Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Painting the Clouds with Sunshine(1951). Musical directed by David Butler. Cast: Dennis Morgan and Virginia Mayo (Virginia Mayo's singing voice was dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams). The movie was based on an earlier musical, Gold Diggers of 1933.
The Dillon Sisters, Carol, Abby and June, decide to leave Hollywood and head for the bright lights of Las Vegas, in their travel trailer looking for millionaires. Although, Abby is still in love with her gambler/singer boyfriend Vince Nichols.
The girls park their trailer behind the Golden Egg, which is owned by Felix Hoff, who has run into financial problems. Things start looking up for Felix, when eccentric prospector, Sam Parks, rides up on a donkey and says that he wants to become partners. It is not long before Sam let's the cat out of the bag, saying that he is the heir of Felix's former business partner, who was killed after he was caught cheating in a poker game. Sam, then says he wants Felix buy out his half of the Golden Egg.
Ted, has followed Abby to Las Vegas and promises Carol that he will bring three millionaires to their opening night performance. Abby, goes out with Ted, but does not believe it when he tells her that he is one of the millionaires.
The next morning, as Abby is drowning in flowers, Carol shares with Abby and June that Ted is from a wealthy family. Ted shows up with an engagement ring and Carol makes Abby accept his proposal.
During a board meeting at the Lansing National Bank of Boston, Ted's cousin, Bennington Lansing, reads a magazine article about Abby and then makes plans to go to Las Vegas to save Ted from who he thinks is a gold digger.
After learning that Bennington is on his way, Carol comes up with a plan to change Bennington's mind. Bennington arrives early and Carol mistakes him for the interior decorator and shares all her plans with him.
June, sees Bennington take Abby's signed photograph of Vince, to use as evidence against her. She then informs Bennington, that he can find Vince singing at the Bingo Club. Part of Bennington's plan, was to pretend that he has changed his mind about Abby, by throwing them a celebration party at the Golden Egg and to pay Vince to break them up.
Vince, changes his mind and can not go through with the plan, then decides to double-cross Bennington, by gambling away the money he gave him. Abby tries to stop him.
When June finds Ted winning at the slot machines, they decide to make the round of casinos together. Carol encourages Bennington to drink too much, hoping that he will approve of Abby and Ted's a marriage. He then offers to help her with her tax returns, so she takes him to the trailer to sleep it off, where Sam has arranged to take pictures of them together.
Vince, wins a lot of money at the casino but does not win over Abby's heart. Carol, who has returned in time to hear Abby rejection of Vince, but does not believe her and tells him that Abby, is still in love with him.
The next morning, Sam tries to blackmail the Bennington with the pictures of him and Carol, but Carol tears up the picture. Not to happy on how things are going, Sam, practices his knife throwing, while Felix worries for his safety. Vince, shows up and pays the money owed Sam to help his friend Felix. At the Las Vegas Helldorado festivities, June and Ted, become engaged and Ted hands Abby over to Vince. Felix, thanks Vince, for saving his life. Bennington, proposes to Carol, Sam joins with the rest of the group and they all climb into a buggy for the Helldorado parade.
I really enjoyed this very colorful film, "Painting the Clouds With Sunshine." The clothes were glamorous and musical numbers were wonderful .. I know, I know.. The girls-looking-for-millionaires' plot is old hat, but I still loved it.. I also loved Gene Nelson's number, where he is playing the trumpet while dancing.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Luxury Liner(1948). Romantic/musical/comedy, directed by Richard Whorf, and written by Richard Connell, Karl Kamb and Gladys Lehman. Cast: George Brent and
Captain of a luxury ocean liner Jeremy Bradford, spends his vacation with his sixteen-year-old daughter Polly, who attends Miss Fenmoor's boarding school for girls. Before Polly has to go back to school, Jeremy takes Polly to see opera stars, Olaf Erickson and soprano Zita Romanka. Because he knows Polly, has dreams of some day of becoming being a famous opera star. Polly, learns that that Olaf and Zita, will be performing aboard her fathers ship on their way to Rio de Janiero. Polly, begs her father to join the cruise, but Jeremy insists that she stay in school and returns to his ship without her.
One of the passengers Laura Dene, whose wedding was called off at the last minute. Laura's fiancee, Charles G. K. Worton, has a change of heart and secretly makes arrangements with Jeremy to sail on the ship.
It is not long before Denis Mulvy, a young officer, tells Jeremy that a stowaway has been found. When Jeremy learns that the stowaway is his own daughter Polly, he decides to teach her a lesson by having her work in the ship's kitchen. Polly, who's feelings are hurt changes her name to, "Polly Murphy."
