IMPEACH TRUMP.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

On this New Year's Eve, let me wish you all very Happy New Year and best wishes for a healthy and happy 2016.

The past year for me has been especially memorable, filled with professional and personal challenges.  The publication of my book on the career of Ann Blyth -- Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. was a monumental event for me which, well up to the last days before publication and even for weeks afterward, was a project that consumed, inspired, and sometimes drained me.  Never has a book meant so much to me, and the thought that it began on this blog warms my heart.

Thank you for being part of that.

And thank you, as always, for the pleasure of your company.

Next year, along with posts on a variety of old movies, I'd like to examine what it is to be an old movie buff.  I'm considering doing one post per month on the subject.  As part of this series, I'm looking forward to reviewing Cliff Aliperti's new book on Helen Twelvetrees.

See you in 2016.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas eBook Specials

This is to announce a Christmas special offer of my book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. 


Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star., eBook version, will be priced at 99 cents for Christmas Day only (Eastern US Time) on Amazon.  That is a savings of $9 for the eBook.  The price of the print book remains the same.

UPDATE:  The sale price will be $1.99 - Amazon will not allow a 99-cent price for this eBook - but this is still a savings of $8.00.  Sorry for the change.  Merry Christmas.

Also for the holiday, our new children's picture book featuring cartoon illustrations by my twin brother John: Bob the Bear's Christmas Party. The continuing adventures of Bob the Bear and his little buddy Pedro the Pelican and their friends, and the complications of trying not to eat all the Christmas cookies. 

The first book - Bob the Bear Likes to Run - will be offered FREE as an eBook for the next five days only.

May I wish all those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star in the Night - 1945



Star in the Night (1945) is a short subject, about 20 minutes long, that has, thanks to showings by TCM, has enjoyed rediscovery by fans of classic films and has become for many as beloved a holiday classic as It’s a Wonderful Life or Christmas in Connecticut.  It is like one of the smaller presents under the tree—insignificant-looking, but sweet in its simplicity.

We covered The Trail of Robin Hood (1950) with Roy Rogers last week as an example of a movie with a Christmas theme that is an uncomplicated and innocent slice of holiday fare, and Star in the Night is similarly a movie with a Christmas theme that hits a minor chord among the giants of the season: Holiday Inn, White Christmas, etc.  Unlike the Roy Rogers Christmas tree caper, Star in the Night hints at a theme religious in nature, but with a decidedly secular wrapping.  We think we know the story, but it leaves us with a catch in the throat and a tear in the eye just the same.


We meet three saddle tramps, with gaudy, cheap presents strapped to the horns of their saddles, bemoaning that they threw away their pay in town trying to impress a pretty young salesgirl by buying so many things—which they have no use for.  Simple toys, a basket that looks like a cradle, a small tree, looking for all like carnival items.  They ride slowly at night across a desert scene, and in the far distance through the fog, they see a star, far brighter than the others, and hanging strangely close to the horizon. 


Before we can get too taken in by a Christmas star and Nativity theme, we are wrenched from a spiritual moment by J. Carrol Naish, who is atop a water tower hammering at a gaudy tin star with lights on it.  He obtained it from a movie house that went out of business, the Star Picture Palace, and he’s using it as an advertising sign for his auto court, which is what we now call motels.  They were a new idea back in the day, a cheap string of bungalows on the highway where people could stop and sleep for the night, get a bite to eat, not as fancy or expensive as a hotel.  Nobody expected much in the way of comfort, just eats and a bed.


Hitchhiker Donald Woods isn’t even expecting even that much.  He’s down and out, a hobo, and he asks Mr. Naish to allow him to come into the office and warm up, and perhaps give him a cup of coffee.  Naish scoffs at him, angry to have a bum try to play on his sympathies.  Naish is a businessman, not doing too well himself, and he’s already got his auto court filled with guests who are demanding, and downright rude.  He doesn’t need one more person to ask favors of him, especially a guy who can’t pay.

