An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2021) with… Christmas In Connecticut (1945)

We’ve got one last Christmas movie to get through before the holiday itself, so let’s get to it! It’s the 1945 holiday comedy Christmas In Connecticut, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Star In The Night (1945)

(Available as an extra on the Christmas In Connecticut Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 21 minutes, 27 seconds)

On Christmas Eve, a drifter stops in at the Star Auto Court out in the desert, which is run by Nick Catapoli (J. Carroll Naish). Nick is quite cynical about the holiday, but he changes his tune when some of his complaining customers decide to pitch in and help when a young couple arrives (with the wife about to give birth). Very much a (then) modern version of the original Christmas story, with a pregnant couple, no more room at the inn, a group of three men bearing gifts, and others in awe at the event. As such, it is one that I have enjoyed coming back to again and again! A heartwarming tale that is very much in the spirit of the holiday!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After a German submarine blows up their ship, sailors Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) and Sinkewicz (Frank Jenks) find themselves on a raft for eighteen days without food. When they are rescued and taken to a Navy hospital, Jefferson’s dreams of eating good food again are dashed by the doctor’s orders. Listening to his friend Sinkewicz, Jeff decides to play up to his nurse, Mary Lee (Joyce Compton) to get some good food (even going so far as to get engaged to her). When it is almost time for him to be discharged, he tries to renege on his engagement. Mary Lee, feeling that it is because he’s never known a real home, writes to Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet), a big publisher whose granddaughter she had helped nurse back to health. She asks him to have one of his writers, Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck), invite Jeff to her “perfect home” in Connecticut to see what a real home is like (an idea that Yardley approves of). There’s just one hitch: Elizabeth is not what she claims to be. Unlike the persona she tries to put across in her columns, she is not a wife or mother, she can’t cook and she lives in an apartment in New York City. This is a real problem for her and her editor, Dudley Beecham (Robert Shayne), as Yardley absolutely insists on printing the truth. She tries to meet with Yardley and talk him out of it, but only finds herself with yet ANOTHER guest when he invites himself along. Facing the prospect of unemployment, Elizabeth decides to finally accept the marriage proposal of her friend, architect John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner) (even though she doesn’t love him). That gives Dudley an idea, as Sloan lives on a farm in Connecticut, so he suggests they follow through with the idea, and he convinces Elizabeth’s friend and restaurant owner Felix Bassenak (S. Z. Sakall) (who had been supplying her with recipes for her column) to come along and help do the cooking for her. Reluctantly, Elizabeth decides to go along with the idea. On Christmas Eve (the day that Jeff is supposed to arrive), Elizabeth comes to Sloan’s house, where he has brought a judge to marry them. Before they can start the ceremony, Jeff arrives early, forcing them to postpone the ceremony. Upon meeting him, Elizabeth is instantly infatuated with him. He is interested, too, but is unsure of how to react, given that he believes that she is married. Yardley arrives not long after. Over the next two days, Elizabeth is constantly in danger of being revealed as a fraud, as she tries (and fails) to get through a wedding ceremony secretly deals with Yardley pushing her to cook for him, and dealing with different babies on each day (who were actually the kids of local mothers being watched by Sloan’s housekeeper Norah, as played by Una O’Connor). Can she keep up this ruse, or will she be discovered?

At the time that Christmas in Connecticut was made, lead actress Barbara Stanwyck was coming off her success as the villainess Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity, and was looking for a lighter comedy to do. Originally, Bette Davis was to be cast as Elizabeth Lane (a character that was somewhat based on real-life Family Circle Magazine columnist Gladys Taber), but was replaced by Stanwyck only a few months after that initial announcement. Actor Sydney Greenstreet was also looking for a change of pace, as he had mainly been playing various heavies in his previous films. Peter Godfrey, who had been in Hollywood for nearly six years (both on- and off-screen), was given the job of directing the film. He got along well with everybody, particularly Greenstreet (as both had come from the London theatre scene, and spent a lot of time on set entertaining everyone) and Stanwyck (who became friends with the director and would later work with him on the 1947 films Cry Wolf and The Two Mrs. Carrolls). As the war was still going on at the time of filming, studio head Jack Warner tried to cut costs, including re-using a mink coat from Mildred Pierce (1945) and some of the set from Bringing Up Baby (1938) for the Connecticut home. It all worked out for the movie, as it rode a wave of post-war euphoria at the box office, resulting in it being one of the more successful movies that year.

I first saw this film as part of a four-film holiday collection on DVD, and I took to it after that first viewing! It was one of the first (if not THE first) Barbara Stanwyck films that I saw. For me, the whole cast worked quite well, from Stanwyck’s Elizabeth as she navigates trying to appear to be the “perfect wife” like in her column, to Dennis Morgan as the sailor fighting his own nature as he falls for a “married” woman (a no-no in his book), to Greenstreet as the publisher who doesn’t let anybody else get a word in edgewise. And, of course, there is S. Z. Sakall as Elizabeth’s cook friend, who is there to help her out. As usual, he’s a lot of the fun (and this was one of the films that helped me to realize that originally). It’s not a musical by any means, but there are some fun songs here, with Dennis Morgan singing “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” and “The Wish That I Wish Tonight” while Elizabeth decorates a Christmas tree. Overall, the comedy works well, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite moments, that of Elizabeth trying to flip a pancake for the men. After we see her trying(and failing) when practicing earlier with Felix’s help, it’s hilarious to see her succeed in front of all the men (with her eyes closed), only to have a look of satisfaction on her face like it was no big thing. It’s always guaranteed to have me laughing! Ever since the first time I saw it, this movie has become one of my favorite Christmas films, and I have no hesitation in recommending it! Seriously! See it if you get the chance! It’s even better with the one-two punch of this movie and the Star In The Night short that is included with it on the Blu-ray and DVD releases!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video.

