Watching 1939: Boys’ Reformatory (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:
Boys’ Reformatory (1939)

Release date:
May 1, 1939

Cast:
Frankie Darro, Grant Withers, Lillian Elliott, Frank Coghlan Jr., David Durand, Warren McCollum, Ben Welden, Pat Flaherty, George Offerman Jr.

Studio:
Monogram Pictures

Director:
Howard Bretherton

Plot:
Tommy Ryan (Darro) has lived with the O’Mearas most of his life since becoming an orphan. He views Mrs. O’Meara (Elliott) as his mother and thinks of Eddie O’Meara (Coghlan Jr.) as his brother. When Eddie gets mixed up with a group of rough teenagers and goes in on a fur theft job, Tommy takes the blame, not wanting to break the heart of Mrs. O’Meara. Tommy is sentenced with serving time in reform school until he’s 21 years old, and he makes Eddie promise that he has to stay out of trouble as a trade. However, Eddie also ends up in the reformatory.

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Frank Coghlan Jr., Frankie Darro and David Durand

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Musical Monday: Song of the Open Road (1944)

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.

song of the open roadThis week’s musical:
Song of the Open Road (1944) – Musical #679

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
S. Sylvan Simon

Starring:
Jane Powell, Regis Toomey, Reginald Denny, Rose Hobart, Jackie Moran, Bonita Granville, Peggy O’Neill, Bill Christy, Hugh Beaumont, Irving Bacon (uncredited), Edward Gargan (uncredited), Irene Tedrow (uncredited)
Themselves in cameo appearances: Edgar Bergan, Charlie McCarthy, W.C. Fields, Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra, the Condos Brothers (Nick Condos, Steve Condos), Chuck Faulkner Band

Plot:
When child actress Jane Powell (Powell) meets a group of kids from the American Youth Hostels while making a picture, she realizes the fun she’s missing out on while having a busy movie schedule. Tired of the pressures of movie making, Jane runs away and joins another youth hostel under a different name.

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Watching 1939: Here I Am a Stranger (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.

here i am stranger41939 film:
Here I Am a Stranger (1939)

Release date:
Sept. 29, 1939

Cast:
Richard Greene, Richard Dix, Brenda Joyce, Roland Young, Gladys George, George Zucco, Kay Aldridge (billed as Katherine Aldridge), Russell Gleason, Edward Norris, Henry Kolker

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Roy Del Ruth

Plot:
When David (Greene) was a baby, his mother Clara (George) took David and left her husband Duke (Dix), because he couldn’t keep a job and was an alcoholic. Clara later marries a wealthy man and David grows up in society; eventually starting college at Stafford University. While at Stafford, David meets Professor Daniels (Young) and his daughter Simpson (Joyce). Professor Daniels knew David’s real father and speaks highly of him as an athlete and writer. David seeks out his father and their relationship changes some of his views.

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Pages to Screen: Light in the Piazza (1962)

As soon as I started reading the book, I could see the story playing out in my head just as it does in the movie.

When Elizabeth Spencer’s 1960 novella “Light in the Piazza” was adapted for film, the movie is nearly identical to the original printed word. This doesn’t often happen.

In the opening pages, Margaret Johnson and her daughter Clara explore a piazza. Clara loses her hat causing her to meet Fabrizio — just like in the film.

From page one, this Italian love story was a much needed respite after finishing Glendon Swarthout’s book “Where the Boys Are.”

The book “Light in the Piazza” was a turning point in the career of Mississippi-born author, Elizabeth Spencer; featuring many firsts for her. It was her first novel not set in her home state of Mississippi, and it was her first book that featured a female protagonist.

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“The way I was brought up. It was considered that men did all the interesting things out in the world and women were pretty much reduced to a domestic pattern or minor careers,” Spencer was quoted in her Washington Post obituary. “The whole idea of a woman in the arts must have horrified my family at first.”

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Musical Monday: Freddie Steps Out (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.

