Saturday, May 30, 2015

Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Theodora Goes Wild is our third and last Romantic Comedy from the 1930s. This film is an absolute delight from start to finish. Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas give sparkling performances not to be missed.

Full Movie!!!

In the film, Dunne plays Theodora Lynn, a wholesome, small-town girl who lives with her two maiden aunts, Aunt Mary and Aunt Elsie, in Connecticut. Unbeknownst to them, Theodora writes risqué novels under the name of Caroline Adams. When one of her stories is printed in the town's local paper, the Lynnfield Bugle, it's citizens, including her aunts, protest and force the paper to stop running it. Theodora finds it amusing that her work has the town all in a frenzy.


Theodora goes to New York to visit her publisher (she tells her aunts she's visiting her uncle). He wants her to do some publicity for her book, which of course she can't do without revealing who she really is. During her meeting she meets the illustrator of her book cover, Michael Grant (played with zest by Melvyn Douglas). He finds it funny that the author of such a racy book is so unworldly. This of course makes Theodora mad and she sets off to prove him wrong. First she gets drunk and then she goes up to his apartment, where he scares her off - and proves his point - by his advances.

Next we find Theodora back in her hometown when who should show up by Grant. He gets himself hired as her aunt's gardener, under the name of Dubarry. Naturally the two end up falling in love, shocking Theodora's aunts in the process.

My favorite scene, and the scene that made me a Melvyn Douglas fan, is when Theodora visits him in his room in the back yard.
My favorite scene
When Grant realizes he is in love with Theodora, he goes back to New York. Theodora follows, only to run into his father and find out that Grant is already married! She also finds out that he can't divorce his wife as it would ruin his father's career. Theodora decides to do something about it. First, she moves into Grant's apartment, causing him to move out. Then she has her publisher reveal her identity as an authoress. This shocks her aunts and her entire hometown. What has become of their church-going, Sunday school teaching, organ playing Theodora?

Theodora's actions lead Grant's wife to file for divorce. Then she returns to Lynnfield - with a baby! Her aunts are shocked but ready to take her back in. In all the confusion, Grant shows up. He also thinks the baby is Theodora's!! She straightens them all out by telling them that the baby belongs to her friend, who had secretly married her sweetheart at Theodora's urging.
This film is a must to watch, especially if you are an Irene Dunne fan! Dunne almost turned down the role because she was afraid it might damage her good-girl image. I'm glad she didn't! She is perfect in this role (which incidentally was her first comedy) and received an Oscar nomination for it (she lost to Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld). Douglas is the perfect leading man (he has been compared to William Powell but never achieved the star status that Powell did). Some people find his silliness in the film annoying but it was that aspect that made me love him in this part.
Dunne's Wardrobe by Bernard Newman


Douglas and director Richard Boleslawski touching up Dunne's make-up
In Douglas's autobiography, he recounts a story about Dunne - she wasn't excited enough on one of her entrances. Boleslawski crept up behind her just as she was about to enter and fired a blank cartridge from a hand gun. If you watch the movie, you will "be rewarded with one of the most breathless, bewildered on-camera entrances ever recorded" (See You at the Movies: The Autobiography of Melvyn Douglas. Melvyn Douglas & Tom Arthur. 1986. 110).

Douglas and Dunne at the premiere
A car ad featuring Dunne as Theodora
Our next film also features Melvyn Douglas. To learn more about this underrated actor, read Robert Osborne's article on him here.

TCM - Theodora Goes Wild
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Bob Hope!!!

Happy 112th Birthday Bob!
Bob and Bing playing golf
Bob Hope's golf cart

Bob and Bing in one of their "Road" movies
Suggestions to watch

Suspenseful (and funny) - My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Just funny - Son of Paleface (1952)

Suggestion to read

This book is hilarious!!! I pretty much laughed out loud from beginning to end.
I highly recommend it.

Suggestions to eat

All images found via Pinterest

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Duke!

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Today is John Wayne's birthday. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day. June 11th is the anniversary of Wayne's death. John Wayne and America go together like... well you know all the clichés. Not only does he GO with America, he IS America.

Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I'm not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.
*  *  *  *  *
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa in 1907. When his brother was born, she took Marion's middle name and made it his brother's first name, changing Marion's middle name to Mitchell. Marion, however, was usually called Duke, a nickname he acquired from the family dog, whose name was Duke.

Duke with his brother, Robert and his father, Clyde Morrison.
The family moved to Southern California, due to his father's health. There, Duke attended USC on a football scholarship. He got a summer job as a prop man, where he met the great director John Ford. He also got two more name changes. His middle name was mistakenly printed as Michael, which Duke liked better. Then, in 1930 after he had started in pictures, the studio came up with John Wayne.
Wayne's first on-screen role was that of a football player in Brown of Harvard (1926). This was followed by a string of uncredited roles until The Big Trail in 1930. He was in a string of B-Westerns, even playing a singing cowboy at one point (these are the ones always included in the John Wayne DVD sets). Wayne's breakout role did not come along until 1939, when John Ford asked him to play the part of the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach. We all know the entrance. It's a true moment of cinematic history.