With this being 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!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Great Man’s Lady (1942)Barbara StanwyckThe Bride Wore Boots (1946)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Dennis Morgan – Perfect Strangers (1950)

The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Sydney Greenstreet

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Romance On The High Seas (1948)

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 (2021) & “Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

I’m back for one last turn with this month’s Star, and that would be Barbara Stanwyck’s 1946 comedy The Bride Wore Boots, which also stars Robert Cummings and Diana Lynn!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Congratulations It’s Pink (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

The Pink Panther steals a basket from some campers, only to find it has a baby in it and not food.  This is another fun cartoon, with the gags varying between the Panther trying to palm off the baby, and then, once he realizes that he’s stuck with it, how he takes care of it.  I know I get a chuckle out of him “milking” the milk truck like a cow (only for a cow to peek out a moment after he finishes)!  It’s very enjoyable, and one I enjoy coming back to!  The only complaint I have is that the audio seems a bit distorted (at least on the Blu-ray, anyway), although not so bad as to completely ruin seeing it.

And Now For The Main Feature…

After seven years of marriage, Sally (Barbara Stanwyck) and Jeff Warren (Robert Cummings) find themselves at odds over their various interests. Sally is running a horse farm with her partner (and former flame, which certainly bugs Jeff) Lance Gale (Patric Knowles), whereas Jeff doesn’t really like horses (and, although he tries to ride, is frequently thrown by even the gentlest horses). Meanwhile, Jeff is an historian and author of books on the old South, with groups of (mostly older) women who like to have him lecture at their meetings and send him various Civil War artifacts (and Sally resents the feminine interest, regardless of age, as well as the artifacts cluttering up the house). Jeff and Sally still love each other, though, and try to get along. For Christmas, Jeff tries to give Sally a horse named Albert (which he has been told is a good horse), but it turns out that he was suckered into buying an older horse that wouldn’t be able to race (an opportunity that Lance uses to pick on him, before they both fight each other). As her gift to Jeff, Sally tried to give him a desk that belonged to Jefferson Davis, but, she also is humiliated later when a group of women (for whom Jeff will be giving a lecture shortly) bring him a gift of a stuffed Confederate horse, and they reveal it to be a fake. What’s worse, one of their younger members, Mary Lou Medford (Diana Lynn), takes a shine to Jeff and kisses him under the mistletoe. Sally sees this, and threatens to leave him, but he convinces her to go with him to a convention (where he has to give a speech), hoping to make a second honeymoon of it. However, Mary Lou is also there, and kisses him again (which Sally sees). This time, Sally has had enough, and demands a divorce. When Jeff advertises for a secretary to help him write a new book, Mary Lou shows up and gets rid of the other applicants to take the job herself (which Jeff very hesitantly goes along with after she manipulates him). Sally had taken custody of their children in the divorce, but (since she is still in love with Jeff), she decides to send them Jeff’s way to help disrupt Mary Lou’s attempts at seducing Jeff. Meanwhile, the horse Albert has taken a shine to Jeff, and he decides to take up riding, in order to train Albert for the upcoming Virginia Challenge Cup (a steeplechase that Sally and her family had been trying to win for a long time). Of course, Mary Lou doesn’t like this, and arranges for Jeff to go on a lecture tour (and plans to go with him). Seeing this, Sally’s uncle, Tod (Robert Benchley) and her mother, Grace Apley (Peggy Wood), conspire to have her children eat so much as to make themselves sick. When they both hear about the children, Sally and Jeff rush right over. Sally quickly wises up to her mother’s tricks, but she keeps quiet about it since she still loves Jeff. Jeff decides not to go on the lecture tour (which results in Mary Lou breaking up with him), and he decides to ride Albert in the Virginia Challenge Cup, especially when he hears about Lance’s plan to propose to Sally if he wins. But, can Jeff, a very untrained rider, win the Cup and Sally’s heart again?

For what (sadly) turned out to be Barbara Stanwyck’s last feature comedy, she does quite well with her role here! I love how her character tries to love her husband, and yet, it’s hard not to feel for her when we see him go wrong. Of course, she is, in her own ways, rather devious, as she tries to get back at him for the “trouble” he causes. And she is quick to recognize that same quality in others, like when her mother tries to get them her and her husband back together (of course, she wants that, too, so no way will she mention that to her husband 😉 ). She does quite well with the film’s humor, which, to me, makes it disappointing that writers couldn’t come up with anything good comedy-wise for her after this film.

