Thursday, September 28, 2023

You Are Missed, Mr. Montgomery

 The portraits of Mr. Montgomery from the very early stage of his film career, primarily 1929 through 1930, were all amazingly different.  All great, mind you.  The camera loved him, mesmerized by those bright blue eyes.  Ruth Harriet Louise, lead photographer at MGM from 1925 to 1930, caught those eyes beautifully.  Good job, Ruth.  Thanks.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Robert Montgomery, 5-21-1904 to 9-27-1981

 The following tribute to our Robert Montgomery was published in the October 16, 1981 issue of  'Jours de France.'  It is quite good, considering it was published in French and I had only google translate to assist in translating it.  The writer shows a great respect for Mr. Montgomery.  I hope that shows through my translation.  

Robert Montgomery:  In Hollywood he was among the greats.

He held the most beautiful women in his arms:  Ingrid Bergman, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Susan Hayward and Great Garbo.  He embodied the charm and education as imagined in Hollywood in the thirties.  He was the one you fell in love with, because he was successful at everything, so well, so quickly.  He appeared in the same movies as Gable and Wayne; and was directed by the likes of John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock.  With the passing of Robert Montgomery, American cinema has just lost one of its greats.  

Born on May 21, 1904 in a rich family of Beacon, New York, a childhood of luxury and ease.  His father, vice-president of a company specializing in the treatment of rubber, sent him to Europe to learn foreign languages and everything that would help him to find his place in this cozy world.  But his father died when Bob was only 19 years old.  That was when the family discovered Mr. Montgomery senior had spent his fortune, leaving his wife and two sons to overcome this unexpected difficulty.

Robert loved literature passionately, and quite naturally turned towards writing to earn a living.  He first wrote poems, then plays.  Without any success.  He found a job in a theatrical company as an assistant manager.  Secretly, he hoped to have his own works performed.  But it would be acting that led him to success on the stage.  It was while playing "Possession" on Broadway when Hollywood noticed him.  This was at the very start of the spoken word on film.  The new art had struck down many silent stars, unable to pronounce a few sentences correctly, or simply cursed with atrocious voices.  Theater actors, like Montgomery, found their opportunity for long-awaited glory.

In addition to his physique, his tall height and regular features, Robert Montgomery had an irresistible asset:  he was funny naturally and did wonders in the fashionable American comedies of these years.  But he grew tired of these roles and tried to convince producers to use him in more dramatic roles.  Finally, in 1937, Richard Thorpe directed him in "Night Must Fall", in which Bob plays a murderous psychopath.  He received much critical acclaim for his performance, as he would in 1941 in "Here Comes Mr. Jordan".  But the war stopped this new career and Montgomery joined the navy, wherein he proved to be a brilliant and courageous officer.

In 1945, determined not to fall back into "Hollywood Sweets" ***, he performs in "They Were Expendable" under the direction of John Ford.  This film gives him a taste for directing and the next year he will direct his first film, "The Lady in the Lake", which is filmed using the principle of subjective camera.  He also appears in the main role:  that of Marlow, the famous private detective invented by Raymond Chandler.

From 1950 to 1957, he was a television producer.  His show, "Robert Montgomery Presents," was highly successful for all those years.  Also, during this time, President Eisenhower hired him as a radio/television advisor.  

Paradoxically, the man who was one of the greatest seducers on the screen, had a very serene private life.  His first wife was Elizabeth Bryan Allen, by whom he had two children, Elizabeth and Robert Junior.  Ten years ago he married another Elizabeth --- Elizabeth Harkness.

With the passing of Robert Montgomery, on September 27, in New York --- he was 77 years old --- it is once again --- after John Wayne --- a star of this enchanting Hollywood that was lost; one of those gods of cinema who marked an era, that of a sumptuous and cheerful America that no one so far has managed to resurrect on the screen.

*** Hollywood Sweets is the google translation of "sucreries Hollywoodiennes".  Haven't the foggiest idea what it means.  Any suggestions?  

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Was Nurse Sandy Really Needed?

 Lt. John "Brick" Brickley admires his primary love, his ship --- or PT Boat No. 41.  

             Robert Montgomery in They Were Expendable (1945) 

Personally, I'm admiring the full shot of Mr. "Bob" Montgomery from behind.  


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

What's Better than a Photo of Bob? Three Bobs!

 Bob was certainly right about choosing tough guy roles when he returned from the war.  He's only 43 when he makes Ride the Pink Horse (1947), but he has left his youthful personna far behind.  Four years in the military during war time can have that effect.  

Actually, I rather like middle-aged Bob.  More real.  Sexier.  

Three almost identical pictures ... same pose, the cigarette the only difference.  To me it looks like Bob is searching for his inner Lucky Gagin, and finds him in the last photo.  It's the eyes.  


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Three Live Ghosts and a Bookseller

 Three Live Ghosts (1929) was released September 15th, 1929 ... a mere 94 years ago, the beginning of Bob's movie career approaching its centennial.  Wow.  That's a long time ago.  

                                            Bob in color!