Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Have a great 2014, or in this case, 1951! (Btw., this pic is screaming to be colorized...)

Midnight Toast - As the clock strikes twelve to usher in the year 1951, one of Hollywood's happiest couples, Anne Baxter and John Hodiak, are prepared for a New Year's toast. Both are enjoying top honors in Hollywood, Miss Baxter's newest success being her brilliant performance in the 20th Century-Fox production, "All About Eve."

Friday, December 27, 2013

What's Better Than One Montgomery? SEVEN!!

                                          Untamed (1929)

Well, are we all thoroughly satiated and exhausted ... ready to face more goodies and celebration on New Years Eve?  Hope Santa was good to you, no coal in the stocking at least!  Santa's gift to me came in the form of the TCM Now Playing Guide.  Joan Crawford is the featured star for January and they are showing all five of the movies she made with Bob!!  And if that prospect was not good enough, they have included two more Bob movies, Lady in the Lake and Private LivesIt is just a great way to start off the year, 2014 is already better than 2013 has been, for me anyway.  Thought I would list them for you, as an aid to remembering to spend several delightful hours with Bob and Joan, Bob and Audrey and Bob and Norma.   All times given are PST. 

         Jan. 2  - 9:00 p.m., Our Blushing Brides (1930)

         Jan. 3  - 8:00 a.m., Untamed (1929)

         Jan. 6  - 3:00 p.m., Lady in the Lake (1947)

         Jan. 9  - 10:30 p.m., Forsaking All Others ( 1934)

         Jan. 10- 8:30 a.m., No More Ladies (1935)

         Jan. 10- 3:15 p.m., The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)

         Jan. 23- 7:45 a.m., Private Lives (1931)


Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Time is flying by so fast this season.  Five days away and I haven't even finished my decorating.  Well, actually, that is not unusual for me, but every year I PLAN to start all the seasonal preparations early enough to be able to sit back and enjoy the days going into Christmas.  Now I'm at the point of trying to decide what I can and cannot accomplish on time.  Christmas cards ... I'm always late so why rush to get them out before Christmas and shock my family and friends?!  My Mom's special recipe oatmeal cookies I was going to bake and send to my brother in Florida ... way too late to do that, might as well aim for Groundhog's Day. 

Sigh ... I just need to let the stress go and enjoy this wonderful time of year.  There's plenty of time to plan the Christmas dinner, decide what favorite Christmas movies we want to watch on Christmas Eve and purchase the champagne to imbibe with the nibbles that evening.  That sounds good, I can handle that.  The rest...well, maybe next year.

Hoping you survive the season and find some peace at this hectic time.  Who knows, if you have been good all year, you may have a surprise visitor come knocking at your door bearing gifts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All Those Sports Cars Were Expensive

This ad has the director and cast of War Nurse on the set with everyone enjoying a Coca Cola.  It is an interesting ad, but it is difficult to imagine a 1930 studio movie crew relaxing on the set taking a  break.  Hey, it is difficult imagining the 26-year-old Robert Montgomery actually drinking a Coke ... well, maybe as a mixer.

 Now, Bob smoking a Lucky Strike, that's a given.  Unfortunately.  Death from cancer, not a pleasant way to go.  In a movie he would have died in his sleep at his estate of extreme old age, but reality won out. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ahhhh...Those Beautiful Blue Eyes Are Closed

It was the summer of 1963 when I was first mesmerized by both Lawrence of Arabia and the young gorgeous man who portrayed him.  I was spending the summer with my aunt and uncle in San Diego.  Lawrence was being shown in a new theater with a huge wide screen and the latest sound system.  This was a time when first run theaters had reserved seating and the ushers were there to help you find it.  It was truly a great experience, sitting in the darkness, listening to that fantastic score and watching all those fantastic scenes flash by.  And to top it all off, seeing the introduction of one of the movies finest actors, swaggering across the screen in military uniforms and flowing Arabic robes, being a character larger than life ... BEING Lawrence.  And those incredible blue eyes staring off the screen right into your soul.  Ahhh, thank you, Mr. O'Toole, for your many wonderful performances, many of which deserved the Oscar you were continually denied.  Thank you for sharing your greatness on the screen and in our hearts. 

