This Marriage Business


This Marriage Business with Vicki Lester, Allan Lane, and Victor Moore.  Victor Moore played the main creditor in the last movie I saw, She's Got Everything.  He has a wonderfully low-key acting style.  I wonder whether the director would have to keep asking him to speak up.  The female lead is played by Vicki Lester, which was the name adopted by Esther Blodgett in A Star Is Born, the first version of which was released in 1937.  As far as I know there is no relation.

Okay, the movie...
While pursuing an eloping heiress, reporter Bill Bennett (Lane) stumbles across a small town marriage license clerk named Jud Parker (Moore).  Parker claims that no couple that he has issued a license to has ever gotten divorced.  Bill plays up this angle in his newspaper story and soon the small town is a booming elopement destination.  Bill falls in love with Parker's beautiful daughter, Nancy (Lester), but she already has a boyfriend, plus she is not sure of Bill's motives or character. Also, there are gangsters, an illegal casino, corrupt politicians and Parker is framed for murder.

Familiar face: Jack Carson as 'Candid', Bill's photographer.

Here's something you don't see today... a date involving pulling taffy:

Bill watches Nancy and her boyfriend pull taffy

She's Got Everything


This is the last of five movies from the 1930's in which Ann Sothern starred opposite Gene Raymond. Ann plays once-wealthy socialite Carol Rogers who (upon the death of her father) finds herself not only broke, but seriously in debt.  The men to whom she owes money conspire to get her to married to a wealthy man so that she will have the means to pay them back.  Carol dismisses the idea and wants to get a job. One of the debt holders (played by Victor Moore) takes charge and sets her up as secretary to wealthy coffee magnate Fuller Partridge (Gene Raymond), still hoping for a lucrative marriage.

In the final scene Sothern and Raymond are married in a ceremony on the back of a crowded truck that is racing to make the departure of the Queen Mary.  The gag here is that there is so much noise that the couple can't hear the Justice of the Peace asking them to say "I Do."  In my newspaper search I found that this scene was used as the basis for a Lucky Strike ad campaign:
The loudest "I do" a bride ever spoke! Even after such throat-taxing scenes, Anne Sothern finds Luckies gentle on her throat...

The Beloved Brat


There is a cliché in 1938 movies that people are either very rich or very poor.  In The Beloved Brat, Bonita Granville stars as Roberta Morgan, an only child in a wealthy family.  She has no friends and her working father and society mother spend no time with her, leaving her to the care of servants.  She is desperately lonely and the household staff are in the difficult position of both serving her and disciplining her.  Because of this conflicting role, they are the ones who must suffer Roberta's verbal and physical abuse (calling them stupid, throwing dishes at them) when she rails against the restrictions of her life.  This is Roberta's life: her parents ignore her and the servants resent her.  One day she finds a poor boy (played by 'Stymie' Beard) hunting small animals on the grounds and befriends him.  She starts skipping school and dance lessons to spend time with her new friend and even tries to bring him home for dinner one night when her parents are not home.  Finding a poor black boy at the dinner table, the butler literally throws Stymie out.  Then, when Roberta's parents find out that she has been lying about where she spends her days, they charge Jenkins (the butler) with making sure she doesn't leave the house.  He can only accomplish this by locking Roberta in her room, but she escapes by starting a fire in a wastebasket and calling the fire department.  Jenkins tracks her down and tries to bring her back, but Roberta grabs the wheel of his car and causes an accident that kills someone in another car.  Before finally admitting fault, Roberta nearly sends Jenkins to jail by saying he had been drinking.  A judge sentences Roberta to a boarding school for troubled girls.  After a few weeks of stubborn defiance she realizes that she is now in an environment where she can finally have friends and she turns into a charming girl.  Only when she is confronted with returning home does she throw another tantrum, causing her parents to realize their role in Roberta's rotten behavior.

Roberta meets Stymie

Familar faces: Donald Crisp is her dad, Leo Gorcey (one of the Dead End Kids) makes a brief appearance as a bully.

