Sunday, April 30, 2006

Antique Maul

Stopped at an antique mall over the weekend. There's always something interesting to look at in these places. Sure, there'’s a lot of overpriced junk -– but no one said you had to buy it.

The interesting part of this visit was a booth that had a bunch of movie star autographs. As I am not an expert in autographs (and don't pretend to be one on TV), they could have been faked for all I know. Looked like fountain pen on yellowed B&W 8x10s, so I fell for them. The one that stuck out to me was a 14x10 (or thereabouts) B&W of Dana Andrews signed to some fellow. The only thing between me & the photo was $185. I kept walking...

For the record, I love The Best Years of Our Lives & can't make it all the way through Laura.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Photo Friday

Another Hurrell. Not sure on the year. Here's a slightly larger version of the photo.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Like Prison Movies

Shhh, I have a secret. I like prison movies. Classic ones that is. I was just thinking about the movies I'’ve recoded off TiVo lately and it just dawned on me. In the past week or so I've watched Each Dawn I Die & 6,000 Enemies.

Each Dawn is prime Jimmy Cagney. While he's not a gangster in this film, he lives, breathes & nearly becomes one when he'’s sent to prison.

6,000 Enemies, which is probably lesser known than Each Dawn, is just as entertaining. Walter Pidgeon stars as a DA who gets framed and sent to prison. In prison, he's surrounded by criminals he's sent to jail - hence the 6,000 Enemies. To gain the confidence of his fellow inmates, he'’s shoved into a legal boxing match against the jailhouse "leader"” (the criminal "“boss "– whatever you'’d call him). While Walter gets the crap beaten out of him, it'’s replaced with respect from the other inmates who wanted to kill him anyway. This film has the most rushed ending I'’ve seen in a classic film in a long time. I won'’t blow the ending for you though...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lady in the Lake DVD Update (and more)

The latest from The Digital Bits web site:

“7/18 will bring The Film Noir Classics Collection: Volume 3 (including Border Incident, His Kind of Woman, Lady in the Lake, On Dangerous Ground, The Racket and the Film Noir: Bringing Darkness Into Light bonus disc) and the Warner Tough Guys Collection (which will include Bullets or Ballots, Each Dawn I Die, G-Men, Sam Quentin, City for Conquest and A Slight Case of Murder, each of which will also be available separately).”

Both are tempting purchases as box sets, although I feel that I’m drowning in DVDs. Haven’t spotted any preorder info on Amazon yet.

And if I may recommend...the Bits web site has a section devoted to classic movies being released on DVD. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's Bootleg, Baby!

Ya’ll remember me spouting off about purchasing Here Comes Mr. Jordan off ebay a week or so ago. Well, a day after PayPal’d the funds, I received the below message from the seller:

Hi, just a quick email to let you know about a couple of things. First off, congratulations on winning my auction & paying so promptly. Also, I don't know if I had the opportunity to tell you earlier but this is not a genuine release DVD. The genuine article simply does not exist. It was transferred from VHS to DVD & is a very nice copy. It is as good as one can get from an anologue (video) source but not strict DVD quality. I've been so snowed with work fighting forest fires that I wasn't sure if I told you this earlier or not. I know this is not everyone's cup of tea but the alternative is to not have it at all. I am not a dealer, simply a collector & an enthusiast who wants to share these forgotten gems with others who also find it impossible to track them down. I am merely covering my outlay. i hope this does not create any problems.

No, no one said it was a bootleg in the original auction - odd to bring that up now. Anyhow, deep in my gut I kinda figured that. Aw heck, I can't blame the guy.

Got the DVD in the mail on Monday. First, it works, so that’s a relief. Zipped through it and the quality seems decent. There’s a small vertical black bar on the right…ok, I’m getting too detailed.

I’ll write about watching the movie (for the first time) in an upcoming post. I gotta figure out what the deal is with the saxophone...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Go take a ride in the park with Mr. Duncan

Watched Unfinished Business, a little 1941 gem I've never seen before. It's one movie that I both love & have a problem with. Let me start with the problem - the ending.

