CELEBRATING 52 YEARS OF BEWITCHED MAGIC

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For many people worldwide, September 17th is just a normal day, but for me it is a day of celebrating and reliving the magic of Bewitched that was first introduced to television screens on this day back in 1964 when a beautiful nose twitching young witch named Samantha married a common ordinary mortal, and lived happily ever after with frequent cataclysmic disturbances from Endora, everyone’s favorite meddling mother in law from hell in this enduring television sitcom that continues to evoke fond memories decades after its initial premiere.

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Released in 1964, a time that was dominated by hippie communes, financial hardship and depravity, Bewitched served as an escapist vehicle for many audiences who wanted to elude the struggles of everyday life. After enduring months or sometimes years of personal burden, a plethora of people found television to be the perfect way to escape the daily emotional crises while they became immersed in the idyllic lifestyle that was quite often depicted on screen.

That is exactly watched Bewitched did. Scripted with its own unique brand of comic artistry and wrapped around an illusionary fairy-tale, the entire series made an effort to sway in different directions of humanity instead of focusing on the harsh realities of life. In February 1964, Betty Friedan wrote an essay criticizing the way women were often portrayed on television. She stated that the majority of female characters appeared stupid, unattractive and insecure household drudges. She also detested the fact that most of their time was spent dreaming about love and plotting revenge on their husbands.

“Samantha, I will not stand here and be insulted by something which is 94 percent water.”

“Oh, yeah! Well, what about something which is a hundred percent hot air?”

Seven months later a different type of formula was introduced when Bewitched hit television screens. Friedan who was generally a tough critic when it came to women’s movement and the way it was portrayed on screen was impressed with what she witnessed. Samantha Stephens was not the typical housewife whose existence consisted of menial duties and succumbing to the charms of other men. Samantha was a woman who embodied all the qualities of a perfect house wife. She was compassionate to her husband, and she propelled his success as much as possible. On the other hand there was Endora who despised what household life was doing to her daughter, but instead of addressing the situation in a disturbing manner, Endora used an acidic approach that really encapsulates the affects of household drudgery, and what would happen if Samantha decided to abandon her magic powers altogether.

In addition to all that is the premise of Bewitched. Many people liked the idea of having a story that revolves around a beautiful young witch who plans to abandon her powers for the sake of her mortal husband who wants her to lead a normal life in suburban America. The fact that a witch is willing to do such a thing despite the disapproval and the animosity of mortals that her mother and fellow relatives inhabit is intriguing to a plethora of people.

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Bewitched also epitomized the American dream. Along with the colorful array of characters whose flamboyant nature and eccentricities were captivating, people worldwide yearned for the luxurious lifestyle that the Stephens led. They wanted an established house with two cars, but most of all they wanted a richer and fuller land where they could vanquish financial ruin and the struggles of everyday life.

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As the years progressed, several notable television productions from the golden era has went into oblivion, but Bewitched has continued to retain its popularity, and even today it still manages to stand in a pivotal position in television history.

Sadly a large majority of people from today’s generation have never seen Bewitched. This is largely due to the fact that the television industry has waned. Almost every sitcom that adorned television screens yesteryear are getting no exposure to today’s audiences.

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Like a plethora of other people, I was first introduced to Bewitched when I was a child. My mother was always as equally absorbed in Bewitched as I was, and once I was at the age where I was able to fully comprehend the nature of the series, Mum was eager to treat me to viewings of this wonderful television show that has continued to mesmerize audiences for several years even after it’s last run. This was back in the days when I was still in Primary School, a time that many television channels were repeating a few classic sitcoms. However as the years passed, the television industry sank deeper into atrophy, and almost everything being shown are the over-publicized manufactured programs that seem to warrant a vigorous response from today’s audiences.

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If it weren’t for Agnes Moorehead, my passion for Bewitched may have never materialized. With the quality entertainment of yesteryear getting absolutely no exposure today, I generally forgot about Bewitched and the other programs I enjoyed watching on television with mum when I was a child. By the time I reached late primary school, I developed an interest in classic film, but it wasn’t until my adoration for Agnes Moorehead first evolved that I would begin to acquire a craving for Bewitched.

Bewitched is unlike any other television series. While I enjoy a myriad of classic television sitcoms, I wouldn’t classify myself as a TV enthusiast. Most programs I very rarely watch, but Bewitched is something that I have to watch everyday, and no matter how many times I’ve exhausted the entire eight seasons in my complete series box-set, Bewitched will always hold a special place in my heart.

So without further ado, here’s a Bewitched pictorial. Enjoy.

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ANNOUNCING THE AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON

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Agnes Moorehead, the renowned character actress, who is best remembered for her role as Endora, Samantha’s meddling mother on Bewitched was born on December 6th, 1900.

To celebrate this special occasion, I’m hosting a blogathon dedicated to the great actress, who continued to enthrall audiences with her inimitable style and unique artistry right up until her final days when she was stricken with terminal cancer.

detk

To me, Agnes Moorehead was the quintessential actress. In a career that spanned over forty years, Moorehead explored all avenues of the entertainment industry, and succeeded in every medium she ventured into, but unfortunately, Agnes Moorehead has never received the credit she deserves, and to this day, she is largely associated with Bewitched.

In addition to Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead endured a successful tenure in motion pictures and radio. She has appeared in some of the worlds most critically acclaimed films, including, Citizen Kane. She was held in high esteem for her radio performance of Sorry Wrong Number, and along with Orson Welles, she helped form the Mercury Theatre, which ultimately led her to stardom, but apart from all that, Agnes Moorehead was an extremely gifted actress whose versatility was epitomized in everything she did.

I was lucky enough to acquire a pair of earrings that were personally owned by Agnes Moorehead, and were also worn by her in Bewitched. After receiving these priceless treasures, I knew instantly that a birthday blogathon for Agnes was on the horizon, so without further ado, let’s go onto the rules.

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BLOGATHON RULES

1. Bloggers are more than welcome to write about any topic related to Agnes Moorehead or any aspect of her life and career. If you have a subject in mind, but your unsure whether it qualifies, just run it by me.

2. Even though there are a wealth of topics to discuss, including her film, television and radio work among a large variety of other subjects, duplicates are more than welcome.

3. When: The Blogathon will be held on December 4 – 6th, 2016, so please post your entries on either of these dates.

4. If you want to write more than one entry, you’re more than welcome. However I will not be accepting links to previously published entries. All posts must be new material.

5. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my 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: carolelombardforever@yahoo.com. 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. Grab yourself a banner, and get ready to celebrate Agnes Moorehead and her illustrious career.

agnes blogathon

aggie blogathon

agnes blogathon banner

agnes mooreead bogathon

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agnes moorehead blogathon

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ROSTER, WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodAgnes Moorehead as Endora on Bewitched. Second topic TBA.

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: 14 Hours ( 1951 )

A Shroud Of ThoughtsAgnes Moorehead on the radio.

