Wednesday, May 27, 2020

FAVOURITE MOVIES: All Night Long, 1962


Do you like Shakespeare? Do you like jazz? Have you seen Basil Dearden's 1962 film All Night Long? If not, you are in for a unique and memorable treat in this riff on Othello.

Marti Stevens, Richard Attenborough, Paul Harris

We are invited to Rod Hamilton's place, one of his places, for a late night party and jam session. Richard Attenborough plays Hamilton, a rich man who indulges his love for music in an out of the way loft to avoid complaining neighbours. His hosting duties this evening are extra special. It is a celebration of the first anniversary of bandleader Aurelius Rex and his ex-vocalist wife Delia Lane. Paul Harris plays Rex and Marti Stevens plays Delia. Marti sings two songs in the film, All Night Long and I Never Knew I Could Love Anybody Like I'm Loving You.

Patrick McGoohan, Paul Harris

Delia gave up her career as proof of her devotion to her husband, but music is a part of her and she can't help working up a new style "for fun." Friends are wondering if she'll stick to this odd bargain. One friend hopes she won't. Drummer Johnny Cousin played by Patrick McGoohan wants his own outfit and has been going after Rod Hamilton for the financial backing and agent Lou Berger played by Bernard Braden by telling them both that Delia will be part of his group. All he has to do is get her away from Rex.

Maria Velasco, Betsy Blair

Cass Michaels played by Keith Michell is Rex's manager and a close friend to the couple. Johnny does more than hint to Rex that Delia and Cass are cheating on him. In reality, Cass is stuck on Benny played by Maria Velasco and things are starting to get serious with the couple.

Keith Michell, Marti Stevens

Johnny will do anything and manipulate anyone to achieve his ambition. Only his downtrodden wife Emily played by Betsy Blair realizes to what depths her husband will sink. There is no foible or weakness he will fail to exploit no matter the consequences.


Note the personnel on the soundtrack album above. In between the serious drama of the party, there is some serious music. It is the sort of thing you expect when the host arrives to find Charlie Mingus has already made himself at home. 

Paul Jarrico
1915-1997

All Night Long was written under the pseudonym Peter Achilles by blacklisted screenwriter Paul Jarrico. In the 1930s Jarrico wrote crime and comedy pictures for Columbia studios and was Oscar-nominated for the original screenplay of Tom, Dick and Harry, 1941. Following a WW2 stint with the Merchant Marines, he worked for Howard Hughes at RKO. Jarrico's earlier involvement with America's Communist Party came under scrutiny by HUAC in the 1950s. Along with fellow blacklistee Herbert Biberman they independently made Salt of the Earth in 1954. The story of poor workers organizing themselves was placed on the National Film Registry in 1992.

Basil Dearden
1911-1971

Director Basil Dearden made some of the most interesting and progressive films of his era. Check out Violent Playground, 1958 tackling delinquency with a great showcase for David McCallum. Sapphire in 1959, shows racial prejudice complicating a murder investigation. Victim in 1961 deals with the blackmail of prominent gay professionals starring Dirk Bogarde as a barrister. On the lighter side,  check out Benny Hill in Who Done It?, 1956 and the all-star caper The League of Gentlemen, 1960.

Of note:


According to IMDb trivia, at the completion of filming Patrick McGoohan kept the drum kit.












Thursday, May 21, 2020

THE CMBA SPRING BLOGATHON: Classics for Comfort


These days are trying and many of us are looking for comfort. Movie magic soothes the soul. With this obligation, we're asking that you generate a "TOP 5" list of comfort movie recommendations to enjoy as the CMBA presents the CLASSICS FOR COMFORT Blogathon running from May 19-22.  Contributions can be found HERE.

A comedy, a mystery, a western, a "girl's picture", and a classic family drama make up my compilation of beloved familiar and comfortable movies. 



Pack Up Your Troubles, 1932 written by H.M. Walker, Stan Laurel, and Ray McCarey, and directed by George Marshall and Ray McCarey.

It is 1917 and, despite their best efforts, Stan and Ollie are headed "over there." The bane of sergeants, generals, and cooks alike, eventually they blunder into heroism. The bright spot in the lads' duty is their friendship with Eddie Smith. Eddie is a single father whose estrangement from his folks is keeping his daughter separated from her grandparents. Stan and Ollie want to do something about that, but Eddie becomes another wartime statistic before they discover his parents' whereabouts.

