Sunday, November 11, 2018

THE WORLD WAR ONE ON FILM BLOGATHON: Broken Lullaby (1932)


Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting The World War One On Film Blogathon on November 10th and 11th to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict. Click HERE to read the contributions.


The Holderlin household has been a sad place since before the end of the War to End all Wars. The young son of the house, Walter (Tom Douglas), was killed in battle. Dr. Holderlin (Lionel Barrymore), his wife (Louise Carter), and Walter's fiancee Elsa (Nancy Carroll) have been living quietly with their grief. The little joys of life have not returned.

Tom Douglas, Phillips Holmes

On the first anniversary of the Armistice, a young Frenchman, Paul Renard (Phillips Holmes) is still haunted by the eyes of the man he killed. He can find no solace when even a priest absolves him as "doing his duty."

While in the trenches, Paul learned much of the life of the man he killed by reading Walter Holderin's last letter to his family. The two young men shared a love of Paris and a love of music. Orchestra player Paul has been unable to return to his music since the war. Paul has memorized that last letter and the address, and he determined to go to Walter's family seeking forgiveness.

Zasu Pitts, Lionel Barrymore, Phillips Holmes, Louise Carter, Nancy Carroll

Paul is not welcomed by Dr. Holderlin. Paul is a Frenchman, and to the doctor, every Frenchman is the one who killed his son. Elsa recognizes Paul as the stranger she had seen placing flowers on Walter's grave and that gesture changes everything for the Holderlin family. The entire household assumes that Paul knew Walter in Paris. Paul is only too happy to go along with the deceit.

Time brings Paul and Elsa closer. As the maid Anna (Zasu Pitts) remarks "He doesn't know it, but he's in love with her." Dr. and Fraulein Holderlin appreciate the link they believe they have to Walter and welcome Paul as a friend. The relationship creates a scandal in town with much fodder for the gossips. Holderlin's cronies who sit around the tavern drinking beer and philosophizing have strong opinions against the French in general, and this stranger in particular. The spirit of animosity is stirred up by Herr Schultz (Lucien Littlefield), a rejected suitor for Elsa's attention.

Lionel Barrymore is heartrending in a scene at the tavern where he berates the old men who send young men off to be killed, whether they be French or German. He stands up beautifully for Paul. "He came here from France to put flowers on my son's grave. He is my guest. My wife likes him. Elsa likes him. And I love him."


Phillips Holmes, Nancy Carroll

Of course, Paul has fallen in love with Elsa and those feelings are returned. It is too much. He must leave them. Elsa discovers the reason for his visit in a touching scene involving Walter's last letter. Paul leaves the distraught young woman to bare his soul to the Holderlins.

It is Elsa's love for both the family and for Paul that keeps him from revealing the truth. She breaks into his confession by telling Fraulein Holderlin that Paul is staying; that he will never leave them. She tells Paul that he mustn't be afraid to make them happy by living the lie when the love is real.

Overjoyed, Dr. Holderlin gives Paul the violin that once belonged to Walter. Schumann's Traumerei is the first thing Paul has played in the years since the War because "There was no music left. Nothing in my ears but the sound of a dying man." Elsa, too, has not touched the family's piano since Walter's loss. It is a very moving final scene as Elsa accompanies Paul while the grieving parents cling to each other and the small happiness they have found.

Maurice Rostand's 1925 play The Man I Killed was adapted by Reginald Berkeley with the screenplay by Samson Raphaelson. Ernst Lubitsch directed the Paramount release in a movie season which included his features One Hour With You, a musical comedy starring Maurice Chevalier, and the sophisticated romantic triangle Trouble in Paradise. Mr. Lubitsch has filled the movie with many effective and emotion-filled silent scenes of struggle, pain, and understanding. Broken Lullaby is a masterpiece of atonement.

