THE LONER

Thanks to the Shout Factory, all 26 episodes of  the 1965/66 B&W series THE LONER is now available on DVD.

Created by ROD SERLING and starring   LLOYD BRIDGES , the show is set soon after the end of the Civil War , with Bridges as ex-Union captain William Colton.

 

The effects of the war has left Capt.  Colton unable to settle down anywhere. We never hear about his family. He roams the prairies and when WHIT BISSELL asks, “Where’s home?”, his answer is “West, just  West.”

Lloyd Bridges

THE LONER has quite a pedigree . Rod Serling ( of Twilight Zone fame) wrote many of the episodes. Directors include PAUL HENREID, TAY GARNETT, JOSEPH PEVNEY, DON TAYLOR and NORMAN FOSTER.

The guest stars in the 30 minute episodes include BARRY SULLIVAN  DAN DURYEA,  ANNE BAXTER, BURGESS MEREDITH, VICTOR JORY, JOHN HOYT, JAMES WHITMORE, SKIP HOMEIER.

 

Lloyd Bridges, John  Hoyt

I’d describe some of the episodes as routine, but the good ones are memorable.

The opening episode, “An Echo of Bugles” , set in a saloon, has TONY BILL as a young  hot-head who is goading a ex-Confederate soldier, WHIT BISSELL who is just out of a Union prison. Bill steps on a Confederate flag and attacks BISSELL.

Colton steps in , saying he left the army a month earlier . He slaps the young man’s face and makes him clean the flag and apologise to BISSELL. Tony Bill returns later and challenges Colton to meet in an hour’s time for a shoot-out.

Lloyd Bridges, Whit Bissell

While waiting, there  is a flashback to the war when Colton kills a young Confederate soldier and then finds the war is over. JOHN HOYT is his senior officer who wants him to stay on in the army, pointing out that Colton  is a West Pointer with 12 years in the cavalry . But Colton  says he is resigning and going West.

Back in the present, Colton shoots and only injures Tony Bill’s character.

 

Lloyd Bridges, Nancy Gates

In “The House  Rules at Mrs. Wayne ‘s” , Colton visits NANCY GATES whose husband ( Colton’s army friend) was killed by the town bully. Her son Jamie is 8. She doesn’t want him to learn about guns and asks Colton to take off his gun.

The killer is still in town and the boy can’t understand why Colton won’t take him on.

 

Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges

In “The Kingdom of McComb”, Leslie Nielsen is a big land owner who wants to get a group of Quakers off his land. Although the Quakers can’t be violent themselves, they offer to pay Colton to kill McComb!

Leslie’s character is not the black and white one you might expect and the ending is hopeful .

 

 

Lloyd Bridges, Dan Duryea

“A Little Stroll to the End of the Line” guest stars DAN DURYEA as a man just out of prison and bent on revenge for the death of his son.

 

Lloyd Bridges,  David Opatoshu

Great episode, “Westward  The Shoemaker”, with David Opatoshu as a European emigre who is conned by card sharp Warren Stevens.

 

Barry Sullivan,       Lloyd Bridges

Another good episode, “The Oath”, with BARRY SULLIVAN as a surgeon  who has lost a hand and thinks his working  life is over.

A young gunslinger is ill and eventually Sullivan directs Colton on operating on the young  man who needs his appendix removed.

 

Anne Baxter

In “One of the Wounded”, Paul Henreid directs ANNE BAXTER who runs a farm. Her husband has come back from the war traumatised and paralysed .Colton is looking for work and ends up helping Anne’s husband recover.

Not a great part for Anne.

 

Allan Sherman, Lloyd Bridges

An unexpected ,and the only comic episode in the series, “The Sheriff Of Fetterman’s  Crossing”, guest stars ALLAN SHERMAN  and is directed by Don Taylor.

Sherman is Walton Terley, back from the war and claiming to have captured 30 rebel soldiers singlehandedly.

The town make him sheriff  and he employs Colton as his deputy. He admits to Colton he was only a cook and the rebels were surrendering.

