Billy the Kid, 1941, Is Playing on TCM on August 13 (USA)

Billy the Kid, 1941, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, August 13 at 10:30 a.m.  Not closed captioned.

bk22Billy the Kid (1941) is an early example of the use of Technicolor. The film is visually outstanding. Cinematographers Leonard V. Skall and Leonard Smith received an Oscar nomination for their work on the film and should have won. From close-ups to panoramic views of Monument Valley, Kanab, Utah and other locations they used color, composition and especially light masterfully. Some scenes evoke the stillness of a Vermeer and others the chiaroscuro of Rembrandt. Near the end of the movie Billy is standing near the window of a tumbledown shack. The viewer is outside and can see his body fading into the shadows except for the upper part of his face, especially the intense blue eyes. There is a Caravaggio-like spotlight on the hand and gun the outlaw is pointing out the window.

Historically, there is little resemblance between the film and the actual life of Billy the Kid. The general details of his background is correct but the names have all been changed, perhaps to head off the complaints of purists. There is no Pat Garrett, but rather a Jim Sherman (Brian Donlevy), no William Tunstall but an Eric Keating (Ian Hunter). The filmmakers obviously wanted to tell a good story without regard to historical accuracy.

Robert Taylor was 30 when Billy the Kid was filmed. He’s too old for the part but not by as much as some have made out. To seem younger, Taylor plays Billy as uncouth, uneducated and probably illiterate. The outlaw is incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions. He’s always being bombarded by new ideas and new customs. There is a lighthearted scene where Billy is handed a teacup and saucer, objects obviously new to him. He picks the cup up as though it were a glass until he sees what Keating is doing. Billy holds the cup awkwardly by the handle until Keating turns away then he gulps the tea with his original hold.

This was Robert Taylor in his element. He was a superb rider and did all of his own riding in this film, even in the long shots. Taylor also had the western swagger down pat and seems very comfortable in his cowboy costumes. In private life, he often wore jeans, boots and a Stetson. In the first and last parts of the film, Billy dresses all in black. In the middle he wears a blue shirt to indicate his changed lifestyle. Robert Taylor practiced left-handed drawing and shooting for weeks before the film and used the skill again in the film Ride Vaquero in 1953.

Taylor and Donlevy are comfortable with one another, having worked together before in This Is My Affair in 1937. The easiness of their relationship makes Billy’s (temporary) transformation into an honest cowboy believable. Mary Howard has a small role as Eric Keating’s sister and makes the most of it. Ian Hunter is believable as rancher Keating.

The villains, especially Hickey (Gene Lockhart) are suitably nasty. Henry O’Neill, a leading character actor, throws himself with gusto into the role of a newspaper publisher whose press is constantly being sabotaged. Review by me for the imdb.

Here are a few behind the scenes photos:

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August 5 Is Robert Taylor’s Birthday

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Robert Taylor was born on August 5, 1911.  2019 is the 108th anniversary of his birth.  Mr. Taylor died on June 8, 1969 from lung cancer. Robert Taylor was one of the most talented and versatile actors of Hollywood’s Golden … Continue reading

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Three Robert Taylor Films Are Playing on TCM on August 8 (USA)

The three films are The Bribe, 1949, Ride, Vaquero! 1953 and Knights of the Round Table, 1953.  Ava Gardner co-stars in all three.

The Bribe, 1949, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, August 8 at 6:00 a.m. est.  Closed captioned.  The Bribe has a minimal story but great actors including Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton and Vincent Price.  The chemistry between Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner  is sizzling.  They became lovers during the production and had to go to his mother’s house to make love because they would have been recognized anywhere else.

