Sunday, February 17, 2019

ARTHUR KENNEDY'S CONQUEST OF THE SCREEN BLOGATHON: Bright Victory (1951)


Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon tribute to Arthur Kennedy on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of his birth. Click HERE for the tributes to the fine actor.


Arthur Kennedy
1914-1990

John Arthur Kennedy made his Broadway debut in the short-lived Marc Connelly play Everywhere I Roam in 1938. Through the years, his Broadway roles would include such Arthur Miller classics as Chris in All My Sons, Biff in Death of a Salesman, for which he was awarded the Tony in 1949, and John Proctor in The Crucible. He also starred as Thomas Becket in Jean Anouilh's Becket opposite Laurence Olivier as Henry II in 1961. 

Arthur Kennedy made an impressive film debut in 1940 with James Cagney in City for Conquest. His film career would not include any trophies from the Academy, but he would be nominated for five Oscars. Four of the nominations were in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category for Champion, Trial (Golden Globe winner), Peyton Place, and Some Came Running. His sole Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination was for the 1951 film Bright Victory.

Arthur Kennedy stars as Sergeant Larry Nivens in Bright Victory. We meet Larry in North Africa in 1943 with two fellow soldiers played by Rock Hudson and Kenneth Harvey. Larry is a garrulous character and through his conversation, we learn of Larry's sentimental attachment to the girl back home and his cynical attitude toward her rich father. Larry also has rather foolhardy bravery as when the trio ignores MPs orders to avoid a restricted area due to mines. It is not mines they encounter but German snipers who kill one and permanently damage Larry's optic nerves.

Donald Miele, Peggy Dow, Richard Egan, James Edwards
Arthur Kennedy, Murray Hamilton

The flight home reveals Larry's nervous energy as he tries to avoid thinking of his injuries. He meets another soldier from his home state of Florida played by James Edwards but cuts off the conversation when he realizes the man is African American. Both of these men are on their way to Valley Forge Hospital which opened in 1942 to deal with the war wounded.

Larry is in a ward dedicated to blind soldiers. Like the rest of the men, Larry will go through stages of grief at the loss of his sight. However, the combination of expert staff, training and the support of the other men in the ward, the soldiers learn to adapt to their new normal. Larry goes from a bungled suicide attempt to pride in his achievements and making new friends. Among his fellow patients and staff, you will spot actors Richard Egan, Murray Hamilton, and Robert F. Simon.

Arthur Kennedy, Peggy Dow

Peggy Dow plays Judy Greene, a U.S.O. volunteer in nearby Phoenixville. Judy is well-thought of by everyone, and after a rocky introduction, she and Larry become close. Judy works as a bank teller and introduces Larry to her sister and brother-in-law. Larry is amazed to find himself enjoying life and considering career choices. Judy has fallen hard for Larry but he still has feelings for the girl back home and the security he finds in the memories of life before his blindness.

Judy: "No, no, no. It isn't pity. I know that down deep inside. I didn't want to tell you. I never meant to. I tried to stop it believe me. But whenever I saw you, whenever you touched me, there it was."

James Edwards (fourth billed after the leading ladies) plays Joe Morgan, the soldier who was rebuffed by Larry on the plane. They literally run into each other at Valley Forge and not recalling the earlier meeting, they become inseparable as friends. Larry's old prejudice raises its head when there is talk about new patients arriving and Larry comments that he didn't realize the hospital accepted "that kind". Not only has he hurt Joe, but from that time on Larry is shunned by the other members of the ward until the time for all to part for their homes prior to further treatment at another facility.

Will Geer, Nana Bryant, Arthur Kennedy

Will Geer and Nana Bryant play Larry's parents. They are anxious about the reunion and Mrs. Nevins prattles on about local gossip and about their former maid Ella May, Larry recognizes the attitude he displayed toward Joe. It is easier to spot your own shortcomings when you observe them in others. Larry's emotional growth is in progress.

