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The Marathon Stars Blogathon: Seven Days of Ronald Reagan

When most people hear the name Ronald Reagan, they immediately think of the man who served as 40th President of the United States between 1981 and 1989. They might perhaps recall his «Reaganomics,» his fierce war on drugs, his staunch anti-communist stance and even that one time when he publicly challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. However, for someone like myself — a classic film fan who has no particular interest in political affairs — Ronald Reagan is simply a charming Old Hollywood actor.
 

The first film I ever saw with Ronnie (yes, I call him Ronnie) was Dark Victory (1939), an excellent Bette Davis vehicle directed by the great Edmund Goulding. Then I saw him in a cute little picture called Brother Rat (1938), in which he appeared alongside the first Mrs. Ronald Reagan, the lovely Jane Wyman. After that, I saw him in Storm Warning (1951), a gritty film noir co-starring two of my favorite leading ladies, Ginger Rogers and Doris Day. In between, I also came across a wonderful series of blooper reels produced by Warner Bros. Club for their annual dinner every year from 1935 to 1949. Ronnie appears in a short scene in the 1941 compilation and in quite a few in the 1942 montage, which I have seen countless times already (that «the son of bitch drowned» line gets me every time), as well as in the 1946 and 1947 reels.
 
Naturally, for the purposes of this blogathon, I will not write about Dark Victory, Brother Rat or Storm Warning. Instead, I have selected seven of Ronnie's other pictures from various genres to make my viewing (and hopefully your reading) more interesting.
 
 
1. Knute Rockne, All American (1940)
Biography / Sports | Directed by Lloyd Bacon | With Pat O'Brien, Gale Page and Donald Crisp | Warner Bros.

Knute Rockne, All American follows the true story of Knute Rockne (Pat O'Brien), a Norwegian-born football coach at the University of Notre Dame who revolutionized the game before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1931. In an extraordinary career that spanned the 1920s, Rockne led the «Fighting Irish» of Notre Dame to 105 victories, 12 losses, five ties and three national championships. He is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
 
Ronald Reagan and Pat O'Brien in Knute Rockne, All American

Reagan played the supporting role of George «The Gipper» Gipp, a talented athlete who casually wondered onto Rockne's practice field and proved to be an essential addition to the team. Two weeks after being selected to Walter Camp's All-American team, Gipp contracted pneumonia and soon died of a related infection. Gipp's encouraging speech to his coach right before his death made him almost as legendary as Rockne himself: «Someday when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, but I'll know about it and I'll be happy.»
 
A self-confessed football afficionado, Reagan had always been fascinated with Knute Rockne, especially his father-son relationship with George Gipp. Over lunch in the Warner Bros. commissary one day, he began working on a script for a film based on Rockne's life, envisioning himself as the Gipper. He haunted every office on the lot for months, telling his idea to anyone who would listen, until he heard that the studio was in fact going to make a film about the Notre Dame coach. «When I asked some friends how this had happened they told me I talked too much, that it was a good idea, so Warners bought the rights to Rockne's life story,» Reagan recalled. 

Ronald Reagan as George Gipp
 
The studio considered a number of other young actors to play George Gipp, including William Holden and Dennis Morgan. When Reagan asked Hal B. Wallis for a shot at the role, the producer turned him down, arguing that he «didn't look like the greatest football player of our time.» Reagan abruptly left Wallis's office and returned shortly with several photos of himself in his college football uniform. «Would it surprise you that I'm five pounds heavier than George Gipp when he played at Notre Dame?» he told Wallis. After closely examining the pictures, the producer finally agreed to give him a screen test. Pat O'Brien volunteered to play Rockne in the test and the following day, Reagan was informed that he had won the part. According to Reagan, O'Brien lobbied with Wallis on his behalf, a gesture for which he was always grateful.
 
