D-Day the Sixth of June and Waterloo Bridge Are Playing on May 23 (USA)

D-Day the Sixth of June (1956) Is Playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, May 23 at 2:00 p.m. est. Not Closed Captioned.

img072Viewers who want an all out action war movie with guns blazing and corpse strewn landscapes should avoid D-Day the Sixth of June. Released in 1956, the film looks back somewhat nostalgically at a war that was already beginning to fade into history. The world depicted seems remote as few people today have actually experienced total war. Today War World II has taken its place in history as the necessary war, the unquestioned war, unlike most of what has happened since—Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The movie explores large issues on a small scale. It follows a small number of individuals and how their lives were impacted by the war during the months preceding the Normandy invasion. There is an elderly British Brigadier who has been left behind by modern warfare, a car salesman from Minneapolis who wants to be a general, a publisher’s son-in-law invalided into a desk job, a British career soldier and a young woman from a sheltered background doing her part in the conflict.

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Robert Taylor as Captain Brad Parker.

The movie covers a number of themes including British American relations in the last year of the war, the dislocation of normal morality in wartime, the war-weariness of the British population as they hold out for yet another year of suffering. Behind all of it is the war, huge, bloodthirsty and seemingly endless. Everything is impacted—steaks are horse meat, cigarettes are a rarity, nights are pitch black with all light forbidden, sirens blare day and night.

The protagonists are Captain Brad Parker (Robert Taylor), an American who broke his leg on a parachute jump and has been relegated to desk work, Major John Wynter, a heroic British commando (actual war hero Richard Todd) and Valerie Russell (Dana Wynter), the young woman who comes to love them both. Supporting characters include Major Timmons, a volatile car salesman (Edmund O’Brien) and Brigadier Russell (John Williams), Valerie’s father, who is filled with bitterness over the end of his career.

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Dana Wynter and Robert Taylor.

Parker is a married man from New England who has been away from his wife for over three years. Wynter and Valerie Russell are friends but not quite lovers. When Wynter is posted to Africa, Parker and Russell remain in London and become friends and then lovers. She is torn between her feelings of friendship and obligation towards Wynter and her exciting new American lover.

Eventually both Parker and Wynter take part in the Normandy invasion. The last fifteen minutes or so of the movie concern the battle itself which seems tame by modern standards. The lives of both men are changed forever by the events of June 6, 1944. There is no happy ending for most of the characters, no neat solutions to the complications of human life against the background of imminent death.

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On the set: Richard Todd, Dana Wynter and her dog, Robert Taylor.

There are overtones of Waterloo Bridge (1940) in D-Day the Sixth of June. A romance between two very different people against the backdrop of war is central in both films. Robert Taylor is the male lead in both, wearing his signature trench coat each time. Neither has a happy ending. But there is an innocence to the earlier film that has been replaced by a kind of exhaustion in the latter. Most of the main characters spend their time living in a phoney world of hedonism. A character at one point speculates about what they’ll all be doing after the war. “Going back to our husbands and wives,” another replies.

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About to hit the beach.

D-Day the Sixth of June is well acted and has good production values. Henry Koster’s direction is crisp and tight. Robert Taylor and Dana Wynter are compatible and their clinches are convincing. Most of the time Taylor convinces us that he is younger than his actual years. He moves like a man more youthful than 45. Richard Todd is the good guy, loyal and self-sacrificing. Edmund O’Brien is outstanding as the volatile Col. Timmons. The supporting cast is first rate.  D-Day the Sixth of June is a thoughtful film, looking back at a crucial part of what was then recent history. Even at a distance of almost 60 years, the human dilemmas portrayed here are relevant and timely.

More images from D-Day the Sixth of June

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Waterloo Bridge, 1940, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, May 23 at 10 p.m. est.  Closed Captioned.

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.

????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.

RT7451Some behind the scenes photos:

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)RT6277RT3894
Left to right: Vivien Leigh, Sir Victor Sassoon, Laurence Olivier; Director Mervyn LeRoy, Ms. Leigh, Mr. Taylor: Mr. Taylor, Mr. LeRoy, Ms. Leigh

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Left to right: Robert Taylor, Vivien Leigh; Mr. Taylor; Ms. Leigh, Mr. LeRoy, Mr. Taylor

 

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Three Comrades, 1938, Is Playing on TCM on May 20 (USA)

Three Comrades, 1938, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, May 20 at 6:15 p.m. est.  Closed Captioned.

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Margaret Sullavan, Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone and Robert Young.

