Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m going with theatrical shorts starring The Pink Panther, featuring the shorts from 1966 through 1968 that have been released together on disc in The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. Pink-A-Boo (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther has to deal with a mouse and his friends who have come to party.
  2. Genie With The Light Pink Fur (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to become a genie, to hilarious effect!
  3. Super Pink (1966) (Length: 5 minutes, 58 seconds)
    • After reading a superhero comic, the Pink Panther tries to be a superhero himself!
  4. Rock A Bye Pinky (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 8 seconds)
    • When the Pink Panther can’t sleep due to the Little Man’s snoring, he tries to do something about it!
  5. Pinknic (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther is stuck in a cabin awaiting the arrival of spring, and is stuck with an equally hungry mouse.
  6. Pink Panic (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 1 second)
    • Coming out of a storm, the Pink Panther tries to spend the night at a haunted hotel in a ghost town.
  7. Pink Posies (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • The Little Man tries to plant some yellow posies, but the Pink Panther keeps replacing them with pink posies.
  8. Pink Of The Litter (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 1 second)
    • When a policeman catches the Pink Panther littering, the Panther is forced to clean up the town of Littersburg.
  9. In The Pink (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)
    • Feeling a little fat, the Pink Panther goes to the gym to work out.
  10. Jet Pink (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 3 seconds)
    • When the Pink Panther walks onto an experimental aircraft base, he decides to try becoming a famous pilot.
  11. Pink Paradise (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • When the Pink Panther comes upon a tropical island, he finds himself trying to avoid the Little Man, who is doing some hunting.
  12. Pinto Pink (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 5 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther is trying to hitchhike across the country, when he spots a horse and decides to try riding him.
  13. Congratulations It’s Pink (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther steals a basket from some campers, only to find it has a baby in it and not food.
  14. Prefabricated Pink (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther sees a “Help Wanted” sign at a construction site, and hops right in to help out the workers.
  15. The Hand Is Pinker Than The Eye (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • On a cold winter’s day, the Pink Panther sneaks into a house to get warm. What he doesn’t know is that the house belongs to magician Zammo the Great, and he has to contend with all sorts of magical troubles!
  16. Pink Outs (1967) (Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • In this Pink Panther cartoon, there is no story. It’s just a series of different gags, switching from one activity to another.
  17. Sky Blue Pink (1968) (Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to fly a kite, but keeps causing trouble for the Little Man.
  18. Pinkadilly Circus (1968) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • When the Little Man pulls a nail out of the Pink Panther’s foot, the Panther offers to be his slave out of gratitude.
  19. Psychedelic Pink (1968) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther walks by a psychedelic book store, and comes inside after being hypnotized by the door.
  20. Come On In! The Water’s Pink (1968) (Length: 6 minutes, 4 seconds)
    • At Bicep Beach, the Pink Panther runs afoul of a muscle-bound freak with his various inflatables.

Given that I haven’t had any luck in finding out much in the way of background information with regard to the era of Pink Panther cartoons contained in this set (compared to what I could find on Pink Panther Volume 1), I will then confine my comments to what I think of the shorts that are included. While I don’t have as strong a memory on whether I saw any of these shorts when I was younger, there are still a number of fun shorts here. Genie With The Light Pink Fur stands out as a fun one, with the Panther pretending to be a genie in a lamp (but nobody wants to make any wishes, instead chasing him away most of the time). Pink Panic is fun as a more Halloween-centered short, as the Panther deals with a ghost and skeleton (and one of my favorite shorts to watch around that time of year). The gym-centered In The Pink is also fun, as the Panther tries to exercise (and inadvertently causes trouble for the Little Man). There are some shorts that are very similar in this set (with at least two dealing with the Panther causing trouble for the Little Man’s dog, who knows the Panther is there but can’t get that across to his master, who blames him for his trouble), plus others that are close in story to some from the first set, but they are still quite entertaining. The only ones that I really didn’t care for were Pink Outs (due to its lack of story) and the hippie-era Psychedelic Pink. Apart from those, this second chronological volume of Pink Panther shorts is still quite entertaining! The level of restoration (or lack thereof) is quite similar to Volume 1, which is good enough for me to recommend it!

