Less Phantom, More Opera

Surprise blogathon time... From the 1925 Lon Chaney classic to the beloved Andrew Lloyd Webber leviathan of a musical, The Phantom of the Opera is a perennial showstopper with its soaring music, swinging chandelier, and all-around creepiness. Sandwiched among the many onscreen iterations is the 1943 version starring Claude Rains as the Phantom with Nelson … Continue reading Less Phantom, More Opera

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

We're back on Broadway, people. Eleanor's back. George Murphy's back. Fred Astaire's back...oh, wait. This was his first and only Melody, although he did dance on the real Broadway, so there's that. After the rather confusing and lackluster Broadway Melody of 1938, MGM went for a less-is-more approach with what became the final film in the Broadway Melody series, The Broadway … Continue reading Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Brave Walter Mitty

I'll see you in my dreams... I remember reading "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" in the eighth grade because my lit teacher, Mz. Howell was a big James Thurber fan (Yes, she spelled her "Ms." with a "Z." She was a fun lady.). Anyway, the story was originally published in the March 18, 1939 … Continue reading Brave Walter Mitty

Page To Screen: The Song of Bernadette

1943's The Song Of Bernadette turned Jennifer Jones into an Oscar winner. She was twenty-five at the time and it was her first starring role. How this film came about is a story in and of itself, of course. A Czech Jew named Franz Werfel, who was fleeing the Nazis, sheltered for a time in … Continue reading Page To Screen: The Song of Bernadette

Morocco Bound

On the road again... Few Golden Age comedy teams have worn better than Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Bob was the zany comic. Bing was the suave crooner who always got the girl. Whenever these guys were together they played off each other, they trolled each other, and they had a ball. Thankfully for those … Continue reading Morocco Bound

And Then There Was Agatha Christie

Building a mystery... One of the first Agatha Christie films I ever saw was 1945's And Then There Were None. It's got an all-star cast and an effective bait-and-switch structure that I would hate to spoil, so it's probably best to just dive right in without much of a build-up. Here we go... The movie opens … Continue reading And Then There Was Agatha Christie

Stage To Screen: Girl Crazy

Amazing as their music is, a lot of George and Ira Gershwin's musicals aren't presented today in their original forms, and while Girl Crazy is no different, it has stayed more intact than the vast majority of its mates, at least in terms of its music. Girl Crazy marked the debut of such classics as "I Got … Continue reading Stage To Screen: Girl Crazy

I Shall Return

One of the Second World War's most iconic images is that of General Douglas MacArthur wading through the surf at Leyte in his long-promised return to the Philippines. While that incident has famously been called "staged," it was and it wasn't. MacArthur's landing craft was unable to take him right up to the beach because … Continue reading I Shall Return

Somewhere Over the Film Noir

Betty Grable and Carole Landis don't really come to mind when one thinks of film noir. They're fun and nice and pretty and hardly the type for dark and stormy nights, but dark and stormy is exactly what they get in 1941's I Wake Up Screaming, a murder mystery based on the Steve Fisher novel, Hot Spot. Well, … Continue reading Somewhere Over the Film Noir

It’s All About People

It's a great day for the Irish... We all know 2020 was a strange year, not only because it felt like the hits just kept on coming, but how we relate to each other was turned on its head. Certain salespeople would have us believe that being apart is no problem. Just get on Zoom … Continue reading It’s All About People

The Lady In the Tutti-Frutti Hat

Taking Up Room's first blogathon of 2021... Carmen Miranda's star rose very quickly in the United States, and it didn't take long for Twentieth Century Fox to play that up in a big way. The most overt example of was 1943's The Gang's All Here. The film appears to be an homage to the Good Neighbor … Continue reading The Lady In the Tutti-Frutti Hat

Down On the Farm

This year has shown us things about ourselves, positive and otherwise, and it may mean discovering depths and talents we never knew we had. With that in mind I decided to revisit 1947's The Egg and I. It's not only based on a true story of a city couple trying to start a chicken farm, … Continue reading Down On the Farm

Let’s Put On A Show

Escapism can take some funny shapes, and in 1944's Broadway Rhythm it literally does. It was meant to be the latest installment in the Broadway Melody series, but L.B. Mayer decided to change it to a vehicle for up and coming singer Ginny Sims. It was also an adaptation of a Kern and Hammerstein musical called Very Warm … Continue reading Let’s Put On A Show

Vive La France

Welcome back, Mr. Rains... While France was occupied during the Second World War, its soldiers, sailors, and airmen managed to deal heavy blows to the Axis with assists from the English and Americans. Like many other aspects of the war this effort was fodder for Hollywood's movie factory, and in 1944 our guest of honor … Continue reading Vive La France

Astaire’s Worst Movie

Gotta dance... Fred Astaire wasn't immune to the occasional turkey and one of them is 1940's Second Chorus. Astaire plays Danny, a trumpet player in a college band. It sounds all right on the surface, except that Astaire was forty-one at the time. At least Artie Shaw was along to make it all better. Oh, … Continue reading Astaire’s Worst Movie