To Our Very Best Pal JOHN WAYNE (Or Occupant)

LettersofNote.com displays "correspondence deserving of a wider audience." They have uploaded (and transcribed) the following letter to John Wayne.  Wayne was one of many guests on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. After the final show in August 1973, the hosts of the series- Dan Rowan and Dick Martin- sent the following missive to the Duke.

Hot Saturday (1932) - A Cary Grant Drama

Actually, Cary Grant doesn't get much screen time in his seventh film, despite his character's prominence in the film. Hot Saturday (1932) is a story about gossip and its consequences. Grant's character, Romer, doesn't have to be onscreen to be mentioned constantly. He is a wealthy, smalltown guy who's rarely in town, brings strange ladies around and is therefore fodder for hot gossip.


Ruth (Nancy Carroll) is a respectable bank secretary who never gets into trouble... until one night. She's out all night, having escaped from a guy who wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  She drops exhausted on Romer's doorstep, he comforts her and sends her home in his car. People believe she's done something naughty with the town's bad boy. This is the turning point in Ruth's life, and it's dramatized by the over-sized faces of gossipers on the telephone superimposed over the image of the  local switchboard.
"Have you heard..."

Ruth loses her job and self respect. She's in a pickle. It's kind of like The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1945) - complete with eccentric father and smart-mouthed little sister - but with the ratio of comedy to drama inverted. However, unlike Morgan's Creek, absolutely no one believes our heroine's story or attempts to help her.
All by herself

Ruth is completely alone.

She runs to the boy-next-door, Bill (Randolph Scott), who just blew back into town and knows nothing of the scandal. He's the soul of truth and honor and respects Ruth as something beyond a paycheck (unlike her family) and something other than a social toy (unlike the other guys and gals in town).
Playful conversation with friend, Bill

[If you don't want the ending spoiled, read no farther.]

But even Bill rejects her when he hears of her reputation. Actually, he's more jealous of Romer than anything else. So in swoops Cary Grant to save the day and promises to marry the girl - two outsiders comfort each other and get out of Dodge. I guess the two or three little talks Ruth and Romer have in this film are enough to cement the decision, but the whole situation is rushed.

The lady has little alternative; you truly get a sense of Ruth's helpless state as a lady wronged by a group of gossips. The pity of it is the townsmen never realize what they've done, so it will likely happen again.

By the way, I absolutely love Nancy Carroll's wind-blown hairdo in the final shot, leaving home. It not only looks pretty on her, it's a symbol of freedom. Her hairstyles up to that point in the film are various contemporary helmet-like looks. Even her hair was constrained in that town.



Superfluous screenshot of Grant in a tux. I couldn't pass it up.


Hot Saturday had decent reviews. You can read the New York Times review of it by clicking here. It's kind of cute that they misspell Grant's name.


Update: Read the backstory of Hot Saturday at Carole and Co.   Carole Lombard was originally slated for the role.

On Robert Osborne, Lucille Ball and other things

Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne has taken leave for minor surgery? I'm totally out of the loop! As of a month ago, according to the New York Post's film critic Lou Lumenick, after the surgery, Osborne is taking a three month vacation.



Osborne enjoys and knows such a great deal about classic movies that he's become a treasure himself. The host was first an actor in New York. Later he switched coasts, famously working for the Desilu Workshop under the supervision of Lucille Ball. The young contract player became a confidante and escort for her now and then when  her husband, Desi Arnaz, wasn't available.


In preparation for True Classic's Lucille Ball birthday blogathon last Saturday (I didn't have the blog post written in time!), I finally got around to reading Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. In it, Osborne is quoted alot, especially concerning Lucy. He often speaks of the ground-breaking comedienne not in terms of her humor, nor in terms of her power (he joined her at the height of the Desilu corporation's existence) but in terms of her persistence.  Here are two examples.

Osborne on Lucille Ball's early days in show business:

" She had to go out pounding the pavements for work, doing modeling. She used to tell me about how, a lot of times, she used to go to these parties, where she'd go in and there'd be this huge, long table. She said the girls would sit at every other seat. 'The first thing you did,' she'd say 'is reach under your plate and get your hundred dollar bill.' I don't know if they had to end up going to bed with them, or were just there as dinner companions while these mobsters were having a meeting, but it was survival, just trying to survive."

