As part of our star-of-the-week series, we recently profiled Adolphe Menjou, a fine actor whose career spanned the silents and the talkies, 149 film and tv titles in all beginning way back in 1914. (Star of the Week — Adolphe Who?, Aug. 26.)
Somewhat to our surprise, the response (for us) was voluminous. The comments came pouring in.
And, since we love reader email, we take pleasure today in publishing some of the feedback, which notes that Menjou was by no means universally beloved for his far right political views.
Regular contributor Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Women) writes:
Myrna Loy (according to her autobiography) was quite prepared to dislike Adolphe Menjou because of their differing political views, but when they worked together in “The Ambassador’s Daughter” she actually found him a charming and delightful fellow.
In his autobiography, Pat O’Brien speaks of appearing with Menjou in “The Front Page”. Menjou replaced Louis Wolheim after his sudden death. O’Brien said that everyone was quite prepared to dislike the interloper, but Menjou proved himself to be “one of the boys” and won them over.
Another regular contributor, Mike Sheridan, writes in a similar vein:
(Menjou) must be listed as an All Time Great. I think of him as a real movie star. His political views only come up now because Hollywood is sooo left (still). I absolutely loved him with Gary Cooper in (1932’s) “A Farewell to Arms”. If AM is in it, im watchin!
This from reader Danny: I just wrote up a bit about Menjou because of his part in (director Frank) Capra’s “Forbidden,” another movie where he turns in an excellent performance. I look forward to seeing where you’re going this week.
When we figure it out, Danny, we’ll let you know. Thanks for asking.
Finally, this from Vincent:
Menjou apparently was a candidate to play newspaper editor Oliver Stone(!) in 1937’s “Nothing Sacred” with Carole Lombard (like the ’37 “A Star Is Born,” a Selznick International production), but he either backed out or had another studio assignment — he received lots of work — and reliable character actor Walter Connolly portrayed Stone instead. (Menjou and Lombard never made a film together; though Carole, a New Deal/FDR backer, worked with a number of Republicans over the years, including Robert Montgomery, none were as so far to the right as Menjou.)
Your noting Noel Coward brought to mind a story about him and Menjou relayed by Orson Welles in the recently-released “My Lunches With Orson” (a terrific read, BTW). Since you’re listing Menjou as star of the week, I won’t list it here for fear of robbing you of a potential future entry.
Thanks, Vincent. Yes, we did refer tangentially to the Welles anecdote included in all its profane bluntness on page 45 of the newly-published My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (Henry Holt and Company, Metropolitan Books).
Seems, according to Welles, that Menjou encountered Coward in Northern Africa during a World War II USO tour. Menjou was talking about how terrible it was in England, that those “n—–” soldiers were fucking all the English girls, and you didn’t know what kind of race it was gonna be.
“Isn’t that true, Noel?”, asked Menjou.
“What?” Noel said, “At last there’ll be a race of Englishmen with good teeth.”