Stars at Twilight: “Christmas Eve” (1986)

At age 4 in 1917, she made her first film appearance as an uncredited fairy in “The Primrose Ring.” Actress Loretta Young performed in 94 films from 1917 to 1989 and was the star of the successful television show, “The Loretta Young Show.” Young acted almost all her life, performing in her last role, the TV movie “Lady In A Corner” (1989), at age 76.

But we are focusing on Young’s second to last role: the TV movie “Christmas Eve” (1986).

Loretta Young and Trevor Howard in "Christmas Eve" (1986)

Loretta Young and Trevor Howard in “Christmas Eve” (1986)

Young plays wealthy Amanda Kingsley who dedicates her time to helping the homeless, taking in stray cats, reading to children and directing choirs. Her butler Maitland (Trevor Howard) is her begrudging, but loving, sidekick and friend who accompanies her on these all-night outings of helping the needy.

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On the Small Screen: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet — Halloween Party

Throughout the Halloween season, Comet Over Hollywood is spotlighting Halloween episodes of classic television shows. 

“The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”— “Halloween Party”
Season 1, Episode 5

Air Date: Oct. 31, 1952

Plot:
The show begins with young Ricky dressed in his skeleton Halloween costume. His mother, Harriet Nelson, says it “gives her the willies.”

Ricky Nelson in his skeleton costume.

Ricky Nelson in his skeleton costume.

“My skeleton costume makes me look real thin and people feel sorry for you and give you more cake and ice cream,” Ricky said.

Ricky’s brother David comes home with a box of Halloween goodies and decorations. He’s the class treasurer and just bought everything for a school Halloween party.

During the conversation about Halloween parties, their dad, Ozzie Nelson, comments “Yeh Halloween is a lot of fun for kids” and continues to say that as you get older, you get tired of parties and games aren’t fun. He says, “It’s time to give Halloween back to the kids.”

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Review: Geordie (1955)

Never have I stumbled over a more delightful film.

While searching for films about sports, the 1955 British film “Geordie,” released in the U.S. as “Wee Geordie,” came up in the results. I hadn’t heard of this film or several of the stars, but I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did.

Geordie is smaller than the other students and gets picked on.

Geordie is smaller than the other students and gets picked on.

Directed by Frank Launder, “Geordie” follows a young boy named Geordie MacTaggart (Paul Young) who is the smallest in his class and Scottish village. The “wee” boy is fed up with being picked on at school and harassed about his height.

Geordie spots an advertisement for a mail-order body-building course on the back of his father’s (Jameson Clark) newspaper. He orders Henry Samson’s (Francis DeWolff) exercise correspondence and continues to work through the course until he’s a tall, strong 21 year-old man (Bill Travers — who was 6′ 6″). Geordie’s girl Jean (Norah Gorsen) is aggravated by the exercises and feels like it takes up all of his time.

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Review: Orry-Kelly and the “Women He’s Undressed” (2015)

Poster WOMEN HE'S UNDRESSED - Courtesy of Wolfe VideoAt 14, loving both classic films and fashion, I always kept my eyes peeled for the film’s costume designer. With 293 credits to his name from 1932 to 1963, Orry-Kelly was a name I often spotted.

Dark Victory (1939), Now Voyager (1940), Casablanca (1940), American in Paris (1951), Auntie Mame (1958), Some Like it Hot (1959), and Gypsy (1963) are just a few films that he added to his resume.

While many today will name Edith Head when put on the spot to name a costume designer, she wasn’t the only one in Hollywood. Head’s costumes were lovely and she deserves all her accolades, but many costume designers seem to be cast in a shadow as dark as her round black glasses.

“Women He’s Undressed” (2015), a new documentary directed by Gillian Armstrong, gives audiences the opportunity to learn more about the prolific costume designer, Orry-Kelly.

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Review: Gidget’s Summer Reunion (1985) TV Movie

From 1959 to 1986, there were nine versions of “Gidget” on TV and film, live action and animated.

I’ve refrained from calling versions made from 1959 to 1972 “the worst” of the Gidget series, because they aren’t.

“Gidget Goes Hawaiian” isn’t great but it has some bright spots and is colorful. “Gidget Goes to Rome” is a little too syrupy sweet, and “Gidget Gets Married” was just goofy.

gidgetBut the worst came in 1985 with the two hour made-for-TV movie “Gidget’s Summer Reunion.”