The Beloved Brat trailer on TCM

Painted Desert


This is a George O'Brien Western that doesn't fit the George O'Brien Western model I have built.  He does not play an undercover lawman.  Instead, he is a cattle rancher who ends up with a tungsten mine on his land.  Maybe I'm just getting used to these budget Westerns or maybe this one was particularly well done, but I was pretty caught up in the suspense scenes at the end.  One involved a runaway mule train pulling loads of tungsten ore beside a precipice, and another involved fist fights while a fuse burned toward a pile of dynamite.  Ray Whitley does the singing, as usual.

Hurry up! It's gonna blow!

Border G-Man


This is my third George O'Brien Western and it follows the same formula as the other two: O'Brien is an undercover cowboy lawman.  In this case, the villains are smuggling arms to Mexico, so George is a federal agent.  Singing cowboy Ray Whitley is also in this one (as in the other two), but does not play O'Brien's confederate like in the others.  This is the movie for which Ray Whitley wrote "Back in the Saddle Again", and he performs it here before Gene Autry ever heard it.

"Back in the Saddle Again"

Boy Meets Girl


This is a madcap comedy starring Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Cagney.  They play the screenwriting team of Benson and Law, who believe there is only one story needed for the movies: Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl.  They are on the hook to write a boffo script for a fading cowboy star when they chance upon a sweet girl from the studio commissary who is in a family way.  They extemporize a script where the cowboy finds a baby, and when the baby (named Happy) is born he becomes a publicity sensation.  Benson and Law finagle power-of-attorney to manage Happy and the cowboy is put out at playing second fiddle.  There are many frenetic swings of fortune.  This movie is a boat load of fun.  Kind of a Front Page lite.

James Cagney seemed intent to prove that he could machine-gun his dialogue as fast as Pat O'Brien so I had to turn on closed-captioning several times.  The naive mother was played by Marie Wilson whom I just saw as Carole Lombard's maid in Fools for Scandal.  Ralph Bellamy is the movie producer trying to ride herd on his actors and screenwriters.  He is also an intellectual snob and a health nut.  He makes a big point of ordering "raw" milk and in one scene complains that Cagney has broken his Vita-Glass window.  This was a brand name for glass that was UV permeable and supposedly promoted better health, but apparently had been largely debunked by 1938.  At one point an actor pretending to be Happy's long lost father claims that he "did not go down on the Morro Castle".  This was a cruise ship that caught fire in 1934 killing 137 people.  The timing does not actually work out.  I think much of the script was intended as jokes that are not today self-evident.

Familiar faces: Penny Singleton (Blondie) has a quick scene as a manicurist, and Ronald Reagan plays a radio announcer for a movie opening.

Boy Meets Girl trailer on TCM

Fools for Scandal


Fools for Scandal with Carole Lombard and Fernand Gravet.  This is a screwball comedy with Lombard playing an incognito American actress visiting Paris and London.  Gravet plays a destitute Parisian chef who courts her.  When Gravet ends up spending the night after a masquerade party in Lombard's London home (ostensibly to serve as her personal cook) all of London society is alight with the scandal.

This was Lombard's only 1938 movie and she died in a plane crash in early 1942, so this was close to the end of her career.  I enjoyed her a lot.  Fernand Gravet played Johann Strauss II in The Great Waltz.  The songs in this movie are by Rodgers and Hart, but this isn't really a musical.  There is one "spoken word" duet called "Food for Scandal" which must have been a contender for the title of this film.

Allen Jenkins and Fernand Gravet

Familiar faces: Allen Jenkins as Gravet's sidekick; Ralph Bellamy as Lombard's wannabe fiancé.

Fools for Scandal Trailer on TCM

Love Is a Headache


Carlotta Lee (Gladys George) is a stage actress on a string of failed plays.  Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) is a showbiz columnist who thinks he could steer Carlotta's career properly if only she would follow his advice.  Since she won't, he uses his column to torpedo her career choices so as to persuade her. Amidst this action, Peter learns that an old pal of his has died leaving two kids (played by Mickey Rooney and Virginia Weidler) orphan.  He uses a radio broadcast to solicit an adoptive family for them, and Carlotta's publicity man decides that she should adopt them for the positive press.  Peter is offended by this mercenary move and tries to expose Carlotta, who has grudgingly grown endeared to the kids.

