Wednesday, March 16, 2022


Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon. The popular blogathon is running from March 18th to 20th.

First aired: Sunday, February 13, 1966
Written by Ernest Frankel and Orville H. Hampton
Based on Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink
Directed by Jesse Hibbs

Introducing the cast of characters:

PERRY MASON (Raymond Burr)
Attorney-at-law whose clients pay for advice they refuse to follow.

DELLA STREET (Barbara Hale)
Efficient secretary who is not easily fazed by the risks taken by her crusading boss. Perks of the job include the boss and gallery openings.

PAUL DRAKE (William Hopper)
A private detective who does have clients other than Perry Mason, but it is funny how all roads seem to lead back to the attorney.

LT. STEVE DRUMM (Richard Anderson)
This case has the by-the-book officer seeking more than justice and looking in the wrong places.

BOBBI DANE (Francine York)
A young buyer for an art gallery who is on the receiving end of unwanted attention from gangsters.

FRANCIS CLUNE (Donald Murphy)
An art gallery owner who tries to do the right thing but can't escape police harassment.

SGT. DEKE BRADLEY (Mark Tapscott)
A man with a definite agenda and an apparent chip on his shoulder.

BERT KANNON (Allan Melvin)
A reporter with a sharp nose for news or should we wonder where he gets his stories.

OLAF DEERING (Peter Mamakos)
His trucking firm is the target of hijackings, and he wants to know the reason.

ESTELLE PAIGE (Elisabeth Fraser)
Her troubles began when she merged her trucking firm with that of Olaf Deering.

CAMPBELL BOYD (Richard Angarolo)
A pop artist with the attitude of a true iconoclast.

FLOYD WALTERS (Stanley Clements)
A trusted employee at Deering's trucking firm.

MAC (Steve Conte)
Underling to a gang leader who won't put up with much more bungling.

BUD (Paul Genge)
This case not only baffles the police but also keeps the crooks on their toes.

HAMILTON BURGER (William Talman)
The District Attorney must walk a fine line to bring about the desired conviction in this dramatic case.

JUDGE (Kenneth MacDonald)
Presiding over an emotional case, he must keep D.A. Burger and Attorney Mason in line.

If like me, you are a fan of Erle Stanley Gardner's 1952 novel The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink or the 1957 television episode, you will note the exciting twists Ernest Frankel and Orville Hampton took with the case, and the incidents they left behind to streamline one of Gardner's most engrossing plots.

The diverging threads of the plot include a murdered police officer, the unexpected discovery of the murder weapon, a piece of pop art the gallery obtained for less than its worth, and hijacking in the trucking industry. Perry is representing an art gallery owner and his buyer as the detective was murdered in the gallery's storeroom. Gallery owner Clunes had contacted the police regarding the suspicious circumstances surrounding the purchase of Sausalito Sunrise. However, the police have no record of the report; only the body of an admired colleague.

Paul Drake goes undercover on what is presumed to be an unrelated case as a trucker when a firm that expanded by a recent merger finds itself the victim of hijackings and thefts. The undercover assignment and an intense hijacking sequence add immensely to the excitement of the episode.

Sausalito Sunrise

Season nine of Perry Mason is filled with interesting episodes including Perry behind the Iron Curtain in The Case of the Fugitive Fraulein, and a colour episode based on Dickens' Oliver Twist in The Case of the Twice-Told Twist.

The crowning glory is a finale for the ages in The Case of the Final Fade-Out when such a thing was rare in episodic television. The episode features murder on the set of a television series with many amusing cameo appearances and asides for the fans. Perhaps a fellow classic TV fan knows of a previous series finale, but I have no record of one predating this cheeky ending for Perry Mason

Wednesday, March 2, 2022


Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews is hosting The Wilhelm Scream Blogathon! A brilliant idea whose contributions can be found HERE.

The Wilhelm Scream is ubiquitous in movies and television, and as welcome and comforting as the Goofy Yell or the Roadrunner's Beep Beep. Okay. Perhaps the Wilhelm Scream isn't truly comforting because we know that someone has come to a grizzly end, but it has certainly become familiar and a welcome "aha" moment to fans.

