Thursday, July 23, 2020

Once to Every Woman ( 1934 )

Grey's Anatomy 1934. Well, not quite. But if you want to see what a 1930s style version of a hospital melodrama looks like ( they really haven't changed much over the years ) then it is well worth checking out Once To Every Woman. This Columbia Pictures quickie is quite entertaining and features two appealing actors of the era - Fay Wray and Ralph Bellamy.
Ralph Bellamy is Dr. Barclay, a brilliant young surgeon who works under the watchful eye of his mentor, Dr. Selby ( Walter Connolly ), head surgeon of a city hospital. Lately, the two doctors have had conflicting opinions about what kind of operation to perform and, much as he regrets his decision, Dr. Barclay is considering leaving the hospital for a position elsewhere. 

Meanwhile, Nurse Fanshawe ( Fay Wray ) has some decisions to make herself, too. She has a soft spot for Dr. Freddie Preston ( Walter Byron ), but everyone at the hospital, except herself, knows that he is a playboy who likes to fondle the nurses behind closed doors. She wishes he would care about his profession more. She dislikes Dr. Barclay but nevertheless admires him for his work ethics. When he saves one of her patients using a skillful and untested surgical technique, her opinion of the doctor changes....and she realizes that Dr. Freddie may not be the man for her after all. 
Once to Every Woman is quite an odd and forgettable title to this really enjoyable Pre-Code film. It could have been called Miss Fanshawe's Dilemma or A Day in Ward K because most of the action takes place within the confines of the hospital ward in the span of one day. The physician and novelist A.J. Cronin, who was famous for writing "The Citadel" and "The Green Years", wrote the short story that this film was based on - "Kaleidoscope in K" ( another misleading title ). 

Director Lambert Hillyer had a long and prolific career at Columbia Pictures. During his heyday, he was turning out anywhere from 4-10 films per year, mostly westerns. Once to Every Woman is not a nail-biting melodrama, but Hillyer never lets it get boring and its 70-minute runtime moves along swiftly. 
Also in the cast is Mary Carlisle, J. Farrell MacDonald and Ben Alexander. Once to Every Woman has not yet been released on DVD but is available online to stream. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Look at all those bicyclists! The young and old alike are enjoying a good pedal around town. Can you remember which film this screenshot is taken from? If you can, then drop the title in the comment box below and, if you guess correctly, you win a prize! 

Want to read more rules to the game? Just click here

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Magic Couples of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Movies have always reflected the hopes and dreams of the public, especially in terms of romance. Since almost every movie genre - from mysteries to swashbucklers, from war to love stories - features a leading man and a woman, it is not surprising that thousands of different screen couples exist on film. Only a relatively few couples created real magic, and of these, a surprising number worked for MGM.

At the studio with "more stars than there are in heaven," Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg acted as divine matchmakers. If a couple proved successful in a film, it was likely they would be recast as a team, especially if they were both under contract to MGM. Thalberg, for example, noticed a chemistry between Joan Crawford and Clark Gable when they co-starred for the first time in Dance, Fools, Dance ( 1931 ). He set the story department to finding scripts that would suit the two actors. Subsequently, Crawford and Gable made eight films together, in most of which she played the working girl who rose to fame and glamour, and he was the rugged he-man who loved her. Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, the perennial happy-go-lucky teenagers, co-starred in nine MGM movies. And Myrna Loy and William Powell, the quintessential happily married couple of the forties, made thirteen films together in as many years. 

What made a great screen couple? The answer is as difficult to determine as it is to explain what makes a relationship work in real life. Like all great lovers, screen couples exude mystery and wonder. "We're inevitable, " John Gilbert tells Greta Garbo in Queen Christina ( 1934 ), "Don't you feel it?" She does and so do we. Great lovers always seem inevitable, part kismet, and part coincidence. 

