Thursday, June 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ms. Evans!

Well, it's almost Madge's birthday ... born July 1, 1909.  Madge (Miss Nice Girl) Evans made five movies with Bob:  Lovers Courageous (1932), Hell Below (1933), Made on Broadway (1933), Fugitive Lovers (1934) and Piccadilly Jim (1936).  They were a handsome/cute couple, certainly not edgy like Bob and Joan.  Just love the many great photos of the two from Lovers Courageous and Fugitive Lovers.  Today, it's just Madge.  Definitely a tad more than "cute". 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do You Remember Your First Time?

Way back in 1983, my husband and I moved to California and discovered the true joy of Los Angeles TV stations with their immense movie libraries.  My taped movie collection grew rapidly with a lot of favorites, many of which I had never seen before.  I really disliked having commercials in my movie recordings, so I would dub my tapes to edit them out.  It was time-consuming (remember those huge VHS recorders!), but a great excuse to watch many wonderful movies. 

It was that summer when, with a glass (or two) of white wine in hand, I was dubbing Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) which I had not seen before.  I knew who Bob was, but mostly as a TV producer who had also been President Eisenhower's media advisor.  Anyway, I got to the nightclub scene where Bob (David) is desperate to escape his date and avoid being seen by Carole Lombard (Ann Smith).  He decides he will give himself a bloody nose, not the greatest excuse, but a truly funny scene. 

It was midway through the scene, between hitting himself in the nose and finally resulting to the salt shaker, that I realized I was watching an excellent actor who was having as much fun doing the routine as I was enjoying it.  Hey, Mr. Montgomery, besides being a very intelligent and handsome man, was also quite funny.  I fell in love with him on the spot. 

33 years later, after watching all his movies (numerous times!) and reading everything I can find about him, I have not discovered a thing about him that disproves that moment of enlightenment.  (And, no, it wasn't the wine, either!)  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Egads! Could It Be So?!

Check out the photo.  Bob claimed to be 6' 1", some sources have him at 6' 0.5".  George Sanders is listed at 6' 3".  Hmm. 

What d'ya think?  Is Bob as advertised, or could the studios have possibly exaggerated his height just a tad?  Egads, tell me it isn't so! 

In the movie The Big House (1930), the scene wherein Bob is checking into prison and his vital statistics are being gathered, his height is read off as being 5' 11".  Could it be so?  Hmm.

                 Bob and George Sanders in Rage in Heaven (1941)

The studios tended to add an inch or two to all their male stars, particularly if it got their height over 6'.  That was a very tall man in the 1930s.  Gable's height was listed the same as Bob's.  They are very close to the same height, depending upon the angle, in Forsaking All Others (1934).  And since I've thought for ages that Gable was more like 5' 10" to 5' 11",  I guess I'll have to go with Bob's height as being under 6' as well.  I think Bob may have been a tad taller than Gable, winning by a neck!!  (Sorry, I just couldn't resist it.)

It's really not that all this matters a whole heck of a lot.  It doesn't lessen Bob's stature a bit, and that's what really counts. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Faithless Trumps Forsaking All Others

I always thought this was a publicity photo for Forsaking All Others (1934), with Bob and Joan in a beautiful car looking bored out of their minds.  I have a 10 x 13 print, just gorgeous.  Recently, I happened to notice the MGM photo ID number in the lower right corner.  638 is the number given the movie Faithless (1932).  So that's Tallulah Bankhead in the car being bored along with Bob. 

I watched both movies to make sure I had the right movie (what I force myself to do for the sake of research!)  Besides thoroughly enjoying watching them once more, I discovered that neither movie has the above scene in them, not even that fantastic car.  Joan does wear a white outfit in Forsaking All Others, but the car she and Bob use is a two door model.**  Faithless doesn't even have a scene with Bob and Tallulah in a car, much less Tallulah in a white outfit. 

So, another scene that didn't make it into a movie.  What a waste.  They should have kept it in, so we could enjoy that car, if nothing else. 

**For some unknown reason, the car used in Forsaking All Others has the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle.  Really looks odd to see Bob and Joan in a process shot with Bob behind the wheel on the left side of the screen.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Question For The Day

How does one come up with this pose??

