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Before moving on to the next topic--

 

A general reminder that Barrymore is getting a primetime spotlight on TCM tonight (January 31)...

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Claims to Fame

 

Every now and then I read a user review on the IMDb, or comments posted on the various message boards there, and I find an interesting remark made by someone who has a random connection to a classic film. Someone whose name we may never have heard before, but someone who was nevertheless involved in the filming.

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One such example involves DOWNHILL RACER (1969), which TCM aired recently during the Robert Redford Star of the Month tribute. A poster named bambicarle mentions that her sister Carole was picked to do a few scenes as Redford's girlfriend (in the Idaho Springs sequence of the story):

 

"...she was (in my opinion) one of the luckiest people in the world, for she was cast as Redford's 'hometown girlfriend' Lena, and got to do the love scene with him in the back of that Chevy.

 

"I was in junior high at the time, and this was her first film. She got some great reviews, and said that he was a really nice man. When our father saw the movie, he saw her bra strap coming down, and had to excuse himself from the theater."

 

***

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Then, there's the MGM film MOKEY (1942). It features a very young Robert Blake as an incorrigible boy who gets in trouble breaking the law. As I looked at user reviews, I found this, written by a guy named Jim Gallaher:

 

"Mokey was my father. His aunt was a writer during the thirties and wrote a book called 'Mokey' that was also published in installment form in Colliers Magazine...

 

"I agree that the movie was not that good, but I enjoyed it because of my father's legacy. His name was Dennis Gallaher...my father told me some of the stories as I grew up before I saw the movie (which was in 2003) or read the book. He was a problem kid and the family ended up sending him to military school."

 

***

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And here's a comment by someone named buffalogal-3. She posted a message on the board for the Universal miniseries Centennial:

 

"I cannot believe it has been 30 years since I worked on Centennial in Ohio and Colorado. It was one of the highlights of my life thus far.

 

"My name is Leslie. I'm still a cowgirl, too. I owned and hired out the old black standardbred mare for the scenes at the orphanage where Levi rescued Ellie. Al Yanks was the head livestock director. I remember giving Greg Harrison a crash course in driving without upsetting the buggy...

 

"Duke Calahan and I had great conversations about Paul Bond Boots. Christina Raines and I had a belching contest. Jim Jones ticked me off several times and probably me him but he can't deny I could ride the hair off of anything with four legs!

 

"I've been working as a nurse for the last 20 years. I miss those good old days!  Leslie Stivason."

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I am sure there are some nicknames that are not very affectionate or very nice at all.

Some names given to Loretta Young over the years by her detractors included The Steel Butterfly, Gretch the Wretch, and Saint Loretta.

 

Linda Darnell had been called affectionately by her family all her life as Tweedles. This, along with her many unusual pets, combined to contribute in early articles on the teenage leading lady to set her early image of innocent unsophistication.

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Some names given to Loretta Young over the years by her detractors included The Steel Butterfly, Gretch the Wretch, and Saint Loretta.

 

Linda Darnell had been called affectionately by her family all her life as Tweedles. This, along with her many unusual pets, combined to contribute in early articles on the teenage leading lady to set her early image of innocent unsophistication.

What does "Gretch" have to do with Loretta? Was Gretchen her real name?

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What does "Gretch" have to do with Loretta? Was Gretchen her real name?

Yes,.as.TopBilled.mentioned.in his original post, on the day when this topic as Today's Topic really was that day's topic.

 

Incidentally, Darnell's given name.was Monetta, but changed by the studio. She always preferred this to Linda, and much later, as she reflected.on the absurdity of a career such as hers, in her mind she thought of "Linda Darnell" as a separate entity from herself,.a commodity she helped create.

 

Related to this, is how Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were able to stand back and separate themselves from the media circus known as "Liz and Dick" (or "Lizndick"). Many other stars had similar coping mechanisms at play. But that is the subject for another thread, or on this thread perhaps, another day.

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Yes,.as.TopBilled.mentioned.in his original post, on the day when this topic as Today's Topic really was that day's topic.

 

Incidentally, Darnell's given name.was Monetta, but changed by the studio. She always preferred this to Linda, and much later, as she reflected.on the absurdity of a career such as hers, in her mind she thought of "Linda Darnell" as a separate entity from herself,.a commodity she helped create.

 

Related to this, is how Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were able to stand back and separate themselves from the media circus known as "Liz and Dick" (or "Lizndick"). Many other stars had similar coping mechanisms at play. But that is the subject for another thread, or on this thread perhaps, another day.

This constant switching of topics is making my head spin

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Yes,.as.TopBilled.mentioned.in his original post, on the day when this topic as Today's Topic really was that day's topic.

 

Incidentally, Darnell's given name.was Monetta, but changed by the studio. She always preferred this to Linda, and much later, as she reflected.on the absurdity of a career such as hers, in her mind she thought of "Linda Darnell" as a separate entity from herself,.a commodity she helped create.

 

Related to this, is how Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were able to stand back and separate themselves from the media circus known as "Liz and Dick" (or "Lizndick"). Many other stars had similar coping mechanisms at play. But that is the subject for another thread, or on this thread perhaps, another day.

Most stars looked at the screen persona (and stage name) invented for them as being separate of their real-life identities. Though I think it is interesting how people starting calling Young 'Saint Loretta,' which means some were associating her more with being Loretta than Gretchen.

 

John Wayne's son Patrick Wayne was born in 1939, but his legal name is still Patrick Morrison which suggests they never used the name 'Wayne' in a legal sense.

 

In Lee Tannen's book I Loved Lucy, he says that when Lucille Ball checked into a hotel, she used the name Diane Belmont. It was an early stage name she was given in Hollywood and became a sort of inside joke with family and friends. They would go into the hotel where she was staying and ask for Diane, not Lucy.

 

I am going to do a column about the Burtons tomorrow, but along a slightly different theme.

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Most stars looked at the screen persona (and stage name) invented for them as being separate of their real-life identities. Though I think it is interesting how people starting calling Young 'Saint Loretta,' which means some were associating her more with being Loretta than Gretchen.

 

John Wayne's son Patrick Wayne was born in 1939, but his legal name is still Patrick Morrison which suggests they never used the name 'Wayne' in a legal sense.

 

In Lee Tannen's book I Loved Lucy, he says that when Lucille Ball checked into a hotel, she used the name Diane Belmont. It was an early stage name she was given in Hollywood and became a sort of inside joke with family and friends. They would go into the hotel where she was staying and ask for Diane, not Lucy.

 

I am going to do a column about the Burtons tomorrow, but along a slightly different theme.

RE stars seeing their screen persona as a seperate person: Dietrich's daughter said she always referred to "Dietrich" as another person, making comments like, "How would she do it? or say it? or dress?" Dietrich was glamorous and sexy and always dresssed to the nines; Marlene was kind of a hausfrau who cooked and scrubbed floors and wore pants, as often as not.

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RE stars seeing their screen persona as a seperate person: Dietrich's daughter said she always referred to "Dietrich" as another person, making comments like, "How would she do it? or say it? or dress?" Dietrich was glamorous and sexy and always dresssed to the nines; Marlene was kind of a hausfrau who cooked and scrubbed floors and wore pants, as often as not.

I thought of this thread tonight and had a good laugh when I pulled out a disc of films I recorded from TCM in 2013. The disc is called 'Directed by Busby Berkeley' and it contains THE GO-GETTER, FAST AND FURIOUS, and BLONDE INSPIRATION. I had seen the second and third film but never watched the first one. It has George Brent, Anita Louise and Charles Winninger in it, so I figured I couldn't go wrong and decided I would look at it tonight.

 

There's a lengthy gag in the film where Brent's character is trying to buy a vase for his boss (Winninger) but the boutique is closed and he has to find someone to open the shop after hours. He looks up above the doorway where the name of the owner is written, and it says J. Brown. It also says J. Browne (with an 'e'), and that's part of the gag. 

 

It took me back to the late 90s when I had just graduated from college and had gone to work on a radio show in Korea. I remember when I arrived in Seoul and went to the KBS studio (Korean broadcasting system), they had trouble pronouncing my first name. They wanted me to pick a new name entirely. Eventually, they decided I should be called J. Brown, because they figured Koreans would be able to remember it better (one letter and one color is what they told me). Nice and simple. So I began to use the name J. Brown professionally, but it never felt like it was me, because although my first name starts with that letter, I was never called J. or Jay. And Brown was fairly meaningless to me. I only worked in Korea for 18 months then returned to Los Angeles. I never used the name J. Brown again.

