Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

My Classic Movie Pick: Sergeant Rutledge

Today’s post is for the  John Ford Blogathon.  If you aren’t too familiar with John Ford, he was a film director and considered one of the best in his field.  This blogathon is being hosted by Krell Laboratories  and Bemused and Nonplussed.  Be sure to visit those two blogs to read more great posts about director John Ford and about his movies.


JF Blogathon

Ford directed many movies and he began his career during the silent movie era and continued to direct until 1976.  I’ve included his info from IMDB if you want to read more about his rich movie-making  career.

In 1960 he directed a simple film, simple that it wasn’t one of his storied long films.  Simple in that the plot was very straightforward.  Simple in that the lead actors weren’t his usual well-knowns, such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, or Maureen O’Hara.  The film I chose to write about is Sergeant Rutledge.  Its main stars were Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, and Constance Towers.  Sgt. Rutledge poster 1

Sergeant Rutledge is set in the west of the 1880s and it  tells its tale mostly through a series of flashbacks.  Sergeant Braxton  Rutledge( Woody Strode)  is a member of the 9th Calvary, which was also nicknamed the Buffalo soldiers; made up entirely of black men serving their country.   The movie opens  in a courtroom because Sergeant Rutledge is on trial.  The trial is a court-martial for  Sergeant Rutledge and he   has been accused of two horrific crimes: the murder of his Commanding Officer, Major Dabney, and  the rape and murder of Dabney’s teen daughter.

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to link Sergeant Rutledge to the crimes but as we see through the flashbacks, he is an upright and innocent man.  Lieutenant Tom Cantrell(Jeffrey Hunter) is the officer in charge of the 9th Calvary and it is his duty to arrest Sergeant Rutledge and take him to the fort’s prison to await the trial.  As members of the 9th Calvary and Lt. Cantrell are about to take in Sergeant Rutledge, he is able to escape on his horse   which forces  the 9th Calvary to go after him.

Sergeant Rutledge finds a train depot to hide out at;it’s in the middle of a dry, nowhere place.  Here he meets by accident a lady traveler, Mary Beecher(Constance Towers).  She has arrived at the depot to await her father but when she finds the station agent, she is horrified to discover that he’s dead!   Wandering outside the station, it’s now  nighttime, wondering what she should do,  she is grabbed by the Sergeant in order to keep her quiet-she doesn’t realize that the depot is surrounded by Apaches and that she and the Sergeant will have to use their wits in order to get away from the depot without being killed.  Part of that scene is available to watch here.

Sergeant Rutledge  and Mary are able to get away safely and meet up with Lt. Cantrell and the rest of the 9th Calvary.  The sergeant is able to warn them about a possible Apache attack  and towards the end of that scene, as a fellow calvary comrade, Moffat, lies dying from his wound in Sergeant Rutledge’s arms, is a moving discussion between the two men as to why they should keep on fighting for the US Calvary.  That scene is here.

As the trial begins, we see that Lt. Cantrell will be Sergeant Rutledge’s defense attorney.  Despite Mary Beecher’s testimony in favor of the Sergeant’s character, and the same from Sergeant Skidmore, Rutledge’s worst fears are realized by the work of  a hostile prosecutor and from  the community that lives in the town closest to the fort; already stirred up and convinced of the black sergeant’s guilt.  Despite these serious issues, the trial doesn’t turn out as Sergeant Rutledge thinks it will.

Woody Strode was a native of Los Angeles and a star football player on 1939′s UCLA team.   He was also one of two black men to first ever play in the NFL, joining the Los Angleles Rams in 1946.   Acting came easily to him and with his commanding presence and athletic build, he was a natural for the camera’s eye.  He is strong, stoic, courageous, and cautious as Sergeant Rutledge.  It was his first role to be the lead and he handled it excellently.

Jeffrey Hunter, who had appeared in John Ford’s more famous film, The Searchers, is good as Lt. Cantrell.  He is sincere in his beliefs that his 9th Calvary men are just as equal to serve in the US Calvary as white men are.   He is sure that Sergeant Rutledge is innocent of the horrific crimes he is accused of and is determined to defend him to the best of his abilities.  Lt. Cantrell also can’t help falling in love with Mary Beecher, so there is a touch of romance in the film, too.

Constance Towers is beautiful and gives  a terrific performance as Mary Beecher.  She conveys so much with her eyes.  She is the main female in this world inhabited mostly by men and she is strong, not willing to hide behind her femininity or to use it for her own betterment, disregarding the other people in this world she didn’t purposely enter.

Look for wonderful supporting actors Juano Hernandez as Sergeant Skidmore and a scene-stealing Billie Burke(Glenda the Good Witch herself!) as Cordelia Fosgate.

Sergeant Rutledge is available through Turner Classic Movies Shop in a 5 dvd set of some of John Ford’s films.   It is also available to purchase through Amazon or to watch it through their instant rent program.   The OV Guide also has the film available to watch online, for free.

Filmed in the spare yet beautiul Monument Valley area of Utah, see Sergeant Rutledge for a John Ford film that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.  I’ll close this blog out with some more photos from the film.

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell


Constance Towers as Mary Beecher

Constance Towers as Mary Beecher






My Classic Movie Pick: Kisses for my President

With the possibility that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2016, there is a classic movie that will run on June 30th on Turner Classics that already tackled that topic, a woman President for the United States.

In 1964, Kisses for my President, opened at theatres around the country.  Made by Warner Brothers and starring Polly Bergen as the President and  Fred MacMurray as the First Gentleman.  It’ s a fun exercise about the what ifs of a woman sitting in the Oval Office and the perplexities her husband runs into as the first, First Gentleman of the land.

kisses for my president poster

Leslie McCloud(Bergen) has just been sworn in as President and her husband, Thad(MacMurray), and their two children, Gloria(Anna Capri) and Peter(Ronnie Dapo) are being ushered  into the First family’s  Living Room.  There is a humorous moment when the first couple discover that the President has a very masculine decorated bedroom and the First Gentleman has a very feminine bedroom.    That scene can be viewed here.

As the plot continues, Leslie is extremely busy dealing with issues and doesn’t have as much time for her husband or her children.  There is also a Senator Walsh(Edward Andrews) who covets the White House for himself and  he doesn’t like the fact that there is a woman President.  He’s out to foil Leslie’s Presidency.  There is also a South American dictator( Eli Wallach), Valdez, who arrives in Washington to ask for money.  Leslie asks Thad to show the dictator around town which turns into a misunderstood news story about a bored First Gentleman whooping it up with Valdez.  Senator Walsh is only too happy to use this event as a way to get at Leslie and chip away at her power.  The two children who feel ignored by their parents  begin to get into trouble and then there is Doris Reid(Arlene Dahl).  Doris is a wealthy businesswoman who lives in Washington and just so happens to be Thad’s first love!  She slinks her way into the White House, putting 2 and 2 together: wife is too busy, Thad is lonely and doesn’t know what his role is, so Doris makes a plan to get Thad alone and to try and reignite their past romance, which she reminds Thad  that Leslie stole him from her.

