What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Eagle And The Hawk (1933)

Well, it’s almost the end of 2020, and I’ve got one last review to get through. This time, we’re here for the 1933 movie The Eagle And The Hawk, starring Fredric March, Cary Grant, Carole Lombard and Jack Oakie! Of course, we’ve got our theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Isle Of Caprice (1969)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)

A marooned aardvark tries to get to another island where the ants are, but is stopped by a hungry shark. This one is actually quite a bit of fun. The basic story is certainly nothing new, but it allows for a bit of variety, with the aardvark being both predator and prey. Admittedly, with the ants barely shown, it doesn’t really feel as much like an “Ant And The Aardvark” cartoon so much as an “aardvark and the shark” (or something like that). Still, it’s fun (even with the shark constantly chasing the aardvark up the tree with the same reused animation every time), and I enjoy seeing it every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

During World War I, a group of American pilots, which includes Jerry Young (Fredric March) and his buddy Mike Richards (Jack Oakie) are sent overseas. However, another member of the group, Henry Crocker (Cary Grant), is left behind at Jerry’s recommendation since Henry is not a good pilot. Upon their arrival in France, Jerry and Mike are almost immediately sent up to fly some reconnaissance missions. Enthusiastic at the prospect, they both go with their observers (tailgunners who also take photographs of the territory). Jerry makes it back alright, but his observer doesn’t survive, which really sobers him up. Over the next two months, Jerry loses four more observers, which really bothers him. In spite of that, he is considered a hero, and somebody his leaders encourage the new recruits to look up to. His new observer turns out to be Henry, who is still somewhat bitter towards Jerry. Despite their personal issues, they still manage to be successful together (although Henry earns the ire of the other pilots when he shoots down some men in parachutes, which is against their code). Jerry starts to show signs of cracking up, so Henry (his roommate) goes to Major Dunham (Sir Guy Standing) with this information, and Jerry is given a ten day leave. In London, he finds himself still struggling with his hero status, especially when a little kid enthusiastically asks him what it’s like. However, he is comforted by a Beautiful Lady (Carole Lombard), who listens and sympathizes with him. Upon his return, he finds his buddy Mike and Henry returning from a mission, but Mike expires shortly after landing. Furious with Henry because he had pushed to try and shoot down a German pilot, Jerry requests another observer. The question remains, though, whether Jerry can still get past his own demons to be the hero he is needed to be, or will he crack up again?

As you can tell from my plot description, this really is Fredric March’s movie. And that’s not a bad thing! He gives a great performance here as a man who comes into the war almost thinking of it as a game. He goes into his first mission with great enthusiasm, and is still feeling that way when he gets back. Then reality sets in when he realizes his observer is dead. From then on, we watch as his conscience slowly but surely eats away at him, while his kill count rises (and with it, his status as a “hero” to everyone around him). He makes it easy to sympathize with his disillusionment.

And that brings us around to Carole Lombard. One would think, with her billing, that she is in this movie a lot. She really isn’t, only appearing for about ten minutes or so. One would think that almost makes her role unimportant, but I think her character (nameless though they may be) means a lot more. Apart from her, nobody else really stops to notice how Fredric March’s Jerry is feeling. Throughout the movie, everyone else just shrugs off Jerry’s worries and feelings, but not her. At the party where she meets him, she sees how everyone else is making him feel, and, when he leaves (and she comes with him), she actively listens to him, and tries to help him. And it works, if only temporarily, as he seems to be happy again when he returns from leave (although that happiness is short-lived when he loses his friend Mike and everyone else continues to ignore his growing doubts). This role was still early in Carole Lombard’s career, before she established herself as a great comedienne in screwball comedies, but she still makes her presence known in just the few minutes she is there.

And speaking of actors doing roles that seem out-of-line with what they did later, we also have Cary Grant here. We have him in a role that is quite different and against type, as he is not his usual, suave self. His character has a bit of an edge to him, and a sense of “kill or be killed” in terms of how he treats the enemy. Unlike Jerry, he wants to kill (which is what ends up getting Jack Oakie’s Mike shot). And one wonders how much he cares for Jerry, especially with the efforts he goes to in the end to still make Jerry look like a hero (even though he knew Jerry didn’t like the idea). It’s a rude awakening compared to what we know Cary Grant did later. It’s more of a supporting role than we’re used to with him, but he still gives a good performance.

If you can’t tell already, I did enjoy this movie. That being said, I do feel that one of the few weak spots in the movie (for me) is Jack Oakie. So far, with the handful of films that I’ve seen him in, I just don’t seem to care for him or his style of comedy. At least here, he is more of a supporting character as opposed to the lead, but I just still don’t care for him. But the rest of the movie is still quite good. The flying sequences are well done (even with some rear-screen projection here and there), and the movie certainly shows that not everyone is cut out for war. All in all, this was a well-done drama, and I would definitely recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The movie seems to mainly have an HD scan, but not a full-fledged restoration or remaster. The transfer does look pretty solid, with a few scratches and other minor issues, but none that should ruin the film. It certainly worked quite well for me, and is the best way to see this movie.

With this being my last review of the year, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year (although I hope, of course, that you’ll check on my blog tomorrow for my 2020: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched)!

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Sign Of The Cross (1932) – Fredric March – Design For Living (1933)

Blonde Venus (1932)Cary GrantAlice In Wonderland (1933)

No Man Of Her Own (1932) – Carole Lombard – We’re Not Dressing (1934)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… The Freshman (1925)

And now, for one of my final reviews of the year, we have that classic Harold Lloyd silent comedy, The Freshman!

Harold “Speedy” Lamb (Harold Lloyd) is really looking forward to college. He has been learning the various chants for Tate College, as well as learning a dance-type of greeting from a college movie he had seen. Once he arrives at Tate, though, he soon finds himself in trouble. The College Cad (Brooks Benedict), who has a thing for picking on the incoming freshman, senses a golden opportunity with Harold as he pretends to be a friend while making fun of him. The Cad convinces Harold to make a speech to the student body, and afterwards, when Harold offers to treat his new friends to ice cream, the crowd becomes much bigger as the Cad keeps inviting others to come along, earning Harold the nickname “Speedy The Spender.” The Cad suggests that, if he wants to be as popular as the college hero, Chester Trask (James Anderson), he should go out for the football team. The Football Coach (Pat Harmon) doesn’t think he’s good enough for the team, but Chester convinces him to let Harold be the water boy, while they let him think he is part of the team. Harold decides to give a big party for the Fall Frolic, in the hopes of ensuring his popularity. Of course, he has trouble with his suit, as the College Tailor (Joseph Harrington) had barely managed to put it together in time, and the suit ends up coming apart throughout the evening (with the tailor helping try to stitch it back together). However, the Cad tries to force himself on Harold’s girlfriend Peggy (Jobyna Ralston), which results in Harold fighting him off. In anger, the Cad reveals how much of a joke that Harold is to everybody, bursting his bubble. However, still believing himself to be an important member of the football team, Harold looks forward to the big game, where he hopes to prove himself. But, can this water boy manage to help out in the game?

While not his best-known film (which would be Safety Last!), The Freshman would prove to be one of Harold Lloyd’s most financially successful films. Personally, I can VERY easily see why! I’ve seen the movie several times now, and it’s one I like coming back to, as it has many memorable moments! The Fall Frolic party in particular stands out the most, as Harold tries to be a good host, even though he has a big problem: the tailor wasn’t able to finish the tuxedo, which means Harold has to be careful about how he moves! Of course, you know he’ll make his own mistakes, but others will accidentally pull the suit apart, too! Easily a lot of fun there!

