Test Pilot- Three GREAT Stars IN an OK Film

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For this here Blogathon (hosted by My Good Friend In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood) celebrating the perfect reel-real couple of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, I chose to write about one of Spencer Tracy’s films from 1938 Test Pilot.

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This choice for me is a bit of a different one. Usually I write about how much I adore a film- and everything about it- but I want to expand my reflections of film- even writing about ones I find OK or average. Even my choice of focusing on a Spencer Tracy performance is atypical for me- as he’s not a “favorite” of mine- but at the same time- I admire him and his craft.

Honestly- Its been a while since I’ve seen Test Pilot– and even more honest- it’s an OK film that I don’t even want to own for my personal collection- but it’s worth watching anyway because of the cast- no other film has had such a great trio of great actors- Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy??? It’s just what MGM wanted you to bank on back in 1938-but unlike most films that can rely on star power AND a great script- this film sadly relies more on star power—and its all thanks to the  1938 poll in which Clark was crowned King and Myrna named the Queen of the Screen.

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Now- I’m not criticizing the performances- Myrna is great, Gable is great, and Spencer- although playing usual second fiddle to Gable (in their second of three films together)- is great, the script and plot is just terrible- its slow and at times a bit random.

However, the actors playing off each other- that is genuine and it translates to the audience- you care about what’s going to happen because its Myrna, because it’s Clark and because it’s Spence. All three actors had a marvelous time behind the scenes- and it’s been reported that it was a favorite of both Clark’s and Myrna’s. If this film were cast with subpar actors- it would have been another forgotten B-list film that you would catch on TCM and just decide to give a shot because well, why not.

Image result for spencer tracy test pilotSpencer Tracy in this film I feel is very believable in his role of Gunner- you can relate to and believe in his friendship with Clark’s character- but at the same time- you can see the slight jealously there is between them – and that’s just what happened off screen. Luckily for us, (and both Clark and Spencer), today we can look back and appreciate the friendship that did develop between the two- it’s unlikely a friendship but a really cool one too! I confess to not seeing too many of Spencer movies outside of his Katharine co-starring films, but I do say it is one of his best non Katharine Hepburn performances (along with Boys Town, of course)

I will also say the flying sequences for the time were quite impressive. The producers even secured the backing of the US Air Corps and had real life- but uncredited- Test Pilot Sammy Wroath do the sequences. Talk about authenticity!

 

IN the end, Test Pilot film may not be “AMAZING” but its an important piece of Hollywood history. Fans of all three actors should watch- as it’s a great excuse to watch them in their prime- and together on screen!!

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Duo Double Feature Wrap Up and Thanks!

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So Everyone- The Duo Double Feature blogathon is wrapping up! But I’m still accepting posts- No rush- this isn’t school!!

I would like to say a massive Thank you to all of you who embraced this idea for a blogathon and graciously thank Phyllis Loves Classic movies for Co Hosting- after all- Even Blogathon hosts need a fabulous co host! (especially in this case! Two Stars Two Movies- Needs Two Hosts!!) 🙂

Feel free to check out all three other days if you missed and or are just interested in seeing the posts!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

WRAP UP ENTERIES

Jean Harlow and Bill Powell- Of Screen Magic

 

 

Again- I will keep accepting, And I will see you all soon

THANK YOU ALL SO SO MUCH! Emily- The Flapper Dame

 

 

Robert Redford and Natalie Wood- Double Duos Blogathon

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For my own co-hosted blogathon- I decided to go with a paring I recently discovered – Natalie Wood and Robert Redford- while I have always admired Natalie- Never really have I delved into her films- until now that is!

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I decided to do this pairing after seeing Redford’s beautiful tribute video he narrated for TCM- I hadn’t known they met in high school or that they even made movies together- but the way Bob spoke of Natalie made me immediately want to watch Inside Daisy Clover– which aired on TCM a few days after the tribute video.

Inside Daisy Clover (1965) tells the story of Daisy Clover and her journey into 1930s Hollywood. Natalie plays Daisy- and Mr. Redford plays her leading man/fellow movie star- the “Prince Of Darkness” Wade Lewis. It should be noted this film was the start of Redford’s movie career, as according to him although he had broadway success, ‘Natalie selected an unknown to be her leading man”.

For Natalie and Bob- this film really gave them the chance to become real friends- as when they met in high school, it wasn’t a happy first meeting. As Redford recalled- he was on duty as school assembly guard when a girl, (Natalie) came running to to his door, late for the assembly, begging him to let her in. Redford, wanting to be ‘cool’ said she wasn’t allowed to go through his door and she would have to go around to the door that accommodated her last name. Natalie, ever so clever, then called him an ‘asshole’ and gracefully went around to her proper door.

It’s amazing that 10 years later they played opposite each other- and also became the best of friends. If you want real proof of it, while on set Natalie and Bob planned a surprise birthday for reserved and shy producer Alan Pakula- complete with a stripper!

