The Youngest Profession, 1943, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on May 25 at 6:45 a.m. est. Strictly speaking, this isn’t a Robert Taylor movie but it’s fun and he does appear in it.
Jean Porter and Robert Taylor
Virginia Weidler and Jean Porter are part of a young girls’ fan club of the stars who collect their autographs. In fact, Virginia is the president of the club, who outlines the rules and lengths one must go through to get the most famous and desired John Hancocks. They must live in a big city like New York, because how else could they come across celebrities like Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, and Robert Taylor! All these make brief appearances, plus another of whom Virginia has a crush on, but, while we get to see him, she never does, in a clever way of closing the film. But, we begin the film in Hollywood, as Lana Turner is dictating a response to a fan’s letter, one that they call a very gracious letter. And, Lana calls the young stargazers “the youngest profession.” The plot revolves around the escapades they go on to get their target and the appeal of the film is just how star-crazy they really are. Jean Porter is a hoot as she goes all agog over Walter Pidgeon and Robert Taylor. I’m surprised to see the low rating of this film, because it was a very funny film and I had a blast. Maybe it seemed rather trivial to everyone else, but sometimes the simpleness of a film is what makes it so enjoyable and laid-back. I do admit though that the humor was not very subtle as most of the characters here get really loud and outrageous, including child actor Scotty Beckett as Virginia’s brother. Another plus is the presence and performance of Edward Arnold as Virginia’s father, who through no fault of his own, is thought to be straying with his secretary. But that is encouraged by character actress Agnes Moorehead. If you want an old-fashioned and very funny film, then hang out with those of The Youngest Profession. Review by allaboutlana for the IMDb.
High Wall, 1947, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, May 16 at 3:15 p.m. I highly recommend this film. Robert Taylor is playing totally against type as an injured war veteran who has a haematoma on his brain that is causing him to act irrationally. This is so far from the glamorous Taylor we know and love and demonstrates his amazing range as an actor.
High Wall is a departure for Robert Taylor. In the 30’s he portrayed mostly handsome society boys. In 1941 he toughened up his image with Johnny Eager. This is an entirely different path. The lead character, Steven Kenet, has returned from a job flying freight in Asia after his service in WW II. He’s eager to see his wife and displeased to find out she has a job. Kenet is even more displeased when he discovers she is having an affair with her boss. To complicate matters, he has a brain injury and is suffering blackouts and other symptoms. Seeing his wife in her lover’s apartment triggers rage and violence. The wife is dead and Kenet is the only suspect. He confesses and is committed to a mental institution for psychiatric evaluation. The unique thing about the film to me is Taylor’s ability to play vulnerability. Kenet is neither a pretty boy nor a villain. He is a man in torment.
Taylor uses his shoulders beautifully to portray hopelessness. They droop in the scenes where the character is locked in solitary confinement. After his operation they are straight. The confusion on his face when he’s offered an opportunity to see his son at the hospital is masterful as he passes through a range of emotions moving from delight to doubt to anger to confusion. There is a remarkable sequence in which Kenet is dragged off after attacking a visitor. Taylor’s body positions change constantly–this is hardly the “wooden” acting for which he is so often condemned. Another great sequence is his walk up the stairs at the end to see his son. Kenet’s face radiates joy. The camera work is stylish and the chiaroscuro is masterful. This movie was apparently not well received in its time probably because it isn’t the “Robert Taylor” people expected and it is largely forgotten now. It deserves to be remembered. Review by me for the IMDb.
Conspirator, 1949, is rarely shown on TV. It will show on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, May 15 at 8:00 a.m. This is the first film Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor made together.
Most of the anti-Communist films of the 1940s – 1950s are crap. No doubt about that. Thrown together they had preposterous plots emanating from the Kremlin to sap our national resources or strength. For example one film has Lee Marvin heading a major atomic spy ring outside a missile range from a hamburger/hash stand! The best films of the period dealing with communist threats were the science fiction films like The Thing or Them wherein the monster was a symbol for the threat to Americans (from an “alien” source). Occasionally a semi-documentary might attract attention, but not much.
Oddly enough this early movie was somewhat above average. First it correctly looked at our wartime friend and partner England as a possible source of leakage. This turned out to be somewhat true (but the Rosenberg Case would soon show homegrown spy rings existed as well). Secondly it showed something usually ignored or rendered minor in most of these films. Here it is developed into the issue: who are you going to show greater loyalty to, the Communist Party or your naive spouse?
