Tag Archives: Douglas Fairbanks

A DFJ Bonanza

dfj_4

Well, if you are a DFJ fan like me, rejoice! We have hit quite the little motherlode of films starting tonight on TCM. TCM rarely plays a DFJ film, let alone this many at once. Four of his early 30s films are being shown this month. What a splendid way to begin the new year!

January 3 @ 3.45am – Show of Shows (1929)

January 3 @ 6am – Loose Ankles (1930)

January 3 @ 7.15am – I Like Your Nerve (1931)

January 11 @ 6am – Love is a Racket (1932)

The only one I have not seen is Show of Shows and it looks like DFJ only has a passing acquaintance with that film. It has been some years since I saw the others though, so I am relishing the chance to see them with fresh eyes. Have a watch and come back to let me know which was your favorite!

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You’re a better man than I am…

Hello my dears! I’m thrilled to be continuing the film review chain started by Wendymoon of Movie Viewing Girl today (and Cary, Victor & Doug are just as thrilled as I am!).

Look at our chain so far:

Link #1: The Women (1939) by Wendymoon.
Link #2: Private Lives (1931) by Kate Gabrielle.
Link #3: Letty Lynton (1944) by KC.
Link #4: Madame Curie (1944) by Amanda Cooper.
Link #5: Monkey Business (1952) by Sally

and Link #6: Gunga Din (1939) by Casey – me!

The rules of the chain state that each film must be linked to the previous one by actor, actress, director, theme, or some other factor. My link to Monkey Business is Cary Grant and he brings us to Gunga Din.

The story opens with our trio battling and flattening a rival regiment in a bar fight. Soldiers are thrown from windows, rolled down stairs and have bottles cracked over their noggins. It’s a whirlwind scene that sets the lightening pace for the film which never stops straight to the end. The overall themes are friendship, duty and love with duty and love clashing as DFJ tries to mix the two. The plot seems predictable enough as the film begins, but I think you’ll be surprised by the twists and turns and where the boys finally end up. Remember Cary Grant’s slightly unscrupulous sidekick in His Girl Friday? He makes an appearance in this film, but not at all how you would expect!

One of the reasons I chose Gunga Din is of course because it stars my eternal crush Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. I was *shocked, shocked* (in my best Claude Rains voice) to find that my dear honorary niece Millie has not seen it yet! Even though she has promised faithfully to watch it soon, I thought I’d give her some encouragement. So in true Millie-esque fashion, my alternate title for this post is:

Why Millie Should Watch Gunga Din, NOW!

Reason #1: the cast.

Starring DFJ, Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen, Gunga Din is the ultimate adventure spectacle with enough action and exotic scenery to satisfy even a hardcore Black Swan fan like Miss Millie. And besides, this is my beloved Douglas Fairbanks, Jr at the height of his handsomeness. Honestly. Judge for yourself. I think there are few men who could don a form-fitting white uniform and lend it as much grandeur as DFJ does:

Cary Grant speaks throughout the film with a cockney accent, a stark contrast to the suave, sophisticated accent we know him for now. Other stellar attractions in the cast are Sam Jaffe, Joan Fontaine (more on her in a moment…) and Cecil Kellaway in a bit role.

I think Sam Jaffe ought to have the nickname of “The Chameleon”. He was one of the most versatile actors in classic Hollywood, bringing life to the insane Grand Duke Peter in The Scarlet Empress, the humble Indian water boy in our film and the hardened master criminal in The Asphalt Jungle. It took me several years and many viewings of Gunga Din and The Asphalt Jungle to finally realize Sam Jaffe was the same man in both. Oh and interesting fun fact: Sam Jaffe was 47 years old when he played the role of Din.

Reason #2: Cary Grant’s jail scene (pictured above)

No matter how many times I’ve treated myself to a viewing of Gunga Din, I never tire of watching Cary Grant connive his way out of Military Prison with the help of Gunga Din. I’m not giving away anything else, but I guarantee you won’t be able to keep a straight face when you watch it.

Reason #3: The Ball (pictured above)

While unsuspecting ladies waltz gracefully with our boys, Cary & Victor are plotting mayhem and hilarity ensues! Poor DFJ is the object of the mission, but he gets a few digs back at them before all is said and done.

