The Kissing Bandit (1948) - Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson

The world's goofiest bandit makes time with a young lady in The Kissing Bandit (1948).

Ricardo (Frank Sinatra) returns home from training in hotel management to discover that his late father was not an inn keeper but a famous bandit who kisses every woman he meets. His father's second in command, Chico (J. Carrol Naish), convinces the son to join the family business despite Ricardo's lack of training in criminal activities.

On his first crime spree, Ricardo robs the coach of Teresa (Kathryn Grayson)  - a desperate ingenue who has just graduated from a girls' school and can't get kissed fast enough. She puckers prettily, waiting for the inevitable, but Ricardo is something of a gentleman and abstains. The rest of the film sees the two of them awkwardly taking strides towards one another.

Watch for the always-hilarious Mildred Natwick as Teresa's Aunt Isabella who eagerly steps outside the coach, willing to take the kiss to spare her niece. Ah, the sacrifices!

The Nacio Herb Brown songs are light and beautiful (Yours truly is particularly fond of the appropriately lethargic "Siesta.") and are winningly performed by two of MGM's top singing stars.

There is a funny song ("I Like You") where a woman (Sono Osato) tries to seduce Ricardo.
However, she only succeeds in frightening the man with her ability to crack whips and snuff out candles with her bare hands.

Despite the fun songs, this film is famous as a flop. Legend has it that the producers apparently knew this film was lacking, so they rushed a last-minute performance into the works. There is a well-known, 5-minute cameo by superstars Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller who perform "The Dance of Fury" out of nowhere.

It didn't save the film from losing money, but it's an exciting little dance where two women dressed nearly identically (Sisters?) fight over one man. There is a progression from pure elation, to frustration, to manipulation, to a final calm. Brilliant story-telling in dance. You'll probably remember excerpts of it from That's Entertainment III (1994).

This film has a jovial, lightweight plot, yet almost all of the posters for The Kissing Bandit have a sober tone to them.  Under Sinatra's and Grayson's earnest faces are taglines like, "The Boldest Story Ever Told in Music and Technicolor."  You would think this is the torrid love affair of Untamed (1955). Maybe that's why the film didn't make the money they expected - false advertisement.

 Although the plot in The Kissing Bandit is just there to keep you occupied between songs and dances, it's still an entertaining musical comedy. Recommended.

Untamed (1955) - Susan Hayward, Tyrone Power Adventure

Scarlett O'Hara takes South Africa. This is perhaps the best way to describe the film adaptation of Helga Moray's novel, Untamed.

Susan Hayward stars as Katie O'Neil, a spoiled young woman who must have everything her heart desires, regardless of the consequences to self or others. After the potato famine in Ireland, Katie leaves her destitute estate and marries one man (John Justin) to move to South Africa where she pursues another man (Tyrone Power) that she met once back home. As with Scarlett, a green dress plays a strong role in seducing men.

The first man dies and Katie - as with Edna Ferber's heroine in Gone With the Wind - practically dances on his grave. She's free now to continue her quest for the impossible - to get rugged Paul (Power) to forget about establishing the Dutch Free State and concentrate on her. (Katie even tells Paul "I'll never let you go,"  which, coming from her, sounds less like poignant longing and more like a threat.)

In the meantime, she manipulates a third man (Richard Egan) who's not quite as clueless as everyone else, but is instantly in love with her in spite of his sense of self-preservation. He and Power are each a combination of Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler.


Power is barely in the film; he's the MacGuffin, the plot device which keeps Katie's adventure going. And going it does. Katie loses more than one fortune, becomes a shady gold and diamond trader, has several shoot-'em-outs and two babies.

The movie celebrates the character for her resilience and strong-will, but Katie is really an anti-hero. She runs roughshod over everyone and ultimately learns nothing.

Although the protagonist is a mild disappointment, Hayward's performance of her is not. The actress plays Katie with relish, chewing up the screen. She was born to play this kind of fiery woman. Brava!

This film is also impressive for its breathtaking landscapes. Though the copy of the film that I watched was kind of murky, the location shots are still majestic. There is a battle scene where hundreds of Zulu warriors line up in a circle on a hillside and chant. It must have looked great in CinemaScope.

Watch for a brief performance by Rita Moreno as Julia - the "other woman" who waits in the wings for one of Katie's leftover men.

