STRAIGHT AT YOU: 2

Tyrone Power. “Jesse James.”  Intense.

 

 

ida Lupino, Jack Palance. “ The Big  Knife.”

 

 

Bette Davis. “Juarez”.

 

Charlton Heston. Reliable.

 

 

Lee Marvin. Scary.

 

Glenn Ford. Friendly.

 

 

Gene Tierney. Sweet.

 

James Stewart. Sceptical.

 

Robert Mitchum. Cynical.

 

Cary Grant. Serious.

 

 

Olivia de Havilland. Smart!

 

 

 

 

 

ANGELA LANSBURY (1925-2022)

Such sad news to hear of the passing of Angela Lansbury. With a career that spanned virtually seven decades, Angela will be remembered for remarkable performances on stage,screen and television.

 

With Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. GASLIGHT.

Oscar nominated for her debut film, GASLIGHT, her MGM contract guaranteed her steady employment, but but it was really after the MGM years that her career flourished.

 

With Hurt Hatfield. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

 

From 1950, Angela was active on television and in the theatre.

She was still in her 30s when she was cast as the sinister ‘Mrs. Islen’ in the political thriller, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE . Personally, I think she should have won the Oscar for her performance as the truly monstrous woman who destroys her own son ( played so well by Laurence Harvey.)

With Laurence Harvey.THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

 

With William Windom.MURDER SHE WROTE.

Angela played Jessica Fletcher in MURDER SHE WROTE from 1984 and appeared in all 256 episodes!

She stormed Broadway in 1966 in MAME and it is such a shame she wasn’t allowed to preserve her performance on film (Lucille Ball took over).

I was fortunate to see Angela at the Piccadilly theatre in London in GYPSY  in 1973 and ,as I have said before, it was the first time I ever stood up in a theatre as Angela received a standing ovation.
In 1978 she transformed herself again as the pie-making ‘Mrs Lovett’ in  SWEENEY TODD.

And who can forget her beautiful rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991.

Angela was still  active in her 90s, appearing in BLYTHE SPIRIT in London.

What a book it would have been if Angela had written her autobiography.
A life well lived and a very talented lady.

 

Angela married her second husband, Peter Shaw in 1949.

 

MAME

 

 

I love this clip of Angela and Bea Arthur reprising one of their songs from MAME, ‘Bosom Buddies”.

THIS N’ THAT 29

………….According to an Instagram post, this painting appeared in a small village called Tornabous in the province of Lleida in Spain. Haven’t been able to find out any more about it.

(Irene Dunne, Charles  Boyer. LOVE AFFAIR.)

EXTRA: Thanks to Bob, We now know this painting in 2019 is by Spanish urban artist, Mon Devane who was commissioned by the Flotats family to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Flotats Cinema which opened in 1945.

(I’ve queried with the artist why the 1939 film was chosen.)

EXTRA NOTE! As Bob has pointed out, “ Love Affair” was the first film screened when the Flotats cinema opened in 1945.

Mon Devane in front of his painting

The title in Spain – “YOU AND I “.

 

…………..Yes, that’s MacDonald Carey to the right of Paulette Goddard, John  Lund. In  “Bride of Vengeance” (1949).

Goddard and Carey play sister and brother Lucretia and Cesare Borgia. Lund is an Italian prince.
Directed by Mitchell LeisenRay Milland went on suspension at Paramount rather than play the Lund role.

The film flopped at the box office though there are some fans in the blogosphere. Has anyone seen it?

I liked the advertising:   “She swore to Love, Honor….and Murder the man she married!

 

 

Paulette and MacDonald were in two other films, “Suddenly it’s Spring” and “Hazard”.

And here’s MacDonald Carey as I remember him.

For nearly thirty years, MacDonald Carey starred in the U.S. daytime soap, “The Days of Our Lives.”
And he was in “SHADOW OF A DOUBT”, as the detective after ‘Uncle Charlie’(Joseph Cotten).

 

…………..The Pixilated Sisters.

