Back To MGM

Mr. Keaton is back... Buster Keaton did have a career of sorts in sound films. Well, he tried, anyway. From 1933 onwards Keaton's life was turbulent. He was fired from MGM in 1933, his marriage collapsed, and Keaton struggled with alcohol abuse. IMDb claims there was a period of time when the public hated him … Continue reading Back To MGM

Norma’s Almost-Swan Song

Way up north... Quebecois Norma Shearer was an unlikely film star, at least in the sense that she didn't fit the mold of the perfect movie goddess. She had short legs, one of her eyes had a slight cast, and the critics regularly poked fun at her delivery. On the other hand, in regards to … Continue reading Norma’s Almost-Swan Song

Heigh-ho For Cuba

In this post-Fidel Castro day and age, it seems really odd to think about Cuba being a top tourist destination for Americans, but at one time it was. Before the country was declared off-limits to Americans, people liked the fact that they could pop round to an exotic country for a quick visit and be … Continue reading Heigh-ho For Cuba

At the Stage Door Canteen

Much has been made of the Hollywood Canteen and its efforts to entertain the troops during the Second World War. They weren't the first to the party, however, not that anyone's counting, but Broadway got there way before them. In 1917, various Broadway stars, many of them women, founded the American Theatre Wing, which was … Continue reading At the Stage Door Canteen

You’re In the Army Now

Eighty years ago next year, the Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates hit theaters. It was a tense time in the United States because we knew we would be in the Second World War at some point, but we didn't know when. President Roosevelt had just reinstated the draft, so men were shipped off to the … Continue reading You’re In the Army Now

Stage To Screen: This Is the Army

This is the Army, Mister Jones. No private rooms or telephones. You had your breakfast in bed before, but you won't have it there anymore. (Irving Berlin, "This Is the Army," 1942.) Happy New Year! Welcome to the wild and wacky world of the Irving Berlin Wartime Musical. Nothing like starting off 2020 with a mix … Continue reading Stage To Screen: This Is the Army

Your Face Is Bogart’s

Nice to have you back, Ms. Bacall... Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart made five movies together. Their chemistry was so electric that no matter what the story was about, she would always smolder and he would always appraise her coolly and wordlessly. The 1947 film, Dark Passage, however thinks outside of the box due to one simple … Continue reading Your Face Is Bogart’s

Stage To Screen: On the Town

"New York, New York, it's a {insert adjective here} town..." Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's story of three sailors on leave in New York City is probably one of the most famous musicals of the World War Two period. It was both satire and commentary, as it came from a time when relationships … Continue reading Stage To Screen: On the Town

Mr. Blandings and Mr. Breen

Surprise! Those of us who have big families or have lived in apartments and dorms know what it's like to not have a lot of space. Being on top of each other all the time is a constant occurrence, and it can be a pain in the neck. Ideally, though, when the going gets tough, … Continue reading Mr. Blandings and Mr. Breen

Curing Box Office Poison

Miss Hepburn is back... Joan Crawford wasn't the only Golden Age actress to garner the dreaded Box Office Poison label; Katharine Hepburn also got stuck with it. What's interesting is how differently these two women handled the setback. Joan's response was to smolder in her posh mansion while waiting for good parts to come along, … Continue reading Curing Box Office Poison

Shore Is Awful

Brother, can you spare a dime? I've been on a John Steinbeck kick lately. In the last couple of months I've read Travels With Charley and Cannery Row (again), plus I have Sweet Thursday and The Pastures of Heaven lined up. I think the man was an absolute genius. We're all aware of one of … Continue reading Shore Is Awful

After Citizen Kane

The phrase, "sophomore slump" is common among public figures. When one's debut venture is excellent and celebrated, there's always a danger that anything following it will be a letdown. When one's debut film is Citizen Kane, the stakes are even higher. Orson Welles followed up that infamous firestorm with 1942's The Magnificent Ambersons. Based on the Booth Tarkington novel, … Continue reading After Citizen Kane

The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor

Like Wake Island, Bataan and Corregidor were attacked by the Japanese while Pearl Harbor was taking place. Even more obscure than what happened to the servicepeople are the experiences of military nurses in the Philippines. These women tirelessly labored with little to no medicine or resources, and nevertheless provided major support and encouragement to Americans … Continue reading The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor