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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 Jlewis

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 02:29 PM

Seems like the best place to revisit Roger Moore... with the earlier posts here.


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#2 TopBilled

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 09:05 AM

I've enjoyed writing about war films for women. I will go over my last selection pertaining to this theme on Saturday:

 

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


#3 TopBilled

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 05:31 PM

WW2 allowed an awful lot (communist sympathies included) but it was all back to business after the war so that life could continue the same as it was before the war.

 

Looking at the images here, I just wonder if Ginger Rogers' make-up artist purposely colored her eyebrows in that worried, questioning arch upward slant on purpose

 

Not sure. After ten years at the studio, this was one of Ginger's last films for RKO. She made the independently produced HEARTBEAT which RKO distributed in 1946, and she did come back at the very end to make THE FIRST TRAVELING SALESLADY (1956) before RKO closed its doors. But TENDER COMRADE marked the last film on her original RKO contract. She became a freelancer after this.


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


#4 Jlewis

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:45 AM

WW2 allowed an awful lot (communist sympathies included) but it was all back to business after the war so that life could continue the same as it was before the war.

 

Looking at the images here, I just wonder if Ginger Rogers' make-up artist purposely colored her eyebrows in that worried, questioning arch upward slant on purpose


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#5 TopBilled

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:03 AM

Essential: TENDER COMRADE (1943)

 

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A lot can be said about the communism screenwriter Dalton Trumbo appears to have ‘inserted’ into the film. I don’t disagree with those who say it is there– in a story where a group of women during wartime share a communal living space. Trumbo took a traditional women’s melodrama with a theme about home front efforts, and he used it to talk about fascism in America. Of course, for most of the audience, such ideas went sailing over their heads. And for those had a vague understanding of Trumbo’s goals, they didn’t quite glob on to the bigger picture. During the postwar era Trumbo and his pals– including the director of this film– paid dearly for exploring such issues in TENDER COMRADE.
 

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I’ve read reviews that zero in on Ginger Rogers’ performance as well as the performance of her leading man Robert Ryan. I didn’t have a problem with either one of them, though some of their scenes are a bit corny. Ryan even has a line where he refuses to let Rogers know the contents of a love note he wrote to her, since he admits it was sappy.
 

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Some reviewers have commented on the other women Rogers shares a house with in the movie. I’d say Ruth Hussey probably has the best supporting role, playing a lonely wife who tries to justify her unfaithfulness. She gets a few showy scenes, and these moments actually take the focus away from Rogers. Also, a very young Kim Hunter does a swell job as a newlywed, especially in scenes near the end when her character’s husband returns from combat. I didn’t particularly care for Mady Christians’ stereotypical German housekeeper. Trumbo should be blamed for making her a cliched foreigner with a thick accent and predictable comments about her homeland. Most of the housekeeper's dialogue is unintentionally funny. She’s best when she’s off screen.
 

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There aren’t many factory scenes. We get one sequence near the beginning of the film, with Ginger riding a forklift in front of a process shot, acknowledging the other women working with her. Hussey has a brief moment riveting, then we cut to a lunch break where they all decide to pool their money to rent a house together. We’re led to believe this is a story about women in modern day America where women feel the effects of war after their loved ones have been taken away from them.
 

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There are some interesting speeches where they complain about rationing, or about having to do their part while the men are gone fighting. The film launches into very lengthy flashbacks that focus on the romance between Rogers and Ryan. It is almost like Trumbo couldn’t figure out whether to set it in the time right before the war or in the present day. I suspect extra flashbacks were added to increase Ryan’s screen time, since he was an RKO star in the making, and his character is sent off to war and otherwise never seen again.
 

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Finally, I want to comment on how anti-climactic the ending is. As you can see, even the film’s title card indicates the husband has died. During the film, when the editors prepare us for one of the many romantic flashbacks, there are screen dissolves that show the couple walking in some heavenly realm. It is very obvious he will be killed, long before she receives the telegram informing her about his death. Though I must say the scene where she sets the telegram down and lifts the baby out of the crib and “introduces” him to his father (in a picture frame) is very poignant. After she sets the baby back into the crib, she realizes she will have to keep her chin up and move forward. And I suppose when women saw the film and left the theater, they were trying to keep their chins up, too.
 

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TENDER COMRADE is directed by Edward Dmytryk and airs occasionally 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).


#6 TopBilled

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:37 PM

Tomorrow I will be reviewing

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Check back.


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


#7 Jlewis

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 03:48 PM

Still haven't seen this one, but have heard good reviews of it over the years. I can pretty much watch anything put out by Two Cities and the Rank organization during the forties.


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#8 TopBilled

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 02:34 PM

Essential: THE GENTLE SEX (1943)

 

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The voice-over narration, provided by director Leslie Howard, tells us the ladies in the story are ‘gentle women.’ And 90 minutes later, as the film ends, they have become indispensable to the war effort. While developing skills, they’ve turned gentle into something less fragile (and much stronger) in order to survive.
 

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It all starts with seven women from different walks of life on their way to a training camp. They have volunteered to join a branch of the British Army known as the Auxiliary Territorial Service. The women speak with regional dialects, representing various parts of Great Britain. One gal is from Scotland; and another is of French origin, who fled her native country when the Nazis killed her family. Gradually their differences are downplayed as they become a team. Despite individual quirks, they are all united in a common goal and singular outcome– victory.
 

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The film has a sort of historical value other studio pictures lack. For instance, there are several sequences where we watch the women undergo rigorous military exercises. These seem to be recreations of actual drills and have a semidocumentary feel.
 

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After the women have finished their training, the later portion of the story shows them driving trucks and using aircraft that takes them right into combat. Those scenes of the film are much more interesting and also have a non-fictional feel. There’s even a great part where some of the main characters talk to an elderly woman who describes her duties during WWI, claiming she was shot in the shoulder during the first war.
 

