Friday, July 22, 2011

Old Man Rhythm(1935).

Old Man Rhythm(1935). Directed by Edward Ludwig. Cast: Charles Rogers, George Barbier, Barbara Kent, Grace Bradley and Betty Grable.

When John Roberts, Sr., one of the owners of the Roberts Doll Company, hears that his son Johnny is spending more time on co-ed Marion Beecher than on his studies or on his childhood sweetheart, Edith Warren, he leaves for Fairfield College to visit his son. After finding out that Johnny is love with Marion, Mr. Roberts decides to enroll in the school as a freshman and keep an eye on his son. He soon becomes the most popular student at Fairfield, Mr. Roberts makes Pinky Parker, Paul's shy son, his partner in crime. Mr. Roberts writes a letter to Paul asking him to write back and pretend that the toy business is bankrupt, in hopes of getting rid of Marion. The letter, some how is never sent. Because of Mr. Robert's antics, the business really begins to fail. Marion, gets into a argument with Johnny over Edith, which causes Johnny to want to get married after the prom. At the dance, Paul and Rochet, arrive to inform them about the financial troubles of the toy company in front of Marion. As predicted, Marion breaks it off with Johnny, who, returns to Edith, now his father can go back home to save his company.

The plot and the songs are ok, but.. there are some fun things about the film. First, there's  Betty Grable, who is featured in many songs and she does a tap dance on her toes, ballet style. Next, there's "Blimp," played Sonny Lamont, who does a wonderful dance number . I also enjoyed seeing, Johnny Mercer, in the first of his two acting roles. Finally, it was fun to spot Lucille Ball, in an early uncredited nonspeaking part. Don't blink you may miss seeing her.

Barbara Kent (born December 16, 1906) is a Canadian-born silent film actress. Following the death of Miriam Seegar, she is believed to be the only living American actor to have achieved substantial fame during the silent era as an adult.

She began her Hollywood career in 1925. A brunette who stood less than five feet tall, Kent made a strong impression as the heroine pitted against Greta Garbo's femme fatale in the film, Flesh and the Devil (1926).

She received attention for the film, No Man's Law(1927) by swimming nude; she wore a flesh colored bathing suit in scenes .  She made the transition into talking pictures opposite Harold Lloyd in the comedy, Welcome Danger (1929). She also received praise for her role in the film version of, Oliver Twist(1933).

In 1934 she married agent and producer Harry E. Edington and took a one-year hiatus. Edington groomed Kent for what he intended to be a high-profile career. However by the time she returned to films, her popularity had faded and she was unable to establish herself again. She made her final film in 1935.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Girl Most Likely (1957)

The Girl Most Likely (1957). The film, a remake of Tom, Dick and Harry (1941), directed by Mitchell Leisen. Cast: Jane Powell, Cliff Robertson, and Keith Andes. The choreography is by Gower Champion. This was the last film produced by RKO Radio Pictures and was distributed by Universal Pictures.

While bank clerk Dodie heads back to Balboa Bay, California, she daydreams about meeting a wealthy man.

Later, her boyfriend, real estate agent Buzz, takes her to Lovers' Beach, where he tells her that he was promoted and will give her a wonderful life. Even though Dodie is not love him, she accepts.

Once at home, she day dreams about her beautiful wedding, but her daydream quickly turns into a vision of a life of social climbing.

At work the next day, Dodie shares the news about her engagement with her best friend Marge, but is quickly distracted when the yacht of millionaire Neil Patterson, Jr. sails by. While She and Marge take the ferry home, they watch a man leaving his yacht by motorboat, Dodie impulsively jumps into the water to catch his attention.. He comes to her rescue and asks her out on a date for that night.