And that’s not even going into some of the other good stuff, either! He also has a speech he’s conned into giving to the student body, as well as football practice and the big game as well! And it’s something simple, but I enjoy the special dance/greeting he uses whenever he meets somebody! I admit, I wouldn’t mind being able to learn it (or something similar of my own design, since I should try to be myself and not someone else). Of course, in light of the pandemic, the idea of learning that special handshake is certainly a moot point for the time being, anyway. Still, this movie gives me a lot of laughs, from start to finish, and allows me to think of happier times. Easily a movie I would quite heartily recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection.

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Safety Last! (1923) – Harold Lloyd – The Kid Brother (1927)

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Marathon (1919)

(available as an extra on The Freshman (1925) Blu-ray/DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 13 minutes, 58 seconds)

Two men fight over the chance to take a girl to see the marathon, with her retired boxer father trying to make his choice known. Very fun short, featuring Harold Lloyd’s older brother Gaylord doing the “mirror gag” routine, and rather hilariously, too! Of course, Harold has fun with some other stunts, including being dragged around by a small dog, as well as his antics fighting with everybody. Only complaint is a minor character, who is very obviously wearing blackface. Still, a short I enjoy returning to every now and then!

Coming Up Shorts! with… An Eastern Westerner (1920)

(available as an extra on The Freshman (1925) Blu-ray/DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 27 minutes, 37 seconds)

A young man (Harold) is sent West after getting into trouble by spending all night out at nightclubs. Out west, he runs afoul of the local big shot, who is trying to get the girl (Mildred Davis). Some fun as we see Harold get into trouble first at the nightclub, and then, when he gets out West, he tries (and fails) to look like he belongs. But, he manages to be a hero when he needs to be, and the final chase is fun in between all his stunts and getting the bad guys to turn on each other!

Coming Up Shorts! with… High And Dizzy (1920)

(available as an extra on The Freshman (1925) Blu-ray/DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 27 minutes, 15 seconds)

Harold Lloyd plays a doctor with a new practice, who meets and falls for one of his new patients, Mildred (except her father doesn’t want him to treat her for her sleepwalking). When he gets drunk helping a doctor friend save his brew, he finds himself in the hotel Mildred is in, and deals with her sleepwalking on the ledge. A fun short, even if it is somewhat uneven. We first start out with the stuff with Mildred, switch gears and deal with Harold being drunk, before returning to Mildred in time for the finish. Still, the gags are fairly funny, and it’s fun to see Harold out on the building ledge (especially as he quickly sobers up from the experience)!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

Well, we’ve got one last Christmas film to get through before the holiday itself, so let’s get to it! It’s the classic 1938 film Love Finds Andy Hardy, starring Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Cecilia Parker and Fay Holden!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shocking Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

The Pink Panther tries to relax, but the narrator keeps pushing him to work on some things around the house. Of course, as you can guess, things don’t go the Panther’s way as he tries to work on things. Particularly memorable are the two recurring gags about the basement light flicking on and off while he tries to go down there, and an out-of-control power saw that keeps cutting his tail off. With Larry Storch as the narrator, this one is a lot of fun, and one I don’t mind coming back to for a few good laughs every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Andrew “Andy” Hardy (Mickey Rooney) has got big plans for the Christmas Eve dance. He’s trying to buy a $20 car, but he can only pay the dealer $12, and has to promise to pay the remaining $8 of the price before he can get the car. However, his girlfriend, Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford), tells him she will be out of town visiting relatives for the holidays, which leaves him without a date to the dance. Both of his problems are seemingly fixed when his friend “Beezy” Anderson (George Breakston) has to go out of town with his family as well, and offers to pay him to go out with his girlfriend Cynthia Potter (Lana Turner) in order to keep the other guys away from her. At the Hardy home, Andy’s mother, Emily Hardy (Fay Holden), gets a telegram saying that her mother is badly ill, and she and her sister Milly (Betty Ross Clark) decide to leave for their mother’s home, leaving Andy’s sister Marian (Cecilia Parker) in charge as the “woman of the house.” Meanwhile, Andy has drawn the attentions of new next door neighbor, Betsy Booth (Judy Garland), who is in town visiting her grandmother. However, in spite of her affections and partly because she is a few years younger, Andy only thinks of her as a friend. Things start to go downhill for Andy, as he receives two telegrams. One is from Polly, stating that she would be coming back for the dance, but he tries to call and let her know he can’t take her because of a “previous engagement.” The other is from Beezy, who, instead of sending some money like he had promised, tells him that he found a new girlfriend (thereby negating their deal), and that Andy can take Cynthia to the dance without any trouble. Now facing the the trouble of not being able to pay for a car and a tough choice between two dates, Andy turns to his father, Judge James K. Hardy (Lewis Stone). But, even with his father’s help, can he get out of this mess? And will his mother (and her mother) be fine?

Love Finds Andy Hardy was the fourth film in the Andy Hardy series, and the first to show the change of focus from the Hardy family as a whole to Andy Hardy himself (as played by Mickey Rooney). The film retained most of the cast of the previous entries (although with actress Betty Ross Clark for her second and final time playing Aunt Milly instead of series regular Sara Haden). With the increasing emphasis on Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy character and his relationships, the series was able to showcase up-and-coming actresses, and, in this film, it was Lana Turner as Cynthia Potter. The film also gave us Judy Garland in her first of three appearances in the series as Betsy Booth, which re-teamed her with Mickey Rooney after they first appeared together in the 1937 film Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. With their chemistry becoming more evident, they would also soon be teamed up for their famous “let’s put on a show” series of films, starting with Babes In Arms the next year.

While I have seen the entire Andy Hardy film series, I will readily admit that Love Finds Andy Hardy is the one I have seen the most. And it’s fairly easy to guess one of the main reasons: its Christmas connection! Obviously, with the buildup to the big Christmas Eve dance and the Christmas tree we see put up in the Hardy home on Christmas Eve, it certainly works well enough (and, on the DVD, there’s also a short promo featuring the Hardy family on Christmas morning that ends with them addressing us, the audience). Of course, the rest of the movie is fun, too, even if it is fairly predictable that Andy will somehow get out of all his trouble. Still, Mickey Rooney does a great job as the character, and the addition of Judy Garland as Betsy Booth, especially with the three songs she gets to sing, makes it all worth seeing every now and then! So, yes, I recommend this one!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection as part of the 10-film Andy Hardy Film Collection Volume 2.

And, since is my last post before the holiday, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas (and to those who don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays), and I wish you peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mickey Rooney – Strike Up The Band (1940)

Judy Garland – Strike Up The Band (1940)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

We’re here now for The 2nd Happy Holidays Blogathon, hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, and to celebrate the holidays, we’ve got double the fun! First, we have the classic Disney short Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952), and then we’ve got our main feature, the 1951 Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell comedy The Lemon Drop Kid!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952)

(Available to stream on Disney+)

(Length: 6 minutes, 56 seconds)

Mickey and Pluto bring home a Christmas tree. Unbeknownst to them, Chip and Dale are living in that tree, and proceed to cause trouble for Pluto. As a fan of Chip and Dale, I can tell you right now I’ve seen this one many a time, and it never gets old! Their antics as they go up against Pluto never fail to bring a smile to my face (admittedly, I prefer their other Christmas short, Toy Tinkers with Donald Duck, but this one is still fun)! And, the quick cameo for some of the other big Disney characters at the end (Minnie, Donald and Goofy) brings the whole gang together! Seriously, while this may be one of the later Walt-era cartoon shorts, it still goes to show that they were still great!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(The Kid): “St. Nick don’t smoke.”

