Tag Archives: Jr.

TCMFF 2015 – Day 3

Friday, March 27.

Friday opened bright and early with The Dawn of Technicolor presentation in the Egyptian theatre. Historians and co-authors David Pierce and James Layton gave a stunning glimpse of the early two-strip technicolor process and the films made during that time (1915-1934). Restored snippets of films (mostly lost in their entirety) played after introductions with behind-the-scenes images and facts by Mr. Pierce or Mr. Layton.

It astounded me to realize how much light was required to capture clear images on film. We saw photographs of the sets which were nothing but stages in a cage of massive flood lights. The temperatures were reported to be higher than 100 degrees under the lights, and yet somehow the performers don’t have an ounce of glistening sweat on them. I’m slightly terrified to find out how that was possible. Also of note – a remarkable number of films were made in color with the two-strip process. I had imagined it to be reserved for a selection of high-budget productions and thought this was the reason why so few of the films were still around today. Not so, as it turns out. As the box office success of color films escalated, studios rushed to produce more color films. However, the Technicolor lab fell behind keeping up with the demand of prints of the new films. Audiences were so enamored with the original color films released, they kept going back to see them over and over again.

As soon as the massive applause for our hosts died down, I booked it over to my top pick of the day in the Multiplex: Reign of Terror (1949). My only viewing of it had been years ago, taped from TCM when I was a fledgling 14-year-old film fan and could not appreciate the greatness of a French Revolution themed-Noir directed by Anthony Mann. It takes a higher level of film knowledge to properly view bewigged Richard Basehart’s gleefully evil Robespierre and the delicate beauty of Arlene Dahl in rich black and white. And to add to the thrill, we were treated to a discussion after the film with Eddie Mueller and Norman Lloyd himself.

The best description I can give for Norman Lloyd is delightful. What a lovely man. He enchanted the entire audience from the first word he spoke and when it was time to end, everyone in the audience protested at the injustice of leaving. His main insight about Reign of Terror was the fact that the entire film was made (on a shoestring budget) simply because the sets were built for Joan of Arc. Not to imply the film suffered at all for this fact. The cinematography by John Alton takes your breath away, especially in the newly restored 35mm print we saw.

After tearing myself away from the sparkling wit of Norman Lloyd, I fast-walked my way down Hollywood Blvd for Pinocchio at the El Capitan. I had just enough time to jump in line to secure my number and grab a quick lunch at Baja Fresh down the street. I shamelessly stood in the Pinocchio line near the ElCap and stuffed my face on a taco while wearing one of the fanciest dresses I own. The marvelously kind (and gorgeous!) Tiffany later admitted to catching me at this and seeing my intent expression, decided not to interrupt. Food is gold at TCMFF, folks.

Pinocchio was a first time viewing for me, believe it or not. First time, in the ElCap with a newly restored DCP print and seeing it with Laura and Kristina – nothing better! Laura has a wonderful photo in her recap post taken by the official TCM press photographer and you can clearly see all three of us (me in my orange pillbox hat…) on the right side. I ended up mighty thankful those two ladies were with me because I am here to tell you – Pinocchio is SCARY. Your nose growing every time you fib? Your father gets swallowed by a whale? Boys turning into donkeys and being sold by bad men? Whoever perpetuated the idea Disney films were sugar coated did us massive disservice.

In an effort to recover from the fright of Pinocchio, Laura, Kristina and I took a short break to eat before the next film. We chatted and people-watched from the second level of the Baja Fresh.

We all shared the next pick in the lineup: Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) and headed over to the Egyptian early in the hopes of securing a place at the front of the line. As you can see, it was a popular screening – the gang was all there!

Waiting in line, I identified myself as NoirGirl to the lady chatting with Kristina and a voice behind me piped up with “Excuse me, did you say you are NoirGirl?” It turned out to be none other than Alexis, whom I have known online for years and had somehow managed to miss meeting. There is nothing quite like the beautiful feeling of finding old friends all around you in the land of movies.

Just meeting people in person, NBD… Oh, wait, it's awesome! @noirgirl39 #tcmff #tcmparty #classicfilm #fans #film

A post shared by Alexis Morrell (@_alexismorrell) on

The print of Steamboat Bill presented was a stunning world premiere restoration accompanied by a brand new score composed and conducted by none other than Maestro Carl Davis himself. A live orchestra played the score right there in the theatre with us! For my first time seeing a silent on the big screen, it could not have been more thrilling. I feel bound to admit, I’ve never appreciated the comedy of slapstick. My tastes run more towards subtle wordplay. However, Buster Keaton surprised me with his impressive physicality and the intricacy of the stunts he insisted on performing himself. Steamboat Bill is a lovely mix of gentle comedy and heavy slapstick. You will no doubt be most surprised to learn my favorite scene occurred in a hat shop. Buster’s father insists he must change his personal style to be more “manly” and in the course of trying on different hats, we are treated to a host of hilarious reactions from father and son alike. All in all, a perfect first big screen silent. And to heighten the experience, I got to see it with a fabulous group of good-looking folks!

audreyhepburn_RomanHolidayThe next block of films gave many of us a difficult Sophie’s Choice. Apollo 13 (1995) vs. Rebecca (1940) vs. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) vs. The War Game (1965) vs. The Bank Dick (1940) vs. Roman Holiday (1953). Since all of my selections so far had been first time viewings, I opted for an indulgent rewatch of a film close to my heart: Roman Holiday. Laura and Kristina had introduced me to the fascinating Stephen earlier and when we ran into each other in the line, we arranged to sit together for the screening. It gave me great joy to share the experience with him and I’m so happy we ended up there in Audrey heaven at the same moment.

elizabethtaylor_boomMy last pick of the evening was ironically one of the first definite decisions I made when the schedule became available in the weeks before the festival. This year, I determined I must take in a midnight screening. Of the two offered, Boom! (1968) promised to be the kookiest experience. Kendhal luckily planned to attend also, so we met up in the line – compatriots in craziness with Daniel of Next on TCM. Daniel charmed us with a story of his first experience seeing Boom! and Kendhal and I so enjoyed his company during the film.