The Midnight Drive In: Agnes Moorehead on The Twilight Zone ( The Invaders )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Topic to be announced.

Quack Speak Films: All That Heaven Allows ( 1955 ) and Caged ( 1950 )

B Noir Detour: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Critica Retro: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Thoughts All Sorts: How The West Was Won ( 1962 )

ANNOUNCING THE AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON

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Agnes Moorehead, the renowned character actress, who is best remembered for her role as Endora, Samantha’s meddling mother on Bewitched was born on December 6th, 1900.

To celebrate this special occasion, I’m hosting a blogathon dedicated to the great actress, who continued to enthrall audiences with her inimitable style and unique artistry right up until her final days when she was stricken with terminal cancer.

detk

To me, Agnes Moorehead was the quintessential actress. In a career that spanned over forty years, Moorehead explored all avenues of the entertainment industry, and succeeded in every medium she ventured into, but unfortunately, Agnes Moorehead has never received the credit she deserves, and to this day, she is largely associated with Bewitched.

In addition to Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead endured a successful tenure in motion pictures and radio. She has appeared in some of the worlds most critically acclaimed films, including, Citizen Kane. She was held in high esteem for her radio performance of Sorry Wrong Number, and along with Orson Welles, she helped form the Mercury Theatre, which ultimately led her to stardom, but apart from all that, Agnes Moorehead was an extremely gifted actress whose versatility was epitomized in everything she did.

I was lucky enough to acquire a pair of earrings that were personally owned by Agnes Moorehead, and were also worn by her in Bewitched. After receiving these priceless treasures, I knew instantly that a birthday blogathon for Agnes was on the horizon, so without further ado, let’s go onto the rules.

affd

BLOGATHON RULES

1. Bloggers are more than welcome to write about any topic related to Agnes Moorehead or any aspect of her life and career. If you have a subject in mind, but your unsure whether it qualifies, just run it by me.

2. Even though there are a wealth of topics to discuss, including her film, television and radio work among a large variety of other subjects, duplicates are more than welcome.

3. When: The Blogathon will be held on December 4 – 6th, 2016, so please post your entries on either of these dates.

4. If you want to write more than one entry, you’re more than welcome. However I will not be accepting links to previously published entries. All posts must be new material.

5. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my 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: carolelombardforever@yahoo.com. 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. Grab yourself a banner, and get ready to celebrate Agnes Moorehead and her illustrious career.

agnes blogathon

aggie blogathon

agnes blogathon banner

agnes mooreead bogathon

aggie blog b

agnes moorehead blogathon

ag blogathon

ROSTER, WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodAgnes Moorehead as Endora on Bewitched. Second topic TBA.

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: 14 Hours ( 1951 )

A Shroud Of ThoughtsAgnes Moorehead on the radio.

The Midnight Drive In: Agnes Moorehead on The Twilight Zone ( The Invaders )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Woman In White ( 1948 )

Quack Speak Films: All That Heaven Allows ( 1955 ) and Caged ( 1950 )

B Noir Detour: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Critica Retro: Dark Passage ( 1947 )

Thoughts All Sorts: How The West Was Won ( 1962 )

Karavansara: The Bat ( 1959 )

All Good Things: Showboat ( 1951 )

Recap Retro: Agnes Moorehead in The Wild Wild West: Episode: The Night Of The Vicious Valentine

The Stop Button: Journey Into Fear ( 1943 )

Taking Up Room: Agnes at MGM, and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes ( 1945 )

Film Noir ArchiveFilm Noir Archive: Caged ( 1950 )

Serendipitous Anachronisms: Pollyanna ( 1960 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Meet Me In Las Vegas ( 1956 )

Christina Wehner: The Lost Moment ( 1947 )

Old Hollywood Films: The Magnificent Ambersons ( 1942 )

Lauren Champkin: Mrs. Parkington ( 1944 )

The Flapper Dame: The Magnificent Obsession ( 1954 )

Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: Citizen Kane ( 1941 ) and Agnes’ early life before stardom

Moon In Gemini: Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ( 1964 )

Silver Scenes: The Bat ( 1959 ) and Agnes’ life story.

Classic Movie Hub: Agnes Moorehead in “All That Heaven Allows” ( 1955 )

Classic Film: Flickers Of Silver And Gold:  Agnes Moorehead’s radio work.

Movie Rob: The Stratton Story ( 1949 ), Pollyanna ( 1960 ) and Agnes’ voice behind Charlotte’s Web ( 1973 )

Real Weedgie Midget Reviews: Agnes’ voice behind Charlotte’s Web ( 1973 )

Caftan Woman: Station West ( 1948 )

Cinematic Catharsis: Agnes Moorehead’s appearances in “The Night Gallery”

 Defiant Success: Agnes Moorehead’s Oscar nominated performances

Pop Culture Reverie: Johnny Belinda ( 1948 )

Apocalypse Later: Dear Dead Delilah ( 1972 )

Finding Franchot: Without Honor ( 1949 ) and the career similarities of Agnes and Franchot Tone.

WHAT IF INGRID BERGMAN WAS ON BEWITCHED?

 

“I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.” ( Ingrid Bergman )

Bewitched was one of televisions most beloved sitcoms. Since it’s debut on September 17th, 1964 to it’s final episode on March 25th, 1972, several notable guest stars were hired to join the colorful array of cast members on a magical journey into the world of witches and warlocks, who led us to Morning Glory Circle, an eventful destination where a beautiful young witch is happily married to a common ordinary mortal, who happens to work as an advertising executive.

In almost every episode of Bewitched, audiences were introduced to a new character. Whether it was one of Darrin and Larry’s clients from McMann and Tate or an eccentric relative from Samantha’s family who possessed witchcraft, they were all portrayed by film and television personalities who had an exalted status in the entertainment industry.

Week after week, millions worldwide were tuned into their daily viewings of Bewitched on the ABC. Many were excited to see which stars were making guest appearances on each episode, while others watched it to elude the corruption and depravity that was largely dominant in the outside world at the time.

While each member of the cast were impressive and delivered something special to the show, I come to question if any fan was disappointed that a certain actor or actress wasn’t cast in a main role or as a guest star on Bewitched? Supposedly this would be true in a myriad of instances.  A plethora of people worldwide express admiration for a particular film or television personality, so its only natural that they would inhabit the notion that their idol would be ideal for a role as a principal player or a guest star on Bewitched or any other series in general.

On many occasions the dreams of fans seeing their idols make an appearance on television has come true. In Hollywood, a place that seems to develop the notion that film personalities are only considered a valuable asset to motion pictures when their young and at the peek of their beauty, but once they reach a certain age, they are tossed aside so the studios can focus on new upcoming talent, making it harder and less feasible for them to attain quality roles while trying to maintain a steady career.

Once they were passed that age barrier, and after discovering their career was in wane, an innumerable amount of classic film stars transitioned to the television medium in the hopes of boosting their salary and to also resurrect their fading image and popularity. In most cases this worked and imminent success was on the horizon.

Agnes Moorehead enthralled audiences with her portrayal of Endora, the meddling mother of Samantha on Bewitched, Barbara Stanwyck captivated millions worldwide with her portrayal of Victoria Barkley, the matriarch of the family in The Big Valley, and James Garner transformed success into eternal popularity after starring in The Rockford Files and Maverick.

The above is a brief listing of a few stars who proved that television was a great way to retain a reputable status, but this is in no means a complete list. During the annals of cinematic history, a plethora of motion picture cast players turned to the television medium. Some had their own weekly series, while others were assigned roles in other popular television shows, but a few stars however were reluctant to make the transition, fearing that it would ruin their career.

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Take for instance, Ingrid Bergman, the three time Oscar winner who is best remembered today for her role as Ilsa in Casablanca. Born in Sweden in 1915, Bergman developed a passion for drama when she was a child, and underwent training, which soon led to her starring in movies in her native country of Sweden, but it wasn’t until she moved to the United States that her career would really begin to take off.

Apart from a few appearances in made for TV movies, Ingrid Bergman has never been cast in a television series in a guest role nor as a principal player. She has however been considered a suitable actress for television, but her chances of attaining a lead role in a long running series never came to fruition. Of course a lot of this may have to do with the fact that she was denounced by the United States Senate due to having an affair with director, Roberto Rossellini, and falling pregnant with his son, but still the fact that her personal life fueled condemnation and scandal shouldn’t have affected her work possibilities.

It is interesting to note how Ingrid’s career would have turned out if she did star in a long running series. Would she have starred in a sitcom? Or would she have had her own weekly television series? There are endless avenues in the world of television that Ingrid Bergman could have explored, and it is without a doubt that she would have succeeded.

With this in mind, it forces me to spring the question on to you readers? If Ingrid Bergman was to be cast in a continual role on Bewitched, which role do you think she would be most suited to? Could she have played Samantha? She certainly embodied the compassion, the amiability and the trail of sweetness like Samantha, but she would have been too old to portray a beautiful young witch. Could she have played Endora? While Ingrid would have been capable of playing the role of Samantha’s meddling mother who despises the fact that her daughter is married to a mortal and wants to abandon her magic powers for her husbands sake, the part of Endora was tailor made for Agnes Moorehead. Could she have played Aunt Clara? Ingrid certainly personified the qualities, but she would have been too young to portray Samantha’s lovable and bumbling aunt whose witchcraft is out of whack. That leaves us with Larry’s wife, Louise Tate or Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor who suspects that there are strange oddities going on at the Stephens house, but is never able to prove her assertions regarding the ruses she witnesses to her husband, Abner.

Both the roles of Louise and Gladys would have been an easy feat for someone like Ingrid who possessed extreme versatility which was clearly evident in a diverse range of films, but Ingrid Bergman represented a unique brand of artistry that would of been put to better use in her own special write in role on Bewitched.

This is where the fun begins. What type of character would you have Ingrid Bergman play? For a show that revolves around witches and warlocks in a world dominated by mortals, there are many endless possibilities. She could be a witch or a mortal, it is totally your decision. As what is depicted in the series, Endora has many friends in all different continents of the world that she visits frequently, and considering that Ingrid hails from Sweden, it would have been fantastic to have a write in role for Ingrid where she plays a character that is based in her own native country.

Below is a make believe episode plot for Bewitched, which features Ingrid Bergman in a pivotal write in role that is specifically tailor made to suit her acting prowess. Remember this is just fictional. As far as I know, Ingrid was never considered for a part on Bewitched, but its still fun to pretend she was.

PLOT

At the commencement of the episode, Samantha ( Elizabeth Montgomery ) is shown preparing breakfast for Darrin ( Dick York ) at their Morning Glory Circle residence. Minutes later Darrin enters the kitchen, and is confronted by Endora ( Agnes Moorehead ) who has come to deliver the latest news to Samantha about her long lost aunty ( Ingrid Bergman ) from Sweden, who along with Endora is coming to stay at the Stephens household for the weekend. Fueled with anger towards Endora for granting the aunt permission to stay, Darrin utters a few distasteful words to her before leaving for work.

Problems arise when Darrin returns home that afternoon to find Samantha’s long lost aunt practicing witchcraft with Tabitha in the living room. Darrin has never tolerated Endora showing Tabitha magic tricks, and he definitely is not about to have another of Samantha’s bizarre relatives trying to brainwash his own daughter. Samantha’s aunt however is like Endora and does not take notice of Darrin, who she views as a dull feeble-minded mortal, who has his wife locked away in what she calls a prison cell.

For Darrin, this is going to be a long weekend full of cat fights with Endora and Samantha’s long lost aunt, who not only despises Darrin for his mortal heritage, but tries her hardest to dissolve the marriage between Samantha and Darrin.

In my opinion, that plot and that sort of role would have definitely been suited to Ingrid. After-all, she loved a challenge, and if given the chance, she probably would have relished playing a witch whose acidic dialogue and witticisms keeps the laughter going.

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This post is part of the Second Annual Ingrid Bergman Blogathon, hosted by my good friend, Virginie from The Wonderful World Of Cinema. To view the other entries being exhibited in the event, please click here.

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THE OSCAR NOMINATED PERFORMANCES OF BETTE DAVIS

“I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile, and oftentimes disagreeable. I suppose I’m larger than life.”

( Bette Davis )

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Bette Davis is one of the most prominent figures from Hollywood’s golden age. In a career that spanned sixty years, Davis received a total of ten Academy Award nominations, and went on to win two of those Oscars for her roles in Dangerous ( 1935 ) and Jezebel ( 1938 ). This however is not including the write-in nomination she had attained in 1935 for her groundbreaking performance in Of Human Bondage, the previous year.

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For most actresses in Hollywood, getting nominated for an Academy Award is not something that is easily achieved. In some cases it has taken years of hard work and financial struggle before finally being recognized, while others have endured a successful tenure in motion pictures without being nominated for a single performance, but for Bette Davis, who was noted for her fierce determination and her indomitable spirit, garnering an Oscar nomination seemed to be an easy feat.

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Bette Davis was unlike any other actress who adorned the silver screen. She was volatile. She was feisty. She was uncompromising, but most of all, she was her own person with a willful spirit and headstrong personality who pioneered her way through each film with her own scripted brand of artistry.

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Once discovering Bette Davis for the first time, it is easy to determine that she was a powerful force who couldn’t be reckoned with. In an illustrious filmography that consisted of 124 acting credits, Davis never expressed her limits as an actress. She was always willing to take on challenging roles that displayed her potential as an actress, and she was never shy to appear unglamorous and grotesque looking when a movie called for it. At a time when many stars feared the idea of portraying a villainous character, Davis was always the first one to jump at the chance. She relished the fact that she could unleash those claws by playing an immoral person with evil instincts on screen. It is no wonder that Bette Davis broke the world record by acquiring ten Oscar nominations.

