On "No Down Payment": Anne said...This is what makes me wonder if Jeffrey Hunter and Patricia Owens'scharacters had even consumated thier marriageThe kid's got a broken radio, Jeff pulls out a screw driver and sets to work.Tony Randall gets smarmy with Jeff's wife and he's a frozen bystander...if Tony was mashing a radio, I think Jeff's character would have sprun into action. March 9, 2013
On "Trooper Hook": Vienna said...Wonderful review ! I haven't seen TROOPER HOOK for a long time but hope it becomes available on DVD. You describe Joel and Barbara's characters so well. An unusual role for Barbara. I guess she chose to do it for that reason. March 11, 2013
Anne said...Thank you for writing about this little gemOne can see this film on the encore west channel now and then and it's astonishingly good. With a budget not enough for a modern office pastry cart, it shows what can be done with excellent writing and acting....and directing. I love how we see the tiny stage from afar, then we see it though Nanches legs, we are right behind him, and we now know he's on their trail...it makes him almost a gonzilla of a threatChildren: let Mr. McCrea and Ms Stanwyck show you how it's done.They are hotter across a dusty feed store than many buck necked couples in love scenes today.March 7, 2013
On "Any Number Can Play": Vienna said...I love this film. Great cast, though I hate seeing Audrey Totter so totally wasted. All Audrey seemed to do was stand around with a glass in one hand and cigarette in the other.I thought Alexis Smith did well ,playing a woman whom I 'm sure was meant to be older than Alexis who was probably about 30 at the time.Great to see Mary Astor though,again, what a small role. And Marjorie Rambeau is always a joy.It could have been a play, with the only sets the gambling club and Gable's house.An unusual role for Gable and he was convincing.March 1, 2013
On Anita Sharp-Bolster: Vienna said...I've just see Anita in THE LONDON BLACKOUT MURDERS and she is so good as another battle-axe character , but with a touch of comedy . Nice tribute. Thanks.http//:dancing lady39.wordpress.com February 2, 2013
On Victor Jory - On Stage and Screen: Vienna said...Thanks for great tribute to Victor Jory whom I like, especially in a couple of films where he isn't the villain! In FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS, Victor does his best to help Randolph Scott and becomes a good friend to Scott's character. Such a contrast to Victor's usual roles. I also liked him in a little B, THE UNKNOWN GUEST where he is the leading manI had no idea Victor and Alexis Smith did two plays together - thanks for the information. Oh to have seen them!January 24, 2013
On And Then There Were None: Ryan said...I bought this years ago on DVD, and it's still my favorite movie version of this story. The cast was perfect, and to tell you the truth, though I love the book, I almost prefer this ending. I think it's the hopeless romantic in me.February 19, 2013
We’re continuing our Halloween fright fest with something truly scary: the economy. This week marks the 80th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash whose repercussions changed this country and a good part of the world. The above famous headline in Variety, devoted to stage and film, put the matter succinctly and with typical panache. Other papers were grappling with 72-point type headlines that attempted to dramatize numbers of shares sold, points in decline, value lost. Variety summed up the whole nightmare in show-biz terms.
What makes this anniversary special is the similarities people, and pundits, may choose to draw between our current economic challenges and those of eight decades ago. It makes the anniversary more dramatic, to be sure, but perhaps it will give us something more than entertaining intrigue. Possibly, it might give us more understanding about the whole grisly matter, and more empathy for a generation that lost everything.
On Thursday we’ll mark the finale of the fiasco, the so-called “Black Tuesday” event (There was, you’ll remember, Black Thursday, Black Friday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday) with a look at “The Roaring Twenties” (1939), a fascinating and well-made film that attempts to look back on the event with an objective if nostalgic eye. We may have even better perspective now.
Today, let’s have a brief look at one episode of the 1929 stock market crash that says something about the quirkiness of the Roaring Twenties, and maybe the inevitability of paying the piper, or judgment day, or just the party being over.
In the musical “Funny Girl” (1967), Barbra Streisand, playing the popular comedienne Fanny Brice, goes along with her lover, played by Omar Sharif, on a ship to Europe. He is a professional gambler and intends to ply his trade among the well-to-do on the ship. The ship they travel on is the grand Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Berengaria.
“You are going to Europe so you can play cards on the boat?!” Miss Streisand asks incredulously. A little card playing was the least of a life of excess at sea.
The Berengaria began its life a product of Imperial Germany as the Imperator, but was turned over to Great Britain after World War I for reparations, where it was renamed and reborn as a favorite among wealthy travelers taking the trans-Atlantic route between Britain and the U.S.
