Thursday, November 13, 2014

Slander - 1957

Slander (1957) is a noble experiment, and if it fails to be as biting a drama on the scandal press as it could be, perhaps that is because it is difficult to make a tasteful movie about a distasteful subject.  It’s trying desperately to appeal to the better instincts of its audience.

That it also tries, at the same time, to indict the readers of scandal magazines—the movie-going audience—is a daring, but ultimately futile, tactic to legitimize the film’s message.  A lot of people bristle at any message in a movie, considering it preaching.  They like a clear-cut villain to shoulder all the blame and get his comeuppance in the end.  We have a villain here, and he does get foiled in the end.  But our villain does not, cannot shoulder all the blame for the evil in the story.  We must assume some of it.  The result is inevitably awkward.

Ann Blyth was rounding the corner on her 28th birthday when she made this film, her last film for MGM under her contract.  It would be the first of her three final movies, all of them released in 1957.  Slander came out in January; The Buster Keaton Story, which we covered here, was released in May for Paramount, and finally, The Helen Morgan Story, for Warner Bros., which we will cover in weeks to come, released in October 1957.  With this flurry of activity, more films at one time than she had made in years, and for three different studios, it did not seem like her film career was winding down.  There was no handwriting on the wall, no way to predict she would be a “former movie star” soon at 29 years old.

Harrison Carroll, a syndicated columnist, visited the set while Slander was being filmed, and watched her confrontation scene with character actor Harold J. Stone.

After the shot is over, I remark to Ann that it is an unusual sort of role for her to play.  Her face becomes very serious.

“It is a difficult decision for the woman in the story to make,” she says, “And anyway,” she defends, “It gives me a different sort of a part.  Audiences get tired of you if you fall into a rut.  And, just as important, a performer also gets tired of being in a rut.”

Her previous film to this had been the musical, Kismet, which we discussed here, and which had capped a string of several films, musical and non-musical which put her in fairy-tale circumstances and fanciful costumes.  In Slander, however, she is the picture of unglamorous modern reality, a housewife making beds and preparing meals for a husband and son in a tiny New York apartment in the low-rent district, her costume a neat but nondescript housedress and a wary, anxious demeanor.  Her last three films would feature her in serious, even doleful roles that were mature, sedate, and emphatically told the audience and future potential producers that she had grown up.

Her husband here is Van Johnson, in one of his last starring roles, as an up and coming entertainer.  He is a puppeteer (his work with marionettes being done by famed puppeteers Bil and Cora Baird), who has just landed a plum job with his own children’s show on TV.  Van had a hardscrabble youth in a rough neighborhood, and his past will come back to haunt him.

Their young son is played by Richard Eyer, whom we saw here in Friendly Persuasion (1956), a natural and charming kid.  His goofy, cockeyed grin is sweet, and he is the sort of gosh-gee all-American boy who loves baseball, and gets a huge kick out of his father being a TV star, as it makes him top dog at school.  But there is a down side to fame, and young Richard will suffer for it.

Harold J. Stone is Van Johnson’s agent, a friend to the family and a loyal, but ineffectual barrier to the cruelties of public life.

Directed by Roy Rowland, who directed Ann in Killer McCoy (1947), which we discussed here, the film is a good attempt at delivering a socially conscious agenda, but falters when some of the dialogue goes terribly mawkish.  I don’t think Mr. Rowland’s work here is as good as it was with Killer McCoy, most of the camera work is fairly lackluster, but I would lay most of the blame on the script for the movie’s just missing the mark.

The opening credits show the title as a blot on screen, and the actors’ names awash in a nightmarish image of floating tabloid magazine covers.  We are given the impression of sordidness from the beginning.

Then Rowland sets his opening shot on the city, its canyons of brick and steel monuments to mankind that represent both wealth and poverty, depending upon the angle.  We settle in on wealth and power first, in the palatial Park Avenue apartment of Steve Cochran, who plays the editor/publisher of one of those dirty tabloid confession magazines.  We don’t know that yet.  At first, all we see is a well-dressed man, fastidious in manner and speech, who with extraordinary thoughtfulness, arranges the daily activities of his semi-invalid mother, played with seasoned, nuanced irascibility by Marjorie Rambeau.

