Thursday, March 21, 2019

Another Old Movie Blog - 12th anniversary

This month marks the 12th anniversary of Another Old Movie Blog, and, having passed over 2 million pageviews, I'm grateful take this opportunity to once again thank you for the pleasure of your company.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Search for Bridey Murphy - 1956

The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) created a 1950s fad and fascination with reincarnation, spawning books, records, jokes, and “come as you were” parties. It is based on a true story, and its docudrama presentation is used to grab the audience in a way more effective than if the subject were sensationalized.  Pop culture in later decades churned out almost an entire industry around unexplained phenomena, and this movie, which did not really stand the test of time despite the huge splash it made, explored taboo fears in an unsettled postwar world.

The story is based on the book of the same name, published in the same year, by Morey Bernstein. He was a businessman who developed a fascination with hypnotism. It became something of a hobby and something of a parlor game. On one such occasion he hypnotized a Colorado housewife named Virginia Tighe (to protect her identity in his book and in the movie, she is called Ruth Simmons). Through hypnosis, he took her back in time to her childhood and as an entertaining experiment, tried to see how far back in her conscious he could take her. Unexpectedly, she began to speak of memories of her experiences in the previous century in Ireland, and she spoke with an Irish accent. She identified herself Bridey Murphy, who lived from the late 1700s through the early 1800s. In several hypnotic sessions with him, she told of experiences of her childhood in Ireland, her marriage, and even her death. Bernstein and their circle of friends were astounded. They had stumbled upon, so it seemed, evidence of a case of reincarnation.

Bernstein wrote a book about their sessions and it became a bestseller and spawned a great deal of talk, speculation, and fascination with her story. But since neither were after fame or notoriety, Virginia Tighe preferred to live her life out of the spotlight, for the most part, and Bernstein gave up hypnotism and went back to his business. They both died a few years apart from each other in the 1990s.

The movie is amazingly powerful despite its low-key simplicity. Teresa Wright stars as Ruth Simmons, the woman who appears to have reconnected with her reincarnated self, Bridey Murphy.  This would not be Miss Wright’s final film but it would be her last leading role. She was now in an era where Hollywood tended to turn away from its big female stars once they had reached their 30s and a new crop of younger nubile actresses came along. But I suspect the role itself appealed her and was a different sort of challenge than she had had in other films in her career. She actually spends most of the movie lying on a couch with her eyes closed, but despite the lack of movement, she is in close-up most of the time and we are riveted to her changing expressions and to the soft lilt of her Irish accent. She acts out responses to Bernstein’s questions, at turns haughty, dismissive, irritated, delighted all while being under the haze-like influence of hypnosis. On one occasion, she is asked to do a jig she has described and she stands and performs a graceful Irish dance. Unlike in most stunts that hypnotists ask their subjects to perform, she does not look silly. The quiet moment leaves the viewer somewhat awestruck and Bridey Murphy becomes not a joke or a parlor game but an eerie unknown which is equal parts intriguing and somewhat frightening.

Louis Hayward plays Morey Bernstein in this movie. We last saw him as Philip Lombard here in And ThenThere Were None (1945). Hayward and the other members of a rather large cast are really actors and actresses with minor careers and after this movie invariably did a great deal of television. Richard Anderson, who plays a doctor, is among them. He probably had a more prominent career than anyone else of the supporting players.

Using a cast of predominantly little-known players in a documentary format gives the movie a certain quiet, sober feel that perhaps producers felt added to its authenticity. It allows us to take the subject more seriously than if it were an overblown soap opera plot with a cast of stars.

The movie opens with Louis Hayward standing behind flats on a movie set. He breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience, describing to them what is about to happen. Suddenly, he walks onto the living room set and starts speaking as if the action has started and he is Morey Bernstein. It’s an interesting effect that seems seamless, like the drifting between past and the present in this movie, like the swing from conscious to unconscious, he moves from reality to make believe in an instant and it is kind of a metaphor for what is about to happen.

He is a businessman invited to the home of some friends where he sees a man attempting to hypnotize the lady of the house. It is all in fun and like any nightclub hypnotist of the day, he gets her to do silly things and the other guests at the party laugh. Bernstein thinks it’s all nonsense and he volunteers to be hypnotized but it doesn’t work on him. The doctor, played by Richard Anderson, tells them that not everyone can be hypnotized and this intrigues Bernstein. He learns as much about hypnotism as he can, starts trying it out on other people and finds he has a knack for it. He even helps Richard Anderson in his clinic for people who suffer from disability. Bernstein’s own skepticism tumbles away when he sees that he is able to help people walk, or take away migraine headaches purely by hypnosis. He practices on his own wife and it gives him the courage to practice on other people.

At another house party, a guest talks about another famous case of hypnosis used in medicine by renown clairvoyant Edgar Cayce, who was called The Sleeping Prophet. Cayce had died the previous decade and had become famous for his ability under a hypnotic trance to diagnose the illnesses of people and to describe how they should find a cure. Also, to the Cayce story is the aspect of reincarnation.

When we are told about Edgar Cayce, we are given a flashback scene acting out a very eerie instance where Cayce describes an old-time remedy that even the druggist doesn’t know he still has on his shelf that cures a boy’s leg. Bernstein is so fascinated, he travels to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to meet Cayce’s son Hugh who runs the Edgar Cayce research center. He comes to believe that Cayce was not a fraud. Bernstein still doesn’t believe in reincarnation but he’s very interested in seeing if he can take a person back in time through their subconscious to as far as childhood.

At another party, Teresa Wright, with her husband’s permission, volunteers to be the next guinea pig. Her husband is played by Kenneth Tobey, stalwart, solid, middle management 1950s suburban dad who is freaked out by all of this and wishes she would just stop, but he is indulgent and allows her to play the game. Bernstein hypnotizes her and takes her back to events that happened when she was seven years old. It’s quite convincing.

A couple of days later they pick up the session and he takes her back to one-year-old and he audiotapes her conversation with him. Through successive sessions he tries to take her back farther and farther –suddenly we tap into…Bridey Murphy.

Bridey Murphy is four years old and she lives in Cork, Ireland, and Teresa Wright speaks in Bridey’s Irish accent. She is eight years old. She is 15 years old. She is 18 years old in the year 1806. She talks of her family and her childhood experiences with her parents and siblings. The flashbacks occur in a foggy haze with other actresses playing Bridey and her circle. Teresa Wright sings a brief little song a cappella and it is sweet and it is eerie.

Her husband is annoyed, and Bernstein’s wife, played by Nancy Gates, is also a little jealous of their time together. Teresa Wright lies supine, serene under a blanket, her pearl choker nestled against her neck. She is utterly helpless in the hands, psychologically, of Louis Hayward.

We learn about Bridey's life, of her parents, how she married at 20 and lived with her husband in Belfast and had no children. She describes many aspects of what it was like to live in Ireland at that time.

Her husband puts his foot down once again to stop. There is a religious debate with a priest and a minister.  The priest, when challenged by the concept of reincarnation as the basis of the Buddhist faith replies, “Any sincere faith manifests its strength by its tolerance of other faiths.” These are noble words to live by and they have a philosophical discussion. At first, Teresa Wright is freaked out by the notion that there is someone else living in her psychic memory, but now she is curious and her husband lets her go ahead. Richard Anderson hovers by, also concerned about some unseen danger that we don’t know. Professors and a publisher take note.

Then we have the death of Bridey Murphy, which is, after all, the point on which reincarnation hinges. A person cannot be reborn unless they first die. Bridey is 66 years old and she breaks a hip. She lingers in bed while her husband takes care of her. He goes to church (there is some discussion of their religions because he is Catholic and she is Protestant) and she has died while he is gone and he was very upset to have not been with her at her death. These are really sad and haunting scenes.

Hallene Hill plays Bridey at 66. She had a career of minor roles usually “old lady.” She, like all the other cast members in the flashback scenes, does not speak. There is only pantomime with Teresa Wright’s narration over what they are doing and saying. When Bridey dies, Hallene Hill, ghostlike, sees her own funeral, her own burial plot at the graveyard, and Teresa Wright reads the stone. The ghost of Bridey hovers in her own home to watch her grieving husband and is sad that she cannot reach him, he does not hear her, he does not know she is there. She visits the home of her brother but he does not see or hear her either, and she spends a lonely existence in an afterlife. 

