Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Boo! I flew back at 1 A.M. this morning and boy are my arms tired. I'm behind on everything & have to go into work now (sigh). Catch everyone later! Thanks, Bantaskin...looks like some neat stuff to read up on!

Hopefully I don't mess this up. Left to Right: Clark Gable, Bob, Lionel Barrymore, Paul Muni.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

More Stars Than There Are in Heaven

Father figure Mayer and a few of his brood celebrating Lional Barrymore’s birthday in 1939. Its mind-blowing to think of the talent you would encouter strolling from set to set on any given day at MGM.

Photo: Courtesy of

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sure to be a Hit on YouTube

I wish I knew how to make a YouTube segment so I could upload that magnificent knockdown fight between Bob and Norma Shearer from Private Lives. It's got to be the best husband and wife slugfest ever filmed. The way Norma wallops Bob you’d never know he was one of her favorite leading man--requesting him whenever she had the power to choose because “she felt so comfortable with him” and because he made her laugh, which she said she needed to do. They definitely had marvelous chemistry. Unfortunately the failure of “Riptide” and critics' comments that they “had had enough of Shearer and Montgomery’s cocktail-shaking coynesses” doomed the screen partnership and their fifth film ended up being their last together. Mabye it was for the best--I can't see Bob in period costume performing Shakespeare or playing Count Axel de Fersen...

Photo: Courtesy of Simplyclassics.net

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

L.B.'s Dream Factory

I read a bit of trivia recently about Lady in the Lake that cleared up a mystery for me--why Bob addressed the camera at the start and the finish of the film and faded with a kiss, especially since he was such an admirer of John Ford, who disliked kiss and fades. L. B. Mayer made him add the prologue and epilogue because preview audiences were confused and also mad that they saw so little of Bob on screen. They also wanted to see him kiss Audrey Totter, thus he gave in and added the conventional ending. He and Audrey thought the kiss was so corny that when they shot the scene, they couldn’t stop giggling, chalking up numerous retakes.

At another point during production Bob and L. B. Mayer were in the projection room watching rushes of Lady in the Lake when a close-up of Audrey came on. Suddenly Mayer sat up and jabbed Bob in the ribs and said “Why does her hair look like that?” Bob explained that in the previous scene, which hadn’t been shot yet, she’s awakened in the middle of the night, to which Mayer replied, "I don’t care if she’s coming out of the toilet, her hair can’t look like that. A Metro star must look her best, even asleep.''

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Broken Promises

There's a lot of well-known anecdotes associated with the smooth comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith such as Alfred Hitchcock directing as a favor to Carole Lombard, Lombard directing Hitchcock in a scene in which he tries to panhandle Montgomery, and Lombard sneaking over to the parking lot and covering Montgomery’s car with FDR bumper stickers and Montgomery painstakingly removing them only to have to do it all over again the next day. One story I wasn’t aware of until I read an excerpt from Donald Spoto’s book The Dark Side of Genius was that Hitchcock altered a scene to include a promise to his wife, Alma, that they would leave for Saint Moritz after filming to celebrate their wedding anniversary--something they hadn’t been able to do for the past seven years. Hitchcock snuck the promise into a scene in which Montgomery, feigning unconsciousness, deliriously mumbles “We’ll go away the first two weeks in December…Playing in the snow, we’ll have a lot of fun…The first two weeks in December, we’ll go away to that ski resort…yes the first two weeks in December.”

I’m having a little trouble imagining Hitch whizzing down those slopes.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I really enjoy visiting Carrie’s terrific blog on Bob and classic films and I'm always amazed that she can provide material and background on a daily basis, especially given the scant information available about Bob. In coming up with my first post, I’m already finding just how difficult that is. Hopefully I'll be able to provide enough trivia to fill the time until she returns...

The Odd Couple

Bob Montgomery was one of three very close friends of James Cagney (Pat O’Brien and Frank McHugh were the other two). Bob and Jimmy's friendship began when they worked side by side establishing the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and spanned five decades. Biographer John McCabe wrote in “Cagney”--one of the better star bios by the way IMHO--that the unlikely pair “complemented each other effectively”:
"His connection with Montgomery made for a matchlessly comfortable equation of friendship: the rich boy who wanted to be tough, the tough boy who wanted to be rich. More, it was the conflux of two basic American types: Cagney, the archetypal city boy who idolized America; Montgomery, also a great patriot, the blue-blood patrician type that first imagined, then led this country. Each man sought something from the other.

Although indirectly, this was expressed in their acting. Early on Cagney’s hoodlum image had typecast him…he needed to show his innate gentleness and reveal his variety as an actor...Montgomery had the opposite yet the same problem. He fairly reeked of breeding—an American Noel Coward type. Like Cagney, Montgomery began to rebel at his image. He considered it undramatic, effete, and morally worthless. ‘I’ve always yearned to play gutty parts,’ he said. ‘That’s why I did Night Must Fall and The Earl of Chicago, the former successfully, the latter not.’

Jim admired Bob since the early days of the SAG: ‘Lots of screen actors may well not know how much they owe Bob…He became our leader in the fight against the producers, and Bob fought them no holds barred, knowing full well he was putting his career right on the line. It was Bob who bearded those all-powerful producers in their comfortable dens.’"

Jimmy, who enjoyed reading and writing verse, often spent evenings with Bob reading poetry aloud. One of Jimmy's poems was inspired when huntsman Bob in mid-conversation turned to a pheasant sounding in the woods and said “very, very affectionately ‘I hear you, I hear you’” :
A pheasant called in a distant thicket,
And lovingly my old friend said,
“I hear you, I hear you.”
And he loved that bird, till he gunned him dead.

Hmmm, I wonder if Bob ever saw "Rules of the Game."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Guest Blogger

I'm headed out for a week of vacation - where it's warm.

In my absense, I've asked a fellow fangirl, and future Bob biographer (I'm going to be killed for that comment), to post whatever comes to mind.

I'm afraid to come back from vacation - I know she'll do better than me :0)

Say hello to Bantaskin!

November TCM Bob Schedule

Also of note, November is John Ford month at TCM. They've put together a new documentary on the director, titled Directed by John Ford which premieres November 7. Check your local listings for start times in your time zone.

Tuesday 7

6 p.m.
Hide-Out (1934)
Farmers take in an injured racketeer and try to reform him. Cast: Robert Montgomery, Maureen O'Sullivan, Mickey Rooney. Dir: W.S. Van Dyke II. BW-81 mins

1:15 a.m.
They Were Expendable (1945)
A Navy commander fights to prove the battle-worthiness of the PT boat at the start of World War II. Cast: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed. Dir: John Ford. BW-135 mins

26 Sunday

8:15 a.m.
*Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
A prizefighter who died before his time is reincarnated as a tycoon with a murderous wife. Cast: Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains. Dir: Alexander Hall. BW-94 mins

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ride the Pink Scooter

Bob Montgomery & Wanda Hendrix, getting around behind the scenes on Ride the Pink Horse.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Classic Halloween (Boo)

Veronica Lake & Fredric March - I Married a Witch

Monday, October 16, 2006

Red Scare

Hollywood on the Hill
Time Magazine, Nov. 3, 1947

It's '47 and they're trying to weed the Communists out of Hollywood - one DC hearing at a time...

...Next day, as all Washington knew, Robert Taylor would appear. The crowds were even bigger and earlier. Handsome Actor Taylor had a point to clear up. When Chairman Thomas had sleuthed out to Hollywood last summer for a preliminary sniff, Taylor had announced that he had been forced by New Deal pressure to appear in MGM's Song of Russia. Said he now: "I wasn't forced because they can't force you to make any picture."

But he was sure that Communist pressures were rising in Hollywood, and he offered the same cure-all as Menjou: "If I had my way about it, they'd all be sent back to Russia or some other unpleasant place." He was a success: when he had finished, more than half the spectators stamped for the door, clustered happily around him and followed him triumphantly more than a block down the street to his automobile.

