Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve has all sorts of dramatic possibilities, which have been thoroughly exploited in countless classic movies. Here are a few of my favorite midnight moments:

The Apartment (1960)

Jack Lemmon finally sees the light—and he isn’t the only one. That’s all I’ll say, because this clip is very spoilery. Don’t watch it if you haven’t seen the movie! (And if you haven’t seen it—you ought to make it your New Year’s resolution.)

 

Holiday (1938)

Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant bond as they ring in the New Year:

 

After the Thin Man (1936)

William Powell and Myrna Loy—AKA Nick and Nora—get bilked out of a quiet New Year at home in this seriously silly scene:



What are your favorite New Year’s scenes? I’d love to know. I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Classic Links

Part Two of an excellent Eva Marie Saint interview. She is a wonderful storyteller.— The Santa Barbara Independent

How exciting—a reunion of some of the West Side Story (1961) cast members!— Motion Picture Gems

These Bob Willoughby pics of Sophia Loren playing around with Elvis should give you an idea of how talented this man was— 13 Media

A thought-provoking post from Mr. Shreve— Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Classic Links

Library of Congress adds 25 to registry (yay for Mark of Zorro (1940)!)— Variety

Here’s the list of 25 with a few video clips— /Film

A review: George Sanders, Zsa Zsa and Me, by David R. Slavitt— Out of the Past

Is it just me, or was this interviewer rude? If I were Mickey Rooney, I’d snap at her too (she is especially harsh when she describes his appearance—she seems to think there’s something wrong with getting old!)— The Guardian

Weird—the same Rooney interview seems smoother in the video (and the interviewer comes off better). I think he looks pretty good! Love that voice. It’s nice that he finally found a lasting love.— The Guardian

How’s this for a year-end list? The top ten (plus) movies of 1919— David Bordwell

A fascinating, and very detailed history of City Lights (1930) and Charlie Chaplin—
A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies
Part One,  Part Two

R.I.P. 2009

While it was sad to see these artists who made an impact during the golden age of Hollywood leave us in 2009, there was some comfort in the knowledge that they did live long and often fruitful lives. (Yes, I snuck in a few that aren't necessarily classic Hollywood stars. No way am I leaving Patrick McGoohan or Bea Arthur off this list.)

January



Edmund Purdom, 84 (1/1)
Actor, The Egyptian (1954), The Prodigal (1955)



Olga San Juan, 81 (1/3)
Actress/Singer/Dancer, Blue Skies (1946), The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend (1949)


Patrick McGoohan, 80 (1/13)
Actor, Danger Man, The Prisoner, Ice Station Zebra (1968--Howard Hughes' favorite movie!)



Ricardo Montalban, 88 (1/14)
Actor, On an Island With You (1948), Battleground (1949)

Susanna Foster, 84 (1/17)
Singer/Actress, Phantom of the Opera (1943)




Kathleen Byron, 88 (1/18)
Actress, Black Narcissus (1947), A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

February

James Whitmore, 87 (2/6)
Actor, Battleground (1949), The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Shirley Jean Rickert, 82 (2/6)
Child Actress, Our Gang

Robert Woodruff Anderson, 91 (2/9)
Writer, Tea and Sympathy (1956), The Nun’s Story (1959)

Clarence Swensen, 91 (2/25)
Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothea Holt Redmond, 98 (2/27)
Illustrator/Production Designer, Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955)

March

Sydney Chaplin, 82 (3/3)
Actor, son of Charlie Chaplin, Limelight (1952)A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)

Horton Foote, 92 (3/4)
screenwriter, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)


Betsy Blair, 85 (3/13)
Actress, Marty (1955)

Coy Watson, Jr., 96 (3/14)
One of the famous Watson family of child actors

April

Maxine Cooper Gomberg, 84 (4/4)
Actress, Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Jody McCrea, 74 (4/4)
Actor, Bikini Beach (1964), Muscle Beach Party (1964)

Jane Bryan, 90 (4/8)
Actress, Marked Woman (1937), Each Dawn I Die (1939)



Jack Cardiff, 94 (4/22)
Cinematographer, The Red Shoes (1948), Black Narcissus (1947)



Bea Arthur, 86 (4/25)
Actress, Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), Mame (1974)


May



Jane Randolph, 93 (5/4)
Actress, Cat People (1942), Railroaded (1947)

Mickey Carroll, 89 (5/7)
Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

June

Gale Storm, 87 (6/27)
Actress, It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), The Gale Storm Show

Harve Presnell, 75 (6/30)
Actor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Paint Your Wagon (1969)

July



Karl Malden, 97 (7/1)
Actor, On the Waterfront (1954), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Brenda Joyce, 92 (7/4)
Actress, the second Jane to Johnny Weismuller’s Tarzan

Beverly Roberts, 95 (7/13)
Actress, The Singing Kid (1936), Two Against the World (1936)

Virginia Carroll, 95 (7/23)
Actress, B-Western leading lady

August



Budd Schulberg, 95 (8/5)
Writer, On the Waterfront (1954), A Face in the Crowd (1957)



Ruth Ford, 98 (8/12)
Model, actress, married to Zachary Scott



Virginia Davis, 90 (8/15)
Walt Disney’s first human star

September



Army Archerd, 90 (9/8)
Entertainment journalist, Variety

Paul Burke, 83 (9/13)
Valley of the Dolls (1967), Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Dorothy Coonan Wellman, 95 (9/16)
Actress/Dancer/wife of William Wellman, Wild Boys of the Road (1933)


October

Pamela Blake, 94 (10/6)
Actress, B-movie leading lady, This Gun for Hire (1942)

Joseph Wiseman, 91 (10/19)
Actor, Detective Story (1951), Dr. No (1962)

Lou Jacobi, 95 (10/23)
Actor, The Diary of Ann Frank (1959), Irma La Douce (1963)

November

David Tree (11/4)
Actor, Pygmalion (1938), Major Barbara (1941)

Robert Kendall, 82 (11/12)
Actor, Casbah (1948), Gang Busters (1952)

December



Richard Todd, 92 (12/3)
Actor, The Dam Busters (1955), Stage Fright (1950)




Jennifer Jones, 90 (12/17)
Actress, Duel in the Sun (1946), A Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Bob Willoughby, (12/18)
Photographer

Have I missed someone you think should be on the list? Please let me know in the comments and I will add them!

Images all from Wikimedia Commons

There Are Many Greats Still With Us



Here is an antidote to my admittedly bittersweet R.I.P. 2009 post. Several peformers who made their mark in classic movies, from top box office stars to reliable support players, are still living today.  I've got 85 people on this list--and I wouldn't be surprised if I've still missed someone. Please let me know in the comments if you've got a name to add!

UPDATE: Wow—this list has almost doubled thanks to a stunning number of contributions! Thanks to everyone (GAH1965, you stun me). Luise Rainer is no longer the oldest on the list—but she remains the oldest Academy Award winner. I have also added former child actress Karolyn Grimes—a very nice lady who is best known as Zuzu (the one with the petals) in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and as young Debbie in The Bishop’s Wife (1947).


UPDATE II: This list is now 181 strong. Great contributions everyone!

Sue Lyon, 63

Tuesday Weld, 66

Yvette Mimieux, 67

Julie Christie, 68

Ann-Margret, 68 (thanks Dawn!)

Gigi Perreau, 68

Karolyn Grimes, 69

Samantha Eggar, 70 (thanks Tom)

Richard Beymer, 71

Claudia Cardinale, 71

John Howard Davies, 71

Dolores Hart, 71 (thanks Tom)

Millie Perkins, 71 (thanks Tom)

Paula Prentiss, 71 (thanks Tom)

Margaret O'Brien, 72

Susan Kohner, 73 (thanks Tom)

Robert Redford, 73

Dean Stockwell, 73

Diahann Carroll, 74

Russ Tamblyn, 74

Brigitte Bardot, 75

George Chakiris, 75

Barbara Eden, 75

Sophia Loren, 75

Shirley MacLaine, 75

Joan Collins, 76

Kim Novak, 76

Marisa Pavan, 77 (thanks Tom)

Debbie Reynolds, 77

Elizabeth Taylor, 77

Claire Bloom, 78

Leslie Caron, 78 (thanks Tom)

Anita Ekberg, 78

John Gavin, 78

Mitzi Gaynor, 78

Tab Hunter, 78

John Kerr, 78 (thanks Kate)

Rita Moreno, 78 (thanks Tom)

Ann E. Todd, 78

Anne Francis, 79

Tippi Hedren, 79

Marni Nixon, 79

Robert Wagner, 79

Joanne Woodward, 79

Sybil Jason, 80

Anne Meara, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Vera Miles, 80

Terry Moore, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Don Murray, 80 (thanks Tom)

Irene Papas, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Joan Plowwright, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Jane Powell, 80

Jean Simmons, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Elaine Stewart, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Rod Taylor, 80 (thanks Tom)

Sada Thompson, 80 (thanks GAH1965)

Ann Blyth, 81

Arlene Dahl, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Peggy Dow, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Eddie Fisher, 81

Sally Forrest, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Rita Gam, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

James Garner, 81

Kathleen Hughes, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Barbara Lawrence, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Nancy Olson, 81 (thanks GAH1965)

Shirley Temple, 81

Harry Belafonte, 82

Honor Blackman, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Cora Sue Collins, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Lee Grant, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Rosemary Harris, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Gina Lollabrigida, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Roger Moore, 82

Estelle Parsons, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Sidney Poitier, 82

Barbara Rush, 82 (thanks GAH1965)

Julia Adams, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Mona Freeman, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Peter Graves, 83 (thanks Tom)

Andy Griffith, 83

Anne Jackson, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Gloria Jean, 83

Cloris Leachman, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Jerry Lewis, 83

Joan Lorring, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Marcy McGuire, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Patricia Neal, 83

Leslie Nielsen, 83

Betsy Palmer, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Jane Withers, 83

Patrice Wymore, 83 (thanks GAH1965)

Lola Albright, 84 (thanks GAH1965)

Tony Curtis, 84

Denise Darcel, 84 (thanks GAH1965)

Gloria DeHaven, 84

Farley Granger, 84

Julie Harris, 84

Martha Hyer, 85 (thanks GAH1965)

Julie Harris, 84 (thanks Tom)

Angela Lansbury, 84

Joan Leslie, 84

June Lockhart, 84 (thanks GAH1965)

Dorothy Malone, 84 (thanks GAH1965)

Colette Marchand, 84 (thanks Tom)

Dickie Moore, 84

Dick Van Dyke, 84 (thanks Millie)