Later, while dining with the captain, Olaf finds a note in his meal from Polly informing him that the potatoes were peeled by the captain's daughter. Which embarrasses Jeremy and when he walks into the galley to confront his daughter, he finds her dancing with the kitchen staff. Now, Polly finds herself scrubbing floors.
When Polly, meets Olaf she tells him that he is her "Sinatra." and when Polly meets Laura, she tells her that she is a stowaway and that she is being mistreated by the captain. Laura, goes to speak to the captain and demand that he improve her conditions. Jeremy does not let on that Polly is his daughter and Laura is surprised by his unwillingness to reconsider Polly's punishment. Although, Jeremy eventually does share the truth with Laura.
A romance quickly develops between Jeremy and Laura, even though Laura still does not know that Charles, is aboard ship. Charles tells Polly, that he is still in love with Laura. Polly, realizing that her father is also in love with Laura, is not sure what to do. Polly shares her problems with Olaf, who invites her to sing a duet with him in his next performance. Later, when Laura tells Polly that she does not love Charles, Polly, is relieved to hear the news.
Jane Powell, gives a wonderful performance and the beautiful Frances Gifford, makes a wonderful leading lady. I would have loved to see her in more films. The music keeps the unbelievable plot moving along.
In 1939 landed her first leading role in the film, Mercy Plane. She played another uncredited role in, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). She played several more minor roles before she performed in, Jungle Girl(1941). She left RKO for Paramount Pictures where she performed in, The Glass Key (1942). In 1943 she made another jungle movie, Tarzan Triumphs.
At MGM she performed in leading roles in films, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), She Went to the Races (1945) and The Arnelo Affair (1947). She also performed in supporting roles, Thrill of a Romance(1945) and Luxury Liner (1948).
In 1948 Gifford was almost killed in a car accident, receiving severe head injuries which she never recovered from. She attempted a comeback in the films, Sky Commando (1953) and Riding High (1950).
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Fashions of 1934(1934). Pre-Code/musical/comedy directed by William Dieterle with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. Based on the story The Fashion Plate by Harry Collins and Warren Duff. Cast: William Powell and Bette Davis.
Sherwood Nash's, New York investment business hits hard times until he meets dress designer Lynn Mason. They quickly come up with a plan to earn a living making knock offs of beautiful Paris designs.
They learn by accident that Oscar Baroque, gets his ideas from old costume designs. Lynn, picks up on the idea and she and Sherwood sells her designs to their New York customers.
Sherwood, comes up with a new scam and becomes partners with Joe Ward, an ostrich feather salesman after he recognizes the Grand Duchess Alix, his old friend, Mabel. Threatening to expose who she really is, Sherwood suggests that she convince Baroque, to back and design the costumes of the musical in which she is performing. Wanting to please the Grand Duchess, Baroque buys Ward's entire supply of ostrich feathers. Lynn, who has grown very tired of his scams, thinks about leaving him for the piano player.
Sherwood opens a new fashion house called, Maison Elegance and Lynn's designs are very popular, until Baroque finds out about their scam. The police give him one afternoon to straighten everything out. Will he be successful or ruin everyones lives?
William Powell, is one of those witty con artiest that you can not help fall in love and root for. You will not be able to take your eyes off the very talented Bette Davis and her glamorous blonde hair. If you enjoy fashions from the 30s. This film is for you.
One of the main reasons why I wanted to watch this film, was for the production number created by Busby Berkeley. Meant to showcase 'Spin A Little Web Of Dreams' with Busby's trademark identical blonde showgirls performing complicated dance numbers.
In 1935 she married actor Adolphe Menjou, and they remained together until his death in 1963. Teasdale and Menjou performed together in two films, The Milky Way(1936) and Turnabout (1940), and were also co-hosts of a syndicated radio program in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Teasdale retired after the radio program finished its run, keeping busy with her hobby of costume design.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Garden of the Moon (1938). Director: Busby Berkeley. Cast: Pat O'Brien, Margaret Lindsay and John Payne.
When Rudy Vallee, can not perform at the Garden of the Moon nightclub, owner John Quinn hires the young struggling band leader, Don Vincente. Don and his band fly out to California from New York, but Don is not too happy when he learns that they will be performing with a woman singer. He believes that they will only cause problems between the band members. Quinn, insists that Don use her in the band. Don surrounds her with horns so that she can not be heard. Which angers Quinn, who turns off Don's microphone so Don has to sing without it.
