Musical Monday: Flirtation Walk (1934)

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.

flirtation walkThis week’s musical:
Flirtation Walk (1934) – Musical #265

Studio:
First National Productions Corporation

Director:
Frank Borzage

Starring:
Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Pat O’Brien, Ross Alexander, John Arledge, John Eldredge, Henry O’Neill, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams

Plot:
Dick Dorcy (Powell) is a private in the Army station in Hawaii. He is assigned to drive visiting general’s daughter, Kitt Fitts (Keeler). Kitt ditches a reception she is required to go to, ordering Dick to show her around Hawaii. This puts Dick in hot-water, and to avoid court martial, the two-part. Dick heads to West Point to become an officer to be the equal of Kitt’s boyfriend, Lieut. Biddle (Eldredge).
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Running Lines: Mixing Quotes into Your Lingo

If you’re a classic film fan, it’s almost a given that many people you greet in your daily life won’t know what you’re talking about. Topics like the cool pre-code you watched last night or how you’re still angry that Gloria Swanson didn’t win the Academy Award for “Sunset Boulevard” are most likely met with a blank stare.

Even still, classic films are so immersed into our daily life and thoughts, that it’s hard not to casually quote a film in your daily speak. I don’t mean outrageous and obvious quotes that would get you called into Human Resources. (See: Standing on your desk and shouting “Look at me, Ma! Top of the world!” or ending a meeting with “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn.”)

For me, there are simple, catchy film quotes that I slip into my conversations on the sly; fully knowing that no one around me will understand that I’m referring to a film.

Here are six examples of a few of the movies I quote regularly:

Battleground (1949)

Plot: The 101st Airborne Division is fighting in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

"That's for sure, that's for dang sure" —Battleground (1949) (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P screen cap)

“That’s for sure, that’s for dang sure” —Battleground (1949)
(Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P screen cap)

The division is made up of various personalities from all over the United States. One of the soldiers, Abner Spudler (Jerome Courtland) is supposed to be a little more country than the rest and repeatedly says “That’s for sure, that’s for dang sure,” when he agrees with someone.

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Memorial Day Musical Monday: Hollywood Canteen (1944)

Musical:
“Hollywood Canteen” (1944) –Musical #139

Sierra Exif JPEG

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Delmar Davies

Starring:
Joan Leslie, Robert Hutton, Dane Clark
Cameos:
Bette Davis, John Garfield ,The Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown, Eddie Cantor, Kitty Carlisle, Jack Carson, Joan Crawford, Helmut Dantine, Faye Emerson, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale, Sr., Paul Henreid, Joan Leslie, Peter Lorre, Ida Lupino, Dorothy Malone, Dennis Morgan, Janis Paige, Eleanor Parker, Roy Rogers (with Trigger), S.Z. Sakall, Zachary Scott, Alexis Smith, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Wyman, Jimmy Dorsey, Donald Woods, Andrea King, Joyce Reynolds and The Golden Gate Quartet.

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Musical Monday: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

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.

nancy goes to rioThis week’s musical:
Nancy Goes to Rio (1940)– Musical #59

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
Jane Powell, Ann Sothern, Barry Sullivan, Carmen Miranda, Louis Calhern, Scotty Beckett, Hans Conreid, Fortunio Bonanova

Plot:
Francis Elliott (Sothern) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Nancy (Powell) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man, Paul Berten (Sullivan).

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Musical Monday: It’s a Date (1940)

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.

date2This week’s musical:
It’s a Date (1940)– Musical #116

Studio:
Universal Pictures

Director:
William A. Seiter

Starring:
Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Eugene Pallette, Henry Stephenson, S.Z. Sakall, Charles Lane, John Arledge (uncredited)

Plot:
Georgia Drake (Francis) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Pamela (Durbin) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man- John Arlendge (Pidgeon).