Familiar face: Ralph Morgan (Frank Morgan's brother) as a wealthy suitor of Carlotta's

"Love Is a Headache" trailer from TCM



Stablemates with Mickey Rooney and Wallace Beery.  This is a horse racing movie.  Mickey Rooney is the stable boy who loves his horse more than anything.  Beery is an alcoholic on-the-lamb veterinarian.  Together they turn Mickey's sometimes lame horse into a champion, while forming a father/son bond.

Familiar face: Margaret Hamilton as an on-the-make farm-owning widow.

The Renegade Ranger


George O'Brien plays another undercover lawman in this Western, just like in Gun Law.  Here he is Texas Ranger Jack Steele sent to apprehend accused murderer Judith Alverez (Rita Hayworth).  Plenty of bar-fight and shootout action in this one.

Rita Hayworth

Familiar face: Tim Holt (whom I just saw in The Law West of Tombstone and who prospected along with Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) plays the actual Ranger who went renegade.

The Law West of Tombstone


A rambling Western about liar/con-artist/sharpshooter "Bonanza Bill" Barker (Harry Carey).  First he tries to fleece a New York financier into investing in a bogus gold mine.  When he is handed his hat he decides that he is not skilled enough to operate in the big city, so he heads back to El Paso.  He quickly runs afoul of both the law and the not-to-be-trifled-with McQuinn family.  The McQuinns leave town swearing vengeance, and the Judge grants the chance of reprieve if Bill can use his talent with a gun to bring in the Tonto Kid, a local "most wanted".  Never one to let a crisis go to waste, Bill decides that he will go "where the railroad is headed" and armed with a law book and his silver tongue sets himself up as the mayor of fledgling railroad town Martinez, Arizona.  There are numerous complications: the Tonto Kid turns out to be an old pal of Bill's; Bill meets his estranged daughter who is unwittingly engaged to a member of the Kid's gang; the Brothers McQuinn hatch a scheme with some Indians to legally deprive the town of access to the river.

Familiar faces: Clarence Kolb as the New York business man; the Tonto Kid was played by Tim Holt, who prospected along with Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; not a familiar face, exactly, but Bill's daughter's ne'er-do-well fiancé was played by Allan Lane, the voice of Mr. Ed.

Hold That Co-Ed


Former All-American Rusty Stevens (George Murphy) has been hired as the new football coach for dilapidated State University.  He has barely arrived when he learns that Governor Gabby Harrigan (John Barrymore), who is running for U.S. Senate, has eliminated funding for the school's football team as a "balance the budget" campaign ploy.  Coach Rusty and the students march on the state capitol and cause a ruckus.  Harrigan's senate challenger, Major Breckenridge (George Barbier), plots a campaign volley around the incident, so Harrigan beats him to the punch by announcing that he will make State University the most well funded school in the country.  He strong-arms the legislature into passing the funding, including a football stadium that will hold 100,000 fans. Then, faced with the embarrassment of an empty stadium, he coerces out-of-state businesses with government contracts to pressure their states' most prestigious football teams to play State.  Now, faced with playing the best football teams in the country with a novice team, Harrigan's administration finds a way to put professional athletes on the state payroll and have them play as ringers on the State U team.  Somehow, after this seemingly endless stream of corruption and fraud, Harrigan is seen as a hero and wins the Senate seat because State wins the final game.

Joan Davis plays a female place kicker, so she is probably the titular co-ed.  Other familiar faces: Jack Haley, Marjorie Weaver, Donald Meek and Paul Hurst.

St. Martins Lane


Veteran street performer Charles (Charles Laughton) takes petty thief Libby (Vivien Leigh) under his wing.  Together they create a new "turn" (routine)  for Charles's troop of "buskers" (street performers).  The "buskers" specialize in entertaining the crowds waiting to enter the legitimate "theatres" (theaters) of London's West End. Libby's talent is recognized by songwriter Prentiss (Rex Harrison) and her ambition causes her to leave lovelorn Charles in the lurch. She is successful while Charles descends into the gutter.  

