INDICT, PROSECUTE, IMPRISON TRAITOR TRUMP.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Remembering Judy Garland this month on TCM


Judy Garland, having been chosen the Star of the Month, made June especially enjoyable for watchers of Turner Classic Movies. Seeing her filmography in bursts is especially poignant for allowing us to follow the bubbly, nervous, awkward girl with the phenomenal talents, as she marches toward maturity and the wonderful roles, but personal hazards, we know she will face.  There are times we just can’t study her hard enough.  Other times, knowing the perils of child stardom and harsh world that eats up the more emotionally vulnerable, we almost wish we could look away.

But we can’t.  Because she’s Judy, and she’s remarkable.


She is no stranger on TCM’s roster, particularly as most of her career was spent at M-G-M, whose films are owned by Ted Turner and WarnerMedia, the pre-1986 anyway, which is what we old movie fans cherish most.  So we do get to see her movies from time to time.  But to really feel the impact of her energy, her skill—which is an achievement above natural talent, for this girl worked hard at her craft—it’s best to see her in a string of her films, and this whole month has been a powerhouse of her impact, even in her smallest roles, which did not stay small for long. 

She did not, however, shoot to stardom on the wings of the publicity department as other stars did—it actually seemed like studio boss Louis B. Mayer didn’t really know what a gem he had.  But when it was time for her to take the lead, she shone.

Most fans and critics alike seem to think her moment came with The Wizard of Oz (1939), that resonated with generations of children—and the adults they became—possibly for the ironic image of a girl on the cusp of womanhood who was taking a perilous journey, scared stiff, accompanied by a misfit trio who were not always terribly helpful, but who in spirit had her back, and she defeated a terrible villain, saved a society even as she unmasked the phony leader—who, unexpectedly, was not a villain but yet another victim of his own weakness.

But generations of children who were not old movie buffs would never have seen this movie and it would never have become an iconic experience of American childhood without annual broadcasts on television.  For free.  No cable fees, no subscription.  Not today.

Will future generations of children still feel the warm sisterly bond with Judy Garland in their fascination for this movie without it’s being a regular and expected experience of their childhoods?  To be sure, their parents and grandparents may treat them to home video (in whatever form it may take in the future) and Wizard of Oz-inspired toys, but will that die off when national memory (aside from the classic film buffs’, that is) finally lets it go?  For so many people, this movie is their introduction to classic films.

It was not my introduction to classic films, but it likely was my introduction to Judy.


It's been lovely to hear the outpouring of expressions of enjoyment for the movies shown on TCM this month, but particularly for having the whole month devoted to Judy Garland, to giving her a showcase.  She would have been 100 years old this year, and the tragedy of having died young at the age of only 47 is part of the sadness of considering her career, that one is perhaps unable to completely enjoy her work in A Star is Born (1954) without almost subliminally remembering the train wreck of her own self-destructive demise.  In a sense, we still mourn her.  There are few people on the national stage we still acutely mourn after 53 years.

I’ve often thought what a shame it was for her that she did not live long enough if only to see her films celebrated particularly on TCM.  I like to think she would have enjoyed that, and would have made a heck of an interview for Robert Osborne.

I’ve enjoyed reading posts and comments on Facebook and on Twitter about how deeply fans feel about Judy Garland, and it is a kind of love that has little to do with awe of a big star.  There is something deeply personal she touched in people. 

This month reminded me of two very different people whose appreciation of Judy Garland made an impression on me.  One, was my father.


My parents were teens during the Great Depression, and spent, to hear them talk of it, pretty much the entire decade at the movies.  They were very familiar with Mickey and Judy.  When they were middle-aged and had a house full of kids, Judy Garland hosted her television variety show on CBS, The Judy Garland Show for one season from 1963-64.  Since I was a toddler at the time, I didn’t catch up with this program in until much later in life.  But I have it from an older sister who recalled that whenever the show came on, the kids had to be silent, the family plunked down in front of the TV, and my father’s face just lit up with rapture. 