What I really like about Conspirator is that Robert Taylor plays the central figure. He had tackled a few ambiguous characters before World War II, most notably William Bonney in Billy the Kid (but that screenplay, like Darryl Zanuck’s film of Jessie James, whitewashed a great deal of the bad out of the central character). But after the war MGM treated Taylor (now a seasoned leading star of theirs) to a wider variety of parts, including more villainous characters. Think of him in the somewhat earlier Undercurrent with Kate Hepburn and Robert Mitchum. Both of these films could not have been made with Taylor in the 1930s.
I also sort of enjoy the idea that Taylor, a friendly [No-this has been disproved, see my posts here under HUAC], but sincere witness for the H.U.A.C subcommittee against Communist infiltration into the movie industry actually did this film. It is his only chance to show what he thought of a Communist agent, and his interpretation (and the screenplay’s) show he saw them as naive fools.
Also it is the first time in his career that Taylor starred with the only female star of his rank with the same last name: Elizabeth Taylor. Just leaving such films as National Velvet,Little Women and Life with Father, she finally came of age here as a young bride. In some ways I have always felt that Ms Taylor’s glorious beauty was at a pristine height in films of the early 1950s like this one or Father of the Bride. Here she is in love with her dashing wartime hero husband, whom she gradually realizes is not as heroic (for England) as she thought (though he would disagree – witness his scene telling her about how he has joined one of the great causes of all time!).
The film follows their courtship, their marriage, and the discovery of his treason by her. The issue of course is whether or not he will be turned in by her, or will he love her enough to withstand pressure by his Kremlin bosses to (errr)…eradicate his error totally.
The film (as mentioned in another recent review) is above average. Taylor does play this English “Col. Redl” (of an earlier war, in a different country – but serving another Russia) as a man torn apart, but refusing to acknowledge his error of judgment. In fact his final decision puts to stop to any type of acknowledgment. The one flaw in this film is similar to the later, wretched Rogue’s March with Peter Lawford and Leo G. Carroll. The omnipotence of the British Secret Service in ferreting out traitors is shown at the tale-end. I may add that in 1949 that Secret Service (MR5) contained such “patriots” as Burgess, McClean, and Philby. Yeah they really would have been watching Taylor closely! Review by Theo Winthrop for the IMDb, 2009.
Knights of the Round Table, 1953, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, March 21 at 10:00 a.m. est.
The film was highly successful costing $2,616,000.00 and making a profit of $1,641,000.00 or about $14,536,985.95 in today’s money.
This is a fine example of ’50’s style epics. Big name cast, colorful costumes, flashy swordplay, beautiful damsels and wild inaccuracies. The great Robert Taylor, who starred in several historical movies, is the honorable Sir Lancelot, a far more noble and pure portrayal than was recorded in all the legends, Ava Gardner is the stunningly beautiful Queen Guinevere, the ever dependable Felix Aylmer is the mysterious Merlin, Mel Ferer is a somewhat subdued and less than charismatic King Arthur. See it for the spectacle, costumes, word-play filled dialog and over the top Stanley Baker as Sir Mordred. Lancelot’s joust with Niall Mac Ginnis is very well done. 8 stars for pure eye filling entertainment value. Review by Wayner50 (United States) for the IMDB.
Some behind the scenes photos:
Ivanhoe, 1952, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesay, March 21 at 12 noon est.
Ivanhoe was one of the most successful films of the year and brought in over $10 million at the box office, about $89,823,018.87 in 2015.
Wonderful movie! This film is an exciting adventure-romance which never once loses its pace or feel. Robert Taylor brings depth to a potentially dull lead character. Jean Fontaine is great as his love, the Lady Rowenna. Elizabeth Taylor, though, steals the show with her stunning portrayal of Rebecca of York! This film has aged very well and shows first-hand to a young generation just why Elizabeth Taylor was such a star.
Although this film is an extremely enjoyable adventure, it also has the guts to tackle some complicated issues and resolve them in a very non-Hollywood fashion. As Ivanhoe feels his love for the beautiful Rebecca grow will he defy convention and pursue the lovely Jewish girl or remain with the safe charms of the blond, Anglo-Saxon Rowena? The answer is intelligently handled and surprising. This film is one of the greatest examples of the classic adventure. Review by David Arbury for the IMDB
Broadway Melody of 1936, 1935, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, March 20 at 6:15 a.m. est.
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.
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.