My contribution to The Wilhelm Scream Blogathon is an episode of Maverick from its first season, The Savage Hills featuring Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick with guest star Diane Brewster as the recurring character Samantha Crawford, in the second of four episodes. The character was introduced in According to Hoyle in 1947 where "Sam" beat Bret at his own game.

Diane Brewster, Jack Kelly

First aired: Sunday, February 9, 1958
Written by Gerald Drayson Adams
Directed by Douglas Heyes

Roy Huggins created the irreverent and Emmy-winning series Maverick in 1957 and it ran, with various actors until 1962. Our first season finds the Maverick Brothers played by James Garner (Bret) and Jack Kelly (Bart) traveling the television west gambling, doling out the wisdom of their "Old Pappy" and romancing lovely Warner Brothers contractees.

Bart Maverick wanted a good night's sleep and a hearty meal. What he got was grifter Samantha Crawford played by Diane Brewster getting Bart in a lot of trouble with Secret Service Agent Gunnerson played by Peter Whitney, some Natives in The Savage Hills, a possible Federal jail sentence.

Jack Kelly, Peter Whitney

Agent Gunnerson sums things up to an incarcerated Bart: "This girl comes to your hotel room - tries to rob you. You go for the sheriff. She hops into bed. You come back. She tells you she's a Secret Service Agent and I'm a crook. So you team up with her to rob me to get the reward. Is that the way it goes?"

Bart: "I wish I could say 'no.'"

Gunnerson: "She sure must have been a charmer."

Bart: "Dripping honeysuckle, Mr. Gunnerson."

The reward is $10,000 for some counterfeit engraving plates. Bart and Gunnerson team up with a plan to split the reward. All the while, Bart is trying to recall where he's heard the name "Samantha Crawford." But, doggone it, those Maverick boys have so many women in their lives how can they possibly remember them all! 

Jack Kelly, Diane Brewster

Samantha takes the plates and jumps from a riverboat with Bart in pursuit while Gunnerson is knocked out. Attempting a cross-country route the hungry wanderers make the mistake of stealing a food pouch from a Native death lodge. They may have satiated their hunger but now they have some angry men on their trail.

Diane Brewster

Samantha proves resourceful in rescuing Bart from certain torture and this is where the Wilhelm Scream joins the action. Clever Sam starts a distracting fire, grabs a rifle, and down goes one angry Native (Ahhh!) at the 30:13 mark in the proceedings. 

Bart, being a Maverick, becomes susceptible to Sam's later romantic overtures. While Bart sleeps, Sam once again absconds with the plates. Meanwhile, back in civilization, Bart is the subject of a preliminary trial with Gunnerson convinced that Bart knows the whereabouts of Samantha Crawford and/or the plates. After all, there is still that $10,000 reward to consider.

Thurston Hall

Samantha "dripping honeysuckle" Crawford charms the Judge, who also "drips honeysuckle" played by Thurston Hall, a favourite of classic movie fans with 230 film credits including Inspector Crane in The Lone Wolf movies.

Justice prevails when Gunnerson and Maverick split the reward. There is a touching farewell at the railway station between Bart and Samantha.

Diane Brewster, Jack Kelly

Bart: "Goodbye, Samantha."

Samantha: "Goodbye, darling."

Jack Kelly

Bart immediately jumps on board the train when he realizes Samantha has picked his pocket with her goodbye kiss. Samantha waves goodbye from the platform. Those Maverick boys consider themselves as cynical as they come, but they have a strong sentimental streak when it comes to their lovely Warner Brothers contractees.

Diane Brewster

Samantha: "Goodbye, darling. Say "hello" to brother Bret for me. He'll remember me too."


