“Screen Team (Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers) Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Ginger Rogers in… Forever Female (1953)

Well, since it’s July already (with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as my featured Screen Team Of The Month), then I’d like to continue the “ladies first” trend with a look into one of Ginger’s solo films! In this case, that would be the 1953 drama Forever Female (partly adapted from James M. Barrie’s 1912 play Rosalind), also starring William Holden and Paul Douglas!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Born To Peck (1952)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 38 seconds)

An elderly Woody Woodpecker looks back on his life as a baby. This one was decently entertaining. It’s one of the few that I’ve seen that really emphasized Woody as a woodpecker, with everything that he keeps pecking on (although it becomes a bit of a one-joke cartoon in that regard). It’s hard not to feel for his father, who tries to take care of him (only for Woody to keep picking on him). I do like one of the final jokes, about Walter Lantz wanting to keep him around (when the elderly Woody attempts to commit suicide), as well as Woody trying to start pecking in a petrified forest (and you can guess what happens there). It’s a bit different, but it’s still one of his weaker ones (although it provided enough laughs that I’m willing to come back to it every now and then).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Broadway star Beatrice Page (Ginger Rogers) has just opened in a new play, No Laughing Matter, which was produced by her ex-husband, E. Harry Phillips (Paul Douglas). After the show’s opening night, Beatrice and Harry spend time at Sardi’s restaurant (joined by her current beau, George Courtland IV, as played by George Reeves) while they await the reviews. When the newspapers arrive, they find out that all the critics are blasting the play itself (while consistently praising Beatrice’s performance as the only positive of the show). While they are there, talent agent Eddie Woods (James Gleason) brings in his client, a new playwright named Stanley Krown (William Holden). Eddie tries to sell them on Stanley’s play, but Stanley can’t resist telling off Beatrice for her lack of humility before he leaves for his current job. He leaves his play, The Unhappy Holiday, with them, and Harry reads it overnight. The next day, Stanley comes to Beatrice’s apartment to get his manuscript back. Harry admits that he likes the play (which is about a nineteen-year-old pianist and her controlling mother), but since he only produces plays for his “twenty-nine-year-old” (otherwise translated, middle-aged) ex, Beatrice, he can’t use it as it is currently written. Instead, they suggest rewriting the play to make the younger girl twenty-nine years old so that Beatrice could play the part. Stanley objects at first, but Harry and Beatrice convince him to make the change. So, with Beatrice cast as the “younger” girl, Harry and Stanley set about to cast the mother, but have trouble finding somebody at the auditions. To their surprise, a young girl named Sally Carver (Pat Crowley) comes to audition for the role of the young nineteen-year-old girl (even though they try to tell her the part has been rewritten and cast). They try to leave her, but she later catches up to Stanley and reveals that she knew his original play because she had been employed at the agency that typed it up for him. Sally tries to convince him to go back to the play as it was originally written, but Beatrice, who is interested in Stanley herself, persuades him to keep the changes. Eventually, Beatrice gets Eddie to offer Sally a job in another show (out of town, of course). Later on, as the show gets close to its premiere date, Sally returns and, after watching a rehearsal, once again tries to get Stanley to see that the play is no good as it is. However, he still refuses to go back to his original play. When it finally opens, though, Sally is proved right. Beatrice still thinks there is hope, and encourages Stanley to keep working on it while she takes a vacation in Europe. While she is gone, Stanley and Harry hear about a small troupe that is performing Stanley’s original play, and go to see it. They discover that Sally is in it (playing the part she originally insisted she should play), and the audience likes it that way. Of course, the question remains: can Stanley convince Beatrice that she is indeed too old for the part, or will she get her way?

Since I pretty much reviewed all of the Ginger Rogers films I had on disc back in late 2019 and early 2020 (apart from six of her films with Fred Astaire), I knew that I wanted to look into a film of hers that I hadn’t seen in preparation for my Astaire and Rogers Screen Team Of The Month feature. Forever Female fit the bill (which worked for me, since it was a movie that I’ve wanted to see for some time). It’s a film that I’ve seen compared to the likes of Sunset Boulevard (1950) and All About Eve (1950) due to its subject matter (but I’m not in a position to compare it myself, since I haven’t seen either of those films yet). I find that Forever Female was a very entertaining film, and Ginger Rogers was certainly worth seeing in it. Her performance as a middle-aged woman who was pretending to be twenty-nine to continue to get younger roles worked quite well (much better even than some of her earlier roles where she was dressed up to look like a child, such as The Major And The Minor). I do think that the writing is where the movie fails her a little bit, however. SPOILER ALERT Considering her character, when she goes off on her “vacation” (which is really her chance to go to her own home and act her own age), I thought that her being obsessed slightly with her own youth was a little too much of a sexist female stereotype. Personally, I would have thought that, especially for a character involved with the theater, that audience appeal would have mattered more (since it seems like actresses have always struggled a bit more than men to get roles as they get older). END SPOILER ALERT Of course, I will also say that the rest of the cast worked pretty well here, too, in support of Ginger. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but I certainly enjoyed it. For that reason, I would certainly recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Perfect Strangers (1950)Ginger RogersBlack Widow (1954)

William Holden – Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

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: Screen Team & “Star Of The Month (June 2022)” Featuring Frank Sinatra in… Some Came Running (1958)

For my second and final post on Frank Sinatra (my June 2022 Star Of The Month), I’m going with his other 1958 film. That, of course, would be Some Came Running, which also stars Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Woody Woodpecker Polka (1951)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker wants to get in to the barn dance for the free food, but Wally Walrus, the ticket taker, won’t let him in without paying. So, Woody decides to dress up as a lady to get in free! This one was interesting, but, at the same time, very similar to the earlier Chew-Chew Baby, with Woody dressing up as a girl to get some easy food. The main difference here is the song “The Woody Woodpecker Polka,” sung by the Starlighters during the opening credits and through part of the short itself. There are a few laughs to be had, but, at the same time, I’ve certainly seen better from Woody before this.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Recently discharged from the army, former writer David Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) finds himself on a bus to his hometown of Parkman, Indiana after a night of drinking. He discovers that he has been accompanied by Ginnie Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), whom he had invited along in his drunken state. Still confused by everything, he gives her money to go back to Chicago and then goes off to check into a hotel. Even though he hasn’t been in Parkman for sixteen years, word gets around town that he is back, with his older brother, Frank Hirsh (Arthur Kennedy), being one of the last to find out. Frank goes to see David and tries to invite him to dinner with his family. Initially resistant to the idea, David finally agrees to join them later. In the meantime, he goes to Smitty’s Bar and Grill, where he meets gambler Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), who invites David to join him and some buddies in the back room later that evening for a game of poker. When David joins Frank at his home, they discover that Frank’s wife, Agnes (Leora Dana), has invited Professor Robert Haven French (Larry Gates) and his daughter, Gwen (Martha Hyer) to join them for dinner. David is smitten with Gwen, but she is only interested in critiquing his writing and spurns his advances. After David and Gwen part, he joins Bama for that game of poker. He finds that Ginnie has stayed in town, but has been followed there by her abusive ex, Raymond Lanchak (Steven Peck), who picks a fight with David (and loses, especially when the police get involved). The next day, Frank gets on David’s case about the fight and what it means for Frank’s reputation in town, while also admitting to paying for David’s bail. David later goes to the home of the Frenches, where he shares his unfinished story with Gwen. She likes it, and recommends that he submit it for publication. He tries to flirt with her again, but she turns him down. After several further failed attempts at romancing her, David decides to go on the road with Bama to various other cities for gambling purposes, along with Ginnie and Bama’s girlfriend. At a bar in Terre Haute, David discovers his niece, Dawn (Betty Lou Keim), who is out on a drunken binge in order to get back at her father (whom she had secretly caught making out with his secretary). David helps her get a bus ticket to go back home, advising her to avoid making any major life changes until he gets back. Throughout the trip, David unsuccessfully attempts to call Gwen, until she hears good news from the publisher about his story, and finally starts to soften up towards him. However, that is short-lived, when Ginnie comes to visit her secretly, and reveals that she had been on the trip with Dave and Bama (which causes Gwen to decide not to see David any more). Meanwhile, Bama had gotten into trouble on the trip when a sore loser gambler picked a fight with him. Although the resulting injury wasn’t serious, Bama learns from a doctor that his lifestyle needs to change because he has diabetes, which leaves David worried about his friend. With Gwen refusing to see him or go out with him, David starts to consider Ginnie, who has been there for him all along, and reluctantly decides to marry her. With this decision increasing the divide between him and Bama, not to mention all the other troubles with David’s family, will everything end in tragedy, or will they be able to come together?

