Sunday, June 26, 2022

The MGM Blogathon is Here!

Kick up your heels and start singin' in the rain, for the MGM Blogathon is here!! 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, founded in 1924, is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood and certainly ranks as the best in movie-making history. To celebrate this legendary establishment, we are hosting The MGM Blogathon, a three-day event featuring wonderful posts about the marvelous films that they made and the talented people that called MGM their home.

Below you will find the entries listed in no particular order. Since the event will take place over three days ( June 26th-28th ), we will be adding the links to the posts as they are published. 

If you missed the blogathon announcement and want to add a post during or after the blogathon has ended, just shoot us an email and we will be glad to add your post to the list. 

So without more are the entries! Scroll down below for snippets.


Irving Thalberg, MGM's Boy Genius - The Lady Eve
Arthur Freed and The Freed Unit at MGM - Silver Scenes

First, take a look at some candid snapshots taken on the set of famous MGM films with our Behind-the-Scenes at MGM post. It must have been a wonderful studio to work at. 

Taking Up Room tells us the story of The 1970 MGM Auction and how the Hollywood villain Kirk Kerkorian almost single-handedly dismantled MGM as a film studio. 

Critica Retro shares with us a review of Dancing Lady ( 1933 ), a milestone in Joan Crawford's film career. 

What would MGM have been without The Thin Man series? This low-budget 1934 film reaped such profits at the box office that the studio reunited William Powell and Myrna Loy for five sequels...the first of which was After the Thin Man ( 1936 ), reviewed here by Hamlette's Soliloquy.

One of the most popular comedy teams at MGM was undoubtedly The Marx Brothers, and one of their best films is reviewed by Critica Retro: A Day at the Races ( 1937 )

Gene Kelly made his home at MGM studios as well and Silver Screen Modes shares with us an excellent look at the making of the Academy Award winning, An American in Paris ( 1951 )

Father of the Bride was a big hit for MGM stars Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor. The wedding at the end of the film clearly hinted that a sequel was to come....and within a year it was released. Realweegiemidget Reviews gives us the story of Father's Little Dividend ( 1951 )

Warner Brothers Studio had Errol Flynn, but MGM had Stewart Granger, an English import who specialized in swashbucklers. Scaramouche was one of his best and to this day it remains one of the finest screen tellings of Raphael Sabatini's novel. The Caffeinated Fangirl shares her review of this classic. 

MGM produced films of all genres and Rick at the Classic Film and TV Cafe shares his review of the taut James Garner WWII thriller 36 Hours ( 1965 ).

Everyone can recognize MGM's famous logo with the roaring lion but do you know the name of that lion....or that there were multiple ones used throughout the years? Ruth gives us A Brief History of the MGM Lions over at her blog, Silver Screenings.

MGM's shining star Jean Harlow was the first and most famous of the "blonde bombshells" and Whimsically Classic shares with us an excellent bio of this talented actress with her post Jean Harlow - The First Blonde Bombshell.

What makes a star a "star"? Norma Desmond knew what it took...and A Person in the Dark convinces us that Joan Crawford knew the secret formula as well. She shares her thoughts in her post Joan Crawford - Channeling the Spirit of Norma Desmond.

Behind-the-Scenes at MGM

The MGM Blogathon is taking place today right here on Silver Scenes, so we thought we'd kick off the event with a photographic peek behind-the-scenes at one of the most famous film studios in the world. 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was founded in 1924 after Marcus Loew merged Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into one company. They hired a number of well-known actors of the time, as well as top-notch screenwriters, plunged lots of money into lavish sets, and then, with the benefit of Loew's own nationwide chain of motion picture theaters, released the films they made to the public, catapulting MGM into the top studio of the 1920s. 

The MGM logo bearing the famous roar of Leo the Lion was the trademark of a studio of quality. At MGM, there were no "B" films, all of their films were "A" productions or secondary features ( e.g. the Maisie or the Andy Hardy series ) made with just as much care but on a lower budget. 

For years, they reigned as the best studio in Hollywood, one which any actor longed to have a contract with. And then, in the 1950s, with the death of Louis B. Mayer and the dismissal of studio head Dore Schary, MGM began to flounder, relying heavily on big-budget productions such as Ben-Hur to give the studio a profit. By the 1960s, they were just a shadow of the wonderful studio they once were. In 2024, MGM will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, but clearly its golden age is over, so let's take a trip down memory lane by seeing a view of the MGM studios the audience rarely got to see - the behind-the-scenes view. 