Woods is riveting in this role, he draws our attention and compassion in extraordinarily subtle acting and what I would expect to be brilliant directing by Don Siegel.  Woods in the background of many shots, just observing, a silent witness to the proceedings.  A B-movie actor who occasionally played minor roles in A-films, here Woods is compelling.  He speaks softly, and in his soothing voice and his dark, kindly eyes, there is a gentleness that is equally inspiring as it is remonstrative to Naish, and us.  He is open and guileless, yet seems to bring secrets with him. There is a Christ-like demeanor to his character, but he is not really the protagonist, or the narrator, or the Greek chorus that represents the theme or the conscience, nor does he really stand in for us.  He is a mystery, perhaps an angel, or could he really just be a guy with a three-day beard and no coat, who glances under the floppy brim of his battered fedora with such presence that we have difficulty taking him for who he is?  Because we don’t know who he is.

Who we are in the story is plain: we are Naish, the angry owner of the auto court who is sick of being pushed around.  We are his various guests:  the couple who want more blankets and refused to accept no for an answer; the guy, played by Irving Bacon, who’s mad because his shirts came back from the laundry all wrecked; and the woman who’s fit to be tied because she can’t sleep for the noise the bunch of rowdies in the next bungalow are making.  Later the rowdies reverently sing Christmas carols.

Then Anthony Caruso, who pops up as minor characters from time to time in movies, plays a Mexican immigrant with a sick wife.  He wants a room so she can lie down, but the auto court is full up.  Naish’s kindly wife, played by Rosina Galli, suggests the shed in back, and Naish blusters, but he lets his wife have her way.  The immigrants are led to the shed, and the woman is allowed to lie down in the hay.

She’s not sick.  She’s pregnant, and soon the husband panics because the baby’s suddenly coming.  Here.  Now.  What does he do?

He tells the others, and asks for help.

But this is a 20-minute short, and moreover, it has a distinct lesson to tell us.  There is no time wasted by the irritable other travelers.  They snap to attention, and, as so often happens in a crisis, they get to work to help someone who needs it.  They give the blankets, the shirts, the hot water, and the women go to the shed to comfort the woman and help deliver the baby.  They are immediate in their reaction, a blessed contradiction to our usual vacillating whims.

Naish, we are told by his wife, is really a softy, though we can’t believe it.  She tells Donald Woods that when she first met him, Naish was crying over an animal that he saw being mistreated.  She was so moved, she decided then and there he was the man for her.

Naish is none too happy about the Mexicans camping on him and sponging off him, but he is worried about the pregnant woman, and he gives Woods a free cup of coffee, and later on his coat.  He needs to help somehow.  Helping gives us a sense of control.

The baby is born, it’s a boy.  Relief washes over everybody as things seem to be okay.  Then the three cowboys come in.  We forgot about them.  They are, of course, the Magi bringing their presents (which suddenly are useful) to the baby in the shed. 

Naish, bewildered, looks around at his happy guests, and glances over to the shed where they kneel before the mother and baby.  His eyes squint and flicker as they catch the light of his cheap, shabby star with its many movie marquee light bulbs that pierce the foggy night.  He looks up at the star, and suddenly it hits him.  A look of humility, gratitude—and horror, wash over his face. 

He almost turned away the Christ child. 


The events of this night have been his test, and his gift, and his redemption.  Sometimes redemption is just a second chance to be a nice guy.  His eyes fill with tears.

 And so do ours. 

We may have a tacky tin star, but we don’t have any movie “stars”. The character actors will handle this one just fine, thank you.  Star in the Night won an Oscar for Best Short Subject.  It is currently an extra on the Christmas in Connecticut DVD.   Who would have thought something so short, so small, could be such a giant?

 Here it is:





 *****************************************
"Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood



Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer.  You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you wish a signed copy, then email me at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with the details.


**************************
My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60  or check with your local paper.



Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Trail of Robin Hood (1950)

Jack Holt and Roy

The Trail of Robin Hood (1950) is about Christmas tree rustlers and how Roy Rogers saves the day with a dream-team of retired B-western heroes.