Cara Williams, 84 (thanks GAH1965)

Lauren Bacall, 85

Theodore Bikel, 85 (thanks Tom)

Ruby Dee, 85

Stanley Donen, 85

Eva Marie Saint, 85 (thanks GAH1965)

Ursula Thiess, 85 (thanks GAH1965)

Richard Attenborough, 86 (thanks Tom)

Valentina Cortese, 86 (thanks GAH1965)

Betsy Drake, 86 (thanks GAH1965)

Rhonda Fleming, 86(thanks GAH1965)

Glynis Johns, 86

Adele Mara, 86 (thanks GAH1965)

Dina Merrill, 86 (thanks GAH1965)

Jean Stapleton, 86 (thanks GAH1965)

Turhan Bey, 87

Jackie Cooper, 87

Doris Day, 87

Coleen Gray, 87

Kathryn Grayson, 87

Janis Paige, 87 (thanks GAH1965)

Juanita Moore, 87 (thanks GAH1965)

Eleanor Parker, 87

Neva Patterson, 87 (thanks GAH1965)

Lizabeth Scott, 87

Harry Carey, Jr., 88 (thanks Tom)

Carol Channing, 88 (thanks GAH1965)

Nancy Davis (Reagan), 88 (thanks GAH1965)

Deanna Durbin, 88

Barbara Hale, 88 (thanks GAH1965)

Jane Russell, 88

Phylis Thaxter, 88 (thanks GAH1965)

Esther Williams, 88

Mary Anderson, 89 (thanks Tom)

Nanette Fabray, 89 (thanks GAH1965)

Jayne Meadows, 89

Michele Morgan, 89 (thanks GAH1965)

Noel Neill, 89 (thanks Tom)

Maureen O'Hara, 89 (thanks GAH1965)

Mickey Rooney, 89

Ann Rutherford, 89 (thanks GAH1965)

June Vincent, 89 (thanks GAH1965)

Marge Champion, 90 (thanks GAH1965)

Betty Garrett, 90 (thanks GAH1965)

Louis Jourdan, 90

Joe Mantell, 90 (thanks Tom)

Patricia Medina, 90 (thanks GAH1965)

Patty Andrews, 91 (thanks GAH1965)

Joyce Redman, 91 (thanks GAH1965)

Diana Serra Cary (AKA Baby Peggy), 91

Audrey Totter, 91

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., 91

Ernest Borgnine, 92 (thanks Tom)

Danielle Darrieux, 92 (thanks GAH1965)

Phyllis Diller, 92 (thanks GAH1965)

Joan Fontaine, 92

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 92

Celeste Holm, 92

Lena Horne, 92

Marsha Hunt, 92 (thanks GAH1965)

Googie Withers, 92 (thanks GAH1965)

Olivia de Havilland, 93

Kirk Douglas, 93

Harry Morgan, 94

Patricia Morison, 94 (thanks GAH1965)

Alicia Rhett, 94 (thanks Tom)

Norman Lloyd, 95 (thanks Tom)

Kevin McCarthy, 95 (thanks Tom)

June Havoc, 96 (thanks GAH1965)

Grace Bradley, 96 (thanks GAH1965)

Risë Stevens, 96 (thanks Tom)

Mary Carlisle, 97 (thanks GAH1965, Tom)

Helen Alice Myres (AKA Baby Marie Osborne), 98


Luise Rainer, 99


Gloria Stuart, 99 (thanks Kate)


Barbara Kent, 103 (thanks Cliff)


Doris Eaton, 105 (thanks GAH1965)



Anyone else? Let me know if you think of someone!

Classic Links

A review of Donald Spoto’s new Grace Kelly bio— New Yorker

CK Dexter Haven says stop with the death montages-- Hollywood Dreamland

A great gallery of stars in the legendary Blackgama ads (and some ads with Judy Garland)— She Blogged By Night

A review: Conflict (1945) with Humphrey Bogart— And. . .Scene

TV Tuesday: Bing Crosby's Commercial Woes



Poor Bing Crosby keeps trying to film this commercial--though the copy gets changed on him while he's on camera and the crew neglected to give him his prop. Is this a blooper? Or is it more fair to say that Bing was the victim of a lousy crew? In any case, this clip is a great testimonial to his professionalism.

Classic Links

Eva Marie Saint on acting— The Santa Barbara Independent

A member of the Mercury Theater recalls the real Welles— Hartford Courant

Philip French’s screen legends: Joan Fontaine— The Guardian

R.I.P. Bob Willoughby, fantastic candid photographer of the stars— New York Times

Monday Serenade: Ginger Rogers

Here's Ginger Rogers in one of her first starring roles, singing How I Wish I Could Sing a Love Song with Jack Oakie in The Sap From Syracuse (1930). If it weren't for Rogers' distinctive vocal style, you almost wouldn't recognize her. The more familiar wisecracking platinum blonde would emerge just a few years later.

Quote of the Week



I wouldn't say when you've seen one Western you've seen the lot; but when you've seen the lot you get the feeling you've seen one.

--Katharine Whitehorn (British journalist and wit)

Image Source

Saturday Morning Cartoon: The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (1937)



It's easy to pick out many of the Hollywood celebrities caricatured in this off-kilter 'toon, because most of them have name cards (albeit with joke version of their names). If you're stuck on a name, there's a full list on the IMDB.