With James Jones’ debut novel From Here To Eternity proving to be a best-seller with his readers and an equally big hit when adapted to the big screen, he of course wanted to keep writing. For his follow-up, he wrote Some Came Running, which was published in 1957. After seeing the success that Columbia Pictures had with the earlier film, MGM bought the film rights to Some Came Running close to a year before it was even published. When it was published (at a length of 1266 pages), it wasn’t received as well by the critics, but MGM stuck to their guns. Producer Sol C. Siegel at first pondered Glenn Ford for the starring role, but decided to go with Frank Sinatra instead (since the earlier film had been such a big hit for him in particular). Frank, in turn, brought in Dean Martin to play Bama, and suggested Shirley MacLaine for the role of Ginnie. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct the film, and it took a lot of work to get the overly long story condensed into a shorter, more cinematic form. A lot of filming took place in Madison, Indiana at first, before returning to the soundstages to finish up the film. Upon release, it was received well critically (with several Oscar nominations, particularly Shirley MacLaine for Best Actress), and audiences took to it as well (although not enough to offset the high costs of filming it).

Honestly, it was mostly a coincidence that I ended up going with both of Frank’s 1958 movies for this month (owing as much to the idea that they were the only two films of his that I have on physical media and hadn’t reviewed yet). This was my first time seeing Some Came Running, and I have to admit that I liked it! It’s only their first film together, but Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin both work together quite well! It’s definitely more dramatic than any of their later pairings that I’ve seen, but they both show that they can handle it quite easily! Now, it really should be said that very few characters in this film are that likable, and this applies especially for the men. Frank’s David is very aggressive towards Martha Hyer’s Gwen in that he constantly ignores her rejections and her pleas to let her be. Dean’s Bama is definitely very sexist, and neither of them treats Shirley MacLaine’s Ginnie very kindly for most of the film. Honestly, Gwen and Ginnie are the only two characters for whom I really feel any sympathy. Still, I think everybody did quite well here with their performances. I will admit that I prefer some of the later, more comedic pairings for Frank and Dean, but this film is still good enough that I would recommend it highly!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Some Came Running (1958)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection utilizing a transfer from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Put simply, it’s a typical Warner Archive Blu-ray, with good color, great detail and an image cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris. In short, the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 2 hours, 16 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Kings Go Forth (1958)Frank SinatraNever So Few (1959)

Road To Bali (1952) – Dean Martin – 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!

The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration (2022) with… Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)

Well, since I revealed my shared birthday with Clark Gable last year, I have decided to rechristen today’s special once-a-year post as being part of my new series The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration (with the previous reviews of Clark Gable films on this day to be included)! Under this new series, we shall start off with the classic 1935 Clark Gable movie Mutiny On The Bounty, also starring Charles Laughton!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pitcairn Island Today (1935)

(available as an extra on the Mutiny On The Bounty Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 39 seconds)

As narrated by Carey Wilson, we get a quick history of the journey of the mutineers from the Bounty. After that, we see what things were like (at the time this short was made) on the island of Pitcairn. Numerous descendants of the mutineers still remained on the island, living a simple life. There was some footage borrowed from the 1933 film In The Wake Of The Bounty. It’s an interesting short (and one that was made to help promote the 1935 movie Mutiny On The Bounty), but it’s not one that I feel the need to revisit at any point soon.

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s December of 1787, and the ship H. M. S. Bounty of the British navy is anchored in Portsmouth Harbour, England. Preparations are underway for a two-year trip to the Tahitian islands to collect some breadfruit trees (needed in the West Indies as a relatively cheap source of food for slaves). Press gangs led by Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) help fill out the crew, and Roger Byam (Franchot Tone) is sent along as a midshipman by Sir Joseph Banks (Henry Stephenson), who hopes that Roger will be able to help compile a Tahitian dictionary for him. When Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton) comes on board the ship before they sail, he orders the whole crew to observe a “flogging through the fleet” of a man who struck his captain. The man is dead by the time he gets to their ship, but the captain gives the order to have him flogged, just the same. Once the ship is under way, Captain Bligh strongly maintains discipline on the ship. He underfeeds the men and is quick to have punishment administered even to those who call him out for his own greed and fraud. This angers Christian, and the two are almost at each other’s throats when they arrive at Tahiti. There, they are met by the island’s chief, Hitihiti (William Bambridge), who had met the captain when he was on Captain Cook’s ship that arrived there nearly a decade earlier. The captain orders all the men to harvest the breadfruit trees or work on the ship, with Christian in particular not being granted shore leave. Due to Roger’s commission on the Tahitian dictionary, he is allowed to go ashore and live with the chief while he works. He falls in love with the chief’s daughter, Tehani (Movita Castaneda), and the chief is able to wrangle a day’s shore leave for Christian (who falls in love with Maimiti, played by Mamo Clark). Once they have harvested all the breadfruit they need and gotten the ship ready, everybody prepares to leave. Bligh immediately orders the discipline of some men who tried to desert, and requires everyone see it. The problem is that the ship’s drunken surgeon, Bacchus (Dudley Digges), has taken ill, and falls over dead when the captain insists that he be present instead of resting in bed. This incident and further punishment of the deserters is the breaking point for Christian, who leads many of the men in mutiny. Instead of killing the captain, Christian forces him and some of his supporters into a ship’s launch with provisions, and leaves them for dead. Roger and some others didn’t support the mutiny, but were stuck on the ship because there wasn’t enough room for them on the launch. Christian orders the Bounty to return to Tahiti, where the men enjoy their new homes and families. Meanwhile, the determined Captain Bligh helps steer the boat to a hospitable land over a period of nearly fifty days. On Tahiti, Christian and Roger manage to repair their friendship, but things change for everyone when a ship is sighted offshore. Christian and most of the other mutineers and their families get on the ship and leave, while Roger and some others who hadn’t mutinied stay behind. The ship, the Pandora, is captained by Bligh, who has Roger and the other men arrested for mutiny (regardless of whether they were guilty or not). He tries to hunt Christian and the others down, but only manages to run the ship aground. The survivors are taken back to England, where Roger and the mutineers are court-martialed. Will Roger be able to convince the court of his innocence, or will the vengeful Captain Bligh be successful in having him executed?