Thinking that they are being swindled, Toni goes looking for a new sponsor and convinces a chewing gum manufacturer to listen to Don's broadcast. When Quinn hears about their plans, he fires Don.
Knowing that Quinn is a fan of royalty, Toni plants a story about Don's friendship with the Maharajah of Sund. It's not long before Don is back at work. Quinn throws a party for the Maharajah and things are going as planned until Maurice, the materde, almost ruins them when he recognizes the Maharajah as a waiter who once worked for him.
Quinn, eventually learns the truth, but Toni convinces him not to take revenge on Don. Don has been so popular that the owners of the hotel want him to sign a contract. Which Don refuses to sign, because the gum manufacturer has offered him a radio program.
Toni, convinces Don to do the radio broadcast from Hollywood. Mistakenly, he believes that Toni is in with Quinn and quits. Quinn, has gossip columnist Jimmie Fidler, warn Quinn over the radio that gangsters are out to kill him. Quinn fakes a shooting and begs Don to stay. His plan works and soon Quinn is back to work, with Don as his bandleader.
The roles played by John Payne and Margaret Lindsay were originally intended for Dick Powell and Bette Davis. Powell took a layoff rather than make this film.
This is a fun story and the film has a lot of big band era music with some swing numbers mixed in. Payne looks and sounds great and is supported by a wonderful actress, Margaret Lindsay. The musical number, "Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish," better known today thanks to a Looney Tunes cartoon, made its debut in this film.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Ice Follies of 1939(1939). Directed by Reinhold Schünzel. Cast: Joan Crawford, James Stewart, Lew Ayres and Lewis Stone. Featuring The International Ice Follies.
The story begins, when skaters Larry Hall and Eddie Burgess, meet Mary McKay, a very poor skater. Larry, insists on including in her in their act, even after being fired from all their shows.
After the couple are married, Mary, realizes that she is damaging her husband's career and convinces the head of Monarch Studios, to hire her. Mary, soon discovers that she can not marry without the permission of the studio and Larry tells her to keep their marriage a secret.
After his wife becomes a huge star, Larry leaves for New York, to meet with his former partner Eddie, in the office of producer Mort Hodges, who plans to help Larry with his dream of producing the Ice Follies.
After, Larry's Ice Follies, becomes a huge hit, Mary wants to give up her career to save their marriage. Will she change her mind after the the two are hired to work on the same show?
The best part of this movie is the ice-skating scenes. Joan Crawford, got a chance to play a much softer character. If you are like me, you will want to watch any movie with Jimmy Stewart in it..
Ayres played opposite Greta Garbo in the film ayres,, The Kiss(1929), but it was his starring role in the film, All Quiet on the Western Front(1930), which made him a star. Ayres was Janet Gaynor's leading man in, Servants' Entrance (1934). He played the title role in, Young Dr. Kildare (1938) and starred in several Kildare films. During this time, Ayres also co-starred with Joan Crawford and James Stewart in the film, The Ice Follies of 1939.
Ayres made few films after the war, but in 1948 his role in, Johnny Belinda earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Seven Days Ashore(1944). Directed by John H. Auer Cast: Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Marcy McGuire, Dooley Wilson, Gordon Oliver, Virginia Mayo, Amelita Ward, Elaine Shepard, Marjorie Gateson, Alan Dinehart, Miriam Lavelle and Margaret Dumont.
Violinist Carol Dean and Lucy Banning, are members of an all girl orchestra, both believe that they are engaged to, Merchant Marine Dan, who has been at sea for the past seven months. Dan, writes a letter to each woman, informing them that he will be in town on leave and asks them to meet him at the dock. He then puts both letters in a hat and after drawing Lucy's name, he throws out the letter addressed to Carol. The captain of Dan's ship finds Carol's letter and mails the letter to her.
After, Dan and his shipmates Monty and Orval arrive, Lucy is there to meet him. To his surprise, he also sees Carol waving from the dock. Pretending to be in pain, Dan asks Monty to take Lucy to the Indigo Club, where she performs. Just as he is about to catch up to Carol, Dan sees his parents and his former girl friend, Annabelle Rogers, also there to meet him. Pretending to be in pain once again, Dan sends Carol to the club with his friend, Orval.
That night, Dan's mother is hosting a party in his honor and he sends a message to Dot to come rescue him. It is not long, before Dot, Lucy, Carol and the rest of the band show up and liven up the party with their nightclub act.
