Above and Beyond, 1952 Is Showing on TCM on December 3 (USA)

Above and Beyond, 1952 is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 a.m.  This is one of several roles for which Robert Taylor should have won an Oscar.  He was outstanding.

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Larry Keating and Robert Taylor
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Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker

Considering that  Above and Beyond was made during the height of the hysteria now known as McCarthyism, one would have expected a jingoistic flag-waver out of Hollywood. Instead, surprisingly, the screenplay as written allows the Paul Tibbets character (Robert Taylor) the opportunity to register a variety of emotions, in a most realistic and compelling performance.

This is ironic, seeing as the real Tibbets, decades after the event (the bombing of Hiroshima), is to this day unrepentant. Not to criticize his position in any way, because that was a different time and place, and it’s Tibbets’ view that he had a job to do, and the morality of it all, he has stated, is best debated by others.

But the film is all the more compelling because of the ambivalence written into the Tibbets character, and Taylor’s especially fine work. There are uniformly strong performances throughout the cast, notably those of Eleanor Parker (Lucy Tibbets), James Whitmore (the security officer) and Larry Keating (General Brent).

Another surprise: the team of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama (screenplay, direction) had been best known for their Bob Hope comedies, when under contract at Paramount. Their first dramatic effort was “Above and Beyond,” and they acquitted themselves admirably.

Final note: the musical score by Hugo Friedhofer is immensely satisfying: stirring in an emotional sense, with just a touch of, but not too much of, militaristic flavor.

Dore Schary, a Democrat, had succeeded fervent Republican Louis B. Mayer at MGM in 1951, and had encouraged the production of Above and Beyond. One wonders if (a) the film would have been made at all on Mayer’s watch, and (b) if it had, would it have been more of a cornball, John Wayne-type flag-waver. Thankfully, those questions are moot. “Above and Beyond” is a stirring, finely-crafted film. I would stress again the unusual nature of the protagonist’s ambivalence as portrayed in a film made during a very sensitive time in America’s history.  Review by Alan Rosenberg, Toronto, Canada for the imdb.

Note: I don’t agree with some of this reviewer’s comments but I thought the review is worth reading.  Judith

Some behind the scenes photos:

During the filming.
Robert Taylor on set.
Behind the camera.
Actor Robert Taylor, seated on a chest, entertains his colleagues Eleanor Parker, Ricardo Montalban, Jonathan Cott and James Whitmore during a break from shooting the movie ‘Above and Beyond’. USA, 1952. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)


Lunch.
Eleanor Parker and Robert Taylor signing autographs.
Behind the camera again.

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Flight Command, 1940, Is Playing Twice on TCM in December (USA)

December is a relatively rich month for Robert Taylor movies. I would be more specific but TCM has changed its monthly schedule so you can only look at the current month. You can, however, go a little ahead on the weekly schedule. The first showing is on Wednesday, December 2 at 4:15 p.m.. The second showing is on December 11 at 9:30 a.m. Closed captioning information is no longer available.

This is the film that got Robert Taylor hooked on flying.  Mr. Taylor started taking flying lessons right away.  His devotion to flying was so intense that Barbara Stanwyck, his wife, felt neglected.

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Lots of fun. Wells Root and Commander Harvey Haislip penned this screenplay from an original story Haislip also co-authored about an eager Naval Flight School cadet (Robert Taylor) in Pensacola flying solo out to Southern California to join Hellcat Fighters who have just lost one of their beloved teammates; he makes a colorful entrance (having to ditch his plane and parachute into the ocean because of fog!) and finds an early friend in a somewhat-emotional woman…the Skipper’s wife! Camaraderie between the pilots on the ground is enjoyably written and played, with Taylor’s charming self-assurance an interesting dynamic within the group (he isn’t cocky, he’s careful–though anxious to fit in). Subplot with Ruth Hussey’s lonesome wife is soapy yet surprisingly skillful, while the aerial maneuvers are nicely photographed. An extra bonus: Red Skelton as a joshing lieutenant…and Walter Pidgeon looking younger than I have ever seen him.  Review by monspinner55 on IMDB

Some more photos.  Ruth Hussey and Walter Pigeon appear in some of them:

photo by Clarence Bull
Actor Robert Taylor Posing by Airplane from Movie Scene
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Clarence Sinclair Bull
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The Magnificent Seven

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Nebraska’s Hollywood Cowboys and Indians by Alan J. Bartels For the full article go to Nebraska Life, July/August 2020 The road to superstardom began in southeast Nebraska for actor Robert Taylor. The native of Filley appeared in more than 80 … Continue reading

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A Yank at Oxford, 1938, Is Playing on TCM on November 24 (USA)

A Yank at Oxford, 1938, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, November 24 at 2:30 p.m. If they were only going to show one Taylor film in November, this is a good choice. Mr. Taylor is excellent as a cocky young American off to study at Oxford and eventually finds the goodness within himself.

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A Yank at Oxford is one of several films intended to “toughen up” Robert Taylor’s image after his success in a number of boudoir romances. Taylor plays Lee Sheridan, a college boy who has been spoiled rotten by his newspaper owner father, played by Lionel Barrymore. Father Sheridan’s habit of holding the presses for Lee’s latest athletic triumph has only contributed to the boy’s swollen head.

