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)

Ann Rutherford – A Christmas Carol (1938)

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!

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)

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!

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)

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!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… Remember The Night (1940)

For today’s post, I’m pulling double-duty here, as I take part in the Queen Of Sass: Barbara Stanwyck blogathon hosted by Pale Writer, while also helping the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society celebrate Clean Movie Month 2020!  And with that let’s get into today’s movie, Remember The Night starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Marry-Go-Round (1943)

(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: 7 minutes, 52 seconds)

Popeye’s pal Shorty tries to help him propose to Olive. A bit of fun here, with Shorty being one of those characters I have very little recollection of, and so it’s fun to see somebody else for a change. Once again, no Bluto (oh, if only that could have lasted longer), which keeps this one fresh. And, of course, they get their Paramount references in, with pin-up pictures of actress Dorothy Lamour. All in all, a fun cartoon, while also staying clean enough for the Code!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Right before the Christmas holidays, Lee Leander (Barbara Stanwyck) steals some jewelry, but is quickly caught.  Assistant district attorney John “Jack” Sargent (Fred MacMurray) is chosen to prosecute.  However, in between the theatrics of Lee’s lawyer, Francis X. O’Leary (Willie Robertson), and the holiday spirit of the jury, which seems likely to get her acquitted, John decides to get the trial postponed.  However, when he hears Lee complaining about being in jail over the holidays, his conscience gets the better of him and he gets the bail bondsman to let her out.  However, the bondsman has the wrong idea, as he brings her over to John’s apartment, and then leaves.  John and Lee quickly sort things out, and he offers her a dinner out.  While at the nightclub, he learns that she is also from Indiana, from a town relatively close to where he is returning for the holidays, so he offers to give her a ride there.  However, once she arrives home, Lee finds her mother just as mean and unforgiving as she remembered, and Jack offers to bring her back to his home.  There, they are greeted by John’s mother (Beulah Bondi), his aunt Emma (Elizabeth Patterson) and their helper Willie (Sterling Holloway).  They are thrilled to have Lee with them, and offer her a place to stay.  Privately, John tells his mother about Lee, but she still does her best to help her feel like part of the family.  However, Emma smells a romance brewing, and does her best to encourage it, much to Mrs. Sargent’s dismay.  The night before John and Lee have to start their return trip, Mrs. Sargent takes Lee aside and tries to tell her how hard John worked to get where he was, work which may be undone if they continue their relationship.  Lee understands, and really sees John changing as he tries to encourage her not to return (although she firmly insists on coming back).  But, what will be the end result of her trial?

Remember The Night is remembered (ok, pun intended) for being the last movie that writer Preston Sturges wrote but didn’t direct.  The film’s director, Mitchell Liesen (who had previously directed the Sturges film Easy Living), famously pulled a number of scenes and dialogue that Sturges wrote, infuriating the writer. As a result, Preston Sturges made a big push to direct his next film himself, to great acclaim! Of course, in spite of all his troubles and complaints about the director, Preston Sturges still liked the end result with this movie. During filming, he also got to know Barbara Stanwyck, and promised to write a screwball comedy for her (which wasn’t in her usual wheelhouse at that time). Of course, a year later that promise was fulfilled when he wrote (and directed) one of her best-known comedies, The Lady Eve (personally, I haven’t seen it yet, but as a screwball comedy, and recently restored for Blu-ray, you can bet it’s one I hope to see soon)!

And, speaking of Barbara Stanwyck, since she is one of the reasons why we’re here for this post, let’s talk about her! Obviously, this is the first film that teamed up both her and Fred MacMurray (and so far, the only one of the four that I’ve seen, although I hope one of these days to see Double Indemnity). Offscreen, I have to admire all that I’ve read about her with regard to this movie. The movie was finished ahead of time and within the budget, and most of that was attributed to her and her professionalism on set. I have to admire her for that, especially reading about how she had a bad back, not helped by the corset she had to wear for the barn dance. Yet, she still hung around, ready for whenever they needed her. Never mind wearing winter clothing for the scene involving her and the cow when it was filmed in really warm weather! I just can’t begin to admire her enough for that!