The witnesses, famed and photogenic, the heroic, romantic faces known to all the U.S.—and to all the world as representing the U.S.—kept coming. Robert Montgomery turned up, looking like a handsome, but not incredibly handsome, broker. Said ex-Naval Commander Montgomery: "I gave up my job to fight totalitarianism called Fascism, and I am ready to do it again to fight totalitarianism called Communism." Dancer-Actor George Murphy and lazily-drawling Actor Gary Cooper followed him to the stand. By week's end the committee had heard testimony from 21...

Friday, October 13, 2006

From Now On This House Is For The Living

I'm continuing my Ray Milland kick. Enjoy this clip from The Uninvited.

Ford & Montgomery

Some thought provoking words from Robert Montgomery. Part of an interview with Lindsay Anderson for the book About John Ford:

LA: Had you thought of directing before you finished off Expendable?

No. That is, not specifically. I suppose I always had it at the back of my mind that I'’d go on to it one day. But that started me off . . . So little of what I did in Hollywood gives me any pride of achievement. Three or four pictures out of sixty-odd. It's not very much. Ford was the best I ever worked with: the only one I'’d call creative. After Expendable I'd cheerfully have signed a contract to work for him exclusively. I don'’t know that the idea would have appealed to him, of course. But I'd have been happy. He was a genius.

Thanks to Renee for the info!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Father Was a Warlock

A little Elizabeth Montgomery for the Halloween season. She was a friendly witch afterall...

Pics from SimplyClassics.net

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lively Group

I like this shot...Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, and Kay Francis - from 1939's In Name Only.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Simply Carole

Download a larger version here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Madge & The *Other* Bob

Another MGM mini-photo, this time of Robert Young & Magde Evans - if you know what movie this is for, drop me a note!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Photo Friday

Share the love...larger version here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This is War

In February, 1942, a Saturday evening radio show was simulcast to the four major radio networks at the time. Think of yourself lounging in front of the fire in your living room. Or perhaps driving home from work or the store. This is what you hear:

What we say tonight has to do with blood and with bone and with anger, and also with a big job in the making. Laughter can wait. Soft music can have the evening off. No one is invited to sit down and take it easy. . . .

This is how the first of thirteen radio shows began in the series This is War! as described in Time Magazine, Feb. 13, 1942. More:

...But the script sang with the defiant tunes of people and machines, and the narrator, Navy's Lieut. Robert Montgomery, handled well the address at the end to the people of the United Nations:

"Take heart! Resist much! Fight how you can! We are building for you, we are on the move. . . ."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Uninvited

It's Ray Milland radio time - The Uninvited on Screen Director's Playhouse, November 18, 1949. It's only a half hour, so it loses a lot of the story, but it's interesting nonetheless. No where as good as the movie though.

MP3 - 4.9 MB

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Blue-Eyed Dough Boys

TCM has Movie News up on the Lady in the Lake DVD, by David Kalat. An interesting blurb yanked from the article:

Robert Montgomery had first come to Hollywood with the desire to be a screenwriter. "Yeah, I'm a top-billed movie star, but I really want is to write!" With his bland, somewhat doughy, good-looks and a vocal delivery that sounded like Cary Grant minus his distinctive accent, Montgomery racked up roles in over 50 films prior to 1945, settling happily into a rut as one of Hollywood's less-interesting performers. 1945, though, was when Fate struck a surprising blow: on the set of They Were Expendable, John Ford got sick. Montgomery filled in for him, secretly. He enjoyed the taste, and wanted more.

Can someone explain what the heck "doughy, good looks" means?

Related, Lileks.com has some fun comments on Audrey Totter's "in camera" glare.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ambulances From America

You've seen this photo before - Robert Montgomery, Ambulance Driver.

Time Magazine has an article from June 3, 1940, talks about the American Field Service, the organization Bob was a driver for during the war.