Here are two more clips from the film: MacMurray, in his pjs,  accidentally gets lost looking for the dining room and he encounters tour groups.  Clip One.      The second clip is Arlene Dahl starting to zero in on MacMurray.  Clip Two.

Kisses for my President is pure comedy.  It’s not a serious drama and perhaps audiences in 1964 wouldn’t want to see the topic of a woman president presented in any other way?  The film was conceived by Robert G. Kane and he also wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon.  Curtis Bernhardt produced and directed the film.    As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the film will air June 30th at 9:00 am EST/8:00 am CST, so be sure to set your dvr to record it.  It is available to buy from TCM’s Shop, and  it is available through Amazon and their instant rent.  Youtube has two clips from the film that can be viewed here and here.

kfmp poster 2

My Classic Movie Pick: In Like Flint, for the 1967 Movies Blogathon

When I learned  that classic film bloggers Silver Screenings and The Rosebud Cinema  declared June 20-22 as 1967 in Film Blogathon, I jumped at the chance to write about a film from that year.    Be sure to visit these wonderful blog sites to read about more films that premiered in 1967.   1967 in Film Blogathon I have always enjoyed a spy caper movie.  When the first James Bond flick  Dr. No hit the movie screens in 1962, it was a huge,smashing success.  It only cost $1,000,000 to make the film but it raked in much more in profits.  Hollywood took notice and more spy movies went into production to capitalize on this new movie genre. 1966, two screenwriters, Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, wrote a film plot centering on a new American  super spy named Derek Flint.   20th Century Fox loved the idea and asked Daniel Mann to direct.  Lee J. Cobb was signed to play the super spy’s boss, Lloyd Cramden and James Coburn was hired to play the super spy, Flint.   This first film, Our Man Flint, did great at the box office and that led to 20th Century Fox making a sequel, 1967′s In Like Flint, with the change of Gordon Douglas for director, and only Fimberg wrote this second film’s screenplay.

1565in_like_flint In the first film, Flint takes some fun jabs at 007 and  his gadgets,  shows he is cooler than cool, a master of disguise, a karate master, and a charmer of the ladies.  He has a trio of scientists to deal with as the main baddies.  In 1967′s sequel, the times were changing and this was reflected in the plot, pitting our super spy against a group of feminists who want to take over the running of the world!

These ladies are using their make up corporation Fabulous Face as a front for their plans, and using their spa resort in the Virgin Islands as their secret base.   The ladies have successfully kidnapped the US President(Andrew Duggan), replaced him with an actor who has had  plastic surgery to make him look like the President, made Flint’s boss Cramden look like a scandal swamped idiot who has to be put on administrative leave, and have sent two Russian lady cosmosnauts into space in order to gain control of a new space platform.   Their last goal, to replace male world leaders with strong females, is in the works when Flint has to infiltrate their HQ’s and stop them.    It was fun to see Anna Lee, British actress and one who usually played such polite, gentle characters get to play the leader of these feminist baddies!

Lee J. Cobb is good as the spy boss, head of Z.O.W.I.E., which stands for Zonal World Organization Intelligence Espionage.  He admires Flint’s skills but also is frustrated with him because Flint often goes it alone on missions, refusing the gadgets offered to him.  Flint doesn’t use a gun, he relies on his karate skills, and at times, he reminded me of a proto-type for MacGyver, without all the girls! Flint has a cool jet, a fab apartment with the latest 1967 home furnishings, and 3 ladies who take care of him at home.  In the first film, he had 4 ladies caring for him and as Flint meets with Cramden(Cobb) in the second film, Cramden asks about those 4 ladies and is told that they all got married!

Flint’s new ladies, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get tricked into going to the spa run by Fabulous Face in the Virgin Islands.  The spokeslady for Fabulous Face, Lisa(Jean Hale) has a plan to brainwash Flint’s 3 ladies into believing that women should run the world, that men are worthless.  However, Flint’s 3 gal pals are immune to the brainwashing so into cryogenic shower stalls  they go for future efforts.

Flint's gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Flint’s gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Meanwhile, Flint is in Moscow trying to find out about the cosmonauts and the new space platform.  He gets to be in a Moscow Ballet number with their star ballerina, Natasha(Yvonne Craig-tv’s future Batgirl) and then back at her place, in between kisses, tries to discover what the Russians are up to.  He realizes he has to get to the Virgin Islands, to that spa where his 3 ladies are being kept prisoner.  Fabulous Face holds the key.  The closest a Russian plane can fly to the Virgin Islands, in 1967, was Cuba, so in a jab at communists, he dons a Fidel Castro outfit, with beard and dark sunglasses and boards a plane to Cuba.  I caught the jab as all the passengers on the plane looked like Castro,  the stewardess was a plain, sturdy woman, and they had to share their seating area with crates of chickens!

Flint's time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Flint’s time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Cramden, in Washington D.C., with the help of  young  Lieutenant Avery(Thomas Hasson), has discovered that the Z.O.W.I.E. office has been bugged, that the President is a fake, that Cramden’s own forced scandal was part of a larger plot, and it all points to Fabulous Face.  Cramden declares that Flint’s not the only master of disguise and comes up with one to help him get into the spa.  It was interesting to see Cobb play in a film that was a campy take on spy films.  Usually Cobb acted in serious, dramatic works.  He did fine and I like to think that he enjoyed himself, even when he had to don make up, wig, and heels!

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint, Cramden, and Avery get to Fabulous Face and so does the double-crosser, General Carter(Steve Ihnat).  Carter was working for the US Government as a liason for them and Z.O.W.I.E.  He was actually working with Fabulous Face on their plans, but decided to double-cross the ladies and take over the world for himself.  This turn of events causes Flint and his side to work with the lovely ladies on an Operation Smooch, to bring down General Carter and his minions.

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Operation Smooch!

Operation Smooch!

In Like Flint is a fun, silly romp into the world of super spies, super villains, and 1967.  The opening shots of the film are close ups of ladies getting massaged and bathed at that spa, filmed in  the color red with  gauzy swaths of fabrics obscuring things a bit, an obvious nod of how James Bond movies open.   James Coburn is great as Flint.  He exudes cool and while he may not have had drop dead handsome looks, his voice is one to reckon with!  I could just sit and listen to him read a phone book!

