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Arturo

LINDA DARNELL for Star of the Month October 2013

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*I watched both films. I liked them both, of course.*

 

*Linda does not play a very prominent role in THE 13TH LETTER, and I shall comment about that in my new thread on January 1st.*

 

*HOTEL FOR WOMEN is certainly a vehicle for her talents and charms. Of course, she and Ann Sothern would work together again a decade later on A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.*

 

Linda was one of a large cast of principals in THE 13TH LETTER, so her screen time wasn't that prominent, despite being top-billed. This was Charles Boyer's first role in awhile, and his first where he is no longer the romantic lead. Michael Rennie, as the object of romantic accusations, doesn't measure up IMO, but is effective nonetheless. Constance Smith, a new signee at Fox, got the role originally assigned to Maureen O'Hara; not surewhy Maureen didn't do it, but I think her shared contract with the studio might've been up. Ths is a low-key, somber, but compelling melodrama.

 

HOTEL FOR WOMEN, Linda's debut at age 15, shows her in the first bloom of her success. Her age was added to by the studio so she could successfully play a romantic lead. Ann Sothern was offered a contract by Fox at this time, as did MGM. When Ann accepted the MGM deal, her footage in HFW was reputedly cut quite a bit. Who knows how she would have fared at 20th, but methinks she would have gotten mostly Bs and programmers, as she did at Metro.

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I really enjoyed both these films, for very different reasons. I hope you check out the commentary I will post on January 1 in the Film Criticism Vol. 2 thread. I don't like the way Preminger uses her amid set pieces and I go off on that tangent a bit!

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Topbilled,

 

Where is this thread to be found? Or is it one to be started by you?

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It is here in the General Discussions forum. I created it a few days ago and it's probably on the second page. I listed the first week of films I will be discussing, and I am starting with THE 13TH LETTER.

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Are you going to contain your reviews all in one thread like you did for the Agee reviews or will they be by title.

 

I ask because as the months go one, it might be easier for someone to search for the thread than by individual titles.

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Yes, lz, they will all be in one thread, like I did for the Agee reviews.

 

I will only cover 1930 to 1959, which means no DISRAELI with George Arliss and no PSYCHO with Anthony Perkins.

 

My vocabulary is good, but not as great as Agee's. My goal with Vol. 2 is to cover titles that Agee did not get around to writing about. Plus, I have a feeling it will be easier for people to say they agree or disagree with me, than they could with Agee. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong, but it should be interesting and fun.

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Linda Darnell in 1945 was going through a career upswing. At 21, after five years as the girl next door, she was now considered a sex symbol, and her roles reflected this. Her studio, 20th Century Fox, considered Linda for the female lead in AMERICAN GUERRILLA, playing a Spaniard in the Philippines. John Payne, newly returned from war duty, was to have the title role. However, with the impending end of the war, the studio shelved it, later resurrecting it as a Tyrone Power vehicle.

 

Instead, the studio gave Linda a prime role in FALLEN ANGEL, a film noir, director Otto Preminger's followup to his breakththrough of the previous year, LAURA. Linda played Stella, a sultry waitress that has men buzzing around her and the cafe where she works in a small coastal California town. In comes drifter Dana Andrews, who soon joins the queue for Stella. She refuses to go off with him without a ring on her finger, and better prospects than those in which he arrived in town. So he cooks up a plot to romance rich spinster June Mills, hoping to fleece her. June is played by musical star Alice Faye, as a change of pace for her. But then Stella is murdered, and guess who is the prime suspect?

 

FALLEN ANGEL is a classic noir IMHO. Also in the cast are Charles Bickford, Percy Kilbride, Anne Revere, John Carradine, and Bruce Cabot, among others. The small town milieu is well caught, andhe story is quite compelling. Already discussed in earlier posts was Alice Faye's decision to leave films when she saw the completed movie, as her part was cut, supposedly to favor Darnell with the footage.

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With her career upswing in 1945, Linda Darnell still faced some daunting challenges. She was becoming a heavy drinker, having been taught by her husband Pev Marley to drink her whiskey straight. She was also beginning to have a problem with weight, which her starch-heavy diet and drinking ascerbated. This would be most noticeable on her face, which could go from rather gaunt to quite full in a short time. The studio was constantly on her regarding this, but her voluptuous figure fit in well with her sexy new image.

 

When Linda went to her home town Dallas TX for the premiere of FALLEN ANGEL in November 1945, friends and former neighbors noticed that she always seemed to have a drink in hand, and that her language was downright salty. Her drinking also allowed her to lose certain inhibitions, and could get into vicious arguments with her husband. This she seemed to inherit from her mother. Her drinking would never interfere with her work, and she was always known for her professionalism and consideration while on a movie set.

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*Roget's Thesarus will jack you up to Agee's level.*

 

Especially if it's the unabridged version.

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>although the studio foregoed the use of Technicolor

 

It is supposed to be written:

 

...the studio forewent the use of Technicolor

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I considered that, but I had never heard or seen it that way. I couldn't figure out a way to say it, and was going to change it to "the studio decided to forego" after I posted, but decided to leave it alone.

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Overlapping with Linda's filming of ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM in the Fall of 1945, she was also doing scenes for the musical CENTENNIAL SUMMER at another soundstage. CENTENNIAL SUMMER was the second movie she did with director Otto Preminger, the first being FALLEN ANGEL. As mentioned already, CS didn't start life out as a musical, but its concept was revamped due to the huge success of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. This story also dealt with a family's travails during a World's Fair in their hometown, in this case the Philadelphia Centennial Exposiion of 1876.

 

Darryl F. Zanuck put together a big-name cast: besides Linda as the scheming daughter Edith, there was Zanuck favorite Jeanne Crain, having just attained stardom in 1945's STATE FAIR, and Linda's replacement as the studio's girl-next-door, here top-cast as her sister Julia; new heartthrob Cornel Wilde, whose contract Fox shared with Columbia, also soaring into stardom since the previous year's A SONG TO REMEMBER, playing an envoy for the French Pavilion; William Eythe, as Edith's hapless beau; Constance Bennett, as the girls' worldy aunt; and Dorothy Gish and Walter Brennan as the parents. Zanuck hired Jerome Kern to work on the songs. This would prove to be his last score; he woud die before the movie opened.

 

The movie received mixed reviews when released in the summer of 1946, but with its big-name cast, beautiful Technicolor and beguiling score, it did well at the boxoffice. Linda played a schemer, as she had in her breakthrough 1944 film, SUMMER STORM, and as she would several times more. Linda and Cornel Wilde were costarred for the first time, as were Linda and Jeanne Crain. Linda would be reteamed in more auspicious circumstances.

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I noticed there are three movies with Linda Darnell in the month of January (there may be more but I perused through the schedule rather quickly). They are:

 

Jan. 13 ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM

Jan. 21 NO WAY OUT - as part of he MLK tribute.

Jan. 28 THE MARK OF ZORRO - as part of a night of swashbucklers.

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If you consolidated all these Darnell posts, you'd almost have enough for a publishable bio.

 

Edited by: finance on Jan 2, 2013 5:42 PM

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Linda Darnell's third movie release of 1946 was the classic John Ford western, MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. A remake of the studio's FRONTIER MARSHALL (1938), it is considered a pure, poetic western mythologizing the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clanton gang. Filmed in the Monument Valley, it offered glorious albeit innappropriate vistas, since it was supposed to be set in Tombstone, in Southeastern Arizona. It was Linda's first western in a couple of years (being allergic to horses, she didn't really care for them-late in her career she turned down at least one western film). It was also the first film back from service for the two male stars, Henry Fonda and Victor Mature.

 

Linda plays Chihuahua, variously described as an Apache, a Mexican and a half-breed. She is in love with Doc Holliday (Mature), who happens to have his Boston fiancee, Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs), catch up with him in Tombstone. Newly-deputized town sheriff Wyatt Earp (Fonda), who doesn't care much for Chihuahua, becomes smitten with Clementine, especially since Doc wants nothing to do with her. The film climaxes in the shootout at the OK Corral.

 

Fonda is good as the laconic Earp, and Mature probably gives his best performance as the tuburcular Holliday IMHO (with the possible exception of KISS OF DEATH the following year). Newcomer Cathy Downs does well as the prim miss in the wild west. Her role had originally been meant for Jeanne Crain, but Zanuck realized after STATE FAIR that he had a Star, and felt the role in MDC was not big enough. Anne Baxter was also considered before Downs was selected. Linda is fiery and sexy as Chihuahua, singing a couple of ditties in the cantina, wearing peasant blouses seemingly poised to slip off the shoulder, and confronting Earp, Doc, and especially, Clementine. Her playing here is what convinced Zanuck that she would be right for the role of Amber in that film's reshuffling, about to take place as this movie was being filmed.

 

A host of familiar faces pepper the supporting cast of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, and it was a hit upon release in the fall of 1946. The movie is generally considered one of Ford's best, and one the best westerns ever made.

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It has been awhile since MY DARLING CLEMENTINE was broadcast on TCM. I feel it's a bit flawed in certain places, and not Ford's best. But none of the problems have to do with Linda and her portrayal. In fact, she's one of the best things about this picture.

 

my-darling-clementine-cactus179329.jpg

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Didnt you mention you were working on writing one?

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*Didnt you mention you were working on writing one?*

I'm toying with the idea of either writing a biography or a play/screenplay. The script would not be a full blown biography, but rather would deal with a specific time and place in her life.

What I would really love to do in addition to the above is assemble a large sized book, writing about her filmography and illustrating it with stills from her films as well as her own life.

Edited by: Arturo on Jan 3, 2013 9:38 PM

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Just started reading this thread, and all it took was a quick glance at the titles and summaries you propose to sell me 100% on the idea of a Linda Darnell month. I had NO idea her repertory was as big as all that, but I just hope that it's possible to get all those Fox movies.

 

The one film I'd veto (can't remember whether you included it) is that technicolor movie Second Chance with Robert Mitchum and Jack Palance, not because it's a bad movie but because the print they've shown on TCM in the past has a soundtrack so inaudible that it almost seems like it's dubbed. I'd hope that if it gets shown again there'd be a better copy.

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Thanks Andy. Yes I think this SOTM for Linda Darnell is do-able by TCM, and one that would raise her awareness with many regular viewers as well as more casual viewers of the channel.

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There was some years back. I read it. It wasnt very long. I've forgotten the title. I'm sure Arturo would know...

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