About Jnpickens

Classic film lover and reporter in North Carolina.

Musical Monday: Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)

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:
Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)– Musical #597

Studio:
NBC

Director:
Abe Levitow

Starring:
Jim Backus, Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, Royal Dano, Paul Frees, Joan Gardner, Les Tremayne, John Hart, Jane Kean, Marie Matthews, Laura Olsher

Plot:
Mr. Magoo (Backus) is on Broadway playing Ebenezer Scrooge in a stage version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Scrooge is visited three ghosts and take him on a journey of self-exploration of his past, present and future.

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Beauty Scope: Arlene Dahl’s beauty tips for Sagittarius

In October, on a whim, I reviewed Arlene Dahl’s book “Your Beauty Scope: Scorpio,” because I am a Scorpio. It was such a fun read, and I loved highlighting Dahl’s work outside of films, that I decided to make this a regular series; highlighting the beauty tips for each zodiac sign.

Now, I know I am coming late with Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21). These books aren’t very easy to find (or always terribly affordable) so my “Your Beauty Scope: Sagittarius” came from England and arrived well into the Sagittarius season, despite ordering it three weeks in advance. So let’s get down to business:

Arlene Dahl in 1951

Background:
Arlene Dahl wrote that she had been interested in the zodiac and astrology since an early age after her father brought home a book on it for her (her father Rudolph S. Dahl, was a Sagittarius as well).

She began a syndicated beauty column, which would be mixed with astrology. She would also interview actresses based on their astrological sign about their health, beauty and clothes.

Dahl also wrote several beauty and love focused books, and in 1969, Dahl published individual books for each sign which included tips on health, beauty, love, clothing, decor and overall well being.

Highlights from “Your Beauty Scope: Sagittarius”:
First, you will need to calculate your Moon and Ascendant. While I won’t spell it out for each one, two chapters of the book spell out what your zodiac sign + Moon sign and your zodiac sign +Ascendant say about you. The book has a charge in the back detailing day, time and year of birth. However, since these were published in 1969, if you are born after that, I suggest Googling.

Arlene Dahl says the Sagittarians tend to be in a rush and may let their beauty routines slide. They are subject to nervous tension since born under the fire sign, and may not pay enough attention to detail.

However, Sagittarians are essentially healthy and improve with age.

Hair:
“Lovely hair begins with good health”
• If you have dry hair, do a hot oil treatment twice a month.
• Don’t neglect the “100 strokes” brushing. Flip your hair over your head and brush vigorously from the neck, followed by a scalp massage.

Makeup:
“Makeup is an art that the Sagittarian should cultivate…slow down and acquire a few new tricks.”
• Learn to use two shades of foundation if your facial contours aren’t “ideal.”
• You can change the size and shape of your mouth with lipstick and a lip brush.
• Use fine, translucent powder for a finish.
• The Sagittarian woman should never forget to accent her eyes.
• Eye makeup for day wear should be natural looking. “Save exotic effects for gala evenings.”

Health:
“Since you were born under a fire sign, you Saggitarians are often subject to nervous tensions. Control it!”
• Relax on a slant board for 20 minutes in a darkened room.
• Sagittarian Agnes Moorehead relaxes in a warm bath with scented bath salts, which gives a luxurious feeling.
• Health issues for Sagittarians tend to be liver problems, heart disorders and high blood pressure stemming from a careless diet
• Exercise is important to help ease nervous tension
• A good diet is necessary for weight but also keeping overall health in check, and keeping control over your nervous system.
• Lessen intake of oil, butter, starch and sweets. Learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables. A good first choice is raw carrots, cauliflower, radishes, celery and scallions.

Fashion:
“Your fashion signature consists of the total effect that you give.”
• Your favorite colors to wear are strong colors: purple, royal blue, bright yellow and orange, red
• Accent outfits with bold accessories, antique jewelry and unusual hats
• Gems: Ruby, turquoise with heavy antique settings

Review:
As I said with the Scorpio book, Arlene Dahl’s “Your Beauty Scope” is a fun read, regardless of the sign. If you find a book that references your astrological sign, I wouldn’t say it will dictate your life, but it will perhaps make you self aware and consider health or beauty choices you are making.

I also love Dahl’s writing style. She doesn’t talk down to the reader or make any crazy demands, like saying everyone should be wearing furs and expensive perfumes.

Though I do have to ask: When she talks about relaxing on a slant board, what does she mean? It seems she suggests this in each book.

She writes for the everyday woman in a calm and encouraging way. She never scolds, even when saying “cut back on eating sweets.” It’s all advice to help you live to your fullest potential.

Up next, I will review “Your Beauty Scope: Capricorn (Dec. 21- Jan. 20), but this may come after the Christmas holiday.

