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Friday, May 18, 2018

Warner Comedy At Lower Gear


The Girl From Jones Beach (1949) A Late-40's Pin-Up


You'd think this was late 40's sludge from Warners, but I found it nifty for noise both tune-wise in background (many familiar songs WB owned) and clamor the reap of habit this company had at trying too hard. Bright enough writers could still put individual stamp on assigned work; here it is I.A.L. Diamond toiling at formula fare before lightning later struck via long association with Billy Wilder and comedy greats they did. Diamond gets off humorous chat (his is sole screenplay credit from a story by Allen Boretz) and much reminded me of It's A Great Feeling, for which Diamond supplied the story. A trifle like The Girl From Jones Beach was only as good as its gags, and player aptitude for same, so it's a question of how funny we think Ronald Reagan and Virginia Mayo can be ... in any circumstance. Reagan is a glamour artist, as in girl calendars like Vargas, Earl Moran, others who were then very popular in weeklies. Primary sell was on M-M-M-Mayo, as often billed, she of dry run at how M-M-M-Marilyn would be pushed just a few years later. Crux of story is whether brainy, and school-teaching, Mayo can lure a man despite smarts her mother says will drive them off. Sounds like ideal stuff of a modern remake, no?






The Girl From Jones Beach was a part serious actresses would naturally turn down. Lauren Bacall was said to have done so in a huff. It probably went through much of distaff talent pool before Mayo submitted. The Girl From Jones Beach wasn't actually a B, but no doubt stank of one to most who didn't want part of it, or realized they had no choice. Reagan was on contract, had gotten nothing helpful from Warners since coming back from the war, and had no reason to imagine he would. Momentum from King's Row and A's with Errol Flynn was spent thanks to absence from the screen. Ones who served did pay a price for doing so, three-four years away being time for a public to forget, unless you were Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power. Cartoon-decorated titles tip off The Girl From Jones Beach as comedy, swimsuit lovelies leered upon by Tex Avery-inspired "wolves" of sort that would fade now that war was done. Eddie Bracken, also a gag less fresh since fighting stopped, is in support of Reagan, latter getting off a Fieldsian highlight where he pinch/slaps a bratty kid, something I'd not imagine any farceur daring today. Bracken bids for laffs by making suicide attempts. GF Dona Drake even poisons his drink to make him really go through with it, evidence that dumbest comedies of the era could surprise now and then. Ignore The Girl From Jones Beach to your loss! It's available on DVD from Warner Archive.




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Picking Cold War Enemies Early On


Stewart Fights A New Kind Of WWII in The Mountain Road (1960)

Remember the long section in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo when Van Johnson and fellow downed pilots are taken in by Chinese villagers and nursed back to health? That was, by 1960, long ago and decidedly far away. Over fifteen years had passed and China had become our cold enemy along with Russia and others under a Red flag. Many now questioned if we should have had these for allies in the first place. Popular books proposed that China was working against us even as we fought and died to liberate them. Movies had not advanced that proposition outside of a few addressing the Korean conflict --- World War Two had after all been fought and won --- but look-backs did revise assumptions many kept since victory was achieved hand-in-hand with China and against the Axis. Never So Few in 1959 was for most part Boy's Own heroics in Burma, but with stinger that said Chinese plotted against us there, just as they surely would after surrenders were signed. Distrust would harden to drill bit that was The Mountain Road, a China-set WWII enact where the enemy wasn't Japan, but people ... no mobs ... that were killing off our troops without least recognition of all we had done for them. It was up to Major James Stewart to wipe off scourge however way he had to, and to blazes with partnership the US thought it had with a now Evil Empire.




Hadn't bothered with The Mountain Road until TCM's recent broadcast in HD/wide, this a first proper view as its still not been released on DVD, nor streaming that I could find. Precious nuggets are sometimes found like this, and while The Mountain Road is no tall-sitter on Stewart's résumé, it does deal the unexpected and is far less a reprise of WWII incidents than same incidents sifted through politics that informed years leading up to 1960 and persisting to a present day. Noteworthy is Road being a war movie, and fact Stewart did virtually none of those. Strategic Air Command had been about defense in peacetime, and as to others --- well, there simply weren't any after WWII. Stewart had done too much real combat to want to pretend at it once his fight was over. You could say that ones who hadn't served, John Wayne, Van Johnson, others, got the most mileage out of acting in uniform. I'd like knowing what decided Stewart to make exception of The Mountain Road, to step off policy he had maintained since coming home from flight duty. Maybe, or better put, undoubtedly, he felt strong about an ongoing Red China situation, and here was chance to address it. He had batted at Communists the year before in The FBI Story, not so hard a hitter as The Mountain Road, but the one we've been exposed to lots more often. The Mountain Road takes time to become memorable, jolts coming in a second half after a first where we wonder if this team will spend whole of run-time wrecking bridges and blocking passages. Tension is built along lines not dissimilar to Objective, Burma, with a pay-off almost as strong.