The movie is just over an hour long, and despite the constant fisticuffs and thundering hooves of chases on horseback that make these westerns chock-full of action but short on character development, its real charm is in its simplicity.  Christmas trees are a benign and cheerful image of the holiday that has little to do with religion and more with commerce -- at least in this movie.



Fortunately, there is no story line of feeling pressure over Having the Best Christmas Ever with the perfect tree, or perfect gifts, or following exacting annual rituals lest the spell be broken if we forgot to make a certain dessert.  To be sure, there are homes with perfect-looking trees, but for most of us, it is our less than perfect trees that have the warmest memories, not with the perfectly matched set of expensive ornaments, but the homemade ones, or the ones bought so long ago at a store that no longer exists, that are scratched, beat up, but beloved.

Probably Charlie Brown’s iconic pathetic tree is the most famous of all.

When I was a child, I used to snatch a small branch of a pine tree from nearby woods, no more than a foot long, to bring home to use as a tiny Christmas tree.  I stuck it in an old plastic candle holder with some clay, and decorated it with paper chains.  A construction paper star on top.  It was separate from the big tree in the living room (for most of my childhood years, an artificial tree), and rather like a personal-size pizza, it was all mine.  It was my piece of portable Christmas.  So simple, and so much pleasure derived from it.  The big tree in the living room was fun, too, but that was a more complicated project.  Parents and older siblings decided when it would be put up, where it would go, and would fuss over lights and ornaments, and imperfect branches, and they were always seemingly always dissatisfied.  The big tree needed constant adjusting by them.   

I’d cobbled together a crèche scene as well, with wood scraps, popsicle sticks and plastic farm animals that were my toys.  It wasn’t that great looking, but since the Holy Family wasn’t staying at the Holiday Inn, it was probably better than they were used to.

Lest this become a post about pathetically crappy homemade Christmas crafts (which I think would be hysterical if women’s magazines would feature just once, instead of everything needing to be perfect to create The Best Christmas Ever), let me meander back to the movie.  Its simplicity is its charm and its imperfections bring a smile.  Even, say, the title, which makes not a whole lot of sense.  Robin Hood?  There’s no Robin Hood aspect to the story.  It should have been called Christmas Tree Rustlers And How Roy Rogers Saves The Day With A Dream-Team of Retired B-Western Heroes.  But, as usual, nobody asked me.

Roy, Clifton Young and Penny Edwards

Roy Rogers, whom as we noted in this previous post got to a self-branding point in his career where the character he always played was named Roy Rogers, is a U.S. Soil Conservation Service agent.  I’m not sure how many soil conservation government workers dress like cowboys and wear six-shooters, but this is Roy’s movie.

His pal, Jack Holt, who, like Roy is self-branded to the point of playing former western movie star Jack Holt, is now retired and running a Christmas tree farm.  He intends to market his trees as cheaply as possible, selling them about 75 cents or 80 cents per tree, so that poor families can afford one and all the little children will be happy.  A noble sentiment, as is his line, “Kids like that made it possible for me to become a star.”

We shall pause here that you may blanch over the idea of paying only 75 cents for a Christmas tree.  I think the cheapest you can find now is something like $45.

We should take a moment to note that Trigger, “The Smartest Horse in the West” has second billing only to Roy.  Bullet, Roy’s dog, who attacks bad guys in this movie and chews up their arms and legs, is sadly not credited.  We can only fault a lousy agent perhaps, but as we know, character actors rarely made the big bucks. 

Two supporting players who are my favorites in this movie are Gordon Jones, who plays affable misfit Splinters, a handyman who is not so handy; and his kid sister, Sis, played by Carol Nugent.  She appeared in a bunch of movies and TV shows right up through the sixties.  Her poker-faced delivery is quite funny, as is the team of brother and sister playing off each other.  Though she’s just a little kid, she’s the brains, sometimes sounding like a nagging wife to keep him to task.

She demands, when trouble rears its head: “Are you going to investigate, or do I have to?”

“Sis!”

“Don’t be afraid, Splinters, I’m here.”  He's this big mountain of a guy and she's something like four feet tall and sixty pounds.