Wayne appeared in several more unmemorable films over the next few years. Some of these films, which were vehicles for their leading ladies, are now remembered primarily as a John Wayne picture: The Spoilers (1942) starring Marlene Dietrich, Reunion in France (1942) starring Joan Crawford, A Lady Takes a Chance (1943) starring Jean Arthur, and Without Reservations (1946) starring Claudette Colbert. In They Were Expendable (1945), leading man Robert Montgomery was top-billed and in Fort Apache (1948) it was Henry Fonda.

Some of his better known films during this time in which Wayne was top-billed include The Flying Tigers (1942), The Fighting Seabees (1944), Back to Bataan (1945), and Angel and the Badman (1947). Out of these, only Angel and the Badman isn't a war film.

In 1948, Wayne had another breakthrough in his career when he played the aging Dunson in Red River. After this film, his career really took off: The Three Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Rio Grande (1950), Operation Pacific (1951), Flying Leathernecks (1951), The Quiet Man (1952), Hondo (1953), and several others. Then...

The Searchers

The Searchers (1956) is perhaps the greatest Western of all time. Set against the backdrop of Monument Valley, it tells the story of a man who is looking for his niece who was captured by the Comanche. It is based on a true story. It was also John Wayne's favorite role. He even named one of his sons after his character, Ethan Edwards.

The film has a beautiful score by Max Steiner. You can purchase (and listen to) the individual tracks here. My favorites are tracks 1,2, 35, & 36.

What makes a man to wander?
What makes a man to roam?
What makes a man leave bed and board
And turn his back on home?
Ride away, ride away, ride away
A man will search his heart and soul,
Go searchin' way out there
His peace of mind he knows he'll find,
But where, O Lord, Lord where?
Ride away, ride away.
The Searchers did not do well at the time of release and was surprisingly not nominated for any awards. It as since then though become a classic and holds a special place in the heart of every John Wayne fan.
The West - the very words go straight to that place of the heart where Americans feel the spirit of pride in their western heritage - the triumph of personal courage over any obstacle, whether nature or man.

After The Searchers, John Wayne appeared in many other films that are fondly remembered. Some of my favorites are Rio Bravo (1959), North To Alaska (1960), The Comancheros (1961), The Longest Day (1962), Donovan's Reef (1963), McLintock! (1963), and El Dorado (1966).

John Wayne won his first Oscar (he had been nominated previously for Sands of Iwo Jima and his picture The Alamo, which he directed and starred in, was nominated for Best Picture) for his portrayal of a U.S. Marshall in True Grit (1969). He repeated his role in Rooster Cogburn (1975), with Katharine Hepburn as his leading lady.

John Wayne's final film was The Shootist (1976) with Lauren Bacall and Ron Howard. It's about a gunfighter dying from cancer.

John Wayne would himself die to lung and stomach cancer due to years of smoking (nobody could make blowing out a match look sexier than the Duke could). He died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72. He was a true American hero.

The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

John Wayne Westerns Flowchart

Trying to figure out which John Wayne film you want to watch this evening in honor of the Duke's birthday. In the mood for one of his Westerns but can't decide which one you want to watch? Look no further than The Official Collector's Edition John Wayne magazine Volume 3. It has a handy flowchart to "help you select a John Wayne Western for any mood."

Sorry don't get it done, Dude.
~ as John T. Chance in Rio Bravo (1959)


Happy Birthday Duke!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

If You Could Only Cook (1935)

*Sorry this post has been so long in coming. I've gotten frightfully behind! I had wanted to re-watch this film before posting but just couldn't seem to ever make it to the library.

If You Could Only Cook (1935) stars Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall. It was directed by William A. Seiter, not a name familiar to most (if any). So how did Columbia get people to see this movie? Robert Osborne explains below: 

In the film, Herbert Marshall plays Jim Buchanan, the head of a large automobile firm. He is unhappy because the Board of Directors will not look at his sleek new car designs. While walking through the park he happens upon Jean Arthur, who plays Joan Hawthorne. She is sitting on a park bench checking the job listings in the paper (it's the Depression you know). She spots a listing for cook and butler positions. The problem is, the job is open to a husband and wife team only. Joan, presuming Jim is also out of work, talks him into applying for the job with her. He decides to play along.

The job is located at the Rossini manor, the home of a former bootlegger, played by Leo Carillo. Rossini has Joan prepare a sauce. She gets the job when, instead of putting garlic directly in the sauce, simply waves it across the top. It's a great scene.

Jim, Joan, Rossini, and his bodyguard

The trouble begins when Joan and Jim are shown to their room. Singular. They solve the problem by Jim sleeping on the adjoining balcony/porch. Also, as Jim knows nothing about being a butler, he sneaks home to get lessons from his own butler. Rossini's bodyguard sees Jim sleeping on the porch and gets suspicious.

Rossini and Joan try to solve the problem

Rossini, suspected that the couple isn't really a couple, begins flirting with Joan. Jim of course doesn't like this all. He goes down to his office and gets his drawings to show Joan, hoping to impress her. Unfortunately, when Jim isn't looking, Joan takes his drawings to his own company and tries to sell them. They think that she stole them and have her arrested.

Rossini then steps in. He realizes that Joan loves Jim and kidnaps Jim, who left to marry his society fiancé when he realized he was getting too deep into things. You'll have to watch the movie to find out how it ends ;)

And now, Robert Osborne's closing thoughts:

TCM - If You Could Only Cook
Another great post on this film
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