CMBA Politics on Film Blogathon- “The Candidate” (1972)

Unfortunately, politics have been around since the beginning of time. I absolutely cannot stand politics. I find today’s political climate very toxic and damaging to one’s mental health. But, I do like political-oriented stories if they’re presented in a historical context (e.g. All the President’s Men), or if the politics are presented in a fictional narrative, where there’s no blatant agenda or propaganda–just a basic story about someone running for an office or some other aspect of the political arena.

The Candidate, directed by Michael Ritchie (Downhill Racer, Bad News Bears, Smile) depicts the fictional election of the 1972 California Senate seat within the US Senate. Peter Boyle plays Marvin Lucas, an election specialist who is tasked with finding a viable Democratic candidate for the California Senate seat in the US Senate. The incumbent, Republican Senator Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter aka Sally Field’s dad in TV’s Gidget), is extremely popular and seemingly is a shoe-in for re-election. He’s so popular in fact, that solid Democratic candidates are convinced that running against him is futile because it’s a given that they’ll lose.

I would vote for Robert Redford.

After seeing an article about San Diego lawyer, Bill McKay (Robert Redford) in the newspaper, Lucas decides that he is the perfect candidate to run against Jarmon. To sweeten the pot, McKay is also the son of former California Governor, John McKay (Melvyn Douglas). Hoping to cash-in on his connection to the former governor, Lucas visits McKay at his office and makes him a proposition: Because it’s a given that Jarmon will win, if McKay agrees to campaign for California Senate, he can mount whatever type of campaign he wants. Despite not particularly wanting to be Senator, McKay agrees because he feels that this will be a good opportunity to speak about about some of his pet causes like: ecology, civil rights, and legal aid.

McKay easily wins the nomination and mounts a grassroots campaign and his charisma and realism helps him quickly attract supporters. However, his campaigning isn’t doing enough and preliminary election projections show that McKay is not only going to lose the election, he’s going to be obliterated. Not wanting McKay to be embarrassed, Lucas informs him that they will need to mount a more serious, conventional campaign. McKay goes along Lucas’ plan.

Cameo appearance by Natalie Wood!

McKay’s campaign begins to transform into a more typical political campaign. He is given pre-written answers to questions and is asked to give more standard answers, pandering to the American public. His answers are full of buzzwords and other shallow phrases, designed to sound good, but mean absolutely nothing. McKay begins receiving criticism for seemingly drifting away from his ideals and mounting a more typical campaign.

As McKay gets deeper and deeper into the election, he begins to question his integrity and how much he’s willing to compromise his ideals to win a campaign for an office that he wasn’t interested in winning in the first place. His dilemma comes to head during a debate with Jarmon.

Jarmon represents the celebrity candidate. He knows how to pander to his supporters. He knows how to appeal to his supporters with big, splashy galas and rallies. Jarmon knows what buzzwords to say, what empty phrases to use. He knows how to make promises to his supporters without actually making any promises at all. Jarmon interjects himself into situations (e.g. the forest fire in Malibu) to make him seem like he cares, but he doesn’t really. He says words like “Change” and “America” a lot.

Bill McKay’s catchy campaign slogan

McKay, on the other hand, is the naive, wide-eyed candidate. He’s the one who has no idea what he’s “supposed” to say, what his supporters want to hear. McKay has his laundry list of issues that he wants to fix and actually has ideas on how to fix these issues. He holds rallies to try and attract supporters. McKay says the wrong thing. He says the right thing. And of course, because it’s Robert Redford*, he attracts the young women to his camp because he’s attractive. Being eye-candy never hurt anyone’s campaign. (Honestly, it’s not often that attractive people run for any sort of office).

*For the record, in the never-ending “Paul Newman or Robert Redford?” debate, I am Team Redford all the way.

Despite his inexperience, McKay’s grassroots campaign gains traction. He is charismatic. McKay appeals to all facets of society: the unemployed, the minorities, everyone–not just the wealthy. He wants to fix widespread issues that are actually hurting the voters of the country–like joblessness and poverty. Corporations and taxes aren’t the point of his campaign. He wants to help the actual voters and the environment in which they live. As his supporter base grows, so does the size of his campaign–and before he knows it, McKay is running a bonafide political campaign.

I was on a Robert Redford kick a while back and found this film on HBO Max. I have since watched it three times and really enjoy it. In 1972, The Candidate was released as a satire of the American political system. But is this film really a satire?

Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter) schmoozes his supporters

Many of the situations presented in this campaign are still true today. The hypocrisy present in both major political parties is the same. The way in which the public responds to the different candidates is the same. The pandering and fake promises are the same. The mudslinging between the candidates is the same. While social media changes the medium in which information is spread, the way in which it persuades (or dissuades) is the same.

Everything is the same. The same tactics that were used in 1972 are used today in 2020.

I highly recommend watching The Candidate. While I’ve never run for office (and don’t plan on doing so), I feel that the way in the film depicts how a campaign is run, how the candidates are asked to sell-out their personal convictions in the name of winning, and how the political parties try to manipulate the voters into supporting them is still very timely today. This film would make a good companion piece to All the President’s Men. Aside from the Redford connection, this film can show what happens when someone in an important political office (e.g. THE PRESIDENT) sacrifices their integrity (if they had any) in the name of winning.

That’s certainly another way to show your support

I wouldn’t touch politics with a “39 and a half-foot pole,” but I would watch The Candidate again and again.

Tracy & Hepburn Blogathon: “Woman of the Year” (1942)

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are known as one of the Golden Age’s most enduring, romantic screen couples, both on and off. Despite being together as a couple for over twenty-five years, they never married. Although separated from his wife since the 1930s, Tracy never pursued a divorce, nor did Hepburn ever request that he get one so they could marry. They were deeply in love and it showed in their onscreen relationship. Tracy and Hepburn made nine films together, starting with their first one in 1942–Woman of the Year.

Woman of the Year depicts the meeting and eventual marriage of Tess Harding (Hepburn) and Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy). Tess and Sam are both journalists at the New York Chronicle. Tess is highly educated, worldly, and fluent in multiple languages. She is in charge of the Chronicle’s political affairs column. Sam on the other hand, is the sports columnist, who is well informed and articulate, but perhaps lacks the social connections and status that Tess has.

There is a funny scene at a baseball game that shows off both the differences in Tess and Sam’s personalities and their social class. After Tess proclaims that baseball be suspended during the duration of World War II, Sam defends America’s Favorite Pastime by taking Tess as his guest, despite the unspoken rule of “No women in the press box.” Obviously Sam, as a sports reporter, knows the rules of baseball inside and out. Tess on the other hand, doesn’t even know who the pitcher is and where he stands during the game. The funniest part about this scene is the enormous hat she decides to wear, which blocks the view of the frustrated blowhard behind her.