I usually enjoy studying the posters of the film, just to see how close the ad comes to the finished film in terms of tone.

The English language posters mostly show a Zulu warrior standing over Katie and Paul who are embracing on the ground. They do embrace on the ground a lot, but the battle scene is just one episode in Katie's life.

There doesn't seem to be a poster that truly captures the film. This Spanish poster or lobby card comes close. The warrior is to one side and there are several scenes. This better captures how the film feels - busy, action-packed, one episode after another.

Beyond the film itself,  one of Power's costumes in the final 20 minutes of the film intrigued me. I'd seen it before. Then it hit me. It's the same one which can be seen on the cover of his daughter's book - Searching for My Father by Romina Power. 

Source


 His family visited the set while on location.

Tyrone and Romina Power . Source.
Although Untamed seems to be inspired by Gone With the Wind, there is plenty to be said of its casting and impressive location shots. Unlike the other film -which is pretty long at nearly 4 hours- Untamed packs in plenty of action into a re-watchable hour and a half.

Around the Web

PhilmFotos.Tumblr.com

Newspaper Archives

Over the past few weeks, yours truly has gathered the internet version of classic movie newspaper and magazine clippings and sorted them into categories by decade.


http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1930s.html In the 1930s section, you'll find news of a young Judy Garland at a fraternity and Mary Pickford directing.


http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1940s.html In the 1940s, Ruby Dee is on Broadway.


http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1950s.html  In the 1950s, We catch up with Marilyn Monroe's roommate, Ann Baxter rebels against social mores, Montgomery Clift baffles Hollywood and Tyrone Power marries for the third time.

http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1960s.html  In the 1960s, Rita Moreno discusses her career, Ginger Rogers dislikes the latest dance craze, Marilyn Monroe has surgery.


http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1970s.html
In the 1970s, Ann Blyth renews vows and Jane Powell's career takes a new direction.
http://javabeanrush.blogspot.com/2007/06/Newspapers1980s.html
In the 1980s, DiMaggio stops sending flowers to Marilyn Monroe's grave and Howard Keel makes a comeback.


As we discover more, these archives will be updated. Enjoy!





A Moment of Confusion



Saul Bass has said that the title credits of a movie should set the "mood and the prime underlying core of the film’s story."  Thus, when I saw water shadows under the credits of Good Girls Go to Paris (1939), I was slightly confused.



Water and Paris...
To what are they alluding?  The Seine River? No. -Spoiler alert- the "good girl" never arrives in Paris. The whole thing takes place in the U.S.


Then it hit me. If you were a young lady in the U. S. in 1939, desperate to visit Paris - as Joan Blondell is in this movie- you hop on a ship. Water was definitely associated with this journey, as opposed to the commercial passenger planes that I had forgotten didn't yet exist for transatlantic flight.
 
By the time this film was released, many firsts in aviation had been made (including Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927) or were about to be made. However, commercial transatlantic flights were still in the distance and wouldn't be available until after World War II.

Thus, a Paris-bound traveler would take a ship... or swim or something. I had to think through all of this before I understood the water shadows on the credit sequence. Whereas others - especially the audience contemporary with the film- would have understood in an instance.

Ah, classic movies - familiar yet foreign, which makes them endlessly fascinating.

Classic Fashion in Later Times

The more things change the more they stay the same. Even fashion-wise




The peplum skirt has made a comeback. On the left, Judy Garland wears a dress with peplum for the film The Clock in 1945. On the right, a pattern for a peplum blouse or skirted blouse from the 1960s. In the middle, peplum on the skirt, peplum on the blouse and peplum dress from runways of today.
















Overalls were always functional. Deanna Durbin's tailored overalls with puffed sleeves on the right is comfortably stylish. And people still wear them around the house.






On the left, a publicity still of Tom Cruise for the film Top Gun in 1986. On the right, an anonymous riveter in 1942. Rolledup sleeves and a crew cut seem to be a timeless, work-a-day style.



People have basically worn different combination of the same thing for the past century. I wonder what styles will look like in movies in the coming hundred years.

How to Cope with Movie Remakes and Sequels

People often dislike change, especially when their favorite movies are involved. So when a movie company announced a sequel to the classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946), critics were outraged, including one blogger who says, "[maybe] George Bailey should have killed himself after all."