Now, my father was not a movie musicals kind of guy.  (My mother loved them.)  He preferred Westerns, film noir, crime dramas, political dramas, war movies.  He liked his movies on the heavy side.  He wasn’t into fluff that much.  In fact, if Jerry Lewis had ever crossed his path, my father probably would have belted him because class clown-types annoyed him.


But Judy, sweet vulnerable, funny, offbeat Judy, she could do no wrong.  When she came on the 19-inch screen, in black and white and sometimes fuzzy depending on the reception, a woman in her early 40s that seemed to be pushing back with all her might at some new kind of physical frailty—well, that didn’t matter; he just beamed.  That was her power.

The second person whose devotion to Judy Garland was much younger, and I met her several years ago when she was in high school.  She was involved in the school drama club and she wanted to pursue a career in theatre.  Judy Garland was her favorite.  That surprised me, because I’d thought that young people today who have ambitions for an entertainment career might be drawn toward modern film stars, pop stars, TV stars.  But for her, Judy was tops. She knew all the songs in Judy’s career repertoire.  She identified with her in a way she perhaps did not identify with the glossier, edgier stars of her own era.  Judy was timeless.

Thank you to TCM for giving us a huge banquet of Judy this month.  For Judy’s 100th birthday, it was a wonderful gift to us.

Have a look here at these previous posts of some of Judy Garland’s films: 

Summer Stock (1950) 

For Me and My Gal  (1942)

Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

    ********************

Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

To preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.


 Watch the January 6th Committee hearings live on PBS tonight, June 9th beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

A Memory of Memorial Day School Assemblies


I recently stumbled across this recording on YouTube: The Ballad of Rodger Young, and it brought back a flood of memories of elementary school Memorial Day assemblies.

The song was written by Frank Loesser, known by most of us for his Broadway musical comedies including Guys and Dolls.  Mr. Loesser was a private in the Army during World War II in the Radio Production Unit, and he was assigned to write and edit songs for radio programs, the purpose of which would be for recruitment.  

For one particular task, he was to write a song about a Medal of Honor recipient, and he chose among a list of names Private Rodger Wilton Young, who was killed in action when he drew fire from the enemy so that his company could withdraw from an ambush.  The action occurred in the South Pacific on the island of New Georgia in the Solomons.  Private Young was killed July 31, 1943.  He was 25 years old. 

A poignant and compelling aspect to the story is Private Young had suffered head injuries before he went into the service, which, over time, damaged his eyesight and rendered him nearly deaf.  He refused to be sent to a field hospital and chose to stay with his unit that was entering battle.  This is the description of his actions for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor:

On July 31, 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.

I did not know all this when, as a fifth grader, I learned “The Ballad of Rodger Young” from a music teacher who visited our class once a week and taught us folk songs.  That we year learned “Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill” and “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. 

But the memory of “Rodger Young” came rushing back to me as I heard it for the first time in nearly 50 years, so much that I was able to sing along with the refrain.  It also called to mind our elementary school Memorial Day assemblies.

I don’t suppose they were unique, but they impressed me enough to remember them.  The school janitor would go outside and lower the flag on the flagpole in front of the school.  I could see him from my classroom window.  In a short while, all the grades of this small neighborhood school – there were probably well under 200 children and staff in all – would march out in more or less straight lines and gather around the flagpole.  There would be poems, probably “In Flanders Fields,” and maybe the Gettysburg Address, and then two teen trumpet players from the two different high schools we had in town would arrive in their band uniforms and one would stand before us by the flagpole, but the other one would go off to some short distance away, around the corner of the school where we couldn’t see him.

Then they’d play “Taps” and distant one would be the echo of the other.  It was mournful, and stirring, and I still think about it whenever I hear “Taps” at a commemoration.  Then a few boys who were Boy Scouts, who had worn their uniforms to school that day, would solemnly, and sometimes needing a little help from the janitor, raise the flag again.  Then we’d go back to class.

