About Jnpickens

Classic film lover and reporter in North Carolina.

Watching 1939: Coast Guard (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.

coast guard21939 film:
Coast Guard (1939)

Release date:
Aug. 4, 1939

Cast:
Randolph Scott, Frances Dee, Ralph Bellamy, Walter Connolly, Warren Hymer, Robert Middlemass, Stanley Andrews, Edmund MacDonald, Ann Doran (uncredited), Craig Stevens (uncredited), Mala (uncredited), Dorothy Comingore (uncredited), Billy Lee (uncredited), J. Farrell MacDonald (uncredited), Marla Shelton (uncredited)

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Edward Ludwig

Plot:
Lt. Ray Dower (Bellamy) and Lieutenant Thomas “Speed” Bradshaw (Scott) are pals in the Coast Guard. Ray commands a cutter and Speed is an ace pilot. After rescuing Tobias Bliss (Connolly), Ray meets his granddaughter Nancy (Dee) and is smitten. However, their early courtship is cut short while Ray has to go on a mission. Speed looks after Nany while he’s away, and also falls in love though announcing that he is not the marrying kind.

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An Interview with George Chakiris

Audiences sat up and took notice when they saw standing near Rosemary Clooney, arms crossed as she crooned “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.”

Later, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his best known role, as Bernardo in WEST SIDE STORY (1961)

Earlier this year, he published his memoirs, “My West Side Story: A Memoir,” co-written with Lindsay Harrison.

Reading Chakiris’s memoir makes you feel like you’re sitting down to coffee with an old friend. “My West Side Story” is incredibly personable, charming and kind. I found myself smiling as soon as I was reading the first couple of pages.

To discuss his book and career further, I interviewed Mr. Chakiris over the phone on Nov. 16, 2021. You can read a transcription of that interview below and also listen to it here:

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Musical Monday: G.I. Jane (1951)

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.

GI JaneThis week’s musical:
G.I. Jane (1951) – Musical #689

Studio:
Murray Productions

Director:
Reginald Le Borg

Starring:
Jean Porter, Tom Neal, Iris Adrian, Jimmie Dodd, Jeanne Mahoney, Jimmy Lloyd, Phil Arnold, Michael Whalen, Bobby Watson, Richard Monahan, Jean Coleman, Amie Bates, Jeri Strong, Olive Krushat

Plot:
While making a WAC recruitment film, TV producer Tim Rawlings (Neal) is receives notice that he is drafted into the U.S. Army. While in the Army, Rawlings wants to bring WACs to the base so the men can have women around. But the WACs that come are led by no-nonsense Lt. Adrian (Adrian) who keep the WACs apart, even as Rawlings falls in love with Jan Smith (Porter).

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Musical Monday: G.I. Blues (1960)

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:
G.I. Blues (1960) – Musical #347

GI Blues

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Juliet Prowse, Robert Ivers, James Douglas, Letícia Román, Sigrid Maier, Arch Johnson, Edison Stroll (uncredited)

Plot:
Tulsa McLean (Presley) is in the Army and dreams of opening up a nightclub in Oklahoma with his buddies (Ivers, Douglas), but all they need is money. When the outfit is transferred to Germany, a bet is made that a romantic sergeant nicknamed Dynamite (Stroll) can romance nightclub dancer Lili (Prowse), someone who other military personnel have failed with. When Dynamite is transferred, Tulsa reluctantly takes the job because he needs the money. However, Tulsa has a guilty conscience and also falls in love with Lili.

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Pages to Screen: The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)

“A war is on” and there was “no sale for poetry” were some excuses Alice Duer Miller was given when she tried to book published and was turned down by many publishers.

Miller’s book was a 70-page long form poem about an American woman falling in love with an Englishman right before World War I breaks out called “The White Cliffs.”

The poem follows Susan, who is “a traveler, the guest of a week” in England. The trip turns into a lifetime after she meets and falls in love with John. John is killed in World War I, but she continues to stay in England and raise their son in the traditional, upper class English life. As Susan sees another war on the horizon for England, she understands the inevitable future of her son; following in her husband’s footsteps.