Later, Sam is a spectator at a talk that Tess is giving about the world’s political situation. He accidentally walks on stage during Tess’ speech, not realizing that she was giving her speech and not just speaking. She tries to lessen the embarrassing situation by casually asking him to sit down but he makes a spectacle of himself on stage, albeit a silent spectacle. Later, he ends up sharing a cab with Tess’ aunt Ellen Whitcomb (Fay Bainter). She encourages him to marry Tess, since he’s obviously so fond of her.

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in their first on-screen pairing in “Woman of the Year.”

Sam takes Ellen’s advice and proposes to Tess. She accepts and they marry. As they get used to being married and each other, they find that their vastly different personalities, priorities, and temperaments are proving difficult to deal with. Tess is content to carry on her life as it was previously, including living in her apartment still, whereas Sam wants to be married and share experiences with her. Their relationship differences reach their climax when Tess adopts a Greek child without consulting Sam.

This is an excellent film and adeptly shows off Tracy and Hepburn’s amazing chemistry. It is easy to see why they “clicked” and continued their relationship off-screen. Tracy and Hepburn are both strong enough personalities that it doesn’t seem like one dominates or overshadows the other. They were definitely a “power-couple.”

Power-Couple Tracy and Hepburn

I will admit that I’m not the biggest Spencer Tracy fan as I don’t particularly think his acting is the end all, be all that it’s made out to be. He’s perfectly fine and I won’t avoid him, but there are other actors whom I prefer. However with Hepburn, he’s fantastic and I couldn’t imagine her (or him) with anyone else. And I love Katharine Hepburn. I think she’s amazing and I love her unique voice.

While I love Woman of the Year and even own the Criterion, I wouldn’t say it was my #1 favorite of their films. My absolute favorite of their films is their penultimate film together, 1957’s Desk Set. But that could be because I love movies with old timey computers that are the size of an entire room, libraries, wild in-office Christmas parties, and Joan Blondell.

I have one main criticism of Woman of the Year:

Tess adopting a child, Chris, without telling Sam. It is absolutely outrageous to me that someone would adopt a child without telling their spouse. She says that she adopted Chris due to the pressure she received from her fellow Greek Child Refugee Committee members to adopt the first refugee child as a means to promote their program. The fact that she shows absolutely zero interest in raising this child and basically treats as a means to improve her career does not make Tess a sympathetic character– Sam had every right to call her out.

Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and The Hat attend a baseball game

With that said, I really do enjoy Woman of the Year. I love the pairing of Tracy and Hepburn. They are magic in this film just like in their others. I love Katharine Hepburn’s amazing apartment with the gorgeous city views. I love her costumes in this movie and I love the scenes of the football game in the snow. Watching football games in the snow (from the comfort of your warm living room, of course) are the best. I also love Hepburn’s giant hat at the baseball game. Plus, she’s got such a gorgeous, unique face. This is an excellent film and I highly recommend it.

Jean Arthur Blogathon: “The Devil and Miss Jones” (1941)

I love Jean Arthur. I feel like she gets a bad rap sometimes because of her unique voice. There are those who find her voice irritating or unbecoming. I am not one of those people. I think her voice is adorable and I love it. It’s one of the reasons that makes Jean so unique and makes her stand apart from her peers. Jean started her career in silent film, but didn’t really find that one part to make her a star. It was only when she transitioned to “talkies” that we were treated to her amazing voice. And then her star just rose from there.

While Jean never reached that echelon of star like that of her peers like Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant, she was a big star in her day. It’s unfortunate that Jean is hardly known outside of the classic film community. However, of those who do know about Jean, we know that she was one of the Golden Age’s finest actresses, who could do both screwball and drama.

Original movie poster

One of my favorite of Jean’s films is The Devil and Miss Jones from 1941. This film doesn’t seem to be very well known and rarely plays on TCM, if ever. I cannot recall this film airing on the channel recently. However, my friends at Olive Films have made this film available to the masses, which is how I saw it originally. I purchased it as a blind buy, something I rarely do, but because I love Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn, I wanted to see it. I was not disappointed.

In The Devil and Miss Jones, Coburn plays tycoon, John P. Merrick, a crotchety man who finds out that one of the employees at Neely’s, a department store that he owns, is trying to unionize the employees. Wanting to put the kibosh on the union, Merrick decides to go undercover as “Thomas Higgins” and apply for a position in the shoe department. He zeroes in on the shoe department as he’s heard rumors that that is where the union discussions are the most concentrated.

After almost failing a minimum intelligence test to even work in the department, Merrick gets a job in the children’s shoe department. There is a funny running gag that shows Merrick making a list of grievances that he has after encountering various policies and employees in the department. One particular grievance he has is with Hooper (Edmund Gwenn), the department manager, whose patronizing attitude does not sit well with him.

While working at the store, Merrick befriends a fellow sales clerk, the titular “Miss Jones,” i.e. Mary Jones (Arthur). Mary introduces Merrick to her boyfriend, Joe O’Brien (Robert Cummings) who is the instigator behind the union talks and has recently been fired from the store. As he spends more time with Mary and Joe, he finds himself feeling sympathetic with their situation and reasons for wanting to be part of a union. Merrick also finds himself starting to fall for Elizabeth Ellis (Spring Byington), another sales clerk.

This beach is ridiculous; but look at Jean’s cute outfit!

There is a funny scene where the group visits the beach at Coney Island. First of all, who in their right mind would want to go to this extremely crowded beach? You literally cannot see the sand because there are so many people there. I would be claustrophobic at this beach and want to leave almost immediately. Merrick brings an expensive bottle of wine from his cellar to share with his new friends. They don’t take to the wine and think that Merrick was tricked into buying cheap swill. They end up mixing it with soda (blech) and then dumping it into whatever inch of open sand that was next to them.

Jean Arthur wears a two-piece outfit with a crop top and it looks fantastic on her. Between this film and The More the Merrier, I always envy her fantastic figure. I always find Jean’s birthdate of 1900 fantastic, because she was one of the older actors of the Golden Age but she sure doesn’t look it. She would have been 40-41* in this film and I wouldn’t have guessed it. She has such a youthful, beautiful face. Do we ever see Jean Arthur smoke in a film? I cannot recall. Perhaps she didn’t smoke and that’s the reason behind her youthful look.

