Bette Davis Project #13: That Certain Woman (1937)

“That Certain Woman” (1937) was the 3rd of a group of Bette movies I watched all in one night and was, by far, my favorite. Sadly, my copy of the film is poor, which you’ll confirm by looking at my screencaps. It’s available on DVD now but at a hefty price, so I won’t be getting a good copy of this any time soon. But 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 4 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 … Continue reading

Bette Davis Project #12: Front Page Woman (1935)

“Front Page Woman” was released a mere six weeks after “The Girl from 10th Avenue”, and it shows. These two programmers share 6 cast members and even some of the same sets. Long-time readers will remember how tired I have become of George Brent playing the guy trying to keep a woman in the home where she belongs. Well, folks, “Front Page Woman” is by far the worst offender in that category… thus far. Ellen (Bette Davis) is a young reporter assigned to cover the execution of a murderer at midnight. Boyfriend and fellow reporter Curt (Brent) doesn’t think a woman should be reporting on such a thing and, true to 1935, Ellen faints to prove how right he was. I’m surprised she didn’t lose a heel while running or fend off the bad guy by hitting him with her purse. Maybe I should mention that Curt and the other reporters deliberately set out to upset her with graphic talk about the execution. Curt writes two news stories, one for his paper and one for Ellen’s to cover for her womanly inability to report the news, but a screw-up causes the exact story to go into both papers. Ellen thinks he deliberately sabotaged her, and he might as well have: At a 3-alarm fire, Ellen is not allowed in to the area to report on the news because she’s a woman. Curt adds to this problem by lying to the police officers that she’s not even a reporter in the … Continue reading

"Female" and "Footlight Parade"

Back in April, I briefly blogged about “Female” (1933). Florence Craye (no relation) mentioned that the swimming pool at Alison’s ridiculously amazing home was the set used in “Footlight Parade.” The “By a Waterfall” set in “Footlight Parade”: A close-up of the set just in front of the fountain as it appeared in “Female”: They added some wacky art deco statues of nekked mens and some plants to the fountain, but that’s the same pool all right. You can see it on this segment of “Female” on YouTube here, starting at 1:55. Meanwhile, one of those wacky art deco men crashed a Corrine Griffith photo shoot: Thank you once again, The Secret Life of Objects, for making movies even more fun than they already are.

Marie Prevost Project #2: "A Scoundrel’s Toll" (1916) and others

Edit 07/06/2013: For anyone interested in doing their own project on Marie Prevost, due to problems over the years, you need to know a few things: 1) You can use my blog posts for sources, but they must be credited in footnotes or bibliography (as should any book, blog, magazine, or other source). You cannot just cut and paste sections of my blog into your own work. Please know that I will not just ignore copyright infringement, should it occur. 2) There may be errors in my blog posts. You’re responsible for doing your own research and verifying anything you read. 3) I will not help you with your Marie Prevost research. Please don’t ask. 4) I own some memorabilia, photos, archival docs, etc., but I do not lend them out for any reason. Please don’t ask. 5) Despite any claim you may have heard to the contrary, I have not assisted nor collaborated with anyone in their book or article on Marie Prevost. For more details, read here. This post originally appeared at http://www.shebloggedbynight.com/2010/11/marie-prevost-project-2-scoundrels-toll.html and a copy can be found at the Internet Archive here. *** Note: Some of the pictures that originally came with this post were lost in a server move. They will be eventually restored. Thanks! *** We just visited “Those Bitter Sweets,” allegedly Marie’s first film. Was it? Hell if I know. This #2 post in the Project is the first of probably several posts where I can do nothing but list a bunch of … Continue reading

Marie Prevost Project #1: Those Bitter Sweets (1915)

Edit 07/06/2013: For anyone interested in doing their own project on Marie Prevost, due to problems over the years, you need to know a few things: 1) You can use my blog posts for sources, but they must be credited in footnotes or bibliography (as should any book, blog, magazine, or other source). You cannot just cut and paste sections of my blog into your own work. Please know that I will not just ignore copyright infringement, should it occur. 2) There may be errors in my blog posts. You’re responsible for doing your own research and verifying anything you read. 3) I will not help you with your Marie Prevost research. Please don’t ask. 4) I own some memorabilia, photos, archival docs, etc., but I do not lend them out for any reason. Please don’t ask. 5) Despite any claim you may have heard to the contrary, I have not assisted nor collaborated with anyone in their book or article on Marie Prevost. For more details, read here. This post originally appeared at http://www.shebloggedbynight.com/2010/11/marie-prevost-project-1-those-bitter.html and a copy can still be found at the Internet Archive here. *** Sharp-eyed readers will note that this is titled Marie Prevost Project #1 when we’ve already had Project #1.  Starting now, I will be going through Marie Prevost films for the Project in chronological order, including those films of hers that do not survive or that I do not have copies of, and as such I’m numbering the posts chronologically. Previous posts in … Continue reading

Bette Davis Project #11: The Girl From 10th Avenue (1935)

“The Girl from 10th Avenue” (1935) is one of those quickie Warner Bros programmers that at times rises above its mediocre goals. But most of these Warner Bros weeklies do, truth be told, and between cost-cutting and bored actors, so many of these films just do not impress. Bette is Miriam, a shop girl who happens to be standing outside the church where a fabulous society wedding between Valentine French and John Marland is taking place. Also standing in the mob outside is Geoff Sherwood, the lawyer that Valentine threw off so she could marry the rich John Marland. He’s drunk and belligerent and, when the cops decide maybe they should take him in, Miriam grabs him and steers him to a spaghetti restaurant, away from the cops. There Geoff decides he needs looking after, so he offers her $100 to watch him for a week. She tells him to go to hell at first, but eventually relents. Next thing they know, they’re married. Geoff doesn’t recall the marriage (booze) and Miriam considers just leaving and annulling the marriage (common sense), but to help get him sober, they agree to stay together with the caveat that either can leave at any time. Geoff rebuilds his career while Miriam works on becoming socially acceptable, as though she was ever crude and awful and unacceptable in the first place. But okay, let’s go with it. Miriam becomes fashionable and sophisticated:   Fabulous much?   Of course, this happens just as Valentine returns … Continue reading