Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garden of the Moon(1938).

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.

Fun Fact:

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.

Margaret Lindsay (September 19, 1910 - May 9, 1981). She is best known for her supporting work in films of the 1930s and 1940s such as: Jezebel (1938) and Scarlet Street (1945). She had leading roles in "B" films such as: Ellery Queen series in the early 1940s. Critics say her standout performance, was as Hepzibah Pyncheon in the film, The House of the Seven Gables(1940).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Ice Follies of 1939(1939).

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..

Lew Ayres (born Lewis Frederick Ayres III; December 28, 1908 – December 30, 1996). He was discovered playing banjo in the Henry Halstead Orchestra as Halstead was recording one of the Vitaphone movie shorts called, Carnival Night in Paris(1927).

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).

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".

Virginia Mayo (November 30, 1920 – January 17, 2005). Tutored by a series of dancing instructors, she appeared in the St. Louis Municipal Opera chorus and then appeared with six other girls at an act at the Jefferson Hotel. There she was recruited by vaudeville performer Andy Mayo to appear in his act (as ringmaster for two men in a horse suit), taking his surname as her stage name. She appeared in vaudeville for three years in the act, appearing with Eddie Cantor on Broadway in, 1941's Banjo Eyes.

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.

Miriam LaVelle, performed as a 'speciality' dancer throughout the 1940s. Her acts were beautifully choreographed dances put to music in a way that was unique. She performed in several films and television shows.

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.

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).

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.

Dame Gladys Cooper(18 December 1888 – 17 November 1971). In 1913 she performed in her first film, The Eleventh Commandment, she then went on to make many more silent films. She also continued to perform on stage for many years. Later Cooper, performed in character roles and was mostly cast as the snobbish, society woman, although.. she sometimes played friendly characters, as she did in the film, Rebecca (1940).She was nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances as Bette Davis's domineering mother in one of my favorite films, Now, Voyager (1942). Gladys, plays a wonderful supporting role as the skeptical nun in, The Song of Bernadette (1943). Gladys, also performed as Rex Harrison's mother, Mrs. Higgins, in My Fair Lady (1964). Other well known film performances include: The Green Years (1946), The Secret Garden (1949), Separate Tables (1958), The Happiest Millionaire (1967). She also had numerous television roles in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1967, at the age of 79, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stage Struck (1936).

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.

Fun Fact:

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).

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.

Dorothy Malone (born January 30, 1925). She worked as a child model and began acting in school plays at Ursuline Convent and Highland Park High School. While performing at Southern Methodist University, she was spotted by an RKO talent agent and was signed to a studio contract, making her film debut in, The Falcon and the Co-Eds(1943).

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.

Penny Edwards(24 August 1928-26 August 1998), began studying dance by age six and, as a teen, appeared on Broadway in "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1943". After a couple of other musicals and a stint with the St. Louis Municipal Opera, she was signed by Warner Brothers in 1947. She showed promise as a second lead, singing and dancing opposite Dennis Morgan and Ben Blue in her film debut, My Wild Irish Rose (1947). She also performed the Shirley Temple film, That Hagen Girl (1947). Then alongside Morgan again in, Two Guys from Texas (1948)with Donald O'Connor and Marjorie Main in the musical, Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin'(1948) and in another musical, Tucson (1949).