ONE GIRL’S CONFESSION (1953)

If the auteur theory has any meaning, it must surely apply to HUGO HAAS who produced, directed , wrote and starred  in his own films!

ONE GIRL’S  CONFESSION is one of 7 films Haas made with CLEO MOORE (1924 – 1973) who was active in films from 1948 to 1957 when she left acting and became a businesswoman. Cleo died in 1973, aged 48.

I enjoyed “One Girl’s Confession”. For once Hugo Haas isn’t a downtrodden older man and Cleo isn’t a femme fatale after his money!

Cleo plays a Cinderella- type character, Mary,  who works all day in a cafe and lives in a room upstairs. Her employer treats her almost like a slave. ( Why she stays is anybody’s  guess!) She believes he cheated her late  father who owned the cafe.

 

Leonid Snegoff, Cleo Moore

 

Ten minutes into the film and she steals $25,000 from her employer and gives herself up to the police, having first hidden the money. ( Her employer has been doing some dodgy dealing).

( Why she didn’t just buy a ticket for South America isn’t clear.)

She ‘s a model prisoner and gets parole . (It’s a quick three years behind bars!)

She has to go back to the small town she came from  while deciding when she can go for the hidden money. She ends up working again in a cafe run by happy-go-lucky (did I just describe a Hugo Haas character!) guy with the wonderdul  name, Dragomie Damitrof.

Drago’s favorite occupation is gambling with his mates. His girlfriend ,’Smooch’ ( HELENE STANTON) gets a bit fed up.

Hugo Haas, Helene Stanton, Cleo Moore

Cleo meets fisherman ,Johnny (GLENN LANGAN) and they plan a future together though he doesn’t know her background.

She learns that her former employer has left the country . So he won’t be pursuing her.

Cleo Moore, Glenn Langan

 

Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas

A happy Damitrof.

 

Before too long, Damitrof’s luck runs out and he loses everything including the cafe.  Mary trusts him and tells him where the money is buried, but he doesn’t find the money and angrily tells her to get out. ( She doesn’t go herself in case the cops are watching her.)

Very soon after, Mary finds out that his cafe is reopening and Damitrof still owns it. She follows him to a swanky apartment and is convinced that he did find her money .

She confronts him in his apartment and ends up hitting him over the head with a bottle. His girlfriend comes in and accuses Mary of killing him.

In a panic, she finally goes to the spot where the money is buried and finds it is still there. She is so shocked at what she has done to Damitrof, she takes the money box and leaves it at an orphanage and hands herself into the police for Damitrof’s murder.

A policeman goes to Damitrof’s apartment, only  to have Damitrof open the door! (Mary had only knocked him out).

Mary goes back to the orphanage but before she can recover the money box, a nun picks it up and takes it away!

Wandering  on the waterfront, Mary meets Damitrof again. He invites her back to work for him, but Johnny calls out to her to go on a trip with him. Damitrof waves them off.

(It turns out Damitrof had won back all the money he lost).

The plot was ok  and the cast worked well together.

An L.A.Times review of the DVD release describes Cleo Moore as the “archetypal bad girl who only goes good as a last resort.” Well, maybe in some of her films, but not in this one.

I was particularly impressed with Helene Stanton (1925 – 2017) in the few scenes she was in. This was the first of only half a dozen films she did. She had a small part in The Big Combo (1957), as Cornel Wilde’s girlfriend.

Helene was  a singer and performed at the opening of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.

One Girl’s Confession is part of the box set, “Bad Girls of Film Noir”, Volume 2. The print quality is very good. An enjoyable B feature. It’s on You Tube.

Next up is another Haas production , THE OTHER WOMAN (1954)

 

EDWARD SOREL’s VIEW OF THE STARS

Watching from heaven, Cagney, Davis, Grant, Dietrich, Powell, Crawford and Gable.

This wonderful “New Yorker ” magazine cover from 1993 is by Edward Sorel,  illustrator, cartoonist and author.

 

It’s THE LADY VANISHES, With Margaret Lockwood, Dame May Whitty, Michael Redgrave , Cecil Parker and co.

(From Esquire Magazine.)

 

THE MALTESE  FALCON with all the leading characters and the bird!

 

Another great caricature featuring Jack Warner and his stars. Left to right:Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, James Cagney, Edward G Robinson, Barton MacLane  (?),  John Garfield (?)

Who’se that between Raft and Warner? Looks like Eduardo Ciannelli.

 

Edward Sorel’s 2016 book is an unusual and interesting look at the famous Mary Astor trial of  1936. Full of illustrations by Sorel, it has been described as “an eccentrically marvellous book.”

Sorel’s book came out within weeks of Joseph Egan’s “The Purple Diaries” which I recently reviewed.

 

Edward Sorel

 

Several movies were  sourced  from New Yorker stories:

MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS, from Sally Benson’s short stories.

Chill Wills, Margaret O’Brien. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

 

MISTER 880, from a story by New Yorker editor. St. Clair McKelway.

 

THE SECRET LIFE  OF WALTER MITTY by James Thurber.

 

PAL JOEY  from John O’Hara stories.

ASTAIRE AND ROGERS AT RKO

So many of the great songwriters wrote for the musicals Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made at RKO in the 30s.
If it wasn’t the Gershwin brothers,George and Ira, it was Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern or Cole Porter, or Harold Arlen.. Such a treasure of glorious songs, and most of them fell into the lap of Fred Astaire – who totally did them justice.

In a BBC program broadcast in October,2013, nearly a dozen Astaire/Rogers numbers were shown, with the concentration on the song part of the musical numbers. Ginger had one solo (“Let Yourself Go“) and she shared “A Fine Romance” with Fred.
Fred was regularly give the songs to sing before the duo would go into their dance.

 

"Let Yourself Go" (Betty Grable in chorus)

“Let Yourself Go” (Betty Grable in chorus)

”Let yourself go, relax, You got yourself tied up in a knot.  The night is cool but the music’s not!”

 

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“Pick Yourself Up”   ………”I’m gonna learn to dance or burst…”

 

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“Top Hat,White Tie and Tails”

“I’m stepping out, my dear, to breath an atmosphere that simply reeks with class….”

 

 

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                                            A Fine Romance

”I might as well play bridge with my old maid aunt.  I haven’t  got a chance. This is a fine romance.”

 

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They Cant Take That Away From Me”……………”The way you wear your hat,The way you sip your tea…..”

 

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“Let’s Face The Music And Dance”………….’Before the fiddlers have fled,Before they ask us to pay the bill….”

Ginger wears  the  dress with the beaded sleeves that slapped Fred in the face.

 

imageOne of my favourite songs, “Night And Day“. Fred had sung it on stage before the film version of The Gay Divorce was made.

I’m trying to imagine what it must have been like to sit in that theatre and watch, live, Astaire singing and dancing💓

 

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“The Way You look Tonight“. Fred is at the piano ,singing about how lovely Ginger is – she has been washing her hair and comes up behind him,her head full of foam and a towel round her shoulders!

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Fred and Ginger with Irving Berlin

Fred and Ginger with Irving Berlin

 

Fred with George and Ira Gershwin

Fred with George and Ira Gershwin

REAR WINDOW REFLECTIONS

Raymond Burr

I thought  I knew quite a lot about Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick , but the Internet can always turn up some  little gem of information which proves very interesting.

I didn’t know that it is more than likely that Raymond  Burr’s appearance in REAR WINDOW bears more than a little resemblance to Hitchcock’s nemesis,  David Selznick.

 

David O. Selznick

Remembering that David O. Selznick had white hair by the 1950s, there is a definite resemblance –  the stocky build, the glasses and the hair .

Maybe it’s just a story that has been repeated many times, but it does seem in keeping with Hitchcock’s sense of humour . He did not enjoy the pressure of being under contract to Selznick for 7 years and maybe this was just a joke he enjoyed playing.

 

That fantastic set and something else I didn’t know.

 

The stage  18 sound stage at Paramount  studios couldn’t accomodate the size of  set that Hitchcock wanted for the apartment complex L. B. Jefferies ( James Stewart) lived in.  In fact, the Jefferies  apartment was at the ground floor level of the enormous stage 18.

So  ,for the courtyard level,the set builders dug 30 feet down into the soundstage foundations – or into a disused basement area – not sure which is accurate.

 

It was the largest indoor set ever built at Paramount and cost nearly $100,000.  The courtyard, the apartments opposite, the fire escapes , the alleyway at the left out onto the street, and even the glimpse of the cafe Miss Lonely Hearts would go to .

 

 

Hal Pereira and  Joseph McMillan Johnson took  6 weeks to build the set and  I’m amazed that they were not Oscar nominated because this set is awesome.

Hitchcock had sent photographers to Greenwich Village in New York to film apartment  blocks from all angles, day and night.

 

Thorwald (Raymond Burr)  goes down the alley in a rainswept night scene.

 

Great photo showing Hitchcock front centre and James Stewart’s leg at far left. This shot is a bit of a mystery as Hitchcock and the crew seem to be on a level with the Jefferies apartment.

 

 

James Stewart as Jeff and the people he watches, at first just out of boredom.

James Stewart

A shot obviously from the start of the film, looking at either Miss Torso or the honeymooners.

It’s been pointed out that all the windows were open because it was a hot summer and there were no air conditioners.

 

The honeymooners. (Rand Harper and Havis Davenport).

 

The lady sculptor, ‘Miss Hearing Aid.’ (Jesslyn Fax.)

 

 

The composer ( and Mr. Hitchcock!) Ross Bagdasarian.

 

Miss  Lonely Hearts. (Judith Evelyn.)

 

Miss Torso. (Georgina Darcy.)

 

The couple with the dog. (Frank Cady, Sara Berner.)

 

Mr. And Mrs Thorwald – it is their story which provides the impetus for the drama. (Raymond Burr,Irene Winston.)

 

Also watching :

Thelma Ritter, Grace Kelly.