New York Times Review (summary):  Based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, Three Comrades represented one of the few successful screenwriting efforts of  F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set  in Germany in the years just following World War I, the film stars Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone and Robert Young as three battle-weary, thoroughly disillusioned returning soldiers. The three friends pool their savings and open an auto-repair shop, and it is this that brings them in contact with wealthy motorist Lionel Atwill–and with Atwill’s lovely travelling companion Margaret Sullavan.  Taylor begins a romance with Sullavan, who soon joins the three comrades, making the group a jovial, fun-seeking foursome Though Sullavan suffers from tuberculosis (her shady past is only alluded to), she is encouraged by her male companions to fully enjoy what is left of her life. This becomes increasingly difficult when one of the comrades, Young, is killed during a political riot (it’s a Nazi riot, though not so-labelled by ever-careful MGM). In the end, the four comrades are only two in number, with nothing but memories to see them through the cataclysmic years to come. Despite its Hollywoodized bowdlerization of the Remarque original, Three Comrades remains a poignant, haunting experience. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Some promotional material:

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Behind the scenes:


Director Frank Borzage and Robert Taylor; Robert Young, Franchot Tone, Robert Taylor

 

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Undercurrent, 1946, Is Playing on TCM on May 12 (USA)

Undercurrent, 1946, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, May 12 at 9:00 a.m. est.  Closed captioned.

Director Vincente Minneli said of Undercurrent : He [Robert Taylor] out acted her [Katharine Hepburn] and stole the picture as the demanding and sadistic husband.  It was Kate who was miscast. (Charles Tranberg, Robert Taylor: a Biography, BearManor Media, 2011, pages 176-177.) 

abcAll of the criticisms of this movie might well be flushed down the loo. This is one powerhouse of an interesting movie.  Call it Film-Noir. Call it Mystery/Suspense. Call it Psychological Thriller. Call it what you may…I call it: absorbing drama.  It moves very deliberately…and the facts are revealed one by one, in true mystery fashion, until the fantastic, thrilling ending.

Those who say that Hepburn and Mitchum were miscast are just so wrong. Hepburn wasn’t playing Hepburn here…she wasn’t Tracy Lord here. She wasn’t a know-it-all New England uppity snob here. Not a worldly character at all. She played a different character than I’ve ever seen her do. Hepburn doesn’t rely on her stable of clichés to capture our imagination here. She does it with imagination and as few of the Hepburn cornerstone mannerisms as possible. Good result!

Und23 (10)Robert Taylor is fascinating to watch. He has so many secrets in this role. And they reside behind his facade for us to watch and enjoy. He slowly swirls into controlled mania and desperate determination. Very fine, indeed. He should have been nominated for this one.

And then there’s Mitchum! What can one say about Mitchum without gushing foolishly. Gee whiz…the first time you see him…he shows us a side of him we have hardly ever seen! He seems at peace, mild in character, mellow in mood…pensive…other worldly. Likable even! Never gruff or abrasive like we’ve seen him so many times before.

What is unique about this story is that we really do not know what is going to happen next. We spend most of the movie residing in Hepburn’s character’s mind. Her wondering, her confusion, her search for the truth — at all costs.

I was expecting not to like this movie. I was expecting it to be another formulaic Hepburn vehicle about high society. But this is where this movie takes a left turn into an underrated mystery.  I enjoyed the use of the theme to the Third Movement of Johannes Brahms’ Third Symphony throughout the movie. RT677It lent a delicious air of mystery, love and luscious pastoral passion to the whole affair.

And to say that Vincente Minnelli was WRONG for this movie? Gee whiz! He was perfect! Why compare him to Hitchcock? Minnelli has manufactured a mystery world all his own. Sure there are devices. All movies have devices. But they are handled so deftly…we don’t rely on them to make us aware of the story — they don’t get in our way. They heighten our interest and this very absorbing plot.

Well done. I wish it had been a longer movie…it was THAT kind of movie. I recommend this one…Review by Enrique Sanchez, Miami, FL for the IMDB.

Some behind the scenes photos:


Left to right: Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, George Cukor; Ms. Hepburn & Mr. Taylor; Ms. Hepburn, Mr.  Taylor, Mr. Freund; Mr. Taylor.


Left to right: Robert Taylor with Crew Members; Mr. Taylor, Robert Mitchum, Mr. Minelli;  Ms. Hepburn, Mr. Taylor & 2 others.

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Left to right: Ms. Hepburn and others; Mr. Minelli and Mr. Taylor; Ms. Hepburn, Mr. Minelli, Mr. Taylor.


Left to right: Ms. Hepburn, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Freund; Mr. Taylor and Cinematographer Karl Freund.

