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Monday, January 30, 2017

Climbing Acting's Ladder The Hardest Way


Career (1959) Deserves Blu-Ray Revival

Why isn't this Hal Wallis drama better known? I watched (Amazon Prime) and was captivated by its story of an aspiring actor (Tony Franciosa) who fails and fails, ones in his orbit including Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Carolyn Jones ... all excellent. Wallis by the late 50's was mired in Jerry Lewis and Elvis, but could still mount serious projects and do Paramount proud. Trouble for Career, as speculated then and since, was public unawareness, if not indifference, to struggle for stage fame, a milieu captured well here, but who'd care? Wallis might have shot in Gotham, chose instead not to, which was no help to verisimilitude, as many took it to streets by late 50's, especially postwar talent who'd begun in live TV and wanted to keep settings real. Wallis was traditional, studio taught, and so figured a backlot would work same as it had since yore days at WB. To this he was misguided, though I'm guessing pared budget had something to do with sticking close to home. Paramount was on fumes by the late 50's, stunning receipts from The Ten Commandments an ongoing mortgage lifter. Career, with only $1.4 million in domestic rentals, lagged behind DeMille oldie Samson and Delilah, brought back a same year to wowzer $2.1 million. What with that and Jerry Lewis returning $3.1 million with Don't Give Up The Ship for Wallis, you can forgive the producer for sticking mostly to fluff.


Acting role models by 50's Method takeover were presumably those who made success with the technique, but earlier on, where Career takes place (immediate postwar), lamp was still lit by glories of a John Barrymore, whose films still play at a cameo-size cinema that Dean and Tony attend for inspiration. Question then --- were Barrymore oldies really unspooling in Greenwich Village during the late 40's, and did aspiring actors go see them? There is a portrait of JB hung in Franciosa's single-room flat, while Carolyn Jones' agent office has theatrical posters of Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson. For scenes set later in the 50's (Career being something of a saga), Booth and Jefferson are replaced by The Desperate Hours and The Rose Tattoo, both hits on Broadway. Hollywood takes a beating, all yes people and natural habitat for back-stabber Dean. A walk across the Paramount lot naturally passes a man dressed in Indian costume (what, no elephant?), such visual cues an oldest cliché where action is set on Hollywood lots. Sword-sash and mustachioed "Eric Peters" is depicted as biggest star at the lot, him no actor and not even much of a personality --- a Career slam on Errol Flynn?


Wallis always cast well, courageously at times, had built a stock company from arrival at Para where he set up shop as an independent. He and Career writers understood ordeal of players desperate to play, their willingness to try and be knocked back for what amounts in most instances to a lifetime. We forget what a tiny percentage of actors make the grade, success being unknown to 99% of ones who take the bloody field. Anthony Franciosa, then at beginning and ultra-Method phase, hit performing summit here, saw decline that some said resulted from bad on-set behavior, swung to 60's television where he'd be "Tony" in lighter series work. Franciosa captures aching need to go, and stay, on a working stage. Had Career been more of a success, he may have copped at least an AA nomination. Latter might have been accorded as well to Dean Martin as legit director gone Hollywood, his Communist past a sled to 50's blacklist, this angle fairly unique to Career. HUAC themes became common enough to 70's and later look-backs, but here was tackling the theme early, Martin's "Maury Novak" an opportunist who joined the Party during the 30's to get work, which made me wonder --- how many others took a same route? Dalton Trumbo was an uncredited writer on Career, so there is more than whiff of authenticity here.




Saturday, January 28, 2017

Further Katzman Trek Westward


The Gun That Won The West (1955) On Budget Terms

A certain exhaustion had set by the mid-fifties re westerns. Exhibs complained of surfeit in cavalry v. redskin themes, knowing television fed steady diet of same, and for free, so what was lure of these in theatres except color and a wider screen? Still, there was profit potential, if slim, in event ones could be made cheap enough, to which enter Sam Katzman and his Clover Productions, eternal sweeper behind parades to a boxoffice. Gun was assembled rather than produced, being recycle site for stock footage Katzman bought from majors who'd staged Indian action years before, and on larger budgets. A lot of stuff here was recognizable from 20th's Buffalo Bill, and better eyes than mine will spot borrowed highlights from elsewhere. William Castle directs, though honestly, shouldn't Buffalo Bill's William Wellman and his second unit be credited? The story is something of a lift as well, from superiors Winchester '73 and Springfield Rifle of a few seasons back. All were focused on firearms that changed tactic, and to Katzman and Castle's credit, they do at least demonstrate how breach loaders enabled quicker shots. A willing cast cross-references Clovers previous and to come, as well as sci-fi gone before. Richard Denning was just ahead of coping with Atom Brains and Black Scorpions, while Paula Raymond had lately finished a round with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Lead man Dennis Morgan was fresh out of Warner pact; this must have been startling gulp of catchpenny reality for him. TCM has run The Gun That Won The West in gratifying 1.85, such good presentation always a help to modest pics like this.