 

Anyway, as I watched THE GO-GETTER, I remembered this alter ego of mine from 17 years ago. It had been a while since I thought of it, and since anyone called me by that. You should have seen me do a double-take when I looked at 'J. Brown' in that movie with George Brent looking at the sign. I am sure I was supposed to watch the film tonight, for a reason, and maybe J. Brown still is a part of me. :)

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Famous with the same name

 

Recently, while doing a search on actress Elizabeth Taylor to confirm whether or not she was actually 18 when she divorced Conrad Hilton (she was almost 19), I typed the name into the wikipedia search engine. Another Elizabeth Taylor came up.

 

Apparently, there was a painter with that name. In addition to painting, she was a journalist and extensive traveller and lived from 1856 to 1932. She died when movie Liz was not even a month old. Here is a volume published with her name on it:

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There are other Richard Burtons on wikipedia, too. Serial killer Ted Bundy used the name as a pseudonym, but we won't go there. There's a Richard Burton who was an English explorer and lived from 1821 to 1890. There's also a professional English golfer called Dick Burton who lived in the 20th Century, as well as a cricketer named Richard Burton-- born in 1955. Here's a photo of him playing cricket, as well as a photo of the actor Richard Burton playing cricket between takes on the set of ALEXANDER THE GREAT:

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But to be fair, movie star Richard Burton's real name was Richard Jenkins. And there happens to be an American actor named Richard Jenkins, who appeared on the television drama Six Feet Under, and was Oscar nominated for a role in THE VISITOR in 2007:

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Now this woman is not famous. Her name is Liz Burton, and she's a hypnotherapist in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. 

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I don't think she ever had a ring like this:
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Film by any other name

 

 

imgres-45.jpg?w=660

 

Not many people know this, but before deciding to use a fighting game series, New Line Cinema was set to film a horror movie called MORTAL TOMCAT.

 

screen-shot-2015-01-29-at-1-10-36-pm.png

 

After the war, soldiers returned home to crying babies. The proposed title, THE BEST TEARS OF OUR LIVES, might have caused a run on tissue.

 

jimmy_swaggart.jpg?w=660

 

Speaking of tearjerkers, apparently Rock Hudson was not the first choice for one of Douglas Sirk’s classic melodramas. It was Jimmy Swaggart who was supposed to appear with Jane Wyman in MAGNIFICENT CONFESSION.

 

imgres-123.jpg?w=660

 

In the early stages, there were no aliens in E-TEE.

 

imgres39.jpg?w=660

 

Ronald Reagan almost did a film called NEWT ROCKNE, ALL-AMERICAN. But the premise was changed, and the lead salamander was replaced with a Scandinavian.

 

images28.jpg?w=660

 

Maggie Smith was tapped to play an instructor at a culinary school in THE PRIME RIB OF MISS JEAN BRODIE. But too many vegetarians complained, and they had to rework the storyline.

 

images-110.jpg?w=660

 

Clint Eastwood directed one of the greatest westerns of the 1970s. But did you know the working title was HIGH PLAINS DRIFTWOOD?

 

1cane.png?w=660

 

It’s difficult to see their faces clearly, but yes, that really is Humphrey Bogart and Jose Ferrer rehearsing for THE WALKING CANE MUTINY.

 

screen-shot-2015-01-29-at-9-20-34-am.png

 

Remember the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill business involving some hair and a coke? Warner Brothers considered remaking an old Jimmy Cagney film to cash in on the publicity. But test audiences were not receptive to a modern day version called THE **** ENEMY.

 

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Reviewing THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE

 

Not long ago– on New Year’s Eve to be exact– I provided text from an article that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post before 20th Century Fox released the picture in late 1972. The writer had interviewed Irving Allen who made a name for himself during that decade turning out hit disaster films.

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I had not yet seen THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE when I ran that column. I knew it was coming up on TCM and planned to watch it. I also knew there was supposedly a spectacular New Year’s Eve party scene where the ship is capsized and all the drama begins.

