Saturday, October 16, 2021

Bette's Hats and Reviews: The Rich Are Always With Us (1932)

Hat #3

Bette's next film was with Ruth Chatterton in The Rich Are Always with Us (1932). 

We were all terrible rich and Miss Chatterton, being the star, was the richest of us all. I was "the pest of Park Avenue" in love with Mr. [George] Brent both on the screen and off - in both cases unsuccessfully. The film bubbled with wit and sophistication, ad I was thrilled to be appearing with Miss Chatterton (The Lonely Life, 124).

Bette wears four hats in the movie. This one is quite unusual in it's shape,
 with white cord holding it in place.

Overlapping with her previous film by one week, she wrote about her excitement and nervousness at working with such an important star:

The first scene was the interior of a restaurant. Miss Chatterton and Mr. Brent sat at a table and I was to make my way through the tables and greet them in a very chic and secure way. I was actually so terrified of her I literally could not get a word out of my mouth... She kept looking at me in a superior way. I finally - not meaning to - blurted out, "I'm so damned scared of you I'm speechless!"

This broke the ice and we both relaxed. She was most helpful in her scenes with me after that. I never forgot this experience and in later years with young actors were terrified of me, I would always try to help them get over it (125). 

Brent married Chatterton shortly after filming was complete.

I love the silhouette of her costume here, all top-heavy with fur. 
The hat appears to have a shiny black straw brim. 

The NY Times noted: 

Bette Davis also serves this film well.


Davis, Bette. The Lonely Life: An Autobiography. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962.
Ringgold, Gene. Bette Davis: Her Films and Career. Citadel Press. 1966, 1985.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Royal Film Performance Series: The Mudlark (1950)

Truth, Brisbane

The occasion of the fifth annual Royal Film Performance took place on Monday, the 30th of October, 1950 at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. The previous Friday had the coldest recorded temperature since April with the first snow of the year and the evening of the performance was cold and wet. The film chosen was The Mudlark (1950), about a young boy who sneaks into Windsor Castle to meet Queen Victoria, played by Irene Dunne. 

The caption reads: "This startling likeness to Queen Victoria as she was at 56 is achieved by Miss Irene Dunne in the film "The Mudlark," now being made in England. Two hours are needed every morning for make-up, the foundation of which is cosmetic latex (rubber). This enables the make-up to follow the muscles of the face. Grease-paint is laid over the latex" (Chronicle, Adelaide, SA).

There was much controversy about the choice of film, as Queen Victoria was the great-grandmother of the current King, George VI. According to one newspaper article, the committee "dithered delicately over the question whether some scenes were suitable for Royal eyes. For example, John Brown, Queen Victoria's gillie, refers to Her Majesty as 'she,' and criticizes a dress she is wearing. The 'Mudlark' himself, a tattered urchin who breaks into Windsor Castle, sits on the Throne in his rags. He says, ' Course I see'd the Queen. Sat on the bleedin' Throne, too, that's wot.' " In bold the article continues: "The word 'bleedin' ' was deleted and the committee was considering further cuts when word came from the King that he hoped to see the same version of the film as the public would see." It continued, "Queen Mary [mother of King George], who has never attended a post-war Royal film performance, is to have a copy of The Mudlark shown to her privately just before the performance on Monday week."

This wasn't the only controversy. An article by Dick Kisch for The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW) claimed that, due to "the number of rows, temperamental displays, and rivalries" between British actors and "high-powered American glamour girls" over such things as seating arrangements and precedence when it comes to meeting "Their Majesties," this could be the very last "Royal Command Film Show ... staged in Britain." The organizers of the annual Royal Command VARIETY Show complained that the Film Show was "deliberately trying to steal their thunder." These things were obviously settled as the Royal Film Performance is still in existence today (the recent Bond premiere was NOT part of the RFP, which raises money for the Cinematograph Trades Benevolent Fund). 

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA).