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, eight minutes.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2021) with… We’re No Angels (1955)

We’re here today for a slightly-delayed look at the 1955 holiday film We’re No Angels, starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Come On In! The Water’s 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, 4 seconds)

At Bicep Beach, the Pink Panther runs afoul of a muscle-bound freak with his various inflatables.  This one was quite fun, with all the various inflatables that the Panther pulls out of his bag that work well for him (but not so much for the other guy)!  The hunk proves to be a good foe for the Panther as he tries to regain the admiration of the girls on the beach, which certainly adds to the humor.  I know I like this one, and find it worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s Christmas Eve, 1895.  Three convicts (Joseph as played by Humphrey Bogart, Albert as played by Aldo Ray and Jules as played by Peter Ustinov) have escaped from Devil’s Island in French Guiana, and made it to the nearby penal colony of Cayenne.  There, the three convicts are able to blend in with other criminals to avoid detection, while making plans to escape via the Paris-bound ship in the harbor.  After giving directions to Medical Officer Arnaud (John Smith), they lift a letter that he was taking to store owner Felix Ducotel (Leo G. Carroll).  The rather inept Felix thinks they are there to help repair his roof, which they agree to do (with plans to later kill and rob him).  While they are on the roof, they overhear a conversation between Felix and his wife, Amelie (Joan Bennett) as they talk about Felix’s rich and miserly cousin, Andre Trochard (Basil Rathbone), who owns the store.  They also talk about how their daughter, Isabelle (Gloria Talbott), has fallen for Andre’s nephew Paul Trochard (John Baer), even though Andre himself will never approve of the relationship.  Once Felix finally opens the letter that the three convicts brought, he learns that his cousin (and Paul) are stuck quarantined on the ship in the harbor, and Andre is demanding Felix’s help getting off the boat.  After Felix runs off, Isabelle reads the letter herself, and faints upon reading about Paul’s engagement (at Andre’s insistence) to the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder.  Upon seeing Isabelle faint, the three convicts come down from the roof.  Albert and Jules help carry her to her room to recover, while Joseph helps drum up business in the store. Later, to thank them for their help, Felix invites the men to stay for Christmas dinner.  Honored, the three help out by stealing some food and decorations to help make things better for the Ducotels.  With all the kindness and generosity being shown them, the three men reconsider their plans to rob and murder this family. However, things start going downhill when cousin Andre and Paul arrive at the shop in the middle of the night, with Andre demanding their best rooms and the account books without caring about what he’s putting the Ducotels through. Will the three convicts be able to help out their new friends, or will Andre and Paul make trouble for them, too?

Humphrey Bogart and director Michael Curtiz had worked together three times before (Angels With Dirty Faces, Casablanca and Passage To Marseille). For their fourth film together, they went with the story from the 1952 French play La Cuisine Des Anges by Albert Husson (although it later came out that they borrowed a lot without permission from the 1953 English version of the play, My Three Angels by Samuel and Bella Spewack, which forced those authors to sue). The film also featured Bail Rathbone (one of a handful of movies that he had done after the end of the Sherlock Holmes series), and Joan Bennett returned to the screen (with the help and insistence of Bogart) after a scandal nearly three years earlier had effectively blackballed her from Hollywood.

As I hinted at in the start of this post, I had actually intended to review this movie as my final film in November for my Star Of The Month, Humphrey Bogart.  That plan was delayed, as I had never seen the film before, and didn’t get my hands on a copy in time to review it then.  Having seen it now, I can definitely say that it was a lot of fun! It’s a fun story, as we start out with the three convicts trying to evade the authorities while they wait for a Paris-bound ship, and make the decision to rob the Ducotel family (but then find themselves getting involved in helping them out). The film makes use of some dark comedy, particularly with regard to the convicts’ jokes about prison. Some of the films’ most memorable comedic moments for me involve the three men “rushing” to tell Basil Rathbone’s Andre of the poisonous snake in the container he is trying to open (that he thinks they were stealing when it was in fact theirs to begin with), or their lack of worry when SPOILER ALERT the snake also bites Paul. END SPOILER ALERT It’s a different part for Bogart, since he rarely did any screen comedies, but he is effective (and funny!) in this film, which certainly helps make it entertaining. The Christmas holiday angle really makes the film work, as we have the added spirit of the season helping to reform the three convicts (and which also helps make Rathbone’s Andre even more villainous). Speaking of which, while it is a small part, it just goes to show just how good Basil Rathbone is as a villain that he can make us hate him in such a short time, and cheer on the convicts when they hope to do something about him. For being a new (to me) Christmas film, I found this one quite entertaining, and I certainly look forward to coming back to it again and again in the future around this time of the year (so, yes, I definitely recommend it)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… We’re No Angels (1955)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures.  In my opinion, the recent Blu-ray release looks pretty good.  Not having seen the movie before, my best guess is that it is probably the same transfer used for the DVD (but looking better with more space available on the Blu-ray disc).  There are some minor specks here and there, and some scratches more easily visible on bigger/better screens, but nothing too distracting.  For now, this is likely to be as good as this film gets, and I certainly recommend it!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Caine Mutiny (1954)Humphrey Bogart

