Friday, December 06, 2013
Some scenes from "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947) directed by George Seaton, starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood.
John Payne died from a heart condition on December 6, 1989, surrounded by his children (he had previously been married to actresses Anne Shirley and Gloria de Haven) and his third wife, Alexandra. As his longtime friend and former publicity man Robert Palmer told a journalist, Miracle on 34th Street was on television as the family kept vigil. "In fact, the night before he died - he was unconscious in bed - a television in the corner was playing that film. It was strange looking at him in bed like that."
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
DETOUR is a widely acknowledged 1945 Film Noir classic starring Ann Savage, Tom Neal and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Produced by Independent Distributor PRC (owned by international giant PATHE), DETOUR was shot in Hollywood and long considered a low budget "Poverty Row" quickie. It was decades ahead of its time. The raw naturalism of DETOUR influenced generations of actors, including Marlon Brando, and filmmakers from Francois Truffaut to Wim Wenders and Martin Scorsese who said it was "an inspiration over the years to low-budget filmmakers." Tom Neal had started at MGM in the 1930s. He directly offended Joan Crawford, queen bee at Metro, and was personally escorted off the lot by tough guy executive Eddie Mannix. Ann Savage made three b- movies at Columbia Pictures with Tom Neal before they shot Detour. She was creative and headstrong, qualities studios did not value in their contract actors during the 1940s. Her option was not renewed.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
During the making of Big Time, the studio promised Mae Clarke that great things were going to happen to her. Mae and Barbara met for lunch. Mae talked about 'Big Time'. John Ford was in it as himself, a Hollywood director. During the lunch, Mae felt an inexplicable tension from Barbara, that she couldn’t reach her. Mae sat there “with the dearest friend I’ve ever had,” she said. “There was a constraint between us as though we were strangers.” In New York, Mae and Barbara had been inseparable; they’d shared the same bed, eaten together, worked together. Mae couldn’t understand what was wrong. She felt that if she could “just bridge those silences everything would be all right.” There was nothing else to talk about, so Mae talked about the plans the studio had for her. “The picture didn’t mean half as much to me as getting close to Barbara again. But she didn’t understand. “Barbara thought I was getting 'high-hat'. And all I could think of was that Barbara didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I’m a link that binds her to the past. In New York we were harum scarum kids, madcaps, who did crazy things.” -"A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940" (2013) by Victoria Wilson
She’d become Capra’s favorite actress and he directed her in three more Columbia dramas. 'The Miracle Woman' (1931) was an initially daring but failed attempt at telling the story of a fraudulent preacher, based on the notorious Aimee Semple McPherson. Barbara delivered a strong performance but the cop-out script sank it. 'Forbidden' (’32) was nothing more than mawkish soap opera worthy of neither of them. 'The Bitter Tea of General Yen' (’32) was a truly strange tale with Barbara as the captive and lover of a Chinese warlord, but casting Swedish Nils Asther as General Yen was pure racial cowardice. None approached 'Ladies of Leisure' in quality or box office success. Barbara always considered William Wellman, Frank Capra and Billy Wilder her favorite directors.