JOAN FONTAINE: IN HER OWN WORDS

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BBC interview from 1969:
“My first film was with Joan Crawford – No More Ladies – and I was 18 maybe. I was supposed to play a sophisticated rival of about 40! But that’s Hollywood.”
“I must have made about 5 or 6 a year before Rebecca.”

On Hitchcock and Rebecca:
He was darling, a bit formidable, enormously bawdy sense of humour. He had a habit of rather keeping all his actors at loggerheads,so he would be the one in the middle – rather puckish – good for me – made me suffer quite a lot – and it probably came out on the screen that way.

He had absolutely no nonsense about mood or meaning. He was telling a story and expected you to tell it with him – in absolutely common terms – no theories like The Actors Studio or any of that – made it terribly clear.

I remember one day I had to cry quite a lot and I said,’Hitch,I just cant cry any more’, and he said,’Well,kid,what are we gonna do’. I said,’Well, slap me in the face’, and off he went – slapped me. The tears came down,partly in pain,but a great deal of gratitude for his understanding.. It was wonderful of him.”

 

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The Oscars and Olivia:

“Olivia was up for it also, and I never expected to get it. Had I not got it for “Rebecca”,it was silly to think of it for “Suspicion” – they weren’t comparable to me. and I was making “The Constant Nymph.”

Olivia called me that day, as did the head of the Screen Actors Guild. I said I cant come, I’ve got to get up at five in the morning.

So, Olivia (and we were supposed to be enemies at this time – which was ridiculous) brought a seamstress over and several lovely gowns she had purchased for me – it was so sweet and wonderful of her.”

 

“Olivia was under contract to Warners, I to RKO, and I imagine the publicity depts. got together and said what are we going to do about these two spinster ladies, and evolved the feud…”

 

Joan was a wonderful interviewee and could have gone on talking,I’m sure, for a long time. She constantly smiled and seemed a woman in control of her life and with a sense of humour and a down-to-earth attitude to everything. Very impressive.

 

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DIALOGUE GEMS 3

 

 

THE DARK MIRROR:
Lew Ayres to Thomas Mitchell,discussing the twins played by Olivia De Havilland:
One of our young ladies is insane – very clever,very intelligent but insane!”

Olivia De Havilland. the Dark Mirror

Olivia De Havilland. the Dark Mirror

 

BRINGING UP BABY:

Katharine Hepburn as ‘Susan’ reading the letter from her brother about ‘Baby’:

He’s three years old,gentle as a kitten and loves dogs.”  I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them.”

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HARVEY:
James Stewart
as ‘Elwood’:

I always have a wonderful time,wherever I am,whoever I’m with.”

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HIS GIRL FRIDAY:
Rosalind Russell as ‘Hildy’ to Ralph Bellamy as ‘Bruce’:
“If you want me,Bruce, you’ve got to take me as I am instead of trying to change me into something else. I’m no suburban bridge player. I’m a newspaperman. Darn it.”

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INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS:
Kevin McCarthy
(describing the body he has found):
“It’s like a first impression that’s stamped on a coin. It isn’t finished.”

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KEY LARGO:
Humphrey Bogart to Ed.G.Robinson:
“You don’t like it,do you,Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you. If it doesn’t stop, shoot it.”

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LAURA:
Clifton Webb
as Lydecker to Dana Andrews as McPherson:
“Laura considered me the wisest,the wittiest,the most interesting man she’d ever met. And I was in complete accord with her on that point.”

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THE MALTESE FALCON:
Sidney Greenstreet
as Gutman:
Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”

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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE:

Frank Sinatra as Marco describing the Lawrence Harvey  character:
Raymond Shaw is the kindest,bravest, warmest,most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

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MEET ME IN ST LOUIS:

Margaret O’Brien as ‘Tootie’,talking about her doll:

I expect she wont live through the night. She has four fatal diseases.”

Chill Wills as ‘Mr Neely’: “And it only takes one.”

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SABRINA:

Humphrey Bogart as ‘Linus’:

“Paris is for lovers. Maybe that’s why I stayed only 35 minutes.”

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THE THIN MAN:

William Powell as ‘Nick Charles’:

“Now don’t make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds.” (as ‘Asta’ immediately hides.)

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BROTHER ORCHID 1940

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A cute comedy with Edward G.Robinson in fine form as gangster John Sarto who decides to retire and enjoy the good life – and find ‘class.’

He calls a meeting of his gang and tells them he’s going after good taste and refinement.

His second in command,Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart) is ready and willing to take over. Sarto’s long time girlfriend is Flo (Ann Sothern).He says they’ll have a church wedding after he gets back from his solo trip to Europe.. Flo says, “I aint been in a church since the night your brother got bumped off.”

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Flo wants to be in show business,so to keep her happy, John arranges for her to get a job in a nightclub – as a hat check girl – Flo is happy.

