McCrea in May contest at Comet

Comet Over Hollywood is hosting it’s first ever contest in celebration of Turner Classic Movies finally honoring Joel McCrea as May’s Star of the Month.

As my biggest heartthrob and favorite actor, I had to do something for Mr. McCrea, as well as thank all of you for your support of Comet.

I am giving away three Joel McCrea comedies on DVD: 

Jean Arthur realizes a strange man (Joel McCrea) is staying in her apartment with the permission of border, Charles Coburn in "More the Merrier" (1943).

-The More the Merrier (1943): The World War 2 housing shortage comedy also starring Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn.

Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert in "Palm Beach Story" (1942).

-The Palm Beach Story (1942): McCrea’s wife Claudette Colbert divorces him in order to earn McCrea money from a millionaire in this Preston Sturges comedy. The movie also stars Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee.

Screenwriter Joel McCrea lives as a hobo to see the other side in "Sullivans Travels" (1941).

-Sullivan’s Travels (1941): McCrea is a screen play writer tired of writing fluffy comedies. He travels as a hobo for inspiration for a serious script; getting into trouble and risking his life. The film also stars Veronica Lake.

The contest will be open from Tuesday, May 1, 2012, to Thursday, May 31, 2012. There will be three winners-each receiving one of these DVDs-announced in June.

To enter send the answers to the following questions to cometoverhollywood@gmail.com:

1. What actress was married to Joel McCrea for 57 years?

2. What film did McCrea say was his personal favorite film he made?

3. What is the name of McCrea’s actor son? Name a movie he was in.

4. What actor did McCrea say he always received “leftover scripts” from, including his famous role in Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent”?

5. What was the name of the movie where Joel McCrea played James Kildare (starting off the Lew Ayres series)?

Good luck everyone and spread the word! Remember, email your answers to cometoverhollywood@gmail.com.

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Jessica Pickens: Girl Reporter

Comet Over Hollywood is moving!

Well…not the blog, but the blogger!

The backstory

Ever since I’ve been in the fourth grade I wanted to be a writer. I had a big imagination and pictured myself on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine with my best seller.

In high school I got more interested in newspapers and majored in mass communications-journalism at Winthrop University getting involved in the school newspaper The Johnsonian, TV show, Winthrop Close-Up and radio station, WINR.

Starting in March, I started looking for a reporter position in the southeast. By the time I graduated in May, I figured out that getting a job at a newspaper was going to be harder than I thought (as some of you in media related fields might also have found).

For the past two months I’ve been working at a local Greenville newspaper as an advertising representative while still looking for a reporter position.

Two weeks ago, I got a job at The Elkin Tribune in Elkin, N.C. So I will be packing up and moving up to North Carolina-spreading my classic movie love to a whole new state!

Celebration

In honor of this exciting, nerve-wracking event, I’m dedicating this post to journalists in movies. Everyone is invited to the party!

Glenda Farrell as Torchy Blaine most likely up to no good.

Torchy Blaine Series: Torchy Blaine was a series of films made during the 1930s much like Boston Blackie, The Falcon or Andy Hardy. Torchy Blaine snooped and got into trouble in eight films from 1937 to 1939 (yep, they knew how to churn them out in those days). Torchy Blaine is a wise-cracking and troublesome female reporter. She eavesdrops, bugs rooms and follows people in order to get information-all highly illegal in these days, according to my Media Law and Ethics classes at Winthrop. Not only does Torchy usually get caught by the bad guys she is spying on, but she is constantly at odds with her policeman boyfriend, Steve McBride. At the end of each film, Steve and Torchy usually agree to get married but Torchy has to agree to give up her reporter career-as we all know, this doesn’t happen. Review: These films are very silly but equally entertaining. Through the eight part series, Glenda Farrell, Lola Lane and Jane Wyman all play Torchy.  But Glenda is my favorite Torchy. However, Lola wears some adorable lounging pajamas in “Torchy Blaine in Panama.”

Citizen Kane (1940): I don’t feel that I can discuss journalism movies without mentioning Citizen Kane. The film follows Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane and his rise as the top newspaper publisher. We all know this film is based off the life of William Randolph Hearst-who was still living at the time. In Joseph Cotton’s autobiography “Vanity Gets You Somewhere,” Cotton says “Kane” was set to premiere in Radio City Music Hall. Hearst made sure it did not play there-or in several other movie houses across the United States. That goes to show just how powerful he was. Review: I do really like this film. It was a bit of an ‘Indie’ film in its day so its funny that is revered so much now. I really enjoy it for the historical background of it as well.