Tuesday, February 8, 2022


Rebecca Deniston at Taking Up Room is hosting The John Williams Blogathon to commemorate the occasion of the composer's 90th Birthday on February 8th. The celebration begins HERE

Dick Van Dyke plays the title character in Fitzwilly, 1967. Fitzwilly is an informal nickname for Claude R. Fitzwilliam, the very formal butler to Miss Victoria Woodworth played by Edith Evans. The beloved "Miss Vicky" was brought up in wealth and privilege by a father who had nothing left to bequeath at the time of his passing.

Miss Woodworth's staff led by that supreme organizer Fitzwilly intend to see that she continues to live in wealth and privilege. The money for Miss Vicky's charitable whims, as well as her project of a phonetic dictionary for those who cannot spell, is obtained through theft of high-end goods which are sold through their own thrift shop. Note: the thrift shop is named after St. Dismas, the penitent thief on the cross at Calvary. The conscience of our larcenous band remains clear as insurance firms take care of any "victims." 

Fitzwilly began his criminal organization with the best of intentions and while he does not stray into other areas of criminality, he does rather fancy himself quite the mastermind. There is no denying he enjoys the excitement that comes with his enterprise. When Miss Vicky hires an assistant to work on her dictionary things start to unravel in Fitzwilly's well-oiled machine. Barbara Feldon plays Juliet Nowell, an intuitive young woman who senses something is "off" in the household. Juliet's strong sense of morality and her burgeoning romance with Fitzwilly is not conducive to a well-oiled machine.

The Fitzwilly screenplay was written by Caftan Woman favourite Isobel Lennert (The Sundowners, Holiday Affair) based on Poyntz Tyler's 1960 novel A Garden of Cucumbers and was directed by Delbert Mann (Marty, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs).

The cast of the movie is filled with familiar and always welcome character actors from John Fiedler and John McIver to Anne Seymour and Helen Kleeb. Your favourite is probably among Miss Vicky's obliging staff including 26-year-old (Look at that baby face!) Sam Waterston.

The best of heist films always feature that one last job and the Fitzwilly gang's one last job is a doozy. They mean to rob Gimbels Department Store on Christmas Eve to offset possible losses from another job and assure Miss Vicky's continued comfort for the "rest of her natural." The Gimbels scene is a masterpiece of blocking and a nostalgic treat for those of us who remember that era of shopping. Read Jacqueline T. Lynch's take at Another Old Movie Blog

Fitzwilly is an amusing and clever movie set at Christmas.  Its appeal comes from the unique story, mid-century setting, and cast of character actor greats. A large part of its charm lies with the score by Johnny Williams.

Composer, conductor, arranger, performer John Williams accomplished all of those duties with the U.S. Air Force, jazz clubs, and Hollywood studios creating classic television scores for the likes of Wagon Train, Ben Casey, and Gilligan's Island garnering six Emmy nominations and three trophies for Heidi, 1969, Jane Eyre, 1972, and Great Performances, 2009.

His first film score was for Daddy-O, 1958, and progressed through the neo-noir The Killers, 1964, the contemporary western None But the Brave, 1965, How to Steal a Million, 1966, and the similarly themed good guy thieves comedy Fitzwilly. Fans can take it from there as the beloved movie scores and the awards racked up for John Williams.

The score for Fitzwilly has an underlying West Coast Jazz vibe layered with a quasi-martial swing which highlights the precision of the capers with the cheeky bounce of the comedy. When this theme is repeated later in the film in a more minor mood it supports the unlooked-for sleuthing of Miss Julia and the tension in the Gimbels heist. HERE is the main theme to whet your appetite for the engaging movie and score. 

Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, John Williams

The love theme for the movie is the delightful Make Me Rainbows by Johnny Williams with lyrics by Marilyn Bergman (November 10, 1928 - January 8, 2022) and Alan Bergman. If you recall or are a fan of this era of movie music, then you are a fan of the Bergmans with eight Emmy nominations, four wins, and 13 Oscar nominations, three wins.

Here is Make Me Rainbows performed by the studio singers from the soundtrack. It floats lazily behind Fitzwilly and Julia's first date and has become a jazz standard.

