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Smiling Lieutenant


Guest dredagain
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Just noted that this rare early talkie is shceduled for late Feb!!! Maurice Chevalier, Miriam Hopkins & Claudette Colbert!! Wow! It's taken me 2 months to get back into the "system" after the last TCM re-design. Anyhoo, let's hope we can have an active discussion of this once "lost" film classic.......

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Hey, Ed, it's good to see you back again! I've missed discussing the early talkies with you.

 

Interesting thing about this film -- it was originally scheduled to be shown on January 23 (I've still got the printout that shows this), but for some reason it and rest of that evening's schedule was moved lock, stock and barrel to February 26. But I'm as excited as you are about seeing another early Ernst Lubitsch classic from Paramount on the schedule. Now if they could only get DESIGN FOR LIVING . . .

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Speaking of early talkies, I re-watched again one of my faves, "They Had to See Paris," from Paramount, 1929, and it's simply adorable. Will Rogers has NOT dated. His boyish charm electrifies. Irene Rich (or Worth--I always them confused) is perfect as his wife who is convinced that her newly minted millionaire of a husband and her two cute kids-one of them is Margurette Churchill--simply must got to Gay Paree to get some cul-sure. Fifi D'Orsay plays the conniving, flirty French tart. You'd never know they had microphones hidden everywhere or that cameras were supposed to be "frozen" in place while the cast enunciated. You see fascinating glimpses of small town America at the beginning when the husband sees his oil well come to life. Sophie Wacht designed the soft, floating gowns for the women. One minor quibble: all the women wore that dreaded black lipstick and pasty white make-up and pencilled brows. One theory is that the early talker studios discovered they needed harsher lighting and they experimented with different make-ups. I taped this vintage goodie off PBS about five years ago because you sure ain't gonna find it on video and never ever on DVD.

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Yup---I'm back, but I didn't mean to start a new topic... TCM has redesigned this site to death! I hope they actually SHOW Smiling Lieutenant this time....

 

I still really dislike their new AMC-like tendencies for showing one film several times in a month and increasingly ignoring OLD films to show 70s films we've seen to death.

 

Their vault still shows hundreds of 20s and 30s films I've never seen.......

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Ed, don't even START comparing TCM to AMC! AMC has positioned itself so far from TCM that there's just no comparison any more.

 

TCM simply keeps doing what it has been doing quietly for years -- showing the most classic films anywhere, uncut and commercial-free. On rare occasions, they will show a film twice in a month, on rarer occasions three times, but never more than that. They've never had a "Featured Film of the Month" like AMC did, which was shown at least every third day.

 

And if you look at the January and February NOW PLAYING guides, in sheer numerical terms, the showings of classic films (i.e., 1920s-1950s) outnumber the showings of newer films by almost 2 to 1. If anything, the variety of older films on TCM has gotten better since AMC tanked its old format.

 

But I will agree with you about the new message boards. I've lost some posts, duplicated others, the message threads are harder to follow, and I've sometimes been kicked out of the system for no apparent reason. But there are some nice things about it -- the search function works better here, I can add titles to my posts again (hooray!), and I can see all the new posts at a glance. I guess you just have to work around the quirks of the system, and hope for the best.

 

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Ya but the trend is there... TCM is showing fewer early talkies than they used to and still show the same 50s films over and over and over. It's still the best, but TCM needs to get into that vault and dust off some never seen films.

 

 

 

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I hope and pray that TCM will try to dig up some Mae Murray delights. I just watched her again in "The Merry Widow" and was thrilled with this bigger-than-life star. I also just re-read the bio on her, "The Self-Enchanted." This dame really did in another dimension--how else to account for her allowing that horrible, sadistic Prince David Mdivani to steal her millions and leave her a bag lady!

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Ed, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Of course, there is no other place currently where viewers have any HOPE of seeing movies from the 1920's - 1950's on a consistant basis, but for some reason I still resent seeing films from the 1970's and 1980's on TCM. I know we all hashed out the meaning of "classic" a few months back, but I still think these films are much more accessible--even if from a video store! I'd love the programmer to dig way down deep into the vault, and show some movies that haven't seen the light of day in 70+ years.

 

I am not really criticizing, just voicing my fondest hope for the future...

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Yes, Alix, that's all I was saying.... I love TCM. It's classy all the way down the line. I was just noting the new trend to show "newer" movies that have been on all the other cablers fo a decade. Why bother? Will TCM win a whole new audience? No.

 

Anyhoo.... I wish TCM would re-show the Mae Murray-John Gilbert "Merry Widow," which I missed last time it aired. The only Murray film I've ever seen is her talkie disaster, Bachelor Apartment." But I look forward to "Smiling Leiutenant," which is listed as a lost film in this old book I have called Great Movies You'll Never See or something like that.

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I think this might change when TCM airs COMPLICATED WOMEN (the documentary based on Mick LaSalle's book of the same name) later on this year. Knowing that TCM often ties its Theme of the Month to the documentaries it airs, we could see a whole MONTH of pre-code favorites. A whole month of early Norma Shearer, Constance Bennett, Ann Harding, Kay Francis, Dorothy Mackaill, etc. would certainly lift a lot of spirits contributing to these folders. This could be what everybody's waiting for.

 

 

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Dan, I have not heard about the "Complicated Women" documentary. Will it be like the book? If so I'll certainly cross my fingers that some really risque pre-Codes will surface and I'll wear out my VCR taping!

 

Has anyone else (besides me) read "Dangerous Men," by the same author?

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Alix, "Dangerous Men" was a real dissapointment to me. The author dealt with the male stars of the pre-code and a few beyond. He never even gave any sizeable text to our adorable lovable, one-of-a-kind, Billy Haines! There was the usual rehash of Clark Gable and Jimmy Cagney that we've all read about. I found nothing new or interesting. But I'll tell you about two goodies I've got ordered through Amazon and I'm eagerly awaiting: "Hollywood Divas" and "Bad Boys of Hollywood", both by Robert Parrish who always does a juicy, brilliant job with his studies of old Hollywood. I should get them in the mail today and I'm not coming up for air until I finish them!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hooray! Just saw The Smiling Lieutenant and it was swell! Racy little film with a couple of good songs. Maurice Chevalier was lively, but the women stole the show. Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins were marvelous. I can't remember Colbert singing in a film; she had a decent voice. The "Jazz Up Your Lingerie" number was a hoot, but Hopkins perfectly finished off the film in an hilarious bit, playing jazzy piano and smoking in time with the music! Wonderful film once thought lost. Thanks TCM for finally showing it!

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Hip, Hips hooray for "The Smiling Lieutenant" and mucho bravos to TCM for showing such a lustrous, beautiful print! The great magic of watching these never-before-seen on TV pre-codes is showing us how magical they were! In this one, I noticed again how fresh and natural everyone acted. My only question: why did Maurice Chevalier sport that horrible black lipstick in some scenes and not in others? He looked like he was auditioning for Dracula. I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the filming to overhear our twin divas--Colbert and Hopkins--screaming about the camera not capturing the right side of their faces. Ernst Lubitch, obviously, knew how to handle high-spirited fillies!

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LOVED IT! Chevalier was a little bit hammy I thought, and sometimes hard to understand, but he was really enjoyable as Niki. Who did you all like better...Claudette Colbert or Miriam Hopkins? I enjoyed Hopkins performance the most. I thought her transformation from mousey little princess to red-hot jazz baby was fun.

 

Can you believe this one passed by the censors? Thank goodness it did, and thank goodness it wasn't butchered when the studio (probably) tried to re-release it.

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