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Below is a list of the Academy Award nominated films of Bette Davis, including those that earned her the Oscar.

“To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.”

( Bette Davis )

DANGEROUS ( 1935 )

Bette Davis received the Academy Award for her role as Joyce Heath in Dangerous, a solid drama that revolves around the story of alcoholism and the damaging effects it has on an actress who was once a glorious star with an unparalleled stature.

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JEZEBEL ( 1938 )

Some say it resembles Gone With The End, and it certainly does have its similarities, but in Jezebel, Bette Davis proved that she was more than capable of portraying a Southern Belle whose tenacious spirit and imperious nature fuels altercations that lead to disaster between her and her fiance, Preston Dillard ( Henry Fonda )

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DARK VICTORY ( 1939 )

Many people, including myself consider Dark Victory to be Bette’s greatest film. Here she plays Judith Traherne, a young vehement Long Island socialite whose passion for horses and parties is a never-ending daily activity, but things take a drastic turn when Judith discovers that she is gravely ill with an incurable brain tumor, which will eventually lead to blindness and death.

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THE LETTER ( 1940 )

Made at the commencement of the Film Noir period, Bette Davis gave an electrifying introduction to the genre when she portrayed Leslie Crosbie, the wife of a rubber plantation administrator who kills a man and pleads with authorities that it was self defense, but once they discover a letter, Leslie becomes the subject of further questioning.

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THE LITTLE FOXES ( 1941 )

Set in the deep south at the turn of the century, the film tells the story of Regina Giddens ( Bette Davis ) the ruthless and villainous wife of Horace Giddens ( Herbert Marshall ) who is suffering from a terminal illness. After years of struggling financially, Regina becomes desperate for money, and starts manipulating those around her to help assist her in some scheme she is concocting.

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NOW VOYAGER ( 1942 )

Bette Davis illuminates the screen with her portrayal of Charlotte Vale, a depressed woman who lives a life of brutal domination. With a lack of self-esteem, and constantly feeling restrained and despondent over the tyrannical rulings and controlling ways of her mother, Charlotte enters a sanatorium, and is sent away on a lengthy cruise, where she is transformed into an elegant, sophisticated young girl of society.

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MR. SKEFFINGTON ( 1944 )

The film revolves around the story of embezzlement, self sacrifices and one-sided relationships. Bette Davis plays Fanny Trellis Skeffington, a majestic beauty whose trapped in a loveless marriage with a Jewish banker in order to save her brother from financial ruin.

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ALL ABOUT EVE ( 1950 )

Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night. In her most memorable film, Bette Davis plays, Margo Channing, a successful stage actress whose career is eclipsed by the manipulating, Eve Harrington ( Anne Baxter ) a woman with a facade of innocence who conjures up a destructive plan to steal parts and relationships and threaten the profession of Margo Channing.

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THE STAR ( 1952 )

The Star is not a well known film, but it features a laudable performance from Bette Davis who takes on the central role of Margaret Elliot, a washed up former movie star who wants to resurrect her career, but is plagued with difficulties that descends her further into alcoholism.

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? ( 1962 )

At a time when most stars of her caliber were facing a career lapse, Bette Davis received her final Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star whose fame was eclipsed in later years by her sister, Blanche Hudson ( Joan Crawford ). Decades later the two are living together in a decaying Hollywood mansion. Plagued with resentment and sibling rivalry, Jane torments and abuses Blanche who is now confined to a wheelchair.

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OF HUMAN BONDAGE ( 1934 )

The Academy doesn’t consider this as a nomination, but an array of sources state that Bette Davis’ groundbreaking performance as Mildred Rogers, the cockney waitress who spurns Philip, a medical student who is attracted to her in Of Human Bondage is worthy of a place on the nomination list. Bette Davis did however garner a write-in nomination for her role in the film the following year.

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In addition to her ten Academy Award nominations, Bette Davis attained a myriad of other awards and nominations for her impressive contribution to motion pictures. After many years of continual success in the entertainment industry, Davis received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977. Sadly Bette Davis passed away on October 6th, 1989. Almost twenty seven years since her passing, Bette Davis is remembered for her enduring legacy that has left an indelible mark on cinema history.

This post was written for the 2016 TCM Summer Under The Stars Blogathon, hosted by Journeys In Classic Film. Everyday in August a certain star is honored. Today, August 21st, is being dedicated to Bette Davis.

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THE SECRET OF CONVICT LAKE ( 1951 )

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Ethel Barrymore, the consummate actress who hailed from a prominent family of thespians exhibited her unique artistry in an array of diverse roles in stage and film, and attained success in every medium she explored.

While her film career was condensed and short lived compared to other stars of her caliber, Ethel Barrymore has left an indelible imprint in the hearts of millions worldwide for her memorable contribution to motion pictures. In a film tenure that officially commenced in 1944 with short brief stints in 1932 and the silent era, Barrymore portrayed everything from the ailing Mrs. Warren in The Spiral Staircase and her Academy Award winning performance as Ma Mott in None But The Lonely Heart to Princess Czarina in Rasputin And The Empress.

One role she has played that unfortunately hasn’t received the credit it deserves is her performance as Granny in The Secret Of Convict Lake, a western style Film Noir that is directed by Michael Gordon, and produced by Frank P. Rosenberg, with a screenplay by the renowned, Oscar Saul, who would later attain critical acclaim for his screen adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire.

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In addition to Ethel Barrymore, the film features a prominent array of stellar players. Actor, Glenn Ford, whose career spanned more than fifty years was assigned the role of Jim Canfield. Ford was a prolific talent during the golden age of cinema. Noted for his extreme versatility, Ford was often seen in diverse and challenging roles that epitomized his adaptability as an actor, but while he was equally at home playing complex characters, Glenn Ford is often associated for his embodiment of traditional and ordinary men who were usually faced with unusual situations.

Starring alongside Glenn Ford is Gene Tierney in one of her lesser known roles as Marcia Stoddard. Tierney whose success was unparalleled during the 1940’s later admitted that she was glad to be cast in a small budget production that wouldn’t garner the deluge of fans and reporters that besieged her familiar surroundings after her appearances in critically acclaimed films that include, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Laura and Leave Her To Heaven. She was also euphoric about working with Ethel Barrymore, whom she had always admired.

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The Secret Of Convict Lake may be a little known production, but for a film that has been neglected for decades, it has a wealth of history behind it. To cut a long story short, the premise of the film is depicted from true events that took place at the lake on September 17th, 1871, when an assembled group of convicts escaped from a prison in Carson City and found shelter at the lake, which at the time of the incident was known as Monte Diablo Creek.

