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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Collegiate Comedy Circa 1949


Higher Education When Mother Is A Freshman

Loretta Young wangles way into college at late date (age 35, so her character claims, although LY herself was but 36 in '49) for the sake of bratty daughter Betty Lynn, who's gaga over English prof Van Johnson. No surprise that he'll flip for Loretta, even as years of movie stardom had calcified this actress to appearance older than her actual age. For being at the job so long by 1949, Young must have seemed anything but youthful to an emerging second generation of viewership. She plays comedy not unlike melodrama, both an essential same to a performing mechanism whose focus seemed more on coif and costuming. Collegiate setting is what pleases, the whole of campus exteriors shot at the University Of Nevada at Reno. This was Loretta Young's return to Fox after eight years, having been queen there, but tiring of statue parts they'd assigned her (maybe they understood appropriate casting better than she). There's a sophomore dance, music borrowed from previous Fox pix, and to-be stars among student body (Debra Paget, Barbara Lawrence). Professor Van explains to Loretta at one point that there's nothing inappropriate about faculty dating students, the college having progressed to a point where such is OK. He also has a live-in, uniformed maid at his gingerbread teacher's residence and is fully equipped to support Loretta, plus daughter's tuition, should they wed. Struggling educators of the day must have gotten a yok out of that.

2 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer offers fascinating analysis of today's banner:


The close-up of one of Joel Cairo's passports from "The Maltese Falcon" in the banner is great. Is it a frame blow-up? Obviously the Warners art department went to a good deal of trouble to create an assortment of seemingly authentic passports for Sam Spade to rifle through, when some of them would be seen for scarcely a fraction of a second.

This particular one is from Greece, indicates that Cairo is a "traveler" and that his birthdate is May 5, 1903. That would make him around 38 years old when the film was made, more than enough time to have experienced the more sordid aspects of his life. "Traveler" has the sort of indefiniteness that an international man of mystery would enjoy. He was also born under the sign of Taurus, which is neither here nor there, as I should know.

More interesting is the bold signature on passport. Now, this would hardly be a broad enough sample for a Graphoanalysis expert, who would want at least 100 strokes to consider, but for our purposes, it is enough. The upright slant, for example, suggests someone who is logical and practical. His head controls his heart. Always a good thing in affairs that can become ugly. The large size of the letters, however, indicates that he has a big personality and enjoys being noticed. That would go with the natty suits, cane, and bow ties, not to mention the somewhat overwhelming cologne he favors.

He is not all that he appears, however. The loops of his "l"s and "e"s are closed. Possibly he's feeling tense or restricting himself in some way. His clothing is flamboyant enough, but are there other aspects of his personality which cannot be displayed as openly? At the same time, he is skeptical and unswayed by emotional arguments. Of course, that would go with his practicality. If only for that, he would be immune to Miss O'Shaughnessy's whimsies, even if he could be interested in her otherwise.

The large spaces of his letters indicate a critical, cautious, and cultured personality. Obviously he found Spade fascinating but somewhat declasse, Wilmer more so, though with his uses. The baseline suggests, however, that he needs control to feel comfortable, while the unconnected first letters indicates a hesitation in taking the first step. He tends to be overly cautious--that word again--even to procrastinate before having to make a decision. With his intelligence and scepticism, he would be good in a game of intrigue, but he really requires the direction of Kaspar Gutman to prosper; that is, someone with vision and a plan, someone with the will to put it through. So of course he will accompany him back to Istanbul, if the police will allow it. He has no moral sense nor a strong will of his own. Better to be in the hands of a devil than to be nothing at all.

Now, of course, this must all be a coincidence. As much trouble as the Warners minions went to in producing this artifact, I can't imagine that they would even create a plausible signature for the fictitious Joel Cairo. But if it is and if they didn't, there must have been a most unusual personality employed in the back rooms of the studio at that time.

Daniel

1:55 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

I saw this Loretta Young film in the late 90s on, of all places, HBO. Despite they used Technicolor, it is nothing more than a programmer.

The few posters or ads I have seen from Spain or the United States are basically the same.

This one by Anselmo Ballester, from Italy, is significantly better... and better than the film itself!

http://www.cartelespeliculas.com/galeria/albums/025/9d69473025.jpg

4:07 PM  

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