Norma Shearer wasn’t known as the Queen of MGM without reason. Before she married the studio’s head of production, Irving Thalberg, she had proven herself as a talented actress in her own right. Undeterred by criticism and rejection, she clawed her way into a successful career through sheer determination, persistence and discipline. Before Madonna, Shearer was a pioneer in reinventing her image. She was a woman who didn’t take no for an answer and who refused to let anyone else shape her public image. Sadly, she is not as well known today as other classic Hollywood film stars, which is a real shame. Because she is a powerful female role model even now, despite the misconception that she rode her husband’s coat tails to success.
Robert Montgomery has always been one of my favorite actors. His early years of comfort followed by loss gave him the strength and emotional tools needed to make a good actor. Montgomery has never been listed among the acting greats. I believe part of the reason he is excluded from that club is the lack of great parts that really allow him to shine. We see glimpses of it in his films The Big House, The Night Must Fall, They Were Expendable among others. But no one can deny that he was a solid, dependable, capable actor who played opposite some of the greatest leading ladies of the day. Continue reading “Dynamic Duos Blogathon -Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery.”
Jerry and Lucy Warriner are a happily married society couple. Or so they think. A misunderstanding causes an argument which leads Lucy to file for divorce. The judge grants them a divorce decree, but it is ninety days until it is final. While in court, the only point of contention which arises is who will receive custody of their beloved dog, Mr. Smith. The judge awards custody to Lucy but gives Jerry visitation rights. This provides Jerry and Lucy many instances to find themselves in each other’s company.
Urged by her aunt to move on, Lucy begins dating Daniel Leeson, a wealthy rancher from Oklahoma. Jerry’s jealousy rears its’ ugly head (again). He uses his visitation rights with Mr. Smith to disrupt Lucy’s new relationship, planting doubts in both her and Daniel’s mind.
After an embarrassing scene in which Jerry thinks he will catch Lucy with the man he suspected her of having an affair with, Jerry finally learns the truth of his wife’s faithfulness. Hat in hand, he realizes his error and apologizes, just as Lucy realizes she still loves her husband. But when he finds the man hiding in her bedroom, his suspicions are re-confirmed and he finally decides to move on.However, Lucy will not allow Jerry to be rid of her that easily. The tables turn and it becomes her turn to meddle in her soon to be ex’s promising new relationship. Will Jerry and Lucy reconcile before their ninety days are up?
To read the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.
Following a tenuous reconciliation, Amory Ames and her husband Milo arrive in London. An old family friend invites them to dinner with the hopes that Amory can solve the mystery of some missing jewelry.
However, the night they put their plan into action at a masked ball, her friend’s nephew is found dead with pieces of the missing jewelry in his pocket. Unwittingly, Amory finds herself right in the middle of another murder investigation. But that isn’t the only surprise. When the police investigator comes to interview her, she meets a familiar face from her first murder case.
In the meantime, Amory and Milo are still finding their footing in their newly restored marriage. But past hurts and doubts arise when an incriminating photo of Milo is published in the newspaper. Amory once again finds herself questioning whether she can trust the man she loves. At the same time she is pursued by another charming, wealthy man while also trying to solve two linked crimes. Continue reading “Book Review -Death Wears a Mask”
When Amory Ames family friend and ex-fiancé Gil shows up at her home asking for help, Amory agrees. Gil hopes that Amory will be able to sway his sister Emmeline from making a bad marriage. He believes Amory’s own experience in marrying for love only to be disappointed might be the voice of reason Emmeline needs.
Amory accompanies Gil to the seaside resort of Brightwell. Here they meet up with Emmeline, her fiancé, and a host of other acquaintances. Amory’s straightforward task turns into much more when a member of their party turns up dead. Matters are further complicated when her estranged husband Milo makes an unexpected appearance at the Brightwell. Not only is Amory torn between two men she has loved, but she also can’t seem to keep her nose out the murder investigation. It’s a toss up which is more dangerous for Amory, looking for a killer or dealing with matters of her heart. Continue reading “Book Review -Murder at the Brightwell”
Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is politically unknown when the governor of his state appoints him as a new senator. The governor’s powerful political backer Mr. Taylor(Edward Arnold) demands he appoint someone more amenable to their graft scheme, but Governor Hopper defies him at the behest of his sons, who sing Jeff’s praises. It turns out Jeff Smith is beloved, thanks to his work with the Boy Rangers and well respected by those who know him.
Jeff is honored and then humbled when he learns of his appointment. And even more so when he discovers that he will be working with his state’s other senator, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), an old and revered friend of his late father’s. Continue reading “Inspirational Heroes -Jefferson Smith of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Johnny Case is a self-made man who has been working since he was a child. On his first vacation in years, he meets and becomes engaged to the beautiful Julia Seton. Johnny is thrilled to have met a woman who he believes shares the same outlook on life as he does. Upon his return, he boasts of his luck to his good friends the Potters, before going to meet Julia’s family.