*After writing this, I realized that I’m only 4-5 years younger than Jean in this film, but apparently I think that someone who is 40-41 should look so much older. People looked a lot older back then, so that’s what I’m going with…

Robert Cummings as Joe and Jean Arthur as Mary in “The Devil and Miss Jones”

Anyway, after spending the day together in the beach, Merrick ends up almost being arrested after he tries to sell his watch to get money to call his house and chauffeur. The storekeeper and the police officer assume that Merrick has stolen the watch and take him in. Mary comes to pick Merrick up and it is assumed she’s in cahoots with Merrick and part of his thievery ring. Joe comes in to rescue Merrick and Mary and saves the day. Merrick begins to see Joe in a new light.

The main conflict occurs when Joe and Mary break up. As he disembarks from the subway, Merrick drops his identification card stating that “Thomas Higgins is employed in a confidential capacity.” Mary finds the card and concludes that Higgins is a spy. She arranges an emergency meeting with her co-workers and Joe. They decide to forge ahead with their union plans.

Charles Coburn as John P. “Thomas Higgins” Merrick and Jean Arthur as “Mary Jones” in “The Devil and Miss Jones.”

I really love this film. Arthur and Coburn have such a great rapport with one another, as shown again in The More the Merrier. Jean is so sweet and funny in this film. It is easy to see why everyone would fall in love with her. I highly recommend this film as well as all of Jean’s other comedies like: The More the Merrier, Talk of the Town, Too Many Husbands, The Whole Town’s Talking, Easy Living, and More Than A Secretary.

My favorite part of The Devil and Miss Jones are all the scenes with international treasure, SZ Sakall, and the sweet scenes between Coburn and Byington when she offers him some of her homemade tuna popovers. I also love the scene when Mary talks about “Higgins'” advanced age of 55 and how he seems to be in good shape and has his faculties about him, despite his age.

Now I want a tuna popover.

Happy Birthday Miss Arthur!
P.S. I love your shoes!

Eleanor Parker Blogathon, Part 2: “Never Say Goodbye” (1946)

One of my absolute favorite Eleanor Parker films (and annual Christmas films!) also co-stars my love, Errol Flynn. Flynn appears in one of his rare, non-swashbuckler roles, and even more rare–he plays a father! In Never Say Goodbye, Flynn and Parker play ex-spouses, Phillip and Ellen Gayley. At the beginning of the film, they are coming up on the one-year anniversary of their divorce. Their only child, a daughter, Phillipa “Flip” Gayley (Patti Brady), is forced to follow the custody arrangement: 6 months with one parent, 6 months with the other. She has just about completed her sojourn with her father and will soon be moving back into her mother’s home.

Errol Flynn, Patti Brady, and Eleanor Parker in “Never Say Goodbye.”

Flip doesn’t much care for the arrangement and neither does Phillip. It seems that Ellen’s mother, the delightfully naggy Lucile Watson (whose character’s name is seemingly “Mother”), doesn’t care for Phillip and it seems that she had a large role in convincing her daughter that he was no good and she’d be better off without him. One of the main reasons for Mother’s animosity against Phillip is his career. He works as a commercial illustrator, mainly pin-ups. She’s convinced that he’s doing more than drawing.

Phillip however, claims complete innocence and one gets the sense that he was somewhat blindsided by the divorce. Flip on the other hand, wants a baby brother and she isn’t going to get that with her parents living in separate homes. At the same time, she’s also been writing to a Marine overseas using her maid Cozy’s (the amazing Hattie McDaniel) book “How to Write Letters to a Soldier.” When the Marine, Fenwick Lonkowski (Forrest Tucker), requests a photograph of his “Smoochie” (Flip’s pen-name to him), Phillip has her send a photo of Ellen instead of her own (good thinking, Dad).

Forrest Tucker props up Errol Flynn as Eleanor Parker looks on in “Never Say Goodbye.”

Phillip returns Flip to Ellen’s home and immediately tries to rekindle things with her. He takes her out to dinner and dancing at Luigi’s, a restaurant/club, run by owner Luigi (SZ Sakall), a mutual friend of Phillip and Ellen’s. Phillip is thisclose to wooing Ellen back with his singing (!) and charm, but the night is ruined when Phillip forgets that he’d already made a date with Nancy Graham, the model he’s currently illustrating. Phillip tries the classic “be in both places at the same time” gag, but fails. Upset that her ex-husband is seemingly still up to his old ways, leaves him at the restaurant.

Phillip and Flip spend the remainder of the film trying to get him back together with Ellen. At the same time, Mother is trying to get Ellen interested in Rex (Donald Woods), a lawyer whom she feels is more suitable. The problem? Rex is boring and is no Errol Flynn. The climax of the film takes place over the Christmas holiday when Rex, dressed as Santa to surprise Flip and Phillip, also dressed as Santa, face off in a Duck Soup-style mirror scene along with a series of hijinks along the way, culminating with Rex falling into the Christmas tree.

Flynn does his best Bogart impression in “Never Say Goodbye.”

To further complicate matters, Fenwick Lonkowski shows up at Ellen’s home, looking for “Smoochie.” It seems that he is on leave and wanted to find a woman with whom to spend some time. After being reasonably terrified at this large Marine appearing at her home (and her having no idea who he was as she was unaware of her daughter’s penpal), she begins to warm to the idea when she realizes that she could make Phillip jealous after he invites her to go up to Connecticut with him–forgetting AGAIN that he made the same plans with Nancy Graham, who just happens to show up to Phillip’s apartment while Ellen is there, ready to leave on the trip.

There is a hilarious scene where Phillip, wanting to run Fenwick out of the house, dresses up as Flip’s gangster father, complete with a trench coat, smeared grease paint (stubble? to look dirty and tough, who knows? But it’s funny), and a snarl. Humphrey Bogart himself provides Gangster Errol Flynn’s dialogue. Eventually, Fenwick teams up with Flip to help reunite Phillip and Ellen.

Patti Brady and SZ “Cuddles” Sakall

I absolutely adore this film. Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker make an amazing couple, absolutely gorgeous. Patti Brady even looks like she could be their daughter. I don’t normally like children actors, as their characters are often irritating, whether they’re too loud, too pretentious, snotty, what have you, but Patti’s character was awesome. She seemed like a real child. Hattie is my queen and she’s awesome in this film as well. Lucile Watson excels at playing the nagging mother and she does not disappoint in this film either. Forrest Tucker is a tall man. He towers over 6’2 Errol Flynn and makes him look like a weakling. And SZ Sakall was an international treasure and I love him. I can definitely see why he was nicknamed “Cuddles.”

My favorite quotes:

SALESWOMAN: I’ve always thought I could be a model. What do you think?

PHILLIP: When I first saw you, I thought hmmm…

SALESWOMAN swoons

SANTA PHILLIP TO MOTHER: Let’s see what we have for the old bag… I mean, in the old bag.

