You know the star. More importantly, who’s his best friend?
His wife had her favorite too.
OK, we started with easy ones. But who’s the star below?
You know the star. More importantly, who’s his best friend?
His wife had her favorite too.
OK, we started with easy ones. But who’s the star below?
Do you recognize that woman?
No, not Anne Baxter (left as Eve in All About Eve), but the woman pictured with her and George Sanders.
It’s Bess Flowers, generally acknowledged as the Queen of the Extras and supposedly the woman who appeared in more movies than any other person in history –700!
All of us , at one time or another, remember part of a movie which we can’t find the name for, can’t recall the stars much less the director and supporting cast. It’s just a fleeting memory.
Occasionally, here at Classic Movie Chat we get requests from readers who need help identifying or defining a specific film title.
Recently we received this note:
Hello Mr Morella,
I’ve been interested in military aviation history. There was a movie I once saw.
The Germans were holding allied prisoners (in possibly a castle or something) high in some mountains. One of the prisoners was a highly valued allied scientist. They concocted a scheme to free him.
The prisoners built a glider (sailplane). One of the prisoners was a very good pilot. This character was (played by) a prominent Hollywood star. But I can’t remember who it was. He winds up being sent to solitary confinement.
When he’s released from solitary, the senior officers of the prisoners inform him he’s to fly this 2-person glider out of the prison with this scientist as passenger. That’s all the info I can remember.
I have searched & searched lists of WWII movies w/o success. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
We think the film you want, Roxy , was not a theatrical release but a TV movie from 1971, The Birdmen. It featured a number of then TV stars, Chuck Connors, Doug McClure, Rene Auberjonios, Max Baer Jr., and one bona fide movie star, Richard Basehart.
It’s about an American soldier Harry Cook (McClure) who’s sent to Norway to help in the defection of a scientist working on the atomic bomb for the Germans. But they are captured and sent to a POW prison in a castle on the German-Swiss border. There the prisoners build a two person glider that can fly them to Switzerland.
Lately we’ve been bringing you pictures of major celebrities from the past who have been photographed with unlikely companions. Today we’re really going to surprise you, we think.
One would never think these people had anything in common (except celebrity). Perhaps it was just a case of an a clever photographer getting them to pose together. They are easy to identify, so instead of guessing who they are, let’s guess what they might be saying.
Of course, if rumor is to be believed, this last pair might have had a lot in common.
Who, you ask?
A perfectly sensible question. We’ll explain immediately.
We’ve recently heard that The Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, are planning a movie titled Hail Caesar based largely on the careers of two legendary movie executives — Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling — of huge importance to the inner workings of MGM studios. Supposedly lined up to up to portray the two are Josh Brolin and George Clooney.
The Coen’s new venture is largely based on a book we’ve written about, E.J. Fleming’s The FIXERS: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine.
Strickling, five years younger, was an ingratiating smoothie whose chief mission in life seemed to be kissing MGM boss Louis B. Mayer’s derriere. Mannix was the most powerful of the two mostly because he unstintingly undertook the dirtiest assignments Mayer doled out.
Although very different as individuals (they rarely socialized off the lot) they were quite a team. For more than four decades they were almost inseparable during working hours and, most especially, when problems arose involving MGM’s incomparable movie star charges.
Wrote Fleming: If fans knew that Gable fathered an illegitimate child or ran over and killed a pedestrian with his car (in the fall of 1933, according to legend), if Wallace Beery was known as a murderer, if Garbo was known to be an active bisexual, the results would have been disastrous.
So MGM had to keep the secrets. Make the arrangements. “Fix” things….Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling were involved in some of the most spectacular cover-ups in the history of MGM, Hollywood and the movies.
According to Fleming, the Mannix-Strickling team swept the following under the MGM rug:
– Gables’s fathering an out-of-wedlock child (a girl) by Loretta Young. (For more on this topic, see our two blogs on the subject, Jan. 4, 2012′s DID LORETTA YOUNG HAVE AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD? and Who Really Was Judy Lewis’ Father? published the following day)
– Van Johnson’s arranged Mexico marriage to actor Kennan Wynn’s ex-wife when rumors about Johnson’s homosexuality became too pervasive for Mayer to bear. (See our several blogs on this subject by entering Johnson’s name in our “type your search” box on the upper right.)
– The toll illegal drug use took on Judy Garland. When Mannix learned a female drug dealer associated with gangster Lucky Luciano was indeed selling drugs to Garland (in the 1940′s), according to Fleming, Mannix had another gangster threaten the drug dealer with being tossed from the highest point of an amusement park Ferris wheel. The dealer immediately disappeared from the MGM lot.
