Saturday, May 28, 2016

Claire Trevor in The Lucky Stiff

Trevor is one of those unusual actresses who were remarkably attractive without being particular beautiful. In The Lucky Stiff, she plays the secretary of lawyer John J. Malone (Brian Donlevy). She is hopelessly in love with him, but he completely overlooks her (until the end of the movie, of course).

This is a cute movie, but not particularly noteworthy except for Trevor's performance. She shows a definite comic ability and pulls off her role wonderfully, displaying exasperation, resignation, exhaustion and dog-like devotion throughout the flick, along with that ever-present look of unrequited love in her eyes.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The differing personalilties of Philo Vance

In the novels, Vance was presented as a somewhat bored, almost-sleepy, disinterested man-about-town. In the radio show he is much more of an engaged, vigorous personality, very focused on his cases (much to focused on them to suit his secretary). The latter is more appealing, but since Van Dine created the character, the former is what he was supposed to be.


Basil Rathbone as Vance

Thursday, May 26, 2016

She was a shorty

Barbara Luddy, the star of the First Nighter radio show, said in an interview that she was "not quite four-eleven." At the initial readings of the scripts submitted for the program they would have only one copy, so she would stand in front and the other actors would look over her shoulder.

Here is a LINK to an excellent interview with Luddy and Olan Soule about their radio days.

Matt Dillon's Dodge City

Marshall Dillon was a United States official, and so his responsibility covered more than just the town of Dodge City. But, just as an indication, how big was Dodge in those days? The population in 1880 is listed at 996, which was a pretty fair sized town for that area in that time (and, incidentally, is right at the population of Magazine, Arkansas today). The time of the cattle drives might have been somewhat earlier than that, and during that boom-and-bust period the population of a town might vary considerably over a short period, but that gives us an indication, at least.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bergen was not one of the best

To be honest about it, Edgar Bergen was a terrible ventriloquist.

Philo Vance's personality

He gave the impression of remaining remote from all mundane matters; and, in truth, he looked upon life like a dispassionate and impersonal spectator at play, secretly amused and  debonairly cynical at the meaningless futility of it all. Withal, he had a mind avid for knowledge, and few details of the human comedy that came within his sphere of vision escaped him.

(from The "Canary" Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

He did not have to act too much

The synopsis of the movie Harvard, Here I Come! says it is about a "lovable but dimwitted" nightclub owner. Given that Maxie Rosenbloom, the actor, was a former light-heavyweight boxer on whom boxing took a "punch-drunk" toll eventually, that is not too hard to visualize.

Maxie Rosenbloom 1941.JPG

Durante blunts Treacher

Arthur Treacher: "My dear sir, even if I were to give up the cinema and become a butler, I most assuredly would never enter the service of a creature of your ilk."

Jimmy Durante: "And what, pray, is wrong with my ilk?"

Treacher: "You, sir, are boorish, crass, overwhelmingly illiterate and completely repugnant."

Durante: "How much of that is good?"

(from the Mail Call radio show)

The entire exchange between Treacher and Durante is hilarious. HERE is a link.

Judy Garland's voice

Garland was one of the top performers in her field, but I did not enjoy her voice very much. It was too strident and brassy. Typical Broadway stuff.

A clever quip from Fibber McGee

Jim Jordan (Fibber) was asked this question in an interview in 1984: "Are you officially retired now?"

Jordan: "No, I'm officially out of work. That's been going on for about thirty years now."

(Jordan was 87 years old at the time)

Philo Vance was not Philo Vance

"This man was a young social aristocrat, whom, for purposes of anonymity, I have chosen to call Philo Vance."

Thus S. S.Van Dine introduces his famous detective in "The 'Canary' Murder Case," the second in the series of novels. One wonders, if his name was not really Philo Vance, what it was. Perhaps somewhere else in the novels Van Dine reveals this mystery, but I have not yet seen it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A rare combination

"So seldom brains and beauty dance in street together."

(Charlie Chan, from The Shanghai Chest)



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Anyone ought to know to do that

I am not a vindictive man, but I was feeling in no amiable frame of mind towards this literary screwball. I mean, it's all very well for a chap to plead that he's an author and expect on the strength of that to get away with conduct which would qualify the ordinary man for a one-way ticket to Colney Hatch, but even an author, I felt - and I think with justice - ought to have had the sense to glance through his car before he locked it up for the night, to make sure there weren't any shipping magnates dozing in the back seat.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)