Larry: "Dad, I'm sorry I hurt mother's feelings but I couldn't help it. My best friend at Valley Forge was a negro, Joe Morgan. I didn't even know he was black until one night I said something to him that tore us wide apart. When mother talked about Ella May it reminded me how she never let me play with negros when I was a kid and how she taught me to think about them. That's why I blew up at her."

Mr. Nevins: "She taught you those things because she was taught them, son. I was too. The whole world is changing and you more than we because you helped to change it."


Julie Adams, Arthur Kennedy

Julie Adams plays Chris Paterson, Larry's fiancee. Her father played by Minor Watson wants the wedding called off, but Chris won't hear of it. Larry and Chris spend weeks reuniting and planning for the future. What they find is that they have both changed and that the past alone won't give them the future they need. Larry discovers he wants more in his life than a charity job at a barrel factory.

The journey to the Avon facility in Connecticut includes a stop at Philadelphia where Larry lays plans for a future career in law thanks to new friends, Judy's brother-in-law played by Jim Backus and a blind lawyer played by Larry Keating. Larry also accepts the opportunities to reconnect with Judy, and with Joe. Both are willing to forget the past and start anew with Larry.

Larry: "I told you I wanted security, remember? Well, I was looking for it in all the wrong places. Nobody can ever give it to you, Judy. That way it costs too much. You gotta make it for yourself or it's no good."

Judy: "I know that. I knew it then."

The future, however it may turn out, is in Larry's own hands with only one guarantee - it won't be easy, but it will be worth it.


Lights Out, a novel by mystery writer Baynard Kendrick (1894-1977) published in 1945 was the basis for the film Bright Victory released in 1951. Philadelphian Kendricks enlisted in World War One by traveling to Canada. A friend's blinding in the war and a visit to the St. Dunstan Hospital in England piqued his curiosity about the training required for blind patients and the patient's coping abilities.

So intense was Kendrick's interest in the subject that he created the popular blind fictional detective, Duncan Maclain. MGM would produce two films based on the character starring Edward Arnold. Later, he would create the blind insurance investigator Longstreet (1971-1972) for television. Kendrick was an instructor to blind soldiers during World War 2, which inspired this novel. He also belonged to organizations that supported the blind, as well as being one of the founding members of the Mystery Writers Association of America.

Arthur Kennedy gives us all of Larry Nevins, his bravery, his fear, his prejudice, and his emotional growth. Most admirable is Larry's persistence in overcoming himself and his circumstances. It is something he has in common with his fellow patients at Valley Forge.

The producer and screenwriter of this movie for Universal-International was Robert Buckner, a Warner Brothers veteran. Mr. Buckner's work on Bright Victory won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and a Writers Guild of America award.

Bright Victory was directed by Mark Robson who got his start in the Val Lewton unit at RKO. Adding to the realism of the story, Robson chose to film Bright Victory on location at Valley Forge Hospital, Phoenixville, and the Broad Street Station in Philadelphia.

The sequences at Valley Forge are fascinating to watch as the patients are trained in practical skills such as Braille and maneuvering streets, and learn how to adjust through the subtle attitudes of the staff and the camaraderie of companions.

Mark Robson previously worked with James Edwards in Home of the Brave, and with Arthur Kennedy in Champion. Robson and Kennedy's future collaborations would include Trial and Peyton Place, all of these titles garnering the actor Oscar nominations.

Lest we begin thinking that the sterling performance of Arthur Kennedy as Larry Nevins was yet another case of "always the bridesmaid and never the bride" the New York Film Critics Circle Award came his way.


Leading ladies:


Peggy Helmerich of Tulsa, formerly Hollywood actress Peggy Dow.


1926 - 2019

Julie Adams visited the Classic Film and TV Cafe.



















