Musical Monday: “Follow the Fleet” (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

follow the fleet 2This week’s musical:
Follow the Fleet” (1936) — Musical #155

Studio:
RKO

Director:
Mark Sandrich

Starring:
Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harriet Hilliard, Betty Grable, Lucille Ball

Plot:
Bake Baker (Astaire) joined the Navy after his former dance partner Sherry Martin (Rogers) turned him down when he asked her to marry him.
Now he’s back on shore leave and he meets her by chance at a 10 cents a dance joint.
Sherry’s bookish sister Connie (Hilliard) meets Bake’s sea mate Bilge Smith (Scott) and falls in love with him. But Bilge isn’t read to settle down and starts running around with a rich divorcee.

follow the fleet

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dance to “Let Yourself Go”

Trivia:
-This movie was made after the success of “Roberta.” RKO wanted to bring Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne back together again for another film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as the secondary leads, according to TCM host Robert Osborne. Dunne’s contract expired with RKO and she went on to star in “Showboat” (1936). New comer Harriet Hilliard was selected to fill the Irene Dunne role, Osborne said.
-The beaded dress Ginger Rogers wears in “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” was very heavy. Fred Astaire said the dress was too heavy to be made for dancing. During the first take, a long sleeve hit Astaire in the face. After 20 more takes, Astaire felt like the first take was their best, said Robert Osborne.
-Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ fifth film together.
-The couple in the dance contest with Astaire and Rogers were unknowns picked by choreographer Hermes Pan.
-Lucille Ball and Betty Grable have small roles in the film.
-Actor/singer Tony Martin has an uncredited role in the film.
-Irving Berlin wrote “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan” was originally written for “Top Hat.”
-Adapted from the play “Shore Leave.”

Highlights:
-Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the dance contest. They do impressive dance steps and Rogers is wearing pants so you can actually see the dance moves she’s doing.

Notable Songs:
All the songs are quality because the score is written by Irving Berlin but my favorites are:
-“Let Yourself Go” sung by Ginger Rogers
-“I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
-“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” sung by Fred Astaire

Harriet Hilliard and Randolph Scott in "Follow the Fleet"

Harriet Hilliard and Randolph Scott in “Follow the Fleet”

My Review:
While this was following the success of “Roberta,” it isn’t quite as good as “Roberta.” Harriet Hilliard is fine, but I would have loved to see Irene Dunne in the role.
The music in this Astaire and Rogers film is terrific since the score is written by Irving Berlin. It is also a real treat that all but one of Rogers’ dance performances are done in pants so you can see her footwork better than when she is wearing a ballgown.
The plot isn’t bad but some of the lines said in the film could be bothersome to the contemporary viewer. Such as Ginger Rogers saying you have to be dumb to get a man. Or that Harriet salvages a boat for a man she doesn’t even know.
Regardless of my issues with silly parts of the plot, if you are a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers fan, this is definitely a movie you should see. 

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Beauty Tip #27: The 1940s Snood

This is the twenty-seventh  installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.  

For me, the 1940s is the best fashion era.

Carole Lombard sporting a snood.

Carole Lombard sporting a snood.

The clothing, the makeup and the hairstyles all leave me drooling. One of my favorite 1940s fashion styles that I see in the movies is the “snood.”

A snood is head scarf, usually netted in the 1940s, that fits almost like a hood. Hair is fitted inside a sort of a sack that sits on the back of the head.

Snoods were worn in the Middle Ages, 1860s and were again reintroduced during World War II, not only for fashion but to keep hair from getting caught in machinery while doing war work.

The first time I wore my snood.

The first time I wore my snood.

As my hair has been getting longer, I was trying to figure out different ways to style it and keep it out of my face, so I decided to bring my classic film tastes and love for 1940s fashion into my life and bought a snood.

While some snoods tie, mine is elastic.

To wear it, I brushed my hair back away from my face, pinned it in place behind my ears with two bobby pins on each side, and put my hair inside the snood. I set the snood about half way back on my head.

While I was worried about looking like a lunch lady with a hair net, I’ve gotten several compliments on the snood and only a few from friends, jokingly saying I look like a sheep herder.

To review: I love wearing my snood and it successfully keeps my hair out of my face while giving me both a modern, yet vintage look. The one I bought was only $5 on ebay, but I plan to buy more decorative snoods in the future.

Here are some other classic actresses sporting the snood look:

Barbara Stanwyck with Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve" (1941) wearing a snood.

Barbara Stanwyck with Henry Fonda in “The Lady Eve” (1941) wearing a snood.

Ginger Rogers in "The Major and the Minor" with a snood.

Ginger Rogers in “The Major and the Minor” with a snood.

Ann Sheridan in "Thank Your Lucky Stars" (1943) with a snood

Ann Sheridan in “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943) with a snood

Stop by back in January for another classic actress beauty tip.