Lucy, wanting to freshen up her makeup, opens Carol's purse, to borrow some lipstick. There, she finds Dan's letter in her purse and confronts Carol and then shows her own letter. The two women decide to teach Dan a lesson and confront him in front of Annabelle, who announces that she is going to leave in the morning.
The next morning, Dan finds two breach-of-promise suits from Lucy and Carol and Annabelle decides to stay to see what happens. Trying to find the best way to get out of the lawsuits, he asks Orval and Monty, to pose as millionaires and romance the gold-digging violinists. Unknown to Dan, Annabelle has sided with Lucy and Carol and has a lawsuit of her own.
Orval and Monty, begin their plan by taking Lucy and Carol, on a canoe ride. The two women end the date by dumping the two into the lake. Having second thoughts, they help their dates out of the water. Before, they know it.. Lucy and Carol, fall in the lake and realize that they have fallen in love, with Orval and Monty and the two couples elope.
Dan proposes to Annabelle, but when she rejects his proposal, he tells her that he plans to call Lucy and Carol's bluff by proposing to them, knowing that they are in love with, Orval and Monty.
After, Jones shares with Dan, Annabelle's role in the lawsuit, Dan becomes angry and Annabelle decides to leave. While packing her things, Annabelle hears the Arlands' servant, sing her and Dan's song "Apple Blossoms in the Rain," she realizes that she is still in love with him. With only seven hours of leave left, Dan and Annabelle rush to the justice-of-the peace to be married and are welcomed home when the band plays "Hail and Farewell," the Merchant Marines say good-by to their brides and return to their ship.
I watched this film, because I really wanted to see, Miriam LaVelle, musical numbers. If you enjoy wartime musicals, you may enjoy, "Seven Days Leave".
She performed with, Danny Kaye in the films: Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947). At the height of her career, Mayo was seen as a voluptuous Hollywood beauty. It was said that she "looked like a pinup painting come to life," and she played just such a role in the 1949 film comedy, The Girl from Jones Beach.
In 1949's White Heat she took on the role of treacherous "Verna Jarrett", opposite James Cagney. She was also cast against type as a gold digger in, The Best Years of Our Lives. Her film career continued through the 1950s and 1960s, frequently in B-movie westerns and adventure films. While she also performed in musicals, Mayo's singing voice was always dubbed.
As a young child, she was encouraged to practice dance steps to rectify a foot ailment. Through that, she took a interest in acrobatics and dancing. Chester Times columnists covering the various school concerts Miriam appeared in 1934 through 1938 quickly picked up on her dancing skills.
In 1941, aged 15, Miriam was given a minor role in the Broadway play 'Sunny River' at the St James theatre. A year later she appeared in 'Keep 'em laughing' at the 44th Street theatre. Her big break came later in 1942 when an animated electric sign on Broadway that featured a woman dancing, and which was modelled on Miriam, caught the eye of MGM talent scouts, who tracked her down and signed her. During 1943 she made four films: 'Meet the people' , 'The Gang's all here' , 'Cover Girl' and 'Seven days ashore.' In 1946, she made a film-short called 'Love me tonight', an dance routine accompanied by Dick Stabile's orchestra.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Yacht Club Boys, popular in the 1920s and 1930s: Charles Adler, George Kelly, Billy Mann, and Jimmie Kern. They performed as a specialty act in many films of the 1930s. The Yacht Club Boys' performances were similar to those of The Ritz Brothers, a zany musical-comedy trio.
The Yacht Club Boys, dressed in varsity sweaters and sang: "I'm Wild About Horns on an Automobile", "Nasty Nancy, the Meanest Gal in Town".
They later, expanded their act to include, current events and trends and sang songs like, "You're Broke, You Dope" and "The Super-Special Picture of the Year." Their best remembered silver screen performance was in, Al Jolson's The Singing Kid, in which the four try to keep Jolson from singing outdated "mammy songs."
Adler, Kelly, Kern, and Mann also starred in musical short subjects, first for Paramount Pictures in 1929-30, then for Vitaphone in 1936, with: Dough-Nuts, The Vodka Boatmen. The group disbanded in 1939; Jimmie Kern became a screenwriter and later a director.
Feature films include:
Deep 'C' Melodies (1930)
The Singing Kid (1935)
Thanks a Million (1935)
They're Off (1936)
Stage Struck (1936)
Pigskin Parade (1936)
Artists and Models (1937)
Thrill of a Lifetime (1937, billed as the stars)
Cocoanut Grove (1938)
Artists and Models Abroad (1938)
Friday, November 11, 2011
My Fair Lady (1964). Musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical, of the same name. The film was directed by George Cukor and starred Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.
Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins, believes that a person's accent determines their place in society. He tells, Colonel Hugh Pickering, another phonetics expert, that he could teach any woman to speak "properly" so that he could pass her off as a duchess at an embassy ball. For example the flower seller, Eliza Doolittle.
Eliza goes to Higgins for speech lessons. All she can afford to pay is a shilling per lesson. Pickering, who is staying with Higgins, loves the idea of passing a common flower girl off as a duchess and offers to pay for her lessons.
Also, down-on-his luck Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, shows up three days later, wanting Higgins, to pay him for using his daughter for his experiment. Eliza, begins her speech training and enduring Higgins' harsh approach to teaching. She makes little progress, but as they are all about to give up, Eliza finally "gets it" and she instantly begins to speak with an impeccable upper class accent.
As a test, Higgins takes her to Ascot Racecourse, where she makes a good impression, only to ruin it by a sudden lapse into Cockney while encouraging a horse to win a race. Higgins, hide a grin behind his hand.
Eliza, attends the embassy ball and dances with a foreign prince. Also, at the ball is Zoltan Karpathy, a Hungarian phonetics expert trained by Higgins. After having a conversation with Eliza, he certifies that she is of royal blood. All the praise goes to Higgins which angers Eliza and she walks out on him..
Eliza returns to her home, but finds that she no longer fits in. She meets her father, who has been left a large fortune by the wealthy Higgins and he is off to marry Eliza's stepmother. Eliza, goes to visit Higgins' mother, who is incensed at her son's behaviour.
Higgins finds Eliza and tries to talk her into coming back with him. Eliza, then announces that she is going to marry Freddy and become Karpathy's assistant. Higgins, now realizes that he needs her in his life.
This is a magnificent musical with a magnificent cast. The costumes are absolutely beautiful.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Stage Struck (1936). Cast: Dick Powell and Joan Blondell and Jeanne Madden. Director: Busby Berkeley.
Dance director George Randall, is not too happy and leaves the show when the star of the show is replaced by Peggy Revere, a woman whose only claim to fame is that she shot her husband. Now, that he is free.. Producer Fred Harris, hires him for his new show. What George doesn't know, is that Peggy, is backing and starring in the show. When, she learns that George, has been hired she tears up his contract. Fred, decides to use reverse psychology on Peggy and convinces her that hatred is really a sign of love.
George, is in love with Ruth Williams, who wants a job in show business. George, tries to talk Ruth out of it. Actor Gilmore Frost, helps Ruth get the job. When, Ruth sees George, singing a love song to Peggy, she thinks he is in love with her. The show is a failure, because Peggy is not very talented. Frost, hits her and George, insists that she go to the hospital. Ruth, plans to go on stage and in the last minute, Peggy insists she is well enough to perform. The police arrest both her and Frost for assault. George, asks Ruth to marry him.
The movie box office got a big boost when Dick Powell and Joan Blondell were married shortly before its release.
Stage Struck, is one of the least known of Busby Berkeley's Warner Bros. musicals, because there are no major production numbers. Although, There are some wonderful songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg :"Lady of the Moon" (sung by chorus girls during rehearsals, with Frank McHugh); "Fancy Meeting You" (sung by Dick Powell and Jeanne Madden); "In YOUR Own Quiet Way" (sung by Powell) and "In HIS Own Quiet Way" (a try-out, sung by Jeanne Madden). The film's highlight is the musical number by the Yacht Club Boys. Also featured in the cast are: Spring Byington and Carol Hughes, Hobart Cavanaugh,a young Jane Wyman and Jeanne Madden, in her movie debut.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Two Guys from Texas (1948) Musical/comedy. Cast: Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, and Dorothy Malone. Directed by David Butler. Pictures on September 4, 1948. This was a follow-up to Two Guys from Milwaukee, also starring Morgan and Carson
The film is best remembered for an animated cameo appearance of cartoon character Bugs Bunny. Friz Freleng, Warner's leading animation director, was assigned to direct the special animated dream sequence, in which Bugs gives some advice to Jack Carson.
While Bugs Bunny was not the star of the film, his appearance stands out as a landmark in his long career. Bugs would later have a similar cameo in 1949's My Dream Is Yours, which also starred Jack Carson.
