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Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Day on TCM


TomJH
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There aren't any Fairbanks films scheduled for today that haven't been on the channel before.

 

However, I would like to draw attention to the five good old fashioned costume adventures being broadcast. For a good number of years Doug Jr. refused to appear in any films of this nature because of the inevitable comparison that would take place between himself and his father, very much a legend for these kinds of films done during the silent era.

 

Well, I'm glad that he finally relented. Doug Jr. is very good in all of these films, even if not quite up to the standards set by his old man (or Errol Flynn at Warners during the talkies), and at least two of the films have to be ranked as adventure classics.

 

1:45 pm (EST) SINBAD THE SAILOR, a Technicolor Arabian Nights fable, co-starring the beauteous Maureen O'Hara and Anthony Quinn (not quite so beauteous, as the baddie).

 

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4pm (EST) GUNGA DIN, the 1939 Kiplingesque Soldiers Three comedy adventure, with Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Sam Jaffe as the title character.

 

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6:15pm (EST) THE EXILE, a lesser known swashbuckler with Doug Jr as England's King Charles hiding in exile in Holland. Co-starring Paule Croset, Henry Daniell and (in a cameo though she receives top billing due to contractual stipulations), Maria Montez.

 

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8pm (EST) THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, Selznicks' definitive 1937 adaption of Anthony Hope's novel of Ruritanian romance. With Doug Jr. giving, for my money, his most memorable performance as the villainous Rupert of Hentzau. Co-starring, one of the great casts of all time, Ronald Colman, Madeline Carroll, Raymond Massey, Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith and David Niven. Wow!

 

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10pm (EST) THE CORSICAN BROTHERS, a handsome adaption of Dumas's tale of twin brothers separated at birth, one capable, much to his chagrin, of feeling the emotions of the other. Doug Jr. is in fine dual form in this one, with Akim Tamiroff and Ruth Warwick.

 

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Three others noteworthy Fairbanks films that I would love to see TCM air one day:

 

The Fighting O'Flynn (1949), his last costume adventure

 

State Secret (1950), one of his best films, a Hitchcock-like thriller with Fairbanks an innocent man on the run from state police in a small European dictatorship; with Glynis Johns and Jack Hawkins 

 

Mr. Drake's Duck (1951), Doug's last film before retirement, a British comedy never seen anywhere in decades, to the best of my knowledge

 

 

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"Remember, we're fighting for this woman's honor...which is probably more than SHE ever did!"

 

OOPS! That was in one of yesterday's SUTS's movies, wasn't it. Sorry, never mind. ;)

 

(...another nice write-up here, Tom)

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this is the kind of programming choices that is slowly but inexorably causing dismayed longtime tcm viewers to write-off a increasingly disconnected tcm...imo. :) 

 

someday all that will be left is a tiny niche of silent film enthusiasts.

that seems to be what tcm is working torwards.

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this is the kind of programming choices that is slowly but inexorably causing dismayed longtime tcm viewers to write-off a increasingly disconnected tcm...imo. :) 

 

someday all that will be left is a tiny niche of silent film enthusiasts.

that seems to be what tcm is working torwards.

 

This post reminds me of the person who observed the condition of elephants, and bemoaned the fate of gazelles. 

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this is the kind of programming choices that is slowly but inexorably causing dismayed longtime tcm viewers to write-off a increasingly disconnected tcm...imo. :) 

 

someday all that will be left is a tiny niche of silent film enthusiasts.

that seems to be what tcm is working torwards.

 

REALLY, ND?! You're sayin' movies starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are somehow "not catering to the longtime core audience of TCM viewership"?

 

How exactly is THAT? Doug Junior has quite a long filmography as both the male lead and the secondary male lead in a lot of studio (and sound) era films, ya know.

 

(...nope, sorry...don't get your reasoning here at all...well, unless you're confusing Doug Junior with his father somehow...yeah, that's gotta be it, right?!)

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REALLY, ND?! You're sayin' movies starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are somehow "not catering to the longtime core audience of TCM viewership"?

 

How exactly is THAT? Doug Junior has quite a long filmography as both the male lead and the secondary male lead in a lot of studio (and sound) era films, ya know.

 

(...nope, sorry...don't get your reasoning here at all...well, unless you're confusing Doug Junior with his father somehow...yeah, that's gotta be it, right?!)

 

My advise is that you stop assuming there is any reasoning related to the comments.    That cleared everything up for me.  :blink:

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I knew Douglas Jr. in his later years.  Lovely, kind, civilized man. I know we talk here sometimes about how our actors might not be in real life as we would expect, or as we would want them to be. But Douglas was just as you might expect -- a gentleman in the best sense of the word.

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I am loving this day since I haven't seen a lot of his films.  Some of the early 1930's plots

are a bit "creaky," shall we say, (Chances, Captured) but definitely watchable and DF, Jr.

had a ton of charm. Taping through most of the day and I'll need them since tomorrow

is Patricia (ugh) Neal day. Of course, The Fountainhead is always good for a laugh!

 

Lydecker

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I knew Douglas Jr. in his later years.  Lovely, kind, civilized man. I know we talk here sometimes about how our actors might not be in real life as we would expect, or as we would want them to be. But Douglas was just as you might expect -- a gentleman in the best sense of the word.

Thanks very much, Smithin, for confirming, once again, what a classy guy Doug Fairbanks Jr. was. I believe you once said that you still communicate with his widow. I hope she is doing well and, perhaps, even enjoying this day's TCM broadcast celebrating her husband's career.

 

I wrote a number of fan letters to various film personalities throughout the years, but Fairbanks was the ONLY one that responded with a two page typed letter thanking me. That speaks volumes about the graciousness of this man's personality.

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this is the kind of programming choices that is slowly but inexorably causing dismayed longtime tcm viewers to write-off a increasingly disconnected tcm...imo. :) 

 

someday all that will be left is a tiny niche of silent film enthusiasts.

that seems to be what tcm is working torwards.

Since you made a point of mentioning silents, it might be best if you held off on your critiques until you at least know the difference between father and son.

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Thanks very much, Smithin, for confirming, once again, what a classy guy Doug Fairbanks Jr. was. I believe you once said that you still communicate with his widow. I hope she is doing well and, perhaps, even enjoying this day's TCM broadcast celebrating her husband's career.

 

I wrote a number of fan letters to various film personalities throughout the years, but Fairbanks was the ONLY one that responded with a two page typed letter thanking me. That speaks volumes about the graciousness of this man's personality.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I found it to be a moving story. Douglas married Vera Shelton in 1991. She was a good deal younger than Douglas, though not a baby -- I would guess maybe in her 40s at the time. After Douglas died, Vera told me that she had been speaking to Mrs. Buddy Rogers, also much younger than her husband.  Both women agreed that some people didn't seem to understand that, despite the age difference, the love was just as deep and the loss just as profound as it would have been had they been the same age.

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because of tcm, i got familar with some of my favorite douglas fairbanks jr films,

morning glory with katherine hepburn, love is a racket, and the rage of paris. hopefully they will show these gems again

 

Love is a Racket is a fine pre-code film.   Ann Dvorak was one of my favorite pre-code actresses.   While she also did some good work after the pre-code era the production code did inhibit her snappy screen persona. 

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Too bad TCM couldn't come up with one of Mr. Fairbanks' last leading man roles in the excellent English production of STATE SECRET.

State Secret came on television perhaps more often for me than any other Fairbanks film when I was a kid. Now, for some reason, it's difficult to find.

 

It's an excellent innocent-man-on-the-run thriller, set in a Balkan dictatorship, directed and written by Sidney Gilliat, the same man who had written the screenplay for Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Fairbanks delivers one of his best performances in this film, I think, quite effectively understated, in contrast to some of his more flamboyant work in, say, Sinbad the Sailor, for example.

 

Glynis Johns is charming as the music hall performer who gets caught up with Fairbanks as he tries to escape the state police (as a doctor Doug knows a state secret that can't be revealed, that the nation's dictator is dead, with a double in his place, and Fairbanks is now on the run for his life as a result of that knowledge).

