Hair to dye for

Classic film stars are known for their impeccable style and flawless looks. But like everyone else, they didn’t always look perfect.

One thing that I am very aware of on movie stars and in daily life is a bad dye job. Here are a few actresses that suffered from bad hair color changes in films or changed their look that helped state their career.

Some of these hair color made and broke careers.

Cyd Charisse in “Band Wagon” and “Two Weeks in Another Town”

Through the main part of Cyd Charisse’s career, she was brunette.  The dark hair opening up Hispanic roles like in “Sombrero” and “Fiesta” or as a Native American in “The Wild North.” However, as her career began to wind down in the 1960s Cyd started styling her hair with blonde highlights that she wore until her death, a style that didn’t look bad on her. However, Cyd Charisse did not look good with red hair in “Two Weeks In Another Town (1962).  I think it’s safe to assume though, that more people look at Cyd’s legs rather than her hair.

Doris Day in “Romance on the High Seas” and “It’s a Great Feeling”

Doris Day is known for her sunny demeanor and blond locks.  But in the comedy “It’s a Great Feeling” (1949), we get to see what brunette Doris would’ve looked like. In the film Doris is desperately trying to land a job as an actress. To trick a producer she dresses up like a French woman with a brown wig and sings “At the Cafe Rendezvous.” Later she is brunette again wearing the above outfit in a dream sequence singing “There is Nothing Rougher Than Love.” I don’t think Doris looks bad as a brunette, but I prefer her as a blonde.

Dorothy Malone

In my opinion, Dorothy Malone looked prettiest with her natural brown color, however her career didn’t take off until she dyed her hair blonde in 1956 for “Written on the Wind” and started playing bad girl roles in movies.  Prior to this she played small or forgettable parts in movies like “Janie Gets Married” (1946),  “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948) or -the role that got her noticed-the sexy library in “The Big Sleep.”

Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker is another example of role types changing with hair colors. A natural red-head, Parker started her career playing in war-time comedies and romances in the 1940s, such as “The Very Thought of You” (1944), “Never Say Goodbye” (1947)  and “Pride of the Marines” (1945).  She was beautiful, fresh-faced, sweet and gave heartfelt performances. With the dawn of the 1950s, Parker’s roles started to change- with prison drama “Caged!” (1950) catapulting her into disturbed women and bad girl characters. Her hair was dyed blonde in a few films, particularly ones that she was up to no good. Movies like “Detective Story” (1951), “Lizzie” (1957) and “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) showed a different side of Parker. Though she still made some lighter films, they weren’t the same heartwarming movies from the 1940s. In my opinion, red-hair Eleanor Parker is much prettier than blonde Parker, which really washes her out.

Jane Russell

Jane Russell was a natural brunette but went red in “The Revolt of Mamie Stover” (1956) and blonde in “Fuzzy Pink Nightgown” (1957). She’s perfect with her natural color, but red doesn’t look that bad. However, Russell’s blonde hair is about as bad as the film she had it in.

Jeanne Crain

Jeanne Crain is another sweet 1940s sweetheart with natural brown locks who starred in light, family comedies like “State Fair” (1945), “Margie” (1946) or “Cheaper By the Dozen” (1950).  However,  younger actresses like Terry Moore and Jean Peters were signed to 20th Century Fox and replaced actresses like Crain and Betty Grable, according to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. In 1953, Crain dyed her hair red, hoping to appear sexier and get sexy, young roles to help boost her career. But this didn’t work out for her.  She continued acting in films until the 1960s, but nothing overly notable. Her only sexy role was in “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” (1955) with Jane Russell. I really hated when Jeanne Crain dyed her hair red. I think it looks horrible.

Jennifer Jones

Through all of her career, Jennifer Jones had brown hair.  But in the quirky film, “Beat the Devil” (1953), Jones sported a blonde hair-do. It looked pretty bad, and I’m not sure why they decided Jones needed to blonde in this film. However, her character is very flighty and talkative so it may have been a way to enhance that persona.

Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett started off her career as a natural honey blonde. Bennett starred in several forgettable films, until “Trade Winds” (1938) with Frederic March.  In the film, Bennett kills a man, dyes her hair brown and flees the county. Dying her hair in this film changed her career for the better and she was a brunette for the rest of her life, according to TCM’s host Robert Osborne. At the time Bennett dyed her hair, actress Hedy Lamarr was emerging as a success in “Algiers” (1938).  Several comparisons were made about the two actresses’ appearance, and they were publicized as rivals, according to Hedy Lamarr’s autobiography “Ecstasy and Me: My Life As A Woman.” To make matters even more interesting, Lamarr also married Bennett’s ex-husband Gene Markey. Personally I think Bennett looks better as a blond, brunette made her look harsh and older.

Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell is a natural brunette, usually cast in Spanish roles such as in “My Darling Clementine” (1946) or “Blood & Sand” (1941). But in 1947, Darnell went red for the film adaptation of the spicy novel “Forever Amber.” The film was supposed to help Darnell’s career and was the most expensive 20th Century Fox film at the time.  The film was successful in the box office, but did not get very good reviews-not reviving Darnell’s career. Though Darnell doesn’t look bad with reddish hair, she certainly looks her best as a brunette.

Olivia De Havilland

Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland went platinum blonde for her role in “Not As A Stranger” (1955). In the medical drama she plays Swedish nurse Kristina Hedvigson, and de Havilland’s accent in the film is just as bad as her hair.

Rita Hayworth

Famous for her flaming red-hair, Rita Hayworth is of Spanish decent and has naturally dark hair.  When she signed to a studio, studio heads decided her hair-line was too low and performed electrolysis for years to raise it, and dyed her hair red.  The hair color transformation made her famous, but another hair color change wasn’t so popular. Hayworth’s husband Orson Welles decided she needed to cut her hair short and dye it platinum blonde. Welles wrote the screen play and directed “The Lady From Shanghai” (1948) and wanted his wife to play the wicked lead woman; thinking no one would believe her in the role with red hair. The film bombed, because of Hayworth’s blond hair. I think Hayworth is beautiful with any hair color, but looks the best as a red-head, hands down.