Perhaps a bit harsh, but you understand the sentiment. They will ruin something, or they are simply lazy, piggybacking off another film's success, goes the thought.


This is not a new thought. In September 10, 1947, producer Billy Rose railed against Hollywood's lack of originality, particularly in its musicals.
"Having hit on a couple of song-and-dance formulas which paid off at the box office, they keep remaking them until you can...holler out the lines before the actors say them..." 
 
Here's a solution that has helped me endure in a world filled with remakes:
  

Think of movie remakes and recycled plots as fan fiction. 

When fellow CMBA member, Kim Wilson, proffered her delightful and unique retelling of the The Lady Eve (1941) last year, she won the Best Film Review Award from the Classic Movie Blog Association. We were all enchanted. But let a big budget Hollywood type announce a reformulated Lady Eve and we'd grab pitchforks and torches demanding that they kill the beast. [I know I would.]

Why? The more I research and write about movies the more I see modern filmmakers as just movie fans with huge purses.

So if Jessica Alba is cast in a remake of Laura or when the Annie remake comes out and it-girl of the moment Miley Cyrus is cast as little orphan Annie's hip and with it great-great-granddaughter gyrating to the latest tunes of her hard-knock life, do not think of the filmmakers as malicious monsters who are out to destroy not just the original story, but also the very meaning of life. Instead, think of filmmakers as fellow fans who have a neat spin on some story that we enjoy.

Hope that helps.








hollywood needs original musicals
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oi0rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1ZgFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2531,1730401&dq=billy-rose+horseshoes+movies&hl=en

Doris Day's White Dress in The Pajama Game (1957)

Marylin Monroe made famous a white, halterneck summer dress designed by William Travilla in The Seven Year Itch (1955).

Monroe
It's elegantly sultry. As exciting as that dress is, there is another white warm-weather dress which deserves a bit of attention - the one Doris Day wears in The Pajama Game (1957).

Day
With a square neck instead of a plunging v-neck like Monroe's, Day's dress screams innocence and wholesomeness. Perfect for a character who is a bit naive.

It's sleeveless with a fit and flare silhouette. It closely lines the torso then falls away from the hips with multiple layers of underskirts.



The Eckarts ---Source

Jean Eckart and William Eckart - stage and screen designers- are credited with costume design for this musical. The married couple was so popular that the critic for Cue magazine suggested, "a growing number of theatre buffs ... go to musicals primarily to see the Eckarts' sets."

They leave you with an eyeful in the cinema as well. With Babe they've decided to keep things simple. This is perfect for the character and the setting.

Everyone at the pajama factory is going to the annual picnic. Babe, a member of the employee grievance committee, is in love with the superintendent (John Raitt). They make their relationship official in this scene. They are jubilant just in time to help sing the rousing number "Once a Year Day," a picnic song where everyone's entitled to be wild, mix things up a bit.

 

Appropriately, Babe -who usually wears standard issue pencil skirts or the occasional hot pants- goes fun and flirty for the picnic. She pairs the dress with a white belt and matching turquoise neckerchief and heels.


Babe works in a textile factory. One can imagine she makes her own dress from leftover material there, using, say, this vintage Advance brand pattern #6914.



Or maybe its from this 1950s Simplicity pattern #4350.
1950's Misses Blouse Simplicity 4350 Size 12 Bust 30



This was during a time when sewing your own wardrobe at home was a matter of course. No big deal. And for many of you out there, it's still no big deal. For me, it's fascinating.


You'll see her wear the same silhouette again in a different scene. This time it's in black and they are in the dark. Perfect attire for a home sewer on a budget to use the same pattern again.
 

Simple. Elegant. Sometimes a costume's subtlety catches your eye.







On Location: Tyrone Power's Tunica Wedding


Traveling down Highway 61 from Memphis, Tennessee to Tunica, Mississippi, one gets a sense of Tyrone Power's journey to the small town 56 years ago. The movie star flew in to the nearest international airport and headed south to marry a divorcee from Tunica - Mrs. Deborah Minardos- on May 7, 1958.

The foothills of Tennessee give way to a valley with long, country roads which stretch as far as the eye can see along fields fertilized by the longest river on the continent. Southern breezes and tree-lined sidewalks cool the heat and welcome you with the scent of dogwood and magnolia.