Dodie's father at first, does not like her cheating on Buzz, but..when he hears that her date is a millionaire, he helps her get ready. While on their date, it is not long before she realizes that her date is not Neil, but Neil's mechanic, Pete. Dodie and Pete, have a wonderful time debating about her obsession with marrying a wealthy man. By the end of the night, Dodie, feels the way she has always dreamed of feeling, as if she is on a pink cloud and except his marriage proposal. After Pete leaves, she daydreams that she is a Indian squaw, with nine children but enjoying a passionate marriage.

The next night, Pete waits outside Buzz's office, and pretends to be looking for a house. Buzz, breaks his date with Dodie to show Pete a house, insisting that Pete bring along his fiancee. When he sees Dodie, Buzz is heartbroken, and leaves the couple by the ocean, forcing them to walk home.They hear a cry for help and find a drunken Neil, in the water. While Pete runs off to find help, Dodie charms Neil, who asks her on a date.

The next evening, she meets him on his yacht and they head for Tijuana, where they meet Marge and Sam and the four dance all night until Neil buys a cab to drive a drunken Dodie home at four a.m. Both Buzz and Pete are waiting for her and all three men demand that she must choose one fiancee, but.. she is too drunk to think clearly, so who will she pick?

This is a charming, film. A remake of a Ginger Rogers film called Tom, Dick or Harry. Wonderful cast: Jane Powell, Kaye Ballard in one of her very rare movie roles and a great supporting cast: Frank Caddy, Una Merkel, Cliff Robertson, Tommy Noonan and Keith Anden. The choreography by Gower Champion is wonderful. I loved the number on the beach and a score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.

Una Merkel (December 10, 1903 – January 2, 1986).Merkel looked like actress Lillian Gish and began her career as a stand-in for Gish, most notably in the film, The Wind(1928), a late silent film. Merkel performed in a few films during the silent era, Love's Old Sweet Song (1923). However, she spent most of her time in New York City working on Broadway.

Merkel returned to Hollywood and achieved her greatest success with "talkies". She performed in the film, Abraham Lincoln (1930). During the 1930s, Merkel became a popular second lead in a number of films, usually playing the wisecracking best friend of the heroine, supporting actresses such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Loretta Young, and Dorothy Lamour. She played Sam Spade's secretary in the film, The Maltese Falcon (1931). Merkel was an MGM contract player from 1932 to 1938, performing in as many as twelve films in a year. 

In 42nd Street (1933), Merkel played a streetwise showgirl who was Ginger Rogers's character's buddy. In the famous "Shuffle Off To Buffalo" number, Merkel and Rogers sang the verse: "Matrimony is baloney. She'll be wanting alimony in a year or so./Still they go and shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo." Merkel performed in both the 1934 and the 1952 film versions of The Merry Widow, playing different roles in each. One of her most famous roles was in the Western, Destry Rides Again (1939) in which her character, Lillibelle, gets into a famous "cat-fight" with Frenchie (Marlene Dietrich) over her husband's pants, won by Frenchie in a crooked card game. She played the daughter to the W. C. Fields character, in the film, The Bank Dick(1940). Her film career began to fade during the 1940s. In 1950 she was the leading lady in a baseball comedy, Kill the Umpire.

She had a major part in the film, The Mating Game(1959) as Paul Douglas's wife and Debbie Reynolds's mother, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Summer and Smoke (1961). Merkel, whose final film role was in the Elvis Presley film, Spinout (1966).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Night and Day(1946).

Night and Day(1946). Biographical film starring Cary Grant as American composer and songwriter Cole Porter. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz. The music score by Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award. The film features several of the best-known Porter songs, including the title song, "Night and Day", "Begin the Beguine" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy".

Alexis Smith plays Linda Lee Porter, Porter's wife of 35 years. Monty Woolley and Mary Martin appear as themselves, and the rest of the cast includes Jane Wyman, Eve Arden, Alan Hale, Dorothy Malone, Donald Woods, and Ginny Simms.