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where Sheridan Was Warners' Whole Show


Juke Girl (1942) Is Sizzle Plus Steak

Ads and reputation would suggest that Juke Girl is a cheapie, if not a sleazy. The title redoubles impressions, but no, it's neither. Juke Girl exposes raw deal bean pickers got in a heartland that's more wasteland as portrayed here. It may be a last sour take on US day-to-day before the war slipped a patriotic leash on movies and folks watching them. Writing was A.I. Bezzerides, who'd done a truck story (They Drive By Night) that got him a WB contract. There'd be trucks here too, but played down so as not to seem repeat of the last. There was really but one thing to sell here, and it was Ann Sheridan, coming into own as Warner's grenade with pin pulled, a sex lure for even a pic about bean pickers. Juke Girl sounded like outlaw product gone to impolite theatres that didn't worry with Code seals, that mere hoodwink, for this was better than fronts would suggest.


Social comment is at play via working folk done wrong by fat cat Gene Lockhart, him committing murder for which Sheridan and co-star Ronald Reagan are nearly lynched. The vegetable and produce market is a racketeering hotbed, and it's not just isolated bad apples. Corruption travels phone line to screw sellers at both ends of a route. I don't think Juke Girl could have got made a year later. Bezzerides said a "B" script-partner was forced on him, weakening hard-hit first proposed. That's fate of virtually all studio output, I'd guess, but Bezzerides lived ninety-eight years, so there was opportunity to tell his grievance, and often. Social comment of Juke Girl stayed under radars because of how the film was marketed, but it was there, and might have been HUAC-useful had committee and critics later noted it.

Extended Fuzzy Knight Appearance Dropped From Final Prints

Juke Girl was primarily to re-team Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan after shared success of King's Row, that one proof that both could "act" and were getting opportunity to do so again. Sheridan got long-range oomph from help like this, but Reagan had to fold his hand with war service and lose momentum that 1941-42 releases had given him. Little after the war would be as effective for him as even Juke Girl. Outside King's Row, Sheridan was mostly chanteuses and hash-slingers given tart Jerry Wald-ish (often his) dialogue and making a most of it. She seemed for a most part like a Howard Hawks woman not being directed by Howard Hawks, him hiring her later for I Was A Male War Bride, that almost certainly for seeing, and remembering, Sheridan in things like Torrid Zone, They Drive By Night, and Juke Girl.

Chicago First-Run with Live Accompany

Sheridan had revolted, more over money (not enough) than parts. She didn't mind the Oomph tag so much, having earlier entered Panther Woman sweepstakes, after all (for Island of Lost Souls). Warners needed a sex bomb for wartime detonation, so she'd be it. Ads for Juke Girl would be all over Sheridan with no hint of content otherwise. Then as later, and certainly now, people had to have very simple reasons to go to movies. Sheridan in tough girl pose and daring men to draw nigh was but variation on theme known to Warner watchers who'd seen her male counterpart in James Cagney (one reason why they were so effective together --- two of a rough kind). WB spent on Juke Girl ($751K negative cost), more so than for star-bigger In This Our Life or Across The Pacific of a same season, and there was profit ($466K). Warner Archive has a DVD, and TCM's latest broadcast looks to be an upgrade, if not HD.




