Hello, everybody.  Your classic movie guys here today to pose the all-important question about Gregory Peck sporting that wide-brimmed, high-crowned chapeau signalling cow poke.

Although the two don’t seem to go together, they did in fact combine nicely in our Aug. 8 blog (Best Westerns — GREGORY PECK) covering Twentieth Century Fox’s underrated 1950 “oater,” The Gunfighter, one of Peck’s best movie outings.

Our citation of this fine film caught the attention of  a pair of our regular readers, who had things to say about Peck and the movie in general (although the subject of the hat somehow got lost in the shuffle). First, this informative note from Samuel Cohran:

Dear Joe and Frank,

In your 8/8 article on Gregory Peck, you mentioned ‘Days of Glory’ and you may not know his co-star Tamara Toumanova. She was not really an actress by trade but a famous ballerina.

With Tatiana Riabouchinska, 15, and Irina Baronova, 13, she was one of the 3 “baby ballerinas” of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo revived in 1932. Léonide Massine (Ljubov, the shoemaker in ‘The Red Shoes’) choreographed several of her ballets.

Teaching ballet to the end, she passed away in California in 1996.
There are a couple great documentaries on Ballets Russes.
I recommend them highly because they crossed over quite often into the movies we enjoy.

Thanks, Samuel. That’s the kind of reader comment we especially appreciate since it tells us something we (or at least Frank) didn’t know. Ballet is not our strong suit so we are curious to learn the titles of the documentaries you mention.

Besides costarring in Peck’s film debut, which 1944’s Day of Glory was (see Tamara above with Greg), Toumanova appeared in about a half dozen other films, an eclectic assortment that included 1956’s Invitation To The Dance, directed by and starring Gene Kelly; Alfred Hitchcock’s 1966 foreign intrigue thriller Torn Curtain, with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews; and her last film in 1970, the little known Billy Wilder comedy for United Artists, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Not a bad lineup for someone “not really an actress.” Toumanova was called “the black pearl of Russia.” Why, we wonder?

Getting back to Gregory Peck (and his hat), regular reader-contributor Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Woman) has this to say:

1950 was a turning point in the style of westerns with the darker vision of “The Gunfighter”, “Winchester ’73″ and “Devil’s Doorway.”  Given the popularity of film-noir at the time, it seems a logical step, in hindsight, that westerns would follow suit.

Thanks, Patricia.  We agree.

Finally, we wish to formally acknowledge that in our blog of July 24, OSCARS FOR “THE FRENCH CONNECTION”? THE ANSWERS PART II, we goofed in asserting that Roy Scheider won an Academy Award for his work in the 1971 cop thriller. The ever-alert Wyatt Kingseed caught our error:

Sorry, guys. Scheider didn’t win supporting actor, though he was nominated. That was the year Ben Johnson won for “The Last Picture Show.”


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