And then Teresa Wright says she is born yet again in America, another person. 


Their session stops only after Bridey seems to not want to let go. Bernstein tries to awaken her from her hypnotic sleep but every time he does, gives her the command to wake up, she's still Bridey. Bernstein panics, her husband panics, everyone in the room panics as, time and time, again he orders her to be Mrs. Ruth Simmons but Bridey won’t let go.

It is a sedate and quiet moment in the living room but it is more frightening than any monster movie you’ve ever seen. She keeps speaking in that accent, running over and over again on a frantic loop, her memories as Bridey Murphy. At last, finally, Ruth breaks through and comes back.

The doc says this has to stop. Bernstein is only too happy to stop now; he’s ready to have a nervous breakdown.

A publisher has become interested in the book and the wheels are in motion to print Bernstein’s audio transcripts of his sessions with Teresa Wright. First, however, they must do some checking to see if they can verify the facts as they have come to know them about Bridey Murphy. William J. Barker, who first wrote of the sessions in a series for the Denver Post, plays himself in this movie, and co-wrote the book

But under the glaring light of celebrity, this is where the fancy crumbles; not in the movie, but in real life.

In the aftermath of the book’s popularity, facts from the transcripts were investigated and it was difficult to find evidence of a Bridey Murphy living in the place and time that was described. Some aspects of her stories were proven but others could not be substantiated. In some circles, the debate continues to this day.

It was discovered that the real Ruth Simmons,/Virginia Tighe, had at least one aunt and also a neighbor, who came from Ireland whom she knew as a very small child and she could have been repeating memories they told her. There were some accusations of this all being a hoax.

However, scientists and psychologists have decided that this really was a case of cryptomnesia, rather than a paranormal experience or a hoax. It was really an equally fascinating aspect of our subconscious that allowed her to remember stories told her from her earliest childhood, that she had forgotten, and that she had subconsciously borrowed.  Something had been planted in her memory and she could not control it but lived it through hypnosis as if it had been her own experience.

However, the mournful scenes of a ghostly Bridey Murphy watching her grieving family from beyond are of some of the most powerful in this movie and they don’t seem to be explained by the researchers, so I’m not sure if this was something the writers of the movie threw in, because I have not read the book. Maybe someone can set us straight with an explanation for that.

The Search for Bridey Murphy is a piece locked in time—in the 1950s, not necessarily in 1800s Ireland, where existential worlds collided and the sane normal was shattered in the mundane and iconic 1950s suburban living room.  It is a movie probably forgotten these days, but it is well worth a look for its interesting avenue of storytelling and for Teresa Wright’s ethereal performance. Currently, you can see it on YouTube.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Maureen O'Hara - Actress and Colleen

Maureen O'Hara appears on page 49 of Big Star Album, no. 1, Winter 1943, a large magazine from the Dell Publishing Company.  The paper is not glossy, being the wartime stock, but the issue is loaded with full-page portraits of the stars of the day.  One is struck by the repeated references to Miss O'Hara's Irish birth, not as a matter of biography but rather, it seems inferenced, as a selling point, an important part of her studio publicity.

To have been foreign born is naturally exotic to us, and to have trained in Dublin's illustrious Abbey Theater is certainly impressive, but her blurb is filled with Blarney Stone and leprechaun references,  of being an Irish colleen.  Did Marlene Dietrich's German heritage, Ingrid Bergman's Swedish heritage, or Greer Garson's English heritage matter as much to their careers? Were they selling points, or merely interesting trivia?  

The article stresses that despite her beauty, Miss O'Hara was an accomplished actress, that she was not just building a career on her charm. Indeed, she was a splendid actress, nor did she lean on predominantly Irish roles, which would have limited her career, though she was obviously proud of her ancestry and even recorded an album of Irish folk songs.  Even charming tropes are still tropes, and one must wonder if they weren't occasionally an exhausting burden.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Secret Lives of Hollywood Stars in Children's Novels

Deanna Durbin had a secret life, at least as evidenced by her two adventures told in children's novels: Deanna Durbin and the Adventure of Blue Valley, and Deanna Durbin and the Feather of Flame.  These began a popular, if sometimes rather odd, series of girls' books by Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin.  We learned about the adventures of other stars as well in exploits never told in fan magazines.

