WHAT’S IN A NAME

Watching an episode of TV series,CRIMINAL MINDS, I noticed that one of the guest characters was called ‘Herman Scobie.’ Bells rang – of course, George Kennedy’s hook-handed baddie in CHARADE.   image   Then other names popped up in the cast. ‘Hamilton Bartholomew’. – the character played by Walter Matthau.   image And then to complete the CHARADE references came ‘Regina Lampert’ and ‘Peter Joshua’.   image     Oh, and one of the principal characters in Criminal Minds was called ‘Gideon’ – Ned Glass’s name in Charade. No sign of a’ Tex  Panthollow’ , James Coburn’s character .

I think we can assume  the writers of that particular episode of  Criminal Minds were fans!

TCM’S ‘THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLLYWOOD’ AUCTION

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On 24th Novemver,2014 at Bonhams in New York, an auction of costumes and memorabilia from TCM will include Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume.
Also on display is a play script of ‘Everybody Comes to Rick’s’, with WARNER Brothers reader’s report and synopsis.

 

And the CASABLANCA Transit Papers.

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A cast signed DAVID COPPERFIELD script.

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And a Judy Garland gown from EASTER Parade.

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These are are only a sample of what’s on auction. 50 posters from Robert Osborne’s private collection are also up for sale.Check Bonhams.com/tcm to view everything.

Blogger Will McKinley attended the auction  preview and has done a video which is worth viewing here.

SHADOWS AND SATIN

If you love Film Noir, one blog you need to follow is Shadows and Satin run by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry who just happens to be the author of two essential books about  Noir. – BAD BOYS :THE ACTORS OF FILM NOIR and FEMME NOIR: BAD GIRLS OF FILM.                                                                 image

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Shadows and Satin is devoted to film noir and the pre-code era.
You are invited by Karen to….”Join me as we travel the narrow line tread by silken clad strumpets and shady shysters – in shadow and satin.”
Karen does great film reviews like Ace In The Hole ( in which she quotes one of the best noir lines ever  Jan Ste-rling to Kirk Douglas: “I’ve met a lot of hard boiled eggs in my life, but you- you’re 20 minutes.”)
Karen also does excellent book reviews. ( must get this one on Imitation of Life).
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Among Karen’s latest posts is one called FAVORITE NOIR DINNER GUESTS. Her choice includes Mildred Pierce,Philip Marlowe,Moe Williams (Thelma Ritter) ,Barton Keyes.
Another post is THE TOUGHEST MEN AND WOMEN OF FILM NOIR in which she gives a succinct description eg Ida Lupino is’ hard boiled tough';  Sterling Hayden is ‘stoic tough';  Stanwyck is ‘icy tough.’
You get the idea.
For this month,Karen has been blogging every day under the theme, NOIRVEMBER 2014
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Karen is also the editor of the bi- monthly THE DARK PAGES which has been going since 2005. Articles include a salute to Ida Lupino; Obscure Noir; ‘Tom Neal,fateful detour;  Famous Couples of Noir.
For back issues, email The Dark Pages @yahoo.com

I’d be interested to know if Karen is planning any more books.

 

PUBLICITY SHOTS. 2

Doris Day,Frank Sinatra. YOUNG AT HEART

Doris Day,Frank Sinatra.
YOUNG AT HEART

Patrice Wymore,Randolph Scott.

Patrice Wymore,Randolph Scott. THE MAN BEHIND THE GUN.

 

James Stewart,Julie ADAMS. BEND OF THE RIVER.

James Stewart,Julie ADAMS.
BEND OF THE RIVER.

PATRICIA Neal, Michael Rennie. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

PATRICIA Neal, Michael Rennie.
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

Alan Ladd,Jean Arthur,,Van Heflin. SHANE.

Alan Ladd,Jean Arthur,,Van Heflin.
SHANE.

Joanne Dru, James Stewart. THUNDER BAY.

Joanne Dru, James Stewart.
THUNDER BAY.

Ruth Roman,James Stewart,Corinne Calvet.

Ruth Roman,James Stewart,Corinne Calvet THE FAR COUNTRY

 

 

Margaret  Sullavan,James Stewart.THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER

Margaret Sullavan,James Stewart.THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER

 

 

Alexis Smith, Clark Gable,Audrey Totter.ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY.

Alexis Smith, Clark Gable,Audrey Totter.ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY.

 

 

 

CHARLES LANE FRITZ FELD

 

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It was great to find this 1986 book by Jordan R.Young (Thanks,Bob).
I’m always complaining that not enough Classic performers were interviewed in their later years- especially character actors.
Well, Mr Young made it his mission to seek out 12 of the best and his book is a must read.
Here are some excerpts:

FRITZ FELD

Fritz Feld,Katharine Hepburn

Fritz Feld,Katharine Hepburn.

Who can forget Fritz Feld as the eccentric psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby, or 30 years later, as the maitre d’  in Hello Dolly.

Fritz came to America with Max Reinhardt and soon established himself in Silents and early sound films. He was also involved in directing and worked as a dialog director on many films. He subsequently became editorial assistant to Ernst Lubitsch who was production chief at Paramount..

I promised Lubitsch never to act again, because I wanted to direct.”

But before he had a chance to direct,Lubitsch departed – first recommending his assistant to director Wesley Ruggles for the role of the indignant Swiss hotel clerk  in I Met Him in Paris.

The reason I’ve played so many parts is because producers trust me not to steal scenes.”

“As a character actor you last longer. We don’t have to worry about our appearance. Each studio had a different way of typing me: at Universal,I played only butlers ; at Paramount,mostly counts with monocles; at MGM,conductors of orchestras; at RKO,gamblers and strange individuals;  at Fox, train conductors,postmen and ministers.

Over and  over, I played the same parts. Then came hotel clerks, and then waiters. Then every studio wanted me to play a waiter or a maitre d’ . “

” It doesn’t bother me at all, playing so many waiters . Each one is different a little bit. What is the art of acting but observation? How do they smile, how do they walk?

I never mind how small a part is, the fun is to make something out of it.”

Fritz recalled Bringing Up Baby:

“One of the best written scenes in any picture was the one between Katharine Hepburn and I. She sits in a chair and I start to psychoanalyze her; it ends up that I sit and she psychoanalyzes me.  The scene was cut out; it was the introduction of my character.”

“Howard Hawks would come in in the morning and say, ‘I don’t feel like working today. Let’s go to the racetrack.’  We went to the racetrack for two days, and he paid for everything.”

Of director Anatole Litvak on Tovarich, Fritz commented,

He did 36 takes on one scene and said, ‘Print all 36′. The front office fixed him, they printed take one 36 times. He saw the rushes and said, ‘Take seven.’

They said,’That’s take one.”

On actors who have influenced  him:

“I learned a lot from Edward  Everett Horton. I imitate him many times, in my way of acting. I like the way he did things. “

In 1985 Fritz Feld had celebrated 45 years of marriage to actress Virginia Christine.

 

CHARLES LANE

Charles Lane

Charles Lane

My most recent memory of Charles Lane is in Teacher’s Pet, in which he played a newspaper man alongside Clark Gable. Like all the great character actors, he was completely believable.

His career spanned four decades, from his first, Smart Money in 1931 through Twentieth Century,Mr Deeds Goes to Town,,In Old Chicago,Ball Of Fire, Arsenic and Old Lace. He worked for all the studios.

Charles  reminded the author he made nine pictures for  Frank Capra over a 17 year period, starting with Broadway Bill in which he played a crooked gambler.

“I’m prejudiced, I’ll  say that from the start. but I think Frank Capra is the most talented man we ever had. He knew the camera department as well or better than the head cameraman; he knew the sound department better than the head mixer. He had an intuitive feeling with scripts. On top of that, he had this marvellous ability to relate.”

“Leo McCarey had a wonderful touch; I used to love working with him. Howard Hawks is another favorite of mine. But Frank had more talent in more areas as a director than anybody I knew. His casting used to amaze me. The phone would ring. The voice would say,’Charlie? This is Frank Capra.I know it’s a helluva thing to get you off the golf course, but could you come in and see me.’ ……..You’d roar over to Columbia.The secretary would say,’Oh,yes,Mr Capra’s  expecting you.’ You’d walk in and he’d say,’Look,maybe this would be fun,maybe it wouldn’t, I don’t know..’  And that’s the way he’d cast you.”

Capra never typed  the actor – he was the revenue agent in You Can’t It With You,the obnoxious reporter in Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

“You break your ass for someone like Capra or Hawks. You try to be as good as you can when you have a relationship with a director like that.. The others, you have this ‘get it over with and get out of here’ attitude.”

Charles made an astonishing 125 pictures from 1936 to 1941 (31 alone in 1941).

“To make as many pictures as I did, we had to work in these B units,like the Sol  Wurtzel unit at Fox…….”

Lane acted in some first rate films with Hollywood’s finest.

“Every one of the big people I worked with – and I guess I worked with practically all of them – were 100% pros. I did a lot of pictures with Clark Gable. I was very fond of Clark, he was a very special person. But he was a man of great insecurity in his work. …he was a very hard worker.  When he walked into the MGM commissary, silence descended on the room. It takes some kind of presence to project that. Clark was totally unaware of it.”

 

The other actors who are interviewed are Sam Jaffe,John Carradine,Burt Mustin,Anita Garvin,Rolfe Sedan,Iris Adrian,Beulah Bondi.John Qualen ,Elisha Cook and George Chandler.

( Some of the interviews were done for articles in various publications, from 1975 up to 1986. )

This is my contribution to the great WHAT A CHARACTER BLOGATHON  which you can see at Paula’s Cinema Club.

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THE GUINNESS BOOK OF FILM FACTS AND FEATS

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Lots of fascinating information in this 1980 book by Patrick Robertson. It took the author 4 years to compile.