Casting two actors together creates a third entity, a single ideal. And no movie studio in the world paired couples together with as much frequency as MGM. In some cases, screen couples served to perpetuate a series, such as Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in the Tarzan films, or Lew Ayres and Laraine Day in a succession of Dr. Kildare episodes. But the great MGM screen couples came to symbolize a singular aspect of romance: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert ( Temptation ); Clark Gable and Jean Harlow ( Lust ); Joan Crawford and Clark Gable ( Glamour ); Myrna Loy and William Powell ( Sophistication ); Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy ( Sentimental Love ); Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney ( Good, Clean Fun ); Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon ( Enduring Love ); Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn ( Mutual Admiration ). 

Perhaps the popularity of these couples can be attributed to moviegoers' longing for the romantic ideals these costars projected on the screen. Certainly, their popularity also was a reflection of the times. Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy sang sentimental arias to each other, lavishly adorned in period costumes, while the world suffered through the Great Depression. Their love was always chaste and their relationship was as idealized as someone like Louis B. Mayer couple imagine. In Mrs. Miniver ( 1942 ), Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon stoically endured the hardships of World War II. ( Winston Churchill said that the movie did more for the war effort than a fleet of destroyers ). But the common bond and the lasting appeal of the majority of screen couples from this era also had to do with equality of the sexes. 
We may think of the liberated woman as a phenomenon of the seventies, but just look at the female characters of the thirties and forties. They were women who stood up to their men; Women who could wisecrack, work, even fight, if necessary, for the things they wanted and for the men they loved. They were equal partners in solving a crime, running a business, singing duets, or dancing on Broadway. These women held their own with men in the bedroom, the boardroom, and even the barroom, when necessary. In a classic scene from The Thin Man ( 1934 ), Myrna Loy discovers that William Powell has consumed six martinis, and tells the waiter, "....bring me five more martinis, Leo, and line they right up here."

These women matched their men, drink for drink, or any other way, and the men loved them for it. 

The influence of MGM's screen couples continues today on late-night television and in video rental stores, where these movies of yesteryear are still popular, reinforcing the fantasies created by Hollywood's most powerful dream machine. Obviously, we still want to believe that, in real life, Loy and Powell or Garson and Pidgeon stay happily married for decades. "Ah! Sweet mystery of life, " as Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy would croon. And the mystery was this: Why can't real life work like the movies?

- Peter Hay

The above article was an excerpt from "MGM: When the Lion Roars", written by Peter Hay and published by Turner Publishing Inc ( 1991 ). 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

From the Archives: The Treasure of Lost Canyon ( 1952 )

Catch that chicken, Mr. Powell!!

The Treasure of Lost Canyon is one of those films that get lost among all of the other features that came out in the early 1950s, but it really is quite a treasure in itself. Its a sweet family film about a country doctor who adopts an orphan boy and their quest for a lost treasure chest of gold coins. The story was based upon Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Treasure of Franchard". 

From the Archives is our latest series of posts where we share photos from the Silverbanks Pictures collection. Some of these may have been sold in the past, and others may still be available for purchase at our eBay store :

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Book Review: Harryhausen - The Lost Movies

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of stop-motion special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen. I've been enjoying re-watching many of his films throughout the year but doubly entertaining is discovering all the wonderful books written about Harryhausen and his work. 

A recent find is Harryhausen-The Lost Movies written by John Walsh. This glossy 188-page book from Titan Books is packed with illustrations, storyboard sketches, posters and photographs that shed some light on the nearly 70 film projects that Ray Harryhausen began but never completed. These were ideas that were conceived but never quite made it to the incubation stage. 

Some of them are really quite fascinating - The Time Machine ( 1954 ), King of Geniis ( 1969 ) and Conan ( 1969 ). Also interesting are the projects that Ray Harryhausen turned down - Moby Dick ( creating the whale model of Moby Dick for the 1956 film version ) and Night of the Demon ( 1959 ). 

The title is a little misleading because the book is mainly comprised of "Unused Ideas" and were not films that were lost overtime - merely potential projects that went unrealized. But, title confusion aside, Harryhausen - The Lost Movies ( $39.95 ) makes a great addition to the library of any Harryhausen fan.