Ginger Rogers

Like Hayworth, the hair color Ginger Rogers is most famous for, isn’t her own.  Through the 1930s until her death, Roger’s usually had blonde hair. Her natural hair color is actually auburn, which you can see in some of her very early films likes those with Joe E. Brown, according to Ginger Rogers’ autobiography. In the 1940s, Ginger Rogers decided to change her look and wore her hair brown in a few films such as “Primrose Path” (1940), “Kitty Foyle” (1940) and “TTom; Dick & Harry” (1941).  Rogers is one of the few people who can pull off both brunette and blond hair. I’m really not sure which I like better.

Who knew hair color could be so important?

What do you think? How do you feel about these actresses’ hair colors? What are some other actresses who changed the color of their feathers and either looked great, bad or changed their career?

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page 

Caroling, Caroling- favorite classic Christmas songs

Maureen O'Sullivan (dressed as a choir boy) sings her favorite Christmas songs.

I’m the kind of person who starts listening to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving. But I’m very selective-I only really enjoy the classic singers. I’ll turn up the radio to Bing Crosby, Dean Martin or even Andy Williams, but once Mariah Carey, Amy Grant or LeeAnn Rhymes come on, the channel is changed.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas songs sung by some classic stars and singers.

1. Caroling, Caroling by Nat King Cole- My family has many Christmas CD’s including The Ventures Christmas. One of my favorites of our CD’s is called “Christmas Time” with Nat, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. This song, along with the others brings back a lot of nice memories.

 

2. There Is No Place Like Home for the Holidays by Perry Como- You can’t got wrong with any Perry Como song, but his version of this song gives you a warm, homey feeling.  We also own a Perry Como Christmas CD, along with other Perry albums. His voice is very soothing, just makes me wish it was a blanket so I could go to sleep in it.

 

3.  The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole- This song also came off the “Christmas Time” album. There are many versions of this song, but Mr. Cole’s version is my favorite. I particularly enjoy this video because we get to see him singing it. He looks very pleasant.

 

4. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives- Who doesn’t smile when they hear this song? I’ve always loved Burl Ives since I saw him in movies like “Summer Magic.” He is just big and jolly and I imagine him smiling and laughing during this song.  This song is at the end of the 1965 “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” cartoon, which is something my family watches every year.  All of these things combined make me blast this song whenever it comes on the radio and sing along.

 

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry- Okay, I’m a Roy Rogers fan, but I enjoy all of Gene Autry’s Christmas songs including Rudolph, Here Come’s Santa Claus and Up on the Roof Top. He has a nice homey sound when he sings it, like he’d come over and sing in your living room. I particularly like Gene Autry singing Rudolph, because he is the one who popularized the song in the 1930s.

 

6. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland- As far as I’m concerned, Judy Garland is the only one who can sing this song. She sings this in “Meet Me in Saint Louis” and my mom cries every time. And then the bittersweet moment is killed when Margaret O’Brien goes berserk and attacks the snowmen when Judy stops singing. Regardless, it’s a very nice song and moment in the movie.

 

7.  Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra- This might seem very silly but this is my favorite Frank Sinatra song (I’m not a huge Sinatra fan). This song is also on our “Christmas Time” CD. I’m not sure what drew me to this song, but I’m pretty sure it was the spelling. Ever since hearing “Gal from Kalamazoo” by Glenn Miller, I’ve loved songs that spell (including Fergie). I guess I enjoy it, because it takes a song everyone knows and makes it a little more fun.

 

8. White Christmas by Bing Crosby- What favorite Christmas song list is complete without Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”? Whether it be the version from “Holiday Inn” (1942) or “White Christmas” (1954), I enjoy it either way. I heard Taylor Swift sing a version of this song and it just wasn’t the same and horrible. No one can croon like Bing.

 

9. Ave Maria by Perry Como- I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always enjoyed Perry Como singing Ave Maria. It’s very nice and rather emotional. From what I understand, he sang it on TV every year.

 

Non-Classics Honorable Mention: Though my most favorite songs are above, here are a few newer Christmas songs I also enjoy-

10. Snoopy vs. The Red Baron Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen- I’ve always enjoyed all the Snoopy songs, and this one is fun and cute. Unfortunately they don’t play it on the radio much.

 

11. Cowboy Christmas Ball by The Killers- For the past six years The Killers have put out a Christmas single to help raise money for AIDS. As some of you know, they are my favorite band and this is the single they put out this year.  It’s actually a music set to the tune of an old cowboy poem. It’s a lot of fun and the video is shot to look like a 1960s Spaghetti Western.

 

What songs do you listen to get in the Christmas spirit?

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page  or follow on Twitter at @jnpickens. 

10 ways to survive the end of the world, Mad Max style

Supposedly the world is supposed to end on October 21.  So we can all be ready for this event, I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve learned from the three Mad Max films which showed me exactly what post-apocalyptic life will be like.

Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981)

10. Wear leather. I’m not sure why this is necessary, but everyone wears leather in all of the films so it must have a purpose. Besides you look really cool.

9.  Don’t talk much.  In the post apocalyptic world, your enemies will most likely out-weigh your friends, so don’t talk much. In all of Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981) , Max only said 16 lines and was still alive by the end of the movie.