The movie evens qualifies, to some degree, as a Christmas movie, which adds to its appeal for me! Now, I know we’re mostly talking about the Christmas stuff happening in the first half hour before moving on, but it has enough importance to the rest of the film, in between Jeff’s (Robert Cummings) gift of a horse to his wife, the mistletoe (which is the start of his marital woes), and the stuffed horse that comes into play here and there. Of course, the film has more than just Christmas in its favor, as I like the comedic performances, too! Robert Cummings does well with his comedy bits (and, from what I’ve read, even did some of his own stunts in the steeplechase)! Robert Benchley as the Uncle Tod (whom the kids really like) and Peggy Wood as Sally’s (Barbara Stanwyck) mother add to the humor, especially when they get to scheming a little themselves. Willie Best is here, too, in what feels like one of his less-stereotyped roles, which at least doesn’t take away from it. The steeplechase scene does manage to be one of the more amusing horse races I’ve seen (at least for those that stay normal without getting screwy like the Marx Brothers). I will admit, I’ve seen much better horse/horseracing films, but the cast for this one makes it entertaining enough that I would love to keep coming back to it every now and then (especially at Christmastime)! So, yes, recommended by me!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Barbara Stanwyck Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. As usual, this one is sporting an HD scan. This one looks quite good, with most of the dirt and debris cleaned up. There are a few minor instances of scratches and the like, but overall, it’s as good as one could hope for!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Barbara Stanwyck Collection

The Barbara Stanwyck Collection includes Internes Can’t Take Money, The Great Man’s Lady and The Bride Wore Boots. All three films have HD scans that look quite good, outside of minor dust and dirt here and there. I think the set is worth it for all three films, as, while not seemingly among Barbara’s best-known films, each one of them still allows her to give a great performance as part of some very entertaining movies. Easily a worthwhile set to look into!

Whew! Now that we’re done with all that, I can safely say that this ends my month-long celebration of actress Barbara Stanwyck (well, it does for me, as my next posts will be in the month of September)! So join me again on Wednesday, September 1, as I move on to the second-to-last blogathon I am hosting this year (and on my favorite film genre, no less), Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart!

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Christmas In Connecticut (1945)Barbara StanwyckTitanic (1953)

It Started With Eve (1941) – Robert Cummings – Stagecoach (1966)

Road To Utopia (1946) – Robert Benchley

Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) – Natalie Wood – Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

The Great Man’s Lady (1942) – Barbara Stanwyck Collection

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!

“Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

As we keep celebrating Barbara Stanwyck as the Star Of The Month, we’ve got another one of her films where she was paired with Joel McCrea, The Great Man’s Lady from 1942!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinto Pink (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 5 seconds)

The Pink Panther is trying to hitchhike across the country, when he spots a horse and decides to try riding him.  This is a rather funny one, with the main source of humor being the Panther’s failed attempts to get on the horse.  Of course, the horse is stubborn and foils the Panther’s attempts, frequently giving him the horse laugh.  I enjoyed this one from start to finish, and it’s one I don’t mind coming back to every now and then for a good laugh (or several)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

The commemoration of a statue to Ethan Hoyt, the founder of Hoyt City, sends a flock of reporters to the home of Hannah Sempler, an old woman who claims to be connected to Ethan.  However, she turns everybody away.  Everybody, that is, except a young lady (Katharine Stevens) looking to write a biography about Ethan.  So, Hannah decides to tell her life story.  She turns the clock back to 1848, when Hannah (Barbara Stanwyck) met Ethan (Joel McCrea).  At that time, she was a young lady engaged to another man (mostly at her father’s insistence).  Ethan was trying to convince her father to invest in his idea to build a city dedicated to his father out west.  Her father turns him down, but Hannah is thrilled by Ethan and his enthusiasm, so she decides to run away with him and get married.  Everything is rough for them out west, but she takes to being a homesteader as best as she can.  When attempts to raise money for Ethan’s dream of Hoyt City fail, they decide to pack up and go to Sacramento, California.  However, in trying to raise money for the trip, Ethan loses it all to gambler Steely Edwards (Brian Donlevy).  When she sees men taking everything away, Hannah goes to Steely privately to win it all back.  He is instantly infatuated with her, and, although she wins everything back, he accompanies them out to Sacramento.  There, Hannah runs a boarding house, while Ethan works at a mine in Virginia City, trying to find some gold.  One night, Ethan comes back, feeling quite discouraged.  However, as Hannah quickly realizes, his boots are covered in silver, so she borrows some money from Steely so that Ethan can afford to go back and mine it.  Ethan wants her to come with him, but she refuses.  He doesn’t know it yet, but she is pregnant, a fact she is keeping a secret at the moment so that he can achieve his dream of Hoyt City without worrying about her or the baby.  Ethan, of course, is suspicious that she just wants to stay with Steely, and, since she won’t reveal her real reason, he promises not to come back to her.  Later on (after she has given birth to twins), a torrential flood threatens Sacramento, and all the citizens attempt to evacuate. Steely helps get her and the twins on a stagecoach bound for Virginia City, but along the way, a flash flood washes it off a bridge. Steely later finds the now-dead twins and buries them. Since he didn’t find Hannah, he assumes she died as well, and goes to Virginia City to tell Ethan. Upon learning the news, Ethan shoots Steely, blaming him for his wife’s death. Steely survives being shot (although Ethan doesn’t know this), and eventually returns to Sacramento. There, he finds Hannah in her old boarding house, and tells her that Ethan has remarried. She decides to let Ethan believe her to be dead, and goes with Steely to San Francisco. Will Hannah and Ethan ever be reunited? (I’d also ask if Ethan will ever achieve his dreams, but the film’s opening kind of gives that away, so we’ll let that one go.)