– The details surrounding the suicide of Mexican spitfire Lupe Veldez, one of the few times that the Mannix-Strickling team didn’t pull off a complete cover up. They had more success with burying the details of her manic sex life.
Included in Fleming’s book are juicy, even hair raising — but shushed up — tales involving Beery, Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, Mickey Rooney, among others.
Mannix was no stranger to scandal himself. His second wife, a former Ziegfeld Follies actress-dancer, embarked (supposedly with his blessing; he had plenty of affairs of his own) on an illicit romance with George Reeves, the original TV Superman of the early Fifties.
Mannix was for some time (and perhaps is still) suspected of having Reeves’ murdered. The situation is entertainingly covered in the 2006 movie, Hollywoodland, costarring Ben Affleck as Reeves and Diane Lane as Mrs. Mannix.
Strickling was less colorful in both his professional and personal life. A true-blue company man, he brilliantly built up MGM’s publicity operation to be Hollywood’s best. The techniques he pioneered are still in use today.
Mannix and Strickling, quite a duo. They are pictured below with Clark Gable, after he learned his wife Carole Lombard’s plane had crashed, and that there were no survivors.
Yes, she was the most talked about star of the 1920s. Yes, her scandalous private life was the stuff of legends. And yes, she was a tragic figure.
But how much did you really know about her? Well, let’s see how you did with our Monday Quiz devoted to Clara Bow.
She certainly “epitomized flaming youth — the girl who lived by her heart, not her head,” according to coauthors Edward Epstein and our own Joe Morella whose 1976 biography, The “It” Girl: The Incredible Story of Clara Bow, is the inspiration for yesterday’s quiz.
To review our questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog. Herewith the answers:
1) Answer: Clara Bow is indeed the “It” girl, the title of her 1927 romantic comedy based on Elinor Glyn’s story about a saucy salesgirl with designs on the department store owner. So (c) is the answer. But as time went on the “It” became a general euphemism for the Bow’s onscreen sex appeal, so (d) is also acceptable here as well.
2) Answer: c) Douglas Fairbanks. All the rest including members of the college football team — notably, according to Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, teammate John Wayne — were said to be Bow lovers.
3) Answer: Bow was a lifelong insomniac. Fortunately, she was also a high-energy type who could get by on little sleep. Not to get all Freudian, but her ailment supposedly stemmed from a childhood incident in which her mother tried to seriously injure her while sleeping.
4) Answer: d) 1927′s Hula starring Clara as a plantation owner’s daughter who seduces a married British engineer (Clive Brook). The movie was directed by Bow’s lover, Victor Fleming, who carefully managed a nude swimming sequence that became world famous.
5) Answer: a) Gary Cooper. Although the very young Coop was probably eclipsed in the star department back then by (c) Harry Richman, an all-purpose entertainer who was a big name at the time. Richman was one of Clara’s most persistent and devoted suitors.
6) Answer: b) Rex Bell, a good looking actor/screen cowpoke who married Bow in 1931. The marriage stuck, ending with his death in 1962. After departing Hollywood Bell moved with Clara to Nevada where he served for a time as the state’s Lieutenant Governor.
7) Answer: a) Bow did indeed have a Brooklyn accent, but that wasn’t the problem. Clara felt restrained by all the new-fangled mikes and sound equipment. She had more fun and freedom making silents movies.
8) Answer: a) True. Bow really was sexy. She would seduce the camera, and exuded her devotion to the opposite sex. Remember, her films were largely made before the Production Code clamped down on what could and could not be shown onscreen.
9) Answer: a) True.
10) Answer: a) True. She was making at Paramount $5,000 a week by 1930.
She was the first, the one and only. But what else do you know about Clara Bow?
After hardscrabble beginnings in Brooklyn just five years after the dawning of the 20th Century, Clara took a familiar route to silent-movie era Hollywood — by winning a talent-beauty contest. She was just 17 when she made first onscreen movie appearance. By 1933 at age 28, her movie career was over.
In between Bow lived it up hugely onscreen and off, becoming a symbol of roaring Twenties, right up there with the likes of Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh. She was also a workhorse, making more than 55 movies in an 11-year span.
Ultimately, she “epitomized flaming youth — the girl who lived by her heart, not her head,” according to coauthors Edward Epstein and our own Joe Morella whose 1976 biography, The “It” Girl: The Incredible Story of Clara Bow, is the inspiration for today’s quiz.
We realize that many of our readers were’t even born by the time Bow passed into the great beyond (felled by a heart attack in 1965 at age 60). So all the more reason to get acquainted with her now.
