Wednesday, July 31, 2019

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR AUGUST ON TCM


Edna Ferber's best-selling novels were prime material for motion pictures, from So Big to Show Boat to Giant. Come and Get It published in 1935 was produced by Samuel Goldwyn in 1936. Howard Hawks began the production which was completed by William Wyler when Goldwyn found fault with the adaptation approved by Hawks.


Ferber is notable for her larger-than-life characters, her mix of generations and changing times, and her reporter's eye that highlights injustice. In Show Boat, it was miscegenation laws, in Giant the treatment of Mexican citizens, and of Natives in Cimarron. In Come and Get It she wanted people to think about the Earth itself and the debt we owe in terms of conservation. The film shifted the focus to the romantic angle, yet the underlying theme did manage to make itself heard.

Edward Arnold stars as Barney Glasgow. We meet him in the Wisconsin north woods in the 1880s where he is the energetic and ambitious boss of a lumber camp. Barney plans to be one of the richest men in the State within a decade. He will work the men hard and promises them they will play hard at the end. He will bend and twist laws and regulations to suit his purposes. And he will marry the boss' daughter. Barney has plans.

Walter Brennan, Edward Arnold, Frances Farmer

Barney's dearest friend is Swan Bostrom played by Walter Brennan. The Swedish lumberjack is devoted to Barney in return. The two very different men fall in love with the same girl. Lotta Morgan played by Frances Farmer sings in a saloon and will do what she must to get by, even drugging Barney for her boss. Nonetheless, Barney gets to her and she falls hard. Barney loves Lotta passionately, but she is not part of his plan for success. It doesn't occur to him that he could make Lotta a part of his life and still be a success. Barney marries Emma Louise Hewitt and becomes a big man. Lotta marries Swan, becomes a good wife and mother, and dies.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Glasgow business is prosperous enough for Barney to complain about government interference. The family is prosperous enough for daughter Evvie played by Andrea Leeds to make a suitable marriage. Evvie and her dad have an open and affectionate relationship. She calls her father by his first name which is something not even her mother does with ease.

The relationship between Emma played by Mary Nash and her son Richard played by Joel McCrea is only seen on screen in a breakfast scene, but the two actors are a delight. Richard is a thorn in his father's side as the young man speaks of replanting and of sanitary paper cups and the good of government regulations. More than these practical and philosophical differences will come between them.

Frances Farmer, Joel McCrea

Convinced by Evvie that he deserves and needs a vacation, Barney heads north to visit Swan and get in some hunting and fishing. Swan and Lotta's daughter, also called Lotta and also played by Frances Farmer immediately catches Barney's eye with the memories of his lost love all mixed up in the present. Young Lotta wants a life away from the logging camp town and plays, ever so innocently, upon Barney's attraction to get the family, including her Aunt played by Maddy Christians a trip to the city. Lotta sees her future as a career woman and gets Barney to send her to business school. Lotta acts like she knows what she is doing but is lying to herself. She is frightened of anything being asked of her in return by Barney Glasgow.  

Gossip abounds about the relationship between Barney and his old friend's family at the same time that Richard and Lotta find they are naturally drawn to each other. Barney Glasgow has always gotten everything he wants out of life, or at least he thought so until now. Is he a man out of his time? Will his eyes be opened or will tragedy come to all?

Frances Farmer

Come and Get It boasts exciting logging sequences directed by Richard Rossen, a stirring score by Alfred Newman, glorious cinematography from masters Gregg Toland and Rudolph Mate, and grand costumes from Omar Kiam.

Frances Farmer is charismatic and moving in both roles. Miriam Hopkins and Andrea Leeds (Evvie) were under early consideration for the dual role. The next year Frances would again appear opposite Edward Arnold when he played Diamond Jim Fisk in The Toast of New York.

Plaques, in place of trophies, were awarded to the supporting actor winners from 1937-1944.

It's Summer Under the Stars and the TCM screening of Come and Get It is on the morning of Tuesday, August 27th when Walter Brennan is in the spotlight. Walter Brennan won the first of his three Best Supporting Actor Oscars for the role of Swan Bostrom in the introductory year of the Supporting Actor and Actress categories. Further wins were for the films Kentucky, 1938 and The Westerner, 1940. He was also nominated for Sergeant York, 1941.












12 comments:

  1. Two of the movies that I know WALTER BRENNAN from is KENTUCKY and HOME IN INDIANA. The last one had LON MCCALLISTER, JEANNE CRAIN and JUNE HAVER. Jeanne and June were lovely and good actresses with bright personalities. Lon was very likable in the movie. I remember EDWARD ARNOLD in BELLS ON THEIR TOES which also had Miss Crain who was an ACADEMY AWARD nominee for PINKY. She was married to PAUL BRINKMAN and they had 7 children! Also I saw Edward Arnold in YOU CANT TAKE IT WITH YOU but it was so long ago that Im not sure what part he had. Was he the one from the IRS?

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    1. Edward Arnold's performance in You Can't Take It With You is one of my favourites. He Anthony P. Kirby, James Stewart's father. Other favourites are Meet John Doe, The Devil and Daniel Webster, Eyes in the Night, Easy Living, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

      My favourite Jeanne Crain movie is probably Margie. I've loved it since I was a kid. Of course, that goes along with State Fair, A Letter to Three Wives, Cheaper by the Dozen and Leave Her to Heaven.