Over 8000 people braved the rain - some for over 8 hours - to catch a glimpse of the Royals' arrival. They were not disappointed. Marie Watson reported for The Courier-Mail: "Everyone arrived in their best, and if not owning a chauffeur-driven car, hired a Rolls or a Daimler to pull up in front of the theatre for a 'flashbulb' welcome. When everyone was in their seats, a newsreel man broadcast the arrival in the foyer of the Royal Family, and described their actions" (Watson). The Royal ladies "stole the fashion show" when they "arrived dressed in black frocks, making a dramatic foil to the pastel-hued model gowns and fine jewels chosen by women film stars. The contrast made the Royal trio look more strikingly impressive than they have ever looked before outside full Royal regalia." When they entered the foyer, "people gasped at the similarity of the Queen's and her two daughters' dresses." The Queen was reported as wearing black velvet crinoline, with Princess Elizabeth wearing black georgette and Princess Margaret wearing black net. The reason behind this rare occurrence of Royals wearing black had a simple reason - they were dressed in mourning after the recent death of King Gustav of Sweden. This didn't stop them however from adding some serious Royal jewels: "All three dresses were low cut to display a frosty sparkle of magnificent diamond necklaces. The two Princesses had smoothly coifed hair without ornaments, but the Queen wore a diamond tiara" (The Advertiser, Adelaide, SA). They kept warm with "rich white furs" (The Age, Melbourne). When they "entered the auditorium... a dozen trumpeters in the household dress heralded their arrival" (Watson). 

This article makes you feel like you are actually there. And click here to see the newsreel (no sound). Irene Dunne arrives at the five minute mark. The Royals arrive at seven minutes. This video shows the Royals chatting with the stars afterwards (also no sound). HM the King and James Stewart didn't seem to have much to talk about lol.

There were over fifty stars in attendance that evening, including Irene Dunne (Queen Victoria), Alec Guinness (Disraeli), Andrew Ray (the "Mudlark"), Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Glynis Johns, Richard Todd, Tyrone Power, Montgomery Clift, and - as several newspapers noted - several middle-aged stars, such as Marlene Dietrich (46), Gloria Swanson (52), Claudette Colbert (45), and for the gentlemen, Ray Milland, James Stewart (and family), and John Mills - "It was undoubtedly the evening of the over-40s."

"Marlene Dietrich was in a bouffant pink off-the-shoulder frock. Gloria Swanson wore a slinky black frock, trimmed with fox fur" (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane). "All looked wonderfully glamorous, even under the fierce glare of arc lamps. Dressed in a charming bouffant dress of russet-colored net, embroidered with gold beads, Claudette got almost the biggest hand of the evening when she made her bow on the stage" (The Newcastle Sun, NSW). You can see their gowns well in this video (no sound). 

To read the full article, click here.

Dick Kisch shared the Royals reactions to the film in his November 5th column: The Queen said "I wonder why people always look up to the Royal box to see whether we are laughing at the jokes, before laughing themselves?" Princess Margaret said "It is quite amusing to tour Windsor Castle in picture form." He notes that she did not comment on the scene where "Queen Victoria reads a young Lady in Waiting a moral lesson on  the behavior expected from young ladies in love." Kisch noticed that, although the King and Queen conversed with the artist performers after the show with their usual grace and geniality they refrained noticeably from open comment on the picture itself." 

Brisbane Telegraph

Irene Dunne (46) had actually met the King and Queen privately earlier in the year, during filming. The first American actress to have this opportunity, she was questioned about details of the Windsor Castle set and told "several small interesting details about Queen Victoria. The King also asked many questions about the film. He and the Queen seem very enthusiastic filmgoers. It was a most wonderful experience. The Queen made me feel more of a friend than a visiting actress" (The Sun, Sydney, NSW). After seeing the film, the "King and the Queen told me how much they enjoyed the film." Dunne shared that the "King was particularly interested in the latex cheek pads she wore as part of her make-up in the film" (The Age, Melbourne). Dunne wore pearl-studded lace frock, looking very different than from the film.

Here is a short article about how Dunne prepared for her role.

Andrew Ray, the "Mudlark," is seen below meeting Princess Margaret. When asked by her sister Elizabeth if he enjoyed making the film, he forgot to say "Your Highness." "It's very difficult to remember all these things, isn't it?" she replied with a smile when his father corrected him (The Herald, Melbourne, Vic.). Earlier in the evening, he and his father performed a variety act and he present orchids to the Queen (The Newcastle Sun, NSW).

Princess Margaret meeting Gloria Swanson. Terry Thomas and Richard Todd are in the background.

The reviews of the film were mixed, as seen below: 

The following article outlines the parts of the film that may have been uncomfortable to the Royal Family.

Caftan Woman has written a great post on the film. You can read it by clicking here

Dunne and Ray at a party before the premier (Chronicle, Adelaide, SE).