First off, I'm not going to spoil the ending for those of you who haven't seen the film. Let's just put it this way, I felt like the writers looked at their watches, learned they had five minutes left, and quick whipped up the end. Yes, it's certainly a credible end, considering the - *ahem* - beginning of the story & some piano action, but come on! OK, enough whining, there's still a bunch of good movie left.

A quick overview, courtesy of IMDB: Small town girl (Dunne) Meets and falls for a playboy type (Foster) on a train to New York. For him, the fling is over when they arrive, but she continues to carry a torch. She meets and marries his brother (Montgomery), a mismatch which eventually grows into real love. Pretty lame overview, eh? The movie's more entertaining than that lets on.

There are a number of good "nuggets" - scenes that really pop out. Let me give you a few of my favorites:
  • Bob answering the switchboard at the night club - while he's toasted. I nearly laughed my a** off during this scene. He has no clue how to use the switchboard but pulls up a chair & headphones and starts answering calls with "Schwab's Fish Market - Can I Sell you a Herring?" and "Hello, The Aquarium."
  • Bob & Irene doing shots of a milk based cocktail, called a Whizboom. "You can hear the whiz but you'll never feel the boom."
  • Bob waking up under his bed - after a night of Whizbooms (the drink that is).
  • Irene Dunne's hat - marry a woman into some money and they gravitate toward the oddest fashions.
  • The mannerless butler, played by Eugene Pallette, is loveable. Tis also the same butler from Made on Broadway. Not afraid to say what's on his mind!
An irresistible force seems to be drawing me toward movies with heavy drinkers...

And thanks to bantaskin for hooking me up with the movie!

The closest I could find to Whizboom:

This recipe is so evocative of the jazz age, speak easys and flappers, I could not resist listing it here.
2 oz. Scotch
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
2 Dashes Grenadine
2 Dashes Pernod
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Photo Friday

I still don't believe I won this off ebay...

Here's a larger version of the photo for your enjoyment...

The printing on the photo is beautiful - almost like a glossy "shell." It's printed by Mark Vieira & I think he uses Hurrell's printing technique for these reprints.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Hucksters

I'm continuing on my mini-Clark Gable kick. Finished watching 1947's The Hucksters. It hits the nail on the head in regard to ad agency life. In my past job, I was an account executive at an interactive agency. Saw the same patterns - the panicking account people, the clients who thought they knew everything, the account people who kissed up to the client.

Gable does a good job as coming across as a smooth ad guy. There's one scene where the agency big wigs go to see the owner of the Beautee Soap Company, their big $10 million account. The meeting starts with the owner (the massive Sydney Greenstreet) spitting on the board room table to make a point. Point made.

Gable's love interest, Deborah Kerr, comes off as nails on a chalkboard to me. Her character appears so weak and vulnerable that it gets downright annoying. I buzzed through the opening credits & totally missed that Edward Arnold was in the pic. Though Arnold has a small part, he does add some variety to the story.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Robert who?

I work in a maze of cubicles. It isn't as bad as my old job which had no office walls. Just one large room with a concrete floor and a dozen people and their own desks.

I recently changed the wallpaper background image on my PC at work to the Letty Lynton Hurrell photo of Bob sitting between the statues. Five minutes went by and the person who works next to me stopped by for the usual morning blab.

Him: "Who's that?"
Me: "Oh, that's my favorite actor, from way back when."
Him: "OK, he's a handsome fella."

A few hours later...he stops by again.

Him: "What's that actor's name?"
Me: "Robert Montgomery"
Him: "Oh. What movies was he in?"
Me: "Uhm (pause - I know no matter what I said nothing would click). They Were Expendable, Here Comes Mr. Jordan..." (I went on with a few other titles, but I was essentially talking to myself)
Him: "Oh, ok...those movies."

I was tempted to send him Bob's bio on Wikipedia or something. I think I'll just keep rotating the backgrounds & see if I can educate him.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pick Your Richard Hannay

Submitted for your listening pleasure is the Lux Radio TheaterĂ‚’s version of The 39 Steps with Robert Montgomery, Ida Lupino, Isabel Jewell, and Gene Lockhart. It aired on December 13, 1937. Unlike some radio broadcasts, this one is pretty clear and close to an hour long.

