Thursday, November 16, 2017

No More Ladies ... Just Joan! ***

For you early risers, TCM is showing No More Ladies (1935) this morning at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT.  It is definitely not one of Bob's better movies, a waste of a good cast.  If nothing else, there is the opportunity to simply watch Bob, one of my favorite pastimes!  There are some nifty publicity shots of Bob and Joan, and Bob, Joan and Franchot Tone.  In this photo, I like the way Bob and Joan are definitely not looking longingly into each other's eyes.  It probably sums up their relationship.

                 Bob and Joan Crawford in No More Ladies (1935)

*** Oh, I know that's not very nice, but I just couldn't help myself!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dick Powell: Pretty Boy to Tough Guy

Dick Powell was born on November 14, 1904, in Mountain View, Arkansas.  From musicals to tough-guy roles to director and producer, Mr. Powell had one very successful show business career.

He had such a pleasant tenor voice in his musical days in the 1930s.  And was so very, very cute.  Look at the photo below with Dick sandwiched between Alice Faye and Madeleine Carroll.  The ladies just highlight how cute young Mr. Powell was. 

                  Faye, Powell & Carroll in On the Avenue (1937)

Ten years later, Powell has aged sufficiently to play the big time gambler Johnny O'Clock.  Besides being a good career move, I'm sure the experience of playing tough guys helped him in his transition to producer! 

             Lee J. Cobb and Dick Powell in Johnny O'Clock (1947)

There are a number of similarities between Powell and our Mr. Montgomery.  Both were typecast by their studios and fought for serious roles.  Both played detective Philip Marlowe on the screen, Powell in Murder, My Sweet (1944) and Bob in Lady in the Lake (1947).  Both transitioned into directing and production, and were staunch Republicans.  They were born in 1904, each had two marriages to short, cute wives and, unfortunately, both died of cancer.  Powell was only 58, young enough that you always wonder what more he could have accomplished in his career.  

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Veterans Day is November 11th

Don't forget to display your flag!!

Most Elegantly Dressed Boxer Award Goes To ...

Another excellent Bob movie is being shown this coming Monday, the 13th on TCM.  Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) is a delight, particularly when James Gleason as Max Corkle, Joe Pendleton's boxing manager, is stealing scenes from all present. 

          Bob and James Gleason in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

Trivia Question No. 37:  Who is Bob imitating for his Joe Pendleton character?  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Bob Is Expended Once Again

Okay, most of you have already seen They Were Expendable (1945), probably even have a DVD of it.  I know, I know.  And you're not excited about it being shown again on TCM (this Thursday at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT).  Sorry, folks, please bear with me while I urge the remainder of you to give this movie a try, or a second viewing if you did not care for it the first time.

It is, after all, one of Mr. Montgomery's best movies.  True, it is not your typical Bob movie.  He never once wears civvies,  much less a tuxedo.  No double entendres, no ladies on his arm and never more than a slight smile for the entire movie.  This is one of the very few times he was given the chance at a serious role in an "A" movie.  And he does such an excellent job of it.

Now, the class of the man still shows through.  Take the scene where Sandy (Donna Reed), Rusty's (John Wayne) girl visits the camp and is feted by the officers.  They are served biscuits to go with the soup.  Bob (excuse me, Brick) takes his and with some effort breaks it into.  To save Sandy the same bother, he places the pieces of his biscuit on her plate and sets hers aside.  That wasn't scripted.  That was just class.  

If that's a bit on the minutiae side of appreciating a movie, take note of two scenes that help establish the basic theme of the movie, that most were expendable, being asked to "lay down the sacrifice to let others hit the home runs."  In the first scene, the war has just begun.  Brick goes to headquarters for orders, and is left to stand to the side and watch as others rush off with their assignments. 

Later, Brick is called to headquarters for new orders.  His hopes of action are trounced on when he is informed his unit will be little more than a messenger service.  The disappointment is overwhelming, the silent Brick is almost in tears.  Great scenes, fun to watch Mr. Montgomery in his understated performance.