These two books were published in 1941 and spearheaded the collection that would be known as the Whitman Authorized Editions, though whether any star actually authorized these stories is quite doubtful.  They do stand as creative examples of not only the studios' ownership of its stars, but its wide-reaching commercial exploitation of the stars as its products.

One of the more interesting of the series was Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak, which was actually written by her mother, Lela E. Rogers, so Ginger must have at least known about the novel even if she didn't authorize it.  The story has Ginger dealing with a rough relationship with her mother, meeting her father for the first time, and in her job as a night switchboard operator for a hotel, ferrets out enemy spies in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  A full day's work.

Most, but not all, of the books in the series were written by Katheryn Heisenfelt.

We see by the titles that many stars had a lot going on in their lives. There is:

Bonita Granville and the Mystery of Star Island
Jane Withers and the Hidden Room

Ann Rutherford and the Key to Nightmare Hall
Betty Grable and the House with Iron Shutters

Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin (Jane Withers was very busy.)
Betty Hutton and the Romance of Palmetto Island

Ann Sheridan and the Sign of the Sphinx (Look at her casting that wry eye at the whole idea.)
Jane Withers and the Swamp Wizard (Jane's back again in a weird swamp story.)

Judy Garland and the Hoodoo Costume
Shirley Temple and the Spirit of Dragonwood
Shirley Temple and the Screaming Specter (because why should Jane Withers have all the excitement?
Gene Tierney and the Invisible Wedding Gift (I find this title the most intriguing.)
Dorothy Lamour and the Haunted Lighthouse

And just so you don't think the ladies have all the fun, we have:

John Payne and the Menace at Hawk's Nest

Gregory Peck and the Red Box Enigma
Van Johnson, the Luckiest Guy in the World.

If any of you have read any of these books, I'd like to hear your book report. 


In this previous post from 2010, I discussed some children's novels that were centered around World War II and published in that era.  I'll be writing a book on this subject, something that's been on the back burner for, obviously, a very long time.  My to-do list is so long it sometimes strangles me, and I have to shoot it.  But I'd like hear your input as well on books like the Cherry Ames series, the Dave Dawson series, the Ann Bartlett series, etc., all the pre-teen novels about the war.  I'll post more on this down the road.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Stage Door Canteen (1943) and Hollywood Canteen (1944)

Stage Door Canteen (1943) and Hollywood Canteen (1944) served a dual purpose:  They were examples of the entertainment industry supporting the war effort, and they also allowed the entertainment industry to show that it was supporting the war effort.  They were marvelously successful on both counts. 

Both films are all-star extravaganzas of featured acts and cameos of actors and actresses, with a thin plot moving the story along.  Stage Door Canteen is set in the famous Broadway canteen established by the American Theatre Wing in March 1942.  A free nightclub to servicemen and allied service personnel, the military got free entrance to see the stars, free food, and hostesses to dance with and chat with and maybe even more, as both films suggest.

Broadway was the leader in pop culture in many ways.  Most of the songs on the radio were theatre tunes, many of the actors, writers, and directors in Hollywood got their start in theatre.  “The Great White Way” was a phrase known by everyone, even in the smallest towns.  World War II gave theatre another stage, so to speak, and another opportunity to lead the way.  Their Stage Door Canteen, located in the basement of an old Shubert Organization theater on 44th Street, was a unique and exciting way to show support for the troops.  It was the forerunner for many other service personnel canteens that followed in other major cities, including one in Hollywood, as we noted in our previous post here.

The Stage Door Canteen was such a phenomenon it spawned a radio series, and a popular song, “I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen.”  That song was featured in the Army-produced stage show and film This is the Army (1943), which we discussed here.

The second line in the song, “I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen,” which you can listen to here, is “I left it there with a girl named Eileen…”

The movie, Stage Door Canteen, features a fictional young woman, named Eileen, who is a volunteer hostess who meets a particular soldier and their lives are changed forever.  Maybe.