It didn’t take very long, but it formed an indelible and precious memory. 

This took place in the early-to mid 1970s when the Vietnam War was still limping along and many of us were disgusted and questioning our government.  Many of us had family members and friends in the service, but we never questioned them and held them dear, waiting for their return.   “The Ballad of Rodger Young” was about a World War II soldier who died in combat.  My elementary school was named for a young man in my town who served in World War II and likewise, died in combat.  World War II was still much closer to us then and still in our national consciousness, even though we were engaged in Vietnam (though the draft had ended by this time).

We hung flags on our houses, but protested the war.  Expressing patriotism was not such a conundrum then as it is now, even despite being divided about our participation in Vietnam, perhaps because World War II was still not too distant, and we still felt strongly and were taught by society that fascism was wrong, that Nazis were the bad guys and always would be, and anybody professing their loyalty to authoritarians over the Constitution drew our immediate disgust and distrust.  We wanted the ship of state righted; we didn’t want it torn down nor feces spread on the halls of the Capitol.  We had fought a war against fascism.  Rodger Young died for it.  We knew people in town who had died to preserve democracy.  The value of democracy was still at the heart of every debate. 

But because the Vietnam War, which began before I was born and was still being fought, and over 58,000 Americans died there, Memorial Day celebrations gave us more to think about than dishwater platitudes or the ritual of making enemies of fellow Americans so popular with fascists among us today.

Even to a small child watching the janitor patiently untangle the rope to help the Boy Scouts raise the flag, Memorial Day was somehow deeply personal.  It was quiet, considerate.  Then we went back to class.

     ********************

Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Young at Heart at the beach


Young at Heart
(1954) gives us a glimpse of an idyllic beach scene on the Connecticut shore in the 1950s.  To be sure, it is mostly of Hollywood origin, or at least, California, but if the beach is not in the right location, the warm and lovely nostalgia of the beach is genuine.



This is my entry to the Fun in the Sun Blogathon, hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association.  Have a look at some great posts on this topic here.


The movie Young at Heart is a remake of Four Daughters (1938), which we covered previously in this post.  In that original story, widowed Claude Rains heads a family of four girls, played by the Lane sisters plus Gail Page, and all are musicians.  May Robson plays the auntie matriarch who lives with them.  The girls’ suitors have picked out their choices among the daughters, but all the young beaus have competition with the newcomer: handsome and happy-go-lucky Jeffrey Lynn.  But an even newer newcomer, a dour, sarcastic and self-pitying John Garfield swoops in to really disrupt things and his love for Priscilla Lane nearly tears the family apart.

We see the beginnings of the rift and a change from a lighthearted first part of the movie to a more serious and even tragic second part at a family picnic in a secluded country glen.  Here we see the sisters are really all interested in the same man. 


In Young at Heart, this scene is transported to the beach.  Robert Keith plays the Claude Rains role of the dad, Ethel Barrymore in a charming mixture of regal and down to earth plays the May Robson role.  Here the sisters number only three instead of four: Elisabeth Fraser, Dorothy Malone, and Doris Day.  Doris plays the lead Priscilla Lane role.  The boyfriends are with the family at the beach, and the heartthrob who will cause unspoken jealousy among the sisters is played by Gig Young in the Jeffrey Lynn role.

Frank Sinatra plays the John Garfield role in this movie, but this scene is just before he makes his first entrance in the film, so we don’t know yet how he’s going to upend the family.  Even without him, the seeds of discontent are already sown, making the day at the beach bittersweet.


With an almost nuclear-powered sunny disposition, Doris Day is the most lighthearted of the group and fails to see her sisters’ yearning for the man she playfully cavorts with in the surf.  Doris gets to sing two songs during this nearly 10-minute beach sequence. 

