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Arturo

LINDA DARNELL for Star of the Month October 2013

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*Alice Faye is sometimes referred to as the female Bing Crosby. She plays a special role in the history of Hollywood motion pictures-- the history of Fox in particular. Plus, she occupies exalted status in the recording industry and for many years played a key role on American radio. One of her better films is THE GREAT AMERICAN BROADCAST, which probably combines all her unique talents the best.*

*But we will now get back to the Linda Darnell Show on Arturo's broadcast network.*

Well, Alice Faye's and Linda Darnell's movie careers converged twice in a tangible way. In Spring 1943, Linda began filming a musical, THE GIRLS HE LEFT BEHIND, also starring Faye and Carmen Miranda. During this time, Darnell eloped to Las Vegas with cameraman Peverell Marley, more than twice Linda's age. The studio was aghast, thinking Linda would ruin her image. Soon after, she sprained her ankle (I believe) while working on a dance routine, and was taken out of the film. In fact, she was suspended, (most likely) in retaliation for the displeasure she supposedly caused the studio. B movie contractee Sheila Ryan replaced her in what was released as THE GANG'S ALL HERE, Busby Berkeley's camp classic.

The second time, of course, is when both starred in the 1945 noir FALLEN ANGEL. After reputedly turning down 17 scripts, Faye accepted the role of June Mills, and was happy to be doing a good ACTING role in a non-musical, a NOIR even. When the film was released, she was livid because she felt most of her best scenes had been cut out, in order to build Linda's part. She left the studio, and refused all of Zanuck's attempts to bring her back. One of the feelers he would put out to her was the proposed A LETTER TO FIVE WIVES, which of course emerged with two wives missing. If it had transpired, this would have been a third time Alice and Linda would have worked on a film.

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My favorite quote of Alice Faye's is that she said her voice was deeper than the plots of most of her films (musicals). FALLEN ANGEL holds up remarkably well and I think it somehow does have balance among the three leads...and she and Linda both work well with Dana Andrews.

 

Arturo, is this correct? I read that Alice was upset in particular that a musical number of hers was cut from ANGEL, which is ironic since she wanted more dramatic fare.

 

It's too bad that Zanuck wouldn't let her out of her contract. I think Alice Faye could've done very well with the kinds of roles Ann Sheridan was doing at Warners in the mid-to-late 1940s. THE UNFAITHFUL would've been a good picture for her, and so would NORA PRENTISS. As it is, with the exception of her two loan-outs to Universal, Alice Faye is a rare example of a star whose image is mostly branded with one studio. She did not get the chance to freelance like other big names in Hollywood.

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*Arturo, is this correct? I read that Alice was upset in particular that a musical number of hers was cut from ANGEL, which is ironic since she wanted more dramatic fare.*

 

They did film a number, I believe it was "Slowly", the ballad that Linda is always requesting from the cafe jukebox. I don't think she was upset when it was cut (most of her musicals had at least one number cut), especially since she knew that it might break the mood. Plus, as is, it is identified as Stella's (Darnell) song, and if June sings it, then this is no longer clear. She WAS upset at the scenes that were cut, thinking her best work was among them, and felt she ended up as a one dimensional painted up dummy. It would be nice if some of the excised footage could be found, restored and include it as extra footage....also if her doing "Slowly" were added, which I think she did along with the car radio on the wat to the beach with Dana Andrews.

 

BTW, I believe that's Dick Haymes, 20th's then resident Sinatra clone, doing the singing of the jukebox version.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 6, 2012 3:10 PM

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A Letter to FIVE Wives??? Now that's something to contemplate. Wonder what the other 2 were like? The movie seemed long enough with THREE (With Mank's affinity for talk....)

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Yes, the original story and the early treatments had five wives; later it was announced as Four wives, with Anne Baxter cast as the fourth. Zanuck is the one who felt it would work better dramatically if Mankiewicz concentrated on less characters, as well as being better able to flesh out the individual stories.

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*Alice Faye is a rare example of a star whose image is mostly branded with one studio. She did not get the chance to freelance like other big names in Hollywood.*

 

Well most stars in the 30s and 40s were unable to freelance; they were locked to their studio. They were sometimes able to go on loan-out to another studio, but that varied quite a bit. Often times valuable stars were not allowed to be borrowed (Alice Faye, Betty Grable or Lana Turner in the 40s), or if they were, an exorbitant fee might be charged. Or a loanout might be deemed as having NOT been beneficial to the star, even harmful (Tyrone Power in MARIE ANTOINETTE-Zanuck never allowed him to be borrowed again, to Power's frustration) Sometimes a star was loaned out to punish him (Clark Gable in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, but after GWTW he remained at MGM for the duration of his contract). Some studios with lesser resources often had their stars become stars, or remain so, by loaning them out often to better-endowed studios (Jane Russell/RKO).

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Interesting post. Well, Darnell, Power and the others eventually ran their course with Zanuck and Fox and were able to find outside deals with other studios. Grable had been a Paramount contract player for several years before she signed with Fox, so her career can be divided into two distinct chapters. But Faye was defined by her association with Fox. Even on her radio series with husband Phil Harris, it would be announced that she was appearing courtesy of 20th Century Fox, a reminder that Zanuck owned her and that Fox would not let her go.

 

What I want to know is who negotiated the deal for her to return in the remake of STATE FAIR. Was that when Zanuck had been ousted? Or was he back in charge at that point? Maybe he and Alice Faye had kissed and made up.

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*What I want to know is who negotiated the deal for her to return in the remake of STATE FAIR. Was that when Zanuck had been ousted? Or was he back in charge at that point? Maybe he and Alice Faye had kissed and made up.*

 

I think the 1962 version of STATE FAIR was probably green-lighted (-lit?) before Zanuck's return. But Faye was also ready to do another one, as her daughters were grown and away in college by this point.

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*But considering how commercial TCM has become and how it is so market-driven now, my guess is that they would go with a more sell-able name like Gene Tierney or Betty Grable. More sell-able because more of their films are available on home video. DVDs, kaching.*

 

Well a fair number of Linda Darnell's movies are on DVD:

 

DAY-TIME WIFE

BRIGHAM YOUNG

THE MARK OF ZORRO

BLOOD AND SAND

CITY WITHOUT MEN

IT HAPPENED TOMORROW

SUMMER STORM

HANGOVER SQUARE

FALLEN ANGEL

ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES

NO WAY OUT

ISLAND OF DESIRE

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE

ZERO HOUR

 

So that's 17 movies on DVD, if that is what drives TCM's selections.

 

Plus, at least two of her films have been announced and/or released under the Fox Archive Classics:

 

SLATTERY'S HURRICANE

EVERYBODY DOES IT

 

And, at least a couple have been released in Spain (probably not compatible with our DVD players):

 

FOREVER AMBER

TWO FLAGS WEST

 

Seems if TCM sells most or all of these titles, that would make a significant tie-in to their SOTM.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 6, 2012 8:58 PM

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It is surprising that FOREVER AMBER has not had a North American DVD release.

 

Recently, I purchased some episodes of a soap opera from a company in Germany. While they are region 2, it is easy to re-set the media player on my MacBook and view them on the computer.

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*It is surprising that FOREVER AMBER has not had a North American DVD release.*

 

Surprising to me also. A decent version plays occasionally on Fox Movie Channel, as well as recently on HBO/Cinemax. Maybe it'll be a part of the Fox Archive Cinema series, but it really deserves a full-blown legitimate release. I've mentioned a number of times on these boards that one of my most fervent wishes is for a restored version of FOREVER AMBER, with (hope against hope) extra footage as a special feature. Seems that quite a bit that was filmed was not used, partially because Zanuck seemed to confine his epics to no more than two and a half hours, and partially because some cuts were made to appease the overactive censors.

 

The making of this movie, trouble-plagued as it was, has always fascinated me. I recently found, and bought, on Amazon a book on the making of AMBER. For a rather slim tome it covers a lot of ground, and helped me fill in some of the blanks. It describes the storylines of the various successive scripts, successive casts and directors. As in all stories of the making of classic Hollywood movies, I found it hard to put down. It;s called "Forever Amber: From Novel to Film".

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A bigger question is why she agreed to come back in that thankless role..............

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No, sorry, I meant Faye in that State Fair remake. I've never seen Forever Amber.........

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*No, sorry, I meant Faye in that State Fair remake. I've never seen Forever Amber.........*

 

My bad lol. Here I go on a tirade about the wrong filmand actress. Sometimes I'm not sure what post someone is referring to; earlier, here, Topbilled answered me about an "Interesting post". But I have no idea which of my posts he was referring to (not that I think all of my posts are interesting lol). Anyway, I'm not sure why Faye would take the rather secondary role in SF, especially since she had rejected the lead in the 1945 version, as this was when she was rejecting musicals left and right.

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*With five wives in the mix, the film would have been too "busy" and confusing.*

 

Which is why Zanuck, known for his skills as an editor, even ruthlessly so, had Mankiewicz cut out one, then another of the wives.

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*Well a fair number of Linda Darnell's movies are on DVD:*

 

**I'm not sure, but I thin there is a DVD release of BUFFALO BILL also.**

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Most of your posts have been interesting and informative in this thread.

 

>I'm not sure why Faye would take the rather secondary role in SF, especially since she had rejected the lead in the 1945 version, as this was when she was rejecting musicals left and right.

 

I think she still owed Fox a picture, since Zanuck had not dissolved the contract. So here she is 17 years later making a comeback of sorts. It probably helped that Zanuck had been booted out of the company for awhile, and this is what signaled her willingness to return, as he would not be meddling with her performance.

 

As we all know, he did return to the throne and while she made some cameos in later years, she never had another important film role and certainly not another one at Fox.

 

In the 1980s, though, she was back in the public spotlight with her work for Pfizer Corporation. Plus she toured with favorite leading man John Payne. She had a good life, but as Zanuck learned, you do not mess with a girl from Hell's Kitchen.

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*I've never seen Forever Amber.........*

 

Hibi,

If you like historical epics, with a wealth of accurate period detail, sumptuous sets and costumes, colorful cinematography, a rousing score and a compelling storyline, then you will probably enjoy FOREVER AMBER. Better than its middling reputation would have you believe IMHO, it is flawed but has much to recommend it. Crippled in being able to recreate the most salacious material of the bestseller, from its inception as a movie due to ever-present production code, it still emerge as a creditable telling the (then) well-known tale. Hopefully, it will be broadcast soon on TCM, whether as part of a Linda Darnell SOTM celebration or not. And with widespread exposure of this type, maybe it will signal the beginning of its reputation being rightfully rehabilitated IMHO.

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I see that later this month, on Dec, 22, TCM will be showing TWIST OF FATE, which had been released originally in England under the title of BEAUTIFUL STRANGER. Ginger Rogers and her new husband, Jacques Bergerac, are two of the stars of this movie. Prior to their involvement, director David Miller had discussed the possibility of Linda Darnell doing this film. These talks fell through; I believe Miller was trying to have Linda invest in the venture, something she was unwilling or unable to do at this time. So Miller approached Ginger with the proposal. Ginger agreed to it, with the specification that her new husband, who was quite a bit younger than her, be cast in it.

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Arturo,

 

In this thread you wrote about a book that you bought regarding Linda Darnell. Thanks for mentioning that.

 

A book that is a prized possession of mine is *The Alice Faye Movie Book* which goes into considerable detail about all of Alice's motion pictures. The author is W. Franklyn Moshier, and there is a foreword by director Henry King.

 

Moshier says that Fox had high hopes FALLEN ANGEL would be another LAURA (same lead actor, same director and so forth). This was a switch from the glossy musicals Alice had been doing.

 

Alice is quoted by Moshier who researched and wrote the book in the mid-1970s. She says her best scenes were not used by Zanuck. She felt the sequences leading up to and including the song ('Slowly') made her character more believable than she seems in the edited release. Alice felt Zanuck had ruined the film, and she tells Moshier that after she viewed the finished version, she could not even go back to her dressing room. She drove off the lot and left her keys with the gate attendant. That was the end.

 

Interestingly, most critics loved the film. It was called an 'edge-of-your-seat' melodrama with fast, high-playing tension. The New York Times reviewer did side with Alice saying the script had shortcomings (probably not realizing there had been more that had been filmed and cut). Dana Andrews was singled out for his performance and Linda Darnell for her beauty as the sultry siren. Alice was said to be at her most graceful in FALLEN ANGEL.

 

The film performed well at the box office, but movie patrons expressed dissatisfaction that Alice did not sing in the picture. Photoplay magazine concurred: 'We could have used a song in there, Alice.' They should have directed that remark at Zanuck, though I am sure it was pointed out to him. Meanwhile, Alice had fled the studio for good and it would be another sixteen years before she came back to film scenes for the remake of STATE FAIR.

 

Incidentally, a version of 'Slowly' was released featuring vocals by Rudy Vallee, not Dick Haymes.

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*In this thread you wrote about a book that you bought regarding Linda Darnell. Thanks for mentioning that.*

 

*A book that is a prized possession of mine is The Alice Faye Movie Book which goes into considerable detail about all of Alice's motion pictures. The author is W. Franklyn Moshier, and there is a foreword by director Henry King.*

 

I also have the Alice Faye Movie Book, and enjoy perusing through it occasionally. Besides the book I mentioned, "Forever Amber: From Novel to Film", I have "Linda Darnell, Hollywood Beauty", and a home-made job I recently found online, "Linda Darnell: The Girl With the Perfect Face". This last one I can't recommend; besides poor quality picture reproduction (it's a photo book of Linda's movies basically), t]some are distorted to fit the space. Worse, some are out of order, representing the wrong movie, and there are some inaccuracies in the text, but as a fan of Linda's who has suffered a drought on published information on her since I first started to like her, it was welcome.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 8, 2012 6:18 PM

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Sounds like you just need to write your own book about Linda, so Bob or Ben can invite you to help introduce her films and co-host the month-long retrospective!

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