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) – Aldo Ray

Father Of The Bride (1950) – Joan Bennett

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949) – Basil Rathbone

Father Of The Bride (1950) – Leo G. Carroll

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 Caine Mutiny (1954)

We’re back for one last go-round with Humphrey Bogart as our Star Of The Month! This time, it’s his 1954 drama The Caine Mutiny, also starring Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray and Robert Francis!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinkadilly Circus (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, 2 seconds)

When the Little Man pulls a nail out of the Pink Panther’s foot, the Panther offers to be his slave out of gratitude. Personally, I find this to be a fun one, with different types of gags throughout the short. At first, the Panther’s affections (upon the nail being pulled out) are unwanted by the Little Man, until the Panther helps tell off his shrewish wife. Then the gags revolve around the Panther coming to rescue the Little Man from his wife when he whistles, before the wife tries to get rid of the Panther (with no luck). Of course, you can see the ending coming a mile away, but that doesn’t take away from some of the fun here. Obviously, your enjoyment will depend on how you view the stereotypical shrewish wife here, but there is some fun to be had here!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1944. Upon graduating from officer’s training, Ensign Willis “Willie” Keith (Robert Francis) is ordered to report to the U. S. S. Caine in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There, he meets the communications officer (and novelist) Lieutenant Tom Keefer (Fred MacMurray), executive officer Lieutenant Steve Maryk (Van Johnson) and Captain De Vriess (Tom Tully). Willie is disappointed, both with the ship itself (a rather beat-up destroyer/mine-sweeper), and with the relaxed discipline under the captain. The ensign’s disappointment is short-lived, however, as the captain is quickly transferred. Now in charge is Lieutenant Commander Philip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), who vows to enforce Navy discipline (which thrills Willie, especially after he is made the morale officer). However, Willie soon runs afoul of the new captain when, during a target practice exercise, the captain finds a poorly dressed sailor and bawls him, Willie and Tom out over it. While that happens, the ship goes in a circle and steams over the cable that they are towing the target with. Captain Queeg tries to place the blame on faulty equipment, but the ship is recalled to San Francisco. When the ship sets sail again (with Captain Queeg still in charge), they are ordered to escort a group of landing craft for an invasion of enemy-held territory. When the Caine gets too far ahead of the landing craft (amidst all the shelling), Captain Queeg gets scared, drops a yellow dye marker for the landing area, and forces them to hightail it out of there. Later, he calls a meeting of his officers to apologize and ask them for their support. After the meeting, Tom mentions to Steve that the Captain is showing signs of mental illness, but Steve won’t have it, asking him to take his thoughts to the medical officer (which Tom refuses to do). However, Steve considers what Tom had been talking about and, after reading a book on mental illness, decides to keep a journal on the captain and his behavior. The captain’s behavior gets more and more irrational, with the final straw being him seeking out who finished off a quart of strawberries (even after a departing ensign had told him what happened). Steve, Tom and Willie decide to take Steve’s journal to the fleet commander, but at the last moment, Tom decides they shouldn’t do it. They go back to their ship, where they have been ordered to set course through a typhoon. When Captain Queeg freezes, Steve decides to relieve him of command, backed up by Willie. Back in San Francisco, Steve and Willie face charges of mutiny, and the only lawyer willing to help them is Lieutenant Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer). Will their charges stick, or will they be able to prove that Captain Queeg is indeed mentally ill?

The movie was based on the best-selling 1951 novel The Caine Mutiny: A Novel Of World War II by Herman Wouk. Producer Stanley Kramer was able to get the film rights for Columbia Pictures by helping convince the Navy to let them do it (since the Navy had outright rejected other attempts by some of the other studios). Even then, the Navy was hesitant about the idea, as they worried about how the public’s perception of the Navy would be after seeing the film, so the production was required to make some changes to the story, including softening the character of Captain Queeg (and they managed to keep the title, even though the Navy initially balked at the use of the word “mutiny”). Of course, Columbia head Harry Cohn made his own stipulations, demanding a romance story for Robert Francis’s Willie Keith, as well as keeping the movie’s length under two hours. Herman Wouk (who had already adapted the story as a play) was brought in to write the screenplay, but his screenplay would have translated to a fifteen hour film, so he was replaced. Humphrey Bogart was highly desired for the role of Captain Queeg, but Harry Cohn knew that Bogart desperately wanted the part, so he got him to settle for less than his usual salary. It still worked out for Bogart, though, as the role became one of his most highly-praised performances (and his final Oscar nomination).

