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Monday, January 15, 2018

A Short and Sweet Surprise

Two-Fisted Carnival Boat (1932) Is Good Early RKO

A talker that I suspect was like many silents, being he-man stuff of wood-chopping, runaway trains, and dynamite to the dam. Latter is jammed by logs and Bill Boyd must blow 'em sky high to salvage north wood he commands. Carnival Boat only part-time serves its title, more of length spent among tall trees and challenge to fell them. This was a TCM find, way better than bulk of RKO-Pathe before shed of half that label and its absurdly crowing rooster atop a logo globe. Pathe survived as busy lot for rent to Selznick and others who had no studio of their own, then a site for much television. Wm. K. Everson wrote that Carnival Boat used stock footage from voiceless 20's to flesh out action, a lot of which is whole-hog excitement like serial chapters glued together to fill an hour. William Boyd is familiar "Bill" in credits, presumed pal to boys who liked him since actioning he did for DeMille and pre-talkie others. Boyd shows humor, virility, easy charm, that would later make him mentor to callow cowboys and youth watching, as definitive a stand-in for dad or big brother as any kid could want. It took westerns and continuing Hopalong Cassidy to confer immortality on Boyd. Economical as it was (negative cost:$217K), Carnival Boat still lost money during Depression-doped 1932 when dimes was hardest won. It's well worth TCM sit or place aboard the DVR.

Friday, January 12, 2018

William Castle's Flying Leap At The Boxoffice

Zotz! Is Kiddie Lure For Summer '62

Never knew William Castle was a coin enthusiast, but arrive he did to Evansville, Ill. opening of Zotz! with a collection valued at $42,000 (so Bill claimed). The Evansville Drive-In, with parking space for 700 cars, got first-run on Zotz!. We could wonder if it was really worth Bill's time to fly in for that, but then, aspirations were simpler in 1962, or perhaps he understood that where bally went, there was no such thing as minor engagements. Castle had learned how small rocks could form a pile, as Indiana wind might blow far the word of a drive-in lot filled to capacity that August weekend. His precise ETA, 9:58 on Saturday morning, came with invitation to all Evansville for meet/greet. Was there risk in announcing that he would disembark with that $42,000 coin collection? Whatever doubts Castle had about peers in the industry, he at least could trust his fans. It would be a busy weekend, Bill "staying over" to ride in the Sesquicentennial parade. Did not know what this meant until online refresher. Turns out it indicates a one hundred and fifty year landmark, as in Evansville's 150th year. At first, I thought it had something to do with a Sasquatch, but would William Castle be in town to recognize someone else's Bigfoot movie?

Good News, Evansville. Bill's Staying Over!
The Evansville Drive-In gave away "lucky Zotz! coins" that night, presumably not from Bill's private collection. Turns out the Zotz! giveaway was hard plastic, but "bronze-looking," with a hole at center top so you could use it for a bracelet or pendent. To own one was to qualify as a "Zotznick," for which I assume there was onscreen explanation. The coin figures into the movie because Tom Poston finds one with magical power that enables him to, among other things, fly. Assuming Castle stayed overnight, we could figure him sharing space in the booth and personally handing out the souvenir as patrons drove in. Bill's success came of personal outreach to his public. I've read how he'd breeze into towns, pick up a phone book, and start calling one-and-all to come see his show. Castle might have been President had he turned a same initiative toward politics. The fact he could indulge a collecting hobby that ran up value of $40K demonstrates just how well House On Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, and Homicidal had done. Distributing Columbia would not have stayed in bed so long with the producer were he not in steady profit. To the Evansville's Drive-In bill, note Mothra playing in support, also a first-run. That's two fairly high-profile genre releases from Columbia seeing initial play outdoors. Had Castle hoped for hardtop hospitality for his newest? Zotz! is available on DVD.

More Castle Conquests at Greenbriar Archive: Macabre, Hollywood Story, and The Night Walker.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Prize Sucker Powell Is How I Least Like Him

Pitfall (1948) Is Deep Fall Into Middle-Class Trap

Breadwinning Dick Powell expresses rut fatigue and that paints a target on his back for balance of this noir where fun is second to despair we know won't be relieved. Ordinary Joes on status quo chalkwalks always got it in the neck after WWII when men-folk were expected to hunker down and keep lawns mowed. We're supposed to figure Dick has disaster coming for step out of line with tempting Lizabeth Scott. I always knew men couldn't get laid for free in Code pix, but Pitfall doles out punishment to make us all stay zipped. Powell as fall guy was never a favored stance; he's too good with toss-offs and one-upping to make us like the dumbbell's plummet he takes here. Pitfall gets cultist boost precisely because it skewers postwar conformance, but that's less recipe for fun than resign to middle-class life being hell on bleak earth, then or now. Do moderns who admire Pitfall also enjoy it?

