Thursday, 30 December 2010

"That's no good - ladies bruise too easy."

Basing on Vladimir Pozner’s (please, do not mix up with equally named Russian spy!) story, which was released in September and October 1945 in “Good HousekeepingNunnally Johnson wrote and produced a film under the same title, which became a box-office hit in 1946 and was directed by Robert Siodmak: THE DARK MIRROR.

In a nutshell:

Dr. Perada was murdered. Several witnesses saw Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland) at that certain time near the crime scene. An easy case for Lieutenant Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell). But Terry has an alibi – and a sister: Ruth (Olivia de Havilland), a twin sister. Both occasionally switch roles. So, which one is the murderess? Maybe psychiatrist Scott Elliott (Lew Ayres) can be a help. The trouble with him: he’s going to fall for one of the sisters.


  • Lew Ayres stared as DR. KILDARE in 9 films of the film series of the same name. He became famous as an actor when he played the lead in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930). He was married to Ginger Rogers from 1934 to 1940.

  • The story received a nomination for an Acadamy award.

  • For radio-afficionados: there are some radio productions - with Olivia de Havilland (1950) and with Lew Ayres (1948) and one with both of them in THE HEDDA HOPPER SHOW - THIS IS HOLLYWOOD (1947)...

  • In 1984 there was made a remake for television starring Jane Seymour as the twin sisters.

  • Olivia de Havilland stated years later that the part of the mean twin sister still haunted her.

  • Though in credits only mentioned as technical adviser Eugen Schüfftan – who was a legendary cameraman and special effects specialist - did a great job and mixed several trick shots and added back projection so that Olivia de Havilland often acts in front of a screen on which runs a shot of herself as "her" twin sister.

A nodding acquaintance:

  • You may remember Richard Long (here: Rusty, the bellboy) from Orson Welles’ THE STRANGER (1946).

  • Thomas Mitchell might be best-known as uncle Billy in Frank Capra’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) or Gerald O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). I like him very much as Diz Moore in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939).

Celebrate the celluloid

Nibble some lemon drops! :”)


The soundtrack was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, who also wrote "Do not forsake me, oh my darlin" for HIGH NOON (1952) – I bet you know that one!

See the beauty in it

The costumes were designed by Irene Sharaff – and some of them are really marvelous. There is a pair of blouses with ruching which is not quite my style – but Olivia de Havillands wardrobe in this film is heaven for any forties fashion addict.

Quotes Corner

“He’s a very smart guy for a college man.”

This film is awesome because of its technique. You seldom can spot errors. Olivia de Havilland is doing a fabulous job – well, she is always, isn’t she? - Of course the good sister is the one, who is more the type of a modest housewife and the bad one is the self-confident sister. No wonder: The war was over and women should leave the factories and go back to home. (Bye bye to Rosie the Riveter!) I have nothing against women staying at home and caring for husband and kids - but I think everyone/everywoman should be able to decide for herself and not feel guilty because they do not want to marry and/or raise children. -

So I recommend this film to every fan of Olivia de Havilland and everyone who is interested in trick technique and ask every viewer to take the characterization of the “better” sister not as the proof of “good” woman. There's a wide range of awesome women out there.. ;”)

“I never listened to such utterly nonsense in all my live.”

The End? Wait and watch!

Yours (well and) truly,

Frl. Irene Palfy

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Merry Christmas to everyone!

To every follower and every person who stumbles by:

A Merry Christmas to you and your love ones!

With Love,

Frl. Irene

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

“Three angels came to earth that night and all around the stars were bright.”

Sally of Flying down to Hollywood is hosting “Twelve days of Christmas Movies” and I am doing my bit with this entry about my favourite holiday’s film: Paramount’s classic of 1955 WE’RE NO ANGELS by Michael Curtiz – based on a French play by Albert Husson and brought to you in glorious Technicolor.

In a nutshell:

Christmas eve 1895, prison colony of French Guyana - Devil’s Island: The three convicts Joseph (Humphrey Bogart), Albert (Aldo Ray) and Jules (Sir Peter Ustinov) have escaped from the prison. Before they leave the island they want to rob the store of Felix Ducotel (Leo G. Carroll). But they soon find out that Felix, his wife Amelie (Joan Bennett) and their daughter (Gloria Talbott) are really decent people, who are in deep trouble when Felix’ arrogant and greedy cousin André Trochard (Basil Rathbone) arrives with his nephew Paul (John Baer). So the three convicts stay and help the Ducotel family – with a little assistance of the fourth escaped prisoner: Adolphe – a cute little viper..

