ANNOUNCING THE FOURTH ANNUAL BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON

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I am proud to announce that the Royal Family of Hollywood are back again for the fourth consecutive year this August.

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The theatrical family known as the Barrymore’s have been entertaining millions worldwide since before the birth of cinema. Louisa Lane Drew became a prodigy of the arts at the age of eight, and continued to follow a successful road as a thespian and manager of the historic Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Her children all embarked on a career as stage actors, but it was her daughter Georgiana’s children who really shone the light on the family business.

Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore were all reluctant to break into the acting mold, but when they realized that the stage was their only destiny, they utilized all their energy on building a successful career as actors. When the movies came calling all three transitioned into silent pictures, but after a short tenure in film Ethel returned to the stage. She arrived back in Hollywood in 1932 to appear alongside her brothers in Rasputin and the Empress, but it wasn’t until 1944 that Ethel made movies her soul focus.

Ethel Barrymore made her star-studded debut on August 15th, 1879. To celebrate the birth of my all time favorite actress, I’m hosting this blogathon, which is dedicated to the whole family for the fourth time.

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RULES:

1. Bloggers are welcome to write about any film or subject relating to any member of the Barrymore family. The Barrymore’s are a long linage of show business personalities, so it’s only fair that I include the whole family, starting from Louisa Lane Drew, and continuing on to the present day with Drew Barrymore.

2. Due to the diversity of the subject matter, I will be allowing no more than two duplicate entries. There are a wide range of topics or films to go around, and remember, you can write about any member of this illustrious family. Also, there is no limit on how many posts you wish to write.

3. The blogathon will take place on August 13th through to Ethel’s birthday on August 15th.

4. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, please leave a comment on my blog along with the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you choose to write about, or if you wish to register by email, my email is: carolelombardforever@yahoo.com. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by advertising the event on your blog. Below are a few banners, so grab yourself a banner, and get ready to join the Barrymore party.

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THE ROSTER:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: TBA.

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Moonrise ( 1948 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews: Drew Barrymore in “The Screaming Woman ( 1986 )

Movies Meet Their Match: E.T: The Extra Terrestrial ( 1982 )

Taking Up Room: Dinner At Eight ( 1933 ), Key Largo ( 1948 ) and He’s Just Not All That Into You ( 2009 )

The Midnight Drive In: John Barrymore in the Bulldog Drummond Movies.

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Just For You ( 1952 )

Sat In Your Lap: Moby Dick ( 1930 ) and Night Flight ( 1933 )

The Stop Button: You Can’t Take It With You ( 1938 )

I Found It At The Movies: Key Largo (  1948 )

Caftan Woman: Counsellor- At- Law ( 1933 )

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: A Bill of Divorcement ( 1932 )

Critica Retro: Grand Hotel ( 1932 )

Old Hollywood Films: Pinky ( 1949 )

Movie Rob: The Farmer’s Daughter ( 1947 ), Lone Star ( 1952 ) and Never Been Kissed ( 1999 )

Karavansara:  The Mysterious Island ( 1929 )

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GRAND HOTEL ( 1932 ) CELEBRATING A POWERHOUSE GALAXY OF STARS

“I want to be alone.”

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You’ll never be lonely when you’ve got a prominent array of stars adorning the screen right in front of you.

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Metro Goldwyn Mayer is one of Hollywood’s leading production companies. Famous for being allied with glamour, talent and sophistication, the movie studio succeeded in expanding their tremendous star constellation.

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MGM co-founder, Louis B. Mayer was proud of his stellar array of actors that he had in his stable, and often boasted that MGM had more stars than heaven. To capitalize on the genuine artistic ability of the lead players, Mayer constantly thought about uniting his unique breed of dominating talent for a motion picture extravaganza that was guaranteed to propel popularity.

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The answer to the star-studded search was Grand Hotel ( 1932 ), a spectacular production that was decked out with glamour, talent, and a galaxy of stars all in one motion picture. Masterfully directed by Edmond Goulding, and produced by Irving Thalberg, the film was based on the 1930 stage play of the same name by William A. Drake, who originally adapted from the 1929 novel by Vicki Baum titled. “Menschen Im Hotel

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Even before the film was released, Grand Hotel was an eagerly awaited motion picture on the horizon that was set to deliver fireworks. When the film did hit the cinemas audiences were not disappointed. Instead it turned into a major event that fueled commotion and sent the media into a frenzy. More than eighty years since its release, the lavish premiere which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has become the stuff of legend.

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To this day, Grand Hotel is known for being the first film to feature a prominent ensemble cast, and for being the first film to receive the Academy Award for Best Picture without securing nominations in any other category. The way each star is given ample time to shine in their respective roles is something that audiences continue to marvel at. Fortunately, the film was palatable with critics also. Mordaunt Hall from The New York Times stated, “The picture adheres faithfully to the original and while it undoubtedly lacks the life and depth and color of the play, by means of excellent characterizations it keeps the audience on the qui vive.”, while Alfred Rushford Greason from Variety wrote, “The film may not entirely please the theatergoers who were fascinated by its deft stage direction and restrained acting, but it will attract and hold the wider public to which it is now addressed.” He added, “The drama unfolds with a speed that never loses its grip, even for the extreme length of nearly two hours, and there is a captivating pattern of unexpected comedy that runs through it all, always fresh and always pat.”

