Three Hilarious Humans in One Place...
“Here, you wanna play with those…”
I could watch Jonathan Winters 24/7… I’d need to be hospitalized for the pain from laughing, but still.
“Here, you wanna play with those…”
I could watch Jonathan Winters 24/7… I’d need to be hospitalized for the pain from laughing, but still.
The Naked Spur with James Stewart and Janet Leigh
I recently re-watched The Naked Spur for probably the 12th time in my life. How could I not? James Stewart is one of my all-time favorites and Westerns are my jam… and jelly… and toast.
I have a ridiculous confession to make concerning this movie. Like 85 percent of Westerns I’ve seen, my first experience with them was as a child. My dad lived for Westerns, so they were pretty much on 24/7 in our home. Cowboys, “Indians,” saloon girls, deputies, and sheriffs were like family.
When growing up, whenever my dad had The Naked Spur on tv, I had the same three initial reactions each time:
So I never watched it in it’s entirety. I had a problem getting past Janet Leigh for some reason. As a young girl, my ideal leading lady in Westerns (as well as tv and other movies) looked closer to the dolls I played with. She needed the flowing brunette, red, or blonde hair and pretty clothes. Janet Leigh, with her sassy short hair and decidedly “boy clothes” didn’t amuse the child version of me any more than angry “George Bailey” did.
Fortunately little girls grow up. When I was older, I watched the movie past the 10 minute mark (all the way to the end) and wondered how I could have been so wrong. James Stewart was, of course, wonderful in the role (the range of this actor is amazing) and as for Janet Leigh… gorgeous.
The kid version of me couldn’t get past the clothes, the adult version of me can’t get past the face. Seriously, this is the exact face you’d expect angels to have. She was a stunning actress and doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the loveliest and most talented actresses ever. Although she doesn’t smile often in the movie, when she does it lights up the screen. Her’s is one of the most beautiful smiles to grace any screen, small or large.
Although I love Westerns as much as anyone and probably more than most, I’ll be the first to admit that the “story” isn’t always the star. In fact, many times (after watching a Western), you’ll find yourself asking, “Okay, what was the plot exactly??” The Naked Spur has a creatively-written plot – an actual story, if you will. The characters are all flawed to a certain degree, which makes it even more entertaining.
The Oscar-nominated story stars Academy Award-winner James Stewart (“It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Vertigo”) as a ruthless (or as I always thought of him, an “angry George Bailey”) bounty hunter (Howard) who’s looking to bring in an outlaw (Ben) portrayed by Oscar-nominee Robert Ryan (“Crossfire,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Bad Day at Black Rock”). The bad guy’s beautiful co-traveler is Lina, played by Oscar-nominee Janet Leigh (“Psycho,” “Touch of Evil, “Little Women”).
The film also stars Ralph Meeker (Roy) and Millard Mitchell (Jesse). Mitchell’s Jesse is my personal favorite character in the movie. Little greedy, but you know what, I’m going to go ahead and forgive him for that.
Filmed in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, The Naked Spur is considered by many as one of the best westerns ever made.
When watching The Naked Spur, you, of course, have to keep in mind that it was made in 1953. Going in, expecting more than should be expected from this period will rob you from enjoying the movie as it should be enjoyed. Then again, that can be said of all the wonderful movies we celebrate here on Hollywood Yesterday.
The film is beautifully done and perfectly cast. It’s one of those films that I would (and do) watch every time it’s on television.
Did You Know?
The Official Trailer for The Naked Spur
The movie is (MUCH) better than the trailer – although it’s a hoot in spite of itself.
Okay, first of all, I know the legendary actor’s name as well as anyone – Sir Laurence Olivier. Many people (I’m not among them I’m afraid) consider him to be the greatest actor of all time. Don’t get me wrong, he was magnificent and I certainly believe he is “one” of the best ever… even if I hesitate to give him the title “the best.”
The man’s name is synonymous with fine acting and for good reason.
Oddly enough, however, the name Marilyn Monroe is synonymous with beauty and sex appeal (again, for good reason) but it’s the rare bird who’d associate her with good acting, let alone great acting.
I’m the rarest of birds.
Marilyn Monroe was so much more than just a beautiful face. Some was good (her intelligence, beauty, and talent) and some was horrible (apparently she was notorious for holding up and inconveniencing others on set and let’s not even get into the whole JFK fiasco). Her intelligence led to her ability to bring so much to each character she portrayed. She simply knew what each character would feel and how they would react to everything and everyone around them.
The Prince and the Showgirl is one of my personal favorite Marilyn Monroe performances, which kind of sucks because Laurence Olivier’s performance makes me cringe. I understand he’s portraying royalty, here, but I’d have preferred royalty with a pulse!
The performance is one of my least favorites in any movie, to be honest. Leslie Howard in Gone With the Wind is right up there too. The thought of both characters being appealing to ANYONE is hard to buy into.. and yet both characters had beautiful ladies fawning over them.