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

Watching 1939: Miracle on Main Street (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:  Miracle on Main Street (1939)

Release date:  Dec. 19, 1939

Cast:  Margo, Walter Abel, Jane Darwell, Lyle Talbot, William Collier Sr., Veda Ann Borg, Wynne Gibson, Jean Brooks (billed as Jeanne Kelly), Pat Flaherty, George Humbert

Studio:  Columbia Pictures Corporation

Director:  Steve Sekely

Plot:
On Christmas Eve in the Spanish quarter of Los Angeles, Maria (Margo) is performing as a hoochie coochie in her husband Dick’s (Talbot) show. When one of the attendees is a police officer, the couple run from the police, but Dick says they should separate so they aren’t caught. Maria hides in a church where she finds an abandoned baby. While her husband remains absent for a year, Maria’s life is changed for the better by the baby and a new man she meets, Jim (Abel).

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Musical Monday: Shirley Temple’s Storybook “Babes in Toyland” (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Shirley Temple’s Storybook” presents “Babes in Toyland” (1960) – Musical No. 596

Shirley Temple Black introducing the Dec. 25, 1960 episode of “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” with her children Charles Jr, Lori and Linda Susan
(Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Studio:
NBC Studios

Director:
Bob Henry

Starring:
Shirley Temple, Jonathan Winters, Angela Cartwright, Jerry Colonna, Carl Ballantine, Joe Besser, Charles Black Jr., Lori Black, Bob Jellison, Ray Kellogg, Michel Petit, Hanley Stafford

Plot:
Alan (Petit) and Jane (Cartwright) live with their cantankerous and stingy Barnaby (Winters). The children’s parents left them a great deal of money for when they grow up, so Barnaby hires three cutthroats (Colonna, Ballantine, Besser) to kill the children so he can get all the money. The children escape being drowned and journey through a gypsy camp, Spider Forest, Meantown and finally to Toyland.

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Watching 1939: Streets of New York (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:  Streets of New York

Release date:  April 12, 1939

Cast:  Jackie Cooper, Marjorie Reynolds, Martin Spellman, Dick Purcell, George Cleveland, Sidney Miller, George Irving, Robert Emmett O’Connor, David Durand

Studio:  Monogram Pictures

Director:  William Nigh

Plot:
Jimmy Keenan (Cooper) owns a newsstand in New York, takes care of orphaned
Gimpy (Spellman) and goes to night school with dreams of being a lawyer. He tries to practice the ideals of Abraham Lincoln as he faces challenges such as, dealing with his rich, racketeer older brother Tap (Purcell), and a gang who tries to bring him trouble and take over the newsstand. While Jimmy tries to stay kindhearted, young Gimpy is rough and jaded. Jimmy befriends Judge Carroll (Irving), who invites Jimmy, Gimpy and his friends to his home for Christmas, showing them that life doesn’t always have to be rough and cruel.

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Musical Monday: Going My Way (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Going My Way (1944) – Musical #595

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Leo McCarey

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, Risë Stevens, Gene Lockhart, Jean Heather, James Brown, Porter Hall, Fortunio Bonanova, Eily Malyon, Stanley Clements, Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, William Frawley (uncredited), Anita Sharp-Bolster (uncredited)
The Robert Mitchell Boy Choir

Plot:
Father Fitzgibbon (Fitzgerald) is the head of a church that is facing financial troubles. Father Chuck O’Malley (Crosby) is assigned to help get the church back on its feet. Father O’Malley has new, unconventional ideas of how to help the community and raise money for the church. O’Malley and Fitzgibbon face differences of opinions, while they both try to do what’s best.

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“Holiday Affair” (1949) and interview with Gordon Gebert

After Robert Mitchum was released from jail for marijuana possession, his studio was looking to clean up his image. The answer was a romantic holiday comedy, “Holiday Affair” (1949).

“At this time Robert Mitchum was operating under the cloud. The head of the studio was eager to clean up his image with this film,” said former child actor Gordon Gebert at a recent screening of the film in Yadkinville, NC.

The film “Holiday Affair” (1949) revolves around war widow Connie, played by Janet Leigh, who lives with her son Timmy, played by Gebert. Connie has dated her boyfriend Carl, played by Wendell Corey, for two years. Carl is secure, reliable and has a steady job, but while Connie likes him, she ducks the discussion of marriage.

Then Connie meets a stranger, Steve, played by Robert Mitchum, who is a store clerk she gets fired. While they never plan on it, the two continuously run into each other, making it hard to forget the other.

Outside of the romantic triangle, the film also focuses on what post-war widows most likely faced: How do you move on from your husband who was killed in war?

Connie hasn’t and tries to honor her husband’s memory every day. She lives a quiet life with her son who she calls the man of the house. Connie tells him frequently that he looks like his father and tries to part his hair in the same way that her husband wore his. She hasn’t allowed herself to fall in love again, because she doesn’t want to be unfaithful to the memory of her first marriage.

Robert Mitchum’s character forces Janet Leigh to face a truth she has been hiding from. Leigh’s character is flustered both by her feelings and by the harsh reality quoted to her by Mitchum.

