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The Shining Hour (1938)
joan crawford and so many other BIG stars
Shining Hour opens with David (Robert Taylor) arriving in town for the wedding of his brother, played by Melvyn Douglas. What a CO-lection of big ol stars - Joan Crawford is Olivia Riley, bride to be, and Joan had gotten her teeth fancied up by now. Of course, she gives David (Taylor) one of her signature slaps about 17 minutes in. Margaret Sullavan is Judy, David's wife, and she hits it off with Olivia right away. Even later in the film, she has an odd, strong friendship with Olivia. She is so sweet and friendly in this one, much different than her role in "Shop around the Corner". (M. Sullavan has such an interesting story. Sometime check out her bio on IMDb... even her husbands were bigshots; didn't end well; died of "accidental" drug overdose at age fifty.) Hattie McDaniel is the maid Belvedere, and there are several jokes at her expense, but she will have the last laugh in Gone with the Wind! Fay Bainter is the strange, serious sister "Hannah", who likes things just the way they are, and doesn't seem to accept Olivia. Hannah goes out of her way to be nasty to her every chance she gets. Clearly, Hannah has emotional issues, and Henry is the only member of the family that will stand up to her. As someone has pointed out, the original play ended SO differently than the film, but this was the LATE 1930s, so the Hays code was in full force, and everything had to be whitewashed and subdued from around 1934 to 1950. David seems to be getting too cozy with Olivia, and Hannah (and others) are starting to notice. I'm guessing the scene where Olivia is up on a ladder, and flirts with Benny was also originally much naughtier than we see in the film. It's a story of family, secrets, sacrifice, proper appearances. Good strong script, good acting. They pack a lot into 76 minutes. When its done, it seems like it was much longer than that. I'm really surprised that currently, this one only has 6 stars out of 10 on IMDb.
Directed by Frank Borzage, who had already won two Oscars, a silent and a talkie. Borzage was the very first to win an Oscar for Best Director.
The Decorator (1965)
a slice of miss b davis
Found this one on you tube, in three parts. Bette Davis is Liz, "the decorator", and the awesome Mary Wickes is her assistant, Viola. In this first episode that apparently never made it to air, Ed Begley is the Judge, who yells his way through the show. His daughter "Missy" is getting married to "Jim (don't see their names in the credits on IMDb.. anyone know who they were ?) The first half has some clever laughs, but the rest of it is just a bunch of yelling and family squabbles. REALLY clever idea about her moving in with any clients for whom she is going to work ... good setup for a TV series. Since this one never made it, I guess we'll never know if she was going to stick around with the judge, or were there going to be new clients each week? The credits at five minutes in say "Guest star - Ed Begley". Miss Bette made this one in between Sweet Charlotte and The Nanny, so I'm sure missing out on THIS project didn't disturb her much. I'm a HUGE fan of mary wickes... if you haven't seen her in Now Voyager or The Man who Came to Dinner, ya gotta go see em! She's great, and totally under-rated. Directed by Richard Kinon,who seems to have done LOTS of television series. Too bad this one didn't happen.
Under 18 (1931)
a week in the life of Margie
Pretty fun story, but I wasn't really sure what the plot of the story was for most of the film; Margie (Marian Marsh) helps her sister (Anita Page) get married off; then we flash back to a hot city street, with Margie, her boyfriend Jimmie (Regis Toomey) and the neighbors squawking about how hot and miserable they are; it's 1929, everyone is suffering during the depression. Margie is working to get by , but we see everyone around them is either very rich and getting richer, or very poor and getting poorer (just like today. not much has changed.) We spend an awful lot of time talking about how hard it is to get by these days. I guess its a set up for things to come. She almost gets her big break modeling a fur in her salon, where she meets wealthy Mr. Harding (Warren William). Where were we? Oh yeah, the sister Sophie gets walloped by the husband, and wants a divorce. Margie runs all over town asking everyone for a loan for the divorce lawyer. She seems to be more concerned about getting the money than her sister is. Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens. Strong, clever ending, which kind of redeems the film. It's kind of a "week in the life of Margie" story. Directed by Archie Mayo, who directed comedies (A Night in Casablanca) and serious films (Petrified Forest). He had started in 1917, pretty near the beginning of the film industry. Story by husband and wife team Frank Dazey and Agnes Johnston. Looks like they wrote some of the later adventures of Andy Hardy.
The Happy Thieves (1961)
okay caper with R Harrison & R Hayworth
"Thieves" opens with Jimmy (Rex Harrison ) snitching a painting from a museum, and meeting his chick out front. Harrison will go on to win the Oscar for My Fair Lady in 1965. His co-star and partner in crime is Rita Hayworth as "Eve". Hayworth really should have won SOMETHING for her work in Gilda back in 1946, fifteen years before. Also watch for Britt Eckland, who married (and co-starred with ) Peter Sellers in the 1960s....she was also a Bond girl in "Man with the Golden Gun". This part in "Thieves" was only her second role...the first was "uncredited redhead" in GI Blues, with Elvis ! So... after stealing the painting, they have lost it, and now Eve and Jimmy have to figure out what happened to it. The film is okay... but can't help thinking the part of "Jimmy" could have been someone with more personality or style. Not sure who would have done it better. Overall, its pretty slow-moving. Story by Richard Condon, who also wrote Prizzi's Honor and Manchurian Candidate. Directed by George Marshall, who had started in the silents... such a prolific actor, writer, director.
Sit Tight (1931)
joe brown goes wrasslin.....
Winnie Lightner is Brown's co-star in this seldom seen film from Warner Brothers. Looks like she only did thirteen films after her time in Broadway shows. She would be censored for the lyrics of her songs, even though the Hays code didn't really kick in until about 1934, 1935, when she was already retiring. Here she really steals the show, and sings a couple numbers. This one is in need of a restoration; the sound and picture quality are pretty bad for the first half hour, and again later in spots. Jojo (Brown) and Winnie (Lightner) run a spa, and Jojo wants to get married, but Winnie isn't ready yet. We see her at the beginning, then Jojo does a few vaudeville bits, alone and with other minor players at the health spa. Also a three way wrestling match. Jojo decides to train "Tom" (Paul Gregory) as a wrestler. Paul Gregory died at age 38 in NYC, but I haven't been able to find out the cause of death. Anyone know? During a wrestling demonstration, we suddenly jump into an out-of-focus display of a sultan and dancer scene, which doesn't make any sense. Also watch for "Snitz Edwards"... who was really born Edward Neumann. so how did he end up with the name Snitz?? Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Based on a story by Rex Taylor, who had started writing during the silents. It's pretty good. Exactly what you'd expect from a Joe Brown film.
Going Wild (1930)
just okay early Joe Brown
My least favorite Joe Brown film. I LOVE Frank McHugh and Waldo Pidgeon, but the bad jokes, bad acting, and bad script are just all too silly. The first time I saw this, I wondered why no director was credited, and now we now why. And another thing. Why do all the women talk in that screechie high pitched voice in films from the 1930s?? Was that really the rage during the 1930s? I'm sure I sound like a grumpy old man by this point, but it really is pretty lame. Interesting piece of spinning equipment when they are giving "Rollo" the exam up on the roof. Was that some real testing equipment, or had they just come up with something silly for the film. You can tell talkies were relatively new.. they still use title cards in this one. Most of the film is like a three stooges scene. Ah well. They can't all be great. It's just "okay. There were a couple fun and funny scenes here and there, so it wasn't a total washout. just my three and a half cents.