(Santa Claus in line): “I thought I was supposed to be Santy Claus.”

(The Kid): “Santy Claus, Kris Kringle, St. Nick, it’s all the same guy.”

(Santa Claus in line): “Oh, I get it. He don’t give his right name either.”

(The Kid): “Oh, now that’s sweet, you’re going to do a big business.”

(Gloomy): “Thanks”

(The Kid pulls a bottle out of Gloomy’s Santa suit)

(Gloomy): “Well, it’s cold out there in the street.”

(The Kid): “Santy Claus don’t drink.”

(Gloomy): “Oh no? Well, how come he’s always falling down chimneys?”

(Host): Now that we’re done looking at the Santa Claus legend from a few different “viewpoints,” let’s talk about the movie. In 1949, Bob Hope had made Sorrowful Jones, a movie based on a Damon Runyan story. With his role well-received by audiences and critics, he looked for another Damon Runyan story to do and chose the short story “The Lemon Drop Kid.” For the movie, he went with his director from Sorrowful Jones, Syndey Lanfield, but got involved in the production himself as usual. After seeing the director’s cut of the movie, Hope thought something wasn’t quite right, and he convinced Paramount to hire Frank Tashlin to do rewrites (although he only agreed to do it if he could direct the retakes, which they consented to). But, enough about the film’s background. I’ll hand it over to the narrator to tell the story!

(Sounds of horses’ hooves in the background. Narrator stands with binoculars looking out at the audience.)

(Narrator): “Annnnnd it’s Hogwash in front, Applejack second by a neck. They’re coming into the stretch. It’s Hogwash and Applejack. C’mon, Applejack!” (Note: for the benefit of my reading audience, I’m borrowing this quote from the 1962 Foghorn Leghorn cartoon The Slick Chick, since it seems appropriate for the situation)

(Host): HEY!!!

(Narrator): Huh? What? Oh, right. The plot description. Can’t we do that later? I’m in the middle of a good race here!

(Host): Okay, you’ve had enough. You better get started for New York City, and we’ll have you pick up the story from there, while I start with the events in Florida.

(Narrator): Oh, fine. (leaves the stage)

(Host): (mumbles under breath so as not to be heard) And be sure to dress warm, it’s cold up there! (Normal voice). We’re at a racetrack in Florida. Sidney Milburn, otherwise known to all as “The Lemon Drop Kid” (Bob Hope), is touting, trying to fool some gamblers into parting with their potential winnings, by trying to get at least somebody cheering for (and betting on) every horse in the race. All is looking good until he spies a woman about to make a $2000 bet. He persuades her to choose a different horse than the one she was planning on, but, once the race starts, he learns that she is the girlfriend of mobster Moose Moran (Fred Clark) and was making a bet for him. When the horse loses (and the one Moose had tried to bet on wins), some of Moose’s thugs bring the Kid to see Moose. Moose is indeed quite angry at having lost $10,000 (the amount he would have been paid since the horse he had wanted to bet on won the race), and threatens to have one of his goons, Sam the Surgeon (Harry Bellaver), kill off the Kid. Thinking fast, the Kid says that he can get the money for Moose if he had until Christmas. Moose decides to let him try, but reminds him that he can’t get away. So, off the Kid heads for New York City.

(Host runs off the stage in a cartoonish fashion, leaving behind a puff of smoke)

(In blows a cold wind, a regular blizzard, with the narrator walking through, wearing winter gear)

(Narrator): You thought I wouldn’t be prepared, didn’t you? Well, I heard him, so there!

(Host): (from offstage) Darn it!

(Narrator): Anyways, back to the story. In New York City, they’re getting hit with a big blizzard, and yet the Kid is still wearing the same outfit he was wearing in Florida (unlike me). He runs into his friend, Nellie Thursday (Jane Darwell), who is having money troubles of her own with her landlord demanding his rent. He learns from Nellie that her husband Henry will soon be released from jail, but she won’t have a place for them to stay, as the old folks homes she had applied to turned them down on account of Henry being an ex-con. Moving on, the Kid makes his way to the apartment of his girlfriend, Brainey Baxter (Marilyn Maxwell). She’s still a little mad at him for conning her out of a fur coat before he left for Florida, but he works on her sympathies and gets some money to get a “marriage license” (although he really wants the money so he can gets his winter clothes out of hock). Once he gets his winter outfit, he goes to see Brainey’s boss, nightclub owner and mobster Oxford Charlie (Lloyd Nolan) to get the money to pay Moose, but he is turned down. As he leaves the nightclub, the Kid sees a Santa Claus collecting money for charity, and decides to do the same thing himself. However, he is quickly arrested by a cop and charged with panhandling.

(The Kid): “That judge didn’t look honest to me.”

(Policeman): “For eighteen years, he’s been a member of the bar”

(The Kid): “That’s what I mean, drinking on duty.”

(Host): (Walking back onstage) Don’t worry, everyone. In spite of the Kid’s opinions, that judge was quite sober (and honest) when he sentenced the Kid to ten days in jail (since he couldn’t pay the fine). On his way to his cell, he runs into Nellie, who has been arrested for trying to take her husband’s picture out of her room after she was evicted by her landlord.

(Narrator): Hey, I thought I was telling this part of the story! Anyways, while in jail, the Kid gets an idea on how he can get the $10,000 together. Brainey soon bails him out, and threatens to take him to get a marriage license, but he detours her while he gets together a group of other con men. His plan is to put together a “home for old dolls” as he puts it, for Nellie to live in when her husband is released. They get together a few other homeless older women from around Broadway, and are there to welcome Nellie when she gets out of jail. Afterwards, the Kid gathers all the men together in their new Santa suits to collect the money to help “fund the old dolls home” (but they don’t know the Kid’s real reason for trying to collect the money).

(Host): And this takes us to one of my favorite moments in the whole movie: the song “Silver Bells.” It surprised me to learn that this was one of the moments that was changed by Frank Tashlin. According to TCM, director Sydney Lanfield had staged it in an empty casino with all the cast members standing together, almost as if they were a choir. That was a scene that Bob Hope didn’t like, and it was restaged by Tashlin on the city streets, with Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell walking the streets singing it. For me, it’s a scene that has stuck with me. For a while, I actually preferred this moment to the song “White Christmas,” as I used to have this scene on repeat on DVD (mostly around this time of the year) while I worked on homework back when I was in high school and college. While I don’t like it quite as much as I did then, it’s still one of the better scenes in the movie, and one I always look forward to watching (not to mention watching all the con men trying to raise money in their Santa suits in the lead-up to the song).

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. A wonderful song. Getting back to the story, Brainey decides to quit her job in Oxford Charlie’s nightclub for a while to devote more time to helping out at the home. As she leaves, she tells Oxford Charlie how much money they had raised in such a short time. Putting two and two together, he gets his own idea. Figuring that wherever Nellie Thursday lives is where the “Nellie Thursday Home For Old Dolls” is (and therefore, the place that will get the money collected), Oxford Charlie has his men kidnap the old ladies and Brainey and has them brought to his mansion. When the Kid finds out that everyone was kidnapped, he and a few of the guys go over to get them back, but Oxford Charlie reveals the Kid’s reason for collecting the money to everybody (all while the Kid sneaks away to avoid being pummeled by the other con men). With Christmas fast approaching, will the Kid have a change of heart (and find a way to help everyone out), or will he taken apart by Sam the Surgeon?

