Thursday, April 19, 2018

How Could Anyone Not Like This Man

                Edmund Gwenn in The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Flawed Bob ... Could That Really Be?

Do you see the flaw in Bob's appearance in the photo below?  No...?

                    Bob and Anita Page in Free and Easy (1930)

Perhaps if I blow up Bob's head ... can you see it now?  No...?

There's a hair hanging astray, upper right side.  Hey, we all know 25-year-old Robert Montgomery had no flaws in his appearance.  T'was just kidding with you.  And giving you another chance to admire that gorgeous shock of wavy hair! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Happy Newlyweds Head for Bermuda

Bob and Buffy (Elizabeth II) were married December 9, 1950.  Here they are in NYC on April 8, 1951,  about to board a flight to Bermuda.  Whether it is a delayed honeymoon or a nifty way to celebrate four months of marriage, they are obviously happy to be together and on the way to warmer climes. 

To think of the brouhaha that surrounded Bob's divorce from the perspective of today's lackadaisical approach to marriage itself ... well, times have changed a tad.  Whatever, the two were together until his death in 1981, a 30-year marriage of two people obviously in love, with each other and the great life they had together. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy I Love You So

TCM ... this Thursday ... 6:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PST ... watch it!  You have been given plenty of warning, no excuses not to watch or tape it for later.  Night Must Fall (1937) is the one movie we Montgomery fans must watch (and often) to truly appreciate our Bob.  It is a good movie, Bob's performance is just superb and we should pay homage to Mr. Montgomery for making a deal with the devil (Louis B. Mayer, of course) in order to get the film made. 

Clarence S. Bull should be given his due for the great portraits of Danny, as well as the duo publicity photos of Danny and Olivia.  I appreciate the extra effort put in by the stars, as well as the photographer, when publicity shots are "in character."  Bob, Roz and Clarence did good. 

This scene from near the end of the movie is a great illustration of the effort Bob put into his performance.  Think about sharp, cocky Danny at the beginning of the film (as shown in the photo above) and then study the Danny in this scene.  He is dazed, alone, and diminished ... he is even the shortest person in the scene!  Now that's acting.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

And She Looks Just Great in a Uniform!

Marlene Dietrich was rather unique for her time.  And still would be these days.  She lived to be 90, rather surprisingly.  The cause was kidney failure ... not surprising.  She led a long and very interesting life.  I have always been a tad envious of Ms. Dietrich, so daring and strong-willed.  In my next life ...

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

79 Years Ago Today, Bob ...

April 3 – appears before the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee to express his opposition to a bill designed to prohibit “Block Billing” and “Blind Selling”, two trade practices which curb the discretion that a movie house owner has in selecting pictures to be shown in his community.  Speaking as a former president of SAG, Montgomery told the Committee that the Guild and their members have come to a very definite conclusion that if the bill should become a law, it would cut in half the production schedules of the Motion Picture industry.

I am quite sure Bob was serious about his presentation, but why not let everyone know you are enjoying this endeavor.  Besides, there aren't many actors who do not automatically turn on the charm with a camera pointed at them.  And it's the eyeglasses that make the photos.  The young Mr. Montgomery could never be seen with them, but 35-year-old Bob would need them to read his statement.  And what a great prop to liven up the photos of him on the committee floor.  Boy, talk about someone who knew how to pose for a camera.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Have Asked This Before: Where's Betty??

It is May, 1932.  Bob and his friends are leaving the Cocoanut Grove in L.A.  Yes, that is Ms. Crawford holding onto Bob with one arm, and her husband Doug Fairbanks, Jr., the other.  On the far right is Heather Thatcher, Bob's co-star in But the Flesh is Weak, which was filmed in February of that year. 

And for a better look at our handsome man-on-the-town ...

Wonder if it was really that cold in L.A. in May or if Bob and Doug are having a fashion competition?  Note, they are both wearing berets ... too much!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Nifty Photos Come In All Sizes

Back on February 27th, I used the photo below of Bob and his adorable pal.  I purchased four more Ross trade cards from the same vendor, all for the outrageous price of $.99 each!  Anyway, keeping in mind these are all 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" ... nifty photos. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ah, Those Bedroom Eyes ...

It is difficult for me to think of William Powell working at any studio other than MGM.  But he started at Paramount and left in 1931, having become dissatisfied with the roles he was being given.  The same thing happens after three years at Warner Bros.  Then MGM welcomed him with The Thin Man (1934) and a Best Actor nomination.  Finally, Mr. Powell found his happy home.

                              Paramount on Parade (1930)

 And to think Bill began his career playing villains.  What a waste.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"...More Stars than the Heavens!"

