Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Salutes and Then Vacation

There's always people you like who are left out of the In Memoriam Oscar tribute.  There are a few additional people mentioned on the Oscars website ... yeah, a passing mention on a virtually unknown website versus your image and name shown on a program seen by millions ...  sure, what every actor wants.   Anyway, if I may pay a brief homage to two actors who deserved to have been included in this year's tribute.

John Wayne, Harry Carey, Jr. and Ben Johnson in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Harry "Dobe" Carey, Jr. (1921 - 2012) with about 100 movies to his credit, was the last surviving member of the John Ford Stock Company, appearing in nine of his movies.  Seeing him ride, along with Ben Johnson in Rio Grande is a sheer joy.

                          Polly (Ann) and Andy (Mickey Rooney)

Ann Rutherford (1917 - 2012) played Scarlett's sister Carreen in Gone With the Wind and Polly Benedict, Andy's girlfriend in the Andy Hardy Series.  She deserves an Oscar just for sharing the screen with Mickey Rooney! 

(Classic Montgomery will be on vacation until Tuesday, March 5th.  Carrie's headed out of town ... I'm just vegging.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Source of an Idea

One of Bob's more famous portraits is a mirror photograph of Bob taking a picture of himself and George Hurrell. 

                                Bob and George Hurrell (1931)

Using the same technique, Bob takes a self-portrait with Madge Evans and director Harry Beaumont on the set of Made on Broadway.  
                               Made on Broadway (1933)

A few years later, Bob incorporates several mirrors to snap a photograph of himself with make-up man Emile LaVigne.  The signature reads:  "To Emile - Here's looking at us - Robert Montgomery."

                                      On the MGM lot (c. 1938)

And going one step further...Lady of the Lake director Montgomery films himself only in mirrors.  An idea a mere 16 years in the making? 

                                    Lady in the Lake (1947)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bob's Favorite Lady (less the Elizabeths)

Whenever asked who was his favorite leading lady, Bob always named Helen Hayes.  I'd imagine his respect for her stage success, held the young Mr. Montgomery in awe.  

                                Another Language (1933)

Helen first appeared on a stage at the age of five, and a mere 80 years later retired from acting.  During that brief career, she won two Oscars, three Tony Awards, an Emmy and the love of playwright and screen writer Charles MacArthur.  When she met Charles at a party, it was love at first sight.  Later in the evening, he poured some salted peanuts into her hand and said, "I wish these were emeralds."  Married in 1928, they were together until his death in 1956.  It would be her only marriage. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bob Shipmate Dorothy Jordan

The latest edition to my Bob and Dorothy collection.  Wish I had them all.  Mr. Hurrell certainly did some great work. 

                                      Shipmates (1931)

Dorothy was Bob's co-star in two movies:  Love in the Rough (1930) and Shipmates (1931).  She had a brief but successful career in movies, retiring in 1933 when she married producer Merian C. Cooper, a marriage that lasted until his death in 1973.  During the 1950s, Dorothy agreed to take small roles in three movies made by Cooper's partner in Argosy Productions, John Ford, wanting to prove to her three children that she was indeed an actress.  In The Searchers (1956), Dorothy plays John Wayne's mother --- she was less than one year older than John, and looked even younger.  Dorothy is in the classic opening scene wherein she walks out of the darkness of her home to see the bright desert vista and her son returning from war.  Not a bad coda to her career. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bob and his Ladies Week

I do so enjoy the marvelous sets created for 1930s movies.  Just think of all the effort involved in setting up the sets used in the photos below.  How would you like to have been the one that was assigned to adhering all those flowers to the "tree" to create the background for Bob and Nora's swing scene in But the Flesh is Weak.  Beautiful setting.  And I love the touch of having the pair of swans swimming behind Madge and Bob.  Fantastic sets created for maybe a minute of film, then broken down and readied for the next scene. 

                   But the Flesh is Weak (1932) with Nora Gregor

Nora Gregor seems to have appeared in only one U.S. movie, making mostly German movies.  Douglas Fairbanks in his autobiography, The Salad Days, relates a rather amusing story of an inebriated Nora showing up for a performance in a play in which they were co-starring, after "carouzing mit your freund, dat Bobbity Montygummarrry."  She makes it until the second act when she gets sick and leaves Doug alone on the stage.