There’s a montage of John in Paris,Rome and Monte Carlo – he’s away 5 years (though it’s more like 5 minutes). He loses all his money trying to find class and blithely returns to the States thinking he can take over where he left off – after all, it’s only been 5 years.

Of course, Jack Buck disagrees and John says he’ll form a new mob.

He also seems to think good old Flo will still be waiting for him. But Flo has gone from being a hat check girl to owning a club and living in a fancy apartment – with the help of rich rancher Ralph Bellamy who wants to marry her.

However, she hasn’t changed and drops everything for John. She even innocently arranges a meeting with Buck and John so they can stop fighting. Two of Buck’s hoods kidnap John and he is wounded before escaping and taking refuge in a monastery run by Donald Crisp.

 

The monks raise flowers and sell them in the city.. John takes to the quiet life and calls himself ‘Brother Orchid’ – “That’ll be my new tag.”

The monks run into trouble with Buck’s Protective association, but Brother Orchid sorts it out.

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He goes from thinking of the monastery as a ‘swell hideout’, and Crisp as ‘the biggest chump in the world’, to deciding to stay in the monastery and telling Bellamy that he’s the right man for Flo.

He’s found’ Class’ at last.

Edward G. and Ann Sothern head a good cast, though it was just another supporting role for Bogart – Maltese Falcon and High Sierra were just around the corner. The supporting cast are the usual stalwarts –  Allen Jenkins,Cecil Kellaway,Richard Lane and Paul Guilfoyle.

 

 

 

 

FOREIGN POSTERS

We know that Hollywood film titles are often changed for foreign distribution. It’s proved interesting to see the illustrations used abroad – and the change of titles, which are often surprising or odd, but obviously meant to make the titles attractive in the country concerned. Here are a few examples, mainly French: image Not just HARVEY, in Germany it becomes MY FRIEND HARVEY.

image ON THE TOWN becomes UN JOUR A NEW-YORK in France – A DAY IN NEW YORK. I guess having New York in the title gave it added glamor. No attempt has been made to make the figures resemble the actors. But it does show the six principals in action. image NORTH BY NORTHWEST in Italy is INTRIGO INTERNAZIONALE(INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE). Sounds more exciting?

image ANOTHER MAN’S POISON becomes JEZABEL! (Have they forgotten the original – do they even know about it?)

image SHANE is L’HOMME DES VALLEES PERDUES  (Man of the Lost Valleys). I guess the one word ‘Shane’ wasn’t impressive enough.The French title’s mention of ‘lost valleys’ doesn’t convey much.

image LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is LAD HIMLEN DOMME. Not sure about this one but I think it means ‘Let Heaven Judge’.  I guess the artist hadn’t seen a photo of Gene Tierney.

image This is an odd one if I have the correct translation. MR BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE becomes UN MILLION CLEFS EN MAIN  (‘A Million Keys in Hand’). I know they looked at a few houses…..

 

image  EASTER PARADE in Italy is TI AMAVO SENZA SAPERLO, with the translation ‘I Loved You Without Knowing’. Can’t think why this change was made, though it does convey Fred Astaire’s character. Still, there’s an easter rabbit on the table.

And my two favorites changes: image THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE in France is UN CRIME DANS LA TETE  (‘A Crime in The Head’) A title that conveys what the film is about.

image NOTHING SACRED is changed in France to LA JOYEUSE SUICIDEE (‘The Joyful Suicide’). I’m not sure the Hays office would have allowed that title!

ON THE SET. 8

Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich,Tyrone Power, Billy Wilder. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich,Tyrone Power, Billy Wilder.
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Elsa Lanchester,Marlene Dietrich,Charles Laughton.WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Elsa Lanchester,Marlene Dietrich,Charles Laughton.WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

James Stewart.IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

James Stewart.IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Fred MacMurray,Barbara Stanwyck.DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Fred MacMurray,Barbara Stanwyck.DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Ralph Meeker,Barbara Stanwyck,Barry Suloivan.JEOPARDY

Ralph Meeker,Barbara Stanwyck,Barry Sullivan.JEOPARDY

Cary. Grant,Howard Hawks.I Was A Male War Bride

Cary Grant,Howard Hawks.I Was A Male War Bride

Butterfly McQueen, Hattie McDaniel. GONE WITH THE WIND

Butterfly McQueen,
Hattie McDaniel. GONE WITH THE WIND

Robert Taylor,Barbara Stanwyck. DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Robert Taylor,Barbara Stanwyck. DOUBLE INDEMNITY

 

James Stewart,Jean Arthur,Frank Capra.MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

James Stewart,Jean Arthur,Frank Capra.MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

 

Grace Kelly,Cary Grant. TO CATCH A THIEF

Grace Kelly,Cary Grant. TO CATCH A THIEF

 

THE LOST ARTWORK OF HOLLYWOOD

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THE LOST ARTWORK OF HOLLYWOOD is a gorgeous book from 1996 by Fred E. Basten.
Mr Basten’s dedication at the front of the book is as follows:
This book is dedicated to the unheralded illustrators,portraitists,caricaturists and graphic artists who worked behind the scenes to create promotional visuals that drew us into the fantasy world that is the movies.”

