Arturo

LINDA DARNELL for Star of the Month October 2013

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Linda Darnell would have turned 90 next October 16, if she had lived (she died in 1965 at the age of 41). She hs been my favorite movie star since I was a kid, and read a biographical sketch of her in a book called THE LONELY BEAUTIES, and placed the face with the movies in which I had enjoyed seeing her. She had an ultimately tragic life, many missed or squandered opportunities and disappointments in both her private and professional life, and a horrendous end.

 

She was a luminous beauty, and underrated as an actress. She became a movie star at 20th Century Fox at the age of 15, starring with heartthrobs such as Tyrone Power, John Payne and Henry Fonda. But at the age of 18, she found her career stagnating, suddenly being assigned to unimportant pictures. Besides having a stage mother from hell, who had been banned from the lot, Linda was unpopular with studio head Darryl F. Zanuck for reputedly turning down his sexual advances once she came of age, and then at age 19 eloping with cameraman Pev Marley, who at 42, more than twice her age. Zanuck felt that her girl next door image would be hurt, but within a year, she had successfully changed her image to that of a femme fatale, on loan, in SUMMER STORM. Afterward, she was the studio's sex symbol, and would be cast as such. She was one of the studio's top stars until the early 50s, when external forces such as the growing popularity of television, and internal ones such as the arrival of Susan Hayward, and the meteoric rise of Marilyn Monroe, made Linda extraneous to the studio's needs, and she was dropped after nearly 14 years at Fox. She had a rough going of it freelancing, along with all the other studio stars suddenly dropped from long-term contracts.

 

Anyway, I feel that October 2013 would be an ideal time to pay tribute to this beautiful star. Although the bulk of her movies were for Fox, which may prove daunting in acquiring, it can be done; TCM was able to get a number of them for Linda's SUTS salute in 2011. She also did a number of movies for other companies, and some may be available. Plus a couple of RARE film ventures in Italy, and several TV movies (including at least one that had limited theatrical distribution), and There's the possibility (and hope) that a number of TCM premieres may be featured.

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Well for starters, we can start at the start. Linda's debut movie, 1939's HOTEL FOR WOMEN, had been scheduled to be shown for Linda's Summer Under The Stars showcase last year. It got bumped from the schedule; I don't know why. Hopefully it wasn't a rights issue or a subpar print, because it would be great to see it. Inspired by STAGE DOOR, It was a story of models and would-be models staying at an alL-girl's hotel in New York City. Also featured were Ann Sothern, James Ellison, Jean Kent, Lynn Bari and Elsa Maxwell, among others. Linda was already a great beauty here, at age 15, and looking more mature than her age (the studio added a couple of years in her official bio, so as to better play romantic roles).

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 4, 2012 2:39 AM

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I can try to suggest a programming schedule, using chronological and thematic style/genre as guides. I have no idea of the feasibility of these movies being shown, but here goes (all times Eastern):

 

First Week: MODERN DRESS COMEDIES AND DRAMAS:

 

8:00 PM:

HOTEL FOR WOMEN (1939); Already discussed here. Linda's film debut, and starting off with a starring role. Premiere (?)

 

9:30 PM:

DAY-TIME WIFE (1939): First of four co-starring roles with matinee idol Tyrone Power. In a role originally meant for Loretta Young, who refused to re-sign a lucrative contract with the studio, Linda actually had a more important role than Ty. They make an attractive couple in this screwball comedy, although Linda's comedy technique is in its infancy and would improve later. Also featuring Warren William, Wendy Barrie, Binnie Barnes, Joan Davis and Asta (if I remember correctly).

 

11:00 PM:

STAR DUST (1940): Based in part on Linda's own experience in being discovered and brought to Hollywood, this enjoyable feature has an interesting look into the starmaking process alll the studios were then involved with. Also featuring John Payne,Charlotte Greenwood, Roland Young, Mary Healy and Donald Meek. TRIVIA; LInda got her prints in cement at Graumann's Chinese Theater during its premiere....Linda had watched a late night showing of this film the night of the fire that would claim her life in Aprll 1965.

 

1:00 AM:

RISE AND SHINE (1941): Campus football comedy, with Linda a co-ed cheerleader. Also featuring George Murphy and Jack Oakie, Linda felt this was a come-down from the two Rouben Mammoulian directed movies starring Tyrone Power: THE MARK OF ZORRO an BLOOD AND SAND (both two be on Week Two's schedule).

 

2:30 AM:

CITY WITHOUT MEN (1943): Linda's first loanout to another studio (Columbia) yielded this programmer about a group of women reting rooms while waiting for their incarcerated husbands' release.

