Musical Monday: Rise and Shine (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.

rise and shine2This week’s musical:
Rise and Shine (1941) – Musical #433

20th Century Fox

Allan Dwan

Jack Oakie, Linda Darnell, George Murphy, Donald Meek, Milton Berle, Walter Brennan, Sheldon Leonard, Raymond Walburn, Emma Dunn, Donald MacBride, William Haade, Dick Rich

To keep Clayton College open, they must have more students enroll. And the way to do that is have a winning football team. However, the star football player Boley Bolenciecwcz (Oakie) is facing scrutiny, because his grades aren’t up to snuff. Boley goes to stay with the family of student and cheerleader Louise Murray (Darnell), including her eccentric parents (Meek, Dunn) and grandpa (Brennan), so he can have a quieter atmosphere to study and sleep. However, a gangster (Leonard) wants Boley kidnapped, because he wants Notre Dame to win against Clayton.

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Musical Monday: Sweet and Low-Down (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.

sweet and low downThis week’s musical:
Sweet and Low-Down (1944) – Musical #713

20th Century Fox

Archie Mayo

Benny Goodman (as himself), Linda Darnell, Jack Oakie, Lynn Bari, James Cardwell, Dickie Moore, Allyn Joslyn, John Campbell, Roy Benson, Buddy Swan (uncreated), Gloria Talbot (uncredited), Terry Moore (uncredited), Mae Marsh (uncredited), Beverly Hudson (uncredited), Dorothy Vaughan (uncredited)
Themselves: Morey Feld, Jess Stacy and Sid Weiss

Benny Goodman (himself) and his band are performing in his hometown, when a child convinces him — by stealing his clarinet — to come listen to his trombone-playing brother, Johnny Birch (Cardwell). Goodman invites Birch to join his band, but Birch’s hot temper sometimes hinders his success. Goodman’s singer Pat Stirling (Bari) takes a liking to Birch, as does socialite Trudy Wilson (Darnell). Though Trudy meets Johnny under dubious settings — posing as a 14-year-old girl while she’s taking her nephew (Moore) to a military school prom.

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Photoplay Jan. 1948: Happy New Woman

“With these resolutions, ring in the new … to enhance your beauty the whole year through.”

“Happy New Woman” by Anita Colby (Scanned by Comet Over Hollywood)

For the new year, let’s enhance your beauty routine a la 1948:

Linda Darnell’s slogan is “care in color.”

Beverly Tyler lives by “cleanliness.”

Lizabeth Scott likes the streamlined, uncluttered look

Paulette Goddard says to stay alert.

In a January 1948 Photoplay article, Anita Colby, Photoplay beauty editor and feminine director at Selznick Studios, shares how to be a new woman in the new year with some help from Hollywood actresses.

Colby says to get rid of things that may be a result of carelessness in your appearance: figure bulges; makeup colors that don’t go with your skin, eyes or hair; or sagging and uneven hemlines.

The article “Happy New Woman” includes 12 tips inspired by Linda Darnell, Beverly Tyler, Lizabeth Scott and Paulette Goddard:

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Watching 1939: Day-Time Wife (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:  Day-Time Wife (1939)

Release date:  Nov. 24, 1939

Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Warren William, Binnie Barnes, Wendy Barrie, Joan Davis, Leonid Kinskey, Joan Valerie, Renie Riano, Marie Blake (uncredited)

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Director:  Gregory Ratoff

Jane (Darnell) finds out her husband Ken (Power) is stepping out with his secretary Kitty (Barrie) on their second anniversary. Jane decides to become a secretary herself to find out why husbands go after their secretaries. Her boss is architect Barney Dexter (William), who takes more than a professional interest in her.

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Musical Monday: “Centennial Summer” (1946)

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.

Centennial_Summer_FilmPosterThis week’s musical:
“Centennial Summer” (1946)–Musical #505

20th Century Fox

Otto Preminger

Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, Walter Brennan, Constance Bennett, Dorothy Gish

Set in Philadelphia during the United State’s centennial celebration in 1876, the plot focuses on the Rogers family. Their Aunt Zenia (Bennett) comes to visit from Paris, France for the celebration and brings her French nephew Philippe (Wilde). The oldest Rogers sisters Edith (Darnell)-the flirty older sister who gets all the boys- and Julia (Craine)-the more quiet sister who has never had a romance- immediately both are enchanted by the Frenchman. The two both work for his affections.

-Composer Jerome Kern’s last musical score for either stage or film, according to “Hollywood Musicals Year by Year” by Stanley Green
-The film was Fox’s response to MGM’s hit “Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944). Both films focus on turn of the century nostalgia.
-Based on a book by Albert E. Idell
-Very few of the actors do their own singing. Crain was dubbed by Louanne Hogan (who also dubbed Crain in “State Fair“) and Darnell was dubbed by Kay St. Germain Wells (who also dubbed Darnell in “Hangover Square“).

Edith (Darnell) and Julia (Craine) compete for the attentions of Phillippe (Wilde). Comet Over Hollywood/ Screencap by Jessica P.

Edith (Darnell) and Julia (Craine) compete for the attentions of Phillippe (Wilde). Comet Over Hollywood/ Screencap by Jessica P.

-The vibrant, Technicolor sets and costumes make this film.
-The movie includes items that were introduced during this time period such as a magic lantern show.
-Cornel Wilde carrying two dachshunds as he gets off the train….only because I’m a dachshund owner.
-I love the large cast ranging from silent film star Dorothy Gish, pre-code queen Constance Bennett to fresh faced Jeanne Craine.