He asks Colton to   teach him how to fire a gun, but he ‘s a hopeless case. A gunman comes after him and Colton advises him to get out of town, but Terley won’t leave.

They  await the gunman who is coming in on the stagecoach – to the strains  of ‘Do Not Forsake Me’ !

A man dressed all in black gets off the stage and goes up to the sheriff, with everyone looking on from a distance. What they don’t hear is a cultured English accent – the man is exploring the West and thinks his outfit is appropriate for his journey. When the sheriff says he can’t carry a gun, he hands it over and the townsfolk are very impressed with their sheriff.

 

Beau Bridges, Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Bridges

Lloyd’s sons, Beau and Jeff each appear in an episode, plus Lloyd’s daughter, Cindy.

A family affair!

I’ve enjoyed the series and would recommend it to western fans.

 

Jeff, Lloyd and Beau Bridges

 

Lloyd Bridges, Rod Serling

 

 

 

 

JUDY GARLAND AT ABBEY ROAD

In a recent letter, a friend happened to mention an event he attended in May 1962 involving JUDY GARLAND.

I asked for more details and this is what Brian could remember from that day over 50 years ago.

 

“Along with other members of the JUDY GARLAND CLUB, I was invited to the Abbey Road Studios in London to hear Judy record the songs for her last film, I COULD GO ON SINGING ( for EMI/Capitol Records)……..

One of the most exciting times in my life……..

All three of Judy’s children were there, as well as DIRK BOGARDE ( Judy’s costar in the film). The film’s director ,RONALD NEAME, spoke to us . When Judy and the orchestra broke for refreshments, we were content to remain in our seats until play resumed, but Judy herself came and fetched us, saying that there was enough food and drink for all……..

We were there for about three hours .”

I COULD GO ON SINGING

Thanks, Brian. What a precious memory.

 

Judy on the Palladium stage in the film.

The four songs recorded for I COULD GO ON SINGING ( in two sessions in May and July 1962) included the title track ( written by HAROLD ARLEN and E.Y.HARBURG – the songwriters who had written ‘Over The Rainbow.’)

Also, ‘Hello Bluebird’, ‘By Myself’ and ‘It Never Was You.’

MORT LINDSEY arranged and conducted the orchestra.

Mort Lindsey conducts orchestra in I COULD GO ON SINGING.

 

Judy on stage at the London Palladium

This was one of four studio recordings Judy did for EMi/Capitol in London – 1957, 1960, 1962 and 1964.

Members of the Judy Garland Club were also part of the audience in the London Palladium scenes in the film.

 

 

JUDY with  Jack Klugman. I COULD GO ON SINGING, as she gets ready to go on stage at the London Palladium.

 

PUBLICITY SHOTS 15

Cary Grant, Edward Arnold, Jack Oakie (?) ,Donald Meek. THE TOAST OF NEW YORK.

Are they about to dance! Or is  it a competition – who has the tallest hat!

 

Preston Foster, Arleen Whelan, Don DeFore, Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea.RAMROD.

Veronica Lake was tiny!

 

Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes. JOHNNY O’CLOCK

 

 

Margaret Sullavan, Melvyn Douglas, Joan Crawford.THE SHINING HOUR.

The film had four stars. Who’s missing?

 

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart,  Martha Vickers. THE BIG SLEEP

 

James Stewart, Richard Conte. CALL NORTHSIDE 777.

 

Ray Milland, Paulette Goddard, John Wayne, Susan Hayward. REAP THE WILD WILD.

 

Greer Garson, Dana Andrews.  STRANGE  LADY IN TOWN.

 

Louis Calhern, Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen,  Sam Jaffe. THE ASPHALT JUNGLE.

 

Steve Cochran, Joan Crawford, David Brian. THE DAMNED DONT CRY.

THIS IS THE NIGHT (1932)

Cary Grant’s first full feature, THIS IS THE NIGHT  is set in Paris and Vienna, and stars Roland Young as the unlikely leading man,Gerald.

