Saturday, February 26, 2022

Bette's Hats & Reviews: The Working Man (1933)

Barely a year after George Arliss had requested Bette Davis for his film The Man Who Played God (1932), he "again materialized like a genie" to cast Davis as his spoiled daughter in The Working Man (1933). "It was the first important picture I had made in ages," Bette recalled in her autobiography, The Lonely Life (137). "Mr. Arliss directed me to advantage... He taught me always to think of what came before a scene and what was to come after. Scenes being shot out of sequence are the devil to play. 'Always keep the continuity in your head. It will help.' It did. One had to remember pitches of voice and mood to the fraction so that scenes when juxtaposed would blend. The Working Man was another big success and dignified my struggle [with the studio]."

We meet Bette's character in a cute halter-neck plaid bathing suit, 
complete with matching head scarf.
Bette Davis, whose diction is music to the ears, does good work in the role of Jenny.
~ The New York Times

You can juuuust make out the stripes on this hat.
Bette Davis scores strong. There's delicious humor and the dialogue sparkles.

~ Film Daily 


June 1933 also saw Bette Davis get her first Photoplay cover! An article about The Working Man appeared inside. I've included it below.

Click here to see the rest of Bette's costumes, including the nightgown, from The Working Man. According to the July 1933 New Movie Magazine, the diagonal striped Orry Kelly gown is gray and white chiffon.


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, February 19, 2022

Cinema Wedding Gowns: The Power and the Prize (1956)

This month's gorgeous 1950s wedding gown is from The Power and the Prize (1956) starring Robert Taylor. It was designed by Helen Rose and worn by Niki Dantine (credited as Nicola Michaels).

The gown is strapless with a sweetheart neckline and sheer overlay with a high illusion neckline. It looks like the bodice goes straight into the skirt without a seam (perhaps constructed of long panels). The lace applique flows straight down from the bodice to the skirt. It also decorates the neckline. Note the floral headband with the attached tulle veil edged with floral applique.

The back of the gown. It's difficult to tell if there is applique on the back as well and how far down the skirt it goes. 

The voluminous skirt with what appears to be a short train as she steps up on a stool.

A gorgeous silhouette. It appears that the skirt has several layers for fullness.

Imagine having a wedding gown this gorgeous and then the groom going on a business trip and falling in love with someone else? Actually he was marrying you more for a career move and you didn't love him that way anyway as he was older than you and had known you since you were a kid...

The veil with its delicate edging of appliqued flowers. It appears to be fingertip length.

A look at the undergarments that help give the skirt it's fullness.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Bette's Hats & Reviews: Parachute Man (1933)

Bette has a Southern accent in this movie... it's not good lol.

Bette's 14th movie, and first for 1933, was Parachute Man starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. "I was again a secretary," she writes in her autobiography The Lonely Life, "but I was also the mistress of a racketeer. A typist moll. Warners were vaguely aware, evidently, of a possible niche for me. It took patience on my part" (135).

You can see the texture of the hat in this photo (suede?).
Bette Davis is attractive as Alabama, who speaks with a most decided Southern drawl.

~ The New York Times 

That entrance tho..

Bette Davis is cute, photographically and orally, with a Southern accent that gets across.

~ Weekly Variety 


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, February 5, 2022

Royal Film Performance Series: Beau Brummell (1954)

The controversy over the poor choice film of the past several years for the Royal Film Performance came to a head in 1954, with the showing of Beau Brummell, starring Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter Ustinov. It portrayed an embarrassing time in Britain's history and the Monarchy. It also alluded more recent Royal scandals and mishaps, with parallels to the Duke of Windsor (King Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936) and Wallis Simpson. This article outlined the uncomfortable moments:

The scene where the "mad King George III" (Robert Morley) tries to strangle his son, the Prince of Wales (Peter Ustinov), was awkwardly, and noticeably, cut from the film.

"Whoever chose it deserves the Order of the Royal Boot" (source).

The Daily Express also wrote, "Why aren't the organizers satisfied with their yearly achievement of boring the Queen with what they choose to show her? Why this year did they decide to embarrass her instead? Fancy giving your patronage at a film show in which you have to watch [...] your ancestors going mad," [etc.].

