As Spring Break time winds down throughout the country we reflect on the 1963 West Coast version of fun in the sun with the Troy Donahue, Stephanie Powers Warner Brothers film Palm Springs Weekend.
The 1963 movie Palm Springs Weekend starred some of the last of the Warner Brothers contract players. Most were popular television alumni that were undoubtedly promised a movie in their contract. A few of the alumni featured: Troy Donahue – Surfside Six, Robert Conrad – Hawaiian Eye, Ty Hardin – Bronco, and Connie Stevens – Hawaiian Eye. The studio’s also had a habit of trying to get their contract players record deals, the most successful from this movie was Connie Stevens.
It is always fun watching child actor Billy Mumy who specialized in playing a parent of the 60’s worst nightmare of a child whether on Twilight Zone, feature movies or Lost in Space.
Character actor Carole Cook as his mother and Jack Weston as the middle age coach pursuing Cook the manager of the motel give the perspective that the adults also need a spring break. The motel taken over by college kids/and wannabe college kids are given strict rules for the establishment from Cook. ‘No cross pollination’ a rule she and Weston find more difficult to live by than the kids. Cook and Weston were also paired in another favorite Warner Brothers movie: The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964).
Agatha Christie, queen of murder mysteries, was not only the brain child behind notorious sleuths like Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence, she is also the best selling author of all time . She wrote 78 crime novels, six other novels, 150 short stories, four non-fiction books and 19 plays.
Thankfully TCM is also reminding us of her genius via film on July 21st with 5 movies, including Tyrone Power’s Witness for the Prosecution, and Peter Ustinov in Evil Under the Sun. If you want to see more Agatha on film, checkout the Warner Archive- they’ve just begun to release this collection.
Doris Day and her mother Alma Sophia Kappelhoff.
Another year another missed TCM Film Festival, Rochellelynn and I are taking the month of April to lament that fact and what better day to challenge ourselves towards making that goal happen for next year but April Fool’s Day. Today’s theme on TCM is Slapstick Comedies. And what better choice to watch on TCM but the 1965 movie: The Great Race
The Great Race has the chase aspect, the handsome good guy dressed all in white aspect, the Snidely Whiplash aspect, the wonderful gowns by Edith Head for Natalie Wood aspect and the absolutely imperative ‘pie in the face’ aspect. The movie was nominated by the Academy in five categories unfortunately it came away empty handed. There really was a Great Race in 1908 from New York to Paris that race was 22,000 miles and lasted 169 days. I’m guessing it will be over 365 days and many posts for us to reach our goal. Was that a shot from a starter pistol I just heard? O.K. we’re off…
Smarty (1934 Warner Brothers)
Warren William and Joan Blondell play the magically in-love married couple Tony and Vicky. Then one day Vicky goes a little too far mentioning impotence and baby carrots in the same sentence, and Tony slaps her in the face, in front of friends. This of course is just a little marital spat, but… divorce is all the rage, and Vicky decides she doesn’t have to take this! She quickly gets a divorce and marries her divorce lawyer, who is a friend in the same circle. An extremely predictable storyline and a rather annoying Vicky make this a movie you can skip if you want. While it holds all the joys of Forbidden Hollywood, the lack of wit and some human chutzpa by no means make up for the daring dresses or negligees. I adore Joan Blondell and Warren William- especially together as a couple- but just not in this film- this is one you can skip.
Dames (1934 Warner Brothers): Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell
James( Powell) is trying to get money from the rich Uncle Ezra for his new broadway show, but Uncle Ezra wants nothing to do with that one branch of his family tree who is not an upstanding moral citizen. In fact, upon swearing that he will never let James in his house, Horace is gifted 10 million dollars from Uncle Ezra. And while the Hemingway family may be upstanding, it sure doesn’t look that way when Joan Blondell ends up in Horace’s railcar suite, in bed. A little bit of blackmail and the whole things fixed, but if Ezra finds out, the 10 million is off. Ruby Keeler’s face gets plastered all over the place in I Only Have Eyes for You, and Joan Blondell dances with the laundry. All while Mathilda, Ezra and Horace are drowning in a Golden Elixir that’s supposed to cure their hiccups, so much for the moral code at 79% alcohol.
