Watching 1939: Blondie Takes a Vacation (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: Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)

Release date: July 20, 1939

Cast: Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms, Danny Mummert, Daisy the Dog, Donald Meek, Donald MacBride, Thomas W. Ross, Elizabeth Dunne, Robert Wilcox, Harlan Briggs, Irving Bacon, Milton Kibbee (uncredited)

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Director: Frank R. Strayer

Plot:
After originally missing their vacation, Blondie (Singleton), Dagwood (Lake) and Baby Dumpling (Simms) head to the mountains on vacation and meet a series of issues. After their reservations are canceled at their first hotel, they end up as the only guests at a mountain resort whose business is failing. The family helps get the resort back up on its feet, making their trip more work than a vacation.

1939 Notes:
• The third Blondie film of the 28 film series from 1938 to 1950.
• Three Blondie films were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, Blondie Brings Up Baby

Other trivia:
• Harry Davenport was originally going to co-star in this film but had to drop out due to his role in “Gone with the Wind” (1939), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
• Filmed at Cedar Lake and Big Bear in California

Larry Simms, Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake in “Blondie Takes a Vacation”

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
The Blondie comic strip was re-created as a radio show and then a film series.

The film series, starring Arthur Lake, Penny Singleton and Larry Simms, had 28 films, and three of those were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, and Blondie Brings up Baby.

“Blondie Takes a Vacation” is the usual mad-cap story with Blondie (played by Penny Singleton) putting up with Dagwood (played by Arthur Lake) being a knucklehead. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling probably has the most sense of anyone in the family.

While “Blondie Meets the Boss” had some painful moments, “Blondie Takes a Vacation” is better. There are some slapstick moments that are predictable, like Baby Dumpling thinking he finds a “kitty,” but it’s a skunk. Or a vacuum bag swelling up like a balloon and floating to the ceiling. But I like this one because it puts the family in a different setting – on vacation.

The family goes to the mountains on the vacation that they were denied in the last film (“Blondie Meets the Boss”). But things, of course, run afoul. On the train to vacation, they irritate a man sitting near them (Donald MacBride) who happens to own the resort they are going to. When he sees the family enter, he kicks them out and refuses to house them. The family finds a nearby hotel, which is nice but failing because of the other resort. Rather than resting during their vacation, Blondie and Dagwood spend their trip working to help the elderly couple make their hotel a success.

This series of films can be tiresome to me, but these serial films were generally cheap to make and did alright in theaters. There were 28 blondie films in all. This one is more interesting because they are out of their home and also helping others.

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Musical Monday: It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)

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.

This week’s musical:
It Happened in Brooklyn (1947) – Musical #263

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Whorf

Starring:
Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Peter Lawford, Jimmy Durante, Gloria Grahame, Marcy McGuire, Aubrey Mather, Bobby Long, William Roy (billed as Billy Roy)
Themselves: The Starlighters – Pauline Byrns, Vince Degen, Tony Paris, Howard Hudson

Plot:
Danny Miller (Sinatra) has been homesick for his hometown of Brooklyn for four years while fighting in World War II. When he returns to Brooklyn, he meets music teacher and unsuccessful opera singer Anne (Grayson) who disagrees with Danny about Brooklyn being the best place in the world. Unable to find a place to live, Danny stays with old friend Nick (Durante). Nick also wants to be better liked by the students at the school, like Robert Donat in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” Danny has his own issues to when he can’t find a job right away. Englishman Jamie (Lawford) comes to visit from England after Danny talks about Brooklyn. The problem is that Jamie and Danny both fall for Anne.