Pitfall was done independently, money being tight, and that shows. Filming was virtual tour of L.A.; we'd rather stay out of doors than suffocate on cramped sets. A best performance is Raymond Burr's, his a queasy line in heavies that made memorable a lot of thrillers that wouldn't have been so otherwise. Andre De Toth directed and co-wrote; he said later that Dick Powell snookered him into megging for free, but De Toth didn't care. He seems to have made the picture his way; maybe there was little enough at stake for no one to care. Powell produced, his radar pointed to whatever could maximize return, acting having become mere means toward that end. United Artists would release; they'd had a slew of similars to sell around a same time. How then, to tell apart Cover-Up, Jigsaw, Impact, and Pitfall, all bearing UA logo? Pie could be split but so many ways: Pitfall brought back $1.3 million, which suggests to me it got profit. Anyway, Powell kept making his home-brew, one of which, Cry Danger!, would improve on Pitfall.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Their Final Monster Meet ...

Abbott and Costello Say Farewell To Universal

Is it silly to apply the word grandeur to an Abbott and Costello feature? Not when they meet the Mummy and it's Widescreen 1.85 plus High-Definition. This was the team's last for Universal, the employer they "saved from bankruptcy," so say history and anecdotage. Seems sheriffs were held at bay by A&C, or Mae West, Deanna Durbin, others, while a single hit like King Kong could maintain lights otherwise dimmed, whether at U, RKO, Paramount, pick your sinking ship. Abbott and Costello didn't rescue Universal, except maybe from lower end venues and terms set by showmen inclined to take advantage of the company's lack of stars. A&C, along with Durbin, helped get Universal into first-run theatres, and on lucrative percentage basis. The fad for this team knew no precedent in talking pictures so far, for popular as the Marx Bros. had been in a previous decade, they wouldn't last into a next as consistent cash makers. Abbott and Costello kept Universal fat from before the war all the way to the mid-fifties, and I can't think of another team offhand that achieved that.

Did children respond to A&C in ways they had not with the Marx Bros.? You could argue that Abbott and Costello peaked in the 50's, less for their movies than tried-true and many routines on network Colgate hours. I've seen several Colgates. They are sloppy and off-cuff in likeable ways. Lou sweats under lights and gives up to breaking up both himself and trying-to-keep order Bud. It's like Costello knew the viewers would take whatever he chose to give, be it a little, a lot, or virtually nothing at all. These old kinescopes remind me of blooper reels from the features that turned up some years back, minus profanity Costello peppered those with. The late Universal features are models of decorum beside mad houses that are the Colgate shows. Did Abbott and Costello observe loose-as-a-goose Martin and Lewis and decide to emulate them? Certainly M&L was a duo that came closest to galactic popularity A&C knew, though they wouldn't last half so long, at least as a team. Question: Was Martin and Lewis the last team to go huge, in features anyway? (otherwise we might have to address Rowan and Martin)

Top Of The Bill In Chicago ...

... Playing Support in Sacramento
Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy would be final tango between the team and monsters. They, and Universal, had simply run out. I'm a little sorry there was no fourth Creature feature where the Gill-Man met A&C, latter perhaps as inept deck stewards on a yacht bound for the Amazon, or carnival barkers for a now-outfitted-with-lungs Creature. As it is, there was rendezvous in a Colgate skit which was rather like throwing away opportunity for a feature we could all have liked, and enabling a clean sweep for Abbott and Costello vis a vis all of Universal monsters. Meet The Mummy was also last stand for A&C doing comedy in time-honored way. There would be one more feature, Dance With Me, Henry, which was depart from formula but in ill-advised direction. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy, whatever the complaints (picayune if you like the team), can be celebrated even as curtain was slowly lowering for both A&C and Universal's cabal of creepers (a last for the Creature would come the following year, and then ... castle lights out).

