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.

boys reformatory2

Frank Coghlan Jr., Frankie Darro and David Durand

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Review: Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection (1972)

One piece of the Gidget franchise has eluded me for a few years: the Hanna-Barbera produced cartoon “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection.”

That’s right. Not only did the Gidget character find herself on the silver screen, TV shows and movies, and in books, Gidget was also featured in cartoon-form.

gidget makes the wrong connection

Airing on the ABC Saturday Super Star Movie on Nov. 18, 1972, “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection” was one of “galaxy of famous personalities and characters from the realms of literature, sports, television, and motion pictures,” according to a Sept. 9, 1972 article.

Some of these included anything from baseball star Willie Mays, the Blondie comic strips, Tabitha from “Bewitched,” the Banana Splits, Lassie, Marlo Thomas as “That Girl,” and of course, Gidget.

The show aired on Saturday mornings and was geared towards children.

In Gidget’s animated story, after causing trouble in a marina, Gidget and her friends Rink and Jud sign up as a ship crew for a boat race to Mexico … or so they think. Really, the race is a ruse as the three adults onboard are smuggling gold.

Produced by Hanna-Barbera, is similar to other 1970s era Hanna-Barbera cartoon, as far as animation, voice talent, humor and storytelling go.

Gidget looks like she could be related to Daphne from Scooby Doo, and the sleuthing and antics may remind you a bit of Scooby Doo mysteries.

That said, it’s a silly, breezy and not unpleasant way to spend 45 minutes.

gidget makes4

The characters of Barbara and Ralph Hightower, voiced by Virginia Gregg and Mike Road.

The voice talent is fun. The snooty smugglers, Barbara and Ralph Hightower will remind you a bit of Mr. and Mrs. Howell from “Gilligan’s Island.” The two are voiced by Virginia Gregg and Mike Road. I swear Road is doing a Ronald Colman impression.

gidget makes2

The cartoon version of Gidget.

Kathy Gori voices Frances “Gidget” Lawrence in her first acting or voice acting gig. While in the movies and TV show, Gidget can be meddling, in the cartoon she’s meddling and also clumsy. The crew gets in all sorts of trouble, because of her “seventh sense” ideas. If I had to compare this Gidget characterization to any of the other franchises, I would compare it to Cindy Carroll in “Gidget Goes to Rome.” Also of note: Gidget doesn’t do any surfing in “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection.” But she’s still in the water, snorkeling and boating.

Gidget has new friends for the adventure, Jud and Rink, who were not previously characters in the movies. Sorry, no Moondoggie this time. Rink is voiced by Denny Evans and and Jud is voiced by David Lander of “Laverne and Shirley” fame.

gidget makes3

Rink, Gidget and Jud, voiced by Kathy Gori, Denny Evans, David L. Lander.

Bob Hastings and Don Messick also provided voice work on this cartoon.

The creation and air date is interesting for this Gidget installment. It aired 10 months after the Gidget TV movie, “Gidget Gets Married” (1972), where Gidget and Moondoggie get hitched. After Gidget made waves in the 1960s, this was the last hoorah of the franchise until the 1980s TV movie and television series reboot aired in 1985.

In 2017, I completed the Gidget series reviews with the exception of this one. I wasn’t able to find it anywhere, not online or being sold. Searching high and low, it wasn’t until a reader brought it to my attention that someone uploaded it online! (Thank you, Mike!) I will refrain from linking to it (I don’t want it to be taken down!), but a quick online search will help you find it.

Overall, “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection” isn’t the best installment of the franchise, but would be a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

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

Watching 1939: The Man Who Dared (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 Man Who Dared (1939)

man who dared

Release date:
April 4, 1939

Cast:
Jane Bryan, Henry O’Neill, Charley Grapewin, Johnny Russell, Elisabeth Risdon, James McCallion, Dickie Jones, Frederic Tozere, John Gallaudet, Grace Stafford, Tommy Bupp (uncredited)

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
Crane Wilbur

Plot:
When their neighbors are killed in an explosion, the Carter family witnessed the event and can identify the criminals. When Matthew Carter (O’Neill) speaks to the police to try and identify them, his family faces consequences. The whole family refuses to speak in court for their own safety, but their grandfather (Grapewin) isn’t afraid to speak up — especially when one of their children is kidnapped.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: Boy Friend (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.