There are just so many reasons to enjoy They Were Expendable.  It's a John Ford movie.  One of the best war movies ever made.  An excellent musical score.  John Wayne finds love in Bataan.  AND it has Robert Montgomery!!!

TCM, this Tuesday, 5:30 ET/2:30 PT.  Do hope you give it a try.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Birthday Greetings to Mr. McCrea!

 Joel McCrea was born on November 5th, 1905.  That makes him only one year younger than Mr. Montgomery.  For some reason, I have always thought of him as coming from a younger generation of actors, perhaps because Bob's last movie performance was in 1950 while Joel kept busy in the 1950s and took the occasional role into the 1970s.  I'm glad he kept working.  Ride the High Country (1962) was just a superb movie.

My, but wasn't he a handsome lad ...
         Joel McCrea & Dorothy Jordan in The Lost Squadron (1932)

This does not have much to do with Joel, but I love the cast of The Lost Squadron.  It is a perfect example of actors being typecast in their roles.  The principle actors in alphabetical order are Robert Armstrong, Richard Dix, Hugh Herbert, Joel McCrea and Erich von Stroheim.  The roles portrayed consist of three stunt pilots, a dictatorial director and a comic relief named Fritz.  Almost needless to say, casting directors were not a big deal back then.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween, 1936 Style

And the finalists in the Best Halloween Costume Contest are:

 **** Clark Gable as Blackie Norton, Barbary Coast saloon keeper and earthquake survivor in San Francisco;

**** Robert Montgomery as Crown Prince Florizel of Carovia in Trouble for Two;

**** Lionel Barrymore as Paul Lavond, escaped convict and cross-dresser in The Doll-Devil; and

**** Paul Muni as Wang, a poor Chinese farmer in The Good Earth. 

And the winner is:  Bob Montgomery, as Prince Florizel   Well, it is his blog, after all!!  Besides, the mustache just makes the costume ...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Man And His Toys ...

"Scott News" was an in-house publication of Scott Radio Laboratories which produced hand-made luxury radios from the 1920s to the 1940s.   Of course Bob would want a special order for his new Beverly Hills home in 1938. 

Bob designed a radio/record-player that would fit in with the Colonial style furnishings of his new home.  I'm guessing  a combination radio and record-player was rather a new concept at the time.  I like all the drawer fronts, wonder if they are really drawers or if it is just a fake front.  They would be handy for storing the records.

The following two pictures are of the room in which Bob has his new toy.  The furniture arrangement seems strange to me.  With both a piano and radio/record-player, it appears set up for parties.  The furnishing is simple, everything in it could be easily moved, including the rug.  Having a room for large parties, a requisite for the Montgomery social circle.

I do not think the balding gent came with the room ...  Check out the fireplace "snug" in the photo below.  Just room enough for a wing back chair.  Looks like a great place for a snooze on a cold winter's night.  Wonder how much use he got out of it in Los Angeles.  Of course, it might have been Betty's quiet place in the house.  Hey, what with two kids, a nanny, cook, chaufeur/valet, plenty of day help and visiting grandmothers, even mansions can seem crowded! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Jonesey & Kit Spend a Day at the Beach

Ah ... it's such a romantic scene from Shipmates (1931).  Seaman John Paul Jones alias Jonesey alias Bob Montgomery gazes lovingly at Kit, the Admiral's daughter, played by Dorothy Jordan.  Such a handsome couple, everything is just perfect.

Then there is another take.  Jonesey and Kit are still on the beach.  In real time, this is February and most likely a tad chilly on the beach.  Can't really see the two, you say ... lets enlarge them a bit.

Voila!  One cold, wind-blown duo, not in a very romantic mood.  A bit more realism than the director had hoped for, or at least more than Bob and Dorothy could overcome.  Yeah, lets go with the first shot.  Now, the two just need to figure out how to get off the ledge with only their hairdos as the casualties for the day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Promise In Her Eyes Was Worth the Risk!

