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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Small Town Girl, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on June 6 (USA)

Small Town Girl, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, June 6 at 12 noon

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Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor

For most of her career Janet Gaynor did nothing but play small town girls, the best known being Esther Blodgett. But I’ve seen her in films like State Fair and Three Loves Has Nancy and it’s the same part, the girl from the tiny hamlet who conquers the big city and the men in it. With a title like this, there was only one casting possibility.

Janet’s a girl who’s thoroughly stuck in a rut in her New England hamlet and yearns for a little adventure. She finds it in the person of Robert Taylor, a young doctor who comes from a wealthy Boston family. After a night’s carousing Gaynor and Taylor are married, to the chagrin of his fiancée, Binnie Barnes and her boyfriend James Stewart.

Remember this is Boston so Taylor’s father Lewis Stone prevails on Taylor to give the marriage a few months trial. Of course this is where the balance of the story comes in. In many ways this plot seems like a harbinger of The Way We Were.

Taylor’s career was now in full swing as Small Town Girl was the next film after his breakout performance in Magnificent Obsession. Remember in that film he was a playboy who became a doctor. Here’s he’s a doctor who doubles as a playboy. Never mind though, feminine hearts all over the English speaking world were fluttering over MGM’s latest heartthrob. My mother who was a juvenile at this time told me that Taylor’s appeal back in these days was just about the same as Elvis’s.

James Stewart was at the beginning of his career as well as MGM had him in about seven features in 1936, mostly in support. Interesting though with worse career management, he could have gone on playing hick roles like Elmer the boyfriend. But it was also obvious there was a spark of stardom with him as well.

Gaynor would leave the screen a few years later, Taylor was at the beginning of his career. He’d have better acting roles in his future, but for now Small Town Girl is a great example of the screen heartthrob he was at the beginning of his stardom. Fans of both stars will like what they see in Small Town Girl. Review by bkoganbing from Buffalo, NewYork

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Taylor has Gaynor upside-down.

Some behind-the-scenes photos:

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Top to bottom: Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor taking a break on the set; filming a scene; Taylor and Gaynor with singer Frances Langford.

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Broadway Melody of 1938, 1937, Is Playing on TCM on June 3 (USA)

Broadway Melody of 1938, 1937, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, June3 at 3 p.m. est   The film cost $1,588,000 and made a profit of $271,000 or $4,609,188.57 in today’s money. 

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Broadway Melody of 1938 is one of those pure escapist type films that folks in the Thirties paid their money to see. It’s a nice film combining both a backstage and a racetrack story with one of the most eclectic casts ever assembled for a film.

What can you say when you’ve got dancing covered by Eleanor Powell, George Murphy and Buddy Ebsen, the varied singing styles of Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, and Igor Gorin and such incredible character actors as Raymond Walburn, Charley Grapewin, Billy Gilbert, and Robert Benchley. All of them such great performers and such vivid personalities there’s no way that the film could be bad.

Almost lost in the shuffle are Robert Taylor and Binnie Barnes who don’t sing or dance and aren’t colorful. But Binnie Barnes is one fine actress and she’s the villain of the piece as Raymond Walburn’s wife who was once part of the chorus, but wants not to be reminded of from where she came. She’s jealous of Eleanor Powell and has a thing for Taylor, As did half the young women in America in 1937. Though the part doesn’t call for any kind of real acting, Robert Taylor shows every bit as to why he was such a screen heart throb that year. He’s the nice guy producer/director who gets caught in a crunch between his financial backer Raymond Walburn and his wife and the girl of his dreams, Eleanor Powell. Walburn is in the role that Guy Kibbee had in 42nd Street and he does it well with his own avuncular touches.

Powell is not just an ambitious hoofer as are Ebsen and Murphy. She’s also the owner of race horse upon whose performance everyone’s future eventually rides. Just how the racetrack and backstage are woven into the same plot you have to see the film for.

Vocal highlights are provided by Judy Garland who sings her famous Dear Mr. Gable version of that old Al Jolson song, You Made Me Love You. She also sings Everybody Sing which is a number I personally like a whole lot better. Honest Indian.

Sophie Tucker is her mother who owns and operates a theatrical boarding house where half the cast lives. She’s an old trooper herself and of course she gets to sing her famous theme, Some of These Days.

Other material that the MGM songwriting team of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown did not provide for this film are a couple operatic arias sung by the great concert singer Igor Gorin. He sings Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville and the Toreador Song from Carmen. I’d venture a guess that Louis B. Mayer signed Gorin for this as an effort to keep his other two singers Nelson Eddy and Allan Jones in line. In fact Eddy and Mayer did not get along and Jones would be leaving MGM the following year. Gorin is in fine voice, but did not have much screen presence and has very few spoken lines. I don’t think that was an accident.

Broadway Melody of 1938 is one of MGM’s best musicals from the Thirties and how can you not like a film with as much talent as this one is loaded with.   Review by bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York for the IMDb.

Some behind the scenes photos:

Edward G. Robinson, Sophie Tucker, Robert Taylor

Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor

Some of the Above Are George Murphy, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Vilma Ebsen, Buddy Ebsen

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