Jackie Lyn Dufton (Jackie Lynn) as Eddie's baby

Back in the States, Uncle Ollie and Uncle Stan rescue "Eddie's baby" from the strangers who have been providing dubious care and set about locating "Mr. Smith." How the boys go from doughboys to caterers to the elite to bank robbers is the fun in the film. Their relationship with "Eddie's baby" is the charming part of the film. Familiar character actors: James Finlayson, Charles Middleton, Mary Gordon, Grady Sutton, Tom Kennedy, and Richard Tucker are simply added comfort.



Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, 1939 written by John Francis Larkin and directed by Norman Foster.

Veteran performer Sidney Toler won the role of the venerable inspector following the death of Warner Oland in 1938. Pairing the 65-year-old Toler with 23-year-old Victor Sen Yung brought a fast-paced modern dynamic to the popular film series. 

Charlie Chan at Treasure Island finds the great detective and his number two son Jimmy in San Francisco tracking the murderer of a friend to the Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939-1940. The man-made Treasure Island is the site of an entertainment complex that includes magicians, psychics, and blackmailers; suspects all.


Combining the elements of a backstage whodunnit with the occult creates a mystery that is as entertaining on its first viewing as on its hundredth or so. The solid cast features Cesar Romero, Douglas Fowley, Donald MacBride, Douglass Dumbrille, Sally Blane (Mrs. Foster), Pauline Moore, Billie Seward, June Gale, Louis Jean Heydt, Charles Halton, Trevor Bardette, and Wally Vernon.



RKO's Stage to Chino, 1940 written by Morton Grant, Arthur V. Jones, and Norton S. Parker, and directed by Edward Killy is filled with much I find comforting in the B western milieu.

- Corporate espionage: In this case, a stagecoach line, a mail contract, and the swindling of prospectors.

- Undercover agents: The athletic and ever-appealing George O'Brien is a postal inspector on the case.


- A pretty and spunky heroine: Virginia Vale and George O'Brien teamed up in 6 movies. 


- A smoothie-type villain: Roy Barcroft at your service.

- Ever henchmen: Glenn Strange and Harry Cording.

- Comedy relief: Hobart Cavanagh as a particularly observant traveling salesman.


- Riding, shooting, saloon brawls, and saloon singers*Pals of the Golden West* differed from the other groups you'll find in singing cowboy movies in that they featured a female lead vocalist. You'll enjoy Nora Lou Martin, Bud Jackson, Larry Shaw, Slim Russell, and Art Wenzel.



Margie, 1946 based on stories by Ruth McKenney adapted by F. Hugh Herbert and directed by Henry King in Technicolor.

Margie is filled with sweet-natured laughs, heart, and music. It has been a favourite since childhood and the nostalgia of the movie has become mixed with the nostalgia of my life.


Jeanne Crain is Margie, relating her high school years to her teenage daughter Ann Todd. We flashback to 1928 where Margie is being raised by her outspoken suffragette grandmother Esther Dale. Her well-meaning and distant father Hobart Cavanagh is an undertaker. Her friend Barbara Lawrence is a flirty flapper with a cool boyfriend, Conrad Janis. Margie, on the other hand, is on the debate team and her beau is Alan Young with the sniffles and an Adam's Apple. Glenn Langan is the dreamy new French teacher who has captured the affection of all the female students with Margie no exception. Margie's life is just one long embarrassment and she never has a safety pin when she needs one.

Alfred Newman was the musical director and the soundtrack is filled with 1920s song hits. I'm crazy for A Cup of Coffee a Sandwich and You, April Showers, Button Up Your Overcoat, and more. My Nana taught me some of those songs. Honest. I wasn't born until much later.



It's a Wonderful Life, 1946 written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and directed by Frank Capra. 

George Bailey played by James Stewart in his first great post-war performance, has been the good son, the good husband, and the good neighbour. His hard work and his life have become undone by the perfidy of a greedy businessman. About to end his troubles, the prayers of his friends and family bring George the Heavenly assistance of a well-meaning rookie angel, played by Henry Travers with a gentle whimsy.


James Stewart, Henry Travers

Given the chance to see how the world, his world, would be without him, George learns to appreciate his life. It isn't the life he thought he wanted or what he expected, but it is no less wonderful.