Saturation Opening in L.A.
I'll give up this much short of outright spoilers: The Chinese ambush and kill American troops, falling not short of atrocities we had long attributed to Japanese aggressors only. This was hard tack for 1960 viewers to bite on, and I must say it kind of surprised me. Glad to have stuck with The Mountain Road for the haul, for it was a teaching moment in ways Hollywood, at least its conservative element, fought a Cold War. There are arguments for restraint, but where Stewart arms up for revenge in a bracing third act, all of foregoing is mere noise and nuisance. Even Jim confessing for a finish that he might have gone overboard is no wash-away of viewer sentiment entirely with harsh acts he performs. The Mountain Road continued tweak of Stewart persona that Vertigo and Anatomy Of A Murder preceded with. He wasn't yet ready for surrender to fuddy Dad comedies that would nibble off status achieved in the 50's. Problem was The Mountain Road coming to grief with boxoffice Variety reported variously as slow, mild, so-so, or plain sad, this after saturation open on 5/25/60 at 150 locations to run at least through Decoration Day, Stewart canvassing twelve cities on a bally tour, and Columbia throwing $500K at nationwide promotion. Despite this, The Mountain Road failed to crack Variety's annual list of million dollar, or more, renters. Neither would there be network television play, The Mountain Road announced for syndication in May 1964 as part of a 60-title Columbia package.




Monday, May 14, 2018

Universal On The Couch With Huston and Clift


Wallop To Whimper For Freud (1962)


Hopeful Trade Ad Relies On Critic Kudos
Freud was Universal and John Huston's bio of the "founding father of psychoanalysis" (Variety) that got stuck in an art box and hasn't gotten out since. "Obviously a labor of love," said the trade, but that love wouldn't extend to mass trade, whose idea of fun Freud was not. "Like educational television" was  comparison that could hardly be more damning, whatever praise for "integrity and artistic merit" that went with it. These unfortunately gave off skunk smell to mainstream mob Uni needed to recover money spent on Austria and Germany shooting. Game effort was applied, and for a while it looked like Freud would be a major hit, till it transitioned from site-of-success arties into nabes, or worse, provincial markets where Freud was known or cared about like homework from school. Punishment is passed down via Universal disinterest in letting us see Freud again. There's not a DVD or digital stream in the US, although there are at least three Region Two releases, all of which I rolled dice on, only a most recent being adequate (non-anamorphic transfers being the bane until a latest disc from France). Euros obviously value Sigmund Freud more than Yanks ever did. Was his attribution to sex as motivating force for all we do since infancy a put-off to our acceptance of Freud, man or movie? The Legion Of Decency gave special clearance for explicit content Huston laid down, and yes, Universal finally gave in to friskier title that was Freud: The Secret Passion, but dye was cast ...


A Shock For Us Watching NBC in 1968 When Ilya Kuryakin Turns Out To Be a Sex Pervert


Daring Dailies Had Option To Run This Explicit "Sexual Fantasy" Ad


Freud got by far its biggest audience when NBC had a 2-10-68 premiere, ratings below Saturday Night At The Movies average thanks in part to the pic being black-and-white, plus long. Still, there were millions more watching than were induced to do so when Freud ran in theatres from late 1962 into '63, and what fond memories were generated for many began with NBC that February evening (me included, as spooky Freud played very much like a Euro-horror). Too bad television never uses it now. The title role was done by Montgomery Clift. He had trouble with director Huston that is now stuff of legend. These two were really oil and water. Huston didn't like his script monkeyed with, a prerogative Clift claimed from word go. Susannah York told Focus On Film in 1972 that "constantly we had rewrites," and she "fought quite bitterly" with Huston. Clift developed trouble with cataracts and Universal tried to hang production hang-ups on him in lawsuits filed after Freud's completion. These and other complications could form a fascinating production history, if more people knew or took interest in Freud. Montgomery Clift thought the part should net him a long-awaited Academy Award, and told his brother Brooks Clift so in a telephone conversation that was recorded, and which survives. There wouldn't even be a nomination, sad to say, and Clift would not have opportunity to try such a challenging part again.