MGM was the biggest studio in the 1930s, and they did not let you forget that.  And a lot of the big stars of the time did actually work for the studio.  Below is a promotional ad for the upcoming 1936 season.  Note our Bob is still in the top tier, if the last one!  Hey, the pecking order was a big thing for the stars, as it is in most situations.  You know Crawford was upset Norma was in the prime spot rather than her. 

In the ever-changing world of the movie business, which project below was changed the most? 

Yes, Bob and Myrna being replaced by Joan and Clark in Love on the Run was a fortuitous change in casting for everyone involved.  Joan and Clark got to work together in another movie, and Bob and Myrna made Petticoat Fever instead.  Petticoat was by far the better movie and our duo was perfect for the roles. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bob Swallows a Flock of Canaries...

It's October 18, 1940, and Bob has just given an oration at a Willkie for President function.  He looks like he felt he did a good job.  The lady behind him doesn't seem quite as impressed.  I think she is just more interested in Bob himself. 

Poor Bob ... He spent a lot of time and effort working in presidential campaigns.  He worked for Willkie in 1940 and lost.  He campaigned for and with his good friend Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 (Lt. Commander Bob was otherwise busy in 1944), and lost again.  His third time was a charm, working for Eisenhower's election in 1952. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Montgomery Makes a Big Splash in Hollywood

                                                c. 1938

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Bob Had His Own Special "Zinc", For Sure!

This photo appeared in a French magazine in 1935.  It's a 1929 Bob, back when he was into wearing all white during his leisure activities. 

A translation of the photo caption:  "A fervent sportsman, Robert Montgomery has his own special "zinc".   Does anyone out there know what "zinc" meant in 1935 French slang? 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Handsome Lad, If a Bit Crazy, Was He

                                             Danny, d. 1937

Thursday, March 01, 2018

"I Think this is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship."

Madeleine Carroll was born on February 26, 1906.  She was a classic beauty, if on the icy side, which earned her the title of the "iceberg maiden".  She was Britain's top female performer during the 1930s, chosen by Hitchcock to star in his 1935 classic, The 39 Steps.  Yes, the first of Alfie's blonde leading ladies.  Her success continued in Hollywood, earning $250,000 in 1938.

      Madeleine Carroll in 1936 (in black dress with pink carnations)

Ms. Carroll had a feature in my favorite Bob war story.  As you probably know, Bob joined the American Field Service and drove an ambulance in France beginning June 6, 1940.  His "tour" was brief (as was France's defense against Germany), lasting just a few days.  Not being able to replace the damaged ambulances, resulted in Bob and others being sent back to Paris.

As it became evident that the Germans would soon reach Paris and conquer France, Bob and thousands of others scrambled to escape.  While Rick and Ilsa are planning on taking the last train out of Paris, our Bob finds a pilot with a private airplane who will fly him to Lisbon, Portugal on June 12th (maybe the 13th).  On June 14th, Paris falls to the Germans ... as in getting out in the nick of time! 

Meanwhile, before Bob left Paris, he heard that Madeleine Carroll was stranded in Nice, France.  Bob, our hero, of course made a flight detour to rescue Ms. Carroll.  From Lisbon, Bob was able to fly back to New York City on the last commercial flight of the Trans Atlantic Clipper, which was taken over by the military for the duration of the war.  A most fortunate, and extremely expensive escape it was for Mr. Montgomery. 

                            Bob and Madeleine in January, 1950

Ten years later, Ms. Carroll returns the favor, agreeing to star in the first broadcast of Robert Montgomery Presents on January 30, 1950.  This was at a time when big name Hollywood stars would not dare appear on television.  It had to have been a scary experience for her to do a live drama in the strange medium.  Probably scarier than that flight with Bob!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ah, Isn't He Cute. And the Dog, Too.

Ross postcards and trade cards are just superb.  Below is one of their trade cards (most are about 1-1/2 x 2-1/2").  The quality is so good you can blow them up to regular photo size without blurring the image, very unusual for the typical trade card.  

This could be a 1929 Bob ... note the collar.  Bob enjoyed his dogs.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It's All a Mystery to Me!

I'm rather enamored by this still from The Mystery of Mr. X (1934).  Obviously, the main subject matter, Mr. Montgomery, is of particular interest to me, but the use of shadows is also eye-catching.  Note there are two shadows of Mr. X.  An open door is apparently the source of the brightest lit patch on the wall, producing the darker shadow primarily on the curtain.  A second shadow appears on the far right of the photo, from another light source behind Bob and to our left.  Now,  the true mystery to me is why, with all the lighting in the room, does Mr. X need a flashlight to see the safe? 

Now having a bright light directly on Bob's face, that makes perfect sense.  I mean, we're all looking at Bob anyway, right ladies?  So of course we want a clear view of that great profile!  Just love the nifty hat with the tux. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Look, The Drink ... But Where's the Tux?

