING TO DINNER.

 

TO SIR WITH LOVE

The ending where the class have given their teacher a present.

 

They Call Me MR.TIBBS.”

On the set of ”IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT:

With Lee Grant and Rod Steiger.

 

 

The ending of “In The  Heat of the Night”.

 

With  his wife, Joanna Shimkus.( Married in 1976).