Santa Claus (1898)



Though he is not widely remembered today--British filmmaker G.A. Smith deserves a place among pioneering greats like his contemporary and friend Georges Méliès. In this short film, Santa Claus visits a pair of children on Christmas Eve.

With special effects that were novel for the time--and which are still pleasing to the eye today, Smith created a sense of wonder here that is similar to that in the films of Méliès. To make a room appear dark, he stopped the camera and draped a black curtain over the back of the set. His early use of superimposition was also impressive, given the technology available.

It's also interesting to see how Santa was portrayed over one century ago. He's put on a lot of weight over the years!

Classic Links

There’s still time to win the guess the actress challenge (and win a Warner Archives DVD!)— Motion Picture Gems

There are some great classic stars in this collection of holiday songs (I never get tired of watching David Bowie and Bing Crosby together)— Glamour Splash

More Hollywood news from 1932 Hollywood Heyday

Lady in the Lake (1947), a Christmas noir— Noir of Week

I love this montage of holiday scenes from classic movies— Joan Crawford Deluxe Suite

Ah—I finally got a chance to see Carol Burnett’s parody of Born to Be Bad (1950). It really is funny— Bunnybun's Classic Movie Blog

Well folks--that's it for links until Monday. However, I invite you to check in, because I've got some holiday goodies pre-posted for the next couple of days. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend--whether or not you celebrate Christmas.

A Christmas Dream (1946)



This short film manages to be cute and terrifying at the same time. Why isn't that little girl at least a little nervous when her discarded toy comes to life?

Classic Links

A review: The Cheaters (1945)— Classic Movies Digest

Gene Kelly and Julie Andrews tapping and singing together (they dance well together, but there’s something kind of weird about it—I can’t figure out what)— Fountains of Couth

Here’s a nice short tribute to Ann Blyth— Pixie Drive-in

TV Tuesday: Alfred Hitchcock on The Dick Cavett Show



Alfred Hitchcock discusses on set love affairs with his typical dry humor in this 1972 clip from The Dick Cavett Show. I think it's funny how corny the Master of Suspense was.

The Forties Goldmine of Christmas Movies: Part II

For part two, I wanted to give a little extra attention to a handful of forties holiday movies that have captured my affection in recent years:

Remember the Night (1940)
It’s a shame this romance gets draggy in spots, because in its best moments, this is the perfect holiday movie. Barbara Stanwyck is a shoplifter on trial who is sprung from jail for the holidays by a sympathetic assistant D.A. (Fred MacMurray). They end up traveling together to his country home, where they fall in love over the course of a cozy holiday with his family. All the best elements of a dream holiday are here: down home cooking, family sing-a-longs, loving relatives and joyful present exchanges. It sounds a bit corny on paper, but it is heartbreaking when you see the longing in Stanwyck’s eyes, and realize how badly she wants this kind of a life.

I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)
This is a darker holiday tale of a couple that overcomes unusual obstacles to find love, but it is equally moving. Ginger Rogers is a convict who is on furlough from prison so that she can spend the holidays with her aunt and uncle. On the train, she meets an emotionally-disturbed sergeant (Joseph Cotten) who is also on leave, but from a mental hospital. Over the course of their holiday, they struggle to bond while still hiding their dark secrets from each other. Cotten and Rogers poignantly communicate their frustrations, disappointments and fears as they struggle to reveal themselves to each other completely. The plot may sound depressing, but you really root for these sympathetic characters.

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
A trio of lonely business associates who share a mansion in New York play a game on Christmas Eve to see if they can find some last minute dinner guests. Their ploy works, and the lonely man and woman who join them end up falling in love themselves. The new couple continues to enjoy spending time with their benefactors, until tragedy strikes, and the men are killed in a plane crash. The ghosts of the men continue to walk the earth, and it is a good thing, because the happy couple they left is struggling and needs their intervention. Though Jean Parker and Richard Carlson are sweet as the young couple, this movie belongs to the character actors: Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith and Charles Winninger as the wealthy benefactors and Marie Ouspenskaya as their loyal maid.

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
Victor Moore is Aloysius T. McKeever (that name must have been hijacked from the files of W.C. Fields), a homeless man who takes up residence in a New York mansion each Christmas while the owners are on holiday. This year, he picks up a few more houseguests--including the family—who all unexpectedly turn up and end up playing along with their thoroughly in the wrong, but also quite reasonable squatter. Plotwise, there’s nothing novel about the events that follow. Yes, the family bonds anew, yes Aloysius teaches some important lessons, and of course there is a blossoming love affair. It is the characters’ tender, quirky interactions that make this movie special. The cast, including Gale Storm, Charles Ruggles, Ann Harding and Don DeFore, all communicate the pain of loneliness and the joy of making a human connection with touching vulnerability and good cheer.

Holiday Affair (1949)
This is a great movie for anyone who shrinks from holiday-themed schmaltz. Though this story of a war widow who meets a helpful stranger has the requisite happy, romantic ending, Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and even Gorden Gerbert as her precocious son are all so darned laidback. Which is not to say this group is too cool; there is great warmth and good humor in this story of a war widow comparison shopper who tangles with, and then falls for a department store clerk. Though the interactions between Mitchum, Gerbert and Leigh are great fun, this is at heart the story of a grieving wife who must overcome her reluctance to deal with the loss of her beloved husband. Leigh’s struggle to move on both places the story firmly in the post-war era and helps it to transcend time.