Looks Like U-I Cheesecake Art of Mara Corday Was Consulted For This Belgian Poster

Having It At Home: Castle's Super 8 "Complete" Edition
Television had made A&C comfy as carpet slippers, their routines spun like oldest burlesque wheels. For Mummy backdrop, "specialties" to widen net for the feature, there was performance by dance troupes that plied trade in 50's clubs, or variety TV, then went ways of memory and vanished cathode (I could wonder if any Mazzone-Abbott Dancers survive, or members of Chandra Kaly's group). Peggy King sang, was "perky" for George Gobel vid viewers, and got boosted in the A&C/Mummy trailer for that association. It took marketing muscle to keep Abbott and Costello relevant. Other than King and the dancers in/out, the boys are happily the whole show. C.B DeMille had gone to Egypt to fortify his Ten Commandments, but Universal did all its locationing on site. There's not even stock footage to set a mood, phoniness having been part of fun since Bud/Lou did Foreign Legion service or went Alaska ways. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy was strictly trix for kids, and must have lit up many a matinee crowd. As for virtually all movies by the late 50/60's, it was television where A&C/Mummy got well and truly seen, a standby familiar as test patterns. Those were square-box decades, so imagine delight when a recent Blu-Ray set put back a wide screen to Bud/Lou/Mummy cavort and made us realize what heft this picture had when new.

Somehow Lou swallows a necklace, pendent and all. Actually, we see it happen, for the sought-after relic is hidden in a hamburger, which Bud and Lou switch back and forth. When Lou bites into the sandwich, there is loud crunching. I wonder if much of that wasn't drowned out by laughter in first-run theatres. Knowing Abbott and Costello just from television is not knowing them at all, and TV was the only place I ever saw them, so you could argue that through all paragraphs of this post, plus everything Greenbriar has past-written on the team, I don't know what in heck I'm talking about. There's a Variety review from 1941 that said laughter from Buck Privates' extended drill routine was "continuous" for five minutes, "dialog drowned in the audience uproar." The necklace gag goes at least that long --- was uproar as continuous in 1955? Someone who was there could enlighten the rest who can only imagine, or speculate in probable error. To me, the burger bit looked familiar, as in maybe I saw it once on a Colgate kine at You Tube. A&C were still their best in verbal rat-tat. I'd have liked more of that and less of slapstick in their 50's features. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy has a pick and shovel exchange that's a highlight even for both stood still and handing props back-forth as they machine gun dialogue. How could anyone argue this team wasn't great in the face of tempo like that?

I know Marie Windsor got chased around in final years by noir nuts and "bad girl" obsessives, but did anyone sit her down to find out what it was like to bedevil Abbott and Costello? She is good enough here to be a virtual third member of the team, and surely got satisfaction in doing comedy for once instead of making Elisha Cook's life miserable. Monster mags taught me that Eddie Parker essayed the Mummy here, factoid I clung to rather than sums or history data they tried to teach at school. The Mummy was something Parker merely stepped into and zipped up ... no bandages to wrap ... and pretty much what Hammer winnowed down to as sequels came later from them. Again, rife phoniness was part of the joke. Many are ways that Universal has exploited asset that was/is The Mummy. Mere four years after A&C met him, there was full-blown revive for the character when U sub-contracted Hammer to do a color remake, then decades later came serio-comic re-vamp, plus a sequel. Another Mummy was out last year with Tom Cruise and a sort of zombie-fied Egyptian princess. Behind-scenes footage had fifty-four year old Cruise hurling himself off embankments rather than letting stunt men take the spill. Will this be a final variation on the Mummy to unwrap? 

Friday, January 05, 2018

A Few That Became Hard Sits

Why Are Some Classics Like Walking A Plank?

Started to watch Leave Her To Heaven last week, and quit after forty minutes. I went in with dread, knowing too well what an unpleasant show this is. Fox had an enormous hit in 1945 because Leave Her To Heaven did things no movie had so far dared. It was a sick sex story where at-peak Gene Tierney let a child drown and then plunged off stair steps to abort another one, hapless husband Cornel Wilde framed for murder in her wake. All of ordeal is bathed in Technicolor and lovely settings we could hope to live in, but not under such disagreeable circumstance as laid forth here. Leave Her To Heaven shocked viewers in similar way to The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek --- both seemed to flaunt proprieties that censorship then-enforced, and both profited richly from the affront. I suspect Leave Her To Heaven got at a lot of people where they lived, being vivid remind that a crazy person can do much damage, but a beautiful crazy person can leave many times the wreckage because besotted partners will always give her another chance. A Gene Tierney, even with all screws loose, never runs out of Cornel Wildes to misguide, men being the eager victims they are. For all of warning bells women got from movies where one allies with a scoundrel or wife killer, Leave Her To Heaven gave dire as warning to unwary men subject to snare by dangerous females. Difference is men being so much more helpless in these situations. Maybe Heaven as frightful object lesson is what scares me off it.

