speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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It's a shame about Zachory Scott.

His career at Warners started so strongly with The Mask of Dimitrios and Mildred Pierce, making a huge impression in both films as smooth talking creeps and cads. Perhaps fearful of stereotyping he then gave a sensitive performance as a farmer in Jean Renoir's The Southerner.

But then something went wrong. Warners didn't follow his first two hits with them up with similarly impressive properties, casting the actor in more ordinary fare. In 1948 (at another studio, Eagle Lion, I believe) he was in the appropriately titled Ruthless. directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, a flashback-filled modern drama about the soulless pursuit of money. Scott had the lead role this time.

It's a film worth seeing, certainly memorable (SPOILER ALERT) for its ending with Scott and Sydney Greenstreet in mortal combat, yet I somehow found the film a bit disappointing. It's been too long since I saw this one to say much more about it. A reviewing of it some time may give me a reappraisal. Certainly anyone liking Zachory Scott, though, should find a copy of the film, for it gave the actor an interesting role as a nice guy who evolves into an underhanded, manipulative business swine. He's very much a business sociopath in this one.

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Outside of playing the weakling sheriff in Crawford's Flamingo Road there would be no films of distinction in the remainder of Scott's career.

He would later be arrested in Louisiana for breaking segregation laws by drinking in an all black bar. Scott would tell the judge that he had been invited to drink there by a black service man and he was proud to have a drink with him. In 1951 he would suffer a serious injury in a rafting accident, nearly drowned after knocked unconscious when his head struck a rock. He would suffer bouts of depression afterward. His film career continued with ordinary projects but he was stricken with a brain tumor in 1965, dying after an operation. Zachory Scott was 51.

Thanks to his performance in Mildred Pierce, though, if nothing else, this actor has not been forgotten by film buffs. Yet there is still a feeling of waste, of a career that might have been so much more with proper development by a studio that cared.

 

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Well call me a sucker because I too am a MILDRED PIERCE fan. It's my favorite Joan Crawford movie and I enjoy all the performances, especially beautifully nasty Ann Blyth. It takes a big performance to make Crawford look like the nice guy.

I do agree however, Mildred was pretty unemotional over the death of her other daughter. Maybe they wanted to illustrate she put her feelings aside to remain strong for her career. My only criticism is the demonizing of a driven career woman.
Another fave of mine -IMITATION OF LIFE- is a little kinder on the subject.

I love Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce.  She was fantastic.  As awful as Veda was, her character is my favorite in the film.  That girl knows what she wants and won't stop at anything to get it. 

I agree about Kay's death.  Mildred seemed sad but then got over it rather quickly.  Perhaps she was grieving in secret and just threw herself into Mildred's as a means to distract her from Kay's death?  In the book, Kay (or Ray as she's called in the novel) starts getting sick (in the film, we see/hear her cough before they leave for Lake Arrowhead.  Foreshadowing that something is wrong) and gets progressively worse.  Kay is taken to the hospital in the book and Mildred maintains a vigil over her bedside for a couple weeks--leaving occasionally to go check on things at the restaurant and also just as a means to take a break.  Kay alternates between being feverish and ice cold.  The hospital gives Kay a blood transfusion as a last ditch effort to save her.  The transfusion seems to work at first, but then her body doesn't take to it and Kay dies.  They have the funeral and wake at the Pierce home and visit her gravesite periodically.  

In the book and in the film, Mildred decides to devote herself exclusively to Veda as she feels that she failed Kay.  In the book, Mildred's devotion to Veda borders on absurd and she basically bankrupts herself trying to fund Veda's music career.  In both the book and the film, Monte is a leech that also contributes to Mildred's eventual financial issues and in both versions of the story, Mildred has a sham marriage with Monte just so she can provide Veda with the lifestyle to which she'd become accustomed. In the film, Veda pays the ultimate price for her behavior and in the book (SPOILER!!) Mildred basically tells Veda and Monte to go 'f' themselves and they run off together. 