You may find another favourite version among these fine vocalists. Here is Nancy Wilson from her 1968 album, Easy, and a lovely version by Sue Matthews

Let's invite the gentlemen up to the microphone. Vic Damone took a turn in the 1967 album The Damone Type of Thing. Here is Frank D'Rone from his 1968 album Brand New Morning. You'll find many more versions available as singers love the tune and it is constantly being rediscovered.

Monday, January 31, 2022



Frances Hodgson Burnett brought pleasure to countless generations of readers and earned herself critical praise with her writing, in particular three novels which have made the transition to the screen and stage countless times, Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911). 

It is difficult for me to imagine that The Secret Garden was first adapted for the movies in 1919 and the second feature was not produced until 1949. Since that time, there have been countless movie versions, television mini-series, an animated feature, and a Tony-winning Broadway musical among its incarnations.

Mary Lennox played by Margaret O'Brien is both a neglected and spoiled child. She is bitter and lonely and acts out on these emotions. Born in India to British parents whom she lost in a cholera epidemic, it is determined by authorities that the orphan be sent back to England and the care of a distant relative, an uncle by marriage, Archibald Craven played by Herbert Marshall.

Archibald Craven is plagued by a hunchbacked, guilt, memories, and secrets. He tries to bury these secrets, literally and through drink and absence. Prior to leaving on one of his frequent trips to London, Craven tells the orphan girl, whom he had hoped would be beautiful: "It's a poor house for children, Mary. Perhaps you're equal to it. I'm not." 

Mary finds her new home in Yorkshire very strange indeed. Gladys Cooper plays the cold and tyrannical housekeeper. Dennis Hoey is "Mr. Craven's man" who battles Cooper for control. Reginald Owen is the gardener who has his own secrets. Elsa Lanchester is a giggly housemaid who tolerates no nonsense from a headstrong girl, yet has sympathy for Mary's plight. Her brother Dickon played beautifully by Brian Roper is a nature boy who becomes a friend to the isolated orphan. He is an unaware yet remarkably perceptive friend and teacher. 

Brian Roper (Dickon), Margaret O'Brien (Mary), Dean Stockwell (Colin)

Norma Varden plays a nurse in the Craven household. Why is there a nurse in the house? It is to care for the "poor boy." Craven's son Colin is played by Dean Stockwell. The boy is a cripple with the threat of an early death hanging over him. Colin is a great one for giving the staff a hard time through his behavior and tantrums. Mary has finally met someone who matches her, fault for fault. These cousins are holy terrors who must raise themselves out of the depths of their despair. In an outburst for the ages, Mary breaks Colin down: 
"I was worse the day I was born than you are this minute!"

The secret of the Craven family and of the locked-up garden on the grounds will prove life-affirming and cathartic for our trio of youngsters. The adult cast is superb, especially George Zucco as a doctor with common sense and the correct prescription for the shut-up Colin and his father. 

Robert Ardrey (The Green YearsMadame Bovary) wrote the screenplay for The Secret Garden under the auspices of producer Clarence Brown for MGM Studios. The prestigious film was directed by Fred M. Wilcox (Lassie Come Home). 

I find in the best of Clarence Brown's work, producing and/or directing, a particular empathy for the outsider especially as represented by the lonely, isolated world of children in such films as The Yearling, Intruder in the Dust, Ah, Wilderness!, The Human Comedy, National Velvet, Angels in the Outfield, and this lovely version of The Secret Garden.  

TCM is screening The Secret Garden, 1949 on Thursday, February 24th at noon Eastern Time. Other classic novel adaptations in the lineup include Pride and Prejudice, 1940, Little Women, 1933, The Age of Innocence, 1934, Murder She Said, 1961, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, 1968.

Previous titles in the Caftan Woman's Choice series.

Saturday, January 22, 2022



Rebecca at Taking Up Room and Gill at RealWeegieMidget Reviews are hosting The Odd or Even Blogathon from January 20th to the 23rd. It was a lot of fun to have a flip of the coin settle the topic for the contributors.  Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   

Ma Harrington played by Marie Dressler has no favourites between her two daughters. Grace played by glamourous Jane Winton is the favourite for wearing the best clothes, attending the best functions, and moving up the social ladder. The pair have set their sights on handsome young real estate executive Tony Anderson played by Orville Caldwell. 