I’ve had the opportunity to see The Caine Mutiny a few times so far in my life, and it’s one that I will admit to liking quite a bit. Obviously, Bogart’s performance here is the big appeal of the film, as he goes from being a strict leader into madness. The image of his character rolling the metal balls in his hand is one that has stuck with me ever since the first time I saw this movie. The story itself is one that has stayed with me, the way everything turned out. I know I’m getting into SPOILER territory with what I have to say next, so if you haven’t seen the movie, then don’t keep reading. The first time I saw the movie, I felt for Van Johnson’s Steve and Robert Francis’s Willie, as I thought they were doing the right thing, based on Bogart’s performance. But Barney Greenwald’s (Jose Ferrer) drunken speech at the end revealing Fred MacMurray’s Tom Keefer as the true mutineer blindsided me (due to my own youth and inexperience on that first viewing), not to mention how all the men could have avoided trouble had they tried to help the captain when he asked for help. Ever since, I know I’ve watched the details more closely, especially with regard to MacMurray’s performance. It has such an element of truth, in terms of being willing to help others instead of being judgmental about it, and it’s something that still rings true, regardless of the situation (not to mention the idea that you don’t necessarily have to like your leaders, which is always a struggle, especially when politics are involved). END SPOILER Honestly, the romance between Robert Francis’s Willie and Donna Lee Hickey’s May Wynn (technically, Donna changed her name to May Wynn for this film) is the only point about this movie that doesn’t work well, but the rest of the movie is so riveting that I can’t really knock the film down any points for it. Seriously, this is a great film, and one I highly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Entertainment

And with that ends my final Star (Humphrey Bogart) Of The Month blogathon for the year! Stay tuned for my announcement (on December 6) of my first Star Of The Month blogathon for 2022, and in the meantime, I will be concentrating on Christmas films starting December 1!

Film Length: 2 hours, 5 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Bali (1952)Humphrey BogartWe’re No Angels (1955)

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) – Jose Ferrer – Deep In My Heart (1954)

In The Good Old Summertime (1949) – Van Johnson – Brigadoon (1954)

Murder, He Says (1945) – Fred MacMurray

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… The Great McGinty (1940)

Here and there this year, I’ve been looking into films that were either written by Preston Sturges or written AND directed by him, and I’m back for another movie he wrote/directed with the 1940 film The Great McGinty starring Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus and Akim Tamiroff!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sky Blue 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, 11 seconds)

The Pink Panther tries to fly a kite, but keeps causing trouble for the Little Man. It’s a fun cartoon, with a mix of things going wrong (hilariously) for the Panther, and his actions having unintended consequences (also quite funny) that keep affecting the Little Man. Of course, the Little Man’s frustration with the Panther grows, resulting in him actively going after the Panther by short’s end. The gags all work pretty well for me, and make this one quite easy to revisit for a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At a soup kitchen, some crooked politicians try to recruit some homeless men to vote for the incumbent mayor Wilfred H. Tillinghast (Arthur Hoyt) in various precincts by offering two dollars per vote. One enterprising man, Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy), goes off and votes thirty-seven times. This act catches the eye of the local political Boss (Akim Tamiroff), who hires him to extort protection money from various people. Eventually, McGinty becomes an alderman. When the mayor and many other politicians are caught in corruption, the Boss, who has a hand in every political party, decides to pick McGinty to be the next mayor as part of the reform party. The problem for McGinty? The Boss wants him married so that he can have the women’s vote. McGinty turns him down, until he talks with his secretary, Catherine (Muriel Angelus), who suggests a sham marriage so that he can get the women’s vote, and he agrees. After they get married, he learns that she has two children from a previous marriage, but decides to stick around anyways, since it’s not a “real” marriage for them. It’s all enough for him to be elected as the mayor, and he continues in his unscrupulous ways. However, after nearly six months of marriage, he finds that he does indeed love Catherine and her children. This love results in her starting to express her more idealistic politics to him, as she hopes that he will develop more of a conscience. McGinty is reluctant to follow through, as he feels that he doesn’t have enough power as the mayor to buck the Boss. Will he eventually have enough power to go against the Boss’ wishes? Or will he continue his unscrupulous ways in spite of his wife and family?

Preston Sturges wrote the story under the title The Story Of A Man way back as far as 1933, intending it as a vehicle for Spencer Tracy. When that failed, he tried to sell it to the Saturday Evening Post (but they didn’t want it, either). Up to that point, he had been writing his stories for the various studios he worked at, but he didn’t always like what the directors did with his films, and longed to direct them himself. After Remember The Night, he made the decision to direct his scripts himself. He tried selling The Story Of A Man to Paramount Studios at the low price of $10, on the condition that he, and only he, was to be the one who would direct it. They agreed, giving him a budget of $350,000, a three-week shooting schedule, and some of their more inexpensive stars. The movie wasn’t a big hit, but it did well enough that Preston Sturges was given the chance to keep working as a director.

