Broadway Melody of 1936, 1935, Is Playing on TCM on September 4 (USA)

Broadway Melody of 1936, 1935, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, September 4 at 6:00 a.m. est.

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Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell, Jack Benny, Una Merkel. June Knight, Buddy Ebsen, Vilma Ebsen.

Broadway Melody of 1936 is a confection of a movie, meant to sweeten the lives of Depression weary Americans. It stars the unlikely triumvirate of Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor. The plot is flimsy, involving the parallel efforts of a columnist (Benny) trying to save his career, a Broadway producer (Taylor) trying to find a star for his new show and a dancer (Powell) trying to get her big break on Broadway.

All this is secondary to the wonderful songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed: “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’”; “Broadway Rhythm”; “You Are My Lucky Star”; “On a Sunday Afternoon”;” Sing Before Breakfast.” The production numbers for each song range from clever to spectacular. “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin” is sung by Taylor and New York actress June Knight. The special effects are a delight, especially as they are done so long before CGI.

Powell proves, as always, that she is unmatched as a dancer—her energy, grace and strength are a marvel. She dances solo, with Buddy and Vilma Ebsen, with Nick Long, Jr. and with huge choruses.

Nor can the acting be faulted. Jack Benny is excellent as the gossip-obsessed wise-cracking and scheming columnist. Robert Taylor is remarkably poised and mature for his years (24) and even has a nice singing voice. The second banana roles are filled admirably by Sid Silvers and Una Merkel. If Powell and Knight are less impressive when their feet are still, it doesn’t matter—their dancing more than redeems them.

Broadway Melody of 1936 was a high budget, high gloss, pull out all the stops, MGM production. No expense was spared for the costumes, sets, choreography or photography. The direction by Roy del Ruth is crisp and effective. We could use more films like this in our own difficult times. Review by me for the IMDB.

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Robert Taylor and June Knight filmed a dance sequence for Broadway Melody of 1936 that did not appear in the final film.  These pictures are all that is left.

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Some behind the scenes photos:

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June Knight, Robert Taylor
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Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell
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Waterloo Bridge, 1940, Is Playing on TCM on August 27 (USA)

Waterloo Bridge, 1940, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, August 27 at Midnight est.

This was both Robert Taylor’s and Vivien Leigh’s favorite film.  Waterloo Bridge cost  $1,164,000.00 to make and made a profit of  $491,000.00.

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Robert Taylor was an inspired choice for the role… Not only does he have an imposing screen presence, but he brings the perfect mix of enlightenment, humor, compassion and emotion to the part…

Opposite him, Oscar Winner Vivien Leigh, perfect in her innocent lovely look, radiantly beautiful, specially that evening in a trailing white chiffon gown… Leigh floods her role with personal emotion giving her character a charismatic life of its own… As a great star, she delivers a heartfelt performance turning her character into a woman who undergoes an emotional awakening…

In this sensitive motion picture, Mervyn LeRoy captures all the tenderness and moving qualities… He makes every small thing eloquent, concentrating the highly skilled efforts of many technicians on the telling of a very simple bittersweet love story… Vivien Leigh paints a picture that few men will be able to resist… Her performance captures the audience to the point of complete absorption… Robert Taylor (carrying sympathy all the way) quietly throws all his vitality as an ambitious actor into the task… Their film, a credit to both, is a heavily sentimental tale about the vagaries of wartime…

Love is the only thing this movie is about… The story is simple: Myra Lester (Leigh) is a frail creature, an innocent young ballet dancer and Roy Cronin (Taylor) is an aristocratic British army officer… When their eyes met it took no time at all for their hearts to feel the loving call… They meet on London’s Waterloo Bridge during an air raid, and fall deeply in love… Their romance is sublime, and they soon agree to marry…

The lover’s marriage has to be postponed when the handsome officer is suddenly called to the front… Sadly, the sweet ballerina misses her performance to see her captain off at Waterloo Station… Fired from the troupe, she is joined by her loyal friend, Virginia Field (Kitty Meredith), and the two vainly try to find work, finally sinking into poverty and the threatening fear that goes with it…

The film is replete with beautiful and poignant scenes, specially the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ waltz scene in the Candlelight Club, before Taylor leaves for France…

Seen today, Waterloo Bridge has retained all its charm and power, all its rich sentiment, and tragic evocations…  Review by Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico for the IMDB.