Knute Rockne, All American premiered at the University of Notre Dame on November 5, 1940 to excellent reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it «one of the best pictures for boys in years,» while Variety described it as «one of the best biographical picturizations ever turned out.» Reagan, who played all his football sequences himself, gripped the hearts of America in Gipper's emotional deathbed scene. Decades later, «Win One for the Gipper» would become a popular motto of his political campaigns. 

Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan
 
Until he got the part of George Gipp, Reagan was, in his own words, «the Errol Flynn of the B pictures,» but with the success of Knute Rockne, All American he finally established himself in A films, winning official studio designation as a star. 
 
 
2. Million Dollar Baby (1941)
Romantic comedy | Directed by Curtis Bernhardt | With Priscilla Lane, Jeffrey Lynn and May Robson | Warner Bros.

Million Dollar Baby begins when aging European heiress Cornelia Wheelwright (May Robson) discovers that her large fortune was the result of her father having defrauded his former business partner, a man by the name of Fortune McAllister. Determined to make things right, Cornelia asks young attorney James Amory (Jeffrey Lynn) to seek out McAllister's only living relative, granddaughter Pamela (Priscilla Lane). Cornelia plans to give her a million dollars, but before she does, she takes a room in Pam's boarding house to find out what kind of a girl she is. Soon, Cornelia is embroiled in her love life too, as Pam tries to decide between her struggling musician boyfriend, Peter Rowan (Ronald Reagan), and the handsome James. 
 
Ronald Reagan and Priscilla Lane in Million Dollar Baby
 
Reagan enjoyed making Million Dollar Baby and was especially pleased to be working with Priscilla Lane and May Robson. However, he found his role rather challenging, as he struggled to learn how to mimic the moves of a real piano player in a believable way. «For two weeks I went to the music department every day and spent hours at a dummy piano, following the hand movements of a pianist at a real piano playing Chopin, and all the music the picture called for,» Reagan later recalled. «A lot of acting is imitation anyway, and I became pretty good as long as the piano remained silent. For a while there I almost convinced myself I could play.»

Million Dollar Baby was not a success upon its opening at the Strand Theatre in New York on May 31, 1941. In his review for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote that the film was «one of the most formula-made pictures ever to come along [...] The dialogue is sprightly, it's true, and larded with glib wisecracks. Yet the comedy is much too pat and suspiciously familiar.» Despite its formulaic plot, Million Dollar Baby is a thoroughly enjoyable film and Ronald Reagan delivers a most endearing performance. 
 
 
3. Kings Row (1942)
Historical drama | Directed by Sam Wood | With Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings and Betty Field | Warner Bros.
 
Written by Casey Robinson, who also adapted Dark Victory, Kings Row revolves around five young people living in a small American town at the turn of the 20th century. There is Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings), a dedicated young doctor; Cassandra Tower (Betty Field), the misunderstood daughter of the creepy Dr. Alexander Tower (Claude Rains); Louise Gordon (Nancy Coleman), the daughter of the sadistic town physician Dr. Henry Gordon (Charles Coburn); Randy Monaghan (Ann Sheridan), a tomboy whose father is a railroad worker; and Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan), a wealthy orphan and Parris's best friend.
 
Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan and Robert Cummings

Just as in Knute Rockne, All American, Reagan's key scene in Kings Row was played in bed. After discovering that his trust fund has been stolen by a dishonest bank official, Drake is forced to work in the railroad yards, where his legs are accidentally crushed by a boxcar. He is immediately taken to the hospital and Dr. Gordon is called in to assist him. Gordon despises Drake for romancing his daughter Louise and decides to punish him by amputating both of his legs. When Drake awakens from the surgery and realizes that his legs are missing, he cries out in shock and horror, «Where's the rest of me?» (Reagan later used this line as the title of his autobiography.)

