Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR MAY ON TCM


Louise Randall Pierson wrote a memoir in her early 50s which was published as Roughly Speaking in 1944. A feisty go-getter and keen observer, the housewife was able to put into words the life of a family in those tumultuous first years of the 20th century.


Warner Brothers made a film based on the book in 1945 with Louise working on the screenplay with Catherine Turney (The Man I Love). Michael Curtiz directed his second of two pictures with leading lady Rosalind Russell (Four's a Crowd), and his second of that year's releases with leading man Jack Carson (Mildred Pierce). Roughly Speaking is the only film on which Curtiz worked with cinematographer Joseph Walker. He was a favourite of Ms. Russell's having filmed her in ten films altogether, including those produced specifically for her (The Velvet Touch).

Rosalind Russell, Eily Malyon

Louise's father passes when she is a 12-year-old girl, leaving the family in straitened circumstances. Nonetheless, her father's love and teachings have made Louise a confident and determined young woman. Graduating from secretarial college, she plans to conquer the business world and be somebody who looks from the inside out, not the outside in. However, romance intrudes with its contrary notions.

Rosalind Russell, Donald Woods

Donald Woods plays Rodney Crane, the young banker who has fallen for the headstrong Louise and he is determined that his wife will not work outside the home. After all, this 1912 and such notions must be set aside. However, with no career to occupy her prodigious energy, Louise puts all of her ambition into her husband and children, which number four in almost no time. She decides where they will live, and their lifestyle. She drags the kids into her efforts to do her bit when WWI comes along. When the children are struck with infantile paralysis, Louise buries her fear and determines to help her young daughter learn to work again.

The unthinkable happens when Louise tries to put a brave face on her husband losing his job. Cracks in their relationship broaden due to their differing personalities and Rodney plans to marry someone else. Again, with all flags flying Louise takes on the challenge of single parenthood.

Rosalind Russell, Jack Carson

The unthinkable again happens when, through old friends, she meets Harold Pierson played by Jack Carson. He's the black sheep of his family and though she may be a bit too focused along with having four children, together they are both "crazy" and well-suited to give marriage a try. The ensuing years for the Piersons, like the years for most of us, are fraught with their ups and downs in business and in family life, but their closeness sustains them through it all. 

Rosalind Russel, Ann Doran with unidentified party-goer

Many familiar faces are sprinkled throughout the cast from Ray Collins to Alan Hale. There's a lovely role for Ann Doran as Louise's chum, and see if you can spot Craig Stevens. 

Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson are a joy to watch as Louise and Harold. I wouldn't have minded if the movie were longer or if a sequel had been made. It is a shame they didn't work together again. By necessity, the story is rather episodic yet the time spent on each incident is enough to give us the full emotion of the characters and capture the essence of the times. There is much humour to leaven the tears and a lot of heart with no schmaltz in the story of this family. It is one that will stay with you like the fond memory of an old friend.


Louise Randall Pierson and daughter publicize the release of Roughly Speaking.

Roughly Speaking kicks off the TCM Mother's Day salute on Sunday, May 12th. If you are being treated to breakfast in bed, be sure to record this movie.


Connections:


Frank Pierson (1925-2012), Oscar-winner screenwriter of Dog Day Afternoon, and nominee for Cat Ballou and Cool Hand Luke was Louise Randall Pierson's youngest son.



Rosalind Russell as Louise deals with her children being stricken with infantile paralysis. The following year, Roz would be Oscar-nominated for Sister Kenny, as the Australian nurse whose pioneering work did so much to help in the fight against polio.












31 comments:

  1. Is that movie card at the top of the post supposed to be artistic? It displays Russell’s name in a very peculiar manner. I don’t think it’s meant to reflect on the story, either.

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    1. The artwork I have found for the movie feature that wonky font. There must have been some thinking behind it, but its use doesn't really confide anything to us, does it? Perhaps it was roughly fonted to reflect Roughly Speaking.

      The photo is from a cute scene in the movie. However, looking at it, it is rather blurry so I think I'll try out another lobby card and see if it is easier on the eyes.