The name HOLLYWOOD was given to her ranch by Mrs. Harvey Wilcox,wife of a real estate developer in 1886 – Mrs Wilcox had known a lady with a summer home near Chicago which she called ‘Hollywood’.

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In 1903,the village of Hollywood became a municipality,and in 1910,part of Los Angeles. The population of 5,000 increased to 130,000 by 1925.

Prior to GONE WITH THE WIND (3 hours 40 mins.), the longest Hollywood talkie was THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (2 hours 59 mins. )

The slogan writer for Fox’s THE EGYPTIAN went overboard;
                                                           10965 PYRAMIDS! 

                                        5337 DANCING GIRLS!
                         ONE MILLION SWAYING BULRUSHES!

                                           802 SACRED BULLS!
Don’t you love the exactness of numbers! Did he count them individually!

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For Warner Brothers’ LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, there were “9753 PLAYERS IN ONE SCENE ALONE!” (That exact number again.)

The highest sum paid for one story was Garson Kanin’s Broadway play, BORN YESTERDAY, for which Columbia paid one million dollars. I guess they really wanted it.

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The most edited film in terms of total negative discarded was Howard Hughes’ HELL’S ANGELS. It used 2,254,750 feet of film. Unedited, the footage would have run for 560 hours! The final release print was 9045 feet (2 hr. 15 mins.)
The least edited film was William Wellman’s THE PUBLIC ENEMY. 8760 feet of film was reduced by only 360 feet.

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The Hollywood musical with the most songs was THE JOLSON STORY which had 28 song sequences.

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The first purpose built sound stage was Stage 3 at Warner Brothers, for THE JAZZ SINGER.

Title changes can be fun. In Hong Kong, NOT AS A STRANGER became ‘THE HEART OF A LADY AS PURE AS A FULL MOON OVER THE PLACE OF MEDICAL SALVATION’!

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The 1925 silent film,LIVINGSTONE was re-issued in the U.S.in 1933 as STANLEY (well, Stanley was American!)

The first pre-credit sequence was for DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.Nearly a minute of action precedes the title and credits.

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The first Oscar winning debut performance was Mercedes McCambridge for ALL THE KING’S MEN – she won Best Supporting Actress.

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GONE WITH THE WIND had the highest payment for TV rights in 1978. CBS paid $35 million to show the film 20 times over the next 20 years.
GONE WITH THE WIND ran for 4 years 29 weeks at the 450 seat Ritz cinema in London.

MYRNA LOY: PENTHOUSE.

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AN INVESTIGATION IS OPENED

Was it MGM’s PENTHOUSE (1933)  that led Myrna Loy to her iconic Thin Man role? Penthouse’s director, Woody Van Dyke took on The Thin Man a year later, and in Penthouse, Myrna Loy shows a lot of the characteristics of ‘ Nora Charles’.

It was high time anyway that Myrna got away from the roles she had played for years in the 20s and early 30s – her character names reveal all – Azuri / Yasmani / Narita / Juanita / Lolita Romero.

How Myrna evolved into the sophisticated woman we know is another story. Let’s just say Myrna wasn’t an overnight success. By the time of Penthouse,at the age of 28, she was a very experienced actress looking for that big break.

Even although she is playing a high class call girl,’Gertie Waxted’ (!) in Penthouse, her appearance and manner are already that of the leading lady she quickly became after this film.

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Warner Baxter,as Jackson Durant, is the name above the title, as a society lawyer who gets gangster Tony Gazotti (Nat Pendleton)  off a murder charge. Gazotti likes Durant who isn’t afraid to tell Gazotti what he thinks of him.

 

Warner Baxter. Nat Pendleton

Warner Baxter. Nat Pendleton

Myrna doesn’t appear till 35 minutes into the film (I know, ridiculous), and soon gets involved in Durant’s latest  case when  her friend, ‘Mimi Montagne’ (Mae Clarke) is murdered.

There’s some nifty pre-code dialogue as Durant invites Gertie up to his apartment,with the line, “I’ve got some eggs at my place that are just longing to be scrambled by you!”

Gertie is quite relaxed in Durant’s apartment and not at all fazed when he invites her to stay – but she does a double  take look at herself in a mirror when he doesn’t join her in the bedroom!

Next morning she remarks, “I didn’t exactly have to fight for my honor.”

He wants her safe as she may be in danger for talking to him. Durant says, I’m afraid you think I’m taking advantage of you.”

Gertie responds, “I’m afraid you wont.”

Mae Clarke ( a far more convincing good time girl than Myrna), is wasted in only   a few scenes.

Warner Baxter wasn’t convincing. At 44, he  looked years older and he really   is more suited to dramatic parts.

MGM remade the film only 6 years later as Society Lawyer, with Walter Pidgeon who would, I imagine, have been far more suited to the role. (Virginia Bruce was Pidgeon’s co-star).

Myrna is stuck with the same gown throughout most of the film,but her breezy style shines through. It’s as if she knew this was a role that could change the pattern of her career. Manhattan Melodrama was next for her, and then The Thin Man would take her to the top of the MGM tree.