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Have written many published career articles on some of Hollywood's most luminous stars.
Latest career article on June Allyson in November 2012 Issue #449 of CLASSIC IMAGES on JUNE ALLYSON: American Dream Girl with 38 photos.
Career article in September 2007 Issue #387 of CLASSIC IMAGES on DOROTHY McGUIRE: QUIET SERENITY, her life and career with 19 photos.
Additional details for published articles can be found by clicking onto &Publicity& for each star at their IMDb site at left side of screen.
OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND: Living Legend
ROBERT MITCHUM: One Hell of a Guy
GENE TIERNEY: Face in the Misty Light
DANA ANDREWS: Flawed Hero
SUSAN HAYWARD: She Never Looked Back
MARIA MONTEZ: I Am So Beautiful!&
JENNIFER JONES: Portrait of Jennifer
HEDY LAMARR: Beauty in Repose
ROBERT WALKER: Demons Beneath the Charm
GALE SONDERGAARD: The Charm of the Spider Woman
BASIL RATHBONE: Classic Hero, Classic Villain
CLAUDE RAINS: Master of Menace
LANA TURNER: Dangerous Curves
RITA HAYWORTH: Queen of Columbia
SHIRLEY TEMPLE: The Child Star Who Tried to Grow Up
GINGER ROGERS: Emotion in Motion
GEORGE SANDERS: Self-Confessed Scounrel
LON CHANEY, JR.
WILLIAM HOLDEN: Tragic Hero
LARAINE DAY: All American Girl
IDA LUPINO: Acting in her Blood
GREER GARSON: Regal Star
RAY MILLAND: Against Type
LAIRD CREGAR: Hero in a Villain's Body
JOAN FONTAINE and OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND: Oscar-Winning Sisters
VICTOR MATURE: Beautiful Hunk of Man
GEORGE BRENT: Emotional Support
BRIAN DONLEVY: Sweetest Fella Who Ever Lived
DEBORAH KERR: Innate Gentility
CARY GRANT: Who is Cary Grant?
Thanks to all of you on the Classics Film Board who have written to me about my articles with some interesting comments.
Written, but awaiting publication:
Favorite Technicolor films from the Golden Age:
GONE WITH THE WIND
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
THE WIZARD OF OZ
DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK
(All from 1939 in gorgeous Technicolor).
Favorite Technicolor films from the '40s:
THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD
NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE
THE RED SHOES
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF COLONEL BLIMP
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES/THE HEIRESS
STELLA BY STARLIGHT (Victor Young) from &The Uninvited&.
Favorite Directors: ALFRED HITCHCOCK and WILLIAM WYLER
Favorite Genre: FILM NOIR
Favorite Actor: CARY GRANT
Favorite Actress: OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND
Favorite modern romantic mysteries:
LAURA/THE UNINVITED/THE UNSUSPECTED
Favorite Fantasies: PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
Favorite war films:
THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA/ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT/PATHS OF GLORY
It goes without saying that most of these beauties were indeed beauties. Here they are, not in any particular order:
OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND
King of the Underworld (1939)
Bogart puts comic spin on dumb criminal in programmer...
The central role in this low-budget crime melodrama really belongs to KAY FRANCIS, and she makes her lady doctor pretty believable. But it's HUMPHREY BOGART who walks off with the show, which is no more than a programmer made on the cheap, by playing up the comic elements of his character.
Bogart is an illiterate man who wants his "genius" to be known. He kidnaps a man (James Stephenson) with a reputation as a writer in order to tell him his life story and make him the "king of the underworld." But Kay Francis spoils all his plans when she has to prove herself innocent of criminal charges pending against her due to a prior event. She fools the hoods into believing they will go blind if they don't let her help them.
The story has several implausible script problems and never really comes off as credible. Interesting only to see that Bogart was far more worthy of his early material than the studio realized. And Kay Francis has one of her more believable roles in this crime melodrama.
The Vampire Bat (1933)
Low-budget horror film has its creepy moments...
And most of them belong to Dwight Frye as the town idiot who specializes in cuddling bats--much to the horror of the village inhabitants.
However, the filming is on a very primitive scale. Sets and costumes have the proper Gothic mood but the production is obviously a cheapie made in a hurry to capitalize on other films featuring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray which were decidedly more polished.
Melvyn Douglas, looking very youthful, is studying the case and can't figure out who the real culprit is. By this time, the audience can guess that it's "the one you'd least suspect."
Summing up: Watchable as a primitive horror film from Majestic Studio with a reasonably good cast. Has the necessary ingredients for classic horror films of this era.
Bright Leaf (1950)
Dismal story, dismal conflicts, unappealing characters...
Surprised I am that some reviewers here really liked this overwrought melodrama about the tobacco industry and one man's rise to power because he has the vision to see how cigarettes could come from machines.
Gary Cooper has the most unsympathetic role of his career as a stormy man caught between conflicted love with two women--Patricia Neal, headstrong and rich, and Lauren Bacall, the madam of a brothel. There's a suggestion of GWTW in these characters, but too much of the dialog resorts to confrontational moments that are never resolved.
Most of the hatred comes from Patricia Neal's dad, Donald Crisp, who from the very start of the film wishes Gary Cooper would drop dead. It takes up too much of the film with the love/hate relationships between Cooper, Neal and Bacall getting the most footage.
But in the end, with these unsympathetic characters chewing up the scenery with all their vitriol, the overall feeling is a waste of time. None of the relationships evolve smoothly, not even at the conclusion.
Summing up: No wonder the film is so little known today. The saving grace is an interesting score by Victor Young.
5 Steps to Danger (1957)
Vaguely entertaining but players can't overcome poor script...
If you like RUTH ROMAN and STERLING HAYDEN, you may find this little espionage yarn bearable enough to watch. It starts out promisingly and you wonder how these two misfits will finally trust each other enough to get married.
But the plot is a shambles, murky without being fascinating and all the motivations are unclear from beginning to end. Roman's role is very underwritten so we never really know what makes her tick. Sterling Hayden gives one of his routine performances without any special feeling to make us care enough about his character.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay with it until the end but will have to catch it some other time to find out where the story eventually led. As of now, it's a puzzlement.
Rachel, Rachel (1968)
Poorly paced story of a desperately lonely woman...
Frankly, it appears that mine is a minority opinion. My own favorite story of a lonely woman is SUMMERTIME with Katharine Hepburn which had a lot more flavor as well as a genuinely entertaining and moving story.
However, RACHEL, RACHEL drags along at an interminably slow pace with many close-ups of star Joanne Woodward as she reflects on the emptiness of her dull, spinisterish life in a small town. And the script provides no scenes that give us any real hope that things have changed for her by the time we get to the fantasized ending. Most of the scenes are played too long to hold viewer interest.
As a result, I found it tedious and somewhat boring at times because nothing of real interest seemed to happen, except in a few flashbacks showing the effect her disturbing childhood had on her upbringing.
The acting is competent but I never found the story involving enough to care about the fate of the main character or the few supporting characters for that matter. It fails completely to be anything but a character study of a lonely teacher without the needed dramatic power to make us feel her suffering.
Pacific Rendezvous (1942)
Espionage tale borders on the absurd when it comes to comedy...
What really weakens what could have been a good narrative is the attempt to insert light hearted comic elements into the plot of PACIFIC RENDEZVOUS. Instead of playing it as straight drama, what could have emerged as a timely romantic drama about breaking the Japanese code during WWII becomes a trivial piece of fluff with an absurd spotlight on the silly character played by Jean Rogers.
She's the girlfriend of our hero (Lee Bowman) and does him no favors when it comes to helping the war effort crack the code. For sheer stupidity (and to make her character seem "cute" at all times), she slips dozens of sleeping pills in his coffee so he can get some rest from a heavy schedule of solving the code and ignoring her.
And throughout the movie she pouts, bounces around and shows jealousy of any other female who pursues Bowman, as for example female spy Mona Maris. Her acting is dreadful enough to bring the story down to the level of irritating fluff where it remains until the final reel.
