Attractive Stranger: RIP Farley Granger

Farley Granger in 1953

In the shadows of Elizabeth Taylor’s death, Farley Granger died on March 27, at age 85.

Sometimes I think that Farley Granger was forgotten. He wasn’t as dynamic as other 1950s actors like Marlon Brando, and he was pretty awkward compared to suave Cary Grant, but Mr. Granger was one of my passing crushes when I first dove into classic film at the age of 14.

I’m not sure what attracted me to the tall, lanky and usually angry Farley Granger, but he was one of the many random actors (along with John Kerr, Peter McEnery and James Darren) that I had fleeting crushes on.

My favorite scene in “Strangers in a Train.” Farely is in the background holding on for dear life.

Granger was also in two of Hitchcock’s most well known films: the odd film adpatation of the play “Rope” and the thrilling “Strangers On A Train.”

I think the first film I ever saw Granger in was “Strangers On A Train” (1951). It’s funny that Granger has been so overlooked when he starred in one of Hitchcock’s most important and best films. “Strangers On A Train” is one of my all time favorite. I was intrigued by several of Hitchcock’s camera angles, particularly the shot through Miriam’s glasses at the fair.  It’s hard to find a flaw in “Strangers On A Train” because it is perfect-though I would have preferred another love interest over Ruth Roman.

I next saw Granger in “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952) with Danny Kaye. It’s such a quirky, silly movie but I love it. The etherial song “Wonderful Copenhagen” and the adorable “No Two People” had me enchanted.  Granger plays an angry fellow who is mean to Danny Kaye and locks him in a closet!  Granger then goes on to play an equally hot tempered man in “Small Town Girl” with Jane Powell.  I’m not sure why Granger was always cast as a hot head, but he could play a grouch very well.

Farley Granger and Ann Blyth in “Our Very Own”

A few of my other favorite films of his are “Our Very Own” where Ann Blyth finds out she was adopted, and, one of his first films, the war film “Purple Heart.”

Granger’s film career petered off in the mid-1950s and he acted mainly on television and then made a few films in the 1970s.  It’s sad that he entered and exited the film scene so quickly.  He only had substantial roles in half of them, while several of his others were small supporting characters.

Regardless of his screen time, I am sad that yet another star has risen. Farewell Farley Granger, you will be missed.

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Weekend One Hundred: Musical list 1 through 100

Several of you requested to see my musical list, so for the next four weekends I will post 100 of the musical on the list-in the order I watched and recorded them. Also remember, 30 or 40 are ones I had already seen before I started the list. This list goes from September or October of 2003 to July of 2004. Enjoy!

I wasn’t all that impressed with “Carousel,” very dramatic and depressing.

1.) West Side Story (1961)
2.) South Pacific (1958)
3.) Blue Hawaii (1961)
4.) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
5.) Singing in the Rain (1952)
6.) Sound of Music (1965)
7.) Annie (1982)
8.) American in Paris (1951)
9.) Summer Stock (1950)
10.) For Me and My Gal (1942)
11.) Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
12.) Wizard of Oz (1939)
13.) The King and I (1956)
14.) Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
15.) Music Man (1962)
16.) Chicago (2001)
17.) The Pirate (1948)
18.) Anchors Away (1945)
19.) Kiss Me Kate (1953)
20.) Gigi (1958)
21.) White Christmas (1954)
22.) Holiday Inn (1942)
23.) Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962)
24.) Duchess of Idaho (1951)
25.) In the Good Ole Summertime (1949)
26.) Young at Heart (1954)
27.) Grease (1978)
28.) Babes in Arms (1939)
29.) Show Boat (1951)
30.) 42nd Street (1933)
31.) Easter Parade (1948)
32.) Funny Face (1957)
33.) Cover Girl (1944)
34.) Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
35.) Romance on the High Seas (1948)
36.) My Dream is Yours (1949)
37.) It’s a Great Feeling (1949)
38.) Paint Your Wagon (1969)
39.) Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
40.) Victor/Victoria (1982)
41.) Babes in Toyland (1961)
42.) Mary Poppins (1964)
43.) Harvey Girls (1946)
44.) Summer Magic (1963)

I really enjoyed “Annie Get Your Gun.” It was my favorite for awhile.

