Category Archives: Uncategorized


A hidden treasure  in New York . A garden dedicated to Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) who loved flowers and gardening.

Situated near the United Nations at 224 East 47th Street, the garden is near where Katharine lived (244 E.49th St.) from 1931 to the 1990s (when she moved to Connecticut).

After her death in 2003, the intersection of E.49th St. and  2nd Avenue was renamed Katharine Hepburn Place.

If I ever get back to New York, I look forward to visiting this tranquil place.








A wooden bench which belonged to Kate.


Kate on her bench.




Rosalind Russell , George Cukor

A good story at

 Ilka Chase played the role of Sylvia Fowler in the original Broadway production of “The Women” in 1936. She nearly got the role in the film version.

The story goes that when Rosalind fumbled a line, George Cukor calls to an assistant : “See  if you can get Ilka Chase to come out and play this scene.”

But Cukor was replaced by Victor Fleming on “Gone With the Wind”. So Roz calls to the same assistant: “Telephone Mr. Fleming and ask when he’s going to take over the picture!”

Roz and Cukor became good friends – Roz credited Cukor with launching  her career as a comedienne.

Two of Rosalind’s best movies came one after the other – THE WOMEN and then HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Both demonstrating that from time to time, Hollywood got away from typecasting. Rosalind simply showed she could do comedy as well as drama. Her ‘Sylvia Fowler’ is just hilarious and SO different from anything  she had done before at MGM.
Roz did a slew of movies in the 30s and 40s ; and she had AUNTIE MAME and GYPSY in the 50s/60s.


Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford, George Cukor


With Paulette Goddard

Such a superior cast in THE WOMEN, from Joan Crawford , Norma Shearer, Paulette Goddard , Mary Boland,Marjorie Main. 


Paulette Goddard


Another movie one could wish had been in color.( it did have a color sequence.)


I’d love to see the MGM archives regarding Roz’s casting as ‘Sylvia.’  I expect it wasn’t easy for her to get the role.



Roz’s association with My Sister Eileen began in 1942 when the film was released. Then she had great success on Broadway in 1953 in the musical version of the story.

With Janet Blair in MY SISTER EILEEN (1942)


The 1953 musical version of “My Sister Eileen”, with Edie Adams as ‘Eileen.’

Rosalind also did a TV special of the show in 1958, with Jacquelyn McKeever as ‘Eileen’.

And the whole 1958 show is on You Tube.

The  musical film version of “My Sister Eileen” (1955) ,with Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh , didn’t use the original Leonard Bernstein / Comden and Green score. ( apparently Columbia weren’t prepared to pay the high price for the rights .) Jule Styne and Leo Robin were commissioned to write a new score but the only hit they gave the film was “Give Me a Band and My Baby.”





I enjoyed this early Robert Siodmak film which was on You  Tube. (A 35mm restored print of the film is being shown in Film Noir Festivals in America).

Reminiscent of “The 39 Steps”, Richard Carlson plays a doctor caught up in a spy ring led by Albert Basserman (yes, that lovely character from “Foreign Correspondent” and “A Woman’s Face”.)

Nancy  Kelly  is also innocently involved in the intrigue.


Richard Carlson, Nancy Kelly


Martin Kosleck

Martin Kosleck(1904-1994) plays an assistant to the scientist (Miles Mander) who has invented a new weapon. Kosleck was only in movies for under a decade before moving to television. He became a painter in later life.

It’s ironic , considering he escaped Nazi Germany, that he often played foreign spies including playing Goebbels several times (“Confessions of a Nazi Spy”, “The Hitler Gang.”)

He played the Count of Monte Cristo in THE WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO (1946) – though he is off the screen a lot!


Miles Mander


Always good to have Clem Bevans in a few scenes.


Albert Basserman, Richard Carlson, Marion Martin

Marion Martin plays an unlikely nurse!

“Fly By Night”  has a lot going for it and I hope it makes it to dvd.