There’s trouble aplenty, to be sure, pardners.  Jack Holt’s business rival, played by Emery Parnell, wants to buy him out, or run him out of business, anything to corner the market on Christmas trees, which he intends to sell for a lot more than 75 cents.

But Mr. Parnell is unaware of the lengths his hired men are going to in their attempts to compete with Jack Holt, including poaching, left, arson, kidnapping, and…murder.

Clifton Young is the evil foreman, and the movie starts with fisticuffs between him and Roy.

Interesting thing about Roy Rogers, no matter how many fistfights, or running to leap onto his horse, he never seems out of breath.  And he has to do one or the other every five minutes.  He must be fit as heck, by golly.

And, like a lot of government soil conservation workers, he sings purty.  There are a few pleasant musical interludes in between bouts of arson, fighting and…murder.   The songs include “Home Town Jubilee” at a town picnic and turkey shoot—where Sis, due to her marksmanship wins a turkey, which becomes her pet.  She calls him Sir Galahad.  He has no billing in the credits, either. 

“Get a Christmas Tree for Johnny,” is a peppy ditty they all warble when the town turns out (including the Riders of the Purple Sage) to help tie bundles of Christmas trees together to load onto the wagons.  They use the saloon for this party, and a huge decorated tree is the centerpiece of the festivities. 

“Every Day is Christmas in the West,” is a slow, rather lulling ballad.  This is sung as an early Christmas dinner, with Jack Holt supposedly dying in the next room.  I’m not going to get into the particulars, except that he got smoke inhalation trying to save Sis, who was trying to save Galahad, when the bad guys set the saloon on fire.  Roy saved Jack, though.  Hoisted him in a fireman’s carry and never broke a sweat or got out of breath.

There is a sort of love interest for Roy, if you can call it that, when Penny Edwards comes to town.  She’s the daughter of the rival businessman Emery Parnell, and she’s using her business acumen and womanly wiles to get Jack Holt’s signature on a contract signing his land over to her pop.  She’s a pretty snooty conniver at first, but the whole arson thing turns her stomach and she reforms, gets out of her faux cowgirl duds into a gingham dress and cooks dinner for the first time.  She and Roy exchange only smiles, but we don’t want a full-blown romance because that would be mushy.

Famous retired movie cowboy heroes, Roy, Gordon Jones, 
and the little girl is the intrepid Carol Nugent.

The climax of the film is the brief, but warm-hearted thrill for western fans when a gang of former movie cowboys show up to help drive the trees to market in a convoy of wagons.  Rex Allen, Monte Hale, Crash Corrigan, Kermit Maynard, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Tom Keene, Tom Tyler, Bill Farnum, even former villain George Chesbro shows up, having been reformed by Jack Holt.  Sis, who is really the only sensible person in this movie, has called them to help.  She is the best administrative assistant you could ever have.

And she drives one of the wagons loaded with trees all by herself over a burning bridge.  She is the last one to make it across before it collapses in a burning heap over a deep gorge.  I hope she wasn’t working for scale.

The villains, by the way, meet suitably grisly ends.

Jack Holt, former square-jawed hero, shows an old movie of his on a screen at the Christmas tree tying party at the saloon.  You know how much we love to watch old movies at Christmas.  This is a silent feature, called Dead Man’s Gulch.  However, you may note it does not appear authentic, and that is because Mr. Holt never made a movie by that title. 

Just don't make them mad.

The movie is Republic’s Trucolor photography, which as you know is a two-color process, unlike Technicolor which was a three-color process.  It has a nice soft look to it, but ironically, in the Trucolor photography, reds and greens are not terribly vibrant.  When you’re making a Christmas movie, red and green are useful colors to have in your palette.  The Christmas trees in this movie—obviously an important prop in this movie about Christmas trees—look sort of brown. 

But to this former little kid who snapped a tiny branch off an evergreen to bring home, that really was green and sometimes dusted white with snow, Jack Holt’s trees and Roy’s singing are good enough and a pleasant way to bring Christmas into your living room.