Actually, Nora's life would make a great movie --- successful stage and film actress becomes the mistress of an Austrian prince and politician, eventually marrying him; flees Austria in 1938 (Nora's parents were jewish) leaving behind the family fortune; moves to South America in 1942; and finally, living alone in dire straits in Chile, commits suicide in 1949 at the age of 47.  What d'ya think, a young Meryl Streep role?

                        Piccadilly Jim (1936) with Madge Evans

Madge Evans had the same problem as Bob re typecasting.  She was quite often cast in the 'nice girl' roles with little opportunity to break out of that mold.  She made five movies with Bob:  Lovers Courageous, Hell Below, Made on Broadway, Fugitive Lovers and Piccadilly Jim.   In 1939 she married playwright Sidney Kingsley, trading Hollywood for an estate in New Jersey and a marriage that lasted until her death in 1981, just five months before Bob passed.  Not as exciting a life as Nora's, but seemingly preferable.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

From War Nurse to South Pacific

June Walker, Bob's co-star in War Nurse, was primarily a stage actress in the 1920s and 1930s.  Glad she made her one movie of the 1930s with Bob, they made a cute couple.

                                       War Nurse (1930)

June's son was John Kerr who played Lt. Cable in South Pacific.  He was a handsome young man ...  obviously good genes.  John died this February 2nd, a day before the anniversay of his Mom's death. 

                                  South Pacific (1958)

Ah, the magic of movies.  They may have passed and left this mortal coil, but on film and in our memories young Mr. Kerr will always be romancing France Nuyen, and June will always be looking up into Bob's smiling face.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life Lesson No. 79

                                         Untamed (1930)

Never, Ever get Joan Crawford mad at you ...

Friday, February 08, 2013

Ray or Brian, Let Me See ...

   Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland and Brian Aherne in Skylark (1941)                              
Let's see, after five years of marriage to advertising exec. Milland, Claudette is tempted by attorney Aherne.  I can see that.  Three of my favorite people and Fritz Feld as the Maitre d'Hotel, how could it not be a good watch.  If nothing else, the promotional stills are terrif. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Clark the Hoofer

                                       Idiot's Delight ( 1939)

The best  thing you can take from Mr. Gable's performance as a song and dance man in Idiot's Delight, is that he was a trooper.  I've always thought it an interesting warmup for Gone With the Wind.  Anyway, the movie did produce some great promotional photos.  My copy of the above is 10 x 13, a tad larger than my scanner's capability, explaining the cut-off feet and plumes.  Have had it for a while, but can't decide where to display it.  If it was totally my choice, it would be hanging over the mantel.  Ah, the compromises that make up a good marriage. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

And Now for Something a Little Different

Out of idle curiosity, I just looked up The Best of Warner Bros.:  100 Film Collection to find out the cost after hearing it plugged on TCM.  Gee, it's a mere $597.98!  (Buy it "cheap" on Amazon for $383.49.)  Actually, if I didn't already have most of the movies and had a few extra hundred dollars to blow, it does provide a large number of good movies, along with a few fillers like The Clash of the Titans.  BUT, what  blows my mind is that a significant number of those movies are actually made by other studios, primarily MGM.  Okay, so Warner Bros. may OWN them now ... Big Deal!

I went through the first 41 movies listed, covering 1927 to 1959.  (My interest in movies fades with every decade after the 1930s!)  Of those 41 movies, I came up with 18 being produced by MGM and four more by other studios.  I'm sure my numbers are correct within a movie or two, just lack the energy to double-check my findings.

Grand Hotel, Mutiny on the Bounty, Night at the Opera, Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Mrs. Miniver, Singin' in the Rain, Ben-Hur, etc....these are NOT movies produced by Warner Bros.!  I mean, Louis B. must be turning over in his grave.

Warner Bros. made a lot of good movies overlooked by the collection.  Only one Bette Davis movie made the list, Dark Victory, and the lady made a number of great movies in her time at Warners:  Now Voyager, Watch on the Rhine, Mr. Skeffinton, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Letter, Jezebel, The Petrified Forest ... all would qualify for a "Best Of" collection.  But, NO, they have to use the best of MGM instead.

I checked out about a dozen reviews of the collection.  Not one mentions the use of movies made by other studios.  Do they not know this?  Do they think having the legal rights to a movie in 2013 makes a movie a Warner Bros. production?  Yeah, I know, does anyone really care.  I just feel insulted on behalf of all those people who worked so hard to make good movies for their studio - for MGM, for Columbia, for RKO, for Universal, for 20th Century - and NOT FOR WARNER BROS.!!