March 5, 1908 ~ June 2, 1990 Rex Harrison
Unfaithfully Yours, My Fair Lady
As a child I remember watching Dr. Dolittle, because horses that talked just seemed awesome, and My Fair Lady, because you couldn’t find dresses like Audrey’s on Nickelodeon. But when I look back on it now, and all the greatness, and scandal, and marriages that Rex Harrison brought to Hollywood, I have to say I think perhaps one of his best roles was in the under-the-radar, Unfaithfully Yours (The Criterion Collection). As the composer plotting to kill his wife, Linda Darnell, Rex Harrisonacts out in his mind all the ways he could possibly pull off the task of murdering his wife, while carefully weighing all the outcomes. Troubleshooting the act to perfection we see him go through several layers of the mind, before he comes back up for air at the end to a rather surprising finale. Part of the Criterion Collection, there’s more merit to this film that can possibly be discussed here, without me going into a full dissertation. With the murderous plotting being done via the orchestration of the great symphonies, Rex Harrison brings a level of glamour to the macabre that we’re only used to seeing in Hitchcock films.
In honor of her birthday, I am suggesting you all drop everything and watch Personal Property with Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor. It has to be my favorite Jean Harlow film, except for maybe Red Dust. Jean’s comedic timing, the way she impersonates her soon to be arriving guests, the way she pretends to be a gracious hostess, the ways she tries to not be jealous are all laugh out loud reasons to find this film asap.
You’ll find the same fun in Libeled Lady, but I think I like this one best, because for a minute you totally forget that she’s gorgeous, and has a body to die for, and that you’d probably claw her eyes out if she ever got near your man. She acts no-holds-barred in this film, just as I imagine she did in real life. Happy Birthday Jean! XOXO
March 1, 1910 ~ July 29,1983
David Niven Bachelor Mother, Pink Panther, Please don’t eat the Daisies
I think annstj and I both agree that Bachelor Mother is our favorite David Niven film. Opposite Ginger Rogers, David Niven plays the upper class department store owner, laid with the task of giving Ginger Rogers back her job when he discovers she has left her baby at an orphanage because she had been fired… or so he thinks it was her baby, little does anyone believe she was just trying to keep it from rolling off the steps at the front door. Thus begins the bathed-in-lies relationship between Rogers and Niven, and uh… the baby. Niven also satisfies in The Pink Panther and Please don’t Eat the Daisies. Enjoy!
February 27, 1905 ~ September 18, 1968
Midnight Mary, Three Comrades, Bombshell
Knowing full well that we should be assigning Bombshell to Jean Harlow’s b-day, given it being her signature piece, we chose instead to highlight Franchot’s debonair and dashing man for hire instead. Why? Well, he had the tendency, sometimes to come across a little strong as he got older, and thinner, and almost looked a little mean. In the early films like Bombshell he is still fresh, and playing the savior to our “trapped in Hollywood” Jean Harlow, even if she doesn’t know its all an act. Finally, she feels she has met the man who could father her children. In fact, with just a few hours of acquaintance behind them, she’s already meeting his parents. We like it when the men move fast around here. In Reckless, also opposite Jean, he plays the perfect rich playboy winning our fair Miss Harlow even though William Powell is madly in love with her. A finely crafted plot though does get our real life lovebirds ( Powell and Harlow) into each other’s arms eventually due to a singular bad choice by Franchot’s character. Another film that probably had no buzz about it at all, but that we of course both love is Because of Him. In this Deanna Durbin film Franchot plays the Playwright who doesn’t want Deanna cast in his lead role. Lucky for Deanna she has Charles Laughton on her side, and lucky for Franchot Tone, he can play the piano really well. Franchot also made an impression in Loretta Young’s Midnight Mary.
Happy Birthday Franchot!
Feb 26, 1921 ~ March 11, 2007
Bounding Betty the Incendiary Blonde. What better way to celebrate her Birthday but with her friends honoring her with a Star on the ‘Palm Springs Walk of Stars’ sidewalk in Palm Springs, California. Betty Hutton’s performance in the Preston Sturges film The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is a favorite of mine. Many thanks to the Betty Hutton Estate for providing the picture above of one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Trudy Kockenlocker returning Norville’s car after a night of doing her patriotic duty and ‘saying goodbye to the boys’.
Happy Birthday Betty!
Ann Sheridan, Juke Girl with plenty of Oomph. Ann played characters that survived a lynching in Juke Girl. Was extremely brave for the greater good in Edge of Darkness, made you laugh in I was a Male War Bride and made you cry in King’s Row. And it’s hard to believe but she suffered from loneliness in The Unfaithful. No matter what emotion she played Ann’s movies are always fun to watch especially when her co-stars are, Errol, Ronnie, and Cary.
Happy Birthday Ann Sheridan!