Despite his lack of academic focus, Taylor is offered a place at Oxford. Upon his arrival, he immediately encounters a group of his fellow students, who begin a campaign to humiliate him. He also meets the leading lady, Maureen O’Sullivan.

The rest of the delightful and humorous picture focuses on the relationships among three people: Taylor and O’Sullivan, boyfriend and girlfriend; Taylor and Griffith Jones, his leading tormentor; O’Sullivan and Jones, brother and sister. A nymphomaniac Vivien Leigh adds spice to the mix.

A Yank at Oxford allows Robert Taylor to show that he is not only a fine actor but also a fine athlete. Granted that the script specified that he would always win, Taylor is believable as a runner and as a rower. He can also swim.

O’Sullivan is a charming coed torn between her boyfriend and her loyalty to her brother. Jones and Taylor cover up for one other for different peccadilloes. They evolve from antagonists to teammates to friends. A remarkable scene that deserves special mention concerns the venerable English tradition of “debagging.”

The cast is uniformly good. Taylor looks and acts younger than his twenty-seven years. Jones is one of a fine contingent of British actors including Edmund Gwenn, Robert Coote and Edward Rigby. Lionel Barrymore shines as the older Sheridan. A pre-Scarlett Vivien Leigh is lovely and engaging.

A Yank at Oxford was MGM’s first British-made film. Jack Conway, the American director keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Harold Rosson’s photography has a newsreel-like immediacy. And Oxford, of course, looks wonderful. Review by me for the IMDB.

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Some behind the scenes photos:

At Home in England. RT, while appearing in MGM's British Studios' "A Yank at Oxford," made his home at a 15th centur farmhouse near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. There, when hehad any spare time, he lived the lifeof an English county squire.
At Home in England. Robert Taylor, while appearing in MGM’s British Studios’ “A Yank at Oxford,” made his home at a 15th century farmhouse near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. There, when he had any spare time, he lived the life of an English county squire.
Rt and Edmund Gwenn, seen here with Director Jack Conway, discussing a scene of MGM British Studios' "AYaO," in which Maureen O'Sullivan and Lionel have leading roles.
Robert Taylor and Edmund Gwenn, seen here with Director Jack Conway, discussing a scene of MGM British Studios’ “A Yank at Oxford,” in which Maureen O’Sullivan and Lionel Stander have leading roles.
Robert Taylor and British Sculling Champion Ted Phelps during the filming of "A Yank at"Oxford.
RT and British Sculling Champion Ted Phelps during the filming of “A Yank at”Oxford.
Director Jack Conway & producer Michael Balcon with Robert Taylor on the set of film "A Yank at Oxford" filming in England.
Director Jack Conway and producer Michael Balcon with Robert Taylor on set of film “A Yank at Oxford” filming in England.

A very cold dip in the Thames (or Isis as it’s called in Oxford).


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Personal Property, 1937, Is Playing on TCM on October 8 (USA)

Personal Property Is Playing on TCM on October 8 (USA)

Personal Property, 1937, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, October 8 at 4:45 p.m. est.  Closed captioned.

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Robert Taylor, Jean Harlow and Reginald Owen

I’m a sucker for this movie. I’ve watched it many times and never fail to enjoy the excellent visuals, the superior acting and just the general silliness of it all. Robert Taylor is wearing much too much makeup but looks great anyway, especially in the bathtub scene!  Harlow’s cough is real and is a sad reminder of her fatal disease. The hat “business” with the bailiff is truly charming as is Raymond’s reaction to the news that the bailiff is expecting a baby that night. The centerpiece is, of course, the dinner party. The superb timing by all the actors pulls off a series of sight gags (pepper in the cocktail, the over-filled wine glass, the missing dinner, the dressing). I especially like the interaction between Raymond and his mother. It seems so natural. Highly recommended.  Review I wrote for Amazon.com.

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Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor

Some behind the scenes photos: I’m sorry these photos are missing but Word Press has screwed everything up and I can’t put them in. Judith


Left to right: Ms. Harlow photographs Mr. Taylor; Mr. Taylor, Mara Shelton, script girl; Ms. Harlow, script girl; Mr. Taylor.  (The original caption says script girl.  I don’t know her name.)


Left to right: Henrietta Crossman, Mr. Taylor, director W.S. Van Dyke; Barnett Parker, Mr. Taylor, Ms. Crossman, E.E. Clive, Ms. Harlow, Reginald Owen, Ms. Shelton; Mr. Taylor, Ms. Shelton, Mr. Van Dyke, Ms. Harlow.


Left to right: Mr. Clive and Mr. Taylor; Mr. Taylor and Mr. Van Dyke; unknown, Mr. Taylor, photographer.


Left to right: Ms. Crossman, Mr. Gardner, Ms. Harlow; Ms. Harlow; Ms. Harlow, Una O’Connor, Forrester Harvey, Mr. Taylor.


Left to right: Mr. Van Dyke; Ms. Harlow; Mr. Taylor;  Mr. Van Dyke; Mr. Taylor; Mr. Van Dyke, Ms. Harlow, Mr. Taylor.

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