8.  Have a dog.  A dog is a better companion than a human when you don’t know who to trust. Plus you can save lots of time and share food, as Max shows when he eats Dinki-Do dog food. (Road Warrior)

7.  Avoid Tina Turner. Tina Turner has great legs and is a fantastic recording artist, but I wouldn’t want her around when the world ended. She wears heavy and expensive chain-mail dresses, tries to be the leader and makes you cage fight when you disagree with her. (Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome)

6.  When running from maniacs on motorcycles, don’t run down the middle of the road.  Max’s wife and child prove this in Mad Max (1979) that running down the middle of the road from crazed bikers only makes you an easier target.  Though I’m not sure if running in the grass would’ve helped or not.

5. Only do favors in exchange for gas/petrol. “I only came for the gasoline” is said twice by Max (out of his 16 lines) in “Road Warrior.” When resources are slim, don’t do anything for free.

4. Befriend a guy who has a plane or a feral child with a boomerang. Pick your friends wisely, especially if they have something to offer. In Road Warrior, Max makes friends with a man who builds an airplane and can easily escape and a feral child who takes out more bad guys than adults. (Road Warrior)

3. Don’t go on a vacation with your wife and child when your life is in danger. Your best friend was just killed by cop haters and they are after you because you killed their leader. The most logical thing to do is…go on vacation? No. You won’t even be able to relax because they are constantly chasing you and your family, stealing your baby and then running over your wife. Just stay home. (Mad Max 1979)

2. Have a fast car and utilize its speed.  Not only is it fun to drive around in the Interceptor but it comes in handy when chasing down people as well as running away.  You can even make your own:

1.  Avoid large groups of children who think you are a mythical spaceman savior. Things were going pretty well for Max until he was banished from civilization and found by a bunch of ‘lost boy’ like kids. They had water and fed him, but think he is a god who would take them to the pre-apocalyptic world. They also only get him into more trouble when they go out searching for this world and are discovered by…Tina Turner (Thunderdome).

I hope this has thoroughly prepared you for the end of the world this week or in the next 500 years.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.

Jessica Pickens: Girl Reporter

Comet Over Hollywood is moving!

Well…not the blog, but the blogger!

The backstory

Ever since I’ve been in the fourth grade I wanted to be a writer. I had a big imagination and pictured myself on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine with my best seller.

In high school I got more interested in newspapers and majored in mass communications-journalism at Winthrop University getting involved in the school newspaper The Johnsonian, TV show, Winthrop Close-Up and radio station, WINR.

Starting in March, I started looking for a reporter position in the southeast. By the time I graduated in May, I figured out that getting a job at a newspaper was going to be harder than I thought (as some of you in media related fields might also have found).

For the past two months I’ve been working at a local Greenville newspaper as an advertising representative while still looking for a reporter position.

Two weeks ago, I got a job at The Elkin Tribune in Elkin, N.C. So I will be packing up and moving up to North Carolina-spreading my classic movie love to a whole new state!

Celebration

In honor of this exciting, nerve-wracking event, I’m dedicating this post to journalists in movies. Everyone is invited to the party!

Glenda Farrell as Torchy Blaine most likely up to no good.

Torchy Blaine Series: Torchy Blaine was a series of films made during the 1930s much like Boston Blackie, The Falcon or Andy Hardy. Torchy Blaine snooped and got into trouble in eight films from 1937 to 1939 (yep, they knew how to churn them out in those days). Torchy Blaine is a wise-cracking and troublesome female reporter. She eavesdrops, bugs rooms and follows people in order to get information-all highly illegal in these days, according to my Media Law and Ethics classes at Winthrop. Not only does Torchy usually get caught by the bad guys she is spying on, but she is constantly at odds with her policeman boyfriend, Steve McBride. At the end of each film, Steve and Torchy usually agree to get married but Torchy has to agree to give up her reporter career-as we all know, this doesn’t happen. Review: These films are very silly but equally entertaining. Through the eight part series, Glenda Farrell, Lola Lane and Jane Wyman all play Torchy.  But Glenda is my favorite Torchy. However, Lola wears some adorable lounging pajamas in “Torchy Blaine in Panama.”

Citizen Kane (1940): I don’t feel that I can discuss journalism movies without mentioning Citizen Kane. The film follows Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane and his rise as the top newspaper publisher. We all know this film is based off the life of William Randolph Hearst-who was still living at the time. In Joseph Cotton’s autobiography “Vanity Gets You Somewhere,” Cotton says “Kane” was set to premiere in Radio City Music Hall. Hearst made sure it did not play there-or in several other movie houses across the United States. That goes to show just how powerful he was. Review: I do really like this film. It was a bit of an ‘Indie’ film in its day so its funny that is revered so much now. I really enjoy it for the historical background of it as well.

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell getting the scoop in “His Girl Friday”

His Girl Friday (1940): When you say “female reporters in film” Rosalind Russell with her crazy hats in “His Girl Friday” automatically comes to mind.  Roz plays the ex-wife of Cary Grant, her reporter co-worker, and is engaged to Ralph Bellamy. On the day that Roz and Ralph are supposed to get married, a huge murder story breaks and news hound that she is, Roz can’t stay away. Not surprisingly, Ralph Bellamy doesn’t get the girl in the end (like always), and Roz and Cary fall back in love in the midst of copy and photography. Review: I really enjoy this movie, but you REALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION.  For comedic value, Cary and Rosalind talk very, very fast. Several actresses turned down this role including Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne and Jean Arthur. I think Carole, Jean and Irene would have been perfect for the role, but I like seeing Rosalind in a role that is both sexy, funny and strong. Around this time she was flexing her comedic muscles with “The Women” and “No Time For Comedy,” and this is most definitely one of her best during this period.

Foreign Correspondent (1940): Though the United States had not yet joined the war, this Alfred Hitchcock directed film follows American reporter, John Jones-played by my heartthrob Joel McCrea-is sent on assignment to report on the war. Jones starts to uncover a spy ring in England that is aiding the Axis. Jones also meets and falls in love with Carol Fisher-played by one of my favorites, Laraine Day. I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to ruin this Hitchcock thriller, but watch for a disaster ending. Hitchcock does it ingeniously. Review: I actually think this is the film the secured in my mind that I wanted to be a journalist. The excitement and discovery that Joel McCrea experienced was irresistible. To this day my AIM name is even the title of this film.

Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland in “Arise My Love.” This photo has nothing to do with journalism. Just makes me happy!

Arise, My Love (1940): This film also follows a reporter in Europe during the start of World War II. This time our hero reporter is Claudette Colbert as Augusta Nash, based off real life reporter Martha Gellhorn. Nash saves pilot Ray Milland (as Tom Martin) before he is about to be executed by Fascists for his involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Nash saves him, exclusively for the purpose of a story. Martin is thankful for his life, but also a little peeved. The two begin to fall in love though they resist because of their conflicting life styles: Nash doesn’t want to give up her career and Martin wants to fight in the upcoming war. Review: Colbert said this was one of her favorite films that she made. It might be one of my favorites too. There is a good mix of romance, adventure and journalism. Ray Milland is probably at his handsomest here.

Meet John Doe (1941): This is another film about unethical journalism. Barbara Stanwyck as Ann Mitchell is fired from her reporter job. To get her job back Ann prints a fake suicide letter in the newspaper signed by “John Doe” who says he will kill himself on Christmas Eve because he can’t take the world’s ‘social ills’ any longer. To prove the letter isn’t a fake (which it obviously is) Ann searches for a man who agrees to pose as John Doe. Gary Cooper (Long John Willowby) and his friend The Colonel (played by Walter Brennan) are in need of money and John agrees to play the part. John Doe becomes a national figure, inspiring people all over to change their ways and come together. However, the role of John Doe requires John to commit suicide. If he doesn’t, it will let down his believers, and newspaper publisher D.B. Norton (played by loveable or hateable Edward Arnold) doesn’t want to disappoint his readers. Review: I love love love this movie. It’s a perfect example at just what journalism can do. Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are so perfect together. We also get a treat of seeing Walter and Gary break out in mouth organ music. One of THE perfect examples of Frank Capra’s ‘social change’ films.

For other ‘Gary Cooper duped by the press’ films see Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

The real Ernie Pyle who is portrayed by Burgess Meredith in “The Story of G.I. Joe”

Story of G.I. Joe (1945): This is a semi-autobiographical film about World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle, played by Burgess Meredith.  Pyle joins Company C, 18th Infantry, lead by Lit. Walker played by Robert Mitchum, and fights with them in North Africa and Italy, documenting their experiences along the way. Pyle learns more about the men personally and we watch as battle wears on their nerves. The film follows real life and ends with Pyle being killed by a Japanese sniper. Review: This is one of my favorite war films, mostly because Ernie Pyle is one of my role models. When I interviewed at Fort Jackson-an Army base in Columbia, S.C.- there was a display about Ernie Pyle. I was so proud that they were honoring him and really wanted to be part of that newspaper. “G.I. Joe” was the only film Robert Mitchum was ever nominated for an Academy Award and unfortunately lost. I really feel that he deserved it.

There is an unintentional running theme throughout all of those films. All of them were made during war years and several from 1940. Here is a brief list of other films featuring journalists. I’ve listed the actors who portray reporters.

Other films:

My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937) -Maureen O’Sullivan and Walter Pidgeon

Nothing Sacred (1937)- Frederic March

Everything Happens at Night (1939)- Ray Milland and Robert Cummings

Philadelphia Story (1940)- James Stewart and Ruth Hussey

Lifeboat (1944)-Tallulah Bankhead

Objective Burma (1945)- Henry Hull

Close to My Heart (1951)- Ray Milland

The Sell Out (1952)- Walter Pidgeon

Roman Holiday (1953)-Gregory Peck

Never Let Me Go (1953)- Clark Gable

Teacher’s Pet (1958)- Doris Day and Clark Gable

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page  or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet. 

1939: Watching a year in films

Greta Garbo in “Ninotchka” (1939)

1939.

To most, it’s just a year that occurred a long time ago.

To the Polish, it’s when the Germans took over the country with a Blitzkrieg.

To classic movie fans, it’s a year like no other.

Sure, there are several great films that came out from the 1920s to the 1950s. “Casablanca” came out in 1942. “White Christmas” lit up the screens in 1954. But neither of those years have a plethora of unforgettable movies that have a certain extra something added to them.

Gone with the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “Ninotchka” are all givens when listing off excellent, flawless 1939 films.

But what about the other 515 American films put out in that same year?  Were they just as good?  I decided to find out.

In a crazed moment last summer, I decided to try to see every movie made in 1939. I had two criteria to make it a little easier to find the movies: They must be full length movies, no short films; they must be American and they cannot be from television (despite being early in TV’s history, there were already experiments with made for TV movies in 1939).

I went on IMDB and got a full list of all the films from 1939. I clicked on each one, made sure it followed my requirements and then typed the title in alphabetical order into a table on Word. It took me several days to make my list due to my inefficient method.

A screen shot of how the list looks. Green=viewed

 I was surprised to find that I had already seen 90 of the 515 movies. So far I have seen 106 and counting; this project won’t be completed any time soon.

 Through this process, I have discovered several gems during 1939 that are sometimes overshadowed by larger budget films.

 Some things I’ve discovered:

•Non-MGM films are overlooked:

-“The Rains Came” has a fantastic scene during the flood when the whole city crashes down.

-“Drums Along the Mohawk” gives Claudette Colbert the chance to be in a period film on the frontier and play alongside Henry Fonda. The movie looks fabulous in color.

High quality B movies:

-“Everybody’s Hobby” is a lot of fun with Henry O’Neil being driven crazy by his family’s hobbies.

-Freda Inescort gets the change to play a nice woman in “Beauty for Asking” with a young Lucille Ball.