St. Martins Lane
was released in London in 1938 but was released as Sidewalks of London in the U.S. in 1940.  According to Robert Osborne of TCM, the American distributor decided to wait until after Gone With the Wind was released to capitalize on Vivien Leigh's newfound fame.

The Challenge


A dramatization of the true competition between an English team and an Italian team of "Alpinists" who race to be the first to climb the Matterhorn.  The English team, or actually the non-Italian team, since it had Swiss guides and a Scottsman, was first to the top.  Disaster struck on the descent, however, and four of their party were killed. 

Check out the kick-ass depiction of the disaster:

The Devil's Party


The Devil's Party is cut from Angels With Dirty Faces cloth.  A group of delinquents from Hell's Kitchen plan a heist from the produce market.  Marty, the leader, starts a small fire as a diversion and accidentally sets fire to the warehouse.  He is caught but takes the rap alone and goes to reform school while his cohorts go free.  Fast forward and Marty is the owner of a nightclub and casino, former child moll Helen is his star singer, brothers Mike and Joe are cops, and Jerry is a priest.  The whole gang gets together every year to reminisce but this year's reunion becomes complicated.  Marty has sent his thugs to strong-arm an unlucky gambler into making good his bad check.  Despite admonishments against being too rough they brain the guy to death.  The clever thugs make it look like a common accident by sawing loose the hotel's lighted rooftop sign so that it swings down through the gambler's balcony window and hits the body.  Joe the cop is suspicious. His brother Mike the cop is not.  Marty cannot successfully leash his thugs and they end up killing Joe.  The thugs then blackmail Marty into helping with a robbery at the ice rink.  The diversion planned is to release ammonia from the refrigeration system into the crowd.  Marty takes a bullet intended for Mike.  Happy Ending.

Familiar faces: young Mike was played by Scotty Beckett, who was "Scotty" in the Our Gang shorts.

Edit: Hey, I just noticed this is my 100th movie from MCMXXXVIII! Huzzah!

The Shopworn Angel


The Shopworn Angel with Margaret Sullavan, Walter Pidgeon, and Jimmy Stewart.  Daisy Heath (Sullavan) is a jaded showgirl in a passionless romance with her wealthy producer, Sam Bailey (Walter Pidgeon).  Along comes green recruit Pvt. Bill Pettigrew (Jimmy Stewart), who falsely represents to his buddies that Daisy is his girl. When they force him to prove it she acts the good sport and plays along. Bill then decides that she is the embodiment of the idealistic girl of his dreams.  And because he is about to be shipped off to war, world-weary Daisy takes pity on him and allows him to court her. Continued exposure to pure-hearted but naive Bill awakens Daisy's dormant idealism, and the disruption of routine causes Sam to re-examine and re-ignite his own feelings for Daisy.  On the eve of his deployment Daisy agrees to marry Bill, despite the real love she and Sam now feel for each other. Bill must run straight from the chapel to hop on a troop truck (I recall seeing this scene before).  Bad news from the front comes while Daisy is performing "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag" for a local USO type show.

Familiar faces: Hattie McDaniel as Daisy's maid. Nat Pendleton as a doughboy pal of Pvt. Pettigrew.

Tarzan's Revenge


Unlike Tarzan and the Green Goddess, this one was really from 1938.  Keeping with tradition, Tarzan was played by Olympic gold medal winner Glenn Morris.  His event was the decathlon.  While watching this movie I was struck by the fact that his love interest (named not Jane, but Eleanor) was swimming the backstroke faster than Tarzan could swim freestyle.  It turns out that the actress was Eleanor Holm, a gold medal backstroke swimmer in the 1932 Olympics.  Her bigger claim to fame was that she was abruptly kicked off the 1936 US Olympic team for getting drunk on the boat ride over to Germany.

Familiar faces: Hedda Hopper as Eleanor's mother.

