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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wartime Shot Of Adrenaline


Betty Hutton Livens Incendiary Blonde (1945)

A lot may wish I'd leave Betty Hutton off Greenbriar charts, but there's something about this Vesuvius of popular then, forgotten now. Some wish she'd gone away with all her dated movies. I know one or two who won't abide Annie Get Your Gun simply because Betty's in it. And here comes TCM with late-night resurrect of Incendiary Blonde,  Hutton horde and maybe best of those that gave her center ring. I nearly passed for mistaken idea it was PD and so wouldn't look good. Well, it turned out gorgeous --- the sort of HD transfer you wish Universal had sent over for Frenchman's Creek. Technicolor sustains us whatever feelings toward BH, and she's fine in dry run for Annie (rodeo riding, cowgirl stuff in first act). There's singing in aggressive Hutton mode. Casting her as real-life Texas Guinan was good salesmanship, being there was at least some of 1945 who'd remember "Hello, Suckers" from Mom/Dad's era. Lead man is Arturo de Cordova, OK here and staying out of diva way. Hutton was so exuberant that she just had to crack eventually. What was left sat opposite Robert Osborne in one of eeriest TCM interviews extant (see it if you can).


I hope Incendiary Blonde is repeated, because there are too few Paramounts around to look this good. Seems a fortune was sunk here, though little doubt it came back, plus gain from over 1200 theatres Para owned, and then ones they had season booking pledge with. Hutton was wartime's pep-pill, as if that were needed with so many tear-down-the-house acts. Incendiary Blonde is too restless to stay in one backdrop long, keeping fast clip under direction of George Marshall, who knew the period evoked and was likely pal or at least acquaintance of Guinan herself. Latter didn't make fifty, this film suggesting she had lifelong premonition of early exit. Guinan did a lot of silent westerns, most gone now, and a few talkers. Incendiary Blonde recreates these as silly flickers, ten redskins fallen off horses when Texas fires one shot. Pre-sound movies were fair game for ridicule in the 40's, and you wonder how pioneer, and still working, directors like Marshall felt about that. Guess the paycheck was all --- how could it be a slander on art when films were considered anything but art?

7 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cline said...

I like Betty Hutton. If anyone ever exuded that Scarlett O'Hara 'passion for living,' it was Betty, just like Mickey Rooney.

If their energy could have been bottled, we'd have been on the moon in the 1940s.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Neely OHara said...

I understand the resistance to Hutton today (perhaps even then), and in a weak vehicle she can be hard to take. But her work in "The Miracle At Morgan's Creek" ALONE should guarantee her place in the pantheon of the remembered. (And her work as the "quiet" twin in 1944's "Here Come The Waves" demonstrated that she could be simultaneously contained and subtly effective; she was simply rarely called upon to be either.)

I have several of her CD's, and the fragility she demonstrates on "Where Are You (No That I Need You)?" and "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" more than make up for the excesses of "Murder, He Says" and "It's Oh So Quiet."

Even as a fan I've never made it through "Annie Get You Gun," and what was most revelatory about that bizarre and fascinating Osborne sit-down was her saying "Annie..." was the unhappiest experience of her life, as the entire crew made it plain that this interloper from Paramount had usurped the position of their beloved Garland, and treated her with distain throughout the filming.

Merman's insistence that Hutton's big number be cut from "Panama Hattie" on opening night gave an extra kick of schadenfreude to Hutton's bringing "Annie" to the screen, as well as providing a choice bit of roman a clef for Susann's "Valley Of The Dolls."

She would probably disagree with this assessment (having professed to finding happiness and contentment via her faith), but she is in my mind a true "show business casualty."

12:56 PM  
Blogger Mick A Design said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

I'm guessing Frank Loesser liked her, and that's good enough for me.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Mick A Design said...

I love the "Oh By Jingo" production number, but it looks like after filming they dropped the second verse and made a quick fade to the dance break to cover it... Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZN2t4FQJc8

8:59 PM  
Blogger iarla said...

Poor Betty. All highs and lows. No discipline, artistically or emotionally. Probably, today, her 'pep' would be labeled Bipolar. She needed a strong mentor like Buddy DeSylva and, when he passed, young, she had only her demons to guide her. I smiled when I read about Walter Matthau, berating Streisand on the "Dolly" set - "Remember what happened to Betty Hutton!".

4:47 PM  
Blogger Barry Rivadue said...

Take a look in INCENDIARY, during the "boogie-woogie" piano number, just how much the extras are enjoying the wild performance by the black pianist. It sounded almost like early rock 'n roll, what with the boppin' rhythms and the Jerry Lee Lewis type antics at the keyboard. It's a very interesting scene.

7:17 PM  

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