In real life, there was indeed a ship called the Bounty back in the late 1700s captained by a man named Bligh where the crew mutinied after a visit to Tahiti. That event inspired many tales, and the movies were not immune to telling the story, with an Australian silent film among the earliest in 1916. In the early 1930s, authors Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall borrowed from the legends to write a trilogy of books (Mutiny On The Bounty, Men Against The Sea and Pitcairn’s Island) on the subject. Frank Lloyd bought the film rights to the novels, hoping to direct himself as Bligh, and film it on a replica of the ship during an ocean trip to Tahiti. He sold the rights to MGM, where producer Irving Thalberg was able to convince him to direct it while abandoning his thoughts of starring in it and filming on an ocean trip. They wanted Clark Gable for the role of Fletcher Christian, but he didn’t want to do it, in between hating the period costume and being forced to shave off his mustache. Thalberg was finally able to convince him to take the role with a promise that Gable wouldn’t have to take another part he didn’t want if the movie didn’t become his biggest hit. For the role of Captain Bligh, they wanted somebody who didn’t get along with Gable off-screen to help bring out the hostilities between the characters onscreen. They first asked Wallace Beery, but his hatred for Gable was so much that he didn’t like the idea of being stuck with him for the long location shoot. Instead, they were able to get Charles Laughton, whose lifestyle and acting style caused tension between the two. It worked out well for everybody, with the film being one of the highest grossing movies of the year, and all three leads were nominated for Best Actor that year at the Oscars (but the film’s only win was for Best Picture). Plans were made (at one point or another) for two potential sequels (one following Captain Bligh, and another following Fletcher Christian), but nothing came of that. MGM remade the film in 1962 with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard, which was nowhere near as well-received, and the story was told again in 1984 with The Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins (although that version was based on a different source than the Nordhoff and Hall novels) which was more historically accurate but still not as well-liked by audiences.

I first saw this movie about fifteen years ago (give or take a few years) when my family was renting DVDs from Netflix. At that time, I didn’t really take to the film (a combination of my taste in film at the time, not having developed an interest in Clark Gable much beyond Gone With The Wind and a DVD with a bad spot that froze up). I didn’t completely hate it, though, so there was a part of me that wanted to try it again at some point. I finally got around to seeing it again within the last year, and I now find it to be a much more enjoyable film than before! I like Clark Gable’s performance as the more sympathetic-to-his-men Fletcher Christian, especially as we see the cruelty of Captain Bligh slowly but surely get under his skin until he decides to take over the ship. And as Captain Bligh, Charles Laughton gives an equally great performance as the film’s villain, making it very easy to side with Gable’s Christian in the mutiny, even as he gains our sympathy a little when he actually takes care of his men when they are set adrift in the small boat. I’ll admit, it’s hard not to also think of The Caine Mutiny when watching this movie, given their similar concepts. Of course (and this is certainly a bit of a SPOILER for Caine and, to a lesser degree, Bounty), Caine leaves room to question whether the mutiny should have taken place, especially when Bogart’s Captain Queeg seems to be mentally unbalanced. Bounty leaves no room for question, as we see from the start that Laughton’s Captain Bligh is a cruel man without the slightest qualms about his actions, and therefore, his crew should have mutinied. Now, I will grant you, Mutiny On The Bounty is not historically accurate, most of which comes from the novels (which, as I said, drew from the legend and made Captain Bligh much more of a villain than was apparently the case in real life). Still, it’s a very entertaining movie, and one that I’ve come to appreciate more with time! Certainly a great film that I would definitely recommend!

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

Film Length: 2 hours, 13 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Sign Of The Cross (1932) – Charles Laughton – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939)

It Happened One Night (1934)Clark GableSan Francisco (1936)

Dancing Lady (1933) – Franchot Tone – Nice Girl? (1941)

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) with… Since You Went Away (1944)

Continuing on with another film for the holiday season, we’ve got the 1944 movie Since You Went Away, starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Monty Woolley, Lionel Barrymore and Robert Walker!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Psychedelic Pink (1968)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)

The Pink Panther walks by a psychedelic book store, and comes inside after being hypnotized by the door. A lot of weird stuff happens in this one (although that’s not too surprising, given the hypnotism). It leans a bit into the look and feel of the era, which dates this a little bit. Some of the gags with the books and letters are decent, but this is not one of the better Panther cartoons (even if the Little Man does sport a slightly different look than usual because of the facial hair).

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s January, 1943. Advertising executive Tim Hilton has just left to join the Army, leaving behind his wife Anne (Claudette Colbert) and their two daughters, Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Bridget “Brig” (Shirley Temple). Without his income, they find themselves letting their housekeeper Fidelia (Hattie McDaniel) go, and, at Brig’s suggestion, they decide to take in a boarder. Their ad is answered by Colonel William G. Smollett (Monty Woolley), who takes over Anne’s room. They find themselves even more crowded when Fidelia returns (taking her old room), and then an old friend of Tim and Anne’s, Lieutenant Tony Willett (Joseph Cotten) shows up and take a room as well (for a little while before he is shipped out). Jane has a bit of a crush on Tony, but she also soon meets the Colonel’s estranged grandson, Corporal William G. “Bill” Smollett II (Robert Walker), who falls for her. After graduating from high school, Jane wants to get a job at a hospital instead of going to college (which Anne refuses to consider at first). After the family tries (and fails) to meet up with Tim when he has a train stop close by, Anne relents and lets Jane get a job as a nurse’s aid for the summer. Not long after, Anne receives a telegram telling her that Tim is missing in action. When Bill is given his orders to leave, he and Jane get engaged, with plans to marry after the war. However, those plans are put on hold permanently when he is killed in action. Later on, Anne’s “friend” Emily Hawkins (Agnes Moorehead) chides Jane for her work at the hospital, resulting in Jane calling her out for her own selfishness. When Emily tries to rebuke Jane, Anne comes to Jane’s defense, realizing that she herself hasn’t been much better than the very selfish Emily, and so Anne gets a job as a welder in a shipyard to do her patriotic bit. Will the missing Tim be found, or will the family have to carry on without him?

After producing the back-to-back Best Picture Oscar winners Gone With The Wind and Rebecca, David O. Selznick had closed up his production company Selznick International Pictures, and took a few years off (mainly using the time to lease out his various stars to the bigger studios and some film projects). He had been looking for another project to do under his new production company (The Selznick Studio) when he came across the novel Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife by Margaret Buell Wilder. His first thought was to bring the author in to write the screenplay, but he later changed his mind and decided to write it himself. While stage actress Katharine Cornell had desired the role of Anne, Selznick advised her against it, and instead cast Claudette Colbert in the role. He assembled a group of other big stars, including Joseph Cotten, Monty Woolley, Shirley Temple (whom he had coaxed out of the retirement that she went into after her last film, Miss Annie Rooney, nearly two years earlier), and his new star (and future wife) Jennifer Jones (who was paired up with her current husband, Robert Walker). Selznick had hopes that the film would be another epic in the style of Gone With The Wind. While the film didn’t become the runaway success that Gone With The Wind had become, it still managed to be a decent hit with wartime audiences, and received a number of Oscar nominations (winning for the Best Score).

When I finished putting my schedule together for the year (with regard to my Stars Of The Month), I realized that I had at least one unreviewed holiday film for several of the stars, and made plans to review them this month for the holidays. Now, being that Claudette Colbert was one of my Stars, I opted to go with the film Since You Went Away (since I had already done Tomorrow Is Forever, and I don’t otherwise know of any other Christmas films that she had done). Now, I first saw Since You Went Away in early 2018, not long after it had been released on Blu-ray for the first time. I had no idea what to expect of it going in, but it turned out to be a movie that I enjoyed! For me, all the performances worked well. Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple all do well in showing us the struggles of a family in wartime, and help us care deeply for their characters. Arguably, Monty Woolley steals the show with a character who starts out quite similar to his Sheridan Whiteside from The Man Who Came To Dinner, but the family is able to help soften him up by the end of the film into a much more lovable guy. And Agnes Moorehead is, well, Agnes Moorehead (not a bad thing here!) as Anne’s selfish friend, who eventually gets her (well-deserved) comeuppance. The whole movie is good, with its moments of fun (like at the dance, which includes the familiar-to-me tune “The Emperor Waltz”, since I’ve seen the movie The Emperor Waltz enough times that I recognize the tune) and tragedy. Even though the film’s Christmas scenes are for the last fifteen minutes (of a nearly three hour movie), it’s enough for me to consider this a Christmas film. After all the tragedy and heartbreak we see the characters go through over the year’s time, it’s nice to see them have a good time and have hope of a brighter future. Plain and simple, this is a wonderful movie, and it’s one I have no hesitation in recommending!