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell getting the scoop in “His Girl Friday”

His Girl Friday (1940): When you say “female reporters in film” Rosalind Russell with her crazy hats in “His Girl Friday” automatically comes to mind.  Roz plays the ex-wife of Cary Grant, her reporter co-worker, and is engaged to Ralph Bellamy. On the day that Roz and Ralph are supposed to get married, a huge murder story breaks and news hound that she is, Roz can’t stay away. Not surprisingly, Ralph Bellamy doesn’t get the girl in the end (like always), and Roz and Cary fall back in love in the midst of copy and photography. Review: I really enjoy this movie, but you REALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION.  For comedic value, Cary and Rosalind talk very, very fast. Several actresses turned down this role including Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne and Jean Arthur. I think Carole, Jean and Irene would have been perfect for the role, but I like seeing Rosalind in a role that is both sexy, funny and strong. Around this time she was flexing her comedic muscles with “The Women” and “No Time For Comedy,” and this is most definitely one of her best during this period.

Foreign Correspondent (1940): Though the United States had not yet joined the war, this Alfred Hitchcock directed film follows American reporter, John Jones-played by my heartthrob Joel McCrea-is sent on assignment to report on the war. Jones starts to uncover a spy ring in England that is aiding the Axis. Jones also meets and falls in love with Carol Fisher-played by one of my favorites, Laraine Day. I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to ruin this Hitchcock thriller, but watch for a disaster ending. Hitchcock does it ingeniously. Review: I actually think this is the film the secured in my mind that I wanted to be a journalist. The excitement and discovery that Joel McCrea experienced was irresistible. To this day my AIM name is even the title of this film.

Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland in “Arise My Love.” This photo has nothing to do with journalism. Just makes me happy!

Arise, My Love (1940): This film also follows a reporter in Europe during the start of World War II. This time our hero reporter is Claudette Colbert as Augusta Nash, based off real life reporter Martha Gellhorn. Nash saves pilot Ray Milland (as Tom Martin) before he is about to be executed by Fascists for his involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Nash saves him, exclusively for the purpose of a story. Martin is thankful for his life, but also a little peeved. The two begin to fall in love though they resist because of their conflicting life styles: Nash doesn’t want to give up her career and Martin wants to fight in the upcoming war. Review: Colbert said this was one of her favorite films that she made. It might be one of my favorites too. There is a good mix of romance, adventure and journalism. Ray Milland is probably at his handsomest here.

Meet John Doe (1941): This is another film about unethical journalism. Barbara Stanwyck as Ann Mitchell is fired from her reporter job. To get her job back Ann prints a fake suicide letter in the newspaper signed by “John Doe” who says he will kill himself on Christmas Eve because he can’t take the world’s ‘social ills’ any longer. To prove the letter isn’t a fake (which it obviously is) Ann searches for a man who agrees to pose as John Doe. Gary Cooper (Long John Willowby) and his friend The Colonel (played by Walter Brennan) are in need of money and John agrees to play the part. John Doe becomes a national figure, inspiring people all over to change their ways and come together. However, the role of John Doe requires John to commit suicide. If he doesn’t, it will let down his believers, and newspaper publisher D.B. Norton (played by loveable or hateable Edward Arnold) doesn’t want to disappoint his readers. Review: I love love love this movie. It’s a perfect example at just what journalism can do. Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are so perfect together. We also get a treat of seeing Walter and Gary break out in mouth organ music. One of THE perfect examples of Frank Capra’s ‘social change’ films.

For other ‘Gary Cooper duped by the press’ films see Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

The real Ernie Pyle who is portrayed by Burgess Meredith in “The Story of G.I. Joe”

Story of G.I. Joe (1945): This is a semi-autobiographical film about World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle, played by Burgess Meredith.  Pyle joins Company C, 18th Infantry, lead by Lit. Walker played by Robert Mitchum, and fights with them in North Africa and Italy, documenting their experiences along the way. Pyle learns more about the men personally and we watch as battle wears on their nerves. The film follows real life and ends with Pyle being killed by a Japanese sniper. Review: This is one of my favorite war films, mostly because Ernie Pyle is one of my role models. When I interviewed at Fort Jackson-an Army base in Columbia, S.C.- there was a display about Ernie Pyle. I was so proud that they were honoring him and really wanted to be part of that newspaper. “G.I. Joe” was the only film Robert Mitchum was ever nominated for an Academy Award and unfortunately lost. I really feel that he deserved it.

There is an unintentional running theme throughout all of those films. All of them were made during war years and several from 1940. Here is a brief list of other films featuring journalists. I’ve listed the actors who portray reporters.

Other films:

My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937) -Maureen O’Sullivan and Walter Pidgeon

Nothing Sacred (1937)- Frederic March

Everything Happens at Night (1939)- Ray Milland and Robert Cummings

Philadelphia Story (1940)- James Stewart and Ruth Hussey

Lifeboat (1944)-Tallulah Bankhead

Objective Burma (1945)- Henry Hull

Close to My Heart (1951)- Ray Milland

The Sell Out (1952)- Walter Pidgeon

Roman Holiday (1953)-Gregory Peck

Never Let Me Go (1953)- Clark Gable

Teacher’s Pet (1958)- Doris Day and Clark Gable

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Hollywood Dads and Star Babies

On Father’s Day we remember the times dad taught us to drive, checked our oil and watched “Calamity Jane” with us.  I would also like to remember Hollywood fathers that had children who also went on to have film careers.  Here are a few of my favorite Hollywood families.

