Sunday, June 23, 2019

THE HOTTER'NELL BLOGATHON: Heat Lightning (1934)


Steve at MovieMovieBlogBlog The Sequel is adding to the summertime heat with a blogathon focusing on those movies and shows set under a torturous sun. June 21 - 23 are the days for extra sunscreen. Click HERE as you reach for a fan. 

Aline McMahon, Ann Dvorak

Aline MacMahon stars as Olga, a woman running from her past and trying to make a future. She thinks she will accomplish this in the Mohave Desert where she is the boss of an auto camp/garage/diner. It is a hard, lonely life but that is what Olga feels she deserves and she needs. Perhaps the sun will bake away her past of misdeeds as a party girl with a criminal boyfriend. Perhaps she can keep her beloved kid sister from making similar mistakes. Olga is not taking into account the way life has of catching up with one or the basic truth that you can't live someone else's life for them. 

Myra played by Ann Dvorak is a young woman bored with the isolation of living with her sister. She is longing for her share of life, of fun, good times, and romance. Myra looks upon Olga as a jailer, as someone who doesn't know what fun is, or has forgotten. Perhaps if Olga had explained why that smooth-talker who wants to take Myra dancing is up to no good, they might have had an understanding. Perhaps heartbreak could be avoided. Perhaps.

Willard Robertson, Aline MacMahon

Olga's way station is like a Grand Hotel in the desert with people coming and people going. They get tourists with car trouble such as Jane Darwell and Edgar Kennedy providing a humorous interlude in our story. They get gals who look for and find the fun that Myra is missing.

A frequent visitor is neighboring rancher Everett Marshall played by Willard Robertson. He likes and admires Olga, and what is more, he thinks he understands her. If he doesn't totally "get" Olga, perhaps it is just as noble in that he tries to understand her. 

Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, Ann Dvorak, Glenda Farrell

Things get busy and complicated with the arrival of a Mexican family, and a couple of divorcees fresh from Reno. Mrs. Ashley-Aston and Mrs. Tifton played by Ruth Donnelly and Glenda Farrell are self-absorbed and demanding. They not only demand the best of their hostess, but they each demand the undivided attention of the chauffeur Frank played by Frank McHugh. Can one man keep two women happy? Will he ever get that cold beer he craves?

Ann Dvorak, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot

Dangerous customers descend on Olga's oasis. Her old boyfriend George played by Preston Foster and his partner Jeff played by Lyle Talbott are on the lam. A robbery went wrong and they left two dead men behind them. More than any other character in the film, it is Talbott's Jeff who feels the heat of his past and of the desert. Jeff isn't responsible for the killings, but he is the one with guilt coming out of every pore. He is a walking bundle of nerves and anxiety. Jeff will either melt or explode.

Aline MacMahon, Preston Foster

George, as Olga can attest, is always a cool customer. Here in the desert, he has found opportunity. He has no doubt about being able to twist Olga to his wants and plans, although he still can't understand why she left him, and she certainly has "let herself go." George believes he has found a perfect set-up here in the desert where his old girlfriend will give them shelter from the law, and there are two rich women waiting to be relieved of their jewellery and car.

Aline MacMahon

Danger is crowding in on all sides; physical, psychological, and spiritual danger from the night, from the heat, from the past, and from George. Whatever happens in the desert will forever alter Olga who sought so much else under the sun.

















Friday, June 21, 2019

THE BLIZZARD OF OZ BLOGATHON: The Sundowners (1960)


Click here to join the journey as Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In takes us on a journey to movies set or made in Australia with The Blizzard of Oz Blogathon running on June 21-23.

John Cleary's acclaimed 1952 novel The Sundowners was a natural for the movies with its colourful characters and unique setting of 1920s Australia. Independent producer Joe Kaufman commissioned a script in 1954 but was unable to complete the project. Warner Brothers released their film in 1960. Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity) directed the Isobel Lennart (Love Me or Leave Me, Holiday Affair) screenplay on location in Australia, with interior filming at Elstree Studios in England.