Java's journey to this hamlet came as a matter of completion. For the Power-Mad Blogathon in May, which celebrated the 100th year since Power's birth,  Java found many little articles online about the actor's last wedding, but none from the town where it all took place.

The minister and everyone else were sworn to secrecy since the world would mob this sacred ceremony if they knew when and where. (Fans and the press certainly disturbed Power's much-announced funeral 6 months later.)  But surely the family ran a little squib about it in the newspaper after the fact. Java was on a mission; she had seen how the Associated Press handled the marriage announcement - just a few sentences. But she wanted to know how the tiny town reacted to this occasion.

"You'll have to go to the Chancery's office on School Street," said a helpful voice on the other end of the phone, "The older archives for the local newspaper are not yet online."

The paper couldn't come to Java, so naturally, she had to go to it. She finally found the time two months later which is not ideal since Power's birthday tribute had come and gone, but... oh well.


 

While in Tunica on a search for the newspaper, she thought it would be fun to find the church where the wedding took place - First Presbyterian. It's downtown next to old railroad tracks that were since  converted into a park. She wondered if a train interrupted the wedding.

After a few missed turns, Java finally arrived at the Chancery. An office clerk guided the author to an open vault door and invited the blogger to sit at a table inside and wait as she looked through the archives. It was like a scene from Citizen Kane, only the archivist was pleasant.

"Which one, again, Ma'am?"

Java's mouth watered with anticipation; she felt as if she were ordering a magnum at The Stork Club.

"Tunica Times, please. 1958."

The clerk retreated and emerged again carrying to the small table a large red book filled with old newspapers.


"Just call me if you want anything. I'll be at the desk."

For the next hour, the author greedily devoured information from the yellowed pages of a forgotten world.

An ad for a local drug store reminded readers to buy a gift for their favorite high school graduates - hosiery for girls and razors for boys.  An announcement that Mrs. So-and-So and Mrs. Such-and-Such had tea last Tuesday. An out-of-towner visited his mother for Mother's Day. This was news.

Somehow Java expected the Tyrone Power marriage to be on the front page. It wasn't. There on page 5 of the May 15th issue, among the personals, across from the classified ads, was the notice.


"Mrs. Rice Hungerford III announces the marriage of her
daughter, Mrs. Deborah Jean Smith Minardos of Los Angeles,
Calif., and Tunica, to Tyrone Power, well-known stage and
screen personality, on Wednesday, May 7, at 10:30 o'clock in
the morning in the memorial chapel of First Presbyterian Church."

There is no big to-do about it. Not even a photograph. But the announcement continues with details about clothing and decor that we do not see in the national news. ("The bride wore a Christian Dior suit of black raw silk and black accessories.")

There is also mention of the mysterious Cheryl, who may or may not be the child of the divorcee who was raised by the grandmother. ("During the ceremony, Miss Cheryl Hungerford held the prayer book.")

In this understated announcement there is more about the locals who attended the affair than about Tyrone Power. There isn't the Hollywood hoopla, the absence of which is understandably attractive to a film star whose friend, Bob Buck, has this to say about the actor in his book North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life:

"[Tyrone Power] was one of the men, regular, no airs.... The whole fame thing was a chore and a responsibility he had to respond to when required, like going to work; with that out of the way, in private and especially in flight, he was just a man like the rest of us, comfortable to be with, enthusiastically responsive to new scenes and experiences, quick with humor, earthy when appropriate."

Java smiled. She had found a rich, savory morsel of history. Now to take it home.


"Hmm. You won't get all of that article because it's on the left margin and in the trenches," said the clerk, " But I'll try my best."


A trench is where two bound pages meet, making whatever words are in the crevice difficult to read. The trench reminded Java of a railroad track. She chuckled to herself about the track, the line that now interrupts her research resembling a train that might have halted the nuptials so long ago.

It didn't stop her for long.
The clerk retreated again and reappeared with a delicious copy of that precious page. The words were partially cut off, but Java didn't care. The author copied the missing words in long hand on the back of a random page to type the moment she returned to a computer.

Thanking the clerk for her time, Java left the table filled to the brim with excitement.