Reagan knew that this tragic scene would be the hardest he had ever had to play. He rehearsed repeatedly by himself, consulting various surgeons and disabled people, until he realized that, as an actor, he would have to find his own way to interpret the scene. When time came for filming, he whispered to Sam Wood, «No rehearsal — just shoot it.» The director called «Action!» and Reagan said his heartbreaking line while reaching with his hands to feel the covers where his legs should have been, his face marked by both helplessness and despair. His delivery was so effective that Wood decided that there was no need for a retake. «I realized I had passed one of the biggest milestones of my career,» Reagan later recalled.
 
Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan in King Row

Kings Row was based on the best-selling novel by Henry Bellaman, which was initally considered too controversial to film because it dealt with themes of incest, nymphomania, euthanasia and homosexuality. Luckily, Robinson was able to eliminate these «red flags» and write a script that pleased the Breen Office without sacrificing the integrity of the story's troubled message.
 
Upon its premiere on February 2, 1942 at the Astor Theatre in New York, Kings Row was a great success among audiences and critics alike, though the acidic Bosley Crowther notoriously panned the film in his review for The New York Times. According to Crowther, the picture «turgidly unfolds on the screen» and «is one of bulkiest blunders to come out of Hollywood in some time.» At the 15th Academy Awards, Kings Row received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography (Black and White).
 
Robert Cummings, Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan in a publicity still for Kings Row

Kings Row was undoubtedly Reagan's finest hour and it elevated him to the degree of stardom he had dreamed of when he had arrived in Hollywood four years earlier. For the first (and only) time in his career there was talk that he might win an Academy Award. He did not get an Oscar, but even before the film was released, Warner Bros. renewed his contract for seven more years at a considerable increase in salary, anticipating the array of possibilities that a picture like this could open for him. Although Reagan was propelled into the top rank stars after his acclaimed performance in Kings Row, World War II unabled him to capitalize on his success.
 
 
 
4. Desperate Journey (1942)
World War II action-adventure | Directed by Raoul Walsh | With Errol Flynn and Raymond Massey | Warner Bros.

Directed by Raoul Walsh, Desperate Journey follows five of the surviving crew of a downed RAF bomber as they make their way across Nazi Germany, sabotaging and gathering intelligence information. The multinational crew of the Flying Fortress D-for-Danny symbolizes the Allied effort with Australian Flight Lieutenant Terrence Forbes (Errol Flynn); American flying officer Johnny Hammond (Ronald Reagan); Scottish Flight Sergeant Kirk Edwards (Alan Hale); Canadian flying officer Jed Forrest (Arthur Kennedy); and young Englishman Lloyd Hollis (Ronald Sinclair).
 
Ronald Reagan and Errol Flynn in Desperate Journey

As in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row, the showcase scene in Desperate Journey belongs to Reagan. When the airmen are captured by the Germans, the imperious Gestapo Major Otto Baumeister (Raymond Massey) interviews Johnny to learn information about their bomber's technology. Johnny plays to the major's arrogance and outwits him by making up names for airplane parts, such as «thermacockle» and «dermodyne,» right before knocking him unconscious. This enables Forbes to subdue the other German soldiers, allowing the men to search Baumeister's office and find documentation showing a hidden Messerschmitt aircraft factory that could determine the entire outcome of the air war.

In his early days in Hollywood, Reagan referred to himself as «the Errol Flynn of the B pictures,» but in Desperate Journey the two men shared top billing. It was actually Flynn who asked to have Reagan as his co-star in the film, as he felt Ronnie's personality complemented his own. However, Flynn sulked when he was not given the stand-out interrogation scene with Massey and lobbied intensely to get it, much to Reagan's chagrin. Despite a heated argument with Walsh, producer Hal B. Wallis was adamant that the scene was to be shot exactly as written. Nevertheless, the two stars became friends during filming and after the production wrapped, Flynn invited Reagan to his Mulholland Farm for cocktails and dinners.
 
Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn and Arthur Kennedy

Desperate Journey opened at the Stand Theatre in New York on September 25, 1942 to generally poor reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times described the film as «an action melodrama of wildest stripe, deprived of the intensity its subject should have by the bravado of its story and characters.» Errol Flynn's appeal, increased by his ongoing rape trial, contributed to the film's popularity at the box-office and Desperate Journey went on to gross $2 million for Warner Bros. At the 15 Academy Awards, Byron Haskin and Nathan Levinson received a nomination for Best Special Effects.

There were about two weeks of filming left of Desperate Journey when Reagan received a letter from the War Department ordering him to report for active duty to Fort Mason, California. A lot of rescheduling took place to get his final scenes on film, with long shots and shots of his back saved for a double after he was gone. As a second lieutenant in the United States Army Cavalry Reserve, Reagan was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit at the Hal Roach Studio in Culver City, where he joined several other actors, writers, directors and film technicians to work on propaganda war pictures. Unfortunately, Reagan never regained his «stardom» after World War II.
 

5. The Voice of the Turtle (1947)
Romantic comedy | Directed by Irving Rapper | With Eleanor Parker, Eve Arden and Wayne Morris | Warner Bros.

A sanitized version of John Van Druten's wartime Broadway hit, The Voice of the Turtle tells the story of Sally Middleton (Eleanor Parker), a struggling young actress who decides to give up romance after her producer boyfriend, Ken Bartlett (Kent Smith), ends their relationship. After her worldly friend Olive (Eve Arden) stands up Bill Page (Ronald Reagan), a sergeant on a weekend furlough, to go out with her old Naval Commander boyfriend Ned Burling (Wayne Morris), Sally agrees to a date with the soldier. When Bill has trouble getting a hotel, he ends up spending the weekend at Sally's apartment. Despite her vow never to become involved again, Sally and Bill inevitably fall in love, as the heavy winter rains give way to a sunshiny spring.
 
Ronald Reagan and Eleanor Parker in The Voice of the Turtle

Reagan was not the first choice for the male lead in The Voice of the Turtle (Cary Grant was), but he was actually quite perfect for the role. Since he was playing a sergeant, his military image brought an authenticity to the film, not to mention his «ingratiating naiveté,» which was not characteristic of Grant. Although they had never met, Reagan was delighted to be working with Eleanor Parker, who had been signed to Warner Bros. in 1941, at the tender age of 18. Ads for the film called the new team of Reagan and Parker «A woo-some two-some!»

One of the best scenes in the film requires Reagan to help Parker with the zipper on the back of her dress. The zipper refuses to cooperate and his attempt at getting it unstuck using pliers causes the dress to fall to the floor, leaving an embarrassed Parker in her slip, while the impish Reagan, looking mildly apologetic, clearly enjoys the view. It is also up to Reagan to solve the mystery of title when he recites a Biblical quote taken from the Song of Solomon: «The winter is past and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land» — he quickly explains, «Turtle doves.»
 
Ronald Reagan and Eleanor Parker

The Voice of the Turtle opened at Warner Theatre in New York on December 25, 1947 to excellent reviews from critics. Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times considered that the film was «in many ways much more satisfying than the John Van Druten comedy,» adding, «The Voice of the Turtle is, in short, a very pleasant entertainment and proof sufficient that Hollywood can, when it wills, do anything as well as the theatre can and, perhaps, even somewhat better.» Edwin Schallert from the Los Angeles Times enthusiastically described it as «one of the brightest comedies of the season.» For their part, Variety called it «an infectious, fluffy mirth-maker with sturdy box-office prospects.»
 
 
6. The Hasty Heart (1949)
World War II action | Directed by Vincent Sherman | With Patricia Neal and Richard Todd | Warner Bros.

Set against the backdrop of battle-torn Burma in 1945, The Hasty Heart tells the story of several multinational wounded soldiers at a makeshift British military hospital set up in the jungle. These include Yank (Ronald Reagan), the American; Tommy (Howard Marion-Crawford), the Englishman; Kiwi (Ralph Michael), the New Zealander; and Corporal Lachlan MacLachlan (Richard Todd), the Scotsman, who is dying of kidney failure. All soldiers are under the care of a beautiful Canadian nurse, Sister Margaret Parker (Patricia Neal).
 
Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal in The Hasty Heart
 
Reagan spent four months in England filming The Hasty Heart, during Britain's worst winter in more than twenty years. Based on John Patrick's eponymous play, this was the first picture to be shot entirely at the recently rebuilt Associated British Pictures Corporation (ABPC) studios in Elstree, Hertfordshire. The company was partly owned by Warner Bros. and had served as a camouflage headquarters during World War II. Warners decided to make the film in England because of post-war rules dictating that money earned by American pictures could not be taken out of England, but could be used in productions filmed there.

According to director Vincent Sherman, cast and crew got along extremely well. In England, the movie studios did not operate on Saturdays, so the stars were able to relax over the weekends. Neal would later write of this time, «Fortunately, we got along well enough to choose each other's company even when we were not working. We would have dinner and even go dancing at some of the local dance halls. [...] Ronnie was a delightful and interesting companion.» While Neal was in England, her friend Helen Morton entrusted her English suitor, Hamish Thomson, to her. On an outing with Neal and Reagan, Thomson asked Reagan what he would like to be more than anything else in the world. Reagan laughingly replied, «The president of the United States.»

Ronald Reagan and Richard Todd
 
The Hasty Heart opened on December 2, 1949 to generally positive reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, «Out of John Patrick's somewhat limited but eminently moving play [...] Warner Brothers has fashioned an equally winning and poignant film.» Variety considered that the original play «has grown in range of feeling on the screen» and praised the principal cast, especially Richard Todd, who went on to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the film. Apparently, Jack Warner was so impressed with Reagan and Neal's interaction in The Hasty Heart that he contemplated pairing them in another picture right away. However, there was to be no other film that the two would do together.


7. The Winning Team (1952)
Biography | Directed by Lewis Seiler | With Doris Day, Frank Lovejoy and Eve Miller | Warner Bros.
 
The Winning Team stars Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander, a telephone line repairman who becomes a leading baseball pitcher. An accident while playing baseball as a young man has caused him to suffer from double vision and the results of the injury rise unepectedly. After serving in World War I and at the peak of his baseball career, he begins suffering from epileptic seizures and a doctor suggests he quit baseball and live a quiet life with his wife Aimee (Doris Day). Grover, however, ignores the advice and refuses to tell anyone that anything is wrong. Soon, his playing is affected and there are rumors that he has a drinking problem. After his wife leaves him, Grover really becomes an alcoholic and ends up working at a carnival sideshow. Luckily, Aimee learns of her husband's epilepsy just in time to help him rise back to the top of the game.
 
Doris Day and Ronald Reagan in a publicity still for The Winning Team
 
As mentioned before, Reagan was an avid sports fan. He was a member of the Eureka College football team and worked as a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs (where Alexander played between 1918 and 1926) before entering the film industry in 1937. A few years earlier, Reagan had begged Jack Warner to let him star as pitcher Monty Stratton in The Stratton Story (1949), but the mogul insisted that audiences did not want to see pictures about «cripples.» After that film became a success, Warner agreed to make The Winning Team with Reagan in the lead.

Although Reagan still looked youthful at 41, and while Alexander is called «the old man of baseball» in the climatic 1926 World Series scene, Reagan was too old to play Alexander in his prime, especially at the beginning of the film when he is supposed to be a «young man» repairing telephone lines. Nevertheless, he dedicated himself to the role. For three weeks before filming began in mid-December 1951, he trained with Jerry Priddy of the Detroit Tigers, Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians and Arnold «Jigger» Statz, a contemporary of Alexander. As Reagan later recalled, they taught him «the difference between throwing from the mound and just throwing.»