Tarzan and the Green Goddess


While this movie was released in 1938, it was made by editing together The New Adventures of Tarzan, a serial from 1935.  The title character is played by Herman Brix, a silver medalist in the 1928 Olympics.  This continued a tradition of Olympian Tarzans: both Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe were gold medal swimmers (Brix was a shotputter).  This movie has the distinction of being the only early Tarzan film to portray Tarzan not just as the "King of the Jungle" but also as the cultured Lord Greystoke.

When Were You Born


Anna May Wong plays a Chinese astrologer who helps the San Francisco police solve a murder.  It reminded me a little of the modern TV show "Lie To Me".  A police consultant who is an expert in what is likely only "pseudo-science" is nonetheless remarkable accurate and insightful in providing information to help the police.

Familiar faces: Margaret Lindsay and Lola Lane.



Tyrone Power digs a canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.  Loretta Young jilts him in favor of a Napoleon (not THE Napoleon), and future real-life wife Annabella dies in a sand storm before Tyrone Power recognizes her romantic potential.  The sand storm is called a "simoon".

It was declared at the end of the movie that this was a "Movie Quiz $250,000 Contest Picture".  I had seen this before so I looked it up.  This was a huge promotion sponsored jointly by the major studios.  Entry forms were distributed at theaters.  They contained a multiple choice question from each of 94 different movies that were released during August, September, and October of 1938.  To enter you had to answer 30 questions and write a short essay about your favorite movie.  There is a listing on Amazon for a copy of the entry form (but it is unavailable) $250,000.00 Movie Quiz Contest (5,404 Ways to Win a Prize).  I would be very interested in finding a full list of the questions but so far, no luck. You can read the question for Suez from the Amazon link:
What great catastrophe retards the building of the Suez Canal in "Suez"? (Check One)
( ) a simoon
( ) a flood
( ) a fire
( ) an earthquake

and you thought my "simoon" comment was irrelevant.

Familiar face: Nigel Bruce

Boys Town


Hard to believe I had never seen this movie.  Spencer Tracy plays real life Father Flanagan, who starts a school for homeless boys outside of Omaha, Nebraska.  Mickey Rooney is the toughest kid he's ever had to reform.  The movie was nominated for Best Picture and Tracy won Best Actor for this role.

I liked this movie but it was incredibly clichéd.  This is probably unfair because I'm sure it is the source of many clichés.  The real Boys Town is still going strong.  My brother probably already knows that it is the home of the World's Largest Ball of Stamps.  They also have a motto, "He ain't heavy, Father, he's m'brother", which was the inspiration of the hit song by the Hollies.  Neither the ball of stamps or the motto were in place in 1938.

Bank Holiday


Bank Holiday is a British film that tells the stories of various people traveling from London to spend a holiday weekend in the seaside town of Bexborough.  First is Catherine, a maternity nurse who has just had to break the news to Stephen that his wife died during childbirth.  She is going for an illicit romantic stay in a hotel with her boyfriend, Geoffrey.  Next is Doreen, going to compete in a beauty pageant, with friend Milly along for the trip.  Finally we follow working-class Arthur with his wife and three kids.  Catherine cannot get (understandably) morose Stephen out of her mind, and ends up greatly disappointing boyfriend Geoffrey.  Arthur spends all weekend ditching his wife and kids to go to the pub.  Doreen gives up her beauty pageant aspirations to console Geoffrey after Catherine returns to London early (to save Stephen from himself).



Sweethearts with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The operetta "Sweethearts" has been performing on Broadway for six years and still sells out every performance.  The biggest worry for producer Felix Lehman (Frank Morgan) is that he won't be able to hang on to his two stars, Gwen Marlowe (MacDonald) and Ernest Lane (Eddy).  Gwen and Ernest were married on the night of their first performance of "Sweethearts" and their marriage is as strong as the show.  They are very tired, however, of the radio broadcasts, charity performances, etc. scheduled by Felix and their showbiz relatives that eat up all their free time, and with the popularity of "Sweethearts" there is no end in sight.  When Hollywood comes calling, falsely promising lots of leisure time, they decide to quit the stage.  To prevent this, Felix and his writing team plot to cause a marital rift between Gwen and Ernest.  This works all too well and the two stars give up on Hollywood and perform in two separate road shows of "Sweethearts", each opposite the other's old understudy.  Eventually the truth outs and the couple reunites.