Friday, February 15, 2019

ADORING ANGELA LANSBURY BLOGATHON, Murder, She Wrote: The Last Free Man (2001)


The Adoring Angela Lansbury Blogathon is hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews. Enjoy all of the contributions collected HERE


"There is something a little bit mysterious and interesting about her and that certainly appeals to me... Mystery is my business, as you know."
- Angela Lansbury speaking of her character in Mary Poppins Returns, 2019



Murder, She Wrote starring Tony winner and Oscar and Emmy-nominated actress Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher ran on CBS for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996. The series was followed by 4 made-for-TV movies: South by Southwest in 1996, A Story to Die For in 2000, The Last Free Man in 2001, and The Celtic Riddle in 2003. Fans have not given up hope for another visit with J.B. Fletcher.

Angela Lansbury, Anthony Shaw

The Last Free Man is the only Murder, She Wrote script from producer and writer Matthew Sommer. All of the Murder, She Wrote TV movies and 68 episodes of the series were directed by Anthony Shaw who seems to know exactly how to handle his star Angela Lansbury without letting his mother Angela Lansbury get in the way.


"The truth. That is the most elusive of mysteries."
- Cassandra Hawkins (Phylicia Rashad)

Jessica Fletcher is in Virginia to look into the history of her family who came from Ireland and settled in the area in the 18th century. While attending a lecture by historian Dr. Cassandra Hawkins played by special guest star Phylicia Rashad, Jessica is made aware of a disturbing historical connection.

Dr. Hawkins is descended from a slave called Samuel Pickney who died prior to the beginning of the Civil War as the accused murderer of a landowner named Robert Mercer. Samuel Pickney was the property of Sarah McCullough, a distant aunt of Jessica Fletcher. Cassandra confirms the connection with a family heirloom; a silver watch engraved "To Samuel Pickney from S. McCullough."

David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Phylicia Rashad

Dr. Hawkins is investigating what she sees as questionable proofs in the murder case against her long ago grandfather, including the presence of two gravesites for the man, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania

Combining their forces, and using archival papers, including letters and Sarah McCullogh's journal, the ladies search for the truth. Their quest brings them into conflict with local historian Stanford Thornton played by David Ogden Stiers. His goal is to preserve the past as culture and fears an agenda on Cassandra's part. Her only agenda is to face uncomfortable truths. Will Thornton hinder their efforts or will he be challenged to assist in the inquiry?

Phylicia Rashad, Gloria Stuart, Angela Lansbury

Cassandra and Jessica are led in their research to Eliza Hoops, a woman past 100 years of age played by Gloria Stuart (91 at the time). Eliza has memories of her grandfather and the "magic train" with the passengers who were not to be disturbed. 

The Last Free Man is told in two equally riveting sections. The search for the truth in the contemporary day and the telling of the story of Samuel Pickney and Sarah McCullough in Antebellum Virginia. In the "story" sequence Angela Lansbury plays the role of Sarah opposite Michael Jace as Samuel. 

Robert Mercer played by Tim Dekay is murdered on the night of his wedding to the daughter of a wealthy slaveholder. A jealous ex-beau of the bride's, the overbearing father-in-law, and an opportunistic newspaper editor are among those in attendance when Sarah and Samuel arrive at the wedding. Samuel is subjected to abuse from the former beau, a Confederate officer played by Tim Abell. The officer quickly arouses feeling against Samuel following the murder.

Angela Lansbury, Keith Jefferson, Michael Jace, Taraji P. Henson

Sarah displays the characteristics that have been passed down to Jessica. She will not see an injustice without fighting it, and she will not see anyone in trouble without helping. Sarah's investigation debunks flimsy evidence and reveals a shocking secret between Samuel and the murdered Robert Mercer. Nonetheless, she is unable to prevent tragedy and is stopped at every turn from revealing a truth that is not accepted by her community. It will be a much future generation that will discover that healing truth and spread its word with the unexpected help of Stanford Thornton.

