Bataan, 1943, Is Playing on TCM on July 20 (USA)

Bataan (1943) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, June 20 at 12 noon est.  Not closed captioned.  This is an extremely intense picture, made when nobody knew for sure how the war would end. Well worth watching.

RT7662This is one of the best war films of its era, and it is actually less anti-Japanese than many that came later, such as John Wayne’s Back to Bataan. But never forget the very real and common – and ubiquitous – Japanese atrocities, which they still are loathe to admit. Here, a small number of Americans are acting as a rear guard preventing the invading Japanese from driving south on Bataan in 1942. They have to blow a bridge and hold a ravine, and are subject to snipers, air attacks, and infantry assaults. It is superbly done with a great cast (Desi Arnaz was quite good too). Robert Taylor cast off forever his pretty boy image of the 1930’s with Garbo in his very tough portrayal of the sergeant.

RT4660

Lucy on the set of Bataan.

Most notably, Bataan stands out for perhaps the best and most violent hand-to-hand combat footage ever filmed, certainly the best of its era. Also, and often neglected in reviews, is that Bataan featured a fully INTEGRATED Army: a Jew, a black, an Hispanic, a Filipino, and so on. They were all treated equally and heroically. Bataan could not even be shown in parts of the South in the 1940’s due to this. Only two other movies of the WW II period featured a black fighting bravely – Sahara and Crash Dive, but none as well as here. Bataan is a marvelous film on many levels. A classic. Review by Kirasjeri from Brooklyn, New York for the IMDB.

Some promotional materials:

 

Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lady of the Tropics, 1939, Is Playing on TCM on July 19 (USA)

Lady of the Tropics (1939) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday July 19 at 7:30 a.m. est. Not closed captioned.

For those who don’t realize it the Lady of the Tropics we’re referring to is Hedy Lamarr who falls big time for visiting playboy Robert Taylor in Saigon. Of course one look at Hedy Lamarr and his romantic goose is cooked as well. But there’s is a forbidden love and sad to say the message in Ben Hecht’s screenplay is stick to your own kind.

Lady of the Tropics was shot while Hedy Lamarr was on hiatus from the ill-fated I Take This Woman. Louis B. Mayer nor any of the other movie moguls believed in letting their players sit idly by. So Lady of the Tropics became Lamarr’s second film and her only pairing with that other screen beauty Robert Taylor.

Taylor plays a very honorable character here or at least more honorable than most. He’s part of a visiting party of tourists off a yacht that lands in Saigon right before World War II starts. As we well know Vietnam was then under that colonial umbrella known as French Indo-China and Saigon was its capital. Among others Taylor is with is his American fiancé Gloria Franklin.

Of course the romantic sparks start the second that Lamarr and Taylor catch sight of each other in that Saigon café. Taylor does an unheard of thing, he breaks it off with Franklin and weds Lamarr post haste.

Sad to say, but implicit is the message that what you do with exotic beauties not 100% Caucasian is bed them don’t wed them. But Taylor and Lamarr don’t see it that way. As was said by Queen Latifah in the recent Hairspray, they’re in for a whole world of stupid.

This was 1939 not 1967 in America. We still had miscegenation laws in most states at the time so the message of sticking to your own kind was in keeping with 1939 mores. This is the exact opposite message the screen would give in 1967 in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

Taylor and Lamarr are stunning, no two ways about that. The sets showing tropical Saigon are great and the film did get an Oscar nomination for cinematography. But the story is both melodramatic and thank God, dated. Review by BKoganbing, Buffalo, New York,  for the IMDb.

Some behind the scenes photos:

RT3302RT3274RT276RT5285

And some promotional materials:

 

Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lucky Night, 1939, Is Playing on TCM on July 12 (USA)

Lucky Night, 1939, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, July 12 at 3 p.m. Closed Captioned. This is not one of my favorite Taylor films.  He didn’t have much chemistry with Myrna Loy.  The first part is very entertaining but the film goes pretty flat after that. Both actors did their best and the film looks terrific.  It’s worth it  for Taylor or Loy fans.

swirlI fell in love with Bill Overton before they left the park; Cora’s inability to commit to a man before she had a sense of herself was decades ahead of its time…Bill’s “Peter Pan” tendencies are really a profound commitment to joy and surprise, and Henry O’Neill as Cora’s father is the great remediator and earns every bit of Cora’s loyalty, “high, wide and handsome”. Modern, full of stylish characters and character it’s a jaunty little Jane Austen-like morality tale of the delicate balance between taking life seriously and the honorable pursuit of never-ending impulse, of maintaining your backbone and honesty in the face of losing face, and of the rewards facing up all wrapped into one romantic comedy. Review by misshambone-581-998467 for the IMD

The second half of the movie is all about applying the frolic of the first half to the reality of day to day life…and well worth looking forward to, much less sitting through. Bill’s “idea” is to seize every opportunity, much less day, and Cora’s “practicality” is the deadening effect being reasonable at all costs can have. Henry O’Neill was a great find, and you’ll notice him more often than you’d think once you’ve identified him: as Bill’s worst enemy at the beginning of the movie, it is he, as Cora’s dad, who brings not only the couple but the theme together by the end of the movie. Deeper than it appears, it is charming through and through. Review by bonefork from the US for the IMDb.

