Watching 1939: Waterfront (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.

1939 film:
Waterfront (1939)

waterfront

Release date:
July 15, 1939

Cast:
Gloria Dickson, Dennis Morgan, Marie Wilson, Larry Williams, Ward Bond, Sheila Bromley, Arthur Gardner, Aldrich Bowker, Frank Faylen, George Lloyd, Charles Trowbridge (uncredited)

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
Terry O. Morse

Plot:
Quick tempered Jim Dolan (Morgan) is the president of the dockworker’s and is constantly fighting. His temper periodically lands him in jail and keeps him at odds with his girlfriend Ann (Dickson). Jim turns over a new leaf but runs into trouble when his brother is killed.

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Musical Monday: The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

gene krupa posterThis week’s musical:
The Gene Krupa Story (1959) – Musical #332

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Don Weis

Starring:
Sal Mineo, James Darren, Susan Kohner, Yvonne Craig, Susan Oliver, Lawrence Dobkin, Celia Lovsky, Bobby Troup, Shelly Manne, Gavin MacLeod (uncredited), Arthur Walsh (uncredited)
Self: Red Nichols, Anita O’Day, Buddy Lester, Ruby Lane

Plot:
Biographical film on drummer Gene Krupa (Mineo). The film shows Krupa’s conflict with this family over becoming a musician, struggling as a musician in New York City, and then breaking it big as a solo drummer. The film also depicts his downfall when Krupa is arrested for his substance abuse.

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Musical Monday: The Five Pennies (1959)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

five penniesThis week’s musical:
The Five Pennies (1959) – Musical #254

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Melville Shavelson

Starring:
Danny Kaye, Barbara Bel Geddes, Harry Guardino, Bob Crosby, Bobby Troup, Tuesday Weld, Susan Gordon, Ray Anthony, Shelly Mane, Ray Daley, Blanche Sweet (uncredited)
Themselves: Louis Armstrong

Plot:
A biographical film on cornet player Loring “Red” Nichols (Kaye). It shows Nichols rise to fame as he creates the successful Five Pennies band, which specializes in playing Dixieland jazz. But at the top, Nichols abruptly retires due to a family emergency.

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Musical Monday: So This Is Love (1953)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

so this is love 2This week’s musical:
So This is Love (1953) – Musical #325

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
Gordon Douglas

Starring:
Kathryn Grayson, Merv Griffin, Joan Weldon, Walter Abel, Rosemary DeCamp, Ann Doran, Jeff Donnell, Douglas Dick, Mabel Albertson, Fortunio Bonanova, Marie Windsor, Tristram Coffin (uncredited), Barbara Pepper (uncredited), Moroni Olsen (uncredited)
Themselves: Francois and Giselle Szony

Plot:
Musical biographical film of opera singer and actress, Grace Moore (Grayson). The film follows Moore’s struggles in her early career, loss and regain of voice, and her rise to fame.

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Favorite new-to-me films of 2021

At the end of each year, I think back on my favorite new-to-me film discoveries.

For the past few years, I’ve shared these in just a Twitter thread, but this year, I decided to write a formal blog post. As of Dec. 29, 2021, I have watched 517 feature films. The following or the films I’ve continued to think about long after they were over. The first three may be a tie:

crimson

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller
Over the past few years, I have really gotten into director Sam Fuller’s films, and I was blown away by THE CRIMSON KIMONO. The story is powerful but it’s also visually stunning.

that man from rio

That Man From Rio/ L’homme de Rio (1964)
Directed by Philippe de Broca
I watched this in memory of Jean-Paul Belmondo and was left in a glittering haze of a love of cinema — in love with this film, Belmondo and the whole idea of traveling to Rio de Janerio. I daydreamed about this movie the whole next day of watching it. Its thoroughly charming.

dog fight max resolution

Dogfight (1991)
Directed by Nancy Savoca
If you follow me on any social media platform or have spoken with me in person, you’ve heard me mention DOGFIGHT.
As of Dec. 29, 2021, I watched DOGFIGHT six times from May 2021 to the end of the year. Why? I don’t really know – do you have to have a reason for why a film moves you? All I know is that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Don’t just go off the plot description that is given for this film. Watch it for yourself.