All newspaper articles pictured and quoted were found on Trove.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Movies I Watched in September

Setsuka Hara in Early Summer (1951)

I basically spent this month finishing up all the movies I wanted to watch from Summer Under the Stars. 
  1. Walpurgis Night (1935-Swedish) - Ingrid Bergman 
  2. Calm Yourself (1935) - Robert Young, Ralph Morgan
  3. Navy Blue and Gold (1937) - Robert Young, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Florence Rice, Tom Brown, Billie Burke, Stanley Morner (aka Dennis Morgan)
  4. Three Loves Has Nancy (1938) - Janet Gaynor, Robert Montgomery, Franchot Tone
  5. The Girl Downstairs (1938) - Franchot Tone
  6. She Couldn’t Say No (1940) - Eve Arden
  7. Obliging Young Lady (1942) - Edmund O’Brien & Ruth Warrick, Eve Arden
  8. Yellow Canary (1943) - Anna Neagle
  9. *The Doughgirls (1944) - Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith, Jane Wyman & Jack Carson, Eve Arden
  10. Blonde Fever (1945) - Mary Astor, Gloria Grahame, Marshall Thompson
  11. Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945) - Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker, June Allyson, Rags Ragland
  12. Out of the Blue (1947) - George Brent, Virginia Mayo, Turhan Bey, Anne Dvorak, Carole Landis
  13. Early Summer (1951-Japanese) - Setsuko Hara
  14. Cloudburst (1951) - Robert Preston, Elizabeth Sellers
  15. Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) - Marilyn Monroe & Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft, Elisha Cook Jr. 
  16. These Wilder Years (1956) - James Cagney & Barbara Stanwyck 
  17. Loving You (1957) - Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, Dolores Hart
  18. Late Autumn (1960-Japanese) - Setsuko Hara 
  19. Early Autumn (1962-Japanese) - Setsuko Hara
A Night at the Movies: Cops & Robbers and Crime Writers (2013)
I am Steve McQueen (2014)

Obsessed with this gown worn by Margaret Rutherford in Yellow Canary (1943)!

Least Favorite Film: I didn't dislike any of them enough to put here.

Favorite Movie: Elvis was so sweet in Loving You. I only have four Elvis movies left, but this was the first one that made me tear up. Especially his scene with Dolores Hart at 1:03:25. Late Autumn was very funny. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Recycled Costume Roundup - September

This month I'm highlighting costumes worn by the same actress in two separate movies. One of the things I share on my blog Facebook page is screenshots of Eve Arden's costumes. A few months ago I shared her costumes in Tea For Two (1950). Then,  a couple weeks ago, I was skipping through The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949) to take screenshots of her outfits (I'd already seen the movie twice previously) and recognized the pajamas she wore. I revisited my FB album and was reminded of all the outfits she wore. As I continued to watch the movie, I noticed two more! That's three costumes that showed up on Eve Arden in two films.


The next two are costumes I've spotted previously, both worn by Patricia Neal. She makes a cameo as herself in It's a Great Feeling (1949) wearing her costume from The Fountainhead (1949). 

The gown also had a matching, fur-lined cloak!

This next one is a wedding gown recycle. I will do a full post on it for my Cinema Wedding Gowns series sometime in the future. Here is Neal in Bright Leaf (1950) and Raton Pass (1951) wearing the same exact gown and veil. The scene is pretty short in Bright Leaf so they probably thought no one would notice.

Lastly, make sure you check out last month's post again. I found a third recycle of Olivia de Havilland's It's Love I'm After gown!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Bette's Hats and Reviews: So Big! (1932)

After her success in The Man Who Played God, Bette Davis was quickly cast is So Big! starring Barbara Stanwyck. She was also cast in The Rich Are Always with Us starring Ruth Chatterton and, for one week, ended up filming both movies at the same time - with Chatterton during the day and Stanwyck at night. It was also her first time working with George Brent (he had a bit part at the end of the Stanwyck movie and was also cast in the Chatterton film - but more about that in the next Bette's Hats and Reviews). 

The NY Times claimed that "Bette unusually competent."

Bette Davis makes a comparatively short role stand out so brilliantly you want to see her again and Warners' "New Gable," George Brent, makes his screen bow.

~ Movie Mirror, May 1932

Davis, Bette. The Lonely Life: An Autobiography. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962.
Ringgold, Gene. Bette Davis: Her Films and Career. Citadel Press. 1966, 1985.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cinema Wedding Gowns: H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)

This month's wedding gown comes from H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) starring Robert Young, Hedy Lamarr, and Ruth Hussey. The film has several flashbacks, one being the wedding between Young and Hussey. Being that the PRESENT is probably 1941, we have another historically incorrect gown, as the wedding would have taken place in the late 20s and this is decidedly 40s. 