Gold Diggers of 1933 (Warner Brothers): Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers, and Dick Powell
“I believe I can make this girl transfer her affection from him to me.”
Down and out in the Depression, Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, and Dick Powell get it together to put on what they hope to be a successful show. But they’ll have to get through Warren William first if they expect to keep their leading man. What ensues is such fun as the girls take the rich stuffed shirts from Boston for a ride. Wanting to tell Brad’s brother the truth, the real Polly isn’t too happy that Joan Blondell has been pulling the wool over his eyes, but things all work out in the end.
With songs like Pettin’ in the Park and We’re in the Money, this musical set the standard for the musicals that helped pull the country out of the depression. Glow in the dark violins, the Forgotten Man March, and Warren William turning out to be a nice guy all make this a top notch musical.
Girl Missing(1933 Warner Brothers): Lyle Talbot and Glenda Farrell
“I brought you to Palm Beach, I had no intention of being a gentleman.”
Gold digger Daisy gets a headache when she realizes her playboy husband only married her to satisfy the stipulations of his father’s will, and subsequently goes missing. But when the cops arrive they find not only a missing Daisy but also a dead man in the garden. Could it all link back to the gigolo Raymond Fox? Daisy, after all, was a chorus girl in Manhattan before acting the lady in Miami Beach. Enter two sassy sleuths who knew all about Daisy, have a hunch about Raymond and really need that 25k reward since their sugar daddy skipped town and left them with a hotel bill.
A very fun mysterious romp in Forbidden Hollywood, with sexual advances, lies, rackets, and fake accidents. Make sure to see this one.
Illicit(1931 Warner Brothers): Barbara Stanwyck
“There have been women who want to park their heads on this manly bosom.” Illicit
Fearing the loss of her freedom Ann refuses to get married to a man desperately in love with her. The thing is is she’s absolutely hopelessly in love with him too…but her parent’s divorce left a sour taste in her mouth and she can’t bring herself to tie the knot. Still they can’t go on like this when rumors start circulating. So Dick tells her he can’t see her anymore unless they get married. So in the spur of the moment, and against all her better judgment Ann consents, even though she doesn’t believe in marriage, believes it causes oodles of problems, and is urged by a close friend not to do it. The friend is probably the most intriguing thing in this film, because he too doesn’t believe in marriage, loves Ann just as she is, and wants nothing more from her. Dick begins to go astray with an ex-girlfriend and Ann calls him out on it. With a fresh take on problems so prevalent in society today, this pre-code can teach lessons on how to love, be married and not lose your identity.
Barbara seem so young in this film at 24, and still her acting is spot on! It’s so impressive. And keep an eye out for the devilish Ricardo Cortez as Price Baines, another spot on performance.
Blonde Crazy (1931 ~ Warner Brothers): James Cagney and Joan Blondell
“If I can’t get it from you, I’ll get it from someone else”
As most of what we find in Forbidden Hollywood, Blonde Crazy is a movie about sex, not romance. How to use it, how to get it, and when to withhold it. Anne( Blondell) spends most of her time in this film trying to guard that one thing that every man wants, and Bert( Cagney) spends most of his attempting to get it. Since Anne is reluctant to give, and Bert getting nowhere at all they finally get on the same page deciding to swindle together in order to get ahead. But when one swindle turns sour, they have to do everything they can think of to get back ahead, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they get back ahead together.
With a lovely very early appearance of Ray Milland as the guy who saves Anne when she gets something stuck in her eye, this film is definitely worth the watch. Joan and James starred together 7 times and always on equal footing, both drew crowds at the box office, and both were blessed with excellent lines, and starring roles. If you only know James Cagney as the gangster type, get ready to see a slimy seductive version of him in this film. And if you’re in the mood for a drinking game, take a swig every time Joan slaps James and tries to sit upright by the end of this film.