Leave Her To Heaven was a big gorilla of 16mm collectibles, an IB Technicolor print the all-time "get" as it seemed a loveliest showcase of gone forever dye-transfer. L.A. saw a few nitrate revivals during the 70's to which knowing cineastes lined up, them knowing this was movie equivalent of the Tut exhibit. Technicolor was then a faith spread by collectors like crusaders of old. IB Tech on nitrate has come back to vogue at TCM festivals and weekends staged annually by the George Eastman House. When prints are intact and projection right, they can take breath away. Some old formats do remain better, but most that are gone, are gone for good reason. Gulp of the real for me was A-B comparison, for a roomful of objective watchers, between DVD's of Vertigo, The Searchers, and The Adventures Of Robin Hood, with 16mm IB Tech of the same titles. This was at dawn of new millennium when I suspected it was time to quit celluloid. Everyone, including myself, had to admit the digital looked better. No longer could I be purist and guardian of prints the superior to video successors. The biggest thing film hoarding had to give up was aesthetic dominance over those who did not, for any number of sensible reasons, hoard film. Now we're all of us stuck in a same bog of too many DVD's and not enough space for them, so hoarding at least maintains.

Mildred Pierce was yesterday's pick, again with trepidation. This one is many dynamic things, but nasty and cruel in particulars. I found myself clinging this time to Steiner's music, the Curtiz directorial swoop, and Jack Carson. Agree too with consensus of viewers, Veda is a dreadful child and worse adult. Her abusing Mildred, over and over, pains me to point where, if in WB or Curtiz mood, I'll opt even for Passage To Marseille over Mildred Pierce. What drew me was word that Criterion had improved on the HD transfer Warner leased them, and yes, shadows are blackened and smoke floats on an almost third dimension. Through this all, there was still Veda. I read that Ann Sheridan turned down Mildred Pierce in part because "the kid was a horror." Many tested for the Veda part. Shirley Temple wanted it badly, and effective as Ann Blyth would ultimately be, I'd like to have seen what Shirley, who was seriously considered, might have done with it. What a shock that reverse in persona would have been. Mildred Pierce is pitiless for giving no relief to the title character's ordeal, Jack Carson as Wally Fay a lifeline for me and humorous escort through an otherwise harsh ride. Then too there is Eve Arden, so thank heaven for both. Leave Her To Heaven, on the other hand, had no one among cast/characters to leaven blows (and it's not that I demand "comedy relief" in all films, but wit is appreciated, and always there in the best of them). Curtiz and producer Jerry Wald likely saw Carson and Arden as very necessary antidote to Mildred/Crawford's suffering. Question just occurs: Is Crawford harder to take for some because she's always so serious? I'm satisfied Sheridan would have brought balm even to intense characterization that was Mildred. She was certainly lighter in interviews and performance otherwise. Did Crawford lack any sense of humor, about herself or work she did? That's not a rhetorical question, but honest inquiry. Maybe it's age that has made my skin thinner to buffeting from ordeal movies.

Another that bummed me was The Breaking Point, also from Curtiz out of Warners. Much as I like John Garfield, for me he's an eight-ball actor, as in always behind it. There are ever-more pianos lowering over his head, only question being when the rope will snap. What was it about Garfield's persona that invited disaster, or guaranteed wrong moves? He was, in that sense, noir's comfiest fit, but never found an out from aces and eights life dealt. This applied too in his offscreen life. From what I've read, Garfield was a running man just ahead of disaster when his congenitally bum ticker took him premature from what had become a too-real veil of tears. I'm figuring the end would have come, HUAC or no. Like Lou Costello, Jean Harlow, Steve McQueen, he was doomed from early on. That, of course, gives all Garfield's work a resonance, but was being such a born loser in films as weighing on him as for the audience watching? Trouble with The Breaking Point for me is the knowing that Harry Morgan's judgment will be as relentlessly bad as circumstance he's continually in. What Garfield lacked that a Robert Mitchum had was detach from screen surroundings, an actor's distance if not a character's. Maybe in the end Garfield was too invested for his own good. Mitchum's Jeff Markham came to a worse impasse in Out Of The Past, but coolly observant Mitch is separate enough from the process to reconcile us with it. I could almost feel them sawing off Garfield's arm in aftermath of The Breaking Point's end title, that either a testament to intensity of his acting or my own shrink from shows that lay truth too bare. Result: The Breaking Point sits long on a shelf between views, while an Out Of The Past comes out regular as season's change.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