Angela Lansbury as Sarah McCullough

The compelling stories told in The Last Free Man are well presented and it is a special treat to see Angela Lansbury in the role of Sarah McCullough, with her soft southern accent and steely determination in the face of a patriarchal and bigoted society.


Connections:

David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach
Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere
Beauty and the Beast

Angela Lansbury and David Ogden Stiers appeared together previously in 3 episodes of Murder, She Wrote, the TV Movie The First Olympics: 1896, and share a Grammy Award for the soundtrack album for Beauty and the Beast. Let's not forget Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth also pop up in the Beauty and the Beast sequels/spinoffs/games.

Gloria Stuart as Edna Jarvis
The Days Dwindle Down

Gloria Stuart guested on a popular season 3 Murder, She Wrote episode The Days Dwindle Down which acts as a sequel to the 1949 movie Strange Bargain.












Wednesday, February 13, 2019

THE FIRST ANNUAL VALENTINE'S DAY MEET-CUTE BLOGATHON: Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)


The First Annual Valentine's Day Meet-Cute Blogathon is the brainchild of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. Click HERE for all the wonderful movie moments.


The cliches of even the finest westerns lend themselves to kidding, and fans are always up for a laugh. Writer/director Burt Kennedy (Seven Men from Now) and writer William Bowers (The Gunfighter) are at the top of the pack in the subgenre due to their share dramatic westerns. They know of which they spoof.

James Garner plays Jason, a stranger passing through a lawless town in search of a lawman. An unexpected gold strike has left the suddenly rich town disorganized and unable to deal with the influx of people and the villainous Danby clan. Jason wants to get to Australia so he can be a pioneer. Pioneering takes money so he temporarily takes on the job of Sheriff. All of the sheriffs in this town have only held the job temporarily.

Romance will come to Jason in the form of Prudy Perkins played by the brilliant Joan Hackett (Will Penny, The Last of Sheila). Prudy is smitten with the new sheriff but getting together is going to be awkward. There are stages to Jason and Prudy's meet-cute as they are not formally introduced upon their first encounter. Their second and third encounters don't go too well either!

Prudy was in the process of crossing a wide, busy and very muddy roadway to get to the Perkins General Store. Two men having a fist fight to settle their differences as to the right of way of their wagons inadvertently shove Prudy into the mud. Prudy did not take this well, nor sitting down. The fight escalates with Prudy in the middle of it. She takes particular umbrage at a fellow combatant's grabbing her where he oughtn't.

James Garner, Joan Hackett

Prudy: "Watch where you're grabbing." She notices Jason observing the battle from the boardwalk. "What about you?"

Jason: "What about me?"

Prudy: "You wanna grab something?"

Jason: "Everything looks too slippery to me."

Prudy: "What does that mean?"

Jason: "Nothing."

Prudy: "You look too clean to suit me."

Mayor Perkins takes Jason to his home where the new sheriff will be provided room and board, and to introduce him to Prudy, who is a fine cook. Mayor Perkins is unaware that Prudy is at home in the midst of post-mud-fight ablutions. Down to her mud-caked skivvies and with a mop of wet hair, Prudy notices the handsome stranger coming down the street with her father. She keeps one step ahead of them by ducking into the hall closet, the dining room, and out the kitchen door where she climbs a handy tree. Jason is drawn to the sight of a girl in a tree.

Joan Hackett

Jason: "You're the strangest girl I ever met."

Prudy: "Go away."

Jason: "Do you always show this side of your nature or am I just lucky on my first day? I suppose you have some reason for sitting up there like that. Ordinarily, a girl doesn't get undressed, pour a bucket of water over her head then climb a tree."

Prudy: "I'm warning you..."


Kathleen Freeman, James Garner

Enter helpful neighbour Mrs. Danvers played by Kathleen Freeman who provides Jason with the information that this is indeed Prudy Perkins and she lives right in this house.

