Musical Monday: Hootenanny Hoot (1963)

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:

Hootenanny Hoot (1963) – Musical #253

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Gene Nelson

Starring:
Ruta Lee, Peter Breck, Joby Baker, Pamela Austin, Bobo Lewis, Lauren Gilbert,

Themselves: Johnny Cash, The Gateway Trio, Judy Henske, Vikki Dougan, George Hamilton IV, Joe and Eddie, Cathie Taylor, Chris Crosby, The Brothers Four, Sheb Wooley

Plot:
TV director Ted Grover (Breck) and producer A.G. Bannister (Lee) are constantly at odds about what makes a good television shows … and they previously were married. While traveling, Ted runs across a country music hootenanny in a Missouri college town led by Billie-Jo Henley (Austin). Ted pitches the idea of making a TV special out of the college kids and the country music.

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Musical Monday: Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964)

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:

Your Cheatin’ Heart – Musical #252

Your Cheatin Heart

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Gene Nelson

Starring:
George Hamilton, Susan Oliver, Red Buttons, Arthur O’Connell, Rex Ingram, Shary Williams, Chris Crosby

Plot:
A biographical film on the life and career of country singer Hank Williams.

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Musical Monday: Pajama Party (1964)

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:

Pajama Party (1964) – Musical #318

Studio:

American International Pictures

Director:

Don Weis

Starring:
Annette Funicello, Tommy Kirk, Elsa Lanchester, Jody McCrea, Harvey Lembeck, Jessie White, Buster Keaton, Bobbi Shaw, Donna Loren, Candy Johnson, Ben Lessy, Susan Hart, Luree Holmes, Cheryl Sweeten, Michael Nadar, Kerry Kollmar, Joi Holmes

Cameo: Frankie Avalon, Dorothy Lamour, Dorothy Kilgallen

Dancers: Teri Garr (as Teri Hope), Toni Basil

Plot:
Connie (Funicello) is frustrated because her boyfriend Big Lunk (McCrea) is more concerned with athletics than her. When Gogo/George the Martian (Kirk) visits Earth to help with an invasion from Mars, he falls in love with Connie. In the meantime, J. Sinister Hulk (White) wants to rob Big Lunk’s rich Aunt Wendy (Lanchester), and Eric Von Zipper (Lembeck) and his gang have beef with Big Lunk.

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Musical Monday: Seven Days Ashore (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.

This week’s musical:

Seven Days Ashore (1944) – Musical #669

Studio:

RKO Radio Pictures

Director:

John H. Auer

Starring:

Gordon Oliver, Marcy McGuire, Virginia Mayo, Elaine Shepard, Amelita Ward, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Dooley Wilson, Marjorie Gateson, Margaret Dumont, Dorothy Malone (uncredited), Lawrence Tierney (uncredited)

Himself: Freddie Slack and his Orchestra

Plot:
Merchant Marine Dan Arland Jr. (Oliver) got himself engaged to three girls, two of which (Mayo, Ward) play together in Dot Diamond’s (McGuire) band. The other, Annabelle (Shepard), is a family friend who Dan really cares for. When the Merchant Marines have a week leave in San Francisco where all the women are located, Dan has his buddies (Brown, Carney) date two of the girls to help him out.

Trivia:
• Originally planned as a U.S. Navy musical but was rewritten as a Merchant Marine musical.

• Alan Carney and Wally Brown were hired to be groomed as Abbott and Costello-like comedy team.

Marcy McGuire in “Seven Days Ashore”

Highlights:
• I like the part when the men and women trade off walking in and out playing instruments.

Notable Songs:
• “Apple Blossoms in the Rain” performed by Dooley Wilson

• “Ready, Aim, Kiss” performed by Marcy McGuire

• “Sioux City Sue” performed by Marcy McGuire

• “Jive Samba” performed by Freddy Slack and his Orchestra and Marcy McGuire

• “Over the Waves” performed by Marcy McGuire

• “The Poor Little Fly on the Wall” performed by Freddie Slack and his Orchestra

• “Improvisation in B Flat” performed by Freddie Slack and his Orchestra

Chorus girls perform “Seven Days Ashore”

My review:

Not to be confused with Seven Days’ Leave (1942), this low budget B-musical was surprisingly better than I expected.

The first few moments of the film are like “who’s who” early in their careers in Hollywood. We see Dorothy Malone in an uncredited role playing the piano in an all girl’s band, Lawrence Tierney as an uncredited Merchant Marine, and Virginia Mayo in a credited role (and main character) though still early in her career.