Singing and dance act.. Steve Carroll and Danny Foster, are headed for California, when they run out of gas in Texas. Leaving their car on the side of the road, they hitch a ride to a dude ranch with Link Jessup and his secretary, Jim Crocker. After hearing Steve and Danny's story, Jessup suddenly remembers that he has unfinished business in town and leaves the two men to find their own way to the ranch. Steve and Danny, ask Joan Winston, the owner, to give them room and board in exchange for their talents. Joan, agrees to let them stay after she learns that they are friends of Maggie Reed, a singer working at the ranch.
Steve asks Dr. Straeger, a guest at the ranch, to talk to Danny about his animal phobia. Even though Straeger, is not a psychiatrist, he agrees to talk to Danny. Danny, shares with him a recurring dream in which he is a shepherd who loses his flock of sheep to a wolf who looks like Steve. Straeger tells Danny, that he is jealous of Steve and advises Danny to take a girl away from Steve.
When Steve and Danny discover that their car has been stolen and report it to the sheriff, "Tex" Bennett, who seems only concerned by Joan's, interest in Steve.
Joan, takes a walk with Danny and kisses him. By the next day, Danny has lost his fear of animals. On the day of the rodeo, Jessup and Crocker, steal the rodeo entry fees and use Danny and Steve's car for their getaway. Now, Tex believes that Danny and Steve are guilty and arrests them.
Danny and Steve, manage to escape from jail and, in disguise, sneak back to the ranch, where Danny overhears Jessup and Crocker planning to steal the rodeo's money. They decide to stop the robbery and clear their names.
At the rodeo, Danny accidentally mounts a wild horse and wins the contest. Then Steve reveals that Jessup and Crocker are the real criminals. Later, Danny is shocked when he learns that Straeger is a veterinarian. Steve and Joan decide to marry, as do Maggie and Tex.
This movie is a wonderful example of a Classic movie with the romantic plot and elaborate sets. I think you will love the catchy music and a great story line. A good rainy afternoon movie.
Malone, performed mostly in supporting roles in B-movies, many of them Westerns, although on occasion she played small but memorable roles, such as the bookstore clerk in, The Big Sleep (1946) with Humphrey Bogart, and the love interest of Dean Martin in the musical/comedy, Artists and Models (1955).
By 1956, Malone transformed herself into a platinum blonde and shed her "good girl" image when she co-starred with Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, and Robert Stack in the film, Written on the Wind. As a result, she was offered more substantial roles in films: as Too Much, Too Soon, Man of a Thousand Faces and Warlock , The Tarnished Angels, The Last Voyage and The Last Sunset.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Step Lively(1944). A musical film directed by Tim Whelan. Cast: Frank Sinatra. Step Lively was based on the play Room Service, by Allen Boretz and John Murray.
Gordon Miller, is rehearsing a musical comedy in the penthouse suite of Gribble's hotel...on credit. The trouble really begins when playwright Glen Russell, arrives.
This musical showcases a 19-year-old Gloria DeHaven and a 29-year-old Frank Sinatra, both in perfect voice. The songs are perfect: Where Does Love Begin (and where does friendship end), Some Other Time (I could resist you), Ask the Madam (she knows it all), and the Come Out (wherever you are). This is a film to watch just for the pure joy of it.
She began her career as a child actor with a bit part in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936). She was signed to a contract with MGM Studios, but despite featured roles in such films as, The Thin Man Goes Home (1944) and Summer Stock (1950), she did not achieve film stardom. She portrayed her mother in the Fred Astaire film, Three Little Words (1950).
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Strawberry Blonde(1941). Directed by Raoul Walsh. Cast: James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth, Alan Hale, Sr., Jack Carson and George Tobias. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1941 for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. The film features songs such as "Bill Bailey", "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louie," and "The Band Played On".
In this wonderful period film, New York dentist Biff Grimes, remembers past wrongs done to him, after he receives a telephone from Hugo Barnstead, asking him to pull his bad tooth:
Their rivalry begins when both men fall in love with the same woman named, Virginia Brush. Hugo, makes plans to meet Virginia in the park. Virginia, decides it is best to bring her outspoken friend, Amy Lind and Hugo brings his friend, Biff. When they arrive by carriage, Hugo pairs off with Virginia, leaving Biff with Amy.
The following week, Biff dates Virginia, taking her to all the expensive places in town. When he asks her for another date, she turns him down, but.. Biff keeps trying and Virginia finally agrees to meet him in the park. When Biff hears that Virginia and Hugo eloped earlier that day, he is devastated and Amy does her best, to make him feel better.