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“Radio Waves” on air in 30 minutes!

Ginger will be listening too

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

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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Tune in for your weekly fireside

Don Ameche, Ginger Rogers, Cecil B. DeMille and Charles Winneger performing on the Lux Radio Theater

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

Topics for Jan. 27:
-Film actors who made it big on TV
-Kay Kyser, Georgia Carroll and other big bands
-Actors who got married
-And more…

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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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

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Island of misfit Christmas movies

 

Stanyck, Bondi, MacMurray, Patterson and Holloway in “Remember the Night”: My favorite Christmas movie

Tis the season for Christmas posts. For these last five days before Christmas, I’m going to try to post several posts. Probably not every day, but at least throughout the week.

This post deals with two things my family and I love combined together: Christmas and movies.

For at least the past 22 years, it’s a Christmas family tradition for us to watch “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965) and “A Garfield Christmas” (1987) on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Of course we also watch classic holiday films such as “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), “White Christmas” (1954), “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945) and “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946); just to name a few.

But instead of doing a worn out review of all of these wonderful classic films, I want to highlight some holiday films that are sometimes forgotten by the general public:

 

Rogers and Niven celebrating the New Year in “Bachelor Mother”

Bachelor Mother (1939):

I always forget this is a Christmas movie and I bet you do too. Polly Parish (Ginger Rogers) is working as a sales girl in a department store during the Christmas holidays. One day she finds a baby on the steps outside an orphange and picks it up before it rolls down the stairs. No one believes that it isn’t her’s and she is forced to take it home.  The store owner, J.B. Merlin (Charles Cobern) and his son David (David Niven) make sure that Polly doesn’t get rid of her baby, all during the Christmas season. To review: I love movies with babies and this is a very funny movie. My favorite part is when Rogers and Niven go out to celebrate the New Year.

Beyond Christmas (original title: Beyond Tomorrow) (1940): Last year, I had my mother tape this movie and we randomly watched it in the middle of the summer. This is one of my favorite Christmas movies. The movie stars Harry Carry, C. Aubrey Smith and Charles Winninger as three old bachelors who live together. Every Christmas they drink their Tom and Jerry’s and do nothing more.  But this year, the men decided to invite strangers off the street for Christmas dinner. The strangers (Jean Parker and Richard Carlson) eventually fall in love. The three old men die shortly after Christmas in a plane accident, but their ghosts help bring the couple together and work through rough times.  To review: It’s a really heartwarming, cute film. The whole thing might not take place during Christmas, but it reflects the spirit of Christmas.

 It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947): I only just saw this movie last Christmas and think it is really charming. McKeever the hobo (Victor Moore) lives in wealthy folks mansions when he knows they are away in another home. He invites recently evicted Jim Bullock (Don DeFore) and Bullock’s homeless army buddies to stay in millionaire Jim O’Connors (Charles Ruggles) mansion for the Christmas season. O’Connor and his daughter and ex-wife (Gail Storm and Ann Harding) come back to their mansion after family problems and live amongst the homeless folks, never telling them their real identity. To review: Its a really cute movie and also rather funny. Charles Ruggles and Ann Harding are perfect in it, and Victor Moore always plays the best absent-minded characters.

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938): Mickey Rooney usually drives me bananas, but I really enjoy the Andy Hardy movies and this is my favorite.  Christmas doesn’t come without crisis for the Hardy family.  Mom Hardy has to go take care of sick grandma and Andy is swamped with girls:
– Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford) is going away for the holidays leaving Andy without a date for the Christmas dance
– Andy Hardy agrees to take Beezy’s girl, Cynthia Potter, (Lana Turner) to a dance to discourage other dates
-Betsy Jenkins (Judy Garland) comes back to Carvel a grown up woman.
All the women causes a lot of confusion and crazy Mickey Rooney moments.  The Hardy’s are worried mom won’t be able to come home for Christmas, but in the end it all works out. Andy gets his date to the dance, Betsy sings and mom makes it home on Christmas Eve. To Review: It’s a really cute movie, and a chance to see Judy Garland treated like a young woman rather than a child. It’s also fun to see three of Andy’s love interests all in one movie.

Remember the Night (1940): A couple of years ago, Turner Classic Movies premiered this Preston Sturges film. With the release of the DVD last year, it’s gaining popularity, but still isn’t up to par with other Christmas classics. Lee Leander (Barbara Stanwyck) steals an expensive diamond bracelet and is on trial only a few days before Christmas. Prosecuting lawyer John Sargent (Fred MacMurray) postpones the trial until after Christmas, since it is hard to get a jury to convict someone as guilty before Christmas. John hates to see Lee spend Christmas in jail so offers to for her to stay with his mother (Beulah Bondi), aunt (Elizabeth Patterson) and farm hand (Sterling Holloway) in Indiana.  To review: This is my favorite Christmas movie. The two old women together bickering is adorable, Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck have fantastic chemistry and Sterling Holloway offers a lot of comic relief.