This film was in color!  It was the first all color feature for MGM, which was apparently the last major studio on the Technicolor bandwagon.  I found it quite distracting.  Also interesting was that Dorothy Parker co-wrote the screenplay.  "Sweethearts" was a real operetta by Victor Herbert, albeit from 1913, and most of the songs in the movie were actually from that show.

Familiar faces:  Ray Bolger (Scarecrow) has one song and dance number in wooden shoes.Gene and Kathleen Lockhart play two of the relatives.

Cool Times Square shot from the movie

Girls' School


At a boarding school for girls, scholarship student Natalie (Anne Shirley) is forced to snitch on popular girl Linda (Nan Grey) for staying out all night.  Linda's wealthy parents are summoned to the school and buy her out of expulsion with a promise to build a new library.  Linda's father meets and befriends Natalie, so he tries some shenanigans with identical corsages to build a friendship between the two girls.  His scheme backfires when Linda accuses Natalie of corsage theft.

Familiar faces: Natalie's beau is played by Noah Beery, Jr. (Rocky from "The Rockford Files"); Marjorie Main plays one of the teachers; and Ralph Bellamy is engaged to another teacher.

The Shining Hour


A wealthy aristocrat farmer (Melville Cooper) woos and weds a New York night club singer (Joan Crawford).  The family back home in Wisconsin is not very accepting of her.

As a movie this was not my favorite, but there were some interesting things in it.  The screenplay was co-written by Ogden Nash, better known for his light verse.  I did not notice any Ogden Nash-ian influences in the dialog.  There is a passing mention of Seabiscuit, who would run his famous match race against War Admiral in 1938.  The thing that caught my attention most, however, was in the opening scene.  Robert Young (playing Melville Cooper's brother) awakes from a sleeper berth in an airplane.  There is very little passenger air travel in the movies from MCMXXXVIII, so I was impressed with a plane that offers sleeper berths, something you don't see today.  The plane in the movie was the Flagship New York, which was a real plane flown by American Airlines.  It was a DST, or Douglas Sleeper Transport.  It could hold fourteen passengers.  A west coast to east coast flight would take over eighteen hours, but I imagine that the one in the movie was a Chicago to New York run.  American did run the Flagship New York on this trip but I don't see why it would take more than six hours.  Rich people need naps, I guess.

The Flagship New York

Familiar faces: Margaret Sullavan, Fay Bainter, Hattie McDaniel, Frank Albertson

Sally, Irene and Mary


Alice Faye, Joan Davis and Marjorie Weaver play Sally, Irene and Mary, three manicurists who are trying to break into show business.  Popular radio comedian Fred Allen plays their agent and Jimmy Durante is his eventual partner in producing a show.

There was an earlier (silent) movie with the same name that was Joan Crawford's breakout role.  Although this movie was nominally based on the same play as that one, the plot was apparently discarded and only the title kept.  In this one, Sally and her love interest Tommy each have a sugar daddy/mama willing to fund a show.  Sally's is an amorous Baron, Tommy's is a many-times-divorced gold digger played by Gypsy Rose Lee (as Louise Hovick).  For the show to go on Sally and Tommy must leave each other and promise to marry the money, but the other girls plot so save their romance.

Gold Diggers in Paris


A befuddled representative of the International Dance Exposition in Paris mistakes the tropical Club Balle (Think Bali) in New York for the American Academy of Ballet.  The club owners have just learned that despite playing to a packed house every night they are losing money hand over fist, so they take advantage of the confusion and accept the gig.  They pack up their entire night club act (along with the Schnickelfritz Band) and head to Paris.

This is the last of several "Gold Digger" Busby Berkeley musicals - the others star Dick Powell, this one stars Rudy Vallee. Rudy does a nice impression of Maurice Chevalier.  Besides Rudy Vallee, this movie stars Rosemary Lane (a Lane Sister).  It also has a full complement of some of my favorite character actors from MCMXXXVIII: Hugh Herbert ("hoo hoo!"), Allen Jenkins, Melville Cooper, and Edward Brophy.  The Schnickelfritz Band is like an earlier Spike Jones Band, playing crazy instruments or regular instruments in crazy ways.

