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!

The Girl of the Golden West


The Girl of the Golden West with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  In the days of the California gold rush, "Gringo" is a boy who has been raised first by Indians and then by Mexican bandits. Mary is an orphan who has come West with her uncle.  Gringo becomes a famous bandito in his own right, changing his name to Ramerez (and now played by Nelson Eddy).  Mary's uncle builds a saloon, which she (now Jeanette MacDonald) inherits and continues to run.  Mary is courted by the sheriff (Walter Pidgeon) and the blacksmith (Buddy Ebsen), but of course eventually falls for the bandit.  The padre is played by H.B. Warner, who was Mr. Gower in It's a Wonderful Life.

Penrod and His Twin Brother


In a classic case of "everyone has a twin somewhere", teenager Penrod Schofield runs into trouble when identical but unrelated Danny Dugan moves to town.  Danny's dog bites spoiled kid Raymond and and Penrod's dog Duke gets the blame.  Penrod and his pals have a junior G-men club and they work to keep Duke away from the authorities.  They send Raymond (who is a member of the club, but no longer in good standing) on a wild goose chase involving a messenger pigeon so they can make plans for Duke.  Raymond witnesses a deadly payroll heist and is kidnapped by the crooks.  He manages to send the boys a clue to where he is being held (by messenger pigeon).  Danny joins the gang and together they rescue Raymond and foil the robbers, with Duke playing a heroic role.

Unlike the Parent Trap model Penrod and Danny are played by real life identical twins.

Familiar faces: Spring Byington as Penrod's mother; Charles Halton (the bank examiner from It's a Wonderful Life) as Raymond's father.

The Citadel


The Citadel with Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell.  Robert Donat plays a doctor just out of medical school who begins as an assistant doctor for a mining company in Wales.  He does all the work and gets no respect, so he quits to be the company doctor in another mining town.  To win this job he pretends to be engaged, so he must propose to the attractive schoolteacher from the first town, played by an unusually taciturn Rosalind Russell.  He wins no friends in the new town and leaves to run his own practice in London.  After a year of not quite scraping by, he is introduced to the world of fleecing rich hypochondriacs by his old med school buddy, Rex Harrison.  Although now wealthy, Rosalind Russell liked him better as ethically intact but poor.  A tragedy involving his best friend turns him back to the proper path.

This movie was nominated for Best Picture, and now I have seen all but two of the nominees for MCMXXXVIII.  They are:
You Can't Take It with You (the winner)
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Alexander's Ragtime Band (top box office draw in 1938, edging out Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs*)
Four Daughters
Test Pilot
The Citadel

The two I haven't seen are Boys Town and Grand Illusion.

Sexy schoolmarm Rosalind Russell

*Snow White was released in late '37 so it is not on my list, but it pretty much ruled the box office for most of 1938.

Alexander's Ragtime Band


Alexander's Ragtime Band starring the music of Irving Berlin. Tyrone Power plays a classical violinist turned pop band leader, who starts playing at Dirty Eddie's in San Francisco's Barbary Coast and finishes in Carnegie Hall in New York.  On the way he falls in love, loses the girl to his best friend, and finally reunites with her.

Familiar faces: Don Ameche as the best friend, Ethel Merman as the rebound girlfriend, and Jack Haley (the Tin Man) as the drummer.

Paradise for Three


Rudolf Tobler (Frank Morgan), owner of the Tobler Soap Company, is feeling smothered by the well-intentioned nagging he receives from his housekeeper (Edna May Oliver). To get away, he enters his own company's slogan contest under an assumed name and wins second place ("Where there's life there's soap - Where there's soap, there's Tobler!"). First place goes to out-of-work Fritz Hagedorn (Robert Young) for "Use Tobler soap. You really should. It's half as much, and twice as good!". The prize for each man is a two week vacation in the Alps.

Housekeeper Mrs. Kunkel learns of the secret vacation by blackmailing the valet. She calls to inform the hotel that the Tobler soap prize winner is really a multi-millionaire and should be treated accordingly, but is interrupted before confirming Tobler's travelling name. Hagedorn is mistaken as the millionaire while Tobler is treated as an unwelcome guest. Gold digging divorcee Mrs. Mallebre (Mary Astor) first tries to woo Hagedorn but soon realizes that Tobler is the real millionaire and shifts her attention to him. Mrs. Kunkel and Tobler's daughter Hilde travel to the resort - Kunkel to rescue Tobler from the gold digger; Hilde to make sure he has a good time. Hilde also hides her wealth and Hagedorn fall in love with her. Their romance is almost spoiled when the deceit is revealed but the whole Tobler household works to patch things up.

Edna May Oliver is incredibly familiar but I'm hard pressed to pick a memorable role.  She was in Cimarron but I don't think I've ever seen it.  She was the Red Queen in a version of Alice in Wonderland.  She was also frequently caricatured in old Looney Tunes cartoons.
Frank Morgan was, of course, The Wizard of Oz.

"Romance for Three" was the UK Title, I guess this was a British print.

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