COSTUME TESTS 5

Tyrone Power.  KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES

 

Susan Hayward

Not sure what film this is.

 

Ruth Roman.  LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE

 

Joan Crawford

Mildred? or THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE?

 

Olivia de Havilland  GONE WITH THE WIND

 

 

Cyd Charisse

Any ideas? MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS?

 

Barbara Stanwyck. MY REPUTATION

 

 

Judy Garland

LITTLE NELLIE KELLY?

 

Barbara Stanwyck

TITANIC?

LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (1951)

Ruth Roman, Richard Todd

A film starring Ruth Roman which I had never heard of, LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE turned out to be a disappointment. It didn’t help that Zachary Scott had such a small part in it.

Richard Todd seemed odd casting as a rancher who has been on death row for the murder of his wife. There’s a re-trial and he is released. All this takes place in the first 5 minutes of the film. He is acquitted after Mercedes McCambridge is the sole juror in the second trial who holds out for an acquittal.

(As Mercedes obviously knows Todd, it’s not clear how she was on the jury.)

Darryl Hickman, Ruth Roman, Rhys Williams, Mercedes McCambridge

Ruth Roman plays an actress recovering from an illness and on her way to a dude ranch run by McCambridge and her brother Darryl Hickman.She gets caught in a storm and stops at a house where she meets Todd who tells her who he is.

Ruth Roman, Mercedes McCambridge

It’s all very melodramatic . It’s love at first sight for Ruth when she meets the mysterious Todd. And this makes Mercedes jealous.

Zachary Scott doesn’t show up till nearly half way through the film and his character is minor. I guess Warners didn’t have anything better for him at the time. Richard Todd soon went back to England.

The unravelling of who actually killed Todd’s wife becomes obvious.

Ruth Roman, Zachary Scott.

Ruth did the best she could with a weak script. I hope the second film I have to view starring Ruth is better. It is also one I had never heard of, THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE, with Van Johnson and Joseph Cotten.

Still, maybe there’s a reason I had never heard of these two films!

 

 

THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION

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CARY GRANT as a sword wielding captain in the British Navy of 1810,  FRANK SINATRA playing a Spanish peasant.

You’re  making it up! Nope. It happened in THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION in  1957.

Actors want to extend their range, but Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra were such modern personalities, it’s hard to accept them in costume drama.

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Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren

The film was shot in Spain and produced and directed by Stanley Kramer.

In 1810, Napoleon’s  forces have invaded Spain. A large cannon belonging to the Spanish has been abandoned in the countryside.

The French are searching for it. Grant’s character is tasked with ensuring the cannon goes to British forces.

Sinatra is the leader of the Spanish guerillas, with Sophia as his girlfriend who becomes attracted to Grant.

You could argue the colossal cannon is the star of the film. Certainly most of the writing is devoted to the movement of the cannon to its destination at the French stronghold of Avila. Seeing it careering through a forest and flattening everything in its path is pretty spectacular.

I never thought I’d describe a Cary Grant performance as dull, but he is so woefully miscast, there doesn’t seem  to be anything he can do to bring the character to life.

Sinatra underplays it so much, you can’t see any intensity,which is needed for the role of the freedom fighter.Certainly no passion.

How Cary  or Frank  ever agreed to do the film will remain a mystery, though some say both wanted away from America at the time.

Stanley Kramer originally wanted Marlon Brando and Ava Gardner as Grant’s costars. I would have been happy with them, but would also have re-cast  Grant .

Or am I prejudiced! Historical epics are my least favourite kind of movie.

Below are some photos from the film.

 

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At the film’s premiere, the stars with Stanley Kramer.

 

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HOSTILE GUNS. ( 1967)

It’s not getting easier,  watching the A.C.Lyles 1960s westerns. Despite the good casts, the scripts continue to let them down.

In HOSTILE GUNS, George Montgomery is Gid McCool , a sheriff who is collecting and transporting prisoners to prison in Huntsville.