And onscreen, she does such a great job! I know I love watching her as her lawyer gets carried away with her defense. At first, she seems fine with it, until Fred MacMurray’s assistant D.A. gets the trial postponed, and then she lets her lawyer have it, claiming is defense was such an old gag, she wasn’t surprised it didn’t work! And of course, she plays a woman who’s been around, as she doesn’t seem surprised when the bail bondsman brings her around to the apartment, fully expecting that she was there for an affair! But, at the same time, she makes you feel for her, especially when you meet her mother, and you have no problems then understanding why she struggled to stay on the straight and narrow! She may not have been the focus or the hero from what Preston Sturges originally wrote, but the film’s director wisely made her more important, as you do feel for her, and like seeing her in a more loving environment! Seriously, I just love her performance here!

Of course, the movie itself is also fun to watch every now and then (but especially at Christmastime)! For the most part, it’s definitely Code friendly. Admittedly, the hinted-at “affair”, whether it be the bail bondsman’s reason for bringing her to the apartment, or just the assumptions of others, like the one farmer who brought them in under citizen’s arrest, probably don’t quite fit the Code. Still, it’s only hinted at (and may go over the heads of the younger audience), so it’s not too bad. With the rest of the cast working well here, too, including Sterling Holloway, who’s rather fun as the over-worked hired hand for Mrs. Sargent (and who gets a brief moment to sing the song “A Perfect Day”). A very wonderful movie, easy to watch any time of the year (but, as I said, it’s best around Christmas), and one I very highly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)Barbara StanwyckThe Lady Eve (1941)

The Bride Comes Home (1935) – Fred MacMurray – Murder, He Says (1945)

The Cat And The Fiddle (1934) – Sterling Holloway – Make Mine Music (1946)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

Now we’ve got something of a holiday classic, the 1944 movie I’ll Be Seeing You starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Safari So Good (1947)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 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: 7 minutes)

While on safari, Popeye and Olive run into a Tarzan-like Bluto, who is instantly smitten with Olive. A number of gags involving Bluto and the various jungle animals on his side as he and Popeye are up to their usual hijinks. Some fun to be had here, even if a few gags do get to be a bit predictable (I still had a few good laughs with them, so there is that)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Mary Marshall (Ginger Rogers) has been in prison for three years, but for good behavior, she’s been given a ten day vacation, which she uses to visit her uncle Henry (Tom Tully) and aunt Sarah Marshall (Spring Byington) in Pinehill. On the train ride there, she meets soldier Zachary Morgan (Joseph Cotten), who has been released from the hospital in an attempt to allow him a chance to readjust after a war wound left him shell-shocked. When he finds out she is going to Pinehill, he decides to get off there as well. He stays at the local YMCA, and tries to see Mary later. He is invited to dinner with the Marshall family, who make him feel welcome. Mary and Zach start spending a lot of time together, as she slowly learns about his troubles. However, she keeps her past a secret, particularly on the advice of her aunt and uncle. On New Year’s Eve, Zach invites everyone to a big party at the YMCA, where he starts to show how much he has improved. However, Mary is worried that he plans to propose, and she tries to avoid the question. But how long can it last?

I’ll Be Seeing You was produced by David O. Selznick as one of his first projects with his then-new Vanguard Films production company. It ended up being one of the early movies trying to start dealing with whatever potential after-effects of WWII, with Joseph Cotten’s Zachary suffering from PTSD and trying to figure out how to fit in. Of course, it is exemplified by us hearing his inner monologue at some moments (particularly as he is the only character we can hear the inner thoughts of). Ginger’s Mary, on the other hand, struggles with her own problems, especially considering her imprisonment is one that would anger many today, in the light of the #me-too movement (I’d say how, but I really shouldn’t spoil too much about this movie). Still, she tries to be selfless, up to a point, as she tries to help Zach once she learns about his problems, even concealing her own from him.