Here is the link from TCM of a trailer for the movie, and it is available to buy through the TCM Shop.   In Like Flint is available to buy via Amazon or to watch on their instant rent.  Also, a kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube.   So kick back on your groovy couch and plan to watch this coolest of cool spies in action!

Tearjerkers, 1939 vs 2014

** This post contains spoilers**

My college student daughter, who is home for part of the summer, suggested on Friday morning that she, her twin sisters, 14 year olds,  and I,  go and see the  new tearjerker  movie, The Fault in Our Stars.  I inwardly groaned at this suggestion.  I really didn’t want to spend my evening watching a movie in a theatre full of teen girls sniffling and crying.  I also didn’t want to get caught up in the plot and find myself sniffling and crying!  However, college daughter’s idea prevailed, so after supper, with tissues in our purses, we traveled to Waynesville Cinema 8.  (I don’t understand why Rolla’s Forum Theatre can’t seem to get the newest movies thus, losing our movie going dollars to Waynesville.  That may have to be a blog topic for another day!)

The Fault in our Stars

I settled in my seat as  the movie began.   The plot was pretty simple.  Hazel Grace Lancaster is 18  years old and has been battling cancer since she was a child.  First she had thyroid cancer but then it metastasized into her lungs.  There is no cure but she has been on an experimental drug and so far, no new tumors and the tumors she has aren’t growing.  She lives with a portable oxygen tank and a breathing tube under her nose.   Her parents worry that she is depressed so they urge her to attend a support group for teens living with cancer that meets at a local church.  Reluctantly, Hazel Grace attends where she meets her future love, Augustus Waters.  He, having beaten osteosarcoma  in his leg and wears  a prosthetic leg,  attends the support group to be there for his  friend, Isaac, who is living with retinoblastoma which will leave him blind.

As I sat there and watched these teen characters dealing with cancer, life, and death, I kept comparing it to another tearjerker movie made in 1939 that also dealt with love, cancer, life, and death.  That film was  Dark Victory, which starred Bette Davis in a tour de force performance.  Davis was nominated for Best Actress at that year’s Academy Awards and Dark Victory was also nominated for Best Picture, but being that the year was 1939, they didn’t stand a chance due to a film about a tough southern belle fighting for her land and trying to figure out who she really loves as the Yankees invade the South during the Civil War.

Dark Victory

In Dark Victory, Bette is Judith Traherne,  a rich party girl.  She loves to watch her  horses compete at the races, she loves to spend her money on parties, and she has a lot of friends in this monied set.  She has also left a trail of broken hearts around her.  (Ronald Reagan plays one of her pals,  a lovable drunk!)  Judith begins to have chronic headaches so she  sees her doctor who recommends that she see a Dr. Steele, who is young and brilliant about brain problems.  It doesn’t hurt that he is quite handsome, too.  Dr. Steele determines that Judith has a tumor and needs brain surgery to treat it.  During the surgery, he discovers that the tumor is malignant and nothing can be done for Judith, that she has 10 months left to live.  The doctors decide not to tell Judith, but Dr. Steele does admit the truth to Judith’s friend, Ann.   Judith  accidentally gets a look at her medical file and finds out the truth.  She is angry that Dr. Steele hadn’t told her but did tell Ann.  Judith decides to follow the bad advice of eat, drink, and be merry for who knows what tomorrow will bring.   One evening she runs into Dr. Steele, who gets her alone and scolds her for this type of living.  He advises her to find peace with the diagnosis so that she can face death with dignity.  She realizes he is right.  Judith and Dr. Steele also realize that they love each other and wed, deciding to live each day as it comes,  knowing that death will take Judith sooner than later.  When Dr. Steele is invited to speak at a medical convention about  new ways to treat brain diseases, Judith urges him to go.  She knows how hard he’s worked and been looking forward to speaking.  She  doesn’t reveal to him that her eyesight is failing her.  As he drives away in the taxi to the airport, Judith bravely takes to her bed to prepare to  die with dignity.

I compared and contrasted the two films in my mind.  Dark Victory has Judith for the main character: a strong, independent young woman. The Fault in our Stars has Hazel Grace for the main character, not yet in her twenties, with strong opinions, she is still  dependent on her parents for clothing, food, shelter, and paying the onerous medical bills.  In both of these plots, the main characters fall in love.  Only in Dark Victory  is a true commitment made with a marriage.   That one little point keeps me from liking the 2014 movie.

How refreshing it would have been for the author, John Green, to have Hazel Grace and Augustus  marry one another! To wait to consummate their love for one another!  They could have had a simple ceremony in front of a judge, and then  lived in the basement at the Water’s home, since Augustus had turned it into a “cool” apartment-like abode.  Teenage pregnancy rates don’t need anymore encouragement than they already get from the entertainment industry.  Sadly, a better plot point was thrown out the window to go with a perceived societal  idea that teens can’t wait to jump into bed with one another.

On the way home, my daughters and I were surprised that we didn’t sniffle and cry like we thought we would.  I said that I found the plight of the parents in the film more touching.  Watching these parents bravely be there for their dying kids, especially a flashback scene to when Hazel Grace almost died at the age of 11,  got to me.  The scene where Hazel Grace and Augustus shared a passionate series of kisses at the Anne Frank House struck my twin daughters as “awkward” and weird how the surprised bystanders visiting the Frank House started clapping.

Dark Victory was originally a play written by George Emerson Brewer, Jr. and Bertram Bloch.   As I mentioned earlier in my post, The Fault in our Stars was a book written by John Green.  Dark Victory was labeled as a Woman’s Picture when it came to the box office in 1939 and I’m pretty sure The Fault in our Stars was labeled as a vehicle to pull in the teenage girl audience.

Dark Victory will be airing tonight on Turner Classic Movies at 1:30 am CST, so if you are able, set up your dvr machine to record it.  That’s what I plan on doing and I’ll let my daughters watch it with me, popcorn to eat  in a giant bowl, and let them see a similar plot and how Hollywood and the social mores of 1939 handled it.