As usual, bonne chance. Answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Clara Bow is indelibly remembered as the “It” girl. What does “It” refer to? a) Her acute sense of comedic timing; b) Her way with Shakespearean dialogue; c) The title of her 1927 movie based on an Elinor Glyn story; or d) Her sex appeal.
2) Question: Bow was known for her insatiable sexual appetite. Which one of the following are NOT counted among her lovers? a) Gary Cooper; b) John Gilbert; c) Douglas Fairbanks; or d) Several members of the 1927 Univ. of Southern California’s football team.
3) Question: Bow was plagued by a medical condition throughout her career that stemmed from her troubled relationship with her mother. a) True; or b) False.
4) Question: In which of her movies did Clara create a sensation by appearing totally nude? a) 1924′s Daughters of Pleasure; b) 1925′s Eve’s Lover; 1926′s Mantrap; or 1927′s Hula.
5) Question: He was perhaps Clara Bow’s most famous lover. Who is he? a) Gary Cooper; b) Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom; c) Harry Richman; or d) Victor Fleming.
6) Question: Although she had many paramours, Clara Bow had only one husband, a handsome, wavy-haired Western movie star. Can you identify him? a) Roy Rogers; b) Rex Bell; c) Gene Autry; or d) Johnny Mack Brown.
7) Question: Bow had a difficult time in the transition of movies from silents to “talkies.” What was her principal problem? a) Mastering the newfangled technology of sound recording; b) Her pronounced lisp; c) Her Brooklyn accent; d) Off-camera distractions involving a scandalous court case against Bow’s tell-all secretary.
8) Question: Bow is now regarded as Hollywood’s first true sex symbol. a) True; or b) False.
9) Question: Bow is also renowned for suffering from serious mental ailments. a) True; or b) False.
10) Question: By 1930, Bow was Hollywood’s most highly paid actress. a) True; or b) False.
Remember that old saw? Many performers were introduced that way and only a very few of them really qualified.
But actor James Garner, who died July 19 at age 86, could legitimately be called a STAR of television and the big screen. For much of his active career, he juggled successes in both at the same time.
Garner was part of a rare breed, a man who started in films, then made it BIG in TV, returned to films to become a top-billed leading man, then returned to TV to another hit series, then returned once more to re-succeed in films.
Not a stage star, but in a way the Broadway stage was his training ground. He’d been cast as a member of the court martial panel in The Caine Mutiny. He had no lines. But every night for a year he was able to observe Henry Fonda and the other topnotch actors in the production.
We first noticed Garner in a small role in the 1957 Marlon Brando romantic drama, Sayonara. But it was television which catapulted him into every American living room (at least into those furnished with sets) in the off-beat western series Maverick – the first of his four principal tube series – which aired from 1957 to 1960.
When he returned to films it was as a leading man. He made over 30 features and starred opposite the top leading ladies of the time, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Lee Remick, Natalie Wood, Kim Novak, and Eva Marie Saint. He also starred opposite some top leading men – Steve McQueen in 1963′s World War II prisoner-of-war drama, The Great Escape, for one.
His best film, and his favorite was 1964′s The Americanization of Emily opposite Julie Andrews, James Coburn and Melvyn Douglas. Arthur Hiller directed Paddy Chayefsky‘s very literate script about a Naval officer on a dangerous mission both romantically and otherwise.
In the 1970s it was back to the small screen and one of the most successful TV series ever, the private eye saga The Rockford Files (1974 to 1980). (Two other Garner tv outings, 1981′s Bret Maverick and 1991′s Man of the People, were much less successful.)
But he did what no other actor had done –bounced back to the big screen again.
With hits like 1982′s Victor Victoria costarring Julie Andrews, directed by Blake Edwards (not to be confused with Victor/Victoria, a 1995 tv version of the same material also starring Andrews); and as a small-town pharmacist lending a helping hand to single mother Sally Field in 1985′s Murphy’s Romance, he was still playing leading men.
Then as a character actor he continued to work until his 80s, even scoring a hit as Gena Rowlands’ husband in The Notebook back in 2004.
On the business side, Garner was not a man to be trifled with. He was one half of Garner-Duchow Productions, which produced made-for-tv movies starring you-know-who. He was not afraid to take his studio differences to court. In one case, he famously sued MCA-Universal, the owner of the The Rockford Files series, demanding what he felt was his rightful share of the show’s profits.
He was a unique star in another way too. He was married only once, a union that survived periodic separations and Garner’s various health problems. He and Lois Clarke would have celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary next month.
Although today he is primarily remembered for his stage and screen portrayals of Harold Hill in The Music Man, and Toddy in Victor/Victoria, Robert Preston had a long and varied career in film.