Richard Carlson, Robert Siodmak


Nancy Kelly

A shame Nancy Kelly (1921-1995) wasn’t a bigger star. A former child actress, she was active in the late 30s and 40s – FRONTIER MARSHALL. SHOW BUSINESS, JESSE JAMES.Following the success of THE BAD SEED which she did on stage, Nancy did the film version in 1956.
Her career was then mainly stage and television.

She was briefly married to Edmond O’Brien in 1941/42, and her brother Jack Kelly was one of the Maverick  brothers.

I must catch up with two of her films which are on You Tube , both from 1944 – DOUBLE EXPOSURE and GAMBLER’S CHOICE.


Director Robert Siodmak (1900-1973) only made just over 20 films in Hollywood before returning to Germany after making “The Crimson Pirate” in 1952. He’s known for his thrillers like PHANTOM LADY. THE KILLERS, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE. But his start in Hollywood was in lighter ‘B’ s.

”Fly By Night” was his second US film. Of the three films he made at Paramount in 1941/42, Richard Carlson was in all three. ( the other two were WEST POINT WIDOW and MY HEART BELONGS TO DADDY.)

I’d like to see one of Siodmak’s  films, SOMEONE TO REMEMBER (1943), starring Mabel Paige whom I’ve  become a fan of after seeing her as George Raft’s feisty mother in “Nocturne”.



Michael Curtiz.

Did any other director have such a varied output as Michael Curtiz.I wonder. This is the man who did Casablanca, Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Angels with Dirty Faces, Mildred Pierce, The Sea Hawk, White Christmas , The Best Things in Life Are Free. 

A fantastic career. Silents, swashbucklers, social drama, musicals, gangster movies , comedies. He did it all .

In a 2020 auction ( oak, 22 letters written by celebrities to Curtiz’s daughter, Candace ,were auctioned.

There was to be a biography of the great director, but,for whatever reason, the book never materialised. I don’t know what the letters sold for.

Some of the comments ( written in the mid 1970s):

Ingrid Bergman :  “ Curtiz and Wallis fought over the story every lunch break…..he was extremely nice to me during the shooting of “Casablanca.”


Olivia De Havilland:  “As I know you understand, working with your father could be exigent, emotional and even harsh.”

(I confess to looking up the meaning of ‘exigent’ – demanding, exacting. That seems to sum up the director’s manner.)


Lauren Bacall: “He was a character indeed, and a genius with the camera.”


Kirk Douglas: “He was a man of tremendous vitality… many of the movies were typically American films by someone who was not born here.”


Michael Wilding: “ Suddenly he screamed, ‘Ze man in the white clothes, what the hell do you think you are doing!’

500 of us whirled around in panic in case one of us had caused his rage. Such was his power, and ,curiously, his charm.”

(Anyone know what film is being referred to?)


  • Ronald Reagan: “On ‘Santa Fe Trail’, much of the story concerning John  Brown  in that picture was gleaned from a book called ‘God’s Angry Man’.
    Guess what your father was named before the picture was finished!  Yes, the title of the book. But,  believe me, this was always done with affection.”




A fine biography of Michael Curtiz (1886-1962) was written by Alan K. Rode.

THE CAFTAN WOMAN BLOGATHON – Honoring Patricia Nolan- Hall

A pleasure to take part in this blogathon to honor the late Patricia Nolan- Hall, a fine writer who loved classic film blogging. Known as Paddy Lee, her blog can be viewed at


Paul Lukas

I had recently seen a photo of Paul Lukas from the Irving Berlin Broadway musical, CALL ME MADAM . An actor who had won an Oscar for WATCH ON THE RHINE – and he had starred in one of my favourite films, DEADLINE AT DAWN.

Sufficient reason to look at Paul’s career and then I discovered that Paddy Lee had featured him back in 2015 in an excellent article.


Hungarian born Paul Lukas (1895-1971) came to Hollywood in 1927, and quickly established himself in movies.
He was the gentle ‘Professor Baer’ opposite Katharine Hepburn in LITTLE WOMEN.

Paul Lukas, Katharine Hepburn


With Fay Wray.

