Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Her Twelve Men (1954)

Image from TCM

Today is Greer Garson day on TCM's Summer Under the Stars. Garson is one of the actresses I've been wanting to get to know better for some time so I was excited to see that she was getting a whole day of films this month. I watched two of them this morning (and am recording another three). One of the films I watched this morning was Her Twelve Men (1954) co-starring Robert Ryan of Film Noir fame. One of the reasons I wanted to watch it is because in it Garson plays a teacher. As someone with a degree in Educational Studies who has been doing part-time teaching for three years it sounded like something I would enjoy, and I did!


The film begins with Miss Stewart (Garson) on a plane to the prestigious all boys boarding school The Oaks, where she will be the first female teacher. A recent widow, she has to find something to do with her life and having previously enjoyed teaching for a short time after college is returning to that field. Upon arrival she is met with disapproval by fellow teacher Joe Hargrave (Robert Ryan), who thinks a woman teacher has no place there. Miss Stewart, or as the boys refer to her "Sir," goes through the usual boyish pranks (frog in the bed, etc.) but learns quickly from these experiences how to handle the boys in a way they will grow to respect her and, over the course of the school year, proves Hargrave wrong  and wins the hearts of her lonely boys she is put in charge of.
 

There were many touching scenes in the film as Garson handles homesickness and heartache, making "Her Twelve Men" feel loved and special when they don't receive the attention they need from their parents. One boy's parents are too busy running around Europe to write their son so she writes him letters pretending they are from his parents. It definitely tugs at the heart strings.

David Stollery, Richard Haydn, and Garson

Partway during the semester a new boy is dropped off at the school (Tim Considine). Richard Jr. is the son of a busy oil man whose wife died shortly after his birth. Richard has a chip on his shoulder, scoffing at everything in the school and getting all the boys in his class in trouble when he sets off the sprinklers in the dorm. The rest of the boys freeze him out and Richard falls out of the bedroom window and fractures his leg as a result. Garson accompanies him back to his house while his leg heals. Richard gets to know his father better as a result and Garson gets a hint of a marriage proposal (prompting a rather funny conversation where the headmaster, played by Richard Haydn, suggests that Garson might soon be sending her sons to the school, even though Garson was nearly 50 at the time of filming).

Considine being introduced to the other boys (he's from Texas).

Tim Considine is best known for being one of the original Mouseketeers with Annette Funicello, starring in Disney's Spin and Marty series (with David Stollery who plays Jeff in Her Twelve Men) and the Hardy Boys serials with Tommy Kirk as well as other Disney films. But he is probably best known as the oldest son in the popular and long running My Three Sons starring Fred MacMurray and William Frawley. Considine also appeared in another film with Garson, Sunrise at Campobello (1960). In it Garson plays Eleanor Roosevelt and Considine her son. The film chronicles FDR's life from when he contracts polio up to his running for President of the United States.


Another familiar television face is a young James Arness as the gym teacher. His part is rather small, simply as another love interest to show Garson's effect on the staff.

Greer Garson played hostess at her lovely Bel Air home to the twelve youngsters who played with her the  film “Her Twelve Men.” From left to right are George Folsey, Peter Votiren, Dale Hartleben and Tim Marxer. 2/5/1954
This was Garson's final film for MGM. She did a few more movies, including one for Disney, as well as several television appearances as a guest star or made-for-tv movies. Robert Ryan was only a third of the way through his career. The film was not well received by critics or its audience but I enjoyed it. If you missed Her Twelve Men (1954) this morning or don't have access to TCM, you can watch the entire film (in two parts) here.


This post is part of the annual month-long 2017 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Journeys in Classic Films.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cinema Wedding Gowns: My Cousin Rachel (1953)

 
Last month My Cousin Rachel starring Rachel Weisz premiered in theaters. While I'm normally against remakes, when it's based on a book rather than a remake of an original movie script - especially a period piece - I'm fine with it. In such cases the films can be vastly different, especially when one was made during the days of the Hays Code and no CGI. I have not seen Weisz's version yet, but I thought it would be fun to take a look at Olivia de Havilland's version of Rachel for this month's first Cinema Wedding Gown.
 