King Vidor directing John Gilbert in one of MGM's first major productions, The Big Parade ( 1925 )

Greta Garbo, soon to become MGM's biggest star, is looking a little anxious to be sitting so close to Leo the Lion

Tarzan tries to make love to Jane but he has a lot of onlookers

The MGM Wardrobe Department as seen in the early 1930s

Lace-makers are busy working on the bridal veil for Helen Hayes in White Sister ( 1933 )

W.S. Van Dyke directs William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man ( 1934 ), a film that launched one of the studio's most popular series

Norma Shearer getting a bite of lunch between scenes during the filming of Marie Antionette ( 1936 )

Leslie Howard on the ( massive ) set of Romeo and Juliet ( 1936 )

Studio head Louis B. Mayer playing a game of Sunday baseball with producer Irving Thalberg 

Director George Cukor and producer Hunt Stromberg with the "women" from The Women ( 1939 )

Lewis Stone celebrating his birthday on the set of one of the Andy Hardy films, another popular series
Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury enjoy some steak and hamburgers at the MGM commissary

Judy Garland displaying her ballgown for Little Nellie Kelly ( 1942 )

Frank Sinatra discusses a scene with director George Sidney on the set of Anchors Aweigh ( 1945 )

Greer Garson is getting a view from the scaffolding on the set of That Forsythe Woman ( 1949 )

Some of MGM's stars gathered for the studio's 25th anniversary....see how many you can recognize!

The Irving Thalberg Building at the MGM Studios at Culver City

Acting certainly isn't a private affair! William Welman directs the cast in this scene from The Next Voice You Hear ( 1950 )

Gene Kelly gets to take a seat in the cameraman's chair on the set of An American in Paris ( 1951 )
Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, and the Show Boat ( 1951 ) cast gather for a publicity photo

Esther Williams being filmed by a special underwater camera

Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman look over the script on the set of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ( 1958 )

Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd at the premiere of Ben-Hur ( 1959 )

The crew filming Carroll Baker in a scene from How the West Was Won ( 1962 ), one of MGM's last great epics

Thursday, June 23, 2022

High Flying Spy ( 1972 )

Darren McGavin made five pictures for Walt Disney Studios between 1969 and 1979, one of which - High Flying Spy - he made during the height of his popularity playing on television's Kolchak: The Night Stalker. 

In this made-for-television film, he stars as John Jay Forrest, a rival balloonist to Thaddeus Lowe ( Stuart Whitman ), both of whom wish to become the first balloonist to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Their plans are thwarted when the Civil War breaks out and they put their dreams aside to join forces as aerial spies in aid of the Union Army. 

High Flying Spy debuted on October 22, 1972, on The Wonderful World of Color and ran until November 6th, airing in three one-hour episodes. It was based on the book "High Spy" by Robert Edmond Alter, a fictionalization of real events that took place during the Civil War. The Union Army Balloon Corps ( established by Professor Thaddeus Lowe ) was one of the forerunners of the U.S. Air Force. From the air, Lowe was able to use his balloon to spy on Confederate forces and telegraph their positions to the troops below. 

In order to make the story appealing to children, Robert Alter made the telegraph operator a young boy, Davey, who is eager to do his bit for the war effort. In the film, this character is played admirably by Vincent Van Patten, son of Dick Van Patten, another Disney regular. 

Davey thought the war was going to be adventurous, but he soon wishes it was all over, especially when he witnesses his friend die. Davey shares a bond with Thaddeus, who takes him under his wing and teaches him ballooning, but when John Jay Forrest turns up, Davey latches onto Forrest and sees him as a father figure and a hero....which he turns out to be. 

The film is a wonderful tale of the Civil War, as seen through a child's eye, and features non-stop action as one aerial assignment leads to the next. Also in the cast are Shug Fisher, Jeff Corey, Andrew Prine, Jim Davis, Robert Pine, and Roger Perry. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


This is a fun one. When I first saw this flash on the screen it reminded me of Jessica Fletcher's debut novel, "The Corpse Danced at Midnight" in Murder, She Wrote. Let's see how long it will take you to remember which film this novel came from.