He started at Paramount in the late 1930s and co-starred in many top rated pictures such as Beau Geste, Reap the Wild Wind, This Gun For Hire and Wake Island. He enlisted in the Air Force after the attack on Pearl Harbor, then after World War II resumed his career.
Today we’d like to highlight some of his lesser known films. In 1949 he co-starred with Barbara Stanwyck in one of the first movies about gambling addiction, The Lady Gambles. It’s a forgotten film today, but a small gem.
Then in the early 60s he starred in two screen adaptations of Broadway hits. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, based on the play by William Inge, tells the story of an Oklahoma family dealing with changing conditions and mores in the 1920s. It has a stellar cast including Dorothy McGuire, Eve Arden, Angela Lansbury and Shirley Knight. If you haven’t seen this one, do so. It’s a surprisingly good film.
All The Way Home, from Tad Mosel‘s play, (based on James Agee‘s autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family, is another old fashioned small town drama (this time Tennessee) with a superb cast.
How does a young boy deal with the sudden death of his father? Jean Simmons plays Preston’s wife, Pat Hingle his alcoholic brother. Aline MacMahon and John Callum are also in film.
If you like literature this is the movie for you. Both Agee and Mosel won Pulitzer Prizes for their works. It was filmed on location using the very neighborhood where Agee grew up.
These three films will give you a sense of the dramatic range Preston possessed. Then you’ll appreciate even more his work in The Music Man and Victor/Victoria.
So, ok, how much did you know about Gloria Swanson?
Yesterday’s Monday Quiz was devoted to this great star best remembered for her astounding screen comeback as Norma Desmond in 1950′s Sunset Boulevard.
As mentioned, she was also a pioneer in the movie business, a woman who formed her own production company to spawn perhaps the best but perhaps most troubled silent movie ever made. This brought her into scandalous contact with the father of a U.S. president (initials, JFK). Swanson was an independent woman, a working feminist decades before the woman’s movement took formal shape.
Gloria Swanson is certainly well worth knowing more about. The inspiration for our Monday Quiz is her 1980 tome, Swanson on Swanson: An Autobiography. To refresh yourselves on the questions, just scroll down to yesterday’s blog. Here are the answers:
1) Answer: a) Montgomery Clift was the first choice for the young screenwriter role played by William Holden in Sunset Boulevard. Clift turned down the part because, wrote Swanson, he “objected to playing scenes of romantic involvement with an older woman.” The Norma Desmond character was supposed to have been 50, and although Swanson was that age when she made the movie, the producers ordered her appearance be aged slightly via makeup. Holden’s character was supposed to have been 25, but the actor was 31 when the picture was made. Holden was nervous that the still young-looking Swanson would appear too youthful onscreen. Thus the aging makeup.
2) Answer: b) False. Public confusion of the Norman Desmond character with the private Swanson was something that frustrated the actress for years. They think I am Norman Desmond, she often complained. I NEVER was Norman Desmond, and I don’t know anyone who lived like that!
3) Answer: Joseph Kennedy, the father of late President John F. Kennedy, was Swanson’s financial guru, business associate, production partner — and lover. But never her husband.
4) Answer: All except d) Henry King.
5) Answer: No question that Swanson was diminutive. Best estimate is that she stood all of a) 4-feet 11-inches.
6) Answer: a) True. Kennedy and Swanson has become increasingly close in their business dealings, and with each other. The lovemaking started after some time had elapsed since both Swanson and Kennedy were married to others. According to her autobiography, the first encounter occurred in a Palm Beach, Florida hotel room where Kennedy forced himself on her, moaning No longer, no longer. Now. Wrote Swanson: He was like a roped horse, rough, arduous, racing to be free. After a hasty climax he lay beside me, stroking my hair.
7) Answer: d) a pretty singing voice. This quality is NOT listed by Swanson as essential for a star. The big six are: beauty, personality, charm, temperament, style and the ability to wear clothes.
8) Answer: d) The Swamp.
9) Answer: a) 1924′s Manhandled. Directed by Allan Dwan, the movie was shot in New York City where Swanson got to ride a subway for the first time.
10) Answer: c) Airport 1975, part of a series of quasi-disaster epics from Universal Pictures hilariously spoofed in the Airplane films in the 1980′s. Swanson got to play pretty much herself, and gets the picture’s final line. Airport 1975, incidentally, included a number of fine classic performers in the cast including Martha Scott, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy and Nancy Olson — who, as it happens, portrayed William Holden’s genuine love interest in Sunset Boulevard.
EvoLve theme by Blogatize • Powered by WordPress ClassicMovieChat.com - The Golden Era of Hollywood
New discussions about old movies and classic movie stars.