While most critics have stated that Hollywood’s interpretation of the real event is a myth, the film does make a point of capturing many aspects of the incident. However it would be difficult to clearly document the exact happenings of the day as a lot of it remains the stuff of legend. As is depicted in the movie, five prisoners reached Monte Diablo and managed to remain there for a few days before being caught by posses that was led by George Hightower.

Apart from the films brush with history, The Secret Of Convict Lake did little to propel any positive action from audiences. On its release, the film opened to mix reviews. Most critics looked favorably on the performances, but thought that the plot detoured away from true accounts.

“You’re takin’ a lot on yourself, aren’t you ma’am? Judge, jury, hangman all wrapped up in pretty skirts? Having yourself a ladies’ lynching party?”

The Secret Of Convict Lake did nothing to warrant a vigorous response from the cast and crew members either. During filming, Glenn Ford was suffering from a serious viral infection in his left eye that resulted in him enduring bouts of severe pain for most part of the production. When he was away from the camera he was forced to wear an eye patch on the set, but every time he was required to stand under the intense studio lights, his condition exacerbated.

The only aspect of the production that Glenn Ford developed fond recollections of was his time working with Ethel Barrymore. He had always idolized Barrymore, and considered her to be a virtuoso at her craft. In response to Ethel Barrymore, Ford later stated to his son Peter that, “She had a wonderfully dry wit, and I tried to be in her presence as much as possible.”. On the other hand however, Peter Ford mentions in his book of how his father befriended Gene Tierney, who at the time was married to Oleg Cassini. Just like Glenn, Tierney was an adventurous soul who was willing to try anything courageous. In his diary, Glenn Ford wrote the following about Gene Tierney, “It’s the walk. She walks and all you can think of is following her. She’s got the original come-hither sway. I was a fan of hers for a long time, a gorgeous, sculpted beauty and a real pro. I wish I could have worked with her again.”

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As for Ethel Barrymore, The Secret Of Convict Lake marked one of her last major roles. After her appearance in the 1954 film, Young At Heart, Barrymore’s health rapidly declined. She did however manage to attain the leading role in 1957’s, Johnny Trouble, but after enduring numerous issues that were fueled by her failing condition, Ethel Barrymore retired permanently. She died two years later on June 18th, 1959 at the age of 79.

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Based on true events, The Secret Of Convict Lake follows the story of Jim Canfield ( Glenn Ford ) and his fellow group of escaped prisoners, who are en-route to some destination far away from Carson City. Jim however has other plans. He has duties to fulfill in Monte Diablo, so Canfield and the four other convicts manage to find shelter at Monte Diablo, a small settlement that is occupied by a group of women headed by Granny ( Ethel Barrymore ) who is in control, and allows the five convicts to use an empty cabin while providing them with food.

The following day, Jim Canfield sets out on his mission. Wrongfully convicted of killing a woman and stealing $40,000, Canfield plans to seek revenge and kill Rudy Schaeffer, the man who framed him. This plan however is altered and ceased when Jim learns that Rudy Schaeffer is engaged to marry Marcia Stoddard ( Gene Tierney ) who he becomes smitten with.

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The Secret Of Convict Lake is one of those films that has been unjustifiably dismissed, but once viewing it however, you come to discover that its a movie that is easily appreciated. For audiences who prefer films that contain action and a variety of genres packed into one, this is definitely the vehicle for you. The entire production is filled with Film Noir undertones and dramatic plot twists that is guaranteed to keep the viewer enraptured from beginning to end.

“They were evil men and they touched us all with their evil. But maybe we ain’t the ones to do the judgin’. We ain’t without sin. None of us. So I say may the Lord have mercy on us as well as on them. And deliver us from evil and hatred. Amen.”

The Secret Of Convict Lake also boasts a stellar cast which consist of seasoned professionals like Ethel Barrymore whose majestic charm and unique artistry was a welcoming presence in any movie. Although Barrymore only had a supporting role, her character helped hold the film together. As Granny, the domineering matriarch of the female inhabitants living in Monte Diablo, Barrymore delivered acidic dialogue with every addressing command.

“You got no call to be scared. They’re men, not wild bear. Just ask ’em to account for themselves… Marcia, come take this rifle. Just in case they turn out to be wild bear after all.” ( Ethel Barrymore as Granny )

Glenn Ford and Gene Tierney were the perfect choices for the films protagonists. Gene Tierney who was known for her natural beauty and luminous screen presence played a tormented soul with a formidable background. To elude her troubled past, she plans to marry Rudy Schaeffer, a vicious man with a penchant to kill. At first Marcia is unaware of Shaeffer’s demons, and is all set to relocate to a private cabin with him when he returns from prospecting, but Jim Canfield, who views Shaeffer as a completely worthless man tries his hardest to deter her from marrying him.

Glenn Ford is the hero of the film. On the exterior, he appears very ruggedly and gruff, but his interiors show an amiable man with a heart of gold, who wants to seek revenge on his biggest enemy. Initially he is viewed as a criminal to the women, but once he saves the cattle in a barn fire, his true colors are revealed.

Abounded with atmospheric cinematography, and an intelligent screenplay along with the unforgettable cast, The Secret Of Convict Lake is a film that is not to be missed.

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TRIVIA

The Secret Of Convict Lake was initially a proposed vehicle for Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell.

Agnes Moorehead was originally considered for the role of Rachel, played by Ann Dvorak.

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CAST

Glenn Ford: Born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford on May 1st, 1916 in Quebec, Canada. Died: August 30th, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. Aged 90.

 Gene Tierney: Born Gene Eliza Tierney on November 19th, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. Died: November 6th, 1991 in Houston, Texas. Aged 70.

Ethel Barrymore: Born Ethel Mae Blythe on August 15th, 1879 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died: June 18th, 1959 in Los Angeles, California. Aged 79.

The following article was part of the Second Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, which was hosted by me. To view the other articles being exhibited during the event, please click here.

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THE SECOND ANNUAL BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON HAS NOW ARRIVED

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This time last year I was celebrating the successful run of my first ever blogathon that I hosted, and that was the Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon. Now we’re back in August again, and I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since the auspicious event took place.

I am thrilled that this is going to be an annual event. Last year I received innumerable spectacular entries that covered a wide array of topics relating to all members of the Barrymore family, and I’m sure that this year will bring the same.

I will be updating this page daily as I receive each entry. A big thank you to all participants who registered for the blogathon. I look forward to reading all your entries, and a very happy 136th Birthday to Ethel Barrymore. This is for you Ethel.