Ronald Reagan and Doris Day
 
The Winning Team premiered on June 7 in Springfield, Missouri, before opening at the Mayfair Theatre in New York on June 20, 1952. Although popular at the box-office, critical reviews were generally mixed. The Hollywood Reporter called it «a moving semi-biography of a man,» adding that «Reagan is excellent as Alex [and] Miss Day gives her finest dramatic performance to date, playing Aimee with sensitivity and understanding.» In contrast, the New York Herald Tribune wrote, «Reagan's performance of Alexander consists of being bland or troubled according to the turns of the plot, plus imitating a pitcher's windup on many occasions. Miss Day is a straight and narrow version of a fretful but loving wife.»

The Winning Team was the last of 40 films Reagan made under contract to Warner Bros., his employer for 15 years. He appeared in only eight more pictures before ending his Hollywood career in 1964, including the World War II drama Hellcats for the Navy (1957), co-starring his second wife, Nancy Davis. Along with The Voice of the Turtle and The Hasty Heart, The Winning Team was one of the post-war pictures Reagan was most proud of.
 

After seven days of discovering Ronald Reagan, I can truly call myself his fan. My favorite out of the seven films I watched for this blogathon is definitely The Voice of the Turtle. It is such a lovely film. Ronnie and Eleanor Parker have amazing chemistry and Eve Arden, with her sardonic inputs, is a great addition to the picture. My second favorite is Kings Row. Ronnie is flawless in it; he absolutely deserved an Oscar (at least a nomination) for it. The scene when he screams «Where's the rest of me?» just breaks your heart into a million pieces. I also really liked Million Dollar Baby and Desperate Journey. Ronald Reagan may not have been the finest actor in the world, but he was still a very skilled performer and a terribly charming man.
 

This is contribution to The Marathon Stars Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and The Wonderful World of Cinema.
To view all entries, click HERE.



_______________________________________________ 
SOURCES:
An American Life: The Autobiography by Ronald Reagan (Simon & Schuster, 1990)
Doris Day by Eric Braun (Orion Books, 2010)
Eleanor Parker: Woman of a Thousand Faces: A Bio-Bibliography and Filmography by Doug McClelland (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003)
Errol Flynn: The Life and Career by Thomas McNulty (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2004)
Eve Arden: A Chronicle of All Film, Television, Radio and Stage Performances by David C. Tucker (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012)
Exit With Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan by William E. Pemberton (Rutledge, 2015)
Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life by Stephen Michael Shearer (The University Press of Kentucky, 2006)
Ronald Reagan: A Biography by J. David Woodard (Greenwood, 2012)
Ronald Reagan: From Sports to Movies to Politics by Libby Hughes (iUniverse, Inc., 2005)
Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics by Stephen Vaughn (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
The President's Ladies: Jane Wyman and Nancy Davis by Bernard K. Dick (University Press of Mississippi, 2014)

Comments

  1. That was excellent! I really loved the little trivia you gave us for each films, it added a lot to the lot. It's true that Reagan is more remembered as a politician, but let's not forget his "first life". I've seen only one of his films: Santa Fe Trail. A Olivia de Havilland/Errol Flynn's film directed by Michael Curtiz. It was ok, but those you reviewed in your article look more interesting. I should like Desperate Journey, because I've enjoyed every Raoul Walsh's films that I've seen so far.
    Thanks so much for your participation to the blogathon. Don't forget to read my entry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you so much, Virginie. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. :)

      "Santa Fé Trail" was actually one of the films I planned on watching for this blogathon, but then I ended up not seeing it. I'm definitely going to be watching it in the future, though. "Desperate Journey" is really good. If you're interested in seeing more of the films I wrote about, I also reccommend "The Voice of the Turtle" and "Kings Row."