Broken Lullaby would be the final of four films teaming Nancy Carroll and Phillips Holmes, all romantic dramas, and they are quite touching here. The film's relatively brief runtime of 1 hour 15 minutes uses its time to observe these characters coping unassisted with trauma and grief. They are attempting to get on with life after the unimaginable horror that was World War I. In many ways, I believe generations have not completed that daunting task.












Friday, November 9, 2018

THE REMAKE OF THE "THEY REMADE WHAT?!" BLOGATHON: When Ladies Meet, 1933 and 1941


The original They Remade What?! blogathon in 2015 was loads of fun. So pleased that Phyllis Loves Classic Movies revived the blogathon which runs from November 9 to 11. Click HERE for all the contributions.


Rachel Crothers, playwright, producer, director, performer
December 12, 1878 - July 5, 1958

"If you want to see the sign of the times, watch women. Their evolution is the most important thing in modern life."
- Rachel Crothers, 1912

Rachel Crothers was the most successful and influential woman in theatre in the early part of the 20th century. Born in Illinois to parents who were both doctors, Rachel and her sister were raised to be educated, independent women at a time when that was rare. After high school, Rachel founded a dramatic society in her home state but eventually moved to New York City where she began an acting career. She also wrote plays and her first success, The Three of Us, premiered on Broadway in 1906.

When Ladies Meet, written and staged by Rachel Crothers began its successful run on Broadway in 1932. It was her 26th play produced on the New York stage. Not every one was a hit, but the legacy is staggering. MGM had their film version ready for release in 1933.




1933 Film Cast
Ann Harding as Claire Woodruff
Robert Montgomery as Jimmie Lee
Myrna Loy as Mary Howard
Alice Brady as Bridget Drake
Frank Morgan as Rogers Woodruff
Martin Burton as Walter Manners
Luis Alberni as Pierre

The 1933 film was directed by Harry Beaumont (Our Dancing Daughters) and an uncredited Robert Z. Leonard (Pride and Prejudice) whose connection to the project would extend to the remake. The screenplay is by John Meehan (The Valley of Decision) and Leon Gordon (The Unguarded Hour). This version of the play runs 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Jimmie Lee is an easy-going young journalist with a deep love for Mary Howard. Mary Howard is an up and coming author with a deep love for her married publisher Rogers Woodruff. Mary has strong ideas about love and its nobility. These ideas have spread into her writing which distresses Jimmie. He thinks her work used to be fine and real but is turning into something phony. Mary's love for Woodruff has clouded her judgment as to the true place of the wife in such a triangle and the rightness of her love.

Jimmie finagles a meeting with Mrs. Woodruff on the golf course. Claire turns out to be a wonderful woman with a forthright character and a sense of humour. Jimmie further finagles a way for Mary to meet Claire without knowing her connection to Woodruff.

Visiting the country home of Bridget Drake where Mary is spending the weekend Claire agrees to help Jimmie make the "girl he's crazy about" see him in a different light with another woman. Claire finds the innocent adventure to be fun and she and Mary make a friendly connection. They exchange the ideas Mary details in her latest book with neither knowing they are speaking of their real life. If only Mary realized when Claire tells of her husband's philandering ways that she is speaking of the man Mary envisions as so splendid.

Robert Montgomery, Myrna Loy, Alice Brady
Martin Burton, Ann Harding, Frank Morgan

Bridget's country home has been magnificently designed by her younger male companion Walter. The set is homey, yet sophisticated. Cedric Gibbons was nominated for the Oscar for Best Art Direction for When Ladies Meet. Mary describes Bridget as "the most intelligent fool I've never known." Bridget is a scattered and fluttery character, but out of her mouth comes some of the most interesting comments on society and people in the play/screenplay.

Bridget: "I tell you this is an awfully hard age for a good woman to live in. I mean a woman who wants to have any fun. The old instincts of right and wrong merely hold you back. You're neither one thing nor the other. You're neither happy and bad, nor good and contented. You're just discontentedly decent."