45.) Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
46.) Hans Christian Anderson (1952)
47.) The Singing Nun (1966)
48.) You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)
49.) Calamity Jane (1953)
50.) Silk Stockings (1957)
51.) Gentlemen Marry Brunets (1955)
52.)There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954)
53.) Brigadoon (1954)
54.) My Fair Lady (1964)
55.) Royal Wedding (1951)
56.) The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
57.) On the Town (1949)
58.) Fiddler on the Roof
59.) Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)
60.) Luxury Liner (1948)
61.) Bathing Beauty (1954)
62.) Seven Sweethearts (1942)
63.) Hit the Deck (1955)
64.) Three Daring Daughters (1948)
65.) Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
66.) You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
67.) Oklahoma! (1955)
68.) Texas Carnival (1951)
69.) Words and Music (1948)
70.) Good News (1947)
71.) Two Weeks With Love (1950)
72.) Bells are Ringing (1960)
73.) Barkleys on Broadway (1949)
74.) Bandwagon (1953)
75.) Pagan Love Song (1950)
76.) Small Town Girl (1953)
77.) Athena (1954)
78.) Show Boat (1936)
79.)Dangerous When Wet (1953)
80.) Les Girls (1957)
81.) Easy to Wed (1946)
82.) This Time For Keeps (1947)
83.) Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
84.) A Chorus Line (1985)
85.) Two Sisters From Boston (1946)
86.) Toast of New Orleans (1950)
87.) Carousel (1956)
88.) The Pajama Game (1957)
89.) The Red Shoes (1948)
90.)The Glass Slipper (1955)
91.) The Glenn Miller Story (1953)
92.) Young Man With a Horn (1950)
93.) Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
94.) Flying Down To Rio (1933)
95.) Swing Time (1936)
96.) The Girl Most Likely (1957)
97.) Carefree (1938)
98.) Varsity Show (1937)
99.) Top Hat (1935)
100.) State Fair (1945)

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Lovely Liz: Goodbye to Elizabeth Taylor

Miss Taylor was gracious enough to sign my photo when I wrote her in 2008.

I got out of yoga this morning around 10 a.m. ET and had four texts telling me Liz died. I have to admit I teared up a bit when I called my mom about it after that. One of my professors even said he was surprised I wasn’t wearing all black today.  No, Elizabeth Taylor isn’t one of my all time favorite actresses.  She isn’t one of the actresses I’m trying to see all of her movies, but only because I don’t care to see most of late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s films. I have seen all of her movies made up until the early 1960s.

I’m not going to go on about how Liz was married so many times.  Or  her work for AIDS, though I admire her work that she did for her friend Rock Hudson. I just plain want to celebrate Liz’s life and career.

She first caught our attention as Priscilla, Nigel Bruce’s granddaughter in “Lassie Come Home” (1943).  She stole our hearts-and kept them for decades- with her sparkling blue-purple eyes, adorable smile and her plead to her grandfather to keep Lassie the collie in his dog kennels. Originally wanted for the role of Bonnie Blue Butler in “Gone with the Wind,” Taylor’s father wanted to keep her out of movies, however, I wonder if he anticipated how big a star she would become.

Liz with her green eyeshadow in “A Date with Judy”

Taylor was one of the few actors who gracefully transitioned from child actor to teenager to successful adult actor. She was allowed to look like a grown up young lady in “A Date with Judy” with green eye shadow, grown up gowns and older Robert Stack. Jane Powell, who was still the same age, said she was a little jealous of this as she still dressed like a teenager in the film.

Miss Taylor grew up quickly. Taylor went from a sophisticated young woman to a sexy, shapely and independent woman in the mid and late 1950s.

I think Liz looked her prettiest in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and then, for me, she started to go downhill. She started gaining weight, the 1960s began and movies started to change.  I start to lose interest in her films once you get past “Butterfield 8.”  “The Sandpiper” is lousy, “The VIPs” is star studded but overly dramatic and I couldn’t even finish “The Comedians” out of boredom.  However, I haven’t seen “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” yet, but I have it taped and plan to watch it when I get the chance.

In her white gown in “Ivanhoe” with Robert Taylor

My favorite movies of Taylor’s are “Giant”, “A Date with Judy,” “Cynthia” and “Father of the Bride,” but there are so many other great ones.   She is a great bratty, selfish Amy in “Little Women” and   looks beautiful in “Ivanhoe,” especially the white dress she wears. “Father of the Bride” and “Father’s Little Dividend” are family favorites at my house. My dad is the only man in our family (3 daughters, mom and our female dachshund) so he sympathizes with Spencer Tracy.