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it makes a tremendous difference whether one sees the film version of MILDRED PIERCE or reads the book first. i read the book some time in the early nineties, possibly before the film was available on VHS and was a little bored by it, i couldn't help but not really find a lot of there there and i kept waiting for a murder (i read it after POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE INDEMNITY) that never came.

and then- VHS or AMC i'm sure- i saw MILDRED a couple years or so later and was impressed by how the murder that frames the story (which is not in the book) elevates the material and really gives the story a reason to be told, which i just don't remember getting from the Cain novel.

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1 minute ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

it makes a tremendous difference whether one sees the film version of MILDRED PIERCE or reads the book first. i read the book some time in the early nineties, possibly before the film was available on VHS and was a little bored by it, i couldn't help but not really find a lot of there there and i kept waiting for a murder (i read it after POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE INDEMNITY) that never came.

and then- VHS or AMC i'm sure- i saw MILDRED a couple years or so later and was impressed by how the murder that frames the story (which is not in the book) elevates the material and really gives the story a reason to be told, which i just don't remember getting from the Cain novel.

I read the book after having seen the movie multiple times and I too, was looking for the murder.  I didn't realize that that was a plot device created for the film.  The novel is more of a melodrama, there isn't really any noir aspects to it.  However, the novel did flesh out the characters a little more.  It's almost like we need the novel and the film to combine to create a super-Mildred Pierce or something. What I do like is that they toned Veda's vocabulary down in the film.  The book spans more years than the film.  In the film, I think Veda's character ages from like 15-18 or something like that.  In the book, she's 11 at the beginning and I believe 20 at the end.  In the book, I tired of reading Veda's ridiculous "little fishes" diatribes and her haughty vocabulary.  I just couldn't imagine an 11 year old speaking that way. 

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i don't know if you've ever read anything else by JAMES M CAIN, but POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE INDEMNITY are both very good (POSTMAN is a lot like the movie, INDEMNITY notentirelysomuch), but i think the best thing i've read by him was SERENADE, which was completely changed for the 1956 film, it's a stunning novel.

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As far as Mildred Pierce, first I am NOT a huge fan of Joan Crawford but I really liked this movie.  I thought Ann Blythe was great as Veda and I always enjoy watching Eve Arden.   I didn't read the book and I was disappointed in how they filmed Kay's death.  I kept saying to myself doesn't anyone hear her coughing (or concerned about her) before they leave for the lake?   

Then after Kay's death Mildred didn't seem very upset.  That bothered me as well. 

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WOW. I hadnt known that about Zachary Scott. SAD. :(

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Footsteps in the Dark (1941) - Fun light-comedy mystery from Warner Brothers and director Lloyd Bacon. Errol Flynn stars as Francis Warren, a bored investment banker who secretly moonlights on the side as a mystery writer under the name F.X. Pettibone. When he gets involved in a real murder, he decides to try and solve it himself while keeping his double life a secret from his wife Rita (Brenda Marshall). Also featuring Ralph Bellamy, Alan Hale, Allen Jenkins, Roscoe Karns, William Frawley, Lee Patrick, Lucile Watson, Grant Mitchell, Frank Faylen, Maris Wrixon, Noel Madison, Jack La Rue, Wade Boteler, William Hopper, and Turhan Bey.

Flynn seems to be having a great time in this change-of-pace role. I especially enjoyed him pretending to be a Texas oilman to get close to a suspect. The supporting cast is full of great performers, although Marshall is a bit flat as Flynn's wife. This doesn't break any original ground, but I enjoyed it, all the same.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

7fed6ed584b69d9005ac8e3c40cc8c6a--brenda

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Land of the Pharaohs (1955) - Another discovery on Warner Archive disk, from perusing the local library:

MV5BZmE5M2ExZTEtN2Q4Mi00NTMwLWE1YTctNGRhNTYyMmRlM2ExL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc1NTYyMjg@._V1_SY1000_SX650_AL_.jpg.15529938d096a216191c5051474a81b9.jpg