I came across a poster for the film “Danger, Love at Work” and was intrigued to see in the supporting cast, “The Pixilated Sisters” ( Margaret McWade and Margaret Seddon).

Turns out these two actresses, Margaret McWade (1872-1956) and Margaret Seddon (1872-1968) were the same two ladies who accused Gary Cooper of being ‘pixilated’ in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”.

As the two eccentric sisters, ‘Jane’ and ‘Amy’, they admit that everyone in Mandrake Falls is pixilated – except themselves!

Margaret McWade, Margaret Seddon, Gary Cooper.

(The word ‘pixilated’ is a variant of ‘pixie-led’ –  led astray by the pixies!)

Both the actresses were vaudevillians who teamed up as ‘The Pixilated Sisters’ , a comedy act in the early part of the twentieth century.  Both ended up in Hollywood in the silent era and were active for several decades in supporting roles.
After ‘Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” in  1936 , they were reunited the following year for “Danger ,Love at Work” as ‘Aunt Patty’ and ‘Aunt Pitty’, members of a screwball family ( similar to “You Cant  Take it With You”).

”DANGER, LOVE AT WORK” looks fun with a good cast. And it’s on You Tube. Here’s the title number sung by Ann Sothern and Jack Haley.

 

 

…………Leon Ames (1903-1993) is probably best remembered for playing the father in MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS.

MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS.

 

With Audrey Totter in LADY IN THE  LAKE.

 

I read recently that Leon and his wife Christine went through a terrible ordeal in 1964 when a man knocked at their door and drew a gun, demanding $50,000 .

Leon owned several car dealerships and called his business partner asking him to bring the money to his house.

During a four hour ordeal, the gunman made threats to kill Leon’s wife. When the money arrived, the intruder took Mrs. Ames and the business partner hostage and drove off in the Ames car – having bound up Leon.

Fortunately, Ames’ business associate had contacted the police while getting the $50,000 from the bank. The police found the car and freed the hostages.

Leon Ames was in show business for 50 years. An MGM contract in the 1940s gave him wider recognition.

He played the William Powell role (as Clarence  Day) in a TV version of LIFE WITH FATHER ( with Lurene Tuttle as his wife). It ran from 1953 to 1955.

Pat Hitchcock played the family maid.

Leon Ames, Lurene Tuttle

Leon had appeared in the Broadway play, GUEST IN THE HOUSE. When it was filmed, Ralph Bellamy played his part.

 

A young Leon Ames in MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1933).

 

 

 

……………Cary Grant will be the subject of a new four part television series called “ARCHIE” (Cary’s real name – ‘Archie Leach’) and starring Jason Isaacs as the legendary actor. The series is written by Jeff Pope (who wrote PHILOMENA and STAN AND OLLIE.)

Cary’s daughter Jennifer and his ex-wife Dyan Cannon were both interviewed by Pope and have given their approval .

Cary Grant, Jennifer Grant, Dyan Cannon

The series will cover Cary’s formative years in his home town, Bristol, interspersed with scenes from his life in 1961 when he meets Dyan Cannon

The Bristol Post newspaper expressed disappointment that the show won’t be filmed in the city.

Jeff Pope commented that because of budget issues: ,”I’m slightly ashamed to admit Liverpool is going to double for Bristol.”

Further casting is yet to be announced but the series will premiere in 2023 on ITV’s new (free) streaming service, ITVX  and on BritBox in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BORIS KARLOFF and the MONSTER

Boris Karloff

In a 1963 television interview ( on You Tube), Boris Karloff (1887-1969) was clear on what he thought about his famous monster incarnation:

“The monster turned out to be the best friend I ever had – he changed the whole course of my life. I was an obscure and struggling unknown actor, then all of a sudden I get this marvellous opportunity handed to me, with all the help and assistance I could ask for  – my career, my work hasn’t stopped since.”