Part Of Selling Strategy: Convince Us That We're All A Little Nuts


Freud had begun filming 9-11-61 and took 118 days to finish. Said Susan Kohner, playing Mrs. Freud: "I've been working on Freud so long, I feel like I've been on "Schizo Row." Her chore far from finished at close of production, Kohner was tied to promotion's plow and sent to worldwide points well into 1963 on Freud behalf. Here was familiar instance of a principal player chosen to stick by a film through the selling process, a longer and often tougher haul than doing the pic. Wonder what, if any, extra pay Susan Kohner got for excess of a year she spent pumping Freud. Another cast member to note was Larry Parks, erstwhile Jolson of two biopics who had been drummed out of movies by the HUAC investigation. Here he was back and, for scenes he's in, carries as heavy a thesping load as star Montgomery Clift. I wonder if Monty problems (retaining dialogue, health concerns) caused speeches to be rerouted to Parks. Latter was certainly equipped to do the rescue. Wish someone had asked John Huston re Larry Parks' value to Freud, as I bet it was considerable. Speaking of Clift, here's one for Ripley: several columns reported in early '62 that he was contacted on the Freud location by Doris Day to co-star in her next, The Perfect Set-Up, DD asking "Why haven't we done a picture together?" Why indeed?


Larry Parks Learns About The Freud Campaign From Universal Ad Staff


The Twin Art Address Where Freud Had Gotham Premiere --- and On Both Screens


Universal knew from beginning that Freud would need special handling. First off: Who knew Freud? Was he a person or some plant-vegetable? Ask any youth or most adults and they'd go blank. "Freudian slip" was a term you'd hear, but how many assumed that was a ladies garment rather than reference to the long-gone head doctor? Best then to launch Freud among the intelligencia, whatever of that was left stateside, ideal nest for eggheads being Dartmouth College, where a new auditorium had opened amidst splendor of the school's $7.5 million "Hopkins Center," to which John Huston and eveready Susan Kohner would show for a preview plus event where "politicians and personages" would be on hand (Variety, 11-14-62). Free-lancing shill and seen-it-all Arthur Mayer was there to moderate. What he didn't know about the selling game, nobody did. Prestige could be sniffed in the air, and Universal chose Freud sites that would best reflect special-ness of the venture, Gotham's Cinema I and II on December 12, 1962, then L.A.'s Beverly Hills Music Hall three days later. Scheme was to qualify Freud for Academy Award nominations, that necessitating playdates before year end. Advance chatter made Freud seem a cinch for the gold, critic-wise if not commercially.






Blank check from the Legion Of Decency took onus off the sex theme, their endorse for "sensitive restraint and conspicuous regard for good taste" a buffer against complaints Universal might be in for from regions turned off by the good doctor's reading of s-e-x into every move we make. Well ain't it the truth, Universal figured, but how to let folks know Freud was hotcha in addition to school-bookish? A title tweak was considered early on (10-3-62) --- maybe "Freud --- The Dark Passion," but that could backfire and undo seriousness applied to the pic's making. Gotham opening got hobbled by a newspaper strike, plus cold-as-whizz December. Universal turned to TV and small mags to spread word. That might have been preferred way to go in any case, as Freud proved a wow at the Cinema I and II (both sides of the twin played it). Behind this came "gigantic" haul from L.A., $12K a first week from the BevHills Music Hall which had but 720 seats. Variety reported that "the crix rate beaucoup credit from Universal" for Freud's liftoff. Yes, critics were useless ... unless they were useful. Freud was said to have outgrossed everything on Broadway for run-up toward the holidays. Universal put forty "mobile units" (trucks, cars, whatever) out on streets to trumpet Freud, side banners daily freshened with review excerpts. Montgomery Clift appeared as a "mystery challenger" on What's My Line (1-20-63), a priceless artifact today (and on You Tube) as he and host/panelists talk about Cinema I and II's engagement plus the newspaper strike that had imperiled business. Freud stayed three-four months on both coasts, sock receipts for whole of time, but acid test was seeing if Freud would widen beyond embrace by these NY/LA premieres.