Back home..and happy, Robert Taylor, back at MGM and before the cameras again after 3 years as an officer in Navy, finds huge satisfaction relaxing between scenes of his first postwar picture, Undercurrent. During such moments away from the camera, he likes the pickup of cup coffee. (original caption)

 

 

 

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Quentin Durward, 1955, Is Playing on TCM on April 6 (USA)

Quentin Durward, 1955, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Monday April 6 at 6:00 a.m. est.  Closed Captioned.  This film is visually beautiful and also a lot of fun.  Highly recommended.

RT1646Director: Richard Thorpe. Robert Taylor, Kay Kendall, Robert Morley, George Cole, Alec Clunes, Duncan Lamont, Marius Goring. Taylor plays Sir Walter Scott’s dashing Scots hero in this handsome but static costumer about Louis XI’s reign in 15th- century France. CinemaScope. TCM capsule review.

This is a film to be watched with a wide and affectionate grin. Outstanding are Robert Morley as Louis XI, the infamous and wily ‘Spider’ of France, and Robert Taylor as the eponymous Durward, a would-be chivalrous hero born out of his time who is none too sure of himself. The necessary, and highly satisfactory, heroics are spiced with a rich leavening of humor and some genuine moral questions – how much should a man sacrifice for his country’s sake? His love? His life? His honor?

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But above all it is a joyous and thrilling romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Durward wants to be a knight in shining armor, but circumstances tend to conspire against him, and his lady is definitely the stronger-willed of the two; though like the audience, she cannot resist his puppy dog charm. And ambiguous, cynical, cowardly Louis is often in danger of stealing the show outright, as he sits at the center of his web and pulls the strings that manipulate all the other characters – a far-from-two-dimensional villain after my own heart!

Definitely a superior swashbuckler, with a saving vein of humor. Review by lgenWordsmith on IMDB

These are a few behind the scenes photos:

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Left to right: with Stewart Granger, unknown fan or gypsy dancer, Kay Kendall

 

 

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Valley of the Kings, 1954 Is Playing on TCM on March 21 (USA)

Valley of the Kings, 1954, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, March 21 at 4 a.m. (actually March 22).  Closed captioned.  This is another of my favorite Taylor pictures–he never looked sexier than he does here.  Mark Brandon, the ruggedly handsome archaeologist played by Robert Taylor is thought to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones.

RT5571This is one of my favorite Robert Taylor pictures. Eleanor Parker and he had wonderful chemistry and both of them looked their best in this exotic action-adventure film.  The following is my review for the IMDb.

This isn’t a serious or “meaningful” film. It is pure entertainment, beautifully photographed on location in Egypt. The stars, Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker, had great chemistry both off-screen and on. Taylor manages to be glamorous even when trapped in a sandstorm. The plot is relatively thin with Parker seeking to validate part of the Old Testament by finding the tomb of the Pharaoh who reigned in the time of the Biblical Joseph. She bats her eyelashes at Taylor who comes along happily. Then she introduces her husband, Carlos Thompson. There are horse and carriage chases, murders, the aforementioned sandstorm, a spectacular fight at Abu Simbel, a scorpion attack–all in ninety minutes. Given the slower pace of movies in the 1950s, there is also time for Taylor and Parker to discover each other more thoroughly (over some fermented goat). Egyptian belly dancer Samia Gamal shakes her stuff at the demure Parker. Highly enjoyable.

RT2304One of the best screen kisses–ever!

Some behind the scenes photos:

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From left: Robert Taylor horsing around with a donkey; looking insecure on a camel.

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From left: Robert Taylor with belly dancer Samia Gamal; with Kurt Kazsnar and Carlos Thompson; at the sphinx.

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From left: Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker at the Mena House Hotel; touring by carriage.

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From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker in Egypt.

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From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker, taking pictures; with director Robert Pirosh; saying hello to a camel.

Actress Eleanor Parker, on her kneels, helps Robert Taylor, dressed up as an archaeologist, to lace up a boot on the set of the movie 'Valley of the Kings'. Egypt, 1954. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Actress Eleanor Parker, on her knees, helps Robert Taylor, dressed up as an archaeologist, to lace up a boot on the set of the movie ‘Valley of the Kings’. Egypt, 1954. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Mr. Taylor injured his knee jumping off a camel and may have had difficulty lacing his boots.  They both look happy about it.

 

 

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Lucky Night, 1939, Is Playing on TCM on March 13 (USA)

Lucky Night, 1939, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, March 13 at 3:15 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:

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Robeert Taylor Trivia: a Few Items

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Here are a few fun items I came across recently: Text:  Edwin Styles and Coral Browne are playing the leads in the Somerset Maugham play Lady Frederick at the Savoy theatre in London now.  It is expected that the play … Continue reading

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