Having got a local carpenter to build a special rig, and having hired Mike Reno (Tab Hunter) , McCool picks up the first prisoners from Marshal Willett (Brian Donlevy) .

George Montgomery,Brian Donlevy.

 

The prisoners include Angel (Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez) – who has stolen some goats. Angel is upbeat about going to prison. He wants to learn to be a cook there.

Hank Pleasant (Leo Gordon) isn’t looking forward to the trip – he is due to hang.

Tab Hunter, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez,Richard Arlen, George Montgomery.

 

George Montgomery , Tab Hunter

 

It’s half an hour into the trip before Yvonne de Carlo appears, as another prisoner who has been convicted of murder.

 

The prison wagon.

 

Leo Gordon, Tab Hunter, Yvonne De Carlo

 

Yvonne de Carlo, Tab Hunter.

 

John Russell plays Leo Gordon’s brother , who, with James Craig, aims to free Gordon.

It’s sad to see Richard Arlen get only one short scene. Brian Donlevy’s role amounts to a couple of scenes near the start of the film.

Emile Meyer and Don Barry also gets one scene and are then never seen again.

The number of fights reached a new level in this film – I counted 4. They felt as if they were just part of filling the time. I don’t know why these obvious ‘B’ westerns had to run 90 minutes.

Yvonne de Carlo is completely wasted. Montgomery and Hunter have the main roles and perform well. Leo Gordon is always good.

i would have preferred a plot with Brian  Donlevy and  Richard Arlen in the leads! Two older lawmen struggling to get their prisoners delivered to prison.

 

 

 

DORIS DAY IS 95

Celebrations for Doris Day’s 95th birthday today! It was good to see all the press coverage, especially since her birth certificate had been uncovered, showing that she was born in 1922, not 1924.

 

Gordon MacRae, Doris Day

 

 

 

With Jack Lemmon, IT HAPPENED TO JANE

 

Calamity

 

 

With John Raitt, THE PAJAMA GAME

 

Freckles!

 

Calamity Jane

 

Love Me Or Leave Me, as Ruth Etting.

 

With Rock Hudson and Tony Randall

 

 

 

 

BACKSTORY: Screenwriters of Hollywood’s Golden Age

BACKSTORY I and the follow up book, BACKSTORY 2, INTERVIEWS WITH SCREENWRITERS OF THE 1940s and 1950s are two interesting accounts of writing in Hollywood. Edited by Patrick McGilligan, both books contain fascinating interviews with well known  writers active in Hollywood from the 1920s to the 1950s.

We are fortunate that these important figures from Hollywood’s past have their memories preserved in print in these two excellent books., with comprehensive credits for each writer.

Here are some brief  excerpts.

W.R.Burnett

29 movies are based on the novels or short stories of W.R.Burnett – LIITLE CAESAR, HIGH SIERRA, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE among them. He co-scripted THIS GUN FOR HIRE,THE RACKET.

The William Wellman western, YELLOW SKY, was based on his novel.

W.R.Burnett: “When they opened “Little Caesar” at the Strand Theatre in New York, they opened it cold, yet they had to get out the mounted police and run it twenty-four hours a day. Then, I’ll never forget the premiere here in Los Angeles. They had every goddamned person on stage –  the actors, the director, the cameraman – and when they finished introducing all of them, Ben Lyon, the emcee, finally says, “Oh yes, the writer. There always has to be a writer.” Can you imagine that…..I realised what the status of the writer was.”

 

James M. Cain

Classic films based on novels or stories of James M. Cain include DOUBLE INDEMNITY, MILDRED PIERCE , SLIGHTLY SCARLET and THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE.

James M.Cain: ” I had to see Double  Indemnity probably half a dozen times in various connections, and I was never bored. I must say Billy Wilder did a terrific job. It’s the only picture I ever saw made from my books that had things in it I wish I had thought if. Wilder’s ending was much better than my ending.