Oh my goodness, Boom! did not disappoint. As you have no doubt heard already, the film is famously ridiculous. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are reported to have been intoxicated throughout much of the filming and you have no reason to doubt it. The film is the two of them shouting nonsensical things at each other while Noel Coward spouts “wisdom” and Elizabeth Taylor parades about in ornate headdresses (which I feel duty-bound to add, are stunning). Describing the film with any degree of competency is quite beyond me, but do check out Hollywood Babylon for a superb review. (Plus, I may have dozed off towards the end and my recollection is fuzzy…)

All in all, a day full of remarkable experiences and I would not change a single decision!

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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: Divorce, American Style

Im seeing conflicting reports on DVD availibility.  Amazon sells it used, but TCM says its not on DVD.  Hmmm.
Availability: Amazon has is on Instant Watch and sells it used. Netflix has it on DVD only.

Divorce, American Style (1967) is way out of my normal viewing range, but I watched it for several reasons.  First, Raquelle over at Out of the Past did a series of posts a couple of weeks ago about films from the 60’s, encouraging her readers to give them a chance.  She was terribly optimistic, so I decided that my close-mindedness about 60’s films needed to end.  I had to swallow my preconceived notions and watch one with a new outlook.  My other reasons for viewing Divorce, American Style were the stars: Debbie ReynoldsDick Van Dyke, Van Johnson, Jean Simmons and Jason Robards, Jr.  It’s a first class cast if there ever was one.  So, long story short – I’m very glad Raquelle pushed me on my 60’s dislike, because I found Divorce, American Style to be funny, smart, entertaining and earnestly sweet.

Debbie & Dick are Barbara and Richard Harmon, a married couple that continually quarrel.  With the help of a dubious marriage counselor and their friends, they decide that they would be so much better off divorced.  (This aspect struck me as being similar to The Women (1939), btw.)  The  film deals with the logistics of their divorce and the treacheries of dating.  A lot of the humor is derived from the divorce laws of the time, which strongly favored women and made it highly undesirable for men to get divorced, since they pretty much got shafted.

Richard meets up with Nelson Downes (Jason Robards, Jr.) while having visitation with his sons.  Nelson is divorced from his wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons) and is living in poverty because of the settlement.  Nelson wants to remarry his now-pregnant girlfriend, Eunice (Eileen Brennan) but can’t until Nancy gets remarried and disqualifies herself for alimony.  Nelson plays matchmaker for his wife, bringing home possible beaus for her to choose from.  (I found that aspect of the story to be rather disturbing and kind of bizarre.) Nancy and Nelson seem to have a mutual fondness for one another, but are bound and determined to be married to other people.  Anyway – Richard becomes Nancy’s love interest, but there’s a problem .  Richard can’t marry Nancy until Barbara remarries (that pesky alimony!).  So, Nancy and Nelson set out to find a new hubby for Barbara.  This is where Van Johnson comes in. Van adds a lighthearted touch to the whole mix as “Big” Al Yearling, a lovable, mama’s boy car salesman.  If this sounds ridiculously complex, it is.  I think it’s a purposeful complexity to make the 60’s divorce craze look silly and pointless.

I really liked Van in this film.  He is a joy to watch.  He’s not supposed to be likable, but he is sweet and honest.  Jason Robards was rather creepy, I thought.  He has an almost evil quality that shines through a couple times and it’s undesirable.  Debbie and Dick are a very believable married couple.  It always annoys me when the couple in a film don’t seem to truly be in love.  You can always tell when actors and actresses don’t like each other and it makes the film less enjoyable.  Jean Simmons is amazingly lovely.  I would venture to say that she looks better in this film than in her earlier films (if that’s possible – maybe age was becoming to her?).

My most favorite scene of the whole film is the nightclub scene with Pat Collins, the hypnotist.  Barbara & Al, Richard & Nancy, Nelson & Eunice all go on the town together to celebrate Barbara & Richard’s divorce being final. (Like I said, it’s got it’s bizarre aspects.) They end up in a nightclub where Pat Collins is performing and Barbara & Al get up on the stage to be hypnotized.  I tried to find a clip of it, but it doesn’t seem like there is one (at least not on YouTube or TCM’s Media Room).  Pat Collins totally steals the show in her lovely 60’s gown, big hair and enormous sunglasses.  According to this article in the New York Times, Pat had a successful nightclub in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip.  She used her hypnosis techniques to help people quit smoking and overcome fears.

There is an episode of The Lucy Show that Pat appeared on.  I’ve got it linked below.  It’s in several parts, and it’s not the best quality, but you can get to see Pat Collins at work.  If you’d like to see the rest of the act, click on the video, they should be in the sidebar.

Enjoy.  :)

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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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