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Ok how about this for Star of the Month?: Warner Baxter.


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I know what your reaction is.  'What?' you say, 'that minor luminary from 30s movies?  He was ok in 42nd Street, but, c'mon, he doesn't deserve real STOM status.'  Well, as Tikon says in The Twelve Chairs, 'Hwah! Hwah! Hwah!  Gotcha!  You TCMmers, so smug, with all your broad and deep knowledge of movie history, all you can come up with are suggestions for--Kirk Douglas (about the most un-overlooked star in TCMs universe--though Marion Davies is a good one).  

 

Warner Baxter was a big big star in the 20s and 30s.  He was the second to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading role  (In Old Arizona, 1928).  He was consistently one of the best-paid actors in movies--in the 30s, rivaling the likes of Gary Cooper, and Claudette Colbert, and one year (1938) was the highest-paid man.  He originated a number of roles, including Jay Gatsby, and The Cisco Kid.  His film career starts with movies itself, from the teens.  In fact, he was such a big star that he had not one, not two, but-count 'em, three-yes!-three careers in one!  Every time his star would fade, wouldn't you know it, but a movie would come along that would give him a new career.  Not only did he have one of the great lines in all movies (. . . .you're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!), but he benefitted from situations like the one Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) did in his best-recalled role in 42nd Street.  Most prominently, in his award-winning performance in In Old Arizona, when Raul Walsh, who was set to direct and star in it, got a jackrabbit in his eye-no kidding!- after jumping through the windshield of his car-the rabbit, not Walsh.  Walsh lost the eye and the role.  Baxter gained an Oscar (and we gained a great director-funny, no?).

 

For a good bio (the best I was able to find, anyway):  http://immortalephemera.com/4433/warner-baxter/

 

And just you wait, folks.  I'll be back again with more suggestions of once big big stars for STOM.  Stars now sadly forgotten, even in TCMworld.

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I think Warner Baxter would be a great choice, and the exposure would definitely help people become more aware of this largely forgotten star. Sure, in his heyday in the 30s he was under contract to Fox Films and its successor, 20th Century Fox, which means many films might not be available to TCM. But he filmed elsewhere, such as at MGM and Columbia, including two shown this month as part of Myrna Loy's SOTM, PENTHOUSE and BROADWAY BILL; he also filmed with her at his home studio, TO MARY WITH LOVE, an above-average drama done in 1936. In that year, he did two of his best films, Hawks' THE ROAD TO GLORY and Ford's PRISONER OF SHARK ISLAND. In the latter, especially, he gives an amazing performance in a tense drama.

 

By the late 30s, Baxter's position as King of the Lot at 20th was usurped by (much) younger performers, such as Don Ameche, Henry Fonda and especially, Tyrone Power; he was one of the older leading men then in films. He continued to costar with the studio's top leading ladies, such as Alice Faye and Loretta Young. In the 40s, he moved on to Columbia, but after the good ADAM HAD FOUR SONS in 1941, he moved on to the Crime Doctor series, and his career would down, with health and mental health issues.

 

A versatile star, he would be a great choice for SOTM, thinking out of the box and totally do-able.

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Warner Baxter is the absolute favorite of one of my movie buddies. She'll drive 45 minutes to see an old film if he's in it. While I couldn't pick him out of a line-up.

I like the idea of lesser known stars body of work shown as SOTM. Maybe I'll find out what she sees in him.

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Great suggestion, though, as Arturo mentioned, much of Baxter's career was at Fox, minor features for the most part largely forgotten today. Arturo also mentioned, though, the strength of his two 1936 performances in Road to Glory and Prisoner of Shark Island, probably the best work that I've seen of this man who somehow always looked middle aged to me.

 

His Oscar win in In Old Arizona is pure ouch worthy ham (that outrageous Mexican accent!), but his performances in 42nd Street and, in particular, those two 1936 features, show what a strong and sympathetic actor he could be. Ill health curtailed his work later but he was still able to keep busy with the Crime Doctor series during the '40s.