The film follows a Merchant Marine (Gordon Oliver) who got himself engaged to too many girls and it complicates his shore leave. His pals try to help out by also dating the girls.

Judging by the photos and how the film started, I thought this musical would be about Marcy McGuire’s character, but she’s really just there to supply the music and some comedic antics.

I almost think the film may have be more fun if it had been centered around McGuire. I’m not certain of her appeal, but I also liked when she was on screen.

Dooley Wilson also co-stars and has the opportunity to sing a few songs.

The film had some great snappy songs, especially performed by Freddie Slack and his Orchestra. I honestly was surprised at how much fun this film ended up being.

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Gold Star Families: Performers who lost loved ones in military conflict

In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to highlight the loved ones of performers who died in conflict — from World War I through Vietnam. The term “gold star” references families who have lost a loved one in military conflict.

World War I

Edward Gabriel Lester

Edward Gabriel Lester, biological father of Katherine DeMille

Edward Gabriel Lester served as a lieutenant in the 102nd Battalion, CEF during World War I and died at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 during World War I. Katherine was adopted at age 8 by Constance Adams DeMille and producer and director Cecil B. DeMille after the death of both parents.

World War II

Don E. Brown

Captain Don E. Brown, son of Joe E. Brown

Captain Don. E. Brown joined the Army’s Infantry reserve in January 1939 and was commissioned to a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps July 11, 1941. He was killed when his twin-engine bomber crashed in the desert near Palm Springs on Oct. 8, 1942. Brown was alone on the flight and the plane was on fire when it landed. He crawled out of the plane and died shortly after, according to an Oct. 9, 1942 article.

Robert Westfield Beedle

Robert Westfield Beedle, brother of William Holden

Engisn Robert Westfield Beedle was killed in action on Jan. 4, 1944. He was on the USS Bunker Hill, part of a carrier-based squadron of the Hellcats escorting dive bombers on the raid on the mission, Strike III – Kavieng. Beedle was one of 18 Hellcats.

The Hellcats were attacked by half a dozen Zeros (a type of Japanese plane). Beedle’s plane was hit as he turned to intercept a pair of Japanese planes that concentrated on him.

“His Hellcat swept upward in a lazy loop, pulled out just above the water, flew level for a few seconds, then plunged into the whitecaps. His guns were still blasting,” said Beedle’s section leader, according to William Holden’s biography “Golden Boy.”

Norman Neale William, father of Aron Kincaid

Norman Neale Williams was a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and died during World War II. Future actor Aron Kincaid was a toddler (born Norman Neale Williams II), according to Kincaid’s 2011 obituary. There is little information on Kincaid’s father.

Bradley Bernad Clark

Bradley Barnard Clark, brother of Dick Clark

2nd Lt. Bradley Barnard Clark, older brother of Dick Clark, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on Feb. 21, 1943. In Europe, he was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot who flew with the 371st Fighter Group’s 406th Fighter Squadron. He was part of a group that conducted operations to support the Allied ground action during the Battle of the Bulge.

Clark was one of nine in a strafing mission, and his plane was hit by a German near Koblenz, Germany. It is assumed he was wounded and his plane damaged. Near the village of Omelmont, France, on his return flight, the following happened according to the American Air Museum:

“Seeing the church of the village of Omelmont, about 5 km NW from the base, he made two passes around it, but his plane hit the corner of a village house, then an electricity pole and a tree. He was ejected from the plane and his body was found near his crashed plane in a nearby field.”

Clark was killed in action on Dec. 23, 1944. The American Air Museum details Dick Clark’s memories of his brother. Dick Clark was 15 when his brother died.

Sir Robert Peel and Beatrice Lillie in 1938.

Sir Robert Peel, 6th Baronet, son of Beatrice Lillie

Sir Robert Peel, 6th Baronet, served in the Royal Navy. He was was killed in action in April 1942 at age 21 aboard the HMS Tenedos (H04) in Colombo Harbour, Ceylon.

Marguerite Guigette Carroll, sister of Madeleine Carroll

Marguerite Guigette Carroll was killed on Oct. 7, 1940, in a German air raid in London.

“My younger sister learned how to be a very excellent typist but was killed at her typewriter by a direct hit from a German bomb in London’s Blitz,” Carroll said in a 1949 Rotary Club speech. “It seems to me that had the generation previous to hers been more interested in encouraging good neighborliness between countries, there is a chance my sister might be alive today.”

Before her death, Marguerite (or “Gigs” to her friends), wrote to her sister in Hollywood, “How pleasant it must be over where you are. No war and no air raids, just warm sun … Cross your fingers for me,” according to an Oct. 9, 1940, article.