Gidget (Caryn Richman) and Moondoggie/Jeff (Dean Butler) are married, living in a house they can’t afford and working paycheck to paycheck. Gidget runs a travel agency and Jeff works as a contractor and has a sexy blond boss, Anne (Mary Frann). Their 15-year-old niece Kim (Allison Barron) comes to stay the summer and is ready to learn how to surf and gets tangled with a college-aged surfing jerk (Vincent Van Patten) who only has one thing on his mind.

Gidget is so busy at work that her marriage is falling apart and Anne is reaching out her claws for Jeff. Just as Gidget attempts to patch up her married and is planning a surprise birthday party for Jeff with the old surfing gang, she has to take over on a tour of Hawaii when her tour guide gets sick.

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Review: Gidget Gets Married (1972) TV movie

Gidget and Moondoggie’s romance started onscreen in 1959 on the beaches of Malibu.
Though the real Gidget didn’t marry “Moondoggie,” the fictional one tied the knot in a 1972 TV movie, “Gidget Gets Married.”

At the end of the TV movie “Gidget Grows Up” (1969), Gidget and Jeff get engaged. Two years later, Gidget (Monie Ellis) has left her job at the United Nations and is now working as a first grade teacher. Jeff “Moondoggie” Stevens (Michael Burns) returns home from the Air Force and is ready to get married immediately.

Jeff/Moondoggie (Michael Burns) and Gidget (Monie Ellis)

Jeff/Moondoggie (Michael Burns) and Gidget (Monie Ellis)

The two go to Gidget’s dad (Macdonald Carey) who is wary of such a quick wedding but relents when he hears Jeff has an engineering job lined up. Former child star and Gidget’s old landlord Louis B. Latimer (Paul Lynde) attends the wedding and brings his movie cameras to capture the moment.

The movie is less about the wedding and more about the newlyweds adjusting to married life, new jobs and communities.

They move to Florida for Jeff’s job at Worldwide Dynamics. Their home is located in a company owned community and furniture is provided by Worldwide Dynamics, which doesn’t sit well with Gidget, because she can’t decorate her first home. Jets also fly over Gidget’s neighborhood. Worldwide Dynamics is separated into three communities based on status within the company and the neighborhoods aren’t supposed to fraternize.

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Review: Gidget Grows Up (1969) TV movie

The world was changing in the late-1960s.

The anti-authority, anti-capitalism, anti-war and free-love movements brought a shift in popular culture.

The surf culture that erupted after Fredrick Kohner’s book “Gidget” hit the shelves was starting to fade with dissatisfaction of establishment. This caused a shift in pop culture, and films and music focused more on social movements and issues rather than wanting to hold hands or surf the USA. There no longer was a place for Technicolor fluff films focusing on beach parties, surfing and wahinis in wild bikinis.

So how does Frances “Gidget” Lawrence, the surfing “girl midget” who first appeared in 1957, fit in a changing world?

She goes to work at the United Nations.

Gidget (Karen Valentine) and her friends Diana (Susan Batson) and Minnie (Helen Funai) become United Nations guides. (Comet Over Hollywood screencap)

Gidget (Karen Valentine) and her friends Diana (Susan Batson) and Minnie (Helen Funai) become United Nations guides. (Comet Over Hollywood screencap)

After three feature “Gidget” films and a 1965 television show that lasted one season, the 1969 television film “Gidget Grows Up” places Gidget in New York City. She’s ready to change the world at the United Nations (UN), which she describes as “one of humanity’s noblest achievements.”

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A day in LIFE: Jan. 19, 1948

20160118_223928Comet Over Hollywood is starting a new LIFE magazine series. At the beginning of each post, I’ll feature the film article and provide a listing of other magazine highlights. Published weekly starting in November 1936 to December 1972, over 1,800 issues of LIFE magazine was printed. I collect the magazines and decided to share the film news and current events in each film, giving a snap shot of world news and pop culture.

LIFE magazine is different from People, US Weekly or other contemporary gossip rags. LIFE was a premiere photo journalism publication with cartoons, paintings and photographs detailing wars, fashion trends, life in the United States (campus dances, award winning dogs, snow storms in Wyoming) and entertainment news.

Our second post in the series details January 19, 1948, with a cover photo of actress Marcia Van Dyke, “Virtuoso Starlet.”

Movie Spotlight in LIFE:

Virtuoso Starlet—“The Prettiest first Violinist Now is a Versatile Hollywood Actress”

Marcia Van Dyke was more than just a pretty face—her talent lay in her skills as a violin player.

Marcia Van Dyke plays the violin for producer Joe Pasternak. LIFE photo by Johnny Florea (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

Marcia Van Dyke plays the violin for producer Joe Pasternak. LIFE photo by Johnny Florea (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

“The big difference between most movie starlets and Marcia Van Dyke…is that their talent begins and ends with their pretty faces. When called on to sing or swim, they need doubles. And when call on to act, they make most movie audiences wish they were singing or swimming,” says the LIFE article.

