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Now is the time for Robert Montgomery to be Star of the Month


slaytonf
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So you think Robert Montgomery is too slight an actor to be Star of the Month?  So you think he was just good as a high-society sophisticate in New York top hat and fox fur sex comedies?  So you think his only claim to fame is being the father of Elizabeth Montgomery, TV's Samantha of Bewitched?  Sure.  He was so slight, he was consistently one of the top stars in 30s and 40s movies, by box-office receipts, and ratings by both audiences and critics.  He was so slight he could fight for and get roles against type, and get backing for a radical concept, filming a movie from the first-person perspective in Lady in the Lake (1947).

 

Fact is, he was a damn fine actor.  And the proof is not only in his dramatic roles, but also the society comedies.  It takes ability to lend roles like that sparkle and polish.  Even in his lighter roles you see the potential for his more serious stuff.  There is a pool-side scene at a party in the movie Riptide (1934), while playfully hitting on his old-time married friend, where he conveys under the surface clowning around a truly pained and earnest longing for her.

 

Now it's time to copy and paste from another thread:  His life could have come from one of the movies that typified the ones he acted in.  Scion of a wealthy rubber manufacturer, his early life was lived in riches, until the suicide of his father (jumping from a bridge, no less, as I read) revealed it for the empty facade it was, leaving his surviving family penniless.  Work he did to earn his living.  Found he then the stage.  Hollywood found him through his association with George Cukor.  A series of movies with Norma Shearer, culminating with Private Lives (1931) made him a star, and the rest, as the black sheriff says, is history.  He did other things than act, some of which are laudable, others disappointing.  But at most having only an indirect relation to his movies.

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Found he then the stage.

 

Really?  :rolleyes:

 

I love Robert Montgomery and think he's a fine actor. I enjoy him in movies, but too many of them are just so-so.

 

His best few are often already shown on TCM like HERE COMES MR JORDAN. THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, LADY IN THE LAKE & MR & MRS SMITH.

I'm not sure a retrospective of the body of work would show us anything new.

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Yes, really.  After establishing his creds as a human being with some manual labor, and finding out writing just wasn't him, he made his way onto the stage, and proved variously popular there, according to the biography you choose to read.  So popular, according to one, he was able to say no, thank you to Hollywood when it came calling.  But he later said yes when George Cukor asked him.  There, Norma Shearer saw him, and that was it.

 

As for his filmography, you could say something similar for many Stars of the Month.  And there isn't much new we see for any of them.  It's true a lot of the movies he was in weren't great, but there are a number of them that have things in them to like.  You've probably seen, or had the opportunity to see the movies I'll list below, but they make worthwhile additions to your list:

 

The Divorcee (1930).  More for Norma Shearer and Chester Morris, but a respectable appearance for our man.  One of the more important pre code-enforcement movies.

 

The Big House (1930).  The great big grandaddy of prison movies.  If it didn't originate all the things in it that have become conventions, it codified them and made them requirements.  Mr. Montgomery more than holds his own with heavyweights like Chester Morris and Wallace Beery as a spineless wastrel who gets in bad with the system and turns into a snake.

 

Love in the Rough (1930).  Innocent and diverting romp on a golf course.  The musical numbers are fun.

 

The Easiest Way (1931).  A Constance Bennett vehicle moralizing against the evils of being a kept woman.  Mr. Montgomery plays the hope for a clean future.  Does it work out?

 

The Man in Possession (1931).  Drawing room farce in an actual drawing room, partly.  Robert Montgomery plays the black sheep expelled from a family who finds work as a bailiff taking possession of the house of a woman who is engaged, omigod!, the the sheep's brother.  Hilarity ensues.

 

Private Lives (1931).  Generally good adaptation of whatsizname's play.  Gets a little shouty at times, but on the whole, good performances by the leading quartet.  Nice to see Una Merkel get something more than the usual wise-cracking side-kick.

 

Gotta go now, but I'll be back later with more suggestions.

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Robert Montgomery was a good actor, adept at both polished light comedy (which seemed to be his casting specialty for a long while), as well as drama. Cast against type in 1937 as a charming psychopath in Night Must Fall he gives a commendable performance, though Dame May Whitty, as his victim, may well be his equal here.

 

The problem for me is that in his long career, primarily at MGM, Montgomery appeared in just so much puffery, a long collection of films that, in retrospect, blend into one another.

 

It's significant, I feel, that it was on a loan out from MGM, to Columbia for Here Comes Mr. Jordan, where the actor had one of his best remembered roles and performances.

 

His subjective camera directorial effort, Lady in the Lake, is an ambitious production. It also turns into a largely tiresome film, more of a mechanical technical exercise than it is a high voltage adaption of Chandler. Its greater fame than most Montgomery films is undoubtedly due more to the fact that all things film noir get attention from some noir fans today than it is to the quality of the final product.

 

"Lady" is the most famous of the actor's handful of directorial efforts, though it would be good to see Ride the Pink Horse again.

