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1930s stars


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For some reason I think of Joel McCrea when I think of the thirties, even though his career extended into the 70's and he did great movies after the 30's (like Sullivan's Travels (1941) and The Palm Beach Story (1942)). In particular, I like his 30's movies with Barbara Stanwyck, including Banjo on My Knee, Internes Can't Take Money (1937), and Union Pacific. I also liked him in These Three (1936) with Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon.


Come to think of it, Miriam Hopkins is another 1930's star I like. I enjoyed Becky Sharp (1935), even though--or perhaps partly because--it seemed kind of campy, stagey, and wooden. Trouble in Paradise (1932), co-staring Kay Francis, is supposed to be excellent, as is Design for Living (1933), although I haven't yet seen either movie. Hopkins didn't appear in many important films after the 1930's, The Heiress (1949) with Olivia de Havilland being a noteable exception (Hopkins played Aunt Lavinia).


I'm also a fan of Leslie Howard, who appeared in movies such as Of Human Bondage (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936), and Gone With The Wind. As someone recently pointed out on a different thread, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall named their daughter "Leslie" in honor of Howard. Howard and Bogie were friends, and it was Howard who demanded that the part of Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest be given to Bogie. Also, Bacall said in her memoirs that she developed a schoolgirl crush on Howard after seeing him in a movie. Hollywood suffered a great loss when Howard died in 1943.

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Hi, Pintorini:


I second your admiration for Joel McCrea. While his career lasted a good 35 years, and he is best known for westerns today, somehow I like his 1930's stuff the best, especially some of the precode stuff. I just love the "Most Dangerous Game." Also, seeing Joel running around in as little as the law allowed in "Bird of Paradise" is also great fun, even though the plot is rather silly. And, there is that famous scene with Joel and Dolores Del Rio swimming under water together. Dolores had a stunt double (who, yes, did have a bathing suit on), but Joel did his own underwater stunts, including the one with the tortoise. At first, they tried to use a mechanical turtle; however, it kept sinking. So, Joel wound up swimming under water holding onto a real turtle, and as director King Vidor said, "lived to tell about it." I like the original much better than the Technicolor remake.


Speaking of Joel's 1930's films, one of the long lost ones is coming to TCM in 2007. It seems TCM purchased six RKO films that had been sold out of the RKO library. Four of them are the original films and their remakes, which will probably be shown back to back. One of these films and remakes is "One Man's Journey" and "Man to Remember," the latter of which stars Edward Ellis.


Anyway, the original film starred Lionel Barrymore as a small-town doctor who never gets the credit he deserves. Joel McCrea costars as his son. And, Joel's future wife, Frances Dee, plays his love interest in the film. RKO basically put Joel and Frances into this film to capitalize on their real-life romance, which it did. It also gave Lionel Barrymore one of his better roles, where you get to see a gentler side of Barrymore. Supposedly, the film will show in 2007 sometime.


Now, if they would only restore "Wells Fargo" to original two-hour length.


I also like "Becky Sharp" a lot, but I agree that it does come off as a little campy at times, but that might be partly due to the flavor of the novel, which was a satire on mores of the day. I am a big fan of Hopkins, especially in her precode days. This film also has historical significance as the first three-strip Technicolor film. I would just love to see story of "Temple Drake."


Getting back to Joel McCrea, when you look at his body of work, his career lasted a lot longer than some of his contemporaries, although he was never a superstar, like Gable or Grant. However, that was partly because that was how he wanted it. I can hardly wait until his biography comes out.


Take care.



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