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

Film Length: 2 hours, 57 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Palm Beach Story (1942)Claudette ColbertTomorrow Is Forever (1946)

Gaslight (1944) – Joseph Cotten – I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

Miss Annie Rooney (1942) – Shirley Temple – I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Monty Woolley – Kismet (1955)

You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – Lionel Barrymore

Agnes Mooreheard – Dark Passage (1947)

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 (November 2021)” Featuring Humphrey Bogart in… The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)

We’re here for another film with this month’s Star, Humphrey Bogart! It’s the classic 1948 drama The Treasure Of the Sierra Madre, which also stars Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bruce Bennett!

Coming Up Shorts! with… 8 Ball Bunny (1950)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 8 seconds)

A penguin accidentally gets left behind by the Ice Frolics, and runs into Bugs Bunny as he attempts to catch up. So, Bugs volunteers to help him get home… to the SOUTH POLE!?!? (“Ooh, I’m dying!”) This is a fun classic Bugs cartoon, as he deals with all the trouble of trying to get the penguin south. More fun is added by the appearance of a Humphrey Bogart character, specifically Dobbs from The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (which makes this a PERFECT extra for that movie). All in all, this one is quite entertaining (and VERY much hilarious), making it one that I just love to come back to!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hot Cross Bunny (1948)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 10 seconds)

A doctor plans to experiment by switching the brains of a chicken and a rabbit. Of course, you can guess that the rabbit is none other than Bugs Bunny, and he wants to keep his brain right where it is! Another familiar cartoon, with all the fun that comes from Bugs dealing with the doctor, first via examination, and then him trying to escape the experiment. It’s a fun (and funny!) cartoon, and I know always get a kick out of it when I see it!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Want To Be A Detective (1948)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 10 minutes, 53 seconds)

Joe McDoakes (George Hanlon), or maybe I should say Phillip Snarlowe, private eye, is searching for a killer. I’m not a huge fan of the Joe McDoakes series, but I will admit that this is one of the better ones that I’ve seen so far! With the story being told from the viewpoint of narrator Art Gilmore (literally being told that way, as the story is being shown in first-person view from his character’s standpoint), this adds a lot to the fun! The gags come fast and furious, from a dead girl in Snarlowe’s filing cabinet, to the “Tall Man,” to the “boys” that come to cause trouble for a big mobster. This one was worth quite a few laughs, and is one of the few from the Joe McDoakes series that I would thoroughly enjoy revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1925 in Tampico, Mexico. A pair of destitute Americans, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt) find work in the oil fields under Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane). When they finish up and return to Tampico, McCormick goes off to get their paychecks, leaving them with a little drinking money. When the two men overhear somebody else at the bar telling about how McCormick cheats his workers out of their paychecks, they go to a flophouse to spend the night, and listen to tales of gold prospecting being told by Howard (Walter Huston). The next day, Dobbs and Curtin are considering Howard’s stories when they spy McCormick, and angrily demand their money. When he tries to get out of it again, they get into a physical altercation in which they come out on the wining side, and take the money that was owed them. Coming back around to the idea of gold prospecting, they turn to Howard for help (since they have no idea what supplies they would need). They pool all their money, and after buying some supplies and burros, they make their way toward the Sierra Madre mountains. The journey proves treacherous, and the younger, more inexperienced prospectors have a hard time keeping up with the much older Howard. Just when Dobbs and Curtin are ready to give up, Howard reveals that he’s found the best place for them to prospect for gold. They set up camp at the base of a mountain, and start digging. Their pile of gold starts to build, and they start dividing it up. Greed starts to get the better of them, but Dobbs in particular succumbs to it, as he grows ever more suspicious of his partners. After Curtin has to go to a nearby town for supplies, he is followed by another gold-hunting American named James Cody (Bruce Bennett). Once Cody arrives at their camp, he decides to stay, and asks for a share in all the gold they find from now on. However, Dobbs and Curtin decide he can’t be trusted, and decide to kill him. Before they can do anything, though, Cody spots a band of Mexican bandits nearby, who are looking for the group (mainly because they need some guns, and they heard in the village about Curtin, who was claiming to be a hunter in the area). They get into a gunfight with the bandits (led by Gold Hat, as played by Alfonso Bedoya), which ends when a group of federal soldiers catches up to the bandits, forcing them to make a run for it. However, Cody was killed in the fight, so the three men decide to bury him. Not much later, they find themselves getting less and less gold from the mountain, so they decide to call it quits, and try to restore the mountain as much as possible. On their trip back to Durango, they are met by a local group of Native Americans who are seeking medical help for one of their boys who had fallen into water and hadn’t come to yet. Howard goes to help them out, and when the boy is awakened, the people all ask him to stay while they honor him. Dobbs and Curtin, meanwhile, continue the trip, bringing along Howard’s burros and gold so that they can get their money for it in Durango. However, Dobbs, whose greed has been showing itself, not only in refusing to give a fourth of his gold to Cody’s widow and child (whereas Curtin and Howard were willing), he now considers just taking Howard’s gold as well. Curtin disagrees, but now Dobbs is suspicious that Curtin wants to off him and get HIS gold. Will these two men make it to Durango safely, or will gold fever finish one (or both) of them off?

While The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre made it to theaters in 1948, the movie itself was being considered nearly a decade earlier. John Huston (the film’s eventual director) had read the 1935 book by B. Traven in 1936, and thought it would make a great movie. By the time he became a director (with 1941’s The Maltese Falcon), Warner Brothers had already bought the film rights, and he asked for (and was given) the opportunity to direct it. However, the U.S. entered World War II, and Huston served in the Armed Services (making films). After the war, Huston came back to work on The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, corresponding with the book author B. Traven and being advised by the author’s “friend” Hal Croves (whom most sources claim was actually Traven himself). The movie was shot on location near Jungapeo, Mexico. When he first read the book, Huston had thought about casting his father, Walter Huston, in the role of Fred C. Dobbs, but, as time went on (and his father got older), that idea wasn’t as realistic, and so he decided to cast his father as the older Howard (and forced him to remove his false teeth for the role). Studio head Jack Warner was famously very unhappy with the way that filming was dragging on, as he felt it was costing him a lot of money. He also didn’t like the ending, and thought audiences wouldn’t accept it as is. Initially, he was right, as the film didn’t do too well, but that changed with the film’s re-releases over the years as it gained in popularity.

I will readily admit, that I’ve seen this movie a number of times over the years (and it was one of the earliest Bogart films that I saw, alongside The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca). I took a liking to it on that first time, and my opinion of the movie has stayed high over the years! Humphrey Bogart in particular makes this movie great, as he gives us a performance in which he (like many of us) thinks that gold fever wouldn’t affect him at all (or so he promises). However, Howard’s warnings get in his head, and his greed gets the better of him (with a few moments of near redemption in between). It’s a different role than some of what he had done earlier, but he is so effective that I can’t complain! The movie manages the drama well, and even throws in a bit of humor as well, particularly the moment spoofed in the Bugs Bunny cartoon 8 Ball Bunny with Bogart’s Dobbs pestering a stranger for money (with the stranger played by the film’s director, a fact I didn’t realize until I was reading about this film for this post in one of those “You learn something new every day”-type of things). I do know the film was remade (to a degree) a few years later as an episode in the first season of the Warner Brothers TV western Cheyenne, which I thought was fun (but nowhere near as good as this movie). Seriously, this movie is among the greats (for good reason!) and I have no problem whatsoever in recommending it myself!