 

A final note: I always thought that Montgomery and Carole Lombard were a charming screen couple in Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The material might be light weight but the two stars showed genuine chemistry, and there are some highly amusing moments to be found courtesy both performers. It's a shame it was their sole co-starring effort.

 

mr-and-mrs-smith-44.jpg?w=800

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I generally like George Montgomery, and many of the films he did. He was THE male sensation of 1930, but a year or so later, was eclipsed for attention by a new tougher breed exemplified by James Cagney, and especially, Clark Gable. However, his suave persona and skillful comedy playing kept him busy throughout the 30s on the many drawing room comedies, and later, screwballs popular that decade. As mentioned, he grew as an actor in more challenging fare, mostly starting in the 40s.

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I agree about Robert Montgomery deserving another tribute. If not Star of the Month, then at least a Summer Under the Stars day in August.

 

I've been considering new themes I'd like to cover in the Essentials forum. I'm probably going to do a month later this year focusing on Elizabeth Montgomery and the superb TV films she made in the 70s. Most are available thru the Warner Archives so I can help promote them, while celebrating the fact there was much talent in the Montgomery family. Robert and Elizabeth should be recognized just as much as Henry and Jane Fonda.

 

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Robert Montgomery was a good actor, adept at both polished light comedy (which seemed to be his casting specialty for a long while), as well as drama. Cast against type in 1937 as a charming psychopath in Night Must Fall he gives a commendable performance, though Dame May Whitty, as his victim, may well be his equal here.

 

The problem for me is that in his long career, primarily at MGM, Montgomery appeared in just so much puffery, a long collection of films that, in retrospect, blend into one another.

 

It's significant, I feel, that it was on a loan out from MGM, to Columbia for Here Comes Mr. Jordan, where the actor had one of his best remembered roles and performances.

 

His subjective camera directorial effort, Lady in the Lake, is an ambitious production. It also turns into a largely tiresome film, more of a mechanical technical exercise than it is a high voltage adaption of Chandler. Its greater fame than most Montgomery films is undoubtedly due more to the fact that all things film noir get attention from some noir fans today than it is to the quality of the final product.

 

"Lady" is the most famous of the actor's handful of directorial efforts, though it would be good to see Ride the Pink Horse again.

 

A final note: I always thought that Montgomery and Carole Lombard were a charming screen couple in Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The material might be light weight but the two stars showed genuine chemistry, and there are some highly amusing moments to be found courtesy both performers. It's a shame it was their sole co-starring effort.

 

 

 

Well said.    This thread got me to review Montogmery's filmography and while I like him as an actor (charming and witty) ther are only a handful of films he starred in that I count as must-see.

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  I would love to see his final screen appearance in an American film. ONCE MORE, MY DARLING was made at Universal in 1949. His co-star in this comedy was Ann Blyth. It would be a TCM premiere and that makes it even more desirable. 

I just checked the original january2006 schedule,i was under the impression they showed everything except Letty,finally they showed 49 films but not ONCE MORE, MY DARLING.

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I just checked the original january2006 schedule,i was under the impression they showed everything except Letty,finally they showed 49 films but not ONCE MORE, MY DARLING.

 

My guess is they also did not show his other Universal film THE SAXON CHARM. Or did they?

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Robert was star of the month in january 2006 if i remember well,TCM showed all his films except for Letty Linton,i like him very much,he deserves another shot for sure.

 

 

Gosh, yer right!  I'm divided about my mistake.  My purpose in these threads is to highlight big bygone stars that haven't received Star of the Month recognition.  If I'd 'a searched the list in stickies better, I probably wouldn't 'a done this thread.  But since I did, I'm not sorry.

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I've been considering new themes I'd like to cover in the Essentials forum. I'm probably going to do a month later this year focusing on Elizabeth Montgomery and the superb TV films she made in the 70s. Most are available thru the Warner Archives so I can help promote them, while celebrating the fact there was much talent in the Montgomery family. Robert and Elizabeth should be recognized just as much as Henry and Jane Fonda.

 

 

 

 

Don't forget Missing Pieces (1983).  I saw it long ago, but I remember liking it a lot.

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Don't forget Missing Pieces (1983).  I saw it long ago, but I remember liking it a lot.

 

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-19-21-pm1.pn

 

I don't think I've seen it. Looking at her screen credits-- Elizabeth Montgomery made 24 TV movies and one miniseries. She was a fine actress who unfortunately is remembered mostly for playing a sitcom character. But she did receive many Emmy nominations, for her comedy work and her serious dramatic roles. Of course, the best of these is probably her stunning portrayal of Lizzie Borden.

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screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-19-21-pm1.pn

 

I don't think I've seen it. Looking at her screen credits-- Elizabeth Montgomery made 24 TV movies and one miniseries. She was a fine actress who unfortunately is remembered mostly for playing a sitcom character. But she did receive many Emmy nominations, for her comedy work and her serious dramatic roles. Of course, the best of these is probably her stunning portrayal of Lizzie Borden.