Marcia Van Dyke said she wondered why the movies wanted her.

The answer? Not only could 25-year-old Van Dyke could sing, swim and play tennis with expertise—but the icing on the cake was that she was an accomplished violinist.

Van Dyke was first photographed by LIFE in 1947 when she was performing with the San Francisco Symphony, dubbing her “the prettiest first violinist.”

Because of this photo, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer producer Joe Pasternak wrote her a contract. In her first film, “In the Good Ole Summertime” (1948), Van Dyke plays a violinist.

Movie of the Week: The Paradine Case—“A good whodunit introduces some new European faces to the U.S. but is not the great drama it pretends to be,” says LIFE.

LIFE describes Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Paradine Case,” but does not seem to think very highly of the film.

“Its producer David O. Selznick…has such faith in it (the film) that he has listed his own name a full five times in the screen credits…”

The film introduced British actress Ann Todd, French actor Louis Jourdan, and Italian actress Alida Valli.

“The latter is deemed so great that she will be known officially as just Valli,” LIFE wrote.

LIFE said the film is overly long at 132 minutes, but is a good “whodunit” film, and that Gregory Peck and Ann Todd give “first-class” performances.

“Alfred Hitchcock’s direction and Gregory Peck’s performance all deserve Academy Awards.”

Lauren Bacall—One large photo of Bacall by photographer Eliot Elisofon. A long cutline details her “catlike grace, tawny blond hair, and blue-green eyes.” The photo is for “Life’s gallery of Hollywood beauties.” The eyes in the photo represent her nickname “The Look.” The eyes were from an optometrist. She wears a whistle on her wrist in the photo, to signify her famous  whistling line to Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not.”

Actress Lauren Bacall in a LIFE photo by Eliot Elisofon. (Comet Over Hollywood scan)

Actress Lauren Bacall in a LIFE photo by Eliot Elisofon. (Comet Over Hollywood scan)

What else was in the Jan. 19, 1948, issue of LIFE?

 “Perry Mason” mystery novel mail in coupon for three free books.

 Letters to the Editor on Lana Turner from the previous magazine, noting that her hair and jewels were all wrong at the Duchess of Windsor’s party, they didn’t approve her dating Bob Topping, and one man said “Topping can have her, I don’t want her, she’s too fat for me.” The editor replied with Lana Turner’s dimensions: 5’3”, 103 pounds, 35.5 bust, 24 waist, 36 hips.

Speaking of Pictures—A two page spread of paintings by New York artist Esta Cosgrave who painted her clients in antique dress. Clients include songwriter Garold Rome, art dealer Harry Shaw Newman, poet Mark Van Doren, and Egyptologist John D. Cooney.

Paintings by Esa

Paintings by Esta Cosgrave (LIFE scans by Comet Over Hollywood)

Warfare Spreads in the Holy Land—A seven page article and photo spread details an attack on Palestine by “Arab riflemen” that came from Syria and Lebanon. The Arab military force was driven out by British troops.

“Despite the fact that the U.N. had authorize partition of Palestine and establishment of a Jewish state, it was bitterly clear that the Jewish dream of a peaceful national home was still far from fulfilment.”

"At a secret training center newly recruited members of the Jewish Haganah Army carry illegal rifles as they go into the country for intensive drills. (LIFE/Associated Press, Lt. Dr. N. Gidal

“At a secret training center newly recruited members of the Jewish Haganah Army carry illegal rifles as they go into the country for intensive drills. (LIFE/Associated Press, Lt. Dr. N. Gidal

Taxes and Politics—An article on “what taxes will produce what results”

Picture of the Week of General Claire Chennault, 57—wartime hero of the Flying Tigers, and his bride Anna Chan, a Chinese reporter, kissing after they were married in Shanghai.

Picture of the week of Gen. Chennault and Anna Chan. Photo by Jack Birns. (Comet Over Hollywood LIFE magazine scan)

Picture of the week of Gen. Chennault and Anna Chan. Photo by Jack Birns. (Comet Over Hollywood LIFE magazine scan)

Presidential Year is Off to Noisy Start—Article on the 1948 presidential campaign between Harry S. Truman, Strom Thurmond and Thomas E. Dewey.

Boy in Pain—A doctor and police officers try to free 15-year-old Joseph Gondola’s finger from a fence. On his way to school in Patterson, N.J., Joseph slipped on the ice, grabbed for the fence and his finger went through an iron fence picket. After 45 minutes, the picket was sawed off, Joseph went to the hospital and he was able to use his hand by the en of the week.