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

Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dark Passage (1947)Humphrey BogartRoad To Bali (1952)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Walter Huston

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 (2021): Rita Hayworth in… Fire Down Below (1957)

We’ve come around to November 17, which means that it’s time for the second-to-last “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring Rita Hayworth (at least, for 2021, anyway)! So for that, we’ve got her 1957 film Fire Down Below, also starring Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dogs Is Dogs (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 53 seconds)

Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) and Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba) are stuck with the unkind Spud (Sherwood Bailey) and his mother (Blanche Payson) when their father doesn’t return. This one traded in humor for heart, as we come to feel sorry for the kids as they are treated poorly by their “evil” stepmother. This short is very much in the vein of stuff like Cinderella or A Little Princess. For its length, it’s hard not to feel for both Wheezer and Dorothy. It may not be one of the series’ best shorts, but it’s still worth seeing just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

A pair of Americans, Felix Bowers (Robert Mitchum) and Tony (Jack Lemmon), have been pulling odd smuggling jobs around the Caribbean. They are offered the job of smuggling a beautiful woman, Irena (Rita Hayworth), to another island. It seems that she has no passport, so she has been moving around constantly to avoid being deported. Tony is interested, but Felix doesn’t want to take the job. He only relents when they are offered a lot of money. Still, Felix is less than thrilled with having to take Irena anywhere, and makes sure his feelings are well known when she comes to the dock the next morning. Tony, on the other hand, is captivated by her. After a while, the two men fight each other due to their opposing opinions on her. When they stop at a port to go to a carnival, though, even Felix finds himself falling for her, although she rejects his advances. When the boat gets to the port they were hired to take her to, Felix lets her go it alone, which angers Tony enough that he follows her and ends his partnership with Felix. However, Irena finds herself in trouble when a hotel clerk realizes that she shouldn’t be there, and offers to keep quiet if she will sleep with him. When he hears about this, Tony (who had been planning to propose to Irena) decides to smuggle in a shipment of contraband to earn enough for them to live on. He tries to convince Felix to help, but he turns him down (but lets him take their boat for the job). However, Tony finds the Coast Guard waiting for him and abandons the boat to avoid being arrested. At the moment, he has no choice but to run away. He is certain, though, that it was Felix who tipped off the Coast Guard, and plans to get his revenge when he returns. After some time, he decides to come back, and gets a job on a freighter. However, the freighter collides with an ocean liner in very foggy weather, which causes a beam to fall and leave him trapped. When the port doctor, Sam Blake (Bernard Lee), is brought to the ship, he feels the best chance for Tony to get out is to have his legs amputated, but Tony refuses. Wanting to give him hope, the doctor goes looking for his old friends. But will the doctor’s efforts work, as filled with hate as Tony is?

After making Miss Sadie Thompson, Rita Hayworth again left the big screen as a result of her new marriage to singer Dick Haymes. During that time, she brought a lawsuit against Columbia Pictures in an attempt to have her contract terminated, but her case ended up being thrown out of court. Left without a choice, she agreed to do two more films for Columbia. Producers Irving Allen and Albert Broccoli had gotten the film rights to the 1956 novel Fire Down Below by Max Catto, and had planned to cast actress Ava Gardner in the lead. When she turned it down, they sought out Rita Hayworth (who had gone to Europe while waiting for Columbia to come up with a good film vehicle for her), who took the part. Joined by Robert Mitchum and rising star Jack Lemmon, they went to Trinidad and Tobago to do some location filming. Originally, the film was to be presented mostly in flashback, starting with some of what is currently the last scene, but the studio put it together in chronological order. In spite of the cast, though, the movie ended up losing money at the box office.

This was my first time seeing Fire Down Below, and I definitely would have to say that I liked it. For me, all three leads gave quite good performances, which certainly helped me to keep watching the movie, especially when Jack Lemmon’s Tony gets trapped on the ship. I know I liked the song “Limbo Like Me,” which was performed by the “Stretch” Cox Troupe (and it was stuck in my head for a while after, so I can identify with Tony and Edric Connor’s Jimmy Jean having it stuck in their heads and trying to do the limbo themselves). As I hadn’t read anything on the film beforehand, I thought the whole film worked well, but, upon reading about how the studio changed things around, I find myself thinking that there are aspects that certainly would have worked better had the studio left it the way the director originally intended it to be. But, we do get Rita Hayworth doing some dancing (and even Robert Mitchum gets in on it, even if it is only to get another guy away, but it’s still hilarious to watch). This was a very entertaining drama (one I certainly think was better than its original poor box office performance would have indicated), and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Fire Down Below (1957)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. This is one of the better looking films in the set. The color looks pretty good, and little (if any) dirt and debris is present. All in all, I think this set presents the best way to see this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) – Rita Hayworth – Pal Joey (1957)

Holiday Affair (1949) – Robert Mitchum – Home From The Hill (1960)

My Sister Eileen (1955) – Jack Lemmon – The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionPal Joey (1957)

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 (November 2021)” Featuring Humphrey Bogart in… To Have And Have Not (1944)

We’re back for another Humphrey Bogart film as we continue celebrating him as the Star Of The Month for November!  And, of course, a month on him wouldn’t be complete without a film featuring him and Lauren Bacall, so let’s get into their first film together, the 1944 movie To Have And Have Not!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shiver My Timbers (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 2 seconds)

The kids all play hooky from school to listen to the tales of a sea captain (Billy Gilbert) and dream of being pirates themselves. When Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe) complains to the captain, he offers to help cure them of their dreams of going to sea. This one was absolutely hilarious! Amongst the kids, Stymie (Matthew Beard) continues to provide a lot of the humor with his wordplay jokes, but the captain’s attempts to scare the kids are equally hilarious! It’s considered one of the better shorts, and I for one completely agree with this assessment! I certainly look forward to revisiting this one again and again in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bacall To Arms (1946)

(Available as an extra on the To Have And Have Not Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)

A group of animals are at the movie theatre, waiting for the new movie to start.  This was quite a fun one, with its parodies not only of the MGM and Warner Brothers logos, but also of To Have And Have Not, with “Bogey Gocart” and “Laurie Bee Cool.”  Of course, the movie characters have to interact with the audience a little, and we have a few gags around a wolf.  Given the era, you know what his problem is.  Still, the cartoon is a lot of fun, with the exception of the ending gag, where “Bogey” tries to smoke a cigarette that blows up in his face, thus leaving him with blackface and speaking in a manner reminiscent of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, which is a joke in poor taste.  Other than that, I had a few good laughs with this one!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1940 in Fort de France, Martinique, after France has fallen to the German army.  A professional American fisherman named Harry “Steve” Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) has been taking a man named Johnson (Walter Sande) out fishing.  After a number of trips out, Johnson is frustrated with his poor luck at catching fish, and decides to give up.  However, he owes Harry a lot of money, and promises to pay him when the bank opens in the morning.  At the hotel that they are staying at, Harry is met by the owner/bartender Gérard (Marcel Dalio), who wants to rent Harry’s boat, the Queen Conch, for smuggling in some members of the French underground.  Harry, not wanting to be involved in the fight between the underground and the Germans, declines.  Later on in the hotel bar, Harry sees Johnson spending time with Marie “Slim” Browning (Lauren Bacall), who is staying in the hotel room across from Harry.  When he observes her pick Johnson’s pocket and leave, he follows her.  When he catches up to her, he reveals that he saw her lift the wallet, and asks her to return it.  He checks the wallet’s contents to make sure everything is there, and discovers that Johnson had enough money from traveler’s checks to pay him (but was planning to skip town early the next morning).  Harry and Marie take Johnson’s wallet back to him, and try to force him to sign over his checks to Harry.  However, while that is going on, some members of the French underground get into a shootout with the police, and Johnson is killed by a stray bullet before he can sign anything.  The police round up a few people in the bar for questioning, including Harry, Marie and Gérard.  At the police station, Captain Renard (Dan Seymour) takes the cash Harry had taken from Johnson’s wallet as evidence (along with Harry’s own money).  Upon being released, Marie expresses a desire to go home, and Harry decides to take Gérard and the members of the French underground up on their offer.  Upon being paid, he buys a ticket for Marie, and then, after getting his instructions from Gérard, goes off on his boat. He finds himself joined by his friend and shipmate Eddie (Walter Brennan), who had stowed away when Harry tried to convince him to stay behind. They follow the instructions, and pick up Paul de Bursac (Walter Surovy) and his wife, Hélène (Dolores Moran). On the return trip, they run into a patrol boat, which shoots at them (and hits Paul), but they are able to get away due to the fog. Harry successfully drops his two passengers off in a previously arranged spot, and returns to port. Upon returning to the hotel, Harry finds that Marie is still around, and working as a singer for the hotel band led by Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael). Gérard comes looking for Harry, and asks him to help remove the bullet from Paul de Bursac. Harry does so (with some help from Marie), and Paul starts to recover. The police start sniffing around (since they know it was Harry’s boat that was shot at), but Harry doesn’t tell them a thing. He starts making plans to leave the area (hoping to bring along Marie and Eddie), but then the police get ahold of Eddie. Will the police catch them all, or will Harry be able to make good on his escape plan?