It's Official As Of October 1963: Freud Was Now Freud: "The Secret Passion"


John Huston flew in from his Ireland estate to promote Freud's late February bow at key venues across the country, most of which he'd engage with conference calls to press and interviews on radio. Flap over accuracy of Freud came from the title figure's son, Ernst, plus a nephew who was teaching at Cambridge. It got press, but not enough to queer momentum Freud had built at initial bookings. What sounded alarm was bottomed-out biz in Minneapolis, where Freud did so poorly that subsequent sites cancelled their runs, a bad portent as what was Minneapolis but indicator of how the rest of middle America might turn? "Exhibs said that too many of their potential patrons were unacquainted with the discovery of psychoanalysis and the title was detrimental to business" (Variety, 10-9-63). What to do but sweeten the title? --- which Universal did, to warmer prospect of The Secret Passion. Reward was immediate: "The nabe houses have started to book it, and what's more, to their surprise, it's drawing exceedingly well for them." This was all salvage work, for Universal had earlier (July) written off Freud as an overall disappointment along with '63 releases The Birds and The Ugly American, their so-far biggest hit for the year To Kill A Mockingbird. Hope for remaining months of 1963 hung on October opener The Thrill Of It All, and sure smash for Christmas, Charade. Freud would not make Variety's "Top Rental Features" list of 1963 (published 1-8-64). Among U releases that did: 40 Pounds Of Trouble, The List Of Adrian Messenger (directed by John Huston), and King Kong vs. Godzilla. Maybe ongoing corporate perception of Freud as a flop is what kept it off DVD release charts. In any case, this very worthy show remains unavailable to US buyers.




Friday, May 11, 2018

Cleveland's Hometown Zombie Writer

A Palace That Still Stands: Cleveland's 2800-Seat Allen Theatre

Where I Walked With A Zombie (1943) Broke Big

We think of the Val Lewton RKO series as B horrors, but what of occasions where one of them became something special? Such was case when Cleveland got I Walked With A Zombie in April 1943. It played as a single for two weeks at the RKO Allen, "one of the grandest places in the city to see a motion picture," according to consensus of locals. A big help was Cleveland's link with Zombie's writer credit. Inez Wallace, who penned the original story (borrowing heavily off Jane Eyre), also covered Hollywood happenings for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the town's leading sheet. Her name on a movie, even down-market I Walked With A Zombie, drew the curious in sufficient number to make a hit of what would otherwise bring up rear on a grind's double feature. I Walked With A Zombie was Val Lewton's second chiller for RKO, done cheap enough to bring a profit, a happy circumstance not to last as his output increased in cost and dropped in revenue. This ad, beyond its Inez Wallace connection, points up RKO focus for selling: A "Beautiful Blonde" who joins the walking dead, this the emphasis of all posters and art, and likeliest reason for what success the picture had.




Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Tracy's Carnival Of Lost Souls


Dante's Inferno (1935) A Crowded Fox Fairground

I call Dante’s Inferno a sampling of brute entertainment, that 30’s way of slamming over melodrama in terms so forceful as to leave viewership wrung out. Dante’s Inferno has a building collapse, massive fire, and capper of a tour through Hell that was surely come to Jesus for whatever sinners bought a ticket in. This all sounds like sermon from on high, but Dante’s Inferno is no biblical, being straight-ahead telling of business done ruthless and how it drags Spencer Tracy down by his greed. That was popular theme in the 30’s, when ceilings to wealth seemed built by God himself. So maybe Dante’s Inferno is biblical after all. Its lesson would not be inapt in a Sunday school, where warnings might issue to those who’d worship mammon. There were so many pictures with a message like Dante’s Inferno’s as to dissipate impact. It was instead a “big show” and dispenser of sensation, which is noble goal any movie might aspire to. Taken on these terms, Dante’s Inferno is among richest vein of film fun from all of that decade. To call this brute entertainment is to place Dante’s Inferno with rarefied company that is King Kong, Tarzan and His Mate, precious few others to take us by the throat and shake hard.




There is a DVD from Fox On-Demand that is very nice. Dante’s Inferno was a late departure out of Fox Film Corporation before that venerable firm merged with Zanuck and Joe Schenck’s Twentieth-Century Pictures. It was also Spencer Tracy’s last work for the company before he joined MGM. Tracy’s output for Fox wasn’t always stellar, him playing go-getters most times out. Dante’s Inferno is great example of Tracy with all of fight left in him, a show-no-mercy dervish that Metro would not abide. Compare him here with upright “Square John” McMasters that Tracy would play in five years later Boom Town, wherein he loses an oil fortune plus Claudette Colbert to Clark Gable, who is rough 1940 equivalent to “Jim Carter” as portrayed by Tracy in Dante’s Inferno. Did Spence note screen dynamism being sapped by the Lion? Some of parts gotten by partner Gable should have gone Tracy’s way. Dante’s Inferno had shown he could do them with gusto. Did a priest collar Tracy frequently wore at Metro choke much of liveliness out of him?