While there was initial reluctance to publish, Miller’s later was made into a feature film and was performed on the radio several times by English actress, Lynn Fontanne.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill also believed that the book played a role in encouraging the United States’ entry into World War II.

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Watching 1939: Thunder Afloat (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: 
Thunder Afloat (1939)

Release date: 
Sept. 15, 1939

Cast: 
Wallace Beery, Chester Morris, Virginia Grey, Douglass Dumbrille, Carl Esmond, Clem Bevans, John Qualen, Regis Toomey, Henry Victor, Addison Richards, Jonathan Hale, Lean Ames (uncredited), Frank Faylen (uncredited), Milton Kibbee (uncredited)

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
George B. Seitz

Plot:
Set during World War I, tugboat owner John Thorson (Beery) has his tug sunk by a German U-boat off the New England coast. Furious about the incident, John enlists in the Navy. Rocky Blake (Morris), who was John’s tugboat rival, is an officer in the Navy and clashes with John, who resists military discipline.

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Musical Monday: Cowboy Canteen (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.

cowboy canteen2This week’s musical:
Cowboy Canteen (1944) – Musical #688

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Lew Landers

Starring:
Charles Starrett, Jane Frazee, Barbara Jo Allen (as Vera Vague), Tex Ritter, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams
Themselves: The Mills Brothers, Roy Acuff and His Smoky Mountain Boys and Girls, Jimmy Wakely and His Saddle Pals, The Tailor Maids

Plot:
Instead of going on a vacation, Connie (Frazee) and her singing group decide to take a job working on a ranch. When the girls arrive, Steve (Starrett), the owner of the ranch, is about to enlist in the military and he’s angry that the new ranch hands are women. The ranch is transformed into a canteen to entertain troops.

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Watching 1939: Pack Up Your Troubles (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:
Pack Up Your Troubles (1939)

pack up your troubles

Release date:
Oct. 20, 1939

Cast:
Jane Withers, the Ritz Brothers, Lynn Bari, Joseph Schildkraut, Stanley Fields, Fritz Leiber, Edward Gargan, Lionel Royce, Adrienne D’Ambricourt

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Plot:
When a trio of performer (The Ritz Brothers) can’t find work or pay their bills, they decide to join the Army to serve in World War I. In France, they meet a young orphan girl, Collette (Withers). Her father was serving in the war and was killed … or so she thinks.

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Musical Monday: Buck Privates (1941)

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.

buck privatesThis week’s musical:
Buck Privates (1941) – Musical #680

Studio:
Universal Pictures

Director:
Arthur Lubin

Starring:
Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lee Bowman, Jane Frazee, Nat Pendleton, Alan Curtis, Samuel S. Hinds, Harry Strang, Nella Walker, Shemp Howard
Themselves: The Andrews Sisters

Plot:
Street vendors Slicker Smith (Abbott) and Herbie Brown (Costello) mistakenly enlist in the U.S. Army while running from the police. Once in the Army, the policeman (Pendleton) who was chasing them is also their sergeant. Also in the Army is wealthy Randolph Parker III (Bowman) who is used to getting his way and clashes with his chauffer Bob Martin (Curtis) who has also enlisted, now that they are on the same level. Both Parker and Martin are in love with camp hostess Judy Grey (Frazee).

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Watching 1939: The House of Fear (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 House of Fear (1939)

House-of-Fear-The-main

Release date:
June 30, 1939

Cast:
William Gargan, Irene Hervey, Dorothy Arnold, Alan Dinehart, Harvey Stephens, Harvey Stephens, Walter Woolf King, Robert Coote, Tom Dugan, Jan Duggan, Donald Douglas, Hobart Cavanaugh (uncredited), Milton Kibbee (uncredited), Emory Parnell (uncredited)

Studio:
Universal Pictures

Director:
Joe May

Plot:
After an actor drops dead on stage, his body disappears and police can’t uncover any clues. The once successful theater where he died is now a ghost town and people say the theater is haunted. After the theater is closed for some time, detective Arthur McHugh (Gargan) goes undercover posing as a producer buys the theater to solve the case.

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