Osborne on Lucille Ball's obsession to hide her age on camera:
"It's not vanity as much as it is survival. It's knowing the town so well and how Hollywood gets rid of you with age, and she wanted to work."

Of course, behind every successful clown is a profound solemnity. Jerry Lewis has it and so did Lucy. Says Osborne,
"I don't think [Lucille Ball] had any humor at all, strangely enough, for someone that funny. She could laugh, and she liked a good laugh, but she didn't think funny, although she knew what was funny and could make a situation funny. I don't think of her as a 'light' person at all. I think of Lucy as a 'heavy' - serious about comedy, serious about having fun."



Speaking of serious fun with classic film icons, after his vacation, TCM's silver fox will be raring to go for the TCM Classic Cruise in December. Our man of the (prime-time) hour will be joined by Norman Jewison, Tippi Hedren and Ernest Borgnine, among others. (Where have I been that I didn't know of this? )
www.tcmcruise.com

Link: 5 Reasons The Greatest Movie Villain Ever is a 'Good' Witch/ Update: Link fixed

Cracked.com has some weird articles, usually listing the greatest spies EVER! or the most clueless movie characters EVER!

This time they are listing why Glinda the Good (Billie Burke) in The Wizard of Oz (1939), who appears to be a helpful mentor to the vulnerable main character Dorothy (Judy Garland), is actually a selfish and horrible manipulator.
WWW: Quit staring at me and watch your back, Dorothy!

  • Read the comments under the article at Cracked.com as well. This one's my favorite so far. Written by TheZacula

"Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"
"I'm not a witch at all! Are YOU a bad witch?"
"No, silly. I'm a good witch. Bad witches are ugly!"
"Waitaminute, then why'd you ask if I was a bad witch?"
".......say, do you wanna go kill somebody?"

Recycled Costumes: Little Women (1949) and Tall Target (1951)

Movie studios would often get as much wear out of their costumes as they could. Taking off a frill here, putting on a patch there, re-dying if necessary and using it again in another film. In the following case, MGM Studios takes a lead character's Walter Plunkett dress and uses it (or a copy) for a supporting role years later.

It's a mid-19th century dress, crimson top with black, tan and crimson stripes on the bodice and cuffs, voluminous skirt and coordinating pocket belt. This costume is the perfect functional dress of a woman who - especially when wearing a hoop skirt underneath - does not do backbreaking labor or factory work, is not exactly wearing haute couture but is kempt. There's an air of wealth yet not complete extravagance lended to the wearer.

In Little Women (1949), Jo March (June Allyson) is the 2nd eldest daughter in a formerly wealthy family. This dress is likely one of many hand-me-downs. Jo first wears this dress with a crimson hoop skirt while talking to Laurie (Peter Lawford) about wanting to go to Europe. She accidentally burns the skirt during that conversation.

Allyson with pocket belt and crimson hoop skirt that's just about to be lit on fire

Allyson with dark skirt, without pocket belt
Jo wears the dress again when she's on her own in New York City. Her aunt and sister visit her on their way to Europe.

This time she wears it without the pocket belt and with a dark skirt- no doubt the penurious lady patched and dyed it or attached the bodice to another skirt. It's also used to remind the audience that the last time we saw her in this dress she was dreaming of going to Europe herself one day, and that dream seems dashed.
Ruby Dee without hoops, with pocket belt

In Tall Target (1951), Rachel, the slave, (Ruby Dee) wears this dress (or a copy of it) with the dark skirt. She doesn't seem to be wearing hoops, which might be a social status thing, or just practical since most of the film takes place in the narrow passageways of a train. I could find no designer credited with any of the costumes in this film; apparently this dress wasn't the only apparel that was snatched from other films. No original designs in this film, it seems.

Still, in this taut thriller about an assassination attempt on President-Elect Lincoln, no one is worried about costumes (as long as they are not noticeably anachronistic).



Ruby Dee as Rachel
Trivia
  • The costume sold in June this year in Debbie Reynolds' auction.

  • June Allyson and Dick Powell (the star of Tall Target) were married to each other at the time of both films.

The Three Tenors pay tribute to Gene Kelly

Just a quiet evening at home with the family; listening to Luciano Pavarotti sing his lungs out. Came across this little gem. The Three Tenors - Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Pavarotti - sing a tribute to Gene Kelly who is in the audience at one of their concerts. This is two years before Kelly's death in 1996. He's frail, but in great spirits. Unexpected treat for me. Enjoy.

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