boyfriend21939 film:
Boy Friend (1939)

Release date:
May 19, 1939

Cast:
Jane Withers, Arleen Whelan, Richard Bond, George Ernest, Douglas Fowley, Warren Hymer, Minor Watson, Robert Shaw, Robert Kellard, Robert Shaw, Ted Pearson, William Conselman Jr., Myra Marsh, Edward Gargan (uncredited), Lillian Yarbo (uncredited)

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
James Tinling

Plot:
Jimmy Murphy (Bond) is in police school. He disappoints everyone when he quits to go work for a gang. When one of Jimmy’s friends and former classmates, Tommy (Kellard) is killed in a robbery, Jimmy’s sister Sally (Withers) and Tommy’s brother Billy (Ernest) try to get to the bottom of it.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: Tarzan Finds a 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:
Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

tarzan finds a son

Release date:
June 16, 1939

Cast:
Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield, Ian Hunter, Frieda Inescort, Henry Stephenson, Henry Wilcoxon, Laraine Day, Morton Lowry

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Plot:
When a plane crashes in the jungle, Cheetah the Ape finds there is a baby on board. Bringing the baby to Tarzan (Weissmuller) and Jane (O’Sullivan), they raise the child as their own in the jungle. When five years pass, relatives of the baby bring a search party (Hunter, Inescort, Stephenson) to find survivors of the crash, because an inheritance is at stake.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: Within the Law (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.

within the law1939 film:
Within the Law (1939)

Release date:
March 17, 1939

Cast:
Ruth Hussey, Tom Neal, Paul Kelly, William Gargan, Paul Cavanagh, Rita Johnson, Samuel S. Hinds, Lynne Carver, Sidney Blackmer, James Burke, Frank Orth,

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Gustav Machatý

Plot:
Mary Turner (Hussey) is falsely accused of grand larceny when stolen goods are planted on her. She’s sent to jail for a three year stretch, and while she’s there, she studies law books. When she gets out, she learns how to break the law … but within the law.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: The Under-Pup (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.

under pup1939 film:
The Under-Pup (1939)

Release date:
Aug. 24, 1939

Cast:
Gloria Jean, Robert Cummings, Nan Grey, Beulah Bondi, C. Aubrey Smith, Virginia Weidler, Margaret Lindsey, Shirley Mills, Paul Cavanagh, Billy Gilbert, Raymond Walburn, Frank Jenks, Billy Gilbert, Samuel S. Hinds, Ernest Truex, Doris Lloyd, Dickie Moore, Cecil Kellaway (uncredited), Jean Porter (uncredited)

Studio:
Universal Studios

Director:
Richard Wallace

Plot:
Pip Emma (Jean) lives in New York City and is streetwise, loyal to her family and a beautiful singer. She wins a contest to go to summer camp with wealthy girls. Her excitement turns to dismay when they (Gillis, Mills) make fun of her. She only befriends one girl, Janet Cooper (Weidler), who is sad because her parents are getting a divorce. As Pip Emma stands up for herself, the girls slowly start to like her.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: Calling Dr. Kildare (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: 

Calling Dr. Kildare (1939)

calling dr. kildare3

Release date: 

April 28, 1939

Cast: 

Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, Lana Turner, Nat Pendleton, Marie Blake, Frank Ortho, Bobs Watson, Lynn Carver, Emma Dunn, Samuel S. Hinds, Walter Kingsford, Alma Kruger, Phillip Terry, Harlan Briggs, Henry Hunter, Reed Hadley, Nell Craig, Reed Hadley, George Offerman Jr.

Studio: 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 

Harold S. Bucquet      

Plot:

When James Kildare (Ayres) and physician leader Dr. Gillespie (Barrymore) have an argument, Dr. Gillespie fires Dr. Kildare from Blair General Hospital and has him work at a community clinic. To keep an eye on him, Dr. Gillespie hires nurse Mary Lamont (Day). While at the clinic, a Dr. Kildare cares for a patient with a gunshot wound and doesn’t report it to the police. Dr. Kildare gets entangled in the crime associated and with the patient’s sister, Rosalie (Turner).

Continue reading