Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tidbits for June, 2021

Geoffrey Toone and Hildegard Knef in The Man Between (1953)

An Amazon customer wrote the following about Public Enemy (1931): "I didn't care much for the film. Just a bunch of scenes with James Cagney walking around acting like an ass to everyone.  Probably gets what he deserved."


Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear adapted Never Too Late (1965) from a 1962 Broadway play written by Sumner Arthur Long.  The pair later incorporated elements of the film into All In the Family.  Like All In the Family, the film features an ill-tempered middle-aged man who lives with his long-suffering wife, his comely adult daughter and his freeloading son-in-law.  The wife is even named Edith.  Of course, Yorkin and Lear have rightfully credited the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part as the main inspiration for All In the Family.

Strangely, Lear has claimed in recent years that he created the series entirely on his own.  So, why has this credit appeared at the end of the show for the last fifty years?

According to Lear, he lied to network executives about the pilot being adapted from a popular British series because he thought it would make it easier to sell.  Do I believe this?  No.  Stealing credit for other people's ideas is a normal pastime in Hollywood.  Lear is simply a vain old man who is desperate to exaggerate his importance in the annals of television history.       

I wrote in "The Funny Parts" about Belle Hathaway, who toured in vaudeville with a popular monkey act called Belle Hathaway and Her Simian Playmates.  I got this letter from Miss Hathaway's granddaughter:

Doing the genealogy.  Lots of fun.  And great photographs.  My grandmother always said the monkeys were treated better than the kids.  The monkeys made money, the kids. . . not so much.

Btw, they stopped performing in 1914 because of a tragic fire that killed the monkeys trapped in their cages in the shed.

Good luck on your next book(s). You're on my list.

Katherine (Ward)

Movie money never looked more fake than it does in The Whistler (1944). 

Similar fake bills turn up in Across the Pacific (1942).

Ceasar Romero and Edward Brophy have laid out the fake bills in full view in Show Them No Mercy (1935).

You can read an article that I wrote on the subject by clicking here.  

German actress Hildegard Knef possessed a magnetic beauty.

In vaudeville, a comedy team tended to combine jokes and songs in their 15-minute act.  Here is Variety's review of a 1919 appearance of Arch Hendricks and George Stone at the Fifth Avenue Theatre:  

Two men in evening dress and high hats.  One does an acceptable straight to the other's "souse."  A short routine of talk starts them off.  This is followed by a double, "I Want to Go Back to Dear Old Mother's Knee."  Both have pleasing singing voices and the number went over nicely.  A single by the taller chap next "Forever Is a Long, Long Time," which got something.  The "souse" follows with another vocal number, a comic, "I'm Trying So Hard to English."  A glass of what appears to be real "hootch" and a seltzer bottle used as props figure in the "souse's" single for several laughs.  Another routine of talk, which holds several pretty old gags next and "When the Preacher Says the Word" harmonized as a double for the finish.  The "souse" continues in that character throughout the act.  He handles the character without becoming offensive and gets considerable fun out of it.  Excellent turn for the better class of pop houses.

Loretta Young and Tyrone Power were one of the best-looking couples in Hollywood history.  Unfortunately, good looks cannot keep you out of jail, which the couple unhappily learn in the romantic comedy Love is News (1937).  

This was the second of five films the actors made together.  It is an entertaining film that is well worth watching.

Harry Langdon is a soldier more interested love than war in A Soldier's Plaything (1930).

A Superman comic book is an eye-catching prop in The Whistler (1944).

Lilian Bond, a pretty British actress, appeared in several memorable films, including The Old Dark House (1932), The Westerner (1940) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). 

I came across this photo of Lloyd Hamilton the other day.  It's from the film A Self-Made Failure (1924).

A washwoman is hit by a cannonball in Sherman was Right (1914, Royal Film).  

You can find the full comedy at

Here's two examples of the Head Through A Painting Gag.

Lou Costello in In Society (1944)

George Formby in Keep Fit (1937)

Alma Kruger in Puddin' Head (1941)

Rachel Roberts in Foul Play (1978)

In the old days, Hollywood found a way to put an unmarried couple in bed together while avoiding censorship restrictions. 

Hedy Lamar and Jimmy Stewart are separated by a thin wall during an overnight hotel stay in Come Live with Me (1941).

The idea was carried further with Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea in The More the Merrier (1943).

An earlier scene in the film works with a similar idea.  Arthur and McCrea are in separate parts of an apartment, unaware of each other's presence, when they are mutually beguiled by the melody of a rumba record and launch into a lively dance.  Arthur dances around her bedroom, freely shaking her rump, while McCrea moves his feet in a steady series of box steps as if he's leading a woman around a dance floor.  The director intercuts the shots to make it look as if Arthur and McCrea are dance partners.

Here's Deanna Durbin and Robert Paige taking a bath together (sort of) in Can't Help Singing (1944).

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are illusory bedfellows in Indiscreet (1958).

Many people assume that the idea originated with Pillow Talk (1959).

A homage to this shot was presented in When Harry Met Sally (1989).

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