      Delete
  2. I really enjoyed reading this- especially after Nancy Reagan's recent death- Ronald Reagan had such an amazing life and he led a diverse life wearing many labels- actor, govenor, president and even more- I hope to watch one of these films in the near future

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading. :)
      Like I said to Virginie, I recommend "The Voice of the Turtle" and "Kings Row."

      Delete
  3. I've never seen a film starring Reagan - maybe I only caught him in bit parts. I added The Voice of the Turtle and King's Row to my watchlist thanks to your enthusiastic reviews!
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Cheers!
    Le
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! The only Reagan film I've seen is The Hasty Heart; I was surprised at how much I liked it. Thanks to this article I know where to start with more of his movies :)

    -Julia

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very interesting. I think I've only seen him in Dark Victory and Santa Fe Trail, but would definitely like to see Kings Row and Desperate Journey!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another beautifully written post, Catia. Of the films you reviewed, I have seen three (including the infamous Kings Row), plus a handful of others. I must say I am not a fan of Reagan's acting. I was just telling my hubby the other night--after viewing This is the Army, which also stars George Murphy--that Reagan is the William Shatner of his generation, except without the cute comeback. Nevertheless, your post makes me want to give him another try. The Voice of the Turtle looks particularly interesting.

    ReplyDelete

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  At the 3rd Academy Awards ceremony, MGM's hugely successful prison drama The Big House (1930) earned writer Frances Marion an Oscar for Best Writing. Hoping that she would be inspired to repeat that accomplishment, Irving Thalberg, head of production at Metro, sent Marion to Chicago, Illinois to research story ideas. While flicking through the pages of The Saturday Evening Post , she found an article revealing that, in a city where people distrusted the police, a small group of leading citizens met in secret to arrange their own justice for criminals. Marion took inspiration from that story and wrote The Secret Six (1931), in which Wallace Beery and Lewis Stone, stars of The Big House , play two mobsters prosecuted by a half a dozen vigilantes. Thalberg was pleased with the leading roles Marion wrote for Beery and Stone, but asked if she could also fill out one of the minor leads for Clark Gable , a tall, dark and handsome 30-year-old actor whom Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had recen

Merry Christmas from Old Hollywood

Ava Gardner Frank Sinatra Norma Shearer Bob Hope and Doris Day Ann Miller Loretta Young Kim Novak Elvis Presley   Merry Christmas, everyone!

May & June Favorites

I have always wanted to do a «monthly favorites» type of post on this blog, but I kept putting it off some reason or the other. Last year, though, I finally decided to do it. I will be doing one of these every month (or every two months) and I will include literally everything that I have loved or that has made me happy during that time, be it a film, a song, a book, a TV show or even an item of clothing. Here are my May and June favorites.     Favorite TV show: Fleabag (2016-2019) I watched Andrew Scott's interview on The Graham Norton Show (about damn time he was invited!) and one of the things they talked about was his character on a TV show called Fleabag . I had never heard of it, but everyone was raving about it, so I was curious to see it — especially when Andrew's character was called The Hot Priest (I'm not joking, that's the actual name of his character). I binge-watched the whole thing and I am obsessed with it.    Fleabag is honestly one of the best sh

The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon: The Gable & Lombard Love Story

A lot happened in 1932. Gandhi was arrested by the British in India; Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate; Aldous Huxley's  Brave New World  was published; women's suffrage was granted in Brazil; James Chadwick discovered the neutron; Goofy made his first ever appearance in a Disney short; the Summer Olympic Games took place in Los Angeles; the first Mars bar was produced; Babe Ruth performed his famous called shot; the BBC World Service began broadcasting; and the iconic Radio City Music Hall opened in Manhattan. It was also in 1932 that Carole Lombard met Clark Gable for the first time, not knowing each would change the other's life forever.     Jane Alice Peters was born to a wealthy Indiana family on October 6, 1908. When she was seven years old, her parents separated and her mother, Bessie, took her and her two older brothers to live in Los Angeles. Jane grew up a «tomboy» and was passionately involved in sports in middle school