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THE SECOND ANNUAL BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON ENTRIES

B Noir Detour: Ethel Barrymore in Moonrise ( 1948 )

Thoughts All Sorts: Duel In The Sun ( 1946 ) and Ever After ( 1998 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Young At Heart ( 1954 )

Film Music Central: Beau Brummel ( 1924 )

Classic Movie Recall: John Barrymore in Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

The Cinematic Frontier: The Paradine Case ( 1947 )

The Old Hollywood Garden: Grand Hotel ( 1932 )

The Stop Button: Midnight ( 1939 )

Lionel Barrymore Obsessively: Lionel Barrymore and Film Children

Douglas Fairbanks Jr: Prince Of Hollywood: John Barrymore’s Influence on Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Women Love Diamonds ( 1927 )

Apocalypse Later: Deadline USA ( 1952 )

Movie Rob: Irreconcilable Differences ( 1984 ) 

Movie Rob: Mad Love ( 1995 )

Midnight Only: High School Confidential ( 1958 )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Romeo And Juliet ( 1936 ) and Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde ( 1920 )

Classic Film, Flickers Of Silver And Gold: Reunion In Vienna ( 1933 )

Classic Film Obsessions: An Oscar For Ethel: None But The Lonely Heart ( 1944 )

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Johnny Trouble ( 1957 )

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Mark Of The Vampire ( 1935 )

Smitten Kitten Vintage: Grand Hotel ( 1932 )

Movie Rob: Big Miracle ( 2012 )

Apocalypse Later: True Confession ( 1937 )

Karavansara: Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

Christina Wehner: Maytime ( 1937 )

The Flapper Dame: You Can’t Take It With You ( 1938 )

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Spiral Staircase ( 1945 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: Portrait Of Jennie ( 1948 )

Apocalypse Later: The Yellow Ticket ( 1931 )

Critica Retro: Don Juan ( 1926 )

Finding Franchot: The Strangers Return ( 1933 )

Back To Golden Days: Dinner At Eight ( 1933 )

Old Hollywood Films: The Spiral Staircase ( 1945 )

Movie Classics: Mata Hari ( 1931 )

 

THE JOAN CRAWFORD BLOGATHON HAS NOW ARRIVED

 

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After years of being unfairly dismissed due to the child abuse allegations that have largely surfaced since the initial publication of Mommie Dearest in 1978, Joan Crawford is finally being honored during the course of the next three days, for the purpose of my blogathon which commences today.

For years, I have been an ardent supporter of Joan Crawford, so when the idea of hosting a blogathon dedicated to the great actress was proposed to me, I was automatically enthused, and was anxious to announce the event.

I was even more impatient waiting for the blogathon to commence, but now after two months of waiting, it’s now here. So without further ado, I look forward to reading all the entries about the unsurpassable Joan Crawford, whose inimitable talents and achievements continue to leave an indelible mark on motion picture history.

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Below is the roster of entries that will get updated daily as each post comes in. This is for you Joan.

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THE JOAN CRAWFORD BLOGATHON ENTRIES

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Joan Crawford’s clothes closet

Once Upon A Screen: Possessed ( 1931 )

The Cinematic Frontier: Mildred Pierce ( 1945 )

B Noir Detour: Joan Crawford and Film Noir

The Flapper Dame: Daisy Kenyon ( 1947 )

Speakeasy: Queen Bee ( 1955 )

The Stop Button: Love On The Run ( 1936 )

Recap Retro: Joan Crawford in Night Gallery

Silver Screenings: Reunion In France ( 1942 )

Apocalypse Later: Letty Lynton ( 1932 )

Meredy.com: Sudden Fear ( 1952 )

 Silver Screen Modes: Joan Crawford fashion, designed by Adrian

Taking Up Room: Grand Hotel ( 1932 ) and Mildred Pierce ( 1945 )

Movie Rob: The Bride Wore Red ( 1937 )

Movie Rob: The Story Of Esther Costello ( 1957 )

Leave It To Beaverhausen: Female On The Beach ( 1955 )

Critica Retro: Letty Lynton ( 1932 )

Christina Wehner: The Unknown ( 1927 )

Little Bits Of Classics: Joan Crawford in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp ( 1926 )

MIB’S Instant Headache: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? ( 1962 )

Old Hollywood Films: Mannequin ( 1937 )

LA Explorer: Joan Crawford in Forsaking All Others ( 1934 )

Shadows and Satin: Dance Fools Dance ( 1931 )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Humoresque ( 1946 )

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Prince Of Hollywood: Our Modern Maidens ( 1929 )

Film Grimoire: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? ( 1962 )

Karavansara: Strange Cargo ( 1940 )

Portraits By Jenni: Above Suspicion ( 1943 )

Le Cinema Dreams: Berserk ( 1967 )

Stars and Letters: Correspondence from Joan Crawford 

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog: Tramp, Tramp, Tramp ( 1926 )

The Midnight Drive In: Reunion In France ( 1942 )

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Strait Jacket ( 1964 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: Autumn Leaves ( 1956 )

Movie Rob: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane ( 1962 )

Finding Franchot: The Bride Wore Red ( 1937 )

Movie Classics: The Damned Don’t Cry ( 1950 )

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog: The Women ( 1939 )

Cinematic Catharsis: Strait Jacket ( 1964 )

Back To Golden Days: Dancing Lady ( 1933 )

 Defiant Success: A Woman’s Face ( 1941 )

The Cinema Penitentiary Diaries: The Best Of Everything ( 1959 )

Lauren Champkin: Dance Fools Dance ( 1931 )

Flickers Of Silver and Gold: I live My Life ( 1935 )

THESE WILDER YEARS ( 1956 )

“TOGETHER and TERRIFIC…in a story of unforgettable warmth and impact.”

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James Cagney, the consummate actor, who graced the screen with his perilous traits along with his tenacious and malicious demeanor, immersed audiences worldwide during the golden age of cinema. In the years that proceeded his passing in 1986, James Cagney has been remembered by many for the embedded image of him yelling “Made it Ma. Top of the world” in the 1949 perennial classic White Heatwhile others remember him for his other tough gangster roles in, The Public Enemy and The Roaring Twenties.

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While James Cagney instilled fond recollections in legions of fans for playing multifaceted tough roles, Cagney also proved time and time again that he was able to shed his bad guy image by portraying a character that inhabited a softer nature. Despite the rejections from certain fans who preferred to see their idol playing a villainous gangster, James Cagney was usually always lauded for his deliveries of a hero or a person that was noted for their amiability.

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After the success of White Heat, James Cagney’s gangster portrayals began to diminish. He had been cast in a few roles that are linked to that genre, but none of these characters were highlighted as a ruthless racketeer like the predecessors. His most notable film from this period came in 1955, when he starred alongside Doris Day in Love Me Or Leave Me.

With the accolades that he attained for Love Me Or Leave Me, James Cagney was now planted in a reputable position in Hollywood. He had film offers pouring in everywhere, but he chose to replace Spencer Tracy in the western production titled, Tribute To A Bad Man. Cagney’s performance was highly received, and it led to him securing the part of Lon Chaney in the biographical picture, Man Of A Thousand Faces ( 1956 )

Considering the fact that Tribute To A Bad Man was panned on it’s release, MGM thought well enough of Cagney’s performance to offer him another assignment. This time he was to star for the first and last time alongside, Barbara Stanwyck in a film about a notable businessman who pleads with the adoption agency to help locate his son who he abandoned twenty years earlier.