Like father, like son:

John and Patrick Wayne in “The Searchers” (1956)

John Wayne and Patrick Wayne-

Can you think of a more attractive father and son? Patrick Wayne had big cowboy boots to fill but had a modest career as an actor. Patrick was born in 1939, when his father made one of his most successful films “Stagecoach.”  Patrick was 11 when he made his first film, “Rio Grande” with his father. John and his son were in the ten films together including:
Rio Grande” (1950),”The Quiet Man” (1952), “The Searchers” (1956), “The Conqueror” (1956), “The Alamo” (1960), “The Comancheros” (1960), “Donovan’s Reef” (1963), “McLintock” (1963), “The Green Berets” (1968) and “Big Jake” (1971).

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr. in 1936 on the set of “Jump for Glory”

 

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.-

Another attractive, father and son duo: Douglas Fairbank Sr. and Jr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born into Hollywood royalty. Daddy Fairbanks was one of the silent screen’s biggest idols and Junior became a heart-throb (at least mine, he is my desktop background).
“I never tried to emulate my father. Anyone trying to do that would be a second-rate carbon copy,” Fairbanks Jr. said. However, both men were known for their swashbuckling roles.
Jr. had a successful career, best known for his role with Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen in “Gunga Din” (1939) and “Sinbad the Sailor” (1947).
Both men were married to some of Hollywood’s top actresses. Senior to Mary Pickford-their estate was known as “Pickfair”- and Junior to Joan Crawford.

Ed and Keenan Wynn in 1948 at a hospital charity event.

Ed Wynn and Keenan Wynn-

Not as handsome, but definitely funny.  Keenan helped his father Ed get a Hollywood career, according to IMDB.  Keenan always played the pal, heel or funny man in the movies while Ed was the bumbling clown.  The father and son team were in the Disney movies “The Absent Minded Professor” and “Son of Flubber” together in the 1960s.

 

 

 Daddy’s little girl:

John and Hayley Mills-

“Acting is just a natural thing in my family. Other boys and girls go into the family business. So do we,” Hayley said.
John Mills had a successful career in England starring in films like “This Happy Breed” and”Hobson’s Choice.”
Hayley’s made success in Disney movies such “Pollyanna” and “Parent Trap.” Dad cashed in at Disney in the movie “Swiss Family Robinson’s” playing the father.
The two were in the 1959 thriller “Tiger Bay” and the 1966 comedy/drama “The Family Way.”

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery

Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery-

Robert Montgomery started in movies when talkies shook Hollywood. He shocked audiences with Norma Shearer in the sex comedy/drama “The Divorcee” (1930). He showed war wasn’t all patrotism and glamour in “They Were Expendable” (1945) and let audiences see how he solved a murder through his eyes literally (we only saw his face in the movie a few times) in “Lady in the Lake” (1947).

In contrast, his daughter Elizabeth, starred in the wholesome 1960s television series, “Bewitched.”  Elizabeth got her start after appearing on several episodes of her father’s series, “Robert Montgomery Presents,” according to IMDB.  “I guess you could say I’m a TV baby,” Elizabeth said.

Alfred and Patricia Hitchcock-

The master of suspense had one daughter. Patricia didn’t have a huge film career, but she did act in three films that her father directed. Her largest role was as Barbara, Ruth Roman’s little sister, in “Strangers in a Train” (1951).  She also had a bit role in “Stage Fright” (1950), was a secretary in “Psycho” (1961) and appeared in several episodes of “Alfred Hitchcok Presents.”

Some actors are less than complementary about Hitch, but he and Patricia had a good relationship. The book “Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism” analyzes “Stage Fright,” comparing Patricia’s and Jane Wyman’s similar appearances. The joking but loving father-daughter relationship between  Wyman and her father in the film characterized Patricia and Hitchcock’s relationship, according to the book.     Other film fathers:-Edgar Bergen: puppet, Charlie McCarthy and daughter, Candice-Lloyd Bridges: sons Beau and Jeff-Lon Chaney: son Lon Chaney, Jr. of “Of Mice and Men” (1939) fame-Tony Curtis: daughter Jamie Lee-Kirk Douglas:  son, Michael-Henry Fonda: son Peter, daughter Jane-Rance Howard: songs Clint and Ron-Walter Huston: director son, John-Robert Keith: son, Brian of “Family Affair” and “Parent Trap” fame-Gordon MacRea: daughter, Meredith of “Petticoat Junction” fame-Joel McCrea: son, Jody of beach movie fame-Vincent Minnelli: daughter, Liza-Lyle Talbot: son Stephen (Gilbert from “Leave it to Beaver”)

Happy Father’s day to the star of our household, my dad, who has to put up with three daughters and their shopping, complaining and movie musicals. Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.