Joan Hackett

Dinner time presents the opportunity Prudy needs to reverse her previous first impressions. Lost in her daydreams, Prudy doesn't realize she has inadvertently powdered her face with flour, and proximity to the oven has put her skirt afire which Jason politely douses with water.

Prudy: "What are you..."

Mayor Perkins: "You was on fire, Prudy! You was on fire!"


Harry Morgan, Joan Hackett, James Garner

Prudy: "Fire? Oh, I'm sick and tired of these stupid things that have been happenin' to me. And somebody better do somethin' about it soon."

Jason: "That's quite a daughter you got."

Mayor Perkins: "I think she's crazy."

Jason: "What makes you think that? I know why I'd think..."

Mayor Perkins: "She had some shocks this year. She got wealthy overnight. It unhinged her. Then she was always big for her age and puberty hit her hard. That'll do it you know."

Jason and Prudy go through some more comic misunderstandings before the inevitable feelings of attachment are allowed to blossom. All this while dealing with the good-for-nothing Danby clan, a plethora of travelling gunfighters, gold mining, and a town that won't back up its sheriff. You know, and I know, and the whole town knows that this is how things will end up for Prudy and Jason.

James Garner, Joan Hackett, Harry Morgan, Henry Jones

Prudy: "What do you mean, your girl?"

Jason: "Come on, you've had that look in your eye since the first day I hit town." ... "Say, are you really one of the richest girls in this part of the country?"

Prudy: "The richest."

Jason: "That's nice. That's real nice."

By this western fan's reckoning, Support Your Sheriff! pokes genial fun at My Darling Clementine, Red River, Winchester '73, Rio Bravo, and High Noon with a tip of the Stetson to McLintock!. What have I missed?















Friday, February 1, 2019

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR FEBRUARY ON TCM


It is time for the annual TCM 31 Days of Oscar lineup which always includes an eclectic mix of the renowned films in Hollywood history and some unexpected titles to pique our curiosity. This month we look at one of those unexpected titles.

Prior to the movie season which saw Columbia Studios and director Frank Capra send a young idealist to the capitol in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Republic Studios and director Joseph Kane released a similarly plotted picture called Under Western Stars.

The star of this picture had been mostly uncredited as a cowboy or singer in 11 previous pictures. Occasionally, he was billed under his real name of Len Slye while a musician appearing with the Sons of the Pioneers, and most recently had been trying out the screen name of Dick Weston. In this picture as Roy Rogers (actor and character), the 27-year-old became a star!


Under Western Stars had been slated for Gene Autry, but along with being a screen personality, composer/singer Gene was a businessman who knew he wasn't getting his share of the profits from Herbert Yates and Republic. Gene walked out on the picture in a contract dispute and "Roy" was promoted. Roy was supported in the film by Autry regulars Smiley Burnett and popular radio singing stars the Maple City Four. Joseph Kane, a musician turned prolific low-budget western director was in charge.


Under Western Stars is set in an unnamed western state suffering the effects of the dust bowl conditions during the 1930s. Guy Usher, another of those familiar yet often uncredited faces, plays John Fairbanks, the owner of the Western Water and Power Company. A dam under the company's control denies local ranchers access to much-needed water by charging usurious rates. After a spirited campaign, Roy Rogers, the son of a late Congressman is sent to Washington on the promise to get Federal control of the water.

Fairbanks' daughter Eleanor played by Carol Hughes (Three Men on a Horse, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe) takes a liking to the handsome, singing Rogers and assists the sometimes naive and often unorthodox Congressman. The real-life Mrs. Frank Faylen would be appear in four pictures with Gene and three with Roy.


The movie packs six songs into the politics, romance, riding and shooting and one of those songs, Dust by Johnny Marvin was nominated for Best Music, Original Song. It is the emotional core of the movie as Roy sings an impassioned plea to lawmakers to assist the ranchers.

