THE THIRD VOICE 1960

image

It’s  all in the writing. The Third Voice could have been better. It had a good premise -revenge , and a good trio playing the leads -EDMOND O’BRIEN, LARAINE DAY and JULIE LONDON .

Yet it didn’t quite work.

O’Brien is in practically every scene and he chews up the scenery as only he can. And we never learn his character’s name.

He’s employed by Marion Forbes (Laraine Day) to impersonate her rich businessman  boss ,Harry Chapman who has thrown her over for a younger model.  Marion also feels she deserves a large pay off ($250,000) as she reckons she was the brains of the organisation.

She teaches O’Brien everything he needs to know about the man he will impersonate including details of the new girlfriend called Frances.

Marion follows her boss to Mexico where he is on a fishing trip,having left his new girlfriend behind. So it isn’t too difficult for O’Brien , with a few physical changes and a suitably loud,gruff voice to take over, especially when Day calmly shoots  Chapman  dead and O’Brien gets rid of the body.

Marian returns to the States while O’Brien makes phone calls home to the girlfriend and to his subordinates . The plan is that he gets the money transferred to the local bank, saying it’s for an investment.

While  waiting for the money, he meets Corey (Julie  London)  and   spends time with her.

image

There are a few scary moments for him, one being when a couple ,who know the real Chapman , hear he is in town and try to see him. The way he avoids them is suspensefully done.

There is quite a lot of voice-over as O’Brien reminds himself how to act and talk as Chapman. O’Brien is the third voice of the title.

There’s a twist at the end which is unexpected ( by me anyway) and provides an appropriate  retribution  for O’Brien  and Day.

On the negative side, Laraine Day is missing through the middle of the film. As the main instigator of the plot,  I didn’t understand why she disappeared for much of the film.

It was a change to see the usually wholesome Ms Day take on the role of the embittered woman who plans and executes murder.

We are never  told how Marion met up with the O’Brien character. A few minutes spent on that back story would have been useful.

Julie London has little to do which is a shame, but her character is important to the plot.

Olga San Juan ( who was married in the 40s to Edmond O’Brien ) has one brief scene which could easily have been cut.

The film was made in CinemaScope. I don’t know why. It’s a small scale  film which, under another writer, could have made more of an impact. It would also have been sharper if the running time was shorter by about 15 minutes.

B

OLIVIA; STILL WINNING AWARDS AT 99

The satirical magazine,The Oldie, has named OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND as its Oldie of the Year.

Olivia was unable to attend the luncheon in London on the 2nd of February, but sent an audio message which can be heard online at the BBC. It was wonderful to hear her voice. She said,

“….How I wish I could be present at the gala  luncheon on February the 2nd……I wouldn’t even  dream of journeying to England and back to France…      Most appreciatively,Olivia de Havilland.”.

The monthly Oldie magazine was set up in 1992 to take an irreverent stand against ageism. The tongue-in-cheek awards are given annually.

image

 

DOUGLASS DUMBRILLE

Ccccc

This post is part of the O CANADA Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings  (http://silverscreenings.org) and Kristina of Speakeasy (http://hqofk.wordpress.com) Lots of interesting topics including Deanna Durbin,Jack Carson,Norma Shearer, John  Ireland, Niagara,Johnny Belinda.

DOUGLASS DUMBRILLE (1889-1974)

The first thing I learned about Mr. Dumbrille was that his Christian name ends in two S’s, despite how you may see it on credits or posters.

This well known character actor  was born in Hamilton,Ontario.

Bbbb

 

He appeared in over 200 movies and was generally villainous,pompous ,officious and always moustachioed. He was never an underling – a general, a district attorney, a nightclub owner, a businessman – or a sheik – or Buffalo Bill (in The World  Changes,1934). And  slave trader in THE ROAD TO ZANZIBAR.

He was Athos to Don Ameche’s singing D’Artagnan in the 1939 THREE MUSKETEERS. And George Washington in MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE (1946).