My Classic Movie Pick: The Woman in the Window

Poor Edward G. Robinson.  He reached stardom playing evil gangsters, mob bosses, when in reality, he was a good stage actor who could play drama, comedy, and tried at various times in his Hollywood career to break out from the “gangster” label.  Fritz Lang, an Austrian-German director who had arrived in Hollywood in the 1930s to get away from the Nazi’s, who had banned one of his films in 1932, gave Robinson a chance to play a role that wasn’t a gangster part.  The film was 1944′s The Woman in the Window. The Woman in the Window Robinson plays middle-aged  Professor Richard Wanley, a professor of Psychology.  His wife and kids have recently gone on a vacation and he is alone at home.  He decides to hang out at his club one evening, spending time with some good friends at their Men’s Club: District Attorney Frank Lalor(Raymond Massey) and Dr. Barkstane(Edmond Breon).  As Professor Wanley walks to the club, he notices a painting of a beautiful, young woman in the window of a nearby shop.  He stops to admire the painting and when he meets his friends, they spend some time discussing the beautiful woman in the painting.   On his way home, Wanley again, stops to admire the painting and the subject of it appears hauntingly, her reflection in the window, catching Wanley off guard.

Prof. Wanley noticing the painting.

Prof. Wanley noticing the painting.

Prof. Wanley having fun with his pals at their  Club.

Prof. Wanley having fun with his pals at their Club.

The beautiful Alice Reed's reflection in the window.

The beautiful Alice Reed’s reflection in the window.

The beautiful, young woman is Alice Reed(Joan Bennett) and she knows that this middle-aged man is entranced by her beauty.  She decides to demurly take adavantage of Professor Wanly.  She invites him to have a drink with her at a local bar.  Then she invites him to her apartment for more drinks.  As Wanley admires more works of art in Alice’s apartment, an angry man bursts in accusing Alice of cheating on him and he tries to attack her.  Alice grabs a pair of scissors and tosses them to Wanley, who the angry man has turned his attack on and Wanley stabs the man in the back, killing him!  So much for a quiet evening of drinks, art, and talking!

Looking at paintings with Alice at her place.

Looking at paintings with Alice at her place.

Prof. Wanley being attacked by a very angry friend of Alice's!

Prof. Wanley being attacked by a very angry friend of Alice’s!

In shock after murdering a man.

In shock after murdering a man.

The mild-mannered professor is in a state of shock.  What should he do?  Here, he thought he’d just enjoy a nice evening with the beautiful woman in the painting and now a murder has happened, a murder he committed in self-defense, but a murder none-the less.  Robinson does a wonderful job portraying a middle-aged man, who despite having a wife and two children, a satisfying job, and good friends, is just a tad bit lonely.  He feels a tad bit vulnerable due to the fact that he is aging.

Joan Bennett is good as the femme fatale of this piece.  She is beautiful, she knows it, and she’s more than ready to make Professor Wanley her fall guy.  What her hard-boiled, hidden persona doesn’t expect is to develop true feelings for the professor.  I wouldn’t call it love, but she does care about him and starts to feel guilty for how she is manipulating him when the mastermind behind the money-making plot via blackmail, Heidt(Dan Duryea) enters the scene, demanding that they get more  money from the professor.

Heidt and Alice discussing getting $5000 from the Professor.

Heidt and Alice discussing getting $5000 from the Professor.

Duryea is so excellent as the real baddie of this film.  In real life, Dan Duryea was a very nice guy.   A married man with kids, acting was his talent and he supported his family with his skills.  For some reason, he made his mark as playing bad guys but instead of not taking those roles, he took them and ran with them.

Behind the scenes shot of Duryea and Robinson.

Behind the scenes shot of Duryea and Robinson.

The Woman in the Window airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies and I’ve put the movie’s trailer here for viewing.  The film is available to buy through Amazon.  It was also available at one time on Netflix and may still be available.  Lastly, some kind soul has put the entire movie up on Youtube! For a great film noir with a twist of an ending, seek out The Woman in the Window.

TWITW ending hint

My Classic Movie Pick: The Enchanted Cottage

The Enchanted Cottage is not a fairytale film for children.  There are no princesses needing rescued by a prince, no evil fairies or witches out to spoil all the fun.  No cute, talking animals.  This 1945 film, made by RKO Studios, is a fairytale for adults, set in the real-time of 1945.   Featuring the skills of Robert Young, Dorothy McGuire, and Herbert Marshall, who serves as the film’s narrator.

The Enchanted Cottage poster 1


WWII  has ended and John Hillgrove(Herbert Marshall), who was blinded while fighting in the war, is playing the piano for a party that he is hosting for newlyweds Oliver and Laura Bradford.    As the film opens with this scene, Hillgrove tells his guests the love story of Oliver and Laura, via a long flashback.

Years ago there had been an estate built by an English nobleman, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in  New England.   A fire had occurred, burning most of the great house except for one wing.   The nobleman has that wing rebuilt to be a new, cottage-styled home.  The nobleman decides to begin renting out that wing as a haven for honeymooners.  Years go by and now a widow, Mrs. Abigail Minnett(Mildred Natwick-excellent as always) runs the cottage for honeymooning couples.  It is to this cottage that Laura Pennington(Dorothy McGuire) applies to work as a housekeeper.  Laura is a very plain, shy young woman.  With the recent death of her mother, and having no other relations to fall upon for help, she decides to go out and seek her forturne.   Mrs. Minnett likes Laura and does hire her.    Mrs. Minnett  tells her that there is a legend attached to the cottage, that when honeymooners etch their names onto the glass of one window, their union will be especially blessed.

Laura being interviewed by Mrs. Minnett.

Laura being interviewed by Mrs. Minnett.

Oliver Bradford(Robert Young) soon arrives with his  fiancee, Beatrice(Hillary Brooke).  Oliver is from a wealthy family, and a pilot in the Army Air Corps.  He has rented the cottage and as soon as he and Hillary see the Justice of the Peace, the honeymoon will begin.  Hillary isn’t impressed with the cottage, thinking it too simple.  Laura overhears her and steps in to tell the couple about the cottage’s legend.  Oliver takes Hillary’s engagement ring to etch their names on the window’s pane and the diamond falls out of the setting!  Then, Oliver is contacted by his air group-he must fly out immediately, so no wedding yet.   Soon, Mrs. Minnett receives a telegram from Beatrice cancelling the couple’s  lease.

Oliver and Hillary arrive at the Enchanted Cottage

Oliver and Hillary arrive at the Enchanted Cottage

A year goes by and Mrs. Minnett receives a telegram from Oliver Bradford, asking to rent the cottage for himself for an indefinite period of time.  When Oliver arrives, Laura and Mrs. Minnett see that his face is disfigured and his arm is disabled, from a horrific plane crash he survived in the war. Oliver is bitter, his egagement to Hillary was broken.  He is mad at the world and has decided to live as a recluse.  Laura is heart-broken that he has become this way and with her common sense, gentleness, and compassion, Oliver begins to return to his old self.