Monday, January 23, 2017

One That Smoldered In '65


Taylor and Burton Steam Up The Sandpiper

First to clear sentiment away: I was taken to this during Winston-Salem visit where my mother and sister got sudden impulse to see newest of Taylor-Burton coupling after cross-street shopping from the Carolina Theatre, it decorated by one-sheets with Liz/Dick lying beauteous on the beach like an adulterous Frankie and Annette. What little I knew of the pair derived from cover upon fan mag cover, on last newsstand leg themselves, but still threat to shelf space for comics or monsters I sought. Cleopatra had been foreclosed to me for too-hot content plus being origin point of Burton-Taylor sins. A neighbor boy had somehow got a roadshow souvenir book and hid it under his mattress. One sixth-grade school group bus-rode to Winston for Cleopatra (presumed educational value) and some parents complained bitterly, or forbade offspring to go along. This then, was background to my seeing The Sandpiper. Mother and sis choices were to take me into the Carolina, leave me in the car, loose on streets, or forget The Sandpiper (our Liberty Theatre wouldn’t get it till several months later). I was thrilled to see a truly adult film to brag on, embellish, or outright lie about for friends back home. As events turned out, The Sandpiper needed no enhancement. It had the heat, all of grown-up passion one could hope for at age 11, and … I swear this was real, a nude glimpse of Elizabeth Taylor, which I looked for again in TCM’s recent HD broadcast and couldn’t find. Was that couple of frames a dream? Did just me and no one else actually see it? Look back on formative filmgoing and ask yourself: Was I looking at the same screen as the rest of the audience, or was a different movie playing in my head?




The Sandpiper is today laughed at where not ignored altogether. It was produced in a party atmosphere, champagne corks popped between each take and hangers-on present for a whole of shooting. Fifty years gone by barely lifts perception of The Sandpiper as keyhole-peep into sex excess of a notorious tabloid couple, less a movie than relic of Hollywood gone to 60’s ruin. I was fortunate then, to enjoy The Sandpiper at face value, being barely aware of offscreen scandals, and new besides to grown-up topics it addressed. It was enough to know that Richard Burton’s character was a cleric and boy’s school administrator fallen from grace and happy marriage to Eva Marie Saint when he flips for free-spirit Elizabeth Taylor, she of Malibu dunes and Bohemian lifestyle. That last includes au naturel posing for sculptor Charles Bronson, which was where I got glimpse (or did I?) of undraped Liz. So how is it she covers herself demurely on TCM and DVD? A girl next door confirmed (years later) what I saw, she being age seven when taken by parents to see The Sandpiper in that same summer 1965. Good lord, where were babysitters to pinch-hit for Mom-Dad and spare young minds this impact?




I wonder how its stars regarded The Sandpiper. Burton seems to me quite good in moral crisis. Taylor works as best she can in a difficult part. Her seduction of his untested virtue gives us glimpse to what went on behind Roman columns of Cleopatra. Reviews of The Sandpiper certainly would not have mattered to a public whose primary want was to get between sheets with the decade’s most reckless lovers. They achieve a screen intimacy here that later pairings would lack. The trick having been performed would have made its repetition less welcome. Already there was The V.I.P’s (1963), but Taylor and Burton are estranged in that, her character taken up with Louis Jourdan. Irony was Burton playing the cuckold, even if the Taylor-Jourdan liaison isn’t fully consummated (a Code limit that makes The V.I.P’s almost comical in hindsight). The Sandpiper was two years deeper into reality of a Liz-Dick world and so played cards more face up. It proposes an adultery that pays off, and so gave a paying crowd their money’s worth. And then there's further asset of Vincente Minnelli directing.




Minnelli evidently thought little of Sandpiper prospects, but realized big numbers would go and see it. In fact, they did, but the film still lost money, over a million in fact, despite a whopping $8.6 million in worldwide rentals. Trouble was a familiar one --- too much spent on the negative, in this case $5.3 million. Part of excess was $1.5 million the Burtons collected (half-a-million for him, the rest to her), plus percentage of the gross. They were worth that for white heat of publicity they generated. Taylor had good sense to insist on Minnelli to direct, and threw needed work also to old MGM colleague Tom Drake, whom she had helped before with a spot on Raintree County. I hadn't realized before reading Stephen Harvey's book on Minnelli that latter was receiving a weekly check from MGM, which would surely put him among last of contract talent the Lion still fed. Big Sur in California was used for beach location. After that came balance shot in France, an accommodation to Taylor-Burton tax concerns. Say what you will of Minnelli reduced to empty star celebration, The Sandpiper has his style and a look to overcome faults of its narrative. It came close as any 1965 release to being a critic-proof picture. Any "quality" element would have just got in the way of what folks were there to see.