Nnnnnn

He was the  nasty Mr.Cedar whom Mr. Deeds finally stood up to in MR  DEEDS GOES  TO TOWN.

He put on a wig and held Jeanette MacDonald’s  hand in NAUGHTY MARIETTA. And he joined her again in  THE FIREFLY.

 

Mmmm

 

He was a French policeman in Carole Lombard ‘s THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS.

In LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER, he is the one who says to Richard Cromwell, Franchot Tone and Gary Cooper,

“We have ways to make men talk.”

Mmm

 

You recognise him instantly, but then wonder, is it Henry Daniell or Lionel Atwill.

Versatility should have been his middle name. He was even a westerner and a good guy, an upright sheriff in 1945’s FLAME OF THE WEST.

Mmm

 

imageStrangest of all his films is one called THE KANGAROO KID (1950), made in Australia, with a cast including Jock Mahoney,Veda Ann Borg and Martha Hyer.

Mahoney goes to Oz to catch a criminal. It just so happens several Americans have settled in the town of Gold Star!

I haven’t seen it, but no doubt Douglass will be the baddie.

We know of Hollywood stars going to England to make films, but it’s a long way to Australia.

Also strange is that Hollywood went to Australia again for the 1952 film,KANGAROO ( with Maureen O’Hara and Peter Lawford.).

with Martha Hyer

with Martha Hyer

Douglass was married from 1910 till 1957 when his first wife died.

In 1960, at the age of 70, he married again , to the 28 year old daughter of his friend Alan Mowbray.

Mmm

 

LADY GANGSTER 1942

image

B

LADY GANGSTER stars Faye Emerson as Dot Burton,an aspiring actress who turns to crime when she can’t get any acting jobs ( as you would!)

The film opens with Dot going into a bank with her dog – she’s a decoy for three gangsters who burst in with guns and rob the bank.They shoot a cop and she is taken to police HQ for questioning.

Frank Wilcox is Ken Phillips,a local broadcaster she used to know. He believes her story that she doesn’t know the robbers.And the District Attorney lets her out on bail in Frank’s custody.

She goes to see Ma Silsby (Vera Lewis), a landlady she boards with and who introduced  her to the three robbers. Dot hears them planning  a three -way split of the money. The police are heard outside and she  sees the threesome hiding the money in a fireplace before they take a powder.

Dot promptly takes the brief case full of money, puts it in a case and gives it to Ma to keep for her.

She tries to tell Ken about the money and being mixed up in the bank robbery but ends up in jail.

B

Julie Bishop,Faye Emerson

The film changes focus to within the women’s prison where Dot is befriended by Myrtle(Julie Bishop)

Ruth Ford is Lucy, a stool pidgeon  for the matron ( Virginia Brissac)

Lucy finds out things through ‘Deaf Anne'(Dorothy Adams) who is a very skilled lip reader.

B

Ruth Ford,Dorothy Adams

Dot gets a visit from her ‘sister’ – it’s one of the gang saying they will be waiting for her when she gets out. ( Roland Drew dressed in drag is hilarious)

There’s  a prison break and a shoot-out at the end.

 

B

Roland Drew, Jackie Gleason,Bill Phillips

 

N

Roland Drew

It’s 62 minutes of constant  action, and Faye is is almost every scene. She’s very good. As is Julie Bishop.

It’s directed by French born Robert Florey who also directed Faye in DANGER SIGNAL

The weak link in the film are the men. Frank Wilcox is poor as the love interest for Faye. Only Jackie Gleason as one of the gang is well cast.

I love an IMDB comment about the women’s prison:

“This prison is like something out of Stage Door – with a common area and people knitting,dancing and listening to the radio.”

The New York Times  in 1942 called it, “a disagreeable and pointless little film.”  A statement which I totally disagree with. With better casting and some re-writing of Faye’s character ,it would have been even better. But the  plot is ok.