Trivia:
-Remade as “Nancy Goes to Rio” (1950) starring Jane Powell, Ann Sothern and Barry Sullivan.
-S.Z. Sakall’s first American film

Highlights:
-Deanna Durbin’s songs
-Kay Francis appearing in the film
-Walter Pidgeon in white dinner coats

Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin play mother and daughter in "It's a Date"

Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin play mother and daughter in “It’s a Date”

Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon and Deanna Durbin in "It's a Date"

Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon and Deanna Durbin in “It’s a Date”

Notable Songs:
-Loch Lomond performed by Deanna Durbin
-Ave Maria (Op.52 No.1) performed by Deanna Durbin
-Love Is All performed by Deanna Durbin

My review:
“It’s a Date” is a movie date you want to keep.

Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis and Walter Pidgeon as the leads with a Eugene Pallette, Henry Stephenson and S.Z. Sakall as the supporting cast. Could you ask for a better group of actors?

Francis, Durbin and Pidgeon in "It's a Date"

Francis, Durbin and Pidgeon in “It’s a Date”

I saw this movie for the first time in high school and don’t remember being in love with the film. However, I wasn’t as immersed in my Kay Francis film love and not yet in love with Walter Pidgeon, which makes a difference. Now, when I rewatched it, it was such a thrill to see Francis later in her career flanked by Walter Pidgeon as her leading man.

Kay Francis was one of Warner Brothers’ top stars in the early 1930s before Bette Davis came on the scene. According to TCM historian Robert Osborne, to make Francis break her contract, they put her put her in terrible films and filled scripts with words full of “R’s”— a letter she had difficulties with due to a speech impediment. However, Francis didn’t back down and continued acting. With that said, her later film roles weren’t anything to write home about her Francis’s film career ended in 1946. Though “It’s a Date” is towards end of Francis’s career, she is radiant in this film and it’s a wonderful part for her.

S.Z. Sakall and Kay Francis on the set of "It's a Date"

S.Z. Sakall and Kay Francis on the set of “It’s a Date”

The plot is a little goofy: a teenage daughter falls in love with a man more than twice her age. For a little while, the audience is made to believe that he loves her too. But don’t worry, this film has a non-creepy ending.

There are several laugh out loud moments — some coming from S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall in his first American film. The Hungarian actor left Europe due to Hitler and the growing power of the Third Reich and bestowed his comedic talents on United States audiences.

Deanna Durbin plays a teenager with a wish to be an actress like her mother and grandmother. Her character is a little overly dramatic, as teenagers can be, but it’s humorous at the same time. She delivers many beautiful songs throughout the film and you can see tears in her eyes as she sings “Ave Maria.”

For someone not familiar with Deanna Durbin, this is a good film to start with if you are interested in diving in. It’s a wonderful blend of music, comedy that’s filled with handsome Walter Pidgeon in white evening coats and Kay Francis in lavish evening gowns.

Give this one a watch.

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

Musical Monday: I Live for Love (1935)

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.

i live for loveThis week’s musical:
“I Love for Love” (1935)– Musical #547

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Busby Berkeley

Starring:
Dolores Del Rio, Everett Marshall, Guy Kibbee, Allen Jenkins, Berton Churchill, Hobart Cavanaugh, Don Alvarado

Plot:
Donna (Del Rio) is a diva of the stage and wants her lover Rico (Alvarado) as her leading man. To keep this from happening, the producers (Churchill, Cavanaugh) grab Roger Kerry (Marshall) off the street and say he has a contract. Donna and Roger butt heads, he’s replaced by Rico, and Donna’s play flops. While her fame flops, Roger rises as a huge radio star. The two eventually fall in love, and Roger wants both of them to leave their careers behind.

Trivia:
-This is the second and last film of the film’s leading man, Everett Marshall. Marshall was a Metropolitan Opera singer and preferred the stage.
-Originally titled “Romance in a Glass House, according to Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley by Jeffrey Spivak

Benton Churchill and Dolores Del Rio in "I Live for Love."

Benton Churchill and Dolores Del Rio in “I Live for Love.”

Highlights:
-Allen Jenkins dancing and singing to a ridiculous tune

Notable Songs:
-“Mine Alone” performed by Everett Marshall
-“I Live for Love” performed by Everett Marshall

My review:
“I Live for Love” is a fairly forgettable hour-long film.

Though this musical was directed by Busby Berkeley directed films, there are no Berkeley numbers—really no dance numbers in the film at all. The only musical numbers in the film are performed by opera singer, Everett Marshall.

