Mr. Rains is back... Claude Rains had a lot of classic roles, and one of his best in my opinion is that of Senator Joseph Paine in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. This movie is well-trod territory for film buffs and Frank Capra fans, and it's definitely James Stewart's show, but he's effectively matched … Continue reading Walking the Tightrope
Time to tap those slippers together, people... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT12WuZb_DU However, our time in Oz isn't quite over, because I'll be posting any late entries I receive here for your reading pleasure. Speaking of which... Here's MovieCritic from Movies Meet Their Match with a page-to-screen comparison of Baum's book and the film. When I was reading everyone's … Continue reading The Wizard of Oz Blogathon: Wrapup
Eighty years ago today (can you believe it?), The Wizard of Oz premiered in theaters. The focal point of the movie is of course, a certain pair of ruby red slippers. The number of slippers made for the film is unknown, and at least five pairs still exist. Discovered in one of MGM's storehouses by costumer Kent … Continue reading The Magic Never Ends
Nice to see the Barrymores again... Before Gone With the Wind or even Selznik International Pictures, David O. Selznik was a producer at MGM. L.B. Mayer had a vendetta against Irving Thalberg's success and respect in Hollywood, so when Thalberg was out ill, Mayer installed several other producers at the studio to take away some of Thalberg's … Continue reading Dickensian Barrymore
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