For you very early birds ... The Secret Land (1948) is being shown this morning on TCM.  Bob is one of the narrators of this documentary, along with Robert Taylor and Van Heflin.  I rather enjoy just listening to Bob's voice (a huge plus for The Gallant Hours), but this documentary is hardly early morning fare.  Get that taping going and go back to bed!! 

TCM is showing Yellow Jack (1938) this coming Monday, another a.m. viewing.  It has been ages since I have seen this movie.  I had meant to watch it again before writing this post, but ... hey, so I forgot!  (I'm amazed I remember to do my twice-weekly posts!)  Anyway, critics knock the movie for inserting a fictional love interest in a semi-historical movie, which was unfortunately typical of the time.  And, of course, Virginia Bruce's mascara was not permitted to run, even though the movie is based in the tropics.  Then there's the criticism of Bob's Irish brogue, suggesting it was over-the-top and unnecessary for the role.  I would argue an Irish-American soldier in 1898 would most likely have one, but whether Bob's was good or not, I have to admit to a bad ear for accents.  I just enjoy hearing that voice. 

It is too bad movie heralds are no longer a part of the moving-going experience.  They made great souvenirs and were an interesting art form, summing up a movie in such a small format.  Note the header of the above page:  "The Strangest Tale of Terror And Mystery Ever Lived By A Man and A Girl!"  Your basic Hollywood hyperbole! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How To Keep The Boss Happy ...

Of course we have all seen The Man in Possession (1931) ... right??!  I mean, it is one of Bob's best movies and a classic pre-code comedy.  Raymond (Bob) and Crystal (Irene Purcell) make a delightful couple, knowing right away what they want from each other!  Claude (Reginald Owen) just did not have a chance with Crystal once Raymond arrived on the scene. 

      Bob, Reginald Owen and Irene in The Man in Possession (1931)

Irene Purcell was primarily a stage actress, making only seven feature films in 1931-32.  She was already 35 when Man was made, a credit to her youthful looks and acting ability that she was hired to make any movies at all.  At the time, turning 30 was a death knell for actresses, so entering movies at 35, well, lets hear it for Irene!  She was the oldest of Bob's ladies, born in 1896, eight years his senior.

In 1941, Irene married Herbert F. Johnson, Jr., as in the Johnson Wax Company.  Herbert whisked her away to his 14,000 sq. ft. home in Racine, WI, where they remained married until her death in 1972.  During this time, Johnson Wax would sponsor Robert Montgomery Presents, making Irene the wife of Bob's boss, of sorts.  Which brings us to the photo below.

It is Herbert and Irene on November 8, 1956.  They are at the Bresler Art Gallery in Milwaukee, it is opening night and all 17 of Irene's paintings being shown have been sold to raise money for the Actor's Fund of America.  The painting on the wall behind the couple, titled "Marguerites", was purchased by ... ta-da ... Robert Montgomery! 

Took a while to get there ...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sincerely, Your Favorite Star

I just love fan cards.  I can only imagine the thrill it was for a young fan in the 1920s - 1940s to finally receive that photo for which they had been waiting forever!  They were all so nicely done, definitely worth the wait.  And even "signed" by the star!  Wow. 

Hopalong Cassidy was a favorite of mine, always seemed like such a nice man.  Growing up and discovering William Boyd, I was not disappointed, having read only good things about the gentleman.  A handsome gent he was.  Love the hat!

Joan Blondell was always a favorite.  The ultimate wisecracking blonde who quite often did not get the handsome lead, but one always wondered why.  Loved her in Desk Set (1957), it's great to watch an old pro strut her stuff.  And she continued to do it for two more decades! 

Have not always been a big Lew Ayres fan, but he was such a gorgeous young man.  I like the oh-so-very serious look he has assumed in this photo, an unusual 8"x10" fan card, as gorgeous as its subject!  One very lucky fan. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Churchill, Hemingway and ... Bob?

This is a photo taken out of a magazine (the June 4th, 1949 issue of Collier's Magazine).  The original photo is by Karsh, the portrait photographer of the 20th Century, famous for great photos of Churchill, Hemingway, Einstein and so many other notable people.  Of course Robert Montgomery had to have his portrait done by Karsh. 

One can only imagine how striking the original photo must be.  The black background, the light playing on his face and fingers.  And Bob is holding his glasses, definitely a Bob signature.  Great touch.  Bob was evidently rather nearsighted, spent a lot of time whipping his glasses off whenever a camera was aimed his way. 

So, it is Bob in the harsh light of a Karsh photo, without the makeup, no covering up of the wrinkled forehead, the crow's feet.   Still, one imposing and handsome middle-aged gent. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Bob And Mukluks ... God's Gifts To Us All

It is Monday, January 20th, 1936.  Mr. Montgomery is scheduled to begin his 36th movie in seven years.  7 years of very long days under the extremely hot lights of the time.  7 years of photo shoots, rehearsals, wardrobe tests and being polite to VIP visitors to the set.  And it is another comedy ... but at least the script is decent and good pal Myrna Loy will be suffering through it with him. Wearing outdoorsy clothing instead of the usual tux, not bad.  But furry mukluks?  What, you think this is funny?  You have no idea how close you are to having the camera shoved into your face! 

                   Robert Montgomery in Petticoat Fever (1936)

I just love this photo.  It is Mr. Montgomery without any pretense.  He is not playing a role, nor is he wearing a face for public viewing.  It is Bob, the hard-working actor, not particularly happy about where he is at the moment, daring anyone to push him any further.  Snarly.  And he can't help it, but so extremely handsome with his tousled locks, day's growth of facial hair and glaring blue eyes!  I have been using this cropped photo as my wallpaper for some time now.  Thanks, Mr. Montgomery, for making my day.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes ... A Large Steak For Me As Well!

A common problem of buying clippings in batches is the incomplete article.  The first page will be in the stack, but the others are missing.  With that in mind, may I present the first page of the article "A Champion" which was published in an unknown magazine.  It is 1945, Bob has newly returned to Hollywood.  'Tis a pleasant piece. 


It was the last sentence that really caught my eye!  I have now come across all of four "sightings" of the mysterious brother Donald.  And one of those is that he attended Bob's funeral.  (Of course that is four more times than any reference I have found of Bob speaking of his Mother.)  Always wondered if the brothers looked alike ... nah, I'm sure there is only one Robert Montgomery. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

More Treasures From the Vault ...

I bought a lot of movies titled "Unknown Movies/Actors."  This is the kind of stuff I really enjoy messing with.  For me, seeing the word "Unknown" is like waving a red flag at a bull, I love the challenge.  Now, I'm quite often as clueless as the vendor, but on occasion I can troll out a good find or two. 

The quality of this photo is not the greatest, but finding an original photo from Inspiration (1931), I consider to be a rarity.  The dress Garbo is wearing is what caught my eye, rather unique, isn't it.  I would have preferred finding a photo with Bob in it instead of Lewis Stone, but ...

And this photo was easy to identify because I remembered having seen it before.  There is something about seeing Joan Crawford in prison garbs that kind of sticks in your mind.  The photo number in the lower right-hand corner confirms the movie title, Paid (1930).  It is 520, the Inspiration photo has the number 521.  MGM had a simple and consistent numbering system for its movies, it has been a great help for me in identifying stills from Bob's movies.  Considering he wore a tuxedo so often in his movies, it can be confusing! 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What! You Dare To Laugh At Me? You Will Pay!

The image of the tie Bob wears in The Saxon Charm was seared into my memory cells long before I actually saw the movie.  Which is unfortunate, because when I did finally see the movie, all I could see was the tie!!  Well, perhaps I exaggerate a tad, but I did have to laugh when I first saw the nasty Matt Saxon and his incredible tie on the screen.  I do not think Bob would have appreciated my reaction to his character.  Looks like he just heard my comment in the photo below.  Easy Bob, the suit is great, as always.  And the shoe tassels are over-the-top!

                               Bob in The Saxon Charm (1948)

Attaching a colorized version of the tie, as displayed in one of the film's lobby cards.  Now, just try to wipe the image from your memory. 

And another tie from the movie ...