Somehow, in spite of a lackluster, stiff performance by one of the greatest actors of all-time, The Prince and The Showgirl is still a pretty cute and enjoyable movie. It is, of course, primarily thanks to MM and her adorable portrayal of the “showgirl.” In fact, the entire rest of the cast did a fine job – even those who had only one or two scenes.
I’ve read that MM and LO did not get along at all – he took all kinds of exception to her consistent tardiness and “moods.” I don’t want to believe that this affected his performance, however, because he was the very definition of a professional. Their relationship actually makes me want to read “The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier” by Colin Clark.
Book Description: When Colin Clark left college in the 1950s, he got a job as a gofer on the set of the movie The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. The film should have been a box office smash, but even before cameras rolled, things began going wrong–and Clark recorded it all in this beguiling, fly-on-the-wall diary.
New and used copies are available on Amazon, so I’m going to order one SOON.
I recently re-watched The Prince and The Showgirl and came away with the same thing I think each time…. “Why is he making his character so painful to watch?!?! Is he trying to win her over or bore her to tears?!”
Marilyn is so fun, lively, and energetic – she makes the screen sizzle and pop when she’s on it. Then, here he comes.
If you’ve never seen the movie, I hope you’ll watch it soon and see what you think. As I’ve said a million times, old movies and old performances are worth watching even when we don’t love or even like them. There’s always something good or worthwhile about every single movie and in this particular movie, MM and a very strong, lively cast make it worth watching.
In spite of that one.
See James Dean Fleece Blanket for more information. This blanket is just beautiful!
As you’d expect from someone with a Golden Age of Hollywood blog like Hollywood Yesterday, I love old movies (as well as classic television) to distraction. I’m seldom as happy as when I’m curled up in my favorite chair, raspberry tea in hand, losing myself in a wonderful old movie. If you’re as infatuated with them as I am, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I love ALL watching old movies… even ones I don’t particularly “like.”
For example, Mogambo is possibly one of the worst (only in my opinion, mind you) movies I’ve ever seen. My great love for both Clark Gable and Ava Gardner couldn’t even save this movie for me. And yet…. the time spent watching it was satisfying because, while it was pretty dreadful, it was still an old movie and it still brought old stars of Hollywood into my den.
The White Sister (1933) is nowhere near as bad as Mogambo. In fact, the majority of the movie is a lot of fun. Helen Hayes (Angela Chiaromonte) impossibly adorable and… well.. delightful. I normally don’t think, let alone use, the word delightful – but several times during the movie, I kept thinking, “Helen Hayes, you are delightful as Angela…” Then I’d stop and ask myself, “Did you just use the word delightful?…”
Another plus for the movie is the fact that Clark Gable (a personal fave) is downright lovable in the role of Giovanni Severi. A little trivia – because who doesn’t like trivia – this was the first time Clark Gable appeared in a movie with a mustache.
My problem with the movie is that I wish it had chosen one lane and stayed in it. The movie starts out so light-hearted and fun, you’re left thinking that you’re in for a fun romantic comedy and, if the writing had stayed in this vein, it’d have been a classic.
A few tragic turns and you’re left with something that isn’t romantic or comedic.
Now… again… having said all of that, the movie is still very much worth watching because of the performances of Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, and Louise Closser Hale (a total scene-stealer in the role of Mina). Unlike a lot of movies of the time, the acting in The White Sister was superb. The early days of Hollywood often say, dare we say it, melodramatic performances that can be hard even for those of us who are obsessed with the era to watch. Not one star in The White Sister tries to gnaw or chew on any of the scenery and there wasn’t one single cringe-worthy moment.
Plot: Angela Chiaromonte (Helen Hayes), is the beautiful, overly-sheltered daughter of a Prince. She falls for Giovanni (Clark Gable) and his zest for life, in spite of herself. When he is reported killed in action in World War I, she is consumed with grief and becomes a nun.
The White Sister is directed by Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind), which helps explain why the acting is so superb.
What I love about the movie: Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, and Louise Closser Hale do a wonderful job with their roles. They are excellent. The characters are lovable and you can’t help feeling drawn to each one. The clothes are also very memorable – the wardrobe department outdid themselves.
What I didn’t love about the movie: I’d have preferred it if the entire script had stayed light and romantic. The story was at its best when the characters and viewers were having fun.
Is the movie worth seeing? Absolutely. If you love old movies, Helen Hayes, and/or Clark Gable (and especially if, like me, you adore them all!) – you should see this movie right away. Will it become your favorite old movie of all time? Pretty doubtful.
But Helen Hayes is delightful. Perfectly delightful.
Two-Disk Set on Amazon:
Two legends of “Old Hollywood,”Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes, take the same role of Angela Chiaromonte, 10 years apart in The White Sister 2-disk set.
