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I think I'll pass on The Brotherhood.

 

that ending is a real bummer.

 

The ending is downbeat but the performances are quite good. I wish TCM would air it. Maybe for Kirk Douglas' 101st birthday they will.

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Movie siblings

 

From rivalry to affection, we see it all in classic movies:

 

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HIS BUTLER’S SISTER. The butler is played by Pat O’Brien. His younger half-sister is Deanna Durbin. O’Brien was 44 when the film came out; and Durbin was only 21. Why couldn’t they just call it HIS BUTLER’S DAUGHTER?

 

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Lee and Lyn Wilde were real-life twins who worked at MGM in the 1940s. They appeared in an Andy Hardy picture, then headlined their own comedy. It was called TWICE BLESSED and was twice the fun. The basic premise, about twins who are separated and live with different parents, is a lot like THE PARENT TRAP. It wouldn’t have been the first time Disney stole a story idea.

 

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Speaking of twins, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito found out they were related. You had to be there for that one.

 

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Some siblings appear on wanted posters. THE YOUNGER BROTHERS (1949), a Warner Brothers western, shows us what happens when three brothers (Wayne Morris, Bruce Bennett and Robert Hutton) commit a robbery and go on the run.

 

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In THE BROTHERHOOD violence is an everyday way of life. Kirk Douglas and Alex Cord are just trying their best to survive. Meanwhile, they have a very different sort of relationship.

 

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Unusual themes

 

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When I come up with themes each month in the Essentials forum, I go through a lot of ideas. Some ideas are good and I use them. Others are less brilliant:

 

Sun of a beach

 

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ED GEIN

PSYCHO

BEACH PARTY

PSYCHO BEACH PARTY

Fried food is in the forecast

 

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FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

HOME FRIES

HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

Alpha Mail

 

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M

E.T.

Z

There was another letter but it was sent to three wives.

Coffin up blood

 

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DRACULA

DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN

DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN

I AM SARTANA, TRADE YOUR GUNS FOR A COFFIN

The answer my friend is blowing in

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THE WIND

GONE WITH THE WIND

ANNE OF WINDY POPLARS

INHERIT THE WIND

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Visiting the set, part 1

 

The first show I ever visited was The Golden Girls in the fall of 1991. They had metal detectors when you went inside; most of the other stages didn’t, though many probably started using them afterward. The episode I saw being filmed was ‘The Pope’s Ring’ from season 7. The director, Lex Passaris, never came down on stage. He directed the whole thing from the catwalk above using a microphone.

 

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The sets were like you see on screen. The living room door opened into nothing really. Just a fake backdrop on the other side. This episode had two temporary sets: a hospital room and hospital hallway. Those were built next to the main kitchen set, downstage left. Much of the action took place outside the house using the temporary sets.

 

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They were running short on time and had to stretch some jokes out. They gave Rue McClanahan a line about a credit card. The audience didn’t find it very funny, but the audience was asked to laugh several times, so they could record lengthy reactions with the other main characters. They padded an extra 30 seconds with that bit. At the end, they had Estelle Getty improvise a scene where her character Sophia was playing poker with the pope. Silly and not in the original script, but they were still short on time. They ended up putting longer closing credits over that improvised business.

 

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Estelle had trouble remembering a lot of her lines. She slowed things down considerably. At one point, she had to sit in a chair by the camera operators and take an extended break. She looked at me and smiled and I smiled back. She regained her confidence, stood up and resumed filming. It didn’t surprise me that she was soon diagnosed with dementia. She continued to play the character three more seasons, though in a reduced capacity, on the spinoff The Golden Palace; then on the other spinoff Empty Nest. She was a trouper.

 

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Normally I don’t watch the episodes on TV after I see them filmed. There are different reasons for this. Sometimes I just don’t happen to catch them in syndication. But I did finally see ‘The Pope’s Ring’ about a year ago on Hulu. It held up well and ended up being better than I thought it would be. It’s interesting to see something performed live in 1991, then to see the recorded version 25 years later.

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Visiting the set, part 2

 

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I went to the Frasier set twice at Paramount studios. Both visits occurred during the 11th season. The first visit was in mid-January 2004. They had just returned from a month off for the holidays. The actor who played the father lived in a suburb of Chicago; and Kelsey Grammer had a home in Hawaii. So for them, this was coming back to L.A. and back to work at the same time.

