Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween, 1936 Style

And the finalists in the Best Halloween Costume Contest are:

 **** Clark Gable as Blackie Norton, Barbary Coast saloon keeper and earthquake survivor in San Francisco;

**** Robert Montgomery as Crown Prince Florizel of Carovia in Trouble for Two;

**** Lionel Barrymore as Paul Lavond, escaped convict and cross-dresser in The Doll-Devil; and

**** Paul Muni as Wang, a poor Chinese farmer in The Good Earth. 

And the winner is:  Bob Montgomery, as Prince Florizel   Well, it is his blog, after all!!  Besides, the mustache just makes the costume ...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Man And His Toys ...

"Scott News" was an in-house publication of Scott Radio Laboratories which produced hand-made luxury radios from the 1920s to the 1940s.   Of course Bob would want a special order for his new Beverly Hills home in 1938. 

Bob designed a radio/record-player that would fit in with the Colonial style furnishings of his new home.  I'm guessing  a combination radio and record-player was rather a new concept at the time.  I like all the drawer fronts, wonder if they are really drawers or if it is just a fake front.  They would be handy for storing the records.

The following two pictures are of the room in which Bob has his new toy.  The furniture arrangement seems strange to me.  With both a piano and radio/record-player, it appears set up for parties.  The furnishing is simple, everything in it could be easily moved, including the rug.  Having a room for large parties, a requisite for the Montgomery social circle.

I do not think the balding gent came with the room ...  Check out the fireplace "snug" in the photo below.  Just room enough for a wing back chair.  Looks like a great place for a snooze on a cold winter's night.  Wonder how much use he got out of it in Los Angeles.  Of course, it might have been Betty's quiet place in the house.  Hey, what with two kids, a nanny, cook, chaufeur/valet, plenty of day help and visiting grandmothers, even mansions can seem crowded! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Jonesey & Kit Spend a Day at the Beach

Ah ... it's such a romantic scene from Shipmates (1931).  Seaman John Paul Jones alias Jonesey alias Bob Montgomery gazes lovingly at Kit, the Admiral's daughter, played by Dorothy Jordan.  Such a handsome couple, everything is just perfect.

Then there is another take.  Jonesey and Kit are still on the beach.  In real time, this is February and most likely a tad chilly on the beach.  Can't really see the two, you say ... lets enlarge them a bit.

Voila!  One cold, wind-blown duo, not in a very romantic mood.  A bit more realism than the director had hoped for, or at least more than Bob and Dorothy could overcome.  Yeah, lets go with the first shot.  Now, the two just need to figure out how to get off the ledge with only their hairdos as the casualties for the day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Promise In Her Eyes Was Worth the Risk!

For you very early birds ... The Secret Land (1948) is being shown this morning on TCM.  Bob is one of the narrators of this documentary, along with Robert Taylor and Van Heflin.  I rather enjoy just listening to Bob's voice (a huge plus for The Gallant Hours), but this documentary is hardly early morning fare.  Get that taping going and go back to bed!! 

TCM is showing Yellow Jack (1938) this coming Monday, another a.m. viewing.  It has been ages since I have seen this movie.  I had meant to watch it again before writing this post, but ... hey, so I forgot!  (I'm amazed I remember to do my twice-weekly posts!)  Anyway, critics knock the movie for inserting a fictional love interest in a semi-historical movie, which was unfortunately typical of the time.  And, of course, Virginia Bruce's mascara was not permitted to run, even though the movie is based in the tropics.  Then there's the criticism of Bob's Irish brogue, suggesting it was over-the-top and unnecessary for the role.  I would argue an Irish-American soldier in 1898 would most likely have one, but whether Bob's was good or not, I have to admit to a bad ear for accents.  I just enjoy hearing that voice. 

It is too bad movie heralds are no longer a part of the moving-going experience.  They made great souvenirs and were an interesting art form, summing up a movie in such a small format.  Note the header of the above page:  "The Strangest Tale of Terror And Mystery Ever Lived By A Man and A Girl!"  Your basic Hollywood hyperbole! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How To Keep The Boss Happy ...

Of course we have all seen The Man in Possession (1931) ... right??!  I mean, it is one of Bob's best movies and a classic pre-code comedy.  Raymond (Bob) and Crystal (Irene Purcell) make a delightful couple, knowing right away what they want from each other!  Claude (Reginald Owen) just did not have a chance with Crystal once Raymond arrived on the scene. 