Personally, I enjoy this movie as a fun holiday film. Since it is obviously set during the holidays, from right before Christmas to just after New Year’s, it works quite well for two holidays. It is comforting to watch how welcoming the Marshall family is to both Mary and Zach, as they make sure they have Christmas gifts for both of them (even though they know Mary will be going back to prison shortly). Plus, we get them all casually singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” together, giving it a real Christmas feeling. And then with New Year’s, from the party they go to as they prepare to celebrate the new year, we see how both of them, whose dreams had been shattered by the traumas they faced, now start to have a chance at reclaiming those dreams. A new year, indeed.

Overall, I just can’t begin to say how much I enjoy this movie. From the holiday spirit to the performances of both the leads, I can’t help but enjoy watching this movie every now and again. Sure, Shirley Temple, who plays Mary’s cousin Barbara struggles a little in her last scene, but it’s not bad enough to turn me off the movie. Overall, I would easily recommend this film, either for holiday viewing, or any time of the year!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)Ginger RogersMagnificent Doll (1946)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Joseph Cotten – The Killer Is Loose (1956)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Shirley Temple

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!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Now we have one last Christmas movie before the holiday itself, the classic musical Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland!

The story of the movie centers on the Smith family. Youngest daughters “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien) and Agnes (Joan Carroll) are generally up to some mischief, especially on Halloween. Older daughters Esther (Judy Garland) and Rose (Lucille Bremer) are both eagerly looking forward to the upcoming St. Louis World’s Fair, while also trying to gain the attention of the men they are attracted to. Their father, Alonzo “Lon” Smith (Leon Ames), is offered a promotion with his law office that would require the family to move to New York, which he takes them up on, with plans to leave after Christmas.

The film’s origins come from a series of short stories written by Sally Benson. There were eight stories originally published in the New Yorker magazine from June 1941 through May 1942, all based on Sally Benson’s childhood memories of the Smith family’s adventures. They proved so popular that they were compiled into the book Meet Me In St. Louis with four new stories in 1942. MGM producer Arthur Freed liked them, and wanted to do a film musical based on them. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct (after George Cukor had to turn it down when he was called in to serve in World War II). The film was planned all along for Judy Garland, even though she was reluctant to go back to doing a juvenile role after having finally done a few adult roles. It took a bit of work, but she finally came around, and the movie would become one of her best-known roles.

And this is just such a wonderful movie, fun to watch at Christmas or any other time of the year! The music is a mixture of old and new, with the new tunes provided by songwriters Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. Judy obviously gets some of the film’s best songs, such as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Trolley Song” and “The Boy Next Door” (and the latter would be used again ten years later with altered lyrics to reflect a change in gender of the singer in the MGM musical Athena). But the rest of the cast is equally wonderful, with Marjorie Main a little dialed back (well, more than she usually seems to be) as the maid Katie, Lucille Bremer does well as older sister Rose in her film debut (before her career would go downhill very quickly with a few box office bombs), and Harry Davenport as the grandfather just feels like the grandfather you’d always want to have, he’s so wonderful! And I could easily get into more about the cast, but the story is so much fun! Yes, it is a bit episodic in nature, but it works, as it takes place over most of a year. It was already a period film at the time it was made, and boy, do some things seem different (especially like how they celebrated Halloween, which is so different now it’s not even funny)! This movie definitely rates high with me, and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending it!

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

So, to everybody, I hope you “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (and for those that don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays)! I wish you all peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!

Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

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!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Girl Crazy (1943) – Judy Garland – The Harvey Girls (1946)

The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Mary Astor

Lucille Bremer – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Another Thin Man (1939) – Marjorie Main – Murder, He Says (1945)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

It’s certainly time for a holiday celebration, and what better movie than the classic Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pinch Singer (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)