 

Here's a quote of Baxter's:

 

I was a failure and a success three times in Hollywood, I have even had troubles paying my rent. Three depressions were suddenly ended by three pictures, each of which boosted me higher than I had ever been. 'In Old Arizona' ended a two-year slump. 'The Cisco Kid' brought me back into public favor after a series of bad stories. And '42nd Street' revived me after 'The Cisco Kid' had worn off. Like most actors, I wanted to cling to juvenility to the bitter end. But after I had repeated '42nd Street' several times, it occurred to me that actors, drugged by pride, can make first-class **** of themselves.

 

Perhaps one film in his career, 42nd Street, is well enough known today by film buffs to prevent Baxter from being completely forgotten, at least to some.

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LOVE that opening paragraph Slayton!

 

 

Personally, I'm only familiar with 42nd STREET as far as Baxter's movies go.  I've probably seen him in others that I can't think of just now.   Maybe because for some reason, like in "Street", I might have gotten him confused somehow with WILLIAM WARREN.  They both DID have the same kind of "vibe".

 

But I concur with the idea that SOTM shouldn't  be exclusively reserved for the most familiar names of actors and actresses that managed to live long enough to have careers that spanned several decades.  TCM  is after all, purporting to showcase "classic movies" , and as Baxter WAS one of Hollywood's biggest stars for a good chunk of the "early years", he certainly does deserve the SOTM treatment.

 

@TIKI---I hope you'll along with letting us know what "she" sees in him, you'll also let us in on WHO "she" is!   ;) (I'm guessing it isn't  URSULA ANDRESS.)

 

 

Sepiatone

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How about...

 

Edna May Oliver?

 

EE Horton?

 

Warren William?

 

C Aubrey Smith?

 

and, of course, 

 

"Cutest stars of the month" including, but not limited to...

 

Alice White, Marian Marsh, and Janet Gaynor and Simone Simon and...so many others!  

 

"Smile of the Month"?

 

 

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How about...

 

Edna May Oliver?

 

EE Horton?

 

Warren William?

 

C Aubrey Smith?

 

and, of course, 

 

"Cutest stars of the month" including, but not limited to...

 

Alice White, Marian Marsh, and Janet Gaynor and Simone Simon and...so many others!  

 

"Smile of the Month"?

I've been pushing for Warren William for years......the King of Pre-Codes.

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Personally, I'm only familiar with 42nd STREET as far as Baxter's movies go.  I've probably seen him in others that I can't think of just now.   Maybe because for some reason, like in "Street", I might have gotten him confused somehow with WILLIAM WARREN. 

 

Did you get Warren William confused with William Warren? ;)

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Did you get Warren William confused with William Warren? ;)

 

Well both William and Baxter starred in crime\detective serials during the 40s.    William was a wolf in sheep's clothing while Baxter was a doctor that committed crimes  (well he said he didn't but his nickname implies otherwise!).  

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I'd be all for spotlighting Warner Baxter. It appears TCM rarely if ever shows any of his films. In all my years of watching, I've only seen two Baxter films ever - 42nd Street and Adam Had Four Sons. I'm planning on increasing that number to three with Friday night's airing of Broadway Bill. According to MovieCollectorOH's database it's been seven years since TCM last showed In Old Arizona, one of a very tiny handful of Best Actor-winning performances I've never seen.

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I've been pushing for Warren William for years......the King of Pre-Codes.


 

Now there's someone I love!

 

I just finished watching TCM recorded THE MIND READER '33 and as usual, he was excellent. Warren William strikes me as a John Barrymore "lite"- handsome, but just a little oily-with a heart of gold of course! I've been collecting recordings of WW movies and there is definitely a great selection.

 

I never can pick out Warner Baxter. 
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I'd be all for spotlighting Warner Baxter. It appears TCM rarely if ever shows any of his films. In all my years of watching, I've only seen two Baxter films ever - 42nd Street and Adam Had Four Sons. I'm planning on increasing that number to three with Friday night's airing of Broadway Bill. According to MovieCollectorOH's database it's been seven years since TCM last showed In Old Arizona, one of a very tiny handful of Best Actor-winning performances I've never seen.