Elizabeth Tayor was the last really big super star of the Golden Era.  Though Doris Day, Lauren Bacall and Esther Williams are still living, they aren’t on the same scale as Miss Taylor. Taylor was Hollywood royalty with her highly publicized life and two Oscar winning roles. No one was quite like her or ever will be.

So I bow down to the last royalty of the Golden Age. Farewell, Miss Taylor. You will be greatly missed.

 I leave you with a funny side of Liz on “What’s My Line” from 1954 when she was pregnant with one of her children:

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Celebrating 8 years, 400 musicals

Betty Grable and Hermes Pan doing the “Kindergarten Conga” in “Moon Over Miami” (1941)

It all began in Coach Chamness’ World History class in the fall of 2003 during my 9th grade year.

The previous spring, I saw “West Side Story” for the first time and was hyperventallatingly obsessed with the movie. From that I went on a musical binge watching every musical that was on television.

While I wasn’t listening in class, I began a list of every musical I had ever seen.  It began with ones like “Blue Hawaii“, “Singin’ In the Rain,” “The Sound of Music” and continued.  After that, every time I saw a musical, I wrote it down on my folded up, worn piece of spiral notebook paper that I kept in a drawer in our den.

I’m not sure what made me decide to make the list. I think it was because I was seeing so many musicals I wanted to remember all the ones I’ve seen. I saw several thanks to TCM Musical Month in October 2003 which opened doors to “The Broadway Melody” (1929) and  “Footlight Parade.”

Jane Powell singing in “Nancy Goes to Rio”-remake of the Deanna Durbin movie “It’s a Date”

Looking through my musical list is almost like reading a memoir of my life, because I remember nearly what I was doing during every movie: Happily, blissfully watching the Jane Powell movie “Three Daring Daughters” on a beautiful spring day while my dad painted the house. Crying and being sad while watching “Chorus Line” after having my first break-up with a boyfriend.  Sneaking cookies and sitting by the Christmas tree while watching “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady.”

The list started with about 50 musicals that I had already seen and today I have hit 400 musicals.  It’s a little crazy, I’ll admit. I sit and think back to all the musicals and it doesn’t feel like I’ve seen that many-and looking through the list I can’t remember what some of them are. I think I have literally seen all (or most) of the MGM musicals.

The first 10 musicals on my list were:
1.) West Side Story (1961)
2.) South Pacific (1958)
3.) Blue Hawaii (1961)
4.) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
5.) Singing in the Rain (1952)
6.) Sound of Music (1965)
7.) Annie (1982)
8.) American in Paris (1951)
9.) Summer Stock (1950)
10.) For Me and My Gal (1942)

The last 10 on my list are:
390.) Time Square Lady (1935)
391.) Swing Fever (1943)
392.) Orchestra Wives (1942)
393.) Song of the Islands (1942)
394.) That Lady in Ermine (1948)
395.) She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)
396.) Sunnyside Up (1929)
397.) Say One for Me (1959)
398.) Band Waggon (1940) (An English film)
399.) Scrooge (1970)
400.) Coney Island (1943)

It’s funny to look at those two lists: the first 10 are mostly classic musicals that theater students and film fans have seen. The second list is a random list of musicals, unknown to many and have no correlation with each other at all.

I’ve seen alot of wonderful musicals, and I’ve seen a lot of terrible ones.  My least favorites have been “Kiss Me Kate” (1954), “Kismet” (1955), “Yolanda And The Thief” (1945) and “Down to Earth” (1947)- just to name a few. Some of my favorites have been “Romance on the High Seas” (1948),  “Rose Marie” (1936), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964) and “Music for Millions” (1943).

The list will continue to grow with mostly Fox musicals like Alice Faye and Betty Grable. With 400 musicals under my belt, there is still alot to go!

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Saint Patrick’s Day…Island style

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!

This year, instead of doing a jig…maybe try a hula like Betty Grable.

Enjoy this video from “Song of the Islands”:

**Also there will be no “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” radio show, because I am home on spring break this week**

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Classic movies in music videos: “All These Things That I’ve Done”-The Killers

I’m starting yet another new feature on “Comet” about actors and actresses, or anything classic film related, in music videos. The last video I posted featured Cyd Charisse in the Blue Mercedes video “I Want to Be Your Property.”