 

Well, now it is over a month later and I have finally viewed the film. What follows are my impressions of the movie. And then, after my review, I am going to quote Pauline Kael’s review, for comparison:

 

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is an entertaining and rather dated film. Some of the story’s flaws get in the way of totally enjoying it, though.

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It’s pretty obvious in the beginning after the ship has capsized that we are going to be with these ten characters for the rest of the story, when nobody else is willing to climb up the tree to safety. I had a hard time believing that only ten people would be logical enough to realize which way to go especially if the captain and the other ship personnel were dead.

 

And why was Roddy McDowall the only employee who survived the capsizing? There were no other people working in the linen department with him, or in other areas on that level of the ship?

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When the water started rushing into the ballroom and the crowd started to frantically climb the tree, we knew it had to topple over, so that we were left with only ten stories to follow.

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As the survivors started to climb up through the ship’s levels, a great deal of the action was delayed. In other words, it seemed stretched out to accommodate a two hour running time, and also to save on sets. But in reality. I think they would have moved much more swiftly and made their way through various compartments (some of them dead ends).

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The film also contained a lot of over-acting. Some of the bit players, even the extras whose death scenes were played out in the background, were done with a major dose of ham.

 

The top cast members, most of whom were method actors and disciples of the Actors Studio, seemed to think that if you screamed your lines, you were being dramatic and registering shock and/or panic as the plot unfolded. There was very little subtlety.

 

A minor complaint I have, but one that is worth mentioning, is that if this ship was en route to Europe, how come everyone spoke English? There should have been one person who spoke a different language, or spoke fractured English. And speaking of fractured, it’s hard to believe that none of the survivors wound up with broken arms, broken legs, cracked ribs, something. There were no injuries, no bad back or headache among them.

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The sound effects were not as realistic as they could have been. Many times our main characters would barely escape a tide of rushing water, jumping up to the next level. But we seldom (almost never) heard water in the background. Only when the camera would cut to a quick shot of the rushing water would we hear it.

 

And finally, I thought some of the death scenes were played unevenly. Roddy McDowall’s character dies in about two seconds flat. But when Shelley Winters died, she was glimpsed motionless for nearly ten minutes.

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It may sound like I am complaining. I did give this film an 8 out of 10 rating, so obviously it was an enjoyable motion picture overall. But I do think there could have been more flashes of brilliance (like the other survivors headed the wrong way) and a lot more subtlety with the performances.

 

***

 

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Now, from Pauline Kael:

 

Expensive pop disaster epic, manufactured for the market that made AIRPORT a hit. An ocean liner turns turtle, and the logistics of getting out of an upside-down ship are fairly entertaining; the script is the true cataclysm in this waterlogged GRAND HOTEL. The writers achieve real camp only once: just before the ship capsizes, a crewman says to the captain, he never saw anything like it, an enormous wall of water coming toward him. Ronald Neame directed, with dull efficiency.”

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We all went to see it because it was a big, box office hit, and most of us GUYS liked it because of the situation, the "wierd way they die" scenes, and mostly because STELLA STEVENS spends much of it wearing nothing but Ernest Borgnine's shirt!

 

The WORST thing about it, for me, was it's introduction of the MUCH over played and ovrrated saccharine pop song "The Morning After".

 

 

Sepiatone

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We all went to see it because it was a big, box office hit, and most of us GUYS liked it because of the situation, the "wierd way they die" scenes, and mostly because STELLA STEVENS spends much of it wearing nothing but Ernest Borgnine's shirt!

 

The WORST thing about it, for me, was it's introduction of the MUCH over played and ovrrated saccharine pop song "The Morning After".

 

 

Sepiatone

Yes, I think Stella Stevens is the real star of this picture-- not the rest of the cast nor the special effects. The scene where they have her climb up the ladder and film her from below, so we can see her panties and legs under Borgnine's shirt was clearly the goal!

 

I haven't seen the sequel, BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, which uses a completely different cast.

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What does "Gretch" have to do with Loretta? Was Gretchen her real name?

 

 

YES.