Not as bad as its reputation would seem, as Howard Hawks' first and only attempt to keep up with the 50's and make a cast-of-thousands Sweeping Cinemascope Epic (he reportedly hated the experience).  By doing an "Egyptian" story, basically an attempt to do a 50's Old Testament epic without the Bible, ie. a sort of Cecil B. DeMille "Ten Commandments" where Moses never shows up:  Stalwart British character-actor Jack Hawkins plays pharaoh Khufu, whose aging post-wars mid-life crisis becomes an obsession with his tomb to the afterlife, and the plot details the building of the great Pyramid, creating probably one of the most architectural sword-and-sandal epics of the 50's.  (William Faulkner, who gets his name up with the cast for screenwriting it during his Barton-Fink Hollywood retirement phase, claimed he wanted to portray the Egyptian court as an old Southern plantation, and Pharaoh as "an old Southern colonel".)  James Robertson Justice plays the genius architect enslaved to build the interior maze passages, yet the script somehow never gets around to mentioning where any of he and his enslaved people are from, or why they don't happen to subscribe to the Egyptian gods.  

As you can see from the Warner Archive cover, most of Warner's marketable "cult" attention to this title seems to be paid to a young Joan Collins as the requisite Delilah/Bathsheba "Foreign bad-girl" who wants to scheme her way to the Pharoah's treasure that he wants to take with him.  (And meets the predictable end that you can pretty much see coming the minute she first lays eyes on it.)  For some reason, that's doomed this movie to be considered a, quote, "Camp classic"--Warner first released the retail DVD in the same "B-movie" package that gave us Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman and Queen of Outer Space--and apart from the very presence of a future 80's Dynasty star, there doesn't seem to be much reason for that until the last ten or fifteen minutes or so.  Think a lot of the reputation seems to be that the very name, and the IMDb association with Campy Pop-Culture attracts the, um, er....certain faction of bad-movie fans that go into great self-indulgently superior glees of considering a movie as "Greatest cheeseball turkey ever!", for personal reasons of their own, and those reasons possibly having more to do with the actresses than the actors.  

...I'll leave that for a few of the other posters here to test that theory, though.  ;)

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Footsteps in the Dark (1941)

7fed6ed584b69d9005ac8e3c40cc8c6a--brenda

Warners had been considering this film being the first of a series (their answer to the Thin Man, I suppose)  but changed its mind with the disappointing box office response. I strongly suspect Flynn must have been disappointed since he was always eager to demonstrate his comedy flair.

You definitely like Footsteps in the Dark more than I do, Lawrence. I think it's one of Errol's weaker efforts of the '40s. Flynn does have a few mildly amusing moments, but I think the material generally defeats him.

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New Morals For Old (1932)

 

Watched for my beloved Mynra Loy who sadly only appears in the film briefly. Despite a good opening the story of generational strife doesn't go anywhere and the film ends up feeling pointless.

 

The Boston Strangler (1968)

 

Rewatch. In my ongoing attempt to review as many Henry Fonda films as possible I revisited this slow but engaging police procedural film. This film's extensive use of split screen while feeling like a tacky film student project at times does work very effectively creating suspense and offering a voyeuristic insight. 

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Four Mothers (1941) - More domestic drama and romance in this follow-up to Four Daughters (1938) and Four Wives (1939), from Warner Brothers and director William Keighley. The four Lemp sisters (Priscilla Lane, Lola Lane, Rosemary Lane, and Gale Page) are all married, and 3 of the four have babies. The family is thrown into turmoil when son-in-law Ben (Frank McHugh) gets most of the town, including patriarch Adam Lemp (Claude Rains) to invest in Florida beach property that gets wiped out in a hurricane. The ensuing financial trouble effects everyone. Also featuring May Robson, Jeffrey Lynn, Dick Foran, Eddie Albert, Vera Lewis, Herbert Anderson, Thurston Hall, and Frank Reicher.