One of Paul’s films I’ve yet to see is THE COUNTESS OF MONTE CRISTO (1934) – nothing to do with the Dumas story, but looks fun.



Paul was kept very busy in the 30s and 40s. He was “Athos” in THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1935). He played Philo Vance opposite Rosalind Russell. In THE CASINO MURDER CASE (1935) . A continental Philo didn’t seem quite right – I preferred William Powell.

With Rosalind Russell .


With  Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood in  THE LADY VANISHES.

Hitchock called for Paul to be the villain in THE LADY VANISHES who tries to convince Margaret Lockwood that Miss Froy never existed – as if we could forget Dame May Whitty.


With Walter Huston and Ruth  Chatterton.

Paul supported Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton in DODSWORTH.



I love DEADLINE AT DAWN (1946), with Paul as a New York cabbie who helps dance Hall girl Susan Hayward and sailor Bill Williams find out who killed Lola Lane.  A great supporting cast including Joseph Calleia, Osa Massen, Jerome Cowan, Marvin Miller.
This film just oozes atmosphere, taking place between midnight and dawn. Paul is an unusual cab driver, always philosophising and quoting “Statistics tell us….”

With Susan Hayward.




With Bette Davis. WATCH ON THE RHINE(1943).

Having created the role on Broadway of the anti-Nazi activist, Paul then made the film version of WATCH ON THE RHINE  with Bette Davis as his wife. And he won the Best Actor Oscar.

Paul with his Oscar alongside Jennifer Jones , Katina Paxinou and  Charles Coburn.

Other Lukas films:



As well as a varied film career, Paul was active on stage and displayed a nice singing voice in Broadway’s CALL ME MADAM in 1950. When it came to the film version, he was replaced by George Sanders.

With Ethel Merman


With Ethel Merman, Irving Berlin and director George Abbott.



Do go to and to see all the other articles in the blogathon.


………..In 1935 when David Selznick was producing  very successfully at MGM, he wrote to Greta Garbo (who had approval on any film suggested for her.)
Selznick had bought the rights to the 1934 play, DARK VICTORY  and offered it to Garbo, saying to her, “I personally feel that audiences are wanting to see you in a smart, modern picture.”

But Garbo was also considering ANNA KARENINA, with Fredric March .Apparently March  also wanted to do a modern subject.

But Garbo chose “Anna Karenina” ( which did well at the box office.) March costarred as directed by the studio.

Selznick sold the rights to “Dark Victory” to Warners in 1938 and it was a big hit for Bette Davis in 1939 – the year when Garbo finally followed Selznick’s advice and appeared in NINOTCHKA.

(The letter from Selznick to Garbo can be read at the great blog,


…………Lovely new double discs of Ann Miller songs. Over 50 numbers covering a 17 year period, with  some quite rare. Ann was one of the few female dancers who had a good singing voice too.

Available from


………Film Pictorial Annual of 1938 didn’t go for a big star on the cover .Instead it’s June Travis (1914-2008) who made a few films for Warners in the mid 30s and then left Hollywood in 1938 at the age of 24. June returned to her home town,Chicago and married in 1940.
June had costarred with Ronald Reagan in his first film, “The Radio Murder Mystery” in 1937. She also played ‘Della Street’ opposite Ricardo Cortez in “The Case of the Black Cat.”

June Travis, Ricardo Cortez

Index page from the annual.

So many full page star photos were featured.
Other Contents included a “Fashion and Beauty” section including ‘A well tailored suit is a boon’ and “What one dark dress can do.’

Jeanette MacDonald.


Franchot Tone, Katharine Hepburn in QUALITY STREET, a film hardly ever mentioned nowadays.  I haven’t seen it for years. I know Kate played two roles.


A reminder to readers to pick up their weekly Film Pictorial. Only 2d.every Thursday.

  • Would still love to know why American publishers didn’t issue Christmas annuals. Surely a perfect gift for film fans  in the holiday season.


……….Picking up this 1938 issue of the Film Weekly magazine for £1 was quite a coup! Unlike the standard size magazines, at this time Film Weekly was so big – 10 by 14 inches.