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Exes as costars

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In 1931, two of Paramount’s top stars, William Powell and Kay Francis, were cast in LADIES’ MAN. It was a drama about a gigolo (Powell) who goes after a rich society girl but ends up with another gal (Francis) who is neither rich nor society. Third-billed in this production is a young Carole Lombard who plays the society girl. LADIES’ MAN hit theatres in May, and in late June, Powell & Lombard were wed. The marriage didn’t last, and by August 1933 they were officially divorced.

 

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They were cast in another Paramount Picture, MAN OF THE WORLD– this time Lombard was the female lead– and she played an American girl visiting Paris who is romanced by a blackmailer (Powell).

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After their divorce, Lombard & Powell costarred on screen once more in what is perhaps the most well-known film they did, the screwball comedy MY MAN GODFREY. When they made this picture at Universal in 1936, neither one had remarried yet. Three years later, Lombard would marry Clark Gable, and in 1940, Powell would marry actress Diana Lewis.

***

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Then there are the Stanwyck-Taylors. Barbara Stanwyck had already been married and divorced from Frank Fay, when she went to MGM to work on the medical drama HIS BROTHER’S WIFE in 1936. She and costar Robert Taylor began living together, and he became her official leading man when they were married in 1939.

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Also in the late thirties, they appeared in a 20th Century Fox motion picture called THIS IS MY AFFAIR, a historical crime-drama that cast Taylor as a federal agent and Stanwyck as a dance hall girl. The couple remained together until 1952, and two years later, Taylor wed actress Ursula Thiess.

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But twelve years after that, Taylor teamed up with Stanwyck again for the William Castle horror film NIGHT WALKER at Universal.

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Who says you can’t stay friends?

images-29.jpg

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With regards to Lombard;   She also starred with Clark Gable in No Man of Her Own in 1932.  This is a very good Lombard pre-code picture (before Lombard established her screwball film persona).     Yea,  there wasn't any romance at the time but of course years later they got together,  got married and it broke Gable's heart when Lombard died in that plane crash.

 

A lot of sexual chemistry between the two in the film and with it being a pre-code some funny \ sassy sexual scenes at the start of the picture.

 

 

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With regards to Lombard;   She also starred with Clark Gable in No Man of Her Own in 1932.  This is a very good Lombard pre-code picture (before Lombard established her screwball film persona).     Yea,  there wasn't any romance at the time but of course years later they got together,  got married and it broke Gable's heart when Lombard died in that plane crash.

 

A lot of sexual chemistry between the two in the film and with it being a pre-code some funny \ sassy sexual scenes at the start of the picture.

I certainly like Gable and Lombard together. If she had lived longer, they may have costarred in another movie. One of the problems though is that he was under a long-term contract with MGM, and she never worked for that studio. 

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If nobody has posted this:

 

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI

Yes, Welles & Hayworth who later divorced, did costar together in a movie while they were married. Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz did a few movies, too, before their divorce.

 

But when I wrote the column I was looking at twosomes that were already divorced when they re-teamed on screen. It really doesn't happen often, if you think about it-- very few are able to remain friends (let alone coworkers performing love scenes) after the marriage ends.

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Yes, Welles & Hayworth who later divorced, did costar together in a movie while they were married. Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz did a few movies, too, before their divorce.

 

But when I wrote the column I was looking at twosomes that were already divorced when they re-teamed on screen. It really doesn't happen often, if you think about it-- very few are able to remain friends (let alone coworkers performing love scenes) after the marriage ends.

The film was released in 1947. The two were divorced the same year. I'm not sure which came first.

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Film by any other name

 

imgres-45.jpg?w=660

Not many people know this, but before deciding to use a fighting game series, New Line Cinema was set to film a horror movie called MORTAL TOMCAT.

screen-shot-2015-01-29-at-1-10-36-pm.png

After the war, soldiers returned home to crying babies. The proposed title, THE BEST TEARS OF OUR LIVES, might have caused a run on tissue.

jimmy_swaggart.jpg?w=660

Speaking of tearjerkers, apparently Rock Hudson was not the first choice for one of Douglas Sirk’s classic melodramas. It was Jimmy Swaggart who was supposed to appear with Jane Wyman in MAGNIFICENT CONFESSION.

imgres-123.jpg?w=660

In the early stages, there were no aliens in E-TEE.

imgres39.jpg?w=660

Ronald Reagan almost did a film called NEWT ROCKNE, ALL-AMERICAN. But the premise was changed, and the lead salamander was replaced with a Scandinavian.

images28.jpg?w=660

Maggie Smith was tapped to play an instructor at a culinary school in THE PRIME RIB OF MISS JEAN BRODIE. But too many vegetarians complained, and they had to rework the storyline.

images-110.jpg?w=660

Clint Eastwood directed one of the greatest westerns of the 1970s. But did you know the working title was HIGH PLAINS DRIFTWOOD?