The award that year was given to Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin for Thanks for the Memory from The Big Broadcast of 1938. Roy would reprise Dust with the Sons of the Pioneers ten years later in the movie Under California Stars. It is that clip that is available on YouTube and which is provided here.


Oscar nominee Johnny Marvin (1896-1944) was an entertainer and recording artist (singer, ukulele) of the 1920s who later collaborated on Autry soundtracks. He passed of dengue fever contracted while entertaining with the USO during World War 2. 

Gene Autry returned to the Republic fold and no one could ever accuse the producer/star and future owner of the California Angels of not knowing how to handle his money. Within five years Roy Rogers success was assured when he was crowned King of the Cowboys.


Under Western Stars airs on TCM during this year's 31 Days of Oscar salute during the wee hours (3 AM Eastern) of February 13th after an evening of David Lean epics. The fast-paced and entertaining programmer from 1938 runs just around an hour. There is a reason PBS NewsHour devoted nearly a half an hour of its programming to Roy Rogers upon his passing in 1998. Get to see the beginnings of the movie legend in Under Western Stars.


Bonus:


You may be interested in my article on Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for the 2013 Dynamic Duos in Classic Movies blogathon.












Tuesday, January 29, 2019

90 YEARS OF JEAN SIMMONS BLOGATHON - Murder, She Wrote: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (1989)


The Wonderful World of Cinema and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies are hosting a blogathon tribute to the lovely actress Jean Simmons. Start HERE and HERE to relive the memories and discover new favourite performances.


Jessica Beatrice Fletcher, a teacher turned mystery author and amateur sleuth of Cabot Cove, Maine continues to enchant fans in syndication and on DVD after a 12 season television run (1984-1996) and 4 made-for-TV films. Murder, She Wrote was created by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson and William Link.

Jean Simmons
(1929-2010)

Series star Angela Lansbury brought home 3 out of 6 Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama. Ms. Lansbury was nominated for a Primetime Emmy each of the show's 12 seasons with no wins. In 1989 her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination was alongside Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Jean Simmons for playing Eudora McVeigh in the episode Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.

The two-part season 5 finale aired on May 14 and 21, 1989. It was written by series creator Peter S. Fischer as a possible series finale until Ms. Lansbury renewed her contract with CBS. The episode was directed by TV veteran (The Fugitive, The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones) Walter Grauman.

Ron Masak, Angela Lansbury

"I've been here one year. This is my fifth murder. What is this? The murder capital of Maine? On a per capita basis, this place makes the South Bronx look like Sunnybrook Farm. I mean, is this why Tupper quit? He couldn't take it anymore? Somebody really should have warned me, Mrs. Fletcher. Now perfect strangers are coming to Cabot Cove to die."
- Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak)

If Sheriff Metzger wants any help with the mysterious body found on the beach he is not only able to ask the assistance of J.B. Fletcher, following in the habit of his predecessor Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley), but he has unsolicited input from Eudora McVeigh who came to Cabot Cove with her own agenda.

Eudora McVeigh played by Jean Simmons has been the reigning Queen of Mystery for the past two decades, but her publisher played by Richard Anderson feels her latest works are stale, especially since her marriage to Hank Shipton played by Ken Howard. Word is the publisher is looking to sign J.B. Fletcher and this rankles Eudora like nothing else.

Jean Simmons

"My career is in tatters. My marriage is hanging by a thread. And who do I have to thank for this? Dear, lovable, sweet-as-apple-pie Jessica Fletcher who just bounced me from fifth-row center to the back of the last row in the balcony."
- Eudora McVeigh (Jean Simmons)

With a lovely basket of locally grown apples as a gift, Eudora descended on Jessica's Cabot Cove home following up Jessie's polite invitation extended at a convention. Eudora wrangles a stay for the night and drugs Jessica into a sound sleep so she can rummage the house for Jessica's latest novel. Eudora has the novel copied and intends to pass it off as her own work.

Eudora is followed to Maine by her husband Hank and his grown son Bobby played by Daniel McDonald. Hank is worried by Eudora's increasingly erratic behavior and troubled by guilt over his affair with Eudora's agent Liza played by Shelley Fabares. Bobby is worried his dad is about to blow the money they have come into since the marriage.

The body on the beach that so irks Sheriff Metzger is that of a private eye who was following Hank. Liza's husband Victor Casper played by David Hedison had hired the detective to follow his wife and Hank. Ah, what a tangled web they weave.

William Windom
(1923-2012)

"A few years back, you needed this writing to help you get through the empty days and empty nights. I know that. I went through it myself. But Frank's a long time gone now, just like my Ruth. And another best seller or 10 best sellers is not going to fill that void. All I know is that if Frank Fletcher were still around you wouldn't be spending half your life chained to that typewriter and the other half chasing around the country. No, sir. You'd be out smelling the salt air at sunrise."
- Seth Hazlitt (William Windom)

Jessica is in a position where she has to discover a murderer and protect her own intellectual property. She is also grappling with the idea that her life needs more balance. These ideas were put into her head by dear friend Dr. Seth Hazlitt played by William Windom whose life is in peril at the end of the first episode. Seth has been poisoned by one of those lovely apples presented to Jessica by Eudora McVeigh.

Angela Lansbury, Jean Simmons

The piling up of evidence finds Eudora arrested for the murder of the private investigator and the poisoning of Dr. Hazlitt. There is also the little matter of Jessica's manuscript and the assault with the sedative. Nonetheless, Jessica believes Eudora is innocent of the murder and poisoning charges. Eudora's behavior indicates a breakdown of some sort and it is help she needs, and when someone needs help they can always count on Jessica Fletcher.

Everyone Jessica needs to investigate has come to Cabot Cove, Eudora's husband and stepson, her agent and her husband, and the publisher. Each has reason to fear Eudora and to fear for her. Matters of the heart and financial matters surround these people and their actions. Sadly, it is the money that will lead Jessica to the killer.

Vindicated of the crimes, her marriage over, and her career on hold, Eudora plans to visit family and reboot her life.

"I treated you shabbily. I'm ashamed and embarrassed. If there is anything I can do to make amends, I will do it. Now, please don't say anything kind. I just couldn't take it."
- Eudora McVeigh (Jean Simmons)

If Eudora can make such a huge change to find balance in her life, then Jessica can take one small step away from the typewriter and off to the harbour for a day of fishing with Seth.

Jean Simmons, Angela Lansbury, Richard Erdman

Angela Lansbury and Jean Simmons both starred in the 1966 film Mr. Buddwing, but their characters had no interaction. It is in this 1989 episode of Murder, She Wrote that we get to see the two ladies from London, with long Hollywood careers, finally together on the screen. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall is terrific television and it would have been icing on the cake to see Angela and Jean take home those Emmy Awards.












Friday, January 25, 2019

ROBOTS IN FILM BLOGATHON: Hymie in Anatomy of a Lover, Get Smart


The Robots in Film Blogathon runs from January 25th to 27th. It is hosted by our esteemed friends at The Midnight Drive-In and Hamlette's Soliloquy. Click HERE or HERE to enjoy these imaginative characters in movies and television.


Get Smart (1965-1970) is the genius television sitcom created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry that is a perfect send-up of the popular spy films of the 1960s. The series doled out consistent laughs during five seasons of classic television and received numerous Emmy Awards and nominations. To this day, folks repeat Agent 86's catchphrases ("Sorry about that, Chief.") without even knowing their source.

Don Adams, Edward Platt

Maxwell Smart aka Agent 86 was played by comic Don Adams. The source of this superspy's humour comes from the fact that he is a dimwit who inadvertently enjoys success without realizing he is a dimwit. Max is adored and more than ably assisted by the lovely Agent 99 played by Barbara Feldon. Max is the bane of the existence of the Chief of their agency CONTROL played by Edward Platt.