Eventually, Biff and Amy fall in love and marry. One evening, Virginia invites Biff and Amy to have dinner with her and Hugo. Hugo spends the evening bragging and offers Biff job. Biff accepts his offer, but.. is disappointed when he finds his only job is to sign his name to papers. His place in the firm becomes clear when Biff, is held responsible for Hugo's crimes and Hugo goes free.
Just when Biff does not think things could be any worse, his father, who is working on one of the firms projects, is killed when a building collapses because of the use of inferior materials. Biff, is once again held responsible and is sent to jail.
By the time he is released, he has completed a correspondence school course in dentistry. Meanwhile, Hugo has gone on to a career in politics. Will Biff, get even with Hugo, for all he has done to ruin his life?
Even though it is for only a few seconds, we hear Rita Hayworth sing with her own voice. This is believed to be the only time in a film when this happens.
The film has a wonderful turn of the century atmosphere and a wonderful tribute to American culture.
O'Connor's, best remembered roles are: The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Informer (1935).
Monday, October 17, 2011
Rita Hayworth, one of the great beauties of her era, was also a very talented actress, dancer, and comedian. She started her performing career partnered with her father, in a dancing team called, "The Dancing Cansinos". At that time Hayworth, was not of legal age to work in the California's nightclubs and bars, so.. she and her father traveled across the border to the city of Tijuana, Mexico, a popular tourist spot of the 1930s.
It was at the Caliente Club where Hayworth was first spotted by the head of the Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan. Hayworth, found herself in Hollywood making a screen test for Fox. Sheehan, signed Hayworth to a six-month contract.
There Hayworth, performed very small roles in five pictures. By the end of her six-month contract, Zanuck decided not to renew her contract. Judson, found a place for her in lead roles with Columbia Pictures. Studio head Harry Cohn, signed her to a long-term contract.
Cohn, thought Hayworth looked too Mediterranean, which caused Hayworth to be cast into Hispanic roles. She decided to undergo electrolysis to broaden her forehead and accentuate her widow's peak. When Hayworth returned to Columbia, she was a redhead.
In 1939, Howard Hawks wanted Hayworth, for a small but important role in the film, Only Angels Have Wings, where she played the wife of disgraced flier Richard Barthelmess and one of Cary Grant's old flames.
When Rita Hayworth couldn't play her drunk scene well enough, Hawks told Cary Grant to throw a bucket of water on her head, dry her hair, and to only say his lines.
Cohn, next put Hayworth in the films:
Music in My Heart (1940). This has to be one of the most underrated of Rita's films. A musical, which gives Rita's fans a chance to watch her dance. A wonderful 'boy meets girl' story, which begins when their cabs crash into each other, changing both their lives.
The Lady in Question(1940). This film is full of drama and smiles. The story begins when, Brian Aheme, a bicycle shop owner who wants to become a juror in a court case of Natalie Roguin. Andre Moestan, manages to talk the jury into setting her free. Andre, gives her a job in his bicycle shop and lets her live above his shop. Pierre Moestan, the son of Andre, falls in love with Natalie. It is great seeing a young Rita just starting out in her Hollywood career.
Video: Rita's first romantic scene with Glenn.
Angels Over Broadway(1940). Drama, in which a hustler, a showgirl, and an alcoholic playwright trto help an embezzler win back the money he stole.
Video: Full movie.
Rita Hayworth, is wonderful in her part and was later, loaned out to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to perform in the films:
Susan and God(1940), with Joan Crawford. Rita Hayworth, has a small role as a young actress who married producer Nigel Bruce for her career. You just know that she was going to be a huge star from her performance in this film.
On loan to Warner Brothers, Hayworth performed as the second female lead in, The Strawberry Blonde (1941), opposite James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland.
Ann Sheridan, was originally cast as Virginia Brush, but had a salary dispute with Warner Brothers. The studio borrowed Rita Hayworth from Columbia.
Jack L. Warner, liked her work so much in this film that he used her in another romantic comedy, Affectionately Yours(1941).
For me the best part of this fluffy film, is the love triangle, which at times it's hard to follow.
Her success in the film led to an even more important role in one of my favorite films, Blood and Sand (1941), with Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. Rita Hayworth, performance as Dona Sol, launched her career as sex symbol. Her dance scene with Anthony Quinn, for me is one of the sexest dances on film.
Video: Juan has fallen under Doña Sol's spell as he neglects his wife Carmen. Although Carmen defends her husband against his detractors, she leaves him after she visits the doña to discuss the situation and sees Juan kissing her.