Reason #4: Opinion of Emmy (as played by Joan Fontaine)

All right, allow me to begin this reason with a disclaimer: I adore Joan Fontaine. I think she is extremely lovely, her accent is to die for and she always comes off as terribly sweet in her roles. But, I simply can’t bear her in Gunga Din.

You see, a significant part of the plot revolves around her romance with DFJ. She’s a clingy, annoying fiancee who is standing between DFJ and the career he has always wanted. She wants him to marry her, settle down and become a coffee farmer. A coffee farmer! No, it’s just not DFJ.

Well, being that I am a zealous DFJ fan, I wonder if these feelings are merely me being “peanut butter and jealous” (one of Sarah’s phrases as quoted to me by Millie) or if others feel this way too. I’d be most grateful to anyone who’d like to chime in with their thoughts on Emmy.

-**-**-**-**-

April 17, 2010 UPDATE: Millie succumbed to Gunga Din fever last night and is now a DFJ convert! :D

-*-*-

And now, we need another link! If you want to add the next link in the chain, here are the rules, as laid out by Wendymoon:

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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Happy Birthday Douglas Fairbanks, Jr!!

Today I’m wishing a very Happy Birthday to my #1 favorite classic film star: Douglas Fairbanks Jr! He would have been an amazingly debonair 100 years old today. If you happen to be in Beverly Hills, California tonight (like I wish I was!) please check out this thrilling screening of The Prisoner of Zenda. If you do go, would you please tell me about it? It sounds like it’ll be a dream come true for any DFJ fan!

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Movie Review: The Young In Heart

Oh, The Young In Heart (1938)…  I’ve watched it twice already since it showed on TCM as part of Architecture Class on February 3 and I’ll be watching it again.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Janet Gaynor, Billie Burke and Roland Young are a family (The Carltons) of high class con-artists who travel to the most posh spots to fleece the very rich.  Doug and Janet are brother and sister, Billie and Roland are husband and wife.  Billie and Roland are called “Marmy” (as in Little Women) and “Sahib” by their children.  Some reviewers called this aspect “cutesy” but I think that all four of them have a great rapport in the film and the family bond truly works.

When we meet them, they have just been kicked out of Monte Carlo (or someplace similar) because the law caught up with them.  Their hopes of Richard (Doug) making a advantagous marriage to a southern belle heiress are dashed.  George-Ann’s hope of marrying her penniless beau (the film debut of Richard Carlson – doing a mighty convincing Scottish accent, btw) goes by the wayside, too.  On the train ride back, George-Ann meets up with a lonely but rich old lady who George-Ann decides to stick for a meal.  The old lady (Miss Fortune) is played by Minnie Dupree.  Minnie Dupree was mostly a stage actress and only made four films, which is sad because she’s wonderful as Miss Fortune.

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, the Carltons take full advantage of their new trusted position with Miss Fortune and hatch a plot to get her to will them her estate.  It proceeds from there to a sweet, poignant story of the four Carltons fighting their own cynicism and worldliness while becoming more and more enchanted with Miss Fortune.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, if you haven’t seen it.

There are many reasons why I am passionately fond of this film, starting with the utterly adorable Doug Jr.  The accent, the smile, the incredible personal style, the dignity, the class – all just make him so thrilling.  This revelation will be no surprise to you though, if you looked at my 20 Actors meme.  I know that for some reason, Doug Jr. is just not as famous or beloved as Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy, but in my estimation, he tops both.

Next reason for passionate fondness:  Jane the dog.  The photo above is of a scene where Doug and Paulette Goddard (his love interest) visit a dog farm and look for a special puppy for an old lady.  That special puppy is Jane (that’s not her in the photo), a darling little white dog with a “large black eyebrow over one eye.”  I’ve been trying to find photos of her on the web, to no avail.  She’s so sweet.  I’ve been quite taken with little white dogs for a while now (especially terriers) and I’ve decided that s o m e d a y, I’ll share my life with one.  :)

Third reason for passionate fondness: the remarkable architecture and sets.  Doug sits in an engineering office that has out-of-this-world paintings on the walls.  Then, Roland Young gets a job working for a car dealership that sells the imaginary Wombat.  It’s a deco explosion of amazing sets for that dealership.  And, the Wombat itself is so terrific.  It’s actually a Phantom Corsair that was going to be put into production after the films release.  Unfortunately, the builder died before the deal was complete and the Phantom Corsair never materialized.