The old saying goes “Behind every great man is a great woman,” and, in this movie, that role is definitely being filled by Barbara Stanwyck’s character! In what was the fifth of six collaborations with Joel McCrea, she portrays a woman who falls in love, and continually pushes her significant other to do better and be a better person. Of course, Barbara also shows us the human side of that equation, as we see her struggle with the results of that push, whether it be when she pushes him to go back to the mine (even though she is pregnant), or when she has to stay away, especially after losing her children. I do admit, the early part of the film, when she portrays a teenager, is pushing it a little, but that’s only because she doesn’t look that young (as I’d certainly say that her performance even then is still good). Of course, she also portrays the much older Hannah as well, and, for that, Barbara supposedly studied residents of nursing homes. It worked, as I certainly found her convincing!

The film’s story came from Viña Delmar’s short story “The Human Side,” which had been published in Hearst’s International-Cosmopolitan in 1939. I personally found this movie to be quite riveting, from start to finish! Barbara Stanwyck was certainly the film’s big appeal for me, but I think the rest of the cast worked quite well for me, too! Joel McCrea’s performance as Ethan Hoyt was interesting, since we saw him with his big ideas and dreams for the future. When on his own, he sometimes struggled with his dreams, and was sometimes willing to cut corners, but Stanwyck’s Hannah was there to push him not to take the easy way, and to help nudge him in the right direction. Brian Donlevy’s Steely Edwards was also worth watching, as a gambler (and con) who takes all Ethan’s money, only to meet Hannah, and fall in love with her. Yet, in spite of the presence of the love triangle, he realizes she loves Ethan, and tries to take care of her without trying to take Ethan’s place. This was a very heartwarming (and, to a degree, sad) story, and it’s one I look forward to revisiting in the future! (So, yes, I would recommend it!)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Barbara Stanwyck Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.  This film’s HD scan looks pretty good.  There is some dust and dirt here and there, but it’s very minor, and easily forgotten.  It’s no full-blown restoration, but I’ll take it, as it’s the best this almost forgotten film is likely to appear for some time.  So, I would definitely recommend it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Lady Eve (1941)Barbara StanwyckChristmas In Connecticut (1945)

Sullivan’s Travels (1941) – Joel McCrea – The Palm Beach Story (1942)

The Great McGinty (1940) – Brian Donlevy

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937) – Barbara Stanwyck Collection – The Bride Wore Boots (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!

“Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Lady Eve (1941)

We’re back again for more time with Barbara Stanwyck (our Star Of The Month), and this time, it’s her classic 1941 screwball comedy The Lady Eve, also starring Henry Fonda!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Jet Pink (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 3 seconds)

When the Pink Panther walks onto an experimental aircraft base, he decides to try becoming a famous pilot. This one isn’t quite as much fun as some of the others. Once he gets into the aircraft, it’s then a minute or two mainly of the aircraft going everywhere of its own accord. The short doesn’t really manage to be that funny until he accidentally presses some buttons and gets himself ejected (and then finds out he can fly by himself for a moment before he lands back on the ground). As I said, it has its moments, but this one feels more like one of the lesser efforts for relying too much on the same joke.

And Now For The Main Feature…

After spending a year in the Amazon as part of an expedition, Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) is ready to return home on an ocean liner. As the heir to the Pike’s Ale fortune, he quickly catches the eye of every female on the ship. Among them is con artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck), who is traveling with her father (also a con man), “Colonel” Harrington (Charles Coburn). While they are at dinner, Jean trips Charles, and starts to work her charms on him (so that she and her father can con him out of his money). Her charms work, as he starts to fall hard for her. Much to her surprise, Jean starts to fall for him as well, and has to keep her father from swindling him at cards. Things are starting to look good for Charles and Jean, but his friend (and bodyguard) Ambrose “Muggsy” Murgatroyd (William Demarest) distrusts Jean and the Colonel, and finds out that they are well-known as being cons. Muggsy reveals this information to Charles before Jean can tell him the truth, and Charles breaks things off, breaking Jean’s heart (although she finds some solace in a big check from Charles that she had previously stopped her father from cashing in). At a horse race, Jean and her father run into a con man friend of theirs, Pearly (Eric Blore) (although he is currently going by the alias Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith). When she hears that Sir Alfred knows the Pike family, Jean starts making plans to come visit as his “niece” under the name Lady Eve Sidwich. The Pikes end up throwing a party to welcome Sir Alfred’s niece. There, Charles is once again smitten with her. Muggsy keeps trying to tell him that Lady Eve and Jean are one and the same, but Charles believes that their extremely similar appearance means they can’t possibly be the same person. He falls for “Eve,” and after a while, they get married. However, on their honeymoon trip, Charles gets increasingly jealous and angry as he learns about some of “Eve’s” numerous past relationships, until he decides to get off the train and divorce her. Later on, she feels sorry and wants to get back together, but he won’t have anything to do with her. Can Jean get him to come back to her, or will her heart be forever broken?