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Despite the fact Daisy Clover isn’t the best in terms of plot (yes- it’s got a good setup and a cast of Roddy McDowell, Christopher Plummer, and Ruth Gordon- but sadly in my eyes, it falls somewhat flat)- I like it-It’s worth watching just to see Wood and Redford together- their characters go through a rocky relationship but the camaraderie and closeness of them is always present. On screen Natalie and Bob have this unspoken bond that can’t be faked- it takes real friendship to create their characters’ feelings- it’s just wonderful.

I personally adore the scene of them on the boat together- Daisy is new to Hollywood and trying to cope emotionally with the stress but all it takes is Wade to come walking in for her to feel calm again. Wade’s carefree attitude is the perfect match for Daisy’s high strung personality!!

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The Wood-Redford reunion film- This Property is Condemned was released in 1966 (honestly I haven’t seen it yet- But it’s airing on TCM Nov 10 2017- and as a consolation- I will be writing a companion post to this post on on my thoughts of it). I can tell you this about it- It co-stars Mary Badham (Scout- in To Kill a Mockingbird) and is based off the one act play by Tennessee Williams; it also was the first time Redford worked with director Sydney Pollack.

From what I have read from other people, it seems to me that this film is the stronger of the two they did together- Natalie’s husband Robert Wagner has even said this was his favorite performance of hers.

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On the set of Downhill Racer

No matter what though- the bulk of Natalie and Bob’s friendship happened off screen- In 1969- Natalie married Richard Gregson (who was both her and Redford’s agent)- with Bob as best man. She then took a short break from filming movies- but that didn’t stop her from working behind the camera- as she did on the Redford film Downhill Racer (1969)– she typed scripts, was a costume consultant, and even appeared incognito as a crowd extra in certain scenes.

Natalie even made a small cameo as herself in 1972’s The Candidate– as a favor to Redford.

In the end- according to Redford- Natalie and he sadly lost touch- but he never forgot the boost she gave his career and the fond friendship they had. For Mr. Redford, Natalie taught him how to handle the emotion of being a star- and he never has forgotten it.

Take a look at the TCM tribute video to get a glimpse at this wonderful and enduring friendship

And then watch this clip of Redford reminiscing about Downhill Racer– he talks about Natalie and her encouragement when it opened to bad reviews.

Personally – I think all people should have a friendship in their life similar to Natalie and Robert’s- a mutual respect and having great care for one another is a beautiful thing.

Its interesting to think about what could have been with these two- they almost made Barefoot in the Park (1967) together; Redford was an early contender to appear in Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice (1969); and Natalie was almost cast in Mary Tyler Moore’s role in Ordinary People (1980).  On my view, would have loved to see them in more pictures- and certainly in stronger movies with better scripts.

Alas, even if the films aren’t the best- I think the bigger lesson can be seen in the friendship they shared.

Day 2 of the Duo Double Feature Blogathon

It’s day two of the double duos blogathon! Get ready for more fabulous pairings who made two films!

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Post ’em right here!

 Quiggy talks about Peter Weller and Nancy Allen

The Metzinger Sisters write about James McArthur and Janet Munro

Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are the pick for The Story Enthusiast

Old Hollywood Films explains how Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins feuded and filmed together!

Critica Retro covers two brilliant actresses, best friends Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy

Love letters to Old hollywood tells us about Vera Ellen, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire!!

 

National Classic Movie Day 2017: 5 Stars Blogathon

HAPPY NATIONAL CLASSIC MOVIE DAY EVERYONE! First off let me say, running my own blog and sharing new films and learning about films and actors from hollywood’s golden era is one of the great joys in my life- and I’m very happy to do it alongside all of you who watch, read, and write with me! (click here for the blogathon list to read other bloggers favorite stars!)

And again I’d like to say THANKS A MILLION to all of you who do read and I DO READ EVERY SINGLE COMMENT and APPRECIATE THEM ALL!!!!

This post is probably one of the most difficult ones to write as I’m only limited to 5 stars!!?? Hard, but, do-able and all of you have done it to so, so can I!!

In NO order whatsoever, I present five favorite stars!

1- Grace Kelly

Image result for grace kelly Yes I know some may not consider her the “best” actress or even consider her to be “important” in Hollywood- But she is one of my favorites!! Rear Window (1954) and to Catch a Thief (1955) are some of my favorite movies! She was serene even before she bore the title of HSH  (Her Serene Highness) and she’s completely the ultimate Hitchcock Blonde.

2- Carole Lombard

Image result for carole lombard I wish I could be more like her in terms of being free spirited!! She’s a patriot and I feel her career was just getting started- she would have been amazing in so many roles if not for her untimely death- but nothing can diminish the fact she is and always will be fascinating and amazing! My favorite movie of hers My Man Godfrey (1936) with the runner up being No Man of Her Own (1932)  !