The video featured today is The Killer’s 2004 song “All These Things I Have Done” from their first album “Hot Fuss.”  The song has two videos; the other is the band playing a concert and walking down the street hugging people-not as interesting as this one. This video was made in 2005 and seems to have a more “Sam’s Town” album feel.

Dangerous go-go dancers in “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill”

The video doesn’t have a classic actor in it, but references the movie “Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!” (1965). Complete with desert setting and deadly, buxom women.  The Asian character in the music video with the braids, seems to be channeling the late Tura Santana’s character, Vula.

The music video story is out of order, but you can understand the sequence by paying attention to the numbers each girl holds up.

Side Note: I recently saw the cult film “Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!” and have to admit, it was hard to find anything to like about it.  I wasn’t really sure why they killed the girl’s boyfriend and and her bogus karate move that supposedly killed him more than likely would have just dislocated his shoulder.

This isn’t the only time the Killer’s reference class film in lyrics or videos. The lead singer of The Killer’s, Brandon Flowers, is mormon and has very traditional values. Lyrics like “red white and blue upon a birthday cake,” “Some kind of slick, chrome American prince” and “A southern drawl, a world unseen” give a feeling of Americana.  In other songs Flowers sings about old actors like Marlon Brandon, James Dean and Greta Garbo as I discussed in a post back in June.

Here is the amusing and fun video for “All These Things That I Have Done” (I apologize that you will have to open it in a new window):

This won’t be the last time you hear about The Killer’s on here. They are my favorite band, but they have more classic movie references. Check back for the next classic movies and actors in music videos!

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Saddle up for “Radio Waves” tonight at 6 p.m. ET

Gene Autry on CBS

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

Tonight from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., “Radio Waves” will have guest star Preston Jenkinson, senior broadcast journalism major, discussing some of his favorite westerns and comparing the 2010 version of “True Grit” to the John Wayne version.

In the second hour of the show, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., guest star Devang Joshi, senior computer science major, will discuss the new face of westerns and how they changed in the 1960s.  Some films in this discussion will be Sergie Lenoe’s trilogy of Clint Eastwood films such as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website.

Call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

Also, if you listen to the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show, leave feedback for me in the comments area. Let me know what I need to work on or what you want to hear!

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The anniversary of my magnificent obsession

Jets trying to scare the sharks. Photo from LIFE

Today is the anniversary of an event that occurred eight years ago.

It was a Saturday, at the end of my 8th grade spring break.  I had just gotten over being sick and had watched many other great films for the first time while I was couch ridden including “Peyton Place” (1957) and “Singin’ In the Rain” (1952).  But none of them were compared to this film.

On March 8, 2003, my dad thought I should be introduced to “West Side Story” (1961) because of my newly developed interest in classic musicals.   He now shakes his head and says he created a monster.

Who knew snapping fingers, mambos, dancing on roof tops and signal whistles in NYC would be so Earth shattering for a 14-year-old?

I sat there in one of our family’s old corduroy, gold rocking arm chairs, skeptical on what this movie would be like. But after the movie was over, I floated upstairs to my room feeling a change inside me and knowing my movie interests would never be the same.

Maria spotting Tony for the first time

It wasn’t just one scene in “West Side Story” that affected me:  it was the whole movie:
-The beauty of everything blurring around Tony and Maria when they first see each other.
-The emotion that fills Tony’s face as he sings “Maria.”
-The mix of reds and orange hues in the movie set that fit the movie so well.
-The last heart-wrenching 30 minutes of the movie that never fails to make me tear up.

Prior to “West Side Story” I was already well into my old movie interest starting the previous summer when I became fascinated with Audrey Hepburn and then Doris Day.

I’m not sure if I would have appreciated “West Side Story” as much as I did if I hadn’t already had a good classic movie cushion to fall back on.

But “West Side Story” wasn’t just a passing interest, it became a lifestyle.

I perfected my whistling so I could do the signal at the beginning of the movie. I learned how to snap so I could snap like the Sharks and the Jets. I a tried my hardest to learn the mambo and dances from “The Dance at the Gym”-which didn’t work out too well. I printed over 100 photos from the internet and plastered my closet doors with them.