A local radio station holds an amateur talent contest with a $50 prize. The Eagles Club (that’s the Gang) decide to have Darla (Darla Hood) perform, but when she’s late, it’s up to Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) to go on in her place! This was yet another fun short! Some of the fun was in seeing various other kids (not otherwise connected with the Little Rascals) performing to various songs. Of course, with the regular cast, the auditions where Alfalfa attempted to sing (but kept getting the gong), and Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) lip-synching (if you can call it that, since he’s supposed to be whistling) to a record were comic bits that all managed to keep me laughing! There are a few problematic moments, such as Alfalfa wearing blackface as a “disguise” during one of his auditions, and another trio also wearing blackface during their performance. But, realistically, these moments didn’t really detract from this short that much, as I thought it was entertaining throughout (and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it again)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) are a song-and-dance team working together in nightclubs. Jim, who is in love with Lila, has decided to retire from show business, marry Lila, and live on a farm. Lila loves Jim, but she also loves Ted and wants to keep dancing, so she decides to stick with the act. Jim still goes to live on the farm, but his dreams of a lazy life are quickly proven false. So, instead, he comes up with an idea to turn the farm into an inn that is open holidays only (as in, only fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a wannabe singer and dancer, is steered his way by Jim’s former manager, Danny Reed (Walter Abel), and she gets the job at the inn. On New Year’s Eve (when Jim’s “Holiday Inn” opens), Ted learns that Lila has left him to marry a millionaire, and, after getting drunk, makes his way to the inn. Upon his arrival, he dances with Linda, but passes out at the end of the dance. However, the audience appreciated the dance, and the late arriving Danny is ecstatic about the reception to Ted’s “new partner.” However, Danny never saw who Ted’s partner was, and, upon waking up in the morning, Ted doesn’t remember what she looked like, either. Jim (who likes Linda), sees Ted’s reaction of falling for his new partner (even if he doesn’t know who she is or what she looks like), decides to try to hide Linda’s existence at the inn on the next few holidays. However, it’s not enough, and Ted and Danny do find out who she is. However, Ted and Danny want to take her away from the inn, but she’s promised to stay at the inn (and she thinks she is engaged to Jim). So, Ted comes to the inn under the guise of wanting to work with them and “enjoy life’s simple pleasures.” Jim is suspicious of Ted’s motives, which is all but confirmed when, on July 4, he overhears Ted and Danny discussing some Hollywood agents who are coming to the inn to see Ted and Linda perform. Jim tries to keep Linda away, but she still manages to arrive (although after the show). Jim and Linda have an argument and break up, with Linda going to Hollywood with Ted while Jim stays at the inn. The question remains: will her Hollywood success with Ted be enough, or will Jim be able to convince her to return to the inn (and him)?

In 1917, composer Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Smile And Show Your Dimple.” It didn’t enjoy much success initially. At least, not until he repurposed the music for the 1933 Broadway musical revue As Thousands Cheer, in which he gave it new lyrics and a new title: “Easter Parade.” With the song now a hit, Irving Berlin came up with the idea to have a revue based on the various American holidays. On the stage, this idea never got off the ground, but a meeting with movie director Mark Sandrich (who had collaborated with Irving Berlin on three of the Astaire-Rogers pictures) resulted in them pursuing the idea for a film. Since they were both at Paramount Pictures, they wanted to go with the studio’s big musical star, Bing Crosby, and decided to bring in Fred Astaire (who had been freelancing after his contract with RKO had ended a few years before). Big female stars like Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth were considered, but a budget-conscious Paramount had fought hard enough against Fred being cast (since he and Bing were two of Hollywood’s highest paid stars), so they ended up going with some unknowns for the female leads, nightclub dancer Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds (who had up to that point been known for her roles in various Poverty Row Westerns). The resulting film went over well with audiences, with the song “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” becoming a hit at first. The song “White Christmas” (which won Irving Berlin his only Oscar for “Best Song”) became more of a hit over time due to the war and homesick soldiers requesting it on the Armed Forces Radio.

I will readily admit that the song “White Christmas” is one that I enjoy listening to (as long as there isn’t any actual snow on the ground), but I can also definitely say that there are a few other songs and dances that I enjoy in this movie. One of them is the song “You’re Easy To Dance With,” sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale. Amongst Fred’s early Irving Berlin film musicals, it continues the trend of him doing a dancing-related song. He reprised it with Marjorie Reynolds at the New Year’s Eve party, except this time he was drunk (and I do mean drunk, as Fred had two drinks of bourbon before the first take, and one more between each take, with the seventh and final take being what we see in the movie). Even drunk, Fred still proves that he can dance better than others can sober.