The Tunica Times squib is a light, refreshing notice that could have been about anyone's nuptials. It's a wedding announcement that is satisfying for being very much like Tyrone Power - it doesn't have "airs."

-----------------------
And now Java presents it here in its entirety. The detailed little notice about Tyrone Power's last wedding from the local paper is on the far left. It is also typed below.

Click to Enlarge


Tunica Times-Democrat May 15, 1958 Page 5

Mrs. Minardos, Tyrone Power Wed In
Presbyterian Chapel Wednesday
                  __________
Only Members of Bride's Family, Close Friends
Attend Ceremony; Leave In Day For West
Coast
                   __________
Mrs. Rice Hungerford III announces the marriage of her
daughter, Mrs. Deborah Jean Smith Minardos of Los Angeles,
Calif., and Tunica, to Tyrone Power, well-known stage and
screen personality, on Wednesday, May 7, at 10:30 o'clock in
the morning in the memorial chapel of First Presbyterian Church.

The double ring ceremony was
read by Dr. T.T. Williams, church
minister.

Arrangements of white gladioli
and white tapers formed the set-
ting for the vows. The wedding
music was played by Mrs. Elchue
Denton, Jr.

The bride wore a Christian
Dior suit of black raw silk and
black accessories. She carried a
white prayer book, caught with a
bouquet of white orchids.

Mrs. Hungerford III, who gave
her daughter in marriage, wore a
white eyelet embroidered linen
sheath gown, with white accessor-
ies and white orchid corsage.
Mr. Hungerford III was best
man.

During the ceremony, Miss
Cheryl Hungerford held the
prayer book. Her frock of pastel
blue silk was appliqued with pink
tulips. Her flowers were camellias.
Attending the ceremony were
Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Hungerford
Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John Henry,
Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Owen and Mrs.
T.T. Williams.

Following the ceremony, Mr.
and Mrs. Hungerford III were
hosts at a reception at their home.
The reception table was laid with
cutwork linen cloth and an ar-
rangement of white and blue flow-
ers formed the centerpiece. Blue
candles were in silver candelabras.
Yellow gladioli were used in the
den of the home.

Guests at the reception were
those who attended the wedding
and Mr. and Mrs. Clint Nickles
and Herbert Goldman.

Later in the day, the bride and
groom went by plane to Dallas,
Texas, before flying on to Los
Angeles. After a cruise aboard Mr.
Power's yatch [sic], Black Swan, they
will go to Europe where he will
make two movies during the next
year.

Dinner Party Given
Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Owen
were hosts at a dinner party Tues-
day evening, May 6, compliment-
ing Mrs. Minardos and Mr. Power,
who was observing his birthday.
Dinner guests were the hon-
erees, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Owen,
Jr. and Mrs. S.W. Owen, Mr. and
Mrs. Jack Tucker, Mr. and Mrs.,
Jack Wilkes, and Mr. and Mrs.
Hungerford III.

NPR's Classic Movie Segments

In 2011, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" aired a few segments about classic movies called "On Location." This short-lived series discusses a film location and how it affects the story.

Each one lasts about 8 minutes. Transcriptions are available. Click a link to visit the individual page at NPR. Enjoy.
 
On Location: San Francisco in Vertigo
 http://www.npr.org/2011/09/05/140145083/san-franciscos-twisted-romance-with-vertigo 

 Claude Jarman, Jr., at age 11, holding a fawn on the set of The Yearling in 1946.
On Location: The Central Florida Of The Yearling
 http://www.npr.org/2011/07/21/138561573/on-location-the-central-florida-of-the-yearling


James Dean on the set of the 1956 film Giant, which was filmed on the Ryan Ranch, west of the town of Marfa. The skeleton of the mansion in the background still stands on the ranch today. 
On Location: Marfa, Texas in Giant
  http://www.npr.org/2011/07/15/138163048/on-location-50-years-of-movie-magic-in-marfa-texas


Katharine Hepburn (left) and Rossano Brazzi in Venice in David Lean's 1955 film Summertime.
On Location: A Summertime Romance In Venice
 http://www.npr.org/2011/08/31/140090247/on-location-a-summertime-romance-in-venice


Charlton Heston (left) as Miguel Vargas and Orson Welles as Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil 
On Location: 'Touch Of Evil"s Border Showdown
 http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/139152265/on-location-touch-of-evils-border-showdown



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