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Too bad we're seeing the wrong Jeanette MacDonald


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Obviously, you can't do 24 hours of Jeanette MacDonald without including some of her Nelson Eddy operettas, and I have no problem with that. Unfortunately, we're seeing little, if any, of the more interesting Jeanette -- the work she did with Ernst Lubitsch and/or Maurice Chevalier. (The only instance today of that Jeanette is "The Merry Widow," scheduled for late night in the East.)

 

It's unfortunate that we can't see "The Love Parade," a film technically advanced for its time (the fall of 1929), especially since TCM has shown it in the past, or "Monte Carlo," with the briliant song "Beyond The Blue Horizon." I take it TCM has yet to come to a deal with Universal (which owns much of the pre-1948 Paramount catalog), and while I hear occasional talk that something is imminent, it apparently hasn't come to fruition. (There's so much in the early Paramount vaults Universal is holding that cries out for TCM exposure -- and while many of those films may be little better than programmers, if we can see programmers from Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell and James Cagney, we deserve to see them from Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper, too.)

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This is not meant as a disrespectful slam. Obviously, TCM has made strides during its annual SUTS festival to include some Fox entries and a few titles from Paramount or Universal where it could (though usually those are the more well-known and oft-played essential titles, not always what some fans are longing to see).

 

However, it does seem a bit gimmicky the way household names are mostly selected and used to advertise a series that is basically a clever re-working of the Turner Library lineup of usual suspects. When the hype fades, viewers who stuck with SUTS all month, and especially those return viewers who stuck with it last summer and summers before that, well, a pattern is detected. This is not a good or a bad pattern. But it is a predictable pattern, and this is why we have so many cancerous threads bemoaning the fact that TCM does not play anything new or that TCM is boring.

 

The programmers are bringing it on themselves, not through a lack of creativity, but obviously because of a limit in budget or lack of greater resources and access to acquiring outside classic films from the other studios.

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Also it's a shame TCM is showing *Bitter Sweet*+,+ a film that is disliked by Noel Coward aficionados. During a recent Noel Coward Festival in NYC, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, intending to screen the 1933 Anna Neagle version, mistakenly got the MacDonald version. When the credits came up, the audience became aghast. They showed the film but had to give refunds and got the proper film shipped in for a later screening.

 

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Swithin,

 

I think you are derailing the conversation a bit. Anna Neagle is not the SUTS honoree, Jeanette MacDonald is, so it is certainly acceptable that TCM would air that version of BITTER SWEET on this day.

 

Your complaint would be better lodged if it were an evening spotlight of films based on works by Noel Coward. Then you would certainly be right to gripe that TCM is not showing the best film version of that intellectual property.

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Hi TopBilled,

 

I'm afraid I wasn't clear. I wasn't saying that TCM should show the Anna Neagle film instead of the MacDonald Bitter Sweet. I was saying that the MacDonald version is so reviled by people who love the work that it should not be shown at all. It's considered an embarrassment. Plenty of other MacDonald works, which aren't being shown, some of which have been mentioned, would have been better options, rather than a second-rate remake.

 

So I am now exactly on the topic of the thread: "Too bad we're seeing the wrong Jeanette MacDonald."

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I see what you are saying. But since this one is in the Turner Library and since it is not lost, they are going to air it.

 

Apparently, from your standpoint, seeing Miss MacDonald in THE SUN COMES UP with Lassie, would be better than her version of BITTER SWEET.

 

I hope the programmers are reading your comments! :)

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>Regarding TCM's deal with Universal (which was first mentioned years ago), the transcontinental railroad was built in less time. Of course, when it finally happens, we'll probably be inundated with Hope & Crosby, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd and Betty Hutton.

 

Maybe the deal fell through...?

 

You're right, that those would be the stars they would feature, plus Dorothy Lamour. And there would be endless repeats of Cecil B. DeMille classics.

 

They would not really show many of the pre-codes or the classics from the 1930s. Maybe an occasional W.C. Fields film, that would be about it.

 

We know how this pony rides. But still, we love TCM...it's better than nothing.

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I had the very good fortune of seeing some of the cut scenes from "Bittersweet", at MGM back in the late 1970's. This included the prologue with Miss MacDonald as the elderly Lady Shayne and included footage containing the songs "The Call of Life" and "If Love Were All". Had they been included in the release print, it would have been a better film, more in keeping with the spirit of Coward's work, although Miss MacDonald and Mr. Eddy would have had to do the film 3 or 4 years earlier to be more believable in their roles.

 

Because of the similarity to "Maytime" and its footage of Miss MacDonald as an elderly woman telling her story, the "powers that be" decided to edit "Bittersweet" to its present form and I think did a great disservice in the process. However, there are moments that stand out including the exquisite "Zigeuner" number. Ultimately, however, the delicacy and beauty of Coward's work is lost in a mammoth production.

 

While many of Miss MacDonald's MGM films are enjoyable (I love her chemistry with Allan Jones in "The Firefly" and both "The Merry Widow" and "The Cat and the Fiddle" allow her to utilize her exceptional comic skills), even I wish that MGM had let her do some of the things she did so well at Paramount and at Fox, too. Anyone seeing those or pieces of the films and not equating the luminous leading lady with the Queen of Operetta, would say, "she's good....."

 

 

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Let me clarify: I really wasn't blaming TCM or its programmers for this; they only can play with the hand they are dealt, and at this time, airing 24 hours of Jeanette means lots of MacDonald as iron butterly (MGM), hardly any of her as saucy lingerie queen (Paramount).