Hattie McDaniel putting the presents under the tree that General Hilton sent to her in “Since You Went Away”

Since You Went Away(1944): 

This is a World War II movie that takes place on the American home front. The film follows a year with the Hilton family: Ann (Claudette Colbert), Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Brig (Shirley Temple) as they struggle with their father away at war, rationing and taking in boarders. The whole movie isn’t a Christmas movie, only at the very end. The family has a Christmas party with friends and a few soldiers. They play games and try to forget that their father isn’t there to join in the fun and some loved ones were killed in the war. But in the end, they get the best Christmas present they could ever ask for. To review: This is sort of like “Meet Me in St. Louis”: The whole thing isn’t a Christmas movie, but can be considered a Christmas movie. It’s one of my all time favorite films. I think that it really shows the true Christmas spirit and what is imporant at Christmas: family.

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Kate the Great (Bitch)

I am an old movie fanatic, but it’s hard for me to choke down a Katharine Hepburn movie. I’d rather watch Mickey Rooney over her, and that says a lot.

Beloved star. Award winning actress. First rate bitch.

I know all actors and actresses weren’t always be pleasant to each other, such as Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis or maybe June Haver and Betty Grable, but they had reasons. Hopkins slept with Davis’s husband and Haver was acting like she was the new Grable. Hepburn was rude to actors without any justification.

Hepburn and Mitchum in “Undercurrent” (1946)

Hepburn stars with Robert Taylor and Robert Mitchum, a newcomer at the time, in 1946 thriller “Undercurrent.” To be honest, she probably was miscast because she is supposed to play the demure wife of Robert Taylor who is trying to kill her.

The snobbish Hepburn and gruff Mitchum did not get along. At one point during filming she said to him, “You know you can’t act, and if you hadn’t been good-looking you would never have got a picture at all. I’m tired of working with people like you who have nothing to offer.” (from IMDB trivia for the film).

The one thing I found ironic about this quote was the fact that it seems she got along fine with Robert Taylor who was famous for his good looks and capitalized off of them, according to Turner Classic Movies primetime host Robert Osborne.

The list goes on of actors that she was unpleasant to, including Ginger Rogers, who admired the actress, and John Barrymore who acted with her in her first film, “A Bill of Divorcement” (1932).

Hepburn and Rogers in “Stage Door” (1937)

“Astaire gave her class, Rogers gave him sex,” Hepburn said about the famous dancing pair.

“She is snippy, you know, which is a shame,” Ginger Rogers said about working with Hepburn in “Stage Door.” “She was never on my side.”.

Actresses like Joan Crawford and June Allyson answered every fan letter they received personally, something Katharine Hepburn didn’t do; she didn’t even sign autographs.

Crawford and Allyson understood that they achieved fame because of their fans. Not according to Miss Hepburn.

“Once a crowd chased me for an autograph ‘Beat it,’ I said, ‘Go sit on a tack!’ ‘We made you,’ they said. ‘Like hell you did,’ I told them.”

If Miss Hepburn didn’t give a damn about her fans, then why should I care about her movies? After all, she was named “Box Office Poison” in 1938.

P.S.) As a side note, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn are not related, to clear up confusion that some people seem to have.

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Serenade me, Mr. Powell

Ginger Rogers was the Star of the Month for March on Turner Classic Movies. Ginger Rogers is a triple threat. She can sing, act and dance. She even won an Oscar for her 1941 performance in “Kitty Foyle.”

I taped several of her films that I haven’t seen (I’m trying to see all of her movies). One of these movies that I taped was “20 Million Sweethearts” (1934). The movie features Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell with a supporting cast of Allen Jenkins and Pat O’Brien.

Ginger Rogers is best known for the 10 films that she made with Fred Astaire. The screen team is recognized for their singing and dancing, but Astaire is generally the only one who gets to sing. Rogers only had the chance to sing solo in two of their 10 films together. These rare times occurred when Astaire refused to sing a song that was originally written for him. An example of this is “The Yam” in “Carefree” (1938).

The treat about the movie “Twenty-Million Sweethearts” is we actually heard Ginger sing several songs. I find it ironic that Ginger Rogers had the chance to sing more in a movie with Dick Powell than she does in her movies with Fred Astaire.

Dick Powell was one of the top “crooners” in the 1930s. His smooth voice could make women melt like butter. Fred Astaire was known more for his dancing. I’m sure women wouldn’t mind if he sang to them, but I have a feeling they would rather it be in their ear as he whisked them around on a dance floor.

Here is a comparison of the two men’s singing qualities:

Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers in “Twenty Million Sweethearts.” (1934)

Fred Astaire singing “The Way You Look Tonight” to Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time” (1936)

I personally would rather have Powell sing to me over Astaire. Who do you prefer?

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