 

4:00 AM

SWEET AND LOWDOWN (1944): Linda is the ingenue (for the last time) in this tunefest featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Lynn Bari as the band singer, and James Cardwell as the musician with whom Linda is involved.

 

More to follow.....

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Arturo, while it is a nice thought, it won't likely be a possibility. I am a fan of hers, too, but you are going to need a minimum of 16 films for the month and she was under contract to Fox. And therein lies the problem.

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filmlover,

 

I understand that, but in the last two-three years or so, TCM has shown a number of Linda's Fox titles Along with movies she did elsewhere, TCM was able to do 24 hours of Linda's movies for her SUTS. That averages out to six hours per week, which could be 3-4 films; with the addition of a few more, it can be done. Below are some of Linda's 20-th Century Fox movies I believe have been shown on TCM:

 

DAYTIME WIFE (1939)

STAR DUST (1940)

BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940)

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940)

BLOOD AND SAND (1941)

RISE AND SHINE (1941)

HANGOVER SQUARE (1945)

FALLEN ANGEL (1945)

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) - I think

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948)

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949)

EVERYBODY DOES IT (1949)

NO WAY OUT (1950)

TWO FLAGS WEST (1950)

 

If I'm right, that's at least 14 Fox movies TCM has shown. Plus they've shown several of her other movies:

 

IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944) - UA

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952) - RKO

SECOND CHANCE (1953) - RKO

ZERO HOUR (1957) - PARA.

 

So that's a minimum of 18 movies of Linda's that TCM may be able to obtain, seemingly enough for a SOTM tribute. With a handful more besides these, TCM can do a fitting tribute to Linda Darnell that doesn't just repeat the those shown for SUTS. Imagine if they can get some of her true rarities. There are over ten months to work on this. It can be done!

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I don't think so, as SOTM, But several theoretically can....If TCM was able to show enough of their films, from Fox and elsewhere, for SUTS, then there should be enough available for SOTM. These would include Power, Monroe, Darnell and Gene Tierney. Others could be Warner Baxter, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Anne Baxter and Jeanne Crain. Some spent a significant time at Fox, but did more elsewhere, including Loretta Young, Henry Fonda, Cornel Wilde, Dana Andrews, Richard Widmark, Richard Conte, among others.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 4, 2012 9:32 AM

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If they're going to do any Fox star for SOTM, they've got to start with Tyrone Power, although, because of RO's love for Gene Tierney, she's got an "in".

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When Linda was featured for Summer Under the Stars, they padded the day with some of her lesser RKO films of the 1950s. And you know that for a SOTM feature, SUMMER STORM would undoubtedly get played because it's a cheap(er) United Artists release. You are not going to get all Fox titles. Maybe one or two nights of the month would have Fox titles but half the month would not.

 

dakota-incident.jpg

 

Personally, my favorite Linda Darnell film is one that is available on Netflix streaming. It's DAKOTA INCIDENT with those luscious men Dale Robertson and John Lund. Linda wears a luscious red dress throughout the picture. It is filmed in luscious TruColor by Republic, the direction is good and the story, a nicely scripted western, has a few surprises. If I were programming a Darnell event, I would devote one night to her westerns and DAKOTA INCIDENT would be included. It would be a luscious evening.

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I also really like DAKOTA INCIDENT. Yes, Linda looked great in that red outfit, but even better when she took off the coat, and had the white blouse, although that was soon mussed up when the stagecoach was routed and attacked by a band of Native Americans. Linda had a great time making this (even though she hated being in westerns because she was allergic to horses), from the first cast reading. Linda and the rest of the cast were rolling around on the floor as they read some pompous dialogue-must've been a speech from the windbag senator played by Ward Bond. This was Linda's last good part in a feature film IMHO. Some 18 months later, she made ZERO HOUR, but while good, she had little to do, it being mostly about Dana Andrews' dilemma.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 4, 2012 1:43 PM

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ZERO HOUR! is another one that TCM would probably show if she became SOTM.

 

She did have some good parts after this, on television. She's as gorgeous as ever in two episodes of Ward Bond's Wagon Train from season one, produced in 1958. And on a 1959 episode of 77 Sunset Strip, she guest-starred.

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It would be fun to air *Zero Hour* and *Airplane !* back to back, since the latter is based on the former. But yes, unfortunately Linda isn't in *Z Hour* very much.

 

I wish TCM would come up with one of those "shorts" about her - you know, those (roughly) 10 minute tributes to an actor, actress, or director, usually with a current star speaking about them in a "voiceover". I forget what those things are called, but Linda Darnell deserves one.