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Some behind the scenes photos:

Mervyn LeRoy, Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor.
With Olivia deHavilland.
Helping a lady out.
circa 1940: British actors Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) and Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) entertaining millionaire Sir Victor Sassoon on the set of ‘Waterloo Bridge’, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer film in which Leigh is currently starring. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Mr. Taylor, Mr. LeRoy, Ms. Leigh.

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Camille, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on August 16 (USA)

Camille, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on Wednesday, August 16 at 12:30 p.m. est. This is the love story of all love stories and shouldn’t be missed.

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This film further proves that the assembly-line system of Hollywood studios back then should also be taken seriously in terms of artistry. Just because movies were produced run-of-the-mill doesn’t mean that they weren’t paid critical attention to by their makers. The usual impression on studio-era Hollywood is: take a formulaic narrative style, maybe adapt a stage play for the screen, blend in a handful of stars from the stable and the films rake in the profit at the box office. Not quite, that’s the easy perception. George Cukor, another of those versatile directors, made it apparent with Camille that filmmaking as an art may still flourish despite (and even within) certain parameters. Camille is beautiful, in so many respects. And it’s not just because of Greta Garbo.

Sure, the acting is amazing, the casting is perfect. Garbo is luminous, mysterious, cruel, and weak at the same time. Robert Taylor surrenders himself to be the heartbreakingly young and vulnerable Armand. Henry Daniell’s coldness and sadism is utterly human and familiar. The others are just plain wonderful. The writing contains so much wit and humor, devotion and pain – but it never overstates anything. The rapport and tensions between lovers, friends, and enemies are palpable and consistent. The actions flow so naturally, just like every scene, that checking for historical inconsistencies seem far beside the point.

There is so much that I love about Camille that it’s hard to enumerate them all, but with every little discovery comes the realization that this is “but” a studio production, so it makes the experience more exquisite. Camille is a gentle, poignant romantic movie that, like Garbo, takes its place delicately and self-effacingly in the history of American cinema, but makes itself indelible in the heart and mind of the lovelorn individual viewer. Review by tsarevna for the IMDb

Behind the scenes photos from Camille: The heavy set man in several pictures is Director George Cukor.

He also plays baseball-in costume on the set.
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Making Marguerite’s dresses:

1936: A dressmaker working on one of Greta Garbo’s dresses for the MGM film ‘Camille’ which were designed by Adrian. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1936: Seamstresses at work cutting and sewing a dress to be worn by actress Greta Garbo in the film ‘Camille’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1936: Seamstresses working on a dress to be worn by Greta Garbo in the MGM film ‘Camille’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Apology

To the followers of this blog, please accept my apology for not keeping up to date with Robert Taylor movies on TCM. Unfortunately, visiting friends in Maine, I fell and fractured my hip. I was in the hospital for five days before flying back to Florida. Everything you’ve heard about airline travel today is true. My flight was delayed for four hours and then had to fly from New Hampshire to Orlando via Cincinnati. It added an hour to the flight.

Anyhow, I am just now beginning to catch up. I’ve received a treasure of Taylor materials from my friend and fellow fan in Australia and will be sharing them as I can.

Thanks for understanding. Judith

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Robert Taylor on Garbo

The following is from the book Garbo by Robert Gottlieb. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021, pp. 385-386 and 419.

Camille, 1936

There’s something about Garbo’s silences and her concentration that gets you, way down inside. The woman is one of the most powerful personalities in the world. She wears a kind of flat colorless make-up that gives you a suggestion of something out of this world. . . There’s a kind of radiation from her when you’re playing an intense scene that makes you play up to it, whether you have the stuff in you or not. She simply makes you find it and give.

Also: She thought with her eyes, photographically. The muscles in her face would not move, and yet her eyes would express exactly what she needed. Working with her was perhaps my greatest acting lesson, though I probably didn’t learn enough from it.

Camille cost $1, 486,000 to make. It brought in $2,842,000 with a profit of $388,000, or $8,212,000 in 2022 dollars.

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