Much to my family’s frustration I also listened to the soundtrack-every night in the shower. It quickly got old for everyone but me.

It is safe to say that I was hyperventilatingly, unhealthily obsessed with “West Side Story.”

I try to play it “Cool” now

I still love the movie, but it is safe to say I’m not longer obsessed. This crazy obsession lasted through my freshman year of high school. It tapered off when I found other great movies like “So Proudly We Hail” (1942), “Since You Went Away” (1944) and “Sunset Boulevard” (1951).

I can still listen to the soundtrack and know exactly what is going on during the song, and I still cry at the end of the movie.

Though my “West Side Story” obsession may have irritated my family, caused friends to roll their eyes and was a bit unnatural, I don’t see it as a bad thing.

“West Side Story” opened me even more to musicals and classic movies; searching for another movie that could beat it. It’s still one of my favorite movies and I bless the day I discovered it.

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Harlow: The battling Carols

Carroll Baker, Jean Harlow, Carol Lynley

I just finished the worst movie ever.  So what better thing to do than write a blog about it while the disgust is still fresh!

As a last minute contribution to the Jean Harlow Blogathon,  I decided to watch the 1965 Carroll Baker version of the movie “Harlow” so I could critique how she was portrayed after her death.  You may think, “Why did she say version?” Because there are two movies made in 1965 called “Harlow.”

One movie stars Carroll Baker as Harlow and Angela Lansbury as her mother and it is in color.  The other movie, which is lesser known, stars Carol Lynley as Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers as her mother and is in black and white.

This question plagues me: Why are there two movies about Jean Harlow in 1965? Any answers?

I watched Baker as “Harlow” knowing it would be pretty awful, but I wasn’t aware how awful it would be.  Within the first eight minutes, I was growing weary thinking “Do I really want to watch this?” and I’m not sure if Baker had even spoken yet.

The movie was inaccurate about a lot of things. Jean was married 3 times-they only had her married once. Jean died of uremic poisoning- they said she died of pneumonia.  All of the movies she made were phony titles like “Love Me Forever” and “Luscious Lady,” none of which are real movies.  Sure she was sexy in her movies, but she was also FUNNY.  They really ignored the fact that she was funny and wise cracking in all her films.

Overly dramatic scene with Leslie Neilson

I was also really confused about who people were supposed to be.  Peter Lawford’s character Paul Bern was a real person, but many of the other names were not (I IMDBed it).  Mike Connor’s character Jack Harrison wasn’t real and I couldn’t figure out who he was supposed to be the whole movie.  The only conclusion I drew was maybe Clark Gable, but Harlow and Gable were good friends, I’m not sure if they were lovers. I’m pretty sure that Martin Balsam as the studio head was supposed to be Louis B. Mayer, but I’m also not positive.

The use of fake names isn’t surprising. In 1965, several of the people talked about in this movie-minus Harlow-were still alive. Similarly in “The George Raft Story,” Betty Grable’s name wasn’t used because she didn’t want any part of the film. I’m just not sure why they used fake movie titles, unless there was some sort of copy right issues.

However, I’ve seen a couple clips from the Carol Lynley version and there is a Marie Dressler character and it looks like they are working on the film “Dinner at Eight.”  I actually am interested in seeing this version, because from the clips I’ve seen, it may be a little more accurate-hopefully.  I at least thought Lynley looked a little more like her.

I am really curious who has seen this movie and thought it true. I’m no Jean Harlow expert, but I questioned a lot that was going on. One thing’s for sure: I intend on reading a biography about her so I can see what her life was really like. I guess it’s lucky that a book just recent came out about Jean called “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937” by Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira.

I will now share a few of the notes I took while watching this movie. Enjoy!
-Bouffant 60’s hair and cheesy 1960s music.
-Corny. Already struggling to stay tuned in 8 minutes in
-On personal appearance, Harlow dances around in an awfully 60s manner in the 1930s
-Cover of Photoplay looks more like Marilyn Monroe than Jean Harlow.
-“Your bedroom is never empty and always busy, judging by the sounds I always hear from it”- Harlow to Marino. My, my this certainly is a post-1964 movie!
-Corniest Line: “I can get books at the library, music at the record shop, but where do I go to become a bride and a mother.”
-Bern and Harlow were married for about 2 or 3 months, not 3 days before he killed himself
-“Oh Marino I need help, the kind of help you seem to be an expert in.”  Oh dear, is Jean trying to seduce her step father? Noooooooooo
-Another dumb line: “She didn’t die of pneumonia. She died of life.” She also didn’t die of pnemonia.
-And now we are singing a corny song…….with a montage of Carroll Baker

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Saratoga: Harlow’s last curtain call

Jean Harlow’s death in 1937 at the age of 26 came to a shock to many; particularly those working on her last film “Saratoga.”