(Host): In between the previously mentioned song “Silver Bells” and the story’s Christmas Eve deadline, there is no doubt about this movie’s qualifications as a Christmas film! I know I enjoy watching this movie around Christmastime, with Bob Hope’s antics and quips continuing to make me laugh every time I watch it! I’ll admit, his cross-dressing gag near the end of the film is probably a bit dated at this point, but he still does it in such a way as to have me laughing the whole time (even with the rear screen projection during the brief period he is riding a bicycle)! The rest of the cast is pretty good, too, with Fred Clark as a tough gangster, who certainly makes you think twice about crossing him, Jane Darwell who garners sympathy for her character as she tries to survive and get ready for her husband’s upcoming release from prison, plus William Frawley as one of the more prominent crooks conned into helping out as one of the Santas out collecting for the home. But, as I said, this film’s rendition of “Silver Bells” is one of the film’s best and most touching moments, easily making the movie worth seeing just for that alone! But, yes, I certainly enjoy and recommend the rest of the movie, too!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

(original review of The Paleface) (update) – Bob HopeMy Favorite Spy (1951)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… Pocketful Of Miracles (1961)

Continuing on with our Christmas holiday run of movies, we have the 1961 movie Pocketful Of Miracles, starring Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange and Arthur O’Connell!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pitchin’ Woo At The Zoo (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)

Popeye and Olive are walking through the zoo, and zookeeper Bluto tries to impress Olive. Yes, it’s a lot of the old “Bluto and Popeye trying to one-up each other to impress Olive” routine, but it’s still a bit of fun. The animals add to the fun, as Popeye has to square off with a tiger, a crocodile, leopards, an elephant, and many more! Especially having been restored, this cartoon now looks great, making the colors more vivid, and allowing you to enjoy the details! Certainly worth seeing every now and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s the end of Prohibition. Gangster leader and bootlegger Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) has become a big man in New York City, at least partly due to the success of the nightclub he’s been helping his girlfriend Elizabeth “Queenie” Martin (Hope Lange) run. He also has had some good luck because of his “lucky apples” that he routinely buys from beggar woman Apple Annie (Bette Davis). Now, he faces the prospect of being part of a bigger mob syndicate being led by its “king,” Steve Darcey (Sheldon Leonard), but he wants in on his own terms, not Darcey’s. Trouble arises, however, as Apple Annie finds herself in a pickle. For years, she’s been sending money that she’s gotten from Dave buying her apples and from the other panhandlers on Broadway to her daughter, who lives in a Spanish convent. Their only contact has been the letters they’ve been writing each other, with Annie embellishing her own life by making herself out to be a big society lady under the name of Mrs. E. Worthington Manville. Now, her most recent letter from her daughter Louise (Ann-Margret) indicates that she will be marrying the son of a Spanish count, and the three of them would be coming to America by boat to visit her mother. Apple Annie is distraught and unsure of what to do. At first, Dave is unconcerned about her problems and only wants his “lucky apple,” but Queenie convinces him to help Annie out. He sets her up with a room in the Hotel Marberry, with Queenie helping to give her a makeover. They also enlist the help of judge Henry G. Blake (Thomas Mitchell) to act as Louise’s stepfather. When the boat comes in, Annie, the judge, Dave and Queenie are there to meet them (along with the rest of Dave’s mob to help keep away any nosy reporters). Over the next few days, Annie enjoys her reunion with Louise, while Dave has his own worries. Among them, some reporters show up to find out about “Mrs. Manville,” so Dave has them tied up and stashed in the pantry. Count Alphonso Romero (Arthur O’Connell) decides to announce the engagement of Louise and his son Carlos (Peter Mann) at a reception for Annie’s “society friends,” and, after some discussion, they decide to try using Dave’s gang and Queenie’s showgirls to pose as the guests. The newspapers start to make things miserable for the police and the Mayor (Jerome Cowan) due to the disappearance of the reporters, and the police start to suspect Dave of being involved. In the midst of all this, Dave’s friend and second-in-command, Joy Boy (Peter Falk), is sweating it out as he constantly nags Dave about the potential deal with Darcey. Can everything come together, or will Annie’s lies be found out?

Pocketful Of Miracles was based on the Damon Runyan short story “Madame La Gimp.” Director Frank Capra had previously filmed the story for Columbia Pictures in 1933 as Lady For A Day, but had wanted to do a remake for a while. He had some trouble with Columbia’s executives, who owned the screen rights and were reluctant to do a remake. In 1960, he was able to buy the rights himself, but continued to have troubles with casting it. Actor Glenn Ford offered to help finance the movie if he could be cast as Dave the Dude, and while Frank Capra didn’t think he was right for the part, he agreed to his terms, just so he could make the movie. The troubles didn’t end there, though. Throughput filming, Frank Capra had health issues, with many headaches caused by the stress, resulting in this being the last feature film that he directed.

For some, it might be a bit of a stretch to call this one a Christmas movie, but not me! They admit at one point that the movie does take place during December, and we do get to see a few decorated Christmas trees in the background of some scenes. The score also includes some Christmas music, including music from the Nutcracker Suite at key points of the story. But, ultimately, the story itself maintains some Christmas spirit. We see Dave the Dude go from caring only about himself and what he wants, to doing things for others and encouraging some of his gang to do things without reward (and we also see the effects radiate out to others that he deals with). As the judge himself says at one point, pointing to his heart, “In here, it’s Christmas.” And that is enough for me to call this one a Christmas film.

I really enjoy this film, with its score, its story, and all the performances of the various actors involved. In particular, though, I think the movie is worth it just to see Peter Falk in his Best Supporting Actor Oscar-nominated role as Joy Boy, and Edward Everett Horton as Hutchins, the butler. Both of them are generally hilarious throughout the movie, and even funnier during the few moments that they interact with each other. The only real sour note this movie has, in my opinion, is a scene of domestic violence between Glenn Ford’s Dave the Dude and Hope Lange’s Queenie Martin when he finds out she’s walking out on him, with the whole thing playing out like foreplay, until Peter Falk’s Joy Boy interrupts them (and it feels worse considering Glenn Ford and Hope Lange were an actual couple at the time this movie was made). Apart from that minor complaint, this is a movie I always look forward to watching around Christmastime, and I certainly would give it my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Film Length: 2 hours, 17 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

It Started With A Kiss (1959) – Glenn Ford

Another Man’s Poison (1952) – Bette Davis

Down To Earth (1947) – Edward Everett Horton

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

I’m now ready to start off a round of Christmas films for 2020, and for that, I’m going with the 1942 comedy The Man Who Came To Dinner, starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Monty Woolley!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Think You Need Glasses (1942)

(Length: 10 minutes, 37 seconds)

Joe McDoakes has some issues with far-sightedness, and has to see an ophthalmologist about it. This short is an early Joe McDoakes short, before it became a more official series. It uses some humor for a more serious subject (and occasionally gets a bit more serious). Personally, I didn’t find it all that memorable, and no doubt science has changed a number of things since then, so I would be wary in recommending this rather forgettable short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Six Hits And A Miss (1942)

(Length: 8 minutes, 55 seconds)