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Each cast member was ascended from the highest magnitude, and were the best that MGM had to offer. Headlining the production was John and Lionel Barrymore who along with their sister Ethel came from the famous acting dynasty known as the Royal Family of Hollywood. Greta Garbo who was dubbed, “the greatest money-making machine ever put on screen” was sure to bring in the profits while Joan Crawford along with the other notable names were revered by audiences and critics alike.

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At the time when John Barrymore was approached about starring in Grand Hotel, he was still only a newcomer to MGM. Prior to his tenure at the studio, Barrymore was under contract at Warner Brothers until 1931 when his contract expired. After accepting a $25,000 cut per picture, John joined MGM, where Irving Thalberg immediately cast him alongside his brother Lionel in Arsene Lupin ( 1932 ).

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After the success of Arsene Lupin, MGM wanted to capitalize on the films achievements by casting the two Barrymore brothers in Grand Hotel, a story that delves into the dramas that are dominating the lives of a group of individuals staying at a luxurious hotel in Berlin. Casting John Barrymore alongside Greta Garbo was a masterstroke of success. The Swedish actress had worked with Lionel in The Temptress ( 1926 ) and Mata Hari ( 1931 ), but what she really wanted was to act with John, whom she considered to be one of the best things to ever come out of Hollywood. Margot Peters, the author of The House of Barrymore said that the first day of shooting was the meeting of the gods. In order to impress Garbo, Barrymore arrived on the set fifteen minutes early, but when Garbo never appeared, Barrymore was incensed. Incidentally, Garbo had been waiting for John outside the door to escort him onto the set. It was an honor that she wanted to pay the great actor.

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By 1932, Greta Garbo was a distinguished star whose popularity continued to soar. Her enigmatic beauty and mysterious screen presence kept her in high demand and were a remarkable asset to any motion picture. Irving Thalberg was well aware of the success that Garbo’s previous films had generated and wanted her for the role of Grusinkaya, the disillusioned ballerina in Grand Hotel. The result of the casting was memorable, and the vision of Grusinkaya will forever be etched in the hearts of millions worldwide.

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Legendary actress Joan Crawford catapulted to super-stardom after being cast in the role of Flaemmchen, the stenographer to Wallace Beery’s General Director, Preysing. Initially, Crawford was reluctant to take on the part, fearing that her presence would be eclipsed by her powerhouse co-stars, but Joan proved that she was more than capable of holding her own against her fellow players. In the years that followed the films success, Crawford always stated that filming Grand Hotel was one of the happiest experiences of her early career.

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The films fourth billed star was Wallace Beery whose career triumphed a year earlier after starring alongside Marie Dressler in Min and Bill ( 1931 ). Prior to attaining critical acclaim with Min and Bill and Grand Hotel, Beerie was one of Hollywood’s top grossing stars and had been in the acting business since the early days of silent cinema.

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In 1939, a deluge of stars were heavily campaigning for a role in the cinematic masterpiece, Gone Wind The Wind, but in 1932 almost every star in Hollywood wanted to be involved with Grand Hotel. Initially the role of Otto Kringelein was assigned to Buster Keaton, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Keaton was forced to drop out, and the part was given to Lionel Barrymore. Marlene Dietrich and Marie Dressler were pushing for character parts and even offered to lend their services for free, though unfortunately both stars were deemed unsuitable and Paramount was not willing to loan Dietrich out to MGM. Among other stars that wanted to be included in the picture were Clark Gable and Douglas Fairbanks Jr who petitioned for the role of Baron Felix von Geigern, but John Barrymore was already cast as the Baron.

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Nobody was happier than Joan Crawford to be cast alongside MGM’s finest constellation of stars in a top budget film that was set to thrill the nation. Crawford who hailed from an impoverished background and who had endured a childhood of neglect and abuse, really had to fight her way to the top of the ladder. For her role in Grand Hotel, MGM paid her $60,000, which was a lot more than what John Barrymore was receiving, but $8,000 less than Garbo’s salary. Crawford didn’t care about the amount she was earning. She was euphoric to be starring in the same motion picture as Greta Garbo, one actress whom she had always admired, but she was disappointed to find out that she won’t be sharing any scenes with Garbo.

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Incidentally, Greta Garbo was closely examining Joan Crawford’s career from the outside. According to many sources, Garbo felt threatened by Crawford’s presence and announced that she would not be sharing any scenes with Joan, and also insisted that she would not be entering the set until Joan had left for the day. Joan Crawford however, had a different story and always recalled how she walked past Garbo’s dressing room each evening and tried to greet her with the pleasantries that seemed to be ignored until one day when Garbo emerged from her dressing room and greeted Joan as she walked past. As the story goes, Garbo warmly put her hands on Joan’s face and said “Oh, I am so sorry we have no scenes together.”

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With the success of Grand Hotel, Joan Crawford was put back on the radar. She would go on to receive even higher acclaim and greater recognition. Her next two films, Letty Lynton ( 1932 ) and Rain ( 1932 ) were also among the greatest pictures produced that year, but as much as her popularity escalated, Crawford always maintained that her performance as Flaemmchen opened the doors to an array of opportunities.