20's-Era Peacetime Warriors

The Cock-Eyed World (1929) Is An Early-Talking Shell Burst

Picture Play was typical of fan magazines, being one of a bushel that ranged in cost from a dime to upwards of a quarter. Most content revolved round life of the stars and studios, while columnists gave action account of specials opening along the Main Stem. One that made history in summer 1929 was The Cock-Eyed World, which struck Fox’s Roxy like a comet and did “a new world’s peak intake for a motion picture” (Film Daily). This was money likes of which no one in the industry had seen before, attendance records fallen like ninepins off a perfect strike. Picture Play’s “The Bystander” wrote of how she joined lines for a week’s vain effort at seeing The Cock-Eyed World. She finally fainted of hunger and was taken to the Roxy’s “hospital quarters” (yes, they had such a facility, fully staffed). From there, she snuck off a recovery bed and into the auditorium, where at last the coveted smash was hers to enjoy. I report this extreme in hopes of being believed, inasmuch as I rely on account from a periodical that trafficked regular in hyperbole. Truth not to be doubted is massive hit that was The Cock-Eyed World, it stranger than fiction because few of even dedicated buffs know the film today, let alone have seen it. Opportunity is at hand to put that right, for The Cock-Eyed World streams at Amazon, Vudu, and You Tube, a Fox bouquet to what few are stalwart enough to give two hours and three or five dollars to experience this most fascinating of early talk relics. I’ve viewed twice, lost part of a first try to sleep, but emerge in full conviction that here is possibly the top-kick of peacetime service shows, a classic to be sought and savored.

How much in demand is general ribaldry smattered with dirty jokes? It must still pay, for look at glut of R-rated comedies  among us. The Cock-Eyed World was a most inside peek to barracks yet made. And unlike What Price Glory?, to which it was a sequel, this one talked. In fact, The Cock-Eyed World may be the loudest feature that came out in 1929. There’s little contact with enemies because most of combat goes on between enlistees Flagg and Quirt, names we’d know as well as family members given backtrack of almost a century. There was no war on, but then again, as Victor McLaglen tells it, there’s always a war somewhere, with the US invariably horning in. To Sgt. Vic’s (as Flagg) reckoning, “big business” is behind every shot fired, wherever a site of struggle, for those same monied interests are supplying munitions for whoever pays, making war a non-stop engine to which we must stay committed. Flagg gives no complaint; he’ll take this world of men under arms as he finds it, and never mind politics as to particulars. He and Edmund Lowe’s Sgt. Quirt are in for the scrap, the no-place-for-long, and women served the same way. How much of soldiering was conducted by a same code, and how much still? Flagg and Quirt know immorality of war too well, certainly enough to realize futility of resisting it.

Director Raoul Walsh was ideal for The Cock-Eyed World, being a straight-ahead man whatever a changing world around him. He’d do a photo-finish on Flagg-Quirt attitude as late as Marines, Let’s Go! in the 60’s, a show so retro that an appalled Jack Kennedy said No! to Walsh helming PT 109, a to-come account of JFK’s war service over which he reserved some rights of approval. Walsh may have passed best-if-served-by status, but in 1929 and perfect timing that was The Cock-Eyed World, he held by far a truest wand to tell what a mass mob wanted. You had to know someone was doing something spectacularly right when theatres accustomed to closing by eleven were staying lit for two more shows after midnight to which every seat was filled (ask Milwaukee’s Strand Theatre management). Walsh stages much of The Cock-Eyed World like insides of a brothel. Lili Damita is the tropic noise who somehow has her dress hiked up in every scene played, her among “mamas” the troop preys on from Russian snows, back to New York with stops at Coney Island, then to Santiago where natives are killed off for no reason other than Flagg-Quirt being told by faceless authority to go and kill them off. For Walsh, it is the going and the whoring and the killing that are the stories worth telling --- all the rest can “shove off” as a blunt end title instructs us to do (yes, instead of “The End,” The Cock-Eyed World says “That’s All – Shove Off.” Is it a wonder people loved this film?)

