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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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TopBilled’s Essentials


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#1 TopBilled

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 03:54 PM

Great discussion(s) about Jennifer Jones. This has been a fun month.

 

Somehow I overlooked the fact there are five Saturdays in September, so I don't have a review planned for next weekend. Instead, I will unveil my selections for the rest of 2017.

 

Themes will be--

 

OCTOBER: JAMES BOND FLICKS STARRING PIERCE BROSNAN

NOVEMBER: DEANNA DURBIN-- FORTIES SWEETHEART

DECEMBER: HOLIDAY CLASSICS ON TCM


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#2 Jlewis

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:45 AM

To be fair, she stayed married to David O'Selznick and that required a challenging performance off camera. I think Robert Walker was much easier to deal with.


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#3 rayban

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 10:33 AM

Essential: THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (1957)

 

screen-shot-2017-08-27-at-4-58-27-pm.png


Sidney Franklin directed MGM’s original version of this story in 1934. It was based on a successful stage play that Irving Thalberg purchased for his wife Norma Shearer. On Broadway, Katharine Cornell had been very successful playing Elizabeth Barrett Browning; in fact, she reprised the role several times throughout her illustrious stage career. When Shearer appeared in the first big screen version, she too had a hit, winning over skeptical critics with her carefully measured performance of the reclusive poet. A lot of Shearer’s success could be attributed to Franklin, so when MGM decided to remake the property, Franklin was again assigned to direct.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-49-36-pm.png


Originally MGM had planned to put Grace Kelly in the remake, but she turned down several roles and was put on suspension. So Jennifer Jones stepped in, which was a dream come true for the actress who had longed to play the part on screen. Jones, under her first stage name, had used a scene from the original play to audition for drama school when she was younger. Once Jones was signed, she and Sidney Franklin went to London where they joined an all-British cast and crew to begin the new project. Robert Browning would be played by handsome leading man Bill Travers; and Travers’ wife Virginia McKenna was also cast, playing one of Elizabeth’s sisters.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-51-20-pm.png


While the earlier film featured Charles Laughton as domineering Edward Moulten-Barrett, this later production utilized the acting services of John Gielgud. Gielgud is exceptional as the tyrannical Victorian father, and his performance is a bit more modest than Laughton’s had been. For instance, Laughton would use his eyes to suggest incestuous tendencies that may have been an aspect of the father-daughter relationship. However, biographers agree that none of this can be proved about the Barretts; only that Edward was very controlling and did threaten to disinherit his daughters if they married suitors who didn’t meet with his approval (which seemed to be all of them).
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-52-07-pm.png


Sidney Franklin had directed Jennifer Jones in retake scenes from her earlier 1947 motion picture DUEL IN THE SUN. But other than this, he hadn’t directed a film in twenty years when this remake was produced. He had spent the 1940s and much of the 1950s serving as a writer-producer at Metro. But he was once again coaching actors in this extravagantly budgeted British undertaking. It would be his last film as director, and perhaps because television was now ruling the entertainment industry, the picture did not fare well too well when it hit movie screens. That doesn’t make it any less worthy of our attention now, since the efforts of Miss Jones and everyone else involved make it a beautiful and special experience. There’s something poetic about it.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-48-03-pm.png


THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET will air on TCM on September 26th.

As a movie star, Jennifer Jones was more or less forced on us.

 

In "Good Morning, Miss Dove", her Miss Dove was such a forbidding character.

 

In "Ruby Gentry", her Ruby Gentry seems constipated rather than sexy or alluring.


"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#4 TopBilled

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:37 AM

Since I am a childhood fan of BORN FREE, I had to do my home work. This movie was filmed in the spring and summer of 1956 when Virginia McKenna was still married, just in paperwork but not in physical reality, to closeted Denholm Elliott, but I do wonder if this was the film when she and Bill Travers started their love story when cameras weren't rolling.

 

Very possible. According to IMDb credits, they did eight feature films together, plus a TV movie and a series of wildlife documentaries. THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET seems to be their earliest collaboration.