When they met on the set of Remember The Night, writer Preston Sturges promised to write actress Barbara Stanwyck a screwball comedy (a genre she wasn’t exactly being cast in due to her screen image). Being that he had decided that that would be the last film he would write (and not direct), he convinced Paramount Studios to let him direct his next script, The Great McGinty (for very little pay). When that and his second film, Christmas In July, turned out to be hits, he was given a bigger budget to work with. He had actually come up with the screenplay for The Lady Eve as early as 1938 (but kept it to himself), and later made changes, utilizing aspects of the story “Two Bad Hats” by Monckton Hoffe, and tailoring it to Barbara Stanwyck’s talent. It took a bit of convincing the studio executives to go for Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda over other actors actually on Paramount’s payroll, but he did it, just the same. The movie turned out to be a hit with audiences and critics, and has become one of Preston Sturges’ best-known films. Paramount tried to remake the film as The Birds and the Bees in 1956, but, without the writer/director (or the cast), that film version failed.

The Lady Eve is a movie that I’ve been hearing about for the last few years, with a lot of high praise being thrown its way. Well, this year I finally got the chance to see it (heck, I’ve actually been able to see it twice this year!), and I will say that it lives up to the hype! Barbara Stanwyck in particular proved that she is indeed quite adept in a screwball comedy. As a scorned con artist, she proves that she can easily fool her intended target (and, quite frankly, if it weren’t for the scenes where her “Eve” is out of character, we the audience would be hard-pressed to figure out whether the two ladies are the same person or two completely different people). I know I enjoyed watching her try to outplay her own father at cards to keep him from taking all of Henry Fonda’s Charles’ money, or seeing her later drive him nuts when her Eve reveals all her “prior relationships” to Charles to make him jealous!

But Barbara Stanwyck is not the only standout in this film, either! Henry Fonda is also amusing, in between all his trips and falls, or being seduced by Barbara Stanwyck’s Jean. As his ever-suspicious friend and bodyguard, William Demarest also manages to be hilarious, especially since he realizes that Barbara Stanwyck’s Jean and Eve are the same person (yet can’t convince anybody else). Eric Blore also adds to the fun as another con (although he’s not in the film as much as I would have preferred). Seriously, this is a wonderful film with a well-deserved reputation as one of the best screwball comedies, and for that reason alone, comes highly, HIGHLY recommended from me!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Lady Eve (1941)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection from a new 4K transfer taken from a 35 mm fine-grain master positive. Overall, the movie looks pretty good. It has some minor issues that keep it from being perfect, but the reality is that the film was held back for a long time on Blu-ray because they were searching for some potentially better elements, but there were none to be found. So, instead of continuing to search for a closer equivalent of perfection, they went with the film elements that were in the best shape. I personally am thrilled with what we got, and would certainly recommend this release as the best way to see this fantastic screwball comedy!

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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

Remember The Night (1940)Barbara StanwyckThe Great Man’s Lady (1942)

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) – Henry Fonda – Mister Roberts (1955)

The Mark Of Zorro (1940) – Eugene Pallette – It Ain’t Hay (1943)

Music In My Heart (1940) – Eric Blore – Road To Zanzibar (1941)

“Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)

As we continue on with more films featuring this month’s Star, Barbara Stanwyck, we’ve got her 1937 film Internes Can’t Take Money, also starring Joel McCrea!

Coming Up Shorts! with… In The Pink (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)

Feeling a little fat, the Pink Panther goes to the gym to work out. This one is really funny, with all the things that the Panther does to exercise (all the while causing trouble for the poor Little Man in the process)! I find many of the gags be quite funny, especially the one with the punching bag and the chicken! Some are predictable, like the “shadow-boxing,” but they don’t take away from what is a very funny cartoon worth coming back to with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At Mountview General Hospital, medical intern Dr. James Kildare (Joel McCrea) is trying to take care of the various people that come to see him. One of his patients is Janet Haley (Barbara Stanwyck), who has come in to take care of some burns. They feel an instant spark for each other, but she faints from hunger as she is about to leave. When she comes to, Dr. Kildare gives her something to drink, and advises her to come back the next day about her burns. Afterwards, Dr. Kildare and the other residents are summoned to Dr. Henry J. Fearson’s (Pierre Watkin) office. There, fellow intern Jim Weeks (Lee Bowman) is fired for performing an experimental operation on a patient that died afterwards (a procedure that he and Dr. Kildare had worked out together, but only Weeks had a chance to do first). Dr. Kildare takes his friend Weeks to the bar across from the hospital. Janet also goes to that same bar, where she tries to talk with gangster Dan Innes (Stanley Ridges). As we find out, her late husband was a crook, and kidnapped their daughter to keep Janet quiet. However, a bank robbery he was involved in went wrong, and he died from being shot (but never revealed the location of their daughter). Janet was sent to prison herself for two years (because she was accused of being his accomplice), and, having been released, was now trying desperately to find her daughter. Innes (who knew her husband) tells her that he might have some information, but it would cost her $1000 (which she doesn’t have). Gangster Hanlon (Lloyd Nolan) walks in the place with a bad knife wound, and Dr. Kildare tries to save him there (since Hanlon’s men won’t let Dr. Kildare take him to a hospital), with Janet’s help. The next day, Janet tries to follow a lead on her daughter (and fails) before trying to talk with Innes again. He still wants the $1000 dollars to give Janet the information, but also offers her up the possibility of sleeping with him to get the information (which she turns down). Due to this detour, she is late to work and is fired. Since she doesn’t come back to Dr. Kildare, he decides to go see her in person and take her a meal. On the way, he stops at the bar, where he is given an envelope by one of Hanlon’s men (which he later finds out has $1000 in it). Dr. Kildare tells Janet about it, but also mentions that he has to give it back (since interns aren’t allowed to accept money). Janet tries to steal the money when she thinks he isn’t looking, but he catches her at it, and is disappointed in her. He gives the money back to Hanlon, who offers to do him a favor if he needs it. Faced with no other choice, Janet reluctantly decides to go along with Innes’s proposition. She has one last appointment with Dr. Kildare about her burns, and she gives him a note explaining things (but asks him to read it later). However, he decides to read it sooner, and, realizing the fix she is in, asks Hanlon to help find her and Innes before they can do anything she might regret. But will Dr. Kildare and Hanlon be in time? Or, for that matter, will Janet be able to find her missing daughter?