Watch out for:

Humphrey Borgart wearing a pink apron – and boy: does it bring out the colour of his eyes!

  • The film's working title was ANGELS' COOKING which is the translation of the play's title which is LA CUISINE DES ANGES.
  • This is the 6. and last film Humphrey Bogart an Michael Curtiz made together - one of the other movies they did together was CASABLANCA.
  • There two other films which are based on Albert Husson's play: WE'RE NO ANGELS (1989) with Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and Demi Moore and ORE-TACHI WA TENSHI JANAI by Takashi Miike (1993).
  • It is said that Gloria Talbott insisted that when her character passes out her head would always fell to the left because she found her profile would look best then. - I got to confess that I never look at her when she passes out. Naughty me - poor Gloria passes out so often that she could have earned my attantion..

A nodding acquaintance:

  • John Baer played title character Terry Lee in 1953s television series: TERRY AND THE PIRATES (1953).

  • Gloria Talbott played Jane Wyman's daughter in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955) and played Moneta in television series ZORRO (1957-59).

  • John Smith who played medical officer Arnaud made his (uncredited) debut in GOING MY WAY (1944) as a choir member. In TV series CIMARRON CITY (1958-59) he played Deputy Lane Temple and Slim Sherman in series LARAMIE (1959-63).

Sing a Song:

In this film a wonderful song by Frederick Hollander is featured: “Sentimental Moments” and you can also hear “Hark! The herald angels sing”.

My favourite feature:

The shop! There’s so much to see! And the whole set of the Ducotel house is amazing. And they have gladioluses, which are one of my favourite flowers – they’re often seen in 1930ies films because they’re sooo elegant!

Scene to see

I can’t decide which one is the best or initial scene – so: Please watch the whole film. But maybe this scene will give you an impression - though the colours in this seem to be faded:

See the beauty in it:

Joan Bennett’s dresses are gorgeous. The wardrobe was designed by Mary Grant.

What the critics said:

In 2006 Time Out London found the convicts an
"ill-assorted trio of Bogart, Ray and Ustinov"
and go on with
"The lowest point comes when they all line up to croak Christmas carols."
"'s static and laden with leaden talk, with nothing to interest the eye as recompense. ... Bogart looks particularly ill-at-ease and silly."

- sorry, they must have seen another film than I did, well the three prisoner are not the Rat Pack or Bing Crosby or some other croonin' fella but their singing is nothing to make a great point out of it. I think the trio is a perfect match and I love that Humphrey Bogart was not afraid of looking silly.

Quotes Corner :

“We came here to rob them and that’s what we’re gonna do. Beat their heads in, gorge their eyes out, cut their throats. – As soon as we wash the dishes.”

This film is hilarious. Of course there are moments when I have tears in my eyes. I am a bit sentimental, but and I think a good film touches you. So this is another plus for this movie and a good addition to extremely funny dialogues. I also like the fact that neither Adolphe nor the deaths or corpses are seen. I would have liked to see the snake but I think it is much more funny and also does not stress an animal. *yay*
I love the characters and the cast is amazing. Basil Rathbone is elegant as always in a light grey suit – and not quite so elegant wearing a nightcap. I can’t imagine how anyone could not like these four Christmas angels. I can’t make up my mind, which one of them is my favourite.

Thank you very much, Sally, for having me in your meme!

It is an honour for me. So, as I said before: Thank you.

“Right these way, please. This way to Christmas!”

The End? Wait and watch!

Yours (well and) truly

Frl. Irene Palfy

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Look, who's gone Hollywood!

When Hollywood is doing a biographical film, you can be sure that they'll put a lot Hollywood in it - and so did Daniel Fuchs and Isobel Lennart when they were writing the screenplay for LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955), which was directed by Charles Vidor and is about famous 1920ies singing star Ruth Etting. Though Daniel Fuchs earned an Acadamy Award for best writing, motion picture story and a Writers Guild of America Award for best written american musical.

In a nutshell:

Chicago, 1920ies. Martin “Marty –the Gimp” Snyder (James Cagney) is a big shot in – not so clean – laundry business. He knows what he wants – and he wants ex-taxi-dancer Ruth Etting (Doris Day). Ruth knows what she wants, too: She wants a career as a singer – a real big number. In this case Marty is a great help: he gets her a job as a singer, starts her radio career, puts her into the Ziegfeld Follies and brings her Hollywood to star in the movies. And then there is Johnny (Cameron Mitchell), a pianist, who was interested in Ruth. Now he is a Hollywood conductor - and Ruth is going to work with him. What will Marty do about that?

  • James Cagney asked for Doris Day to do the female lead in this film - they had worked together previously on WESTPOINT STORY (1950). LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is the only film he - as a star - accepted second billing - he thought Ruth Etting was the central character in this film and Doris Day should be payed with a top billing for her work - and he sure was right about that.
  • Joe Pasternack who produced LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME has a short and uncredited cameo as a producer.
  • Ruth Etting wanted Jane Powell to be in the female lead - but the studio didn't to put cute Miss Powell into a Nightclub scenery..
  • You may know Harry Bellaver (Georgie) as Det. Frank Acaro from TV-series NAKED CITY (1958-63) or from ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939) from THE THIN MAN SERIES where he played "Creeps" Binder - you may remember the baby party? Sometimes I get the feeling that you could relate almost any classic film to one of the THIN MAN SERIES.. ;")
  • Jane Russell was asked to do the Ruth Etting character - but she refused.
  • Veda Ann Borg has an uncredited appearance as dance hall hostess.
  • Doris Day wrote later that she first did not want to take this role, because of it's vulgarity. After the film-release she received many fan letters which were not so polite about her playing such a dislikeable person. She answered every letter herself and declared that there was an difference between herself and her roles. In my opinion it is commandable that she did that.
  • The German titles for this film are NACHTCLUB-AFFÄREN (lit.: "Nightclub affairs") and TYRANNISCHE LIEBE (lit. "Tyrannic Love").
  • MGM's favoured Ava Gardner to play Doris Day's part - but she refused, accordingly because she did not want to be dubbed again.
  • Ruth Etting later stated that she never worked as a taxi-dancer.
  • James Cagney said that this film would be - out of all his films - in his top five.
  • According to Doris Day most of the more violent scenes between James Cangey and her were cut out.

Scene to see:

Every scene between Doris Day and James Cagney is most exquisite but to choose one: The fighting scene after the Ziegfeld show which ends in a (faded out) rape. Doris Day and James Cagney did brilliant fight scenes!!

See the beauty in it:

The blue dress Doris Day changes in after her first Ziegfeld number – the colour is amazing!

Murphy’s Law:

  • The clothes and cars aren’t always true to the era.
  • The Ziegfeld Follies NEVER billed any performers name over the show title.

Sing a song:

My favourite song is “10 cents a dance” – but there are several very good songs in this movie, like: “Shakin’ the blues away”, "Stay on the right sight, sister" and many more.

Here you have the real Ruth Etting singing for you:

Quotes Corner:

“I’m what make you tick. Don’t you ever forget that!”

I think this is one of the films Groucho Marx was referring to when he stated that he knew Doris Day “before she became a virgin.” ;”)
This film contains two of my all-time favourite actors: Doris Day (who I also appreciate as a truly gifted singer) and James Cagney. In my opinion Doris Day is a marvelous actress who is at her best when she gets the chance to act in a more dramatic role. James Cagney is indeed doing a thing that he was always good in: the gangster. I am feeling somewhat sorry for Marty who has the saddest part in this film’s trio. Though as a teenager I was fallen for Uncle Buck of HIGH CHAPARELL and I do like Cameron Mitchell – I think it wouldn’t have hurt the film when he was changed against any other young handsome actor. I don’t have a candidate for that on hand but I have not the feeling that he is putting something extremely special into this role – but to be fair: that would have been an enormous task to any actor opposite these two stars. ;”)

“You can put it down that I got the greatest respect for Miss Etting as an artist.”

The End? Wait and watch.