Classic Links

Happy (late) birthday Irene Dunne— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

Play the Guess the Actress game (the prize is a disc from Warner Archives!)— Motion Picture Gems

 A review: Spite Marriage (1929)— Silent Volume

Hollywood, April 11, 1932— Hollywood Heyday

Philip French’s screen legends: Edmund Gwenn— The Guardian

Quote of the Week



The only point in making money is, you can tell some big shot where to go.

-Humphrey Bogart

Image Source

Saturday Morning Cartoon: The Night Before Christmas (1933)



The toys have a wild party in this early Disney 'toon. (Why is it that the older the cartoon is, the creepier the dolls look?)

Classic Links

More great Jennifer Jones tributes:

The Guardian
Self-Styled Siren
Another Old Movie Blog
Motion Picture Gems(there’s a couple of great pics from when Jones won the Oscar here)

A trio of stars and their piles of fan mail— And. . .Scene

Vintage pics of teary visits with Santa (this isn’t about classic movies, but it cracked me up and I had to share)— Glamour Splash

Jennifer Jones, 1919-2009



Here are some of the best early tributes to Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Jones, who died today at age 90:


New York Times

The Telegraph

LA Times

Glamour (great pictures)

The Forties Goldmine of Christmas Movies: Part I



Have you ever noticed how many great Christmas movies came out of the forties?

The era produced not only some of the most beloved titles, such as It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), and Holiday Inn (1942), but also several movies with memorable holiday moments. Here are a few that come to mind:

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Never have I wanted so badly for a group of characters to find a happy place to celebrate Christmas. It practically turned the end of this movie into a suspense flick for me.

They Live by Night (1948)
Cold-eyed gangster Howard Da Silva demonstrates how to thoroughly terrorize a young couple by simply crushing an ornament. It’s as if he’s threatening to cancel Christmas.

Christmas Holiday (1944)
Deanna Durbin has a bleak Christmas Eve as she pines for her jail bound husband.

Lady on a Train (1945)
A happier Durbin’s intimate phone performance of Silent Night is a peaceful interlude in the midst of a chaotic murder mystery.

Lady in the Lake (1947)
Robert Montgomery’s Christmas noir, complete with an angelic choir on the soundtrack.

Penny Serenade (1941)
Christmas is a troubling season for a struggling couple played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in this classic tearjerker.

Meet Me In St Louis (1944)
Judy Garland’s moving rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas makes such an impact that this mostly non-holiday movie is still satisfying Christmas viewing.

Tomorrow in part two: more fine holiday movies from the forties (I promise they will be happier than this bunch)

Image Source


Classic Links

A trio of classic movie Christmas trees— Another Old Movie Blog

The best review I’ve ever seen of The Shop Around the Corner (1940)— Riku Writes

Orson’s TV revolution that never was— The Guardian

Night Parade (1929): crappy, but good looking— She Blogged By Night

10 interesting facts about It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (these are really good—I didn’t know a lot of this stuff)— Mental Floss

Classic Links

This is a fantastic gallery of rare Audrey Hepburn magazine covers. I love the one where she’s wearing that enormous hat (it looks like a bale of hay!)— Huffington Post

Molly Haskell’s take on the 70th anniversary of GWTW— CNN

More about Old San Francisco (1927)— Out of the Past

More musings about the Barbara Stanwyck Show discs— Sidewalk Crossings

R.I.P. Val Avery— Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

R.I.P. Roy Disney— IMDB

Classic Links

Test your classic Christmas movie knowledge— AMC

Charles Emmett Mack in Old San Francisco (1927)— Out of the Past

Ride 'Em Cowboy: Hollywood's Steamiest Westerns— AMC

Some interesting Charlie Chaplin trivia— Noir Chick Flicks

More info. about the TCM classic film festival— PR Newswire

TV Tuesday: Ethel Merman Belts One Out For Vel



This is the most enthusiastic commercial for dish soap I've ever seen! Ethel "Merm" Merman make Vel sound like an incredibly exciting product. I love the way she says "icky pan".

Classic Links

Philip French’s screen legends: Grace Kelly— The Guardian

Twelve films for the twelve days of Christmas— Riku Writes

Christmas music from classic movies— Another Old Movie Blog

Great vintage article about Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton— Hollywood Heyday

Why not learn more about Dorothy Mackaill?— Allure

Me and Orson Welles Reviews--
Motion Picture Gems
The Night Editor

Anti-semitism and Hollywood Part I (great post from last week)— Silents and Talkies

Classic Movies reader Matthew has started Classic Film Forums. Check it out!— Classic Film Forums

Monday Serenade: Sterling Holloway



Sterling Holloway (AKA the voice of Winnie the Pooh) sings a charming rendition of A Perfect Day in this cozy scene from Remember the Night (1940). Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson and Fred MacMurray are all marvelous support in this scene, but it is Barbara Stanwyck's heartbreaking reaction to the warmth around her that adds a whole new depth to the moment.

Quote of the Week



Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it.

-Rex Harrison

Image Source

Saturday Morning Cartoon: The Robot (1932)



I'm pretty sure this is the earliest instance of a robot I've seen in a cartoon. Is robot even the right term if Bimbo is inside the machine? Wouldn't it actually be a mechanical suit? Anyway, Bimbo's girlfriend looks a lot like Betty Boop, but she doesn't have many lines, and is solidly second banana here.