 

Grace Kelly was offered ON THE WATERFRONT, but ,having done DIAL M FOR MURDER with Hitchcock, she decided to do Rear Window.

 

 

The start of it all.

 

Just a great movie, with a happy ending for everyone – except of course the Thorwalds.

 

 

THE DEFENDERS: SEASON ONE

THE DEFENDERS  was a TV series created by Reginald Rose ( who wrote TWELVE ANGRY MEN). It ran from 1961 to 1965 and starred E.G.MARSHALL and ROBERT REED as father and son defence lawyers, Lawrence and Kenneth Preston.

I’ve only just caught up with the first season (which had an amazing 32 episodes ). The dvd box set was brought out by The Shout Factory in 2016., and, as I reach episode 26, I can only add my name to the clamour to Shout Factory to give us the rest of this wonderful series.

The show started out in 1957 as a two-parter by Reginald Rose, starring Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner as the father and son legal team.

With the new series in 1961, it became “The Defenders” and E.G.Marshall and Robert Reed were cast in the leads. It was filmed in New York. Marshall and Reed worked well together.

It was clear from the start that this show was prepared to deal with complex social and political issues – a physician charged with mercy killing, capital punishment, the Hollywood Blacklist, a teacher fired for being an atheist – just a few of the issues covered.

For one episode about abortion, the usual sponsors got cold feet and the episode was held back till later in the season when another advertiser was found.

So many Hollywood stars appeared in the show,- Frank McHugh appeared in the third episode – as a murderer! Sam Jaffe is a doctor accused of killing his patient, Chester Morris, as a military lawyer. Also appearing were Mary Astor, Ruth Roman, Alexis Smith, Dane Clark, Zachary Scott, Teresa Wright and Lillian Gish.

 

Reginald Rose used many of the actors from 12 Angry men – Martin Balsam, Robert Webber, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, plus of course E.G.Marshall.

One of my favorite episodes starred Frank Gorshin as an impersonator who kills his girlfriend, and in the tone of Michael Redgrave’s “Dead of Night”,  he loses his sanity as he impersonates so many stars and can’t speak in his own voice any more.

The show won multiple Emmies and ran four seasons, with a total of 132 episodes – the fourth season had 36 episodes ! – each 45 minutes .  Can you imagine that today.

There was a revival of the show in 1997, still with Marshall but  starring Beau Bridges as another son  of the original Lawrence Preston (Robert Reed had died in 1992) . – E.G. Marshall died shortly after the show began.

 

E.G.Marshall (1914 – 1998) was born Everett Eugene Grunz. He was active as an actor from 1945 till his death. From 1974 to 1982, he hosted  CBS’s Radio Mystery Theater.  His work on TV included playing Joseph Kennedy in “Kennedy” in 1982.

 

E.G. Marshall, juror number 4,  with some of the  cast of TWELVE ANGRY MEN

 

 

One of the first members of the Actor’s Studio, Marshall was never out of work – TV, stage, radio – and some movies. In an extensive interview which can be seen on You Tube, he said, “I was never asked to sign a term contract.”  He was in three movies in 1954 – THE CAINE MUTINY, PUSHOVER and BROKEN LANCE.

I remember him in an uncredited part in CALL NORTHSIDE 777. He only made 4 film appearances in the 1940s, all uncredited.

He was married three times and had 7 children. The Television Academy.com have a long interview with him.

Despite The Defenders being nearly 60 years old, the stories still have a relevance today . If it’s true that Season 1’s sales have not been strong enough to merit further releases, I am very disappointed. “The Defenders” is quality television.

NEW JUDY GARLAND FILM

Filming on a new biopic about Judy Garland in the last year of her life began  in London  on 19 March, 2018.

48 year old Renee Zellweger is cast as Judy and below is the first photo released of Renee in makeup and costume.

 

Renee Zellweger

 

Renee Zellweger,  filming in London

The film is set in 1968 when Judy arrives in London for a 5 week engagement at the Talk of the Town nightclub.

-Also in the cast are Rufus Sewell as Sid Luft, Michael Gambon as impresario Bernard Delfont,Finn Wittrock as Judy’s 5th  husband, Mickey Deans, Gemma  Leah Devereux as Liza Minnelli and Bella Ramsey as Lorna Luft.

Reports  about the new film say that Renee will do her own  singing. Is that a good idea? Judy has such a recognisable voice, it reminds me of how right it was to have Al Jolson do his own singing in The Jolson Story.

I wonder if consideration was given to using Judy’s own recordings .

 

 

The Talk of the Town programme from 1969. The picture of Judy looks to be from A Star Is Born.  Judy was not on stage till 11pm.

 

The Hippodrome building , on the corner of London’s Cranbourn st and Charing Cross Road, was built in 1900 and  converted into the Talk of the Town nightclub in 1958. Run by Bernard Delfont, many stars appeared there including Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra.

Presently it is the Hippodrome Casino.

 

What the Talk of the Town interior would have looked like when Judy appeared there.

 

The plaque commemorating Judy’s appearance at the Talk of the Town was unveiled by Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft.

The film may be out before the end of the year.