 

Jack Hawkins scores well as the head of the state police but, perhaps, best of all, is the sly humour brought to the film by a young Herbert Lom. Lom plays a seedy underworld character who would undoubtedly turn in his own mother for a crime if he thought he'd get a small reward for it. However, he is reluctantly forced to assist Fairbanks in his attempt to escape when Doug deliberately shares the information of the nation's dictator's death with him, thereby making him as vulnerable for execution by the state police as is Fairbanks if the latter is caught.

 

It's a fast moving adventure, chockful of suspense and a few light hearted moments, somewhat reminiscent of some of Hitchcock's British work such as 39 Steps and Lady Vanishes. The fast moving action ranges from hideouts in small streets and theatres to a chase through the Alps as Doug tries to get across the border into another state.

 

A first rate film of its kind, Fairbanks's second last film before retirement and one of his very best, in my opinion.

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I knew Douglas Jr. in his later years.  Lovely, kind, civilized man. I know we talk here sometimes about how our actors might not be in real life as we would expect, or as we would want them to be. But Douglas was just as you might expect -- a gentleman in the best sense of the word.

 

Swithin, lovely memories of Douglas, Jr.   I have what might seem like a silly question.  Was he as tan as he appeared to be on the talk shows that I remember seeing him on?  His smile, handsome face, amiable chat, and his tan stand out for me.

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To me , the odd thing was they chose to show "Gunga Din" (1939), where his role is less important than Cary Grants'.  I'm Not complaining, because the film Was great fun.  But a film that focused on Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.' untapped acting abilities would have been just as much fun to see, judging by TomJHs' posts.  I too would like to see "State Secret" (1950) someday (hopefully soon) on TCM. :)

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Swithin, lovely memories of Douglas, Jr.   I have what might seem like a silly question.  Was he as tan as he appeared to be on the talk shows that I remember seeing him on?  His smile, handsome face, amiable chat, and his tan stand out for me.

 

Well, word IS Doug Jr. taught George Hamilton everything he ever knew, ya know.

 

;)

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Doug Jr and his father meet Charlie Chaplin at the racetrack in March 1939. Doug and his legendary father had never been particularly close to one another. In the final couple of years of his father's life, however, they did bond more than ever before.

 

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Spot the Stars:

 

 

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I wish I knew the source of this, apparently, late '30s photo. Whatever it may have been, what a collection of stairs are visible on this staircase. That's Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the foreground, of course.

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I wonder who the nun and why she's there?

Yeh, I wondered about the nun, too. But she appears to be wearing lipstick and, being with that ritzy Hollywood crowd there, I rather doubt that she's the real thing.

 

Doesn't look like a costume party, though. So I'm a little mystified about her. I try not to lose too much sleep at night thinking about her. ;)

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I started watching one of the Douglas Fairbanks Jr movies I recorded the other day.  Tonight I watched Parachute Jumper from 1933.  I watched it because it was short (a little over an hour) and it has one of my faves--Bette Davis.  I mostly recorded this film because I read that Davis hated it.  I also thought a Bette Davis precode film sounded interesting.

 

While this film was definitely not the best film I'd seen, it definitely wasn't the worst either.  I found Davis interesting if only because she had platinum blonde hair and was so young.  I also find it curious how a Yankee like Davis is cast as a Southerner in so many films.  I liked that her nickname in this film was "Alabama." 

 

Frank McHugh was okay, but he always seems to be the same character in every film I see him in. 

 

As for Fairbanks Jr, this was the first film of his that I'd seen.  I really liked him.  I thought he was really cute (not as cute as Flynn of course) and had a great speaking voice.  He seemed to me to be the American version of Flynn.  I thought he was charming and funny in this film and I enjoyed watching him.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing the other Fairbanks films I recorded: Gunga Din and Sinbad the Sailor

 

I'll have to look out for his films on the TCM schedule from now on.  I didn't really know much about him before, except that he was the son of Douglas Fairbanks, he was married to Joan Crawford at one time, and he appeared in many swashbucklers.

 

I hope Having Wonderful Time repeats soon.  I missed recording it and it has one of my favorites: Lucille Ball.

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