Ava Gardner, Robert Taylor

“The Bribe” is one of the forties film noir entries, and I love it! Top stars of the era include Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Vincent Price. It is a story of an honest cop, Rigby played with remarkable insight, by Robert Taylor, who falls in love with a suspect (Ava Gardner), and can’t make up his mind on if she is guilty or innocent. John Hodiak is the husband, who is a former fly boy turned crook. Charles Laughton is at his sinister best as the “pie shaped man” who is hired by Vincent Price to pay off Rigby. Laughton dogs Rigby, knowing that he is in love with Gardner, till he caves in and decides to take a bribe to save his love. As in many film noir, only Taylor’s last name is used, we never know Rigby’s first name, interesting. Taylor is very convincing as a man torn between love and honor. He is so conflicted, that you feel sorry for him, wishing that Ava would just run away with him before he turns crook himself. She drugs him and makes sure he can’t stop the crooks, but he recovers, and confronts her, not realizing the trouble she is in herself. In the end, love and honor conquer all. There is a spectacular fireworks ending, that is reminiscent of “Ride the Pink Horse.” All in all the love scenes are sincere, probably because Taylor and Gardner were having an affair at the time of filming, despite the fact that Taylor was very married to Barbara Stanwyck. Quintessential film noir. Review by mamalv for IMDB.

Some behind the scenes photos:


Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner rehearsing a beach scene.


Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner


Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner with director Robert Z. Leonard.

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor with Vincent Price; Charles Laughton; John Hodiak


Robert Taylor

Ride, Vaquero! (1953) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, August 8 at 12 noon.  Closed captioned.

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Ava Gardner and Robert Taylor

By keeping quiet, speaking only when necessary Robert Taylor as Rio gives one of his best performances. All through the film you try to guess what he is thinking. He was adopted by the mother of Esqueda (Anthony Quinn) and Quinn loves and respects him. The real surprise is Howard Keel, who only used to do musicals, coming out so well as King Cameron, a man who is obstinate about building a cattle empire. Cameron is married to Cordelia (Ava Gardner) and as soon as she arrives in a river boat, and they go to their ranch, trouble starts because it has been burnt by Esqueda. Why did Esqueda do it? Because he knows that if he allows anybody to do well in business in that area, others will come and eventually he, who is a bandit will have to run away or be hanged. Quinn is great as Esqueda, just that makes the film worth seeing. Taylor, who was the second man to Quinn in the gang, eventually leaves him to help Keel, because deep down he knows his brother is becoming a crazy monster and unconsciously he is in love with Ava. But when she kisses him, he slaps her because he knows it is wrong. He is a torn man, with all those feelings and not knowing exactly what to do about it. Excellent film, not to be missed. IMDB review by tmwest from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Some behind-the-scenes photos:

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Left to right: Robert Taylor, Dore Schary, J. Farrow, Howard Keel; Robert Taylor; J. Farrrow, Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner


Left to right: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner; Howard Keel, Mr. Taylor, Ms. Gardner; 2 of Ms. Gardner’s costumes from the film.

Knights of the Round Table, 1952, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, August 8 at 4 p.m. est. Closed captioned.

The film was highly successful costing $2,616,000.00 and making a profit of $1,641,000.00 or $14,536,985.95 in today’s money.

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Mel Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Stanley Baker, Anne Crawford, Felix Aylmer, Robert Taylor and Maureen Swanson.

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:

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Left to right: phoning; photos; coffee; Mr. Taylor with Stanley Baker

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor in armor (which he hated).

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor with Mel Ferrer; Maureen Swanson; waiting for instructions.

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Left to right: Robert Taylor and his co-star and friend and sometime lover Ava Gardner.

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor with Richard Thorpe; taking a break; enjoying a ride on his huge horse.

 

 

 

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Camille, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on July 28 (USA)

Camille, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, July 28 at 6 a.m. est.  Not closed captioned.   This is the love story of all love stories and shouldn’t be missed.

???? 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.

Some behind-the scenes photos from Camille.

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Making Marguerite’s Dresses:

RT7386936: 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 working on a dress to


 

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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.

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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:

 

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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:

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And some promotional materials:

 

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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:

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