Ginger Rogers on the cover.

Praise for James Stewart in VIVACIOUS LADY:

this performance confounds all those critics who said Stewart could never be more than a character actor….when he starred in “Next Time we Live” and “Seventh Heaven”, he seemed to lack the personal magnetism needed to carry a whole film.

Now along comes “Vivacious Lady”. It is no slight to Ginger Rogers to say that Stewart’s performance is the mainspring of the film’s charm and laughter – as the tongue-tied botanist, he is the raison  d’etre of the story…’s surely a star part as Gary Cooper’s “Mr. Deeds.”


………….Warner Archives bring three Judy Garland films to Blu-ray for the first time on June 7th,2022. A nice tribute in Judy’s centennial year.

( news from Judy Garland

If only the films were in the beautiful color displayed on the disc covers.




………..Don’t think so! A picture of Bill Elliott titled Randolph Scott.


It’s unusual to see Lyle Bettger on the right side of the law. He made it at last on television’s “The Court of Last Resort” which ran for 26 half hour episodes in 1957/58.
The show has an interesting history, being based on an actual organisation which Erle Stanley Gardner founded in the 1950s, to look into court cases where an innocent person might have been convicted in error.

Stemming  from a true crime column Gardner wrote in ARGOSY MAGAZINE from 1948., the board of investigation was made up of experts in law and criminology.

Despite some research, I haven’t been able to discover if the group ever had a conviction overturned.
By 1960, Erle Stanley Gardner had retired and the group came to an end.


Lyle Bettger.

“Court  of Last Resort” is a great title for a show and Gardner’s Paisano Productions, after the success of “Perry Mason”, initiated a television series based on his own investigations.

Lyle Bettger plays the Last Resort’s  investigator. The police and courts are very cooperative with him ( even though his job is to reinvestigate cases).

Carleton G. Young played one of the Court’s team. Paul Birch plays  Erle Stanley Gardner.
Bettger’s character updates the court members from time to time, seeks their advise and expertise.

From time to time, the real members of Gardner’s board of investigation are seen at the end of an episode.

Lots of well known faces in the cast – Denver Pyle, Paul Fix, Robert Wilke, Roy Bancroft, Clem Bevans.


Carleton G. Young

Not to be confused with  Carleton Young.

Carleton Young


Tony Young

Side note; Tony Young, (son of Carleton G.Young) was the star of the 1961 series, “Gunslinger “.


There are a few episodes on You Tube. I wish the whole series was available.
One interesting episode involved a girl asking for help for her brother on death row. She is convinced of his innocence, but Bettger proves he is actually guilty.



Erle Stanley Gardner


Paul Birch as Erle Stanley Gardner.


Lyle Bettger subsequently played a similar role in the series Grand Jury (1959-60) which ran for 40 episodes. Bettger and Harold J. Stone play investigators for the State Grand Jury.



Harold J. Stone, Lyle Bettger.


Douglas Dumbrille

Douglas Dumbrille is the head of the Grand Jury and Richard Travis is the Grand Jury lawyer.

Again, lots of good support from  John Hoyt, Charles Lane,Marsha Hunt, June Vincent, Otto Kruger, Anthony Caruso.
I could only find a brief clip from the show on Y.T.

I love the comment about this show on mystery from David Vineyard in 2015 :

Bettger, Stone and Dumbrille were the heroes? That must have confused viewers…I would have been waiting for one of them to murder someone every episode!” has released a dvd of 4 episodes of “The Court of Last Resort.”





A lovely painting by Alejandro Mogollo who features vintage films and stars and includes an iconic line of dialogue; in this case Garbo in NINOTCHKA to Melvyn Douglas.

(Alejandro’s work, which is for sale, can be viewed at


Garbo, Melvyn Douglas.


Was this a headache for the MGM publicity team – how do you promote a title like NINOTCHKA?

Well, of course, they made it work. Don’t try to pronounce it- Nanootshka?……’Ninowtchky?