Classic Links

Lovely Lillian Gish pic spam— Gents and Dames

Olivia de Havilland reaches out to Jared Leto— SF Examiner

Nice—Thelma Ritter gets some props!— Walking Off the Big Apple

Joan Crawford is not the only one who will always be shadowed by Mommie Dearest (though Christina did drive her own fate in this regard)-- Seattle PI

RIP Gene Barry—
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
IMDB

Catching up with Elizabeth Taylor— USA Today

Book Review--In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles




In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles
by Chris Welles Feder
Algonquin Books, 2009

They may turn their backs on me now, but you wait and see, darling girl. They’re gonna love me when I’m dead.
-Orson Welles

Christopher Welles Feder, the eldest daughter (yep, daughter) of Orson Welles, is the first family member to write a biography of the legendary director and entertainer. Though Feder has lived most of her life in privacy, in the years after Welles’ death in 1985, she has stepped into the spotlight to defend both her father and his legacy from attacks and misinformation disseminated by those who did not know him. In this frank, but loving book, she continues her quest with intelligent grace.

Feder exposes several lesser known facets of Welles’ personality: the artist obsessed with work and constantly driven to create; the compassionate reformer who fought prejudice when it was not fashionable to do so--even when it cost him his radio show; and the errant father whose brief encounters with his daughter both illuminated her life and left her eternally hungry. The story alternates between the frustrations of father and daughter: Feder’s own desperate quest to win her father’s attention and approval and Welles’ lifelong difficulty in finding funding for his projects.

The only child from Welles’ first marriage to actress Virginia Nicolson, Feder was one of three daughters he had with each of his wives. All three children were essentially abandoned by Welles, both financially and emotionally, but Feder describes many happy moments with her father. Their periodic outings together, including long meals at restaurants and extensive travels through Europe, provided Feder with a valuable cultural education and the best opportunities she would ever have to bond with her father. Feder describes these moments in great detail, and with a wistful fondness.

However, for every leisurely stroll though a museum, there were years of separation, misunderstandings and missed connections. Occasionally, Feder would travel to be with her father, only to be left with a secretary while Welles was occupied by his work. She also endured the unrelenting scorn her mother (not without reason) felt towards Welles, and the dismissive, mentally abusive attitude of her rigid stepfather. Still, Feder emphatically does not feel sorry for herself. Despite the heartbreak she has suffered, she is appreciative of the opportunities presented to her early in life, including travel, culture and moments with the richly talented people in her father’s life.

Though Feder never got the love she desired from her father, she found significant support outside of her family. Despite being uprooted constantly throughout her childhood, she had a flair for building close friendships. She also writes lovingly of Welles’ second wife Rita Hayworth, who was by her account an exuberant, loving playmate—though she understandably cut off contact once Welles abandoned her and their daughter. Welles’ childhood guardians Roger and Hortense Hill provided Feder with a longer-lasting familial bond—filling in where blood relatives failed over two generations.

In some of the most touching moments in the book, Feder bonds with Oja Kodar, Welles’ mistress for the last twenty years of his life. Twenty-six years his junior, and two years younger than Feder, Kodar gave Welles the intellectual simulation lacking in his previous romantic partnerships. Feder describes a fiercely, and perhaps a bit blindly devoted woman still grieving the death of her great love. It is gratifying to see Kodar finally acknowledged for her influence on Welles’ life.

Feder herself seems haunted by the memory of her father. Though she has built a comfortable life for herself, including a happy marriage and a successful career as a writer and educator, you can sense the void left by her unrequited love for Welles. Still, she is devoted to her father and is his most vocal supporter, always willing to fight for the memory of a man who strived to fulfill his creative visions to the end of his life.

Classic Links

Josef von Sternberg: the man who made Marlene sparkle— The Telegraph

Some reviews to inspire holiday movie viewing:
Come to the Stable (1949)— Classic Film and TV Cafe
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)— Classic Movies Digest

The Death of Method Acting (Thanks for the great link Myth!)— Wall Street Journal

Boris Karloff as Captain Hook on Broadway (wonderful photo!)— Another Old Movie Blog

 Lots of fascinating info. about The Barefoot Contessa (1954)-- Midnite at Sunset and Vine

Oh to be in London for this exhibit of Grace Kelly’s dresses— IMDB

Did they really need a poll to figure this out?— IMDB

Classic Birthdays



Dorothy Lamour (1914-1996)
Hermes Pan (1909-1990)
Una Merkel (1905-1986)
Victor McLaglen (1886-1959)

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Classic Links

Audrey Hepburn's cocktail dress takes nearly $100,000 at London auction-- ABC News

Some Like It Hot (1959) 50th Anniversary screening with Tony Curtis Motion Picture Gems

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. birthday tribute-- Classic Hollywood Nerd

Kirk Douglas birthday tribute— Art, Movies, Wood and Whatnot. . .