My thanks to your friend and mine, Laura from Laura's Miscellaneous Musings for sharing this fun movie with me.  Have a look here at Laura's take on The Trail of Robin Hood.

*****************************************
"Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood



Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer.  You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you wish a signed copy, then email me at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with the details.


**************************
My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60  or check with your local paper.






Thursday, December 3, 2015

This and that - December



A few odds and ends to discuss as we sort through the box of ornaments in preparing for this busy holiday season:

My latest old movie syndicated column is Sleigh Rides on Soundstages in August . Have a look at the GO60 website, or your local newspaper.  If it's not in your local paper, ask them why.  Ask them nicely.

On my blog devoted to my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. there are samples of the pressbook issued by M-G-M on Rose Marie (1954), that give us a glimpse of an interesting but I think seldom discussed aspect of promotional material during Hollywood's heyday.

We have a couple of Christmas films to discuss this month -- next week it will be The Trail of Robin Hood (1950) with Roy Roger and Jack Holt, and a Christmas tree operation that is threatened by some ornery galoots.  My thanks to your friend and mine, Laura at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings for sharing that Western with a Yuletide theme with me.

The week after that we'll discuss one of my favorite short subjects, Star in the Night (1945) with Donald Woods.  It's a special gem, and thanks to what I think are annual showings by TCM has become a favorite of many.

On Christmas Eve, I plan to announce a special "Kindle Countdown" for a couple of my books on Kindle.

A busy month for everyone, to be sure, and I'm glad we can spend it together.
*****************************************
"Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood



Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer.  You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you wish a signed copy, then email me at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with the details.


**************************
My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60  or check with your local paper.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday through Monday Sale!

A special "Black Friday" sale is going on now of a limited number of selected books on my Etsy site.  The following paperback books will be half-price through Monday, November 30th.

Myths of the Modern Man
The Current Rate of Exchange
Beside the Still Waters
Meet Me in Nuthatch

All three of my mystery series:
    Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red
    Speak Out Before You Die
    Dismount and Murder


And my book on the career of Ann Blyth - Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. will be ten dollars off - selling for this limited period at $15.

You may pay by credit card, PayPal, or check on the Etsy website.  If you wish a signed copy, please leave instructions when you check out.

My Etsy site is called Lynch Twins Publishing - and you can find it at this link.  Print books at only this site are eligible, and there is a very limited number being offered, so make your purchase early before they run out.  Only a few copies are available.

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkeys and Starlets - Happy Thanksgiving




Thanksgiving brought out some weird impulses from Hollywood studio publicity departments. We often see among classic film blogs examples of this "art" this time of year. Here is a gallery of examples below -- and I am inevitably reminded of the prescient wisdom of young Teresa Wright, who had stipulated in her contract that she should not be required to pose in a publicity photo, "... looking insinuatingly at a turkey for Thanksgiving." We discussed her unique contract in this previous post.



And now, for a Thanksgiving roll call:


Judy Garland as a male Pilgrim.  She looks like she is befriending this bird, rather than stalking it.


Bette Davis as a female Pilgrim, who appears to be employing this turkey as a draft animal to pull the kiddie wagon full of bounty from the fields.  Or the prop department.


Barbara Bates, as a sexy Pilgrim who appears to be dressing up the turkey because they are going out on a date to have Thanksgiving dinner at the Mocambo.


Marilyn Monroe as a cutie pie sexy Pilgrim who does not appear particularly threatening to that turkey.  



Doris Day, with no cutie pie Pilgrim nonsense, appears ready to get down to business.  I can't think of a more grim publicity photo for Thanksgiving, and I suppose for that reason it just makes me laugh more than the others.  It's as if Alfred Hitchcock directed the photo shoot.

Ann Blyth managed to get a more dignified and pleasant-looking Thanksgiving photo shoot here at my other bog.

Though there could have been an ax hidden somewhere among the props, I suppose.

Recently, I had to stop my car only about a mile from my home to let a flock of wild turkeys half-fly, half-stumble across the road.  Doris Day was not chasing them, so I'm pretty sure they got away.