Master storyteller Frank Capra fills George Bailey's world with the best character actors to bring the fictional town of Bedford Falls to life for generations of audiences. Capra created a world whose reality, like ours, is often troubled yet we and George are given a message to embrace it all to find the wonderful.















Saturday, May 16, 2020

NATIONAL CLASSIC MOVIE DAY: 6 from the '60s

 

National Classic Movie Day is here again. Founded by Classic Film and TV Cafe and supported by an annual blogathon, this year's topic is 6 FROM THE '60s. "Per its title, the goal is for each participant to list his or her six favourite films from the 1960s and explain why they deserve such an honour!" Click HERE to enjoy all of the contributions.

The following 6 movies of the 1960s are always welcome in my home and heart. These movies are "old friends" who continue to surprise me and move me to laughter and to tears.



1960: "T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring ... nothin' ... no action ... dullsville!"

Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. Directed by Billy Wilder.

Jack Lemmon is C.C. Baxter, a young insurance clerk climbing the executive ladder in the time-honored manner of ingratiating himself to those on the rung above him. Baxter's is The Apartment of the title, which he loans to those errant husbands looking for familial away time. Baxter is treated like a jerk for his efforts, but he is stuck and hopes it will pay off eventually. It does, in the most unexpected of ways. One of the top men at the company, Jeff Sheldrake played by Fred MacMurray has been playing around with elevator operator Fran Kubelik played by Shirley MacLaine. Miss Kubelik happens to the object of Baxter's affection. Christmas is a time for hard reflection and everyday miracles.



1962: "I always think there's a band, kid."

Adapted by Marion Hargrove from Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey's Broadway hit. Directed by Morton Da Costa with choreography by Onna White, the directors of the play.

Robert Preston recreates his Tony-winning role as charismatic con-man Harold Hill in The Music Man. Hill convinces rubes that the only way out of the deep trouble they didn't realize they were in is to organize a boy's band. He signs the suckers up for instruments, lessons, and uniforms; collecting the money and leaving town with his pockets full. His summer stop in River City, Iowa will prove out of the ordinary for "Professor" Hill and for the folks of River City. Wonderful songs, memorable characters, and sly humor abound.



1963: "I'm gonna build me a chapel."

Adapted by James Poe from William E. Barrett's novel. Directed by Ralph Nelson.

Sidney Poitier won an Oscar and a Golden Globe as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field. Footloose Homer likes his freedom, but Fate seems to have other plans. Lilia Skala played Mother Maria who has bravely led a small group of nuns from behind the Iron Curtain to take advantage of Arizona land left to their Order. Here they farm the inhospitable desert and dream of building a chapel and later a school and hospital. Their plans require help and God has sent them "a big strong man." The conflict between Mother Maria and Homer is real and rooted in their strong characters, but something undefined ties them together and that something undefined will give them both that which they were not seeking.



1964: "If this is music, what's that stuff Cole Porter writes?"

Adapted by Nora Johnson and her father Nunnally Johnson from Nora's novel. Directed by George Roy Hill.

The star of The World of Henry Orient is the New York City location and the imagination of two 14-year-olds played by Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker. Marian and Val are best friends whose current obsession is Henry Orient, an ego-driven pianist played by Peter Sellers. The girls' "stalking" of the musician may be completely innocent but they are certainly putting a crimp in his plans to romance the married Stella Dunnworthy, played by Paul Prentiss in a delightfully goofy performance.

Val's mother played by Angela Lansbury is wealthy and detached. Val's dad played by Tom Bosley is as lonely as his daughter. Marian's mom played by Phyllis Thaxter is loving and thoughtful. Marian's dad is not in the picture. How will the girls' current infatuation with Henry Orient impact all of their lives? A unique coming-of-age comedy/drama that lives fondly in the memory.



1967: "To open a safe, I gotta hear the clicks. I'll need a hearing aid."

Written by R.S. Allen and Harvey Bullock. Directed by Howard Morris.

Jim Hutton plays Harry Lucas who likes the good things in life beyond his pay grade at the mint. Harry accesses through layaway plans and sample promotions. Harry also draws to himself the friendship of an old coot with a dog played by Walter Brennan and a nice girl who makes fudge played by Dorothy Provine. That fudge will cause Harry a big problem when some of the mint's samples ($50,000 worth) stick to the stuff and ends up destroyed.