It’s a musical short, featuring the song “You Gotta Know How To Dance” played by Rudolph Friml Jr. And His Band, and sung by the singing group Six Hits And A Miss. It’s a fun short, and it utilizes footage of Ruby Keeler and Paul Draper dancing to the song, borrowed from the 1936 film Colleen. It’s a decent short, but at the same time, the new footage kind of takes away from the fun dancing from the earlier movie. Given the choice, I’d rather try to see the earlier movie, and enjoy it that way.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Radio personality Sheridan “Sherry” Whiteside (Monty Woolley) and his secretary Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis) have come to Mesalia, Ohio, where he is to give a lecture, but first, he is stuck having dinner with a prominent Ohio family, the Stanleys. Things go horribly wrong when Sherry slips on the icy stairs to go into their home and injures his hip. After two weeks, he finally comes out of the den in a wheelchair. He promptly threatens to sue Ernest Stanley (Grant Mitchell) for $150,000, and takes over the main part of the house for his activities, since the doctor says he shouldn’t be moved elsewhere. Ernest tries to get him to leave, but Sherry just threatens to sue him for even more money if he is forced out. Over the next few weeks, Sherry causes more trouble for Ernest by advising the Stanley children to follow their dreams. During that time, Maggie starts to fall for the local newspaper owner and editor Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis). Sherry is less than thrilled with this turn of events, especially when she decides to resign as Sherry’s secretary. Since Bert has written a play, Sherry decides to call up his actress friend Lorraine Sheldon (Ann Sheridan), in the hopes that she will break up Maggie and Bert’s relationship. Not long after she arrives, she starts in on Bert. Smelling a rat, Maggie enlists the help of a visiting actor friend, Beverly Carlton (Reginald Gardiner), to get Lorraine to leave. It almost works, until Bert accidentally spoils everything. Once she realizes she’s been tricked (and why), Lorraine promises Maggie that she will do her best to take Bert away from her, resulting in Maggie running off. The following day, Sherry finds himself in trouble, as Maggie is still planning to leave his employ, and Ernest Stanley has sworn out a warrant to have Sherry evicted from the place. Sherry’s Hollywood friend Banjo (Jimmy Durante) also comes to visit, but they find themselves trying to figure out how to help Sherry out of all the trouble he’s gotten himself into.

You can blame Alexander Woollcott for this one, folks. Supposedly, he at one point asked the playwriting team of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart to write a play for him to star in. They struggled to come up with an idea, until Hart remembered one time that Woollcott visited him overnight. Apparently, Woollcott had been real demanding and an absolute nightmare of a guest, and when relating the story to Kaufman, Hart pondered how awful it might have been had Woollcott broken his leg and been stuck there for the summer, which was the inspiration they needed for the play. Woollcott liked the play, but felt too close to the character to play him onstage, so the role ended up being done by Monty Woolley. They threw in a few other characters who were also based on real-life people, including Lorraine Sheldon (based on actress Gertrude Lawrence), Beverly Carlton (based on playwright Noel Coward) and Banjo (based on Harpo Marx). The play was a huge success, getting the attention of Warner Brothers, who bought the rights to film it. Bette Davis wanted very much to be in the film, and had no problem with it being more of an ensemble film, as she mainly wanted to be involved in it. She also hoped and campaigned for the idea of starring with John Barrymore as Sheridan Whiteside, but his drinking problem left him unable to do the film. Producer Hal Wallis tried some other big stars, but he eventually settled on going with the original Sheridan Whiteside, Monty Woolley, to great effect.

I will readily admit, I’ve been watching this one and getting a few good laughs out of it for a number of years now. The casting alone makes this movie work. Monty Woolley as Sheridan is generally hilarious, with all his complaining and demands, meanwhile protesting, in a manner similar to Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady, that he is a kind soul who is always kind to others (even though we can plainly see he wants his life HIS way, and heaven help those who try to have a life of their own). I feel for Grant Mitchell’s character Ernest Stanley, who, at the insistence of his wife (played by the great Billie Burke in an also humorous role), got stuck inviting Sheridan over for dinner, and lost the use of his house (all while being sued for a great sum of money). Of course, the way he treats his children and their dreams show us that he has his issues (not to mention the secret he is hiding about his sister Harriet). As Beverly Carlton, Reginald Gardiner is at his least reserved (and, consequently, about as funny as I can remember him being in any of his movies that I have seen)! And Jimmy Durante also adds to the fun as the Harpo Marx-based Banjo, mainly chasing girls like Harpo would (but otherwise far more conversational)! Throw in all the animals that get sent to Sheridan, Mary Wickes as the poor nurse stuck trying to take care of Sheridan, and this movie is guaranteed to keep me laughing for some time to come!

Of course, since I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit here, I’ve certainly got to talk about that! This movie takes place over the Christmas season, with the last part of the movie taking place on Christmas Eve and Christmas day itself. Obviously, we also have the likes of snow on the ground, and Christmas trees in the house (including a second tree in the Stanleys’ bedroom, since they aren’t allowed in the main part of the house), with presents under the tree (not to mention all the gifts sent to Sheridan while he is recuperating). And Sheridan Whiteside has his radio broadcast on Christmas Eve, where he starts to regale his audience with the story of the original Christmas. I will readily admit that the movie pushes the boundary of being a Christmas film just because he can be such a nasty character (and doesn’t really seem to learn to be a better person by the end of the movie). But, whether you watch it as a Christmas movie, or just for fun any other time of the year, it’s a lot of fun, and worth quite a few good laughs! (So, yes, I do recommend it!)

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Letter (1940) – Bette Davis – Now, Voyager (1942)

Dodge City (1939) – Ann Sheridan – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938) – Monty Woolley – Since You Went Away (1944)

Jimmy Durante – Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962)

Zenobia (1939) – Billie Burke – Father Of The Bride (1950)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… On Dangerous Ground (1951)

We now have one last noir for the month of “Noir-vember,” and that would be the 1951 film On Dangerous Ground, starring Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinkfinger (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)

The Pink Panther takes on a ring of spies. Bit of fun, with the narrator prompting the Panther to take on various spies. No doubt a reflection on the popularity of the then-recent James Bond films. A lot of fun here, and one of the more memorable Pink Panther cartoons (at least for me)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Detective Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan), along with his partners Bill “Pop” Daly (Charles Kemper) and Pete Santos (Anthony Ross), are hunting down a pair of cop killers. Jim is getting increasingly frustrated, and when they find one of the killers’ accomplices, he really roughs him up to find out their location. The next day, Jim is summoned by Captain Brawley (Ed Begley), who warns him to cut out the rough stuff, as the accomplice’s lawyer is threatening to sue. Later that night, Jim and his partners are cruising the streets when they find a few thugs beating up a woman. Jim catches up to one of them and starts to rough him up before being stopped by one of his partners. Captain Brawley is less than thrilled to hear about this, and assigns Jim a murder investigation in a more rural area up north until things calm down. Jim drives up north, and he meets up with Sheriff Carey (Ian Wolfe), who directs him to the Brent family home. Jim tries to find out what he can about the girl who was murdered, when her father, Walter Brent (Ward Bond), comes in and makes everyone stop talking. They receive word that the murderer has been sighted, and they all go off in pursuit. Jim ends up with Walter (who is less than thrilled to be stuck with a city cop, since he wants to shoot the murderer himself), and they borrow someone else’s car when the murderer steals another one. When the snow starts really coming down, they end up crashing, not far from the car they were following. On foot again, they find a lone farmhouse. Inside, they meet Mary Malden (Ida Lupino), who tells them nobody is there. Jim quickly realizes that she is blind, and tries to be kind to her. They quickly realize she is not the only one who has been there, and she tells them her brother, Danny (Sumner Williams), also lives there, but is not there currently. Walter doesn’t believe her, and he, along with Jim, start looking around outside. Jim comes back in, and learns that her brother is there, but has a mental illness. She believes that her brother should turn himself in, but to Jim, as Walter is angry enough to kill her brother. Jim is convinced by her, and tries to promise to keep Danny safe. Before anything else can happen, Walter comes back in, and Mary offers the two of them a place to stay overnight. In the morning, Mary sneaks outside to the storm cellar, where Danny is hiding, and tries to convince him to go along with Jim. After she leaves, Jim stops her, and Danny makes a run for it. With Walter hot on their heels, the question remains: as much as Jim has come to care for Mary in such a short time, can he manage to save Danny, or will Walter’s thirst for revenge win out?