 

And down the road, should TCM and Universal come to an agreement on leasing library product, I have no doubt TCM will air plenty of obscure stuff, provided it's in sufficient condition to air. And since many of these movies have aired at repertory houses, e.g., Film Forum's Lombard retrospective of late 2008, I have no doubt TCM will be able to show most of these films.

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A whole other Jeanette ?

 

Per Wikipedia:

 

In the 1960s, MacDonald was approached about starring on Broadway in a musical version of Sunset Blvd. Harold Prince recounts in his autobiography, visiting MacDonald at her home in Bel Air to discuss the proposed project. Composer Hugh Martin also wrote a song for the musical entitled, "Wasn't It Romantic?"

 

(I doubt her health would have allowed it, but it's interesting to consider.)

 

jmacdonald.jpg

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>And down the road, should TCM and Universal come to an agreement on leasing library product, I have no doubt TCM will air plenty of obscure stuff, provided it's in sufficient condition to air.

 

I am going to disagree. They will air something like THE PLAINSMAN, directed by DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur because those are household names and can increase primetime viewership. Yes, THE PLAINSMAN, would be chosen over an obscure Paramount pre-code called MY SIN with Frederic March and Tallulah Bankhead. Sure, there will be an evening of Paramount or Universal pre-codes, but of the four they choose, one will easily be a Mae West offering and not too obscure.

 

Edited by: TopBilled on Aug 27, 2012 11:59 AM

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Just watched "Naughty Marietta." I have it on VHS, but never got around to watching it for some reason. I know all of the songs, of course.

 

 

Magic. Pure magic.

 

 

Answer to the other post. That's why I love classic films. . . for the magic.

 

 

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}

> > Regarding TCM's deal with Universal (which was first mentioned years ago), the transcontinental railroad was built in less time. Of course, when it finally happens, we'll probably be inundated with Hope & Crosby, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd and Betty Hutton.

> Maybe the deal fell through...?

>

> You're right, that those would be the stars they would feature, plus Dorothy Lamour. And there would be endless repeats of Cecil B. DeMille classics.

>

> They would not really show many of the pre-codes or the classics from the 1930s. Maybe an occasional W.C. Fields film, that would be about it.

>

> We know how this pony rides. But still, we love TCM...it's better than nothing.

Of course, I want more obscure things like THE CROSBY CASE, NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS, The Universal "Crime Club" films, the pairings of ZaSu Pitts and Slim Summmerville, GIFT OF GAB, THE ROAD BACK, CHINATOWN SQUAD, MADAME SPY, THE COUNTESS OF MONTE CRISTO, CHEATING CHEATERS, etc/, etc.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}

> > And down the road, should TCM and Universal come to an agreement on leasing library product, I have no doubt TCM will air plenty of obscure stuff, provided it's in sufficient condition to air.

> I am going to disagree. They will air something like THE PLAINSMAN, directed by DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur because those are household names and can increase primetime viewership. Yes, THE PLAINSMAN, would be chosen over an obscure Paramount pre-code called MY SIN with Frederic March and Tallulah Bankhead. Sure, there will be an evening of Paramount or Universal pre-codes, but of the four they choose, one will easily be a Mae West offering and not too obscure.

 

I'm seeing more cynical girls (and guys) on this thread than Marshall Crenshaw could ever imagine.

 

When TCM leased the rights to Columbia product, you saw all sorts of obscurities -- often in dayparts, mind you, but airing just the same. I can't imagine TCM being allowed to run Universal and pre-1948 Paramount without running lots of the lesser-known stuff previously unavailable to the channel. As a Lombard fan, that would probably equate to seeing "Up Pops The Devil," "No One Man," "Bolero" and the like -- none of them classics, but all worth seeing at least once if you're a fan of the star. Same thing applies for Claudette Colbert with "Torch Singer," "I Cover The Waterfront" and so on.

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My posts on the subject are not meant to be cynical, just realistic. I think it's better to safe guard readers against false hopes. The reality is that TCM is not an umbrella type operation showing hordes of classic pictures from all the studios the way the old AMC was. Now if they do strike a deal with Universal and it does come to fruition that titles like the ones you mentioned are airing fairly often, then that will be very much appreciated. I just do not see it playing out that way, for a variety of reasons.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}My posts on the subject are not meant to be cynical, just realistic. I think it's better to safe guard readers against false hopes. The reality is that TCM is not an umbrella type operation showing hordes of classic pictures from all the studios the way the old AMC was. Now if they do strike a deal with Universal and it does come to fruition that titles like the ones you mentioned are airing fairly often, then that will be very much appreciated. I just do not see it playing out that way, for a variety of reasons.

 

Heck, if TCM got the pre-'48 Paramount/Universal rights, they could run close to a full SUTS day of Cary Grant films from before "Topper" and "The Awful Truth" put him on the map in late 1937.

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Lots of conjecture here. I would hope that the obsession with "household names" would not play into showing any of the new "old" films, should TCM acquire those titles. I would like to see those rare old Mae West films -- Every Day's a Holiday and Klondike Annie -- but I am weary of the star ****ing which goes on, on this board. Let's celebrate the lesser-known, the character people, and not comb the streets for yet another Cary Grant film. I really want to see those Universal titles that Prince S. posts from time to time.

 

 

 

 

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