Sunday, December 1, 2019

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR DECEMBER ON TCM


The newspaper game has long been grist for the play and movie mill. The inebriated newshound became a cliche with his first entrance on the stage, along with the overeager "cub" and the noble journalist. All are on display in The Famous Ferguson Case released by Warner Brothers in 1932.

An internationally prominent financier is murdered in his upstate summer home. The police and local officials have no reason to suspect the banker's wife and her friend, but the newspaper lads need a story. After all, they have traveled to this burg and must have something to show for their trouble.

Joan Blondell is top-billed as Maizie Dickson in her first of eight movies with director Lloyd Bacon (Marked Woman). Joan began her film career at Warner Brothers in 1930 and would make 55 movies throughout the decade, ten of them in 1932. Maizie is a young woman, but a seasoned reporter of the "sob sister" type. Her cynicism is struggling with her finer feelings.

Vivienne Osborne

Tom Brown is Bruce Foster, the young sincere-type editor of the Cornwell Courier who breaks the story, bringing the NYC crowd to his town. Foster has stars in his eyes about the big time and maybe this will be his ticket out. His co-worker and girlfriend Toni played by Adrienne Dore has even brighter stars in her eyes when it comes to the big time and the glamorous life she reads about in magazines. 

Grant Mitchell plays Martin Collins, an old-school reporter of the respectable type. Collins and his co-workers have a job to do and choices to make. Do you look for the story or the headline? Sometimes Collins hates his job, but more often he considers it a calling.

Kenneth Thomson plays Bob Parks, a reporter of the hard-drinking type. Parks and his crowd have stories to create. They snoop and badger when they can find time away from their drinking. If they pin the murder on some innocent party, it will all come out in the end, and no harm done.

Vivienne Osborne and Leon Ames are the suspects in The Famous Ferguson Case. Hounded by the press, their lives will never be the same. Nor anyone else's in Cornwell.

Only one of a slate of newspaper stories to come out of the studio in this era, The Famous Ferguson Case is based on a story by Courtney Terrett (Love is a Racket), adapted by Harvey F. Thew (Public Enemy). It is a fast-paced indictment of yellow journalism and well-worth a look for fans of the sub-genre. 

Joan Blondell, Tom Brown

Joan Blondell is the TCM Star of the Month for December. The short-lived Broadway play Penny Arcade attracted the attention of Warner Brothers and they filmed it as Sinner's Holiday, casting two members of the original cast, Joan Blondell and James Cagney. The play also featured Don Beddoe, Paul Guilfoyle, and Millard Mitchell. 

Joan's vibrant personality and versatility were on full display during these years and TCM is screening many of her films from the trenchant comedies to wacky musicals to the sensationalistic drama of The Famous Ferguson Case airing on Friday, December 6th in the early morning of their broadcast day.












18 comments:

  1. Joan as the Star of the Month? Looks like I’ll be watching more TCM than usual.

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    1. We'll have fun with Joan this month. Here's the list of movies. A well organized presentation.

      http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1548053%7C0/Joan-Blondell-Thursdays-in-December.html

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    2. No NIGHTMARE ALLEY, no TREE GTOWS IN BROOKLYN...

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    3. That is disappointing. Two of her finest performances and movies. They are both Twentieth Century Fox moves. Has Disney taken them over? Rights issues are always a problem.

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  2. RICHARD KEITH, best known as LITTLE RICKY on I LOVE LUCY, turns 69 today! He was born KEITH THIBODEAUX. He later did some eps of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW as JOHNNY PAUL JASON, OPIES friend. Richard and his wife KATHY have been married since 1976. 43 years! They have a daughter TARA. Kathy is a professional ballet dancer. She and Richard own a Christian Ballet Company and School.

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    1. It is always nice to hear of child performers having a successful second half.

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  3. This is one I haven't heard of, but the pre-Code era made the BEST newspaper movies: fast, slangy, hard-boiled, fun; not taking themselves too seriously. And with the great Joan Blondell -- Sounds like one to check out!

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    1. Definitely. I've only seen it a couple of times and the time in between it lingered in the memory the way a good movie will.

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  4. I've never heard of this movie! But Joan Blondell as a cynical journalist sounds like something I need to check out.

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    1. Oh, you certainly do! And at 75 minutes you'll be able to fit it in even during this busy month.

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  5. Some of the LLOYD BACON-directed movies that I saw are SUNDAY DINNER FOR A SOLDIER(that I mentioned earlier) with ANNE BAXTER & JOHN HODIAK, CALL ME MISTER with BETTY GRABLE & DAN DAILEY, and SHE COULDNT SAY NO with JEAN SIMMONS & BOB MITCHUM. HODIAK, DAILEY and MITCHUM(also known as BIG BOB around here). You like all three of those fellas! I like them too but I don't know the work of Hodiak as much as you do.

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    1. 42nd Street, Brother Orchid, Action in the North Atlantic, It Happens Every Spring, and Home, Sweet Homicide are just a few of my favourite Lloyd Bacon movies.

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  6. JOAN BLONDELL did an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE with WILLIAM DEMAREST where they played a married couple. It had STERLING HOLLOWAY as an odd TV repairman. Later Joan did an ep of MY THREE SONS titled OFFICE MOTHER. William Demarest was on the show by then. Do you remember those eps? Ive mentioned before that Im a big fan of Joan Blondell. I also really like Demarest because of his role as UNCLE CHARLEY, crusty with a heart of gold.

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    1. I remember both of those episodes very well. I believe Here Come the Brides was the first time I saw Joan Blondell. I also enjoyed her on The Lucy Show. My favourite has got to be Joan guest starring on The Barbara Stanwyck Show in 1961. Aside from two movies they made in 1931, this was the only other time they worked together.

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  7. I love newspaper movies about intrepid reporters. Sitting in a dingy office, hammering away on a battered Remington, papers strewn all over your desk, whiskey bottle in the drawer is so much more fun than a computer. I think.
    Haven't seen this movie but it sounds good.

    BTW, I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. :)

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    1. We would be in our element in those newspaper settings.

      Do check it out, if you have the time this busy month.

      PS: Thanks for thinking of me.

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  8. BARBARA STANWYCK and JOAN BLONDELL-two strong actresses! Who were some other actresses that you liked that guest-starred on THE BARBARA STANWYCK SHOW?

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    1. I didn't mention that the episode with Joan was called Sign of the Zodiac and also featured Dan Duryea, and was directed by Jacques Tourneur.

      Other guests I enjoyed: Anna May Wong, Julie London, Ellen Drew, Elizabeth Patterson, and Doris Packer.

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CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR DECEMBER ON TCM

The newspaper game has long been grist for the play and movie mill. The inebriated newshound became a cliche with his first entrance...