Myrna Loy as Mary Howard
Gowns by Adrian

Mary is so confident in her blind love for Rogers Woodruff that her idealistic naivete keeps her from appreciating Jimmie Lee. Even after spending time with Claire, whom she admires, and hearing her side of a marriage with a philanderer, Mary stands by her high-minded feelings for Rogers. The whole business comes crashing down when the three points of the triangle come together, and Mary sees the sordid truth of the affair.

Mary: "You know me. I'm a girl who writes books. Very smart books about modern people. Very smart people. I know exactly how everybody feels; exactly what everybody's thinking. That's how smart I am. I couldn't be fooled. I know all the jokes even when they're on me."

Claire is easy to like and it is easy to be on her side as the aggrieved wife, even when it seems she is giving up too much for a man who isn't worth it. Claire, like Mary, also faces a reckoning after the storm wrought on Bridget's charming retreat by Jimmie's shenanigans.

Claire: "Always before I was glad to get you back and thankful it was over - always thinking of you, never of "her". Now I've seen "her" and something happened to me."

If Rogers wants his marriage, he will have a fight on his hands. If Jimmie still wants Mary perhaps he will not have long to wait. She doesn't kick him out of Bridget's kitchen, and there is the hint of a relaxed smile on her face at his annoying jokes. Mary has come through heartbreak and is the better because of the trial.

Movie connection:

Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, Myrna Loy

Prior to When Ladies Meet, Ann Harding and Myrna Loy co-starred in the RKO production of The Animal Kingdom based on Philip Barry's play. Leslie Howard left a faithful and supportive lover (Harding) to marry a faithless and manipulative wife (Loy).




1941 Film Cast
Joan Crawford as Mary Howard
Robert Taylor as Jimmy Lee
Greer Garson as Claire Woodruff
Spring Byington as Bridget Drake
Rafael Storm as Walter Del Canto
Mona Barrie as Mabel Guinness
Max Willenz as Pierre
Florence Shirley as Janet Hopper
Leslie Francis as Homer Hopper

The 1941 film was directed by Robert Z. Leonard (Maytime) with the screenplay by S.K. Lauren (Three Cornered Moon) and Anita Loos (The Women). This version of the play runs 1 hour and 45 minutes, extending the earlier feature by 20 minutes. The film was opened up to include more characters and have the lead characters interact for longer scenes. A literary party shows Mary interacting with fans. Another party is where Jimmy meets Claire and they have an amusing sailing scene prior to showing up at Bridget's country home.

Herbert Marshall, Spring Byington, Joan Crawford, Rafael Storm, Robert Taylor

Above we attend a penthouse party which the guest of honour, Mary Howard, plans on leaving early to work with her publisher Rogers Woodruff. Her friends are suspicious. She's not wearing them here, but Mary has the conceit of wearing unneeded eyeglasses. Jimmy thinks she is being affected. Mary tells Rogers it is because she is terribly shy. Joan plays Mary with a lovely sense of her sincerity. Although she can't help carrying the aura of being the type of girl not easily fooled by anyone which is at odds with Mary's character. Bridget's speech about discontent from the earlier movie is revamped for Mary in this version, perhaps to reflect Joan's more mature persona.

Mary: "Oh Bridgey, this is an awfully hard age for us women. That is if you care for the real thing. I've never been content with imitations and here we are surrounded by them on all sides. Nothing lasting, nothing real, nothing fine."

Bridget: "Practically nothing at all."


Spring Byington originally played Bridget in the Broadway production of When Ladies Meet in 1932 with Frieda Inescourt as Mary, Selena Royle as Claire and Walter Abel as Jimmie Lee. Ms. byington absolutely steals the movie out from under the star-studded cast as the fluttery, always appearing to be two steps behind the rest of the world character.