"Pop" and Verna are willing to help Harry replace the money before a new automated printing press is put in place. However, there are many unthought-of components necessary for a heist, even a reverse heist. Before he knows what is happening Harry has drawn to himself a gang with everyone from a deaf safecracker to a sewer guy. Of course, not everyone involved in Who's Minding the Mint? will be altruistic. Of course, no matter how meticulously planned, something will go hilariously wrong. It is the way of all classic reverse heist movies.



1969: "Most people around here have heard of Rooster Cogburn and some people live to regret it. I would not be surprised to learn that he's a relative of yours."

Adapted by Marguerite Roberts from Charles Portis's novel. Directed by Henry Hathaway

John Wayne won an Oscar for the role of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, a most individualistic marshal employed by a most individualistic young woman, Mattie Ross played by Kim Darby. Teenager Mattie is determined to bring the killer of her beloved father to justice. Mattie, while dealing with her pain and sorrow, must contend with the dismissive attitude of adults who stand in her way. In both the beloved novel and the film, Mattie lives the adventure of a lifetime. Both Mattie and Rooster find in each other the true grit they will never find elsewhere.





"At the Movies" computer art by Gavin Hall, age 12 in 2004.












Thursday, May 14, 2020

THE GREAT ZIEGFELD BLOGATHON: Flo, Irving, and the Follies


Zoe Krainik at Hollywood Genes is hosting The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon on May 15 - 17.  Day 1  Day 2  Day 3

Follies star Fanny Brice

Legendary impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867-1932) was brought up with an appreciation of culture from his Belgium and German immigrant parents. Flo's American roots gave him the energetic taste which enabled him to tap into what would entertain his late 19th and early 20th-century audience. By 1910, Flo would present his 21st Broadway show and the fourth version of his "Follies."

In 1910, songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was on the cusp of his first great success with Alexander's Ragtime Band and he had his first song in a Ziegfeld show. Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 featured Fanny Brice singing the comic Goodbye, Becky Cohen. The song appears lost to show business history as it was not recorded or copyrighted.


Irving and lyricist Vincent Bryan contributed tunes to Ziegfeld Follies of 1911 including the comic Woodman, Spare That Tree for Follies star Bert Williams. This would be the last time in Irving's career that he would collaborate with another songwriter. Irving is credited as the lone writer for Go to Sleep, My Baby his lone contribution for Ziegfeld Follies of 1915.

Sgt. Irving Berlin

Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 reflected the wartime era in which it was produced. Irving Berlin tunes featured included I'll Pin a Medal on the Girl I Left Behind, The Blue Devil's (of France), and Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.

Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning was composed by Sgt. Irving Berlin while stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. The musical complaint found immediate congenial sympathy with other soldiers and was featured in the revue Yip Yip Yaphank, which also ran on Broadway in 1918.


Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 ran for 171 performances and featured the following Irving Berlin tunes: A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody, Mandy, which became one of Follies star Eddie Cantor's greatest hits, You'd Be Surprised.

Also in the lineup, but slowly, and surely becoming behind the times we find The Follies Minstrels and I Love a Minstrel Show. Next, we find the rather prescient grouping of Prohibition, You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea, A Syncopated Cocktail, The Near Future, plus the timely We Made Doughnuts Over There and I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now.


Irving's were not the songs that won the audience's hearts in Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 which would have a run of 123 performances. Flo's success with the format had seen in influx of similar productions and Broadway was losing its taste for the mix of comedy and music if the rest of the country still held its breath for touring companies. Irving would surpass Mr. Ziegfeld in 1921 with his Music Box Revue having a successful run of 440 performances.



1927 would see one of Ziegfeld's great Broadway successes, Show Boat, as well as the hit collaboration with Irving Berlin, Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. Among the featured performers were Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Cliff Edwards, and Polly and Claire Luce. The outstanding hit was performed by Etting with Shaking the Blues Away

Florenz Ziegfeld's influence on entertainment is invaluable. He discovered, nurtured, and promoted on-stage talent as well as mentoring creatives behind the scene like Irving Berlin. Ziegfeld respected Irving's talent and work ethic. Irving was only 22-years-old when he first worked for Ziegfeld and the experience propelled him forward, diversifying his own career as a producer of shows, sheets music, and recordings. Berlin would become a Broadway powerhouse into the middle of the 20th century.


Click on the highlighted song titles to hear a performance of the tune.