Notable Songs:
For Jerome Kern’s last work before his 1945 death, none of the songs in this film were memorable.
Many of them seemed misplaced. For example: Philppe (Wilde) and Jesse (Brennan) were about to have a serious conversation in a saloon about Julia (Craine) when African-American singer Avon Long enters the saloon and starts singing “Cinderella Sue.” Though the song was probably one of the more entertaining tunes in the film, it cut right into the middle of a scene. Why would they do that?

Philippe and Jesse look ridiculous dressed in French costumes (after a masquerade) in a saloon. Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.

Philippe and Jesse look ridiculous dressed in French costumes (after a masquerade) in a saloon. Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.

My Review:
This is actually one movie I wish was not a musical. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast and the story line and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. But right as the plot was moving right along, it would come to a grinding halt with a misplaced, forgettable song.
It’s very obvious that this was 20th Century Fox trying their hand at a turn-of-the-century family stories since Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had so much success with “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944).
However, “Centennial” is more frustrating than heartwarming.
All of the actors did a wonderful job, particularly Jeanne Crain who has always been a favorite of mine. However, Cornel Wilde’s French accent sounded more like a Charles Boyer impression.
“Centennial Summer” is a film I have searched for and wanted to see for years. Thank you to our friends over at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings for letting me know it is currently up on Youtube and contributing to an enjoyable afternoon.

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Mommies Dearest: Stage mothers, Mother’s Day Style

Happy mother’s day to all of our wonderful parents. Today’s blog post is highlighting parents that sacrificed all, sometimes even the well-being of the child, to make some of our favorite actor and actresses movie stars. Happy mother’s day!

Jackie Coogan and his parents

Jackie Coogan-Jackie Coogan started his career as a baby in vaudeville with his acting family. A age seven he was starring with Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid” (1921). All his success brought a lot of money, which his parents spent. Coogan earned roughly $3 million during his career as a child actor and his mother and stepfather spent it all.  In 1935, Coogan asked for the money he had made and his parents refused to give it to him. This resulted in the Coogan Bill which puts 15% of what a child actor earns into a trust fund. Coogan later told his young co-stars in “The Adams Family” that they were able to keep their earnings because of him.

Linda Darnell- Darnell’s alcoholic mother, Pearl Brown, had her modeling at the age of 11. In her first movie “Hotel for Women,” she was made up to look like she was in her 20’s and was only 16.  Starting out so young and marrying the young men caused Darnell to follow the same path of alcoholism like her mother. Linda Darnell once said, “”Mother really shoved me along, spotting me in one contest after another. I had no great talent, and I didn’t want to be a movie star particularly. But Mother had always wanted it for herself, and I guess she attained it through me.” Pearl was unpopular and overbearing in Hollywood, and gave Linda a lot of bad publicity.

Peggy Ann Garner and mother, Virginia

 Peggy Ann Garner- Garner’s mother, Virginia, started Peggy’s career as a model when she was a child and was in her first movie in 1938. Garner had a successful career throughout the 1940s in movies like “Jane Eyre” (1944) and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” but was unable to make a transition into adult films. She was in movies like “Black Widow” and several TV performances, but they were all forgettable.

Darryl Hickman- In the child star edition of the Turner Classic Movie Private Screenings, Hickman recalled asking his mother how he got into movies. She told him, “Because you wanted it so much.” Hickman asked, “I wanted to be an actor at aged 3?” I’m not sure if Hickman was pushed in to it, but this is an example of what so many parents told their children. That they wanted to be an actor but they could barely even walk or talk, let alone make decisions.

Gypsy Lee Rose/June Havoc-The famous Rose Thompson Hovick was the mother of June Havoc and Gypsy Lee Rose. Mama Rose did anything to further her daughter’s careers, particularly June. Both daughters had to wait until their mother died to write memoirs because they worried about a lawsuit.


Shirley Temple and her parents, George and Gertrude

Shirely Temple- Dickie Moore was once quoted as saying that Shirley Temple wasn’t the problem, it was her mother. Shirley’s parents encouraged her singing and dancing when she was three and she was discovered at a dance studio. Shirley’s mother, Gertrude, styled Temple’s hair with exactly 56 pin curls to look like Mary Pickford’s hair, and before every scene she would tell Shirley to, “Sparkle!” Shirley Temple faced the same fate of Jackie Coogan. Temple lived like a little princess, with a bowling alley and a life-sized play house in her backyard. However, when her career dwindled, so had the money.  After marrying Charles Black, they decided to look into her finances and it showed that much of her money had been spent to support her family-what was left belonged to her parents. There should have been $356,000 in her account, but her father, George, disobeyed court orders and kept the money, according to BBC.

Natalie Wood-After reading Suzanne Finstad’s biography “Natasha,” I’m convinced Wood’s mother Maria Gurdin was crazy. Maria wasn’t able to have a be the actress so she started to groom her daughter to do what she had always wanted to do.  Crazy things Woods’ mother did:

•To make Natalie cry in scenes, her mother pulled the wings off of butterfly wings.

•Wood famously broke her wrist in the movie “The Green Promise” and always wore a bracelet over the broken wrist. Her mother didn’t let her daughter get her wrist set with a cast because it might not let her get movie roles, therefore, she always had a lump on her wrist.

•Maria had Natalie wearing the famous pigtails until she was in her early teens so she could still get child roles. Natalie finally chopped them off out of rebellion.

•Natalie started dating a boy she met in high school, and her mother forced Natalie to break up with him. The boy had some emotional issues to begin with, but tried to kill himself (I can’t remember if he succeeded) out of depression from the break up.

•Mother encouraged Natalie to date men twice her age like Frank Sinatra and Raymond Burr because she thought it would help her career.

I know I didn’t mention Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers, who both had famous interfering mothers.  Jean Harlow has been covered a lot in the last few months due to her birthday and new book. Ginger and her mother got along, it was just other’s who didn’t like Lela Rogers, so I left her out. Happy mothers day!

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