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Whenever Joan Crawford spoke of her career she profusely reminisced about the making of Grand Hotel. She fondly remembered all her co-stars, but Lionel Barrymore was the one she held in high esteem. The veteran actor had taken Crawford into his protective care, and made sure that she was fully being catered for. Joan later recalled, “Every single day Mr. Lionel Barrymore would say something nice to me. He’d say, “How are you, baby?. I never saw you look so beautiful, or he’d tell me that I had acted better than any other day that week. I know he didn’t mean it, but it was nice to hear.”

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While Lionel had taken Joan Crawford under his wing, Garbo was being won over by John Barrymore’s simplicity and selfless generosity. She entrusted him with her inmost secrets, and in return he continuously supported and encouraged her. When John appeared on the set with a hangover, she fed him her specially concocted Irak Punch. This sort of treatment was never given by Garbo, but John Barrymore venerated her, and he became her confidante.

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Grand Hotel commenced shooting on December 31st, 1931, which is known as a very important day for Greta Garbo. Her previous film Mata Hari was scheduled for release, and it was also the final day of her MGM contract, but the significance of the day had no affect on Garbo. Since she wasn’t required to start rehearsals for Grand Hotel until early in the new year, and because she refused to be present at the Mati Hari premiere, Garbo and Mercedes de Acosta embarked on a journey to New York, where they stayed in separate rooms at the St Moritz Hotel, and spent most of their evenings attending Broadway shows.

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After several negotiations with Louis B. Mayer, Garbo agreed to renew her contract with MGM if the studio was willing to cast her in Queen Christina ( 1933 ) and increase her salary to $300,000 per picture. Mayer happily obliged and made sure that all her future demands be catered for. In the meantime, Greta was expected to return to Hollywood to commence filming her scenes for Grand Hotel on January 4th. As soon as she entered the set, Garbo was introduced to John Barrymore who greeted her with the words, “My wife and I think you are the loveliest person in the world.”. Garbo was elated to receive that sort of treatment from somebody of Barrymore’s stature, and said “This is a great day for me. How I have looked forward to working with John Barrymore.”. Also on the set that day serving as a nuisance to Garbo was Louis B. Mayer and author Vicki Baum, who were hiding in the shadows. From the moment they arrived, Garbo sensed their presence and stopped the camera. Edmond Goulding approached Garbo and told her that Baum was anxious to meet her. Garbo snapped, “She can stay then, and I will go home.”

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“Oh, you’re a little stenographess?”

“Yes, I’m a little stenographess.”

“Fascinating. I don’t suppose you’d, uh, take some dictation from me sometime, would you?”

Despite the occasional dilemmas and the altercations between the cast and crew, the filming of Grand Hotel was a smooth ride from beginning to end. A rivaling competition may have erupted on set with Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, but most of the players were amiable and at their professional best. By February 19th, 1932, all actors had finished their scenes and was ready for the extravagant premiere that was set for April 12th.

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THE PLOT:

Grand Hotel is a fascinating drama that chronicles the chapter of events that occur at the most opulent hotel in Berlin. When a group of individuals from different walks of life check in to the plush dwelling, their lives begin to intersect and each must deal with their respective problems. First we are introduced to Otto Kringelein ( Lionel Barrymore ), a dying accountant who spent his working years slaving away in a textile factory, and wants to spend his final days in luxury. Not long after he arrives at the Grand Hotel, Kringelein is befriended by The Baron Felix von Geigern ( John Barrymore ), a charming gentleman with a heart of gold who had to resort to becoming a jewel thief after squandering his fortune.

The Baron develops a great rapport with most of the guests, especially Grusinkaya ( Greta Garbo ), a disenchanted ballerina whose last few performances have not been reaching the acclaim she yearns for. As a result, Grusinkaya begins having panic attacks and starts missing performances, but when she meets the Baron in her hotel room who is in the process of stealing her pearls, she unexpectedly finds happiness and falls in love with him. Also smitten with the Baron is Flaemmchen ( Joan Crawford ), a penniless stenographer who works for General Director Preysing ( Wallace Beery ), a ruthless industrial magnate who is trying to conclude a business scheme to save his textile company from ruin.

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Tensions arise and sparks fly at the Grand Hotel, but all these bizarre occurrences sure make up for those normal mundane days where nothing ever happens. To view the excitement that is taking place within the confines of the hotel, watch the movie to experience the joy and anguish that each guest is enduring.

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Grand Hotel is a memorable piece of Hollywood history. Made during the bygone era when the stars possessed a distinctive quality, the film is imbued with talent and gives viewers a glimpse into the early days of cinema when the cast was still fresh out of silent pictures and had recently made the successful transition to sound.

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Despite the star-studded cast and the multiple plot lines, each character is given their opportunity to shine. Greta Garbo received top billing, but her time on screen was rather limited. Garbo first appears about twenty minutes into the film, and is seen in her suite with Rafaela Ottiano. In the years that have proceeded, many critics have complained about Garbo’s performance, and stated that she appeared too actressy, but regardless of what other reviewers said, Greta Garbo’s rather flamboyant approach to her role was necessary. Grusinkaya is a high strung ballerina who is losing her grip on her career and talent. She’s lost all hope of building a bigger audience and succeeding in her future endeavors.