To all our American readers: Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jerome Cowan


Jerome Cowan died in January 1972 at 74 years of age -- right at the beginning of the so-called nostalgia craze of the 1970s.  But this isn't an obituary, it's about what happened after.  One wonders what Cowan, and so many other character actors would have thought about our present-day familiarity with them and their work, and how beloved they are now to old movie fans.

This post is part of the What a Character Blogathon hosted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula at Paula's Cinema Club



Without that 1970s sudden sentimental interest in movies and pop culture of the first half of the 20th century, principally the 1930s through the 1950s, we might not have so many classic films released on VHS and DVD, nor the experiment of the cable channel American Movie Classics, or the enduring magic that is Turner Classic Movies.  It has preserved our society’s longtime reverence for the great stars, of course, where Clark Gable and Judy Garland, James Cagney and Greta Garbo, et. al., still share a crowded pedestal.

But the real achievement in this fad-turned-big business of classic movie nostalgia is the celebrating of so many wonderful character actors.  So many years after their careers ended -- most of them, like Cowan, worked until they died -- have reached parity with the stars they supported.  We pay them homage they never received by anyone in the heyday of their careers.   What would Jerome Cowan and the others feted in this single blogathon think of that?

Mr. Cowan played a variety of roles, but still had his specialty of stuffy lawyers, like in Miracle on 34th Street where he—now famous for it—plays John Payne’s courtroom adversary. 




He also played the prosecuting attorney in The Unfaithful (1947), which we covered here.  He could be silly, like the fake psychic he played in Claudia and David (1946), covered here.  Or even smarmy, like the creepy married man who makes a play for Barbara Stanwyck in My Reputation (1946) here.  He was the dead partner Humphrey Bogart avenged in The Maltese Falcon (1941).



But he started in films with a really different role, an angry young man, a fanatic, an outsider, a killer.  In Beloved Enemy (1936), discussed here, set in Ireland during The Troubles, he plays Brian Aherne’s comrade, a man of action and few words.  He is young here, rugged, and somewhat mysterious.  There is pain and mistrust in his eyes.  When Aherne is viewed by their gang as being a turncoat, Jerome Cowan gets the job of assassin, and aims for his friend from a rooftop, and pulls the trigger.



In that mysterious caste system created in Hollywood, he would likely never have gotten to play a lead, yet there is promise in this first performance of something dark and exciting, something more than just the stuffy lawyer or pompous businessman he would play so many times in decades to come.  But there were twists on the man with the pencil-thin mustache and the glint in his eye.  He was smart, or befuddled.  He was a phony, or helplessly sincere.  Only the suit was the same.

Like most character actors, he endured because he had achieved that strange combination of being familiar, and yet able to play many nuances, from sinister, to comic and still be recognizable.  Cowan was not a “man of a thousand faces.”  He was a man in a crowd of a thousand faces.  But we could always pick him out.

He worked almost up until the end of his life, having appeared in a couple TV show guest spots, a western and a sitcom, only months before his death in the previous year of 1971.  Maybe they were fun to do, and maybe they paid the bills.  

But if he were with us today, how amazed he would be at how famous he's become.

Please have a look at more of the great blogs participating in the What A Character Blogathon.

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"Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood



Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer.  You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you wish a signed copy, then email me at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with the details.


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My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60  or check with your local paper.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Talk and book signing, and the upcoming blogathon

Today, November 19th, I'll be speaking at the Wilbraham Senior Center, 45B Post Office Park, Wilbraham, Massachusetts at 1:30 p.m. on my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. I'll bring some movie memorabilia from Ann's career, and will have books available for sale and signing.  I'm looking forward to meeting all the Ann Blyth fans at the book club!

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This Saturday we join the WHAT A CHARACTER blogathon hosted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula at Paula's Cinema Club.  As you know, the event was postponed in the wake of last week's tragedy in Paris. The blogathon has been rescheduled for this weekend. 

I will be posting on Jerome Cowan.  Hope you can stop by, and check out the other swell blogs.

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