This is more mild, soapy melodrama, much like the previous films, but even more toothless. The cast are all agreeable, although Rains hams it up a bit as the cantankerous father. Albert's storyline as a young doctor doing research into a local outbreak of a mysterious illness offered some promise, but it just ended up being more romantic fluff.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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4 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

More domestic drama and romance in this follow-up to Four Daughters (1938) and Four Wives (1939

I liked the first one and (sort of) the second one, but cannot bring myself to continue in that series. I do like Priscilla Lane (in the same vein that I like Felicia Farr) and wish she had stayed around longer and made more movies. (I also wish Felicia Farr had made more and better movies).

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The Gay Falcon (1941) - First in a series of detective mysteries from RKO and director Irving Reis. George Sanders stars as Gay Laurence aka the Falcon, an amateur detective who has agreed to forswear his old ways in order to marry Elinor Benford (Nina Vale). However, he gets involved with jewel thieves and a murder, and sets out to solve the case. Also featuring Wendy Barrie, Allen Jenkins, Gladys Cooper, Edward Brophy, Arthur Shields, Damian O'Flynn, Willie Fung, Lucile Gleason, Hans Conreid, and Turhan Bey.

When RKO had a spat with series creator Leslie Charteris over the rights to the Saint, they parted ways and started this new series of similar light mysteries starring Sanders. He's always fun to watch, and he always seems to have his tongue-in-cheek and a knowing twinkle in his eye. The supporting cast is good, and no movie with Gladys Cooper and Edward Brophy can be all bad. This won't earn any marks for originality or cinematic ambition, but it's a fun diversion with a number of good performers in top form.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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Dorian Gray (2009) - Updated version of Oscar Wilde's story geared to modern sensibilities that would perhaps appeal especially to horror genre enthusiasts.. . It seemed more or less conventional period piece for awhile but about 40 minutes in, an event occurred that nearly killed the whole thing for me. But the acting was so good I stayed. The blood, gore, and sex had to be endured but thankfully these and other lurid elements were dished out in fairly short segments. The portrait did not merely become besmirched with the increasing decadence of the eponymous anti-hero, it exuded vermin that fell writhing to the floor, to name one example.  Purists might want to take on a pass on this but if they like good acting they might reconsider. Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray) appears almost callow at the outset but that perhaps to reflect his early innocence. But he loses that rather quickly and becomes perfectly believable with an appearance Oscar would have approved of. Ben Chaplin (Basil Hallward) very good. The epigrams are often thought of as breezy, mirthful witticisms, delivered perhaps with hauteur but Colin Firth's (Lord Henry Wotton) are stern and brisk, intoned as if to be something to be remembered for the next quiz, highly entertaining and still (if not more) amusing. Dorian learns them well (as we know). Colin Firth is a versatile actor and I like him especially in this vein, the aristocratic bearing with the air of authority and sophistication, not to be messed with. A wonderful screen presence. The star of the show (for me).

**

(4max)

netf mail

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13 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

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I believe to this day that Wendy Barrie was Wayne Morris in drag.

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14 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

I believe to this day that Wendy Barrie was Wayne Morris in drag.

Is that your way of saying that George Sanders really was a gay Falcon?

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Their Own Desire (1929) 7/10

I've been watching lots of Robert Montgomery films lately, and although I just watched this one again, I wrote this review some time ago. But it still applies.

Today, most women initiate divorces. But there was a time when it was the other way around since women had few options outside of the home. If you were a woman, you'd just better hope that as the bloom fell off of your rose that your husband did not get the 7, 17, or 27 year itch. This is about the impact of one of those marriages with an itchy husband, an unlikely cad, Lewis Stone as Marlett.

I like how this movie takes the time to build up the characters, always a trademark of screenwriter Frances Marion. A great deal of time is spent in the beginning to show the respect and friendship wealthy author Marlett has with his only child, Lally (Norma Shearer). Then a tell - she asks her dad as they walk up the drive, what book he is working on. He says it is a romance involving a 45 year old man. She, about 20, laughs at the idea. Marlett says that the middle aged are made of flesh and bone too. That life is not over at 30 as youngsters think, and that they thirst for romance, that "last" romance, indicating that dad might be thirsty. When they get to the top of the drive, the slender and glamorous Mrs. Chevers is talking to Lally's mom about her son, Doug, who is away at Princeton. Lally's mom is graying, a bit overweight, a bit sedentary, and Marlett calls her affectionately "mama". Indicating that he thinks of her as first Lally's mom - and a good one - and then a wife.

