Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Showing posts with label Grady Sutton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grady Sutton. Show all posts

Thursday, May 1, 2014

THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA

Marsha Hunt and Richard Carlson
THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942). Director: Jules Dassin.

The town of Rock Bay, Long Island is in an uproar when a columnist publishes an item about how one of the maids is going to publish a memoir about the family she works for. The ladies of the town hold one meeting, while all of the maids hold another. Meanwhile Martha (Marsha Hunt), who works for the Sommerfields and is secretly married to son Jeff (Richard Carlson), has to deal with romantic overtures from her publisher, Joel (Allyn Joslyn), as well as a young lad named Danny (Barry Nelson), when she then discovers that Jeff has come home with a fiancee (Frances Drake). While Martha has some similarities to the earlier Theodora Goes Wild, it has much less on its mind, although a spirited cast makes certain that the picture is generally fun. In addition to the already named there are good performances from Marjorie Main [The Law and the Lady] as the Sommerfield cook, Spring Byington as Mrs. Sommerfield, and Virginia Weilder as her precocious daughter, Miranda. Sara Haden, Margaret Hamilton and Grady Sutton all have smaller roles. Jules Dassin also directed Thieves' Highway.

Verdict: Cute if minor comedy. **1/2.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

JOHNNY DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

William Terry, Simone Simon and James Ellison














JOHNNY DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1944). Director: Joe May.

In this very weird movie a young lady named Kathie (Simone Simon of Girls' Dormitory) takes a train to Washington D.C. and becomes the victim of a tiny bad luck gremlin named Rumplestilzken (voiced by Bugs Bunny's Mel Blanc). She winds up taking the apartment of a departing marine named Johnny (William Terry), but learns too late that he has given out keys to friends, soldiers, lady friends, and other apartment dwellers who need to use the bathroom. [Kathie makes all sorts of repairs to the apartment, but it never occurs to her to have the lock changed!] A sailor named Mike (James Ellison of Next Time I Marry) is one of the interlopers, along with his pal Jack (Chick Chandler of Lost Continent), and he finds himself vying with a returning Johnny, on leave, for Kathie's affections. The first thing you think while watching the beginning of this movie is that it could be either cute or stupid, and unfortunately it's much more of the latter than the former. The cast is appealing, especially a winsome Simon and sensitive Terry, and there are a couple of chuckles, but mostly it's more irritating than amusing. The ending is interesting, however, as you wait to find out which man Kathie is going to agree to marry and there's a surprise or two. Poor Rondo Hatton [House of Horrors] has a bit where he plays an undertaker who frightens Kathie. Grady Sutton and Robert Mitchum have smaller roles and are swell.

Verdict:  Seems different at first but is really the same old silly stuff. **.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MY DEAR SECRETARY

Mowbray and Douglas confer in interesting restaurant















MY DEAR SECRETARY (1948). Writer/director: Charles Martin.

Just before giving a lecture, author Owen Waterbury (Kirk Douglas) bumps into aspiring writer Stephanie Gaylord (Laraine Day). She applies for the job of his secretary after his old one, Elsie (Helen Walker), quits in a huff. Initially delighted to be hired, Stephanie realizes that what she hoped would be an interesting and intellectual position actually just calls for her to be playmate for her infantile employer, whom she nevertheless develops romantic feelings for. Throughout the movie the two make up and break up several times, but never convincingly. My Dear Secretary probably looked good on paper, and it has many amusing lines and a few genuinely funny sequences, but not enough to make it memorable. Douglas and Day are fine, but not as good as the supporting cast, which includes Wallker, Keenan Wynn as Owen's agent, Irene Ryan [of The Beverly Hillbillies] as his feisty housekeeper, Alan Mowbray as a private detective, Grady Sutton as another writer, and especially Florence Bates as the delightful landlady. While not quite on their level Rudy Vallee is also good as Stephanie's original boss and suitor. Virginia Hewitt makes an impression as the sexy Felicia, who dates Owen for a time. When asked which famous actress the slinky and beautiful Felicia resembles, Wynn says "Zazu Pitts!" The movie is basically good-natured, but there are some mean-spirited bits and Douglas' character seems to be too stupid to be capable of producing a novel, however bad. [He is definitely a "movie" writer and not a real one.] A highlight of the film is when the characters convene in a restaurant [see photo] in which some of the booths are surrounded by "frames," making them resemble paintings. In his sixth film, Douglas doesn't grit his teeth quite so much, but then this is not exactly intense material.