Fourth reason for passionate fondness (“which,” to quote Mr. Collins of Pride & Prejudice fame, “perhaps I should have mentioned first”):  the clothes!  Janet Gaynor and Billie Burke wear some fantastic fur coats in the beginning of the film.  Billie’s collar is like a halo of light colored fur all around her face.  Janet’s full length fur coat has a notched collar and she complements it with an exaggerated fedora-type hat.  Here’s a link to a clip from the film where you can see this coat up close and personal.  (TCM doesn’t let this one be embedded.)

If you’d like to see it, it is available on DVD (amazingly!) for purchase through Amazon or, you can wait for it to be shown on TCM again at 7.30am on April 19 (US Eastern time).

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Top Twenty Classic Film Actors

I was tagged by the terrific Raquelle at Out of the Past to list my top 20 favorite movie actors.  It was a hard order to fill, because I really like so many of them.  The first five are according to my esteem for them, the rest are in alphabetical order.

(All images from Dr. Macro, unless otherwise stated)

1. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

2. Tyrone Power

(and the lovely Maureen O’Hara in The Black Swan – I just love the red scarf he wears in this movie!)

3. Robert Taylor

4. Errol Flynn

5. Gary Cooper

6. Marlon Brando

(I adore him in Guys and Dolls as Sky Masterson!)

7. Ronald Colman

(Photo from Arrowsmith)

8. Robert Donat

(This pic comes from The 39 Steps.)

9. William Holden

(from The Bridge Over the River Kwai)

10. Van Johnson

(Shown here with Lana Turner in Weekend at the Waldorf)

11. Jack Lemmon

(From The Apartment which is such a lovely love story.)

12. Victor Mature

(Shown here with Gene Tierney and Phyllis Brooks in The Shanghai Gesture – which, incidentally, if you’ve never seen it, it’s a quirky must!)

13. Robert Mitchum

14. Robert Montgomery

(My favorite Montgomery film is Lady in the Lake, although this photo is not from it)

15. Chester Morris

(The Boston Blackie series is so great!)

16. John Payne

(This photo is my scan from a vintage 1942 copy of Modern Screen magazine.)

17. William Powell

(Asta is pretty cute too!)

18. Gene Raymond

(I found this photo on the internet years ago now.  I can’t remember where it came from, so if it’s yours or you know whose it is, I’d appreciate a little heads up.  Thanks!)

19. Ronald Reagan

robert-sterling-120. Robert Sterling

(I just adore him in I’ll Wait for You (1941).  And, remember, he was Ava Gardner’s husband in the 1951 version of Show Boat!)

This is another photo that I cannot remember where I found it.  Link info would be very much appreciated!

Okay, there it is.  I know I’m going to feel guilty about who I listed and who I didn’t.  I like so many more actors, but when you can only pick 20, it puts a limit on your ardor.  Oh well.

Off to finish my art project!

[1/25/09 Edit:  I am supposed to pass on this tag, but when I wrote this, I couldn’t decide on who to award it to.  Since the lovely Jen was kind enough to be the first to comment on this post (other than my crony in film admiration, Raquelle) I’ll pass it along to her.  Here ya go, Jen.  Have fun!]

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Return to School

It’s a sad, sad day.  I have to go back to school.  Ugh!  And you know what the worst part is?  My Vintage Vogue suit isn’t finished yet!  Double ugh!

I’ve still got to piece the lining of the jacket together and sew it in.  I may be able to finish it, since my first (and only!) class today isn’t until late in the afternoon.  I’ll try.  I’ve got so many exciting things to share with you about the process of making this jacket.  It has really advanced my “couture” sewing skills! :)

I won’t be able to post quite as much as I have, and my sewing future always looks bleak when the semester starts, but hopefully I’ll have some wonderful artwork to share with you all!  Let me just say how much I enjoy reading all of your blogs and how happy I am to have made so many kind, new friends.

I leave you with this thrilling photo of the eternally dreamy Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and the always lovely Ginger Rogers.  It’s from the film Having Wonderful Time in which Ginger has a short holiday at a mountain resort, meets and falls in love with Doug and then has to go home after having a fight with him.  (Don’t worry, it turns out wonderfully in the end!)  I have a soft spot in my heart for this sweet summertime classic.  Seeing this photo makes me want to sit right down and watch it.

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