 

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Kelsey told us all before filming began that NBC had called him to say the network would not be renewing the sitcom. He wanted to do a 12th season. There were seven more episodes left. He said the scripts were good, and he was confident they would be ending on a good note. He said he felt the tenth season was the worst and was glad they’d improved the quality in the final year.

 

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Most of the behind the scenes personnel had been with him on Cheers. Many of them had worked together for two decades. Kelsey tied Jim Arness (Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke) for playing the same character in primetime for twenty seasons– nine years on Cheers plus eleven on Frasier.

 

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The first episode I saw was called ‘Boo!’ where Martin the father had a heart attack. It was a comedy-drama, less laughs than usual. In addition to the apartment set, there was the coffee shop set where some scenes took place. Jane Leeves, the actress who played Daphne, was still on maternity leave. But because she had found out they were being cancelled, she came to the set unannounced. They wrote her into the very last scene. She ended up appearing in every episode, though she was not supposed to be in this one.

 

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I returned in early March for another filming. It was called ‘Detour’ and was the last regular episode. That time a guest actress had to be fired, because there had been problems with her during rehearsals. So Kelsey flew in a gal with little or no previous TV experience who had been making a name for herself back east in the theater. She did a great job and Kelsey was immensely grateful to her. After this last regular episode, they still had a flashbacks show to assemble, then the 90-minute finale.

 

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I learned some interesting things from Mathilda DeCagny, the trainer who owned the terrier that played Eddie the dog. Because the show had run so many seasons, the original dog (Moose) had become too old and had to be retired. So Moose’s son (Enzo) took over. Enzo did not have the exact same coloring or number of spots. Mathilda had to add some freshly colored spots on the dog’s fur before filming to fool viewers into thinking it was the same animal.

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Three men and a bag of money

 

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It starts simply. A few guys are driving on a winter day, when a fox darts out in front of them. They get out of the truck and go after the fox with their dog. The snow is quite deep, it’s cold, and they’re going to get that fox.
 

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They come upon a densely wooded area. The dog has gone up ahead, and there are crows in the branches. One guy picks some snow up off the ground and forms a perfectly rounded ball.
 

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He turns to toss it across a field, and it hits a solid object. The solid object is a downed airplane.
 

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All the snow on top of the plane falls to the ground. The guys step forward to take a closer look, and one of them opens a side door.
 

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It’s dark inside. As the plane shifts because of the extra weight, the pilot’s head falls back revealing the skeleton of a man that's been dead for awhile. Crows fly in and peck at the hideous corpse.
 

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There’s a large black duffel bag inside the plane full of money. How did it get here? What should they do with it? Maybe they can come up with a plan to keep it.
 

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My complete review for A SIMPLE PLAN will be posted in the Essentials forum on Saturday June 24th.

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A classic philosophy

 

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When I wax philosophical about film, I try to step out of my own “zone” and see how movies affect others. I look at comments on Facebook; scan tweets about classic stars; and see what members frequently post on TCM’s message boards. I benefit from these different points of view. It’s enriching to interact online and share a collective knowledge about the movies people love.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-10-23-pm.png

After Robert Osborne passed away earlier this year, I thought about what he said of certain motion pictures, directors, performers and performances. Robert was usually commenting on his own relationship with classic Hollywood. But it can be that personal for anyone.

 

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For example, when I re-watched A SIMPLE PLAN recently, I remembered almost everything from the time I first saw it in January 1999. It was meaningful for me. Looking at the film again, I had a new way of relating to it. I must have developed a greater understanding during the past eighteen and a half years. I think all film goes beyond the initial experience if you let it. That’s what makes it

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-18-04-pm.png

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Coming up in July
 

I will be looking at reviews I posted on the IMDb– some were considered helpful and others apparently were not.

 

 

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My review for LADY BY CHOICE…is a tribute to some great ladies.
 

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My review for THE RUNAWAY…reminds me TCM hasn’t aired this wonderful film since 2009. Please show it again!
 

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My review for NORA PRENTISS…is evidence that if anyone can defy the production code and get away with it, then it’s a character played by Ann Sheridan.
 

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My review for DIAL 1119…is sharper than my other write-ups.
 

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My review for JOURNAL OF A CRIME…is similar in style to James Agee’s writing, something I tried hard to emulate for awhile.
 

