The King is back... We all have to start somewhere, and one of Clark Gable's first roles was in 1931's The Painted Desert. It's so early in Gable's career that he doesn't get billing of any kind. It was a loaded part for Gable, because it was literally the first time he spoke onscreen. Not only was … Continue reading Gable Talks
This idea might be a wee bit ambitious, because how often do blogathons focus on a single film? Pretty much never. Then again, it's not often that an iconic film turns eighty, either. It's said that more people have seen The Wizard of Oz than any other movie. Baum's novel has been translated into forty … Continue reading Announcing the Wizard of Oz Blogathon!
Street corners. Tourist traps. Flatbed trailers. Any place is fair game for an entertainer to ply their craft as long as there's an audience. Or even if there isn't. When I was with the Continental Singers, we once did an impromptu mini-concert in an old folks' home in Nebraska while waiting for our bus's air … Continue reading Stage To Screen: Show Boat
Welcome back, Ms. Davis... 1939 is deservedly called the single greatest year in motion picture history, because more classics were produced in that period than in any other. The juggernaut was, of course, Gone With the Wind, but there were many, many movies that stood out more quietly. One of these was Dark Victory. It was an unusual subject … Continue reading Bette’s Secret Win
Film fest time... Bela Lugosi is best-known for playing Dracula in the 1931 Universal film. He played the role on Broadway as well, and he originated what we immediately think of when vampires come to mind (Not looking at you, Twilight.). Hauntingly slow speech. Clawed hands. A sweep of a cape. Bela Lugosi did it all first. Lugosi … Continue reading Bela Lugosi Versus the Vampire
Surprise blogathon time... One of Jean Harlow's most striking features was her platinum blonde hair, of course. It wasn't natural; Howard Hughes thought a bottle job would kickstart ash-blonde Harlow's career. He wasn't wrong. Harlow quickly became a sensation. Her new image got an additional boost when she starred in the 1931 vehicle, titled...what else? Platinum Blonde. The … Continue reading Do Blondes Have More Fun?
Hitch is back once more, people. Hitchcock's early period has always intrigued me. It was before he went to Hollywood, before he had big studio money behind him, and while he was still finding his footing as a filmmaker. One of his later newbie films is 1935's The 39 Steps. Our story begins at a theater, … Continue reading Step In Time
It was eighty-one years ago... Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy made three movies together. The first was 1936's San Francisco. The last was 1940's Boom Town. Sandwiched in the middle was Test Pilot, a story of bros, planes, and what happens when a lady gets thrown into the mix. Jim Lane is a hotshot test pilot. Gunner Morse is … Continue reading Love Me, Love My Gunner
The idea of a master proving his prowess via a supposedly hopeless case is an old, old tale, and one of its most famous modern iterations is George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. First exhibited in Vienna, Austria in 1913, it follows Professor Higgins and his subject, Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, as that august gentleman teaches … Continue reading Stage To Screen: Pygmalion
The Barrymores have returned, y'all. MGM had a thing for ensemble films in the early thirties. Why have one box office draw when more just makes everything better? John and Lionel Barrymore got to be in on a few of these extravaganzas, and one of the most well-known is 1933's Dinner At Eight. Like their earlier hit, Grand … Continue reading Dinner Is Served
Here come Fred and Ginger... What hasn't been said about these two? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are the go-to's of both pairs dancing and Hollywood musicals. One of these was 1936's Swing Time, a light and airy film which was an escape for Depression-era audiences, as well as in the decades following. The movie opens at … Continue reading I’ll Only Dance With You
I don't know what it is with some directors that they like to remake their own films. Cecil B. DeMille remade The Ten Commandments, for instance. Granted, one version was silent and one had sound, but they were still basically the same film. And of course, there's George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, but they're more … Continue reading The Man We Knew When