Hell Of a Damnation Sequence As Shown Above Is Mid-Point Highlight of Dante's Inferno


Fox as fairground operator sold Dante’s Inferno a same way as Tracy’s corrupt Jim Carter in the film. Every poster and virtually all art zeroed on the Hell tour that is halfway-in highlight of the film. True, it’s the set-piece all would remember, but you couldn’t blame them for thinking Dante’s Inferno was all Hell at a feature’s length. Come to think of it, has there ever been a movie set entirely in purgatory? (Many have seemed so, admittedly, though not by intent) Dante’s Inferno got round a strict-applied Code by making its Hell a consequence of bad behavior engaged by Tracy, his next stop a sea of hot coals lest he heed warning. Here was showmanship sermon as had been preached by DeMille, who got there first where outflanking censors was the game. Viewers are to this day shocked by Dante-views of writhing sinners, some to a point of assuming it’s footage from earlier silent versions (there were several), but no, this Dante’s Inferno built a fresh Hell from 1935 ground up.




Dante’s Inferno is one of those where every shot is beautifully composed. This must have been a wow on nitrate. Man behind cameras was Rudolph Maté, who photographed Euro classics (Vampyr, The Passion Of Joan Of Arc) and would later direct in the US. His work was always distinctive. Even 16mm prints looked good. He’s teamed for Dante’s Inferno with director Harry Lachman. They'd be together again a year later for Our Relations, by far a most handsome of Laurel and Hardy features. Of Dante support players, Henry B. Walthall is saintly guide toward righteousness. He was perhaps an only one who could be that with utter conviction. Walthall was himself martyr for silent artistry that had been discarded. He stood for wisdom bought with melancholy; a man who realized his way was past but hung in for whatever small parts old friends threw him. John Ford, Raoul Walsh, Tod Browning, all used Walthall. Maybe he was their idea of a luck piece. Walthall had after all headlined The Birth of a Nation, most everyone’s pick for biggest and best so far made. A major scene John Ford did for 1934’s Judge Priest made a virtual monument of Walthall. The “old” actor died, to my astonishment (an IMDB check), at just fifty-eight years old. How many gathered up so much history in so short a time?




Monday, May 07, 2018

Minnelli, Metro, Manhattan


"Joyous Judy and Bashful Bob" in The Clock (1945)


Check Out Early Start Time For Chicago's First-Run
A Metro tour through New York without going to New York. That could not have been practically done during the war, though data says Jack Conway and a crew took doubles to shoot distance view of characters played back at Culver by Judy Garland and Robert Walker. The Clock showed how faking progressed to a mid-40's summit before peace found audiences opting more for reality, or at least fairy tales told in actual spots they happen. On The Town was celebrated instance of this, even if real-thing NY footage was bunched up in a first reel, in-house business-as-usual prevailing for the rest. The Clock did not birth easily. Conway was replaced by Fred Zinneman after getting second-unit NY footage, then latter was let go in favor of Vincente Minnelli. Zinneman did not mention The Clock in an otherwise detailed autobiography, though he oversaw several weeks on the project before Judy Garland went to producer Arthur Freed and said she was "incompatible" with him. It wasn't common for a director to step off by star request. Too much of that led to inefficiency, as here when Minnelli came aboard and scrapped most of what Zinneman had shot, an uptick to costs. But Garland was a hothouse flower and had to be placated, hers a talent beyond hope of substituting.


All Out For Metro's Mock-Up Penn Station


Gag Pose of Stars with Director Vincente Minnelli


Minnelli spoke later of how he added New York as a third character with Garland and Walker. A massive set was built to represent Pennsylvania Station. I thought at first blush that they had actually gone there. Everything else was process or the doubles captured by Conway's crew. Mock-ups are admirable when done so well as this, and to recreate Gotham so accurately as here was very much a badge of honor for Metro (publicity boast at the time: "All these sets in The Clock serve a dual purpose. They're a glimpse of home for nostalgic New Yorkers; and for those who have never visited the fabulous city, they're a realistic, thrilling first-hand peek at the skyscrapers and the sights!"). The fact it was all simulated was basis for praise from critics and a willingly fooled audience. Was New York in 1944-45 such a place as Minnelli portrays here? He lived in Greenwich Village through the 30's and grafted impressions onto scenes and dialogue. He wanted local color poured over The Clock, but did it distract from the love story?