Verdict: There are quite a few laughs but the film doesn't quite cut it.**1/2.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

HOT SATURDAY

Randolph Scott and Nancy Carroll















         
 HOT SATURDAY (1932). Director: William A. Seiter.

Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll) works in a bank and has several suitors, but her troubles begin when she goes to a party at the estate of wealthy Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant) and rumors spread about her allegedly spending the night with him. But can she find true love with old family friend, Bill (Randolph Scott of Go West, Young Man), or will those pesky rumors get to him, too? The ending is a little unexpected but not entirely satisfying, as she chooses a man who has already proven to be a heel and doesn't give another guy much of a chance [and has pretty much used him in the first place]. With her flat, broad face and cartoon lips, Carroll is an unlikely sex symbol, but her performance is quite good. Cary Grant is excellent, and Scott is not bad. Grady Sutton [The Bank Dick] and Jane Darwell [The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe] are fine in supporting roles. The pre-code Hot Saturday tries hard to be risque and daring, but it comes off more as confused, and is too short to do justice to its story line and characters.

Verdict: A movie about the private lives of Grant and Scott would probably have been more entertaining. **1/2.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

GREAT OLD EPISODE: THE BLACK WIDOW STRIKES AGAIN!

Tallulah Bankhead faces down Batman
THE BLACK WIDOW STRIKES AGAIN on Batman. ABC TV. 1967.

"You may be caped and you may be dynamic, but I find you a crashing bore!" -- Black Widow

When the campy Batman TV series hit the airwaves in the late sixties, a number of well-known actors were signed to play guest villains. Definitely the most memorable was talented stage [and screen] actress Tallulah Bankhead, with her trade mark gravelly voice and withering, highly amusing delivery. Bankhead had already shown how good she could be in TV comedy when she guest-starred on what was probably the best Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode. On this two-part second season episode of Batman, she plays the comically sinister Black Widow, who apparently rode roughshod over Gotham City in the past [but never appeared previously on the show] and now is robbing banks with the aid of several confederates and a machine that saps men's wills. Therefore she sort of hypnotizes the bank officers into simply handing her oodles of cash. The cliffhanger has Bankhead unleashing cat-sized black widow spiders on Batman and Robin ["Batman! They're getting closer!"/ "I know, Robin!"]. Arguably the funniest sequence has the Widow dressing up as Robin and growling at police officers, with her voice coming out of Burt Ward's body as the actor does a funny parody of Bankhead. Bolstering the proceedings -- along with Adam West as Batman and Ward as Robin, both excellent as usual [not to mention wonderful Neil Hamilton and Stafford Repp as the police and Alan Napier as Alfred]-- are the appearances of Grady Sutton [The Bank Dick] as a nervous bank teller and the unidentified actor who plays the bank president. The campy approach to Batman is now passe, but I must say this was a very, very funny and clever episode of the often dopey series. Bankhead's most famous movie is Hitchcock's Lifeboat; she starred in Die, Die My Darling two years before doing Batman.

Verdict: Bankhead and Batman are an unbeatable combination. ***.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

WHAT A WOMAN

WHAT A WOMAN (1943). Director: Irving Cummings.

"The merriest man-hunt in kisstory" -- advertising tag line.

Carol Ainsley (Rosalind Russell) is handling the film rights for a novel by one "Anthony Street" and for completely inexplicable reasons thinks that the author -- a college professor named Michael Cobb (Willard Parker) could play the lead in the movie -- without even setting eyes on him! Fortunately he turns out to be a good-looking guy who has no acting experience or ability whatsoever. In the meantime a magazine writer named Henry Pepper (Brian Aherne) keeps trying to do an interview with Carol, and there's the usual dated stuff about successful career women being "frigid" and so on [obviously that particular term is not used]. The leads are okay but this is a predictable and formulaic comedy that has hardly any laughs. Ann Savage, Grady Sutton and Ann Shoemaker all have small roles, and Gertrude Hoffmann plays the maid, Hattie.

Verdict: What a movie -- not! **.