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Even if a person is not familiar with Grand Hotel or Garbo’s repertoire of films, they may recognize Garbo’s famous line, “I want to be alone.”. After uttering these words in the film, Greta Garbo would long be associated with these words, and it sort of became her trademark.

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John Barrymore is perfectly cast as the Baron, a suave gentleman whose kindness makes him a popular resident at the hotel. To the other guests he embodies the spirit of generosity and amiability, but what they don’t know is that he is hiding a dark secret. Behind close doors, he’s facing a severe financial crisis, and to repay his debts he must steal an exquisite pearl necklace from Grusinkaya, but she ends up stealing his heart instead.

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As always, John Barrymore is the films most prominent asset. He is the only one who had the power to rescue Grusinkaya from despair, and for most part of the movie he remains her pillar of strength. It’s not just Grusinkaya however, who relies on the Baron for support. A few other guests consider him to be their tower of comfort, especially Otto Kringelein who forms a great friendship with the Baron.

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It’s a real treat watching the Barrymore brothers steal the scenery from one another, and this is not their only pairing. The two were previously cast in Arsene Lupin ( 1932 ), and they would go on to appear in Rasputin and the Empress ( 1932 ), where they would be joined by sister Ethel, Dinner At Eight ( 1933 ) and Night Flight ( 1933 ). All of their screen pairings gives viewers a glimpse into the window of their genius, but Grand Hotel really encapsulates their brotherly chemistry and the magic that both John and Lionel possessed.

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One of the films major highlights is Joan Crawford in the role of Flaemmchen, a determined but flirtatious stenographer who is hired to work for General Director Preysing. Grand Hotel is the best of Crawford’s earlier works. Before being cast as Flaemmchen, Crawford was mainly seen in pictures that didn’t really give her a chance to explore her talents, but here, Joan exudes that certain star quality, and is sensational. As Flaemmchen, Joan clings to the hope of becoming an actress, but in all Pre-Code style, she is willing to offer Preysing more if he advances her career.

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Wallace Beery is also worthy of recognition, but his character is easy to detest. General Director Preysing is an industrialist with a capricious personality. His mercurial attitude is off-putting to the other guests, and he is never seen engaging himself in a pleasant conversation with anyone. For most part of the film his too busy trying to negotiate a pivotal business deal, and he’s got Flaemmchen to assist him with the typewriting duties. It’s also interesting to note that Preysing was once Kringeleins boss. This bit of information paints a clear picture of what his character is like. As his employee, Kringelein was treated like dirt. He spent years slaving away in his textile factory, and was usually only given menial duties.

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In addition to the five major characters, there are two other cast members whose presence helps evoke the excitement that the film creates. Lewis Stone plays Doctor Otternschlag, a disfigured veteran of World War 1, who shuts his self away from the outside world and lives permanently at the Grand Hotel due to his facial injuries caused from the war. During his time at the hotel, Doctor Otternschlag has witnessed a myriad of people checking in, staying briefly and then departing for home or their next destination that his become accustomed to the whole procedure. At the start of the film he observes, “People coming, going. Nothing ever happens.” – This time however his statement is proved wrong – A multitude of adventuress scenarios transpire.

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Jean Hersholt was cast in the role of Senf, the hotel porter. For somebody of Hersholt’s stature, he is given little to do except fuel himself with anguish and worry over the fate of his heavily pregnant wife. Initially, Edmond Goulding was adamant about casting Buster Keaton as Senf, but Keaton who was also the first choice to play Kringelein was not successful. Instead, Goulding had to deliver the news to Keaton that he was not deemed applicable.

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Since it’s initial release, Grand Hotel has followed a triumphant road of success. In 1945, a film titled, Week-End at the Waldorf, starring Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, and Van Johnson was released. Although the production was intended as a remake, the plot does not closely mirror that of the original 1932 version. While Grand Hotel relies heavily on the powerful force of its wattage of stars, Week-End at the Waldorf seems to draw extensively on romance and comedy.

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Grand Hotel was finally given a more endearing tribute in 1989 when a musical of the same name that was based on the novel, 1929 play and movie opened on Broadway. The play was an immediate hit, and attained five Tony Awards out of twelve nominations. After a total of 1,017 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre and George Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, the show closed to critical acclaim.

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The synopsis of the 1989 Broadway production closely echos 1932’s Grand Hotel.  The structure of the story is similar, and the characters have the same names and are inflicted with the same problems. Apart from a few contrasting differences the only major distinction are the musical aspects of the play.

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More than eighty-six years since its release, Grand Hotel continues to remain a prestige production from Hollywood’s golden age. The film itself epitomizes the fine art of movie making and represents the magic of the silver screen. From Cedric Gibbons masterful art direction and outstanding and plush art deco set design, William H Daniels crisp cinematography, William Axt’s grandiose musical score to the sheer magnetism of the lead players who all work well under Edmond Goulding’s deft directorial abilities, Grand Hotel is an ingenious masterpiece that simply can’t be surpassed.

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TRIVIA:

Greta Garbo was very particular as to how her love scenes with John Barrymore were shot. She requested red front-lighting and required curtains to be placed between the camera and film crew to help set the mood and create the illusion that she and Barrymore were alone. During one take, Garbo got so carried away with the scene that she continued kissing Barrymore for three full minutes after director Edmund Goulding had yelled cut. The bonus smooching footage survives, but was not used in the final cut.