Dolores Del Rio is always photographed beautifully and capable in her films, but t

Not familiar the name Everett Marshall? That’s not surprising. Marshall, a Metropolitan Opera and Broadway performer, was only in two films and this was his last film.

Though Marshall and Del Rio are the stars, character actors Allen Jenkins, Berton Churchill, Hobart Cavanaugh and Guy Kibbee are the real stars of the show. They carried the film and were the most memorable characters.

If you are a fan of Warner Brother’s fan or trying to see Busby Berkeley, I suggest seeing it. If not, don’t waste your time.

Dolores Del Rio and Everett Marshall in "I Live for Love."

Dolores Del Rio and Everett Marshall in “I Live for Love.”

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

Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2016: The Films

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I flew out to Los Angeles for my fifth Hollywood visit and fourth Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF).

Ready to cover the festival on Thursday night.

Ready to cover the festival on Thursday night.

Last year, my parents joined me for the TCMFF, but this year I traveled solo for the event. I originally announced that I wouldn’t be attending TCMFF this year. Two weeks prior, I was in Washington, D.C. for a Bernard Herrmann festival and wasn’t sure if I could swing it. However, everything happily worked out and I was heading back to Cali-for-i-A again and humming “Going Hollywood.”

I arrived on the Wednesday the day before the festival started, giving me the opportunity to attend a book signing of the film fashion book “Creating the Illusion” by Jay Jorgensen and Donald Scoggins. I was most excited about this presentation because it was held at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Laskey-DeMille Barn. Built in 1913, the barn was one of the first studios in Hollywood. In 2006, I tried to visit the museum but it was closed.

The museum had interesting pieces of memorabilia such as Marion Davies’ doll collection, a costume from the 1925 Ben-Hur, and the Charlie Chaplin outfit Gloria Swanson wore in Sunset Blvd.

Marion Davies' doll collection at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

Marion Davies’ doll collection at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

The festival ran from Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1. TCMFF begins in the evening on Thursday with two film slots. There is also a red carpet event where the celebrities attending the festival walk the red carpet before the opening film, which was “All the President’s Men.”

This year, I skipped the first and two films to watch the red carpet attendees and was able to see:

  • Former child star, Darryl Hickman
  • Actor, producer Norman Lloyd
  • Former child star, Ted Donaldson
  • Actress Lee Meriwether
  • Actor and former TCM Essentials host, Alec Baldwin
  • Actress Katharine Houghton
  • Director Roger Corman
  • Actor Louis Gossett
  • Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon
  • Italian actress Gina Lollobrigdia
Darryl Hickman on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica Pickens)

Darryl Hickman on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica Pickens)

Gina Lollobrigdia on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica P.)

Gina Lollobrigdia on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica P.)

Lee Meriwether on the red carpet.

Lee Meriwether on the red carpet.

The films I saw during throughout the festival included:

    • Los Tallos Amargos (1956)—An Argentinian noir. The title translates to “The Bitter Stems”
    • He Ran All the Way (1951)—John Garfield’s last film before his 1952 death
    • When You’re in Love (1937)—World premiere restoration with special guest Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant’s daughter
    • Batman (1966)—with special guests Lee Meriwether and Adam West
    • Manchurian Candidate (1962)—with special guest Angela Lansbury
    • Roar (1981)—Midnight screening of Tippi Hedren Film
    • 90th anniversary of Vitaphone—A presentation on the dawn of sound and 7 shorts
    • The Long Goodbye (1972)—with special guest Elliot Gould
    • Band of Outsiders (1964)—with special guest Anna Karina
    • Gog (1953)—Midnight showing of 3D restoration
    • One Potato, Two Potato (1964)—with special guest director Larry Peerce
    • Network (1976)—with special guest Faye Dunaway

Favorites:
Of these films, my favorites were “The Long Goodbye” (1972) and “One Potato, Two Potato,” but neither of these were new discoveries for me. In fact, I just watched both in February and March 2016. However, I enjoyed so much on my television that I wanted to revisit both on the big screen, and I don’t regret it. My TV in my apartment is quite small, and when I watched “The Long Goodbye,” I felt like I missed some important nuances at the beginning. The film was gorgeous on the big screen in 35mm, and I loved seeing it with an audience, especially when they started to chuckle when a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in an early role. It was equally cool to see this screening because Elliott Gould was interviewed prior to the film and I also saw him interviewed at Club TCM an hour before.