He is dapper, polished, refined and deliciously unrushed.  But there is a seed of doubt about him planted for the viewer by his mother’s resentfulness toward him, and by what we may suspect is the false adoption of his well-groomed self-superiority.  There’s more to this guy, and it doesn’t take long to find out.

We follow him to his office, where the gloves come off and we see that he is the master of his own kingdom of hack journalists, losers on the edge of the profession who deal in dirt, secrets, even outright lies when it serves them.  But all is not well in Steve Cochran’s world.  He has been in business for two years, enjoying enormous profits, but now he has competitors, other magazines imitating his formula for spoon feeding scandal to their readers.  Cochran’s gentlemanly demeanor of the introductory scene is stripped away when we see his work, and his cutthroat manner.

“The public has about as much brains as a halibut steak.”

He has found his success in the public’s appetite for filth.  But to top his competitors, he needs a big new story, and has found it in a well-known actress named Mary Sawyer.  Interestingly, we never see Mary Sawyer in this film, and though not showing a character that is spoken about is usually a problem in film, in this case her not being seen is perhaps a way of illustrating the point that it does not matter who is smeared.  Anyone can be a victim.  All we know of this Mary Sawyer is that she has been an actress for a long time, and is currently appearing in an uplifting film called Song of Faith.  “In the minds of the American public, she’s practically a nun.” 

One tipster has supplied information that Mary Sawyer is not practically a nun and that she fell upon some sort of disgrace in her youth.  Someone who might be able to give the magazine more information is a person who knew her from way back when, grew up with her in their old neighborhood—Van Johnson.

From this point, Van Johnson and Ann Blyth are squeezed in the jaws of a vise of moral conscience.  Van must tell what he knows about Mary Sawyer to Steve Cochran’s magazine, or else Cochran will spill the beans on Van’s secret.

As a teenager, Van committed robbery and assault with a knife, and went to prison for several years.  If the public found out, his career as a performer on a kid’s TV show is over.  There are arguments between husband and wife about the logic of throwing Mary Sawyer to the wolves to save themselves. 

What might appear as mere screen melodrama to younger viewers today was really a hot issue when this film was made, and based on numerous factual cases.  One of the most famous of these was probably when the foremost of these new scandal magazines, Confidential, threatened to disclose Rock Hudson’s homosexuality to the public.  His agent stepped in and made a deal, feeding them info on his other client instead, newcomer Rory Calhoun, who had a past involvement in armed robbery and prison time as a teen.  

Gossip columns and magazines had been part of the Hollywood scene since the first reel was shot, but what had been fairly innocuous, if occasionally irritatingly intrusive, interest in the stars’ homes, hobbies, and romances, exploded in the post-war era as a sinister inquisition into the private lives of stars, a wildly cruel seek-and-destroy mission. Hollywood actors and actresses were attacked not merely on peccadilloes in their private lives, but for their politics, and sometimes created scandal where there was none to be found.  Confidential, and other magazines and columnists of this sort who were politically conservative had taken their cue from the infamous blacklist tactics and sought to sink the careers of Liberal-leaning actors, directors, and members of the film community.

Shirley MacLaine, in her first memoir, Don’t Fall Off the Mountain, recounts a run-in with one such trash columnist of the day, Mike Connolly of the Hollywood Reporter, who, apparently believing her affiliation with liberal causes required punishment, inferred that she had her nose fixed, had attempted suicide over an unhappy love affair, had undergone an abortion, and other lies.  Sufficiently fed up, and after consulting her attorney and bringing along her secretary as a witness, Ms. MacLaine marched into Connolly’s office and slapped him hard, twice, across the face.

Columnist Hedda Hopper, despite being known, and feared, for her own self-important brand of heavy handedness, called her and told her, “Why didn’t you knock him out cold at least?  As far as I’m concerned, you should be ashamed of yourself for not finishing him off completely.”

Everyone applauded Shirley MacLaine when she visited Chasen’s restaurant; former middleweight champ Rocky Graziano sent her a pair of boxing gloves; and she received many congratulatory telegrams by those in the industry, by the governor, and a humorous one from President John F. Kennedy. 