In a package deal, MGM purchased both the stage and film rights of Vicki Baum‘s novel, Menschen im Hotel, for $35,000. The play was a spectacular hit on Broadway, and recouped the studio’s initial investment before a single frame of the film was shot.

In later years Joan Crawford described the movie as “a grand film, a grand experience in my life. I’m so proud. I was thrilled when I heard I was going to be doing it. I only wanted to be worthy.”

The Hollywood premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater was one of the film industry’s most spectacular promotional events to date. A reproduction of the film’s iconic circular reception desk was placed outside the venue, and many of the movie stars who attended the showing were asked to sign the ledger at the desk as if they were hotel guests.

John Barrymore famously said to cinematographer William H. Daniels: “I’m 50 years old and I want to look like Jackie Cooper‘s grandson.”

Tickets for the premiere roadshow engagements were as high as $1.50, an extraordinary price for a movie ticket in 1932.

The only Best Picture Oscar winner not to be nominated for any other Academy Awards.

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CAST:

John Barrymore: Born, John Sidney Blyth on February 15th, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died: May 29th, 1942 in Los Angeles, California. Aged: 60.

Greta Garbo: Born, Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18th, 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden. Died: April 15th, 1990 in New York. Aged: 84.

Lionel Barrymore: Born, Lionel Herbert Blythe on April 28th, 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died: November 15th, 1954 in Van Nuys, California. Aged: 76.

Joan Crawford: Born, Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23rd, 1904, 1905, 1906 or 1908 in San Antonio, Texas. Died: May 10th, 1977 in New York. To this day Joan’s birth year remains a mystery.

Wallace Beery: Born, Wallace Fitzgerald Beery on April 1st, 1885 in Clay County, Missouri. Died: April 15th, 1949 in Beverly Hills, California. Aged: 64.

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This post was written for the Broadway Bound Blogathon, hosted by the wonderful Rebecca from Taking Up Room. To view the other articles being exhibited during this event please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNOUNCING THE THIRD ANNUAL OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND BLOGATHON

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This is what I call a last minute post, but I am elated to be publishing it. For the third consecutive year, Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and myself are hosting the Olivia de Havilland Blogathon, paying tribute to the phenomenal actress who will be celebrating her 102nd birthday on July 1st.

RULES:

1. If you wish to participate in the blogathon, please leave us a comment and let us know the topic of your choice. Because there are a wealth of subjects, we will be allowing no duplicates, so it’s first come first serve.

2. The blogathon will take place on the dates, July 1 – 3, so please have your entries ready by then. We also accept early entries.

3. Secondly, please take one of these fabulous banners designed by Laura, and add them to your blog. We look forward to having you join us in July.

P.S. Stay tuned, as I will also be announcing my Fourth Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon tomorrow. Some more exciting news for y’all. 

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THE ROSTER:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: The Heiress ( 1949 ) and TBD.

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: That Lady ( 1955 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews: Murder Is Easy ( 1982 )

The Stop Button: My Cousin Rachel ( 1952 )

Caftan Woman: Olivia de Havilland in “The Proud Rebel” ( 1958 )

Movies Meet Their Match: Santa Fe Trail ( 1940 ).

The Dream Book Blog: Devotion ( 1946 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: The Snake Pit ( 1948 )

Old Hollywood Films:  The Charge of the Light Brigade ( 1936 )

Critica Retro: Hold Back the Dawn ( 1941 )

Taking Up Room: It’s Love I’m After ( 1937 )

 

THE SECOND ANNUAL JUDY GARLAND BLOGATHON IS HERE

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I can’t believe one year has past since I hosted the First Annual Judy Garland Blogathon. Unfortunately, last year I was hospitalized due to serious headaches, and was unable to fulfill my hosting duties. This year however, I’m well, and certainly I’m excited to kick this spectacular three day event off.

This Sunday, the legendary Judy Garland would have been 96 years old. For the occasion, all you wonderful bloggers are penning tributes to Judy, her life and career. Please submit your entries below. I look forward to reading them.

Happy Heavenly Birthday Judy.

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THE ENTRIES:

Movie Rob kicks things off with a fantastic article on my personal favorite Judy movie, A Star Is Born ( 1954 )

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The Stop Button is second to the party with one of Judy’s most underrated films, A Child Is Waiting ( 1963 )

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I Found It At The Movies joins us with a review of the book, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland.

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Taking Up Room pens a wonderful tribute to Judy with a post on For Me and My Gal ( 1942 )

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Love Letters To Old Hollywood joins the party with a fantastic entry on Broadway Melody of 1938 ( 1937 )

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For her second post, Taking Up Room provides us with an entertaining analysis on one of Judy’s non musical films, The Clock ( 1945 ) 

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Critica Retro talks about the 1962 animated film, Gay-Pur-ee.

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For his second post, Movie Rob tells us his thoughts on The Clock ( 1945 )

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Real Weegie Midget Reviews joins the party with a fabulous post on Judy’s last film, I Could Go On Singing ( 1963 ) 

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The Dream Book Blog give us an intriguing analysis on Judy’s final film, I Could Go On Singing ( 1963 ) 

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Movie Rob does triple duty with a post on A Child Is Waiting ( 1963 )

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Karavansara shines the spotlight on Judy’s brief but stellar performance in Judgement At Nuremberg ( 1961 )

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Vintage Genieve examines Judy, and why she has a large gay following.