Laura and Oliver, having one of many discussions about life

Laura and Oliver, having one of many discussions about life

Oliver befriends the narrator at this point in the film, Hillgrove, who happens by the cottage one day.  He encourages Oliver to learn to live again despite the disabilities.  He also tells Oliver that the war left him blinded but he has adapted and life has gone on.(An interesting side-note, Herbert Marshall who plays Hillgrove, was a soldier for the British during WWI and lost a leg, and yet resumed his acting career after the war.)

Giving Oliver advice on living with a disability

Giving Oliver advice on living with a disability

Conflict arrives in Oliver’s life in the form of his mother, Violet(Spring Byington).  Byington had a long career, often playing fun and understanding mothers so it was a surprise to see her play such a rotten mother in this film!  Violet and Hillary arrive to talk to Oliver but he refuses to see them.  3 weeks later, Violet sends her son an ultimatum: if he doesn’t return to the family home she will be moving to the cottage to live there with him!  Oliver doesn’t want that at all, so he quickly proposes marriage to Laura.  Laura, who really loves Oliver but hasn’t told him, agrees to marry him. When the couple returns to the cottage for their honeymoon the enchantment happens.  Laura sees Oliver without the disfiguring burn on his face and no disabled arm.  Oliver sees Laura as a beauty.  They etch their names onto the window’s pane.  Mrs. Minnett reassures them that their true love for each other lets them see each other as perfect, despite the meddling of Violet and her cruel words when she discovers they have married one another.

How love lets them really see each other

How love lets them really see each other

Then Enchanted Cottage was a 1922 stage play, written by Arthur Wing Pinero, a play about a returning WWI Vet with a disability.  It had been previously filmed as a silent film in 1924 that starred Richard Barthelmess and May McAvoy.   Harriet Parsons, a  producer at RKO, aquired the rights to the play to remake a newer film, set in WWII and in New England.  Parsons hired DeWitt Bodeen to write the screenplay and she chose John Cromwell to direct. For a lovely, romantic movie with a 91 minute running time, seek out The Enchanted Cottage.  It airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies.  It is available to buy from Amazon,  and a kind soul put the trailer clip on Youtube.  The OV Guide has it listed as a a film to watch online for free.  Can’t beat that! .

My Classic Movie Pick: Tall in the Saddle

The kitchen floor remodeling/painting of the walls/new pantry cupboard/new sink faucets installed is all completed.  It was done in time to welcome the grandparents to our home as we all gathered recently  to celebrate child #3′s graduation from high school.  3 graduated, 4 to go is my mantra currently!  With all of the hubbub done and calmness and serenity back in my life, it’s back in the blogging saddle for me and I know of no better way to do this than to recommend a classic movie. TAll in the Saddle poster 1In April, over at Turner Classic Movies, the star of the month was John Wayne.  The station aired a lot of his famous movie roles

which  I had seen already.  The station also aired lesser movie roles that Wayne played, in B westerns which he acted in before 1939′s film Stagecoach jumped his career path up a notch.  I decided to watch some of those lesser known films and found one that was made in 1944, RKO Studio’s  Tall in the Saddle.  A western, with a touch of noir, 2 ladies in distress, and Gabby Hayes.  What a fast-moving, fun film it was for me to see. Wayne portrays Rocklin, a cowboy who is traveling to a town in Arizona to begin working on a ranch owned by a Mr. Red Cardell.  Rocklin decides to sit up top with the stagecoach driver, Dave, played by Gabby Hayes.  Now,  I had never seen Hayes in a movie before and only knew him from the caricature of him in Mel Brooks’s comedy tribute to westerns, Blazing Saddles, and in the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, Hayes is mentioned in the lyrics.   Therefore, this was fun for me, to see Hayes in action and he didn’t disappoint, as his Dave loves to drink, is a bit hard to understand with his garbled talk(just a bit, not as exaggerrated as it is in Brooks’s film) and his agreeing with Rocklin that women are nothing but trouble.  Also on the stagecoach to the same Arizona town are the lovely Miss Clara Cardell(Audrey Long) and Miss Cardell’s grumpy aunt, Miss Elizabeth Martin(Elisabeth Risdon).   Miss Cardell is immediately attracted to Rocklin, but she is demure about it and her aunt keeps scolding her for looking at the cowboy!  Aunt Elizabeth is such a grumpy, bossy gal that I kept wanting Miss Clara to tell her off and to get out of her life.  The old aunt does eventually get out of Clara’s life, but not in the way one would expect.

Dave and Rocklin, on the way to AZ, discussing women!

Dave and Rocklin, on the way to AZ, discussing women!

Lovely Clara Cardell

Lovely Clara Cardell

Grumpy Aunt Elizabeth

Grumpy Aunt Elizabeth

The stagecoach eventually reaches its destination and Rocklin finds out that his new boss, Red Cardell, has been murdered; shot in the back.  At this point in the film, Rocklin meets the Harolday family.  Stepdad Harolday(Don Douglas) and his two grown up stepkids: Clint, a weakling who loves to gamble(Russell Wade) and the very strong-willed and hot-headed Arly(Ella Raines).   Arly and Rocklin immediately dislike each other, or at least Arly acts like she does, but we can tell she is also attracted to the new cowboy in town.

Rocklin and Arly, fighting off their dislike for one another

Rocklin and Arly, fighting off their dislike for one another

Rocklin confronting the lawyer about Clara's inheritance.

Rocklin confronting the lawyer about Clara’s inheritance.

Rocklin telling the Haroldays his suspicions about Red's murder.

Rocklin telling the Haroldays his suspicions about Red’s murder.

There are a couple plots weaving their way throughout this movie, which make it an interesting one to view.  First, the murder of Red Cardell and the attempts on Rocklin’s life.  Who commited the crime and who wants Rocklin dead?  Second, the lovely Clara has now inherited her dead Uncle’s ranch.  The grumpy aunt and a low-life lawyer(Ward Bond) join forces to try and steal the inheritance out from under poor Clara.  Rocklin suspects they are up to something and wants to help Clara.  Third, the love triangle in the movie.  Clara likes Rocklin a lot, Arly likes Rocklin a lot, Rocklin likes both ladies and is torn between the two.  It gets resolved but in an unusual way.

Tall in the Saddle is available to buy via TCM’s Shop  and it is also available through Amazon.  There are a few clips and the movie’s original trailer are all on Youtube.  From a serialized story written by Gordon Ray Young that was then adapted for the screen by Paul Fix and Michael Hogan, directed by Edwin L. Marin, seek out Tall in the Saddle to see Wayne in an early star turn, dealing with sneaky, double-crossers, inheritance stealers, two lovely ladies, and Gabby Hayes’s inestimable help.