Greer Garson, Joan Crawford

Once again Cedric Gibbons would receive an Oscar nomination, along with Randall Duell and Edwin B. Ellis for the sets in this picture, especially Bridget's renovated old country mill. It is spectacular. You may enjoy this piece from Silver Scenes on the delightful set. Once again, the gowns are by Adrian.

Some scenes are lifted straight from the earlier movie such as the charming scene where Mary and Claire bond at the piano over Grieg's Ich Liebe Dich and are silhouetted when the power goes out due to a storm. It is extremely lovely and effective both times.

One smaller change from the 1933 movie is that previously Rogers compliments Mary on having the feet of a thoroughbred. She calls it an odd compliment but is touched and uses the phrase later when complimenting Claire. In our 1941 movie, it is changed to the "sweet" compliment of hands of a thoroughbred.

The relationship between Mary and Claire remains the same. They are great roles for actresses. It is, by necessity, a talkie script but in the hands of pros, extremely entertaining. Here is part of Claire's rebuttal to Mary's apology for her character.

Claire: "The hard thing for me to believe is that she believes in this man when he says he loves her. Speaking as a married woman I feel your girl if she's been around, ought to know enough not to believe a married man when he makes love to her."

When the truth reveals itself, I felt they softened Rogers character a bit in his encounter with Mary. He professed a true love, but Mary saw through him. Her bitter speech, unlike that in the 1933 movie, was not said to the assembled house guests, but to Rogers alone.

Mary: "I'm the girl who knew all about everything - who knew about love with a capital "L". And who knew about that other thing too, that tawdry whatever else it was you felt for me. I'm the girl who dedicated her life to telling others all about these things in books. I'm the one who thought I inspired a world-shattering romance. I was another Juliet, a modern Francesca. Oh yes, I was even an Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And all the while I was just another one of your adventures."

When the dust settles, the movie ends with Mary symbolically breaking her eyeglasses and sharing a kiss with Jimmy. Personally, I prefer the companionable kitchen scene from 1933. Judge for yourself.












Sunday, November 4, 2018

NOIRVEMBER NUGGET: Dark Waters (1944)


Dark Waters from 1944 is a dandy thriller from producer Benedict Bogeaus, the producer behind such favourites as The Crooked Way, Silver Lode, Slightly Scarlet and From the Earth to the Moon. Andre De Toth directed, making his triple bill for the year which included Guest in the House and None Shall Escape.

Joan Harrison (Suspicion, Saboteur) wrote the screenplay with Marian Cockrell, who, like Harrison worked on the Alfred Hitchcock television series. Miklos Rozsa was the man behind the score and Archie Stout and John Mescall the men behind the camera.

Franchot Tone, Merle Oberon

The story is set in motion by an event that could have been ripped from the headlines. A ship filled with refugees is attacked and sunk by the enemy with only four people surviving. Leslie Calvin played by Merle Oberon lost both her parents and is traumatized by the event and its aftermath. Believing she is all alone in the world, Leslie takes hope when a heretofore unseen aunt welcomes her to Rossignol Plantation in Louisiana. 

The setting plants us firmly in the world of Gothic Noir with the rambling plantation house and the grounds surrounded by trees, vegetation, the bayou, and quicksand. The heat is often mentioned and the overriding sense is one of oppression.

Fay Bainter, Merle Oberson, Thomas Mitchell

Leslie's aunt and uncle played by Fay Bainter and John Qualen are both preoccupied but seemingly harmless. The houseguest, Mr. Sydney played by Thomas Mitchell carries himself with the air of someone in charge. The manager of the sugar plant, Mr. Cleeve played by Elisha Cook Jr. is the bringer of unwelcome advances.

Elisha Cook Jr., Merle Oberon

Leslie immediately feels out of place but assumes it is her recent illness that makes her feel so. Nonetheless, she is grateful for the friendship of Dr. George Grover played by Franchot Tone. He is charmed by the lovely young woman and introduces her to the more normal people of the area.