Barbara Stanwyck’s Ladies They Talk About was based on the same play that Lady Gangster is taken from.

The film is public domain and easy to find.

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY: JEAN ARTHUR & NORMA SHEARER

image

Isn’t this just gorgeous. Very young ladies in the early 1920s in New York.They could be sisters.

The only connection I could find between Jean Arthur and Norma Shearer was that they were both models in New York before they both went to Hollywood.
Norma reigned at MGM , but the path wasn’t so easy for Jean who struggled in silent films for 6 years and would only achieve stardom in the middle 1930s. Stardom which only lasted for less than a dozen years.
I hope to write more about Jean Arthur soon.

TWILIGHT ZONE

I’ve been in the TWILIGHT ZONE   a lot recently – all 5  seasons in fact.

The classic Hollywood connection is the numbers of well known faces in so many episodes of this 1959-1964 TV series.

Names like Dana Andrews, Dan Duryea, Gladys Cooper, Mickey Rooney,Ann Blyth,Richard Conte, Keenan Wynn,Burgess Meredith ,Brian Aherne and so many more.

And directors like Mitchell Leisen,Jacques Tourneur,Don Siegel,Ida Lupino.

image

 

The Twilight Zone was the brainchild of writer ROD SERLING who wrote a good number of the episodes. Other writers included Richard Matheson,Reginald Rose,Earl Hamner Jr.

What I like about this show is the diversity of plots – time travel, space travel, robots, mystery,fantasy,comedy, and social commentary.

The Twilight Zone had it all, and it had the use of the backlots of MGM.

There are so many brilliant episodes , only 25 minutes long. (In season 4, they tried an hour format but it wasnt so successful).

The show and the quality of the writing provided a showcase for many performers and I’d like to describe some of my favorites, the only problem being that quite often the final scene is a twist in the tale which I wont reveal.

image

 

AGNES MOOREHEAD, in “The Invaders”, has no dialogue and is on her own for the full episode. Playing a lone woman in an isolated farm , she believes aliens have arrived. But what a twist at the end.

Agnes is amazing, conveying her fear only with looks and sounds.

 

image

In “The Obsolete Man”, BURGESS MERDITH is a librarian in a future where the State determines he is obsolete and must die. He is brought before Fritz Weaver who tells him he can choose the manner of his death. And again, the twist ending is breathtaking.

Meredith and Weaver are excellent.

 

image

James Whitmore

In “On Thursday We Leave for Home”, JAMES WHITMORE gives a stunning study of a man who is the leader of a band of survivors who have been living on as asteroid since leaving Earth 30 years earlier.

The group are desperate to get home when a spaceship arrives to rescue them. But the Whitmore character thinks he can go on making decisions for them as if they are children.He cannot lose control  but he will.

 

Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam

In “New Exhibit”, MARTIN BALSAM plays the curator of a museum exhibit called “Murderers Row”. When the museum is closed, he can’t bear to be parted from the wax figures and takes them home. They are real to him.

Another stunning ending to this episode.Balsam is so good.

 

John Williams

John Williams

On a lighter note, “The Bard” is the story of screenwriter,Jack Weston who summons the great Shakespeare to help him with his writing!

 

David Wayne

David Wayne

In “Escape Clause”, DAVID WAYNE is a hypochondriac who makes a pact with the devil,Thomas Gomez, for immortality. When he commits murder, life imprisonment is going to last a very long time!

image

 

 

Dennis Hopper,Ludwig Donath

Dennis Hopper,Ludwig Donath

In “He’s Alive”, DENNIS HOPPER is a neo-Nazi who invokes the spirit of Hitler to advise him. But he has to deal with the fact that the man who has been like a father to him,Ludwig Donath,is Jewish.

 

Ann Blyth

Ann Blyth

In “Queen of the Nile”, ANN BLYTH is a Hollywood star being interviewed by a journalist . She claims to be 38, but the reporter becomes suspicious when he starts looking at her career and talking to her mother, Celia Lovsky. How old is she really.

