Archive for the ‘Dale Robertson’ Category

Call Me Mister

10 Nov

Call Me Mister – directed by Lloyd Bacon. Musical Comedy. GIs on their way home from war are entertained by a dueling husband and wife. 96 minuets. Color 1951.


Laughter is a door and a room. The door is the joke. The room is laughter itself, a room which one remains in hardly remembering the door at all. For once one is in the room of laughter, the door of the joke is at one’s back. We’re laughing because we’re laughing. We can’t even remember what we’re laughing about.

Betty Grable is like that. One does not estimate the talent she had, if one is to enjoy the skill. What one does do is get oneself lost in the brightly colored room which she is. Good nature exudes from her, and it is real. Set in the most vulgar and phony and energetic of all musical comedy settings – the Fox Musicals – she is down to earth, truthful, human. As an actress she is vulnerable to influence, high responsive, humorous, feisty, has a reasonably good opinion of herself, and is confident of her gifts, such as they are. She one of the two greatest actresses of musical comedy, the other being Judy Garland. But Garland made very few movies playing a grown woman, whereas Grable went on right up to her forties.

She started in film in 1929, when she was thirteen, tricked up in a G-string and hoofing it in the chorus. You can see her as a teenager dance “Knock-Knees” with Edward Everett Horton in Rogers and Astaire’s The Gay Divorcé (RKO 1934), and she is cute as a bug’s ear. She made many minor musicals, even one with Judy Garland, but was still in her early twenties when musical comedy star, Alice Faye left Fox and Grable took her place. Grable had a huge acting and dancing experience behind her by the time this happened. When you see her, mark her speed. Watch her move through the paces of “I’m Going To Love That Man Like He’s Never Been Loved Before,” a big hit from that era. Look how ready and eager she is! It’s refreshing. And authentic.

Like Marilyn Monroe who patterned herself somewhat on Betty Grable, Grable had a complexion for color film. She photographed idealistically. And you sure can see it here, where elaborate hairdos do not distract you from it.

She made a number of films with Dan Daily, and he was her only true co-star because true equal. Unlike the other moustaches, he could really dance. And you can see how well both of them do this as they contrive to put on a show for returning servicemen from Japan.

The story is the usual Betty Grable story of a woman whose man is two-timing her – except that she’s got a bigger career than him –– so there!

Except she’s not that hard-boiled. Naw. She lands her man. Our Betty deserves a love.


Because she is a love.


O’Henry’s Full House

03 Feb

O’Henry’s Full House – directed by Henry Hathaway, Henry King, Henry Koster, Howark Hawkes, Jean Negulesco  — Comedy. Five of the master’s tales. 117 minutes, black and white 1952.

* * * * *

Marilyn Monroe — there she for a full two minutes, yet for all time — with that figure and the air of a dream-mistress and the hurt of a molested 12 year old asking for more and asking for no more at the same time. She is child-like appealing in the moment when she says, “He called me a lady,” after she listens to Charles Laughton. He is tip top as the grandiose bum who seeks to spend the winter in a cosy jail rather than on a desolate park bench. David Wayne does a terrific crazy derelict with just the right hat. Richard Widmark  reprises his Johnny Udo from Kiss of Death, which is super to see again. He was never a subtle actor, so this is perfect for him, and I place you in his competent evil hands. I saw this picture when it came out, and was bored, but that was the era when Marlon Brando was emerging, so I found it old fashioned. But now I enjoy that it is old fashioned, for that was its intention, and I ask: would these costume stories work in modern dress? I think not. For their entertainment value is high, but their value is the entertainment of antiques. Put this in your Antiques Film Road Show and enjoy — O’Henry really knew how to tell a story: The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, The Clarion Call, The Cop and the Anthem, The Last Leaf.


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