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For her third post, the lovely Rebecca from Taking Up Room pays tribute to Judy’s powerful voice.

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Anybody Got A Match? talks about Judy’s performance in A Star Is Born, and why she was robbed of the Oscar.

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Whimsically Classic reminisces about Judy’s memorable partnership with Gene Kelly.

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ANNOUNCING THE FRED ASTAIRE AND GINGER ROGERS BLOGATHON

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First of all, I would like to thank everyone for participating in my Third Annual Bette Davis Blogathon. I have yet to finish my entry and read the array of contributions received, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t announce the blogathon that Michaela from Love Letters To Old Hollywood and I are hosting together. This time dedicated to the indelible talents of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Unparalleled and highly revered dancing partners who epitomized the movie musical, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were hot commodities in Hollywood during the 1930’s. Their sizzling on-screen chemistry and their unique brand of artistry made them a delight to watch.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made a total of ten films together, but after completing, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle in 1939, both stars went their separate ways and garnered success as a solo player. Because of the joy and the endless entertainment that they have brought us during the years, Michaela and I have decided to pay tribute to them by hosting a blogathon honoring both Astaire and Rogers.

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RULES:

1. This blogathon is not just restricted to the ten films that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together. Bloggers are welcome to write about any film that either Astaire or Rogers appeared in, or any topic relating to either Fred or Ginger.

2. Because there are a wealth of topics available, we have decided that no duplicates are allowed. However, if someone wants to write about Top Hat or any other film, somebody else can cover the dance sequences and musical numbers in the films, but for general movie reviews, we ask that there be no duplicates. Also, I encourage people to think outside the square when it comes to topics.

3. When: The blogathon will take place between the 20th – 22nd of July. Ginger Rogers was born on July 16th, but due to various reasons, we are unable to hold the blogathon on that particular date. Please submit your articles on any of these days or before.

4. We would also like to add that we are not accepting previously published articles. All entries must be new material. Also, we don’t have a limit on how many posts you want to write, but we would prefer no more than three entries per person.

5.  To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog or on Michaela’s blog along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalkalyana@yahoo.com or by contacting Michaela. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by advertising the event on your blog. Below are a few banners, so grab yourself one of the beautiful banners designed by Michaela, and lets celebrate all things Fred and Ginger. We look forward to seeing you all in July.

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THE ROSTER.

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Shall We Dance ( 1937 ), Fred Astaire & Adele & TBD

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Holiday Inn ( 1942 ) & Star of Midnight ( 1935 )

The Story Enthusiast: Romance in Manhattan ( 1935 )

Caftan Woman: Follow the Fleet ( 1936 )

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Top Hat ( 1935 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews: Ghost Story ( 1981 )

Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: A top ten list of the Fred & Ginger films.

Taking Up Room: Swing Time ( 1936 ), The Barkleys of Broadway ( 1949 ) and Royal Wedding ( 1951 )

Cinema Cities: Favorite Fred & Ginger dance sequences.

The Midnight Drive-In: The Man in the Santa Claus Suit ( 1979 )

Karavansara: Funny Face ( 1957 )

Movie Rob: Monkey Business ( 1952 ), Finian’s Rainbow ( 1968 ) and Three Little Words ( 1950 )

Whimsically Classic: Astaire and Rogers’ split and their post-partnership careers.

Critica Retro: Carefree ( 1938)

The Flapper Dame: The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle ( 1939 )

The Stop Button: Vivacious Lady ( 1938 )

Anybody Got A Match?: Monkey Business ( 1952 )

Retro Movie Buff: The Band Wagon ( 1953 )

Overture Books and Films: Week-End at the Waldorf ( 1945 )

 

 

 

THE THIRD ANNUAL BETTE DAVIS BLOGATHON IS HERE

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The legendary Bette Davis made her star-studded debut in this world amid a clap of thunder and a streak of lightning 110 years ago today. Twenty three years later, she arrived on Hollywood soil and was ready to conquer the world.

For the special occasion, I’m proud to present for the third consecutive year, The Annual Bette Davis Blogathon. I’m sure everybody else is just as excited as I am to be honoring Bette. She deserves all the love she receives.

Bloggers, once you have published your entry, please submit your post on the comment section below, and I’ll showcase them as soon as possible. Thank you.

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BETTE DAVIS BLOGATHON ENTRIES:

The Story Enthusiast is the first to arrive at the party with a post on Winter Meeting ( 1948 )

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The Midnight Drive-In tells us about the time Bette Davis met Walt Disney in Return From Witch Mountain and The Watcher In The Woods ( 1980 )

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Caftan Woman brings to the celebrations a delightful post about Bette’s appearance on The Accomplice  episode from The Virginian ( 1962 )

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I Found It At The Movies joins us with Bette’s phenomenal classic, All About Eve ( 1950 )

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Wolffian Classic Movies Digest talks about one of Bette’s groundbreaking performances in Mr. Skeffington ( 1944 )

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Karavansara takes us back to the days of Queen Elizabeth I with a post on The Virgin Queen ( 1955 )

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Taking Up Room joins the party with a post on the delightful, The Bride Came C.O.D. ( 1941 )

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What The Craggus Saw pens a tribute to Bette in The Watcher In The Woods ( 1981 )

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Vinnie H is honoring Bette with a post on Watch on the Rhine ( 1943 )

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Vintage Geneive explores the film costumes worn by Bette in some of her most memorable roles.