FLIP: I’m not going home. I’m gonna live in Luigi’s back room and scrub floors and eat bread and water and Luigi will beat me.

LUIGI: Me beat you?!

PHILLIP: Luigi, you can’t just go around spilling soup on people!

ERROL FLYNN SINGS!

My favorite things about this movie:

  1. Errol Flynn. That’s a given. He proves himself adept at comedy in not only Never Say Goodbye, but his other comedies like Four’s a Crowd and Footsteps in the Dark. He has his usual amount of charm, especially prevalent in the beginning scenes when he charms the saleswoman. Only Flynn could get away with answering her question with a non-answer and make her fall head over heels. But he looks gorgeous in this film per usual… AND HE SINGS!

  2. Eleanor Parker. She is so beautiful in this film and has such a lovely sounding voice. You know how some people look great, but then they talk, and you’re like ACK! STOP TALKING. Miss Parker is not one of those people. She also wears the greatest gowns in this film and looks great with Flynn. These two should have been a couple in real life.

  3. Patti Brady is adorable in this movie. Like I said prior, I don’t usually like children actors, with a few exceptions, but I love her character in this movie. She’s realistic, she’s funny, she’s a little precocious without being hammy or pretentious, I just love her. She has a good rapport with all her adult co-stars as well.

  4. Hattie McDaniel is my queen. Even though her character disappears about halfway through the film. I just love her, especially her constant disapproving comments regarding Phillip and Flip’s make-believe personas and friends.

  5. The fact that Phillip sends his seven-year-old daughter home, from Central Park, alone. A seven-year-old girl, walking alone, in New York City. Oh how times have changed.

  6. The fact that Phillip can order 12 martinis in a club and the fact that he’s still standing (barely) after having consumed most of them.

  7. SZ Sakall is hilarious and I just love him. He always plays someone flustered (except for maybe in Casablanca) and he’s just so loveable.

  8. Does anyone else get Tom D’Andrea confused with Dane Clark? D’Andrea plays Phillip’s friend, Jack Gordon, with whom he shares the 12 martinis (though I think each man has his own set of 12).

  9. Phillip’s crooning “Remember Me?” to Ellen. ERROL FLYNN SINGS.

  10. Ellen’s crazy dress with all the tassels on it.

  11. Phillip’s Humphrey Bogart impression with Bogart providing the voiceover.

  12. Ellen’s marching band shako looking hat with the plume that she wears when she visits Phillip at home.

Eleanor Parker Blogathon- “The Very Thought of You” (1944): A Plea to Warner Archive

Despite all the numerous avenues for physical media (Studio releases, Criterion, Kino Lorber, Olive Films, Warner Archive MOD, etc.) there are many classic films that seemingly have fallen through the cracks. Some films appear to have never received a VHS release, let alone DVD! One such film, sadly, is The Very Thought of You, released in 1944.

The Very Thought of You is a World War II homefront romantic drama starring Eleanor Parker, Dennis Morgan, Faye Emerson, and Dane Clark. Parker and Emerson play Janet and Cora, respectively. Janet and Cora are friends and co-workers at a parachute factory. Morgan and Clark play two Army sergeants, Dave and “Fixit,” respectively, who are visiting Pasadena (home of Dave’s college alma mater, Caltech) on a three-day pass during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Eleanor Parker and Dennis Morgan

One day, Dave and Fixit are riding a bus at the same time Janet and Cora are riding the bus home from work. Dave and Janet get to speaking and realize that they know one another from college. Dave used to frequent a malt shop near Caltech where Janet worked. Realizing that Dave has nobody to spend Thanksgiving with, Janet invites him to spend the holidays with her and her family.

The Thanksgiving dinner is a nightmare, to put it kindly. Janet’s mother, Harriet (the amazing Beulah Bondi) does not approve of Janet getting involved with a man in active duty, because she doesn’t want Janet spending all her time alone. Janet’s sister, Molly (Andrea King), is married to a sailor, but she’s cheating on him behind his back. Molly gives the excuse that he’s always away and she’s lonely. Janet’s brother, Cal, was classified 4-F and seems self conscious about this. He’s rude to Dave for no reason. Only Janet’s youngest sister, Ellie, and her father (Henry Travers, who is seemingly in every movie ever made) support Janet and Dave’s relationship.

Faye Emerson and Dane Clark

Meanwhile, throughout the film, Fixit and Cora hit it off and spend a lot of time together, while having a lot of fun. They seem like a couple who aren’t particularly in love, but love to have fun together. One could assume that Fixit and Cora will probably “hook up” when he visits while on leave.

Janet and Dave’s growing relationship is the focal point of the story. During Dave’s initial three-day pass, he and Janet fall in love. They end up marrying during Dave’s leave, despite opposition from Janet’s mother and sister. Throughout the remainder of the film, Janet and Dave deal with separation due to the war and later, the effects and consequences of being in an active war.

I absolutely loved this film. I love films that are true, intense romances–not contrived rom-com films (some are okay, but some are so generic and bland). A true romantic film may or may not have a happy ending. I love when a romantic film has an organic ending, whether happy or sad. I love Eleanor Parker and I thought she did a fantastic job. She’s also so beautiful too. She really deserved to be more well known. Eleanor and Dennis Morgan (who is adorable in this film) make a great pairing. I also really like Faye Emerson. She has a very unique look, but she is very beautiful. Dane Clark is always a lot of fun (Does anyone else confuse him with Tom D’Andrea?).

Beautiful photo of Faye Emerson and Eleanor Parker

ATTENTION WARNER ARCHIVE: This is a plea. Please release this film on MOD (Manufactured on Demand)! This is such a fantastic film and deserves to be better known. The Very Thought of You airs on TCM on occasion, so I know it’s available.

Thank you, I look forward to seeing this film available in the near future.

Sincerely, Kayla

Ingrid Bergman Blogathon- “Cactus Flower” (1969)

August 29 marks the 105th birthday of Ingrid Bergman. It is also the 38th anniversary of Ingrid’s passing. Miss Bergman’s life came full circle with her birth in Sweden and her death in London at the age of 67 from breast cancer.

Ingrid is best known for her career in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Of course, she will always be remembered as Ilsa Lund, the woman who broke Humphrey Bogart’s heart in Casablanca. But Ingrid appeared in so many other classic films: Gaslight (Which won Ingrid the first of 3 Oscars), Notorious, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Anastasia (Her second Oscar win), Joan of Arc, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Intermezzo, Spellbound, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

However, one of my favorite roles of hers occurs well after the Golden Age, in an era where her peers were appearing in horror films or had segued to television. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ingrid was still scoring quality parts in quality film productions. She won her third Oscar in 1975 for Murder on the Orient Express. My favorite part of hers during this period however, is her co-starring part as Stephanie Dickinson in Cactus Flower (1969).

Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn in “Cactus Flower.”

Cactus Flower today is primarily known as the film that won Goldie Hawn her Oscar. However, it is my opinion that her storyline and even star Walter Matthau’s storyline is very much on the peripheral of the main focus of Cactus Flower. Ingrid’s Stephanie undergoes a metamorphosis from Matthau’s stuffy, prickly nurse to a vivacious free spirit. Her transformation is represented by the bloom on the cactus that rests on her desk.

In Cactus Flower, Matthau plays Dr. Julian Winston, a dentist in New York City. His nurse, Stephanie Dickinson is Swedish and very serious with no room for nonsense. Dr. Winston and Stephanie, despite having an employer to employee relationship, act very much like an old married couple. From the way that Stephanie feeds Dr. Winston and takes care of him, it is obvious that she cares about him and her job very much.

Ingrid Bergman admires the bloom on her cactus–which symbolizes her evolution from rigid, serious to vivacious and fun-loving.

Stephanie has many great moments trading barbs with one of Dr. Winston’s patients, Harvey Greenfield (Jack Weston), whose constant come-ons are tiresome to Stephanie (I don’t blame her, yuck!). He seems to think because she’s Swedish that she would be somehow be susceptible to his lame pick-up lines and gross attempts to flirt with her.

HARVEY: I was reading the other day, a dentist in New Jersey has topless nurses.

STEPHANIE: I didn’t know you were interested in reading.

(Trying to pretend that he’s got a girl he’ll be spending the night with, thus can’t have an early morning dentist appointment)
HARVEY: We’re both asleep at 7am. I’m sorry I hope I haven’t shocked you.
STEPHANIE: No, but it must be a terrible shock for her.

The beginning conflict is that Dr. Winston is carrying on an affair with a woman at least half his age (if not more), 21-year old Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn). At the start of the film, she is trying to commit suicide via gas inhalation, but she is saved by her neighbor (and someone closer to her own age), writer Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz). Igor resuscitates her via mouth-to-mouth and his rescue evolves into a makeout session when Toni regains consciousness. This is foreshadowing that perhaps Toni is better suited for a partner closer to her own age.

It turns out that Toni was trying to commit suicide because she was stood up by her lover, Dr. Winston. Dr. Winston has lied to Toni the entire time, saying that he had a wife and three children. He is actually single. Toni despises lying. Knowing this, and flattered that she’d commit suicide over him, Dr. Winston proposes to Toni. Toni accepts, but on the condition that she is able to meet Dr. Winston’s wife and confirm that she is okay with the divorce.

Obviously, Dr. Winston is in a spot. He asks Stephanie to pretend to be his wife. Understandably, she is reluctant to go along with such a farce, but ultimately agrees. It is here where we get the sense that Stephanie may have a “thing” for Dr. Winston and it is also at the point in the film when we finally get to Stephanie’s story–the main story, in my opinion. Dr. Winston’s relationship with Toni and Toni’s budding relationship with Igor is very much in the background. It is really inconsequential compared to Stephanie’s story.

Jack Weston and Ingrid Bergman. Despite her smile, Ingrid is having to fight back the urge to murder Jack while she pretends to be his girlfriend. Eww! He’s touching her shoulder!

While participating in Dr. Winston’s ridiculous charade posing as his wife, Stephanie discovers a new found confidence, that she didn’t have before. She buys a beautiful aquamarine crystal-encrusted gown and accepts an invitation from one of Dr. Winston’s patients, Senor Sanchez, to attend a ball with him. Later, she invites Senor Sanchez to the same club she attended prior. Toni, Dr. Winston, and Igor all happen to be at the club as well.

Igor and Stephanie hit it off and have a fun evening dancing with one another. Toni and Dr. Winston are seething and very jealous. Both are jealous of Igor’s attentiveness to Stephanie. Igor and Stephanie end up spending the entire evening partying till dawn, knocking back Mexican Missiles (which she says is a gin and tonic, with tequila subbed for the tonic, blech!) with one another and another group of people (not seen).

It is at this point when Dr. Winston and Toni’s relationship is at a crossroads. Stephanie is no longer content to sit back as Dr. Winston’s assistant and devote her life to being a caretaker to her nephews. She has a newfound life, confidence and vivaciousness not seen prior. Dr. Winston sees Stephanie in an entirely different light. Suddenly, 21-year old Toni and her generation gap and immaturity suddenly doesn’t look so hot.

Goldie Hawn, Rick Lenz and Ingrid Bergman perform the new dance craze: The Dentist. Look at Ingrid’s amazing dress! That color!

Ingrid Bergman is absolutely fantastic in this role and her evolution is remarkable and believable. It was fun to see her in a comedy, especially a 1960s comedy. She always seems to play such serious roles and it is fun to see her in something light hearted. Ingrid was in her 50s in this film and she looks gorgeous. Her blue ball gown is amazing and looks fantastic on her. And who can forget her patented dance move, “The Dentist” ?

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon-“The Lady Vanishes” (1938)

Alfred Hitchcock is primarily known for his Hollywood films starring many of the golden age’s biggest stars. He made his American film debut in 1940 with Rebecca starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, and Judith Anderson. Rebecca was a huge success and set the tone for the next few decades. However, prior to this, Hitchcock had made a name for himself as a filmmaker in his native England.

From 1929 through 1939, Hitchcock made many remarkable and brilliant films, starring many of the era’s biggest British stars. One of his best films is The Lady Vanishes (1938), starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, and Dame Mae Whitty.

Michael Redgrave, Dame Mae Whitty, and Margaret Lockwood in “The Lady Vanishes.”

In The Lady Vanishes, Margaret Lockwood stars as Iris Henderson, a young British tourist who is vacationing in the fictional European country of Bandrika. Iris is with friends, celebrating her upcoming marriage. In fact, she is on her way back to England to marry her fiance. However, an avalanche has occurred and is blocking the railway line. Iris and all the other passengers are forced to spend the night in the hotel.

Also staying at the hotel are English cricket enthusiasts, Charters (Nauton Wayne) and Caldicott (Basil Radford), and Miss Froy (Dame Mae Whitty), a governess and music teacher who is on her way home. As Miss Froy listens to a folk singer in the street, he is strangled to death by an unknown assailant.