 
The wedding scene occurs in a delirious dream of Richard Burton's while he is extremely ill. The enigmatic Rachel (de Havilland) cares for him during this time and when he gets better he insists that they are married and she insists it was a dream. Either way, de Havilland is absolutely gorgeous in her wedding gown, which can be seen in the promotional photos below. Displayed proximately is a family necklace, which is one of the reasons Rachel is not trusted. Is the family fortune all she wants (she's the widow of Burton's brother)?

 
I wanted to take screenshots of the scene but it's not on youtube and the movie isn't being shown on TCM anytime soon. Below is an image that shows (almost) the full-length dress as well as the sketch by costumer Dorothy Jeakins.

 
The gown is made of heavy cream satin, off the shoulders, and with flared three quarter length sleeves. There is lace appliqued on the front of the bodice, which has panels and is pointed in the front where it is attached to a full gathered skirt that just touches the floor. A floor length piece of exquisite lace is pinned to the back of her head. The sketch shows a different veil perched on the crown of the head with a piece over the face. You will notice the necklace is also different.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Never Let Me Go (1953)


I was thirty-two then, not an ideal age to be taking up so strenuous an activity as ballet.

So wrote Gene Tierney in her autobiography Self-Portrait on her experience playing a Russian ballerina in the film Never Let Me Go (1953) starring Clark Gable.
 
The film tells the story  of an American news correspondent, Philip Sutherland (Gable), stationed in Moscow who falls in love with and marries Marya Lamarkina (Tierney), a ballerina. When they try to leave Russia they are separated as Gable is forced to board a plane and Tierney is held back. Gable must then figure out how to get his wife out of Russia. He and his friend (Richard Haydn), whose wife is also being held in Russia, plan a bold sea rendezvous off the coast.
 
For a more in-depth summery and analysis of the film, check out Critica Retro's post!
 
Trailer
 
When Tierney's character Marya is first introduced, she is one of the ballerina's in the background of a performance of Swan Lake. After she is kept in Russia and must wait for her husband to come back for her, she becomes a Prima Ballerina. Near the end of the film, Gable, in disguise as a Russian General, swims ashore and attends the theatre where his wife dances the lead in Swan Lake. You can view the scene below (in two parts because there's a scene with Gable pretending to be a doctor in the middle. Sorry for the poor quality - I recorded it with my camera off the tv). Real life Russian ballerina Natalie Leslie doubled for Tierney in the long shots.
 
 
 
 
To get ready for her role, Tierney began instruction with dance master Anton Dolin, practicing two hours a day for six weeks "just to master enough technique to get on my toes and do the few steps that would be required of me." The work was hard and Tierney soon had blistered and achy feet. Gable "was patient and considerate. One weekend he flew to Paris and came back with some salve he assured me would relieve the pain in my feet. The ointment helped." Even though the work was exhausting and painful, it gave Tierney a special love of ballet for the rest of her life.
 
 
The movie was filmed at the British MGM Studios in Hertfordshire, England and on location in Cornwall, where Gable stays to devise his plan to rescue Tierney. Outdoor locations of Russia had to be faked, as the Cold War was really gearing up. As many scenes took place at night, and with the use of some stock and newsreel footage, this was fairly easily accomplished.
 
 
 
Both Gable and Tierney were a little depressed at the time of filming. Gable, who had recently divorced fourth wife Lady Sylvia Ashley, still greatly missed the love of his life Carole Lombard (third wife) who had tragically died over a decade before in a plane crash while on her way home from a successful bond selling tour of the US. Tierney, suffering from mental illness, didn't socialize much with her co-star, despite her mother's urging to pursue a relationship with Gable. The two did go out to eat at a pub in Cornwall once, as was customary between a leading man and his leading lady. Gable mostly talked about Carole as Tierney sympathetically listened. "For all his he-man, no-undershirt screen image, I saw him as sweet and gentle, a hard crust with a soft center. I thought that quality was what came across on the screen and made him adored by so many."
 
 
 
After filming completed, Gable went to Africa to film Mogambo while Tierney remained in London for a while before going to Paris, where she met Rita Hayworth's ex-husband Prince Aly Khan. They began an intense relationship before parting the following year.
 