The Sundowners was nominated for 5 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Deborah Kerr for Best Actress, and Glynis Johns for Best Supporting Actress. Deborah Kerr won Best Actress from BAFTA and from the New York Films Critics Circle Awards.

Deborah Kerr as Ida Carmody

"If we have to live in a tent I say we keep moving. That way, we've got an excuse for not having a home. I'm sick of other people's sympathy. And that's what we always get if we stay too long near any one town."

The sundowners in our story are the Comody family. Paddy keeps on the move, finding work as a drover. His wife Ida, and teenage son Sean love Paddy dearly but are getting fed up with their wandering existence. However, the closer Ida and Sean get to their dream, the farther Paddy gets from his.

Robert Mitchum as Paddy Carmody

"Do you suppose the poor coot on that farm can just come and go like we do?"

The time we spend with the family, Paddy has a herd of sheep to deliver which requires his hiring an extra drover. Into their lives comes Rupert Venneker, an educated and perhaps titled Englishman, with an itch to wander as strong as Paddy's. Rupert has a way with the ladies and a philosophical nature which appeals to young Sean. He attaches himself to the Carmody family, like a pet.


Peter Ustinov as Rupert Venneker

"Pay a woman a compliment, she tries to turn it into a contract."

Ida and Sean have become attached to a farm for sale by one of their campgrounds. In order to raise money for a down payment, Paddy is convinced to take on a job of sheep shearing. The Halstead ranch needs a lot of hands for the job and along with Paddy, Sean becomes a tar boy, Rupert a wool roller, and Ida the cook.

Ida relishes having a real kitchen instead of cooking over an open fire. Sean is "away from home" for the first time as he socializes with the other workers. Ida enjoys the companionship of the ranch owner's society wife played by Dina Merrill. Ida is also indispensable when the wife of a shearer arrives to have their first child near to her husband.

The other shearers are working toward goals, like their own shop or pub, but Paddy only feels constrained by this makeshift community. He feels that the family doesn't need the money; refusing to recognize Ida and Sean's strong feelings about the farm.


Glynis Johns as Mrs. Firth

"You should've come sooner, you would've heard me singing. I've got a voice like a foghorn but I enjoy myself. I don't think life's worth living unless you enjoy yourself, eh?"

In town, hotelier Mrs. Firth becomes a friend to all, especially to Rupert. Their relationship is delightful to watch unfold. Look for a scene where Mervyn Johns (Glynis' father) is cast as a former suitor being put in his place.

Life with these wanderers is never boring and frequently dangerous. The drovers encounter with a wildfire is harrowing. Scenes of shearing the sheep are very interesting and enlightening. You might find your back aching in sympathy with Paddy.
  

Michael Anderson Jr. as Sean Carmody

"I get sick of being told I'm too young like it's a disease or something."

A crisis comes to the family when a put-upon Paddy disappoints Ida for personal reasons, and his fellow workers when he lets those personal reasons get in the way of their plans. Paddy has been appointed Team Halstead in a shearing contest with a competing ranch and he intends to back out and leave before the end of the season. Rupert is the mender of bridges in this case.

The family's fortunes next rise and fall when a racehorse comes into their lives. Sean was born to be a jockey, and Paddy sees a way out of the mortgage. A race will be the turning point for the family in the most unexpected of ways. Paddy's wanderlust and Ida's love always find a way.


Dimitri Tiomkin's score for The Sundowners draws on traditional folk tunes such as The Queensland Drover, Botany Bay, The Lime Juice Tub, and Moreton Bay.



Bonus:


Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum at Mascot Airport, 1959. Exterior filming in Australia has ended and it is off to England for the interior shots. Thanks to Walter S., for confirmation.