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A Shroud Of Thoughts brings to the party a post on the delightful The Man Who Came To Dinner ( 1942 )

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Whimsically Classic goes back to the final chapter of Bette’s tenure at Warner Brother’s with a look at Beyond The Forest ( 1949 )

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Love Letters To Old Hollywood explains why Bette is doubly brilliant in A Stolen Life ( 1946 )

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Critica Retro pays tribute to Bette in The Petrified Forest ( 1936 ) 

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Real Weegie Midget Reviews examines Bette’s role in the Agatha Christie classic, Murder with Mirrors ( 1985 )

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The Stop Button joins us with a post on my favorite Bette film, Dark Victory ( 1939 )

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In The Vintage Kitchen brings to the party some of Bette’s recipes.

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Silver Screen Classics revisits the 1937 classic, Marked Woman .

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Anybody Got A Match? writes about Bette’s powerful performance in The Star ( 1952 )

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Portraits By Jenni talks about Bette’s appearance on Perry Mason .

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Christina Wehner joins us with Bette’s Emmy winning performance in Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter ( 1979 )

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Pop Culture Reverie joins us with Bette’s second collaboration with Agatha Christie in Murder With Mirrors ( 1985 )

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The Wonderful World Of Cinema brings Charlotte Vale in Now Voyager ( 1942 ) to the party.

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DORIS DAY COLLIDES WITH CLARK GABLE IN TEACHER’S PET ( 1958 )

“As my father used to say, a reporter has to do a lot of sweating before he earns the right to perspire.”

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During her successful tenure in motion pictures, Hollywood’s sweetheart, Doris Day has starred alongside some of the top ranks of the film industry, and formed memorable partnerships with Rock Hudson and James Garner, but when she joined forces with Clark Gable, audiences faced the unexpected collaboration with trepidation only to discover that both stars were about to ascend to an even higher pinnacle.

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The year was 1958. Clark Gable was in his twilight days of his career and would pass away two years later from an arterial blood clot, while Doris Day was hitting triumphant peaks after broadening her range and taking on dramatic roles in critically acclaimed productions. The last thing the movie going public expected to see was a sex driven rom-com titled Teacher’s Pet, starring the two stars.

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The thought of an aging Gable pursuing Day’s character appalled most people, but surprisingly the initial scathing reactions were for nothing. The film was an immediate success, and fans of the two leading players were left campaigning for more Doris Day and Clark Gable vehicles.

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The famous husband and wife writing duo, Michael and Fay Kanin were the instrumental force behind the fireworks that Doris Day and Clark Gable emanated. The Kanin’s who received an Academy Award nomination for their work in the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn production, Woman of the Year ( 1942 ), provided the film with a screenplay that was phenomenal in character development and astute, witty and acidic in dialogue, while director George Seaton commendably controls the picture with the accelerator on full speed.

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THE PLOT

In the academic world of journalism, altercations brew and problems arise, but when James Gannon ( Clark Gable ), the newspaper editor for the Evening Chronicle collides with journalism professor, Erica Stone ( Doris Day ), perplexing dilemmas ensue.

The turbulence begins when James Gannon is invited to give a lecture at Erica Stone’s night class. Gannon who disagrees with journalism school being practical for learning the craft, rejects the offer and sends a letter of contempt to Stone, but when he is summoned to the office of his boss, he is forced to attend the class that night. Reluctantly he agrees, and upon his arrival a series of comical events take place when James Gannon masquerades as an artistically inclined student named Jim Gallagher in order to win the affections of Erica Stone.

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Teacher’s Pet is an engaging tale that delves into the many obstacles that can occur in the journalism industry. When you get somebody likes James Gannon who preaches that hands on experience is the key to learning journalism, contempt and disrespect can easily be fueled from the educational beliefs of the professors who teach the subject. In Erica Stone’s case, she was not just a lecturer. She inherited her knowledge from her father who was a highly respected, Pulitzer Prize winning newspaperman for the Eureka Bulletin in his day. At first James does not willingly want to accept this fact, and this is part of the reason why he presents himself as Jim Gallagher and conjures up the story about him working for the wallpaper trade, but has pursued journalism after his reporter friend suggested that he change career paths. As time progresses however, James starts to realize that experience is the jockey, and education is the horse.

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In Teacher’s Pet all cast members are given the opportunity to shine in their respective roles. Doris Day is perfectly cast as the headstrong Erica Stone, a worldly woman who exudes innate knowledge, and is not afraid to prove her expertise even when her powers are being challenged by the brash James Gannon posing as Jim Gallagher. At college, her journalism students consider her to be the pillar of strength and courage. She devotes her time to her students and provides them with enough skills to pursue a career in journalism.

“How could you give up a real newspaper job for teaching?”

“Well, that’s a very good question, Mr. Gallagher. Maybe for the same reason that occasionally a musician wants to be a conductor, he wants to hear a hundred people play music the way he hears it.”