I’m coming off my first time seeing this film, and going into it, I really had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by a decent movie. Sure, there are no big stars here, but, in some respects, that works much better, as you can see them as the actual characters much easier. I can’t deny that, in spite of its age, this film still feels quite relevant with regard to the world of politics. The political rallies shown certainly haven’t changed, with one rally complaining about the other candidate and their corruption, while the other (led in this film by Skeeters the Politician, as played by Sturges regular William Demarest) builds up his candidate and all the “things he has done for the people.” Watching Brian Donlevy’s Dan McGinty as he goes from being completely unscrupulous to gaining a conscience as he listens to his wife is a fascinating story. I’ll admit, the fights between McGinty and Akim Tamiroff’s Boss character are some of the most amusing parts of the story (especially how indifferent those around them are to the fights). I do think that some of Preston Sturges’ later comedies like The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story are far better, but I enjoyed this film a lot (and I certainly hope to get a chance at some point to see The Miracle Of Morgan Creek with Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprising their characters). I would definitely recommend this one!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Great McGinty (1940)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics coming from a new 4K master. My own opinion here is that this new transfer looks quite good! The detail is quite superb, and the picture has been cleaned up of a lot of dirt and debris. There are some shots that don’t look *quite* as good as everything else, but I suspect those are due to available elements and/or the way the film was originally put together. Certainly not something that would stop me from recommending a wonderful release of this entertaining movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jesse James (1939) – Brian Donlevy – The Great Man’s Lady (1942)

Spawn Of The North (1938) – Akim Tamiroff – Can’t Help Singing (1944)

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… College (1927)

Following up last week’s review of the Buster Keaton silent comedy Go West, we’ve got ANOTHER Buster Keaton silent. This time, it’s the 1927 film College.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pink Outs (1967)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)

In this Pink Panther cartoon, there is no story. It’s just a series of different gags, switching from one activity to another. Some are funny, others not so much. There is no real relation between everything going on, although the final one (with him mowing the lawn) builds on another one from earlier in the short. Honestly, the overall short is decent, but not that memorable. The Panther is generally better when there is a slight story being served by various gags, and not just a series of un-related ones.

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s high school graduation day at Union High School in California, and everyone is excited! The scholarly Ronald (Buster Keaton) gives a speech on “The Curse Of Athletics,” talking about how much more important education is than sports. However, his speech doesn’t go over well with the crowd (well, except for his mother, played by Florence Turner). In particular, the girl that he likes, Mary Haynes (Anne Cornwall), is furious with him, as she prefers the athletic type, like Jeff Brown (Harold Goodwin), whom she is dating. Jeff and Mary are off to the more athletically-inclined Clayton College, and Ronald decides to join them. The Dean (Snitz Edwards) is thrilled to have him at Clayton, and hopes that Ronald’s study habits will rub off on his athletic classmates. However, Ronald wants to try his hand at sports in an attempt to regain Mary’s affections, and tries out for the baseball and track teams (and fails miserably at both). As a result of his athletic attempts, his grades suffer, and Ronald is called in to see the Dean. The Dean is sympathetic when he hears why Ronald is trying to concentrate on sports, and makes him the coxswain for the rowing team. Of course, this doesn’t go over well with the crew coach (Carl Harbaugh) or the team, but for the moment, they are stuck with Ronald due to the Dean’s order. On the day of the race, the coach tries to drug Ronald with his drink, but the guy that everybody else wants to be the coxswain accidentally drinks it, and passes out. With no alternative, the team is stuck with Ronald for the race. Will he be able to help them win? Will his attempts finally gain the affections of the girl he loves?

In 1926, Buster Keaton completed what many would later call his one of his masterpieces, The General. However, audiences and critics of the time didn’t take to it very well, and he decided to go a more commercial route for his next film. Audiences were crazy about college at the time (and Harold Lloyd himself had had one of his biggest hits with the college-themed The Freshman), so that was the direction Buster Keaton elected to go. While he plays a (mostly) non-athletic character, that was obviously not the case in real life, with all the various stunts and pratfalls that he could do, so he actually had to hold back a little on his abilities (although he used a stunt double, which was a first for him, for a scene with him pole-vaulting through a window, figuring he didn’t want to spend months trying to train for it). Of course, he was plagued with some behind-the-scenes troubles, as his usual producer, Joseph Schenck, was unable to be that involved with the production (he had just become the president of United Artists), and left his publicity chief Harry Brand in charge (who made a nuisance of himself by frequently pestering Buster Keaton). Like with The General, critics and audiences didn’t care for the film, with the results being that he ended up making the career-destroying move of signing with MGM after Steamboat Bill, Jr.