The Sandpiper sold hand-in-purse with beauty aids, clothing, hair-styling, a six-page ad spread in Harper's Bazaar. Major cultural shifts were headed America's way, but this attraction would not reflect them, other than libertine lifestyle the Burtons indulged. Tie-ins if anything evoked means by which Lana Turner's late-term vehicles had been drummed, or Doris Day in commercial dotage. This would all be swept out, and soon, by Hollywood kowtow to youth in rebellion and patron demand that movies reflect a new awareness. Whatever else she was at age mid-thirties, Elizabeth Taylor still spelled sex at ripest before an abolished Code made her kind of moral trespass quaint. MGM may have sensed an expiration date and so got out combo revival of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Butterfield 8 soon after release of The Sandpiper. Posters cried "Liz Sizzles!" and so emulated tabloids long obsessed by her. Value of The Sandpiper was not so lasting, CBS picking up pieces with network premiere on 3-6-70. There is a DVD from Warners, and Amazon streams The Sandpiper in High-Def.





Saturday, January 21, 2017

Columbia Leads a Swing Parade


Jam Session (1944) Is Just What Title Implies


Ann Miller spends virtually all of this trying to crash Hollywood, result being no song/dance by her till almost the end. Wasn't that why Columbia hired Ann Miller? A "B" as were most from that shop, Jam Session is really band shorts strung together that relate but barely to slim narrative. There's fun of seeing a western in production, plus generous peek inside sound stages. Ann uses underhand means of getting past studio gates and emerges a star for her effort. Did this encourage real-life aspirants to do likewise? Jam Session makes picture-work look like ultra-casual enterprise. Maybe it was at Columbia. Bands were a meaningful draw to wartime pics, being at a peak during the conflict. One and two reelers with a name group were constants. To bill four, six, even ten bands, was enough to sell an otherwise tepid feature. Jam Session took $397K in domestic rentals, quite a figure for a B, but not unexpected in boom year that was 1944.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Crisis Of Conscience For Brit Pair


End Of The Affair (1955) Probes Love's Torment

From a Graham Greene novel, and unique for tying a religious theme onto exploration of adultery among Londoners during and after WWII. There's a wonderful summary of the troubled project from perspective of David Lewis, whose producing credit this was, in The Creative Producer, a book-length interview conducted by James Curtis. Seems the venture began with Louis Mayer planning End Of The Affair as his comeback after ouster from MGM, but Mayer backed off and the venture wound ways to Columbia release for the US. Like all the big companies with distribution overhead, Columbia needed product to fill pipelines, so kept Brit firms busy via financing and release deals. End Of The Affair, a Coronado Production, got part of ten million that Columbia invested during 1954 in UK independents. Money also went to Warwick Pictures, an outfit with ongoing ties to Columbia, theirs including The Prisoner, upcoming Safari and Cockleshell Heroes. Did these click stateside? End Of The Affair wouldn't, a mere $472K collected in domestic rentals versus exploitable Safari, pushed much harder by Columbia to $1.3 million result. David Lewis thought End Of The Affair was a miss artistically, but maybe his was evaluation based on hopes gone unfulfilled, a common trouble for ambitious producers. The drama played well to me. Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson give good account as the lovers, and there's Peter Cushing fine as the cuckolded husband. This may be Cushing's best feature role before horrors at Hammer swallowed him up. Sony Movie Channel shows End Of The Affair from time to time in 1.85 HD.




Monday, January 16, 2017

A Pyramid For 1954 Promotion

Kurt Kasznar, Robert Taylor, and Carlos Thompson Visit the
Great Pyramid Of Cheops On Arrival to Valley Location

Valley Of The Kings Another World Tour From Metro

Long overdue on proper widescreen, Valley Of The Kings is recently out from Warner Archive to close the gap of location treks MGM took during the 50's as dressing for some of their most important releases. This one hadn't gone missing, was around from the early 60's on television and later TCM, but always at full-frame expense of Egypt splendor Metro spent months abroad to capture. The project was a natural to follow King Solomon's Mines in 1950, and then Mogambo in 1953, both these modern, or at least twentieth-century, set. Valley takes place in 1900, though focus on antiquity and primitive backdrop make then or now interchangeable. Many young people saw and were entranced by Valley Of The Kings on initial release, some inspired to pursue Egyptology as result. Template for the film was Solomon/Mogambo, a lone wolf seeker of adventure in foreign climes drawn into quest by a married woman with whom he'll become romantically involved. The concept would much later be kiddie-leveled for the Indiana Jones series, observers citing Republic serials as primary inspiration for those, though Metro specials were the inspire for bigness. Valley Of The Kings belongs to a time when just seeing the real Egypt on a wide screen was event in itself, and reason aplenty to for once abandon the free-box at home.