The neighbouring Boudreau clan played by Eugene Borden and Odette Myrtil are kind and friendly to Leslie, giving her a sense of normalcy. There is an overload of cuteness with the youngest of the large family played by two-year-old Gigi Perreau and her older brother Gerald who acted under the name of Peter Miles (Heaven Only Knows).

Merle Oberson, Rex Ingram

When she's away from Dr. Grover and at the plantation, Leslie feels the effects of her trauma most strongly. She is constantly reminded of the events at sea and urged to relive them by her companions. She sees lights going on and off, and hears strange noises. She hears her name being called in the night. Leslie is being gaslighted. Why? Why does anybody do anything? 

Leslie truly would lose her mind if it weren't for the grounding of friends like the maid Florella played by Nina Mae McKinney and Pearson Jackson played by Rex Ingram. Pearson must remain a secret friend because, after 12 years working at the sugar factory/plantation, he was fired by Mr. Cleeve for no reason. Pearson is investigating the goings on at Rossignol. He knows Leslie is in danger. Pearson knows he is in danger as well, but he keeps on.

Thomas Mitchell, Elisha Cook Jr.

The malevolence of Thomas Mitchell and the sense of the world closing in on our leading lady add to the tension in this movie where we don't know whom to trust from one moment to the next. An exciting finale through the bayou wraps all the pieces up quite tidily and satisfactorily.












Thursday, November 1, 2018

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR NOVEMBER ON TCM


The town of Glacier, Montana is in the midst of a violent feud between warring gambling house owners who were former partners in the mine which was the economic engine of the town. The mine has been closed while the feud rages.

The combatants are Bill Goodwin (Tea for Two) as Bill Plumber and Brian Donlevy (The Great McGinty) as Duke Byron. A stranger arrives in town to settle matters in his own way. Originally used by Plummer, this man called Mike played by Robert Cummings (It Started with Eve) intends to be of service to Duke Byron. Nothing will be the same in Glacier after the stranger's arrival.

So far, Heaven Only Knows sounds like a sturdy and typical western, and you will note in the credits that the treatment is by western writer Ernest Haycox of Stage to Lordsburg fame. The original story of this movie is by Aubrey Wisberg, a writer of mysteries, family dramas, adventures and science fiction, also the fantasy-comedy The Horn Blows at Midnight about a couple of errant angels.


Heaven Only Knows is an after-life fantasy with the unique twist of being set in the old west. "Mike" is Michael, an angel from the Heavenly Hall of Records come to Earth to set things straight. Duke Byron was inadvertently omitted from the Book of Life. Michael had long been expecting something like this to happen. There are so many souls to keep track of, and unfortunately, the clerical oversight has left Duke with no soul.

Duke's life has been one of greed, corruption and violence. On the other hand, the Book of Destiny had recorded that Duke would be an exemplary human with a legacy of decency and compassion. He was to have raised a lovely family with his wife Drusilla Wainwright, the minister's daughter played by Jorja Curtright (Whistle Stop). As things stand now she despises the man who has brought such misery to Glacier. Michael must set things aright without using any miracles, not even a small one. You see, humans don't believe in miracles.


The town of Glacier is brought to life by a host of familiar character actors. Peter Miles (The Red Pony) plays a sickly lad who worships Duke, and his mother is played by Lurene Tuttle (Psycho). Edgar Kennedy (Duck Soup) is the town's inebriate. John Litel (Dodge City) is the well-meaning minister. Stuart Erwin (Make Me a Star) is the pragmatic and controversial sheriff. Marjorie Reynolds (Holiday Inn) is the queen of Duke's saloon whose heart is softened by the arrival of Mike.

Duke's right hand (or would that be left?) is a man called Treason played by Gerald Mohr (Detective Story). It is not expressed outright, but Treason is obviously Mike's opposite number from Hades. Treason gets the feel of a cold wind when Mike hits town, and the two share an exchange quite cryptic in nature.

Heaven doesn't forget poor Mike tasked with a seemingly impossible mission and no miracles in his pocket. His mentor Gabriel played by William Farnum (The Spoilers) will be on hand when needed.


Michael's task cannot be trivialized as the fate of a man's soul and indeed the souls of an entire population are at stake. The personalities in the cast and the quirky humour in the script make this little picture a winner. Heaven Only Knows is sincere where it could have been cloying and I find it a real charmer.  

Albert S. Rogell, a veteran of comedies, westerns and mysteries directed and Karl "Sunrise" Struss was the cinematographer. Heaven Only Knows was made by Nero Films producer Seymour Nebenzal, the son of the company's founder in Germany in the 1920s, Heinrich Nebenzal. It is a testament to the studio's independent spirit.

TCM is screening Heaven Only Knows on Saturday, November 17th at 10:00 pm. It follows Here Comes Mr. Jordan for a double bill of angelic blunders. If the after-life fantasy is your thing then you must check it out. If the after-life fantasy isn't your thing, why not step out of your comfort zone on a chilly autumn evening?












Friday, October 19, 2018

CELEBRATING DOLORES HART: The Virginian, The Mountain of the Sun (1963)


Virginie is celebrating the 80th birthday of Dolores Hart on October 20th with a blogathon running on October 18th to the 20th at her site, The Wonderful World of Cinema. Click HERE to read all of the contributions.

THE VIRGINIAN: THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN 



The Virginian ran on NBC from 1962 to 1971 with a unique 90-minute format following the adventures of the characters working on the Shiloh Ranch in Wyoming. Cast members changed through the run of the series with the constant being James Drury as Owen Wister's famous man with no name, The Virginian and Doug McClure as top hand Trampas.

The Mountain of the Sun is an episode which aired near the end of the first season on April 17, 1963. It was in this year that guest star Dolores Hart entered the Benedictine Regina Laudis Monastery beginning her vocation as a nun. The episode was written by Harry Kleiner (Carmen Jones) based on a story by Lou Morheim (The Big Valley) and directed by Bernard McEveety (Gunsmoke).

The Virginian is far from Shiloh with two goals in mind. First, he is to deliver a bull purchased from Shiloh by a local rancher. Second, he is looking for a man named Dixon played by George Wallace (The Edge of Night). The cowboy had been briefly employed at Shiloh and left the ranch after stealing money and keepsakes from his co-workers.

Dolores Hart

On board the train to the rough border town of San Pablo The Virginian becomes acquainted with three widows Cathy Maywood played by Dolores Hart (Lonelyhearts, Francis of Assisi), Helen Dyer played by Jeanette Nolan (Dirty Sally, The Big Heat) and Ruth Arlen played by Amzie Strickland (The Andy Griffith Show, Kotch).

Jeanette Nolan, Amzie Strickland

The women are missionaries whose calling is taking them into dangerous territory to deal with an even more dangerous Yaqui tribe.

George Wallace, James Drury

The women find a guide to take them to the Yaquis, but he is the thief, Dixon. The Virginian, hearing of the dubious guide trails the travelers to discover that Dixon has robbed and stranded the women. Dixon also attempts to murder the Virginian when caught. It is Dixon who is left dead as The Virginian continues on to rescue the three missionaries.

James Drury

The Virginian feels an obligation to protect these sheltered easterners. If possible, he hopes to dissuade them from their plans. His entreaties fall on deaf ears and he then attempts to frighten them by describing the horrific details of the deaths of the previous three missionaries who came this way, unaware that the women are following in the footsteps of their husbands.

Amzie Strickland, Jeanette Nolan, Dolores Hart

The Virginian agrees only to take the women to a fort where perhaps the military will take over their protection. Along their journey, they come across some peasants whose friends and family have been massacred by the Yaquis. The Virginian is moved by the kindness shown to the people and their young, traumatized daughter by his new companions. His concern for these women grows deeper as does his romantic feeling for Cathy.

James Drury, Dolores Hart

The Virginian's feelings are not one-sided. After a run-in with Mexican bandits, Cathy freely admits that she returns the Virginian's love. However, she is deeply conflicted because of her calling. Although her friends try to absolve her from any feelings of guilty should she decide to return to a life with the Virginian, Cathy has great difficulty making an honest decision.

Dolores Hart

Cathy spends a night in prayer which does not bring the answer that was the Virginian's hope.

Even when the Mexican military authorities refuse to accompany the women to the stronghold of the Yaquis, the missionaries are stalwart in their plan. The Virginian cannot let them go alone and together they ride into the danger zone.

Rodolfo Acosta, Jeanette Nolan, Amzie Strickland, Dolores Hart

Rodolfo Acosta plays the leader of the Yaquis and when he hears that these women are the widows of the men he had killed he is impressed with their bravery and their honesty. Perhaps these people with their bibles and their medicines have truly come to help his people. While the Virginian is held captive, the women spend the night helping a sick child. The tribe is impressed and release the Virginian while allowing the women to stay and do the work to which they are so committed.

Dolores Hart, James Drury

The Virginian and Cathy part with the gift of a bible and "Vaya con Dios." They will remain in each other's hearts.

Dolores Hart

Cathy watches the Virginian ride out of her life. Audiences bid farewell to Dolores Hart who was entering a new life.



Trivia:


Jeanette Nolan who played Helen Dyer in this episode would return to the series from 1967 to 1970 with real-life husband John McIntire as owners of the Shiloh Ranch, Holly, and Clay Grainger.












Wednesday, October 17, 2018

THE RITA HAYWORTH IS 100! BLOGATHON: Separate Tables (1958)


Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting this loving blogathon tribute to Rita Hayworth on the occasion of her centenary, October 17, 2018.


Click HERE for the contributions collected from October 17th to the 19th.

Two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan (The Winslow Boy), Table by the Window and Table Number Seven, are commonly presented under the title Separate Tables. As written, the two main characters are played by the same male and female actors, while the background guests and staff at the setting of the Beauregard Private Hotel remain the same.

The play had its premiere in 1954 and Rattigan adapted it for the screen with John Gay in 1958 for Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions (Harold Hecht, James Hill, Burt Lancaster). Hecht-Lancaster was formed in 1948 with writer Hill joining the company in 1954. New characters and incidents were created to blend the stories into a seamless film.

Rehearsal
Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster, Ben Hecht, Wendy Hiller
Daniel Mann, David Niven, Deborah Kerr

Daniel Mann (Come Back, Little Sheba) directed the acclaimed and multi-award winning film. The Academy nominated the movie for seven awards, and its two wins were for lead actor David Niven and supporting actress Wendy Hiller.

HOTEL BEAUREGARD

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND

Three Minutes from the Sea

Fine Cuisine

Separate Tables

The permanent residents and temporary guests at the Hotel Beauregard present a microcosm of the difficulties to be found, and sometimes to be nurtured in human relations. People are not easy.

Deborah Kerr, Gladys Cooper

Top-billed Deborah Kerr plays Sibyl Railton-Bell, a young woman of a repressed and awkward nature exacerbated by a domineering mother played by Gladys Cooper. Sibyl's fondness for fellow resident Major Angus Pollock played by David Niven is an embarrassment to her mother.

David Niven

Major Pollock is obviously from a lower class, as well as being an annoying boaster. The Major is a man with his own secrets and shame. Those secrets and shame will be pivotal to events which unfold at the hotel over the course of the following day.

Rita Hayworth, Wendy Hiller

Rita Hayworth plays Ann Shankland, a wealthy and glamorous socialite. The residents of the Beauregard instinctively know that she is not the type to come to this hotel. The proprietress of the Beauregard, Pat Cooper played by Wendy Hiller accepts Ann's arrival almost as something expected.

Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayworth

Ann is the ex-wife of long-time resident John Malcolm played by Burt Lancaster. John is a semi-successful writer, something of a drunkard, and a veteran of a literal war and a marital war. His relationship with Ann was fraught with misunderstandings and manipulation which led to violence and prison.

John's relationship with Pat includes a secret engagement. Although when one half of the engagement feels compelled to confirm with the other that the engagement is real, and not merely the result of a late night and too much whisky, it doesn't seem very solid. People are not easy.

Rita Hayworth is second-billed in the role of Ann which was originally slated for Vivien Leigh. Disagreements between the first director Laurence Olivier and producer Lancaster led to the Oliviers leaving the project. Rita at this time was married to co-producer James Hill. It was to be her final marriage and lasted only three years. It was Hill's only try at matrimony. Sadly, Rita was soon to be beset with the undiagnosed early-onset Alzheimer's which would plague her final years.

Miss Hayworth's gowns by Edith Head

Ann is a character which showcases Rita's years of acting experience in a role which required subtlety and range. Upon meeting the character we see her confidence in her status and beauty. Her confrontations with John show her manipulative and brittle nature. Ann's unabashed sympathy and kindness toward Sibyl show us a vulnerable core. When Ann and John finally share honestly and we are voyeurs to Ann's fear for the loss of her health and beauty, and her innate loneliness, we see a soul unbarred. Ann and John have unfinished business and whether their relationship will be good for them or not, for now, it must be pursued.

Audrey Dalton, Rod Taylor

An antidote to all of the drama at the Beauregard concerns a young couple played by Rod Taylor and Audrey Dalton whose separate rooms are not fooling anyone. He is a medical student who is under the impression that they are engaged. She is a young woman with liberal ideas concerning the institution of marriage who wants to live! By the end of their sojourn by the sea, she is comically and ironically setting a wedding date and dictating the number of future children. Bonus interview with Audrey Dalton at the Classic Film and TV Cafe.

Felix Aylmer, May Hallatt

Rounding out the ensemble are Cathleen Nesbitt as the kindly Lady Matheson, Felix Aylmer as a retired teacher named Fowler, and May Hallatt recreating her Broadway role as the blunt Miss Meacham. Miss Meacham candidly admits that she lives at the Beauregard because she is the alone type, self-sufficient. "People have always scared me a bit you see. They're so complicated. I suppose that's why I prefer horses."

David Niven, May Hallatt, Gladys Cooper, Deborah Kerr
Rita Hayworth, Cathleen Nesbitt, Burt Lancaster

Nonetheless, Miss Meacham, Mr. Fowler, Lady Matheson, and everyone excluding Mrs. Railton-Bell prove themselves to be willing and capable of kindness and forgiveness with a gesture small in action and great in impact that ends our visit to the Beauregard Hotel.












Sunday, October 14, 2018

THE NEIL SIMON BLOGATHON CONTINUES



It is time for the party! The Neil Simon Blogathon began here with Rich at Wide Screen World.

Wide Screen World, Brighton Beach Memoirs

Caftan Woman, You'll Never Get Rich aka The Phil Silvers Show

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, California Suite

The Stop Button, The Cheap Detective

Poppity Talks Classic Film, Seems Like Old Times

Once Upon a Screen, The Prisoner of Second Avenue

Movie Rob, The Heartbreak Kid



The Neil Simon Blogathon continues here with Paddy at Caftan Woman.

Classic Film and TV Cafe, Seven Things to Know About Neil Simon

Movie Rob, Only When I Laugh

Moon in Gemini, The Heartbreak Kid

Critica Retro, The Odd Couple



Thank you to everyone who shared your new and old favourites, and your love for Neil Simon. You made the blogathon a wonderful and enlightening experience. 










THE WORLD WAR ONE ON FILM BLOGATHON: Broken Lullaby (1932)

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting The World War One On Film Blogathon on November 10th and 11th to commemorate the 100th annive...