1cane.png?w=660

It’s difficult to see their faces clearly, but yes, that really is Humphrey Bogart and Jose Ferrer rehearsing for THE WALKING CANE MUTINY.

screen-shot-2015-01-29-at-9-20-34-am.png

Remember the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill business involving some hair and a coke? Warner Brothers considered remaking an old Jimmy Cagney film to cash in on the publicity. But test audiences were not receptive to a modern day version called THE **** ENEMY.

 

Whatever did happen to the 20th Century Vole.thread?

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The film was released in 1947. The two were divorced the same year. I'm not sure which came first.

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was filmed in 1947, but an aghast Harry Cohn held its release until the following year. I believe they were no longer.married by then; in fact, they were already thinking separation when they filmed TLFS.

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THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was filmed in 1947, but an aghast Harry Cohn held its release until the following year. I believe they were no longer.married by then; in fact, they were already thinking separation when they filmed TLFS.

My guess is they were still happily married when the film project (THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI) was conceived. I think she used to help him with some of his live magic shows, too, before the relationship soured. If you type 'Rita Hayworth magic' at Google Images, some photos from those magic shows will come up.

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Recommended films

 

From the files of the neglected and overlooked:

 

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SOULS AT SEA (1937)

Why you should check it out: It’s the only time Gary Cooper and George Raft appear on the screen together, and they are superb.  Virginia Weidler enthusiasts will enjoy seeing her corner the market on tomboys, singing and telling stories– some from books, mostly fibs.  And the rest of the supporting cast, particularly Henry Wilcoxon, make this an outstanding film.

 

More reasons: Reviewer Pauline Kael calls it a "swashbuckling action film, based on a trial for a crime on a sailing ship in the early 19th century. The director, Henry Hathaway...gets all the panic and fury he can out of the slave trade, a mutiny, a fire at sea, and a crowded lifeboat."

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MAN FROM FRISCO (1944)

Why you should check it out: Dependable character actor Gene Lockhart proves his versatility as a construction magnate and family man.  But it’s really Michael O’Shea’s show, helped considerably by Anne Shirley in a rare loan out from home studio RKO to Republic.

 

More reasons: this is a top-notch production from a company known for lesser-budgeted and lesser-quality films.  The climax, when Lockhart’s son is accidentally and senselessly killed, is powerful drama and not to be missed.

 
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SIERRA (1950)

Why you should check it out:  Burl Ives’ tunes make this Audie Murphy western a must-see.  I found it to create a sense of inner-peace for me as I watched it.

 

More reasons: According to Leonard Maltin, its "capable cast elevates story of son and father on the lam from the law, trying to prove dad's innocence of crime."

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ANNA LUCASTA (1949)

Why you should check it out: two words-- Paulette Goddard.  Such calm, grace and glamour– she is very self-assured and gives the role of a prostitute something lesser talents would never give it: dignity. 

 

More reasons: Brod Crawford is also quite good in a supporting role, a year before ALL THE KING’S MEN.  And Mary Wickes has a decent part, a chance to really act minus the usual wisecracks.  

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ROXANNE (1987)

Why you should check it out: Steve Martin is a treasure in this reworking of the Cyrano de Bergerac story.  Some great shtick (expected) and some real tenderness (unexpected).  Darryl Hannah is appealing and Rick Rossovich has in spades the sex appeal denied Martin’s character due to his proboscis.  Shelley Duvall rounds out the main cast, sticking her nose into Martin’s love life.

 

More reasons: It was filmed in Nelson, British Columbia, where my family vacationed one summer.  It’s nice to see something not made entirely on a studio back lot but in a real town and inside real old-style houses.  The home selected for the title character is perfect.

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