For those of us who live close enough to a coast to have spent pleasant days on the beach, the movie image of sand and sea, of wave-kissed rocks and sunshine reflecting off the constantly moving ocean is familiar and almost personal, like someone with a movie camera somehow entering our brains and capturing a memory.  Some sensations experienced going to the beach are really timeless and there is a distinct and powerful comfort about that.


But we may sense that some aspects of this scene are not timeless, and that perhaps going to the beach in the 1950s was a little more do-it-yourself, simple, and perhaps with a slower pace of life.   Yes and no.  We don’t see any arcades or water parks or concessions, or even bathhouses with facilities on this beach, but there were beaches back then and even before – though not all – with plenty of tourist amenities. 

That this beach is not crowded and there is plenty of space between the actors and the extras in the background should not be taken that beaches were not crowded in the 1950s.  Of course, they were.  But not all were, and even in these modern times, I have been to New England beaches that were just as unspoiled and unpopulated as this one in the movie seems to be.

So that is not quite it, either.  There must be something else that evokes the strong feeling of nostalgia for a 1950s beach in this film.  Is it because there are no loud radios playing?  Maybe, but we see Doris singing along to a portable record player.  We don’t see too many record players at the beach these days.  

Is it because nobody’s in a bathing suit and they come lounging on the sand in their clothes?  Maybe.  No sunscreen?  Maybe.  


It could just be that the clam digging and the large pots with New England clambake accoutrements – corn on the cob, potatoes, etc., are not seen quite as much now as in the old days, or campfires on the beach, or gathering driftwood to fuel the fires.

There is a noticeable lack of people taking selfies or scarfing packaged junk food snacks.  No one is being divebombed by seagulls for a few Cheetos. 


I get a kick out of Alan Hale, Jr., who plays the suitor of Dorothy Malone, talking about his sudden idea of what a great thing it would be “buying this strip of beach, tearing down all the bungalows on the highway and putting up some hotels, a whole string of them.” 

She responds, “Whoever heard of a string of hotels along the beach in Connecticut?”

There are some hotels here and there on the Connecticut coast, and were, too, in the 1950s, but not enough perhaps to make Alan Hale, Jr.’s dream come true.  Instead of hotels today there are more likely to be a few condominiums, but the geography doesn’t always allow for development.  Working harbors, saltwater marshes here there, and far more protected areas than there used to be.  Thank heaven.


I think what I really like about this beach sequence is the work of the sound technicians.  Behind all the dialogue, behind Doris’s songs and the “orchestration” that seems to bloom from her portable record player, is the omnipresent, lazy, rhythmic sound of the waves rushing to the shore.  The seacoast is not a quiet place.  The sound of the surf is eternal.


The bright, almost blinding daylight of the first part of the sequence becomes a peaceful twilight with the family around the campfire, and Doris still singing, toasting marshmallows.  The large beach umbrella that sheltered Ethel Barrymore earlier in the day has been folded up.  You can almost feel the refreshing cooler breeze off the ocean, almost feel chilled by it.  It is an idyllic ending to the sequence, a calm before the storm.  A day at the beach is a respite, time to enjoy, to reflect, and to make a memory that will last through days to come.  A beach memory may mark epochs in our lives, just as it does in the movie.

Visit the CMBA website here for more Fun in the Sun Blogathon.

    ********************

Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Caftan Woman Blogathon -- NOW SHOWING


And we're off!

Welcome to THE CAFTAN WOMAN BLOGATHON - HONORING PATRICIA NOLAN-HALL!

Paddy, lover and scholar of classic films, friend to you and me, will always be a warm memory in our hearts.  Today, we turn our fandom of this wonderful blogger into a collection of posts in her honor.  Have at it, then.  Check out these posts below, and leave your link with your post in a comment here or at Lady Eve’s Reel Life . 

Be sure to visit each other’s posts and comment.  You know Paddy would.