Penthouse pops up frequently and there was a time that his Crime Doctor films were shown. Besides that, he doesn't really appear on the channel a lot. I do like him so I wouldn't have a problem with him being featured. He's definitely a candidate for Summer Under the Stars material.

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Did you get Warren William confused with William Warren? ;)

 

Well, for one not yet absorbed  in "classic" film, it would be easy to confuse the two.

 

They had a similar look, and their voices were also somewhat similar.  Like how my brother in law I mentioned elsewhere here, who DOESN'T really care about all the niggling details about movies, confused DICK WESSON with HUMPHREY BOGART.

 

@TIKI--

 

Sure, I now DO know the difference, and I LOVES me some WARREN WILLIAM m'self!    No, not a "man-crush", but an appreciation for his acting and how he presented the characters he played.   My WIFE however, once told me she DID have "major crush" going for him when she was younger.  She had first spotted him in some movie on TV back when she was 13(1954) and was devastated to learn he had died some five or six years earlier.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I've been pushing for Warren William for years......the King of Pre-Codes.

 
Now there's someone I love!
 
I just finished watching TCM recorded THE MIND READER '33 and as usual, he was excellent. Warren William strikes me as a John Barrymore "lite"- handsome, but just a little oily-with a heart of gold of course! I've been collecting recordings of WW movies and there is definitely a great selection.
 
I never can pick out Warner Baxter. 

 

He could do "sleazy" better than Barrymore.

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He[Warren William] could do "sleazy" better than Barrymore.

 

Yep, he sure could, and maybe because he always seemed to slightly underplay that type of role a little more than Barrymore seemed to.

 

(...still say though that ol' Warren always reminds me of Snidely Whiplash...and I think it's more than just that mustache of his)

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Funny, I never confuse Warner Baxter with anyone...he always seemed more serious than most actors of the 30s and 40's , and always looked a bit sick, I wonder if he didn't wear make-up in most of his films?

there are 10 Crime Doctor films (I only have 9, so I assume TCM didn't run 1 of them?)

TCM has at some point films such as, The Squaw Man, King of Burlesque(or FOX did ;) ) Vogues of 1938, Wife, Husband and Friend, Earthbound, Adam Had Four Sons, State Penitentiary(his last film) and the others already mentioned above.I know this, cuz I copied them off on tcm and fox through the years ;) ....so dig up some early Fox films ( Cisco Kid 1931 is on DVD) and you could run a ton of W.B. films during a month...as much as I would love Alice White as SOTM, with the films still in existance, it would turn into SOTN (Star of the Night)

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Stop! Stop! Stop!  You're stealing my thunder!  Warren William was one of the actors I was planning to thread about.  Warner Baxter's the man of the moment here.  

 

Broadway Bill (1934) is being shown tomorrow as part of the Myrna Loy month.  I've seen it a couple of times and remember it being enjoyable, and the chemistry between Baxter and Loy good.

 

What's recognized as his best role, The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), will have to wait till the end of January.

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Penthouse pops up frequently and there was a time that his Crime Doctor films were shown. Besides that, he doesn't really appear on the channel a lot. I do like him so I wouldn't have a problem with him being featured. He's definitely a candidate for Summer Under the Stars material.

 

 

He doesn't appear a lot because his studios' collections aren't generally available to anybody, let alone TCM.  And I think he's Star of the Month material, definitely Star of the Month.

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Funny, I never confuse Warner Baxter with anyone...he always seemed more serious than most actors of the 30s and 40's , and always looked a bit sick, I wonder if he didn't wear make-up in most of his films?

 

there are 10 Crime Doctor films (I only have 9, so I assume TCM didn't run 1 of them?)

 

TCM has at some point films such as, The Squaw Man, King of Burlesque(or FOX did ;) ) Vogues of 1938, Wife, Husband and Friend, Earthbound, Adam Had Four Sons, State Penitentiary(his last film) and the others already mentioned above.I know this, cuz I copied them off on tcm and fox through the years ;) ....so dig up some early Fox films ( Cisco Kid 1931 is on DVD) and you could run a ton of W.B. films during a month...as much as I would love Alice White as SOTM, with the films still in existance, it would turn into SOTN (Star of the Night)

My father looked very much like Warner Baxter. He was in high school in the early '30s, and that was his nickname.

