Showing posts with label Mickey Rooney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mickey Rooney. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hide-Out (1934)

Playboy racketeer Jack "Lucky" Wilson (Robert Montgomery) is out on the town, breaking hearts and taking names. His latest racket is coercing two New York City night club owners, Shuman (Henry Armetta) and Jake (Herman Bing), into a partnership with his laundry syndicate. But the cops, including detectives MacCarthy (Edward Arnold) and Britt (Edward Brophy), are hot on his trail. After a confrontation with the police Wilson is shot but manages to escape and drive off. He heads upstate but passes out from his injury. Wilson is rescued by a local town clerk and farmer, Henry Miller (Whitford Kane), who brings him to his home to recover. Wilson tells Miller that he escaped a gangster, and hides the fact that he's one himself, and insists on having his doctor check up on him to not raise suspicion. While Wilson recuperates from his gunshot wound, he meets Miller's daughter Pauline (Maureen O'Sullivan), who is his polar opposite. She's a simple country gal and he's fast talking city guy. The Miller family is kind, generous and patient. Ma Miller (Elizabeth Patterson) fusses over Wilson and their young son William (don't call him Willie!) (Mickey Rooney), makes every effort to befriend Wilson. He learns to feed chickens, milk cows, chop wood and bring in the hay and enjoying the country life. Wilson stays longer than he should, falling in love with the beautiful Pauline. Will Wilson fess up or will he go back to his life of crime?

Hide-Out (1934) is based on an original story by Mauri Grashin and adapted for the screen by husband and wife writing team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Grashin received an Academy Award nomination for his story which was remade in 1941 as I'll Wait for You. The film was released August of 1934, just a month after Hollywood began to enforce the Hays Code began in earnest, officially ending the Pre-Code era of Hollywood filmmaking. I wonder if this affected the outcome of Hide-Out. What kind of story would it have been as a Pre-Code?

The film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke for MGM. He also directed The Thin Man movies, a point referenced in the marketing materials for this movie. Van Dyke, known as One-Take Woody, was MGM's go-to guy. He built a reputation on being a reliable director who would take on any production and keep it on schedule and under budget. Hide-Out was filmed, edited and released in a two month span. There was some delay however. According to the AFI, during pre-production Maureen O'Sullivan had to drop out to visit her ailing father in Ireland. Loretta Young replaced her only to have to drop out herself due to illness and was replaced with O'Sullivan.

Hide-Out is one of my favorite 1930s films. It's a sweet and charming romance. I love the concept of a city gangster out of his element in the country. Montgomery's Wilson and O'Sullivan's Pauline really develop as characters. He teaches her to be more bold. She teaches him to take pleasure in the simple things in life. Mickey Rooney is just adorable in this movie as Pauline's little brother. If you're not a fan of his on screen intensity, you might like his more subdued performance here as William/Willie. 

Hide-Out (1934) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. When you use my buy link you help support this site. Thanks!

This is Hide-Out's DVD debut. I always watch this one when it's on TCM and was very excited to see it get a DVD release. George, Matt and D.W. discuss the movie on the November 13, 2018 episode of the Warner Archive Podcast.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Hide-Out (1934) on DVD for review!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

TCM Classic Film Festival - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

Cinerama Dome's Honeycomb Ceiling

On Sunday April 28th, 2013, I attended a special screening of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles. Even though this film is played regularly on TCM and I have had many chances to see it, this was my first time I had watched the movie. It had never really interested me and I have heard many classic film fans say they didn't understand it or enjoy it. I really wanted to go anyways because I wanted to see the Q&A with the actors and watch the film in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome.

I didn't realize beforehand the importance of this event. The Cinerama Dome was built in 1963 for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It was built in 16 weeks and the cast of the film got to help break the ground for construction. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of both the film and the theatre. It was mentioned that the film premiered the same month JFK was assassinated and screened for 2 years straight at the Cinerama Dome. It was credited for helping heal a hurting nation with the medicine of laughter. It was really special to be at the Cinerama Dome for the film and to see the guests on stage.  I had to leave during the intermission which made me very sad. 

I wanted to stay for the whole thing given the significance of it all and the fact that I hadn't seen the film before and enjoyed what I had seen. 

Before the screening, TCM's Tom Brown introduced the special guests to the stage. They included actor Marvin Kaplan, the director Stanley Kramer's widow Karen Sharpe Kramer, actress Barrie Chase and actor Mickey Rooney. Carl Reiner was scheduled to appear but couldn't make it. Also actor Jonathan Winters was supposed to be there but he passed away shortly before the screening. They left an open chair for him which I thought was nice and showed a tribute on the screen before the film started.

Press Photo
I won't go through the entire interview but I'll share some highlights.

Director/Producer Stanley Kramer had been known for doing dramas so filming a 4 hour comedy was a new venture for him. Karen Sharpe Kramer shared an anecdote about this. A well-known critic who adored Stanley Kramer told him he could never do a comedy. Kramer took that as a challenge and set out to make "the biggest, extravaganza comedy of all time."