The costume designer must have loved having the elegant Mr. Montgomery wear those ties. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Robert Montgomery ... A Man of Rapier Wit

It is a 5x7 fan card.  The 88-year-old photograph has begun to show its age.  But little distracts from the image of the beautiful, curly-haired Mr. Montgomery.  I do not know if it is from the first sitting with George Hurrell, but definitely from that period.  Of course the camera loved Bob, but throw in Hurrell and you have a real romance going on.  As I have said a few times before ... rrrff!!

                                     Bob in 1929, age 25

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not Bob Taylor, Nor Ben Hogan

Few things give me more pleasure than discovering a new and nifty Montgomery photo ... particularly one that was identified incorrectly as "Bob Taylor" and cost me all of $2.  Yes, that just made my day.  The correct Bob is wearing the outfit he wore for the golfing scene with Ann Harding in When Ladies Meet (1933).  I'm assuming no golf ball was used in the making of this photo, or the photographer was a lot braver than me! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mr. Benchley!

Robert Benchley was born September 15, 1989 and died a mere 56 years later.  He was a very, very funny man who appeared in two movies with our Bob, Piccadilly Jim (1936) and Live, Love and Learn (1937).  My brother, David, was born on September 15 in a later year, is still alive (although living in Florida he recently gave his sister a bit of a scare), and has never appeared in any movie at all.  Yet, he makes his sister laugh.  My love goes out to them both.

This is a photo of Mr. Benchley.  The following quotes are his, not my brother's.  Don't want to confuse anybody! 

Sand is also a good place on which to write, "I love you," as it would be difficult to get into court after several years have passed.

 Anything can happen, but it usually doesn’t.

 When I was a child I was of an affectionate disposition, but not enough to get arrested.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bob ... And the Ever Present Ladies

Love my clippings ... cheap!!  And they are just so seldom available in the original photo form.  I mean how else are you going to find a photo of Preston Foster, Eddie Adams, Bob, Una Merkel and James Gleason!  The photo was taken at the 1937 Screen Actors Guild Ball.  (Does anyone know who Eddie Adams was?  Did she perhaps have a position in the union?  Can't find anything on her on IMDB.  Bugs me when I can't identify someone!) 

And a photo of Robert Young, Gertrude Niesen, Frank Morgan, Rita Johnson and Bob ... well, maybe not priceless.  The cheery group is singing in celebration of Frank Morgan's 25th Wedding Anniversary.  Now this is obviously an MGM public relations photo.  Young, Morgan, Johnson and Bob are all MGM contract players.  They would know each other and were probably at the studio working that day.  But...Gertrude Niesen?  She was a singer that made a few movie appearances at other studios, never worked for MGM.  Did they hire a singer so some one in the group could carry a tune?  (Sorry, Bob, an unkind remark in deed.)

And, lastly, a still from Night Must Fall (1937) with Dame May Whitty.  Just look at that face, that smile.  Want to share some chocolates, my dear, dear Danny?  

Thursday, September 07, 2017

What Beautiful Hair (Bob's, Of Course)

My, what a gorgeous, sexy couple!  Have to admit it threw me when I first saw the photo, could not place it at all.  I was quite sure I knew all of Bob's leading ladies, but here he was in the arms of another woman!  How could this happen?!

Turns out it is a promotional shot for Untamed (1929) and Bob is shown with Gwen Lee, who played one of Joan Crawford's competitors for Bob's affection.  I think Joan had real cause for concern ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Bob, Having Nothing Better To Do ...

One of the many duties of contract performers at the studios was to meet with visiting VIP's.  Young Bob shows up occasionally with French visitors, the assumption being that he actually spoke French.  Although Bob did not even finish high school, the schooling he did receive was obviously quite good.  Here he is in 1930 with Maurice Dekobra, a french novelist and screenwriter, and Mona Goya, a french actress under contract to MGM. 