F. Scott Fitzgerald noted in the final pages of his 1922 novel “The Beautiful and the Damned”, where his dissipated Lost Generation poster children, Anthony and Gloria Patch, newly wealthy but their souls destroyed, wander the decks of the Berengaria, “That exquisite heavenly irony which has tabulated the demise of so many generations of sparrows doubtless records verbal inflections of the passengers of such ships as The Berengaria.”
Other passengers, like Vanderbilt, DuPont, Astor, and J. P. Morgan may not have wandered the decks in dissipation, but certainly had a reason for choosing the Berengaria over other ships. In August of 1929, a couple of months before the Crash, the Berengaria instituted a new service. A salon on the promenade deck would become a stock brokerage linked by wireless to Wall Street. No more would bored millionaires struggle to amuse themselves with shuffleboard on the crossing. Now, they could continue to trade stocks during the voyage.
I suppose it was a 1920s version of people who just cannot put down the cell phone or BlackBerry.
During the week of the Crash, the Berengaria had left Europe and was heading to New York. When news of the stocks falling spread across the ship, the brokerage room was barraged by the passengers, all trying to get more information, all trying to sell. Helena Rubinstein, the cosmetics manufacturer, sat in a front row leather armchair to watch the prices continuously chalked on the board, and continuously falling. She lost a million dollars in a couple of hours.
Other millionaires on board that trip docked in New York penniless. A kind of voyage of the damned. They were no less helpless than the people who sweated it out in the nervous crowds gathering in front of the New York Stock Exchange, but they had a better view; if they bothered to leave the brokerage salon and take a stroll on the promenade deck.
It makes a dramatic allegory to the Crash of 1929, including the aftermath. The Berengaria’s fortunes faltered during the Great Depression, was referred to as “Bargain Area” and used for cheap cruises to the Caribbean and Bermuda, but failed to turn a profit. By the end of the 1930s, she was retired and eventually scrapped in the mid-1940s.
A poem parodying the outlandish idea of having a brokerage a ship was published in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, and later the Literary Digest August 31, 1929. It is eerily prescient:
We were crowded in the cabin Watching figures on the Board; It was midnight on the ocean And a tempest loudly roared.
We were watching the quotations With a certain sad appeal: Some were short in General Motors, Some were long on U.S. Steel.
And, timidly a tourist Took a chance on twenty shares -- "We are lost!" the Captain shouted, As he staggered down the stairs.
"I've got a tip," he faltered, "Straight by wireless from the aunt Of a fellow who's related To a cousin of Durant."
At these awful words we shuddered, And the stoutest bull grew sick While the brokers cried, "More margin!" And the ticker ceased to tick.
But the captain's little daughter Said, "I do not understand -- Isn't Morgan on the ocean Just the same as on the land?"
Even the film industry, which ironically did very well during the Depression and proved to be one of the few recession-proof industries (dimes stores was another), suffered a foreboding incident that frightening autumn.
In September 1929 “His Glorious Night” with John Gilbert was released to not only criticism, but howls. The silent-screen lover lost his macho mystique when the audience heard his high, thin voice for the first time. It was indeed an era of new beginnings, new technological marvels, and disastrous endings.
But Mr. Gilbert’s misfortune was Gene Kelly’s gain when the seed was planted for “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952).
By the time that parody was released, the stock market had mostly recovered. It took a couple of decades for those who lost money on their stocks but held onto them to break even. The stock market finally regained its pre-1929 Crash highest level in November 1954 amid a booming economy fueled by consumerism, where the 1929 Crash was starting to fade in memory and fear of it was replaced by either scornful amusement, or total ignorance, for another couple of generations.
“What’s past is prologue” Shakespeare said in “The Tempest.” Come back Thursday for “The Roaring Twenties”. Until then, have a look below at a montage of The Berengaria and the Crash.
Meet Me in Nuthatch - A publicity stunt to attract tourists to a small dying town results in the entire community turning the clock back to 1904. It is local Christmas tree farmer Everett Campbell’s idea, after watching the film “Meet Me in St. Louis,” his young daughter’s new favorite movie. What begins as half practical joke and half desperate ploy initiates the rebirth of Nuthatch, Massachusetts. Tourists do come, along with the media. To Everett’s dismay, his campaign to save their community results in also attracting representatives of a chain of theme parks who want to buy Nuthatch 1904. Everett now stands to lose his town in a way he never imagined, and the community is divided on which alternate future to choose. A local drug dealer, the longtime enemy of Everett, may hold their future in his hands unless Everett can pull off his most spectacular, and dangerous, practical joke.
“…a comforting, pleasant read that stays with you even after the last page is turned. After finishing the book, I found myself still musing about the relationships and how they'd changed and progressed. This book was a nice, hot chocolate sort of read.” Grace Krispy, "MotherLode" blog book review.
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