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On it’s release, These Wilder Years was denounced for being a less than effective starring vehicle for the two main leads. Audiences would have preferred to see Barbara Stanwyck and James Cagney sparring off together as ruthless villains in a gangster production or a film that had plenty of bite, but instead they were greeted with something completely different.

Even though These Wilder Years was expected to flounder at the box office, James Cagney and Barbara Stanwyck enjoyed the filming process, and later developed fond memories of their time on the set. They especially relished the fact that their pasts were closely mirrored, and saw this as the perfect opportunity to relive their Vaudeville years by entertaining the cast and crew with their dance improvisations.

The films disastrous status is largely due to the small scale crew that were hired for the production. Director, Roy Rowland had considerable success in Hollywood, and helmed a few critically acclaimed staples, such as, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes and Meet Me In Las Vegas, but compared to a lot of other directors of his caliber, Rowland was only second-rate. That being said, Rowland shouldn’t be solely blamed for the films flaws when certain aspects can be traced to the weakness of the script, which was written by, Ralph Wheelwright and Frank Fenton.

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These Wilder Years tells the story of Steve Bradford ( James Cagney ), a wealthy businessman who returns to his home town with high hopes of locating his illegitimate son, who was put up for adoption twenty years earlier. On his arrival, he visits the orphanage, which is ran by Ann Dempster ( Barbara Stanwyck ) who announces that she’s in no position to help him trace the whereabouts of his son. Instead Steve discovers that he’s got a lot more on his hands than what he ever imagined when he meets, Suzie ( Betty Lou Keim ), a sixteen year old expectant orphan, who resides with Ann Dempster.

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These Wilder Years may have lacked the ingredients to be a motion picture staple, but it’s premise is definitely promising. Steve Bradford is a millionaire who is eager to use his affluent wealth to locate his son, whom he has never met, and provide him with a new home full of luxuries. The fact that he wants to take away his grown son from a family who has loved him from the day they adopted him sounds ludicrous, but despite these foibles, the story is quite entertaining, and keeps the viewer wondering if Steve Bradford will ever meet his son?

Even for those people who find the film bland, you can’t deny the talents of Barbara Stanwyck and James Cagney, who alone make this vehicle worth watching. Both stars are exceptional in their roles, and actually have great chemistry together. Barbara Stanwyck as Ann Dempster, the owner of the orphanage is dedicated to her work, and through sheer determination, she manages to find unwanted babies a home, but when it comes to Steve Bradford whose determination is unyielding, she’s a tenacious force to be reckoned with. She is reluctant to give out any information regarding the sons whereabouts, and decides to remain professional. Steve however, does not stop at that. He proves that money is no object by hiring James Rayburn ( Walter Pidgeon ) an expensive lawyer, who states that millions of dollars can go a long way.

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Another redeeming feature is the relationship between Steve Bradford and sixteen year old Suzie. James Cagney as Steve Bradford, exudes warmth and plenty of understanding. Seeing as he eluded the chance to father a son, he realizes the obstacles that she is faced with, and knows the pain that she will feel when she is forced to give up her baby. It’s also interesting to note that for a film made in 1956, years after the Hays Code was enforced, These Wilder Years clearly depicts the subject of unwed and pregnant teens, a topic that was concealed in movies after the establishment of the Production Code in 1934.

All and all, These Wilder Years is an overlooked melodrama that deserves more recognition. It’s a shame that Barbara Stanwyck and James Cagney never had the chance to work together in a film that had more bite, but at least we can witness their extreme versatility and adeptness in this great film.

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TRIVIA

The American Airlines plane Steve flies in at the beginning of the film is a Convair CV-240 – American’s replacement of the Douglas DC-3.

The film debut of Michael Landon, who played a small cameo role.

Upon James Cagney exiting lawyer Leland G. Spottsford’s office building, a theater marquee and film posters can be seen advertising Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), which was the previous film directed by _These Wilder Years (1956)_ director Roy Rowland.

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CAST

Barbara Stanwyck: Born Ruby Catherine Stevens on July 16th, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York. Died: January 20th, 1990 in Santa Monica, California. Aged 82. Cause of death: Congestive heart failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

James Cagney: James Cagney: Born James Francis Cagney, Jr. on July 17th, 1899 in New York. Died: March 30th, 1986 in Stanfordville, New York. Aged 86. Cause of death: Heart attack.

Walter Pidgeon: Born Walter Davis Pidgeon on September 23rd, 1897 in Sain John, New Brunswick, Canada. Died: September 25th, 1984 in Santa Monica, California. Aged 87. Cause of death: Massive stroke.

Betty Lou Keim: Born Betty Lou Keim on September 27th, 1938 in Malden, Massachusetts. Died: January 27th, 2010 in Chatsworth, California. Aged 71. Cause of death: Lung Cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED DUST ( 1932 )

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When it comes to films that arouse your sexual desire, productions from the Pre-Code genre are the perfect model of eroticism. Sizzling with suggestiveness, evocative nature, and anything that deals with the sexual denominator, this magical bygone era of Hollywood continues to cement itself in a reputable position in motion picture history.

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The Pre-Code era dealt with a lot of issues that were prohibited once the Production Code was rigorously enforced. Films that were provocative in structure and revolved around themes that were immodest and openly seductive became a thing of the past and remained extinguished until decades later when movies that graphically depicted sex and displayed nudity were released.

Even before the establishment of the Production Code, certain films were rejected from the Censorship Board because of their overt sexual content and for seductive aspects that were considered too explicit for public viewing. Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in Red Dust ( 1932 ), a film starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in a role where she plays a prostitute who exploits her sexuality to arouse and stimulate the less enthused Gable.

“That’s a… a very polished little speech for a… barbarian.”

Although Red Dust managed to elude the strict refusals of the Censorship Board, it contains adultery and many elements of infidelity that could of easily been rejected for release even back in 1932 when illicit subject matters were candidly presented on screen. Just as well the rigid constraints that somewhat affected a myriad of films from the same period, including Baby Face were not as harsh when it came to Red Dust, because what we witness here is Pre-Code Hollywood at it’s greatest.

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The film was released in 1932, a year that is now considered to be a memorable twelve months for movies with notable productions like Grand Hotel hitting cinemas and winning the Academy Award for ‘Best Picture’.

While Grand Hotel, a lavish spectacular that featured more stars than heaven, surpassed any other picture released that year, Red Dust ascended in stature right from the very beginning. The film boasted a stellar cast with acting veterans, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow colliding with the likes of Mary Astor and Gene Raymond. And it addition to all that, it was written for the screen by, John Mahin, and directed by, Victor Fleming, who would go on to direct such critically acclaimed masterpieces like, The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind.