Contributions to series films:

            -The first “Maisie ” movie starring Ann Sothern premiered. I adore Maisie Revere and her adventures. They are hilarious but also usually have a good moral to them. Jean Harlow was originally supposed to be Maisie before her death. I could definitely see this, but love the spark that Ann offers.

            -Two Dr. Kildare movies come out this year. “Calling Dr. Kildare” and “The Secret of Dr. Kildare,” which were the 3rd and 4th films in the series.  Laraine Day as Nurse Mary Lamont hops on board as a love interest to  Jimmy Kildare.

            -Glenda Farrell and Jane Wyman finish off the “Torchy Blane” series with the last three films.

            -Andy Hardy chases girls and has “man to man” talks with Judge Hardy in three films: “Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever,” “The Hardy’s Ride High” and “Judge Hardy and  Son.”

Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor in “Lady of the Tropics” (1939)

Stars get their first big break:

            -Fresh from “Algiers,” Hedy Lamarr was playing a love interest to Robert Taylor in her first MGM movie “Lady of the Tropics”

            -Greer Garson graced the screen in her first two films “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” and “Remember?”

            -Lana Turner is moving away from being Cynthia Potter on Andy Hardy and making a name for herself in “Dancing Co-eds” and “Calling Dr. Kildare.”

            -Olivia De Havilland finally gets the big break she was looking for in “Gone with the Wind.”

            -Jimmy Stewart had already made waves in “Of Human Hearts” but he really showed he had leading man power in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and three other films that year.

Deanna Durbin is all grown up as she receives her first kiss from Robert Stack in “First Love.”

Joan Crawford is in color for the first time in “Ice Follies of 1939”

I could go on forever of the excellent movies (like Beau Geste, Of Mice and Men, and Real Glory) but no one wants to read 2000 words on a blog.

 All these movies had a certain magic and allowed several of our best stars to emerge. Where did it come from?

 According to the Turner Classic Movie documentary “1939,” 1939 was prolific for the United States in general. Roosevelt was helping the country work its way out of the Depression, and movies showed off this new wealth with stellar films. The industry began to take off for the next two years and then Pearl Harbor was attacked.

 World War II began for the United States and the growth Hollywood was once experiencing halted. The heyday of movies was forgotten as rationing and blackouts became a concern for the world.

After the war the movie industry would never return to the heights achieved in 1939 and American film tastes would change dramatically over the coming decades.

 I hope to discover more about the magic, and maybe see exactly what its source is when I complete all 515 films. It may be a large undertaking, but I don’t think it will be an unpleasant one.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.

Weekend One-Hundred: Musical list 101-200

"Blues in the Night"-Love Prisiclla Lane but this movie was a tad boring and furstarting because of her no good husband.

Several of you requested to see my musical list, so for the next few weekends I will post 100 of the musical on the list-in the order I watched and recorded them. This list goes from July of 2004 till roughly August or September of 2005.  Enjoy!

101.) Night and Day (1946)
102.) Shall We Dance (1937)
103.) Best Foot Forward (1943)
104.) Meet the People (1944)
105.) Date with Judy (1948)
106.) Roberta (1935)
107.) Fiesta (1947)
108.) Easy to Love (1954)
109.) Skirts Ahoy (1952)
110.) Jupiter’s Darling (1955)
111.) High Society (1956)
112.)Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929)
113.) Music For Millions (1944)
114.) Panama Hattie (1942)
115.) Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter (1968)
116.) It’s a Date (1940)
117.) Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
118.) On Moonlight Bay (1951)
119.) Holiday in Mexico (1946)
120.) Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)
121.) The Gay Divorcee (1934)
123.) Going to Hollywood (1933)
124.) Born To Dance (1936)
125.) Happy Go Lovely (1951)
126.) Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
127.) Perils of Pauline (1947)
128.) Lullaby of Broadway (1951)
129.) April in Paris (1952)
130.) Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
131.) Shine on Harvest Moon (1944)

"Shine on Harvest Moon"-Great Warner Brothers film. Dennis Morgan is dreamy and Ann Sheridan is beautiful

132.) Three Smart Girls (1936)
133.) Look for the Silver Lining (1949)
134.) Something in the Wind (1947)
135.) It Started With Eve (1941)
136.) First Love (1939)
137.) Can’t Help Singing (1944)
138.) Stage Door Canteen (1943)
139.) Hollywood Canteen (1944)
140.) Rosalie (1937)
141.) The Story of Irene and Vernon Castle (1939)
142.) Sunny (1930)
143.)Cinderella (1957)
144.) Cinderella (1964)
145.) Cinderella (1997)
146.) Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
147.) Road to Morocco (1942)
148.) Road to Utopia (1946)
149.)Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
150.) It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
151.) Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956)
152.) Looking for Love (1964)
153.) Down to Earth (1947)
154.) French Line (1954)
155.) Follow the Fleet (1936)
156.) Road to Singapore (1940)
157.) Road to Bali (1952)
158.) Bundle of Joy (1956)
159.) Rich, Young, and Pretty (1951)
160.) Flower Drum Song (1962)
161.) Vogues of 1938 (1937)
162.) Moon Over Miami (1941)
163.) Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
164.) Gypsy (1962)
165.) Girl Crazy (1943)
166.) ‘Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
167.) I Love Melvin (1953)
168.) Bye, Bye Birdie (1963)
169.) Second Chorus (1940)
170.) Farmer Takes a Wife (1953)
171.) Tea For Two (1950)
172.) Honolulu (1939)
173.) DuBarry Was a Lady (1943)
174.) By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
175.) The Opposite Sex (1956)
176.) I Dood It (1943)
177.) The Stork Club (1945)
178.) Too Many Girls (1940)
179.) Pigskin Parade (1936)
180.) I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951)
181.) Tonight and Every Night (1945)
182.) Presenting Lilly Mars (1943)
183.) Yolanda and The Thief (1945)
184.) Lucky Me (1954)
185.) Court Jester (1955)
186.) Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937)
187.) Listen Darling (1938)
188.) Thousands Cheer (1943)
189.) Give a Girl a Break (193)
190.) Reckless (1935)
191.) Blues in the Night (1941)
192.) Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938)
193.) Pennies from Heaven (1936)
194.)Damsel in Distress (1937)
195.) Sweet Adeline (1934)
196.) Desert Song (1953)
197.) Four Jacks and a Jill (1942)
198.) Going Places (1938)
199.) Here Comes the Groom (1951)
200.) Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949)

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

“I felt so low I could walk under a dachshund on stilts”

Dachshunds are probably the cutest dog to ever walk the planet. Maybe I’m a little biased, but their foot long torsos, stubby little legs, floppy ears and clown-like mischievousness is hard to resist. No wonder so many actors and actresses had these adorable hot dogs.