 

 

  • The amazing makeup for the monster was created by Jack Pierce (whom Boris described as the best makeup man in the world.). Pierce deadened Karloff’s eyes by putting wax on his eyelids; he gave him black fingernails; there was a metal stud on each side of his neck – the inlets for the electricity which would bring the monster to life: the arms were made longer by simply shortening the sleeves of his coat.
  • The boots Karloff wore weighed 13 pounds and added a foot to his height.

Boris made three Frankenstein films, the last being SON OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1939. After the success of the first one, he was listed simply as ‘Karloff’ in the early 30s.

Despite the many years in Hollywood, Boris retained that wonderful,cut-glass English accent which was perfect for radio. He may have left England in 1909 ( going to Canada), but his English accent never left him.

 

Boris was a member of the Hollywood cricket team which was captained by C.Aubrey Smith.

 

 

With Bela Lugosi

Boris and Bela made eight films together.

 

 

THE MYSTERY OF MR. WONG

Boris worked for Monogram in four films between 1938 and 1940, playing a Chinese- American detective called ‘Mr. Wong ‘.  I’ve watched one of them, “The Mystery of Mr. Wong” which I thought was a waste of the Karloff talent. As for the Chinese makeup – of its time I guess, but gruesome.

 

 

Boris played ‘Jonathan Brewster’  in Arsenic and Old Lace” on Broadway for four years. When approached to play the role he said, “My first play in New York and I was terrified.”

Such a pity he wasn’t able to preserve his performance on screen – his role was taken by Raymond Massey (as the play’s producers wouldn’t release him from his contract.)

 

Boris reprised his role in “Arsenic and Old Lace  ” for television in 1955 for the CBS anthology series, “The Best Of Broadway .”

In the photo above, Peter Lorre, John Alexander ,  Helen Hayes, Orson Bean(?)  and Billie Burke.

And in 1962, Boris returned to the role of the black sheep of the Brewster family, with Tony Randall in the Cary Grant role. Boris at last got to say the line of  dialogue written especially for him:  ”He said I looked like Boris Karloff.” ( after plastic surgery). Not exactly an in-joke but Broadway audiences in the 1940s must have loved it.

 

Boris as “Captain Hook” and Mr. Darling  in the 1950 Broadway production of   PETER PAN, with Jean Arthur in the lead. Although the show ( which ran for nearly a year) had music by LEONARD BERNSTEIN, there were only five songs and Jean Arthur did not sing at all.

Four years later a full scale musical of “Peter Pan” starred Mary Martin.

 

 

With Sara Karloff, Boris’s daughter

Boris was the subject of “This Is your Life” ( available on You Tube). The question of how he adopted the name of Boris Karloff (his real name was William Henry Pratt) was glossed over – “it was a family name on my mother’s  side.”

Boris also said he chose the  Christian name because it sounded foreign and exotic, and that Karloff was a family name.

It’s also been written that a possible influence on the Karloff  name was a character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “The Rider” which featured ‘Prince Boris of Karlova’.

Certainly William Pratt wouldn’t have been as impressive in the horror films . He became Boris Karloff from the early part of the 20th century although he never officially changed his name.

In 1991, Mackenzie Rough intended to make a ten part television documentary on Boris to be called THE GENTLE GIANT.

The documentary was never completed but interviews (available on You Tube) include an excellent one from Christopher Lee who made clear his admiration for Boris .
Christopher called him “a gentle and warm hearted man” and that his name would never die.

He also said that Boris intensely disliked the word ‘HORROR’ and preferred ‘FANTASY ‘ or ‘MACABRE.’

There is also a very good interview with Boris’s wife, Evie .
His daughter Sara showed some rare colour footage on the set of “Frankenstein”.

 

A 2021 documentary due out on blu Ray this month.

 

The authorised Karloff biography by Scott Allen Nolan.

 

It’s  amazing to think that Boris Karloff had made over 50 silent films ( according to IMDB) before finding fame as the Monster.

I am not a horror fan but I admire Boris Karloff , an excellent actor in all the mediums he was active in.

The official Boris Karloff website is KARLOFF.COM

Boris referred to the Monster as “the poor old thing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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