Jean Harlow and Anita Loos worked on several movies together such as “Red Headed Woman”

Anita Loos described in her 1977 book “Cast of Thousands: A Pictorial Memoir of the Most Glittering Stars in Hollywood”  waiting on the set with Clark Gable and other stars in the film for Jean Harlow to get out of the hospital.  Loos wrote the screen play for “Saratoga” along with several other Jean Harlow films like “Red-Headed Woman.”  The book is divided up into different sections about several different actors that Loos encountered during her time in Hollywood, and a large portion is dedicated to working with Jean, Jean’s marriage to Paul Bern and her death.

The stars were under the impression that Harlow would get well again, the film would be completed and they would continue on with their usual business.  If I recall correctly, Loos said Harlow had been off the set for a few days and they continued shooting the scenes without her.  When they received the phone call of her death they were shocked and close friend Clark Gable (who nicknamed her Sis) was devastated.

I saw “Saratoga” two summers ago and thought it was entertaining, but rather disturbing.  The film was incomplete when Harlow died, so several of her scenes had to be shot with her double Mary Dees and a voice double.

The scenes after Jean’s death are weird and uncomfortable to watch for a couple of reasons:

1. The fact that you know she is dead, even though you saw her before at the beginning of the movie
2. The covering of the face, the irritating fake voice and the thin scenes the double is in are disconcerting.  The voice drives me up the wall and part of you is like “Turn around, I want to see Jean’s  face” though you know darn well it’s not her.  The scenes with the double are so brief and fleeting that you can tell the crew was saying “Let’s wrap this up as quickly and painlessly as possible.”
3. The fact that Jean is in the last scene singing with Clark Gable on the train.  I guess this scene was shot earlier, but you almost think “Oh there’s Baby, she’s okay.”

Here are string of scenes that someone put together of Jean’s double taking over for the rest of “Saratoga”:

Here is a video of Jean acting in “Red Dust” (1932) so you can compare the voices:

Regardless of the double, the general plot of “Saratoga” is good and it has a strong cast including Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Frank Morgan and  Lionel Barrymore.  Clark Gable is his usual scoundrel, playing a gambler this time, who wins a ranch in a bet from Lionel Barrymore.  Now that he’s won Barrymore’s ranch, Clark is now trying to win over his daughter Jean Harlow. This was Harlow and Clark’s sixth and last film together.

With the star power here, this clearly wasn’t a B movie that they were throwing Jean in because they thought she was washed up. There was a lot of money at stake.  After Jean’s death, there were talks about shelving the movie and reshooting her parts with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur.  However, fans pleaded with MGM to let them get one last chance to see their Baby, according to IMDB.

Gable and Harlow in their last film together.

I have mixed feelings about reshooting with another actress or keeping Jean’s parts in the movie.  Jean and Clark have terrific chemistry, like always.  But frankly, the plot is predictable and typical of a Clark Gable movie.  I personally think it was only saved by Jean Harlow’s comedic wit and beauty.  Jean Arthur would have been terrible in the role and Virginia Bruce would have been just as predictable. The film would have fallen flat.

But at the same time, I almost wish the film had been shelved, much like Marilyn Monroe’s unfinished movie “Something’s Got to Give” (Though the difference is “Saratoga” nearly done and Monroe’s movie just starting).  I’m not saying that I’m not thankful to see one last glimpse of Jean alive and well, but it’s heart breaking to watch.  You see her at the beginning of the movie very beautiful and very much alive.  It’s like watching someone on the street, knowing they are about to die, but they have no clue.

After 74 years, Jean Harlow is still loved and missed and “Saratoga” is still a bit disturbing. We love you Jean; happy 100th birthday.

“Comet Over Hollywood” is taking part of the Jean Harlow blogathon from Feb. 28 to Mar. 6 put on by Kitty Packard Pictorial.

 

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