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Watching 1939: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (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:  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939)

Release date:  Feb. 10, 1939

Cast:  Mickey Rooney, Rex Ingram, Walter Connolly, William Frawley, Lynne Carver, Clara Blandick, Elisabeth Risdon, Minor Watson, Jo Ann Sayers, Victor Kilian, Irving Bacon (uncredited), Delmar Watson, Billy Watson, Harry Watson

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:  Richard Thorpe

Plot:
Huckleberry Finn (Rooney) is a troublemaking orphan living with a widow (Risdon) and her sister (Blandick). Huckleberry skips school, lies and smokes pipes. Huckleberry feels bad when he realizes that he is going to disappoint the Widow because he isn’t going to advance at school. When his father who is believed to be dead (Kilian) shows up, he kidnaps his son. Huckleberry runs away, travels down the river and finds Jim (Ingram), the Widow’s slave that Huckleberry befriended.

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Classics in the Carolinas: Kathryn Grayson

Actress, singer Kathryn Grayson

With her soprano voice and sweet, heart-shaped face, Kathryn Grayson was one of the many stars in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s constellation.

But before the singer and actress was one of the studio’s top stars, Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, N.C. Zelma was one of four children born to Charles and Lillian Hedrick. The other siblings – Bud, Hal and the youngest Millie, who were also born in North Carolina. Though Zelma was born in Winston-Salem, she spent most of her childhood in Kirkwood, Mo., near St. Louis, when her family moved due to her father’s work as a real estate contractor. Zelma aspired to be an opera singer and studied voice while she was growing up.

The family moved from Kirkwood to Texas to California. Grayson continued studying and improving her singing and was discovered in California, according to a July 1, 1944, issue of “The State,” a monthly North Carolina-focused magazine that has been published from 1933 to present, which is now titled “Our State.”

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Musical Monday: Two Guys from Texas (1948)

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.

This week’s musical:
Two Guys from Texas (1948) – Musical #270

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Dorothy Malone, Penny Edwards, Forrest Tucker, Fred Clark, Gerald Mohr, John Alvin, Andrew Tombes, Mel Blanc (voice), Cleatus Caldwell

Plot:
Performing duo Steve (Morgan) and Danny (Carson) are traveling through Texas to get to California when their car breaks down and then is stolen. They settle on a ranch resort owned by Joan Winston (Malone) and get a job there with the help of Maggie (Edwards), who used to perform in an act with the men. The problem is that Danny is petrified of all animals, which hinders their acts and his work on the farm. Steve tries to have Denny psychoanalyzed to cure him of the issue.

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Watching 1939: …One Third of a Nation… (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:  …One Third of a Nation… (1939)

Release date:  Feb. 10, 1939

Cast:  Sylvia Sidney, Leif Erickson, Sidney Lumet, Myron McCormick, Hiram Sherman, Muriel Hutchison, Percy Waram, Charles Dingle, Otto Hulett, Iris Adrian, Baruch Lumet

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Director:  Dudley Murphy

Plot:
The tenement building where Mary Rogers (Sidney) and her family lives catches on fire. Her brother Joey (Lumet) falls from a fire escape and is injured and has to walk with crutches and a brace on his leg. The owner of the tenement building, Peter (Erickson) passes the fire as its happening and helps the Rogers. Peter is inspired to improve the buildings his family has owned for years, but he meets opposition from his sister and lawyer.

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Photoplay Jan. 1948: Happy New Woman

“With these resolutions, ring in the new … to enhance your beauty the whole year through.”

“Happy New Woman” by Anita Colby (Scanned by Comet Over Hollywood)

For the new year, let’s enhance your beauty routine a la 1948:

Linda Darnell’s slogan is “care in color.”

Beverly Tyler lives by “cleanliness.”

Lizabeth Scott likes the streamlined, uncluttered look

Paulette Goddard says to stay alert.

In a January 1948 Photoplay article, Anita Colby, Photoplay beauty editor and feminine director at Selznick Studios, shares how to be a new woman in the new year with some help from Hollywood actresses.

Colby says to get rid of things that may be a result of carelessness in your appearance: figure bulges; makeup colors that don’t go with your skin, eyes or hair; or sagging and uneven hemlines.

The article “Happy New Woman” includes 12 tips inspired by Linda Darnell, Beverly Tyler, Lizabeth Scott and Paulette Goddard:

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