Seasoned Greetings (1933)
totally fun "in betweener" on Turner Classics
Competing stores vie for business at Valentines Day. Lita Grey is the owner of one store, and she butts heads with the owner of the store next door to win the business before she goes under. George Haggerty is her clerk, "Parky". Check out the bio on Lita Grey (Chaplin... yes, she was married to Charles Chaplin when she was only 16.. that's a whole different story...) Watch for the featured act "Beverly Barn Hill Billies"..... fun, and funny. One guy flips his ear forward with his fingers, while another plays the spoon... and a whole bunch of violins. Carleton Macy is Mr. Beetle, who wants to buy out his competitor (Grey). Grey sings several songs, and does a great job of it. Fun twenty minute shorty by Warner Brothers. Directed by Roy Mack... one of the first things he ever did was direct Judy Gumm Garland... in one of the first films SHE ever did... in "Bubbles" ! Fun bits, nonsense story, but if you go with it, it wont hurt a bit. Fun song by "the Sizzlers... Pettin in the Park. ...Chocolate Music. You play it, then you eat it! WHY does this only have 5.8 stars, as of today ??
Our Man in Marrakesh (1966)
pretty good spy flick... T Randall gets tough.
So..... Andrew Jessel (T. Randall) checks into a hotel in Marrakesh, and we see a (dead) body fall out of his closet. Some chick barges into his room, and talks him out of calling the cops. Kyra Stanovy (Senta Berger) is involved in this somehow, and we have to figure out how. For Randall, this was still a couple years before Odd Couple. Also in here is Herb Lom, you will recognize as Commissioner Dreyfus from all the Pink Panther films. Look for Brit actors Wilfrid Hyde-White and Terry Thomas (from the hilarious Mad Mad World....). A lot of talking and posturing, but not a lot of action for the first half. SOMEONE here has two million dollars in a suitcase to buy a vote. Jessel seems to be caught up in some spy trap. Whe confronted by the bad guys, we seem him in one of the more "tough" roles he played. The fancy hotel at which he stays also seems to be the same hotel that Patsy & Eddy stay at in Ab-Fab. More dead bodies. And for a while, we can't tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Pretty entertaining film. Dr. No and Russia with Love had already been made into movies, so this was kind of a knock off of those. Randall had just made all those films with Doris Day & Rock Hudson. Written by Harry Towers, who had produced and written the screen plays for Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians".
Navy Blues (1941)
Fun, upbeat Navy flick from JUST before pearl harbor
With a ukulele playing in the background, and all those HUGE Hollywood names, how could you NOT have a great time? Haley (The Tin Man!), Ann Sheridan & Jack Carson from SO many great films. Martha Raye, Jackie Gleason. Herb Anderson is in here as the dumb hick; Anderson will be Henry Mitchell, Dennis the Menace's dad in the TV series. Jack Oakie was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Dictator. In our story, Cake (Oakie) and Powerhouse (Haley) set up a gambling scam in a get rich quick scheme aboard a navy ship. This film was released in September 1941, so J-U-S-T a couple months before the big surprise at Pearl Harbor. It definitely still has the upbeat, happy go lucky feeling of fun and adventure in the Navy. Their entire gig depends on Homer (Anderson), but of course it all comes apart at the seams. Sound and picture are excellent. The story moves right along. Jack Carson doesn't have much of a role here, but it all works! I had never seen this one before... hopefully Turner will show it often -- it's fun. There's a slightly dirty song about all the things that happen "In Waikiki"... and of course a drag number with Oakie and Haley. I'm surprised at the lower rating, as of today, only 6.5 stars. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, who had started in the silents. Bacon worked with Lucy on a couple films, and made a truckload of war timers during WW II.
Dr. Jack (1922)
it's a harold lloyd.... ... gotta respect the master.
mixed feelings about this one. it's a harold lloyd,so you have to respect the accomplishments, but the story is really no big deal. silent films had only been around about six or eight years, so what he does is pretty cool, but the story plot itself is no ground-breaking thing. His co-star in this one is Mildred Davis (who he married in 1923) and it's the usual antics, running around, surprising each other, showing surprised face and running off into another room, or falling down the stairs. Lloyd is a genius, of course, but this was one of his "later" bits. Hal Roach is listed as producer, so of course it did well at the theaters. Directed by Fred Newmeyer, who was hit or miss when the talkies came about. check out actor mickey daniels who appeared in the Our Gang series way back when.. here he's in an un-credited role, but he goes on to be a pretty big shot,