 

 

 

Is any actor well respected based on a career of mostly made for T.V. movies and miniseries?

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Haven't forgotten about you, TikiSoo.  Here's more movies:

 

But the Flesh is Weak (1932).  Charming comedy with Robert Montgomery and C. Aubrey Smith playing son and father who depend on the kindness of women for their next dinner.  They practice the ancient and respected tradition of stiffing their creditors, while looking for rich women to marry.  

 

Blondie of the Follies (1932).  A Marion Davies movie.  Robert Montgomery plays the love interest.  The fun in the movie comes from the relationship between Marion Davies and Billie Dove, one of the original pair of frienemies.

 

Hell Below (1933).  Surprisingly tough movie about a submarine Lieutenant who unknowingly falls in love with his commander's daughter.  A daughter who's married.  Maybe it's melodramatic how the impasse is resolved.  But no punches are pulled.

 

Riptide (1934).  Already mentioned.

 

Hide-Out (1934).  A womanizing enforcer for a gangster has to lam it from town to beat some temporary heat.  On the way he gets injured and recovers at a rural family's house.  There he meets their daughter, falls in love, and becomes a Changed Man. . . .ooooo, yes, I know, it's contrived, even for Hollywood.  But there are a number of things to like in it.  The best is the back-and-forth between Mr. Montgomery and Maureen O'Sullivan.  And it's one of the few movies a young Mikey Rooney isn't intolerable in.

 

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937).  Boy, did MGM get a lot of mileage out of this war horse, making, what?, three versions.  Surprisingly, all the remakes were not too bad.  This one is Joan Crawford's outing.

 

Night Must Fall (1937).  Robert Montgomery in one of his best, most powerful roles plays a manipulating user who insinuates himself into the affections and attractions of an invalid woman and her spinster daughter.  It won't be giving too much away to say he's a bad boy, whose done bad things, and is destined to come to a bad end.  Dame Mae Witty and Rosalind Russell are formidable presences, but Mr. Montgomery is equal to them.  You'll also find Hitchcock wasn't the first to have Something Unspeakable in a hatbox.

 

Ride the Pink Horse (1947).  Robert Montgomery's follow-up to Lady in the Lake.  A much-admired film noir that was around once, but has since become scarce.  Can we hope to see it?  

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Ride the Pink Horse (1947).  Robert Montgomery's follow-up to Lady in the Lake.  A much-admired film noir that was around once, but has since become scarce.  Can we hope to see it?  

 

Actually "Ride The Pink Horse" is part of the Criterion collection. Another two that are really good are "The Saxon Charm" and "Once More My Darling", which were both made at Universal, but are not on DVD. Montgomery was last SOTM in January 2006. It's been eleven years. It would be good to see all of his films again.

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Is any actor well respected based on a career of mostly made for T.V. movies and miniseries?

 

There might be some. If they work in telefilms and miniseries with quality production values, and offer exceptional performances in them. It's possible for a person to gain prestige on screen without being a feature film star.

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Actually "Ride The Pink Horse" is part of the Criterion collection. Another two that are really good are "The Saxon Charm" and "Once More My Darling", which were both made at Universal, but are not on DVD. Montgomery was last SOTM in January 2006. It's been eleven years. It would be good to see all of his films again.

 

 

That's good to know!  Maybe that would make it more available to TCM.

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Don't forget Missing Pieces (1983).  I saw it long ago, but I remember liking it a lot.

 

If this thread is deviating a bit from Robert Montgomery to also include daughter Elizabeth, then I want to make reference to a 1985 made for TV movie, Amos.

 

Kirk Douglas plays a senior who is committed to a nursing home run by an iron willed nurse who has all of the other seniors intimidated. Douglas is naturally rebellious against her rule but as time progresses, things turn darker and more ominous for those under the nurse's rule.

 

Montgomery steals the film, playing the nurse as a dedicated professional with a sweet smile to the outside world, but with a dark side to her character once the doors to her establishment are closed. Once Douglas discovers just how deadly she can become, his problem is that no authorities in the outside world will believe him, a "doddering" senior, when he complains.

 

This film has decided overtones of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and is well worth seeing. The supporting cast includes Dorothy McGuire, and Ray Walston, but it's Montgomery's cold blooded characterization, and the cleverness of the screenplay in how Douglas' character deals with her that remain in the memory.

 

amos01.jpg

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I generally like George Montgomery, and many of the films he did. He was THE male sensation of 1930, but a year or so later, was eclipsed for attention by a new tougher breed exemplified by James Cagney, and especially, Clark Gable. However, his suave persona and skillful comedy playing kept him busy throughout the 30s on the many drawing room comedies, and later, screwballs popular that decade. As mentioned, he grew as an actor in more challenging fare, mostly starting in the 40s.

 

 

George Montgomery??? :D

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