 

Linda Darnell !

Linda Darnell !

For Star of the Month.

This sure would be swell !

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SHE WAs such a fine actor. A shame she died in that fire trying to save a child who already escaped a firery death which unfotunately, claimed Linda.

And why oh why is Turner still showing very old 30's films?? Again, why don't those who select what is shown dulv e deeper into their collction & pick better films to show!

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*She did have some good parts after this, on television. She's as gorgeous as ever in two episodes of Ward Bond's Wagon Train from season one, produced in 1958.*

 

She's especially good in the first episode, "The Dora Gray Story", which seems like it might've been a movie script that was adapted to the parameters of the series (other than Robert Horton, the regulars are but fleetingly glimpsed). She and Horton are seen throughout. The second episode "The Sacramento Story", was the finale of the first season, as the wagon train reached its destination. Linda has one scene only, as a sort of coda to the earlier story; Margaret O'Brien was the main female in the storyline. Linda looks noticeably different in the two episodes (shorter hair, noticeably heavier-the scourge of much of her life-in the later episode).

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*When Linda was featured for Summer Under the Stars, they padded the day with some of her lesser RKO films of the 1950s. And you know that for a SOTM feature, SUMMER STORM would undoubtedly get played because it's a cheap(er) United Artists release. You are not going to get all Fox titles. Maybe one or two nights of the month would have Fox titles but half the month would not.*

 

Well, if I remember correctly, approximately half of her SUTS tribute were Fox films. I don't mind seeing her RKO films from the 50s,

 

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952), with a hammy Robert Newton in the title role, William Bendix, Keith Andes, Irene Ryan and Richard Egan in a small role, and of course Linda in some low-cut gowns.

 

SECOND CHANCE (1953), Linda is a gangster's moll on the run south of the border, where she meets washed-up boxer Robert Mitchum barnstorming through the area. Jack Palance is the henchman out to keep Darnell from returning to testify against the gangster. Originally released in

3-D, it has a fair degree of suspense.

 

And especially, I would LOVE to see a film I haven't seen since the 70s....

 

THIS IS MY LOVE (1954), Made for RKO, but filmed on the Republic lot due to lack of space, this was Linda's second film for Stuart Heisler, she plays a neurotic spinster fighting with married sister Faith Domergue over newcomer Rick Jason, while Domergue's husband, wheelchair-bound Dan Duryea, torments Linda endlessly. This little-known soap has what was arguably Darnell's best performance. Really heady stuff.

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Week Two: COSTUME DRAMAS/ADVENTURE MOVIES/SWASHBUCKLERS:

(All times Eastern)

 

8:00 PM:

BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940): Big budget epic of the Mormon trek westward. Wide vistas and a large cast, including for boxoffice purposes, Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell as the young lovers, Dean Jagger in the title role, Mary Astor, Jane Darwell, Vincent Price, John Carradine and more.

 

10:30 PM:

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940): One of the great swashbucklers, again starring Power and Darnell, in California when it was a far off province of Spain, by way of Mexico. Power plays the Robin Hood style character, fighting injustice against the poor. With Basil Rathbone as the dasterdly villain, Gale Sondagaard, Eugene Pallette, and more. Great fun.

 

12:30 AM:

CHAD HANNA (1940): Colorful filming of life in uptown New York State in the 1840s, with a traveling circus featuring Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell and Dorothy Lamour as some of the star acts. Also featuring Guy Kibbee and Jane Darwell as the circus owners. Shot in beautiful early Technicolor, this feels as fresh as an early morning in June.

 

2:15 AM:

BLOOD AND SAND (1941): Another movie with an amazing color palette. Tyrone Power as a bullfighter, Linda, in her fourth and final time as his costar, plays his devoted wife; Rita Hayworth, in her starmaking turn, plays a temptress of feline grace; Laird Cregar is droll as an aficionado; and others including Lynn Bari, Nazimova, Anthony Quinn in this feast for the eyes.

 

4:30 AM:

THE LOVES OF EDGAR ALLAN POE (1942): Rather static biography with Sheppard Strudwick as the title character, and Linda and Virginia Gilmore as two of the loves of his life. This is Zanuck exacting his revenge by consigning Linda to less prestigious fare.

 

5:45 AM:

BUFFALO BILL (1944): Technicolor biography with Joel McCrea as the Wild West showman, Maureen O'Hara as his wife, and Linda as a dusky Indian maiden in love with him. Fairly exciting western. Also featuring Anthony Quinn as a brave.