Rudy Vallee doing Maurice Chevalier

Woman Against Woman


Lawyer Stephen Holland (Herbert Marshall) is awakened to the problems in his marriage when his long-term nanny resigns.  His wife, Cynthia (Mary Astor), is selfish and manipulative, and there is no love in his marriage.  Braced with this new knowledge he refuses to give in to her next demand, but finds himself at loggerheads. He decides she will never change and divorces her, winning weekend visitation with their five-year-old daughter, Ellen.  A few months later Stephen meets Maris (Virginia Bruce) on a business trip to D.C.  He falls in love and marries her, and they return to his hometown where Cynthia still has the sympathy of the social set.  Maris is given the cold shoulder by the women of the town and Cynthia continues to play the wronged woman to make sure it stays that way.  Cynthia seems to be winning the war against Maris when she finally goes too far in using daughter Ellen against her husband.  Cynthia is exposed and Maris negotiates an armistice.

Mary Astor plays her part perfectly but as such is not very likeable.  Virginia Bruce is very likeable but does not look nearly as pretty when she has to stand next to Mary Astor.  Mary is quite the looker.  Herbert Marshall's character is a brilliant and confident lawyer, but he just gets batted around like a ping pong ball where women are concerned.

Annabel Takes a Tour


Lucille Ball is movie star Annabel Allison, who spars with her scheming publicity agent Lanny Morgan (Jack Oakie).  This is a follow-up movie to The Affairs of Annabel, which I gather has a similar plot.  The earlier movie is also from 1938 so maybe I will get to see it.  This is the first time (from 1938) I have seen Lucille Ball in the lead.  She takes a few prat falls  but most of the comedy belongs to Jack Oakie.

The Crowd Roars


This is a nice little boxing flick with a lot of familiar faces.  Robert Taylor plays boxer Tommy "Killer" McCoy.  His dad is played by Frank Morgan.  The gambler who buys his contract is Edward Arnold.  The boxer's love interest is Maureen O'Sullivan.  Maureen's school chum is Jane Wyman.  The gambler's competition is Nat Pendleton.  The trainer is played by Lionel Stander, whom I know as "Max" from Hart to Hart.

My Lucky Star


My Lucky Star with Sonja Henie.  Like my other Sonja Henie movie, Happy Landing, this has Cesar Romero playing the playboy scoundrel.  It also reprises my favorite gag from the earlier movie - Billy Gilbert as a server pushing a special that his customers don't want.  This time he is running a sweet shop and pushing the tutti frutti sundae (with pistachios) when his customers just want chocolate.

Okay, the plot:  Cesar Romero is the son of a wealthy New York department store owner.  He has impulsively married a gold digger played by Gypsy Rose Lee (but credited as Louise Hovak).  His wife intends to take him to the cleaners in the divorce if she can get proof that he is fooling around.  He obliges by luring store employee Sonja Henie to his apartment, where she is seen but not identified.  To prevent positive identification Romero hatches a scheme to enroll her in remote Plymouth University where her job will be to provide product placement for the women's winter-wear department by changing clothes five times a day.  Fortuitously, ice skating is a popular pastime there.  Romance and hijinks ensue.  There is a pretty cool "Alice in Wonderland" ice ballet at the end of the movie.

Buddy Ebsen has a prominent part, opposite Joan Davis of "I Married Joan" fame.  Fish and chips man Arthur Treacher has a small role as factotum to Romero's dad.  Paul Hurst (the Yankee deserter shot by Scarlett) plays Gypsy Rose Lee's detective friend.

Gypsy Rose Lee and Paul Hurst

Joan Davis and Buddy Ebsen

Three Comrades


Three Comrades starring Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone, Robert Young, and Margaret Sullavan.  Three disillusioned German soldiers return to a troublesome civilian life after World War I.  They meet a financially ruined former heiress, whom the youngest of the three marries.  Unfortunately she has recurring tuberculosis and does not have long to live.