Elliott Gould interviewed by Alec Baldwin at the Roosevelt Hotel. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Elliott Gould interviewed by Alec Baldwin at the Roosevelt Hotel. (Photo/Jessica P.)

“One Potato, Two Potato” is a very simple film but has a message that’s more powerful than almost any other film I have ever seen. While I was crushed at the ending when I watched it on my TV, I was sobbing in the movie theater.

Of those new-to-me favorites, I really enjoyed “When You’re in Love” with Cary Grant and Grace Moore because it was a fun and humorous musical romp. The 90 years of Vitaphone screening is also in my top two favorite festival moments. Audiences had the opportunity to see Vitaphone shorts that hadn’t been viewed in 87 years! My favorites of the seven shorts were the comedic duo, the Beau Brummels and Baby Rose Marie (who you may know from the Dick Van Dyke Show) singing her heart out. I also really enjoyed “Roar” (1981). It was so bizarre and disturbing, but I also have never laughed so much during a film while not being certain if I should laugh or not. It’s incredibly difficult to describe how you feel while watching it, so I suggest looking it up.

Least Favorites:

Anna Karina with Ben Mankiewicz

Anna Karina with Ben Mankiewicz

Of all the films I watched, I wasn’t a fan of “Band of Outsiders,” which is probably an unpopular opinion. Of the French New Wave filmmakers, I’m a François Truffaut fan (who also used Bernard Herrmann as a composer) and not so much Jean-Luc Godard. It was awesome to see Anna Karina but the film to me dragged. I guess some people would automatically say “It’s because you didn’t get it” because I feel like it’s one of those films people say they liked just to sound smart. But I fell asleep and didn’t feel like I missed much. I also was pretty surprised when Anna Karina said it took three weeks for her male co-stars to learn “The Madison” dance. Maybe it’s because I’m a dancer, but it looked like a dance that anyone could learn in a day.

Films I Regret Not seeing:
There are some time slots that I regret eating during. I most regret missing “Private Property” (1960) because I was eating lunch. Other films landed during films or presentations I was attending. I hate that I missed “A House Divided” (1931), Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934), Buena Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), the documentary “Harold and Lillian,” “I’ve Always Loved You” (1946) and “Repeat Performance” (1947).

Many TCMFF fans missed the 1933 pre-code “Double Harness” starring William Powell and Ann Harding and I was almost shocked by the popularity. It’s a great film and has been shown frequently on TCM since it was restored in April 2007 with several other presumed to be lost films such as Rafter Romance, One Man’s Journey and Stingaree. I guess I figured most TCM viewers had watched it in the past, especially because it aired a few months back during the pre-code festival on TCM. FYI: It’s airing Friday, May 27, at 11 a.m. ET.

Director Francis Ford Coppola during his hand and foot print ceremony. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Director Francis Ford Coppola during his hand and foot print ceremony. (Photo/Jessica P.)

This year I saw the least amount of films I have ever watched at TCMFF. This is partially because I opted for some of the special events like director Francis Ford Coppola’s hand and foot print ceremony (which was attended by director Peter Bogdanovitch), an interview with Elliott Gould held in Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel, a presentation on the Art of Film Scores by Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, and “My First Time in Hollywood” with presentations by Nancy Olson and David Ladd.

Met an old friend in Hollywood

Met an old friend in Hollywood

I also took some time to stop and eat at least one meal a day. For those of you who have never attended, you have to make a difficult decision: Do I eat? Or do I see this really cool film that I’ve never seen before? Since I got sick the last two years, I decided to take a few breaks and not push myself too hard. For example, at my first festival in 2013 (when I was a few years younger), I watched 16 films with no meal breaks. This year I watched 11.

And even while not booking ever slot with a film, it was still an outstanding time. I’ll be back next year, and most likely with my parents.