  • ”Dont pronounce it!  See it!”
    It’s “Topnotchka “!   Keep them ‘Hotchka’  for Ninotchka!



Garbo laughs” was also a headline ( reminiscent of Garbo’s first talkie, ANNIE CHRISTIE,  advertised as “Garbo Talks.”

Garbo, Melvyn Douglas.

This was Garbo’s first comedy – though Howard Barnes of the New York Herald Tribune described her as “a past mistress of comedy!”

”NINOTCHKA” was banned in the Soviet Union. ( the depiction of Stalinist Russia was satirised so well).

Garbo’s salary was $125,000 ( $2 million today!)

Garbo attended the film’s preview at the Long Beach theater in Sept.1939. ( wish we had pictures of that event.)

Ninotchka” became a Cole Porter Broadway musical in 1955 , SILK STOCKINGS and starred Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche. And of course the film musical version starred Fred Astaire and  Cyd Charisse.

A great website for all things Garbo –

A colorised  version  was shown on television in 1990 and released on home video.



I never understood Ninotchka’s fascination with this hat!


.With director Ernst Lubitsch

All those colourful posters and lobby cards. If only MGM had splashed out on Technicolor.

Love how Lubitsch and Wilder get exclamation marks after their names.


Last scene the movie.

I always liked Ina Claire (1893-1985) as the Grand Duchess Swana., so fashionable, witty, caustic.

When speaking to Ninotchka , Swana says: “Oh dear  me. I must be losing my finesse. If I’m not careful, I’ll be understood by everybody.”


Ina Claire, Melvyn Douglas

Ina ,born Ina Fagan, only made about dozen films between 1915 and 1943. She was a Broadway star who had been in the ZIEGFELD FOLLIES of 1915 and 1916.  Her career was primarily as a comedienne.
She was in the first version of THE AWFUL TRUTH (1929), playing the role made famous by Irene Dunne. Unfortunately Ina’s version is considered a lost film. Her costar was Henry Daniell.

And Ina had played the lead in the original stage version of “The Awful Truth” in 1922.

Ina Claire, Henry Daniell as Lucy and Jerry Warriner.

Still trying  to imagine Henry Daniell in the role Cary Grant played.


(Spelling: ‘Daniel’ )


Before appearing together in “Ninotchka”, Ina Clare and Garbo were featured in a magazine article at the time of Ina’s marriage to John Gilbert in 1929. The article says that Garbo was expected to be Gilbert’s next bride.


Ina was married to John Gilbert ( her second husband) from 1929 to 1931.

In later years Ina lived for decades on Nob  Hill in San Francisco with her husband William R. Wallace, a lawyer.

Of her career, Ina said, “I wished I could have played up to my real name of Fagan and done more varied parts.”

I don’t know why Ina didn’t make more films. Her age may have been against her – approaching 40 by the time of her first sound film; she perhaps preferred the live audiences of Broadway where she was a big star.

Her last film was as Dorothy McGuire’s mother in CLAUDIA (1943).

She  retired from the stage in 1954.


Ina Claire


I caught up with THREE BROADWAY GIRLS (1932) on You Tube. . .originally released as  “The Greeks Have a Word for Them”, I guess it was decided audiences wouldn’t understand that title. Or the original Broadway play title,” The Greeks Have a word for IT!” – the 1930 comedy was by Zoe Akins who coined this phrase. ( So much of the English language is based on the Ancient Greek language.)

The story of the three girls who live on their youth, looks and ability to make men pay for whatever they want. Not too subtle in the pre- code era , and I didn’t find it particularly funny though I liked all three performers – Ina  Claire, Joan Blondell and Madge Evans, with Ina in the main role, wisecracking and leading the action.

Interesting  to see the film’s director, Lowell Sherman (1884-1934) also playing a role in the film. I liked his comedy style. He went on to direct two quite different films in 1933 – “She Done Him Wrong” and “Morning Glory.”
Sherman had been acting  since 1914. He sadly died in 1934, aged 46.

Lowell Sherman, Katharine Hepburn.