3- Cary Grant-

Image result for Cary grant notorious WHO DOESN’T ADORE HIM! To me he’s the ultimate leading man! Today, I just got his daughter’s Memoir and I’m excited to read it! There’s so many great films with him but the ones that stand out to me are The Awful Truth (1937), Notorious (1946), Penny Serenade (1941) , Charade (1963) and To Catch a Thief (1955).

 

4- William Powell

Image result for william powell thin man He’s the definition of dapper and the consummate 1930s example of style. Mr Powell is one of the stars that I came to adore after watching many of his movies- once you watch one you can’t stop- and I didn’t know about him right away- he’s a hidden gem that once you know about him- he’s forever a part of your life! Favorite movies of his- Mister Roberts (1955), All of The Thin Man Films, of course My Man Godfrey, and a hidden gem of a flick The Ex-Mrs Bradford (1936).

..And number 5- I have to say John Wayne- he was the first leading man I knew about in the “Old Movies” due to my Grandfather’s admiration of him. Its sad that I didn’t become a real fan of his until my later teen years- but now that I have seen some of his movies (and plan on viewing more!) I can say that Yes I am a real fan of his based my own opinions. I know why my Grandfather liked him so much now that I have viewed some of his movies and I always think of him whenever I watch one. My favorite movies of the Duke’s so far are- The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956) ,Big Jake (1971) and The Shootist (1976)

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So there’s my five!!! But I can’t leave this post without mentioning “Five Runners up”- Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Gene Tierney.

Happy National Classic Movie Day, again to everyone and I hope you got to watch either an old favorite or a new to you movie! and Remember- Stay Classic!

Norma Demond’s Mansion in Sunset Blvd (1950)

Unfortunately, Mr Gillis is no longer here with us to tell us more about the house, but that can’t stop you from forming your own opinions! Make sure to (re-) watch Sunset Blvd and pay extra attention to Miss Desmond’s crazy mansion!!!

Golden Boy Blogaton- Apartment For Peggy

Chemistry never looked more interesting!

WIth Ms Crain; they are so fabulous together!!!

This film is a rarity, but to me its a hidden gem- it’s so cute! and rarely on TV- so the next time it’s on TCM WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!  Please!!!!!

As for you Mr Holden, as this, today , the date of this post, would have been your 99th birthday, I have this to say: You’re one of my favorite actors, and while not everyone may know who you are, to me you’ll always have a place in my heart, and in my life. Your movies are timeless, and I understand why the late Mr Robert Osborne considered you his favorite- like he said you spoke “always an honest word” when you were on screen. Happy Birthday, and as always, I bet you’re still good lookin’.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

So it may be the last day of Phyllis Loves Classic MoviesJohn Garfield blogathon, but I’ve still got a write up to do and articles to read! When Phyllis announced this Blogathon, I didn’t really know much about John Garfield, other than the fact he was in well, a movie star!!!

And it’s really bad but other than The Postman Always Rings Twice, the only other movie I’ve seen with him is Destination Tokyo with Cary Grant. I’m hoping to change this however, after reading all of your articles!!!

I chose to write about The Postman because it’s just a great movie- and the first time I saw it, I really didn’t think much of it- but then I re-watched it and thought, WOW- OK this is a really great movie! And now every time I see it, it just gets better and better. For me, like the title says, I had to give it two chances until I really took to it.

For those who haven’t seen The Postman Always Rings Twice, you probably already know the plot if you have seen any other film noir- It’s about two star crossed lovers, Cora (Lana Turner) and Frank (John Garfield) who can’t be together due to the fact that  Cora is married to a dull and boring older man, Nick. And yes, you’ve guessed it- upon seeing each other Cora and Frank fall madly in love and soon scheme together to murder Nick. I don’t even have to go on for you to guess the ending.

Although the plot of Postman may seem a bit cookie cutter, the film stands out due to the actors as both Lana and our rebel-with-a-cause John Garfield play their roles to absolute perfection. They light up the screen together and I think many of us wish they could have done another film together.

As much as Ms. Turner really is the star- John Garfield is just fabulous. I paid more attention to him this time around and I can definitely say I have a new appreciation for him.

Another thing I noticed this time around is the recurring element of “the second time’s a charm”. SPOILER: Two attempts to kill Nick, Two attempts at a romance, Two times Frank is under suspicion for murder, and in the end, two major deaths.

I also noticed that for Garfield, this was a real chance for him to shine as a “leading man” in a romantic way. For once he isn’t the action man, or the tough guy, in Postman he’s just a guy- no special trait or anything- a drifter, yet he’s still intriguing because he’s John Garfield.

So if anything else is to be gained in re-watching Postman its two things- never doubt the outcome of a second chance, and two- John Garfield is a cool guy.

We don’t judge you, Cora

If you can, pick up the blu-ray copy- as it has a full length documentary on John Garfield’s life and career narrated by his daughter Julie- it’s fascinating!!

PICTURE CREDIT- dvdbeaver

 

 

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