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

TCM Classic Film Festival Musical Monday: When You’re in Love (1937)

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.

love2This week’s musical:
“When You’re in Love” (1937)– Musical #547

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Robert Riskin

Starring:
Grace Moore, Cary Grant, Aline MacMahon, Henry Stephenson, Thomas Mitchell, Catherine Doucet, Luis Alberni, Gerald Oliver Smith, Emma Dunn, George C. Pearce, Scotty Beckett (uncreditd)

Plot:
Opera singer Louise Fuller (Moore) who is stuck in Mexico and needs to get back so she can hold a music festival that she promised her uncle (Stephenson), but she can’t get back into the U.S. Jimmy Hudson (Grant) is unable to pay his hotel bill in Mexico. Fuller and Hudson’s lawyer’s decide the two should get married so they can get home, Fuller pays Hudson’s debts and they could divorce after six months. Though they start off fighting, love blossoms.

Trivia:
-The world premiere of the film’s restoration was at the 2016 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival.
-Director Robert Riskin wrote and directed the film. It was a very loose retailoring of “It Happened One Night” for Moore, The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures by Bernard F. Dick
-Writer Robert Riskin’s only try at directing

Grace Moore and Cary Grant in "When You're in Love"

Grace Moore and Cary Grant in “When You’re in Love”

Highlights:
-Grace Moore performing Minnie the Moocher

Notable Songs:
-“Minnie the Moocher” performed by Grace Moore
-“Our Song” performed by Grace Moore
-“The Whistling Boy” performed by Grace Moore
-“Vissi D’Arte” performed by Grace Moore

My review:
I’ve seen all of Cary Grant’s films–except for some of his early 1930s movies. Not only was it a treat to finally see this rare film, it was even more amazing to see it on the big screen and in all it’s newly restored glory, thanks to the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. I didn’t even arrive at the festival, thinking I would be getting a Musical Monday post out of it.

I really enjoyed “When You’re in Love.” While everyone knows Cary Grant as a huge star, at the time of this film he wasn’t as famous as his operatic leading lady: Grace Moore, a name many people don’t remember today. As I’ve watched musicals over the years, I’ve seen almost all of Miss Moore’s nine films made during her brief Hollywood career and I find her likeable. She’s beautiful and has a gorgeous voice.

Nicknamed the “Tennessee Nightingale,” Moore was a Ziegfeld Girl in the Ziegfeld Follies and had 16 seasons with the Metropolitan Opera. Her Hollywood films helped make opera popular with mainstream audiences. Sadly, Moore died in 1947 at age 48 in a plane crash near Copenhagen.

While watching this movie with an audience, I realized few of them were familiar with Grace Moore. When I saw that “When You’re in Love” paired Cary Grant and Grace Moore, I automatically knew it was a musical. But when leaving the theater, I heard some grumblings of “I didn’t know that was going to be a musical” from fans who only wanted to see Cary Grant.

Grant and Moore are both very funny, and there is a fun scene with Grace Moore performing Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” while Grant plays the piano. Another favorite scene of mine involves Moore singing with a group of children and little uncredited Scotty Beckett is on her lap. There are close-ups of the various children’s faces and some of their reactions were hilarious.

But you can’t give all the credit for this film’s charm to the lead actors. The supporting cast is what really makes the film special, especially Aline MacMahon and Henry Stephenson who are always fantastic. One character actor, elderly George C. Pearce, had what I think was the funniest moment in the film: He answers the phone, asks them to hold on, puts on his glasses, and tells them to go ahead. Funny, because relevant to everyone’s life.

If you have the opportunity to every catch this film, do. It’s great fun and one that we haven’t been able to really enjoy for a long time.

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Comet in Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2016

tcmff16

Comet will be in Hollywood this week!

We’ll be attending our fourth Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, which is Thursday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1.

For those who have never attended, this is like a film 10k — no running (you may power walk between film — but equally as exhausting. From 9 a.m. to after 12 a.m., you watch classic film after classic film with other fans who know and love Cary Grant or Roland Young as much as you do.

Though you are sleep and food deprived (you either watch films, pack snacks or skip a film to eat) the TCM Film Festival is truly Walt Disney World for classic film fans.

There isn’t a great deal of downtime, but I’ll do my best to post while I’m in Hollywood. In addition to this page, here are other ways to follow me:
Twitter: @HollywoodComet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com