Here are some promotional materials for the film:

indexkkiirt3384rt2459

rt2251rt4136rt4641rt5449

ycl-1rt6718rt8018

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Above and Beyond, 1952, Is Playing on TCM on June 27. (USA)

Above and Beyond, 1952 is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, June 27 at 5:00 a.m. (actually June 28).  Closed captioned.  This is one of several roles for which Robert Taylor should have won an Oscar.  He was outstanding.

abc

Larry Keating and Robert Taylor

RT2942

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:


Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker signing autographs for fans.

1952
Left to right: hanging out on the set; lunchtime


More hanging out.


Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Remember? 1939 Is Playing on TCM on June 22 (USA)

Remember?, 1939, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, June 22 at 6:30 a.m. Not closed captioned.

RT5521Greer Garson was a rising star in 1939 and this film was her follow up to “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” She had proved unexpectedly popular and the studio hurried this into production. Robert Taylor was in a slump after Lady of the Tropics and before Waterloo Bridge. Robert Osborne, on Turner Classic Movies, commented that the screenwriters were either extremely clever or drunk. I tend to the latter interpretation.

The plot involves a love triangle consisting of Taylor, Garson and Lew Ayres. Taylor steals Garson from his old friend Ayres and the two marry. Subsequently Taylor neglects Garson by concentrating on his career. When he misses the boat for their honeymoon, she leaves him and they begin a divorce. Ayres, either to get Garson back or to help the couple, slips each of them an amnesia drug, so that they forget the last six months. It works and, in a manner reminiscent of Groundhog Day, they repeat their initial meeting and fall in love again, marry again and leave poor Ayres in the dust.

The entire cast is very smooth and professional, with Taylor and Ayres both outshining the still new Garson. Supporting actors include Billie Burke and Reginald Owen, both of them doing their signature type of character. Sara Haden is excellent as Taylor’s secretary.

There is a lot of good dialog, some genuinely funny situations and the usual MGM high gloss. Remember? is like a good dessert: rich, tasty but not substantial. Review by me for IMDB.

Some behind-the scenes photos:

RT4039RT39721939
Left to right: Director Norman Z. McLeod, Robert Taylor, Lew Ayres; Ayres and Taylor; Taylor, McLeod, Greer Garson, Lew Ayres.

Promotional materials:

RT4466RT7191RT3014

1939RT5042RT5303

RT4327RT7136RT3370

1939vgtRT6969

Scenes that didn’t make it into the film:

 

 

Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bataan, 1943, Is Playing on TCM on June 13 (USA)

Bataan (1943) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, June 13 at 12 noon est.  Closed captioned.  This is an extremely intense picture, made when nobody knew for sure how the war would end. Well worth watching.

RT7662This is one of the best war films of its era, and it is actually less anti-Japanese than many that came later, such as John Wayne’s Back to Bataan. But never forget the very real and common – and ubiquitous – Japanese atrocities, which they still are loathe to admit. Here, a small number of Americans are acting as a rear guard preventing the invading Japanese from driving south on Bataan in 1942. They have to blow a bridge and hold a ravine, and are subject to snipers, air attacks, and infantry assaults. It is superbly done with a great cast (Desi Arnaz was quite good too). Robert Taylor cast off forever his pretty boy image of the 1930’s with Garbo in his very tough portrayal of the sergeant.

RT4660

Lucy on the set of Bataan.

Most notably, Bataan stands out for perhaps the best and most violent hand-to-hand combat footage ever filmed, certainly the best of its era. Also, and often neglected in reviews, is that Bataan featured a fully INTEGRATED Army: a Jew, a black, an Hispanic, a Filipino, and so on. They were all treated equally and heroically. Bataan could not even be shown in parts of the South in the 1940’s due to this. Only two other movies of the WW II period featured a black fighting bravely – Sahara and Crash Dive, but none as well as here. Bataan is a marvelous film on many levels. A classic. Review by Kirasjeri from Brooklyn, New York for the IMDB.

Some promotional materials:

 

Posted in Films | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Robert Taylor Died 50 Years Ago on June 8

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Robert Taylor died on June 8, 1969 in St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Decades of chain smoking had given him lung cancer. His ashes are interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale,  California.  Mr. Taylor left behind 77 … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments