PEG LACENTRA

When I listen to the song,”The Man I Love” from the film of the same name,I’d swear the husky,cracked tones are definitely that of the film’s star,Ida Lupino.But the voice for Gershwin’s great song is that of band singer and radio actress,Peg LaCentra,one of the many great song dubbers  who went uncredited by the studios.

Peg LaCentra (1910-1996) was born in Boston but moved to New York in 1931,working on radio. When Artie Shaw started his first orchestra in 1936, Peg became his vocalist. She also had her own radio show in 1939 – the same year that she married Paul Stewart – they were together for 46 years until Paul’s death in 1986.

Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart

In Smash Up, The Story of a Woman,Peg was the velvety voice of Susan Hayward, singing “I Miss That feeling”. And she dubbed again for Ida Lupino in Escape Me Never.

She also played a night club singer in Joan Crawford’s Humoresque. In a bar scene, Peg is playing piano and singing “Embraceable You”. Reminiscent of Bette Davis in Dark Victory, Joan joins in with Peg. A great scene.

Peg LaCentra. HUMORESQUE.

Peg LaCentra. HUMORESQUE.

And Peg appeared in a short lived TV series in 1957,The Marge and Gower Champion Show.

On You Tube, I found a World War 2 short made for G.I. audiences,featuring Peg talking to the forces and singing “Embraceable You” . Her own voice was lovely and there is a two-disc album of her recordings (many with Artie Shaw) from 1934 to 1946. (Also on You Tube).

I don’t know if Peg and her husband ever appeared together.

Peg LaCentra

Peg LaCentra

Peg also had an uncredited part in Barbara Stanwyck’s Crime of Passion.

Aside from that two year period in Hollywood from 1946 to 1947, Peg’s  career seemed to dry up apart from  some TV appearances in the 1950s and 60s.

Talking of Artie Shaw, I didn’t know till now that one of his 8 wives was Elizabeth Kern, daughter of Jerome Kern.

(Shaw’s actress wives were Lana Turner, Ava Gardner,Doris Dowling and Evelyn Keyes).

I like Artie Shaw’s comment , “I could never understand why people wanted to dance to my music. I made it good enough to listen to.”

Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw

 

Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino The Man I Love

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PANTHER’S MOON 1950

 

 

image  Also known as SPY HUNT, this film is based on the Victor Canning novel and is a good spy  story,with Marta Toren trying to get some microfilm back to British Intelligence.

Marta knows she is being followed (beware Ivan Triesault!). On a train to Paris she encounters Howard Duff who is minding his own business while escorting two black panthers from a private zoo to a circus.

Desperate for somewhere to hide the film,she puts it in the collar of one of the panthers when it is asleep!

The train is travelling through Switzerland  when the carriage that Duff and the caged panthers are in is deliberately unhooked from the rest of the train and crashes – the panthers escape.

The scene changes to a Swiss hotel where doctor Walter Slezak tends Duff’s wounds. Also in the hotel, after hearing the news of the escaped animals , are Kurt Kreuger,an army officer ready to find and kill the panthers; Philip Friend,a foreign correspondent, there for the story; Philip Dorn is a big game hunter who’d like to bag a panther; and Robert Douglas ,an artist, who would just like to sketch the panthers.

 

Marta Toren,Howard Duff

Marta Toren,Howard Duff

So all the players are assembled. One of them is as keen as Marta to get that microfilm, as the search for the panthers begins.

It’s an enjoyable action thriller, though I did feel sorry for the panthers.

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FAVORITE SONGS, NOT IN A MUSICAL

Jane Wyman

Jane Wyman,Aldo Ray

 

In LET’S DO IT AGAIN (co-starring Ray Milland), Jane Wyman reminds us what a good singer she is when she belts out ,”I’m Takin’ a Slow Burn’, a great number written by Ned Washington and Lester Lee.
Let’s Do It Again (1953) is a very loose remake of The Awful Truth.

 

Ida Lupino. ROAD HOUSE

Ida Lupino.
ROAD HOUSE

 

Ida Lupino is a night club singer in Road House, and Ida’s singing voice wasn’t dubbed for the songs she sang in the film. One of the songs is called “The Right Kind’  and Ida’s husky voice is just right for this catchy tune . The song is by Lionel Newman, Charles Henderson and Don George.

 

Hoagy Carmichael,Lauren Bacall. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT

Hoagy Carmichael,Lauren Bacall.
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT

Lauren Bacall sings ‘How Little We Know’ ( by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer).And it IS Lauren singing.