***********************

Another Old Movie Blog -- The Case of Charlie Chan and The Caftan Woman

Make Mine Film Noir --   Union Station (1950)

A Shroud of Thoughts -- Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Final Fade-Out"

Once Upon a Screen -- Remember Caftan Woman and her Words

Lady Eve's Reel Life -- Champagne for Caesar (1950)

A Person in the Dark -- The Binding Ties Made of Film

Hometowns to Hollywood -- Portrait of Jennie (1948)


Laura's Miscellaneous Musings --  Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952)


Let Yourself Go...To Old Hollywood -- Ida Lupino as Television Director

The Stop Button -- Ball of Fire (1941)


Vienna's Classic Hollywood -- Paul Lukas


By Rich Watson -- Saturday Night at the Movies





















The Case of Charlie Chan and The Caftan Woman

 


When Patricia Nolan-Hall, a.k.a. Paddy, a.k.a. The Caftan Woman left us in March, the classic film blogger world lost one of its greatest champions and one of its dearest friends.  This is my entry for The Caftan Woman Blogathon.  A delightful aspect to Paddy’s love of classic films is that she embraced a wide range of genres and wrote about them with passion and humor.  She liked the great films, but also loved series movies, especially the mystery genre, and especially Charlie Chan.

Have a look at the rest of the Blogathon participants atthis page.  Visit them all and leave a comment.  You know Paddy would.


The character of the great Chinese-American detective, Charlie Chan, was created by novelist Earl Derr Biggers in the early 1920s.  Mr. Biggers was inspired by reading about two real-life Chinese-American police officers in Honolulu.  He created Chan as a protest against the “Yellow Peril” bigotry in California of the day.  He wrote six novels in the Chan series, and by the late 1920s, Hollywood tentatively expressed interested by producing a few films where Charlie Chan was only a supporting character.  But his popularity took off when Warner Oland was cast in Charlie Chan Carries On (1931), and played the detective for the remainder of his life.  Upon his death, the role was taken over by Sidney Toller for another decade.

The Charlie Chan series was quite popular, but in later decades its place in film history seems tarnished – or at least challenged – by modern sensibilities which naturally recoil from ethnic or racial stereotypes, particularly when played by white actors. The critiques are fair, but only in part.  Charlie Chan spoke in broken English and spouted Confucius-like proverbs, but that was the extent of his being a Chinese stereotype.  Inspector Chan was a world-famous detective, intelligent, kindly, urbane, courageous, honorable, modest, and his kids called him “Pop.”  His fast-talking American kids, who he had to cut down sometimes to keep them from messing up his latest case.  He was an exasperated father who still managed to save the day despite bad guys, uncooperative witnesses, and sons who didn’t always listen to him. 

Keye Luke, who played his eldest son and sidekick in many movies felt strongly that the Charlie Chan character was not demeaning to Chinese.  He is reported to have replied, “Demeaning to the race? My God! You've got a Chinese hero! He noted, quite accurately, that they “were making the best damn murder mysteries in Hollywood.”


There were something like 47 Chan movies made in the U.S. from 1926 through 1949, which made it one of the longest, if not the longest, movie series.  This is not counting the Spanish-language Chan movies, or the movies (including parodies) which featured Chan in later decades.  The honorable Inspector Chan found his way into radio shows, television, comic books, and even a 1970s cartoon series. 

Chan was something of a cultural phenomenon.  Paddy covered at length or at least mentioned something like fifteen Charlie Chan movies on her blog.  She did not approach the series with any apologetic debate about stereotypes.  She expressed wholeheartedly her delight at his personality, cleverness, the plots of the films, and her fangirl crush on Number One Son, Keye Luke.  I’m with her on that one.  In fact, I’m remiss at not having covered Chan movies before on this blog because I’m also a fan. 

Paddy covered in depth the origins of Chan in all formats, and traced the careers of the character actors who appeared in the films with her typical encyclopedic knowledge, and most of these posts were for blogathons.  Paddy loved blogathons.  There is a banner in her sidebar for every blogathon she joined.

