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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Put On Your Sailor Suit


Mickey Rooney and Crew Go All Ashore (1953)

The canard of gobs on leave was ground to powder before and after MGM's success with On The Town, every major's costume department hung with sailor suits. You couldn't blame a public for presuming any Navy man could sing and dance. All Ashore was Columbia's sailing vessel, manned by fading names. Mickey Rooney had left Metro "by mutual consent" after pay dropped to $25K per vehicle; he wrote later that Dore Schary was embarrassed to keep him around for so little money, letting Mick go altogether a better option. Tie-up with neophyte writer-director Richard Quine yielded a series of Columbia-based projects for Mick, the first a service farce, Sound Off, to which All Ashore would follow up. Rooney regarded Quine "like a brother," and brought Blake Edwards to the creative mix. A little more seasoning, which they'd have by the late 50's, and these two might have put Mickey back on top.


In tandem with All Ashore were continued efforts to put Rooney across on continuing TV, one pilot having stalled before Quine fashioned another for NBC placement. That one sold, but only lasted a season. All Ashore tendered Dick Haymes and Ray McDonald as Rooney shipmates, a misjudged script leaving chump Mickey to mercy of louse Haymes and tag-along McDonald. What was funny about a character so ill-treated as Rooney here? Age 32 was late to play goats, even as the one-time #1 boxoffice champ more or less kept boyish appearance. All Ashore has advantage of Technicolor and Catalina Island as location site, the latter affording glimpse of recreational high-life circa 1953. Vet of numerous Universal teen musicals Peggy Ryan acquits well with song/dance; she was accustomed to budget backdrop for performing. All Ashore led bills in smaller situations, supported in others; a Chicago first-run saw it in back seat to The Mississippi Gambler. Columbia took $697K in domestic rentals, probably about what was expected. All Ashore is available as a very nice Columbia On-Demand DVD.

NOTE: Leonard Maltin is talking about Greenbriar and Showmen, Sell It Hot! at his INDIEWIRE column today.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Maybe it's just the lighting, but in that top photo Mickey looks like he's about 50 -- after going out on a bender.

1:35 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer offers a terrific read on Greenbriar's banner still of 11/8:


That's an intriguing photo of Alan Ladd and Humphrey Bogart on today's banner.

The boys are at close quarters and nothing has been done to make them look glamorous or better than they are.

Both are wearing fedoras, a plus for Bogart, as there was no need for the toupee. And we can see that some care had to be taken in photographing Ladd for the movies. The chin is a little weak in profile, and it wouldn't take much in the way of booze and abuse for those eyes to disappear into puffy slits or the cheekbones to be obscured. Bogart is Bogart, always looking as though the previous night had been a rough one. By the time stardom discovered him, he'd lost whatever youthful prettiness he had, unlike Ladd, who would lose his soon enough.

They're eye-to-eye in this pose, which gives us an idea of how tall Ladd really was. At least maybe. Bogart was credited with being 5 foot 9, which is what someone 5 foot 8 would want to be thought of. Ingrid Bergman was 5 foot 10 and she towered over him. With Ladd, though, there's no such problem. In fact, Bogart's face is sort of inclined to meet Ladd's gaze. That would put Ladd at 5 foot 6, which would be about right, unless Ladd was wearing lifts even to reach that. Of course, Bogart was known to wear lifts on occasion as well--nothing would have helped with Bergman, though--so maybe this is truly a standoff.

I love the suits they're wearing, the styles and the cut of the material. Bogart is in a sensible single breasted one, probably the three-button variety, what Brooks Brothers called their "sack suit," though it seems to have more drape than that, and with a bow tie, an old fashioned touch even then. Ladd is in a more flamboyant double-breasted suit, possibly with a waist coat underneath, though by the time this photo was taken, that touch was becoming passé. You'll notice that the buttons on the sleeve of his jacket have functioning button holes, then as now the mark of hand tailoring.

Daniel

6:59 AM  

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