Update: I pulled the link to the file - just leave me a comment if interested the end of the broadcast, Bob asks for your input on his next movie. Drop a card or a note to MGM, Bob, or the Lux Radio Theater with your choice:

1.) A light comedy
2.) A story with a social problem

I'll be sure to send my recommendation out in tomorrow's mail ;0)

Monday, April 17, 2006

I have always used Luckies....

I saw this on ebay & couldn't help but giggle. Cigarette ads are just too much sometimes. Like Bob (or any smoker really) would care about a "Celophane" wrapper...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Sorry, no references to Fred Astaire or his Easter Parade here today ;0)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Found a French web site selling some Bob photos. Problem is it's in Euros, and an 8x10 ain't cheap. By their calculations, it's $17.70. Nice 1932 Hurrell though (I think I'm turning into a Hurrell nut).

Go check it out

They have other photos for classic actors & actresses as well.

If you want to cheat, get a high res photo of one of the three pics over here (the top left one). Go print it on your own! Another high res here of the Letty Lynton Hurrell.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Manhattan Melodrama

Spent last Saturday night with Clark, William & Myrna watching Manhattan Melodrama. Excellent film - kept me sucked in the entire time.

First off, I would like to say that I have decided I like Clark Gable. I had always ignored his stuff simply because I didn't like Gone With the Wind (gasp). Ok, back to the subject at hand.

Great flick about two lifelong, orphan friends growing up to become Governor (William Powell) and racketeer (Clark Gable). Gable (Blackie) gets charged for murder and gets the death penalty. Of course, once Powell becomes Governor, I'm screaming in the back of my head "PARDON TIME!" No such luck. Gable (Blackie) decides to fry instead.

A good one - go watch it. Grabbed it off TCM. I don't think it's on DVD yet, but was put out on VHS.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holy Hurrell...

I finally found a local library that had a copy of Mark Vieira's Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits book - before I shelled out the bucks to see it sight unseen. Holy wow wow. I hate to say it again, but Hurrell's pics are what movie stars are supposed to look like. There's a great example of before and after retouching for Joan Crawford (looks like she had freckles).

Not as many Bob pics in the book as I would have like to have seen. I did see Jean Harlow's nipple, which I could have done without. Let me grab some of the captions from the Bob stuff:

"By the end of his first month at M-G-M, George Hurrell was so well liked that he was invited to the set of Free and Easy to shoot production stills. "I invited him there," recalls Anita Page, seen here with directory Edward Sedgwick and co-star Robert Montgomery."

The size of the photo in the book (above) doesn't do it justice. If you really look at it, you can see Anita's face reflected in the movie camera lens. That & Bob's eyes look like they're on fire. Here's another photo that I think is Hurrell (to the's the shoes).

"In 1979, Robert Montgomery told Yankee magazine, "When I signed with M-G-M, they gave me a big pitch about how I was going to play opposite Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. I didn't have any idea whom they were talking about. I had actually seen only two films when I went to Hollywood in '29."

"Hurrell used George Bellows prints to accent this March 1932 portrait of Robert Montgomery for Letty Lynton. Montgomery was the most intelligent, versatile - and unimaginatively cast - actor at M-G-M. The monolithic studio could be a frustrating place to work." (below photo)

If you look at a few of Hurrell's other RM pics, you can see the same art deco sculptures...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Seriously, he's going to show up at my front door in the next week or so. Ok, I should probably clarify -I just bought the DVD off eBay. I've never seen the film, so this'll be fun.

It looks like a legit copy issued outside of the US (what's up with that?). It's also in PAL format, so I hope my trusty PC software can ignore that fact. I bought a bootleg once off eBay from the orient. Boy, great quality but bad translating on the box!

I'll add a post once I get the chance to watch it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

'Silky' Smooth

The Earl of Chicago is one of my favorite Robert Montgomery movies. To this day, I think the ending was way unfair...

Larger photo here.