On Dangerous Ground was based on the novel Mad With Much Heart by Gerard Butler. Director Nicholas Ray came across it while he was working on another project, and it was submitted as something for him to work on later. However, some of the readers at RKO studios didn’t think it was suitable for filming. Still, producer John Houseman was able to secure the rights for the story, especially when actor Robert Ryan expressed interest in the role. There was some discussion with the police departments in Los Angeles and Boston, who were pleased to see the idea of police violence would be treated openly. Originally, the film’s ending was supposed to be a bit more of a downer, but actors Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino were able to convince the director to give the movie a happier ending.

I’ve only had the opportunity so far to see this movie twice, but it has been one I’ve enjoyed seeing both times. I’m really impressed with Robert Ryan’s performance here as a cop going bad. We see how, unlike his partners who have a life apart from their jobs, he takes his work home with him, and, in so doing, gets more and more of a bad impression of the world (not helped by all the people complaining to his face about what the cops are doing). We see him getting bad, and we also see the police captain trying to sweep the problem under the rug by having him go elsewhere. And that idea almost backfires, with Ward Bond’s character complaining about him being a city cop, as he seeks his own vengeance, while Robert Ryan’s Jim does little to stop him (at first). It’s only luck that he meets Ida Lupino’s Mary, who gets him to soften back up and be human again. And Robert Ryan isn’t the only good actor here, as everybody does their part well (including director Nicholas Ray’s nephew Sumner Williams as Danny, whose actions seem too relevant today, especially to the many women who complain, and rightfully so, about men wanting them to “smile” to be more beautiful). It’s not my absolute favorite noir, but it’s a good one, and I certainly would recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Now, before I sign off, in case you’re wondering, since I have been reviewing noirs for the month of November every Sunday for the last few years (and yet, as I said before, this is the last one I’m reviewing for this month, even though there is one Sunday left), my plan is to start in on the Christmas holiday films starting next week. If I don’t, I would otherwise only have three Sundays to work with in December before the holiday itself, and, since it will be past Thanksgiving anyways, I figured I would start in and still get in my four films for the year!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Ida Lupino

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Robert Ryan – The Tall Men (1955)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… The Gold Rush (1925)

Well, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us, and, as I wanted to take part in A Blogathon To Be Thankful For, hosted by Sally Silverscreen of 18 Cinema Lane, I thought I would chime in with the classic Charlie Chaplin film The Gold Rush! Of course, we have a fun theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to the main feature!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Tom Turk And Daffy (1944)

(Length: 7 minutes, 18 seconds)

Daffy helps hide Tom Turk from Porky, until Porky mistakes Daffy for a turkey! An old Looney Tunes cartoon that I’ve seen many a time over the years, and yet it’s still worth a few good laughs! I love watching the things Daffy does to Tom as he tries to hide him, only for the tables to turn at the end as Tom returns the “favor!” It’s a bit of a stretch to call this one a Thanksgiving cartoon, but Porky is dressed like a Pilgrim, and he’s hunting for a turkey dinner, so let’s go ahead and call it one! It’s fun to watch whether it’s around Thanksgiving or any other time of the year!

And now for the main feature…

(Host): One thing I should say before I dig too far into The Gold Rush. There are at least two different versions of this tale. The movie was first released in 1925 as a silent movie, which obviously became a classic. When 1942 rolled around, Charlie Chaplin was coming off his first full-blown sound film with The Great Dictator, and he wanted to revive The Gold Rush for audiences who had little to no experience with silent movies. So, he messed around with the movie, adding narration and dialogue (all done by him), removing the intertitles, adding a score, and editing out a few scenes to change up the movie a little. In doing so, he removed the earlier silent film from availability, and it took a long time before some were able to go back and reconstruct it in the 1990s. Now, in describing the story, I will for the most part be working from the 1925 silent film. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll hand things over to our narrator! Take it away!

(Narrator): (Holds up a sign)

(Narrator): (Holds up another sign)

(Narrator): (Holds up yet another sign)

(Host): Um… What are you doing?

(Narrator): This is a silent movie, right? Well, I’m using intertitles to let everyone know what’s going on!

(Host): You do realize this is a blog post, and not a video, right? They need to actually be able to read what we’re saying!

(Narrator): Oh! That’s right! (Clears throat) Wandering through the Alaskan wilderness, we find the Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin), as he searches for gold. On a mountain, another prospector, Big Jim KcKay (Mack Swain), has found a mountain of gold and staked his claim. A big storm blows up, and both of them are pushed into a cabin occupied by Black Larsen (Tom Murray). They soon find themselves without food, and, after drawing lots, Black Larsen is sent out to find food, while the other two remain.

(Host): Time for the Thanksgiving dinner!

(Narrator): So what’s cooking for them?

(Host): Shoe.

(Narrator): Shoe?

(Host): Shoe. With nothing else to eat, the Lone Prospector decides to boil a shoe for the two of them (Well, not really. Technically, the shoe was made of black licorice and hard candy for the actors to eat, but, as far as we the audience are concerned, it’s a shoe). It’s not much, but it’s all they have to work with for their Thanksgiving dinner. Big Jim struggles with the shoe leather, but the Lone Prospector is able to eat the sole and the laces easily, relishing the meal. Obviously, it doesn’t exactly sound like an appetizing meal, but, it’s still more than nothing. Certainly a good reminder to be thankful for the good meals that most of us get to enjoy!

(Narrator): Indeed! But, that’s all the food they have for a time, and the Lone Prospector starts to look mighty tasty to Big Jim. Lucky for the Prospector, a bear wanders in, and they shoot it, providing a good meal. With the winter storm ending and food in their bellies, the Prospector and Big Jim part ways. Big Jim returns to his claim, where he finds Black Larsen trying to steal his gold. They fight, but Black Larsen manages to hit Big Jim on the head with a shovel and get away. Nature, however, is not kind to Black Larsen, as he shortly falls off a cliff when the ground breaks away beneath him. Big Jim awakes, but his memory is foggy as he wanders around aimlessly.

(Host): And what of the Prospector? Isn’t this his story?

(Narrator): I’m getting to him! He makes his way into town, stopping in at a dance hall one night. While there, he meets the Girl, Georgia (Georgia Hale), who is one of the dance hall girls. She is stuck dealing with ladies’ man Jack Cameron (Malcom Waite), who wants to dance with her, but she refuses, and chooses to dance with the Prospector.

(The Garland Waltz starts playing in the background)

(Narrator): Ah yes, beautiful music. It would be a wonderful dance, except for one thing: partway through, the Prospector loses his belt, and has to find different ways to keep his pants up.

(Host): Yes, indeed. For me, this is one of the more memorable scenes in the movie. The music itself obviously stood out to me when I first saw this movie a few years back (and how can it not, considering how well known that tune is as the classic “Once Upon A Dream”). Combine the familiar tune with the Prospector’s attempts to keep his pants up, and it’s a very hard scene to forget!