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Six weeks after THE GENTLE SEX premiered its director Leslie Howard was killed. He was only 50 years old. There are various theories about the cause of his death. Whatever the reason for Leslie Howard’s untimely demise, it’s clear his last film is a testament to his belief in a free world. Also, the film reflects the ways in which he appreciates women. In this regard, the whole picture is a declaration of love to the ladies on the battlefront as well as the ones in the audience who might be watching. They believe that working together is what leads them towards overcoming adversity.
 

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THE GENTLE SEX can be streamed on YouTube.


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#9 TopBilled

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 11:02 PM

On Saturday I will be reviewing

 

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


#10 Jlewis

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 05:36 PM

Broadcast on the first anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack too. CBS did the movie justice by picking the best time slot.


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#11 TopBilled

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 04:29 PM

I enjoy Suspense more, but this series was fun too.

 

https://archive.org/...LuxRadioTheatre

https://archive.org/...oTheatre_201606

 

 

Thank you Jlewis for posting the radio version of THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY. It is much appreciated!


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


#12 Jlewis

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 02:56 PM

I enjoy Suspense more, but this series was fun too.

 

https://archive.org/...LuxRadioTheatre

https://archive.org/...oTheatre_201606

 


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#13 TopBilled

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 02:43 PM

I have listened to (and enjoyed) the Lux Radio Theatre version of this movie multiple times, but I've yet to see the movie itself. I need to rectify that omission one of these days.

 

I haven't heard the Lux radio version. I would imagine it's shorter to fit the show's format. 

 

It's a well-acted film. Fay Bainter should have had an Oscar nomination for it.


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


#14 LiamCasey

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 01:01 PM

I have listened to (and enjoyed) the Lux Radio Theatre version of this movie multiple times, but I've yet to see the movie itself. I need to rectify that omission one of these days.


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#15 Jlewis

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 12:03 PM

Being an MGM feature, this would be released alongside a Hearst "News of the Day" and Pete Smith's all-male reel Football Thrills of 1941.


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#16 TopBilled

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 11:13 AM

Essential: THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY (1942)

 

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The advertising for MGM’s THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY said viewers could expect ‘the truth and nothing but the truth’ when it hit movie screens in the fall of 1942. The truth is that it was one of Hollywood’s first wartime movies focusing on the home front, and the studio considered it a high-priority release. It had a special premiere in the nation’s capitol, where its lead stars (Fay Bainter and Edward Arnold) appeared in person. Proceeds for the event raised a considerable sum of money in war bonds.

 

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Screenwriter George Oppenheimer claimed the idea was conceived right after Pearl Harbor was attacked. In fact, the film begins with the December 7th birthday of the title character, Mrs. Hadley, which is ironically overshadowed by the country’s official involvement in the war. Later Oppenheimer’s idea was adapted as a radio play, which was performed on December 7, 1942– to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
 

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The story carried a considerable amount of propaganda value for home front audiences, especially women who might have felt inconvenienced by the war. The first half of the drama depicts how Mrs. Hadley refuses to relinquish her previous way of life. In her mind, December 7th and 8th and all the days after should be no different than December 6th and all the days that came before. She fails to see how the country needs to unite. As everyone else mobilizes and pitches in, she retains a selfishness that ultimately leads to her isolation– until she has a dramatic change of heart.
 

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Edward Arnold plays Elliott Fulton, a close family friend who works for the War Department in Washington. When Mrs. Hadley’s son Ted (Richard Ney) is drafted, Elliot is asked to help keep him out of the service. Of course, that is deemed unpatriotic, and the young man departs for military duty. Meanwhile, a daughter named Pat (Jean Rogers) becomes engaged to a soldier she meets while volunteering at a canteen; and of course, Mrs. Hadley disapproves– to the point where she refuses to attend the wedding. The soldier is portrayed by Van Johnson in a star-making role. Then there’s Cecilia Talbot (Spring Byington), a friend of Mrs. Hadley’s who works with the Red Cross and finds purpose in charity work.
 

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At every turn the war seems to do battle against Mrs. Hadley and her former way of life. She gradually begins to understand what’s important and what needs to happen to bring people together during a major crisis. It’s a comforting film on that level. One can imagine how it reinforced the selflessness of women in the audience who recognized Mrs. Hadley’s folly. They could accept her as one of their own after she realized she didn’t become a year older, she became a year wiser.
 

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THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY is directed by Harold Bucquet and airs occasionally 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).


#17 TopBilled

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 09:36 AM

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Tomorrow I will be reviewing THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY as part of my series on 'War Films as Propaganda for Female Audiences.' Please check back.

 

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


#18 rayban

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 11:42 AM

I agree.  Danielle Darrieux deserves more exposure.

You really couldn't do her "justice", because she made films for such a long period of time.

 

One of my favorites is her role as Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac's mom in "The Young Girls of Rochefort".

 

She was also radiant in one segment of "Le Plaisir" as a "house prostitute".


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"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".


#19 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 02:54 PM

Glad you caught most of her films last night. This is an example where TCM should rerun the same lineup (as part of Summer Under the Stars in August).

 

I agree.  Danielle Darrieux deserves more exposure.


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#20 TopBilled

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 02:06 PM

I'm glad you posted this since it reminded me to watch her films.   Since the NBA game I was planning to watch was 'over' by the 1st Quarter,  my wife and I spend the evening watching her films (well expect for one hour where we had to see Better Call Sal). 

 

It was nice to see films from various decades.     Hopefully TCM will show more of her films in the future especially some of her more racy French films.

 

Glad you caught most of her films last night. This is an example where TCM should rerun the same lineup (as part of Summer Under the Stars in August).


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





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