Watching 1939: Beauty for the Asking (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: 
Beauty for the Asking (1939)

Release date: 
Feb. 10, 1939

Cast: 
Lucille Ball, Patric Knowles, Donald Woods, Frieda Inescort, Inez Courtney, Leona Maricle, Frances Mercer, Whitney Bourne, Kay Sutton, Ann Evers, Charles Coleman (uncredited), Leon Belasco (uncredited)

Studio: 
RKO Radio Pictures

Director: 
Glenn Tryon

Plot:
Jean Russell (Ball) is jilted by her fiancée Denny Williams (Knowles), when he marries $10 million heiress Flora Barton-Williams (Inescort). After also losing her job, Jean tries to focus on marketing a cold cream that she has been developing in her kitchen. Jean becomes a successful cosmetic entrepreneur with a cold cream and beauty salon with Denny and his wife as an investor in the business, with Denny trying to get back in Jean’s good favors.

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Musical Monday: Time Out for Rhythm (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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Time Out for Rhythm (1941) – Musical #420

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Sidney Salkow

Starring:
Rudy Vallee, Ann Miller, Rosemary Lane, Allen Jenkins, Richard Lane, Stanley Andrews, Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curley Howard, Blanche Stewart, Elvia Allman, Alan Hale Jr. (uncredited), Alex Romero (uncredited), Bess Flowers (uncredited)
Themselves: Joan Merrill, Glen Gray and His Casa Loma Orchestra, Eddie Durant’s Rhumba Orchestra, Six Hits and a Miss

Plot:
Danny Collins (Vallee) and Mike Armstrong (Lane) meet at random in a nightclub. Danny is a Harvard grad and Mike the agent of singer Frances Lewis (Lane), and Danny critiques Frances’s voice as she performs in the nightclub. Danny and Mike form a successful New York talent agency in an effort to make Frances a star, but she gets married and briefly leaves show business. Danny and Mike start rehearsing a groundbreaking television hour with Joan Merrill and jazz bands performing. But when Frances gets divorced, Mike wants the whole show reworked to star her, causing a rift between Danny and Mike.

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Watching 1939: Lucky Night (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: 
Lucky Night (1939)

Release date: 
May 4, 1939

Cast: 
Myrna Loy, Robert Taylor, Joseph Allen, Henry O’Neill, Douglas Fowley, Charles Lane, Bernard Nedell, Gladys Blake, Marjorie Main, Bernadene Hayes, Irving Bacon, Frank Faylen (uncredited)

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
Norman Taurog

Plot:
Cora Jordan (Loy) is rich and doesn’t know what she wants out of life. After jilting her suitor, she decides to break free from her rich father (O’Neill) to see if she can find what she’s looking for. While unsuccessfully looking for a job, she meets unemployed Bill Overton (Taylor). The two team up for a lucky evening of gambling. The fun is complicated when they marry when Bill wants to keep having fun and Cora feels they should be more serious.

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TCMFF 2020: The Special Home Edition

This week, many of us would have been traveling to Hollywood for the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF).

Unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 situation, the 2020 event had to be cancelled. However, the leaders of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) put their heads together, and created a special TCMFF Home Edition to keep fans and their staff engaged during a difficult time.

On Tuesday, a media round-table was held with TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz, TCM General Manager Pola Changnon, and TCM Senior Vice of Programming Charlie Tabesh.

Each shared that this has been an emotional time, as they look forward to the festival as much as the fans do. I didn’t expect to get teary on the call, but hearing how emotional the cancellation is for the staff (as much as the pass holders) made me cry a little.

Here is a summary of the questions asked during the media roundtable:

Can you give an overview of why TCM decided to do the TCMFF Home Edition?