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  2. DONALD WOODS & RAY COLLINS! More actors from PERRY MASON. Woods played Perry in the last movie way back. Collins played LT. TRAGG on the show. Also the fifth picture down looks like ALAN HALE, not JACK CARSON.

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    1. Ray Collins plays Louise's father. His scene with Ann E. Todd as young Louise is lovely.

      Jack Carson and Alan Hale were both husky fellows. All sorts of Warner Brothers stars appear in musical performances in the 1943 movie Thank Your Lucky Stars. The duet by Carson and Hale is a highlight for me.

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  3. I liked ROSALIND RUSSELL in PICNIC with KIM NOVAK & WILLIAM HOLDEN. It had a great cast-including CLIFF ROBERTSON, BETTY FIELD, ARTHUR OCONNELL & SUSAN STRASBURG. It also had VERNA FELTON as the neighbor Mrs. Potts and in a small role one of my favorite character actresses RETA SHAW. One of the things I remember Reta best from is THE ANDY GRIFIITH SHOW where she played an escaped convict and danced with Barney! She also was in POLLYANNA with HAYLEY MILLS & JANE WYMAN.

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    1. Picnic is an excellent film. Rosalind Russell and Arthur O'Connell are very impressive as Rosemary and Howard. I adore Verna Felton.

      Reta Shaw had a well-rounded career on stage, in movies, and on television. I haven't seen Pollyanna in a long time but remember it fondly. And with Hayley Mills we come back full circle to Rosalind Russell and The Trouble With Angels.

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  4. I just looked up the credits for VERNA FELTON on imdb and when I saw she had done voice roles then I remembered that she had done the voice of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER in CINDERELLA! Talk about an enduring and endearing role!

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    1. My Disney-obsessed son is crazy about her. Especially, her elephants in Dumbo and The Jungle Book. I'm partial to her fairy in Sleeping Beauty. She died, I believe, on the same day as Walt Disney, or near to it.

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  5. VERNA also guest starred on I LOVE LUCY as a maid that Ricky hired for Lucy. LUCILLE BALL did the musical version of AUNTIE MAME that ROSALIND RUSSELL had done earlier as a comedy. (Except the one with LUCY was titled MAME.) ANGELA LANSBURY wanted to do MAME because she had starred in the hit Broadway show and singing and dancing was more her forte than it was for Lucille Ball. So Rosalind, Angela and Lucille all got to play the same role. Did you see either movie and if so which did you like best? Also another time Angela got to play a role that Rosalind had done. MRS. POLIFAX-Rosalind in a movie and Angela in a TV-Movie.

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    1. I like the Mrs. Polifax books, but didn't think too much of either movie, as much as I love the actresses.

      I too wish Angela Lansbury had appeared in the movie of Mame. Lucy was past her musical best (Wildcats on Broadway in the 1960s), and I couldn't even watch the entire movie. I played Doris Upson in a community theatre production of Mame, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the show.

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  6. This is such a sweet, oddball movie, with a fascinating portrait of an unconventional marriage and family. Russell really had a way with portraying strong, likable women who manage to keep their sense of humor.

    Russell is also great in The Velvet Touch that you also mentioned, which is something of an unknown, unappreciated noir. It doesn't get much of a showing on TCM, unfortunately, but it shows Russell's dramatic side beautifully.

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    1. I'm crazy about this, and The Velvet Touch. Among Roz's movies, they may not get the most attention, but once seen, are truly appreciated.

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  7. This looks like a real gem – and it has Jack Carson?! I'm in!!

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    1. I think perhaps you, like me upon my first viewing, will sit back and say "Where has this been all my life?"

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  8. Did you see all the movies that JACK CARSON did with DORIS DAY? He also worked with GINGER ROGERS in THE GROOM WORE SPURS. I saw him in STAGE DOOR with Ginger too. The movie was kind of boring to me but Im glad I got to see Ginger plus LUCILLE BALL & EVE ARDEN. I looked up Jack on imdb(as Ive done before) and his passing was JAN. 2, 1963. That was the exact same day of DICK POWELLS passing also. Interestingly, Jack was on the first episode of DICK POWELLS anthology show. Dick played AMOS BURKE, the character later played by GENE BARRY. (Gene played the killer in the very first COLUMBO TV-Movie PRESCRIPTION MURDER with, of course, PETER FALK.)