He is surprised when the taxi delivers him to a Fifth Avenue mansion. Thinking Julia must be employed by the owners, he goes to the back entrance. He experiences a further shock when he discovers that his new fiancée is one of THOSE Setons. Fabulously wealthy, socially connected, even their servants are haughty.
Johnny meets a kindred spirit in Julia’s older sister. Linda is chafing against the expectations and strictures of wealth and family expectation. She is thrilled with Julia’s choice of husband and offers her support for the couple in the face of Mr. Seton’s displeasure over their match.
Johnny and Julia wish to quickly tie the knot. But it doesn’t take much time to discover that Julia sees the world more like her rigid class-conscious father than her free-spirited fiancé. When Johnny expresses his desire to take time off to discover the meaning of life, things come to a head.
To read my full review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
Star of Midnight SUMMARY
When a friend approaches attorney Clay Dalzell requesting his help in finding a missing young woman, Dal reluctantly agrees. Before this amateur detective can even begin, long time friend and wannbe girlfriend Donna Mantin also requests his help retrieving some incriminating letters from a local gangster. That same evening a masked actress disappears from the theater after being recognized and Dal’s friend is shot in Dal’s apartment.
Dal must try to piece together the various puzzle pieces of these seemingly unconnected events while also fending off Donna’s amorous advances. But Dal is more accommodating towards Donna’s sleuthing efforts and allows her to help him investigate. No sooner do they discover a clue, but it turns up more questions. Will Dal and Donna crack this case or will it crack them? Continue reading “Classic Film Review -Star of Midnight (1935)”
Unlike in real life, in the cinematic world, thieves are usually lovable rogues thanks to their charm, intelligence and ingenuity. I blame Ernst Lubitsch. Long before we knew the names of John Robie, Thomas Crown or Danny Ocean, Lubitsch introduced us to the ideal image of a suave international thief in Trouble in Paradise.
Our first introduction to Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) comes just after a wealthy guest in a Venetian hotel has been robbed of 20,000 francs. Gaston, masquerading as a Baron, waits in a nearby hotel room for his dinner date, instructing a waiter on how to arrange the dinner. Before leaving to complete his instructions, the waiter picks a leaf off of Gaston’s dinner jacket. This is our first clue that Gaston is not all he seems.
Cue the arrival of Lily (Miriam Hopkins), a glamorous blonde claiming the title of Countess. She enters bemoaning the gossip of her peers, which will soon disclose her private dinner date with the Baron. But Lily is not what she appears to be either. Over dinner, the two confront each other over their real identities while also preening with pride over their skills as they reveal what they have stolen from each other. However, it’s not just wallets, watches and garters which are stolen this night, but hearts. It seems light fingers serve as an aphrodisiac. Gaston and Lily are instantly smitten. Continue reading “It Takes a Thief Blogathon -Trouble in Paradise (1932)”
Not only are Stephen (Lionel Barrymore) and Jan Ashe (Norma Shearer) father and daughter, but they comprise a team of two against the world. Stephen has raised his daughter to think for herself, stand on her own two feet and to live free of the trappings of his high society family.
Stephen’s work as a criminal defense attorney introduces the independent Jan to gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable). Their instant attraction causes Jan to end her engagement to her long-suffering and faithful fiancé Dwight Winthrop (Leslie Howard). Jan’s obsession with Ace blinds her to his true character. But even still she keeps their relationship hidden from her father. When Ace pushes for marriage, Jan balks. But her hand is forced when her drunken father finds her in Ace’s apartment late one night.
Jan’s shame is only outweighed by her concern for her father. She strikes a bargain with him that she will stop seeing Ace if he will quit drinking. She is scared that he is close to ruining not only his career, but his life with his addiction to alcohol. Stephen very reluctantly agrees. Will father and daughter be able to keep their bargain or will their individual addictions ruin their lives? Continue reading “Clark Gable Blogathon – A Free Soul (1931)”
Drew Farthering is fresh off the success of solving the murder of his mother and step-father. During which time he met Madeline the woman of his dreams. Now that the tragedy is behind them, he is attempting to convince his American girlfriend to settle down in England and marry him. Though she loves Drew, she asks for more time to make such an important decision.
Unfortunately circumstances intervene in the arrival of Madeline’s prickly Aunt Ruth. She is determined to drag her niece back to Chicago, away from the man she views as an insincere playboy. And then of course, there is the added interruption of the murder of Drew’s family attorney.
Thanks to Drew’s keen eye and nimble mind, the local police detective invites Drew’s help in solving this latest crime. Drew is unprepared for how involved he will actually become. More murder victims keep appearing with seemingly no apparent connection to each other other than hatpins stuck through notes left on the victim’s chests. Even more disturbing is that these crimes continue to move closer and closer in proximity to Drew’s family home and the village of Farthering St. John. Will this amateur sleuth solve this mystery before the murderer strikes again? Or was his first success just luck? Even more importantly, will Drew be able to win over Madeline’s Aunt Ruth before she talks her niece into leaving England and Drew for good?
Continue reading “Book Review -Death by the Book”