Friday, June 14, 2019

DEAR MR. GABLE BLOGATHON: Manhattan Melodrama (1934)


Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting her second annual Dear Mr. Gable blogathon, a salute to the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. Click HERE to enjoy the tributes and critiques.

When MGM and other Hollywood studios of the 20th century are referred to as "the dream factory", the description is apt. Like a factory, hundreds of movies were produced and today we enjoy those films as a wonderful art form of collective dreams. The output in terms of quality and quantity staggers the imagination.

Clark Gable was one of MGMs busiest leading men. Manhattan Melodrama is only one of four films Gable released for his home studio in 1934. This is the movie season that saw Gable win his only Oscar for a little Capra movie filmed as a loan-out Columbia. Manhattan Melodrama won its only Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story by Arthur Caesar with the screenplay by H.P. Oliver Garrett and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The superb direction by W.S. Van Dyke and cinematography by James Wong Howe are the guiding hands that bring the story vividly to life.  

Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Butler
"Blackie" Gallagher and Jim Wade

Turn-of-the-20th-century New York City finds youngsters Blackie and Jim tragically orphaned as the film recreates the disaster of the fire and sinking of the General Slocum steamship with the loss of over 1000 lives. Taken in by a dead pal's grieving father, the boys are raised by their "Papa" Rosen until he too is killed. The innocent man was trampled by police in a riot and Blackie swears to get even someday.

Blackie is energetic, emotional and easy to like. He loves to gamble and win, but he also has a sense of fair play all his own from which he will not waiver. Blackie's other great love is for Jim, as a brother and an idol. Jim is studious by nature, caring, and a stickler for his own ideals. Blackie lives for fun and Jim lives to better himself and the world.

Clark Gable, William Powell
"Blackie" Gallagher and Jim Wade

Their life journeys take Blackie and Jim to success built on their distinct personalities. Blackie is a well-known gambler, and Jim is a rising star in the District Attorney's office. The two men understand and love each other while completely understanding that which keeps them apart. Perhaps Blackie understands their differences even more than Jim. Perhaps Jim doesn't want to think of those differences when it comes to their so important bond.

Myrna Loy
Eleanor Packer

"I fell in love with a very little boy who was playing with a great big box of matches, and I don't want that little boy to get burned." 

Blackie is not only a perpetually lucky gambler; he is also lucky in love. The lady in his life, Eleanor is bright and attractive with a delicious sense of humour. One thing that sets Eleanor apart from the usual women in Blackie's environment is her longing for something better for herself and Blackie. Her observation of Blackie's fly-by-night business and the vicious characters with whom he associates fill her with dread.

"I instinctively keyed my women to the personalities of the men. Male-female relationships were much more clearly defined in those days. My job was to vivify those relationships within the framework of the script, the mores, and the abilities of the men. Clark, for instance, suffered so much from the macho thing that love scenes were difficult. He kept very reserved, afraid to be sensitive for fear it would counteract his masculine image. I always played it a little bit tough with him, giving him what-for to bring him out, because he liked girls like that - Carole Lombard had a tough quality."

- Myrna Loy
Being and Becoming, 1987

Election night is a big deal for Jim as he becomes District Attorney, and Blackie arranges for him to meet Eleanor. Eleanor falls hard for Jim and the things he represents for her that have nothing to do with Blackie. Eleanor breaks things off with Blackie but does not pursue Jim. An accidental meeting later brings the pair together, and Eleanor and Jim plan to remain that way. 

Jim's future looks even brighter with his new wife and a bid for the Governor's seat. Meanwhile,  without Eleanor's influence, Blackie has become tougher, meaner, and more morose. Blackie kills the chiseling Manny Arnold and is suspected but there is no evidence to bring him to trial. When Jim's political campaign is threatened by a bitter former assistant, Eleanor mentions the trouble to Blackie. Blackie has killed once for money and pride. What wouldn't he do for his friend Jim? 