 In this case, Eileen is an ambitious young actress, played by Cheryl Walker.  She is a newcomer to the canteen, and really more interested in meeting play producers than soldiers or sailors. Her two friends, played by Marjorie Riordan and Margaret Early, are also young actresses attending auditions, but they are more dedicated to the canteen. 

William Terry plays Dakota, an aloof soldier who is the gentle lead of his buddies. Michael Harrison, whom we will later come to know as Sunset Carson, plays Tex. Frederick Brady plays Jersey, who has a fiancée he visits, so we don’t see too much of him at the canteen.  Lon McCallister plays California, whose biggest worry, apart from going overseas, is that he has never kissed a girl. 

They come to the Stage Door Canteen on a few successive nights on their last leave before being shipped to Europe.  As thin as their storyline is, it is still compelling.  Dakota has no family and no one to write to him, so he has learned to be loner and is satisfied, but despite his aloofness, Eileen has caught his eye.  She is too self-involved to be anything but irritated by him.  Jersey has to get permission from his commanding officer to arranged a rushed wedding at a justice of the peace with his fiancée.  We don’t know too much about Tex, except he wants to be with a Southerner like himself, and luckily, he finds vivacious Margaret Early. 

Lon McCallister is left to Marjorie Riordan’s comforting understanding on his dilemma about not ever being kissed.  She does not laugh at him, and neither should we.  Many such young men who had never even left their hometowns before they were shuttled to all corners of the earth, and many to their deaths.  I remember a World War II vet I interviewed over thirty years ago lamenting this when he discussed his comrades in North Africa.  “Some of those boys were just as green as apples.  They didn’t know what life was or wasn’t.”  He was near tears as he spoke, thinking of it.  I think he thought of it a lot, for the rest of his life.

But the boys coming to the canteen—anonymous in their “state” nicknames—are there not just for a fun time, but to take us along to see the stars.

They are from the theatre and also from radio.  Some make only a cameo appearance, like Alice McMahon, and some get a few lines, like Paul Muni.  Some perform, like Gypsy Rose Lee.  Just as small-town folks knew about the phrase, “The Great White Way,” they also had heard about, even if they had never seen, Gertrude Lawrence, Jane Cowl, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Tallulah Bankhead, and Katherine Cornell. 

When Lon McCallister stands in the food line, he meets Katherine Cornell serving behind the counter, and when he tells her of his high school production of Romeo and Juliet, she recites the lines from the balcony scene.  It was her most famous role, and it is quite moving, sweet and poignant.  It was also Miss Cornell’s only appearance on film, and for that we can certainly be grateful for this movie.

We see the greats Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in the kitchen, and George Raft washes dishes, and Alan Mowbray is a busboy.  Dame May Witty and Helen Hayes are greeters at the door, and Ray Bolger performs, as does Gracie Fields.  Ethel Merman belts out a song, and the big bands play.  One of them, Count Basie’s orchestra, backs Ethel Waters.  Miss Peggy Lee is smashing with “Why Don’t You Do Right?” with Benny Goodman’s orchestra.

Sam Jaffe speaks Russian to a small group of Russian soldiers, including a woman and calls them “our fighting allies.”  It was an innocent remark then, only now do we see the irony as we recall Mr. Jaffe being blacklisted in the next decade when such sentiments were suspect.

Chinese troops are sent off with a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” and any night any unit may be called out to the troop ships.  There is a live-for-the-moment feeling that is energetic and yet wistful.  At the end, Katharine Hepburn gives “the speech” to buck up Eileen.  “We’re in a war and we’ve got to win…”

The movie is now in public domain, and you can see it here.  From the first moments of the theme song, played throughout as a background instrumental, is the song “We Mustn’t Say Goodbye,” which was nominated for an Academy Award.  It is an especially lovely song that tears at the heart and embodies the spirit of that moment when the partings come.  One verse:

Don’t you know the memories we gather

Can never, never die.

We mustn’t say goodbye.