Vietnam

Walt Gelien

Walt Gelien, brother of Tab Hunter

Chief Petty Officer Walt Gelien enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a Chief Hospital Corpsman. Gelien was killed in action on Oct. 28, 1965, during the Vietnam War in Quang Nam. He was married and had seven children. Gelien was sleeping on a helicopter when the airstrip was attacked and his helicopter was blown up.

Gloria and James Stewart with Ronald Walsh McLean

Ronald Walsh McLean, stepson of James Stewart  

1LT Ronald Walsh McLean enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and entered the service via Reserve Military. He was killed on June 8, 1969, when he was trapped in an ambush. One of the men in his battalion, Joe Sheriff, didn’t know McLean was related to Jimmy Stewart.

“We all expected to die on the hill,” said Bob Lake of Aitkin, Minn., who at 19 had been the assistant patrol leader. “We were in no man’s land, unknowingly dropped into a [1,200-member] enemy battalion, and [helicopter extraction from] the hilltop was the only way out.”

Lake later wrote to James and Gloria Stewart in 1985, who responded to Lake saying he was the only Marine who wrote the couple.

Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn, son of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita

Sean Flynn, son of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita, was a photojournalist in Vietnam and Cambodia. He traveled with special forces covering the conflict; parachuting into combat zones with U.S. troops. In 1970, Flynn was on assignment for Time magazine and traveled to Cambodia with photojournalist Dana Stone. Flynn and Stone traveled via motorcycle, leaving Phnom Penh, on their way to a press conference in Saigon. Stone and Flynn were never heard from again, and it is assumed that they were captured by the Viet Cong.

Their remains were never recovered, and Damita searched for her son until her death in 1994.

Unfortunately I was unable to find any one from the Korean War. Please share if anyone was forgotten, and I will update the article.

Watching 1939: Everybody’s Hobby (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. 

everybodyshobby21939 film: 

Everybody’s Hobby (1939) 

Release date: 

Aug. 26, 1939

Cast: 

Irene Rich, Henry O’Neill, Jackie Moran, Jean Sharon, Aldrich Bowker, Peggy Stewart, Alberto Morin, John Ridgely

Studio: 

Warner Brothers

Director: 

William C. McGann

Plot:
Everyone in the Leslie family is obsessed with their hobbies:
-Mom/Myra (Rich) collects stamps
-Robert (Moran) has a HAM radio
-Evelyn (Sharon) loves records
-Uncle Bert (Bowker) love statistics and facts
And Dad/Thomas (O’Neill) has no hobby. Because of this, everybody else’s hobby drives him crazy and he thinks it is nonsense. But due to his dissatisfaction and stress at his newspaper job, Dad takes up a photography hobby and takes a camping trip with his son Robert. While Robert and his dad are camping, a forest fire breaks out and they use their hobbies to help out.

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Musical Monday: Melody Cruise (1933)

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:
Melody Cruise (1933) – Musical #458

melody cruise

Studio:
RKO Studios

Director:
Mark Sandrich

Starring:
Charles Ruggles, Phil Harris, Helen Mack, Greta Nissen, Chick Chandler, June Brewster, Shirley Chambers, Florence Roberts, Marjorie Gateson, Betty Grable (uncredited), Clarence Muse (uncredited)

Plot:
Friends Pete Wells (Ruggles) and Alan Chandler (Harris) escape the winter of New York and go on a cruise. Pete is a philanderer and Alan drunkenly writes a letter to Pete’s wife about all of his affairs, to be opened only if Alan ever married — something Alan has sworn he won’t do. Complications arise when Alan falls in love and wants to marry.

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Watching 1939: Slightly Honorable (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. 

slightly honorable1939 film: 
Slightly Honorable (1939)

Release date: 
Dec. 22, 1939

Cast: 
Pat O’Brien, Edward Arnold, Broderick Crawford, Ruth Terry, Claire Dodd, Alan Dinehart, Eve Arden, Phyllis Brooks, Douglass Dumbrille, Bernard Nedell, Douglas Fowley, Evelyn Keyes, Willie Best, Janet Beecher

Studio: 
United Artists

Director: 
Tay Garnett

Plot:
Lawyer John Webb (O’Brien) works to clear his name when his ex-girlfriend (Brooks) is killed.
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Musical Monday: Student Tour (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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Student Tour (1934) – Musical #255

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Charles Reisner

Starring:
Jimmy Durante (billed as Jimmie Durante), Charles Butterworth, Maxine Doyle, Phil Regan, Douglas Fowley, Florine McKinney, Monte Blue, Mischa Auer (uncredited), Bruce Bennett (uncredited), James Ellison (uncredited), Dick Foran (uncredited), Ann Rutherford (uncredited), Arthur Treacher (uncredited)
Himself: Nelson Eddy

Plot:
The Bartlett College crew team is scheduled to sail for a world tour competition. The problem is, the whole team is flunking philosophy class. So they don’t miss out on the tour, Ann (Doyle) convinces the philosophy teacher, who is her uncle, (Buttersworth) to travel with the crew team and give the exam aboard. This is because she’s in love with the team’s captain, Bobby Kane (Regan).