Jim, Eleanor, and Blackie are faced with unimaginable conflict. District Attorney Jim Wade must prosecute his closest friend. Blackie shows only pride in Jim's masterful manipulation of the jury. The death sentence for Blackie is heartwrenching and destructive to Jim and Eleanor. Jim wrestles with his conscious, Eleanor with hers, and Blackie faces death as he faced life.

Clark Gable
"Blackie" Gallagher

"Don't commute me. I don't want it. Hey, look, Jim, if I can't live the way I want then at least let me die when I want."

Gable's performance is charismatic as Blackie, the black sheep of a rootless family. As selfish as some of his actions may seem, he is always looking out for the other guy and has done that since childhood. He can't change even in the face of death.

Clark Gable's Oscar win for It Happened One Night attests to his skill at comedy and double-billed with this sterling drama should convert any doubter about the worthiness of Gable's legendary title as the King of Hollywood.















Friday, June 7, 2019

REEL INFATUATION BLOGATHON: Audie Murphy as Tom Destry, 1954


Maedez of Font and Frock and Ruth of Silver Screenings are once again hosting their popular Reel Infatuation Blogathon on June 7th - 9th. It's all about those oh-so-crushable characters who have made their way into our hearts.

Reel Infatuation:  Day 1   Day 2   Day 3


Audie Murphy

The hubby strolled into the room while I was watching Destry. "What are you watching?" (Audie Murphy walks into the frame.) "Oh! Never mind."


Thomas Mitchell, Lori Nelson, Audie Murphy

Tom: "You know, I don't hold too much for first impressions. The way I figure it, the last impression is important."

The criminal element of the town of Restful has eliminated the latest meddlesome sheriff and appointed in his stead the town drunk. Rags Barnaby played by Thomas Mitchell is said drunk, a former lawman whose glory days were as deputy to the legendary lawman Tom Destry. Once again with a badge, Rags determines to quit drinking and get Destry's son to be his deputy. After all, young Tom cleaned up Silver Creek; Restful should be no problem.

Destry the Younger played by Audie Murphy is not who Rags was expecting. Instead of a six-footer with a six-shooter, the current Tom Destry is a youthful looking man of slight build who doesn't believe in guns. This discovery delights the crooks who run the town, led by Decker played by Lyle Bettger. (I once saw Bettger play a good guy. Honest!) They see no danger in this peace-loving, stickler for the rule of law. 


Mari Blanchard

Tom sets about quietly winning over old Rags and the decent people of Restful. (He had my heart the second he stepped off the stage.) The charm offensive works easily enough with Doc and Bessie Mae played by Wallace Ford and Mary Wickes, proves tougher with Martha Phillips played by Lori Nelson, and unexpectedly easy with saloon singer Brandy played by Mari Blanchard.

Tom: "You make an exception in one case, you may as well not have the law."

Danger, suspense, laughter, music, love, and loss are the elements of this successful western. It is a loss that forces Tom to turn to his skill with guns to defeat the evil that holds Restful in its grip.


Lyle Bettger, Richard Reeves, George Wallace, Audie Murphy

Murphy's attractiveness, his audience appeal and the character of Tom Destry were made for each other. In this script, Tom's deceptive naivety, his intelligence, understated bravery, and determination come together to create a captivating character who easily wins admiration. Ah, be still my heart!

Add George Marshall to your list of directors who revisit an earlier success. The Max Brand story that was adapted by Felix Jackson to emerge as the 1939 classic Destry Rides Again starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich gave Audie Murphy one of his most perfect screen roles.

"Audie is a grassroots actor because of the many qualities which overlap between his real life and his reel life."
- George Marshall

The Medal of Honor recipient came to Hollywood in 1945 at the behest of Cagney Productions. At Universal Pictures from 1950, Murphy appeared in mainly mid-budget westerns, and over the years became a natural and adept performer. 