This movie seems to be almost universally acclaimed but I didn't like it at all.  It was so serious!  I think there was one single scene in the movie that ended on a high note.  Every other scene was either outright sad, overlaid with hopelessness, or foreshadowing tragedy.  Blah.  I did like their souped-up car named "Baby", though.

This movie was based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front.  The screenplay was at least partially written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Mother Carey's Chickens


Mother Carey's Chickens is based on the novel of the same name by Kate Smith Wiggin.  It has not proved as enduring as her other book, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  It was also made into a Disney movie starring Hayley Mills called Summer Magic.

This is the story of a mother of four who was widowed during the Spanish-American war.  The Careys have never had a permanent home of their own but manage, with charm and hard work but not much money, to adopt a beautiful house in Rhode Island.  When circumstances almost cause them to lose the house, the community rallies around them so that they can stay.

"Mother Carey's Chickens" is a nickname for a seabird (storm-petrel) that lives on the open ocean.  The family referred to themselves as Mother Carey's Chickens because their last name was Carey and they never had a true home, but had always traveled with their father from Naval port to Naval port.  I can only assume that the book title was well known because it seems like a terrible name for a movie.

This was a pleasant enough movie with Anne Shirley and Ruby Keeler, but the interesting history of this movie is really about who wasn't in it.  Katharine Hepburn had just been labeled as "box office poison" in a poll of theater exhibitors and she blamed it on the low budget films she was being given.  This was apparently one of those movies and she refused it, instead buying her contract back from RKO.  This movie was also being touted as Ginger Rogers's solo debut, but RKO was having such success with her Fred Astaire pictures that it got bumped from her schedule.

I ran across this quote in a 1936 Hollywood column from the Milwaukee Journal:
Ginger Rogers has been faced with a difficult problem in "Mother Carey's Chickens," her first dramatic role on the screen. The period around which Kate Douglas Wiggins weaves her tale is the early 1900s, and the redheads of the Hollywood type were conspicuous by their absence.  In order accurately to interpret her role, Ginger will dye her locks to ash blond, and, for the first time in her acting career, belie her nickname.  
I get a kick out of this because this movie (like all of Ginger's movies to date) was in black and white.

The father (before he dies) is played by Ralph Morgan, who reminds me very much if his brother, Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz).  Margaret Hamilton is also in this movie, playing a character much meaner than Almira Gulch.  Other familiar faces are Walter Brennan, Frank Albertson (Sam Wainwright from IAWL) and Virginia Weidler, who sang "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" in The Philadelphia Story.

Wicked Margaret Hamilton

Letter of Introduction


Letter of Introduction with Adolphe Menjou and Edgar Bergen.  Kay Martin and Edgar Bergen (Edgar Bergen) risk going into an apartment fire, Bergen to rescue Charlie McCarthy and Martin to get a mysterious "letter of introduction" which she claims is going to open up a new life for her.  It turns out to be a letter to famous actor John Mannering (Adolphe Menjou) informing him that Kay is his daughter.  Mannering doesn't want the publicity of revealing a daughter so he and Kay decide to keep the basis of their relationship secret, although he is happy to help her with her acting aspirations.  Since Mannering has a reputation with the ladies everyone assumes that Kay is a new romantic conquest.  He secures a plum role for her on Broadway but must agree to be in the show as well.  His stage confidence has been shot by a decade of film-making and he falls apart on opening night.

This movie is also supposed to portray the real-life rise to fame of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, from the obscurity of vaudeville to having a successful radio program.  It is the first movie where Edgar Bergen played an actual character and not just a specialty role, and it also introduced the character of Mortimer Snerd.

TiVo recorded this movie for me from the World Harvest Television channel and they really butchered the editing to put commercials in.  Still, they showed it and nobody else has, so they have my gratitude.  I think they also gave me Love on a Budget.  I liked Letter of Introduction so much that I may try to rent it one day to see the scenes that were missing.

Familiar faces: Ann Sheridan and Eve Arden.

Buy it on Amazon!

Designed by: | Bloggerized by Dhampire