Clark Gable on the other hand, is a scene stealer. James Gannon embodies all the ingredients of an obstinate hard-nosed city editor who commits all his energy to his career. He inhabits the belief that experience should take higher precedence over education, and that the only way to succeed in the industry is to work from the ground up. Many people have later stated that Rock Hudson would have been more suited to the role as James Gannon, but I personally feel that Clark Gable with his ruggedly charms was tailor made for the part.

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In the middle of this onerous entanglement is Gig Young who received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Hugo Pine, a psychologist whose knowledge and skills supposedly encompass every chapter of an encyclopedia. For most part of the movie, Dr. Pine is the object of Gannon’s jealously. He believes that Erica is Hugo’s love interest until he discovers that they are only collaborating on a book together. Eventually Gannon meets Dr. Pine at a birthday dinner, and automatically his frustration levels flare when he sees that Dr. Pine is an insufferable wise guy who claims that he has more degrees than a thermometer.

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The entire night club scene is one of the memorable highlights of Teacher’s Pet. A large majority of people were enthused when actress, Mamie Van Doren made an appearance in what is known today as her most pivotal role as Peggy DeFore, the singer of the club who seems to be attracted to James Gannon. But for me, the main focal point of this particular scene is when Erica, James and Hugo are leaving the club to board a taxi when an intoxicated Dr. Pine passes out from all the alcohol his consumed.

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The filming of Teacher’s Pet was a monumental occasion for Doris Day, but on the home front, Doris was left emotionally distraught after hearing the news that her brother, Paul had suddenly passed away shortly before the film commenced. In the months leading up to his death, Paul had been working on publicity for the musical aspects of Arwin productions, and had recently moved to Los Angeles with his wife and children. It has been said that Day’s husband, Martin Melcher contributed a lot to his death, though others state that his prolific work schedule coupled with a baseball incident of his youth and his constant seizures played a large part in his passing.

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Exacerbating the grief and anguish that Doris was experiencing were the problems fueled from Mamie Van Doren. In her autobiography, Van Doren wrote, “I had looked forward to meeting Doris Day. A mutual friend of ours, Charlotte Hunter, a dance coach from Universal, told me what a warm, friendly person Doris was. Doris had always been one of my favorite singers, with hits like, “It’s Magic”. I had also become a fan of her movies after seeing Love Me Or Leave Me, in which she played opposite James Cagney. Nevertheless, our first meeting on the Teacher’s Pet set was far from what I expected. Doris ignored me when we were introduced and proceeded to conduct herself like a spoiled star. George Seaton and Gable had to stoically bear her tantrums and disagreeable attitude.”

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According to Mamie Van Doren, Doris was the villain while Mamie played the victim, but in truth, Van Doren and her uncouth personality inflamed Day’s hostility and pretentious behavior towards her. Despite those difficulties, Doris Day’s time on the set of Teacher’s Pet was joyous and rewarding.

“Newspapers can’t compete in reporting what happened any more, but they can and should tell the public why it happened.”

Clark Gable also marked Teacher’s Pet as a significant turn in his career. He was that proud of his contributions to the film that he agreed to plug it at that years Oscar ceremony when he and Doris was asked about presenting the award for Best Scriptwriter.

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After Teacher’s Pet, Clark Gable would only appear in three more movies, his last film being The Misfits ( 1961 ), where he was cast opposite Marilyn Monroe. Sadly, Gable passed away on November 16th, 1960, leaving behind his wife of six years and a long legion of friends. Doris Day later stated, “He was as masculine as any man I’ve ever known, and as much a little boy as a grown man could be – it was this combination that had such a devastating effect on women.”

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For Doris Day, Teacher’s Pet opened the door to an array of endless opportunities as well as planting her in a reputable position in Hollywood. The following year she was cast in Pillow Talk, her first of three films made with her close friend Rock Hudson. Her success continued throughout the 1960’s, and in 1968 after filming With Six You Get Eggroll, Doris Day retired from motion pictures to embark on her auspicious journey as an animal welfare activist.

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TRIVIA:

Cary Grant and James Stewart both turned down the role of James Gannon because they knew they were too old for the part.

The movie was deliberately filmed in black and white in an attempt to disguise Clark Gable‘s age and weight.

Doris Day and her husband Martin Melcher threw a party for the visiting press and other cast members at their recently-purchased Beverly Hills home, even though they had not yet renovated it or moved in. The original plan was to stage a garden party and barbecue in the backyard. However, half an hour before the guests were due, it began to rain, so everyone ended up in the house, on the floor because there was no furniture.

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CAST:

Doris Day: Born, Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3rd, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Aged 96.

Clark Gable: Born, William Clark Gable on February 1st, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio. Died: November 16th, 1960 in West Hollywood, California. Aged 59. Cause of death: Coronary Thrombosis.

Gig Young: Born, Byron Elsworth Barr on November 4th, 1913 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Died: October 19th, 1978 in New York. Aged: 64. Cause of death: Gunshot wound/ Murder, suicide.

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Happy 96th Birthday Doris, and here’s to 96 more.

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This post was written for the Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon, hosted by Love Letters To Old Hollywood. To read the other entries being exhibited during the event, please click here.