Pola Changnon: A month ago, we were concerned about the evolving situation and how that may or might not affect our festival dates (April 16-19). It was around this time a month ago, that it became clear that we would have to cancel the festival. We didn’t feel comfortable postponing — you can imagine the work it takes to rearrange the films and locations. Within a day, all of us were together in Los Angeles for business. We started the day off with an acknowledgement that we would have to cancel. By the end of the day, Charlie Tabesh felt confident that he could pull something together for the network in place of the festival. This is a special weekend that people look forward to all year long – both staff and pass holders. We asked ourselves how could we do this and will it be special enough? Within a couple of days, Charlie came up with something so robust.

Charlie Tabesh: We had to figure out, “How do you make this different than what is already on TCM?” We wanted it to be special and include a lot of material that we wouldn’t include day-to-day on TCM.

Our first idea was that we would play movies that we were planning to show at the festival this year. The issue there is we wouldn’t have the guests, tributes and other special videos that were done over the years.  One of the reasons we included previous festival moments so that it involved some of the best of past festivals, we figured out how to make it special with Ben’s intros, and talk about how we were there with celebrities and use tribute pieces and interviews that happened before a film. That’s what makes it different as far as production.

Ben Mankiewicz: We shot intros in a way that I’ve never shot anything. We have had a scaled down crew with no one coming within 10 feet of me. We shot and wrote fresh intros—we always write fresh intros — but fresh as in related to the festival. Programming this weekend will look different, and isn’t shot on my set. I’m also reminded by what Pola said—people look forward to this weekend all year. That includes us. A large part of what we look forward to is the connection we have with our fans. When TCM announced that we couldn’t do the festival, I was asked to write something to say on the air. In both writing and delivering it, I got really emotional. I almost couldn’t get through without crying. I didn’t expect that. It’s emotional for all of us. Charlie’s crew helped me provide some new context. All of what TCM does this weekend – online, social media — is to engance the programing we will have airing this weekend.

What is the plan for next year? Are you going to keep the same programing that was planned for this year?

Charlie Tabesh: There are a lot of things we can take from this year and move it to next year. But next year there may be different talent or different restorations and anniversaries. There will be things that will reshape the festival. We have a bit of a head start, but the work will still need to be done for next year.

Following the upcoming home edition, will TCM plan other events for the upcoming year?

Ben Mankiewicz: Anecdotally, the response I get on social media is almost the most significant response that I have gotten anywhere. The engagement with fans is the best and most meaningful part of my job. I think we have learned there is real value of having this online component so that even more people can be included.

How to watch:

You can find the full schedule for the TCMFF Home Edition here.

To make the best of this weird quarantine situation, Comet Over Hollywood will post throughout the weekend what we’re watching during #TCMFF and outfits I would be wearing if I was there. Follow along on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Musical Monday: Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

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:
Neptune’s Daughter (1949) – Musical #117

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Edward Buzzell

Starring:
Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett, Ted de Corsia, Mel Blanc, Mike Mazurki, Theresa Harris (uncredited), Joi Lansing (uncredited), Dee Turnell (uncredited)
Himself: Xavier Cugat

Plot:
Eve Barrett (Williams) is a champion swimmer who is convinced to start a Neptune’s swimsuit company in a partnership with Joe Backett (Wynn). Eve becomes a successful swimsuit designer with Joe. A South American polo team comes to town for a match, and Eve and Joe plan a swimming extravaganza and fashion show to partner with the big event. Eve’s man-hungry sister Betty Barrett (Garrett) hopes to find a romance with a polo player, and mistakes the team’s masseur Jack Spratt (Skelton) for the lead player, José O’Rourke. The real José O’Rourke (Montalban) pursues Eve, while she is thinking he is two-timing her sister.