Writer Robert Nathan Visits The Set




There is James Gleason for a long stretch (Minnelli instructed his cast to ad-lib whole of a breakfast table scene, or so said Metro press). Keenan Wynn as a loud drunk relies on one's own threshold for Keenan Wynn as a loud drunk. "Minnelli gave him free rein," said publicity, "because Keenan is noted for his cleverly realistic impressions of a drunk." Notable was fact this diner scene, four and a half minutes in length, was done in one shot. Minnelli believed in extensive rehearsal, a mobile camera, and scenes played through without cuts where possible. Long takes were common to his work, and had to have been an economy for films upon which money was generously poured. A day's shooting quota could be wrapped in minutes by Minnelli thanks to his pre-planning. The director composed along Symphony Of The City lines because he knew how slight the story was on its own, scripted talk banal and going nowhere. Novelist Robert Nathan, with Portrait Of Jennie in his wake, was troubled by changes made and not reported to him until after the fact. Minnelli's takeover of The Clock made fair game of dialogue, which he didn't hesitate amending to his needs. Consensus saw this as a big improvement, save disgruntled Robert Nathan. Here may have been the moment when Minnelli was recognized as Most Valuable of staff directors at MGM.


Broadway's Capital Theatre Opens The Clock




The Clock needs a certain mood to enjoy, as in you might be enchanted by it one day, irritated the next. Mood of a 1945 public must have been right, for The Clock did well, not massively so as the Minnelli/Garland it followed (Meet Me In St. Louis), but enough to realize profit from $1.3 million spent on the negative. Big noise at the time was Judy Garland occupied at something other that song, and being all grown up in the bargain. To this extent, she and Universal's Deanna Durbin were on similar trajectory, DD by 1945 essaying career girls romantically available to swains that qualify. For Garland, there was Robert Walker as shy guy, but potent where given license, which they get marriage-wise after frustration (for them and us) of chasing legal clearance over whole of a third act. A long and wordless breakfast on the morn after wedding night was Judy-fan's opportunity to ponder their idol having been deflowered for a first time on screen (well, offscreen, of course, but they could dream, couldn't they?). Such a thing had real currency for a public that followed girl-to-woman arc of Garland, Durbin, then a Gloria Jean, Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell, built from a same blueprint.


Producer Arthur Freed Does a Cameo with Robert Walker


Freed With Vincente Minnelli


Boys-next-door could be more problematic where image and reality got blurred. Fans who followed Robert Walker and assumed he'd make a perfect mate would be took down by headlines once his problems got too considerable to suppress. Bob was a great actor for keeping on-screen lid upon habits broiling behind cameras. The drinking was rife as early as lost weekends (and shooting days) on The Clock. Judy had to dig him out of bars to make call times, then pull him through hung-over emoting from there. She liked lost souls, maybe a birds-of-feather thing, or Bob working male magnetism even where potted. Walker was resolutely straight against backdrop of safe Garland dates who were that way by orientation rather than restraint. Further instance of good acting: Tom Drake and Van Johnson making attraction to Judy, or whatever lead ladies, believable. Would we be better off if curtains on these, plus others, had never been lifted? De-construct of old Hollywood done by 70-80's star bios, so many scurrilous if not flat untrue, left sour aftertaste for those who'd bought so willingly into dreams. I'm not necessarily happier for knowing "truth" about players I admire.






Odd Bedfellows: The Clock with a B-Western and Serial
MGM had a fancy publication called The Lion's Roar which was distributed to showmen but so good that copies also found ways to dentist offices and other spots where time lay heavy. The Lion's Roar tooted a loudest horn for fresh Metro product. They let loose on The Clock as though it were bigger news than peace in Europe. That was a reality by the time The Clock got into theatres. Metro's Capital Theatre flagship salted its premiere program with Jane Froman, Willie Howard, and George Paxton's Orchestra in addition to the feature, while Chicago got head start on daily attendance with an 8:45 AM start and final shows at 11 PM. The war being won was backdrop through The Clock's nationwide run, a color newsreel compilation, To The Shores Of Iwo Jima a frequent co-attraction. Bittersweet finish to The Clock saw Judy Garland leaving Penn Station alone after Robert Walker departs for the continued fight, both wondering if he'll be back. Upbeat events between production and release suggested that indeed he would, a happy ending wrested from the many separations that didn't resolve so well with the war's outcome still in doubt.
grbrpix@aol.com
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