An interesting cast headed by Lee Bowman, Russell Hicks, Mona Maris, Carl Esmond, Hans Conreid, Curt Bois and several other good players is defeated by a silly script which reduces the whole thing to a B-budget MGM programmer which played the lower half of double features in the '40s.
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Tyrone Power excels in dual role...great swashbuckling adventure...
The only ingredient missing here is a Fox budget that would have provided Technicolor photography as a part of the film's lush production values. However, even without three-strip Technicolor, this B&W version of the famous legendary outlaw is acted to perfection by the entire cast.
Tyrone Power goes with great ease from the fop to the swashbuckler Zorro, all the while displaying a great deal of charm and good looks. The romantic role of "the girl" goes to Linda Darnell who is more than adequate in the looks department herself.
In the chapel scene and "The White Sombrero" dance routine they have a chance to show the kind of sparks that made them popular movie stars of the '40s. Linda was just about to break out of her virginal roles and about to play more tempestuous heroines, but she does an excellent job as Power's love interest.
Basil Rathbone is at his finest for the final dueling scene, surely even more robustly performed than the one he shared with Errol Flynn in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD--and that's really saying something. Power seems to be evenly matched with Rathbone in his skilled swordsmanship.
Alfred Newman's fitting pseudo-Spanish background music provides just the right amount of excitement to make this a most entertaining show. And the supporting cast--including Gale Sondergaard, J. Edgar Bromberg, Eugene Palette, Montagu Love, Janet Beecher and others is excellent.
By all means worth watching anytime for sheer entertainment.
The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940)
Highly improbable plot, even for a screwball comedy...
Loretta Young and Ray Milland aren't to blame for the weak and tedious script which keeps piling one mishap after another in an attempt to qualify as a smart screwball comedy.
Suspension of disbelief was not possible for me, especially for the sequence that has Milland running back and forth during a cocktail party to keep his fiancé from learning Loretta Young is in his apartment. Milland handles the bit with deft touches, but the improbability is too apparent even for a screwball comedy.
And Gail Patrick overdoes her "cutesy" act as his moronic girlfriend. Even Reginald Gardiner and Edmund Gwenn are unable to overcome some awkward comic moments.
Milland and Young do the best they can with the formula script, but the end results are meager with the film straining for a few genuine laughs. Furthermore, Young's character is too sarcastic to be likable for the first part of the story, but of course softens for the happy ending.
The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
B-film hijinks with Karloff and Lorre--but what were they thinking?...
Only afterward did I realize this must have been inspired by the screwball farce ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, but the script, unfortunately, lacks the comic finesse and wit of that film. This might have looked good on paper--take an old, crumbling Colonial inn, have a woman purchase it, fill it with odd characters and a mysterious doctor who keeps his secrets in a cellar, and lo and behold you've got another hit.
Alas, none of the humor is even remotely adult. You almost expect the Three Stooges to show up at any moment. Instead, we have Larry Parks show up to play the only slightly sane character in the cast. The sprightly Jeff Donnell is his ditsy ex-wife and she manages to keep her poise while playing the comedy with a few deft touches of her own.
Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre do what they can to inject some vitality and humor into a witless script but everything is so overdone that by the time Maxie Rosenbloom shows up I had to throw in the towel. Too much for me.
Summing up: Unless you don't mind the sophomoric humor, watch it at your own peril.
Arrivederci Roma (1957)
Mario Lanza sings a lot but the script is a dreadful trifle...
The "6" rating is only because Mario Lanza gets to sing a good number of worthwhile songs as only he can. But I could have done without his impersonation scene where he makes fun of popular Italian crooners like Perry Como and Dean Martin.
The story is so flat and unconvincing that it's hardly worth a mention. It's sufficient to say that you can forget it while enjoying abundant glimpses of Rome's landmarks and terrain, all nicely photographed in Technicolor.
Lanza was beginning to look heavier than usual but his voice is still able to belt out a mixture of operatic arias and pop tunes. The film itself is not an "essential," even for Lanza fans because the script is an uninspired bit of tedium. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery.