Tuesday, 21 September 2010

"Let them shoot me... - I am not afraid... - I am a good target!"

The first musical film, which is about to be reviewed in this blog, is based on an operetta by the same name: THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948).

In an nutshell:

Italy in 1861: 300 years ago Countess Francesca (lovely Betty Grable) saved her castle and her folks by seducing and stabbing an adversary officer. Now her look-alike great-great-great-great-granddaughter Angelina (Betty Grable in a double role) marries Mario (most attractive: Cesar Romero), a baron she knows since their childhood. In their wedding night the castle is charged by the Hungarian army, lead by Colonel Teglash (handsome Douglas Fairbanks, jr.). Mario disguises himself as a gypsy, but is soon caught by the Hungarians. While the Colonel occupies the castle, he and Angelina get attracted to each other, though her sense of duty (as a sovereign and wife) doesn't allow her to give in. So her ancestor Francesca has to interfere...

Watch out for:

Walter Abel as Horvath - even if you have no memory for names: this one you will learn immediatetly. - and Reginald Gardiner as Alberto, Francesca's husband.

  • Ernst Lubitsch died shortly after filming was started of a heart attack and the film was completed under direction of Otto Preminger, who insisted that Lubitsch should receive sole credit.
  • The operetta was filmed twice before: In 1927 as THE LADY IN ERMINE starring Corinne Griffith and Einar Hanson and in 1930 with Walter Pidgeon and Vivienne Segal - then movie than was called BRIDE OF THE REGIMENT.
  • The song "This is the moment" - music by Friedrich Hollaender (credited as Frederick Hollander), words by Leo Robin - was nominated for an acadamy award but lost to "Buttons and Bows" (from THE PALEFACE) by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
  • Otto Preminger wasn't very fond of the story and the movie.
  • Ernst Lubitsch wanted Jeanette MacDonald for the female lead.
  • 20th Century Fox chief of production Darryl F. Zanuck prefered Gene Tierney and for the male lead Rex Harrison or Cornel Wilde.

My favourite characters:

Mario and Horvath, who is devoted to his wife and children. I love Cesar Romero and Walter Abel!!

Scene to see:

Mario, as a gypsy, reading palms. Cesar Romero is hilarious!

Window shopping:

I am a sucker for anything concerning nightwear: So I'll go for Betty Grable's negligees and her dressing robe - plus that little box on the piano: I have a friends who just loves boxes.

Quotes Corner:

If you saw the film this quote sticks in your mind forever: "Horvath!"

A lovely little movie, which doesn't make anyone thinking to hard. Silly little tricks like the sun acting as if it was a cartoon sun and some really good special effects. And of course: you'll see Betty Grable's famous legs - insured for $ 1,000,000! And all brought to you in glorious Technicolor!! :")

Goodbye - I'll go and watch another movie or this one again?

"I don't care if he'll get shot or you'll get shot or I'll get slightly wounded."

Sunday, 19 September 2010

"I did it with a razor."

When the small thriller MISCHIEF by Charlotte Armstrong was released in 1950 it was not predictable that it would become the movie DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK (1952) by British Director Roy Ward Baker - which was the first film for Anne Bancroft.

In a nutshell:
Pilot Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) looks out for a little female company after his girlfriend, the barsinger Lyn Lesley (Anne Bancroft), has left him. Vis-à-vis to his hotel room he spots Nell Forbes (Marilyn Monroe) in Room 809, who upon the recomandation of her Uncle Eddie (Elisha Cook, jr.) - the lift-attendant -, is baby-sitting Mrs. and Mr. Jones' (Lurene Tuttle and Jim Backus) daughter Bunny (Donna Corcoran). Jed walks over to have a flirt (and more) but Nell - who can't handle the death of the man she wanted to marry - is highly certifiably insane and dangerous - esp. for a little girl like Bunny..

Whatch out for:
  • Jeanne Cagney - younger sister of some James Cagney (you may have heard of him..) performing as Rochelle, the switchboard operator.


  • In the novel Nell's and Eddie's family name is Munro, which was changed when Marilyn Monroe was casted. Guess why..
  • The film events take place in real time.
  • Anne Bancroft, who was 20 when this film was released, is probably best-known as Mrs. Robinson in THE GRADUATE (1967).
  • You may know Elisha Cook, jr. as Wilmer Cook from THE MALTESE FALCON (1941).
  • Jim Backus was the original voice of MISTER MAGOO of the TV series by the same name - resp. the following series THE FAMOUS ADVENTURES OF MR. MAGOO.
  • The German title is VERSUCHUNG AUF 809 what means - translated literally - "Temptation in 809". In the novel the events take mainly place in the room next to 809..
  • If you think the title music sound familiar - it is: It originated from 1950's PANIC IN THE STREETS.
  • Donna Corcoran is the only member who is still alive - you may know her from MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952)- she portayed the 10 year old Annette Kellerman.
  • It was Marilyn Monroe's 18. movie and her first leading part.
  • It is said that because of a very small budget every scene was only shot once.
  • 1991 there was a remake for TV - this time it was named: THE SITTER.
  • There is another movie called DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK /WHY BOTHER TO KNOCK from 1962 with Elke Sommer and Judith Anderson which is not related to this one.
  • You can hear Anne Bancroft sing "How About You", "A Rollin' Stone", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "How Blue The Night", "There's A Lull In My Life" and my favourite: "Manhattan". Boy, do I like that song..
Celebrate the celluloid:
  • Drink rye or coke (or both if you like it..) and eat some sweets..
Scene to see:

This time it is really hard for me to pick one single scene, so I say you'll make see this one: Uncle Eddie gets suspicious - and knocked out. Naughty, naughty Nell..

Window shopping:

I have a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe's wardrobe - in any film of her - so: I adore the negligee Nell is "boworring" from Mrs. Jones and also like that inornate dress she wears in the beginning.

Quotes Corner:

"Little girls aren't to be up at this hour."

Though I think the novel is much more suspensful - I like this film. Of course there are some modifications: The Anne Bancroft part was no singer, Jed was no pilot and they made Nell's background story more tragic - in the novel she is not mourning because of a loss of a beloved person. No, she is really mean and much more disturbed: it seems that she had killed her parents by burning down their house - and of course for this film they melt down some minor characters.. In the novel there is no clue about Nell being suicidal like it is in the movie.
I enjoy to see a more darker (mood not haircolour!) Marilyn Monroe. Not so much of her famous smile in here.

Goodbye - I'll go and watch another movie - or this one again?

"You won't cry anymore, will you?"

Saturday, 18 September 2010

"I'm quite safe - if you say nothing."

In 1946 film was released in which Orson Welles played lead and was also the director:

In a nutshell:

Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) - infamous Nazi war criminal - lives a happy and peaceful life in the little town of Harper, Connecticut. He is known as Professor Charles Rankin, a very popular college teacher and weds Mary (Loretta Young), the daughter of Judge Adam Longstreet (Philip Merivale).

Then old Nazi pal Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) arrives. To avoid being unmasked by Meinike, Kindler kills him. When Mary's dog becomes far to nosey, Kindler slays him too. He now could be save but then War Crime Commision's investigator Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) appears, who was following Meinike to uncover Franz Kindler and is now trying to convince Mary that her husband is a Nazi.


  • You may know Richard Long (who is here perfoming the role of Mary's brother Noah) as Tom Kettle from the Ma & Pa Kettle series.

  • Erskine Sanford, who plays one of the party guest was a regular at Orson Welles pictures. He acted also in CITIZEN KANE (Herbert Carter), JANE EYRE (Mr. Briggs), THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (Judge) and some others.

  • This is the first picture to show concentration camp footage after WWII.

  • Philip Merival died in march, 1946 - two month berfore this film was released in the USA. UK start was in August 1946.

  • There is a scene in the movie where Orson Welles lifts Loretta Young only onehanded - this was no trick and no stunt men/women were appointed.

  • Loretta Young, born Gretchen Young, was 32-33 years old when she played in this movie.

  • You may recognize Konstantin Shayne for he was playing the part of Pop Leibel in VERTIGO (1958).

  • In Germany the film was released in february 1977. It is also known to German viewers as DIE SPUR DES FREMDEN (= "The trace of the stranger").

  • Orson Welles wanted Agnes Moorehead (you know: Endora from the BEWICHTED series and also a Orson Welles regular) to play the investigator - gee, would I love to see that!!

  • Orson Welles was not pleased with this movie - he liked his other works far better.

  • Sam Spiegel produced this film under the name of S. P. Eagle.

Murphy's Law:

  • After the projected film is finished the light still flickers on Loretta Young face - though it might be a bright non moving light.

  • The swastika Franz Kindler is drawing is in the wrong direction - maybe designedly.
Scene to see:

The final scene is worth to look at - though it is rather drastic.

Quotes Corner:
"Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass."

I have a feeling that when the last sentece is delivered it ends to abrupt. Two or three seconds fade out wouldn't have hurt. I like Edward G. Robinson very much so I naturally enjoyed his performance. If I was in place of Mary I would have left my husband after he killed my dog - even if he was as great as Orson Welles. Sorry, but hurting (to say nothing of murder) an animal is a BIG No-Go in my little world! Of course the movie would have been much shorter then..
And - again - I would have loved to see Agnes Moorehead doing the Edward G. Robinson part - she would have been a real mean anti to Orson Welles' devilishly Franz Kindler!

Goodbye, I'll go and watch another movie - or maybe this one again?


"People can't help who they fall in love with."

Friday, 17 September 2010

"She may be his wife - but she is engaged to me!"

Another picture which is based on a play came up to the silver screen in 1936: LIBELED LADY - directed by Jack Conway.

In a nutshell:

Society girl Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) is falsly accused of stealing another woman's husband. She sues "The Star" - a newspaper, which headlined the wrong story - to pay $ 5 millions damages.

Journalist Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) comes up with an idea to save the newspaper: He engages his ex co-worker and oldtime rival Bill Chandler (William Powell), who suggests that he seduces Connie so Haggerty's fiancée Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) - acting as Chandler's wife - can catch them red-handed. That way Haggerty would be able to proof that "The Star" didn't tell a lie.

Chandler who learns that Connie's father (Walter Connolly) is fond of trout fishing pretends to be a writer and passionate angler to get near to Connie. Problems appear when Chandler falls for Connie and Gladys decides that she is attracted to Chandler..

Watch out for:

  • Hattie McDaniel as the maid in the Grand Plaza Hotel hall.


  • Charley Grapewin, who plays Mr. Bane is known (amongst many others) as Uncle Henry in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), Gramp Maple in THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) and as Grandpa in THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)

  • The German titel is LUSTIGE SÜNDER which can be translated "Cheerful sinners".
  • The four leads became good friends. Allegedly Spencer Tracy used to state jestingly that Myrna Loy broke his heart by marrying producer Arthur Hornblow, jr.. It is said that Tracy reserved a table in the canteen for men who felt that Loy walked out on them - the "I hate Hornblow"-table.
  • LIBELED LADY was nominated for "Best picture" at the acadamy awards but lost to another movie starring Myrna Loy and William Powell: THE GREAT ZIEGFELD.
  • Jean Harlow and William Powell were a couple whilst this film was produced so Harlow intended to get the part of Connie so she and Powell could end up together - the studio objected because they felt the audience wanted Powell and Loy to be paired at the end. Harlow gave in and was in the end pleased with her part.

  • Walter Connolly (Myrna Loy's father in this picture) played the father of Claudette Colbert in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934).

  • There is a remake called EASY TO WED with Esther Williams as Connie Allenbury, Van Johnson as Bill Chandler, Keenan Wynn as Warren Haggerty and Lucille Ball as Gladys.

  • Rosalind Russell was first choice for the Connie Allenbury part.

  • It was the fith film pairing Myrna Loy and William Powell.

  • Billy Benedict - one of the original Bowery Boys has an supporting role at the news paper.

  • Lionel Barrymore was supposed to play Connie Allenbury's father.

Celebrate the celluloid:

Eat pancakes/flapjacks or fish (trout!).

My favourite feature:

I like that raft in the lake. Gosh, won't you love to sit there and watch old movies on a big screen with some friends and splash around with your feet? (just an idea..)

Scenes to see:

William Powell angling and the lovely good-bye -scene with Powell, Harlow and Tracy - please look out for George Chandler's (the bell boy) mimic.

Window shopping:

Gee, I'd like to get that light suit Jean Harlow is wearing.

Quotes corner:

"This is love, not liquor." or "I am just a mug, Gladdie, but I love you." or maybe best known: "Marry your newspaper and become the father of many newslines."

I love the witty lines in this picture especially William Powell suggesting to Jean Harlow how to pass her time: "Maybe you could learn to read." and one I often use myself: "I am awful appealing in blue." This is an awesome screwball comedy and a marvellous cast!
I don't know anything about American eating habits, but I think it is funny to put the flag of the United States into a fish. I don't want to offend anyone but it seems strange to me. I mean: this film doesn't take place on 4th of July - as far as I know. But: Please correct me - I am eager to learn!

Goodbye! I'll go and watch another movie - or this one again? And:

"I like music with my moonlight."

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Intermediate message

Sorry for being absent such a long time! I was / am sick and for that I was watching many old UFA pictures - the German classics... But I am feeling much better now: So prepare yourself for some new posts! :")

Meanwhile I want to take the chance and say "I bid you wellcome!" to all new followers:

Hej, Sari! It's lovely to have you here!

Hello, Matthew! I am honoured that you are following my blog - I know you do such great work - and sooo much of it!

And: welcome, Whitney - a fellow Janenite and lover of classic novels! And not to forget: Bette Davis Fan!! yay!!!

I am happy to have you all here! I hope you'll have fun and feel free to give comments!

A marvellous day to all of you overseas - and a lovely night to all European friends!! ^ ^