Other times, the only thing that I want from life is an evening with an Abbot and Costello or the Three Stooges.
In all honesty, however, the type of movie I crave time with the most often is a good old-fashioned Western – specifically a John Wayne Western. And if we’re going to get even more specific.. it’s usually Rio Bravo, El Dorado, or Rio Grande that I need in my life!
While I love all three, if I had to choose one it’d be Rio Bravo. Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, and Walter Brennan make this movie (in my opinion). In fact, as far as I’m concerned you could have named it Dude, Feathers, and Stumpy instead of Rio Bravo.
Okay, maybe that’s going a little far, but you get the idea. How Hollywood kept from putting Angie Dickinson in more starring roles is beyond me. She’s the perfect combination of talent and beauty. Well, she’s the perfect combination of a lot of things, but we won’t get into that right now!
Rio Bravo Trivia
Rio Bravo singing scene with Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson:
After I saw this colorful walking testimony to Lucy, I stopped calling myself “the biggest” and simply say I am one of the biggest.
I’d still be willing to bet I could beat her in a game of one-on-one Lucy Trivia… I cannot be touched when it comes to knowing I Love Lucy.
Even if my hair isn’t bright red!
Naturally, I collect anything featuring Lucy, Ethel, Ricky, or Fred on it – like any self-respecting fan would do.
The I Love Lucy Vitameatavegamin Mug, With Spoon is the next item that’ll be added to my collection. It’s just perfect.
See I Love Lucy Vitameatavegamin Mug, With Spoon for more information!
Lucy’s Vitameatavegamin Clip:
The classic and beautiful Audrey Hepburn Vogue Poster above is available in two sizes on Amazon: 12 x 16 or 16 x 20. The elegant picture perfectly captures the extra something that made Audrey Hepburn one of the greatest the fashion icons of our time.
See a larger version of the Audrey Hepburn Vogue Poster by clicking the link!
Like Ava Gardener, Maureen O’Hara, and Katharine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth posters and memorabilia simply don’t compare when it comes to the sheer number of and demand for the aforementioned mentioned legends.
Now, before I go one word or even letter further, allow me to say that I am a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe and, frankly, there is NO bigger Audrey Hepburn fan in the world. Trust me, I am all about Audrey Hepburn.
However… I’m an equally huge fan of Rita, Ava, Katharine,Maureen, and Rita. Like countless other fans, I would LOVE to be able to find them on mugs, posters, magnets, art prints, etc… as easily as Marilyn and Audrey are found.
Given the uncommon beauty, intrigue, talent, style, and even mystery surrounding these ladies, it’s just mind-boggling to think they aren’t as celebrated as anyone.
Fortunately, Amazon is beginning to have more and more memorabilia for these beauties – including the Gilda movie poster above. They even have magnets featuring the red-headed knockout (see below). Hopefully, Ava, Maureen, and Katharine won’t be far behind!
Yesterday, in spite of the fact I was recovering from a terrible cold and should’ve never left the house, I spent the afternoon out with my youngest daughter running errands and shopping. By the time we got back home, all I wanted to do was throw my pajamas on ad COLLAPSE with an iced raspberry tea. After crawling into the PJs and pouring the tea, I headed for my favorite swivel rocker, with every intention of putting in “Rio Bravo” or “El Dorado.”
I decided to check TCM first, in case something irresistible was coming on.
Was it ever?!
An all-time favorite musical/movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, happened to just be coming on, which made me smile ear to ear – in between sneezes that threatened to shake my teeth loose.
The ridiculously fun 1956 musical stars Jane Powell (Milly), Howard Keel (Adam), and Russ Tamblyn at his scene-stealing best as the youngest son, Gideon. Although it’s a smaller role, gorgeous Julie Newmar stars as Dorcas (one of the “Seven Brides”). Although she was an accomplished dancer, she was unable to fully showcase her talent in Seven Brides because her “Brother” (Benjamin) was played by Jeff Richards, an ex-baseball player with zero dancing skills.
Benjamin seldom dances in the movie and if you ever wondered why, it’s simple, he’d have been more at home on a baseball field!
In fact, after doing a little research, it turns out that only four of the “brothers” were considered dancers. You’d never really know from watching the movie – everyone seems loaded with talent.
Heck, they all dance better than me… including the baseball player.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Trivia
The seven brothers & brides couples are:
If you’ve never seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I highly recommend it. Heck, I highly recommend it if you’ve seen it a hundred times. You’ll enjoy one hundred and one just as much…. trust me, I’d know.
This movie is from a time when fun was the name of the game. No one worried about political correctness (don’t even get me started) – all they worried about was having a great time and giving the audience a fun ride.
Mission beautifully accomplished.
In the coming days, I’ll add more trivia and information for the entire wonderful cast. In the meantime, I hope you’ll grab your own dvd and take a trip back to a simpler…. much, much simpler… time.