A year passes and Marlett and his wife are planning to divorce, as is Mrs. Chevers from her husband, but Lally yet knows none of this. She walks into her dad's study and catches Mrs. Chevers and her father in a passionate embrace, talking of marriage. Then her dad tries to justify it. He says that he and her mother are not the same boy and girl who made all of those promises 23 years before. I like Lally's translations - that perhaps he sees her mom as fat and a bit boring "unlike the slick Mrs. Chevers". He says he intends to keep the house. She reminds him that doesn't matter to her since her mom is being bundled out of that house and Mrs. Cheever is being brought in to replace her. Lally says her final goodbye to him and plans to never marry because she will not be made a fool of as her mother has been, and the male sex has fallen mightily in her esteem because of her father's fall, which he won't even acknowledge as a misdeed.

So off go mother and daughter for a summer vacation before mom goes to France for a divorce, which was the custom in that day. When Lally reiterates her vow to never marry, her mom is happy, which seems odd. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Marlett is not succeeding at hanging out at his old haunts with his new mistress. They both get the cold shoulder from everyone. I'm not sure why this scene was in here other than to show that people did pass moral judgment on affairs and homewreckers at that time, and that a smooth transition did not await them both if they proceed.

On vacation, Lally meets a guy (Robert Montgomery) who really fancies her. They dance, they enjoy each other's company, and maybe Lally is softening on men just a bit until she discovers his full name - Jack "Doug" Chevers - son of the woman who has ousted her mother, a symbol of why she decided to not take men seriously in the first place.

So Lally is one confused girl. She has a mom who encourages her to play the field due to her own bad experience with marriage. She has a dad who thinks "until death do we part" is just a phrase people like to kick around at weddings, and she has a beau who is insisting on marriage now - as in right this minute. How will this all work out? Watch and find out.

This is very good writing by Frances Marion who had already had a couple of short lived marriages that did not work out and one that did that ended in her husband's sudden death just the year before. Thus she could approach this subject of love from the viewpoint of someone who had seen all of the angles. I'd highly recommend it.
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19 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Footsteps in the Dark (1941) - Fun light-comedy mystery from Warner Brothers and director Lloyd Bacon. Errol Flynn stars as Francis Warren, a bored investment banker who secretly moonlights on the side as a mystery writer under the name F.X. Pettibone. When he gets involved in a real murder, he decides to try and solve it himself while keeping his double life a secret from his wife Rita (Brenda Marshall). Also featuring Ralph Bellamy, Alan Hale, Allen Jenkins, Roscoe Karns, William Frawley, Lee Patrick, Lucile Watson, Grant Mitchell, Frank Faylen, Maris Wrixon, Noel Madison, Jack La Rue, Wade Boteler, William Hopper, and Turhan Bey.

Flynn seems to be having a great time in this change-of-pace role. I especially enjoyed him pretending to be a Texas oilman to get close to a suspect. The supporting cast is full of great performers, although Marshall is a bit flat as Flynn's wife. This doesn't break any original ground, but I enjoyed it, all the same.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

7fed6ed584b69d9005ac8e3c40cc8c6a--brenda

This has always been one of my favorite Flynn roles, believe it or not. It is such a departure from what he usually does. I could never figure, though, why WB set Lee Patrick up as a glamour girl in their films. Not exactly Ann Sheridan, to me she looked "facially" middle aged long before she was. Going on about her blonde hair did not change that impression.

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6 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

This has always been one of my favorite Flynn roles, believe it or not. It is such a departure from what he usually does. I could never figure, though, why WB set Lee Patrick up as a glamour girl in their films. Not exactly Ann Sheridan, to me she looked "facially" middle aged long before she was. Going on about her blonde hair did not change that impression.