The movie famously came about as the result of a fishing trip that Ernest Hemingway and Howard Hawks took together. Hawks was trying to convince Hemingway to try writing screenplays, which Hemingway felt he couldn’t do. Hawks boasted that he could make a good film out of Hemingway’s worst novel (which Hawks felt was Hemingway’s 1937 novel To Have And Have Not). So, Hawks bought the film rights from Howard Hughes, and then sold them to Warner Brothers. There were a number of changes made to the story at Hawks’ insistence, including focusing on one character (instead of two), and emphasizing the dialogue and character more than the plot. One change that was forced upon them was the change in location, as the original story was set in Cuba and, as this was still being made in the second World War, the Office of Inter-American Affairs objected due to the Roosevelt administration’s “Good Neighbor Policy.” Thus, they shifted the location to the German-controlled island of Martinique, once again making the Nazis the villains. Humphrey Bogart, who was still coming off of Casablanca, was cast in a similar role to his Rick from that film. Cast opposite him was Hollywood newcomer Betty “Lauren” Bacall, who was discovered for the part by Hawks’ wife. Bogart and Bacall famously began a romance during the making of this film, which would later lead to them getting married (after he divorced his third wife), with the two of them staying together until his death in 1957. The movie proved to be a hit with audiences, and would later be remade in 1950 (The Breaking Point, again with Warner Brothers) and 1958 (The Gun Runners with United Artists).

To Have And Have Not is a movie that I have had opportunity to see a number of times over the years, and it’s one that I always enjoy watching! Of course, I should admit right off that I’ve never had the opportunity to read the Ernest Hemingway story, so I have no idea whatsoever how close the movie is to the original tale, nor have I seen either of the later remakes (but they’re certainly on my list of movies to see). I’ve definitely heard this film compared to the classic Casablanca, and that does seem an apt comparison, what with Bogie’s Harry staying neutral between the French underground and the German authorities (at least, until he’s pushed into action). When all is said and done, this film definitely pales in comparison to Casablanca, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad film, either! Quite frankly, where this film has Casablanca beat is the chemistry between its two leads. Seriously, the Warner Brothers cartoon Bacall To Arms (included on the Blu-ray as an extra) wasn’t kidding when they spoofed Lauren Bacall bringing the heat as she walks into the room. You can feel the sexual tension between the two so vividly here, and that makes it worth watching (and I’m glad it was made during the Code, where they had to be creative in showing that, as opposed to now, where they would for certain be shown having a romp in the bedroom, which would be completely unnecessary). The police (under German influence) make for quite the villains to cheer against, and Walter Brennan makes for a fun sidekick. Seriously, this film is a good way to enjoy the Bogie/Bacall partnership, and is one well worth recommending!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)Humphrey BogartDark Passage (1947)

Lauren Bacall – Dark Passage (1947)

Sergeant York (1941) – Walter Brennan – Tammy And The Bachelor (1957)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Dinner At Eight (1933)

We’re back again for a classic all-star film from 1933 that recently made its long-awaited debut on Blu-ray! That film, of course, would be Dinner At Eight, starring Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe and Billie Burke!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Big Ears (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 8 seconds)

Wheezer’s (Bobby Hutchins) parents fight constantly, and the word “divorce” is thrown around. When he finds out what “divorce” means, Wheezer turns to Stymie (Matthew Beard) and Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba) for help in getting himself sick to keep them together. This one took a different turn with touchier subject matter than I would have expected for a children’s short. There is some humor to be found, mainly in Wheezer’s interactions with Stymie. The bickering parents aren’t as much fun (and I agree with Petey the dog’s response at the end). Maybe not as much fun as usual, but still an entertaining entry in the series!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Come To Dinner (1934)

(Available as an extra on the Dinner At Eight Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 22 minutes, 12 seconds)

In honor of a duke and duchess, the Jurgens host a dinner party for a few of their friends. This short was very much a parody of the movie Dinner At Eight, and it works quite well! They picked a lot of actors who look very similar to the cast of the film, and manage to make fun of various moments. I had read about it being a parody beforehand, so I watched the movie first (instead of watching the short first like I normally would do). It certainly works a lot better that way, and I enjoyed it almost as much as I did the movie itself, the humor worked so well!

And Now For The Main Feature…

When Lord and Lady Ferncliffe accept her invitation to dinner, society matron Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke) eagerly plans a dinner party for some of her friends. Her husband, shipping magnate Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore), doesn’t look forward to the idea, but he decides to go along with it, while their daughter, Paula (Madge Evans) is preoccupied with something else. At work, Oliver meets with his friend (and former lover), actress Carlotta Vance (Marie Dressler) (who has been invited to the dinner). She is presently broke, and is trying to find ways to sell off some of her properties, and even asks Oliver to buy back some of her stock in his company. However, it’s the time of the Great Depression, which means Oliver’s business has been hit, too, so he can’t buy it back. He meets with the self-made mining magnate Dan Packard (Wallace Beery), and asks him to help finance them for a while (at least, until the Depression is over). Dan is reluctant to do so, but when he arrives home later, he openly brags to his wife Kitty (Jean Harlow) that he plans to take over the Jordan Shipping Line via stock purchases. Kitty, meanwhile, is faking illness and staying in bed all day so that she can see Dr. Wayne Talbot (Edmund Lowe) (with whom she is having an affair). However, she very much wants to get into society, and, when she receives an invitation to the dinner, she is determined to drag her husband there (which isn’t too hard, when he learns that the Ferncliffes, whom he has been wanting to meet for some time, are the guests of honor). On the day of the party, Millicent finds herself short one person when one guest comes down ill. Desperate, she tries calling movie actor Larry Renault (John Barrymore), who is in town to star in a play. Little does she know that Larry has been seeing her daughter Paula, who overhears the conversation from Larry’s end, and convinces him to accept the invitation to the party. As Paula leaves, Larry’s agent Max Kane (Lee Tracy) comes in, and tells him that the starring role in the play was being given to somebody else (partially due to a change in producers), and Max tries to convince him to take a bit part, if only to have something. Larry reluctantly considers the idea, if Max will bring the new producer around to see him. A very sick Oliver comes in to see Dr. Talbot at his office. Upon examining him, Dr. Talbot determines that Oliver is suffering from thrombosis of the heart (which could kill him at any time), but tries to hide this prognosis from Oliver (who isn’t fooled). When he gets home, Oliver tries to tell his wife that he is feeling poorly and needs rest. At the same time, his daughter Paula wants to tell them both about her relationship with Larry. However, neither of them manage to tell Millicent anything, as she is at her wits’ end after two of their servants get into a violent fight, which results in the food being ruined. On top of that, the Ferncliffes (you know, the guests of honor) have decided NOT to come to the party (and have gone to Florida instead). Meanwhile, Larry (who is an alcoholic) is thoroughly drunk as he prepares to go to the dinner. When Max arrives with the play’s new producer, Larry starts to berate him for trying to palm off a bit part on a “big star,” prompting the producer to leave. Left with no choice, Max tells Larry off and good, revealing how hard he had to work to get his washed-up client a chance at the bit part (revealing to Larry just how far his star had fallen). After Max leaves, the hotel management stops by and asks Larry to leave. In the midst of all these troubles, will that night’s dinner party turn out right, or will it be a complete disaster?

In 1932, MGM enjoyed great success with producer Irving Thalberg’s all-star film Grand Hotel, and they went about looking for another all-star vehicle. Irving Thalberg was able to secure the film rights to the 1932 George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber play Dinner At Eight, but some health problems (including a heart attack) forced him to take some time off to recuperate. Studio head Louis B. Mayer decided to try convincing his son-in-law David O. Selznick (who was working at RKO Studios at the time) to come over to MGM and form his own production unit there, sharing producing duties with Thalberg. Selznick brought over director George Cukor, and assembled an all-star cast, which included Marie Dressler in a role that differed from her usual type, and Jean Harlow (who was cast at the insistence of Selznick and Cukor, as she wasn’t previously regarded by the studio heads as being a great actress). With a great cast (some of whom helped contribute ideas for their characters) and great talent behind-the-scenes, the film turned out to be another hit at the box office for MGM.

Dinner At Eight is one of those big movies that I had heard of a long time ago, but never really got the chance to see (at least, not beyond the clip of the iconic exchange between Marie Dressler’s Carlotta Vance and Jean Harlow’s Kitty Packard that was included in the That’s Entertainment films). So when the recent Blu-ray release was announced, I felt it was high time that I saw it! Now, one thing I should admit beforehand. For the most part, my early impressions from what I had heard left me thinking that the film was going to be a comedy (at least, that’s what I was hearing until I saw what others were saying when the Blu-ray was announced, which is when I learned that it would be a bit more dramatic that I had previously thought). And I am glad that I heard that, as it kept the movie from being a disappointment to me. Yes, it does have its comedic moments, but this movie really classifies itself more as a dramedy (with a heavier emphasis on the drama). Regardless, I found it to be a very well-acted film! I’ve seen some of the actors in different films (like the Barrymores, Billie Burke and Jean Harlow), and some of the others were new faces to me. Everybody gave great performances here, which is indeed what makes it work, but I will readily admit that Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow essentially walk off with the film, as their acting was a thing to behold! Plain and simple, this movie’s reputation as a big classic is well-deserved, and I for one have no hesitation in giving it some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray features a transfer made from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. I’d love to come up with some extra fancy way of describing how this movie looks, but I prefer to keep it simple. As usual, Warner Archive has a winner here, with a great movie and a great transfer to show it off. Seriously, this is the best way to enjoy this fantastic film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

John Barrymore – Maytime (1937)

The Public Enemy (1931) – Jean Harlow – Libeled Lady (1936)

Lionel Barrymore – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

Billie Burke – Merrily We Live (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!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

We’re back for another Preston Sturges film with the classic 1941 movie Sullivan’s Travels starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Fly My Kite (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 4 seconds)

Grandma (Margaret Mann) faces eviction by her former son-in-law, but the Gang do their part to help stop his plans. This was another fun and sentimental short in the series, with the kids again facing off against a “villain” trying to do harm to Grandma. Jim Mason does well as the son-in-law, who makes us hate him and cheer on the Gang when they try to stop his plans. Overall, very entertaining, which is par for the course with these Our Gang shorts!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is known for his comedies, but he wants very much to direct the tragedy O Brother, Where Art Thou. His bosses at the studio, Mr. LeBrand (Robert Warwick) and Mr. Hadrian (Porter Hall), think he’s had too soft a lifestyle and hasn’t suffered enough to be able to make the movie, and would much prefer that he make another comedy. Agreeing with them on the point that he doesn’t really know suffering, he decides to dress as a tramp and take to the road to experience trouble. His bosses aren’t thrilled with the idea, but they make a demand of their own by sending along a bus (or, as the film refers to it, a “land yacht”) with a doctor, secretary, reporter, photographer and chauffeur to attend to his needs. Wanting to ditch them, Sullivan hops in a jalopy with a kid and makes a mad dash for it, with the bus trying its best to keep up. After a long chase, Sullivan finds himself unable to ditch the bus, but convinces everyone on board to let him go it alone for a while, with plans to meet up later in Las Vegas. He stops at a farmhouse to do some work there for a widow, but when he finds that she has other plans for him (besides working), he tries to sneak out at night. He gets away (making a lot of noise in the process), but the truck he hitches a ride with ends up bringing him right back to Hollywood. He stops at a diner for a cup of coffee, and he finds himself with some ham and eggs, paid for by a failed wannabe actress (or “The Girl” as the credits list the character played by Veronica Lake). In return, he tries to offer her a ride somewhere by pretending to be a friend of director John L. Sullivan. However, they are arrested by the police, and only freed when his butler (Robert Greig) and valet (Eric Blore) bail them out. At first, “The Girl” is angry at how Sullivan had tricked her, but when she finds out about his “experiment,” she insists on joining him. He protests the idea, but she won’t give up on it. The next day, with both of them dressed in tramp costumes, they hitch a ride on a train with all the other tramps. When they get off the train, they find themselves near Las Vegas. They find the bus, where they make a brief stop (mostly for Sullivan to start recovering from a cold he caught), and then they’re off again. They see what life is like for other tramps and homeless people, and Sullivan feels he has seen enough. However, he has one last thing he wants to do before returning to Hollywood, and he walks the streets, handing out five dollar bills (nearly five thousand dollars worth) to homeless people. One of them, who had stolen his shoes (which contained his identification), sees him doing this and decides to steal it. The man hits Sullivan on the head at a train yard, and drags him onto a train. He tries to get away with the money, but ends up getting killed by a train. Meanwhile, a confused and amnesiac Sullivan gets himself into trouble by fighting with a railroad worker when he wakes up, and is sentenced to six years of hard labor. Will Sullivan ever remember who he is, or will his friends ever find him, especially with someone else dead that they assume is him because of the I.D. in the shoes?

Actor Joel McCrea and Preston Sturges had originally met on the set of The Power And The Glory (1933) (which Preston Sturges wrote the script for), and they got along well. After Preston Sturges made the leap from writer to writer/director with the films The Great McGinty and Christmas In July, he came up with an idea for Sullivan’s Travels based on his feeling that some of his fellow writers were getting a little too preachy in giving their comedy films messages and needed to lay off the idea. He had only one person in mind to play the character of John L. Sullivan: Joel McCrea. Joel McCrea was surprised to have a script written specifically for him, as he felt that, most of the time, the scripts were written for Gary Cooper and he got them when Gary turned them down. For the otherwise unnamed “Girl” in the picture, Sturges cast Veronica Lake, who kept it secret that she was pregnant (until after filming had started), so that she could do the film. Of course, a few knew about her pregnancy, and they worked around it with different camera angles and costumes to hide it. The film received mixed reviews, and wasn’t as popular at that time, but it has grown in popularity over time as people have come around to the way it was made.

I’ll admit, when it came to the order I was planning to do my Sunday reviews in the month of October, I was really vacillating between different ways of doing it. Ultimately, I opted to go with the current order, leaving this post on Sullivan’s Travels to debut on October 31. While it wasn’t my original intention, I do find it to be the most fitting film of the bunch for Halloween itself. I mean, we’ve got our main character dressing up for a lifestyle that he knows almost nothing about. Of course, in what was a nightmarish scenario for the character, he did find himself increasingly becoming what he was pretending to be. But, in doing so, he did indeed walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, giving him a better view of life and how to help out others in his own way. Obviously, this isn’t a scary movie (unless you’re somebody rich who dreads becoming poor and unable to get out of trouble with your money), but it’s still a good Halloween movie.