Source:
IBDB 
As Thousands Cheer by Laurence Bergreen












Friday, May 8, 2020

FAVOURITE MOVIES: It Always Rains on Sunday, 1947


Arthur La Bern's 1945 debut novel It Always Rains on Sunday shone a realistic spotlight on the East London the journalist knew so well from his upbringing. The 1947 film from Ealing Studios written and directed by Robert Hamer (Kind Hearts and Coronets) and Angus MacPhail (The Captive Heart) would prove to be influential in the crime film genre. Moving the setting from pre-war to post-war, the 1947 film takes advantage of bombed out buildings to highlight the atmosphere it creates. 

Patricia Plunket, Googie Withers, Edward Chapman, Susan Shaw, David Liney

During the course of an eventful day, two families' lives will intersect due to unforeseen circumstances. The Sandigates live in a tiny rowhouse on Coronet Grove. Rose (Googie Withers) married the 15-years-older George (Edward Chapman) and is stepmother to his three children. Daughter Vi (Susan Shaw) is anxious for glamour she sees in the outside world. Doris (Patricia Plunkett) is hardworking, dutiful, and involved with Ted (Nigel Stock). Alfie (David Liney) is a youngster who is basically ignored as he grows up.

Living in close quarters has not brought understanding and tolerance to the Sandigates. Rose, in particular snaps at everyone. She can take offense when it is intended, and when it isn't. Vi refuses to call her father's wife "mum" and resents it in her siblings. She will be ready for any sort of a quarrel. Doris basically stays out of everyone's way while Alfie struggles to be heard. Head of the household, George has his rights and routines and rarely seems to involve himself in the hullabaloo. Nonetheless, he sees much and knows when to pick his battles. 

Googie Withers, John McCallum

Shocking newspaper headlines announce an escapee from Dartmoor prison. Tommy Swann (John McCallum) is Rose's former lover for whom she still carries a torch. Counting on those memories, Tommy seeks sanctuary on Cornet Grove on this rainy Sunday.

Rose has no compunction about helping Tommy when she discovers his presence. We live her memory of their meeting and exciting relationship which led to a proposal prior to his arrest. When Rose offers the secretly kept engagement ring to Tommy as a source of cash for his getaway, he doesn't even remember it. Googie Withers has shown us Rose's heart and this rejection is like a kick in the teeth.

Patricia Plunkett, John Slater

Lou Hyams (John Slater) runs an arcade and has a hand in every criminal enterprise in the area. He has a deceptively charming way about him that enables his success. Morry Hyams (Sydney Tafler), Lou's brother is married with a baby. He runs a music shop and plays saxophone in a band. He also plays around with girls to the dismay of his wife Sadie (Betty Ann Davies).

Susan Shaw, Sydney Tafler

Morry's latest conquest is Vi Sandigate. Lou can see Morry is headed for trouble and has some advice, "Sadie's a nice girl. You should get to know her." It may already be too late.

Lou and Morry's sister Bessie (Jane Hylton) and their father Solly (Meier Tzelniker) run a club to keep kids off the streets and away from bad influences, like Lou. Times being what they are, they still accept his ill-gotten donations. 

Alfie Bass, Jimmy Hanley, John Carol

Det. Sgt. Fothergill (Jack Warner) will be keeping an eye on everyone, including the landlady Mrs. Spry (Hermione Baddely) who used to house Swan, and three crooks whose latest job did not turn out as hoped. The petty crooks are Whitey (Jimmy Hanley), Dicey (Alfie Bass), and Freddie (John Carol). Conflict arises between natural leader Freddie, and hotheaded Whitey. Some decisions made will be irrevocable.

Reporter Slopey Collins (Michael Howard) is on the prowl for a good story. He won't get anything out of the pious fence Caleb Neesley (John Salew), however, a barmaid will give him a tip about Rose Sandigate that may lead to something.

A day such as this one in the East End will find many lives upended and was destined to end in murder, but perhaps not the one you were expecting.

Tommy on the run

Tommy has been brutalized by the "cat" in prison and bears those scars. His hurt runs deep and his desperation to avoid recapture is palpable.

It rains off and on throughout this Sunday. The residents learn to accept it as it comes, umbrellas go up or not at all. It is all the same. The gloom is brightened by occasional sunshine which is not expected to last.

The script and direction expertly juggle the myriad of characters introduced to us in It Always Rains on Sunday. A look or an attitude expertly reveals much about thoughts and intention, perhaps even more than dialogue. The audience understands what the characters themselves do not comprehend about themselves. 