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My review for PHFFFT…makes me want to watch it again.
 

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Join me in July!

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Coming up in July

 

I will be looking at reviews I posted on the IMDb– some were considered helpful and others apparently were not.

 

 

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My review for LADY BY CHOICE…is a tribute to some great ladies.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-9-56-45-pm1.pn

My review for THE RUNAWAY…reminds me TCM hasn’t aired this wonderful film since 2009. Please show it again!

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-10-00-47-pm.pn

My review for NORA PRENTISS…is evidence that if anyone can defy the production code and get away with it, then it’s a character played by Ann Sheridan.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-10-02-25-pm1.p

My review for DIAL 1119…is sharper than my other write-ups.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-10-04-03-pm.pn

 

My review for JOURNAL OF A CRIME…is similar in style to James Agee’s writing, something I tried hard to emulate for awhile.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-10-07-08-pm.pn

My review for PHFFFT…makes me want to watch it again.

 

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Join me in July!

 

As for Ann Sheridan;  well I might say E.G. Robinson is the guy that got away with murder more than any other actor. 

 

They both were under contract with Warner Bros;   maybe they didn't get top billing in a film because the Production Code folks wouldn't have approved of it!  ;)

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A classic philosophy

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-11-38-pm.png

When I wax philosophical about film, I try to step out of my own “zone” and see how movies affect others. I look at comments on Facebook; scan tweets about classic stars; and see what members frequently post on TCM’s message boards. I benefit from these different points of view. It’s enriching to interact online and share a collective knowledge about the movies people love.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-10-23-pm.png

After Robert Osborne passed away earlier this year, I thought about what he said of certain motion pictures, directors, performers and performances. Robert was usually commenting on his own relationship with classic Hollywood. But it can be that personal for anyone.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-11-54-pm.png

For example, when I re-watched A SIMPLE PLAN recently, I remembered almost everything from the time I first saw it in January 1999. It was meaningful for me. Looking at the film again, I had a new way of relating to it. I must have developed a greater understanding during the past eighteen and a half years. I think all film goes beyond the initial experience if you let it. That’s what makes it

 

screen-shot-2017-06-24-at-3-18-04-pm.png

 

 

Great point.  The same movie can affect others in many different ways.  Some might love a film, while others might feel the opposite about the same one.

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As for Ann Sheridan;  well I might say E.G. Robinson is the guy that got away with murder more than any other actor. 

 

They both were under contract with Warner Bros;   maybe they didn't get top billing in a film because the Production Code folks wouldn't have approved of it!  

 

Sheridan doesn't kill anyone in NORA PRENTISS but Nora does sin a lot. And she walks away from everything at the end, without any real consequences. In fact she probably moves right on to the next guy and the next phase of her home wrecking. Only Ann Sheridan can charm us with such a bad girl portrayal.

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Great point.  The same movie can affect others in many different ways.  Some might love a film, while others might feel the opposite about the same one.

 

Thanks for the comment. Welcome to the message boards!

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My review for ABOUT MRS. LESLIE

 

Of all the reviews I posted on the IMDb, this one had the most positive response. Is it because I did the unthinkable and compared Shirley Booth to Marilyn Monroe?

 

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About Miss Booth

Though she was known for her many roles on Broadway and an even more famous part on television, Shirley Booth did not seem to build much of a career as a movie star. Maybe this is because she was rather unlike other actresses that were headlining motion pictures in the 1950s. And that’s a good thing, really, because for every Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of nice to have a Shirley Booth, who stands out and gives us something decidedly different and special.

 

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In this film, ABOUT MRS. LESLIE, she is paired with Robert Ryan who plays against type as a mysterious magnate. It’s fun to watch him make romantic gestures towards Miss Booth’s character. Of course, his idea of companionship differs significantly from hers, yet a bond is forged and it is a lasting connection. Booth displays a range of emotions in this film, and she gets the chance to sing. The story of the couple’s unusual courtship is told mostly in flashback, with several subplots in the present to balance out the narrative.

 

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My review for IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

 

This review did not go over well with readers when I posted it on the IMDb. Still it’s one of my favourites:

 

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It’s a wonderful film, or is it?