               Peter O'Toole (August 2, 1932 - December 14, 2013)

"The Bad Girls Were So Much Fun To Play"

                       Audrey Totter, 12/20/1917 to 12/12/2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Silky Kilmount Portraits by Willinger

Two of several great portraits of  'Silky Kilmount' taken by Lazlo Willinger for the movie The Earl of Chicago.

Willinger was born in Budapest, Hungary, one of many artists who had found success in Germany, but fled to the United States when Hitler came to power.  He joined MGM in 1937, succeeding photographer Ted Allan.  Never even having heard the word 'glamour' before being introduced to Hollywood studio photography in the 1930s, Willinger adapted his work accordingly while retaining a definite European influence.  A good example of this is his work for Earl.

Just love the wardrobe for Bob in the movie ... pinstripe suit, large shirt cuffs with cufflinks and the large fancy ring on his right hand.  He even removed the signet ring he wore on his left pinkie throughout his life.  Makes his long, narrow hand seem...errr...nude.  ;0)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Preparing for a Cold Night Montgomery Style

or how Bob prepared for a hayride with Bette Davis ...

"I've bitten into many an apple, but that's the first time I had one snap back at me!"

                               June Bride (1948) with Tom Tully

Thursday, December 05, 2013

What Were They Thinking?

This publicity still for Once More, My Darling WAS my candidate for oddest Bob photo.

Never say never ... I found one odder.  

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

One of the Better Scene Stealers

Ah, we have survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  That is no mean feat these days.  Of course, this has all been a warm-up to the Christmas season.  Thankfully, the season brings with it a long list of great movies to help us get into the spirit.  One of the better ones is The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.  The supporting cast is just as good, including Monty Woolley as The Professor, Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Hamilton, Elsa Lancaster as Matilda and James Gleason as Sylvester the taxi driver.  Scene stealers all.  Below, Cary eyes Gleason with a look of resignation, no point in competing for a scene with a pro like Jimmy.

                                 The Bishops Wife (1947)

Gleason was 47 years old when he arrived in Hollywood along with the talkies.   After years in stock companies and touring shows, he had already developed the persona which would help him become a highly successful and very busy character actor.  Always older, always balding and always the tough, warmhearted character, Jimmy played variations of the role for 29 years.  His first movie with our Bob was Blondie of the Follies.  He plays 'Pa' McCune, to Marion Davies' Blondie. 

                               Blondie of the Follies (1932)

Nine years later he is Max Corkle in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, the long suffering trainer of Bob's Joe Pendleton.  Max has to put up with Joe's saxophone playing, his reincarnations and the mysterious, invisible Mr. Jordan.  He is just great in the role and is appropriately rewarded with a nomination as best supporting actor. 

                              Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

Jimmy, who was born into a theater family, joined the army at the age of 16 to fight in the Spanish American war and, before serving again in WWI, he marries Lucile.  Lucile was his partner in the theater as well, and became a successful character actress in the movies.  She and Jimmy were two of the 21 founding members of the actor's guild, Lucile becoming the guild's first treasurer.  Jimmy continued to act until a year before his death in 1959.  His last role was as 'Cuke' Gillen in John Ford's The Last Hurrah starring Spencer Tracy.  Quite fittingly, he was one of a superb supporting cast including Pat O'Brien, Basil Rathbone, Donald Crisp, Edward Brophy, John Carradine, Wallace Ford and Frank McHugh.  And does he ever hold his own in his last scene of the movie and his career.  Good job, Mr. Gleason.
                                  The Last Hurrah (1958)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Man and His Car

Bob was a car enthusiast.  I'm sure you have seen the photos of Bob and his latest prize.  There was the 1931 Cadillac...

Then there was the 1933 Cadillac ...

The 1933 Cadillac was a 452C V16 Convertible Victoria, one of two made with its particular features.  It cost $7,500 new (a LOT of money in the midst of the Depression!) and sold for $412,000 when up for auction in 2009.  Check out all the dials on the dashboard, not your basic Model A for sure. 

In 1935 he buys a Bentley while in England and uses it on a driving tour of Europe with Betty.  Now that's the way to travel.  He has it shipped home and is seen below with Bob arriving at the studio. 

And lastly, an auto I ran across recently, but no Bob with car photo as yet, a 1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide Sports Roadster, with engineering by W. O. Bentley, originator of Bentley Motors. Bob test drove it at the Brooklands race track in England before having it delivered to Beverly Hills.  This Lagonda was the very last one bodied by the firm before WWII.  It cost Bob $8,900.

It sold at auction in Feb., 2012, for $900,000.  Bob had great taste.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hey, Hon. Look at the girl on the Left, isn't that...

As any movie fan can appreciate, it is always great fun to spot a future star in a movie or photo wherein they are merely an unlisted extra or bit player.  I ran across the picture below on the web, and once my eyes finally left the image of a very young Bob, I noticed the girl next to him and realized it was a very, very young Ann Dvorak.  She had just turned 17.

                                   So This Is College (1929)

Later, I identified her as one of the models in a still from Our Blushing Brides (1930)  She is second from the left, had to check the cast credits to make sure.  She also appears in Bob's Free and Easy (1930) in an uncredited role as a chorine.  Have not found a still of her in that, as yet. 

Ann gets her big break in Scarface (1932), becomes embroiled with her bosses at Warner Bros. over salary and the quality of the movies they put her in, and moves to England with her British husband to assist in the war effort (that's WWII, folks) by driving an ambulance.  An interesting lady for sure. 

And, if you have not already done so, do check out anndvorak.com.  It is a great blog with daily posts on Ann and the author's (Christina Rice) lengthy journey of researching, writing and successfully getting her book on Ann published.  The book is "Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel," a great tribute by a fan to help keep her star's memory alive.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What a Handsome Couple

It's been a few weeks since I included any Bob pictures in my entries.  That's too long.  So, ta-da, two of my favorites to share with you.  The second photo is probably quite familiar to you, but I just love the serious face of the young Mr. Montgomery.  Maybe it was the uniform.  

                    Bob and Madge Evans in Fugitive Lovers (1934)

                           Bob and Madge Evans in Hell Below (1933)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Appreciation, Mr. Powell

I have been a Dick Powell fan for more years than I would like to admit.  He was the No. 1 Star of Four Star Productions, a very successful TV company that produced a multitude of hit shows in the 50s and on into the 60s.  Charles Boyer and David Niven were two of the other stars, but it was workaholic Powell who was the driving force behind the company's success.  I grew up watching many of his shows including "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" with David Janssen;  "The Rifleman" with Chuck Connors; "The Detectives" starring Robert Taylor; and, "Wanted:  Dead or Alive" which propelled Steve McQueen into stardom. 

Late at night, I would watch the young Powell as the lead juvenile in a whole series of Warner Bros. musicals.  The cute baby-faced singer with a delightfully strong tenor voice was featured in such hits as "The Gold Diggers of 1933" and "42nd Street."  

                      Dick Powell, Nov. 14, 1904 - Jan. 2, 1963

An older Powell excelled as a tough guy in film-noir classics such as "Murder, My Sweet" and "Johnny O'Clock," co-starring Evelyn Keyes.

There are similarities in Dick's and Bob's careers.  From early on, both were typecast by their studios and not allowed to expand into other types of roles.  Bob tried to escape the typecasting, but "Night Must Fall" did not change the way the studio handled him.  Dick had to quit Warner Bros. in order to get a role against type in "Murder, My Sweet."   Bob and Dick both turned to producing movies in the mid to late 1940s, and then went into TV production, Bob in 1950 and Dick in 1952.  Also, they were born in the same year (1904), married very petite ladies and, sadly, they both die of cancer.  Dick was only 58.  It would have been interesting to see what affect Powell would have had on television given a few more years. 

Thank you, Mr. Powell, for many, many hours of enjoyment. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Another Broadway Actor Defects to Hollywood

Bob was not a "Star" on Broadway, just "a comparative newcomer among Broadway juveniles."  His last appearance was in the comedy Possession (1928), which ran from October 2nd to November 1st, 1928.  The play was not a big success, but it did provide him a chance at stardom in the movies.  By January of 1929, he and Betty are on a train to Hollywood with contract in hand.

1928 was a good year for Bob.  The 24-year-old appears on Broadway, marries Betty and then signs on to a career in movies.  Not bad. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Centennial Remembrance of a Fine Actor

I first saw Gig Young in Teachers Pet (1958).  He was playing his signature 2nd lead man role to lead man Clark Gable.  It was Gable who led me to see the movie...it was Gig that warmed my heart.  Handsome, debonair and projecting an aura of immense likeability ... what was there not to like.  I also enjoyed him in The Desk Set (1957)  and That Touch of Mink (1962), his character losing out to Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, respectively.  On television he was a co-star on The Rogues (1964-65),  playing - no surprise here - Tony Fleming, a handsome, debonair and lighthearted rogue.

                Byron Ellsworth Barr, Nov. 4, 1913 to Oct. 19, 1978

Gig's downfall was alcoholism, slowly destroying his career, his marriages and his life.  Broadway performer Elaine Stritch, also an alcoholic, describes their destructive relationship in her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2002).  (The DVD is available to rent on Netflix.  Do try it out, Stritch is a wonderful entertainer.)

It was after their breakup that Gig becomes involved with Elizabeth Montgomery.  [Plot alert, more sadness and heartbreak ahead!]  Dad Bob, not surprisingly, was strongly opposed to his 23-year-old daughter marrying a 43-year-old alcoholic who was only nine years his junior.  Not approving of the marriage, Bob did not attend the wedding.  Of course Dad was right, the troubled marriage lasts officially for six years. 

It has been written that Liz was attracted to Gig as a father figure.  Let's see, handsome, debonair, a great sense of humor ... yeah, I can see that. 

In memory, lets raise a toast to the troubled Mr. Young who brought smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts.  May he rest in peace. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Just Three Innocent Lambs

The1930s studio version of three stars out on the town:

                           Bob, Rudy Vallee and George Raft

And now the wire service photo capturing how they really were enjoying themselves:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Bob wins for scariest costume...it's the mustache. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome Home, Mr & Mrs Montgomery

Bob Montgomery was a very fortunate man.  His choice of residences reflect who he was:  a man of class, elegance and wealth.  From mansions in Los Angeles to a luxury townhouse in Manhattan to a summer home in the Hamptons, the man simply lived well.

After Bob married Buffy in 1950, they chose a townhouse in a 17-story limestone-clad apartment building located at 19 E. 72nd St in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in an area where the likes of the Vanderbilts and Whitneys built mansions and enjoyed nearby amenities such as several reknown museums (the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney), elite shops, the best restaurants and the adjacent Central Park.

Completed in 1937, the building replaced the 9-story mansion of Comfort Louis Tiffany, just across the street from The Rhinelander, home to Alva Vanderbilt.  It is one block from Central Park with Broadway across the way.  Today, a 3 bedroom, 5 bath apartment can go for $14,000,000. 

The main entrance has a green canopy sheltering an entrance covered with panels of animals and plants etched in relief.  

The building features circular staircases, this one featured in a penthouse apartment.

I am not aware of the unit number of Bob's townhouse, but I would guess it has been remodeled a few times since.  Following are photos of current apartments to give an idea of what his would have been like.

So, when Bob and Buffy returned to their home, they were first greeted by a doorman at the relief covered entrance.  Taking an elevator, they would exit into a public lobby for the apartment.

From there they entered the private foyer, which featured a circular stair case to the 2nd floor.

Then Bob may have gone to his office/library while Buffy changed before going out for the evening.

 Perhaps they would take a floor-block stroll to the Cafe Carlyle for dinner and entertainment, featuring resident singer/pianist Bobby Short.  (Or is that just one of MY fantasies?)

As I have said, Bob was a fortunate man.  He knew what he wanted in life, he set out to earn it and then he enjoyed it.  Should we all be as successful.  (I never even figured out what I wanted in life...)

Thanks again to Liz for responding to my entreaty for Bob's NY address.