 

 

Lenore Coffee

Lenore Coffee was active during the silent era and beyond. In the 1930s and 40s  she scripted THE GREAT LIE, THE GAY SISTERS and co- scripted EVELYN PRENTICE, SUZY,FOUR DAUGHTERS, OLD ACQUAINTANCE, SUDDEN FEAR.

Lenore Coffee:  “I got along very well at Warner Brothers because of a producer named Henry Blanke, who always called me,’Coffee darling.’

Lenore worked well with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis:

“I knew them well. I knew their temperaments. Bette was very intelligent, well educated. Joan was not – Joan had taught herself to speak, and she spoke very well. I had great admiration for her.”

 

Garson Kanin

Garson Kanin was a writer and director. He directed BACHELOR MOTHER, MY FAVORITE WIFE, THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WANTED.

With his wife, Ruth Gordon , he wrote A DOUBLE LIFE, ADAM’S RIB,THE MARRYING KIND, PAT AND MIKE.

BORN YESTERDAY was based on his Broadway play.

Garson Kanin; “In the case of Adam’s Rib and Pat And Mike, we had Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in mind as potential players. As it happened, Pat and Mike was first rejected by the studio, and only after a year or so did they reconsider.”

“All we ever did was write original screenplays and sell them – neither of us were employed by any studio.”

 

Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Betty Comden and Adolph Green were prolific lyricists and screenplay writers. They scripted GOOD NEWS, THE BARKELEYS OF BROADWAY,AUNTIE MAME,BELLS ARE RINGING and of course SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and THE BAND WAGON.

Betty ComdenSingin’ In The Rain and The Band Wagon are catalogue pictures . In other words, we were handed the song catalogues  – in the first case, of Singin’ In The Rain, of Freed and Brown, and in the second case, of Schwartz and Dietz. All we were told was to write a movie and to get twenty or as many as you could of these wonderful songs into the story – nothing about period or locale or people.

 

Daniel Mainwaring

Daniel Mainwaring often wrote as Geoffrey Homes, He wrote the novel, Build My Gallows High and the screenplay for the film version called OUT OF THE PAST. He scripted INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS  and co-wrote ROAD BLOCK and THE TALL TARGET.

Daniel Mainwaring:  “When I finished the script (of Out of the Past), I took it down to Newport where Bogart was living. He was going to do it (the part of Jeff Bailey), but Warners wouldn’t let him. So we took Mitchum. “

 

Curt Siodmak (brother of director Robert Siodmak) wrote the novel DONOVAN’S BRAIN .He co-scripted or wrote the story of THE WOLF MAN, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, BERLIN EXPRESS.

Curt Siodmak;  “Universal director-producer George Waggner said to me, ‘We have a title called The Wolf Man. It comes from Boris Karloff but Boris has no time to do it. We have Lon Chaney,Madame Ouspenskaya, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy and Claude Rains. The budget is $180,000 and we start in 10 weeks. good-bye….’

After 7 weeks I gave George the screenplay.”

While recognizing that film is a collaborative art, Siodmak said that all the producers, directors and actors in the world would be at a loss if they didn’t have a good idea to work from and he saw himself as that indispensable idea man.

 

 

Daniel Taradash

Daniel Taradash wrote the scripts for RANCHO NOTORIOUS, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY,PICNIC, BELL BOOK AND CANDLE. He co-scripted GOLDEN BOY, DONT BOTHER TO KNOCK,STORM CENTER.

Daniel Taradash:  “Joan Crawford was mentioned for the wife (in from Here To Eternity), (Fred) Zinnemann had a long conversation with her and he said,’I think she can do it, and she says she’ll play it without the frills and the glamor.’ She was more or less cast until one day they got a call saying she wanted her own cameraman and makeup . Cohn and Zinnemann shook their heads,and that was the end of Joan Crawford.”

 

These two books are indispensable reading and I highly recommend them.