I wanted to pay tribute to Paddy by co-hosting this blogathon and with my post, but unexpectedly, I also discovered a sense of comfort in going through her Charlie Chan posts for this entry.  Re-reading the words reflecting the vibrancy and wit of my dearly missed friend wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be and I even found myself laughing at some of her wry and always enjoyable observations. 

Here then, is The Caftan Woman facing off with Charlie Chan.  Please follow the links to read her full posts on The Caftan Woman blog.

 

REEL INFATUATION BLOGATHON: Keye Luke as Lee Chan

“My tween years were devoted to sneaking up late at night and watching whatever old movie I could find. One momentous night I was introduced to Inspector Charlie Chan, 60 summers young and 60 winters old, and his number one son, Lee in Charlie Chan in Shanghai.”

“The first scene in the movie had introduced me to Inspector Chan who seemed a movie detective worth following. Lee immediately impressed me with his good looks and enthusiasm. It's even more fun to solve a fictional crime if you have a crush on one of the detectives!”

“Immediately, we can sense the bond of affection between Charlie and his firstborn. Warner Oland and Keye Luke became close, with Oland a mentor to the young man, and Luke a fond protector to his often troubled older friend.”

“My admiration and affection for the actor runs deep, but my crush, the crush of that tween girl up late when she was supposed to be sleeping on a school night, is only for Lee Chan, #1 son.”

 


VISITING PARIS WITH INSPECTOR CHAN: Charlie Chan in Paris (1935) and City in Darkness (1939) 

“Charlie Chan in Reno… a terrific movie that could easily be paired with The Women for a great movie night.”

Of Harold Huber in Charlie Chan on Treasure Island: “Huber literally throws himself into the unaccustomed comic relief duties as a character that comes off like Inspector Clouseau's grandfather.”

 

Favourite movies: Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937)

Charlie Chan at the Olympics is set amidst a background of political turmoil, contentious ideology and threats of violence at a sporting event that sees itself in a bubble apart from those things surrounding it. Perhaps that is the celebration that the Games should be, but can never be. The movie is an entertaining visit to the past with an uncomfortable connection to our present.”

 


AT THE CIRCUS BLOGATHON: Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936)

“One of the outstanding features of the character of Chan, as opposed to many other fictional crime-solvers, is the fact that he is a family man. A family man in a big way with 12 offspring. During the course of the series, he even becomes a grandfather (Charlie Chan in Honolulu). We don't generally see a lot of granddads going head to head with the criminal class.”

“One of the thrilling aspects of the movie is that it was filmed on the winter location of The Barnes Circus and utilized the sights, sounds, people and animals from day-to-day circus life.”

 

Horseathon: Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936)

“Oland found an alter ego that touched his soul.  He approached the role of Inspector Chan through diligent study of Chinese history and philosophy and so fused his personality with that of Chan's that he became the character.  Enduring international fame was Oland's reward for such fidelity of purpose, especially in China, the land of the fictional detective's ancestors.”

“Keye Luke always spoke fondly and admiringly of Warner Oland in interviews, and refused to continue in the series after the death of his friend in 1938.”

“Charlie Chan 101 for Newbies:  If there is a young romantic couple, and there always is a young romantic couple, you can erase them from your suspect list.  They are included only to be young and romantic.”


Harold Huber

“He is a welcome sight in enjoyable crime programmers and most important to this child of the late show, he is a superstar in the Charlie Chan universe.”

Of his work in City of Darkness: “To Harold Huber fell the job of comic relief. I have acquaintances who do not care for his work in this movie. I am not of their mind. Perhaps it is because I like Huber or that I have a soft spot in my heart for those who toil as comic relief…I can't help but think of him as the emotional Pere de Clouseau, and I get a kick out of the work.”

 

Backstage Blogathon: Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936)

“Boris Karloff rightfully received top billing with Warner Oland in Charlie Chan at the Opera…Karloff's performance is touching and assured.  It also lays the groundwork for Maurice Cass' line, as Mr. Arnold, "I'm stage manager here and this opera's going on tonight even if Frankenstein walks in." 