Charters & Caldicott

Later that evening, Iris hears loud, obnoxious noise coming from the room above hers. She complains to the hotel manager who investigates the loud noise. He discovers Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave), a musician playing a clarinet and working on transcribing the local music. Adding to the noise are the three locals who are dancing to the music that Gilbert is playing. The hotel manager throws Gilbert out of his room. To retaliate, Gilbert forces himself into Iris’ room and refuses to leave. Eventually Iris relents and asks the hotel manager to allow Gilbert back into his room.

There is an interesting scene in the hotel where Charters and Caldicott share a pair of pajamas. One man dons the pants, while the other wears the top, and the two men share a bed! This is very risque for a 1930s movie and implies a gay relationship between the two men.

The next morning, the railway is cleared and the passengers are ready to depart. As Iris walks to the train, she is hit on the head by a planter. Miss Froy, who was nearby and witnessed the incident helps Iris onto the train. On board, Iris and Miss Froy come across Charters and Caldicott, Eric Todhunter (a lawyer) and his mistress who is pretending to be “Mrs. Todhunter.” Iris ends up fainting from the concussion she probably suffered.

Miss Froy and Iris having tea in the dining room. Right before Miss Froy goes MIA.

When Iris comes to, she finds herself sharing a compartment with Miss Froy and several strangers. Later, Iris and Miss Froy have tea together and return to the compartment. Iris ends up falling asleep. When she wakes up, Miss Froy is nowhere to be found. Iris begins asking the other passengers in the compartment as to Miss Froy’s whereabouts. The passengers deny ever having seen her.

Iris speaks with Eric Todhunter and “Mrs. Todhunter” about Miss Froy, and Eric, not wanting to draw attention to his illicit relationship with his mistress, denies having ever interacted or seen Miss Froy. Iris then ends up coming across Gilbert, who volunteers to help her find Miss Froy. Other potential witnesses, such as Charters and Caldicott, also deny having seen Miss Froy because they don’t want to miss their cricket match and fear that any acknowledgement of the woman’s existence would cause them to be late or miss the match. A brain surgeon on board, Dr. Hartz, suggests that Iris’ possible concussion might be causing her to hallucinate Miss Froy’s existence.

A nun, an Englishwoman, a bandaged man, and a clarinet player walk into a bar…

Despite all the gaslighting attempts, Iris is determined that something bad has happened to Miss Froy. She and Gilbert continue to investigate the train. As they get more into the mystery of Miss Froy’s whereabouts, it is obvious that something is up as they come across a bandaged man, a nun, a knife-wielding magician, and another Miss Froy!

Where did Miss Froy go? She couldn’t have just vanished!

This is such a great movie. When I saw it the first time, I was glued to the edge of my seat. What did happen to Miss Froy? What is going on. I also really liked Michael Redgrave. He reminded me very much of Errol Flynn. In fact, I could hear Errol Flynn’s voice reciting Redgrave’s dialogue. Margaret Lockwood was gorgeous and I am interested in seeing her films. She had a very short career in American films, preferring to stay in her native England. I was also very surprised that both the words “damn” and “hell” are used in their modern context in this film.

Esther Williams Blogathon- “Neptune’s Daughter” (1949)

August 8th would have been Esther Williams’ 99th birthday. I’ll admit that in the past, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Williams. Not that I thought she was bad or anything, but I hadn’t been impressed by her in the films of hers that I’d seen (Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Easy to Wed). I unfairly dismissed her “aqua-musicals” as ridiculous.

Then, it all changed when I saw Williams in Neptune’s Daughter. I watched this film and found that I really enjoyed it. Williams looked beautiful and there was a great aqua-musical number towards the end. Leading man, Ricardo Montalban was handsome, and supporting players, Red Skelton and Betty Garrett were funny.

Art imitates life in Neptune’s Daughter, where Esther Williams portrays Eve Barrett, an aquatic ballet dancer and then swimsuit fashion designer. After retiring from movie-making in the mid-1960s, Williams started her own line of fashionable swimwear. In Neptune’s Daughter however, Williams’ character, Eve, is an aquatic ballet dancer, who is asked to become a business partner at the Neptune swimwear company. She is reluctant at first, but then agrees when she realizes the publicity value of the position.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a mid-movie fashion show!

Williams’ role as a swimsuit designer allows a foray into one of my favorite things about classic movies, the mini-fashion show. Singin’ in the Rain, The Women, How to Marry a Millionaire, Cover Girl, Easter Parade, Designing Woman… all feature fashion shows.

Back to Neptune’s Daughter… Eve’s business partner, Joe, learns that the South American polo team will be in town for a big match. He and Eve decide that this event would be the perfect opportunity to market their swimwear via a big swimming spectacle. Eve informs her man-crazy sister, Betty (Betty Garrett) about the South American team’s upcoming visit, and she decides that she needs to score a date with one of the players.

During polo practice, the captain of the South American team, Jose O’Rourke (Ricardo Montalban) is injured and seeks relief from the club’s masseur, Jack Spratt (Red Skelton). Jack is awkward and clumsy. He laments his lack of success with women to Jose. Jose gives Jack advice on how to attract women, including this gem: speaking to women in Spanish because it is the “language of love.”

Because when you think Spanish lover, you instantly think of Red Skelton.

Betty Garrett is wooed by South American lothario, Red Skelton.

A comedy of errors occurs when Betty, looking for the famous team captain, mistakes Jack for Jose and pursues him, aggressively. Jack decides not to tell Betty her mistake and accepts her invitation to visit her at home. He brings along a Spanish instruction record so that he can pretend to speak romantic Spanish phrases to Betty. Betty excitedly tells Eve about her date and Eve tries to encourage her to date outside of the visiting polo team.

Meanwhile, the real Jose is interested in Eve, however, at first, Eve isn’t aware that he isn’t the man whom Betty dated the night prior. Eve tells Jose to stay away from Betty, and he is understandably confused as he did not date Betty. But, he pretends to agree (because why not) and then asks Eve out. Eve reluctantly agrees to the date, because she thinks she’s keeping Jose away from Betty. On the date, Eve tries to ruin the date by being standoffish and disinterested, but ultimately Jose wins her over and they have a wonderful date.

The next morning, the mistaken identity motif persists when Eve’s maid advises her that Betty and “Jose” (i.e. Jack) have gone on another date. Furious, she goes down to Jose’s hotel room and is confused when Betty is nowhere to be found. At the same time, a crooked nightclub owner plots a scheme to kidnap Jose when he learns that he is the team’s most valuable player. He has money on the game–removing the opposing team’s best player will surely help him win the bet. However, he kidnaps “Jose” rather than the actual Jose.

Red Skelton goes incognito. Can you find him in this scene? Surely this will fool the nightclub owner’s henchmen!

Then, as classic Hollywood films typically go, the main characters have known each other for a week, so obviously a marriage proposal and subsequent engagement is the most realistic next step. Jose proposes to Eve and she accepts.

