|Index||6 reviews in total|
This documentary has been shown on TCM. It is entirely in black and
white and made up of home movie footage shot by actor Ken Murray.
Kenstarted making home movies when he came to Hollywood. He narrates
the silent films and tells stories about "the old days". There is great
footage of Hollywood Blvd., Chaplin Studios and Paramount.
The documentary also features many celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope. Chaplin, ever the ham, tries to ride on one of those bicycles with the giant front tire.
Another great shot features two legends mugging for the camera: Jimmy Durante and Sid Grauman.
The documentary runs just under an hour and closes with a shot of Ken's star on Hollywood Blvd.
I would recommend this to any film who wants to look back at old historic Hollywood.
Ken Murray hosts this made-for-TV special and narrates many clips from his home movies of Hollywood, spanning the year 1927 to the early 1960s. (Note that these home movies are silent, and Ken's narration is a voice-over.) You'll see clips of some stars at home, including Robert Cummings swimming with his toddler daughter in their swimming pool, and Jayne Mansfield at home with her husband and children. Ken also shows clips from his vacation in Montana with Glenn Ford, Charles Ruggles, and Van Heflin. You will see Bob Hope in several separate clips, including one with him on the golf course. There's also clips of Bing Crosby playing baseball on an empty sandlot with his three sons. Ken includes some good footage of Sunset Boulevard, Paramount Studios, and Hollywood Boulevard. I also enjoyed seeing clips from a celebrity baseball game used to raise funds during WWII. Other classic stars featured in short clips include Jane Russell, Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Frank Capra, Hope Lange, W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, John Barrymore, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Thomas Mitchell, and others. This hour-long presentation is a cute, nostalgic, and "happy" glimpse at the old studio days of Hollywood. It's completely clean and positive, with no gossip thrown in. Turner Classic Movies shows this documentary at times, and you'll probably enjoy watching it if you love classic film stars.
Ken Murray takes the viewer on a trip through the Hollywood of the '20s
and beyond in this 1965 show featuring some of his famous home movies.
What a treat to see Hollywood Boulevard as it looked in 1927, and to
see people like Jean Harlow and Clark Gable on the movie lot and at
parties. There were some wonderful moments - Bob Cummings teaching his
little girl how to swim as she held onto his neck, a smiling Glenn
Ford, a look at the glamorous Pickfair as well as Mary Pickford and
Douglas Fairbanks. There was W.C. Fields posing for Murray, Murray
himself appearing at an old Hollywood theater, and a dog act. We get to
see what the old home movie cameras looked like as well.
This is a charming black and white escape into a simpler time. Didn't much enjoy the wiggling fish and the Indian sequence was a little bit politically incorrect, but there is certainly plenty to enjoy, as usual, in Murray's home movies.
Hollywood My Home Town (1965)
*** (out of 4)
Ken Murray hosts this documentary that covers three decades in Hollywood as he shows off his home movies, which feature a large number of major stars. The list goes on for dozens and dozens of names but some of the bigger names include Astor, (John) Barrymore, Bellamy, Capra, Chaplin, Cody, Cooper, Costello, Crosby, Davis, Durante, Fairbanks, Fields, Flynn, Ford, Gable, Gaynor, Grant, Harlow, Hayward, Hope, Karloff, Lancaster, Lemmon, Lombard, Loy, Pickford, Power, Rogers, Rooney, Scott, Sinatra, Stewart, Taylor, Tracy and Turner. Many, many others are showcased here but as you can tell from the list, this documentary has just about everyone you'd want. For the most part the camera footage is in rough shape but this is expected as a lot of the footage is just Murray catching stars as they are walking by. Sometimes third parties hold the camera and one funny sequence has a woman not knowing how to work it. If you're a fan of classic cinema then this here is a must see because of getting to see so many great stars off the set. Chaplin has an extremely nice bit where he's somewhat in his Tramp character and doing a small act for the camera. We see the likes of Cody just walking around the streets of New York and being kind enough to stop for the camera. Other fun stuff includes seeing Barrymore and Harlow golfing, Costello and Ford fishing and a nice sequence with Tracy playing around. It's also fun seeing how these rich people lived, what type of houses, their pools and even how the streets looked back then.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After all this time as a big time movie fan, I have to plead ignorance to the name of Ken Murray. As it turns out, he lived for a time not far from me in the city of Kingston, New York, moving to Hollywood in 1927 to catch whatever rising star he could find. It turns out that buying a sixteen millimeter movie camera did the trick, as he began recording unscripted moments in the private lives of many of the celebrities of the day; this film covers roughly the period 1927 through the early Sixties. There's probably a list somewhere of all the entertainers who appear in this documentary, but trying to name them all here would be kind of pointless. Highlights for me included candid scenes of Bob Hope, W.C. Fields and Will Rogers, Boris Karloff in an Indian get-up, Tyrone Power as a drill sergeant (for real), and Eddie Fisher and Liz Taylor taking off on their honeymoon. If you see the clip on Jayne Mansfield, note the resemblance to future first lady Jackie Kennedy. My rating for the picture has more to do with the sheer number of celebrities captured on film than for it's quality. Old time movie and stage fans should have a real blast with this, so catch it if you can.
Another fun package from Hollywood's home movie champ. Catch many of your favorite classic screen stars as they were years ago. In fact, this installment of his home movie series spans the 20's and Rudolf Valentino to the 60's and Jayne Mansfield. There's a lot of mugging and clowning, but not as much spontaneity as in Hollywood Without Makeup, (1963). In fact, Ken didn't shoot all the scenes, as he acknowledges. But so what, the shots of the fabled Valentino are priceless. And catch those crowded Hollywood street scenes from 1927, flivvers and flappers flavoring the sights. Among my favorites making brief appearance-- an early Gable, Tyrone Power on a marine drill field, Harlow sans bra, and Sally Blane mugging the camera after kissing John Barrymore. But the funniest, in my book, is Murray's 7-year old son enduring a cuddly love song from a pretty little girl. His expressions are priceless, and about what you'd expect from a typical boy that age. Incidentally, the little girl has a fine un-dubbed voice. Anyway, enjoy this blast from the past and its behind-the- scene glimpses. Clearly, the talent didn't need rehearsal in order to shine.
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