Well, it's not bad for a magazine clipping.  It would definitely be nice to have an original photo of Bob and Norma setting off sparks.  Yet, reading what Bob has in mind is certainly not diminished by the poor quality of the print.

                  Bob and  Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (1930)

TCM will be showing The Divorcee this Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. EST/6:00 a.m. PST.  The movie would have been improved significantly if they had given Bob more screen time.  Mrs. Thalberg may have gotten an Oscar for her performance, but Norma's particular style of overacting can be a tad unnerving.  Yet, I admire her for succeeding in an extremely tough profession.  Besides, one has to be thankful to her for her role in helping to boost Mr. Montgomery's early career.  Thank you, Ms. Shearer.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Happy Birthday to Boston Blackie!

Chester Morris was born February 16, 1901.  He and Bob made back-to-back movies together, The Divorcee and The Big House, forging a close friendship in the early 1930s when both actors became so highly successful in their careers.  Actually, Morris was a step or two further up the ladder than Bob was in 1930, when The Big House really made his career.

The photo below is a publicity shot for Corsair (1931).  I love the IMDB synopsis for the movie: "Stock market broker plans to liven up his boring life by taking up piracy on the high seas."  Good one.  Check out the striped pants.

Chester's career took a dive in the late 30s, so signing on to the Boston Blackie movies in the 1940s was a great financial boon for the struggling actor.  When they ended, he switched to theater and television in the 1950s.  In 1970, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and dies of a barbiturate overdose.  The coroner could not determine if it was suicide or an accident.  Whichever, it was an understandable reaction to cancer at the time and ever so sad. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I Would Rather See Letty Lynton, But ...

TCM is showing Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) this Wednesday the 14th at 2:00 p.m. EST/11:00 a.m. PST.  Yeah, it would be great if some of his other movies were to get some of that rare airtime allotted to Mr. Montgomery.  But, it is an enjoyable movie and Bob, of course, does a great job as Joe the genial boxer and saxophonist.  Lets just hope he retires from the ring before he messes up that beautiful face. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Just Two Blokes on a Boat

Ronald Colman was born February 9, 1891, in Surrey, England.  Besides being an elegant and handsome chap, he had one great voice ... English accent and all.  He was a biggie in the Golden Age of Hollywood, a top movie star and high in the very, very British social circle in Los Angeles.  1937 was a great year for Mr. Colman, starring in The Prisoner of Zenda and Lost Horizon.  Not bad.

      Ronald Colman as King Rudolf in The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Meanwhile, I get a chance to use a favorite photo.  It's Mr. Montgomery, our favorite anglophile, yachting with Mr. Colman.  I'm sure Bob was in pig heaven, spending a day at sea on Ronnie's yacht.  There just aren't enough photos of Bob in swimming shorts ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Wallace Beery Plays Himself, errr, Butch!

TCM is showing The Big House (1930) this coming Thursday.  Definitely worth a watch, even if prison movies aren't your thing.  Chester Morris and Wallace Beery are the stars, Bob has a major supporting role.  The movie begins with Bob's character, clean cut Kent Marlowe, being checked into the overcrowded and dated prison to serve a 10-year sentence for killing a man in a drunken-driving accident.  The sequence is really quite good, showing the dehumanization of Kent as he is changed into prisoner no. 48642.  And then the poor guy meets his new cellmates, Morgan (Chester Morris) and Butch (Wallace Beery), with Butch as everyone's nightmare roomie. 

     Chester Morris, Bob and Wallace Beery in The Big House (1930)

Kent has a completely rational reaction to his fate, he is scared to hell facing a life situation filled with violence for which he is ill-prepared.  Love the look on Bob's face in the photo below.  You're so right, Bob.  Nothing good is going to come for you in this prison break. 

It's great seeing Bob in a different kind of role.  But his future has already been determined by the two movies he has made with Norma Shearer, Their Own Desire (1929) and Divorcee (1930).  He just looked too darn good in a tuxedo! 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

It's a Great Photo, But ...

Unfortunately, I am limited by the framework of the blog when it comes to displaying large photos, as well as those of great scope.  Even in an 8" x 10" format, it is difficult to tell just what is happening in the photo below, but it still looks nifty. 

So, lets take a closer look.  Hey, it's Bob as Silky Kilmount on his way to ... no, I can't say anymore, don't want to spoil the ending for anyone!  Anyway, check out those skinny Montgomery legs.

And the other group of men appear to represent the government, the military services and the established church.  Note, the navy guy didn't seem to hear the director's order to look at Bob.  Guess they didn't think anyone would see the scene well enough to notice it.  