Lowell Sherman also starred in WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD, with Constance Bennett and Neil Hamilton.


The plot line of “Three  Broadway Girls”  was used in “THREE BLIND MICE” and “HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE.”

In “Three Broadway Girls”, Joan Blondell is called ‘Schatzi Sutro’ and Madge Evans is ‘Polaire’, while Ina has the plain name of ‘Jean.’
In “How To Marry a Millionaire” Lauren Bacall is also called ‘Schatze’ ,while Marilyn is ‘Pola’

There is quite a good print on You Tube.

Ina had been in the 1919 play, “THE GOLD DIGGERS“ – possibly the first use of that term.

Another Ina Claire I’d like to see, THE ROYAL FAMILY OF BROADWAY. 


CASABLANCA: 80th Anniversary

Kensington and Chelsea Library in London hosted a two-part zoom tribute to the 80th anniversary of the release of CASABLANCA . (
Writer/broadcaster Stephen C. Smith, in Palm Springs, talked about the special ingredients of this film, of the cast and crew,many of whom had fled Nazi Germany.

Stephen summed up the film as a story of love, loyalty and courage and the struggle of desperate refugees.

I liked Stephen’s comment that music becomes a weapon – ( the Cafe Americaine scene with ‘La Marseillaise”.)

I didn’t  know that Casablanca was not seen by German audiences (I.e. West German) until 1952. Amazingly Warner Brothers agreed to the editing of the film to eliminate any mention of the war or the Nazis. As a result the film was shorn of 25 minutes and I believe Conrad Veidt’s scenes were deleted.

Conrad Veidt

Why did this happen? In an article at by Isabelle Ross in  2017, it was suggested that , although 7 years after the war’s end, the original story might stir up German nationalism .
In the truncated German dubbed version of 1952, Victor Laszlo becomes Victor Larsen, a Norwegian atomic physicist on the run from Interpol!
There is no “La Marseillaise “.
I checked Richard Anobile’s 1974 book on the film and I reckon all Conrad Veidt’s scenes , plus the deletion of the “La Marseillaise “ scene would amount to about 25 mins.

Typical of the dialogue changes which were made. In one scene Rick says to Renault ( referring to Laszlo): “He escaped from a concentration camp and the Nazis have been chasing him all over Europe.”

This becomes: “Victor broke out of jail and escaped many people before you.” 


German poster

The film received lukewarm reviews and it wasn’t until 1975 that it was re-dubbed with all the deleted scenes re-inserted.
You Tube has the trailer for the 1952 release and it is odd to see Bogie and hear a German voice.

It would be fascinating to see this version, though without subtitles rather difficult to understand!



Ingrid Bergman


Paul Henreid, Ingrid Bergman

Sydney Greenstreet as Senor Ferrari


Claude Rains

We smile when Rick says he came to Casablanca for the waters and Renault responds : “But we’re in the desert.”

Stephen Smith pointed out that Casablanca is a port city!


The plane carrying Laszlo and Ilsa  takes off.


CASABLANCA had the added publicity of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill meeting in Casablanca, French Morocco in 1943 for the Casablanca Conference, at which the two leaders discussed strategy for the next phase of World War II.


Lots of controversy in the past about the colorisation of B&W  films.  This looks ok to me. Sometimes colour breathes new life into a vintage movie.


Alan Ladd, John  Loder, Hedy Lamarr

Lux Radio Theater broadcast of Casablanca in 1944 starred Alan Ladd, Hedy Lamarr and John  Loder

Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack in 1943, aged only 50. “ABOVE SUSPICION” was released after his death.

Will we ever forget the fantastic supporting players in “Casablanca.”

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre ( as ‘Ugarte’)


PHOTO OF THE DAY: “Play it again”

Who remembers Maxell blank recording tapes. Still available today for those who cherish their VCR’s ( which stopped production around 2016).

I wonder how much Maxell ( a Japanese company) paid for the rights to Bogie’s image . The title, “Casablanca” doesn’t even need to be mentioned.


Dooley Wilson


Ingrid Bergman