Tom Brown pointed out that every top-name comedian at the time was in that movie. Mickey Rooney went on to gush about comedians being wonderful people and had nothing but nice things to say about Stanley Kramer whom he had admired.

After Barrie Chase had seen the first screening of the film, actor Dick Shawn (who plays her boyfriend and Ethel Merman's son in the film) said to Chase that he was knocking himself out in his scene with her but no one will notice him because they'll all be staring at Chase's legs. Barrie Chase still has fantastic gams 50 years later!

Marvin Kaplan shared some anecdotes about the famous gas station scene with Jonathan Winters, Arnold Stang and himself. Kaplan was a replacement for Jackie Mason who was the original choice for the part and Kaplan had been up for the part that was eventually played by Doodles Weaver. Kaplan was sent the script which he said read like a Manhattan phone book. He was worried about being thrown through glass windows and drive heavy machinery. Kaplan was reassured by the fact that Arnold Stang, whom he called one of the biggest cowards in the world, had to do everything he had to do. Both Stang and Kaplan were hoping ex-Marine Jonathan Winters would get hurt so they would have to add stuntmen to protect them all. Winters hurt his back during rehearsal so they had added stuntmen. He notes that finding a stuntman for Arnold Stang was tricky considering he was very scrawny and had no chin . They gave Stang some shoulder padding so he would look a bit bigger.

Marvin Kaplan said that his real job in the movie was not an actor but being a babysitter to Jonathan Winters. They were filming in 107 degree heat and the only place that was cool was an air-conditioned trailer. Kaplan and Winters would play improv games with each other in the trailer to pass the time.

The film was edited down from 5 hours to a little under 4 hours with intermission.

John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy were all supposed to go to the premiere and the grand opening of both the film and the Cinerama Dome but ended up having to go to Dallas. And we all know what happened there. Ted Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy came in their place.

Karen Sharpe Kramer shared her favorite parts of the movie: Ernest Gold's score, the stunts and the illustrated credits by Saul Bass. She says that those credits were copied after the movie. I think she is forgetting a few films from before 1963 that have illustrated credits. The one that comes to mind for me is If a Man Answers (1962).

Stanley Kramer discovered Jonathan Winters when he saw him on the Jack Paar show. Kramer offered Winters a part in the film. Winters had never been in a movie before and told Kramer that he was certifiably insane and had been institutionalized. Kramer replied that every actor he had ever worked with was certifiably insane so Winters would do just fine.

Marvin Kaplan said he worked with two geniuses in his time: Charlie Chaplin and Jonathan Winters.

Tom Brown had a huge crush on Barrie Chase and expressed that fact during the interview. I thought that was very sweet! Chase said the film hadn't done much for her career but people share their love of the film which she appreciates.

The interview ended with Mickey Rooney wanting to say thank you to any soldiers in the audience and a roaring applause from the audience. This was a great experience and I only regret that Jonathan Winters couldn't have been there and that I had left so early. I'm really glad I went and I think everyone else in the audience felt the same way.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

TCM Classic Film Festival Day #5 Recap

The last day of the TCM Classic Film Festival was bittersweet for several reasons as you'll see below.

I went to the Cinerama Dome to attend a screening of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

And I took the obligatory photo of the Honeycomb ceiling.

Press Photo
Tom Brown of TCM hosted and the special guests included actors Mickey Rooney and Marvin Kaplan, actress Barrie Chase and Director Stanley Kramer's widow actress Karen Sharpe Kramer. Carl Reiner couldn't make it and Jonathan Winters had recently passed away. They screened a short tribute to Jonathan Winters and left an open seat for him. It was very sad not to have him there.

At one point during the screening, I went to the bathroom and I saw Mickey Rooney on his way out! Thank you to my weak bladder because I had several run ins with classic film stars and TCM staffers (especially Ben Mankiewicz who I saw about a dozen times) on my way to and from bathrooms. The stars are well protected though and Mickey had staff members nearby who were shielding him from some curious fans. I was just happy to see him up close again.

I plan to do a more thorough post on the talk that happened before the screening!

One of the sad things about the festival is that in order to attend everything you have planned to attend and also eat food in between screenings, you have to leave a few screenings early. I left this film during the intermission to grab a late lunch and to head over to the Grauman's Chinese in time to see Three Days of the Condor (1975).

Press Photo
I really love Three Days of the Condor (1975). I had seen it for the first time shortly before the festival and was happy to see it again. I have to say, of all the films I saw at the festival, I kinda regret going to this one. I regret leaving in the middle of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) to come see a film I had seen recently. When Robert Osborne interviewed Max von Sydow before the screening, they barely even talked about the movie! It's not even worth it for me to do a separate post about it. Considering I had seen Max von Sydow the day before and the film wasn't brought up then either, I didn't see much value in leaving the Cinerama Dome screening to attend this one. Although it was still wonderful to see the film on the big screen and Max von Sydow and his wife stayed to watch it with us for a bit which was nice too.