Recently, I read a comment from a fan of this movie who tried to explain its on-going appeal. The idea was that director Frank Capra had successfully blended lighthearted and observant touches about the human condition. Also, that Capra had skillfully used lead characters and supporting characters, many played by classic performers from 1940s Hollywood. So far, so good…but…

 

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There are plenty of films with light and observant touches featuring great actors from the same period. Even some that are not as well loved or appreciated by audiences. I really think the reason this film resonates so much is how expertly it works at manipulating emotion. It taps into viewers’ fears that the lives they’ve been living are insignificant and not good enough. Once those fears are overcome (in a rather contrived way), the viewer can fall back on a “happy” ending.

 

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It also helps that Capra is combining the suicide plot of MEET JOHN DOE with Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Future from ‘A Christmas Carol.’

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My review for LADYBUG LADYBUG

 

TCM is airing this rarely seen film on July 9th, so I figured it was the perfect time to share my thoughts (spoilers ahead):
 

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Excellent! 10 out of 10


This film provides a unique glimpse into an era just after the Cuban missile crisis, when bomb shelters and emergency drills for nuclear attacks were commonplace.
 

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In this case, an east coast school, which frequently conducts such drills, experiences a wave of terror when a false alarm is believed to be the real thing. Educators are told to take the children home, and along the way, some very shocking (and tragic) things happen.
 

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The best scenes involve a bossy young girl who refuses to let anyone in or out of a bomb shelter; and a teacher, played by Nancy Marchand, who must face her own fears during the journey. The film ends on a very intriguing and ambiguous note, because some of the participants, especially Marchand’s character, seem to still believe that the United States is under attack.
 

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I'm recording Ladybug Ladybug.  I read the TCM write-up about it so I know what to expect.  Several years ago (maybe close to 30 years ago; I was still living in Chicago) I caught the end of a movie that I thought was so strange but I couldn't find the name to it and it has bugged me (sorry for the pun) ever since.  I thought of asking on our "Information, please" thread but I figured no one would know as I only saw the final 5 or so minutes and just didn't have enough to go on.  Turns out it was Ladybug Ladybug.  I remember being in grade school the time Ladybug was filmed and all that "duck and cover" stuff and wishing we had a bomb shelter but at least we had a basement (although as a little kid I thought monsters were living in it).

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I'm recording Ladybug Ladybug.  I read the TCM write-up about it so I know what to expect.  Several years ago (maybe close to 30 years ago; I was still living in Chicago) I caught the end of a movie that I thought was so strange but I couldn't find the name to it and it has bugged me (sorry for the pun) ever since.  I thought of asking on our "Information, please" thread but I figured no one would know as I only saw the final 5 or so minutes and just didn't have enough to go on.  Turns out it was Ladybug Ladybug.  I remember being in grade school the time Ladybug was filmed and all that "duck and cover" stuff and wishing we had a bomb shelter but at least we had a basement (although as a little kid I thought monsters were living in it).

 

I think you'll appreciate seeing the whole thing. It's a very thought-provoking film.

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My review for BEHAVE YOURSELF!

 

Not exactly a great film, but I thought it was fun:

 

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Behavior issues

Farley Granger and Shelley Winters form an unlikely couple in this screwball caper. The script was supposedly written in four days, and quite frankly, it shows. But there are some genuinely uproarious events, most of them involving William Demarest as a homicide chief. Hans Conreid appears in a heavy British accent, but he isn’t nearly as funny as Demarest, though he certainly tries to be.

 

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In fact, they all try to be funny in this offering from RKO, perhaps a bit too much. The energy, though, is good, and there is an adorable pooch named Archie whose presence is central to the plot. Near the end of the film, Granger bites Archie in an attempt to elicit laughs, proving there is such a thing as bad taste in movies. Obviously, Granger’s character does not see the value in behaving himself.

 

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My review for BEHAVE YOURSELF!

 

Not exactly a great film, but I thought it was fun:

 

screen-shot-2017-07-10-at-10-56-03-pm.pn

Behavior issues

Farley Granger and Shelley Winters form an unlikely couple in this screwball caper. The script was supposedly written in four days, and quite frankly, it shows. But there are some genuinely uproarious events, most of them involving William Demarest as a homicide chief. Hans Conreid appears in a heavy British accent, but he isn’t nearly as funny as Demarest, though he certainly tries to be.

 

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In fact, they all try to be funny in this offering from RKO, perhaps a bit too much. The energy, though, is good, and there is an adorable pooch named Archie whose presence is central to the plot. Near the end of the film, Granger bites Archie in an attempt to elicit laughs, proving there is such a thing as bad taste in movies. Obviously, Granger’s character does not see the value in behaving himself.