 

7:30 AM:

IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944): On loan to United Artists, Linda costarred with Dick Powell in this whimsical period comedy. Powell was able to know the following day's headlines, and sought to capitalize on this, until he saw his own obituary. Fun and clever, with girlfriend Linda playing a magician's assistant.

 

More to follow.....

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I would be fine with Linda Darnell being the SOTM in October. She was a beautiful woman and a very good actress.

 

Although it was not a glamorous role for her, I really liked her in the "No Way Out" 1950 with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier. I read she stated "No Way Out" was the only good film I was in," but I don't think that is true at all.

 

Very sad the way she died and so young at 41 years of age.

 

Is "No Way Out" considered to be a "film noir?" :)

 

Lori

 

 

 

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Week Three: TEMPTRESS, PERIOD! (Pt.1)

 

(All times Eastern)

 

8:00 PM:

SUMMER STORM (1944): This movie, made on loan to UA, was a game-changer for Linda. Playing a femme fatale, driving men wild, in rural pre-revolutionary Russia, Linda killed her girl-next door image in one swoop, especially with the publicity shots preceding and accompanying its release, where she is posed in a tight low cut blouse and skirt among bales of hay, and thereby entering the **** stakes as well with a bang. Not only did she alter her image forever, but she revitalized her career, which had been stagnating for a couple of years. With George Sanders and Edward Everett Horton as two men hopeless lusting after her, Anna Lee, Hugo Haas.

 

9:45 PM:

THE GREAT JOHN L. (1945): Also on loan to UA, for Bing Crosby's production company, this bio-pic about boxer John L. Sullivan, played by Greg McClure, also featured two of his loves, Barbara Britton and Linda Darnell, playing a showgirl.

 

11:30 AM:

HANGOVER SQUARE (1945): Classic, moody, deranged-killer piece set in gaslit London, with Laird Cregar as a composer losing it with loud dissonant noise, blacking out and murdering someone. Linda plays the beautiful, ambitious singer who uses him to write pop songs for her. With George Sanders, Glenn Langan, and Faye Marlowe. Great Bernard Hermann score and concerto.

 

1:00 AM:

CENTENNIAL SUMMER (1946): All-star musical, inspired by MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Linda and Jeanne Crain are sisters, both after newcomer Cornel Wilde, who arrives with Aunt Constance Bennett. Also with William Eythe, Dorothy Gish, Walter Brennan. Colorful and tuneful.

 

3:00 AM:

ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM (1946): Linda has a decidedly supporting role, compared to Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, in this first filming of the classic story. She plays Tuptim, the new favorite concubine of the king, who is burned when she runs off with her true love. Also featuring Lee J. Cobb and Gale Sondegaard.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 5, 2012 12:59 AM

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Week Four: TEMPTRESS PERIOD! (PT.2)

 

(All times Eastern)

 

8:00 PM:

FOREVER AMBER (1947): A bit out of chronological sequence here, this adaptation of the best-selling novel since GWTW, it was Linda's big opportunity for superstardom. However, a troubled production, with director, cast and script substitutions, and a skyrocketing budget bode ill from the get-go, and with censorship groups on hyper-drive to cripple the gist of the story, that of an upwardly mobile hussy in Restoration England, going from puritan bumpkin to the court of the King of England, using men as stepping-stones, and studio heads afraid of a boycott by religious groups; the movie could not live up to expectations. Despite mixed reviews, it was a blockbuster hit, but barely made back its huge costs. Yet, for all of that,it is a sweeping, colorful epic, with all departments at the peak of their game, and Linda making a lushly beautiful Amber.

 

10:30 PM:

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946): Classicly pure western retelling the Wyatt Earp story, with Henry Fonda and Victor Mature superb in their first roles after returning from WW2. Linda plays the fiery mestiza Chihuahua, a woman of easy virtue in love with Mature's Doc Holliday, and Cathy Downs as the love he left behind, the Clementine of the title.

 

12:30 AM:

THE WALLS OF JERICHO (1948): All-star period melodrama, set in small-town Kansas early in the last century. Linda, spurned by married lawyer Cornel Wilde, strikes back by scheming to have husband Kirk Douglas influence public opinion in his newspaper, publishing unflattering op-ed pieces re: Wilde. Anne Baxter is the girl Cornel loves, and Ann Dvorak is his dipsomaniac wife.

 

2:30 AM:

TWO FLAGS WEST (1950):

interesting western set at a fort in New Mexico during the Civil War, with Linda the object of the affections of Cornel Wilde, Jeff Chandler and Joseph Cotton. Good battle scenes.

