Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Van Johnson's 100th (and I'm Late!)

Van Johnson was simply one of those people who was instantly likeable.  The strawberry-blonde hair, blue eyes, big smile and red socks, always the red socks.  He could both sing and dance in musicals and impress with dramatic roles.  He went from being an uncredited chorus boy in Too Many Girls (1940) to a box office success in the mid-40s (even to the point of being assigned Robert Montgomery's former dressing room at MGM.)  

          Van Johnson, b. August 25, 1916, d. Dec. 12, 2008 (age 92) 

It was his role in A Guy Named Joe (1943) with Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne that jump started his career.  My favorite Johnson roles are:  the ever resourceful and knowing Tech. Sgt in Command Decision (1948) with Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon; the sardonic pal of Gene Kelly in Brigadoon (1954); and in the same year, the earnest, not quite that bright but capable Lt. Maryk in Caine Mutiny.  He really was a good actor, but just never got the credit for it.

I remember him fondly from his appearances on The Tonight Show.  Always entertaining, wearing that big smile, sometimes a tad tipsy with a drink in hand, and wearing those red socks ... always. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action!!!

Recently purchased a copy of the October 30, 1954 TV Guide which includes the article, "The Producer and the President," about Bob and his role as media advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The article includes seven rather small photos of Bob and a larger photo to begin the article.  The small ones are blurry, no matter what size they are displayed, but still quite enjoyable.  You can take the boy out of the country, but not the ham out of an actor (or something like that!) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Everyone Wants ... One More Bob Movie!!

In case you haven't had your fill of Bob movies, Haunted Honeymoon (1940) will be shown tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. EDT/4:30 PDT on TCM. 

The original title of the film is Busman's Honeymoon, based on a novel by English crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers.  It is one of a series of novels featuring bon vivant sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, a writer of crime novels.  Being very popular in England, it was not looked on kindly that MGM cast two Americans as the iconic English sleuths. 

It took several years to make the movie ... WWII got in the way.  Originally Maureen O'Sullivan was cast as Harriet Vane and Robert Donat as Lord Peter.  Gee, an almost reunion of Maureen and Bob.  (Lucky and Pauline move to England after Lucky gets out of prison, marry and become amateur sleuths.  Hey, that's one possible sequel to Hide-Out!)

        Bob and Constance Cummings in Haunted Honeymoon (1940)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's the Last Day Before Bob's Day on TCM!!

Are we ready??  Programming begins at 6:00 a.m. EDT/3:00 a.m. PDT with a showing of The Divorcee and wraps up with Night Must Fall at 3:45 a.m. EDT/12:45 a.m. PDT on Tuesday.  Enjoy!!

                   Norma Shearer and Bob in The Divorcee (1930)


Friday, August 19, 2016

Three Days To Go Until Bob's Day on TMC

Once again:  Bob's Day on TMC is this Monday, August 22nd.  They will be showing 14 of Bob's movies, all worth a watch.  Yesterday's post covered the first seven movies being shown, the remaining seven are covered here. 

Marion Davies is Bob's co-star in Ever Since Eve (1937).  This is a movie I need to watch again.  The film's rating on IMDB is an amazing 8.0.  I have always viewed it as one of Bob's weaker vehicles.  Maybe it's the shock of seeing how much the two have aged in the mere five years since co-starring in Blondie of the Follies

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937) is the only movie fellow MGM stars William Powell and Bob made together, so it is definitely worth watching.  It is not one of Bob's better movies, but the cast does what they can with a weak script.  This is the sixth and last movie co-starring Bob and Joan Crawford --- doubt either was too upset by that! 

    Bob and Frank Morgan playing backgammon on the set of Cheyney.

Lady in the Lake (1947) is a must have in any collection of Bob's movies.  After all, he is the star, director and able cinematographer's assistant.  And it's the great assortment of looks Audrey Totter gives the camera, or should I say Bob.  

They Were Expendable (1945) is simply an excellent movie.  It is shown quite often on TMC, understandably so.  John Ford, John Wayne, WWII and Bob in perhaps his best performance ... Bob given the chance at a dramatic role in an A movie with an A director, how wonderful.  To think what kind of career he could have had if provided the same opportunities throughout his career ...

Another Bob classic is Private Lives (1931).  Great script and story line and excellent performances by all, including Norma Shearer, Reginald Denny and Una Merkel.  Poor Una, losing Bob on the first day of their honeymoon.  Now, that is bad luck.

You watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) to see two of the best comedic actors to grace the screen.  Carole Lombard and Bob obviously enjoyed making the movie together, it shows through in their performances.  And, yes, that was one handsome nose!

You might say they saved the best for last, or perhaps it is just fitting that they show Night Must Fall (1937) late at night.  Bob's performance is truly impressive.  The scenes at the end of the movie, just pure perfection.  Ah, Danny boy, you were just so, so good (when given the chance). 

                             And just what is in that hatbox!  

Now, if I could just stay up for 24 hours straight!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Four Days To Go For Bob's Day on TMC

Don't Forget!!  Bob's Day on TMC is this coming Monday, August 22nd.  14 of his movies, just great.  And they have done a very good job in their selections.  I would wish they had included Petticoat Fever (1936), Bob at his prime in a delightful romp with Myrna Loy, and Once More, My Darling (1949), older Bob poking fun at his movie career and reputation as a ladies man on the screen.  But, hey, there are only 24 hours in a day.  Next time, right TMC?!  When you also bring Letty Lynton back to the screen where it belongs!! 

The first seven movies shown are in chronological order, starting with The Divorcee (1929), one of the five movies he made with Norma Shearer that gave him such a boost to his career.  It is certainly understandable why Norma would chose the 25-year-old Bob for a fling, to get back at Chester Morris.  
                        The Divorcee (1929) with Norma Shearer

The Man in Possession is just a delightful pre-code romp, straight to the bedroom and torn undergarments.  A definite must see if you haven't already. 

                  The Man in Possession (1931) with Irene Purcell

In a more serious vein, Bob is injured in an auto accident and spends much of his screen time in bed in Faithless.  It is very much Tallulah Bankhead's movie, with Bob looking ever so handsome as her near death husband. 

                       Faithless (1932) with Tallulah Bankhead

When Ladies Meet is an ensemble movie, with Ann Harding and Myrna Loy in the primary roles, given great support by Alice Brady, Frank Morgan and, of course, our Bob.  It is a tad chatty, but quite interesting, especially for the time. 

  When Ladies Meet (1933) with Myrna Loy, Alice Brady, Ann Harding       and Frank Morgan

The Mystery of Mr. X is a refreshing change for Bob.  He portrays a jewel thief who tracks down a mysterious murderer, even disguising himself as a Bobbie while chasing Mr. X in an exchange of gunfire.  The movie is not shown very often, so have your DVR ready. 

                                The Mystery of Mr. X (1934)

One of my all time favorite movies is Hide-Out.  Bob and Maureen make an incredibly cute couple.  Such a delightful movie.  This movie calls out for a sequel.  We need to find out just what happens to Lucky and Pauline!

                       Hide-Out (1934) with Maureen O'Sullivan

Piccadilly Jim is the fifth and last of the movies Bob makes with Madge Evans, a great co-star for Bob.  I have always thought it would be great to see them together in a movie made near the end of Bob's career.  It is difficult for me to imagine older Bob with Norma Shearer or Joan Crawford.  Anyway, any movie with Eric Blore is worth watching. 

                           Piccadilly Jim (1936) with Eric Blore

 I'm running out of gas here ...  hopefully, I'll continue with the remaining seven movies tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ann "Killer" Blyth!

Ann Blyth, aka "Killer", was born on August 16th, 1928 in Mount Kisco, NY.  By the time she was Bob's leading lady in Once More, My Darling (1949), Ann was an accomplished actress.  In 1945 she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Velda, the spiteful daughter who made her mother's (Joan Crawford) life miserable in Mildred Pierce.  In Once More, "Killer" caused Collie (Bob) a different kind of misery! 

                    Ann Blyth in Once More, My Darling (1949)
In 1953 Ann Married Dr. James McNulty, a marriage that lasted until his death in 2007.  They raised five children, so it was fortunate that Dr. McNulty was an obstetrician.  A heartfelt congratulations goes out to Ann on her 88th birthday!  Hope your day is joyous and you are surrounded by your loved ones.

(Do take note that there are only SIX days left to Bob's Day on TMC.)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lloyd "Michael Shayne" Nolan

Lloyd Nolan was one of those blessed people who were instantly likeable on the screen, and I will guess in person as well.  An early Darren McGavin (the "old man" in A Christmas Story). 

                                     Lloyd Nolan in 1939
Lloyd was born August 11, 1902.  From his first movie in 1935 until his death in 1985, Lloyd kept very busy in movies and later TV.  He portrayed a lot of cops, his role as Lt. DeGarmot in Lady in the Lake for example. 

      Bob, Lloyd Nolan and Audrey Totter in Lady in the Lake (1946)

In 1940 Lloyd made his first Michael Shayne movie, the start of a very successful series for 20th Century Fox in which Lloyd got to demonstrate his knack for humor, as well as being the hard-boiled detective.

The still below is from Buy Me That Town (1941), a movie based on a Damon Runyon story.  It is the perfect Lloyd Nolan role.   Ricky Deane is a racketeer who buys out a small bankrupt town and makes it into a safe haven for criminals, for a price of course.  By the end of the movie, he becomes a good guy and wins the hand of Virginia Paradise.  One of the really bad guys is Chink Moran, as played by Sheldon Leonard.  (Now that's type-casting!) 

                Lloyd Nolan, Constance Moore and Sheldon Leonard
                                in Buy Me That Town (1941)

Lloyd also made some classic war films such as Bataan and Guadalcanal Diary.  His last movie was Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), directed by Woody Allen.  Not a bad movie to go out in.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Nolan.  

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dorothy and Norma ....... Well, They Did Have Bob in Common

Two of Bob's ladies with August birthdays ... Dorothy Jordan, August 9th, and Norma Shearer, August 10th.  Cute and demure Dorothy and strong-willed Ms. Shearer, quite a contrast.  Goes along with the contrasting roles Bob played in their movies together.  Bob, youthful and earnest in Love in the Rough and Shipmates, a great match for co-star Jordan.  

               Dorothy Jordan and Bob in Love in the Rough (1930)

In his movies with Norma (Their Own Desire, The Divorcee, Strangers May Kiss, Private Lives and Riptide), Bob perfects the role of the tuxedoed playboy with martini in hand, readily able to entertain his lady of the evening. 

        Norma Shearer, Skeets Gallagher and Bob in Riptide (1934)

Whatever the persona, Dorothy and Norma were most fortunate to have had Bob as their co-star.  I am so, so envious.    

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Happy (Early) Birthday, Mr. Taylor!

What can I say ... eight of Bob's (Montgomery) co-stars were born in August and I do a post for Robert Taylor.  Well ... he was every bit as good-looking as the ladies.  Sorry, ladies, but ... 

Older Robert was handsome ...

Younger Robert was downright gorgeous.

Mr. Taylor was born August 5, 1911, in Filley, Nebraska.  A heavy smoker throughout his life, Robert died of lung cancer before reaching his 58th birthday.  Much, much too young. 

Today, August 4th is Anita Page's birthday.  She had a 98-year-run!  Ann Harding and Irene Purcell share the 7th as their birthday.  Happy Birthday ladies!  I'll try to do something a bit more for the others. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ms. Loy!

Myrna Williams was born August 2nd, 1905 in Helena, MT.  I'm glad she changed her name to Loy.  Myrna Loy.  A distinctive name for a distinctive lady, one of a kind.

                       Bob and Myrna in When Ladies Meet (1933)

Bob and Myrna became close friends during the filming of When Ladies Meet.  Two very bright, fun-loving people enjoying each other's company.  Unfortunately, the friendship does not last, politics apparently got in the way.  Too bad.

Myrna's autobiography, "Being and Becoming", is one of the better movie star books.  That is rather fitting for Myrna.

Favorite Loy quote:  "Some perfect wife I am.  I've been married four times, divorced four times, have no children, and can't boil an egg."  

When Ladies Meet is one of the movies shown on Bob's day on TCM.  Yeah, 14 Bob movies in a row.  Fantastic.  And two more of his movies will be shown in August.  Haunted Honeymoon (1940) will be shown on Constance Cummings' day on the 24th and Three Loves Has Nancy (1938) is included on Janet Gaynor's day on the 12th.  Many thanks to TCM!!  (TCM also has Going Hollywood (1933) listed as a Bob movie.  That's a tad misleading, he only appears briefly in archival footage.  It's still a fun movie.)

Monday, August 01, 2016

August 22 is Robert Mongtomery Day on TCM

Get your DVRs warmed up for August 22 -- 14 Robert Montgomery movies in a row starting at 6 am Eastern. Yes, I feel a possible sick day coming on...

Check out the schedule on TCM.