Further hijinks ensue when Eve tries to share her engagement to Jose with Betty, who tells her of her engagement to “Jose.” Meanwhile, the real Jose is kidnapped as “Jose” escapes.

The film ends with Eve and Jose and Betty and “Jose” reunited. We see the big water spectacle that Eve and her business partner have planned. Dozens of girls dive into the water from varying heights. Eve and Jose “dance” in the water. Obviously, you had to be a good swimmer to be Esther Williams’ leading man in her aqua-musicals.

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban croon “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

This is an absurd but fun film. You have to look past the ridiculous plot points (e.g. anyone mistaking Red Skelton for a South American polo star) and roll with it. This is also the film that introduced the annual Christmas classic (despite not having anything to do with Christmas), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Despite popular (and uninformed) opinion, this song is not about date rape.

Red Skelton and Betty Garrett perform a comical rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

I liked how the lyrics of the song were presented in two fashions: In the duet between Montalban and Williams, Montalban takes on the male part of the song and pursues Williams. In the Garrett and Skelton duet, Garrett takes on the role of the male pursuer with Skelton on the defense. The version between the two leads plays out more traditionally and romantically; whereas the duet between the supporting leads is more comical.

Mel Blanc (aka Bugs Bunny, Speedy Gonzales, Porky Pig, etc.) appears as “Pancho” one of the assistants to the polo team. His face might not be recognizable, but when he speaks, he’s instantly recognizable–it’s Speedy Gonzales! Ricky Ricardo’s nemesis, Xavier Cugat, also appears in the film at Casa Cugat, Xavier Cugat’s Mexican restaurant. Apparently, he also provides the live entertainment!

Esther Williams’ aqua-musicals aren’t the greatest films in the world, they are no Singin’ in the Rain, but they’re fun. The plots can be contrived at times, especially when they have to figure out how to insert a swimming musical number. Her films can also be repetitive, again, how to insert a swimming musical number and have it make sense within the context of the film, but they’re fun to watch. The thing I like about Williams’ films is the spectacle. The aqua-musicals are so elaborate. Williams wears such gorgeous bathing suits and her hair and makeup are never out of place. Obviously in real life, when swimming, you look like a mess!

Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams at the conclusion of the big swim number.

The best thing about Neptune’s Daughter and Esther Williams’ other films is that they serve as a fun diversion from the monotony of day-to-day life–especially now. These films allow you to escape from the world and relieve a little stress. And honestly, I think we could all go for a stress reliever.

In Memoriam: Dame Olivia de Havilland 1916-2020

Olivia, looking amazing

Just a few weeks ago, I participated in the Olivia de Havilland blogathon, celebrating her 104th birthday on July 1. In that post, I discussed her nine films with her most frequent co-star, the gorgeous Errol Flynn. It brings me great sadness to have to write a memorial post about Olivia. Last weekend, she passed away in her sleep of natural causes in her Paris townhouse at the age of 104.

While this news is not unexpected, I cannot help but feel sorrow over Olivia’s passing. She was the last surviving major Hollywood star from the golden age. When I was growing up in the mid-80s through early-00s, many of the classic Hollywood stars were still alive. Some were even still working! While I am too young to remember the passings of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in 1987 (I was in preschool then), and thank god I wasn’t aware of Lucille Ball at the age of 5 when she passed in 1989 (if that had happened just a few years later, or even now, I would have been devastated). I remember being in middle school when Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Robert Mitchum, and James Stewart passed.

Olivia and sister Joan Fontaine

People like Katharine Hepburn and Bob Hope were old when I was born, they were still old throughout all of my formative years. When they both died within a month of one another, I was sad as they were enduring symbols of old Hollywood, immortal as far as I was concerned. Kirk Douglas was always there. Doris Day was too. Joan Fontaine seemed like she would last forever. Shirley Temple was just a child! Surely she would be around forever. Then, there was my queen, Olivia de Havilland.

Now, they’re all gone.

It is moments like this when people start making lists of people from the Golden Age who are still alive. I cannot bring myself to make such a list. To me, that seems like bad luck. It seems like chronicling those who are blessed with longevity is just asking to have a hex placed on them. So I will refrain.

Olivia, looking fierce

Olivia de Havilland’s death represents the final door closing on the Golden Era. She was the last tangible link to this amazing period of filmmaking where everything was in its infancy, numerous techniques, camera angles, acting styles, etc. were pioneered every day during this period of great innovation. Olivia de Havilland was a woman who could recall working with people like: my boyfriend Errol Flynn, Montgomery Clift, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, the amazing Hattie McDaniel, James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, Rosalind Russell, Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, Bette Davis… legendary Hollywood personalities who had long since passed.

Olivia had an infamous feud with her sister, Joan Fontaine. It’s a shame that the two ladies could not get along and share their respective good fortunes with one another, but that isn’t anyone’s business but Olivia and Joan’s. What was the feud about? Who knows? Both ladies must have had their reasons.

Can you imagine if What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? had been made with Olivia and Joan instead?

Olivia was also not afraid to put herself on the line to speak out about perceived injustices both she and her peers faced. In 1943, Olivia sued Warner Brothers for violating California Labor Codes. During the early days of the studio system, contract players were signed to seven-year contracts. The studios viewed actors as employees, they were no different than the cameraman, the set designer, the electricians, or the propmen. The actors would be assigned to specific projects and were expected to fulfill their end of the contract and make the film.

L to R: Hattie McDaniel, Olivia, Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind.”

However, many of the performers believed that they should have a say over their projects–especially if their appearance in a film was proven to make money for the studio. Many actors, such as Bette Davis, were trying to hone their craft and also take on challenging parts. These performers didn’t want to hurt their box office clout and essentially, their marketability by taking on crappy parts. The studios believed that they were allowed to suspend actors for refusing parts. Then, after the film was completed with a different actor, the length of the production time would be added to the actor’s existing contract.

In 1943, Olivia reached the end of her 7-year contract at Warner Brothers. She was then informed that she owed them an additional 6 months time to make up for the parts she refused. Olivia sued Warner Brothers to be released from her contract and won the lawsuit! Warner Brothers tried to appeal, but lost. The California Superior Court upheld the “seven-year contract” labor ruling and named this law the “de Havilland Law,” a law that is still in place today. Even sister Joan Fontaine gave Olivia kudos stating “Hollywood owes Olivia a great deal.”

Of course, Warner Brothers, being petty, managed to get Olivia blacklisted in Hollywood for two years.

In 1945, Olivia signed a two-picture deal with Paramount. She immediately went to work on To Each Her Own.

She won the Best Actress Oscar.

Olivia as Catherine Sloper in “The Heiress.”

In 1949, Olivia made The Heiress with Montgomery Clift. I just watched this film the other day. I’d seen it once prior, but didn’t really remember much about it, except for the ending. Olivia’s performance in this film is nothing but fantastic. Her transformation from meek, proper, shy Catherine to a cynical, bitter, hardened woman is nothing short of remarkable. Not only does Olivia’s portrayal change, but her entire look, her voice, the way she carries herself, everything changes. I absolutely loved it.

Olivia won a second Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Heiress.

In the 1950s, Olivia moved to Paris, married, had two children, and continued her film career and started appearing in the theater and on television. Her career continued until 1988 when she retired. From then on, Olivia stayed active appearing in various career and film retrospectives. As the last surviving major cast member (since 1967, with the death of Vivien Leigh) of Gone With the Wind, Olivia served as an ambassador for that film. She also received numerous accolades and honors, including being appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Goodbye Olivia. We will miss you.

I will miss Olivia immensely. Knowing that she was still alive, healthy, and active was such a consolation–the Golden Age of Hollywood was alive and well. Now, another piece of it is gone. However, Olivia has achieved immortality. Her films, along with everyone else’s, will live on forever.

We’ll always have Paris.

Current Kick- Edmond O’Brien

Full disclosure, I’ve been known to be on simultaneous kicks at a time. Some are short-lived, others go on for awhile. Last year, I was on an Edmond O’Brien kick and watched a ton of his films. Then, I briefly moved onto a Burt Lancaster kick. Then, I moved onto Robert Ryan. More recently, I was obsessed with Ralph Meeker, then I moved onto Joel McCrea.

The Ida Lupino-directed film noir that ignited my first Edmond O’Brien kick

With my recent purchase during the Kino Lorber Summer sale (still going on, through August 3), I may have reignited my Edmond O’Brien kick. during the Kino sale, I purchased the Ida Lupino Filmmakers 4-movie set for $29.95 (regular retail price $79.98). In this collection, there are two O’Brien films: The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist, both from 1953. I’ve seen both films and they are excellent. Not everyone can make you sympathize with a man who knowingly commits bigamy, but O’Brien manages to do so.

Edmond O’Brien

I don’t know what it is about Edmond O’Brien that I like. He’s nowhere near Errol Flynn when it comes to looks and charm. He doesn’t have extraordinary dancing ability like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. He isn’t an amazing singer like Judy Garland. He isn’t adorable like Sandra Dee (ridiculous comparison, I know). Perhaps it has something to do with his everyman persona (displayed to perfection in 1949’s D.O.A.). Whatever it is, O’Brien is definitely underrated and deserves to be better known.

The Hitch-Hiker definitely served as the catalyst to my kick. From there, I pretty much watched a different O’Brien film each night for weeks. Prior to seeing The Hitch-Hiker, I’d seen O’Brien in A Girl, A Guy, and A Gob (1941). And the only reason I watched that film was because it stars my girl, Lucille Ball. I didn’t think much of him in this film, only that I thought he was more attractive than George Murphy and I wanted Lucy to end up with him. I recently just watched this film again–okay, I watched it today–and I just love him. I think I may embark on another O’Brien kick.

Edmond O’Brien and Lucille Ball in “A Girl, A Guy and A Gob.”

A Girl, A Guy and A Gob (produced by Harold Lloyd) stars Lucille Ball, George Murphy and Edmond O’Brien. Lucy plays Dorothy ‘Dot’ Duncan, a secretary who hails from an eccentric family. One night, Dot treats her parents to an anniversary present–box seats at the opera. However, her box seats actually belong to the affluent Stephen Herrick (O’Brien), his fiancee and her mother. It seems that Stephen accidentally dropped his tickets and Dot’s brother (who was sent to the box office by Dot) picked them up. He fails to tell Dot how he obtained the box seats, he let her pretend that these were the seats he’d purchased with the money she gave him.

Stephen and his guests are understandably upset by the guests sitting in their seats. However, not wanting to make a scene or be conspicuous, Stephen drops the matter and relinquishes the seats to Dot and her family. Stephen’s fiancee, Cecilia, is furious.

The next day, Stephen discovers that his secretary, Miss Comstock, has eloped with her fiance and has quit her job. Dot enters the room and is introduced to Stephen as his new secretary. He is furious and tries to fire her, but Dot pleads her case and explains the previous night’s ticket mishap. Stephen agrees to put the night behind him and agrees to hire her as his secretary.

Stephen soon finds himself enamored of Dot and charmed by her eccentric friends and family. He also meets Dot’s beau, “Coffee Cup” (George Murphy) a sailor who returns to town after his latest stint in the Navy. He makes it known that he is planning on settling down and marrying Dot.

The only person on this poster who looks like themselves is Lucy. Supposedly though, George Murphy is the sailor on the left and Edmond O’Brien is the businessman on the right. This poster looks like they used the same man to represent both male leads.

One day, Stephen awakens to find himself lying, trouser-less, in the Duncan’s living room. It seems that he was knocked out in the fracas in front of the pet shop after getting involved in the brawl that erupted after Coffee Cup bet onlookers $5/a piece that his friend Eddie couldn’t make himself grow 4-inches. Eddie’s talent for faking elongation and the money-making con that ensues is a running gag throughout the film.

Stephen finds himself completely charmed by Dot and her family and later accompanies her and Coffee Cup to a dance hall. He completely loses all sense of time and congas the night away, much to the chagrin of his fiancee, with whom he had a date. Oops! It’s okay though, because she sucks anyway.

One of my favorite motifs: The love triangle

As the film progresses, Stephen and Dot find their feelings for one another growing, all while Coffee Cup blissfully plans a life together for himself and Dot. This film features one of my favorite themes: the love triangle. It is obvious that Dot more than likely needs a man who is a little more serious and a little more dependable. Coffee Cup seems a bit flakey and truly loves the Navy. Whether or not he would truly be happy on land is questionable.

I actually thought that Edmond O’Brien was very attractive in this film. This is only his second film, he was only 26 when it was made. Unfortunately, bad habits led to him aging prematurely and affected his health. He had a heart attack at 45. He won the 1954 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance in The Barefoot Contessa (which I haven’t watched yet. It’s on my DVR though).

Edmond O’Brien films that I’ve watched and recommend:

A Girl, A Guy, and A Gob (1941)

The Killers (1946)

A Double Life (1947)

Another Part of the Forest (1948)

White Heat (1949)

D.O.A. (1949)

Backfire (1950)

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

The Bigamist (1953)

Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

I’ll probably end up re-watching all of these and hopefully more.