As always, if you are not familiar with the rules of the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Film Albums: Listen to the Movies with Ferrante and Teicher

Ferrante and Teicher were the most popular pianists of the twentieth century and released dozens of albums during their heyday between the late 1950s and 1980s. These two bespectacled Americans wrote beautiful arrangements of numerous film themes which they popularized by playing in their signature florid style, notably Theme from The Apartment and Exodus. This United Artists album, Listen to the Movies with Ferrante and Teicher ( 
UAS 6701 ), has some particularly lovely pieces from popular films of the late 1960s, all beautifully played by the duo with lush orchestral accompaniment conducted by Nick Perito. 

If you are not familiar with this twosome - or even if you are - check out this great clip on Youtube of the twosome performing Midnight Cowboy

Track Listing:

Side One:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Funny Girl

Sweet Charity

The Lion in Winter

Buono Sera, Mrs. Campbell


Side Two:


Romeo and Juliet



Yellow Submarine

2001: A Space Odyssey

Top Music Picks: The Lion in Winter, Andrea, Romeo and Juliet, and Barbarella. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

From the Archives: Texas Carnival ( 1951 )

Esther Williams and Ann Miller are pictured alongside Red Skelton in Texas Carnival, one of his best films for MGM. The publicity department promoted the film as an Esther Williams vehicle but Red Skelton was really the star of this show, the last of four films the twosome made together. 

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 :

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Winnetou Films - Classic European Westerns

The Foreign Western Blogathon is taking place this weekend over at Moon in Gemini so we are joining in on the celebration of non-Hollywood westerns with this peek at one of Germany's most popular Western film series - the Winnetou Saga. 

The Winnetou films were based on Karl May's popular western novels dating from the late 1800s. Karl May penned nearly thirty tales of the great Apache warrior Winnetou and his blood-brother Old Shatterhand between 1875 and 1910 and millions of copies were sold throughout Europe. 

Old Firehand ( 1875 ) was the first book in the series and it tells the story of Winnetou, an Apache Indian chief. His father and sister are slain by the white bandit Santer so Winnetou seeks revenge and encounters Old Shatterhand, a scout, during his adventure tracking down this villain. At first, they perceive each other as enemies, but they soon become friends and, eventually, blood brothers. 

As popular as the books were, it was not until 1962 that Winnetou was first brought to the screen in a German-French-Yugoslavian co-production from Rialto Film studios titled Treasure of Silver Lake ( Der Schatz im Silbersee ). French actor Pierre Brice took on the role of the great Apache and American actor Lex Barker portrayed Old Shatterhand with other parts going to Götz George, Herbert Lom, and Karin Dor. The production was directed by Harald Reinl, a popular Heimatfilm director, and shot in color in the beautiful Plitvice Lakes region of Yugoslavia ( standing in the for the American West ). 

Treasure of Silver Lake had a modest budget but became a phenomenal success on its release, ranking as the highest-grossing film in Germany in 1962 and raking in sales throughout France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Its unexpected success launched the production crew into making a sequel within the next few months and in 1963, Winnetou the Warrior aka Apache Gold, was released. This film was even more popular than Treasure of Silver Lake and the cast and crew once again plunged into a follow-up film. 

A total of eleven Winnetou films were released between 1962 and 1968 with each subsequent film boasting a larger budget and cast ( Stewart Granger took over as Old Shatterhand when Lex Barker left the series ). The films were re-released for years to come and, in 1980, a television mini-series was made featuring Winnetou - Mein Freund WinnetouIt was the success of the Winnetou pictures that even inspired Italian director Sergio Leone to create the first of his own series of "spaghetti westerns" - A Fistful of Dollars - in 1964. 

Instead of reviewing each film in the series, we have put together some photos from each of the films to give you a hint at what the Winnetou Saga has to offer. 

The Winnetou Films

  • Treasure of Silver Lake aka Der Schatz im Silbersee ( 1962 )
  • Apache Gold aka Winnetou 1 Teil ( 1963 )
  • Old Shatterhand ( 1964 )
  • Last of the Renegades aka Winnetou 2 Teil ( 1964 )
  • Frontier Hellcat aka Unter Geiern ( 1964 )
  • Rampage at Apache Wells aka Der Olprinz ( 1965 )
  • The Desperado Trail aka Winnetou 3 Teil ( 1965 )
  • Flaming Frontier aka Old Surehand 1 Teil ( 1965 )
  • Winnetou and the Crossbreed aka Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi  ( 1966 )
  • Winnetou and Old Firehand aka Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand ( 1966 )
  • The Valley of Death aka Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten ( 1968 )

Click here to watch some of the original German trailers, and you must definitely check out Martin Bottcher's fantastic Winnetou theme ( this particular link is for the Old Shatterhand film ).