 

 
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Barbara Stanwyck

 

I love ‘Drum Boogie’ (by Roy Eldridge and Gene Krupa), performed by Barbara Stanwyck and the Gene Krupa orchestra in Ball of Fire. (Barbara dubbed by Martha Tilton).

 

 

June Allyson, Harry James

June Allyson, Harry James

 

In The Opposite Sex, June Allyson plays a former singer. In a flashback, she sings ‘Young Man With a Horn’ (by George Stoll and Ralph Freed) with Harry James and his orchestra.

 

 

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Jane Russell singing “You Kill Me” (by Jule Styne and Leo Robin) in MACAO.

Love the last line, ‘ You kill me, and keep me so alive’.

 

 

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Dorothy Lamour singing “Dancing for Nickels and Dimes” in JOHNNY APOLLO. The number by Lionel Newman and Frank Loesser.

That’s some tramp costume Dorothy is wearing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE 1935

image   BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT with Dana Andrews used the same plot as a 1935 film,CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE starring Chick Chandler.

The film opens with Jim Baldwin (Chick Chandler), a reporter, in court for the sentencing of a man who gets the death penalty based on circumstantial evidence. Alongside Jim is Adrienne (Shirley Grey),a court artist for their newspaper.

Jim feels strongly that a conviction with no direct evidence should never lead to the death penalty. He persuades his friend Fred (Arthur Vinton),a columnist for their paper,to join him in a scheme which will result in Jim being convicted of murder.

They use the fact that both Jim and Fred want to marry Adrienne (though she’s made it clear to Fred that Jim’s the one). They pretend to fight in front of witnesses and Jim starts carrying a gun. On the night Fred is throwing a party at his house, Jim makes sure he is seen at a nearby gas station, then lets one of the party see him looking in one of Fred’s windows.

Chick Chandler,Shirley Grey

Chick Chandler,Shirley Grey

When they all leave,Jim drives up and he and Fred put the plan into action. Fred has a skeleton (only silly part of the film) and Jim puts one of his cufflinks on it. Fred will fire a bullet into the skeleton with Jim’s gun, then set it on fire. Then Fred will disappear to San Francisco. His house going on fire doesn’t seem to bother Fred. I guess he’s insured.

But things start to unravel when we see Fred opening his passport and showing an airline ticket for Paris. He has no intention of returning and proving Jim’s innocence ( all because of losing Adrienne to Jim. I know, weak, but Fred’s not the nice guy Jim thinks he is).

Just as Fred shoots into the skeleton (Jim has left), another shot rings out and Fred drops dead.

Even with a letter signed by Fred,Jim is soon tried and convicted. Adrienne goes to the Governor but he wont relent.

The news editor Spike (Lee Moran) finds out Fred has been romancing Mrs. Winters (Dorothy Revier), Her husband Mr.Winters (Claude King) isn’t pleased.

Of course Jim gets off and the real murderer is revealed (Take your pick, Mr or Mrs. Winters).

It’s a fast 67 minutes, not in the same class as Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, but I enjoyed it, especially since it’s one of Chick Chandler’s very few leading roles. He’s maybe too lightweight  as a  crusader against capital punishment, but I liked him, and Shirley Grey was good support.

There’s also a variation on this theme in 1945’s film of the same name, starring Lloyd Nolan. Wouldn’t mind seeing that.

PHOTO MIX 12

 

 

Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor

Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor

 

 

 

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Robert Montgomery

 

 

 

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Who’se calling Joan to congratulate her for that Mildred Pierce OSCAR.

 

 

 

Alice Faye,John Payne

Alice Faye,John Payne

 

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Oh to have seen Alice and John when they took to the stage in Good News on Broadway in the 1970s.

 

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Ann Sheridan,Cary Grant. You Can’t Sleep Here.

Cary as a Frenchman. Why not.

 

Herbert Marshall,Claudette Colbert. Four Frightened People

Herbert Marshall,Claudette Colbert. Four Frightened People

Tarzan it isn’t.

 

Irene Dunne,,Spencer Tracy

Irene Dunne,,Spencer Tracy

Always liked this still from A Guy Named Joe.

 

 

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Brother and sister, James Stewart,Jeanette MacDonald in ROSE MARIE.

 

 

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Spectacles on. Ingrid Bergman  must be a doctor . SPELLBOUND.