I think Buster Keaton’s presence certainly makes this movie work! His athletic abilities really come in handy for the stunts that he tries to do with the various sports his character tries to do! And it is those mishaps (mostly when trying baseball and the various events in track) when this movie is at its funniest! It’s hard not to cheer for him, especially when, despite all the stuff that keeps happening, he manages to help the rowing team! I do think the film has some issues, though, that work against it. We are shown two attempts by his character to get a job to pay for college. The first has him working as a soda jerk, which is fine, as it is also one of the funnier bits in the film. The second, however, has him working at a restaurant. The problem? The “help wanted” sign was advertising for a “colored waiter” (which means he dons blackface to hold the job). Especially with him acting out some stereotypes to hide his presence, that whole section has aged very poorly (and, since nothing further is shown of him working after he is fired there, leaves you almost feeling like the job hunt is just there to pad out the movie a little). I’m also not thrilled with the last few seconds of the ending, which come out of nowhere and almost seem out of place for what the rest of the film is doing. Again, though, it’s only a few seconds, and not enough to ruin the rest of the movie. It’s an entertaining movie, which provided a few good laughs (even with its issues). It’s hard not to compare it to Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, though, which I felt was done much better (and doesn’t have stuff like the blackface and stereotypes that have aged poorly). Still, this one is enough fun that I look forward to watching it again, along with some of the other Buster Keaton silents!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… College (1927)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Cohen Media Group with Go West (1925) as part of “The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4.” According to the info at the beginning of the movie, this transfer made use of a third generation safety dupe positive and second generation safety dupe negative. Given that, it looks fairly obvious that this transfer isn’t quite as good as the one for Go West on the same disc. It’s pretty good overall, don’t get me wrong, but the detail isn’t quite as visible, and some spots (especially the opening credits and intertitles) look a bit rougher. It’s still good enough to enjoy the movie, though, and with Go West looking as good as it does, I think this release is still worth it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

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

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The General (1926) – Buster Keaton – Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Go West (1925)

I’m a little overdue for digging into any silent movies, so let’s get back to it with the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy Go West!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Hand Is Pinker Than The Eye (1967)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)

On a cold winter’s day, the Pink Panther sneaks into a house to get warm. What he doesn’t know is that the house belongs to magician Zammo the Great, and the Panther has to contend with all sorts of magical troubles! This one is quite a bit of fun, with all the different magical gags. In particular, the Pink Panther has to keep dealing with a pesky rabbit, who keeps messing around with the house! This is one of the better Pink Panther cartoons, and one I certainly enjoy coming back to!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In his hometown in Indiana, Friendless (Buster Keaton) is unable to get a job, so he decides to sell everything he has. He doesn’t get much for it, just enough for a loaf of bread and some meat. He hops a train to New York City, but he finds the city waaaaay too crowded. Thinking on the advice of Horace Greeley (you know, “Go west, young man, go west”), he hops on a train to Santa Fe. Along the way, he accidentally rolls off the train while hiding in a barrel, and finds himself stranded in the desert. Walking around, he comes to the Diamond Bar Ranch. There, the ranch owner (Howard Truesdale) gives him a job as a cowboy. Due to his lack of experience, he struggles early on with the various jobs he is given. He soon makes a friend, though, when he pulls a stone out of the hoof of a cow named Brown Eyes. Brown Eyes returns the favor by saving him when he gets his foot caught and a bull charges him. With his new friend alongside him, things are starting to look up for Friendless. However, that feeling is short-lived, as the ranch owner needs to sell his cattle to a stockyard (although another rancher doesn’t want him to, as that other rancher is holding out for a higher price). Still, the Diamond Bar Ranch owner insists on sending the cattle to the stockyard right away (with that group including Brown Eyes). When Friendless finds out that Brown Eyes is going, he tries to stop the ranch owner, but he only gets fired for his efforts. His severance pay isn’t enough to buy Brown Eyes, and, in an attempt to win enough at poker, he loses everything. So he decides to get on the train with Brown Eyes. On the way to the Los Angeles stockyard, the train is stopped by the other rancher and some of his men. The men from the Diamond Bar Ranch win the fight, but the train is started up and leaves before the men can get back on (except for Friendless). He is able to stop the train in L.A., and ponders leaving with just Brown Eyes. However, he remembers overhearing how the Diamond Bar Ranch owner is facing financial ruin if the cattle can’t get to the stockyard, and decides to walk them through L.A. But will his efforts work, or will the cattle run completely amuck with only one man trying to lead them?