(Narrator): Quite so. But, getting back to the tale at hand, Jack is less than thrilled with this, and the Prospector tries to fight him off (with the aid of a clock that gets knocked down from above). The next day, the Prospector finds a cabin nearby, where Hank Curtis (Henry Bergman) lives. He pretends to be frozen, so that Hank will bring him in and offer him warmth and food. While Hank goes off to do some mining, the Prospector looks after the cabin for him. At one point, Georgia and some of the other girls from the dance hall come around and get into a snowball fight. Hearing the snowballs hit the door, the Prospector opens up, only to get hit in the face with one. Apologetic, Georgia and the gals come in for a moment, much to the Prospector’s delight. While he is out getting firewood, Georgia sees a photograph of her that he has stashed away, and they decide to tease him just a bit. They act interested in him, and when he invites them to dinner on New Year’s Eve, they accept. In his joy, the Prospector does what he can to earn money, by shoveling snow and doing other odd jobs, so that he can afford dinner for everyone. However, when New Year’s Eve rolls around, everybody is at the dance hall to celebrate, and the Prospector, alone at the cabin, falls asleep waiting for his guests. He is awakened by the sounds coming from the dance hall around midnight, and leaves to look for them. Meanwhile, Georgia remembers that they promised to join the Prospector, and they bring Jack along to the cabin to continue with their little joke. But, when Georgia sees the effort that the Prospector had put into the dinner, she realizes the joke has gone too far, and decides to leave. Jack tries to kiss her, but she rejects his advances as she goes out the door.

(Host): What about Big Jim? What’s going on with him?

(Narrator): I’m coming back around to him. After wandering around, Big Jim had made it into town, and tried to register his claim. However, the bump on his head left him with partial amnesia, and he couldn’t remember the location. All he knew was that it was near the cabin, but he couldn’t remember where that was either. Anyways, getting back to everyone else, the following day at the dance hall, Georgia sends a note to Jack, apologizing for her actions at the cabin. Right after that, the Prospector comes in, and Jack, in a cruel mood, decides to give him the note, and let him think that Georgia intended the note for him. Ecstatic, the Prospector tries to find her, but Big Jim had wandered in, and, remembering his friend, convinced him to help him find the cabin in exchange for a share in the gold. They travel together to the cabin, where they fall asleep, exhausted. That night, a winter storm begins to blow –

(Wind begins to blow through the stage, with snow falling throughout)

(Host): (shouting) Hey, wait a minute! We don’t need that here! And is this real snow? Who left the door open?!? Close it up, and let’s go with the flakes instead of the real stuff. No, wait, let’s not even use that, the audience is getting the idea. Move on, good sir!

(Narrator): Ok. The wind and storm ends up blowing the cabin away while they sleep (I’d say “Shades Of Wizard Of Oz,” except this film predates that film classic). In the morning, when they awake, the cabin is resting on the edge of a cliff, barely being held up, with their weight evenly distributed between the two halves. When they get out (and the cabin falls off the cliff), they find they are at Big Jim’s claim, and are two rich men! But, with all that wealth, are they (or, more particularly, the Prospector) happy?

(Host): The Gold Rush was inspired both by the actual gold rush in the Klondike, as well as the Donner party from 1846, who had had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Supposedly, The Gold Rush is the film Charlie Chaplin most wanted to be remembered for, and I would definitely say that, of the handful of his films that I’ve been able to see, it is probably my favorite. I will readily admit that I prefer the earlier silent version of the story, as opposed to Chaplin’s later preferred version with his own narration. I think the overall plot works better in the silent film, particularly with Jack’s rather cruel joke being cut in the later version (technically, he gives the Prospector the note, but there’s nothing showing that it was originally intended for him or him planning to play the joke), which seems a little out of character in my opinion. Regardless of which version, though, it’s a fun film I’ve seen numerous times over the last couple of years. The comedy always makes it worthwhile, whether it be the Tramp struggling to walk in the wind blowing through the cabin, or Chaplin’s little dance using rolls on forks, or the “clown with his pants falling down” (to borrow the lyrics of the classic song “That’s Entertainment”)! A great movie, and one that deserves to be seen! So, this is indeed one I would highly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. The 1925 version included in that release is one hour, twenty-nine minutes in length, and the 1942 re-release is one hour, twelve minutes in length.

And before I finish, I definitely want to thank Sally Silverscreen for hosting this wonderful blogathon. It’s been fun re-watching this classic Chaplin film, and one of many I’m thankful to be able to watch (especially since I feel blessed to have a good meal instead of a shoe)! So, again, thank you!

My Rating: 10/10 (1925) and 9/10 (1942)

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Kid (1921) – Charlie Chaplin – The Circus (1928)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Opposite Sex (1956)

This week, we’ve got more musical fun with the 1956 film The Opposite Sex, starring June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan and Ann Miller! Of course, before we get into the movie, we’ve got another Ant And The Aardvark cartoon, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber! So sit back, and have some fun with this one!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dune Bug (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 34 seconds)

The ant is trying to vacation on the beach, but the aardvark keeps coming for him. While the aardvark is obviously chasing the ant as always, this short adds in a lifeguard that believes the aardvark is a dog and keeps throwing him off the beach. That adds a lot to the fun, even if the lifeguard does look like a complete idiot for mistaking the aardvark for a dog. But, it all helps to set up the final gag, which is quite hilarious! All in all, a very fun and memorable cartoon that I don’t mind coming back to periodically!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At Sydney’s salon, Sylvia Fowler (Dolores Gray) learns from her manicurist Olga (Alice Pearce) that Steven Hilliard (Leslie Nielsen), the theatrical producer and the husband of one of her friends, is having an affair with a chorus girl. Sylvia is delighted at the news, and rushes to tell another friend, Edith Potter (Joan Blondell). Later, when they meet up for lunch with Steven’s wife (and former singer) Kay Ashley Hilliard (June Allyson) and writer Amanda Penrose (Ann Sheridan) to plan out the show for the Footlights Home Benefit, Sylvia tries to hint at Steven’s unfaithfulness to Kay, but she is oblivious. Amanda, who had also heard the gossip, tries to shush Sylvia, but Sylvia won’t take no for an answer, and suggests Kay go to her manicurist, Olga, at Sydney’s salon. Meanwhile, the showgirl, Crystal Allen (Joan Collins), tries (and fails) to meet up with Steven, but he is trying to end the affair. When Kay goes to Sydney’s, Olga accidentally reveals the existence of Crystal’s affair with Steven to her. After talking with Amanda, Kay tries to hide her knowledge of the affair, but she struggles when she is asked to sing a love song at their tenth anniversary party. She decides to go on a trip to Bermuda, and when Crystal reads about her leaving for Bermuda without Steven, she believes the marriage is on the rocks, and tries to meet up with Steven when he is in the park with his daughter, Debbie (Sandy Descher). Kay returns early from her trip, and things seem to be alright. However, at the Footlights Home Benefit, Crystal flaunts herself at Kay to get a rise out of her, although Kay tries to ignore her. Though after Sylvia reveals her knowledge of Crystal meeting up with Steven and Debbie at the park, Kay goes in and slaps Crystal before she takes off, despite Steven’s protests.

Kay leaves on a train for Reno, Nevada to get a divorce. On the train there, she meets and befriends the Countess (Agnes Moorehead) and Gloria Dahl (Ann Miller). They all go to stay at the D-Bar-H Ranch, owned by Lucy (Charlotte Greenwood). While there, Kay has to fend off the advances of ranch hand Buck Winston (Jeff Richards). Not long after, Sylvia comes to stay there as well, as her husband has left her for someone else. When Sylvia receives a letter from a friend that includes a newspaper clipping that reveals that it is Gloria that her husband left her for, they both get into a fight, before Sylvia is charmed by Buck. After Kay’s divorce goes through, her friend Amanda comes to accompany her home, and tries to convince her to go back to Steven. She is too late, however, as Kay gets a call from Steven telling her that he is marrying Crystal. So, Kay goes back to being a singer. At one point, she finds out from Edith that Sylvia has returned, and brought Buck back with her. The news is that Sylvia both wants to marry Buck herself and promote him as a singer. Meanwhile, Crystal and Steve aren’t getting along, which daughter Debbie sees firsthand (and she also catches Crystal talking on her private phone to her new lover, Buck). When Debbie tells her mother about this, her mother springs into action, making plans to help Steven out of his current marital woes.