Lori Nelson, Audie Murphy

Could you resist a law-abiding, peace-loving, dogged detective determined to do the right thing, with that face? I certainly have no resolve against such a movie character crush.

Tom: "Which reminds me of a book I read once. It was all about a fellow and a girl. They had the doggonedest time getting together. Oh, it wasn't her fault. It wasn't exactly his fault either. It was just a whole lot of mix-ups kept 'em apart. One day this fella ..." 

Martha: "You know something. You read too many books!"

Tom: "Yeah. But there comes a time when a fella just has to stop readin' so much."

Destry is the second film in as many years to star this Universal Studios duo, following Tumbleweed in 1953. Lori also made a guest appearance on Murphy's 1961 television series Whispering Smith.


Differences between Destry Rides Again, 1939 and Destry, 1954 spotted by a fan.
No prize for guessing which fan.

Destry Rides Again: Black and White cinematography by Hal Mohr.
Destry: Technicolor cinematography by George Robinson.

Destry Rides Again: They are investigating if the sheriff died.
Destry: They are investigating how the sheriff died.

Destry Rides Again: The good girl is the sister of an impetuous cattleman.
Destry: The good girl is the niece of a swindled rancher.

Destry Rides Again: Comic subplot with a feisty landlady and Russian husband (Merkle and Auer).
Destry: Comic subplot with a feisty landlady and Doctor husband (Wickes and Ford).

Destry Rides Again: The final shootout is a free-for-all involving the entire town.
DestryThe final shootout involves only the bad guys, Brandy and Tom Destry in the saloon.

Destry Rides Again: Tom whittles.
Destry: Tom whiles away the time with a piece of string.

Destry Rides Again: Tom has a habit of relating a story he heard somewhere.
Destry: Tom has a habit of relating something he read in a book.

Destry Rides AgainTom gabs away at the pretty girl over the closing credits.
Destry: Tom kisses the pretty girl!

Trivia:

Tom Destry and Tom Destry

The stars of Destry Rides Again, 1939 and Destry, 1954, decorated veterans James Stewart and Audie Murphy co-starred as brothers in Night Passage, 1957.





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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

THE ROSALIND RUSSELL BLOGATHON: Craig's Wife (1936)


Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is celebrating the great Rosalind Russell with a blogathon running on June 4th to the 6th. Click HERE for the tributes to Roz.


John Boles, Rosalind Russell

After two years of marriage, Walter Craig played by John Boles is still besotted with his lovely wife Harriet played by Rosalind Russell. Harriet is the picture of poised perfection, as is the house she keeps. Nothing must mar the image Harriet presents to the world of her control and her independence.

Alma Kruger, Rosalind Russell, John Boles

Harriet's need for control is a neurosis that will be her emotional undoing. Blinded by his love, Walter sees only what he wants to see in his wife. Others, like his Aunt Ellen played by Alma Kruger are only too well aware of the way Harriet has taken over Walter's life by isolating him from the society of former friends. Ellen isn't even allowed the company of their friendly neighbour Mrs. Frazier played by Billie Burke. Harriet sees the matronly neighbour as a rival for Walter.

Servants in the Craig household are difficult to hold onto. The agency who provides cooks will not send another until speaking with Mrs. Craig directly to ascertain the reason for the turnover. The current maid Maizy played by Nydia Westman has never worked for a woman more difficult to please.  Mrs. Harold, the housekeeper played by Jane Darwell doesn't try to please Mrs. Craig. Mrs. Harold does her work and if Mrs. Craig doesn't like it "she has a tongue in her head."

Rosalind Russell, John Boles

Harriet has been away from her beloved and flawless home visiting her ill sister played by Elisabeth Risdon. The emotion of a sick room seems too much for Harriet who uses the pretense that visitors are impeding her sister's recovery to return home. Harriet whisks her niece Ethel played by Dorothy Wilson away with her.