 

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Farley Granger and Shelley Winters were romantically involved, too.

 

In fact, she was close to marrying him.

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Farley Granger and Shelley Winters were romantically involved, too.

 

In fact, she was close to marrying him.

 

Yes. Another interesting piece of trivia is that the dog used in this film fathered the dog in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES, which also starred Shelley Winters.

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My review for LADY BY CHOICE

 

A tribute to two great ladies:

 

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Mother’s Day with Lombard & Robson

In this Columbia picture Carole Lombard has a good role as a fan dancer. She plays a gal that adopts an old woman (May Robson) to improve both their images. Though the premise seems improbable, the two actresses work so charmingly together that any doubt about the story working is quickly dismissed.

 

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The relationship depicted between the two characters seems real, and it is played for laughs as well as tears. They are affectionate and they bicker, acting just like family. The film moves at a quick pace, and none of it seems belabored. The point being made about how women of different generations look out for one another is done in an interesting and entertaining way.

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My review for THE RUNAWAY

 

TCM hasn’t aired this wonderful film since 2009. Please show it again!
 

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This film is not perfect and it should not be made to measure up to unreal expectations. One has to take it for what it is, and as a product of the time in which it was made. It is a fine continuation of films in the vein of ‘Little Men’ and ‘Boys Town,’ about a boy who is coming of age (played by Roger Mobley).
 

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Of course Mobley’s character gets into a lot of trouble, and has to get his comeuppance, which he does by the end of the film. And don’t forget the dog, that has to be the best one in the race, or else there would be no spectacular climax. But this film is more. It is about relationships between people. It’s about hope in a world of poverty and about love in a world of hatred.
 

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My review for LADY BY CHOICE

 

A tribute to two great ladies:

 

screen-shot-2017-07-14-at-3-31-14-pm.png

Mother’s Day with Lombard & Robson

In this Columbia picture Carole Lombard has a good role as a fan dancer. She plays a gal that adopts an old woman (May Robson) to improve both their images. Though the premise seems improbable, the two actresses work so charmingly together that any doubt about the story working is quickly dismissed.

 

screen-shot-2017-06-28-at-9-52-55-pm.png

The relationship depicted between the two characters seems real, and it is played for laughs as well as tears. They are affectionate and they bicker, acting just like family. The film moves at a quick pace, and none of it seems belabored. The point being made about how women of different generations look out for one another is done in an interesting and entertaining way.

 

 

I enjoyed this film and recommend it as a lessor known Lombard picture.     I do wish the male lead was an actor I was more familiar with (e.g. Joel McCrea or Robert Montgomery),  but the male role isn't very big so I understand why that type of actor wasn't cast. 

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I enjoyed this film and recommend it as a lessor known Lombard picture.     I do wish the male lead was an actor I was more familiar with (e.g. Joel McCrea or Robert Montgomery),  but the male role isn't very big so I understand why that type of actor wasn't cast. 

 

At the time Roger Pryor was on his way up in movies. He was married to Ann Sothern and he had his own band. Ann sang with him on the road. He played the male lead in a Mae West movie. So he was an A-list star for a short while then quickly went into B films. But he actually spent more time touring with his fellow musicians and movies were less of a priority for him. I found him acceptable in LADY BY CHOICE. As you indicated, it's not a huge role, since the leads are actually the two women.

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My review for NORA PRENTISS

 

If anyone can defy the production code and get away with it, then it’s a character played by Ann Sheridan:

 

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Lighting the Men-Nora

How can you not love a film like this? It’s a splendid combination of melodrama, horror and gangster picture all rolled up into one. Not many films are made that way. And with such great performances, it’s a real treat.

 

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Warners’ presentation of Ann Sheridan in a more serious role takes her away from her usual assignments as a saucy, wisecracking dame. This particular story has Sheridan as a nightclub singer who falls for a married doctor and naturally should not have him. But in utter and complete defiance of the production code, she does get him, and it leads to his utter and complete ruination. The film is bolstered by costars Kent Smith as the doctor, Rosemary de Camp as the doctor’s wife, and Robert Alda as a gangster who wants Miss Sheridan all to himself. And frankly, who wouldn’t..?

 

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