The Opposite Sex came from a 1936 play by Clare Booth Luce called The Women which MGM had successfully made into a movie in 1939. In both of those previous cases, the cast was entirely female. MGM had been falling on hard times, as, due to the rise of television, audiences were no longer going to the movies, forcing all the studios to make some changes. With changing leadership, MGM tried, among other things, to look back at their past for inspiration. About this time (1956), they tried doing a lot of remakes of earlier hits, like High Society, Gaby, Designing Woman, Silk Stockings, etc., with varying results. For their remake of The Women, they opted to add in men, make it a musical, make it in color, and in cinemascope (not to mention other changes like character names, relationships, professions, etc.).

For many, The Opposite Sex is an inferior version of the story. Now, I haven’t seen the play or the 1939 movie (yet) or the 2008 remake, so I am at best judging this movie on its own merits. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed it more than its reputation would have indicated. I think June Allyson works very well here for the most part as Kay. For a character that is described as, at times, being too nice, she fits the bill. I do think her performance falters a little at the end when she is supposed to “have her claws out,” but she isn’t bad enough for me to trash the movie over it. I think the rest of the cast is good here, too, especially Dolores Gray as Sylvia, who is almost every bit the film’s “villain” as Joan Collin’s Crystal Allen (and I won’t deny that I cheered when she got her comeuppance multiple times). And the rest of the cast is full of familiar faces, whether they be Agnes Moorehead, a very quick appearance for Dean Jones (early in his career, you know), Joan Blondell, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus and a host of others, which adds to the fun (at least for me). Honestly, I would say that one of this movie’s biggest sins is the lack of musical numbers for some of its stars. I mean, we’ve got Dolores Gray here, who is a very good singer, and all she sings is the title song over the opening credits. We’ve also got dancer Ann Miller here, and she doesn’t sing or dance at all for the entire movie. My own opinion of the music, written by Nicholas Brodszky and Sammy Cahn, is that it’s not that great or memorable (although I won’t deny some of the music can get stuck in my head for a while, with no complaints from me). Again, I can only speak to this movie and not any other version of the story, but I enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray is sporting a new transfer that REALLY shows off the film’s color, it’s so vivid! And that alone certainly makes this movie a treat to watch! So, if you have to see it, see it in high definition with the new blu!

Film Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Glenn Miller Story (1954) – June Allyson

Joan Collins – The Road To Hong Kong (1962)

Kismet (1955) – Dolores Gray – Designing Woman (1957)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Ann Sheridan

Hit The Deck (1955) – Ann Miller

Leslie Nielsen – Tammy And The Bachelor (1957)

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) – Jeff Richards

Show Boat (1951) – Agnes Moorehead

Stand-In (1937) – Joan Blondell – Desk Set (1957)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Dark Passage (1947)

As we continue on with “Noir-vember,” it’s time to get a different point-of-view (pun intended) with that classic 1947 Bogie and Bacall film Dark Passage!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Slick Hare (1947)

(Available as an extra on the Dark Passage Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 43 seconds)

At the Mocrumbo nightclub, Humphrey Bogart orders a dish of fried rabbit, and his waiter Elmer Fudd must come up with one in twenty minutes. Classic Looney Tunes cartoon with Elmer chasing down Bugs Bunny. Of course, there are various celebrity “cameos” to add to the fun (although I’d be surprised if most people nowadays could figure out most of them). For a classic film fan, certainly a fun cartoon to watch every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Convict Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) has escaped from San Quentin prison. After the cops drive past his hiding place, he hitches a ride with passing motorist Baker (Clifton Young). However, that ride is short-lived, as they hear Vincent’s description on the radio, which forces him to knock out Baker. While Vincent changes into Baker’s clothes, painter Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall) comes up on him and, recognizing who he is, offers him a ride. She gets him past the police blocks, and brings him to her apartment, which she offers as a place to hide out. Once, while she is out, a mutual friend, Madge Rapf (Agnes Moorehead), comes to the door, but he turns her away. Fearing the possibility of having been discovered, Vincent decides to leave that night, and takes a cab. The cabby, Sam (Tom D’Andrea), recognizes him, but is on his side and offers to take him to a plastic surgeon. While Sam makes the arrangements, Vincent drops in on his friend, George Fellsinger (Rory Mallinson), and makes plans to stay at his apartment. After that, Vincent goes to the plastic surgeon, Dr. Walter Coley (Houseley Stevenson), who does some work on his face. After he is all bandaged up and given his instructions by the doctor, Vincent is taken back to George’s apartment by Sam. However, once in the apartment, Vincent is horrified to find his friend had been murdered. Feeling he has no other place to turn to, Vincent walks back to Irene’s place. On the way, he sees Baker’s car, but does not see Baker himself. Out of sheer exhaustion, Vincent puts it out of his mind and keeps going towards Irene’s apartment building, where he collapses. Irene finds an unconscious Vincent, and brings him in. Vincent learns from the newspaper that he is accused of George’s murder, but he convinces Irene that he is innocent. After twelve days, she cuts the bandages off his face, and he leaves, with the intention of proving his innocence. He adopts the name of Allan Linnell, but Baker soon finds him and decides to blackmail him. Vincent ends up overpowering Baker, and learns about somebody else following him to George’s apartment before Baker accidentally falls to his death. So, Vincent goes off to confront the real killer.

Dark Passage was based on a novel (of the same name) written by David Goodis (which had been serialized in The Saturday Evening Post before it was published as a book). For the movie, they did some location shooting in San Francisco, including Irene’s house and a diner. But, as I hinted at earlier, the movie is best known for its first forty minutes, in which we see almost everything from Vincent’s (Humphrey Bogart) point-of-view (and what we don’t see that way very cleverly keeps his face in the shadows or out of sight). Of course, the fact that Humphrey Bogart doesn’t actually show his face on camera for the first hour originally irritated Jack Warner when he found out, but too much of the film had been done by that point for him to make any changes.

Personally, I consider Dark Passage the weakest of the four Bogie-Bacall films. Now, I’m not trashing this movie, as I really like it! I’m just saying that the other three are just that much better. I do like the film’s gimmick of the first person view for the first forty minutes, as I think it works with the story. Any other way would essentially have some other actor playing the part, with Humphrey Bogart’s voice dubbed in for them. This way, that’s not necessary. But Lauren Bacall is one of this film’s strengths, as she gives a great performance here, especially for the first part, when she’s mainly interacting with the camera (or so it would seem). And Agnes Moorehead is great, too, as their mutual friend, who pretty much makes a nuisance of herself with everybody. Humphrey Bogart is the only one who really suffers here performance-wise, as we don’t really get a lot of background there, and we’re generally stuck going with his character type rather than a fully fleshed out character for this movie. But, that’s a minor quibble, because, as I said before, this movie is one I enjoy, and for that reason, I would certainly recommend seeing it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection, either individually or as part of the four film Bogart And Bacall: The Complete Collection. Whether you go with the individual release or the set, the Blu-ray looks fantastic as always, and is certainly the best way to see the movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

To Have And Have Not (1944)Humphrey BogartThe Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)

To Have And Have Not (1944) – Lauren Bacall – Young Man With A Horn (1950)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Agnes Moorehead – Show Boat (1951)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!