The gloomy atmosphere of It Always Rains on Sunday keeps the audience as on edge as the characters. The slick pavement reflected off of streetlights adds to the tension of the exciting police chase. Does Tommy Swann really expect freedom? Will any lessons be learned by people we have gotten to know or will it be just another rainy Sunday? You will wonder about these characters long after watching this essential film-noir.


Of note:


Googie Withers and John McCallum married January 24, 1948 - February 3, 2010 (his death).












Sunday, May 3, 2020

BING'S BIRTHDAY MOVIE: Mississippi, 1935


The basis for this 1935 Paramount release was the 1923 play Magnolia by Booth Tarkington. The comedy set in the Antebellum South tells the tale of a man who does not believe in the code of honour which includes dueling. The play ran for only 40 performances and featured two performers who are favourites of classic movie fans, Elizabeth Patterson and Leo Carrillo.

Mississippi is set in the entertainment industry's idea of the American South prior to the Civil War. It presents a world of over-the-top codes, hoop skirts, and song. Bing Crosby stars as Philadelphia transplant Tom Grayson who is engaged to marry Elvira Rumford played by Gail Patrick, the eldest daughter of General Rumford played by Claude Gillingwater. The younger daughter Lucy, played by Joan Bennett is pining her heart out over Tom. Truth be told, she "gets" him while her sister does not.

Claude Gillingwater, Gail Patrick, Bing Crosby, Joan Bennett

Tom sings Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)  by Stephen Foster at his engagement party.

General Rumford gifts his future son-in-law with a set of dueling pistols and is dismayed to learn that not only does Tom not know how to shoot, he thinks the whole idea is silly. The man has no Code of Honour! However, the General is at least modern thinking enough not to interfere with Elvira's choice in a husband.

Major Patterson played by John Miljan was once Elvira's beau and challenges Tom to a duel. The Major and his brother Joe played by Edward Pawley have shot 40 men between them. They are renowned as duelists, and they are cheats who never learned to count to three. When Tom refuses the challenge, Elvira kicks him to the curb for embarrassing her.

W.C. Fields

Commodore Jackson is rarely without a mint julep.

Kicked out of the wedding and kicked off the plantation, Tom joins Commodore Jackson played by W.C. Field on his traveling showboat. Tom was offered a job when the Commodore heard him sing at the engagement party. Lucy bids Tom farewell while confessing her undying love. Tom ruins it for her by referring to her as "just a kid." Guys are so dense!

Bing Crosby

Bing introducing the soon-to-be-standard from Rodgers and Hart, It's Easy to Remember (And So Hard to Forget). 

During Tom's adventures on the showboat, he gains a reputation as a tough man and a killer, plus an unfortunate mustache. He is known far and wide as the "Notorious Colonel Steel", and the list of his victims grows. None of them are true, but this is the way of the show business. Romance will be impacted when one of those non-victims is a cousin of Lucy's, who has grown up a lot during her and Tom's separation. It's funny how that happens.

The Cabin Kids
Ruth Chavis, Helen, Winifred, James, and Fred Hall

Along with Queenie Smith as entertainer "Alabam", also featured in Mississippi are The Cabin Kids, a musical quintet whose movie work in the 1930s include 13 Our Gang shorts and 4 features, Hooray for Love, Round-Up Time in Texas, and Git Along Little Dogies.

Queenie Smith as "Alabam"

Filmed twice previously as The Fighting Coward in 1924 directed by James Cruze and The River of Romance in 1929 starring Buddy Rogers and Mary Brian, Mississippi is the first musical version. I don't expect there will be any more adaptations of the antiquated story.

Comedy veteran A. Edward Sutherland, an original Keystone Kop, directed and keeps things moving at an entertaining pace with plenty of fun moments from Fields. According to Gary Giddens in Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Miracles (published 2001), Sutherland conferred with Bing about Fields possibly stealing the movie. Bing was cool with that: "Is it good for the picture? Forget it. It's got my name on it. What do I care what Fields steals? If it's funny, okay."

Despite lack of critical acclaim, the movie was a popular success and Paramount renewed Bing's contract for a further three years.















RAY MILLAND ON THE RUN, 1944: Ministry of Fear and Till We Meet Again

Ray Milland stars as Stephen Neale, a man who thinks his long personal nightmare may be over. On the night he is released from a sanitori...