smallest show

The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
Directed by Basil Dearden
This is the sweetest, most charming movies. I love to see real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers act together for starters. And then some of the actors are their co-stars, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers and Bernard Miles. It’s just plain lovely.

come next spring

Come Next Spring (1956)
Directed by R.G. Springsteen
Steve Cochran usually plays a bad dude. And here, he plays a reformed bad dude and I loved it. Come Next Spring is really lovely and visually stunning in Technicolor. Ann Sheridan is also a major highlight in this film, but Steve Cochran’s sensitive performance blew me away.

home of the brave3

Home of the Brave (1949)
Directed by Mark Robson
I didn’t expect to cry as much as I did during this movie. Not only does HOME OF THE BRAVE look at racial tensions with Black and White soldiers serving in World War II, but it also looks at the complicated emotions of soldiers when their friends are killed in action. James Edwards is not recognized enough as an actor and he shines here.

no regrets

No Regrets for Our Youth/Waga seishun ni kuinashi (1946)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
An incredible film that left me speechless. I was blown away. Actress Setsuko Hara is always wonderful, but I enjoyed seeing her play a different type of character than I’m used to seeing. Hara’s character is complex and transforms from a selfish, conflicted youth to a woman who sacrifices her life and reputation for a loved one.

here i am stranger3

Here I am a Stranger (1939)
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
This was my favorite new-to-me film from 1939 of this year. Richard Dix gave an emotional and sensitive performance of a father who reconnects with his son after many years. I also loved seeing Brenda Joyce play against type.
My full review here.

tickle me 7

Tickle Me (1965)
Directed by Norman Taurog
Have you ever remembered a movie scene that you watched as a child but you never knew what it was? Watching Tickle Me solved that mystery for me this year—I remembered Elvis and a woman in a haunted house and never knew what it was. Tickle Me is wacky and ridiculous, but it also made me laugh more than any other new-to-me movie I watched this year. Sometimes a feel good silly film is needed at the right moment. A movie doesn’t have to be the best, most serious Academy Award winner to find its way on a list like this. Shout out to my friend Nikki who loves this film. My full review here.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues (1958)
Directed by Allen Reisner
After wanting to see this film for years, I was happy to finally discover this musical. It’s interesting to see Nat King Cole in a lead performance, when he generally only appeared as a specialty act in feature films. This film is chock full of musical performances, and Eartha Kitt naturally steals the show. My full review here.

mad

Madeleine (1950)
Directed by David Lean
Why did I put off watching this film for so long? This had me on the edge of my seat, and also feeling heartbroken for Madeleine’s suiter, Mr. Minnoch. Even more interesting that this is based on a true story.

green for

Green for Danger (1946)
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
This “whodunit” had me guessing until the very end of the film. Thoroughly enjoyable, and Alastair Sim was wonderful (per usual).

magnificent

The Magnificent Dope (1942)
Directed by Walter Lang
I didn’t know what to expect from THE MAGNIFICENT DOPE, and judging by the title, I feared it would be an irritating, zany comedy. Far from it. Don Ameche as a bullish, unsuccessful business man and lazy Henry Fonda gets caught up in his success scheme when he wins the “biggest failure” contest. Both are in love with Lynn Bari. It sounds silly but it works in a charming way.

Heres-to-the-young-lady-still-1

Here’s to the Young Lady/Ojôsan kanpai (1949)
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
What a joy! This lovely romantic comedy made me laugh and left me feeling wistful.

strange

Strange Bargain (1949)
Directed by Will Price
Martha Scott and Jeffrey Lynn? Sign me up! I thought this was an exciting film noir with interesting twists. Now I need to watch the follow-up “Murder, She Wrote” episode.

song of the open road3

Jackie Moran, Bonita Granville, Jane Powell in SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD

Song of the Open Road (1944)
Directed by S. Sylvan Simon
This was the only Jane Powell film I hadn’t seen, and after she died I sought it out. It may be low budget, but I had such fun watching it. The film begins with teens riding bikes and singing and I was charmed at that moment. My full review here.

under pup3

The Under-Pup (1939)
Directed by Richard Wallace
This was another favorite 1939 new-to-me film discovery. I haven’t seen many Gloria Jean films, because they can be difficult to access. My full review here.