Then, of course, there is the more patriotic song “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers” to go along with July 4. This is Fred’s big tap solo in the movie, and he worked with actual firecrackers for it! Apparently, it took about 38 attempts before Fred was satisfied with it, but it is very impressive to watch him do, just the same! Apparently, a little bit of animation was used to further emphasize some of the blasts, but I still have to give Fred credit for trying to pull this one off (and doing pretty well, at that)!

I will admit, this movie is certainly not a perfect one. I personally think that the lyrics for the song “I Can’t Tell A Lie” are rather cringeworthy, and the music itself is rather forgettable. The only redeeming quality with that song-and-dance is the fun of watching the music changing styles and “throwing off” Fred and Marjorie’s characters in their dance (since Bing’s character was trying to stop them from kissing in their dance). Then there’s the song “Abraham,” where the use of blackface really drags it down (and I have a really hard time understanding why Bing did it, especially since he had been so instrumental a few years earlier in getting Louis Armstrong cast in 1936’s Pennies From Heaven). The lyrics don’t help, either, and I certainly appreciate them not being used when the song was brought back for the “not-quite-a-remake” film White Christmas (1954) when Vera-Ellen and John Brascia danced to it. Still, in spite of those flaws, I do like this movie and would definitely recommend trying it out (for any holiday associated with this movie)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

On November 1, 2022, Universal Studios released Holiday Inn (1942) on 4K UHD. Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

My Favorite Blonde (1942)Bing CrosbyRoad To Morocco (1942)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)Fred AstaireThe Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Marjorie Reynolds – The Time Of Their Lives (1946)

Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire (screen team) – Blue Skies (1946)

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!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Susan Slept Here (1954)

As fond as I am of Christmas movies, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (and I thank them for letting me join in on the festivities)! And with that, it’s time for the 1954 comedy Susan Slept Here with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds!

Screenwriter Mark Christopher (Dick Powell) has been in a rut ever since he won an Oscar. On Christmas Eve, one cop (who had consulted on one of Mark’s movies) and his partner bring 17-year-old juvenile delinquent Susan Landis (Debbie Reynolds) to his apartment, since Mark had previously mentioned to the cop that he had wanted to talk to a juvenile delinquent to help come up with a story. They leave her there, with plans to come back the day after Christmas so she doesn’t have to spend the holiday in jail. Susan doesn’t trust Mark (and he’s not thrilled with the idea, either), but after spending part of the night gaining each other’s trust (especially after Susan accidentally causes a fight between Mark and his girlfriend), they start to open up to each other. Mark learns about Susan making her mother go on a honeymoon with her new husband (which she only agrees to after Susan claimed she wanted to marry a guy she knew and her mother gave her written consent). When the police come back quicker than expected, he decides to take Susan to Las Vegas to get married (so that she would have a means of support and not go back to jail). After dancing all night at the clubs, they returned to Mark’s apartment, where he left a sleeping Susan and immediately left to go work on a story at a cabin in the mountains. While he’s away, he tries to have his lawyer get Susan to sign some annulment papers, but she is convinced that she has married the man she loves. The question remaining is whether he will come to the same conclusion?

Personally, I’m of the opinion that this movie qualifies as a Christmas movie. I’ll admit, there is some room for debate, but close to half the movie does take place around that time. And after all, the cops are trying to offer Susan a delay in being arrested to begin with due to the holiday spirit! But it’s still a fun movie to watch any time of the year.

And what a cast! We have Dick Powell as one of the leads (who, at 50, admittedly looks older than the 35-year-old character he’s supposed to be playing), who plays the character as sympathetic, without him ever making any advances. Alvy Moore is fun as Mark’s buddy Virgil, who works for Mark (but doing what, who knows, as Susan calls it when she says it is a “phony job”), and Virgil is certainly a much more lucid character than I’m used to with Alvy Moore, considering he is best known as the ever confused (and confusing) county agent Hank Kimball on classic sitcom Green Acres. Anne Francis is Mark’s fiance Isabella Alexander, who is generally a hoot as the spoiled daughter of a senator, and she spends most of her screen time furious with Susan, either when she answers Mark’s phone or when they meet in person. Comedian Red Skelton gets a quick, silent cameo near the end of the movie.