      Walter Brennan could be a great villain as in My Darling Clementine or a cutie pie as in Who's Minding the Mint?. He had quite an interesting career from movies to television to records.

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  2. WALTER BRENNAN and JEANNE CRAIN were also in CENTENNIAL SUMMER as father and daughter. LINDA DARNELL was in it as another daughter. MISS DOROTHY GISH(sister of LILLIAN GISH) played the wife/mother and CONSTANCE BENNETT (sister of JOAN BENNETT-and also BARBARA) played the aunt of the girls. The male romantic lead was played by an actor I like-CORNELL WILDE. He played the nephew by marriage of CONSTANCES character. WILDE and CRAIN, of course, were also in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN.

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    1. I couldn't remember if CORNEL had one L or two. I didn't think that looked right when I typed it. CORNEL WILDE. As one of the TCM hosts said the very attractive and athletic Cornel Wilde. I remember him from a MURDER, SHE WROTE ep that had JENILEE HARRISON and TWO actresses named JOANNA, JOANNA BARNES as the wife to Cornel and JOANNA PETET as the wife to RICHARD BEYMER. Miss Petet had been on KNOTS LANDING in the early 80s as JANET, a cop who was investigating the murder of CIJI(played by LISA HARTMAN). She was an old flame of MACKS. Mack was played by KEVIN DOBSON. Joanna Petet, a lovely blonde, was great on an ep of THE FUGITIVE where she played TINA whose uncle(ANDREW DUGGAN) was an ex-cop.

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    2. Centennial Summer had a charming cast, but for some reason the movie doesn't come together like I would have hoped. It features the last score of Jerome Kern and the lovely ballad All Through the Day.

      Cornel Wilde was an Olympic calibre fencer and I really enjoy that side of him in At Sword's Point. I first became a fan watching The Greatest Show on Earth, and later he impressed me in the film-noir The Big Combo.

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  3. FRANCES FARMER was once married to LEIF ERICKSON. He had been a singer and musician. I remember him from THE CARPETBAGGERS where he had a small part as the father to the main character JONAS(GEORGE PEPPARD). I liked him in ROUSTABOUT with ELVIS PRESLEY and BARBARA STANWYCK. He played the father of CATHY LEAN(JOAN FREEMAN). They worked for STANWYCK in the movie. He was in SHOWBOAT with KEEL, GRAYSON & GARDNER. According to Wiki he played the engineer who is vindictive. Can you refresh my memory? What did the character do? Also you probably know Leif from his western series with LINDA CRISTAL.

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    1. Leif Erickson was one of the members of the famous Group Theatre and a very accomplished actor. I grew up watching him on The High Chaparral. In Show Boat, the engineer was jealous of Julie and Steven. He informs to the law that they are a mixed race couple, and that forces them off of the boat.

      Frances Farmer was incredibly talented. She had almost too much talent for Hollywood to handle, and was incredibly troubled as well.

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  4. I haven't read this Ferber novel, so I don't know how Edward Arnold's character appeared there, but I remember thinking when I saw the film that it seemed an unusual roughneck role for the portly and sophisticated Arnold to play. He did an excellent job, but the film really seemed to belong to Farmer. She had an unearthly, luminous beauty, and it's so terrible that her career and talent were cut short.

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    1. Indeed Arnold's physicality works better for the later stage of Barney's life, but his force of personality is consistent throughout and I always find him fascinating to watch.

      Frances Farmer makes such a strong impression in these roles. She makes my heart soar and sink.

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  5. I mentioned JOANNA BARNES & JOANNA PETTET earlier from an ep of MSW with CORNEL WILDE. Do you know their work very well? I know we have mentioned THE PARENT TRAP with HAYLEY MILLS as twins. Miss Barnes played the fiancée of MITCH(BRIAN KEITH), the dad of the twins. She was also in MAME with ROSALIND RUSSELL. P.S. Do you remember Cornel Wilde as himself on an ep of I LOVE LUCY? Did you grow up watching I Love Lucy? I didn't see it until I was 18.

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    1. I meant AUNTIE MAME with ROSALIND RUSSELL. MAME was the musical one with LUCILLE BALL. P.S. What are some of the musical highlights that you enjoyed CAROL BURNETT in? Lucy was a friend of Carols and Im sure she was also a mentor of hers.

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    2. I recall Joanna Pettet fro some Made-for-TV movies. Joanna Barnes I recall mostly for her comedy chops in Auntie Mame, Maverick, and The Beverly Hillbillies. Due to the Hillbillies, I think of her as "skinny Cynthie."

      Lucy's road trip to Hollywood is indelibly placed in my memory. I Love Lucy seemed to always be on some channel or other while I was growing up. It gave all the classic guests a contemporary feel to my young mind.

      Carol Burnett is an idol of mine. Musically, I think her best, beyond wonderful performances on her show, is the Sondheim revue Putting It Together that was filmed for television in 2000 with Carol, Ruthie Henshaw, George Hearn, and John Barrowman.

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