Here's the caption on the back of the photo:
HE LOOKS LIKE THE TWELFTH EARL OF GORLEY...But underneath he's still Silky Kilmount, Chicago gangster, just a guttersnipe lord. It's the most unusual starring role of Robert Montgomery's career in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "The Earl of Chicago," the different screen story of a thug who becomes a nobleman. Victor Saville brings the film to the screen, directed by Richard Thorpe.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Slick Poster...

I've never seen Manhattan Cocktail, but I ran into this movie poster repro for it online. That has to be one of the slickest designs I've seen for a poster, especially for 1928.

Go check it out over at

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Swapping Bobs

Heh, found this photo - couldn't help but post it after yesterday's pic.

Friday, April 07, 2006

One Last Young

Finally the weekend at last. I'm burned out from work. I could use a Cosmo right now.

Going to leave everyone one last Robert Young photo. Haven't dug into what movie yet. If ya know, drop me a note.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

That's where I have the edge on you...I'm no gentleman

I'm about 10 minutes out from finishing Biography of a Bachelor Girl. Wasn't as good of a movie as I had wanted, but I'm in the mindset these days that any Bob movie is a good Bob movie. Maybe it was Una Merkel I didn't buy into...or the sometimes wordy scenes. I'll say this, the cabin up at Moose Lake certainly had a great view.

Another growing favorite of mine, Edward Arnold was also in the pic. Had a pretty decent German accent for the part. As someone who took four years of high school German, I know it's hard to fake an accent - I tried!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bugattis & Booze

As promised, here's some screen shots from Remember Last Night?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Remember Last Night?

Wow, just watched a very *entertaining* film from 1935 called Remember Last Night off TCM. Where do I start?

The plot of the movie is about a bunch of couples going out to celebrate one couple's wedding anniversary. This consists of going from home to home to drink themselves silly. I've never seen a film with so much drinking in it. Anyhow, someone gets murdered and no one remembers anything cause they were all too drunk and still hung over. One scene consists of the drunkards firing a cannon from their mansion porch at a yacht! It's a decent murder mystery once you get past the drinking.

Very cool cast lineup, IMHO:
  • Edward Arnold - Love him
  • Robert Young - Wow, he's so young (no pun intended) he looks nothing like you'd think of him from TV
  • Constance Cummings
  • Sally Eilers - Remember her from Made on Broadway...
  • Reginald Denny
  • Robert Armstrong - Kong!
  • Arthur Treacher - Holy cow - I thought that was a fake name for a fast food restaurant. I love this guy as butler. The chain is actually named after him!
What's really a hoot is the police detective team is the same as from Hide-Out (Edward Arnold & Edward Brophy).

Screen caps to come...I just gotta add some.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Movie Reminder

Go out & support TCM & RM by watching Biography of a Bachelor Girl tomorrow (4/4), 12:15 p.m. CST. Set your Tivo, VCR, or call in sick...

Everyweek Newsmagazine editor Richard Kurt pursues psuedo-portrait artist Marion Forsythe on her arrival from Europe after painting (and possibly being involved with) notables all over the continent. He convinces her to write her biography as a feature for his magazine. An old "beau" of hers also looks her up in New York; he is running for U.S. Senator from their home state, and is engaged to an influential publisher's daughter. He is fearful that Marion's tales could embarass him, so he tries to persuade her and Kurt to abandon the idea.

Need another reason to watch it? Edward Everett Horton!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Keechie & Bowie

Watched They Live by Night the other night. I guess it's classified as film noir. It's a 1948 flick with Farley Granger & Kathy O'Donnell. I'm going to be lazy here and pull the plot overview from IMDB:

An escaped convict is injured and is helped by a woman with whom he has an ill-fated relationship.

Whoever thought of the names "Keechie" (Kathy O.) and "Bowie" (Farley) should be tarred and feathered. How more annoying can you get?

Anyhow, the movie felt like Gun Crazy to me, except watered down, and with fewer guns. I ended up watching the whole thing, so there was some interest there.

Farley Granger is odd - I can't put my finger on it. I kinda like him though, especially in Strangers on a Train. I think that's the only other film of his I've seen.