Sgt. Flagg On The Wire For a Date --- He Doesn't Care With Whom

Flagg/McLaglen points to bombing planes at one point and shouts, “Up there is where the next war will be!,” his notice to us of coming air supremacy plus implements built to “kill, wound, maim, and destroy.” The Cock-Eyed World is a litany of bawdy conversation overheard and smutty jokes told against bacon-frying Movietone track of a primitive day, Fox’s process keen for synchronization, but noisy with impurities common to recording dialogue on film. That may actually have enhanced roughhewn romp this was. Everyone paying ways in, or ones collecting those admissions and trying to keep sound equipment off the fritz, knew sound for cock-eyed transition it was, and would remain so, until kinks were ironed out. In a meanwhile, The Cock-Eyed World was yards ahead of most early talkers, however leisurely we find it today. Exhibitor’s Herald World lauded the “bawdy humor” as something a public wanted, calling their embrace “a perfectly normal and healthy instinct,” not unlike “fancy stories” told “around a locker room.” The Cock-Eyed World should be better known and higher regarded for the priceless glimpse it gives of fighting men where wars were chased from port to port, slivers of history hardly a footnote now. The Cock-Eyed World isn’t available on DVD, but is well worth seek-out on streaming options.

How Many Director's Photos Got Into Ads?
A Show For You, Boys! was siren call from showmen to conventioneers out for rowdy good times. "Hot Mamas and Hot Soldiers" were right up alley of American Legionnaires in town for their annual convention, Strand ads above emphasizing male appeal of  The Cock-Eyed World. The Roxy had led winking ways, their historic success an endorsement for The Cock-Eyed World as nerviest of so-far talkies. If "precode" had a beginning, or roots, or whatever, this may have been it, at least from merchandising standpoint. The Roxy had seen average weekly business rise from $102,411.00 in 1928 to $107,302.91 in 1929. The Cock-Eyed World took $173,391.00 for a first week, with even more the following frame. At the end of four weeks, it had surpassed $650K, which was very near the film's negative cost of $661K, in one theatre. Nothing else the Roxy ran during 1929 came close to this.  Ads shown here illustrate the phenomenon, each played to the film's randy strengths. Note particularly the one at left celebrating Raoul Walsh for having directed "with such force and vitality that the screen seems alive," his the participation most responsible for The Cock-Eyed World's success. This one surely made Walsh cock-of-the-walk at Fox. Small wonder he was entrusted with epic that would be The Big Trail. There were sequels to The Cock-Eyed World, a first losing money (Women Of All Nations), then another that squeaked by (Hot Pepper). The Cock-Eyed World is a must for early talk explorers, Walsh devotees, and seekers after raunch as screens then dared, but seldom would in decades to come.

Much more Raoul Walsh at Greenbriar Archive: The King and Four Queens, The Tall Men, Background To Danger, The World In His Arms, Desperate Journey, Me and My Gal, The Naked and The Dead, War-Torn Flynn Teams With Walsh, The Big Trail, White Heat, They Drive By Night, Big Brown Eyes, and A Distant Trumpet.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Recent and Cheerful RKO Discovery ...

Bachelor Mother (1939) Celebrates A Saucy New Year

A pleasing comedy I foolishly ducked for too long, Bachelor Mother was remade, if indifferently, as Bundle Of Joy in 1956. The original now plays HD on TCM. Concept was fresh, as developed by writer/director Garson Kanin from a German film few in the US had seen. The Code still busted chops in 1939, but less demonstrably than over past five years when PCA authority was asserted by blowtorch to scripts and then finished pics. Bachelor Mother has saucy premise wherein Ginger Rogers finds a baby that everyone assumes is hers out of wedlock, comedy arising from that series of misunderstandings. Showmen ran with what looked like tickle of rigid rules. "Spicy Is The Word For It!" shouted ads, "A Bedtime Story For Grown-ups." Well, great heavens, look at the title. Something suggestive was sure afoot with that. The words "Refreshing --- Novel --- Different" are bandied here, proof again that such is what we look for in movies and seldom get, then or now.  Audiences wanted reasonably adult content, even as a cleansed industry seemed bent on refusing it. Bachelor Mother had mild censor trouble, a fade-out line that was dropped and is still obvious for the last-moment scrub. Pic is set in more agreeable reality than screwball comedies trying too hard, and dating for the over-effort. Kanin based department store backdrop on his own past travails at that line of work, and there's Christmas-New Years frame to make Bachelor Mother a nice season's choice. The 70's Focus On Film, possibly the best film journal of a vanished publishing heyday, had a splendid career interview with Garson Kanin (Issue #17) where he gave account of Bachelor Mother. The film is available on DVD from Warner Archive in addition to the TCM-HD play.
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