Those wild Dead End Kids— And. . .Scene

Classic Links

Lizabeth Scott in the underrated Pitfall (1947)— The Night Editor

 Ava Gardner pic spam—gorgeous!— Classic Hollywood Nerd

Have you seen the Barbara Stanwyck Show on DVD? It’s pretty darn good.— Sidewalk Crossings

A fine trio of reviews, including a wonderfully clear-eyed assessment of Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)— Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Here’s an interesting post about Mae West’s sister Mildreth (AKA Beverly)— Mae West

TV Tuesday: Loretta Young Makes an Entrance



Though I've never seen The Loretta Young Show (also known as Letter to Loretta), I have often heard of her legendary dramatic entrances at the start of each episode. She would open the door to a cozy room, and briskly step in, with a flip of her skirt, to give her introduction. That entrance became so closely associated with Young that when an illness kept her away from the program for several months, though other stars filled in for her, that door remained shut until she was there to open it again. Here's a silent montage of a few of those entrances. She had quite the selection of dresses!

Classic Links

CK Dexter Haven wraps up his Thin Man series by going to the beginning— Hollywood Dreamland

An appreciation of Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur in You Can’t Take it With You-- The Kid in the Front Row

A giant Disney movie retrospective— Motion Picture Gems

Angela Lansbury in a fascinating interview— CBS News

Phil French’s screen legends: Errol Flynn— The Guardian

A nice Richard Todd obituary— The Telegraph

Monday Serenade: Gloria DeHaven and Frank Sinatra



Here's Frank Sinatra in his first major movie role, knocking the socks off Gloria DeHaven in a swanky nightclub. The pair take turns singing the delightfully catchy tune Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are in Step Lively (1944).

Quote of the Week

Only in your imagination can you revise.

-Fay Wray

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Betty in Blunderland (1934)



Betty Boop is right at home in this surreal parody of Alice in Wonderland. It's a bizarre 'toon, even for a Fleischer Studios production. I mean, a seal shooting lobsters off his back? A turtle fitted with a machine gun? It's great, crazy stuff.

Happy Birthday Deanna Durbin!

Happy 88th birthday to Deanna Durbin! As a teenage singing star in the thirties she saved Universal studios from bankruptcy with her charming screen debut in Three Smart Girls (1936). Over the next twelve years, she starred in twenty more movies, most of them as enormously successful. She even won a special juvenile Academy Award in 1938.

However, disillusionment with the studio system and frustration over typecasting drove Durbin to walk away from it all at age twenty-seven. She married director Charles David (her third husband) on the condition that he would whisk her away to an anonymous life. He kept his promise, and she has lived quietly in rural France since her retirement from the screen in the late forties (David passed in 1999).

Durbin’s clear, warm and artless vocal style not only pleased her adoring fans, but was also influential to fellow artists, including several celebrated opera stars. In addition to her astonishing voice, she also had solid acting skills and a flair for comedy.

I found it so hard to pick my favorite Durbin movies for this tribute—so I may be back with a second part very soon. I’ll just throw out a few favorites for now. Here are some great movies, starring an amazing woman:

First Love (1939)

In this fast-moving, modern Cinderella story, Durbin is an orphan who charms her “wicked” cousin’s boyfriend. Far from being a place holder between songs, the script for this musical romance is sharp and funny. I particularly liked the catty banter between two socialites in a stable scene early in the movie. The fairy-tale moments also add to the fun. There’s a nice effect at a ball where all the dancers seem to disappear, demonstrating beautifully how a pair of lovers only have eyes for each other. Here’s Durbin singing her best number from First Love, the famous aria from Madame Butterfly (translated as One Fine Day). It’s hard to believe she was only seventeen here:



Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

Though I found Durbin charming in Three Smart Girls (1936), her first big role, I enjoyed this lively sequel even more. The action movies at a pleasantly zippy pace and the performers, including Durbin, approach their lines with great comic timing. I was willing, and maybe even eager to accept the silly boyfriend-swapping plot because everyone looked like they were having so much fun.

It Started With Eve (1941)

After watching a dozen Deanna Durbin movies, the only leading man I can remember is Charles Laughton. While he was never Durbin's lover in the two movies they made together, she never had better chemistry with or showed more affection for another man onscreen. In this particular movie I was actually surprised when she confessed she had fallen in love with Laughton’s son. I knew the plot was going that way, but it didn’t make sense! They hardly seemed to have a chance to get to know each other, while she and Laughton had established a deep bond demonstrated by scenes like this one, where they tear up the dance floor in a nightclub:
 

Lady on a Train (1945)

In this murder mystery/comedy/musical near the end of her career, Durbin hoped to move away from her perky Ms. Fixit persona. Audiences weren’t thrilled by the change, though they did make the movie a success. There actually isn’t too much different about her here, and she still plays Ms. Fixit--just in a darker story. However, while Durbin still has the wholesome aura about her, she does crank up the sex appeal. There are a few good songs tucked into all the intrigue, and her goofy romance with a mystery novelist is one of the few that stuck in my memory after the last scene.
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You may have noticed that I didn’t write much about Durbin’s singing in these movies. Well, I had a heck of a time even trying to describe how her amazing voice elevates the often forgettable tunes she sings. I’ve never been particularly fond of opera-style singing or sopranos, but since I’ve seen her movies, she is my favorite movie singer—no contest. If you haven’t seen a Deanna Durbin movie, give one a try, you are in for a treat.

Update: Take a look at Millie's wonderfully personal Deanna Durbin tribute at Classics Forever.

Classic Links

Harvey remake halted, for now— Variety

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe? Hmmm-- IMDB

RIP Richard Todd— IMDB

I love this review of After the Thin Man (1936)— Hollywood Dreamland

One of Lizabeth Scott’s best: Too Late For Tears (1949)— The Night Editor

An excellent review of some of the newly-available early talkies from Warners Archives— All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!