This week’s musical:
Freddie Steps Out (1946) – Musical #478

freddie steps out

Studio:
Monogram Pictures

Director:
Arthur Dreifuss

Starring:
The Teenagers: Freddie Stewart, June Preisser, Jackie Moran, Noel Neill, Anne Rooney, Warren Mills, Ray Dolciame
Baby: Terry Lee Carlson
Adults: Milton Kibbee, Belle Mitchell, Edythe Elliott, Murray Davis, Douglas Fowley, Claire James
Themselves: Neta Geddes, Chuy Reyes and his Orchestra, Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra

Plot:
Crooner Frankie Troy (Stewart) is fed up with show business and disappears. High school student Freddie Trimball (also Stewart) is the spitting image of Troy, so Freddie’s friends try to get the disappearance reward money by taking advantage of the likeness. Frankie has a wife and baby, and when his baby gets dumped on Freddie and his friends, trouble ensues.

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Summer Movie Classics: An interview with John Malahy

Even as summer winds down, I’m still grasping to the last few weeks of summer until the fall season begins at the end of September.

Reading “Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics” by John Malahy is the perfect read to keep the summer feeling. Malahy highlights quintessential summer films, from MOON OVER MIAMI (1941) and GIDGET (1959) to JAWS (1975); each putting you in the sun and sand mood regardless of the weather.

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Watching 1939: Back Door to Heaven (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.

back door to heaven1939 film:
Back Door to Heaven (1939)

Release date:
April 19, 1939

Cast:
Wallace Ford, Aline MacMahon, Jimmy Lydon, Stuart Erwin, Van Heflin, Patricia Ellis, Iris Adrian, Kent Smith, Anita Magee, Bert Frohman, William Redfield, Raymond Roe, Georgette Harvey, Bruce Evans, William Harrigan, Jane Seymour

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
William K. Howard

Plot:
Frankie Rogers (Lydon as child, Ford as adult) had a tough upbringing and his grade school teacher Miss Williams (MacMahon) is the only one who believed in him. After his grade school graduation, Frankie is sent to reform school and then continues to move in and out of prison. When he’s released with two of his prison mates (Stuart, Frohman), Frankie returns back home to find things changed and that his criminal past is never far behind him.

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Musical Monday: Junior Prom (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.

This week’s musical:
Junior Prom (1946) – Musical #676

junior prom

Studio:
Monogram Pictures

Director:
Arthur Dreifuss

Starring:
The Teen Agers: Freddie Stewart, June Preisser, Judy Clark, Jackie Moran, Noel Neill, Anne Rooney, Warren Mills, Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson
Adults: Milton Kibbee, Belle Mitchell, Mira McKinney, Murray Davis, Charles Evans
Themsleves: Eddie Heywood, Abe Lyman

Plot:
Freddie Trimball (Stewart) is the logical choice for student body president of Whitney High School. But when the father of Jimmy Forrest (Moran) promises new football uniforms if Jimmy wins, the students — and school staff — are more interested in backing him for president. The school election also puts the Rogers sisters at odds when Dodie (Preisser) and Addie (Clark) back Freddie. But Betty (Neill), who is the editor of the newspaper, backs Jimmy in her school paper—especially when she’s wooed by his pal Roy (Darro).

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Watching 1939: Convict’s Code (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.

Convict's-Code-1939-Poster1939 film:
Convict’s Code (1939)

Release date:
Jan. 18, 1939

Cast:
Robert Kent, Anne Nagel, Sidney Blackmer, Victor Kilian, Norman Willis, Maude Eburne, Ben Alexander, Pat Flaherty, Harry Strang

Studio:
Monogram Pictures Corp.

Director:
Lambert Hillyer

Plot:
Former football hero Dave Tyler (Kent) was just released after serving a stretch in jail for a crime he was framed for. When he’s released on parole, he is determined to find who framed him and prove his innocence. All the while he’s working for Gregory Warren (Blackmer) at an investment firm who may know something about Tyler’s arrest.

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Musical Monday: Sing You Sinners (1938)

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.

sing you sinnersThis week’s musical:
Sing You Sinners (1938) – Musical #671

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Wesley Ruggles

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Donald O’Connor, Ellen Drew, Elizabeth Patterson, John Gallaudet, William Haade, Irving Bacon, Paul White, Tom Dugan, Chester Clute (uncredited), Gwen Kenyon (uncredited)

Plot:
The three Beebee brothers Joe (Crosby), Dave (MaCMurray) and Mike (O’Connor) live with their mother (Patterson). The brothers have a musical act, but don’t work steadily. Dave is the main contributor to the family as he works as a mechanic, and supporting his family keeps him from marrying Martha (Drew). Mike is young and Joe can’t hold a job. Realizing he’s holding the rest of his family back, Joe heads to California for a job … but instead gambles on holding a race horse.

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