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Clark Gable and Jean Harlow were hot commodities in Hollywood. Noted for their sexual magnetism that was coupled by their on-screen chemistry, the two starred in six films together with Red Dust marking their second collaboration. During their first appearance in the 1931 crime drama, The Secret Six, Gable and Harlow became close friends, and would remain supportive of one another until the day Harlow passed away in 1937. Harlow had possessed an innumerable amount of qualities that Gable admired. He particularly relished her lack of pretense along with her casual and free spirited nature, but while many people have tried to envision a romantic relationship between the two, the connection they shared was completely different with Clark Gable acting as her protective older brother, who treated her like a lovable sister.

“I thought we might run up a few curtains and make a batch of fudge while we were planning on what to wear to the country club dance Saturday night.”

Jean Harlow as Vantine

Originally, Red Dust was supposed to be a proposed vehicle for John Gilbert, who was set to play the role of Dennis Carson. This was an attempt to capitalize on his success in previous years, and to try to resurrect his suave and masculine appearance that was once an alluring enchantment for a plethora of female movie-goers worldwide, but this casting decision was soon abandoned due to Gilbert’s floundering descent into alcoholism, which helped fuel is premature death in 1936, when Gilbert was only 38.

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Red Dust was meant to be a monumental experience for Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, but just when the occasion started out as joyous, things took a bad turn. Shortly before filming commenced, Harlow married Paul Bern, the German born producer, who helped establish her career. Seeing as they had just eloped two months earlier, Harlow was in happy spirits during filming, and was euphoric about returning home each night to be with him. Things however were not to remain. On Labor Day, police were summoned to the home that Harlow shared with Bern. On their arrival they discovered that Paul Bern had either committed suicide or had been murdered when they found his naked body sprawled on the floor with his brains blown out, and a revolver clutched in one hand.

For years the suicide had remained a mystery, but as the decades progressed, it was revealed that part of the suicide was caused from a sexual development that would make it merely impossible for him to indulge in sexual intercourse. According to most biographers, Harlow was unaware of this condition, which would be kept a secret until more facts about the relationship between Jean Harlow and Paul Bern were unearthed.

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To add to the already formidable situations that Harlow and Gable were enduring while shooting Red Dust, were the arduous conditions and the grueling schedule. Filmed in the late Summer of 1932, when the sound stages were without air conditioning, the cast and crew underwent hours of discomfort due to working in the sweltering heat, where the smell of a jungle was emanating from everything. A lot of this had to do with the constructed Indochina backdrop that consisted of the constant releasing of moths and insects. Considering how difficult it was to work in these horrific conditions, Gable and Harlow were determined to complete the picture on time, and have it released on schedule.

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Clark Gable and Jean Harlow ignite the screen in flames in this steamy Pre-Code production that was based on the 1928 play by Wilson Collison. Set on an Indochina rubber plantation during the monsoon season, the film tells the story of Dennis Carson ( Clark Gable ), the owner of the plantation, who is greeted to the unexpected arrival of Vantine Jefferson ( Jean Harlow ), a prostitute, who is on the run from the Saigon authorities.

After succumbing to Vantine’s charms, complications arise when Gary Willis ( Gene Raymond ), an inexperienced engineer, and his wife, Barbara ( Mary Astor ) join the establishment, and make sparks fly with Dennis Carson, who immediately falls in love with Barbara, leaving Vantine in a state of jealousy, while Dennis finds himself swept into a difficult love triangle that is hard to escape.

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Red Dust may have never eventuated if it weren’t for the influence of Paul Bern, who had implored Louis B. Mayer to buy out Jean Harlow’s contract with Hughes, and sign her to MGM. Initially, Mayer had refused the offer. He viewed Jean Harlow as an abhorrent floozy, something that did not go well with his class of elegant leading ladies at MGM. Bern however was not going to stop there. He was determined to have Harlow signed to a contract with the studio. His next best preference was to urge Irving Thalberg, who eventually agreed after taking Harlow’s popularity and established image into consideration.

As a result of this decision, audiences worldwide are treated to endless hours of entertainment with the indomitable presence of Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in Red Dust, a film that is an exceptionally worthy addition into the Pre-Code canon.

“If it was the summer of 1894, I’d play games with you, sister. But life is much simpler now.”

Red Dust is a film that is totally ahead of it’s time. Brimming with fresh and suggestive dialogue that serves as a perfect accompaniment to it’s imaginative script, this picture has everything that a Pre-Code could possibly offer. Clark Gable with his ruggedly good looks is the owner of the rubber plantation. He is tough and stalwart with a demeanor that is as hard as nails, but along with his ferocious manner, he is a two timing cad, who would fall for any girl that comes into close contact with him, even if it is a hard boiled, wisecracking tramp like Vantine, a prostitute, who challenges him to seduce her.

At first we witness nothing but their personalities clashing. Dennis knows that Vantine is a prostitute, and has little time for her; that is until he observes whats underlying in her interior, and immediately succumbs to her alluring charisma, but in the midst of their steamy romance, their passionate love affair is interrupted when Gary Willis and his new wife, Barbara, who steals Carson’s affections, arrive on the plantation.

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In the years that have progressed, the racism elements in Red Dust has remained a subject of controversy, but these aspects are not key features and can easily be overlooked since the main premise of the story is about the sexual progressiveness of Vantine, who lures and beguiles Dennis, but whose love is eventually overshadowed by the repressed, Barbara, who turns to Dennis for intimate and immoral comfort while trying to elude the weaknesses of her husband.

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All in all, Red Dust is a memorable film that shouldn’t be dismissed. Not only does it spotlight the inimitable talents of Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, who exuded sexuality, it is an extremely engaging, sizzling melodrama that immerses movie enthusiasts worldwide.

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TRIVIA

Red Dust was remade in 1953, with the title of Mogambo, which also starred Clark Gable.

During filming of the famous rainbarrel sequence, Jean Harlow reportedly stood up – topless – and called out something along the lines of “one for the boys in the lab!” Director Victor Fleming quickly removed the film from the camera to prevent any footage from reaching the black market.

Joan Crawford was initially cast opposite Clark Gable but MGM removed her to end the affair she was having with Gable.

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CAST

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.

Jean Harlow: Born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3rd, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. Died: June 7th, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. Aged 26. Cause of death: Cerebral Edema , Uremia.

Mary Astor: Born Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke on May 3rd, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois. Died: September 25th, 1987 in Woodland Hills, California. Aged 81. Cause of death: Respiratory failure.

Gene Raymond: Born Raymond Guion on August 13th, 1908 in New York. Died: May 3rd, 1998 in Los Angeles, California. Aged 89.

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The above post is my entry for the Hot and Bothered: The Films 0f 1932 Blogathonwhich is hosted by, Once Upon A Screen and Cinemaven’s Essays From The Couch. To visit the other entries being exhibited during the event, please click here.