But Debbie Reynolds is the heart of this movie as Susan Landis, and makes it work so well! From the moment we meet her, when she is screaming and fighting with the cop as he tries to drag her in (and she does it in a way only Debbie Reynolds could do), we see just how she got into trouble (but at the same time, can easily understand why she would be putting up such a fuss). As we get to know her along with Mark, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her by the time the cops come back early. And I know I’m cheering for her when she has the police escort Isabella from the apartment (especially since the cop carrying Isabella out had just had a picture frame purposely dropped on his feet by Isabella only a few moments before). The dream sequence is a little odd, but Debbie makes up for it (even though it has some dancing, I can’t quite call it a dream ballet, as it utilizes Dick Powell, Alvy Moore and Anne Francis besides Debbie, but she is the only one really doing much dancing). As a whole, just a wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime (or any other time of the year)! It may be the type that wouldn’t get made today (and for good reason), but it’s still a lot of fun!

While the Warner Archive Collection had previously made this movie available on DVD, their Blu-ray release a few years back was a wonderful improvement, really bringing out some of the vivid colors! So that would certainly be the way I would recommend seeing this almost-forgotten gem!

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Murder, My Sweet (1944) – Dick Powell

Give A Girl A Break (1953) – Debbie Reynolds – Athena (1954)

Lovely To Look At (1952) – Red Skelton – Ocean’s 11 (1960)

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!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 & An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Bachelor Mother (1939)

Now, to finish out our celebration of the 80th anniversary of 1939 is the classic comedy Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven!

Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a seasonal worker in the toy department at the John B. Merlin & Son department store, who has just been fired the day before Christmas. While on her lunch break trying to find another job, she comes across a baby being left on the doorstep of a foundling home. Running to pick it up, she is discovered and mistaken for the mother. She denies being the mother, and leaves the baby there. However, they come to see her boss, David Merlin (David Niven), who gives Polly her job back. Later, back in her apartment, the baby is delivered to her. In her frustration at being stuck with the baby, she tries to leave the baby with David to be put back in a home, while she goes to try and make some money in a dance contest with her co-worker, stock clerk Freddie Miller (Frank Albertson). David is waiting for her at her apartment, and threatens to fire her if she doesn’t keep the baby. She decides to keep the baby, and she and David start to develop feelings for each other. However, unknown to them, Freddie, who believes David to be the father (due to some of Polly’s comments that he overheard), has tried to tell David’s father, John Merlin (Charles Coburn), that he is a grandfather. Mr. Merlin decides to try and take the baby away when David refuses to be pushed into marrying Polly, which forces her to find a way out of this problem.

Bachelor Mother was Ginger Rogers’ first solo outing after doing The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle with Fred Astaire, which was planned to be their last movie together (and was until they were reunited one final time for The Barkleys Of Broadway a decade later). David Niven was starting to rise after being in many supporting roles, with this movie giving him his first chance as a romantic comedy lead. The story had already been done before in the movies, and the fifties would see a remake, Bundle Of Joy starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. But Bachelor Mother has become the best-known version of the tale, helped by the presence of the leads, along with Charles Coburn as the “grandfather.”

This is a movie I have enjoyed ever since the first time I saw it! So many fun moments! Even though her partnership with Fred Astaire had ended, we still get to see her dancing with co-star Frank Albertson (and, if only because of her, it’s no surprise when they win the dance contest)! And, before I go any further, I should also mention one of her “co-stars” in this movie: Donald Duck! No, it’s not him in animated form, it is instead a group of toy Donald Ducks. Ginger’s character works in the toy department selling these things. It’s definitely fun to see RKO studios connection to Disney at work here (since they were distributing Walt’s films at this time), and see what some of those toys must have been like. Of course, it’s a lot of fun watching David Niven’s character trying to exchange a broken duck at his store incognito (in order to prove to Polly that the store does do exchanges). And there are certainly many more wonderful comedic moments in this movie that make it worth watching, so I definitely have very high recommendations for this movie!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)Ginger RogersFifth Avenue Girl (1939)

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) – David Niven – Magnificent Doll (1946)

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