My Classic Movie Pick: A Woman’s Face, with Villainous Conrad Veidt

My post today is for the Great Villain Blogathon and it is hosted by 3 wonderful bloggers who also love, love, love classic movies: Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy.  Be sure to visit these blog sites to read about all of the great movie villains written about by other movie loving bloggers.

Great Villain Blogathon

A Woman’s Face, made by MGM in 1941, was not MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer’s cup of tea.  Joan Crawford had learned of the Swedish movie version of the stage play.  The play had been written by Francis de Croisset and a screenplay for MGM’s version was to be written by Donald Ogden Stewart.  Ingrid Bergman had starred in the 1938  Swedish film and now Crawford wanted to star in an  American version.  Mayer didn’t like the fact that one of his beautiful stars would have to be “uglied” up for the role since the movie’s plot is about a disfigured woman who turns to a life of  crime since society has  rejected her because of  her deformity.   A Woman's Face movie poster 2 Anna Holm(Crawford) was burned on one side of her face when she was a child.  Her widowed, drunken father accidentally set the house on fire while Anna was asleep.  She was rescued but her father died in the flames.  Throughout her growing up years she felt rejected by society as people would stare at her face or try to avoid her altogether.  Upon reaching adulthood, Anna decides to make money off of the weak and foolish of the world so  she becomes a very good blackmailer. Simultaneously owning a tavern/restaurant in a secluded, wooded area outside of Stockholm proper, she draws in a rich clientele who like to meet at her business for rendezvous away from prying eyes.  It is to this clientele that she finds customers to blackmail.   She is aided by 3 con artists who are under her employ: Bernard Dalvik(Reginald Owen), his wife Christina Dalvik(Connie Gilchrist), and Herman Rundvik(Donald Meek).

Gilchrist as Mrs. Dalvik

Gilchrist as Mrs. Dalvik

Owens as

Owens as Dalvik

Donald Meek as Rundvik

Donald Meek as Rundvik

One evening as a loud party of 10 people are preparing to leave, the host of the party wants to put the bill on his tab.  He is told that he’ll have to discuss that with the proprietess.  When this fellow saunters into Anna’s office, he is polite, charming, and very suave.  It is this man, Torsten Barring(Conrad Veidt) who is the main villain of A Woman’s Face and his character will soon have the vulnerable Anna under his spell!  Through my reading about this movie, I came across a snippet that when Veidt was asked to describe his character, Torsten Barring, Veidt smiled and replied that he was  playing  Satan in a tuxedo!

Conrad Veidt as Torsten Barring

Conrad Veidt as Torsten Barring

In Torsten’s party is Vera Segert(Osa Massen), the  young and beautiful wife of Dr. Segert(Melvyn Douglas).  Dr. Segert wasn’t at Torsten’s party which is how Vera wanted it.  She used the party to flirt with another man the entire evening, and it is soon noticed by Torsten that Vera and this other man have a thing going on.  All of this potential for blackmail is on Torsten’s mind when he meets Anna in her office.  He surprises her as he doesn’t flinch in horror when he sees her face but treats her gallantly, kisses her hand, and her reaction is one of utter shock, that a man would treat her so kindly.

Anna soon agrees to work with Torsten and his schemes because she loves him

Anna soon agrees to work with Torsten and his schemes because she loves him

Seeing Anna's deformity and not shunning her.

Seeing Anna’s deformity and not shunning her.

Torsten soon has Anna working for him in the blackmailing game.  She goes to his lavish apartment at first just for business and assignments but soon Torsten pours on more charm and Anna finds herself falling in love with him.  Veidt, in real life, had piercing blue eyes and he used them to great effect in his acting.  Crawford was so impressed by his skills that she said in her later years that she had rarely met another actor who had shown such dramatic skills and depth as Veidt.     Torsten next tells Anna that a big prize awaits them.  He has the love letters that Vera Segert had foolishly sent to the man at the party Torsten hosted.  Torsten arranges for Vera Segert to go to Anna’s 3 con artist employees to beg for the letters and to get an idea of how much money it will cost her to get them back.  Anna then goes to Vera’s home at an agreed to time that evening with the letters.  Anna demands more money from Vera for the letters.  Vera hotly refuses and then cruelly shines a light on Anna’s face, exposing her deformity.  Anna then unloads a slapfest on Vera’s face and unexpectedly, Dr. Segert arrives home.   He thinks Anna is an intruder, intent on swiping his wife’s jewels and Vera begs him to just let Anna go.  He notices Anna’s scars and tells her that he is a skilled plastic surgeon and he thinks he could take her scars away.  He shows her books of successfully treated patients and Anna does agree to and does have the surgery.  It is a long, two year process but Anna and Dr. Segert persevere and develop an admiration for one another.  He for her survival skills in a cruel world and she for his compassion for his fellow man.

Dr. Segert and Vera with Anna pre-surgery.

Dr. Segert and Vera with Anna pre-surgery.

Anna delights in showing Torsten her new face.  She feels like a brand new woman as she is now beautiful.  Torsten seems happy for her but then he tells her about his extended family.   His aged Uncle Magnus Barring(Albert Bassermann) is very wealthy and has sadly decided to leave all of his fortune to a 4 year old grandson, Lars-Erik(Richard Nichols).  It is at this point in the film where Veidt’s Torsten becomes truly mad, in a stealthily,  quiet  way.  No screaming or tantrums are thrown.  He just sidles up to Anna and quietly explains to her his plan.  He tells Anna that he will recommend her to his Uncle Magnus for a governess job for little Lars-Erik.  Then, after a time, Anna will kill Lars-Erik and he, Torsten, will be the only one to inherit his uncle’s fortune.  Anna is in shock over this information, but doesn’t react hastily.  She seems to know that her love for this man is now over, but that if she lets on that it is, he’ll probably try to kill her. too.  So, reluctantly, Anna agrees to being a new governess for Lars-Erik.

Torsten intoning to Anna  his evil plot to inherit the money.

Torsten intoning to Anna his evil plot to inherit the money.

After several months have gone by working in Uncle Magnus’s household, Anna has grown to be quite fond of the old man and her charge, Lars-Erik.  A birthday celebration has been planned for Uncle Magnus, a weekend-long event and to Anna’s dread, Torsten arrives at the party in time to scoop her into his arms on the dance floor, to kindly snarl in her ear his questions as to why Lars-Erik is still alive?  To add to the stress Anna is now under, Dr. Segert also arrives for the party.  He is delighted to see Anna again and they share a dance or two.  She discovers that he is in the process of divorcing his unfaithful wife, Vera.  Anna and the doctor have a growing attraction to one another which adds to the noirish aspects of this drama: does Anna tell the man she is falling in love with about her life as a blackmailer, about her relationship with Torsten, and also reveal the evil plan to kill a child in order to inherit a fortune?  Would that new man even want to be around her if he knew about anything from her past?  Will Torsten keep reminding Anna to kill the child and if she doesn’t, will he take the matter into his own hands?