Yours (well and) truly

Frl. Irene

Friday, 3 December 2010

"A jester unemployed is nobody's fool"

Written, produced and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama came a movie into the film theaters which was the most expensive at that time ($4 Mio.) and did not at all paid out at the box offices ($2.2 Mio). Though it should become a favourite on TV: THE COURT JESTER (1956).

In a nutshell

King Roderick (Cecil Parker) has unrightful took possession of the throne. But one member of the true royal family has survived: it is a little baby boy, who Hawkins (Danny Kaye) - a ex-carnival artist - takes care of. Hawkins belongs to a gang of rebels lead by The Black Fox (Edward Ashley), who wants to put back the real king on the throne. When Hawkins and Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) - who are in love with each other - are on their way to bring the baby king into safety they meet famous court jester Giacomo (John Carradine).

Hawkins takes Giacomo's place to dispossess the king - but what he did not know: Giacomo is also an infamous assassin who was engaged by the king's mean minister Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) who fears to loose his power. And then there is King Roderick's daughter Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury) who dreams of a romantic lover to abduct her from the court and she browbeats her lady's companion Griselda (Mildred Natwick), who is able to use magic to get her such a hero - and who do you think Griselda will choose?

Watch out for:

The fighting scene bewtween Ravenhurst and Hawkins - this scene also bears a little reminiscence of Basil Rathbone's famous final fighting scene with Tyrone Power, jr. in THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) - the candles!!

You should always watch carefully when Basil Rathbone is fencing: He was one of the best sword fighters in Hollywood and he was still great though he was in his 60ies and they had to double him in one scene because Danny Kaye - at an age of 42 - was a bit too bursting with energy and not that professional which means he was a bit dangerous for his combatant..


  • Danny Kaye received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor - Comedy/Musical.
  • Glynis Johns is best-known as Mrs. Banks in Disney's MARY POPPINS (1964).
  • The high speed marching maneuvers ("yay verily yay") was done by an U.S. Civil War reenactment group.
  • Mildred Natwick is maybe best-known as Miss Ivy Gravely in Alfred Hitchcock's THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955).
  • When Hawkins/Giacomo is talking German he says: "What have you.." and than starts bubbling unintelligibly. In the German version at this point he "talks" Danish.
  • John Carradine is the father of Chris, David (whose death body was found in a most ungraceful pose last year), Keith and Robert Carradine.
  • The song "The maladjusted jester" was written by Sylvia Fine, who was Mrs. Danny Kaye. The other songs she wrote in cooperation with Sammy Cahn.
  • For the German version Danny Kaye was dubbed - like he mostly was - by Georg Thomalla, who also dubbed Jack Lemmon in almost every German release of his films.
  • Danny Kaye had to wear "leg falsies" so that his legs would look more thewy - which makes it much more funny that Hawkins (under the spell of Griselda) offers Gwendolyn amongst other things his "legs and calves".
My favourite character:
I love Griselda - she is awesome. I am a big fan of Mildred Nastwick. It's always great when she appears. And I also like Sir Griswold (Robert Middleton) very much. But I got to confess that I love the whole cast! They're marvellous!!

Scene to see:

The famous "the vessel with the pestle"-scene! Not my favourite one - but the one every one will recognize and Danny Kaye's daughter Dena later stated that when her father was in public people often came to him and recite the whole speech. Look for yourself:

Quotes corner:

"Who are we to say nay to miracles?"

This picture, which you could also take as Robin Hood parody - even Basil Rathbone does a version of Sir Guy of Gisbourne - is just fun to watch. There some of my favourite actors/actresses in this film: Glynis Johns, to whom I fell in love as a kid, when she appeared in MARY POPPINS (my first suffragette!), Basil Rathbone - elegant and malicious -, Danny Kaye, Angela Lansbury and Mildred Nastwick..

Though you can watch it with children of any age I find some scene quite sexy. Don't fear: nothing to corrupt any character. ;")

When I was a kid we often watched this film around christmas season, that way it became a holiday film for me without any direct connections to the season. Do you have some "traditional holiday films" like that?

"The real king is on the throne, Jean is my very own..."

The End? Wait and watch!

Yours (well and) truly,

Frl. Irene