I generally don’t do long strings of photo posts, but I have noticed that lots of these cute German dogs pop up in movies and in celebrity homes. I also am really homesick for my best four-legged friend, Molly. Here is a list of stars who had these cute dogs:

*The quote above is from the Clara Bow silent film “It” (1927)

French Charles Boyer and English Ronald Colman cuddle the little German

Crawford and her famous Baby and Boopshem

Davies and her dachsie

Jean Harlow and her pup

Walter Huston and his dog spending quality time

Alan Ladd with his two children

Diana Lewis (aka Mrs. William Powell) and her doggie

Adolphe Menjou and his puppy

Even The Duke had a dachshund

Author of the blog and her dachshund Molly, Christmas 2009

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page or Follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet

Boola boola and rah rah rah: College in the movies

A typical day at Winthrop…not. (From “Good News

After a fast Christmas break, I have moved back into my Winthrop University dorm for the last time.  In honor of my last semester as a college “co-ed”  here is a blog with different representations of college in classic film and judge at how realistic the films portray college.

*I’d like to point out that all of these are classic films, so don’t be disappointed that I didn’t review “National Lampoon’s Animal House” or “Accepted.”

 

Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston in “The Freshman”

•The Freshman (1925)-

Harold Lloyd is very excited about going to college after seeing a movie about a popular campus. Lloyd’s only purpose at college is to be the big man on campus. He achieves this by doing a silly dance before he shakes people’s hands and fumbling around the football field. However, he just makes a fool of himself. To review: I’m not a huge fan of Harold Lloyd actually (I am loyal to Buster Keaton), but this is actually one of my favorite silent movies. It’s heartbreaking to see how people make fun of him but also hilarious at the same time. I really don’t know what college life was like in the 1920s, but in my college experiences there is not one BIG popular person. I will say, I am on a fairly small campus of 6,500 people so there are notable figures but no one person who I would say is the most popular.

Pigskin Parade (1936)- Winston and Bessie Winters (Jack Haley and Patsy Kelly) are college coaches trying to have a winning season. Things are going rough until hillbilly Amos (Stuart Erwin) and his sister Sairy (Judy Garland)-also a redneck- come to campus.  Amos can throw a winning football pass after throwing melons on the farm. To review: Its been a long time since I’ve seen this movie but I remember it being pretty excruciating. Between Judy’s country accent and the Yacht Boys singing, it was pretty obnoxious.

 

Rosemary and Priscilla Lane publicity shot for “Variety Show”

•Varsity Show (1937)-

Priscilla and Rosemary Lane (as Betty and Barbara) and friends are trying to put on a show on Winfield Campus, but the faculty doesn’t like swing music. They pull in former student and Broadway star Chuck Day (Dick Powell), to help with the show, but his last performances have laid eggs. To review: I love Priscilla Lane and Dick Powell, and its fun to see them in a movie together. However, this is another stereotypical song and dance college musical. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in college put on as big of a show as they do in this movie.

Vivacious Lady (1938)-Francey (Ginger Rogers) marries college chemistry professor Peter (James Stewart). The marriage is a secret from his family because he is already engaged and his father (Charles Coburn)  is the college president. Stewart and Rogers go to extreme measures to stay together, including Rogers becoming a student at the college. To review: This is one of my favorite movies. Rogers and Stewart have wonderful chemistry and there are several funny moments. I did think most of the college students in Stewart’s class looked a lot older than college students though.

Bathing Beauty (1944)- Caroline (Esther Williams) goes back to her old job as a teacher at a girls’ college after a misunderstanding with her boyfriend Steve (Red Skelton). Steve tries to win Caroline back by finding a loophole in the rules and enrolling in the school. Comedic moments ensue with Red in a tutu and Harry James jazzing up music class. To review: I love this movie. Esther is beautiful in Technicolor. Xavier Cugat and Lina Romay spice it up with Latin rhythm along with other musical talents like Ethel Smith and Harry James. I know that James and Cugat don’t come and jazz up “I’ll Take the High Road” in music class in college, but it certainly does make college look fun. I also love the ever pert and fun Jean Porter in this movie. She really seems like the quintessential college/high school young lady of the 1940s to me.

Susan Peters is a co-ed with “Young Ideas”

Young Ideas(1943)- Romance author Josephine Evans(Mary Astor) marries college professor Mike (Herbert Marshall) and cancels her book tour.  Astor’s children, Susan (Susan Peters) and Jeff (Elliot Reed), oppose of the marriage, especially since it may mean their mother’s book career is over. Susan and Jeff enroll in college and do whatever they can to break up the marriage. To review: This is a classic, fun MGM movie from the 1940s. I love Herbert Marshall and he was really funny in this movie. Susan Peters and Elliot Reed were pretty bratty but Richard Carleson gave a nice balance to it. This movie seemed the most of what college might have been like-though I do wonder if freshman really wore little beanies.

•Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble (1944)- Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) goes to college and is surrounded by beautiful girls-his dream. Two twin blondes trick him and he falls for the icy Kay Wilson (Bonita Granville). Hardy competes with professor Dr. Standish (Herbert Marshall) for Kay’s attention. To review: I don’t like the Andy Hardy movies as much when he goes to college. However, the way college was represented seemed to be pretty realistic.

Peter Lawford and June Allyson in “Good News”

Good News (1947)- In the 1920s, co-ed librarian June Allyson isn’t exactly what you would call a vamp. Allyson falls for popular, football star Peter Lawford but he is interested in modern woman, Patricia Marshall.  Several songs are fit in during the pursuit of love, including a great number involving “The Varsity Drag.” To review: Once again, I wonder if in the 1920s, schools were so small to have one person who is the most popular? The movie is fun and colorful, but it seems more a vehicle for Joan McCracken and Patricia Marshall-neither who did much else in movies. I wish June Allyson was in the movie more, because she was the whole reason I watched it.

Apartment For Peggy (1948)- Peggy (Jeanne Crain) and Jason (William Holden) are married, and Jason is going to college as a chemistry major using the G.I. Bill.  Professor Henry Barnes (Edmund Gwenn), a professor at the college, has decided he has lived long enough and wants to commit suicide. The couple lives in a trailer, but needs more room because Peggy is expecting. The professor agrees to let the couple rent out his attic as an apartment and his views on life begin to change. To review: This is a really fun and cute movie. It is very light hearted but let me warn you for some sad parts. I think the college aspect is pretty realistic when put in perspective of post-war men using G.I. Bill to go to college and their wives and their struggles.

Mr. Belvedere Goes to College(1949)- Clifton Webb as Mr. Belvedere decides to enroll in college since his highest level of education is from the fifth grade.  Though he is older than all the students, Belvedere is considered a freshman and has to deal with ritual hazing. During all of this he makes friends with Tom Drake and beautiful Shirley Temple who has a secret. To review: The movie is very funny, and Clifton Webb gives a droll perfomance as always. Other than the hazing, I thought this seemed pretty similar to a real college. It was pretty large and it didn’t seem like there was that one person in charge.

The Varisty Drag from Good News:

Other college films:
College (1927)- Starring Buster Keaton
College Swing (1938)- Starring Bob Hope, Gracie Allen and Martha Raye
Dancing Co-Ed (1939)-Starring Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford,  and Artie Shaw
These Glamour Girls (1939)- Starring Lana Turner, Lew Ayres and Anita Louise
Second Chorus (1940)- Starring Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith and Artie Shaw
The Feminine Touch (1941)- Starring Rosalind Russell and Ray Milland
The Male Animal (1942)- Starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie
The Falcon and The Co-Ed (1943)- Starring Tom Conway
Mother Is A Freshman (1949)- Starring Van Johnson and Loretta Young
HIGH TIME (1960)- Starring Bing Crosby, Tuesday Weld and Richard Beymer
Joy in the Morning (1965)- Starring Richard Chamberlin and Yvette Mimeux

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

Just like the prince and the pauper…

Do you ever watch a movie and think, “Man, those actresses could be sisters.” or  “It’s hard to tell those two men apart because they look so similar.”   These actors could maybe even switch places just like Billy and Bobby Mauch did in “The Prince and the Pauper” (1937).

Younger movie viewers of today may say that all old actors all look the same. This isn’t true of course, but there are some that certainly look very similar. This is a result of being groomed by movie studios to have glamour and charm.

Actors and actresses also are given names that sound similar and can cause confusion.

Here is a list of actors who look similar and have confusingly similar names.

Look-a-likes:

Joan Leslie, Joyce Reynolds, Teresa Wright

Joan Leslie, Joyce Reynolds, Teresa Wright
-Joyce Reynolds emerged in the 1940s in the movie “Janie” with a clean Joan Leslie appearance and a squeaky Teresa Wright voice.  Warner Brothers must have thought that Joan and Joyce looked similar as well, since Joan Leslie played Janie in the sequel to “Janie”: “Janie Gets Married.”

Vera Miles, Vera-Ellen, Mitzi Gaynor

Vera-Ellen, Vera Miles, Mitzi Gaynor
- I think the thing that is funniest is that two of the women have the same first name.  I can tell the difference between them, but you have to admit they all look very similar. All three women are very thin, blonde and rather tan. Vera Miles had one of her first acting roles on the TV show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and looked very similar to Vera-Ellen because she was thinner than I had ever seen her.   However, all three women had different careers.
Vera Miles stared mostly in dramatic roles, and occasionally in bit parts on TV (like a romantic interest for Fred MacMurray on “My Three Sons“) .  After Grace Kelly, she was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actress, according to IMDB. Unfortunately, she had to turn down roles because she was pregnant. Miles is still living.
Vera-Ellen was a ballet dancer and was in several musicals. In earlier movies like “On the Town,” Vera was thin, but looked healthy. In later movies, like “White Christmas,” she was almost dangerously thin, because she was anorexic. She had the smallest waist in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s and suffered from early aging because of anorexia ,according to IMDB, so you will notice that she wears turtle necks to cover it.  After she retired she had severe arthritis and was practically a recluse, dying in 1981.
Mitzi Gaynor is best known for her role in movie musicals like “South Pacific.” Though she didn’t have a tremendous career, she was very successful with her comedic, musical variety TV specials in the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, Mitzi is performing a one woman show. 0

Anne Shirley and Olivia de Havilland

Anne Shirley and Olivia de Havilland
-Anne Shirley  never had the same star power or acting skills as Olivia de Havilland, but you can’t deny their similar appearance. Particularly the way Anne Shirley looks in “The Devil & Daniel Webster.” The two starred together in the irritating comedy “Government Girl” (a movie that de Havilland hated and had to make because of contractual agreements. She purposefully acted ridiculous in the movie).