It is emotion expressed in a way unique to that generation, who were “green as apples.”  If you follow the link to the film, go down toward the end at 1:41:29 and listen to vocalist Lanny Ross (whose real name was Lancelot, and I think he should have used it), sings in his magnificent tenor. 

The song is so much a part of Stage Door Canteen, that it pops up, again as background, in Hollywood Canteen, made the following year.  You will hear it as a leitmotif between Robert Hutton and Joan Leslie.

UPDATE:  Here's a clip of Lanny Ross singing "We Mustn't Say Goodbye" --

I expect part of that heartbreaking wistfulness of Stage Door Canteen was because it was directed by Frank Borzage, who as we know, specialized in that kind of lovely torment.  The script was by Delmer Daves, whom we might remember better for his splashy soap-opera type dramas of the 1950s.  He also wrote the script for Hollywood Canteen, and this time directed it as well.  It follows roughly the same template as Stage Door Canteen, but there is a note of flashiness here that comes from either Mr. Daves’ showier sensibilities with a film under his complete control, or because Hollywood is just made that way.

Stage Door Canteen was not actually filmed in New York; that canteen ran seven nights a week, so there was no opportunity for filming there.  It was replicated on a soundstage.  In Hollywood Canteen, we leave the New York theater basement and drop in to the old barn on Cahuenga Boulevard and a new crop of West Coast stars.

We meet the soldiers played by Robert Hutton as Slim and Dane Clark as Brooklyn—more anonymous “everyman” nicknames—while they are still in the jungles of New Guinea.  Hutton’s girlfriend has not written to him in over a year, and he takes the hint they are off.  Instead, these days he fantasizes about the Hollywood actress Joan Leslie, whom he sees on films played in camp.  At one such showing, outdoors in the pouring rain, the sound goes off and the men choose to continue watching without the sound, just so they can see the pretty girls in the musical starring Joan Leslie.  It is probably the most poignant moment of the film.

Hutton and Clark are being sent home on furlough on a hospital ship because they have each been wounded.  After a few weeks in hospital and rehab, they have a pass to see Los Angeles.  Hutton goes sightseeing, but finally makes his way to the Hollywood Canteen, and we learn as he does that the food and the fun is for free if you’re in uniform.

We get another roster of servers and greeters and kitchen staff—Jack Carson, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Joe E. Brown, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwick, Paul Henreid, Alexis Smith and her husband Craig Stevens, Zachary Scott, Ida Lupino, and many more.  Some of the specialty acts here are on a grander scale than in Stage Door Canteen.   “You Can Always Tell a Yank” turns into a huge production number, with the audience of soldiers filing in for a grand march at the finale.  Roy Rogers rides Trigger onstage for a song.  Each act has its own set.

Two of the best acts are The Golden Gate Quartet and Joan McCracken, fresh from Broadway in Oklahoma!  Miss McCracken does a fabulous be-bop ballet as a youngster in a dance hall. 

The quartet, whose perfectly blended voices sing of the nation’s diversity in its fighting ranks is an example of the way both movies celebrate diversity as the American ideal of democracy. Though the military was still segregated, the canteens were not, and while not all Americans enjoyed the benefit of true democracy, one can see the nation’s heart wanted to idealize that notion even if we had a hard time living up to it.  We saw ourselves as being better for living up to standards that were higher than our enemies’.

Robert Hutton meets Joan Leslie, gets a kiss from her set up by Bette Davis and John Garfield, visits her home, meets the folks, and wins a weekend with her for being the millionth man at the canteen.  (I love Alan Hale’s horrified expression listening to two servicemen discussing whether to go inside the canteen or meet dates elsewhere as they blow the chance to be the millionth man.)  That a romance with a movie star was improbable for a soldier visiting the Hollywood Canteen was evidently the reason Ann Sheridan, who was originally offered the Joan Leslie role, turned it down.  She thought the premise ridiculous, and it is, but that never stopped Hollywood before.

Hollywood Canteen tends to be a little more self-congratulatory and self-aggrandizing than Stage Door Canteen, Hollywood clapping itself on the back for doing a good turn.  For all the fun of searching out familiar faces among the stars, you’ll see only talent from Warner Bros.  Actors from all the studios helped out at the Hollywood Canteen, but studios were more generous about lending their employees to Uncle Sam than they were to lending them to another studio.