      Bob, Reginald Owen and Irene in The Man in Possession (1931)

Irene Purcell was primarily a stage actress, making only seven feature films in 1931-32.  She was already 35 when Man was made, a credit to her youthful looks and acting ability that she was hired to make any movies at all.  At the time, turning 30 was a death knell for actresses, so entering movies at 35, well, lets hear it for Irene!  She was the oldest of Bob's ladies, born in 1896, eight years his senior.

In 1941, Irene married Herbert F. Johnson, Jr., as in the Johnson Wax Company.  Herbert whisked her away to his 14,000 sq. ft. home in Racine, WI, where they remained married until her death in 1972.  During this time, Johnson Wax would sponsor Robert Montgomery Presents, making Irene the wife of Bob's boss, of sorts.  Which brings us to the photo below.

It is Herbert and Irene on November 8, 1956.  They are at the Bresler Art Gallery in Milwaukee, it is opening night and all 17 of Irene's paintings being shown have been sold to raise money for the Actor's Fund of America.  The painting on the wall behind the couple, titled "Marguerites", was purchased by ... ta-da ... Robert Montgomery! 

Took a while to get there ...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sincerely, Your Favorite Star

I just love fan cards.  I can only imagine the thrill it was for a young fan in the 1920s - 1940s to finally receive that photo for which they had been waiting forever!  They were all so nicely done, definitely worth the wait.  And even "signed" by the star!  Wow. 

Hopalong Cassidy was a favorite of mine, always seemed like such a nice man.  Growing up and discovering William Boyd, I was not disappointed, having read only good things about the gentleman.  A handsome gent he was.  Love the hat!

Joan Blondell was always a favorite.  The ultimate wisecracking blonde who quite often did not get the handsome lead, but one always wondered why.  Loved her in Desk Set (1957), it's great to watch an old pro strut her stuff.  And she continued to do it for two more decades! 

Have not always been a big Lew Ayres fan, but he was such a gorgeous young man.  I like the oh-so-very serious look he has assumed in this photo, an unusual 8"x10" fan card, as gorgeous as its subject!  One very lucky fan. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Churchill, Hemingway and ... Bob?

This is a photo taken out of a magazine (the June 4th, 1949 issue of Collier's Magazine).  The original photo is by Karsh, the portrait photographer of the 20th Century, famous for great photos of Churchill, Hemingway, Einstein and so many other notable people.  Of course Robert Montgomery had to have his portrait done by Karsh. 

One can only imagine how striking the original photo must be.  The black background, the light playing on his face and fingers.  And Bob is holding his glasses, definitely a Bob signature.  Great touch.  Bob was evidently rather nearsighted, spent a lot of time whipping his glasses off whenever a camera was aimed his way. 

So, it is Bob in the harsh light of a Karsh photo, without the makeup, no covering up of the wrinkled forehead, the crow's feet.   Still, one imposing and handsome middle-aged gent. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Bob And Mukluks ... God's Gifts To Us All

It is Monday, January 20th, 1936.  Mr. Montgomery is scheduled to begin his 36th movie in seven years.  7 years of very long days under the extremely hot lights of the time.  7 years of photo shoots, rehearsals, wardrobe tests and being polite to VIP visitors to the set.  And it is another comedy ... but at least the script is decent and good pal Myrna Loy will be suffering through it with him. Wearing outdoorsy clothing instead of the usual tux, not bad.  But furry mukluks?  What, you think this is funny?  You have no idea how close you are to having the camera shoved into your face! 

                   Robert Montgomery in Petticoat Fever (1936)

I just love this photo.  It is Mr. Montgomery without any pretense.  He is not playing a role, nor is he wearing a face for public viewing.  It is Bob, the hard-working actor, not particularly happy about where he is at the moment, daring anyone to push him any further.  Snarly.  And he can't help it, but so extremely handsome with his tousled locks, day's growth of facial hair and glaring blue eyes!  I have been using this cropped photo as my wallpaper for some time now.  Thanks, Mr. Montgomery, for making my day.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes ... A Large Steak For Me As Well!

A common problem of buying clippings in batches is the incomplete article.  The first page will be in the stack, but the others are missing.  With that in mind, may I present the first page of the article "A Champion" which was published in an unknown magazine.  It is 1945, Bob has newly returned to Hollywood.  'Tis a pleasant piece. 


It was the last sentence that really caught my eye!  I have now come across all of four "sightings" of the mysterious brother Donald.  And one of those is that he attended Bob's funeral.  (Of course that is four more times than any reference I have found of Bob speaking of his Mother.)  Always wondered if the brothers looked alike ... nah, I'm sure there is only one Robert Montgomery.