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Watching 1939: Day-Time Wife (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:  Day-Time Wife (1939)

Release date:  Nov. 24, 1939

Cast: 
Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Warren William, Binnie Barnes, Wendy Barrie, Joan Davis, Leonid Kinskey, Joan Valerie, Renie Riano, Marie Blake (uncredited)

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Director:  Gregory Ratoff

Plot:
Jane (Darnell) finds out her husband Ken (Power) is stepping out with his secretary Kitty (Barrie) on their second anniversary. Jane decides to become a secretary herself to find out why husbands go after their secretaries. Her boss is architect Barney Dexter (William), who takes more than a professional interest in her.

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Musical Monday: Go West, Young Lady (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Go West, Young Lady (1941) – Musical #593

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Alfred E. Green

Starring:
Penny Singleton, Glenn Ford, Ann Miller, Charles Ruggles, Allen Jenkins, Jed Prouty, Onslow Stevens, Bob Wills, Chief Many Treaties (or Bill Hazlet), Waffles the Dog, The Foursome, The Texas Playboys

Plot:
The western town of Headstone is looking for a new sheriff to get rid of outlaw Killer Pete. Jim Pendergast (Ruggles) think it’s going to be his “nephew,” Bill Pendergast. Bill turns out to be Belinda (Singleton) (with the nickname Bill) and is headed on a stagecoach with the newly appointed sheriff Tex Miller (Ford).

Trivia:
– Edgar Buchanan was originally cast as Jim Pendergast, but couldn’t get out of a film commitment. Charles Ruggles, who was cast in another role, switched roles and Jed Prouty was brought on.
– The only non-Blondie film that Penny Singleton worked on while she was under contract at Columbia.
– The film included many people who worked on the Blondie films: director Frank Strayer, producer Robert Sparks, actor Penny Singleton and writers Richard Flournoy and Karen DeWolf

Allen Jenkins and Ann Miller performing in “Go West, Young Lady”

Highlights:
-Allen Jenkins singing
-Pie falling because of shooting

Notable Songs:
-“Go West, Young Lady” performed by Ann Miller
-“I Wish I could Be a Singing Cowboy” performed by Allen Jenkins
-“Dogie Take Your Time” performed by Penny Singleton

My review:
Go West, Young Lady (1941) is a delightful and charming film. It is classified as a musical, but it is more comedy western with a hint of musical natures in it.

The B-budget film stars Penny Singleton, Glenn Ford and Ann Miller. Today, Ford and Miller are the big names of this film, but in 1941, Singleton was more famous than her co-stars. At this point in time, Singleton was knee-deep performing in “Blondie” movies. Singleton had starred in nine Blondie films by the time “Go West, Young Lady” was released in 1941, and this was the only none-Blondie role she starred in from 1938 to 1946.

While the Blondie films were fun, it was refreshing to see Penny Singleton in a different role. This was still a comedic role, but it gave Singleton the opportunity to sing, dance and act with new co-stars that weren’t Dagwood or Baby Dumpling.

Singleton performs the lilting western tune, “Dogie Take Your Time.” She also performs a funny song and dance in the saloon “Most Gentlemen Don’t Prefer a Lady,” where she dances in her pantaloons.

Glenn Ford and Ann Miller were still finding their way in their careers and hadn’t yet reached the level of stardom we later know them for. However, Miller had been in more high-quality films than either of her co-stars, like “Stage Door” and “You Can’t Take it with You.”

Ann Miller plays the bad girl saloon dancer who has some entertaining musical numbers. She dances and sings the title song, “Go West, Young Lady.” A real treat is a comedic number Miller sings and dances with character actor – Allen Jenkins, yes he does sing! Jenkins doesn’t have the voice of a canary, which makes the song even more funny.

Glenn Ford doesn’t do any singing or dancing but brings the heroics. His chemistry with Singleton is surprisingly sweet and charming.

While “Go West Young Lady” is more a comedy, it has enough songs, dancing and novelty numbers for me to consider it a musical. It’s only 70 minutes but is quite fun and entertaining. I love this film, because it gives a rare glimpse at Penny Singleton not playing Blondi (in the midst of the Blondie series). This musical doesn’t show up often, but when you have the chance, give it a watch.

Penny Singleton and Glenn Ford in “Go West, Young Lady.”

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

Watching 1939: Judge Hardy and Son (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: Judge Hardy and Son (1939)

Release date: Dec. 22, 1939

Cast: Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden, Cecilia Parker, Ann Rutherford, Sara Haden, June Preisser, Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Hull, Martha O’Driscoll, Leona Maricle, Margaret Early, George P. Breakston, Egon Brecher

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: George B. Seitz

Plot: An older couple (Ouspenskaya, Brecher) come to Judge Hardy (Stone) for help when they are about to be evicted from their home. Judge Hardy enlists the help of his son, Andy (Rooney), to find the couple’s daughter. The Hardys also encounter other troubles: Mrs. Hardy falls ill, Andy is in hock up to his ears and tries to con his way into making money.

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