 

 

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Claude Rains has a lot of questions to answer as he goes back into his home at the end of NOTORIOUS.

And it won’t be pleasant.

 

BLOOD MONEY 1933

 

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BLOOD MONEY stars George Bancroft as Bill Bailey, a bail bondsman who doesn’t care who he deals with as long as they have collateral to cover the costs. He advertises himself as “Bill Bailey For Bail”.
Although Bill is involved with nightclub owner Ruby Darling (Judith Anderson in her film debut),he falls for young socialite Elaine ( played by Frances Dee). Elaine needs bail after she’s caught shop lifting.She’s a thrill seeker who attaches herself to Bill,because he mingles with the underworld.

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Frances Dee

Of Elaine’s character, Frances Dee said at the time, “she’s a masochistic,nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac !”  Frances loved playing her!

Ruby’s brother is a charming no-good who’s just robbed a bank. I didn’t recognise a young,handsome Chick Chandler. The brother is called Drury Darling. (honestly).

Bill arranges Drury’s bail and when Drury meets  Elaine, she turns her attention to him,asking, “How does it feel to rob a bank?”

 

Chick Chandler

Chick Chandler

The plot gets complicated when Drury jumps bail and Bill realises Elaine is dangerous.
A film worth seeing for the interesting casting.

Immediately before Blood Money, Frances Dee had been the saintly Meg in LITTLE WOMEN. What a change in Blood Money in which she has a wicked gleam in her eye while playing a  rich woman whose sole purpose in life is to enjoy herself at any cost.A great part for Frances and she is very good.

 

Frances Dee,George Bancroft

Frances Dee, Chick Chandler

 

As  for Judith Anderson, not exactly an auspicious film debut,but she vamps her way through the film in backless gowns and heavy make-up, and is just great!  But she was never going to be a glamor gal.

George Bancroft

George Bancroft,Judith Anderson

I also liked  jazz singer Blossom Seeley who gets two numbers as an entertainer in Ruby’s club. Dressed like Mae West, Blossom delivers ‘My Melancholy Baby’ and ‘San Francisco Bay’.

(Blossom’s life story was told in SOMEBODY LOVES ME in 1952, with Betty Hutton).

Blossom Seeley

Blossom Seeley

Etienne Girardot has a small part as Bill’s assistant – Etienne could surely have interchanged any role with Donald Meek. He was already 77 in 1933 and continued acting till his death in 1939.

 

Etienne Girardot

Etienne Girardot

If I haven’t said much about George Bancroft, it’s because he was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the cast, but he’s fine in his role.

Judith Anderson,George Bancroft

Judith Anderson,George Bancroft

 

But where’s  that  fan club for Chick Chandler . I must join.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A HAND-BAG????

 

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Not classic Hollywood but definitely classic British, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST,based on the play by Oscar Wilde,was made in 1952 in color. It’s very funny and it’s famous for one line which is delivered so unforgettably by Edith Evans.

Jack (Michael Redgrave) is an orphan. He was abandoned as a baby in a handbag in a cloakroom in Victoria Station in London. When snobbish Lady Bracknell (Edith Evans) hears his story, her reaction is instant and hilarious.

In a voice a foghorn  would be proud of, she expresses her displeasure in two words:  “A HAND-BAG?”

 

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Many other actresses have delivered this line, but it really does belong to Edith Evans.

Later, when Lady Bracknell finds out that Jack wants to marry her daughter, she has not forgotten the circumstances of Jack’s history:

You can hardly imagine that I or Lord  Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter- a girl brought up with the utmost care – to marry into a cloak room, and form an alliance with a parcel?”

The film’s director,Anthony Asquith commented:

Although I was sparing with the big individual close-ups,I was tempted in the scene where Edith Evans’s voice goes up three octaves on a single syllable when she says the word “hanndb-a-g”. On films, voices haven’t the need to be raised to reach the back of the gallery. We take care of that,and actors and actresses keep their voices right down.

In the case of Lady Bracknell,however, it was different: she is a monster anyway and she is more than life-size, and certainly Edith Evans IS life-size. I didn’t try to modify her performance in any way,because it seemed to me to be splendid.”

 

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Many stars have played Lady Bracknell on film or stage – Maggie Smith,Judi Dench,Penelope Keith – but I can think of only one other actress who could have been as funny delivering that line – Edna May Oliver.

Handbags at dawn for Dame Edith and Edna May. May the best dragon win!