During the train journey, Ethel speaks of her engagement to a young professor played by Robert Allen. Eager to share the experience of love, Ethel is shocked to learn that love plays no part in her aunt and uncle's marriage, at least for Harriet's part. Harriet married Walter for her own emancipation. Walter will pay for Harriet's independence and Harriet will be the dutiful wife as long as Walter behaves. Ethel finds this attitude dishonest and monstrous. Harriet believes her niece to be youthful and foolish.

During Harriet's absence, Walter has visited an old and disturbed friend played by Thomas Mitchell. The man has taken to drink over suspicions of his wife's fidelity. The next day the couple is found dead and the investigation points to a murder/suicide. Walter is, of course, blameless of the events yet feeling guilty for not realizing the depth of his friend's despair. Harriet muddies the waters by using the phone company to determine where Walter had gone by tracing the phone number left with Mrs. Harold if he were needed. It would never occur to the distrustful Harriet to simply ask her husband what he had done or where he had gone.

Rosalind Russell

One by one, the members of the Craig household leave. Maizy is fired when her boyfriend visits her in the kitchen. Aunt Ellen can stand no more of Harriet Craig. When Aunt Ellen leaves, Mrs. Harold will be at her side. Ethel's fiance, who couldn't reach her by phone due to Harriet's interference, arrives to take Ethel away. Ethel is only too happy to leave such an unhappy place.

Walter watches all of this with a sense of shock, but it is Harriet's attitude toward his deceased friends the Passmores and his innocent involvement that is the final eye-opener. Harriet doesn't care whether Walter's knowledge is innocent or not, as long as their names are kept out of the newspapers and the precious sterile world she has created for herself is kept pristine.

Walter's first steps in breaking free of Harriet's grasp include smoking in the museum-like room that is the centerpiece of Harriet's creation. Walter's smashing of an antique vase signals the breaking of the marriage. Harriet will, at last, have her emancipation from the messiness of emotional entanglements. Will her happiness be complete?

Editor Viola Lawrence, Actress Rosalind Russell
Screenwriter Mary C. McCall Jr., Director Dorothy Arzner

Mary C. McCall Jr., one of the founders of the Writers Guild of American wrote the screenplay for Craig's Wife based on George Kelly's 1925 Pulitzer Prize-Winning play. The first film version was produced in 1928 starring Irene Rich and Warner Baxter and directed by William C. DeMille. Vincent Sherman directed a further film version 1950 entitled Harriet Craig starring Joan Crawford and Wendell Corey.

Dorothy Arzner directed Craig's Wife at Columbia Studios and star Rosalind Russell was on loan from MGM. Costumer designer Lon Anthony plays up Roz's tall, slim figure. Harriet at home is often clothed in the long lines of Grecian design making her appear the untouchable goddess. The design by uncredited William Haines and Lucien Ballard's slick cinematography highlights the coldness of Harriet's vision for her life and her home.

For Rosalind Russell, Craig's Wife fell between the adventure Under Two Flags and the psychological thriller Night Must Fall. The role of Harriet Craig was a fine showcase for Roz's versatility in her first decade in Hollywood.















Sunday, June 2, 2019

THE SECOND ANNUAL BROADWAY BOUND BLOGATHON: Romanoff and Juliet, 1957 and 1961


Rebecca Denniston of Taking Up Room is hosting The Second Annual Broadway Bound blogathon from June 1st to the 3rd. The blogathon looks at the close ties between the entertainment titans of both coasts. Day One  Day Two  Day Three


The 1958 Tony Awards found Peter Ustinov with two nominations, one for Outstanding Play as the author of Romanoff and Juliet, and one for Distinguished Dramatic Actor as The General in this political satire. The play was produced by David Merrick and staged by George S. Kaufman. 

Peter Ustinov, Elizabeth Allen, Michael Tolan

Romanoff and Juliet began its run of 389 performances in 1957. The General is the head of an almost non-existent military in the tiny, middle-of-nowhere country of Concordia. Circumstances bring the heretofore unknown entity under the undesired attention of both the Americans and the Soviets. Romantic entanglements may prove to be the solution to Concordia's political plight.