 

4:30 AM:

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952),

Enjoyable epic on the Spanish Main, with a hammy Robert Newton in the title role, William Bendix, Keith Andes, Irene Ryan and Richard Egan in a small role, and of course Linda in some low-cut gowns. Made on loan to RKO.

 

6:30 AM:

DAKOTA INCIDENT (1956):

Linda stars along with Dale Robertson, John Lund, Ward Bond and others in this above-average western. A stagecoach is ambushed by a band of Native Americans, and fight them off, while being picked off by them. Linda made this at Republic Studios.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 5, 2012 1:24 AM

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*Although it was not a glamorous role for her, I really liked her in the "No Way Out" 1950 with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier. I read she stated "No Way Out" was the only good film I was in," but I don't think that is true at all.*

 

Linda loved the fact that it was not her usual glamorous part, where her looks and wardrobe might be given higher priority over the acting. This was probably her best role, definitely among her best acting. IMHO Linda should have been nominated for an Oscar for this, and maybe she would've, if the 1950 Best Actress field hadn't been so competitive, and if her studio hadn't put their muscle behind ALL ABOUT EVE, also by the director of NO WAY OUT, Joseph Mankiewicz.

 

PS _Week Five will feature Linda's noirish dramas of the second half of the 40s and into the 50s.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 5, 2012 1:37 AM

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I agree with you Arturo, Linda should have been nominated for her performance in "Now Way Out," she was quite wonderful in that role.

 

I also liked her very much in "Forever Amber" too.

 

 

 

Lori

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Week Five: FEMME FATALE,AND THE REST:

 

(all times Eastern):

 

8"00 PM:

FALLEN ANGEL (1945): Classic FilmNoir with Linda the temptress that has assorted men buzzing adound the small-town seaside cafe where she waitressess. Newly arrived drifter becomes the latest, and schemes a way to get the money she insists he have. With Alice Faye, who left the studio over the cutting down of her part, Charles Bickford, Ann Revere, Percy Kilbride.

 

10:00 PM:

SLATTERY'S HURRICANE (1949):

Steamy, special-effects-driven melodrama with Richard Widmrk as a pilot working for some importers, involved with Veronica Lake, until olf flame Linda comes back into the picture, as wife of old navy buddy John Russell.

 

11:45 PM:

NO WAY OUT (1950):

Hard hiting, bleak drama dealing with racial tensions. Richard Wdmark plays a vicious rascist hood, who accuses doctor Sidny Poitier of deliberately killing his brother. Linda Darnell plays the girlfriend/wife of the brothers. Tense and exciting.

 

1:45 AM:

THE THIRTEENTH LETTER (1951):

Atmospheric drama of small Quebec town flooded with poison pen letters. Linda plays a cripple, Michael Rennie the new doctor she makes a play for. With Charles Boyer, Constance Smith and others.

 

3:30 AM:

NIGHT WITHOUT END (1952):

Gary Merrill awakens from a drunken blackout, wih the feeling he has murdered one of the women he is involved with: his wife, his mistress or movie star Linda. With Hildegard Neff.

 

5:00 AM:

SECOND CHANCE (1953),

Linda is a gangster's moll on the run south of the border, where she meets washed-up boxer Robert Mitchum barnstorming through the area. Jack Palance is the henchman out to keep Darnell from returning to testify against the gangster. Originally released in

3-D, it has a fair degree of suspense.

 

6:45 AM:

THIS IS MY LOVE (1954),

Made for RKO, but filmed on the Republic lot due to lack of space, this was Linda's second film for Stuart Heisler, she plays a neurotic spinster fighting with married sister Faith Domergue over newcomer Rick Jason, while Domergue's husband, wheelchair-bound Dan Duryea, torments Linda endlessly. This little-known soap has what was arguably Darnell's best performance. Really heady stuff.

 

 

8:30 AM:

ZERO HOUR (1957):

The original Airplane headed for disaster movie that was spoofed years later in AIRPLANE. Dana Andrews plays a WW2 pilot who crashed a plande during the war, whic has crippled his life. Linda is the wife who is leaving him. With Serling Hayen and Peggy King,

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 5, 2012 9:29 AM

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>I wish TCM would come up with one of those "shorts" about her - you know, those (roughly) 10 minute tributes to an actor, actress, or director, usually with a current star speaking about them in a "voiceover". I forget what those things are called, but Linda Darnell deserves one.

 

Word of Mouth?

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She also appeared in THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, EVERYBODY DOES IT, THE GUY WHO CAME BACK, A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, THE LADY PAYS OFF, ISLAND OF DESIRE, IT HAPPENS IN ROMA, ANGELS OF DARKNESS, THE CASTILIAN, and BLACK SPURS.

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