This was another captivating performance from Barbara Stanwyck. As a desperate mother and an ex-con, we see her fighting to find her missing daughter. She has her limits to what she is willing to do, but, with hope slowly dissipating as time goes on, those principles are harder to hold onto. In the end, she is willing to sacrifice herself and her own happiness in the hope of having her daughter restored to her (and, with the help of others that she cares for, she finally succeeds).

The story for this film was taken from Max Brand’s story (of the same name) that appeared in Hearst’s International-Cosmopolitan in 1936. This marked the first appearance of Dr. Kildare on film, and it was almost the last, as the box office was lower than expected, resulting in Paramount dropping any possible plans for a series (although MGM thought they could do something with the character and bought the rights, turning it into a successful series at their studio with Lew Ayres cast as Dr. Kildare). Personally, while I have known of the Dr. Kildare films, it’s never been a series that I’ve been interested in. I mainly saw this film because of Barbara Stanwyck’s presence in it (and she certainly didn’t disappoint). I think Joel McCrea did a good job as the doctor, giving us an honest man, who wants to help people (like trying to come up with a better operating procedure for liver operations), and, due to the rules, is unwilling to accept the money that a gangster tried to give him for saving his life (even though he found it tempting). I think that Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea work well together (in what was the third of six films pairing them together), making their onscreen couple work, even with her character’s principles going down the drain as she tries to find her daughter. It’s an interesting start to the overall Dr. Kildare series (although I really only like this cast and am unlikely to dig into any of the Lew Ayres films at MGM). This is one I would certainly recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Barbara Stanwyck Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Like the films in the other collections I’ve reviewed so far, it mainly sports an HD scan (at least, to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge on the subject). For the most part, it looks quite good with very little damage evident onscreen, outside of a few moments here and there. It may not be a full-fledged restoration, but, at the same time, it doesn’t look like it needs one, and is probably the best one can hope for at this time. I certainly think it is worth it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

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

The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932)Barbara StanwyckRemember The Night (1940)

Joel McCrea – Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

 Barbara Stanwyck Collection – The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

“Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932)

Now that we’ve come around to August, with actress Barbara Stanwyck as our new Star, we can get into her 1932 film The Bitter Tea Of General Yen, also starring Nils Asther.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pink Of The Litter (1967)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 1 second)

When a policeman catches the Pink Panther littering, the Panther is forced to clean up the town of Littersburg. This one was fun, with most of the humor coming from the Panther’s failed attempts to get rid of the trash. It’s enjoyable, and you certainly can’t help but cheer when the Panther figures out how to get rid of the trash! I don’t think this is the Panther at his absolute best, but it’s certainly one of the better ones, and worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In Shanghai, China, a group of missionaries get together to celebrate the wedding of fellow missionary Dr. Robert Strike (Gavin Gordon) and his childhood sweetheart (who has just arrived in China) Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck). However, the area is rife with civil war, and Robert decides to delay the wedding so that he can help rescue some orphans. Megan quickly volunteers to help him out, and they go to see General Yen (Nils Asther), so that Robert can get a safe passage pass for the area. However, the general writes in Chinese (which Robert still hasn’t learned well), effectively making fun of him for trying to rescue orphans instead of enjoying the company of his future-wife. When Robert and Megan try to get the orphans away, the crowd gets violent, and they are both knocked out. Megan awakes on a train, being cared for by General Yen’s mistress, Mah-Li (Toshia Mori), as they and the general go to his summer palace. When she awakes again at the palace, it is to the sound of gunshots, as the general is having his prisoners shot. She goes to him to protest the brutality, but he tells her that his other option is to let them starve to death, for lack of food that he can give them. General Yen’s financial advisor, Jones (Walter Connolly), lets him know he raised nearly six million dollars (which is currently hidden in a nearby boxcar), and tries to convince the general to send Megan back to avoid trouble (to no avail). After a dream, Megan finds herself falling for the general. However, trouble arises when the general discovers that Mah-Li has been spying on him with the help of one of his men, Captain Li (Richard Loo), and orders Mah-Li to be executed. Megan won’t have it, and the general pushes her to put her beliefs to the test, by taking Mah-Li’s place if she should prove traitorous again. And sadly, Mah-Li does, revealing the location of the general’s money to his enemies. However, in spite of losing everything, the general can’t bring himself to take Megan’s life. Can the two of them be together, or will the general’s misfortunes be the end of him?