Another article asked, "What on earth persuaded the organizers to choose this of all films to show the Queen? Why didn't the Queen's advisers point out that it made fun of the Royal line and made the monarchy into a clown's act? Did the Queen go to the theatre last night, not knowing what she was in for?"

Peter Ustinov, whose portrayal as the Prince of Wales/George IV was part of the controversy, had his own idea of why the film was chosen - "because the committee in charge of such events decided that nothing interested royalty more than royalty. It was only when Robert Morley as George III attempted to strangle me - a most realistic performance - that suddenly a hideous doubt sprang up in the minds of those responsible that the sight of one of the Queen's not-too-distant ancestors attempting to strangle another one in a fit of insanity was perhaps not the happiest of diversions for Her Majesty, and the press the next day bubbled with that particular form of pious hypocrisy which has marked all recent British scandals, large or small" (Dear Me, Peter Ustinov, 1977).

The Duke of Edinburgh was also shocked at the choice. The royals understandable left quickly after the film. I would love to know what the Prince Philip's actual words were ;)

It even led to accusations of the Royal patronage being exploited by the movie magnates in order to line their own pockets, as a film that was attended by the Royals earned as much as £50,000 extra.

The Queen is famous for "keeping calm and carrying on" but she had finally had enough. In 2010, recently declassified documents confirmed the 1954 headlines. Winston Churchill's Private Secretary, David Pitblado, wrote in a memo, "The Prime Minister asked me to look into this when he returned from his audience with the Queen. The Queen had told him what a bad film it was and he, on his own initiative, wanted to see what could be done about it for the future." Another memo written by Sir Frank Lee, the Permanent Secretary at the Board of Trade, said, "There is no doubt at all that the quality of the films shown to HM on the last four occasions (which I have also had the misfortune to attend) ranged from the mediocre down to the vulgar and distressing. The whole evening is a long and garish ordeal; it is not surprising that both HM herself and most outside critics should ask whether the selection of the main film to be shown could not be radically improved." You can read the Daily Mail article here

Suggestions for this improvement were reported in this article:

Producer Alexander Korda, suggested an independent committee that would choose something "more worthy of the occasion which would make the event a more glittering occasion and may be more entertaining for Her Majesty" (source).

There were even rumors of the Queen banning future Royal Film Performances.

It was decided that a someone from outside the movie business would have the final say in the choice of picture. They would also eliminate the stage show and shorten the "meet and greet," so that the length of the evening would be around two hours and forty minutes. This proved to solve the problem, and the Queen was delighted with the choice of film for 1955 (check back next month to see what it was!) and the new shorter format.

Despite the choice of film, the event, which took place on November 11 at the Empire Theatre, was a glittering event. Stars in attendance included Stewart Granger and his wife, Jean Simmons, Peter Ustinov, and some of the usual British stars that attended annually: John Mills, Anna Neagle, Jack Hawkins, and Michael Redgrave. Hollywood stars included Jane Russell, Shelley Winters. Jack Hawkins' son, Nicholas, was chosen to hand the bouquet to HM. J. Arthur Rank, of Rank Films, was also present.

Video of Stars and Royals arriving

Jack Hawkins, the narrator, calls Stewart Granger "Jimmy Granger." Granger's real name was James Stewart. He understandably couldn't use that name in pictures ;)

Clips of the shorts and stage show shown before the film

Their reactions to meeting the Queen were included in this article (sadly, Russell didn't write about her second Royal Film Performance in her autobiography and Winters merely mentions she attended in hers).

This article describes the gowns in a little more detail.

Jane Russell also recalled what she spoke about with Prince Philip:

Much was made of Peter Finch meeting the Queen:

One more article on the evening:

To see some great photos of the evening, Google "Royal Film Performance 1954" and click on "images."

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Movies I Watched in January

Victor Mature in I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

This month... I fell for Kurt Russell. I've seen him in a few things before but never particularly liked him. He looked like he thought he was cool. But after watching Swing Shift I thought he was cute and started watching several of his movies (14 to be exact). I also watched a bunch of his interviews on YouTube and, turns out, he's a really down-to-earth guy with lots of great stories to tell about his seven-decade long career.