Don Adams, Barbara Feldon

CONTROL has at its disposal a laboratory that creates all sorts of gadgets necessary to the battle against their opposite number, the international organization of evil in the form of KAOS. Phones were famously concealed in shoes, in make-up compacts, and fingernails. Agents were concealed in everything from sofas to refrigerators. 

Dick Gautier

KAOS got the jump on CONTROL when evil Dr. Ratton created HYMIE the robot played by Dick Gautier. KAOS used Hymie to kidnap a scientist and during the operation, Hymie also captured Agents 86 and 99. Hymie had a screw loose somewhere and refused to do Dr. Ratton's bidding when he was ordered to kill Max. Max, you see, had treated Hymie like a real person. A kink in Hymie's circuitry gave him a sense of self and independence and, unwittingly, Max played up that side of the robot and became his friend.

Gary Clarke/C.F. L'Amoreaux

Back to the Old Drawing Board in Season One was Hymie's origin story in Get Smart. It was written by Gary Clarke (Steve on The Virginian) as C.F. L'Amoreaux and directed by Bruce Bilson. Clarke /L'Amoreaux wrote all but the last of the six episodes featuring Hymie the robot.

Don Adams, Dick Gautier

Anatomy of a Lover opened Season Two in 1966 with Hymie a member of CONTROL in good standing. However, those sneaky guys from KAOS have planted an agent who tinkers with Hymie. His new wiring causes Hymie to attempt to kill the Chief. The Chief, visibly perturbed, orders Max to disassemble the cybernaut. "What's his religion got to do with it?".

Laurel Goodwin

Certain that someone has messed with Hymie's circuitry, Max hides the robot at his apartment until they can discover who is behind the dastardly deed. While incognito as Max's cousin, Hymie meets the chief's niece Phoebe played by Laurel Goodwin. Phoebe is quite taken with the handsome neighbour. "I wouldn't care if he came from a junkyard.".

The double agent turns out to be Kirsch played by King Moody (KAOS second banana Starker in later episodes). Max fooled no one when he brought the remains of a disassembled washing machine into the office as Hymie. Kirsch again works on the robot, this time programming him to kill the first person he hears say the phrase "Waiter, the cheque." 


Dick Gautier

First Hymie must convince Max to take him to a restaurant. This isn't too difficult since Max has been made to feel guilty for his over-the-top sloppiness. After all, the programmed-for-neatness Hymie has been slaving all day to keep the apartment nice. He's lonely and wants to get out. It is a double date for Max and 99 with Hymie and Phoebe.

King Moody

When the polite mechanical man asks for the cheque himself and then tries to blow his brains out, Max clues in that someone has tinkered with his friend yet again. It is easy enough to determine that  Kirsch was the only other person to come to the apartment that day, ostensibly to deliver a message to Max. Kirsch confirms all this when he attempts to destroy Max, 99 and Hymie. Stupid Kirsch! He let ashes fall on the carpet!

"Hymie's programming for neatness was stronger than his programming for evil!"


Dick Gautier
1931-2017

Good looks, impeccable comic timing, and spot-on deadpan delivery. What more could be asked of a sit-com robot? Dick Gautier is perfect as Hymie, speaking in a monotone and taking every command or utterance literally. Hymie's abilities, in the grand tradition of sci-fi, seem to know no bounds. He can judge distances accurately, perform feats of prodigious strength, and deflect bullets. Hymie understands his place in the scheme of things; being a cybernaut and all, but his loyalty is touching. Always a welcome character in the series, in the minds of fans it seems he must have appeared in more than seven episodes. The laughs are worthy of double or triple that number. Thus are legends born in our minds.












ARTHUR KENNEDY'S CONQUEST OF THE SCREEN BLOGATHON: Bright Victory (1951)

Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon tribute to Arthur Kennedy on the occasion of the 105th anniversary ...