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My father looked very much like Warner Baxter. He was in high school in the early '30s, and that was his nickname.

 

Is that why when you turned 18, it had an especially strong impact upon you when your dad turned to you that one time and said...

 

"Look kid! You're going OUT there a youngster, but you've got to come BACK..from college a lawyer or at the minimum a CPA, 'cause I don't wanna see all this money I'm about to spend on ya here wasted, see?!" ???

 

;)

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Finally saw my third Warner Baxter movie with Broadway Bill. My years of watching TCM have developed in me a sort of wonkish interest in the production and distribution history of films, since which studio controls a film often has a say in how often if ever it's going to air on TCM. For instance, the other night, we had, I believe, the TCM premiere of Sudden Fear, which was initially an RKO release but which is surely in other hands now or it would have aired on TCM before. Tonight, we had Broadway Bill, originally released by Columbia, like all of Capra's early films, but somehow in the intervening years ended up under the control of Paramount, which is probably why it was airing for apparently only the second time ever on TCM. I have no idea what the backstory behind that might be. I'm gonna dig around the Internet and see if I can learn anything.

 

Anyway, maybe not the strongest Capra/Riskin collaboration ever. I went in thinking it was going to be more breezy than it turned out to be, as Baxter was always having one hardship after another with that damn horse until it finally (Spoiler alert!) just dropped dead on the track. Still, I thought our SOTM Myrna Loy showed her range, convincingly playing what certainly seemed to be a younger and considerably less worldly character than Nora Charles, whom she unveiled earlier that same year. I thought we were kinda cheated out of a scene where Baxter finally (More spoilers!) realizes he loves her. He seems to think of her only as a kid sister for 99.9% of the movie and then in the final scene, he's honking the horn, expecting her to run away with him. 

 

Clarence Muse is not an actor I knew by name, but the instant I saw him and heard his distinctive voice, I thought hey that's the golfer who gets briefly mistaken for a cannibal in Flying Down to Rio! Yes, I've seen too many movies. I've been looking over his IMDB resume. At the very end of his long life and career, he was in films like Car Wash and The Black Stallion, and he once played George Washington Carver, but though he had a significant role in this film, it didn't seem to do much for his career, as the next 12 or 15 years are just littered with parts where his character doesn't even have a name: he's just Porter/Busboy/Waiter/Valet/Bootblack/Chef/Janitor etc., etc. The sad fate of most African-American actors of that era. I liked the playful friendship between him and Baxter, certainly more dignified than often presented in those days.

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Follow-up to my previous post: according to IMDB, Paramount bought the film from Columbia in 1950 along with the rights to the story, which they remade that year as Riding High, also directed by Capra, with Bing Crosby in the Baxter role and with many of the supporting actors essentially playing the same parts, although occasionally with different character names, including Raymond Walburn, Clarence Muse, Douglas Dumbrille, Ward Bond and Charles Lane.

 

I see on MovieCollectorOH's database that both Broadway Bill and Riding High aired on TCM seven years ago this month, apparently TCM premieres for both. Guess I wasn't watching. I don't remember them, but knowing TCM and their themes, it seems likely they aired back-to-back on the same night. Riding High hasn't aired on TCM since, and this is the first airing for Broadway Bill since then.

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Is that why when you turned 18, it had an especially strong impact upon you when your dad turned to you that one time and said...

 

"Look kid! You're going OUT there a youngster, but you've got to come BACK..from college a lawyer or at the minimum a CPA, 'cause I don't wanna see all this money I'm about to spend on ya here wasted, see?!" ???

 

;)

He really motivated me. When I was in high school, I wasn't that ambitious. I wanted to be either a shepherd or a manservant.

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Sewhite: you're right about Myrna Loy really showing her range inBROADWAY BILL, she was unlike anything else I've ever seen her in before: There were scenes were you could just see her radiating nervous energy. I wish her character had more of a presence in the film (she sat out most of the first act it seemed.)

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