Both films are fun to watch for the parade of stars and their awkwardness of trying to be themselves in a fictional scenario, that, when the cameras weren’t rolling, was not fictional at all.  I doubt there will ever been another film again with as huge a cast of stars and character actors so well known to the public that showing them being like regular folks was almost irrelevant, because we already thought we knew them.  They were, just as our democratic ideals, what we wanted to be like at the time. 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bette Davis at the Hollywood Canteen

This page from Screen Guide of March 1943 is only a humble notice in a huge and glorious endeavor by Hollywood stars to support not only our military, but the Allied forces on our shores during World War II.   

Started by three liberal Democrats: Bette Davis, John Garfield, and Dr. Jules Stein, and supported by the volunteer work of several industry trade unions, the project was embraced by the Hollywood's film community no matter their political stripe.  Country, in its hour of greatest need, came first.  Not only were the servicemen, including members of the Coast Guard, paid their salary, but they also got doughnuts and autographs.  

Some of your favorite actors and actresses may be on the list of volunteers:

Bud Abbott & Lou Costello
Iris Adrian
Fred Allen
June Allyson
Brian Aherne
Don Ameche
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson
The Andrews Sisters
Dana Andrews
Eve Arden
Louis Armstrong
Jean Arthur
Fred Astaire
Mary Astor
Roscoe Ates
Lauren Bacall
Lucille Ball
Tallulah Bankhead
Theda Bara
Lynn Bari
Jess Barker
Binnie Barnes
Diana Barrymore
Ethel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
Count Basie
Anne Baxter
Warner Baxter
Louise Beavers
Wallace Beery
William Bendix
Constance Bennett
Joan Bennett
Jack Benny
Edgar Bergen
Ingrid Bergman
Milton Berle
Julie Bishop
Mel Blanc
Joan Blondell
Ann Blyth
Humphrey Bogart
Ray Bolger
Beulah Bondi
William Boyd
Charles Boyer
Clara Bow
Eddie Bracken
El Brendel
Walter Brennan
Fanny Brice
Joe E. Brown
Les Brown
Billie Burke
George Burns & Gracie Allen
Spring Byington
James Cagney
Cab Calloway
Rod Cameron
Eddie Cantor
Judy Canova
Kitty Carlisle
Jack Carson
Adriana Caselotti
Charlie Chaplin
Marguerite Chapman
Cyd Charisse
Charles Coburn
Claudette Colbert
Jerry Colonna
Ronald Colman
Betty Compson
Perry Como
Chester Conklin
Gary Cooper
Joseph Cotten
Noël Coward
James Craig
Bing Crosby
Joan Crawford
George Cukor
Xavier Cugat
Cass Daley
Dorothy Dandridge
Linda Darnell
Bette Davis
Doris Day
Yvonne De Carlo
Gloria DeHaven
Dolores Del Rio
William Demarest
Olivia de Havilland
Cecil B. DeMille
Andy Devine
Marlene Dietrich
Walt Disney
Jimmy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Irene Dunne
Jimmy Durante
Deanna Durbin
Nelson Eddy
Duke Ellington
Faye Emerson
Dale Evans
Jinx Falkenburg
Glenda Farrell
Alice Faye
Louise Fazenda
Stepin Fetchit
Gracie Fields
Barry Fitzgerald
Errol Flynn
Kay Francis
Jane Frazee
Joan Fontaine
Susanna Foster
Eva Gabor
Ava Gardner
Judy Garland
Greer Garson
Lillian Gish
James Gleason
Betty Grable
Cary Grant
