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
“The Toast of New York” (1937) turns character actor Edward Arnold into a romantic lead. This alone makes this uneven movie a delight.
Based on the true life and financial skullduggery of 19th century entrepreneur James Fisk, Jr., Edward Arnold plays Fisk the Robber Baron with the aplomb of a swashbuckler. In tow are Cary Grant and Jack Oakie as his junior partners. They follow his lead from scheme to scheme like courtiers to a king.
Both, interestingly, play their roles in a subdued, understated manner. To some extent, their parts as written are subordinate to Edward Arnold’s bombastic Jim Fisk, but one expects more broad playing from Oakie in his stooge-like character. He is unusually restrained.
Cary Grant even more so. He is deferential to Mr. Arnold in business matters, and carefully avoids confrontation in a personal matter -- Mr. Arnold’s new friend, lovely Frances Farmer. She is the showgirl, Josie Mansfield (who, incidentally had died only a few years before this movie was made), who Mr. Arnold takes on as his protégé, and probably, love interest. Their romantic involvement, with barely a suggestion of intimacy, is really left for us to assume. It’s not just the Production Code that prevents the movie from being more explicit about their relationship. Jim Fisk is so in love with money there’s little room for anything else in his life (though in real life he found time for both).
Josie Mansfield thinks so, too, but is so grateful to Mr. Arnold for the jewelry and the publicity for her career, that she takes great pains to ignore her attraction for Mr. Grant. Cary Grant, meanwhile, brushes her off with coldness bordering on anger, but it is just to mask his own attraction for her. He does not want to hurt his boss by running off with his boss’s showgirl.
Donald Meek has a great role as Jim Fisk’s fellow Robber Baron, Daniel Drew, the scripture-quoting cheapskate who wants to snatch the Erie Railroad from Cornelius Vanderbilt so bad he can taste it, and so enters into a partnership with the devil, Jim Fisk. Mr. Meek and Mr. Arnold are a study in contrasting temperaments (one reticent and cautious, one bold and risk-taking), physical types (one small and weak-appearing, and one large, appearing bolder still in uniforms the like of which might be worn by a vain dictator), and voices (the wizened whine of Meek, and the booming, barrel-chested baritone of Arnold). They are a little like the Laurel and Hardy of Wall Street.
Billy Gilbert has a minor role, too, as a frustrated photographer.
The movie begins at the outbreak of the Civil War, as Messrs. Arnold, Grant, and Oakie are playing a peddlar’s con game in the south. They are “outed” as Yankees, and make a mad dash for the Mason-Dixon line -- just over that bridge -- to escape certain death by vigilantes and the townspeople they cheated. Then Arnold decides smuggling cotton to the north, defying the Union blockade, would be a better racket. It is one of many speculative ventures that lead the trio from ruin to wealth, to ruin, to wealth.
The climatic scenes of the movie are the most dramatic, and involve Jim Fisk’s attempt to corner the gold market, sending Wall Street into a tizzy. His rivals are frantic on the floor, while Edward Arnold sneers over the merciless ticker tape. The price of gold rises and rises, and Wall Street shudders, storming over to Mr. Arnold’s place to kill the gold-eating monster. They don’t have to bother; President Grant (not seen in the movie) releases gold reserves and saves the day. (He should see the price of gold today.)
The montage of piling coins and falling stocks, with a ticker tape run wild are images not unfamiliar to the generation that watched this movie in theaters. It had been only some eight years since the Crash of ’29 brought their worlds down upon them, so what we might view as a quaint and possibly over-dramatic representation of the financial panic of 1869 was to them a personal reminder of human frailty and financial Armageddon.
But this is perhaps nothing in comparison to the mind blowing image of Edward Arnold as a romantic rival to Cary Grant. It’s Mr. Arnold’s movie, right down to the melodramatic ending, and one can’t help feeling glad he’s got the spotlight.
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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