 

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin

“The Grave” has a western setting ,with LEE MARVIN,LEE VAN CLEEF and JAMES BEST.

MARVIN is dared by the others to visit at midnight the grave of a man he had been hired to kill.

 

Howard Duff

Howard Duff

In “A World of Difference”, HOWARD DUFF plays an actor who begins to believe he is the character in the film he is making.

 

John Hoyt

John Hoyt

I love “Will the Real Martian Stand Up”, starring JOHN HOYT,JACK ELAM and JOHN ARCHER in a tale of 6 bus passengers stranded on a stormy night in a small cafe. A policeman comes in to tell them a UFO has been found and footsteps in the snow lead to the cafe!

Another terrific ending !

 

Joseph Shildkraut

Joseph Schildkraut

 

 

A very moving episode,”Death’s Head Revisited” has JOSEPH SCHILDKRAUT as the ghost of a concentration camp victim who comes alive again to judge the Nazi (Oscar Beregi),   who has come back to the camp where he was a guard.

 

 

 

 

 

image

B

“I Sing The Body Electric”  has to be the most unusual title of an episode, with JOSEPHINE HUTCHINSON as a sort of Mary Poppins to the three children of a widower who needs help bringing them up. She is in fact a robot and the children get to pick the parts which will make up her body. All I know about the title is that it is a Walt Whitman poem.

 

There’s also BUDDY EBSEN helping DANE CLARK beat the system at the Las Vegas gambling tables ; DAN DURYEA  as a washed up gunfighter in the old west; RICHARD CONTE as a man terrified to go to sleep as he fears he will die; GLADYS COOPER, CECIL KELLAWAY  and WILFRID HYDE WHITE taking a last sail on the Lady Anne.

And GIG YOUNG, ROBERT CUMMINGS,BUSTER KEATON,RICHARD BASEHART ,IDA LUPINO, JACK  CARSON,STEVE COCHRAN , FRANCHOT TONE each have starring episodes.

Even JOHN DEHNER gets a starring role .

And the supporting alumni of North By Northwest appear throughout the series – Malcom Atterbury (the man who tells Cary Grant about the crop duster )  –  Josephine Hutchinson ( the supposed owner of the mansion Thornhill was taken to) – Philip Ober ( Lester Townsend) – Nora Marlowe ( the housekeeper who holds a gun on Thornhill at the end) – Edward Binns (policeman) – Ned Glass (train ticket seller) and Martin Landau.

(Wish they had all been in the same episode!)

I am in awe of the standard of writing throughout , and of the performances. Impossible to believe that no acting Emmys were given for this show, though it did win for writing and cinematography.

Great series, still with a lot of fans today.

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney

 

Dana Andrews

Dana Andrews

 

Gary Merrill, Ben Cooper

Gary Merrill, Ben Cooper

 

Richard Conte

Richard Conte

 

Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino

 

John Dehner

John Dehner

 

Dan Duryea

Dan Duryea

 

Rod Serling

Rod Serling

 

 

LENA HORNE EXTRA

Some extra information I’ve learned about Lena from her 1966 autobiography ,LENA.

……….Lena  tested for the Jeanette MacDonald film,CAIRO, in a scene with Eddie Anderson.

The part went to Ethel Waters.

………..At the time Lena got a seven year contract with Metro, no African-American actor was under contract to any of the studios.

…………Of her loan  to Fox for STORMY WEATHER, Lena  said :

“MGM were charging Fox more for my services than they were actually paying me.”

………….At the time of  her  marriage in 1947, inter-racial marriage was illegal in 30 States including California.

…………..Talking of her parts in Panama Hattie and As Thousands Cheer, Lena said:

“The beginning of a long line of films where I was pasted to a pillar to sing my song.”

……….It’s noticeable in her book that Lena makes no mention of WORDS AND MUSIC, or her co-star in JAMAICA,Ricardo Montalban.

 

 

 

B