 
Never Let Me Go did not fare well at the box-office, despite getting good reviews:
It is cheering to have the reassurance that Clark Gable is one fellow, at least, who can still make the Soviet Union tough guys look like absolute monkeys—and does. In his latest Metro adventure, "Never Let Me Go," which was launched in a wide-screen enlargement at the Capitol yesterday, good old Clark does again what he accomplished back in 1940 in "Comrade X": he kidnaps a beautiful Russian lady right out from under the late Joe Stalin's nose. And, what's more, he does it with the coolness of a big boy taking candy away from kids.
Anyone who knows adventure fiction and what to expect from such a film will not be at all disappointed in the brand of whoop-de-do we have here. For the writing is brash and eventful, the texture of the production is fairly real and the performances by all the actors are in the appropriate make-believe style. To be sure, the whole film is romantic and just this side of ridiculous farce in an area that isn't quite that funny. But, after all, it's good old Clark's affair, you know.


Romance, daring, intrigue–that’s Clark Gable’s meat. That’s Never Let Me Go–the adventures of an American newspaperman in Russia who falls in love with a ballerina (Gene Tierney), marries her, and is forced to leave the country alone. His English friend, Richard Haydn, has also married a Russian and must also leave her behind. Gable lights on a fantastic idea. Why not sneak the girls right out of Russia? He decided to buy a fishing boat, sail it from England to a beach resort near the town where Gene is performing. At night the beach is crowded with bathers. No one would notice if two of those bathers swam out beyond the breakers to a rowboat, were taken by that rowboat to the fishing vessel, and freedom. Haydn’s skeptical, but what–besides his life–does he have to lose? Gable has a fiend, a radio broadcaster in Russia, whom he contacts and together they devise a code enabling Gable to make rendezvous plans with their wives. Everything works–up to a point. But there’s a run-in with a Russian patrol boat, and after that there’s Gable masquerading as a Russian Army officer, and after that there’s a chase right into the ocean. After that–well, see for yourself. 
 
 
I greatly enjoyed this film. Tierney made a lovely ballerina, as can be seen in all the promotional photos below (click to enlarge) and the story was exciting, especially near the end where you wonder how they will get away with only minutes left to go on the film. And even though Gable is obviously older than Tierney - he was 54 and she was 32 - it somehow works.
 
TCM isn't showing this film anytime soon, but is available on DVD. I hope everyone gets a chance to watch it.
 
 

 
 

 
This post is part of En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon hosted by Christina Wehner and Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Dance on over to their blogs to check out all of the other posts!
 
 
Sources:

Self-Portrait. Gene Tierney with Mickey Herskowitz. Wyden Books. 1979.

Clark Gable: A Biography. Warren G. Harris. Harmony Books, NY. 2002.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ANNOUNCING the Duo Double Feature Blogathon!


Last week The Flapper Dame came up with a fun idea for a blogathon and asked if I would like to co-host it with her. The idea is two stars who made only two films together, or, the Duo Double Feature Blogathon. In the Golden Days of Hollywood, it was common for certain stars to make several movies together (usually stars that were part of the same studio). Some made as many as 14 films together (William Powell and Myrna Loy) while others only made two films together. Those are the films we want to explore in this blogathon. Whether they were memorable pairings (James Garner and Doris Day) or lesser known ones (Errol Flynn and Brenda Marshall), as long as they made only two films together they are okay. The blogathon will run from Sept. 22-24.

Here's a list of some great duos to get you started. Keep in mind that they don't have to be romantic pairings (Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy; Robert Redford and Paul Newman). Have one not on the list? That's fine too!
P.S. If you see a pairing on this list that made more than two movies together please let us know so we can remove it. Mistakes happen!
William Powell and Jean Harlow
William Powell and Hedy Lamarrt
William Powell and Rosalind Russell
William Powell and Luise Rainer
Carole Lombard and John Barrymore
Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy
Cary Grant and Sophia Loren
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman
Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant
James Stewart and Jean Arthur
James Stewart and Myrna Loy
James Stewart and Maureen O'Hara
Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood
John Wayne and Donna Reed
John Wayne and Gail Russell
Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth
Barbara Stanwyck and William Holden
William Holden and Glenn Ford
William Holden and Audrey Hepburn
William Holden and Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby
Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable
Clark Gable and Loretta Young
James Garner and Doris Day
Rod Taylor and Doris Day
Dorothy McGuire and Tommy Kirk
Paul Douglas and Jean Peters
Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball
John Wayne and Dean Martin
James Stewart and John Wayne
Robert Redford and Paul Newman
Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan
James Stewart and Kim Novak
James Stewart and Myrna Loy
Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman
Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell
Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake
Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman
Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich
Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker
Errol Flynn and Bette Davis
Errol Flynn and Brenda Marshall
Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins
James Cagney and Bette Davis
Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio

Rules:

1. Once you have chosen your Duo Double Feature, let us know in the comments below or on The Flapper Dame's blog. PLEASE include the LINK to your blog (because sometimes I click on a commenter's name and it brings me to their Google Plus page and I end up having to Google their blog).

2. No duplicates. There are so many great Duo Double Features that we want to get as many as possible in here (I will cross out names above as they are taken).

3. Rather than do a super in-depth summery of the two films, you might prefer to do a quick summery and focus on the magic/chemistry between the two stars or share funny stories or scenes of the stars on the set or real-life.

4. Take a banner below and share on your blog to spread the word!


 


Roster:

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon
The Flapper Dame: Natalie Wood and Robert Redford
Critica Retro: Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: William Holden and Audrey Hepburn
Thoughts All Sorts: Paul Newman and Robert Redford
That William Powell Site: William Powell and Ronald Colman
Caftan Woman: Susan Hayward and Tyrone Power
Story Enthusiast: Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: John Wayne and Lauren Bacall & Ethel Barrymore and Joseph Cotton
Charlene's (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews: Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon
Realweegiemidget Reviews: Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger
The Midnite Drive-In: John Wayne and General Sterling Price
Movies Meet Their Match: Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy
Little Bits of Classics: Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman
dbmoviesblog: Julia Roberts and Richard Gere
Anybody Got a Match?: Cary Grant and Sophia Loren
Love Letters to Old Hollywood: Vera Ellen and Fred Astaire AND Gene Kelly
Moon in Gemini: James Stewart and Kim Novak
Old Hollywood Films: Bette Davis & Miriam Hopkins
Sat in Your Lap: Cary Grant and Jean Arthur
The Wonderful World of Cinema: Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger
Words Seem Out of Place: Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino
Taking Up Room: Betty Grable and Don Ameche
Film Noir Archive: Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Movies I Watched in July


This month I was busy participating in the 50 Years of Hitchcock class (offered by TCM and Ball State University on Canvas) and binge watching Suits to catch up for season 7. There was a smaller than usual amount of films I wanted to see on TCM this month, which is good because I was able to clear off the dvr for Summer Under the Stars. Below are the films I watched (* means I've seen it before).
  1. Anthony Adverse (1936) - Fredric March & Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains
  2. Andy Harry's Private Secretary (1941) - Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone
  3. Tortilla Flat (1942) - Spencer Tracey, John Garfield, Hedy Lamarr
  4. Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) - Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, William Demerest
  5. The Dude Goes West (1948) - Eddie Albert, James Gleason
  6. *The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949) - Jane Wyman & Dennis Morgan, Eve Arden
  7. Clash by Night (1952) - Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe
  8. The Moon is Blue (1953) - William Holden, Maggie, David Niven
  9. The Gun That Won the West (1955) - Dennis Morgan
  10. Our Miss Brooks (1956) - Eve Arden
  11. Teacher's Pet (1957) - Clark Gable & Doris Day, Gig Young
  12. Gigi (1958) - Leslie Caron & Louis Jourdan
  13. The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963) - Glenn Ford & Shirley Jones, Ron Howard, Jerry Van Dyke
  14. *Rocky (1976) - Sylvester Stallone & Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith (one of my top ten favorite movies)
  15. *Down Periscope (1996) - Kelsey Grammar, Bruce Dern
  16. *Star Trek Beyond (2016) - Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho
  17. La La Land (2016) - Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling
  18. Despicable Me 3 (2017) - Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews (I saw it at a drive-in theater, my first!)
Least Favorite: Anthony Adverse (really long and boring) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (depressing and a little too frank about sex). 

Favorite Film of the Month: Our Miss Brooks and Teacher's Pet, both about teachers!