Would you be sad to see the end of the film magazine?— The Guardian

Book review: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe— Your Cinematic Survival Kit

Virginia Mayo: essential viewing— All Good Things

TCM to run entire Why We Fight series (directed by Frank Capra)— Classic Film and TV Cafe

Classic Birthdays



Deanna Durbin (88)

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Classic Links

This looks like fun--the The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles— Walking Off the Big Apple(via Hollywood Dreamland)

Lots of great new titles from Warner Archives, including several early musicals— ClassicFlix

More about the Warner’s titles— NY Post

Grace Kelly, Studio One, and live TV— Another Old Movie Blog

David Thomson’s new book about Psycho (1960) looks like a winner— SF Weekly

Classic Links

This looks like an incredibly useful book--America's Film Legacy: An Authoritative Guide to The Landmark Movies in The National Film Registry— TCM

A chance to say Happy Holidays to Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland— Mrs. Thalberg

It’s unbelievable how many ways people make money off of Marilyn Monroe— The Guardian

Ingrid Bergman in Stromboli (1950)— Riku Writes

Nice to see Lucille Bremer get a little attention!— Gents and Dames

Letty Lynton (1932) – Movie Chain Review #3



Wendy from Movie Viewing Girl has started a movie review chain. She got things rolling with her review of The Women (1939). For link #2 of the chain, Kate from Silents and Talkies chose Norma Shearer as her link to the next review Private Lives (1931) . Now I am continuing the chain with my review of Letty Lynton (1932)--linked by Shearer's costar Robert Montgomery. If you’d like to participate in the movie review chain, check out the end of my post for the rules.

Now on to the review!

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This pre-code drama is best known for two reasons: being unavailable to the general public due to legal issues (you can read about that kerfuffle here) and the “Letty Lynton dress” —a white organdy gown with large ruffled sleeves designed by Adrian—of which Macy’s sold thousands of copies. Since there was so much off screen drama connected to the movie, I feared I would be underwhelmed by what took place onscreen. Thank heaven I was wrong.

Joan Crawford plays the titular heroine, an American socialite who is attempting to escape her unhappy home life by conducting an affair with the wealthy, but slimy Emile (Nils Asther) in Uruguay. She realizes this man is no good for her, but struggles to leave him. After several attempts to escape her toxic beaux, Letty finally hops a steamship for home. While onboard, she meets Jerry (Robert Montgomery), a playful, wealthy American. The pair fall in love, and are engaged to be married by the journey’s end. Unfortunately, Emile is determined to win Letty back, and he isn’t going to be nice about it. Letty spends the rest of the flick extricating herself from this situation in a decidedly pre-code fashion.

This simple story is made more intriguing by the well-tuned performances of a solid cast. Director Clarence Brown guides his players with a sure hand, smoothly changing the tone as the drama unfolds--from lightly screwball to depressingly dingy, gently romantic to tense and threatening. Letty’s showdown with Emile is a particularly gripping, horrific scene.

I also enjoyed the easygoing rapport between Letty and Jerry as they got to know each other. Clark Gable was originally slated for the role of Jerry, but I don’t think he could have managed the mixture of playful affection and gravity that Montgomery accomplishes here. Crawford is at her best as Letty; she effectively demonstrates the hurt bubbling beneath her flippant party girl shell.

My only complaint is that the ending felt too pat. While I do think it is possible that the wealthy and influential could affect this sort of a resolution, it is a bit of a dramatic letdown after such an intense climax. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that there’s no way the drama could have panned out that way after the code went into full effect.

After years of yearning to see Letty Lynton, I finally caught it on YouTube. It has since been taken down, but as it has made brief appearances on the site before, I’m sure that it will show up again some day. You can also purchase the disc here (thanks to Kate Gabrielle for that information).
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Now it is time for another blogger to pick up the baton! If you’d like to participate in the movie review chain, here are the rules:

1. Call dibs on doing the next review in the comments. First one to speak up gets it; others will have to wait to join up to the next link in the chain! (Chains usually only link one at a time, after all.)It's not a movie review tree.)

2. Write your own review of another movie (it should be one not yet used in the chain) and post it on your blog. Make sure the link to the previous review is made clear and that you link back to the original post where the chain began (so we can keep track of how the chain grows). The link can be an actor or actress, director, or something more creative (like a theme).

3. Include the rules of how to continue the chain, and let someone else continue it!


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Classic Birthdays



Warren William (1894-1948)
Julie Harris (84)
Ray Walston (1914-2001)

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Classic Links

Orson Welles’ eldest daughter, Chris Feder Welles, dislikes the portrayal of her father in Me and Orson Welles (2009)— NY Daily News

Director Richard Linklater discusses Orson Welles— The Guardian

Celebrating Josef von Sternberg (worth a click for a great scene from Shanghai Express (1932))— The Spectator

Leslie Caron to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (What? She didn’t have one already?)— IMDB

MGM to start releasing manufacture-on-demand discs!— Home Media Magazine

TV Tuesday: Joan Crawford on What's My Line?



Well, time to give in to the urge and post yet another clip from What's My Line? Here's Joan Crawford in a 1961 appearance, one of five she made on the show. Joan does a great job stumping the panel and getting a few laughs for herself along the way. She also brings out her lesser-known adoptive daughters Cathy and Cindy for a quick chat.
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