Kathryn Grayson
Sydney Greenstreet
Paulette Goddard
Samuel Goldwyn
Benny Goodman
Leo Gorcey
Virginia Grey
Jack Haley
Margaret Hamilton
Phil Harris
Moss Hart
Helen Hayes
Dick Haymes
Susan Hayward
Rita Hayworth
Sonja Henie
Paul Henreid
Katharine Hepburn
Portland Hoffa
Darla Hood
Bob Hope
Hedda Hopper
Lena Horne
Edward Everett Horton
Marsha Hunt
Ruth Hussey
Betty Hutton
Frieda Inescort
Harry James
Gloria Jean
Anne Jeffreys
Allen Jenkins
Van Johnson
Al Jolson
Jennifer Jones
Marcia Mae Jones
Boris Karloff
Danny Kaye
Buster Keaton
Ruby Keeler
Gene Kelly
Evelyn Keyes
Andrea King
Gene Krupa
Kay Kyser
Alan Ladd
Bert Lahr
Elsa Lanchester
Angela Lansbury
Veronica Lake
Hedy Lamarr
Dorothy Lamour
Carole Landis
Frances Langford
Charles Laughton
Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
Peter Lawford
Gertrude Lawrence
Peggy Lee
Pinky Lee
Mervyn LeRoy
Vivien Leigh
Joan Leslie
Ted Lewis
Beatrice Lillie
Mary Livingston
Harold Lloyd
June Lockhart
Anita Loos
Peter Lorre
Myrna Loy
Keye Luke
Bela Lugosi
Ida Lupino
Diana Lynn
Marie McDonald
Jeanette MacDonald
Fred MacMurray
Marjorie Main
Irene Manning
Fredric March
The Marx Brothers
Herbert Marshall
Ilona Massey
Victor Mature
Elsa Maxwell
Louis B. Mayer
Hattie McDaniel
Roddy McDowall
Frank McHugh
Victor McLaglen
Butterfly McQueen
Lauritz Melchior
Adolphe Menjou
Una Merkel
Ray Milland
Ann Miller
Glenn Miller
Carmen Miranda
Robert Mitchum
Maria Montez
George Montgomery
Grace Moore
Jackie Moran
Dennis Morgan
Patricia Morison
Paul Muni
Ken Murray
The Nicholas Brothers
Ramon Novarro
Jack Oakie
Margaret O'Brien
Virginia O'Brien
Donald O'Connor
Maureen O'Hara
Oona O'Neill
Maureen O'Sullivan
Merle Oberon
Eugene Pallette
Eleanor Parker
Louella Parsons
John Payne
Gregory Peck
Nat Pendleton
Mary Pickford
Walter Pidgeon
Zasu Pitts
Cole Porter
Dick Powell
Eleanor Powell
Jane Powell
William Powell
Anthony Quinn
George Raft
Claude Rains
Basil Rathbone
Martha Raye
Donna Reed
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
Edward G. Robinson
Ginger Rogers
Roy Rogers
Cesar Romero
Mickey Rooney
Jane Russell
Rosalind Russell
Ann Rutherford
Peggy Ryan
S.Z. Sakall
Olga San Juan
Ann Savage
David O. Selznick
Hazel Scott
Lizabeth Scott
Randolph Scott
Toni Seven
Norma Shearer
Ann Sheridan
Dinah Shore
Sylvia Sidney
Phil Silvers
Ginny Simms
Frank Sinatra
Red Skelton
Alexis Smith
Kate Smith
Ann Sothern
Jo Stafford
Barbara Stanwyck
Craig Stevens
Leopold Stokowski
Lewis Stone
Gloria Swanson
Elizabeth Taylor
Shirley Temple
Danny Thomas
Gene Tierney
Lawrence Tibbett
Martha Tilton
Claire Trevor
Sophie Tucker
Lana Turner
Spencer Tracy
Gloria Vanderbilt
Beryl Wallace
Nancy Walker
Ethel Waters
John Wayne
Clifton Webb
Virginia Weidler
Johnny Weissmuller
Orson Welles
Mae West
Bert Wheeler
Alice White
Paul Whiteman
Margaret Whiting
Esther Williams
Warren William
Chill Wills
Marie Wilson
Shelley Winters
Jane Withers
Teresa Wright
Anna May Wong
Constance Worth
Jane Wyman
Keenan Wynn
Rudy Vallee
Lupe Vélez
Loretta Young
Robert Young
Darryl F. Zanuck
Vera Zorina

We'll be discussing Hollywood Canteen (1944), and Stage Door Canteen (1943) next week.

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