I think of Ms. MacLaine’s the-slap-heard-around-Hollywood during the scene where Van Johnson visits Steve Cochran in his office, and slaps him.  It’s a temptation to draw similarities with Cochran’s character to real-life figures working for the scandal mags, but they’re really just types, there were plenty of them, and megalomaniacs exist in every industry.

The upshot of all this nonsense was an ugly grab for power.  This is the template by which Steve Cochran wields the whip hand over Van Johnson.  Van, his wife and child, mean nothing to Cochran, but the end result of more power, more circulation is irresistible to him.

In this climate of real-life controversy, we might suggest that the studio was brave to make this film, throwing such a moralistic dart at these magazines.  However, we could also note that the story takes place in New York, with an unknown puppeteer and involves the world of TV.  It’s as if the studio pulled a punch on this one.  If Hollywood really wanted to tell the story as it was, they’d place the setting in their own backyard, they’d show a studio mogul or two throwing an innocent actor under the bus to quash a story about to be planted about someone more valuable to them and to stay in the magazines’ good graces, the way you fork over your lunch money to a bully.  That was the way the HUAC worked during the blacklist; that’s the way all power is achieved.

But Slander attempts to show more than how the rotten deal worked; it attempts to educate the audience that buying these magazines and reading them is not nice.  That’s a tougher message to sell.

There’s a secondary social blot here to examine, but it falls by the wayside, and that’s how our society tends to grab children in a headlock and feed them garbage.  The sponsors of Van Johnson’s kids’ show, who make breakfast cereal, have the most to lose—the most money, that is, especially when, as Van’s agent Harold J. Stone proudly announces, “Kids would eat carpet tacks if Jeff Martin told them to!”

The sponsors admit their nervousness over Van’s past, and frankly admit, “We’re trying to sell children.”  It’s about as opportunistic and unseemly as the scandal mags pushing dirt on a public dirty-minded enough to enjoy that stuff.

Not all enjoy it, and some look down on Steve Cochran—respected publishers who bar him from speaking on a television panel show, waiters and maître d’s who won’t serve his mother in swank restaurants, and even his mother, who wishes he would quit this racket.  Cochran just grows more defensive and more poisonous.

The movie skirts just shy of another big issue, and that is what truth worth knowing?  We may regard a movie star’s third marriage as his own business and not worth shouting about.  But if our congressman was, say, an abusive spouse or parent, wouldn’t we want to know?  That aspect of his personality may have nothing to do with balancing the fiscal budget, but most of us would feel ill to realize we voted for such a person, and would want to avoid voting for someone who, if not a saint, at least was not cruel or involved in illegal activities.

A wise old respectable editor, who is meant to represent the nice journalists, says of Cochran: “If our drinking water was being poisoned, none of us would think it funny.  Why should we laugh at something that is doing us the same sort of damage?”

Cochran tells his ashamed mother, “I’m giving the public something that they not only want, but something they need.”

Two sides of the coin, indeed, but the movie pulls back from any thoughtful debate, preferring to show us Cochran’s arrogant sneer, Van’s hunted look of fear, and all-American boy Richard Eyer’s silly grin. 

I’ve got to give you a spoiler here, because I really can’t discuss this film without it, so go down to the corner and get a paper if you don’t want to hear this.  Or a magazine.  A nice one.

Despite a wedge driven through his marriage because of this, and his career on tenterhooks, Van won’t give Steve Cochran the information.  In part, his decision not to fold is because of the shame he carries from his crime as a teen and his prison sentence.  He is deeply sorry for that and is determined not to carry any more shame in this life than what he’s already got.  That should be played up more; instead we are given only the picture of a decent man doing the decent thing.  Honorable, to be sure, but his motives are more than pure righteous stubbornness. He’s haunted.

In retaliation, Cochran prints the story, and the sponsors, horrified at the loss of sales of cereal, drop Van Johnson from the show.  His sponsor apologetically tells him, “The public always calls the tune.”