Patricia or "Pat" played by Marion Davies is the favourite when it comes to having someone to treat as a second-class citizen, who does all the work and takes all the grief from the other females in the family. Pat also has her sights set on handsome young real estate executive Tony Anderson. He's a sweet guy and Pat's knight in shining armour.

Marion Davies, Dell Henderson, Jane Winton, Marie Dressler

Pat: "Why do I always get the part of a chicken that goes over the fence last?"

The one person in Pat's corner is Pa Harrington played by Dell Henderson. Pa understands exactly how Pat feels.

Pa to Ma: "Maybe you don't believe it, but I've had a pain in the neck ever since we were married."

Orville Caldwell, Marion Davies

Pat confesses to Tony her unrequited affection for a man who doesn't know she exists. Tony, attempting to be kind advises her to "get a personality." Pat feels she does have a personality but tries some self-help books to improve hers. The title that makes an impression is What to Say and When to Say It. She memorizes the pithy bon mots and throws them at her family with no context. Ma is convinced that Pat is off her rocker as there is insanity on her father's side of the family.

Pa to Pat: "Let Ma keep on thinking you're a bit cuckoo and you can do anything you want to."

Lawrence Gray, Marion Davies, Jane Winton

Pat follows Pa's advice and has a lot of fun doing so. Grace is also having a lot of fun stepping out on Tony with local playboy Billy Caldwell played by Lawrence Gray. Pat also uses Billy as part of her plan thanks to Pa's recounting of a movie plot that impressed him. 

Pa to Pat: "I saw the slickest movie last night and the girl in it sure knew her onions."

Initially, the romances between both the older (Ma and Pa) and younger (Pat and Tony, Grace and everybody) generations don't exactly work out as anticipated, but this is a romantic comedy and I will leave it to you as to who gets their way when the dust settles.

The cast is uniformly expert at the comedy craft, making The Patsy a delight. Marion's character of "Pat" is a pro-active Cinderella who engages our sympathies. Orville Caldwell's "Tony" is such a sincere dope that you can't help but like him. Lawrence Gray's "Billy" has a goofy sense of humour that takes the sting out of his trying to steal his pal's gal. Jane Winton's "Grace" is nobody's fool except maybe her own. Dell Henderson's "Pa" displays a resigned dry wit that is quite captivating. Marie Dressler's tyranny as "Ma" could be overwhelming if played by an actress with lesser comedy chops.   

Barry Connors' play The Patsy had a successful 245 performance Broadway run in the 1925/1926 season. Ralph Spence (Cracked Nuts, Peach O'Reno) adapted the play for the screen. The movie features many amusing intertitles that seem to match the pace of the popular Jazz Age play.

Marion Davies (or is it Lillian Gish?!) with King Vidor

King Vidor and Marion Davis collaborated on three comedies, The Patsy and Show People in 1928 and Not So Dumb, 1930. Their screen work shows that the pair had a most simpatico sense of humour and working relationship. Show People, like The Patsy, gave Marion a chance to display her wonderful ability to imitate other actresses of the era with unerring precision. The two films also teamed Marion most felicitously with Dell Henderson.

Of note:

Claiborne Foster starred as "Pat" in The Patsy during its successful Broadway run.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


Theresa, the CineMaven herself is hosting The Umpteenth Blogathon on January 18th. A tribute to those movies which have an addictive hold on our moving pictures loving souls. Every fan has many such films and HERE we get to gush about one of them. 

My selection is the energetic, music-filled, cynical, and hopeful 42nd Street released by Warner Brothers in 1933.

"Say, Jones and Barry are doing a show!"

The news rings out about a new show to all the hopeful dancers, singers, and actors who need that next job.

Ned Sparks (Barry), Guy Kibbee (Abner Dillon), Robert McWade (Jones)

The show is Pretty Lady and Jones and Barry (Robert McWade and Ned Sparks) have a financial backer in kiddie car magnate Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee). Dillon has money that, apparently, is burning a hole in his pocket. He enjoys the sight of all the pretty girls, and he is involved with leading lady Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). A match made in Heaven for the producers.

Warner Baxter (Julian Marsh)

Jones and Barry have their director in hitmaker Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter). Marsh was indeed a hitmaker but, like many others, he lost a bundle when the stock market laid an egg. His health has deteriorated and he needs to recoup some of his losses to keep body and soul together. 

George Brent (Pat Denning), Bebe Daniels (Dorothy Brock)

The star of the show, Dorothy Brock, isn't Abner Dillon's love match. That fellow is her former Vaudeville partner Pat Denning (George Brent). Pat doesn't want to stand in Dorothy's way to success, but meeting on the sly is putting a strain on their relationship.

Ruby Keeler (Peggy Sawyer), Ginger Rogers (Annie), Una Merkel (Lottie)

A newcomer to the Great White Way, Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) of Allenton, PA gets a break in the chorus. Down on her luck before the job came her way, Peggy gets somewhat involved with Pat Denning and somewhat involved Billy Lawler (Dick Powell), Broadway's "oldest living juvenile". What's a naive kid to do even if she can dance rings around Brock?

George E. Stone (Andy Lee), Warner Baxter (Julian Marsh)

Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell (Ginger Rogers) and Lorraine "Lottie" Fleming (Una Merkel) are dancers in the show with guaranteed jobs because Lorraine's boyfriend Andy Lee (George E. Stone) is Marsh's stage manager. The girls are great kibbitzers, giving the movie a lot of its pep and pizzaz. Dance director Mac (Allen Jenkins) is a riot as the sub-task master under Marsh and Lee. Note: there is a treat for Charles Lane spotters.

The songs of 42nd Street are classics by Harry Warren and Al Dubbin: 42nd Street, You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, Young and Healthy, plus the background love theme and dance music by Warren.

Al Dubin, Harry Warren, Warner Baxter

Warren and Dubin have an adorable cameo as the composers of Pretty Lady getting berated by Julian Marsh for their lack of originality.

Speaking of pep and pizzazz as I was earlier let's pause for a round of applause for the hard-working dancers who were more than put through their paces by the creator and stager of the mind-boggling routines, Busby Berkeley! Berkeley really put Warner Brothers musicals on the classic movie map.

42nd Street is a joy to re-watch. It crackles with wit and electricity as directed by versatile Lloyd Bacon from a screenplay by Rian James and James Seymour based on Bradford Ropes' novel. I haven't read the novel in many years as the copy I bought at a second-hand store in the 1970s was musty even then. The ending of that book has always stayed with me.

The Academy honoured the movie with two nominations: Best Picture (winner: Cavalcade), and Best Sound, Recording (winner: A Farwell to Arms). 42nd Street was placed on the National Film Registry in 1998.

Brooklyn-born Harry Warren (1893-1981) was one of the most successful composers of the 20th Century. Despite his great success with popular songs and movies, it looked like he would not have his dream of a Broadway Show until David Merrick produced 42nd Street as a major Broadway hit directed by Gower Champion in 1980.

There are two things to remember if you are coming across 42nd Street for the first time.

Number 1: Do NOT try to make sense of Pretty Lady. It can't be done.

Ruby Keeler, Warner Baxter

Number 2: "...Sawyer, you're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!"

Dick Powell (Billy Lawlor)

Admission: I am a theatre rat. It all began with the show business as depicted in movies and seen on late-night television. The glossy Technicolor offerings from 20th Century Fox and the gritty spins from Warner Brothers led to studies in music and acting, plus years of involvement in Community Theatre, which is a big scene in Toronto. Community theatre introduced me to my husband and many of my fondest friends. To this day, I love losing myself in the theatre world depicted by the movie makers.


Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon . The popular blogathon is runn...