I won’t reveal the answers to these questions as I want you, the readers of this blog, to seek this film out!  It has aired from time to time on TCM so keep your eyes alert to their monthly schedules to see if it will be airing sometime this year.  A Woman’s Face is availabe to buy at Amazon, but it is in a Joan Crawford 5-dvd set and it’s pricey.  It is available in a European dvd that is lower-priced and in VHS format, which is even lower in cost, but VHS?  I want to add that in the cast is the always awesome Marjorie Main as a grumpy housekeeper, so watch for her when you do see the movie.

The villain of the film, Conrad Veidt, had a successful and interesting acting career.  He died too young, at the age of 50, suffering a heart attack on a golf course in Los Angeles in 1943.  Born and raised in Germany, he served in the German Army in WWI, rising to the rank of NCO.  Becoming very ill during the war, he was sent to a war hospital on the Baltic coast and received a letter from a girlfriend, Lucie Mannheim.  She had just been hired to work with an acting company based in Libau, Latvia.  Intrigued, he put in for a transfer to Libau and the Army agreed, stipulating that he work to entertain the troops.  When the war ended, Veidt moved to Berlin to study acting in earnest.  His skills paid off as he became a popular and busy actor in the German silent movie industry.  Probably his most famous role at that time was as the sleepwalking Cesare in 1920′s  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  With his success in Germany, it was time to make a try in Hollywood, and he did, famously appearing in 1928′s The Man Who Laughs.  Some even believe that Veidt’s “look” for this film inspired the look for one of Batman’s villains, The Joker.

Veidt, possibly the face that inspired The Joker?

Veidt, possibly the face that inspired The Joker?

As talking movies came into the forefront and silents went away, Veidt had trouble learning to speak English and his accent was deemed too heavy so it was time to return to Germany.  Veidt’s career continued there until he and his second wife, Illona Prager, a Jewish woman, moved to England to avoid the grasp of the rising Nazis.   In England, Veidt continued his acting career and improved his ability to speak the  English language.  I have seen some of the films he made in England and he got to play the heroes, which was a refreshing view of Veidt.  He played a Jewish man in 1934′s Power, playing Josef Oppenheimer,  who in 1730′s Germany,  helped a  duke rise in power, and in the process made a way for himself to leave the Jewish ghetto behind.  Then, when the duke tries to harm a member of Oppenheimer’s family, it’s revenge time.   In 1935 he starred in Passing of the Third Floor Back, which some kind soul has put on Youtube!  Veidt plays a mysterious and yet kind man, almost a messianic figure, who only wants to help the fellow boarders at a rooming  house he has moved to.  In 1939, he was the lead in The Spy in Black.  It was called U-Boat 29 for U.S. audiences.  Veidt plays U-Boat Captain Hardt , WWI is the time frame.  He is to meet a spy on the Orkney Islands, who turns out not to be what she seems.  Veidt is a conflicted man in this piece, not an out and out villain, falling in love with the spy who isn’t who she is pretending to be.  Valerie Hobson plays the spy and this was an early Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger creation.  It was back to playing a villain in 1940′s The Thief of Bagdad.  A technicolor masterpiece from the Korda brothers.   Veidt plays the evil Jafar and I really think the Disney animators used his image in creating the Jafar for their version of the story.  Veidt was very tall and slendor which seems to be the inspiration for the animated  Jafar.

Veidt as Jafar, probably casting a spell on someone!

Veidt as Jafar, probably casting a spell on someone!

After this film, Veidt tried Hollywood again.  With WWII raging, he stipulated that if he played Nazis, that he play baddies, no conflicted Nazis with a hint of goodness.  His most  famous Hollywood film is 1942′s Casablanca, where he plays with great relish the villainous Major Strasser, out to catch any freedom fighters trying to leave Casablanca.

Veidt, as Major Strasser, messing with Victor Laszlo, aka Paul Henreid.

Veidt, as Major Strasser, messing with Victor Laszlo, aka Paul Henreid.

It has been quite fun for me to read about Conrad Veidt for this blogathon.  He was a very skilled actor who could play the villain with the best of them, using his piercing gaze and his voice to smoothly convey his manipulative form of evil that his characters just seemed to wear like an aura around them.  In closing, I’ll post this neat video tribute to Veidt as Torsten Barring in A Woman’s Face, found on Youtube.   In fact, there are a ton of clips of Veidt’s work over the years, both silent movie scenes as well as talkies, so plan on putting your feet up and getting comfortable if you decided to view all that Youtube has for viewing Veidt’s scenes.

Studio publicity shot for A Woman's Face

Studio publicity shot for A Woman’s Face

I Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

In the world of blogging, bloggers read one another’s posts and often leave comments in order to  chime in about a post, if they liked it, or had some more opinions to share.   Since I began blogging in earnest 3 years ago, it’s been an interesting hobby for me and it has given me the opportunity to read other great bloggers out there in the “blogosphere”.   A nice thing bloggers do for newby bloggers is to send them a Liebster Award.  A Liebster is a nice pat on the back, a way to recognize new blogs that a more experienced  blogger thinks are swell and a way to  help introduce them to other bloggers so they’ll gain new  followers.  Since part of my blogs are dedicated to classic movies,  Speakeasy, hosted by a great gal, Kristina, another blogger dedicated to classic movies that I like to read,  awarded me a Liebster Award over the weekend!    Liebster Award

Part of the fun of receiving a Liebster is to answer a set of questions given by the nominating blogger.  Speakeasy sent me a list of 11 questions that I will now answer.

1. Favorite band or music artist for the past week?   I’ve been on a classical music kick of late and have been listening to 2 cds I own: 25 Romantic Classics and Clair de Lune and other Moonlit Melodies.

2. Name a movie you’d never want to watch.  Ever.  Un Chien Andalou. made in 1928 by Luis Bunuel.  Bunuel was a movie director from Spain  and for political reasons had to leave Spain and lived the rest of his life in Mexico.  A gifted director, his Robinson Crusoe(1952) is one of his films that I do like.  But, Un Chien Andalou, an arty film, that among other things shows an eye being cut into???  I’ll pass!