I ended up leaving Three Days of the Condor just after one of my favorite scenes and before the film ended to get in line for The General (1926). The thing about watching two films back to back in the same theater is that by the time you get out of the first one, a line has already formed for the next one. They won't let you stay in the theater so you have to get into the new line. I really wanted to see The General and knew a lot of people seeing Three Days of the Condor were going to get back in line for The General so I hightailed it out of there early and got in line. 

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings had written the seating capacity of each of the theaters. I copied her notes and this was incredibly useful. When you are in line, they give you a number and if you know the theater's seating capacity then you know how good your chance is of getting in. Grauman's Chinese seats 1,100 so I know that being #106 that I had the best chance of getting in. By the way, there are two lines. One for Spotlight and VIP passes. They go first. Then Media and the other passes get in. If you have a Matinee or Palace pass or no pass at all and it's after 6 PM, you have to wait in a standby line and if there are any leftover seats then you can get in for $20 (or $10 if you have a student ID). Carlos had a Matinee Pass and had his student ID and cash on hand and got into several night time screenings this way.

The General (1926) was the grand finale of the festival. Robert Osborne came out to introduce it. He read from notes which he doesn't normally do but did in this case so that he wouldn't forget anything. He thanked the sponsors, especially Porsche because he got to ride around in one during the festival (lucky!) and he also thanked all the TCM staff members who helped make the festival happen. Osborne  announced that there will be a TCM Classic Film Festival in 2014. In fact, April 14, 2014 will be TCM's 20th anniversary so the festival will be tied into that. He also announced that December 3rd, 2013 is the official starting date for the TCM Cruise which will be on the Disney Magic. Osborne said that TCM is very particular about which ships they'll host their cruise on and Conde Nast has ranked Disney Magic as the #1 cruise ship in the world.

Then came some sad news. This screening was the penultimate one before the TCL Chinese Theatre (Grauman's Chinese) converts to IMAX. That means they will rip out all that seating, put in stadium seating and an IMAX screen. They will be closed from now until the summer for renovations. There will be fewer seats and who knows what this will mean for the future.

Osborne told us to look around the theatre after the screening. To take a really good look around because it will be the last time we will see it this way. We all booed and he asked us not to throw anything at him. (LOL). Osborne said that he's been told that they will do a great job and TCM has faith in them. It was nice of him to say that but no one really knows how things will turn out. The way we saw the theatre that night was the same way it had been since 1926! They had held the Academy Awards there and Casablanca (1944) won for Best Picture in that theatre.

The 25 minute Buster Keaton short One Week (1920) was screened before The General as an added bonus which was really great. The Alloy Orchestra played music to both films and it was just a wonderful experience. Seeing Buster Keaton and his hilarious antics on such a gigantic screen, in a beautiful historic theatre that had been that way since the film was released and to be with a thousand other appreciative fans was an experience that just blew me away.

Take a look at the picture above. After the film ended and the Alloy Orchestra took a bow to a standing ovation, we all took Robert Osborne's advice and took a good look at the theatre. We snapped pictures and marveled at the theatre's beauty knowing that we were some of the last people to see it that way. It was a really bittersweet moment.

After the screening, I headed over to Club TCM for the Opening Night Party. It was quite chaotic. There were so many people there and I felt a bit suffocated. Also, they turned me away at one entrance but let me in at another. I ended up hanging out with Carlos and a few others at the Roosevelt Hotel pool which was open to everyone and a lot less crowded. I said my goodbyes to many of the wonderful classic film bloggers I've known for years but got to meet for the first time at the festival. It was sad but I was happy to have had this experience. It's one I will never forget.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I saw Mickey Rooney with my own two eyes!

Yes that's right. On Thursday night, my mother and I were in Atlantic City to see Mickey Rooney. That's right, the one and only Mickey Rooney. I was so excited. We ended up getting 2nd row seats and I was probably only about 6 feet away from him. It was an amazing show. The first act was Mickey on his own, reminscing about the good ole days, cracking some jokes, doing some impressions (notably Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable) and singing some tunes. It was great to see him. He is so TINY! And even for his age, he had a lot of spunk and vivacity. The second act was his wife Jan who I didn't realize was a professional singer. She sang several songs including some country western ones. My favorite though was when she sang the theme song to Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), one of Mickey's films, "Moon River". It was quite beautiful. Then the third act had them together. They shared lots of jokes about their marriage, including a funny one about a beer commercial they had done together a long time ago (see clip below). Mickey then surprised us with some soft-shoe dancing and some piano playing! That alone was worth the admission! I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I think I cried a bit when he talked about his good friend Judy Garland and sang one of their songs with a video clip of them singing together on Judy's show in the 60s. Quite moving. In the end, Mickey Rooney was born to entertain and that's what he did. And to have been able to witness him in action was something I'll never forget!

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook