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Anna Neagle


DownGoesFrazier
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Every once in a while, RO says something that really blows me away. Last night, he mentioned that Anna Neagle was the top British female film star (in the UK) in the '30s and '40s. My research confirmed this. This was very surprising to me because, frankly, I had barely heard of her. She made very little impact in the US.

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A rare Neagle U.S. film was a nice Ray Milland musical comedy in 1940 called IRENE. It's a bit of a curiosity as most of it is black and white but there's a Technicolor party sequence in the middle.

 

I have a Region 2 boxed set of Neagle's films. Good stuff including VICTORIA THE GREAT and I LIVE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE (shown on TCM last night, also known as A YANK IN LONDON).

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I would _love_ to see more of Anna Neagle's films on TCM. There is also another British star who was one of the biggest they ever had in the Thirties but not remembered much today, Jessie Matthews and there are only a few of her films out on DVD in the UK, so I hope TCM might show them. One of the films she was in was the first English version of the 1933 German film, Viktor und Victoria, called First A Girl (1936):

 

4972769420_3e1b1bb1e1.jpg

 

And she had quite the life:

http://www.nickelinthemachine.com/2009/04/berwick-street-and-the-rivals-in-love-jessie-matthews-and-evelyn-laye/

 

(Sorry, now returning to Anna Neagle.)

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I agree about Anna Neagle. She was quite good in *Irene* but I missed the other TCM showings. Oddly, *Irene* had been made in the 20s with Colleen Moore starring in the silent color version. Neagle's other 2 Hollywood films were *No, No Nanette* and *Sunny,* a remake of Marilyn Miller's old musical. Neagle was a major film star in UK in the 30s and 40s and ranked as #1 female star for 7 straight years.

 

Jessie Matthews was wonderful. I have most of her musicals. *First a Girl* is excellent but her best is probably *Evergreen*. I have no idea if TCM has ever shown her films. Matthews was supposed to star with Fred Astaire in a film but it never came off. Also look for *Gangway* and *Sailing Along.*

 

Another discovery are the British comedies of Will Hay in the 30s and 40s. He's hilarious as the bumbling blowhard, often a fake professor. He's often teamed with Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott. They are fast and funny comedies.

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I have prints of Neagle's IRENE; SUNNY; YELLOW CANARY; WINGS AND THE WOMAN and LILACS IN THE SPRING, in which she co-starred with Errol Flynn. I found her to be a delightful and natural actress with a light and lilting singing voice. She was married to her longtime producer-director Herbert Wilcox. Neagle was a major force in raising bonds for Britain during World War II.

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