My library had Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of A Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, so I checked it out and read it. I would have liked to listen to the audiobook but chapter one was an hour long and I could easily read 3+ chapters in that time. I also started Dear Bob... Bob Hope's Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II written and compiled by Martha Bolton and Linda Hope. I highly recommend it. 

  1. Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) - Joan Crawford, Clark Gable 
  2. *After Tonight (1933) - Constance Bennett & Gilbert Roland
  3. Our Betters (1933) - Constance Bennett & Gilbert Roland, Anita Louise
  4. The Good Earth (1937) - Paul Muni & Luise Rainer 
  5. *Bachelor Mother (1939) - Ginger Rogers & David Niven, Charles Coburn
  6. Women in the Wind (1939) - Kay Francis, William Gargan, Eve Arden
  7. Gambling on the High Seas (1940) - Wayne Morris, Jane Wyman, Gilbert Roland
  8. Irene (1940) - Anna Neagle & Ray Milland, Marsha Hunt
  9. Play Girl (1941) - Kay Francis, Margaret Hamilton, Nigel Bruce
  10. I Wake Up Screaming (1941) - Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar
  11. Silver Queen (1942) - Priscilla Lane & George Brent, Bruce Cabot
  12. Thunder Birds (1942) - Gene Tierney & Preston Foster
  13. Hit the Ice (1943) - Bud Abbott & Lou Costello 
  14. In Society (1944) - Bud Abbott & Lou Costello
  15. It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) - Don DeFore & Gale Storm, Victor Moore, Charlie Ruggles & Ann Harding
  16. Flaxy Martin (1949) - Virginia Mayo, Zachary Scott, Dorothy Malone
  17. Shane (1953) - Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Elisha Cook Jr. 
  18. The War of the Worlds (1953) - Gene Barry, Ann Robinson
  19. Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue (1953) - Richard Todd & Glynis Johns 
  20. The Power and the Prize (1956) - Robert Taylor, Burl Ives, Charles Coburn
  21. *The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) - Harry Belafonte, Ingar Stevens, Mel Ferrer
  22. *The Time Machine (1960) - Rod Taylor & Yvette Mimieux, Alan Young, Sebastian Cabot
  23. *The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (1968) - Dean Jones, Diane Baker, Ellen Janov, Kurt Russell, Morey Amsterdam, Fred Clark
  24. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) - Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Bing Russell
  25. Now You See Him Now You Don't (1972) - Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Jim Backus, Bing Russell
  26. The Strongest Man in the World (1975) - Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Eve Arden
  27. The Quest (1976) - Kurt Russell, Brian Keith, Keenyn Wynn
  28. The Quest: The Longest Ride (1976) - Kurt Russell, Dan O’Herlihy, Woody Strode
  29. Elvis (1979) - Kurt Russell, Shelley Winters, Bing Russell 
  30. Escape from New York (1981) - Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes
  31. Swing Shift (1984) - Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti, Ed Harris
  32. The Mean Season (1985) - Kurt Russell, Mariel Hemingway, Andy Garcia 
  33. The Best of Times (1986) - Robin Williams, Kurt Russell 
  34. *Overboard (1987) - Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Katherine Helmond, Roddy McDowall
  35. Winter People (1989) - Kurt Russell & Kelly McGillis, Lloyd Bridges
  36. Poseidon (2006) - Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss
Love this costume worn by Goldie Hawn in Swing Shift (1984). It says "ice dream."

Least Favorite Film: It took me four days to get through the 82 minute Our Betters (1933). The Quest: The Longest Ride (loosely based on Red River) felt like a TV movie (it was later edited into a two-part episode for the 15-episode TV series The Quest - of which The Quest (1976) was the movie pilot but not included in the episode list). For some reason they put Woody Strode in a hat that hid half of his face.

Favorite Movie: Lots of good movies this month, but I was especially impressed by I Wake Up Screaming and Shane (read my post about Shane here). And of course Swing Shift, which I mentioned above. I also really enjoyed the Kurt Russell as Dexter Riley Disney trilogy, especially the first one, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And I thought he did a great job playing Elvis. His "dance" moves were a little over-enthusiastic and the song choices weren't the best (singing was dubbed by Ronnie McDowell) but I would definitely watch it again. It was fun to see his real-life dad, Bing Russell, playing Vernon Presley.

Favorite Line: Swing Shift (1984) - trying to decide what to do on a Friday night.