Gerald is having an affair with the married Claire (Thelma Todd). Claire’s husband, Stephen (Cary Grant) is an Olympic javelin thrower! Yes, the first appearance in the film has Cary carrying a shoulder bag of javelins! Unfortunately we don’t get to see Cary’s javelin throw!

Cary Grant, Charlie Ruggles

Thinking that her husband is across the Atlantic attending the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Claire arranges a train trip to Vienna for her and Gerald. But Stephen comes back unexpectedly and finds the train tickets.

Gerald’s friend Bunny (Charlie Ruggles) pretends the tickets are actually for Gerald and his wife (though he isn’t married.)

Cary Grant, Roland Young, Charlie Ruggles

Stephen is suspicious and says he and Claire will also go to Vienna. Bunny hires Germaine (Lili Damita) to be Gerald’s ‘wife’. Germaine is a poor young Parisian who is desperate for a job.

So that’s the setup, but instead of keeping it light and frothy, Gerald’s character becomes serious as he starts falling for Germaine, and vice versa. In that persona, Roland Young (whom I like a lot) seemed woefully miscast.

Thelma Todd, Cary Grant

Young and Ruggles make a good comedy team, and Thelma Todd played well as the philandering wife who realises she still loves her husband. There’s a running joke in the film, as Thelma’ dresses keep getting accidentally caught  (in a car door, a suitcase lid ) and being ripped off her!

Cary has little to do but look handsome, but he did make an impression with the critics. Variety said: “Looks like Cary Grant is a potential femme rave.!” 

Cary Grant

I’ve never seen Lili Damita (1904 – 1994)  before and was impressed. A dark haired beauty, she didn’t make many films and more or less retired from the screen when she married Errol Flynn in 1935.

French born, Lili was married briefly to Michael Curtiz in 1925/26, and then for 7 years to Flynn. Her only son, Sean Flynn, disappeared in Cambodia in 1970.

Charlie Ruggles, Cary Grant, Lili Damita, Roland Young

 

Cary Grant, Lili Damita

 

 

Lili Damita,Cary Grant

 

LET’S LAUGH A LITTLE ‼️🎉

Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis

 

Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen,Douglas Fairbanks Jr.GUNGA DIN.

 

James Stewart

 

Garbo laughs. NINOTCHKA.

 

Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford. GILDA

 

Cary Grant

 

Rita Hayworth, Jack Lemmon, Robert Mitchum.FIRE DOWN BELOW

 

June Allyson

 

Joan Crawford, John Garfield.HUMORESQUE

 

Ava Gardner, Joan Fontaine.

 

Rita Hayworth

 

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart. ( Tv’s THE PETRIFIED  FOREST.)

 

Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland

 

Ingrid Bergman

 

 

 

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard.

 

Marilyn Monroe

 

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby.

 

Gregory Peck, David Niven.THE GUNS OF NAVARONE

 

William Holden, Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn.SABRINA

 

Lana Turner, Eleanor Parker.

 

Douglas Fairbanks

 

LILLIAN BURNS, MGM DRAMA COACH

Lillian Burns

Another great find on You Tube, a 1996 interview with 93 year old LILLIAN  BURNS (1903 – 1998) who was the head drama coach at MGM from 1936 to 1956.

As she said, “I came to MGM the day after IRVING THALBERG was buried.”

Displaying why she was so good at her job, Lillian still had a strong, clear voice and very expressive hands. Just listening to the way she spoke,  you could understand why she was so successful in coaching young actors.

“As for my work, I saw everybody  who  was brought on the lot  by an agent. I never ran a school – it was a one to one process.”

“Young  contract players had an extensive apprenticeship.”

 

Clark Gable.PARNELL

“I remember very well at MGM when CLARK GABLE made a film in which he played an Irish political character – he wore exactly the same outfit he wore in Gone With The Wind, except for the hat.

The film was an absolute failure, but he had two other pictures coming out that year – you didn’t remember the failures.”

 

With Margaret O’Brien

In addition to helping MARGARET O’BRIEN, Lillian ( known as ‘Burnsy’) coached CLAUDE YARMAN JR. extensively  on THE YEARLING.

Claude Yarman Jr.

Of DEAN STOCKWELL, she said, “He was  loaded with talent.”

“I worked with LANA TURNER before she became a star – when she was doing ZIEGFELD GIRL.”

“For me, JUDY GARLAND was the great chanteuse of this century.”

Lana Turner, Judy Garland. ZIEGFELD GIRL

Other stars whom Lillian coached included AVA GARDNER, ARLENE DAHL,ESTHER WILLIAMS and DONNA REED.

 

 

With Debbie Reynolds

Lillian mentored DEBBIE REYNOLDS  when she came to MGM.

(Debbie and  Janet Leigh and Donna Reed came to Lillian’s aid when she needed financial help late in her life.)

 

When Lillian finally left MGM , she became HARRY COHN’s executive assistant , but I couldn’t find much reference to Lillian in the Cohn Biography,’King Cohn”.

Lillian was married to GEORGE SIDNEY ( director of Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun) for 30 years. She was close to 70 when Sidney divorced her and married Edward G. Robinson’s widow, Jane.

 

This fascinating interview was conducted by Carole Langer and runs nearly an hour.

If only Lillian had written a book about her life at MGM.

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, A CENTURY OF ENTERTAINMENT

It’s huge – over 700 pages. In keeping with the previous books on MGM and Paramount, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, A CENTURY OF ENTERTAINMENT (2016) covers the history of the studio’s backlots and sound stages from the beginning in 1916  to the present day.

It is the first official history of Twentieth Century Fox ever released. It’s a studio tour in text and hundreds of photographs, the next best thing to being there in all the different decades of Fox .

 

WILLIAM FOX formed the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. Moving from premises in New Jersey, the Fox studio in Los Angeles was completed in 1916, at Western  Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.

 

In 1935, there was a merger with Twentieth Century  Pictures.

The book by Michael Troyan, Jeffrey Paul Thompson and Stephen X. Sylvester is a comprehensive look at how a studio uses the space it has for all the areas of expertise involved in film making. And how the vast backlot and buildings changed over the years.

FOX MOVIETONE NEWS ran from 1928 to 1963. The archives contain some great moments of history.

The book is full of rare and fascinating photos from the studio’s own archives like the ones below.

 

Anthony Quinn, Henry Fonda in the foreground. Whit Bissell on the left behind them. On the set of WARLOCK.

 

Marilyn Monroe on the set  of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, during the ‘Diamonds  are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number. George Chakiris can be seen at the back. One of the dancers wipes his forehead as they take a break.

 

Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall.HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE.

Interspersed with interviews and stories of some of Fox’s biggest hits, there is just so much to read,  two volumes might have been preferable.

I noticed a few mistakes -On page 220, a picture of Maureen O’Sullivan is credited as Barbara Rush. And on the same page there is a photo of Doris Day, but it looks more like Doris’s stand-in.

On Page 316, a photo of Vincent Price is described as Dana Andrews.

And I had to smile when PEOPLE WILL TALK was described as ”richly comic.”

20 pages on THE SOUND OF MUSIC was a bit much for me, but it was one of Fox’s  biggest hits.

Mention of Dana Andrews as “a wonderful singer”, made me wonder if he ever made any recordings – other than the song he sings in THE NORTH  STAR. I know he didn’t want to sing in STATE FAIR.

At the end of the book, every film ever made at Fox is listed , year by year.

I was interested to read about THE FOX ARCHIVES, set up to collect,,preserve and catalogue Fox props,set decorations,photos. And make them accessible to historians, museums etc.

 

 

This  is a labour of love by the writers, and the amount of research involved must have been colossal. It’s  a great addition to anyone’s film  library, but dont expect to get through it one session!

 

Some of Twentieth Century Fox’s stars:

Jean Peters, Richard Widmark.PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET

 

Betty Grable