Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ These Glamour Girls (1939)

Thank my lucky stars that Dancing Co-Ed (1939) has a companion film in These Glamour Girls (1939). The two movies were filmed back-to-back and were released a little over a month apart in 1939 with These Glamour Girls hitting movie theaters first. They both feature Lana Turner in the role of a dancer who is taken out of her normal surroundings and thrust into collegiate life as an outsider. They both have Richard Carlson in either a romantic leading or supporting role. Both are just delightful collegiate films! (Check out my review of Dancing Co-Ed here). The two films were adaptations of stories that appeared previously in popular magazines. These Glamour Girls was written by Jane Hall for Cosmopolitan and she adapted it into a screenplay and Dancing Co-Ed was written by Albert Treynor for American Magazine and he adapted it into a screenplay too.  They were both picked up by MGM and directed by S. Sylvan Simon.

The "Glamour Girls" of New York City are all waiting for the Glamour Boys to invite them to the famous Kingsford house parties. Receiving an invitation in the mail is a big deal. Kingsford is an ivy league school and all the upper crust girls want to snag one of the college's students for their own.
I couldn't help but watch this film with contemporary eyes and wish that those girls would have been excited about college application acceptance letters rather than house party invitations. But the year is 1939 so I'll have to make allowances for that. And that there are other collegiate films from the 1930s with female students at co-ed schools (like *ahem* Dancing Co-Ed).

Lana Turner plays Jane Thomas a taxi dancer at the Joy Lane Club. Philip Griswold ( Lew Ayres) and his buddies take a break from their studies and head to the city to get drunk and to dance with the ladies at the club. Philip meets Jane and they are instantly smitten with each other. He drunkenly invites her to attend the Kingsford house parties with her, conveniently forgetting he's already invited his girl Carol (Jane Bryan ). When Jane arrives at Kingsford, everyone is in a tizzy especially Philip who soberly forgot that he invited Jane in the first place.

 Jane Bryan as Carol and Richard Carlson as Joe

I like that there are a lot of characters each with their own motivations. Sometimes characters just in a story help move the plot along but don't necessarily have interesting stories of their own. Not all of the stories are interesting. I was kind of bored by a few of the Glamour Boys. However I did like most of them. Richard Carlson plays Joe. He's not a glamour boy. Instead he's working his way through school and often finds himself working in service of the other students he shares a classroom with (This reminded me a little of Buster Keaton's character in College from 1927). He's in love with Carol who is still attached to Philip who has something Joe doesn't: money. Carol's motivations are not completely selfish. Her father lost the family's money and she sees a marriage with Philip as a way to provide her family with some financial security.

Ann Rutherford plays the ditzy Mary who is all about the status quo and snagging her ideal mate Homer. I adore Ann Rutherford and thought the role beneath her skills but was glad to see her anyways. Jane called Mary a Park Avenue Squab which I thought was hilarious! Anita Louise plays Daphne, the most coveted of all the glamour girls and the wily instigator.

 Marsha Hunt as Betty

Fans of Marsha Hunt will be happy to see her in the role of Betty. A 24 year old glamour girl who has been to the Kingsford House Parties one too many times. Her out dated style and her sexual reputation makes her the laughing stock at Kingsford. I was confused by why the other girls thought her out dated. Perhaps her look was a little to Greta Garbo? Was Garbo already passe by 1939?

Spoiler alert: Marsha Hunt is the last surviving cast member as of early 2013 which is a bit ironic given what happens to her character in the movie. End of spoiler


I was happy to see Dennie Moore  a fiesty character actress who appears in many films in the 1930s. She plays Jane's roommate Mavis and you can also see her in two of my favorite films from 1939, Bachelor Mother and The Women.

This movie was a lot of fun. I'm not surprised that I enjoyed it as much as Dancing Co-Ed. I love the dichotomies of rich vs. poor and men vs. women. I am always a big fan of opposing characters and Jane (Lana Turner) and Philip (Lew Ayres) are definitely opposites! I highly recommend watching These Glamour Girls and Dancing Co-Ed as a double bill. They are both around 1 and a half hours and make for wonderful movies to watch on a rainy or snowy day.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received These Glamour Girls (1939) from Warner Archive for review.

I submitted this post as part of the "I Totally F***ing Love This Movie" Blogathon hosted by Carley of The Kitty Packard Pictorial.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Little Caesar (1931)

Little Caesar (1931)  is one of the original gangster films and influenced the movies in that genre that were to come. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and based on a novel by W. R. Burnett.  Edward G. Robinson stars as Little Caesar aka Rico, a small time gangster looking to make it big. He and his good friend Joe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) head east to Chicago. But Joe is a reluctant gangster who has dreams of becoming a dancer.  Joe falls in love with another dancer, Olga (Glenda Farrell), but finds it difficult to severe ties with his gangster friend Rico who is now establishing himself as the king of the underworld. The cops are hot on the tails of Rico and his gangster buddies and poor Joe gets caught in the middle.

This is my favorite shot from the film. Lots of well-dressed gangsters all in a row.

Looks just like my apartment (in my dreams!).

This film is filled with Art Deco splendor and well-dressed gangsters who rule the city's seedy underworld. The gangsters wear the best suits with all the accessories: tie-pins, scarves, pinkie rings, tie-chains, lapel buttons and pocket watches. Along with the cloche hats and the evening gowns the ladies wear, any vintage fashion enthusiast will swoon when they see these wardrobes.

Little Caesar is a product of the early talkie era. It came from Warner Bros. studio during a time of experimentation. When you watch the film, you are most likely to notice a lot of breaks in sound where there is nothing but silence or the sounds of movement. There is no score. And the film also has a vestige of the silent film era: title cards.

Edward G. Robinson didn't have a contract when he made Little Caesar and the film was such a big hit that it helped him secure a lucrative 2-year deal. Little Caesar also heralded a new genre of film, the gangster movie, that would prove to be popular for many years to come. Ocean's 11 (1960) makes a hat tip to Little Caesar as both involve a heist that takes place during the commotion of a New Year's Eve celebration.

Spoiler Alert!

Let's face it, Little Caesar makes gangster life look glamorous. And I can see how that would make some conservative types a bit nervous. This is definitely a pre-code movie because even though the bad guy doesn't win, you can't help but admire him a little bit.

Spoiler Over

I very much enjoyed Little Caesar. I haven't found very many films with Edward G. Robinson that I did not enjoy. He always does a great job in his roles. I was happy to see Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in this because I'd like to watch more of him. Gangsters, elegant menswear, Art Deco, New Year's, 1930s are all elements that I thoroughly enjoy!

Thanks to Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings who encouraged others to watch this film and review it during the month of February! It was a fun excuse for me to finally watch Little Caesar.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Promises to Keep (1985)

Three Mitchums for the price of one! That's right. You get not one, not two but THREE Mitchums! And three generations at that.

Promises to Keep is a TV movie from 1985 starring Robert Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum and Bentley Mitchum. I usually don't review films from the 1980s or any TV movies but this one was too good to pass up. Not only did it star my favorite actor but also featured his son and his grandson to boot!

Isn't Bentley's feathered '80s hair magnificent?!

Johnny (Bentley Mitchum) is 18 years old and is the narrator of the movie. His father Tom Palmer is the Captain of the fishing boat the Genoa. Tom is in trouble. The Genoa has been having engine problems and he and the other fishermen on board haven't been able to catch enough fish to turn a profit. And they are in competition with some other fisherman in Santa Barbara. Johnny is learning the trade with his Dad but yearns for freedom.

Tom's father  Jack Palmer (Robert Mitchum) is very ill. He will die unless he receives treatment very soon. He puts off treatment for a week to be able to travel from Wyoming to Santa Barbara, California to make amends wife and son he abandoned 30 years ago. He is reunited with his ex-wife Sally (Claire Bloom) and with his son Tom but Tom wants nothing to do with him. And Tom is under a lot of pressure. He is trying to get a new engine for his boat but can't afford it. His wife Gwen (Tess Harper) is putting their home up for sale. His son Johnny is both rebelling against his father and bonding with the grandfather he has never met. At a critical point, all three Palmers/Mitchums must come together to overcome the adversity in their lives. For Jack it's his illness and his regrets, for Tom it's his business and relationship with his father and son and for Johnny it's his yearning for freedom but the father and girlfriend who are holding him back.

Promises to Keep is a made-for-TV movie with a somewhat typical melodramatic plot and a sentimental score. What makes it stand apart are the three real life generations of actors, Mitchums at that, who also play three generations on screen. What sold this to me was the novelty of having three Mitchums in one movie. The story is quite good and I was engrossed the entire time. I hate to include spoilers but there is a moment at the end that makes the whole movie very satisfying. All three Palmers/Mitchums get together for what I call a "Mitchum Showdown".

Not the best screen shot of the Mitchum Showdown but the best I could do!

Promises to Keep is Bentley Mitchum's screen debut. It also features Jane Sibbett who fans of the show Friends will recognize as the second actress to play Ross Geller's ex-wife. Jane plays Libby, Johnny's girlfriend. It's really nice to watch Robert, Christopher and Bentley Mitchum work together. Fans of Robert Mitchum will enjoy seeing actual photographs and some home video footage of a younger Robert with his young son Christopher. Christopher's brother James Mitchum played a supporting role in Thunder Road (1958). Robert Mitchum did 3 movies with James and 4 with Christopher. He only did this one movie with Bentley but Bentley also appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit with Robert Mitchum in 1987. (Note - All of that data I got from IMDB, if any of it is incorrect let me know!).

I highly recommend Promises to Keep (1985) to the die-hard Robert Mitchum fan who would appreciate the novelty of the three Mitchum dynamic!

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received Promises to Keep (1985) from Warner Archive for review.

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