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#5 Jlewis

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 08:16 AM

Since I am a childhood fan of BORN FREE, I had to do my home work. This movie was filmed in the spring and summer of 1956 when Virginia McKenna was still married, just in paperwork but not in physical reality, to closeted Denholm Elliott, but I do wonder if this was the film when she and Bill Travers started their love story when cameras weren't rolling.


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#6 TopBilled

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 08:07 AM

Essential: THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (1957)

 

screen-shot-2017-08-27-at-4-58-27-pm.png


Sidney Franklin directed MGM’s original version of this story in 1934. It was based on a successful stage play that Irving Thalberg purchased for his wife Norma Shearer. On Broadway, Katharine Cornell had been very successful playing Elizabeth Barrett Browning; in fact, she reprised the role several times throughout her illustrious stage career. When Shearer appeared in the first big screen version, she too had a hit, winning over skeptical critics with her carefully measured performance of the reclusive poet. A lot of Shearer’s success could be attributed to Franklin, so when MGM decided to remake the property, Franklin was again assigned to direct.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-49-36-pm.png


Originally MGM had planned to put Grace Kelly in the remake, but she turned down several roles and was put on suspension. So Jennifer Jones stepped in, which was a dream come true for the actress who had longed to play the part on screen. Jones, under her first stage name, had used a scene from the original play to audition for drama school when she was younger. Once Jones was signed, she and Sidney Franklin went to London where they joined an all-British cast and crew to begin the new project. Robert Browning would be played by handsome leading man Bill Travers; and Travers’ wife Virginia McKenna was also cast, playing one of Elizabeth’s sisters.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-51-20-pm.png


While the earlier film featured Charles Laughton as domineering Edward Moulten-Barrett, this later production utilized the acting services of John Gielgud. Gielgud is exceptional as the tyrannical Victorian father, and his performance is a bit more modest than Laughton’s had been. For instance, Laughton would use his eyes to suggest incestuous tendencies that may have been an aspect of the father-daughter relationship. However, biographers agree that none of this can be proved about the Barretts; only that Edward was very controlling and did threaten to disinherit his daughters if they married suitors who didn’t meet with his approval (which seemed to be all of them).
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-52-07-pm.png


Sidney Franklin had directed Jennifer Jones in retake scenes from her earlier 1947 motion picture DUEL IN THE SUN. But other than this, he hadn’t directed a film in twenty years when this remake was produced. He had spent the 1940s and much of the 1950s serving as a writer-producer at Metro. But he was once again coaching actors in this extravagantly budgeted British undertaking. It would be his last film as director, and perhaps because television was now ruling the entertainment industry, the picture did not fare well too well when it hit movie screens. That doesn’t make it any less worthy of our attention now, since the efforts of Miss Jones and everyone else involved make it a beautiful and special experience. There’s something poetic about it.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-48-03-pm.png


THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET will air on TCM on September 26th.


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#7 ChristineHoard

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 02:55 PM

I don't prefer one version over the other. The second one use the same script and is a shot-for-shot remake by the same director (Sidney Franklin). I just think the Technicolor helps and the British actors are truly outstanding, so the remake deserves a bit of praise.

 

I still don't understand why it has never been issued on DVD through the Warner Archives, like so many other classic MGM films.

 

Yeah, I remember you wrote before that it was a shot-for-shot remake by the same director.  I like the idea of Technicolor and it'll be interesting to compare the two versions, especially with the Charles Laughton character ("they can't censor the gleam in my eyes").


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#8 TopBilled

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 02:46 PM

I'll read your comments and watch but I absolutely love the Norma Shearer version so I may not be totally impartial.

 

I don't prefer one version over the other. The second one uses the same script and is a shot-for-shot duplicate by the same director (Sidney Franklin). I just think the Technicolor helps and the British actors are truly outstanding, so the remake deserves a bit of praise.

 

I still don't understand why it has never been issued on DVD through the Warner Archives, like so many other classic MGM films.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#9 ChristineHoard

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 02:16 PM

Last night I worked on my review for THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET, which I will post on Saturday. I'd forgotten how much I love this film. It's so beautifully made. It's never been released on DVD, so make sure you catch it when TCM airs it next week.

 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-49-36-pm.png

 

I'll read your comments and watch but I absolutely love the Norma Shearer version so I may not be totally impartial.



#10 TopBilled

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 08:27 AM

Last night I worked on my review for THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET, which I will post on Saturday. I'd forgotten how much I love this film. It's so beautifully made. It's never been released on DVD, so make sure you catch it when TCM airs it next week.

 

screen-shot-2017-09-18-at-3-49-36-pm.png


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#11 TopBilled

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 02:33 PM

As you mentioned, her character is "mixed-race", Caucasian/Asian. Also she is dating Caucasian Holden. This is a very minor issue in some ways, since Hollywood had Imitation of Life '34 and many others preceding it. However, it was also a test experiment with customer tastes during the dawn of the civil rights movement. Two years later, the envelope got pushed farther with Warner's Sayonara and, also from 20th-Century-Fox, Island in the Sun and, after another year or so, a second Imitation of Life.

 

On another note, the stars' chemistry wasn't that great off screen: https://en.wikipedia...ilm)#Production

 

Interesting comment. It had been 21 years since the original IMITATION OF LIFE. My guess (purely a guess) is that after the Korean war, there were more mixed marriages and mixed-raced Eurasian children. 

 

In 1967 CBS created a daytime serial version of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (the hyphen was dropped). I've read the planned story outlines for this soap opera (they are in a special collection at UCLA). One character was supposed to have a back alley abortion (this was six years before Roe v. Wade); one character was supposed to be obsessed with the idea of nuclear war against Russia; one character was supposed to renounce her vows as a nun to have a sexual relationship with a man; and the Eurasian woman from the movie was supposed to be the central character. It was set in San Francisco. 

 

But the network got nervous. By the time the show went into production, the abortion was scrapped, nuclear war was not mentioned, the nun remained chaste and her younger sister was turned into the show's sexually rebellious female; and the Eurasian woman was marginalized and was hardly the focus. So daytime TV still had a long way to go before it was able to embrace more daring subject matter like these big screen romance dramas had begun exploring in the 50s.


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#12 Jlewis

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 01:54 PM

As you mentioned, her character is "mixed-race", Caucasian/Asian. Also she is dating Caucasian Holden. This is a very minor issue in some ways, since Hollywood had Imitation of Life '34 and many others preceding it. However, it was also a test experiment with customer tastes during the dawn of the civil rights movement. Two years later, the envelope got pushed farther with Warner's Sayonara and, also from 20th-Century-Fox, Island in the Sun and, after another year or so, a second Imitation of Life.

 

On another note, the stars' chemistry wasn't that great off screen: https://en.wikipedia...ilm)#Production


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#13 Jlewis

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 01:32 PM

"William Holden was one of the most popular actors in Hollywood at this time"

 

Yeah... #4 on the Quigley lists this year, #1 the next year. ;) 


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#14 TopBilled

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 01:17 PM

Essential: LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING (1955)

 

screen7.jpg?w=261&h=380


When LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING was released, 20th Century Fox was striving to bring more realism to the screen. The studio’s version of Han Suyin’s book challenged the production code, and it gave audiences something thrilling to watch. Fox turned out other romance dramas in the mid-50s that were just as topical and sensational– PEYTON PLACE and ISLAND IN THE SUN come to mind. The adult subject matter was often adapted from daring stage plays or sexy novels.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-12-at-4-45-10-pm.png


William Holden was one of the most popular actors in Hollywood at this time, so it’s no surprise he was chosen to play the leading man. For over fifteen years, he had appeared in a succession of hits and was on the verge of being awarded an Oscar. You might say his charm, dashing looks and down-to-earth personality made him a quintessential post-WWII hero. He tended to play characters who knew what they wanted, and this is what his fans wanted.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-12-at-4-34-10-pm.png


Leading lady Jennifer Jones was known for conveying a nervous intensity. She often played two types of females– lonely single women or tempted married ones. She brought a spiritual quality to her roles– most evident in classics like SONG OF BERNADETTE and PORTRAIT OF JENNIE. In LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING, Jones portrays a career woman of mixed race. Her character is seen as independent, but she becomes involved with Holden‘s character by destiny.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-12-at-4-43-31-pm.png


Interestingly, the film received a B rating by the Legion of Decency. The B rating meant Fox’s production was morally objectionable. It was regarded by the Catholic Church as promoting venal sin. Today it seems rather tame, and it gives us an interesting glimpse into how romantic stories were depicted on screen ten years after the war– when movies were trying to compete with television.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-12-at-4-46-21-pm.png


LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING is directed by Henry King. It will be broadcast by TCM on September 19th.


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#15 TopBilled

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:09 PM

Check for my review tomorrow:

screen7.jpg


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#16 TopBilled

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:02 AM

Interesting interpretation of JENNIE, TopBilled.  I never thought of Jennie being part of Mrs. Spinney.

 

I think it's significant Spinney is seen again at the end when Jennie dies. They're very much connected in the mind (and art) of Eben Adams.


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#17 ChristineHoard

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 12:18 AM

Interesting interpretation of JENNIE, TopBilled.  I never thought of Jennie being part of Mrs. Spinney.


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#18 Jlewis

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 07:55 AM

... and Nat King Cole scored the hit song. (Actually recorded January 14, 1949 despite how this video is titled)

 


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#19 TopBilled

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 07:49 AM

Essential: PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948)

 

screen-shot-2017-08-27-at-5-10-44-pm.png


Some films cast an enchanting spell over viewers, like PORTRAIT OF JENNIE. Producer David Selznick bought the rights to turn Robert Nathan’s 1940 novella into a motion picture after his protege Jennifer Jones earned an Oscar for SONG OF BERNADETTE. Like Bernadette, Jennie is another one of those delicate heroines imbued with a sense of mystery that Jones excelled at playing. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else in this role but her.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-4-12-18-pm.png


Selznick had Joseph Cotten under contract during these years, and the actor had already been Jones’ leading man in the 1945 hit LOVE LETTERS.  In this film he plays a struggling painter named Eben Adams– a man who becomes charmed by young Jennie Appleton one wintry day in New York City. What’s interesting about the way the story begins is that we’re told it’s 1934, with Adams and the rest of the country in the throes of the Depression and great poverty. But Jennie is clearly not from the same time. Soon she begins to describe her life to the artist in a way that intrigues, captivates and even haunts him.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-4-28-19-pm.png


It is significant to note that Adams does not see Jennie until after he meets an elderly gallery owner named Miss Spinney (Ethel Barrymore). Spinney likes him right off and she becomes his benefactor. He likes her too, and because of her influence, he switches from doing landscapes to painting portraits. It is Miss Spinney who tells him that his work must have a drop of love in it. A short time later, when he meets Jennie, he begins to experience that love.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-4-11-56-pm.png


Jennie appears to Adams intermittently throughout the story. She seems to be changing in a way that occurs outside of real time, almost as if she is slipping through it. While the movie does not reveal what is behind this strange phenomena, it’s my impression that Jennie is really a part of Miss Spinney. And that Miss Spinney is probably losing track of time because of dementia. Miss Spinney’s love and her appreciation of his talent is what takes Adams to this other realm. There’s a scene around the 28-minute mark where Jennie is skating away from him at the park, and as she goes he turns and sees Miss Spinney alongside him.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-4-11-42-pm.png


Adding to the various interpretations that might be applied to this film is the nearly surreal way in which the movie is shot. The cinematographer filmed several of the outdoor scenes through a canvas; and Selznick made sure the exteriors were done on location, so that even though there are these fantastic elements, there also is a degree or realism. The portrait of Jennie that Adams paints in the story is depicted on screen in the form of a portrait of Jennifer Jones that was done by Robert Brackman. Though it is technically a movie prop, it seems to take on a life of its own in the final Technicolor sequence where we see the portrait up close. Eben Adams left behind a masterpiece. And so did David Selznick.
 

screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-4-14-07-pm.png


PORTRAIT OF JENNIE is directed by William Dieterle and can be seen on TCM on September 12th.


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#20 TopBilled

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 06:32 PM

Check for my review of 

 

screen-shot-2017-08-27-at-5-10-44-pm.png

 

Tomorrow.


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