You know when I said I’d see you on the New Year? I accidentally lied. First of all, important notice: World O’ Crap has moved! Hackers hacked, that’s all I know. Now World O’Crap is at a new blog address. Go! Enjoy! And now, some lovely Gerda Maurus for your between-holiday enjoyment. Few of these photos do her justice, by the way. She is much more dynamic in film than in stills. Gustav von Wangenheim (sitting), Gerda Maurus, Fritz Lang behind her, and Gustal Gstettenbaur to the right, courtesy Gustav von Wangenheim Tribute Page.
Santa with Beauties Phyllis Haver, Harriet Hammond, and Marie Prevost… but I could be wrong! joltenjoeswife identifies the third Beauty as Mary Thurman.
Fritz Lang’s magnificent Spies (1928) is so obviously the precursor to the post-modern spy thriller that I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t discuss it. One of the things that is so fabulous about the film is that it rarely delves into stereotype, but that is most certainly because the now-well-known elements of the spy flick were fresh and new in 1928 and could hardly have been stereotyped at all. Yet the femme fatale, the Russian agent, the sneaky Asian spies, the fallen soldier, the cold-blooded spy ring leader, these were all familiar to 1928 audiences and could have all easily fallen into cliche, but they didn’t. Which, to digress a bit, is why I was so put off by Donald Sosin’s score which is featured on the 2004 restoration. Every appearance of the Japanese spies — who are trying to get a treaty back to Japan before master German spy Haghi gets his hands on it — results in Sosin’s score switching to very stereotypical Asian music. When a main Japanese character dies, a gong is heard. It’s baffling. About the same time as this restoration, Zach Galifianakis performed a now-famous joke in his stand-up act about this exact thing: “Whenever my Asian roommate walks in the door, I play [a stereotypical Asian tune]. And she says ‘Zach, why do you do that every time I come in the room?’ and I say ‘Because I don’t have a gong.’” It doesn’t make sense that Sosin would, in … Continue reading
My best boyfriend Jack having an off day. Please leave your puns about his beard at the door.
This year’s TCM Remembers premiered yesterday, December 12th: The direct link to TCM’s version is here. The song is “Headlights” by Sophie Hunger from the album “1983”.
All three of the Edna Mae Oliver “Hildegarde Withers” murder mystery vehicles were recently show on TCM in a little mini marathon. First up was The Penguin Pool Murder: Anyhow, the Hildegarde Withers series. This series consists of six films that ran from 1932 to 1937, with only the first three starring Edna Mae Oliver, and the remaining three with Helen Broderick and Zasu Pitts. A seventh film starring Eve Arden in 1972 was made with the Hildegarde Withers character, and Billboard reported that a TV pilot called “The Amazing Miss Withers” was filmed in 1955, starring Agnes Moorehead. I have no idea if the pilot ever aired. But despite four other actresses playing the role, Edna Mae is the definitive Hildegarde, and it’s because of her birthday in November that I managed to follow up “Penguin Pool” (1932) with “Murder on the Blackboard” (1934) and “Murder on a Honeymoon” (1935). Hildegarde is a frumpy middle-aged schoolteacher who manages to get mixed up in murders on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of Police Inspector Oscar Piper (James Gleason). In the first film, “The Penguin Pool Murder,” Hildegarde is at the local aquarium with her students at the same time trophy wife Gwen Parker (Mae Clarke) is there to secretly meet her former lover Philip (Donald “Slightly Less Bland than Donald Woods” Cook). Gwen’s rich husband Gerald is anonymously alerted to their assignation and confronts them, only to be clocked in the face by Philip. He’s left unconscious near … Continue reading
In celebration of the IMDb finally correcting their entry for “The Locked Door” (1929) and removing Marie Prevost as a cast member, here are two promos from the film I forgot to post nearly 2 years ago: I was told that the person who added Marie to the cast list had not contributed anything else to the IMDb, yet I’m steeling myself for the moment when they return and re-add Marie as “roomate.” And yes, I hold a grudge like a brass ring. I would like to also call your attention to Louie’s fine El Brendel blog. He has posted some promotional stills of El in drag for the short “Okay, Jose” which I recently blogged about. You want to go see them. Yes, you do. I guarantee you will not see anything more disturbing today. Note: Posting will be light around here while I recover from the GI virus that is currently making the rounds. Thank you, Thanksgiving holiday travelers, for bringing it to our fair city. Our town’s supply of illudium phosdex virii was alarmingly low.
Frances Marion and “The Wind” at Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies “Even for Talkies, the Women Who Wrote Worked Silently” by Cari Beauchamp “Hollywood Pioneer Frances Marion: The Most Renowned Female Scriptwriter of the 20th Century” by P. Ryan Anthony.
Welcome to the first installment of Short Subject, Feature Film, a name that took hours to come up with, so feel free to bask in its genius. First up is the short, an early Technicolor romp called “Okay, Jose” starring my friend and yours, El Brendel: If you’re wondering how 1935 Technicolor could look so amazing, thank TCM, whose print of this short is astonishingly good. Louie at Give Me The Good Old Days! alerted us to this short a few months ago, and I finally got around to watching it recently. I shamefully admit I laughed. A lot. El is Knute Knudsen, hapless Swede, whose car breaks down in Mexico. Extremely dangerous bandito Jose (Julian Rivero) happens by and gives Knute a ride on his horse. They get drunk in what is the funniest part of the film. La policia arrive and arrest Knute while Jose gets away. They think Knute is in cahoots with el bandito, but Knute talks them into letting him out so he can capture Jose and bring him back. If he succeeds, they promise they will let him go. Knute disguises himself as a bandito and catches up with Jose, telling him that he knows where some beautiful blonde girls are that Jose can, erm, date. El’s disguise is silly, but his accent is all over the place, sometimes Swedish, sometimes Mexican, sometimes French, and it absolutely cracked me up. Knute went into the plan assuming la policia would obtain a beautiful blonde girl, … Continue reading
That Certain Woman (1937) is, thus far, one of my favorite Bette films and a real delight to stumble upon during this Project. Sadly, my copy of the film is poor, which you’ll confirm by looking at my screencaps. It’s available on DVD now, so if you get a chance to see this film, do! That Certain Woman is one of the few 1930s Bette melodramas that distinguishes itself from the others that so often feel like Kay Francis’ castoffs. For some reason, the copy TCM has covers the edges of the title screen with a grey border so you can’t see the usual “First National Picture” credit on the bottom. No idea why. I assume it’s a re-release print with some copyright issue. The plot of That Certain Woman is compelling in a way that your usual WB programmer isn’t. Bette is Mary Donnell, who we first see going to the cemetery on a cold, rainy evening in 1933. She’s followed there by a reporter who confronts her: She’s the former Mrs. Al Haines, widowed exactly four years earlier when her gangster husband was killed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The reporter is doing a “where are they now” series on people involved in the massacre, but Mary won’t have anything to do with it. She’s got a job as a secretary now, a new life, and is as far away from the mob as she can be. Unfortunately, the reporter knows about her new life and … Continue reading