                    Bob and Roz Russell in Fast and Loose (1939)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Elyot and Amanda Duel Once More

Another showing of Private Lives (1931), 11:00 p.m. PST (Wednesday)/ 2 a.m. EST (Thursday), on TCM.  I would hope everyone has seen this movie several times, it really is a great Bob movie.  If not, get those DVRs set now.

Private Lives was a very successful play written by Noel Coward who starred in the London production along with Gertrude Lawrence.  It's always nice to be able to write a role for yourself.  It also makes it very difficult for another person who attempts that same role.  Bob took a lot of flack from critics for daring to do the Noel Coward role.  I am sure Mr. Coward was superb in his role on the stage.  I personally think Bob was superb in his role on the screen.

Elyot (Bob) and Amanda (Norma Shearer) are exes who have remarried and find they have adjoining suites at their honeymoon hotel.  It does not take long for them to discover their attraction to each other did not end with their divorce.  They desert their new spouses and head off for a romantic stay in an Alpine chalet.   (Not exactly the nicest couple on the screen!)

It does not take long for the two to return to the combative relationship that caused the marriage to break up in the first place.  The photo below shows Amanda and Elyot on the verge of one of the best screen fights between a couple ever filmed. 

Things get off to a good start ... Elyot is on the floor flabbergasted that Amanda has gone physical during their fight.  Oh, oh, Amanda ... watch out!

I like this clipping from a 1931 magazine discussing the fight.  Bob with a cut forehead ... a PR department's dream come true.

It is said that head of production Irving Thalberg, Norma's husband, actually had a film made of the stage production so that Norma and Bob could study their stage counterparts' performances.  Wonder what happened to the film ... Noel and Gertrude captured on film ... what a find that would be. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

"Our Baby"

Another great post from guest blogger Debbie.

As I was contemplating the fact that June 7th would have been my parents' 69th wedding anniversary the other day, it dawned on me that June 7th was the 79th anniversary of Jean Harlow's death. 

I never knew much about Jean other than the "Blonde Bombshell" hype that Hollywood put out about her and the films she was in.  When I became a rabid fan of William Powell and started studying his life all that changed.  For three years she was the center of Bill's life before her untimely passing.  I started reading all I could about her, the real Jean.

                   Jean with the enormous blue sapphire ring.

Everything I've read about her from other people in the industry, such as Rosalind Russell, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Latrice Joy, has described a very unaffected, natural, down-to-earth young woman.  They told about a girl who was liked by everyone from studio heads to movie crew workers.

       Jean shows off her ring to Bob Montgomery and Eddie Mannix

Rosalind Russell said that the first time she met Jean she thought she was a child.  Jean was sitting under a hairdryer and was wearing no makeup.  Roz described her as tiny, with the beautiful skin of a child.  Roz taught Jean how to do needlework.  They used to work on it between takes.  Roz was very fond of her.

                             Roz and Jean doing needlepoint. 

Clark Gable became a close friend.  He called her "Sis".  He and Carole Lombard (Bill's ex) used to double date with Jean and Bill.  The four of them attended an Oscars ceremony together.

Myrna Loy described in her autobiography the time she and Bill were filming "After the Thin Man" in San Francisco and Jean went along to be with Bill.  Because Powell and Loy were such a convincing couple on screen, many people thought they were really married.  Instead of separate rooms, the hotel had reserved a suite for Mr. & Mrs. Powell.  Jean and Myrna ended up staying in the suite and Bill was forced to stay in a single room alone.  (Myrna said he was none too happy about it.)  She described their stay as being delightful, much like girlfriends in a college dorm room.  They became very close friends.

                    Myrna, Jean & Bill arriving in San Francisco.

Latrice Joy (John Gilbert's ex) in an interview for TCM talked about what a lovely person Jean was.  She talked about Jean's delicate beauty and that she was different than her screen persona.

There was marriage talk around Hollywood about Bill and Jean in 1936.  She told everyone he was the love of her life.  Bill gave Jean a 152-carat blue star sapphire ring.  Most people considered it her engagement ring.  She wore it while making "Personal Property" with Robert Taylor.  It was also known that Jean was helping Bill decorate his house and they were seen shopping together.

There has been speculation that Bill was reluctant to marry again.  He had been married to two actresses (Eileen Wilson and the fabulous Carole Lombard) and wondered if a marriage to a VERY famous actress would work.  I don't think there was any question of how much Bill loved Jean.  That was obvious to everyone.  Unfortunately, he waited too long.

