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 (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

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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 (2018) with… The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950)

Time to dig into one of those forgotten Christmas musicals, the 1950 movie The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady, starring June Haver and Gordon MacRae.

Former vaudevillian Dennis O’Grady (James Barton), is living with his three daughters, Katie (Marsha Jones), Patricia (June Haver) and Maureen (Debbie Reynolds, in her first speaking role).  Katie is married and pregnant, although her father doesn’t know it, but still has to stay with the family because she and her husband couldn’t find a place to stay together.  Patricia has designs to go on stage, like her late mother, but her father objects, believing it was the hard life of the stage that killed her mother.  When Pat meets Tony Pastor (Gordon MacRae), who owns a local theatre, she finds her way on stage, but gets kicked out of the house by her father.

As always, a lot of the fun with this movie is the music and dancing.  Admittedly, most of the music has long been forgotten (I have no idea how much, if any of it, is period music), beyond the title tune which some *might* know, depending upon how well-versed they may be on old Looney Tunes shorts, since I know I have heard Bugs Bunny singing it in one of his.  The dancing, however, provides a lot of the fun, mainly provided by June Haver and Gene Nelson.  Most probably know Gene Nelson for his role as Will Parker in the film version of Oklahoma.  My own opinion is that his dancing in that movie was tamed down (although, to be fair, it works for the character, as a cowboy, as opposed to being a theatrical dancer like he is in Daughter of Rosie O’Grady).  Here, he’s given the chance to show what he can do, with a lot of high-flying leaps and flips, and tap-dancing, as well as some partnered dancing with June Haver.  And of course, I think she keeps up with him pretty well, and has a few good moments of her own, besides playing Rosie O’Grady herself in flashback.

Of course, I have to drag in why this is a Christmas movie!  The last twenty minutes of the movie take place around Christmastime.  We get some reconciliation for the various characters within that time, and see some decorated Christmas trees.  Admittedly, outside of some background music, there is no Christmas music, although “Winter Serenade” at least fits the time of year, as well as actor James Barton (a former vaudevillian himself) doing some “skating” onstage as he performs when asked to do so at the end.

If you can’t tell, this is a movie I enjoy.  Maybe not the absolute best movie ever made, but it is good fun, and one I enjoy revisiting, particularly around Christmastime, so I would recommend it if you get the chance!  The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Gordon MacRae – Tea For Two (1950)

Gene Nelson – Tea For Two (1950)

Debbie Reynolds – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

In The Good Old Summertime (1949) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Tea For Two (1950)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2018) with… Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Here we are again for another Christmas classic!  This time, it’s the 1947 movie Miracle On 34th Street, starring John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and Edmund Gwenn.

Maureen O’Hara plays Doris Walker, a divorced mother who works at Macy’s.  When she has to fire the drunken Santa for the parade, she finds a replacement in the form of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), who does well enough he is hired for the toy department at Macy’s.  While there, he tries to change things, helping out by sending parents to wherever they need to go to help find the toys their kids are asking for.  This works out well for Macy’s, and they institute it for more than just the toy department.  Of course, the fact that Kris Kringle believes he is actually Santa Claus causes some trouble, which results in him being sent to an institution.  At his trial, he is represented by Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris’s boyfriend and neighbor, who must prove that Kris is indeed who he says he is.

I know it’s a favorite thing for some people to complain about how much Christmas stuff is put out in the stores far sooner than it should, or how some people start decorating, listening to music, or other such things a lot earlier, but his movie is, in some respects, a good example of how that problem has been there for a long time.  From what I gather, this movie, a Christmas classic in its own right, was originally released in theaters in early summer (May or June seems to be what I see listed)!  Apparently, the head of 20th Century Fox at that time, Darryl F. Zanuck, figured that the movie would do better if it was released during the summer.  Of course, they tried to minimize the Christmas angle in promoting it, but audiences apparently enjoyed it enough to keep seeing it, even at that time of the year!

I admit, as I get older, I tend to hold less affection for most of the various “Santa Claus” movies.  However, this one is the main exception to that rule.  For me, Edmund Gwenn IS Santa Claus.  I’ve never liked anybody else anywhere near as much in the role.  And apparently, even the rest of the cast in this movie agreed that he was well cast in the role (and apparently, Natalie Wood, who played Doris’s daughter in this movie, didn’t even know he wasn’t Santa until they were finished filming the movie)!  And I certainly found it interesting that the parade at the beginning of the movie was actually the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1946, where Edmund Gwenn was Santa in the parade!  But I do recommend this movie very highly, and would definitely suggest watching it during the holiday season!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939) – Maureen O’Hara

Going My Way (1944) – Gene Lockhart

The Bride Wore Boots (1946) – Natalie Wood – Marjorie Morningstar (1958)

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 (2018) with… All Mine To Give (1957)

Well, it’s December, so it’s time to dig into some Christmas movies!  Of course, I recommend you get out several boxes of Kleenex for this one, the 1957 movie All Mine To Give, starring Glynis Johns and Cameron Mitchell.

We find Robert Eunson (Cameron Mitchell) and his wife Mamie (Glynis Johns) arriving in America, planning to stay in the town of Eureka, Wisconsin with Mamie’s uncle.  They arrive, only to find that her uncle perished in a fire, along with his house.  They decide to stay, but with Mamie pregnant, Robert starts working on trying to rebuild the house.  Everybody from town decides to pitch in and help, allowing the house to be finished sooner.  After she delivers their firstborn, Robbie, father Robert goes to work in a logging camp.  Over time, she gives birth to two more sons and three more daughters.  At this point, I really don’t dare say much more about the plot.

As I said at the start, I very much recommend a good supply of Kleenex for this one.  The first time I saw this movie, I had a VERY hard time with the last half hour (I think), mostly because I spent most of it crying, and trying to pause it for a few minutes, hoping to give myself time to stop, only to resume again when I resumed.  I really can’t say why without spoiling the movie, so you’ll have to watch it to see (and of course, this is the part of the movie that takes place at Christmastime, too).  I would recommend parents of young children to NOT watch it with their kids, as the subject matter may bother them (of course, it’s still your own choice, but I just recommend watching it without them first before you make your decision).

There are some things worth noting here.  I don’t know how many recognize actress Glynis Johns by name, but I can guarantee most have seen her as suffragette Mrs. Banks in the Walt Disney movie Mary Poppins, made nearly seven years later.  And speaking of Mary Poppins, one of her co-stars from that movie, Reta Shaw (Mrs. Brill, the cook) appears here as Mrs. Runyon, one of the town’s richest residents (and a rather arrogant pain in the rear, too, so it is enjoyable seeing the various members of the Eunson family tell her off).  And keep an eye out, too, for Alan Hale, Jr., best known for playing the Skipper on the classic sitcom Gilligan’s Island, as Tom Cullen, the head of the logging camp that Robert works at.

This is a movie I very much recommend if you get the chance to see it, but I would definitely say don’t go into it with it without a good supply of Kleenex (I know I keep saying this, but it is still very much a good idea for this movie). This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 9/10