3.  Name a movie you’re ashamed you haven’t seen yet.  An entire Marx Brothers movie.  I’ve seen snippets through the years, but have not actually sat down and watched one.

4. Name a movie you wish you could have been on the set while it was filming.  1938′s Michael Curtiz directed The Adventures of Robin Hood.  It is such a fun film to watch that I imagine it was a  fun set to be on.  Dashing Errol Flynn, graceful Olivia de Haviland, one of the best swordfights in moviedom between Flynn and Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains stealing every scene he’s in as the scheming Prince John.

5.  Who is your movie celebrity crush?  You have to answer for both guys and girls.  Since I usually just focus on classic movies, my crushes are long since deceased but their films I love to watch: Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.

6.  Favorite vacation spot?  Ocean-side or lake-side.

7.  Favorite Super Hero?  I’ve always liked Aquaman.  Alas, my kids tell me he’s lame and that there will never be an Aquaman movie.  Oh well.

8.  Favorite book.  This is hard as I love to read!  I prefer nonfiction and one of the best that I read was John Adams by David McCullough.   HBO must have agreed as their mini-series about John Adams was based on McCullough’s book.

9.  Favorite tv show.  Hmmmmm.  Modern: Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Turn, & NCIS.   Classic: Rawhide(thanks AMC!),  Lost in Space, Star Trek, original Hawaii 5-0, and Gilligan’s Island.

10.  Favorite Beatle’s Song? Hey Jude.

11. The classic movie that started your love of classic movies?  Citizen Kane.  Stumbled on it one Saturday afternoon in my teen years.  It held me mesmerized throughout it’s 2 hour running time.


Winning a Liebster Award also means nominating 11 blogs that you enjoy reading, trying to choose blogs that have less than 200 followers.  The bloggers I nominate must link back to me, and they must answer the 11 questions that I answered.  Then, they must pass on this award to 11 bloggers that they like to read, who have  less than 200 followers.  The bloggers I choose can’t re-nominate my blog.  Here are my picks for the Liebster Award:

The Overflow

Movies, Silently


Girls Do Film

Pastries and Shenanigans

A Cuban-American in Paris

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

How Sweet it Was

Family Friendly Reviews


MacGuffin Movies


I encourage you to click on my 11 nominees for the Liebster Award and read their blogs.


My Classic Movie Pick: The Shootist

Today’s post is for the great James Stewart Blogathon.  Hosted by an excellent  blog that I enjoy reading, Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Be sure to click on the provided link to read other bloggers’ posts about Jimmy Stewart and his various  acting  roles.   T J Stewart Blogathon     When I saw that Classic Film and TV Cafe was going to host this blogathon, I thought for a while as to which  role of Stewart’s to write about.  I decided on  The Shootist, a  movie that came in the latter days of Stewart’s movie acting.   The Shootist, movie poster The Shootist, originally a novel written by Glendon Swarthout  and published in 1975, was sought out by Paramount Pictures and Dino De Laurentiis Company to be made into a movie.  The author’s son, Miles, and Scott Hale wrote the screenplay.  Don Siegel was tapped to direct.   The movie’s plot is about an aging gunfighter, John Bernard, J.B. Books, who learns he has  cancer.  He also learns that despite liking this new town of Carson City, Nevada to live in, he only has 2 months at the most before the cancer will kill him.  Word gets out that the famous Shootist, Books, is in Carson City and old foes and friends appear, all wanting to cash in on the fame that surrounds this dying gunman or to just get final revenge.  It is Books’ dilemma, how to die with dignity amidst the turmoil that is happening around him due to these malcontents and fortune-seekers who are looking for him in Carson City.

Who better to portray the aging gunslinger than John Wayne, the most famous of Western heroes in film?  In 1964, Wayne had surgery to remove a cancerous lung.  Now, in 1976, when The Shootist was made, it would become  an ironic fact that Wayne would act the part of the dying gunslinger,  and he himself  would also die of cancer in 1979. Wayne had to lobby for the role of J.B. Books since the producers originally wanted George C. Scott!  Wayne did get the part and then proceeded to request that former cast members of other films he had made be cast in this film.  He specifically requested James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, and John Carradine.

James Stewart, by the 1960′s, was taking on more paternalistic roles.  He had played opposite Wayne  in another great Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, released in 1962.  Although the two actors didn’t run around in the same circle of friends, they both admired each other’s abilities in conveying characters on screen and had a great respect for one another. Stewart, in The Shootist, plays Dr. Hostetler who J. B. Books makes an appointment with in order to get a second opinion about his back pains.  The clip of that scene can be viewed here.  It is a warm and friendly scene of two old aquaintances re-meeting one another again.  Then the cold, factual Medical Man emerges as Dr. Hostetler gives Books the bad news: the back pains are a symptom of cancer.  Then there is more bad news, that Books only has 2 more months to live.  The doctor tells Books that when it’s time, medicines can be given to him to help ease the pain.

Stewart’s voice is still strong in this film, not quavery as one might expect with an aged actor.  The hair is white, the movements of his body as he walks across a room or sits in a chair are slower than that of a younger man, but it doesn’t distract one iota from his role as Dr. Hostetler.

The Shootist is a great ensemble piece.  All of the cast brought their A-Game to this movie.  Lauren Bacall is Mrs. Bond Rogers, the widowed landlady who rents a room to Books.  She tells him that she doesn’t abide with guns, and yet there is a growing fondness between her and Books.   Ron Howard(former child actor, teen actor, and now movie director) plays Gillom Rogers, son of the landlady.  He looks up to Books because he is a famous gunslinger and Books becomes a mentor/father figure for Gillom.     Richard Boone is Mike Sweeney, out to kill Books in order to get revenge for a brother’s death.  Hugh O’Brien is Jack Pulford,  a gambler and keen shot who wouldn’t mind taking Books down in order to promote himself.   Sheree North is an old flame, Serepta, who shows up hoping to get Books to marry her so  later she can have a book written by a ghost writer about her life with Books and make money off of his notoriety and death.  John Carradine is Carson City’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckem and he pesters Books about having a headstone made.  Scatman Crothers is Moses Brown,  the livery worker who cares for Books’s horse.  Richard Lenz is Dan Dobkins the local newspaper reporter, wanting to write sensationalized versions of Books’s killings.  Harry Morgan is Marshall Thibido, who is anxious to have Books leave Carson City.

The Shootist is available via Amazon to either buy or view through Instant Rent.  It is also available through TCM’s Shop.  To close out my post, here are a few more shots of John Wayne and James Stewart, from The Shootist.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

TS, arguing with Wayne



The Shootist, Wayne and Stewart






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