 
 
 

John Carroll and James Craig

John Carroll and James Craig
– Both men played small romantic roles in the 1940s when most of the lead actors like Clark Gable and Robert Taylor were fighting in World War II. Carroll starred with Esther Williams in “Fiesta ” (1947) and “Flying Tigers” (1942) with John Wayne. Craig was in several “feel good” movies in the 1940s like “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” (1945) with Margaret O’Brien and “The Human Comedy” (1943) with Fay Bainter.

Joan Blondell and Ann Sothern

Joan Blondell and Ann Sothern
-In the 1930s, Joan Blondell had a curvy, sassy look of her own; pretty but also comedic. In the 1940s, Blondell was a bit more curvy and switched from the tight 1930s hair styles to long and wavy. Her 1940s look was similar to Ann Sothern, who also was a bit curvy. Both actresses can be found in light comedic roles.

Names that confuse:

-Reginald Gardner, Reginald Owen, Reginald Denny (I’m still not sure which is which sometimes)

-Eleanor Parker and Eleanor Powell

-Margaret Sullivan and Maureen O’Sullivan

-Connie Stevens and Stella Stevens

What actors do you confuse? What names can you not remember?  Let me know!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page for “Comet’s” radio show.

I’m ready for my close up: Photography in films

Photography and moving pictures walk hand-in-hand, especially when shooting in black and white. Many people prefer color and dismiss black and white as cheap. However, some don’t realize the skill it takes to shoot black and white: making sure you have perfect lighting or having the shadows just right are just a few things to consider.

For being so closely related, it’s surprising that there aren’t many classic films about photography. I was only able to find an handful:

James Stewart in “Rear Window” spying on his neighbor

1. Rear Window (1954): James Stewart plays L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a free lance photographer who is laid up with a broken leg that was a result of a dangerous assignment. I’m not sure if this movie paints photographers in the best light. Jeff is in love with high society Grace Kelly but doubts that she could go on assignments with him even though she says she could. Jeff is also a bit of a peeping Tom, spying on his neighbors with his telephoto lens.
However, his peeping Tom-ery isn’t all bad since he uses it to solve a murder that he partially witnesses in an apartment across the way. Jeff cleverly mixes his career and survival techniques as he thwarts the murderer by blinding him with flash bulbs.

2. Roman Holiday (1953): The movie is more about  journalism than a photography, but the photographer certainly plays a large part in the film. Journalist, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), is trying to get an exclusive story on a visiting princess (Audrey Hepburn) who just happens to be staying in his apartment.
Eddie Albert plays Peck’s photographer friend who tags along to get the photos for the story. This movie seems to depicts photographers as deceitful playboys. When Peck calls Albert about the story, Albert is photographing and kissing a woman in his apartment. When he is getting pictures of the princess, he doesn’t openly take pictures of her but uses sneaky little spy cameras. A real photographer wouldn’t be so afraid…
Actually, from a journalism student’s point-of-view, it doesn’t paint the newspaper business in a good light either. It has the “anything for a story” undertones and Peck goes to unethical measures to get a story. Even though he doesn’t publish it, if he was doing that in today’s journalism world he would probably face a law suit.

Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in “Funny Face.” Their characters were modeled after Richard Avedon and Dovima.

3. Funny Face (1957):

This movie is simply about fashion photography. It has many interesting and pretty scenes with fashion, dresses and dancing. The thing I like about the movie is that Fred Astaire’s character, Dick Avery, and Audrey Hepburn’s character is supposed to be like the relationship between one of my favorite photographers, Richard Avedon and his muse, Dovima.
Fashion photography is fun and pretty to look at, but the photographer I can’t imagine it being very exciting. From a journalist/writer view point, it would be like writing the same story over and over again. For example, how does Danielle Steel get any excitement out of writing when all of her books basically have the same plot?

 

4. Weddings and Babies (1958): This is an independent film about a photographer (John Myhers) who is trying to save money in order to get married to his girlfriend, Viveca Lindfors.
I think this movie gives the most realistic depiction of a photographer. He feels unfulfilled because he is only taking pictures of just weddings and babies and wants to do something with a purpose. I’ve heard several photographers say that, others take the wedding route because it’s easier and pays well, but the ones with a drive don’t care so much about the money.
My philosophy of photography is that it should inform just like a newspaper article. You can write a story about how the Yanomamo are losing their indigenous life style, but a picture can better show how it is devastating them. Photography should be about truth, not about how to show in the best light.

 

5. Blowup (1966): This movie is a mod 1960s, English film. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it means that it’s rather odd, has little plot and a few naked women thrown in for good measure. However, in comparison to the photographer in “Rear Window” who is a photojournalist and travels the world, the photographer, played by David Hemmings, is a successful commercial fashion photographer. He is also bored with life…go figure, wouldn’t you if you were just photographing fashion?
Anyways, the movie is about his career as a photographer, but it is rather long and drawn out. He thinks he might have photographed a murder, but we never really find out and the murder is never solved. It is a treat though to see the beautiful Russian model, Verushka, at the beginning of the film.

Those movies are the only real pre-1970s movies that used photography as a basis of the plot. I was disappointed and surprised that there are so few movies that have main characters playing photographers, since photojournalism was a big field in the 1940s and 1950s due to publications like LIFE that revolved around photography. I just can’t believe that there are so many movies about stewardesses, nurses and architects but so few about photographers.

Here are a few films that the main characters are photographers, but it is not a main point in the plot:

-One More Tomorrow (1946): Anne Sheridan plays a photographer who falls in love with high society Dennis Morgan. The fact that she is a female photographer means she is lower class and could never fit in Morgan’s social circle.

-If a Man Answers (1962): Sandra Dee marries photographer Bobby Darin. She plans on keeping her new husband using a dog training book, because she worries about him photographing other women.

-Wait Until Dark (1967): Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman terrorized by men trying to get a heroine filled doll. Her husband in the movie is a photographer.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.