Go West was shot on location about sixty miles from Kingman, Arizona. Of course, doing so caused some trouble with the heat (which at times reached nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit) threatening to melt the emulsion on the film stock, requiring the cameras to be packed in ice. Buster Keaton trained the cow Brown Eyes himself, which caused production to be delayed a few weeks when she was in heat (and the combination of her appearance and training meant that she couldn’t be easily replaced). For the stampede at the end of the movie, the cattle were let loose in parts of L.A., with cowboys placed on the streets to keep people from driving into the shots. At the time, reviews were mixed, and, while it did decently at the box office, the costs of filming on location kept it from being a bigger hit.

Go West was the first silent Buster Keaton movie that I ever had the opportunity to see (with In The Good Old Summertime being the first Buster Keaton movie I saw overall). Of course, the fact that I’ve seen more of his films since then is certainly a good indication that I liked this one! I’ll admit, having worked with cows all my life probably made this one a lot easier for me (not to mention my family) to enjoy! I know we were all quite impressed with how well-trained the cow Brown Eyes was! I will admit, the two instances of a bull/steer “charging” (with the camera right behind looking down) certainly looked quite fake, but, then again, I wouldn’t trust a real bull or steer if it was charging, so I have to give Buster Keaton props for making it look at least decent! And, of course, Buster Keaton is still up to some of his usual pratfalls and stunts (which are always fun to watch)! I will certainly say, though, that final scene of him taking all the cattle through L.A. is both fun and hilarious (and, again, knowing cattle, I’m not surprised when some of them start to go off on their own instead of going where they’re supposed to)! I may be partial to this one since it was my first Buster Keaton silent, but I still say it’s a very fun movie, and one worth recommending!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Go West (1925)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Cohen Media Group with College (1927) as part of “The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4.” According to the info shown at the beginning of the movie, several sources were used to create the 4K restoration included on this Blu-ray (since the original camera negative was incomplete and very much affected by chemical decay). Even with multiple sources, this movie looks quite good the vast majority of the time! The detail is easily visible, and most of the damage has been taken care of. There are moments (no doubt due to inferior elements) where it looks a bit more washed out and loses some of the detail, but for a nearly 96 year-old movie (or 95, if we’re counting when this Blu-ray was actually released), it’s still a pretty good transfer, and well worth seeing!

Film Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Seven Chances (1925) – Buster Keaton – Battling Butler (1926)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2021) & “Star Of The Month (August 2021)” Featuring Barbara Stanwyck in… The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

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

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

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

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

And Now For The Main Feature…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Christmas In Connecticut (1945)Barbara StanwyckTitanic (1953)

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

Road To Utopia (1946) – Robert Benchley

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinto Pink (1967)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 5 seconds)

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

And Now For The Main Feature…

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

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

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

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

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

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

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

The Great McGinty (1940) – Brian Donlevy

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937) – Barbara Stanwyck Collection – The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… Salome (1953)

Now that it’s August 17, that means that we have another Rita Hayworth film! This time, it’s her 1953 movie Salome co-starring Stewart Granger!

Now, before I get too much further, I have something else to say (mainly addressed to my fellow bloggers). As I stated in my first “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” post this year on Music In My Heart, I was considering hosting a three-day blogathon around Rita Hayworth’s birthday (October 17). It’s been a long, rough year so far, and I have, for the time being, decided not to go forward with it. However, there is still nearly two months before that time, and, if there is enough interest in the idea, I may reconsider, so chime in if you would like a Rita Hayworth blogathon (just do it within the next month, as my decision will be final after September 17). That’s all I have to say on the subject. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pink Paradise (1967)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)

When the Pink Panther comes upon a tropical island, he finds himself trying to avoid the Little Man doing some hunting. This is another short featuring the Little Man and his dog (with the dog constantly getting in trouble because of the unseen Panther). Due to its similarity to other shorts of the same type, it’s hardly original, with the setting being the main change (and the types of gags that can be done with it). In spite of its lack of originality, it’s still a funny cartoon. At least, I don’t mind coming back around to it here and there (as long as I haven’t watched any of the similar shorts in short order).