She returned to Columbia Pictures and was cast in the musical, You'll Never Get Rich (1941), with Fred Astaire in one of the highest-budgeted films Columbia had ever made. Astaire, plays a dance director who becomes attracted to dancer Hayworth, but is drafted into the Army. All of their dances are sensational. The 'big number' is the finale, the "Wedding Cake Walk". There is a dance number at the start of the film called "Boogie Barcarolle." The other number is Astaire and Hayworth's dress rehearsal "So Near and Yet So Far," a beautiful dance which showcases Hayworth in a sheer black gown.
Their follow-up film, Rita's Favorite of her own films, You Were Never Lovelier(1942), is full of romantic complications and more beautiful dance numbers, performed by Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, and Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. The story is about, an American dancer who runs out of money while on vacation, in Buenos Aires and tries to get a job with hotel owner, Adolph Menjou. He soon meets Menjou's beautiful daughter Hayworth and compares her to the inside of a refrigerator. Trying to speed things along, Menjou starts sending his daughter orchids. Hayworth, believes that Astaire sent her the orchids and they fall in love. As a team, They only did two films together. This film includes the title song "I'm Old Fashioned", one of the most romantic dance numbers ever performed.
Hayworth, was the first dancer to partner with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on film.
In 1942, Hayworth performed in two other pictures:
Tales of Manhattan. This movie leads us through many ups and downs all based around a tuxedo which seems to be jinxed. Charles Boyer, is drawn to beautiful Rita Hayworth. Thomas Mitchell, as the husband with a few ulterior motives of his own. The movie composed of 5 unrelated short stories.
In the film, My Gal Sal. Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck originally wanted Carole Landis to play Sally Elliot, but she refused to dye her hair red and insisted she'd play it as a blonde. She was put in a secondary role and Rita Hayworth, borrowed from Columbia, since Alice Faye, expecting her first daughter, could not take the part.
Rita Hayworth's dancing partner in the number, "On The Gay White Way" is choreographer Hermes Pan.
The plot is fluffy and charming and you will love Rita Hayworth and Victor Mature, in this Gay 90s film..
It was during this period that Hayworth posed for a famous pin-up in Life Magazine, which showed her in a negligee perched seductively on her bed. When the U.S. joined World War II in December 1941, Hayworth, became one of the top two pin-up girls of the war years, the other being Betty Grable.
In 1944, she made one of her best-known films the musical, Cover Girl (1944), with Gene Kelly. The film established her as Columbia's top star of the 1940s.
A wonderful story about a girl named Rusty Parker, who dreams of being on Broadway which means she would have to leave the small theater where she works with Danny and Genius. Every Friday night, they go to a local bar where they order oysters so they can look for a pearl. Rusty, learns that fame is not all that it is cracked up to be. The movie showcases the amazing talents of Rita and Gene Kelly.
During the middle of shooting Rita Hayworth eloped with Orson Welles. Coincidentally the film's wedding scene was shot that day.
Cohn, continued to showcase Hayworth's talents in films:
Tonight and Every Night (1945). Rita, was pregnant during production. So the musical numbers were filmed first, before the pregnancy began to show. As filming progressed, they did everything they could to hide her growing belly with muffs, furniture and purses.
The movie is set during the air attacks on London about a theater that never missed a performance. Many musical numbers are mixed in with the story involving Rita being romanced by Eagle Squadron RAF, Lee Bowman. Even though she's warned by her best friend Janet Blair, that Bowman's a wolf in Eagle Squadron uniform. Dancer Marc Platt, is also interested in her.
Her sex appeal was most notable in the film noir. Gilda (1946), with Glenn Ford, this film found some difficulty with censors, because Hayworth, performed a one-glove striptease. Hayworth's, performance is stunning and unforgettable. Put the Blame on Mame, is one of film history's more memorable scenes. Also, look out for the famous "hair-toss" scene.
Video: First of 10.
Down to Earth (1947). This comedy/fantasy story begins when, performer/producer Larry Parks, begins planning a musical comedy that is a satire of the Greek Gods. A Greek Muse, is not to happy that liberties are being taken with her relations so she comes down and lands the dancing lead to straighten things out. Rita Hayworth, is at the height of her screen fame when this film was made.
She delivered one of her most famous performances in, The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Its failure at the box office was blamed on Hayworth's famous red hair cut off and dyed blonde for her role. This was done without Cohn's knowledge or approval and he was furious over the change.
Her next film, The Loves of Carmen (1948), again with Glenn Ford, was the first film co-produced by Columbia and Hayworth's own production company, The Beckworth Corporation (named for her daughter Rebecca).
Video: Dance scene.