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    1. I really enjoy Jack Carson. The first time my daughter saw him was in the role of Officer O'Hara in Arsenic and Old Lace. So, from that day to this, although of course we know his real name, we affectionately refer to him as Officer O'Hara.

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  9. You're a great Saleswoman - I'm going to see this one. It looks like a winner. Thanks.

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    1. That's me. I'm a regular Harold Hill! Ha-ha! I think Jack and Roz are doing a pretty good job of selling the picture. One of the things that I like about Roughly Speaking is that it came to me just when I thought I'd seen everything from these actors worth seeing. Movie buffs can never get jaded or bored.

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  10. I haven't seen this one, but can imagine that Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson make a good team. I have seen FOUR'S A CROWD with Roz and directed by Curtiz, which is pretty amusing.

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    1. The hubby says of Curtiz "He sure knows how not to bore a person."

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  11. What are your favorite JACK CARSON movies? Did you like the ones he did with DORIS DAY? I remember we mentioned ITS A GREAT FEELING that had a lot of cameo roles including JANE WYMAN and her daughter MAUREEN. Also Jack was in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF with PAUL NEWMAN & ELIZABETH TAYLOR.

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    1. Favourites with Jack Carson? The Strawberry Blonde may be number one. An early role in The Saint in New York. Blues in the Night, Larceny, Inc., The Male Animal, The Hard Way, Mildred Pierce, A Star is Born. My fave with Doris would be Romance on the High Seas.

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  12. I agree with rcocean. You sell these pictures so well. I haven't even heard about this one. It always amazes me how many pictures are out there that just wait to be discovered.

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    1. Thanks. We're movie archeologists and we'll never be finished with the job.

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    2. Movie archeologists...I like this. :)

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  13. I am going to name other actors that were Jack C. There was JACK CASSIDY(father of David, Shaun, Patrick and Ryan Cassidy. His ex-wives are Evelyn Ward and Shirley Jones. They were certainly a musical family.) Also there were JACK COLLINS and JACK CARTER. Even though they went by JACKIE there were JACKIE COOGAN and JACKIE COOPER that were huge stars as children. JACKIE COOGAN was once married to BETTY GRABLE. Now for J. CARSON. There was JOHNNY CARSON who had his late-night show for 30 years.

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  14. Thank you! I have one more-country singer JEFF CARSON best known for the song THE CAR. I also like his song SHINE ON. I know you like show tunes. What other kind of music do you like? My favorite is country music. But not the really fast loud ones. Some of my favorite male singers are VINCE GILL and RICKY VAN SHELTON(VAN is his middle name). They both have smooth voices. Shelton has been retired for several years now. Another favorite is TOBY KEITH. Two more are CHRIS YOUNG and JASON ALDEAN. I grew up listening to country music. I remember on Saturday nights I watched a show called THAT GOOD OLD NASHVILLE MUSIC.

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    1. Country music is very big in Nova Scotia where I was born. I remember Vince Gill and Ricky Van Shelton, but after they came up I pretty much stopped listen to radio, both country and pop/rock music stations. By this time, generations of performers have had hits, faded away, and had their comeback without my ever hearing of them.

      I like classical music. I always ace the opera category on Jeopardy! It makes the hubby throw couch cushions at me. Jazz is high on my list, and the Great American Songbook, Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Arlen, etc. Stuff like that. The hubby calls me an "old fogey."

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  15. Do you like the music in the DISNEY animated movie BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with MISS ANGELA LANSBURY? I really like the songs Angela sings in it. JERRY ORBACH is a powerhouse performer in it with BE OUR GUEST. Jerry, of course, played HARRY MCGRAW on MURDER, SHE WROTE in several episodes. I never saw the short-lived spin-off that he got. Also I remember Jerry from a TV-movie IN DEFENSE OF A MARRIED MAN with JUDITH LIGHT & MICHAEL ONTKEAN.

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    1. I'm a huge Disney fan. Beauty and the Beast is a favourite. Remember watching the Tony Awards in the past and getting to see Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury performances.

      I became a fan of Judith Light in her One Life to Live days. She's an amazing actress.

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