So true, which is why when we get inferior products, either in the form of entertainment or anything else we deserve it because we don’t demand better.

The cost of his marriage and career isn’t enough, and Van must suffer one more great sorrow: the death of his son.  The kids (a microcosm of the adult world with its own rules for bullying and swaying public opinion), turn on young Richard and tease him.  Distressed, he bolts out of the schoolyard and gets hit by a car in traffic.  He dies. 

On the one hand, it’s tempting to view this scene as really going overboard, as indeed, some critics of the day felt.  On the other hand, it’s so shocking and unexpected, just by itself the scene has immense power.  We may or may not draw a direct correlation to Steve Cochran’s bullying and the death of a little boy due to the boy’s own negligence, but we see the pattern of poison entering the minds of society and the minds of children that has far-reaching effects we cannot imagine.

The aftermath also gives Ann Blyth one of her most intense scenes.  She is at her mother’s apartment, sitting in an almost catatonic state, when Van Johnson, who has just heard the news about the death of their son, rushes to her.  She had been on her way to pick him up from school when the tragedy happened.  She thaws out of her shock, and it is as painful for us to watch her allow herself to grieve as it must be for a woman to smack hard against the realization her little boy isn’t coming home anymore.  When Van kneels to embrace her, she gulps slurred words in broken sentences of helpless, almost apologetic explanation to him, and wails, a heartbreaking moan, repeatedly calling her son’s name.  A very real and powerful scene.  She goes deep here, and it is deftly played.

Van Johnson is nearly sick trying to hold himself together.

The dénouement of this is for Van to appear on the nice editor’s TV panel show to have his say on things, and though his illusion to his son being poisoned by the gossip is an analogy as true as it is emotional, unfortunately the rest of his cautionary speech limps along, weakly written.

Because we have to have an ending to all this horror, agent Harold J. Stone catches up with the sorrowing Van and Ann, and tells them that the TV station is being flooded with phone calls of support, that the public is determined not to buy anymore of these kinds of magazines.  Hurray.

It would have been a better film, and a better service to an impressionable movie audience, to simply have them walk down a street, see the latest issue with their son’s grisly death splashed across the cover, and a line of eager customers waiting to buy it.  That’s not the kind of thing we might want to see, but it would be the truth.

Though there are still a few tabloids knocking around today, for the most part they have been rendered harmless by their ridiculous stories of Hitler’s brain being kept in a laboratory or celebrities being abducted by space aliens.  Truly, only idiots buy them.  However, the real reason we have few of the old-time scandal mags is that this kind of reporting is no longer considered gossip.  It’s considered news.  Dirt, and at the very least, fascination with the superficial and shallow, has gone mainstream. The line between good solid journalism and schlock has blurred, and not only the public, but the professionals in journalism don't seem to know the difference anymore.

A few more good scenes:

When Ann and Van lie in their beds at night, unable to sleep, are acutely aware the other is awake, but are loathe to continue the fight they had earlier in the evening, and any words, even ones of comfort, are difficult now.

Van’s tortured struggle with his past and his guilt, and his pained refusal to be anything less than the decent man he wants to be.  He loses everything in the attempt, but still seems like a champion. 

Marjorie Rambeau’s caustic sniping at her son, and her futile, and melodramatic, visit to Ann Blyth after the death of the little boy to determine for herself if the cause of his death was the smear campaign.  Ann lets her have it between the eyes.

Then Miss Rambeau’s careful, pained walk down the steps of their brownstone, thumping with her cane, shoulders slumped in sorrow, just an unknown old lady to Van and Mr. Stone as they rush past her.

The triumph, the fire in Cochran’s eyes when Van Johnson calls him out on TV, because he knows it will mean even more publicity for his magazine.  Steve Cochran is very good in this role, especially as this is not the usual sort of bad guy.

One may feel the story jumped the shark when Steve Cochran is shot to death by his own mother, like a bad seed she must kill for the greater good.  Since he had made a remark earlier in the film about someone being driven to a suicide attempt over one of his previous smear jobs, perhaps it would have been more in keeping with the flow of the story to have his mother commit suicide over her son’s activities.  Some grisly end for Cochran is generally what would happen in these scenarios, though the reality is nothing would ever happen to him to make him regret his actions.

Here’s the trailer for Scandal:

A review in the Florence (Alabama) Times wrestles with the telling of this story and the idea that, like Steve Cochran’s gleaming eyes at the kill, may have given more power to the scandal mags by giving them importance:

For what is an obvious attempt at retaliation at one of Hollywood’s most feared foes, Scandal could hardly be classified as a mortal blow.

In fact, this middle bracket drama…might not only have missed the target altogether, but may have inadvertently given aid, if not comfort, to the enemy…where even the hardest knocks boomerang into boosts.

Ann Blyth took a more gentle, if no less earnest, course to address the scandal mags.  In February 1955 she was called upon to be hostess, and Pat O’Brien was master of ceremonies, at the film industry’s fourth annual Lenten Mass and Communion breakfast.  Around 1,500 film workers attended at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, where Mass was celebrated by James Francis Cardinal McIntyre (who had performed Ann’s marriage ceremony two years previously – see this post).

She delivered a speech that she and her husband, Dr. James McNulty, wrote together.  It was reprinted in several newspapers afterward, and even today you can still find the tale of it's enthusiastic reception bouncing around the Internet.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  And since then one million billion words have been said.

There are words that sing and jump and skip and dance: little girl words.  And there are words with fun in their eyes and things in their pockets and their hair mussed: little boy words.

There are young words.  And there are wise old words with a glint in their eyes.  There are words wide-eyed with wonder, soft as a baby’s feet, strong as a baby’s twining fingers.

There are steel words and iron words; thrusting, stinging, lancet words; cruel blades of words.  And there are sweet words; soothing, unguent words: father, mother words: the words that raise you like a child again, and hoist you on their shoulders.

Words are everything that man is; everything he can be-they are everything he should not be.  They are his slave; they are his master.  In a world of mercy, of the word of God, man is at the mercy of words.

In the beginning was the word—all the infinite wonder and beauty and truth and love and life that God is, uttered in one divine word.  This is the truth.  And, by its nature, every word should be a reflection of the divine Truth.

I plead with you, gentlemen of the press to remember that words are written about men, and read by men.  I plead that infidelity is not new—it isn’t even news.  That a Decalogue broken on the front page helps no one and hurts many.  That sensationalism and emotionalism and carnalism are a direct appeal to man’s baser part and the betrayal of a trust.

You are the light bearers, men of the press.  Don’t burlesque man; lead him.  You have the words.  You have the truth.  Lead not the child of God into darkness.

Come back next Thursday for Ann Blyth and Robert Mitchum, adversaries and lovers in the Korean War in One Minute to Zero (1952).

A love triangle: Ann, Robert Mitchum, and the box on which she is standing.


Catholic Herald, (London, England) February 25, 1955, p. 1.

The Florence (Alabama) Times, February 19, 1957.

MacLaine, Shirley.  Don’t Fall Off the Mountain. (NY: W.W. Norton and Company, 1970) pp 108-110.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, May 26, 1956, letter to the editor by G. E. Grezaud, p. 16.

The Warsaw (Indiana) Times-Union, September 1, 1956, syndicated column by Harrison Carroll, p. 12.
 THANK the following folks whose aid in gathering material for this series has been invaluable:  EBH; Kevin Deany of Kevin's Movie Corner; Gerry Szymski of Westmont Movie Classics, Westmont, Illinois; and Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.  And thanks to all those who signed on as backers to my recent Kickstarter campaign.  The effort failed to raise the funding needed, but I'll always remember your kind support.
TRIVIA QUESTION:  I've recently been contacted by someone who wants to know if the piano player in Dillinger (1945-see post here) is the boogie-woogie artist Albert Ammons. Please leave comment or drop me a line if you know.

mel said...

I consulted David Meeker's authoritative and exhaustive book "Jazz On The Screen - a Jazz And Blues Filmography" (2008) and Albert Ammons is not mentioned as performing in Dillinger (1945).

So my educated guess is a negative.
November 7, 2014

Thanks, Mel.
UPDATE:  This series on Ann Blyth is now a book - ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. -
The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on, and on Amazon and iTunes.

Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon, CreateSpace, and my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.

 "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.

A new collection of essays, some old, some new, from this blog titled Movies in Our Time: Hollywood Mimics and Mirrors the 20th Century is now out in eBook, and in paperback here.


grandoldmovies said...

I recall both Ann Blyth and Steve Cochran giving fine performances in this film. Cochran especially stood out, as a faux-gentlemanly publisher (so different from his usual thug roles); as you note, you have a feeling throughout that his character is assuming a pose (which I'm sure is the impression Cochran wanted to give). The film itself also reeked of posing, although not in an artistic way. It had that sense I often find in Hollywood films, of trying to play it both ways: the issue of the sleazy tabloids that can be easily defeated once a good man like Van Johnson speaks out against them (and a morally upright mother uses a good aim). It's one of those movies I found myself wishing had been better and harder-hitting as I watched it. it makes me wonder what a director like Billy Wilder could have done with this material.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

GOM, you may be right about Billy Wilder, he had a cynical approach that might have done this movie a world of good. Cochran was great. I do feel that the script needed more bite, but that our reception of this film is also colored by the message here that makes us share responsibility with the villain for the crime. Nobody likes to hear that.

Moira Finnie said...

Jacqueline, I was impressed with your analysis of Slander on your blog today. I do not wish to take away from your engrossing, ongoing focus on Ann Blyth, but have long felt that this movie may have meant more to Van Johnson.

Despite the limitations in the sometimes OTT screenplay for Slander and the lower budget that you have ably outlined, along with this movie's strengths, I found that the story had an added poignancy for me.

This was due in part to Van Johnson's performance as the conflicted central character--in marked contrast to his often dismissed, happy-go-lucky roles in the '40s at MGM (a characterization of this period that is too facile to be accurate).
As Johnson's phenomenal fame changed and his acting career shifted away from leading man roles to become darker and better, his later work often seems to be critically ignored or dismissed, even today.

My attitude was shaped in part when I wrote a sincere appreciation of Johnson at the time of his death in 2008. Unexpectedly, I received numerous emails and comments from people who felt that the actor should have been reviled or deserved to be mocked due to his apparently troubled private life.

Slander, The Caine Mutiny, The Last Time I Saw Paris, and The End of the Affair from the '50s each revealed for me a hardworking professional who could eloquently express a person who was not at peace with himself but was not afraid to reveal a negative side to his character and illuminate a part of the human experience as best he could. He deserved more respect, just as Ann Blyth does today.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Moira, thanks so much for adding to the discussion. I agree with what you say about Van Johnson. His work always touches me, and I've also been baffled by those who would dismiss his later work. Even just paying second fiddle in BRIGADOON, I find him so much more interesting than Gene Kelly in this movie. With every sarcastic shot, somehow he just breaks my heart.

THE CAINE MUTINY is one of my favorites, and I hope to get around to discussing it in the future.

Anonymous said...

Great review as always. Don't know this film but will watch out for it.
Does sound as if Billy Wilder could have made this another Ace in the Hole.
Hard to believe that the studios weren't knocking at Ann's door. Wonder why her film career ground to a halt .
I like Van Johnson in 23 Paces to Baker Street .

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks, Anon. Her film career ended partly due to not getting great scripts, and partly due to not wanting to leave her family for too long to film in Europe, where a lot of stuff was going in the 1960s. I expect if she could have found quality scripts that would have kept her close to home, she probably would have made more films.

I haven't seen 23 Paces to Baker Street, but I like Van Johnson too.

Caftan Woman said...

It's so frustrating to watch a film that may have all the good intentions in the world, but fails to reach the top.

Like you, Van Johnson is the reason I watch "Brigadoon". I just want to make things better for him.

Thank you for introducing me to this film, and for reprinting that thought-provoking speech.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Love your BRIGADOON remark, CW. Hope you get to see SLANDER soon. It's still got a lot going for it. The cast are all very good. The thing I like about the speech is it exemplifies Ann Blyth just doing things her way, in an environment that was comfortable for her.

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