As Mr Basten’s says, ” These visuals weren’t created for the public. They were done by the studios for the trades (industry publications ) to excite exhibitors and get them to show their movies. “

The industry publications included Variety and Hollywood Reporter,( and Film Daily which I wrote about recently).

These artists’ work were rarely credited – we may have heard of the great Hollywood photographers like Hurrell - but these artists were part of the studio’s Art Department and as such were simply part of the great advertising campaign at each studio.

Names like William Galbraith Crawford,Alberto Vargas,Ted Ireland,Jacques Kapralik.

Sadly,the  author cannot identify the artists for some of the amazing pictures in the book.

An unsigned water rendering of Fred and Ginger for Follow The Fleet is by the artist Widhoff:
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This ad for Show Boat states it is ‘Version of 1936′ in case anyone would confuse it with the early version in 1929.Artist unknown.

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Margaret O’Brien,Judy Garland. Meet Me in St Louis.  Artist unknown.

At the end of the book, the author lists around 30 of the artists and,where possible,the films they worked on.

The period covered is from the Silents through the 1940s.

THE GLASS WEB. 1953

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An Edward G.Robinson film new to me.
Set in a TV studio,the program”Crime of the Week” is written by Don Newell (John Forsythe) and directed by Dave Markson (Richard Denning).
Robinson ,as Henry Hayes, is a researcher and casting director.
Henry’s girlfriend Paula (Kathleen Hughes) is an actress in the cast of the show. She’s obviously using him to further her career. She’s also blackmailing Don over a brief affair they had.

Kathleen Hughes,Edward G Robinson

Kathleen Hughes,Edward G Robinson

Finally Paula has had enough of Henry and spells it out for him,”You’re a fussy little character with a tiny little job….all you ever did for me was hand me a laugh.”

Paula is later found dead. Her long deserted husband is arrested while Henry suggests Don write about the murder for their show.

It’s a good thriller and I was impressed by Kathleen Hughes whose career seemed to be mainly on TV.

Not a great part for Edward G., but of course he is good.
Jack Arnold directed the film in 3D but the 3D version was never released.

TAMPICO 1944

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Edward G.Robinson stars in TAMPICO which I can only describe s an average ‘B’ in which he is miscast as the captain of an oil tanker heading for TAMPICO in Mexico during WW2.
I expect Fox sold this as an ‘A’ feature because they had Robinson but the script let them down.
Victor McLaglen is Robinson’s first mate and the lovely Lynn Bari is the unlikely love interest for Robinson.

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As an action hero,I’m afraid Edward G. isnt convincing. Probably if it had been  Lloyd Nolan or Chester Morris I would have accepted TAMPICO for what it was.
But this was the year Robinson made Double Indemnity and Woman in the Window. TAMPICO seems an odd choice for the great Robinson.

I’d never heard of Tampico’s German director Lothar Mendes who only made a handful of films in Hollywood. In fact this was his second last film.His last,in 1946,was The Walls Came Tumbling Down which I liked a lot.

 

THE WHIP HAND (1951)

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A good little thriller from RKO,let down by a weak leading man,Elliott Reid who isn’t strong enough to carry the film.i guess Robert Mitchum or Robert Ryan weren’t available.
Reid plays a journalist on a fishing vacation who stumbles on mysterious goings-on in a lodge near the small town of Winnoga which doesn’t seem to have many residents .
He becomes curious when the local inn keeper,Raymond Burr tells him there are no fish in the nearby lake.
He meets up with a doctor (Edgar Barrier) and the doctor’s sister (Carla Balenda).
At one point, Reid says to Carla: “Odd little town.Everybody’s sure anxious to bid me goodbye.” (Very pale shades of Bad Day At Black Rock).
He figures out a virus has been put in the lake and that Burr and Barrier are involved in some sort of experiment.
They want him gone.

Elliott Reid, Edgar Barrier,Raymond Burr

Elliott Reid, Edgar Barrier,Raymond Burr

Again,Reid reflects, “My car’s been crippled. I’ve been followed constantly. I couldn’t make a phone call if it was a matter of life or death.”
But he doesn’t give up and finally gets a message through to his editor.

The working title was The Enemy Within which seems far more appropriate than The Whip Hand. Howard Hughes spent a lot of money re-making much of the film, changing the baddies from communists to Nazis.

Raymond Burr impresses as usual.

The poster above reveals too much about the plot.