Fred Clark, Natalie Schafer, William Greene

The Broadway production featured familiar faces to classic movie and television fans. The American Ambassador and his wife were played by Fred Clark (The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show) and Natalie Schafer (Gilligan's Island). Tom Poston (The Steve Allen ShowNewhart) replaced Peter Ustinov during the show's long run.


The 1961 film of Romanoff and Juliet released by Universal found Peter Ustinov again receiving two award nominations, one from the Directors Guild of America, plus a Golden Berlin Bear nomination at the Berlin Film Festival.

The tiny country of Concordia is an afterthought at the United Nations where it is listed as "P.S. Concordia." Nonetheless, in one of those twists of Fate that Fate loves so much, Concordia holds the deciding vote on a matter of vital importance. Presented with this rare opportunity, the President of Concordia, played by Peter Ustinov, abstains. 

"In view of the fact that in our opinion, the amendment to the amendment of the amendment of the draft resolution is incomprehensible, my delegation regretfully abstains."

The President realizes he has put his little country in a most perilous position, but he could not in good conscious vote any other way.

"To the airport as quickly as possible. We've got to get out of here before the Americans have time to offer us aid."

Sandra Dee, John Gavin

The night of the Independence Day of Concordia celebrations finds Juliet, the daughter of the American Ambassador alone in the President's garden pining for her fiance Freddie, back in New York. That same night Igor Romanoff, the son of the Soviet Ambassador is in another part of the garden quietly criticizing himself as his father made Igor aware that he laughed excessively at the President's jokes. The soft-hearted President directs Igor to criticize himself in the section of the garden where he cannot help but come upon Juliet. Of course, the moody Russian and the romantic American cannot help but fall in love. It is not until the dawn that they discover - horror of horrors! - of the backgrounds that may keep them apart.

Meanwhile, the Americans and the Soviets are in a race to see who will make the first Good Will strike toward Concordia and its precious U.N. vote. It is as was feared by the President and by Otto, Concordia's switchboard operator and the Minister of Everything. The Concordians decide to use the paranoia of the superpowers, and possibly something else against them.

"Our weapon will be laughter; and our cause, love."

The role of Otto (the Minister of Everything), amusingly played by Peter Jones was new to the screenplay. Ustinov certainly knew Jones' value as they were collaborators on the BBC radio program In All Directions.

Tamara Shayne, John Gavin, Peter Ustinov, Akim Tamiroff

The Soviet Ambassador and his wife are played by two-time Supporting Actor Oscar nominee (The General Died at Dawn, For Whom the Bell Tolls) Akim Tamiroff and his actress wife, Tamara Shayne. It is a treat for this fan to see them together in Romanoff and Juliet, which was Ms. Shayne's last screen appearance.

Romanoff and Juliet with its Cold War and political humour is not simply a time capsule of an era. The more things change, the more they stay the same and the machinations of politicians are perpetually ripe for parody and too familiar to audiences of today.


Trivia:
Peter Ustinov, Suzanne Cloutier

Juliet's cast-off fiance Freddie played by Eric Von Nutter becomes infatuated with Igor's cast-off arranged-by-his-parents fiancee who is played by charming Canadian actress Suzanne Cloutier. Cloutier and Ustinov were married from 1954-1971 and had a family of three children. It seems love was in the air for this Cold War spoof inspired by a romantic play by William Shakespeare. 

Can you think of a musical play based on that same Shakespeare story that also premiered on Broadway in 1957 and was also released as an acclaimed film in 1961? There's no prize, but you do get an "aha" moment to enjoy for the rest of the day.















WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon: George Zucco

The annual What a Character! blogathon hosted by Paula's Cinema Club , Once Upon A Screen , and Outspoken And Freckled runs from Nov...