The film is the fictionalized story of Cole Porter's life, as a Yale University law student who is more interested in making a living in the theater than the law. During the Christmas holidays, Cole travels home to Indiana with his law professor, Monty Woolley, and his friend, Ward Blackburn. Also.. visiting the Porter home is Cole's cousin Nancy and her wealthy friend, Linda Lee. At home, Cole tells his grandfather Omer that he wants to be a songwriter.

After returning to the city, Cole and Monty put together a show called "See America First", starring Gracie Harris. Nancy, Ward and Linda are in the audience on opening night, but Cole's family refuses to come. The Lusitania, is sunk by the Germans the same night, and Cole's show closes after only one performance.

Cole then joins the French army and is injured. While recovering in a French hospital, he finds Linda, working as a nurse. To lift Cole spirits, Linda locates a piano and Cole writes the song, "Night and Day." Linda invites Cole to join her in a villa on the Riviera, but.. Cole does not want to take her money anymore and makes plans to return to America to get back to his work.

In New York, Cole finds a job playing the piano in a music store. Tired of  the same old songs, Cole's partner, singer Carole Hill, sings one of his songs, which gives, Cole and Monty, the idea to produce another show, The New Yorkers .

Things are going well and Cole, is offered the opportunity to write a show in England. There he finds Linda, they marry and return to New York, where Cole begins working on another show. Cole makes many promises to Linda about taking a trip together, but it is one show after another. Linda becomes tired of Cole's promises and leaves for Europe on her own. Cole's mother telephones and informs him that his grandfather is dying, Cole flies back to Indiana, to make up with Omer. Cole, stays in Indiana after the funeral and, during a storm, is badly injured when he is thrown by a horse, and he loses the use of his legs. Cole makes Monty, promise not to tell Linda about his injury. Will Cole and Linda become reunited?

This is a beautiful, entertaining film with a fun dialogue and a splash of drama. If you are a Cary Grant fan, you will love this film.

Selena Royle(November 6, 1904 — April 23, 1983), parents were playwright Edwin Milton Royle and actress Selena Fetter.  She turned to acting despite the objections of her parents. Her first professional role was as Guinevere in her father's play, Lancelot and Elaine. Eventually she landed a part on her own in the 1923 Theatre Guild production of Peer Gynt with Joseph Schildkraut and became a Broadway actress. She made one film in the 1930s, Misleading Lady, but otherwise worked on the stage and on radio, starring on the shows Hilda Hope, M.D. and Kate Hopkins.

In the 1940s, she returned to film playing maternal characters such as Ingrid Bergman's mother in, Joan of Arc (1948). She also made several appearances on early television. However, in 1951, when she refused to testify about her alleged Communist sympathies before the House Un-American Activities Committee, her acting career came to a sudden standstill. She appeared in only two more films afterwards, including the low-budget, Robot Monster.

Happy Birthday: Ginger Rogers!

Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath (July 16, 1911 – April 25, 1995) in Independence, Missouri, the daughter of William Eddins McMath, an electrical engineer, and his wife Lela Emogene Owens (1891–1977). Ginger's parents separated soon after her birth, and soon after her parents divorced, Rogers stayed with her grandparents while her mother wrote scripts for Hollywood.

When Rogers was nine years old, her mother married John Logan Rogers. Ginger took the name of Rogers, though she was never legally adopted. They lived in Fort Worth, Texas. Her mother became a theater critic for the newspaper, the Fort Worth Record. Ginger attended but did not graduate from Fort Worth's Central High School. As a teenager, Rogers thought of becoming a schoolteacher, but her mother wanted her to be a Hollywood actress.

 Please click here to learn more about Ginger Rogers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday: Leslie Caron!

Personal Quote:
Even now I feel furious with myself because whenever there's a camera pointed towards me my MGM training makes me smile. I don't like it. You can see it on all the people who came from that era because there was no question of them not smiling for the camera. Even Katharine Hepburn -- and God knows she was a dramatic actress -- if the camera is on her she smiles.

Please click here to learn more about Leslie Caron.