Trouble was, Valley Of The Kings lost money, not a lot ($24K), but enough to suggest tides were headed out for location for its own sake. Two million was sunk in the negative, most of that run up during  months cast/crew spent in Egypt. Refreshing then, and still, is no cheating with doubles or second units. We get Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker throughout on actual sites, amusing start of which sees Parker go past the Sphinx in a carriage, smiling in general direction of the camera as if something there was more interesting than miracle of the ancient world  behind her. Valley Of The Kings got a boost from early '54 discovery of the funeral boat of Cheops that made international news and awoke public fascination for relic finds. So what did Valley Of The Kings lack that made King Solomon's Mines and Mogambo historic hits? (both counting profit by millions) It might have been animals gone wild in both, stampeding in the first, a gorilla hunt in the next. Africa also promised more danger than Egypt, which had mystery of its tombs, but also their stillness. Valley Of The Kings has to reach for what action it has (scorpion-creep into bedding, Taylor doing ritual combat with a native, a camel stampede that is no patch on Solomon's entire jungle turned loose). Valley bumps in each instance were a carbon on stuff done in the earlier pics, and not as effective.


At least for the early 50's, MGM was acknowledged leader in the location field. Global shooting policy saw six features done overseas and ready for 1953-54 release, with Betrayed, Beau Brummell, and Adventures of Quentin Durward charted for fall '53 and after finish. Valley Of The Kings began with departure of director Robert Pirosh to Cairo in late September 1953, him having developed and co-written the project. For Pirosh, this was promotion from scribe ranks, but he reckoned not with heavy supervisory hand back home that would impose script changes he didn't want. Pirosh ignoring dispatches resulted in Metro chief Dore Schary sending hatchet man (and fellow writer) Charles Schnee to Egypt for a showdown. Pirosh was warned to tow the mark or surrender his viewfinder. The writer/director would "check off" the Metro lot (Film Bulletin) after job's completion, recalling his ordeal years later for an interview with film scholar Ronald L. Davis. The Egypt stay was long enough, from a September '53 start till early January 1954 return, to stage virtually all of action on actual sites, "a 2,000 mile junket" within that country, said publicity. Metro had a couple of flagship theatres on site, in Cairo and Alexandria, and these were tabbed for dual world premiering of Valley Of The Kings on 7-21-54.


Look magazine ran a September '53 feature on the influx of Egypt-set epics, it being too early to know that each would fail. In addition to Valley Of The Kings, there was The Egyptian and Land Of The Pharaohs spotlighted. Also in gestation was biggest of all The Ten Commandments, three years away from its open, and the only one of crypt dwellers to punch a winning ticket. Latter had advantage of biblical backdrop and DeMille name in credits, though Valley Of The Kings did float a religious theme by making its pursuit not one for plunder, but proof that Joseph's story in the Bible was confirmed by objects found in the sought-after tomb, a notion more fanciful in 1953. Exploration since has supported the possibility, even to point of scholars claiming that Joseph was himself a Pharaoh, one Im-Ho-Tep (not the same Im-Ho-Tep beloved of Karloffians).  Metro designed its fictional tomb after rediscovered King Tut's of historic 20's discovery, though it's unknown if Tut digs were as picturesquely splayed with Solomon-like treasure. All movies would rely on the Tut find to dress graves, him being a modern art director's best friend.

Special Ad Prepared to Tie-In With The Cheops Find

A location jaunt in those days was no pink tea. Movement was slow with accommodations seldom the Ritz. Everywhere you went, so did a caravan, and work didn't start until all were there and set to go. Valley Of The Kings star Robert Taylor had been six weeks in Egypt, more than that away from California home, having thrown a party "for himself" (Variety) before leaving UK comfort for last leg of the globe-trot. He'd been oversea for several of vehicles that were castle-set, that is, real castles, for Ivanhoe and Knights Of The Round Table. Now would come R&R duly noted by Variety on 1-6-54. Bob's "holiday" would amount to following: flying his own plane, first to Miami, "thence to NY, Aspen, Colo., for a week of skiing, and then Acapulco for fishing." The spree was scheduled to last a month. This then was a star's life at dusk of a Classic Era, and we could wonder how many others had it so good, or would again after the contract system collapsed. Culver and remaining talent in residence were seeing final days as America's own valley of the Kings.




Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bon Vivant Benny Loose On Broadway


Jack Is A Broadway Romeo (1931) for Paramount

Jack Benny still feeling his way toward a lasting persona. Here he's the natty sort once called a "sharper," which was shorthand for not to be trusted. Jack had worked at relaxed style in capacity of emcee for vaudeville and performing there in nonchalant as possible mode. Others like Frank Fay had made careers of introducing with smart-alecking in between. Trouble was being sympathetic in that posture, let alone making watchers identify with you. Jack had tabbed himself the "Aristocrat Of Humor," doubtless realizing risk of being too aristocratic. Smooth could come across as smug, guys like Benny on a high wire from which they might fall. It took radio from 1932 onward to reveal the Benny character's vulnerability, and an audience ready to embrace it. Benny as A Broadway Romeo comes on as man about town and mild lecher after girl passerby Estelle Brody. He plays a mean trick on a sympathetic dining customer that may have seemed clever to Depression-sufferers, but leaves ashes in mouths for many watching now. A Broadway Romeo was Astoria-made, so Jack didn't have to miss evening performances at least. It's a fascinating reel, and available on Kino DVD, Cavalcade Of Comedy.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Where Very Old Looks New Again


Children Of Divorce (1927) Reveals Legends Both Made and In The Making

Clara Bow was for too long a high wattage star in low wattage prints. For me, at least, she's another of those who survive best in stills, if you could find them. Ever seen originals? Creamy, rich, detailed ... and high as a kite on Ebay or auction sites. Once her movies looked like that, when nitrate was the norm. Now they are either lost or eternity removed from camera elements. Two exceptions have come to Blu-Ray as remind of what Clara Bow was and why she made a sensation, Wings and newly-released Children Of Divorce Exhibits A and B of pictoral beauty common to all silent films when fresh on 20's market. I'm just greedy enough to want all of Bow output to look like these, but that won't happen in my lifetime or anyone's to come. Guess we're lucky to have even these two. We could suggest Blu-Ray upgrade for It and Mantrap, a pair of hers that exist in perhaps comparable quality. Ones of us accepting  silents on take-what-you-can-get basis have been succeeded by a generation who'll have them no way but pristine. Digital spoils folks that way.




Children Of Divorce has been around, but not digitally. There were archive runs, at Cinecon once as I recall. Interest runs higher for Bow being joined by Gary Cooper at career start and Josef Von Sternberg as relief director (Frank Lloyd being credited). Children is drama of people making wrong decisions and reaping emotional harvest for it. Bow is willful and for most part misguided, so we spend runtime hoping against a bad end for her. Cooper is lip rouged and likeably awkward in tuxedoed confinement. He grabs attention from start with an almost missed horse leap over hedges (a number of takes he did miss, from what I read). Paramount was very much run on factory basis. You got out requisite number of vehicles and left them to run on fuel a public's interest supplied. That put considerable weight on stars. A Clara Bow hauled perhaps more rocks than she realized, for what would her four-or-so feature output per annum amount to with anyone else in a lead? Children Of Divorce is probably no better or worse than missing Bows we wish would turn up but likely won't. Fact it's here and looks so crisp is sweet icing. This is the sort of disc release that might win new converts to pre-talkie cause.




For the deeper committed, there is Esther Ralston as party mom to reckless Bow and hapless Coop, character traits mirrored by offscreen future and fates of the three. Ralston was a most moderate and sensible in her choices, being married and with child when Children Of Divorce was made, and not for a moment fooled by fairy dust that stardom sprinkled. She'd live long as well to reflect upon it, Bow and Cooper beating her to the barn by thirty years, give or take (GC in 1961, CB in 1965, Ralston in 1994 at age 91). Someone always gets to go last, Ralston having opportunity to speak with historians (or rather, they with her) and consider Children Of Divorce as ancient text it by then was. What a wildly diverse world and culture she knew.




Part of magic Bow and Cooper still exert comes of their hitting the high-life off as well as on the screen, leaving lore for personal ups-downs worthy of drama or farce their movies provided. Meanwhile players like Ralston, however glamorous they register in roles (ER a wow at her peak), simply did the job, went home, and there waited for a next assignment. There won't be a thousand dollar run on Ralston stills at Heritage or Butterfield, even as she did leave a best interview record of what it was like to perform in Children Of Divorce with to-be icons that were Clara Bow and Gary Cooper (and for her look-back, see William M. Drew's conversation with Ralston in his Speaking Of Silents: First Ladies Of The Screen, a marvelous gathering of profiles by a top historian). Children Of Divorce can be had on Blu-Ray from Flicker Alley. There are extras (a Bow documentary written by David Stenn, plus an excellent booklet essay he wrote).
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