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Watching 1939: 6,000 Enemies (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. 

6000 enemies1939 film: 

6,000 Enemies (1939)

Release date: 

June 9, 1939

Cast: 

Walter Pidgeon, Rita Johnson, Paul Kelly, Nat Pendleton, Harold Huber, Grant Mitchell, John Arledge, J.M. Kerrigan, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Tom Neal, Arthur Aylesworth, Willie Fung, Esther Dale, Helena Phillips Evans, Ernest Whitman

Studio: 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 

George B. Seitz

Plot:

District attorney Steve Donegan (Pidgeon) usually wins his cases; sending thousands to prison. But when Steve is framed by gangster Joe Silenus (Huber) for taking brides, he is sent to jail where he is surrounded by everyone he has imprisoned.

1939 Notes:
• By the numbers:
– Walter Pidgeon was in four films released in 1939.
– Rita Johnson was in seven films releaed in 1939.
– Paul Kelly was in six films released in 1939.
– Harold Huber was in nine films released in 1939.
– Nat Pendleton was in eight films released in 1939.
– John Arledge was in five films released in 1939.
– Arthur Aylesworth was in 18 films released in 1939.
– Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams was in nine films released in 1939.
– Grant Mitchell was in seven films released in 1939.
– Willie Fung was in 10 films released in 1939.
– Helena Phillips Evans was in two films released in 1939.
– Tom Neal was in 12 films released in 1939.
– Ernest Whitman was in five films released in 1939.
– Bernadene Hayes was in eight films released in 1939.
– J.M. Kerrigan was in 15 films released in 1939.
– Esther Dale was in 13 films released in 1939.

Other trivia: 
• During the boxing fight, Walter Pidgeon’s rib was broken. Nat Pendleton was pulling a punch but lost his balance. The scene where Walter Pidgeon is in a hospital bed with a broken rib was filmed before this incident occurred, according to an April 23, 1939, news brief.

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
I went into this film, assuming it would be like most low-budget, 60-minute prison film. But I walked away blown away by the storytelling, camera work and surprised by how gritty this little picture is.

Walter Pidgeon stars as Steve, a district attorney who is framed for bribery and sent to jail. While shouting he is framed, he is reminded that he recently has told the accused that there is no such thing as being framed.

While in jail, Steve quickly finds that he is not going to be making any friends, since most of the prisoners are there because of him. Several prisoners are planning their own revenge plans, while the prison’s physician, Dr. Malcolm Scott (played by Paul Kelly), tries to protect Steve, or give him tips on how to survive. While Steve is in jail, his younger brother Phil (John Arledge), is trying to clear his name.

The title of course refers to the prisoners who dislike Walter Pidgeon.

While Walter Pidgeon is now best known for his Academy Award-nominated roles in “Mrs. Miniver,” and his stalwart, leading man prescience. News briefs leading up to this film note that this was one of Pidgeon’s first and best leading dramatic roles, after often playing “the other man” to Clark Gable or Nelson Eddy.

It is a surprisingly gritty film for Walter Pidgeon. Usually dressed in a white dinner coat while smoking a pipe, here he’s in a prison uniform and doing hard labor in jail.

One of the most compelling scenes is during a boxing match with Walter Pidgeon and Nat Pendleton (who won an Olympic silver medal for wrestling before his acting career). The fight is meant for Pidgeon’s character to prove himself to the other prisoners. George B. Seitz’s direction is really interesting during this scene, as he makes each punch the point of view of the camera. The camera shows quick closeups as Pidgeon is punched in the face, showing the intensity of the fight.

Pidgeon did sustain an injury from this fight, according to a news brief, when Pendleton stumbled while trying to pull a punch.

My only complaint is that the rest of the film is wrapped up very quickly. Also this is a spoiler, but it’s becoming a film fact: John Arledge dies in nearly every movie I watch with him. That is all the more sad since he died young at age 40.

“6,000 Enemies” (1939) isn’t one of 1939’s best films, but it’s an intriguing MGM B-level movie that was a better film than I expected it to be.

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