This is all we get to see of the silk gown. It has a wrap-front bodice and what looks to be long sleeves. The shoulders are padded. Hussey wears a strand of graduated pearls and carries a bouquet of roses, orange blossoms, and baby's breath (?)

The veil is gathered tulle attached to a pointed wire tiara covered in wax flowers. I like how we get to see the back of the frame. 

White kid gloves. Isn't it neat how the ring finger can come off without removing the entire glove? Notice that the groom is also wearing gloves. 

One of the guests is wearing Judy Garland's dress from Strike Up the Band (1940). I only noticed this because I have a four-cd set of Judy's (Mickey & Judy) with this picture on the front. Notice the ruffle on the sleeves has been tucked under. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sunshine Blogger Award

Hamlette's Soliloquy was kind enough to nominate me for a sunshine blogger award recently so, without putting it off, here are the rules and the answers to her interesting questions :)

  1. List the rules
  2. Display the Official Logo in the post
  3. Thank the person who nominated you (thanks Rachel!)
  4. Link their blog
  5. Answer their questions
  6. Nominate up to 11 bloggers
  7. Ask them 11 questions
Here are my answers to Hamlette's questions:

1. What was your favorite movie when you were 10 years old? I loved The Wizard of Oz when I was little. My dad would call me whenever it came on TV.

2. What's your favorite movie now? I usually say White Christmas (1954) or - for a non-Christmas movie - Rio Grande (1950). If I'm talking to someone who doesn't know old movies, I say Rocky (1976). I have two Rocky t-shirts. 

3. What would be your dream cast for an adaptation of your favorite book? My favorite book has been Enemy Brothers by Constance Savory ever since I read it as a teen, but I have trouble imagining the characters as actors. Also, I would never want it made into a movie because Hollywood would ruin it lol. I took a long time to watch the Narnia movies because I didn't want to mess up the pictures in my head. I usually want to cast Henry Cavill as the love interest though. 

4. What's your favorite movie soundtrack? White Christmas (1954). Favorite song from the soundtrack (of which I had to make my own as there's no official version) is "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing."

5. Do you have a favorite movie-watching snack? I typically eat a snack of some sort while watching the next episode of whatever TV show I'm currently watching but if we have ice cream in the house I'll have that. Lately it's been Lance White Cheddar crackers though because I'm getting hungry from starting my movie too late. Unfortunately it's too hard to eat cereal (hard to hear plus you have to keep adding more cereal or milk and a table is needed). 

6. Who is your favorite person to watch movies with? I watch most of them by myself so I can cry if I need to but otherwise my brothers. Nothing worse than trying to wipe away tears streaming down your face without anyone noticing!

Me (far right) and my siblings watching a movie in the 90s.

7. Is there a hairstyle in a movie that you've always wished you could pull off? Since I don't have thick luxurious hair I'm envious of most of them. I wish I could pull off Audrey Hepburn's Roman Holiday do.

8. What movie animal would you like as a pet? The puppy in The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963). It's so tiny and cute!

9. What movie house would you like to stay in on vacation? Probably the Christmas in Connecticut (1945) house. Then I would know what color everything was!

10. What's the oldest movie you've watched? The earliest one on my list that is over 45 minutes (my personal minimum running time requirement to be added to my movie list) is The Pilgrim (1923) by Charlie Chaplin. The first one over an hour long is Too Many Kisses (1925) starring Richard Dix and William Powell (it beats Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) - which was also the first silent movie I saw a part of - by a few months). 

11. What's the newest movie you've watched? Jungle Cruise (2021). It was such a fun film! Emily Blunt is my favorite current actress.

Instead of nominating anyone, I'm just going to ask some questions and whoever wants to answer them can do so, either on their blog (send me your link if you do!) or in the comments below.

Here are my questions:
  1. Did you watch more movies or less movies than normal last year?
  2. Latest movie star obsession:
  3. A black and white movie you wish was in color, or vice versa: 
  4. What is something else you are interested in (aside from old movies)?
  5. Something you’ve seen in an old movie you’ve always wanted to do or try:
  6. A fellow classic movie fan says that your favorite genre is their least favorite. What movie would you suggest to ease them in?
  7. What is YOUR least favorite film genre?
  8. Who would you cast as Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys in a TV series (any decade)? 
  9. Have you ever gone out of your way while on vacation to see a movie location or movie star grave? If you do this often, what was the first one?
  10. Have you ever purchased an item because it was exact or similar to a movie prop?
  11. First TV show you remember watching?
I nominate YOU!