It was right after the third anniversary of their first date.  Jean had brought the cake Bill had sent her with the three candles to the set of her current film "Saratoga".  She was very happy that day but had been ill of late and looked bad.  Myrna Loy later said there was a gray cast to Jean's skin.  Later Jean felt ill and asked that Bill be notified on the set of "Double Wedding", his current film.  He left his set to take her home.  On the 6th of June, Bill called Jean's mother to return from her vacation because Jean was much worse.  She was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and Bill, her mother and a cousin stayed with her in her room that night.  She fell into a coma early that morning.  It has been said that the last word she said was Bill's name.  She died at 11:38 a.m. the morning of June 7th, 1937.  She died of renal failure.  There was no dialysis in 1937.  She died in Bill's arms. 

Jean was buried in a marble crypt at Forest Lawn's Great Mausoleum in Glendale, CA.  Bill purchased her final resting place with its three spaces for $25,000.  She is in the middle crypt with only "Our Baby" etched on the front.  Her mother was buried there in 1958.  The third space remains empty.  It is said that she was buried with a gardenia and an unsigned note, certainly from Mr. Powell, that read "goodnight, my dearest darling" placed in her hands.

The loss of Jean devastated Bill and he was unable to work for some time.  The few films he did make before his return to MGM in 1939 were made at other studios.  MGM was too painful a place without her.  Many, many years later, when asked about her, Bill's voice still broke.  When asked about the many salacious stories and films that had been written about her, his saddened response was "She wasn't like that at all".

May Bill's "Baby" R.I.P.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Bob the Thinker

When the mind is sluggish and without any particular idea for a post, it is always a good idea to resort to a portrait of Bob.  In this case the reader gets to see another photo of the beautiful, young Mr. Montgomery and I get to chat on about a favorite photo. 

This is a Hurrell portrait, one of many taken in 1932, my best guess being February, 1932.  The info on the back refers to Bob's current movie, The Truth Game, the working title of But the Flesh is Weak (1932) which was filmed in February of that year.  Photos from the same session were also used to promote Faithless (1932), filmed in August/September. 

Love the way the fingers of his left hand are so delineated, they draw your eyes directly to Bob's face, and such a handsome face it is.  And he's almost smiling.  What's not to like. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Another Warner Archive Treasure

A remastered They Were Expendable (1945) ... sounds great!  And a great movie with a superb performance by Lt. Commander Henry Montgomery.  Now, once again, if only they would release Letty Lynton!!!!!!!!!  (And/or Hideout!)

Thou Shalt Not --- ! (OK, OK...)

What's not to like about a good pre-code movie.  Sex, Sin and Violence ... just great stuff!  Not that they were anything like today's movies, far from it.  They did leave a lot to the audience's imagination, not having every little detail shoved in one's face.  

                             Sari Maritza and Gene Raymond

Forgotten Commandments (1932) apparently had plenty of sex and sin, all taking place in Russia.  Gene Raymond and Marguerite Churchill are a young peasant couple who go to the big city where Gene is brainwashed by a communist professor and vamped by an atheist, Sari Maritza.  So ... sex, sin and some early propaganda.  What's not to like! 

                          Gene Raymond and Marguerite Churchill

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Roz and Debbie, Two Classy Dames

This post is dedicated to Debbie, our "staff", for helping to keep the blog going in my absence.  Debbie is a big Bob fan, of course, as well as Rosalind Russell.  Roz made five movies with Bob:  Forsaking All Others (1934), Trouble for Two (1936), Night Must Fall (1937), Live, Learn and Love (1937) and Fast and Loose (1939).  It was a great pairing, they were so comfortable together.  Fast and Loose is a great example of this, their effortless performances as a married couple is the best part of the movie by far. 

                 Bob and Rosalind Russell in Fast and Loose (1939)

I have always admired Roz for her long and successful career, as well as the very decent person she was.  A devout Catholic, Roz practiced and lived by her beliefs in Hollywood, the last place you would expect a woman could succeed without lapses in morality.  Roz was indeed unique.

Roz starred in some of my all-time favorite movies, including The Women (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Picnic (1955), Auntie Mame (1958) and Gypsy (1962).  Great performances all, but I am particularly partial to her performance in Auntie Mame.  A great role and a great actress at her zenith rolled into one.  I cannot see it without feeling better about life, and for that I am most grateful.  Thanks, Roz.  You were one classy dame.