And Now For The Main Feature…

In the Roman province of Galilee, John The Baptist (Alan Badel) denounces the “marriage” of King Herod (Charles Laughton) to his brother’s wife, Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson). Herodias wants John silenced, but Herod doesn’t want to do anything, for fear that John might be the prophesied Messiah. In Rome, Herodias’ daughter, the Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth), wants to marry Marcellus Fabius (Rex Reason), who is the nephew of the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). However, the emperor wants his nephew to marry a Roman, and has Salome banished from Rome. She is sent back to Galilee on the same boat as the newly-appointed governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate (Basil Sydney) and Commander Claudius (Stewart Granger). Claudius attempts to flirt with her, but she is still bitter over being rejected and wants nothing to do with any Romans. Once the boat arrives in Judea, they have to travel across land to get to Galilee. Along the way, they come across John the Baptist preaching. Pilate orders his men to attack him, but Claudius (a secret convert) saves him. Later that night, Claudius secretly leaves to go see his friend, John, who tells him that he is planning to go preach in the city (and warns Claudius not to protect him any longer). Soon thereafter, the caravan arrives at Herod’s palace. Herodias is happy to see that Salome has returned, but is not as thrilled at the fact that Salome also caught the attention of her stepfather, either (although she figures that to be a possible advantage in her favor, if used right). Salome soon learns of John and his preaching (mainly through Herodias’ biased view), and goes to hear him herself. John recognizes her, but refuses to allow the crowd to harm her, instead warning her to be careful about becoming as wicked as her mother. Upon listening to her mother again, Salome implores Claudius to arrest John. Meanwhile, on her own, Herodias attempts to have John killed, but her assassin fails because of Claudius. When Herod learns of this, he decides to have John arrested, hoping to keep him safer in prison. Claudius tries his best to have John freed, even going to the governor, Pilate, but with no success. However, he learns of someone else performing miracles, and goes to see Him. Meanwhile, Herodias is disturbed by the people shouting for John’s release just outside their palace, and tries to convince Salome to dance for Herod at his birthday celebration in order to have John beheaded (much to Salome’s horror). When Claudius returns, Salome tries to convince him to take her away with him. First, he stops to tell John about Jesus, and Salome realizes that there is still some good to be found in the world. Upon leaving, Claudius decides to gather some of his troops to help free John, while Salome decides to dance for Herod (but to FREE John, not have him killed, like her mother wanted). Both fail, as Herodias takes advantage of Herod’s lust, and orders John beheaded (which, as I said, is successful). So, Salome leaves with Claudius, and the two find Jesus, taking His words to heart.

The story of Herod’s stepdaughter Salome has been told many times in the movies, sometimes with films devoted exclusively to her side (with the 1923 silent starring Alla Nazimova being one of the best-known versions), or with her having smaller parts in films focused on Christ’s life (like King Of Kings). The genre of the biblical epic was enjoying a resurgence in the early 1950s after the likes of 1949’s Samson And Delilah, and Quo Vadis and David And Bathsheba from 1951. The idea of doing a film on Salome was suggested to Harry Cohn (the head of Columbia Pictures), who was looking for another vehicle for his recently-returned star Rita Hayworth. Of course, in order to do the story of Salome with her, Harry Cohn wanted to change the story, making Salome more of a heroine than the villain she was known to be. Salome was produced by Rita Hayworth’s production company (Beckworth Corporation), although it would be the last one they produced.

I will thoroughly admit that I enjoyed Salome. I didn’t know too much about the movie going in, but, from the moment I heard the the music by George Duning during the opening credits, I knew for sure it would be a biblical epic, as the music just had that feel to it. I will say, though, that Rita Hayworth is both an asset and a detriment to the movie. I think her performance works well, and it’s fun to see her do some more dancing. That being said, the historical differences do pull me out of it, with her being older than the real-life person was supposed to be, and the changes to make her more of a heroine as opposed to being as evil as her mother and stepfather are a slight negative side to the film. Still, she shows how some of Jesus’s contemporaries could come to Him. Charles Laughton and Judith Anderson are both great as Herod and Herodias, respectively, both managing to creep you out and make you dislike them intensely. I think Alan Badel’s performance as John the Baptist could use some work, but I blame that on the reverence shown for some of the bigger biblical characters at the time that sometimes resulted in some of those characters not being well-portrayed. Regardless, the movie was very enjoyable (and, given its biblical connections, makes me wish I had watched it sooner so that it could have been my April review in the “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” series to go alongside Easter, but it is what it is). It’s certainly one that I would recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Salome (1953)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. For the most part, this transfer looks very good. The color looks pretty vivid, and the detail is wonderful. There are some issues along the edge of the frame here and there, but nothing really distracting. The picture has been cleaned up of dirt and other debris. It’s certainly the best way to see this movie, in my opinion!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Affair In Trinidad (1952) – Rita Hayworth – Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)

Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) – Charles Laughton

Affair In Trinidad (1952)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionMiss Sadie Thompson (1953)

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!