Honorable Mention
Films I loved but didn’t quite make the favorites list
Rembrandt (1936)
Convicts 4 (1962)
The Lovers (1958)
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)
Tennessee Champ (1954)
Crooks and Coronets (1969)
As Long as They’re Happy (1955)

I joined Letterboxd this year, so if you’d like to see my thoughts on other films I watch, you can find me here: https://letterboxd.com/HollywoodComet/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Watching 1939: Midnight (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.

midnight 19391939 film:
Midnight (1939)

Release date:
March 17, 1939

Cast:
Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Francis Lederer, Mary Astor, Elaine Barrie, Hedda Hopper, Rex O’Malley, Monty Woolley, William Hopper (uncredited), Eddie Conrad (uncredited)

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Mitchell Leisen

Plot:
Eve Peabody (Colbert) is a penniless chorus girl, stranded in Paris with only the evening gown she’s wearing. Eve is helped by taxi driver Tibor Czerny (Ameche), but she leaves him and sneaks into a ritzy party. She meets Georges Flammarion (Barrymore) who suspects she’s an imposter, and hires Eve to break up the romance between his wife (Astor) and her lover (Lederer).

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Musical Monday: Road to Utopia (1946)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

road to utopiaThis week’s musical:
Road to Utopia (1946) – Musical #148

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Hal Walker

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Hillary Brooke, Douglass Dumbrille, Jack LaRue, Robert Barrat
Himself: Robert Benchley

Plot:
Vaudeville performers Duke (Crosby) and Chester (Hope) escape the law by traveling to the Klondike during the gold rush. They are mistaken for two cut-throat murderers with a valuable map, which singer Sal (Lamour) and Kate (Brooke) try to get from the men.

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Watching 1939: The Little Princess (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

little princess1939 film: 
The Little Princess (1939)

Release date: 
March 10, 1939

Cast: 
Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter, Cesar Romero, Arthur Treacher, Mary Nash, Sybil Jason, Marcia Mae Jones, Beryl Mercer, E.E. Clive, Deidre Gale, Ira Stevens, Eily Malyon

Studio: 
20th Century Fox

Director: 
Walter Lang

Plot:
When her father (Hunter) has to fight in the Boer War, Sarah (Temple) has to stay at an exclusive girl’s school in England run by Mrs. Minchin (Nash). When her father is presumed dead, Sarah is forced to work as a servant at the school.

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The tradition of Tom and Jerrys

The holiday season is filled with traditions, and some we see reflected on film.

One tradition I learned about from film is drinking the holiday beverage, Tom and Jerry.

In the film BEYOND TOMORROW (1940), three elderly businessmen live together and celebrate Christmas Eve. George Melton (Harry Carey), Allan Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith) and Michael O’Brien (Charles Winninger) drink celebratory Tom and Jerry beverages. The three men then decide to toss three wallets out into the street and whoever returns the wallet will join them in Christmas dinner.

Prior to watching this film, I had never heard of a Tom and Jerry — which are not related to the cat and mouse cartoon characters — and I’ve wanted to try them myself.

A Tom and Jerry is a warm brandy Christmas cocktail, which is sort of similar to eggnog. The drink may date back to 1821 and British writer Pierce Egan’s book “Life in London.”

Inspired by BEYOND TOMORROW, I finally tried making this drink myself. After researching several recipes online, I went with the Liquor.com recipe, which yields a smaller batch.

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Musical Monday: The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) – Musical #694

christmas that almost wasnt2

Studio:
Childhood Productions Inc.

Director:
Rossano Brazzi

Starring:
Paul Tripp, Lydia Brazzi, Mischa Auer, Rossano Brazzi, Sonny Fox, Alberto Rabagliati, John Karlsen, David Tripp (uncredited), John Spencer Howell Jr. (uncredited)

Plot:
When child hating Phineas T. Prune (Brazzi) buys the North Pole he threatens to evict Santa Claus (Rabagliati) unless he stops giving toys to children. Refusing to stop bringing joy to children, Santa seeks the help of lawyer Sam Whipple (Tripp) to help him figure out what to do. Sam helps Santa get a job in a department store meeting children.

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