Even ignoring the timing of this post, I’ll still say this was a wonderful movie. In some ways, it really hits home with the power of laughter. I know I certainly haven’t had things as bad as being in a prison gang (like the main character), nor as bad off as some of the others here were shown to be, but I do know that life is hard, and I do find myself enjoying breaks from that with comedies (and musicals). And this film does have some good comedic moments, what with the car chase near the beginning, which is the most screwball moment in the whole film! While things do calm down a bit after that, I still enjoy all the fun at Sullivan’s pool, and how his servants help him figure out how and where to get on the train. Admittedly, my biggest problem with this movie is its big shift in tone, going from screwball comedy (with a little romantic comedy in between) all the way to being a drama without many laughs for most of the last part of the movie. With the movie’s overall “message” on the importance of laughter, that does make it feel discombobulating to go so long without humor. Of course, I had already heard about that tonal shift before seeing this movie, so I was prepared. In that same vein, I also feel the need to forewarn you, that this movie is neither a pure comedy nor a pure drama. If you’re prepared for that, then there is a good movie to be found here. I do prefer Preston Sturges’ pure comedies like The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story much more, (and I Married A Witch with Veronica Lake), but I still find this one worth recommending!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937) – Joel McCrea – The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

Veronica Lake – I Married A Witch (1942)

Road To Zanzibar (1941) – Eric Blore – The Sky’s The Limit (1943)

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)

Well, it’s October 17, and that means it’s time for another round of “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring Rita Hayworth! Of course, we’re REALLY celebrating here, as not only is it her birthday (her 103rd, to be exact), it’s also my 400th post on my blog! I know, in the past I’ve kind of preferred to celebrate milestones like that with a very special post (like a Top 10 list or something of that sort), but I couldn’t find a way to fit one in (and quite frankly, I had no idea for a list at this time). So, we are marking both occasions with Rita Hayworth’s 1953 film Miss Sadie Thompson, also starring Jose Ferrer and Aldo Ray!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Daddy (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 10 seconds)

Farina (Allen Hoskins) has been taking care of Stymie (Matthew Beard) by himself, but the authorities are coming to put Stymie in an orphan’s home. This one took a more dramatic turn than some of the other recent ones, but I think that works well in its favor! By now, we as the audience have started getting used to Stymie, so it’s easier to identify with Farina’s plight as he has to deal with losing Stymie. Of course, this short does have its more humorous moments, like Farina trying to tell Stymie the story of Noah and the ark, with Stymie constantly interrupting him. This one had heart, and that makes it just as enjoyable to see as the more hilarious shorts!

And Now For The Main Feature…

On an island in the South Pacific where a military base is located, Marine Sgt. Phil O’Hara (Aldo Ray) and his men are anxiously awaiting their discharges. In the meantime, they are bored, and just going about their days with their humdrum tasks. One day, a ship stops by, with several passengers disembarking for a few hours while they stand by for the next leg of their trip. This group includes missionary Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer) and his wife, and Dr. Robert MacPhail (Russell Collins) and his wife. While Davidson and Dr. MacPhail leave to visit the missionary hospital, O’Hara and his men await the mail boat. The men perk up when they realize that the mail boat is also bringing one of the passengers: the beautiful Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth). Wanting to keep her presence to themselves, the men try to smuggle her in to the bar in the village (but some of the other Marines quickly find out as well). Their boisterous celebration quickly disrupts the nearby church service, and in the process attracts the attention of Davidson (who is less than thrilled with her conduct). After Davidson breaks up the party, O’Hara and his men rush to get Sadie to her boat, only to discover that everybody has been quarantined for a week. So the men take Sadie to the local hotel run by Joe Horn (Harry Bellaver) and his wife, Ameena (Diosa Costello). The Davidsons and the MacPhails had already gotten there first and got the best accommodations, but Sadie was willing to work with what’s left. Over the next few days, Sadie spends a lot of time with the men, particularly O’Hara, who has become quite fond of her. However, Davidson starts stirring up trouble for her, believing that she was a prostitute from a bordello he helped shut down in Honolulu. Since he thinks that she escaped being deported to San Francisco, he goes to the Governor (Wilton Graff) and demands that she be deported. Due to Davidson’s influence in the area, the Governor reluctantly goes along with it. Sadie tries to appeal to the Governor when she finds out, but he is only willing to rescind that order if Davidson will agree to the idea (which he doesn’t). When he learns that Davidson is unwilling to stop Sadie from being deported, O’Hara tries to talk to him, but learns Davidson’s suspicions about Sadie, which she essentially confirms. Shocked, O’Hara is angry, and leaves. Now on her own, can Sadie recover? Will she be able to escape deportation, or will Davidson convince her to go along with it?

In April 1921, the short story “Miss Thompson” was published by W. Somerset Maugham in the literary magazine The Smart Set. The story would be adapted in several different ways, including a 1922 play (Rain), a 1928 silent film (Sadie Thompson with Gloria Swanson) and a 1932 talkie (Rain with Joan Crawford). In 1952, movie producer Jerry Wald bought the film rights, intending to make a film musical version of the story with his production unit at RKO. However, the following year, he became a vice president and executive producer at Columbia Pictures, and brought the project with him. With Rita Hayworth enjoying a resurgence at the box office since her return with Affair In Trinidad, she was cast in the film, allowing them to have a bigger budget to work with. Some of the movie (mostly the exteriors) was filmed on location in Hawaii. Of course, with this film being made while the Production Code was still in effect, some of the story elements had to be changed to conform with the Code. The movie was also filmed in 3-D (due to the then-recent fad), although by the time the movie was released to theaters, the fad had died down enough that all 3-D prints were pulled after only a few weeks.

I’ve seen this a few times over the last few years, and enjoyed it. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the 3-D version since I haven’t had the technology to view it that way (nor will I, considering I can count on one hand the number of films originally shown in 3-D that I actually want to see that way, and the cost is beyond what my budget can handle). Rita Hayworth was part of the original appeal when I first heard of this movie, and I will say that her performance in this film did not disappoint! Watching her go from the good-time gal at the start, to slowly revealing her past (while still staying somewhat ambiguous) makes the movie work for me. I will admit, the (almost) musical nature of the film also appealed to me. And, in some respects, it’s also what hurts the film. To be fair, it’s not the musical aspects that bother me, it’s the change in tone. As I said, the movie was initially conceived as a musical, but partway through production, that idea was abandoned, and it shows. The first half (give or take a few minutes) does seem to veer into musical territory, with her singing with the Marines and a few solo moments (including her song-and-dance to “The Heat Is On,” the song that I came away remembering the most strongly) before veering into more dramatic, non-musical territory. Personally, I wish they’d just kept it as a musical, as I would have been much happier. I’m also not sure about the writing, especially near the end for Jose Ferrer’s Davidson. His ending almost seems to come out of nowhere for me, and kind of bogs things down. This is far from a perfect film, but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the only version of “Miss Thompson” on film that I have any intention of seeing (currently). And, for that reason, it’s definitely one that I would recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. Like two other films in this set (You’ll Never Get Rich and Pal Joey), Miss Sadie Thompson was previously available individually on Blu-ray from Twilight Time (an edition which is now out of print). While this set uses the same transfer (which was pretty good on that release), the encoding on Mill Creek’s disc isn’t as good, thereby making the transfer not look *quite* as good. Of course, the Mill Creek release only contains the 2-D version (whereas the Twilight Time release had both the 2-D and 3-D versions). For the price, it’s not too terrible, but if you’re hankering to see it in 3-D, then this release would not be recommended.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Salome (1953) – Rita Hayworth – Fire Down Below (1957)

Jose Ferrer – The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Aldo Ray – We’re No Angels (1955)

Salome (1953)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionFire Down Below (1957)

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!