I always thought that Lee Patrick was cast because of her "middle aged" appearance.  I only say this because when Errol's wife goes to the burlesque house to look at the woman whom she thinks her husband is fooling around with, she looks very surprised to see this woman.  The look on her face says "Really? This is 'Blondie' ?" 

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26 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I always thought that Lee Patrick was cast because of her "middle aged" appearance.  I only say this because when Errol's wife goes to the burlesque house to look at the woman whom she thinks her husband is fooling around with, she looks very surprised to see this woman.  The look on her face says "Really? This is 'Blondie' ?" 

This was my understanding as well.   She was a lighter version of Eve Arden.   Attractive enough to be a decoy but mostly around for her wise cracks.

 

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56 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

This has always been one of my favorite Flynn roles, believe it or not. It is such a departure from what he usually does. I could never figure, though, why WB set Lee Patrick up as a glamour girl in their films. Not exactly Ann Sheridan, to me she looked "facially" middle aged long before she was. Going on about her blonde hair did not change that impression.

Ah, got it now. After some confusion I found was thinking of Gail Patrick, who was more of a glamour type than Lee. Gail is rather striking, in fact ; is it surprising at all that she is not more well known?

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19 hours ago, EricJ said:

Land of the Pharaohs (1955) - Another discovery on Warner Archive disk, from perusing the local library:

MV5BZmE5M2ExZTEtN2Q4Mi00NTMwLWE1YTctNGRhNTYyMmRlM2ExL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc1NTYyMjg@._V1_SY1000_SX650_AL_.jpg.15529938d096a216191c5051474a81b9.jpg

As you can see from the Warner Archive cover, most of Warner's marketable "cult" attention to this title seems to be paid to a young Joan Collins as the requisite Delilah/Bathsheba "Foreign bad-girl" who wants to scheme her way to the Pharoah's treasure that he wants to take with him.

Enough said. The mere presence of Joan Collins in a film makes me scurry away. Can't act, can't sing, can't dance, and she ruins "Seven Thieves" by trying to do all of them, overpowering the great Eddie G. with her awfulness. She was great in Dynasty exactly because she was such a bad actress that her interpretation of the role of Alexis in Dynasty was pure camp. Exactly what that 80s soap opera needed as it seemed to be circling the drain after season one. But I digress.

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2 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I always thought that Lee Patrick was cast because of her "middle aged" appearance.  I only say this because when Errol's wife goes to the burlesque house to look at the woman whom she thinks her husband is fooling around with, she looks very surprised to see this woman.  The look on her face says "Really? This is 'Blondie' ?" 

I've noticed Lee Patrick in a lot of films, some good, some not so good. She was Bert's 'other woman' in MILDRED PIERCE, the tough latest dame in the joint who takes over as Queen Bee of the cellblock from Kitty Stark in CAGED, Ann Sheridan's roommate in CITY FOR CONQUEST near the end of the movie.

Even though Patrick never quite had that star quality to lead to a real breakthrough role in films, she still had that certain something that made you noticed her whenever she came on screen.

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7 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I've noticed Lee Patrick in a lot of films, some good, some not so good. She was Bert's 'other woman' in MILDRED PIERCE, the tough latest dame in the joint who takes over as Queen Bee of the cellblock from Kitty Stark in CAGED, Ann Sheridan's roommate in CITY FOR CONQUEST near the end of the movie.

Even though Patrick never quite had that star quality to lead to a breakthrough in films, she still had that certain something that made you noticed her whenever she came on squeen.

Patrick was a Warner contract supporting actor and she had some solid roles in many films for the studio.   In addition to the ones you mention I would add,  The Sisters,  Saturday's Children,  Invisible Stripes,  The Maltese Falcon,  Now Voyager (some of the most honest talk about a male friends relationship with his wife),   In This Our Life (only OK,  but it does have Davis and DeHavilland),  Mrs. Parkington (loan-out to MGM),  and the DeHavilland Fox film The Snake Pit.

Later on she was in Auntie Mame, Vertigo, Pillow Talk, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, and finally reprising her role along with Elisha Cook Jr. in The Black Bird.

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