Joseph Gondola with his finger stuck on a fence. Photo by John Crivelli from the Patterson Evening News. (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood

Joseph Gondola with his finger stuck on a fence. Photo by John Crivelli from the Patterson Evening News. (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood

PEOPLE: Is Stalin Really Sick?—The week prior, Russia’s Premier Joseph Stalin was reported to have cancer, be paralyzed, tanned and ready for vacation, and dead. Swiss newspapers reported him dead on Jan. 8, but in a photo taken four weeks prior, Stalin looked healthy. Other photos in the people section are of beauty queens in France, campaigning Charles De Gaulle, Charles Lindbergh traveling to Tokyo, and Princess Margaret.

Family Basketball—Thirteen teams of relatives play in a tournament in Wilson, N.C. The Wilson Junior Chamber of Commerce held a four day basketball tournament between Christmas and New Year’s.

Orange Blight—An infection is affecting California citrus crops. A photo shows a pathologist treating one of the diseased trees with penicillin to test the effect of the drug on the virus. In 1947, the infection killed 25,000 orange trees.

LIFE photo by Loomis Dean (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

LIFE photo by Loomis Dean (Scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

Half page poster for the Paramount film “A Miracle Can Happen” starring Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, James Stewart, Fred MacMurray and Burgess Meredith.

Bird Counters—Bird watchers in Washington, D.C. took the annual winter bird census. The five dozen bird counters from the National Audubon Society included anyone from teachers to government economists. In one day, they counted 12,407 birds of 77 species

Bird census counters by Francis Miller

Bird census counters by Francis Miller

“Cass Timberlane” full page poster of the Spencer Tracey and Lana Turner film.

Art of Egypt—An 11 page photo spread showing Egyptian art, tombs and temples in the Nile Valley.

Country Wide Best 10—Photospread of the top 10 best dressed women in the United States selected from their cities. The women are from Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston and Denver.

Top 10 Best Dressed women in the United States. (LIFE scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

Top 10 Best Dressed women in the United States. (LIFE scan by Comet Over Hollywood)

New England Snowstorm—Five page photo spread detailing a New England snow storm, particularly looking at Hancock, N.H.

Photo by Robert W. Kelley

Photo by Robert W. Kelley

The Failure of Maxism—“Both socialism and communism as they actually work out, betray the hope for the better life that they once inspired,” said author John Dos Passos.

Advertisement with actor Henry Hull shaving with Williams Luxury Shaving Cream—saying that an actor’s face is extra-sensitive.

Theater: Talent Market—“The last survivors of vaudeville hawk their wares for club dates.”

After a slow death, vaudeville faced its defeat at the end of 1947, according to the article. The Loew’s State—the last vaudeville house on Broadway—did away with live performers and will only show movies. The actors turn to “club dates” booked by agents.

LIFE Goes to a French Literary Salon—The Duchess of Rochefoucauld in France still holds elegant readings in her salon.

New Air Force “Uniform”—“Ever since the independent U.S. Air Force was created last fall, fliers have been worrying about what their new uniforms would look like. Ground forces made farce like regalia which is photographed in LIFE.

The "new US Air Force" uniform, photographed by Francis Miller

The “new US Air Force” uniform, photographed by Francis Miller

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A day in LIFE: Jan. 8, 1945

LIFE magazine, Jan. 8, 1945 (Photo/Comet Over Hollywood)

LIFE magazine, Jan. 8, 1945 (Photo/Comet Over Hollywood)

Comet Over Hollywood is starting a new LIFE magazine series. At the beginning of each post, I’ll feature the film article and provide a listing of other magazine highlights. Published weekly starting in November 1936 to December 1972, over 1,800 issues of LIFE magazine was printed. I collect the magazines and decided to share the film news and current events in each film, giving a snap shot of world news and pop culture.

LIFE magazine is different from People, US Weekly or other contemporary gossip rags. LIFE was a premiere photo journalism publication with cartoons, paintings and photographs detailing wars, fashion trends, life in the United States (campus dances, award winning dogs, snow storms in Wyoming) and entertainment news.

Continue reading

Christmas on Film: Junior Miss (1945)

junior missThe same year Peggy Ann Garner performed her award winning role in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” the 13-year-old actress found herself in a coming of age comedy, “Junior Miss” (1945).

Similar to “And So They Were Married” (1936), Christmas is merely a backdrop to adolescent antics in “Junior Miss” (1945), but the holidays play larger roles in this coming of age film.  Continue reading