Corny?  Perhaps, but delivered with unabashed gusto and always gets an appreciative chuckle.”

 


Beach Party Blogathon: The Black Camel (1931)

“When I read the Nancy Drew mystery The Secret of the Golden Pavilion as a young girl I longed to visit Hawaii.  Later on when I read Earl Derr Bigger's The House Without a Key my fondest wish was to visit Hawaii in the 1920s.  I imagine the closest I'll ever get to that far-fetched whim is in watching the 1931 Charlie Chan feature The Black Camel.”

“If I really could go back in time, I might have tea with Earl Derr Biggers and ask him about one of the plot points that has always bothered me concerning the clue of the ripped out newspaper photos.  If it didn't bother Biggers or his editors, it probably shouldn't bother me, but there it is.”

 

For Your Consideration: Sen Yung

“With only extra work in his background (Mr. Moto Takes a Chance and The Good Earth), Sen Yung was most happily cast with the new Chan, Sidney Toler. He proved adept at the comic enthusiasm which was Jimmy Chan's trademark and had a nice chemistry with star Toler. It is a pleasure watching him in the role today.”

“The Academy should have been taking note of the 24-year-old actor's work in William Wyler's adaption of W. Somerset Maugham's The Letter in 1940. As Ong Chi Seng, the law clerk with an agenda, Sen Yung steals scenes and gives the audience something to think about. While the British go about pretending the world is theirs, the unctuous young man reminds them that there is another world around them, one they cannot control. There is not a trace of the ebullient would-be detective in this fine characterization. It is a highlight in a film full of wonderful atmosphere and performances.”

 

Decorating with Boris

In which The Caftan Woman recounts acquiring this poster for her kitchen.

“As I spent a joyful couple of hours going through the wares of a shop it occurred to me that I - one of the world's noted Charlie Chan fans - I did not have a Charlie Chan poster among my collection. I turned to the vendor's assistant and, barely able to contain the excited anticipation from my voice, asked "Do you have Charlie Chan at the Opera"? "Why?" he responded. "What's so hot about Charlie Chan at the Opera?"

Taken aback may accurately describe my reaction to his query, but it was more than that. I was shocked…

"Perhaps," I responded politely, yet coldly, "if I used the full title card you will realize the folly of your question. I am speaking of Warner Oland vs. Boris Karloff in Charlie Chan at the Opera." Unimpressed, the lackey pointed in a vague direction. "Yeah, that's here somewhere."

 

THE HOLLYWOOD GANGSTERS BLOGTHON: Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937)

The movie world of Charlie Chan finds him often dealing with cunning murderers and spies, but Charlie Chan on Broadway is the only time in his 20th Century Fox period where he dealt with bona fide gangsters.”

 

And she ends with her 2011 second-place winning Haiku, a sublime piece:

 

The gathered suspects

Tremble 'neath Inspector's glare

You are murderer

 

Sailing Away on Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise, 1940

Published on her blog only weeks before she passed. 

“Charles Middleton and Claire Du Brey play the Watsons. Jimmy rightly calls them "bluenosers." They are killjoys and she claims to be psychic. Just the sort you want along on a cruise…

“It's all fun and games until there is another murder or two.”

 

Paddy Nolan-Hall touched so many bloggers and readers in the past 14 years of writing her blog.  I will continue to visit The Caftan Woman from time to time, the way we continue to rewatch favorite movies to visit our old friends on film.

Have a look at the other bloggers’ entries to this blogathon hereat this page.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

One week to go until the Caftan Woman's Blogathon!



One more week to go until we launch the Caftan Woman's Blogathon!  If you haven't signed up, or haven't chosen a topic yet, you still have time!

See you next Friday, May 6th!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Happy Birthday, chum.


 I hope the birthday cake in heaven is pretty spectacular, Paddy.   Blessings to your loved ones today.

Related Products