                                Bob at MGM studios in 1930

I would imagine it was MGM's intent to convince Mr. Dekobra to write for them, a failed attempt if so.  He did sign with RKO to have one of his novels made into a movie, but returned to France afterwards.  Mona Goya made two movies for MGM, back when a french-language film was made parallel to its english-version, because good subtitles weren't yet in use.  One of those was Revolte dans la prison or The Big House, in which she played the sister of Bob's character in the movie.  Yeah, I can kinda see the similarity! 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bob Models Proper Attire for Bakersfield

Yes, I seem to have a one track mind this week, I mean, besides dwelling on photos of Bob in swimming trunks!  I'm just so, so tired of the heat here in Bakersfield.  It's always hot here in the summer, but we are having a record-setting kind of year.  We had ten straight 100+ days back in June, way too early for such nonsense.  And the heat has been relentless ever since.  An excessive heat warning is out for the entire holiday weekend.  Bummer.  Might be Thanksgiving before I can use my outdoor grill again! 

                                    Bob at home in 1938

It appears, for the moment, that the 100s will continue through September 9th.  We are on track for having the most 100+ days in a year since 1917.  Oh, joy, what a momentous event in which to be a participant. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

One (Very) Long, (Very) Hot Summer!

Taking a break while filming Love in the Rough (1930), Bob found one way to keep cool.  He is aquaplaning, a single board predecessor of water skiing.  He appears to have hold of the rope with his mouth ... I think I'll stay with your basic splashing in the pool. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Meet Me in the Casbah --- Oh Yes, Yes!!

Charles Boyer was one of my early favorite movie stars.  The combination of his voice and accent ... just heavenly.  He was always telling these beautiful women that he loved them and, needless to say, I always imagined I was the lucky lady in his arms. 

    Charles Boyer & Paulette Goddard in Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

However, Mr. Boyer was totally unavailable.  He married his wife Pat in 1934 and, by all accounts and unlike most of his compatriots, remained faithful to her until her death on August 24, 1978.  Two days later, Mr. Boyer committed suicide rather than continue to live without her.  That was August 26th, two days before his birthday of August 28th.  It's all so sad, but being with the love of your life for 44 years, that part of it was a wonderful blessing.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bob Tries Out His Latest Tricky Dicky Joke

And just what was Bob doing 61 years ago today, you ask?  Why he was at the 1956 GOP Convention held in San Francisco, Calif.  If President Dwight D. Eisenhower was giving a nationally televised speech, Bob was always there to make sure everything was done properly.

             Bob, GOP Chairman Leonard Hall and George Murphy

One really has to admire Bob for his great sense of civic duty.  Four years of active military service in WWII, when he was well over draft age and could easily have limited his time served to a few U.S.O. tours ... that was a big one.  And then to follow that up with serving as Ike's media advisor for seven years for the princely sum of $1 a year ... that's impressive.  Granted, it looked good on his resume and Bob was not meek about letting people know about his association with the President.  But he earned the publicity.  Two and three flights a week between NYC and DC were often required.  He was simply there for the President whenever needed for all those years while never once violating Ike's trust re privacy and national security.  Considering what goes on these days ... the man was a saint!

Sure would like to know what Bob was telling the boys.  (Probably disproving the "saint" idea!)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Garbo, Buster and a Three Decker

I just love the fan magazines of the early 1930s.  Photoplay Magazine was one, if not the best of its kind in the 1930s.  Richly done, great photos of the stars and, appropriately, on the expensive side for collectors.  In Britain, there were two highly successful magazines which covered U.S. movies, as well as their own.  I'm guessing Picturergoer was No. 1, with Picture Show not far behind.  Bob made the cover of both several times, and I snarf them up whenever they show up for sale. 

And, whereas I may purchase a magazine for its cover or a lead story, it is always fun to run across any small surprises inside.  Below is a photo of the young Mr. Montgomery --- note the full head of wavy hair! --- and a dog named Buster, perhaps MGM's answer to Rin Tin Tin.  Bob appears to be finding Buster a more enjoyable co-worker than Garbo...

And found in an article on the favorite sandwiches of the stars:

I wish they had provided the kind of bread he liked, which dressing he used.  I mean, there are so many unknown things about Bob we will never know, and now there are even more.  Sigh.