The Bitter Tea Of General Yen was based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Grace Zaring Stone. The film was a project that director Frank Capra wanted to do (as he was in search of an Oscar at the time), and he got it when a previous director assigned to the property was fired. It was Capra’s decision to cast actress Barbara Stanwyck in the lead, after having worked with her previously on three films. For the role of the general, he didn’t want a big star made-up to look Chinese, so he went with a lesser-known Swedish actor in Nils Asther. Capra made sure to rehearse the other actors a lot, but not Barbara Stanwyck, as he felt she did better with fewer rehearsals. The film famously was the first to play at Radio City Music Hall, although its engagement there was cut short when it didn’t do good business. As a whole, the film failed at the box office, a fact blamed on the film’s interracial romance, which audiences didn’t care for (and sadly for Capra, the film didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar, either). It’s only been in recent years that the film has received a more positive reception.

So far, I would say that this movie is the earliest Barbara Stanwyck film that I have had the opportunity to see. And her performance in this movie is quite fascinating. Her character starts off the movie as an eager missionary, looking to marry and help her childhood friend (even willing to postpone her wedding to help him out with his work). However, life takes an unexpected turn, as she finds herself dealing with a Chinese general. As her erotic dream about him indicates, she certainly has some racist beliefs about the Chinese, but the general starts to work away at some of them. In the process, he even pushes her on how much her religious convictions are actually worth when put to the test. Of course, the movie’s ending is slightly ambiguous as to what will actually happen to her, but it’s interesting to see how Barbara’s performance even then is worth seeing!

This is a movie I wanted to see as much because it was directed by Frank Capra, and Barbara Stanwyck’s presence certainly didn’t hurt it! I do think that all the performances in this movie worked, as we got to know the various characters. Sure, there is some stereotyping going on, some because of the times (mostly like a white actor portraying a Chinese man), and others on purpose (like the racist image in Megan’s dream that gives way to her erotic feelings about the general). It’s definitely more of an “artsy” type of movie, but I found myself so fascinated by the story being told that I didn’t mind it. It was a nice way to start off celebrating Barbara Stanwyck for the month, with one of her pre-Codes (and I certainly hope I get the chance to see more as time goes on), and I would certainly recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Entertainment. To be fair, the Blu-ray for this movie barely qualifies as a new release for 2020. The movie actually made its Blu-ray debut back on August 1, 2017 (with the exact same transfer). That release was a part of the “Sony Choice Collection” line of MOD Blu-rays. However, a common complaint was that those were BD-Rs, not pressed Blu-rays (and this film ended up being the last one released as part of that line). Since then, Sony paused their MOD releases for a while, and then resumed with a few changes. For one, they were no longer under any special kind of brand, and, for another, they were pressed Blu-rays. Over time, they started re-releasing titles from their “Sony Choice Collection,” except now on pressed Blu-rays (and still utilizing the same transfers), with The Bitter Tea Of General Yen getting its re-release on September 22, 2020. But, enough about that. The transfer is a beautiful thing to behold, with all the detail and the properly cleaned-up picture. Certainly well worth it for that reason alone!

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

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

Barbara StanwyckInternes Can’t Take Money (1937)

Walter Connolly – It Happened One Night (1934)

TFTMM Presents “Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck

Well, August has arrived, and that means that we’ve moved onto actress Barbara Stanwyck as the Star Of The Month!

Table Of Contents

Quick Film Career Bio

Birth: July 16, 1907

Death: January 20, 1990

Ruby Catherine Stevens (who had adopted the stage name Barbara Stanwyck, a combination of the first name of a play called Barbara Freitchie, The Frederick Girl, and the last name of an actress from the play, Jane Stanwyck), made her first movie appearance in the 1927 silent Broadway Nights. She had had the opportunity to play the lead, but, due to her inability to cry during her screen test, she didn’t get the part (and instead made a minor appearance as a fan dancer). She tried again with the sound films The Locked Door and Mexicali Rose, but it was her working with director Frank Capra in Ladies Of Leisure that helped give her a boost. After that, she had a few big roles in various pre-Code films, such as Night Nurse, Baby Face and The Bitter Tea Of General Yen. Even with the rise of the Code, she continued to make an impression in dramatic roles, including Stella Dallas (for which she received her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress) and Union Pacific.

While making Remember The Night, she became friends with writer Preston Sturges, who saw comic potential in her that hadn’t been tapped yet. He wrote the screwball comedy The Lady Eve, which became a big hit and proved her comedic abilities. That same year, she followed up with another big comedy, Ball Of Fire opposite Gary Cooper (for which she was again nominated). But, it was a few years later when she played one of her best-known roles in the film noir Double Indemnity opposite her Remember The Night co-star Fred MacMurray (and was nominated a third time). Over the next few years, she continued to do comedies, thrillers, noirs and westerns.

In the 1950s, her film career started to slow down, so she switched over to television. For the most part, she just made guest appearances on various TV series, including Wagon Train, The Untouchables, and Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre. In 1961, she had her own short-lived drama series (if you can call one season of 36 episodes “short-lived”) called The Barbara Stanwyck Show, which earned her an Emmy Award. She made a few last appearances on the big screen, before making a mark on the hit western TV series The Big Valley. She made a few other appearances in TV movies and shows before making the 1983 mini-series The Thorn Birds. She finished out her run with a guest appearance on Dynasty and spun off her character into The Colbys, which turned out to be her final role, as she died several years later.

Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from her filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of August, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of her films even beyond this month’s celebration.

The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932)

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)

Remember The Night (1940)

The Lady Eve (1941)

The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

Christmas In Connecticut (1945)

The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

Titanic (1953)

Crime Of Passion (1957)

Entries For This Month

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –

The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932)

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)

The Lady Eve (1941)

The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

Rules:

Since this blogathon lasts a month, I’ll keep the rules here in case anybody is still interested in joining in:

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, whether it be any of their films, or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (I’m still unsure of how much space I will have to work with over time on pictures, so for now I am doing one each).

Announcing the Barbara Stanwyck “Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Blogathon

As we keep things going, I’m just here to remind everybody that, as my schedule has been indicating, next month’s Star will be none other than actress Barbara Stanwyck! So, if you want to join in on the month-long celebration, be sure to sign up on this post!

Table Of Contents

My Own Feelings On Barbara Stanwyck

For me, I was more or less introduced to Barbara Stanwyck via her holiday classic Christmas In Connecticut (well, it was either that or Remember The Night). While I liked both films, neither of them was necessarily enough to start me looking into more of her films. That would happen more or less as a byproduct of seeing different movies getting a Blu-ray release in the time since I upgraded to the format. Since then, I have seen several more of her films. While my feelings on some of those films themselves have been mixed, I’ve been impressed with her performances. So, I’m looking forward to digging into her filmography a bit more through this blogathon, both through the (mostly new-to-me) movies I will be reviewing, as well as what other films anybody else decides to talk about! So, I hope that I will indeed be joined by others in this endeavor!

Upcoming Schedule For 2021 (Beyond August):

September – genre: Musicals

October – nothing

November – star: Humphrey Bogart

December (1-24) – genre: Christmas films

December (25-31) – nothing

Roster For The Barbara Stanwyck “Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Blogathon

Since this is obviously for next month’s blogathon on Barbara Stanwyck, then that’s all you need to worry about signing up for. As always, here are the rules that we are working with.

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, whether it be any of their films, or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (I’m still unsure of how much space I will have to work with over time on pictures, so for now I am doing one each).

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man

  • The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932), Internes Can’t Take Money (1937), The Lady Eve (1941), The Great Man’s Lady (1942) and The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

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)

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!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Titanic (1953)

Time to revisit that fateful night in April, 1912, for the sinking of the Titanic. No, this isn’t the 1997 film, it’s the black-and-white 1953 version, starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and Audrey Dalton.

Well, we all have enough of an idea about the sinking of the Titanic, so I’ll keep my story comments to the Sturges family, which is what this movie focuses on. Julia Sturges (Barbara Stanwyck) gets on the ship with her children, Annette (Audrey Dalton) and Norman (Harper Carter). She is trying to get away from her society-climbing husband Richard (Clifton Webb), so she can go back to America and raise her children to not be snobs. However, Richard finds out and gets on the ship by buying a ticket from another passenger. He finds her, but she is determined to go on with her plan. The kids are another matter, since she hadn’t told them her plan, and her daughter decides she will return with her father. As they fight, it is discovered that Norman is not Richard’s son, but the result of a brief moment of infidelity for Julia, which results in Richard pushing himself away. Of course, everything changes when the ship hits that infamous iceberg.

I am mainly coming off my first viewing of this movie, but I did enjoy it. I mainly saw it because of actress Barbara Stanwyck. I have only seen a few of her movies so far, but I have liked her in all of them, so I felt it was worth trying out. I certainly enjoyed her performance, and it seems she has received a lot of praise, especially for the sequences when they were loading the women and children on the boats (and apparently, when they filmed it, it really hit her just what it must have been like for the people who were actually on the ship, as opposed to just reading or hearing about it, since the tragedy did occur when she was a little girl herself).

Now, it is hard to discuss this movie without at least comparing it some to the currently better known film from 1997. The effects here were a lot more practical than the ’97 film, as they used small models of the boat. However, it is really difficult to tell, and I think that it holds up better here than the CGI used in the ’97 film, which at this point certainly looks a lot more dated as computer technology continues to improve. And of course, as I said, the ’53 version is black-and-white, but that shouldn’t stop people, as the movie itself still looks wonderful, and I certainly think it works. The ’53 film version is a lot more family-friendly than the ’97 version (and is much shorter, too, clocking in at one hour, thirty-eight minutes, which works very much in its advantage). I don’t know how accurate it is (obviously, the Sturges family is fictional, and the “unsinkable” Molly Brown is here renamed Maude Young, probably due to some issues getting the rights from her estate), and I assume some things were discovered when they finally found the ship on the ocean floor back in the 1980s.  However, THIS is the version I like, and I would recommend it very much to anybody that is curious about it!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Bride Wore Boots (1946)Barbara StanwyckCrime Of Passion (1957)