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Edward Arnold and the two JOHNNYs


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Interesting double feature tonight on TCM. Hall of fame character actor Edward Arnold (who deserves a day next August during Summer Under the Stars) costars in both Fox's JOHNNY APOLLO and MGM's JOHNNY EAGER.

 

The evening is listed as MGM Vs. Fox by TCM's programmers but if you ask me, it should be called An Edward Arnold Double Header.

 

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Just curious. In what % of Arnold's roles did he play either a powerful politician or businessman? Probably most of them.

 

In fact Edward Arnold was one of Hollywood's great character actors, limited in his roles only be his age and corpulence. He was hardly restricted to playing politicians or tycoons.

 

In Three on a Match, Arnold plays a mobster called "Ace".

 

In The Devil and Daniel Webster, he's Webster's defense lawyer, trying to void Webster's pact with Old Scratch (Walter Huston).

 

In The Hucksters, he plays a Hollywood agent.

 

In The Mighty McGurk, he plays a shady saloon owner.

 

In The Glass Key, he plays a reform-minded gangster.

 

In Wednesday's Child, he plays a cuckold.

 

In The White Sister, he plays a priest. (Not bad for a dude whose career began in the Yiddish theater.)

 

In Hide-Out, he plays a police lieutenant.

 

In Miami Expose, he plays a crooked lobbyist.

 

In City That Never Sleeps, he plays a corrupt criminal lawyer.

 

In Week-End at the Waldorf, he plays a promoter.

 

In Take Me Out To The Ball Game, he plays a bookie with an inclination to fix ball games.

 

And so on. You could easily fill a SUTS day with Arnold's movies without getting into repeats of old chestnuts like Mr. Smith and Meet John Doe, even though he's terrific in both of those films.

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You must've been going over his filmography around the same time I was. He made 90 sound films and he is fifth billed or higher in just about every one. And he did not work at Poverty Row companies, so the films he appears in are usually well-budgeted, even the studio programmers in which he would occasionally receive top billing.

 

I mentioned his role as a detective earlier. He actually played a detective a few other times. Once in Columbia's MEET NERO WOLFE and again in Universal's REMEMBER LAST NIGHT. Plus he takes the role of an inspector in the 1935 version of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.

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You must've been going over his filmography around the same time I was. He made 90 sound films and he is fifth billed or higher in just about every one.

 

One of my all-time favorite pre-codes is Three on a Match, and in that one Arnold's billing is only 11th on TCM's overview page, in spite of the fact that he's the mob kingpin who's insistence on a debt repayment is what drives Ann Dvorak's lover Lyle Talbot to his ultimate ruin. You'd think that a mob boss known as "Ace" would rate a bit more respect, but no such luck for Arnold.

 

But it wasn't as if Arnold didn't have some pretty stiff billing competition in that 63 minute programmer, given that the names above him included Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Lyle Talbot, Humphrey Bogart and Allen Jenkins. And then below him was Frankie Darro. Has any regular movie of that abbreviated length ever featured such an all-star lineup? I can't think of any.

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Yes, the billing in THREE ON A MATCH is somewhat unusual.

 

This afternoon I dug out a copy I had of DIAMOND JIM. Arnold's interpretation of the flamboyant financier is very entertaining. Made at Universal in the mid-30s, it uses a script by Preston Sturges, of all people!

 

He played the role of James Buchanan Brady twice on film-- the other time was in Fox's LILLIAN RUSSELL in 1940.

 

Here's a picture of the real life Diamond Jim, taken in 1900, when Edward Arnold was just ten years old:

 

diamond_jim_brady.jpg

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>I enjoyed Edward in COME AND GET IT and IDIOT`S DELIGHT.

 

He worked with Frances Farmer twice-- in COME AND GET IT and also in THE TOAST OF NEW YORK, which costarred Cary Grant.

 

I really love his performance in JOHNNY APOLLO. He plays Ty's father just perfectly. It's too bad they didn't make other films together.

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I am tempted to keep this thread alive, to push for Arnold as a SUTS candidate next year. I will not be too heavy-handed about it, but I will probably add to the thread as some of his other films air during the course of the year. He is worth study and praise. And a tribute would be most deserving.

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The one good thing is that he was under contract to MGM for many years. So a lot of his films are in the Turner Library. I doubt a month will go by without one of his great performances being shown on TCM.

 

It would be nice if TCM's viewers could see his work in DIAMOND JIM or LILLIAN RUSSELL. He really captures the essence of that character well, and it's a real treat to watch him act with such gusto (not too over the top and certainly not scene chewing but with gusto).

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>It is hard to keep a thread going. Our favorites may not be scheduled for months. Our thread could be twenty five pages down the line.

 

Simple fix. Just segue into talkin' about Edward's posterior, and from past experience around here, this thread COULD go on to be a fixture on Page-1 for a long long time!

 

LOL

 

(...sorry, I just couldn't resist...and yes TB, as you suggested below here, Mr. Arnold definitely deserves SUTS and maybe even SOTM recognition...great idea!)

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