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Watching 1939: On Borrowed Time (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: 
On Borrowed Time (1939)

Release date: 
July 6, 1939

Cast: 
Lionel Barrymore, Cedric Hardwicke, Beulah Bondi, Bobs Watson, Una Merkel, Nat Pendleton, Henry Travers, Grant Mitchell, Eily Malyon, James Burke, Ian Wolfe, Phillip Terry, Sonny Bupp (uncredited)

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
Harold S. Bucquet

Plot:
When Pud’s (Watson) parents die, he goes to live with his grandparents Julian Northrup (Barrymore) and Granny Nellie (Bondi). Because of Pud’s inheritance, his aunt Demetria (Malyon) tries to adopt Pud using his grandfather’s bad influence as an excuse. When Death, named Mr. Brink (Hardwicke), visits to take Gramps, Gramps traps Death in a tree so he can stay with Pud and keep him away from Aunt Demetria.

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Musical Monday: Street Girl (1929)

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:
Street Girl (1929) – Musical #629

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Wesley Ruggles

Starring:
Betty Compson, John Harron, Jack Oakie, Ned Sparks, John Harron, Guy Buccola, Joseph Cawthorn, Doris Eaton, Ivan Lebedeff

Plot:
The Four Seasons is a jazz group made up of four musicians Mike Fall (Harron), Joe Spring (Oakie), Happy Winter (Sparks) and Pete Summer (Buccola). They are talented but are financially down on their luck. They find Frederika Joyzelle (Compson) on their doorstep, about to pass out from hunger. The band takes her into their flat, where she helps do the housework. Frederika is an immigrant from the country Aregon, where she was a talented violinist. Frederika joins the band and helps them rise to fame, particularly when she performs for the visiting Prince of Aregon (Lebedeff).

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Musical Monday: The Life of the Party (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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Life of the Party (1937) – Musical #624

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
William A. Seiter

Starring:
Joe Penner, Gene Raymond, Harry Parke (billed as Parkyakarkus), Harriet Hilliard (also known as Harriet Nelson), Victor Moore, Ann Miller, Helen Broderick, Franklin Pangborn, Margaret Dumont, Richard Lane, Ann Shoemaker,

Plot:
Mitzi (Hilliard) aspires to be a singer and is traveling with her aunt Pauline (Broderick) to California for her big chance. The issue is that Mitzi’s mother (Shoemaker) wants her to give up her dream of singing. On the way, she meets Barry (Raymond) when she gets her shoe heel stuck on the train. Barry has to wait to get married until he is 30 so he doesn’t lose his inheritance, but he falls in love with Mitzi.

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Watching 1939: Meet Dr. Christian (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: 
Meet Dr. Christian (1939)

Release date: 
Nov. 17, 1939

Cast: 
Jean Hersholt, Dorothy Lovett, Robert Baldwin, Enid Bennett, Paul Harvey, Marcia Mae Jones, Jackie Moran, Patsy Parsons, Maude Eburne, Frank Coghlan Jr., Sarah Edwards, John Kelly, Eddie Acuff

Studio: 
RKO Radio Pictures

Director: 
Bernard Vorhaus

Plot:
Dr. Christian (Hersholt) is a small-town doctor with a clinic in River’s End. When John Hewitt (Harvey) is appointed mayor, Dr. Christian lobbies for him to build a hospital in their town. Instead, Hewitt tries to push Dr. Christian out, feeling he’s too old-fashioned and they need a more modern town physician.

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Musical Monday: Springtime in the Rockies (1942)

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:
Springtime in the Rockies (1942) – Musical #163

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, John Payne, Cesar Romero, Charlotte Greenwood, Edward Everett Horton, Iron Eyes Cody (uncredited), Jackie Gleason (uncredited), Russell Hicks (uncredited), Trudy Marshall (uncredited)
Himself: Harry James and His Music Makers, Six Hits and a Miss, Bando da Lua, Helen Forrest

Plot:
Vicky Lane (Grable) and Dan Christy (Payne) are a Broadway performing duo and also an item. But Vicky gets tired of Dan’s philandering and takes an offer performing at a resort in Lake Louise, located in the Canadian Rockies with her old dance partner Victor Prince (Romero). Dan follows Vicky to the Rockies to try to win her back, and because his career is sunk without her. Along the way he picks up a valet (Horton) and secretary (Miranda), who Vicky thinks he’s in love with.

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