By the way, I have a blown-up version of of the still I use as wallpaper.  Yes, it's a really nifty photo!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Would Like To Have Seen Him On A Pink Horse

There are a number of excellent publicity stills taken of Bob for Ride the Pink Horse (1947).  He is in character, helping to establish former playboy Bob Montgomery as tough guy Lucky Gagin.  Four years of military service has toughened Mr. Montgomery, he looks comfortable with the gun.  Time has also hardened that formerly beautiful face.  He's a handsome dude, but one that has been knocked around a bit, more real.

                  Bob Montgomery in Ride the Pink Horse (1947)

Bob's signature has changed as well, no longer the beautifully drawn one of the 1930s.  It is hurried, matching the man who has less time for personal vanity.  I wonder who "T______y" was. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

And He Still Made It To 77 ...

It is 1931.  Young Mr. Montgomery has reached the heights, indeed ... a cigarette endorsement!!

It is not often when the fine print is more interesting than the rest of the ad.

Let's see ... it's a deal between a movie studio and a cigarette ad company.  Hmm. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Really Nice Photo of a Gorgeous Couple

Lucky and Pauline ... such a great match.  The same goes for Bob and Maureen.  It really is too bad they didn't make another film together.  A sequel to Hide-Out (1934) would have been great, but any movie would have been just fine.  Darn it, anyway. 

                 Bob and Maureen O'Sullivan in Hide-Out (1934)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Red Boutonniere and a Homburg, Of Course

Robert Montgomery was an Anglophile to the nth degree, spending as much time as possible in England throughout the 1930s and even in 1940, what's a little war to keep him home.  Bob thoroughly enjoyed the role of the English gentleman.  Of course he dressed the part perfectly, the homburg, the boutonniere ... must have left his umbrella in the car.  It is quite fitting that his first naval assignment was as a naval attache to the U.S. Embassy in London.  Perfect casting! 

Below, Bob visits director Victor Saville at the Graumont Studios in London in the late 1930s (best guess!).  He seems to be a big hit with the ladies.  I must say the costume director did come up with a unique outfit. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Being Picky About Piccadilly Jim

It took me a while to appreciate the publicity stills taken for Piccadilly Jim (1936).  At 32 and 27 respectively, Bob and Madge are not exactly over-the-hill, but the camera is a demanding and fickle friend.  I think what bothers me most about the photos is the work done on Bob's face.  It has been completely smoothed out, not a trace of wrinkles or hair follicles.  Top that off with a tad bit of weight gain - after being on vacation for six months! - adding a slight puffiness to his cheeks, and, well, you have a different looking Mr. Montgomery.  Still good, of course, but ... maybe if they had just let a wrinkle or two show. 

                 Bob and Madge Evans in Piccadilly Jim (1936)

And poor Madge, having to wear that floppy shouldered top with the massive corsage.  An overwhelming outfit, and not in a good way. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Robert, Robert, Van & a Bunch of Cold Sailors

For you doco fans, TCM will be showing The Secret Land (1948) tomorrow at 1:15 a.m. EST/4:15 a.m. PST.  I would suggest taping it for later viewing ... it is good (7.2 on IMDB and winner of the Oscar for best documentary), but probably won't keep you awake at that hour. 

The movie is about a massive expedition by the U.S. Navy to Antarctica in 1946-47, which involved 13 ships and 4,700 men.  Research projects were conducted, as well as extensive mapping.  It was also meant to provide training of military personnel in freezing conditions. 

The documentary was released by MGM, thus the choice of narrators:  Commander Robert Montgomery, Lt. Robert Taylor and Lt. Van Heflin.  It is the only color film Bob is featured in, unfortunately only his voice is used.  I am definitely not complaining about listening to his performance, but seeing those blue eyes would certainly have been nice.  Now that would keep me awake at 4:15 a.m.!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Bob and the Mysterious Lady in White

Let's hear it for the amateur photographer who took this photo and then wrote down in the scrapbook when it was taken!  I have so many photos without any information at all ... no date, no location, no ID's of all the subjects, or why they were at the unknown location on the unknown day.  Frustrating.

March 30, 1939 ... let's see.  On April 3, 1939, Bob gave testimony before the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee as a representative of SAG.  Backtracking to March 30th, he would most likely be en route to Washington, D.C. from Los Angeles.  In 1939, he would probably have taken the train, and the fastest route was through Chicago, where he had to change trains.  I am, therefore, guessing that the photo was taken at Chicago Union Station.

So, I am fairly sure of the why, where and when of the photo.  That leaves the who, as in who are the two lucky ladies that have surrounded Bob.  There are always ladies with Bob when he is seen in public.  No particular surprise there!

It is really a good snapshot, the photo is nicely vertical and there's no blurriness.  It is too bad Bob's eyes are squeezed shut.  It's probably the smoke from holding the cigarette in his mouth.