Sunday, September 25, 2022

Gregory Peck is "The Gunfigher"

The Gunfighter (1950) is an American western drama directed by Henry King and starring Gregory Peck. The cast members include Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell, Karl Malden, and Jean Parker. The cinematography was by Arthur C. Miller (How Green is My Valley).

Gregory Peck stars as Jimmy Ringo, who is famous for being the fastest draw in the West. Because of his renown, he is constantly hounded by younger gunslingers who want to take him on. When Ringo is confronted by a young cowboy named Eddie, he has no choice but to defend himself. When Eddie’s three brothers find out they follow Ringo out of town. Ringo ambushes the brothers, disarms them and drives their horses away. He tells the brothers to walk back to town but they follow him on foot.

Ringo eventually arrives at the town of Cayenne where his wife and son live. He hasn’t seen either of them in eight years. Ringo wants to reunite with his wife (Helen Westcott) and son but Peggy doesn’t see how they could make a life for themselves and their son due to his gunfighter notoriety.

What remains for Ringo? Will he be able to carve a new life for himself or will his gunfighter’s reputation keep him from living a quiet, “normal” life?

Gregory Peck

Henry King (1886 - 1982) was an American actor and director. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Director and seven films that he directed were nominated for Best Picture including The Song of Benadette (1943) where he directed Jennifer Jones to a Best Actress Academy Award. While under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox he directed many films starring Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck. Some popular films directed by King include Lloyd's of London (1936), In Old Chicago (1937), Jesse James (1939), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), The Gunfighter (1950), David and Bathsheba (1951), The Sun Also Rises (1957), and The Bravados (1958).

Gregory Peck (1916 – 2002) was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. He had three Best Actor nominations early in his career for The Keys to the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). He had non-exclusive contracts with David O. Selznick and Twentieth Century-Fox, which gave him great flexibility in the roles he chose to play. Other classic Peck film roles include Roman Holiday (1953), The Big Country (1958), The Guns of Navarone (1961). He finally won a Best Actor Academy Award for his iconic portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).


The Gunfighter trivia

  • The script was originally written with John Wayne in mind.
  • The producers hated Peck's period mustache.
  • The western street is the same one used in The Ox-Box Incident (1942).
  • This was supposedly one of Gregory Peck's favorite roles.


To watch the movie on YouTube, clicked the link below.



To join the discussion on October 3, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and link to join the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. Was Peck convincing as an outlaw on the run?
  2. The producers hated Peck's mustache that fit the period and thought it contributed to the film's failure at the box office. Did Peck's mustache work for you or did you agree with the producers at Twentieth Century-Fox?
  3. Do you think Peck's character had a chance at a new life with his wife and son?
  4. Was the ending inevitable? Would you have written a different ending?
  5. Why do you think audiences didn't embrace The Gunfighter in spite of the mostly glowing reviews from the critics? 


Gregory Peck and Helen Westcott


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Claire Trevor and Sally Forrest star in Ida Lupino's "Hard, Fast and Beautiful"

Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951) is an American drama directed by Ida Lupino and starring Claire Trevor and Sally Forrest.

Millie Farley (Trevor) is dissatisfied with her suburban life so she pours herself into her daughter Florence’s (Forrest) career as a tennis star. As Florence wins tournament after tournament, Millie uses her daughter’s success to climb the social ladder. This alienates her from her husband Will (Kenneth Patterson) and brings tension between her and her daughter when she tries to get Florence to break up with her boyfriend Gordon McKay (Robert Clarke) when she discovers he’s not as rich as his uncle who owns the country club where Florence practiced and won her first tournament.

Will the Farley family be able to come to terms with Florence’s success without destroying each other?

 

Sally Forrest and Claire Trevor

Ida Lupino (1918 – 1995) was an English-American actress, director, and producer. She appeared in over 50 films and was one of Warner Bros.’s biggest contract players during the 1940s starring in High Sierra (1941), The Sea Wolf (1941), and The Man I Love (1947). After she left Warner Bros., Lupino formed her own production company, producing, writing, and directing films that tackled subjects the big studios wouldn’t touch. During the 1950s, Lupino was the only female director working in Hollywood. She directed several small independent films but really made a name for herself directing for television. Lupino directed episodes of The Twilight Zone (starred in one too), The RiflemanBonanzaGilligan’s IslandIt Takes a ThiefFamily Affair, and Columbo. In 1966, she directed her one-and-only big-budget studio picture, The Trouble with Angels starring Rosalind Russell and Haley Mills.

Claire Trevor (1910 - 2000) was an American actress who appeared in over 60 movies. She received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Dead End (1937), and The High and the Mighty (1954). She won the award for her performance in Key Largo (1948). Trevor got her start on the New York stage and made her film debut in 1933. She also appeared on radio with Edward G. Robinson in the popular radio program Big Town. Trevor’s most famous role is probably Dallas in Stagecoach, but she had other memorable roles in Murder, My Sweet (1944), and Born to Kill (1947). Her last film role was in Kiss Me Goodbye (1982) where she played Sally Field’s mother.

Sally Forrest (1928 – 2015) was an American film, stage, and TV actress. She was also a dancer and was signed to a contract with M-G-M right after high school. At M-G-M, she was a chorus dancer. Her acting debut was Not Wanted (1949), produced and directed by Ida Lupino. She starred in two other films directed by Lupino, Never Fear (1949) and Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951). After her marriage in 1953, Sally began to work on television and the stage. She starred on Broadway in The Seven Year ItchDamn Yankees, and Bus Stop. Her last film was While the City Sleeps (1956) co-starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, and Ida Lupino.

Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan as tennis fans

Hard, Fast and Beautiful trivia

  • Look for Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan (34 minutes in), watching Sally Forrest's character playing tennis at a match in Seabright, New Jersey. 
  • Sally Forrest was borrowed from M-G-M where she was under contract.
  • Eleanor Tennant, who is credited as a technical advisor for this film coached Sally Forrest in her tennis scenes. Tennant was the first female tennis player to become a professional. She was also famous for instructing Hollywood stars like Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
  • Robert Clarke had his hairy chest waxed to appear in the scene by the swimming pool.


To watch the movie on YouTube, click the link below.


To join the discussion on September 26, 2022, at 6:30 p.m Central Time click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and a link to the meeting on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. What did you make of the mother-daughter dynamics? Was it believable?
  2. This was Sally Forrest's third film for director Ida Lupino. Do you think her acting improved with this film?
  3. The relationship between Claire Trevor and Kenneth Patterson was strained to say the least. Do you think Florence's father should have been more assertive when it came to how his daughter's career was being managed?
  4. There's a lot of tennis in this movie. Was it believable?
  5. Did anything about the film surprise you? Did it remind you of any other films you've seen?
  6. What about the title? Did it make sense?


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Sally Forrest and Keefe Brasselle are "Not Wanted"

Not Wanted (1949) is an American drama directed by Elmer Clifton (and an uncredited Ida Lupino) and starring Sally Forrest, Keefe Brasselle, and Leo Penn. The screenplay was written by Lupino and Paul Jarrico, and produced by Lupino and Anson Bond. The film score was composed by Leith Stevens (All My Sons 1948).

Sally Kelton (Forrest) feels put upon by her parents and leaves home to follow Steve Ryan (Penn) a traveling musician. He abandons her when he finds out she’s pregnant. Not knowing where to turn, she finds herself in a home for unwed mothers. She gives up her child for adoption which leaves Sally feeling empty and unworthy of love. When she meets Drew Baxter (Brasselle), a disabled veteran will she be able to feel wanted at last?

Keefe Brasselle and Sally Forrest

Elmer Clifton (1890 – 1949) was an American writer, director, and actor going back to the days of the silent era. He worked with D. W. Griffith and acted in The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). He directed Dorothy Gish and a pre-stardom Rudolph Valentino. He discovered Clara Bow and directed her in Down to the Sea in Ship (1923). During the sound era, Clifton directed westerns and other genre pictures. Three days into directing Not Wanted, he suffered a heart attack and wasn’t able to work anymore. Lupino gave Clifton on-screen directing credit even though she directed most of the film.

Ida Lupino (1918 – 1995) was an English-American actress, director, and producer. She appeared in over 50 films and was one of Warner Bros.’s biggest contract players during the 1940s starring in High Sierra (1941), The Sea Wolf (1941), and The Man I Love (1947). After she left Warner Bros., Lupino formed her own production company, producing, writing, and directing films that tackled subjects the big studios wouldn’t touch. During the 1950s, Lupino was the only female director working in Hollywood. She directed several small independent films but really made a name for herself directing for television. Lupino directed episodes of The Twilight Zone (starred in one too), The RiflemanBonanzaGilligan’s IslandIt Takes a ThiefFamily Affair, and Columbo. In 1966, she directed her one-and-only big-budget studio picture, The Trouble with Angels starring Rosalind Russell and Haley Mills.

Sally Forrest (1928 – 2015) was an American film, stage, and TV actress. She was also a dancer and was signed to a contract with M-G-M right after high school. At M-G-M, she was a chorus dancer. Her acting debut was in in Not Wanted (1949), produced and directed by Ida Lupino. She starred in two other films directed by Lupino, Never Fear (1949) and Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951). After her marriage in 1953, Sally began to work on television and the stage. She starred on Broadway in The Seven Year Itch, Damn Yankees, and Bus Stop. Her last film was While the City Sleeps (1956) co-starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, and Ida Lupino.

Keefe Brasselle (1923 – 1981) was an American film and television actor, producer, and author. He was groomed for major stardom in 1953 with the title role in The Eddie Cantor Story. The film wasn’t the success the studio had hoped for and Brasselle never attained major stardom. He acted on TV during its Golden Age. He was a producer of several TV shows that didn’t get high enough ratings to be well-remembered today. He later wrote two novels which were thinly veiled accounts of his life as a producer at CBS. Brasselle starred in two films directed by Ida Lupino, the other one being Never Fear (1949), also co-starring Sally Forrest.

Leo Penn (1921 – 1998) was an American actor and director and the father of musician Michael Penn and actors Sean and Chris Penn. Penn’s movie career was cut short during the House Un-American Activities Committee. He refused to name names and was accused of addressing a Communist political meeting. This resulted in him losing his contract with Paramount and resulted in him being blacklisted. Penn found work as a director for television. Some of the shows he directed include I Spy, Lost in Space, Star Trek, Kojak, Magnum P.I., and Father Murphy




Not Wanted trivia

  • The Motion Picture Production Code rejected the original title Unwed Mother.
  • Ida Lupino was invited to speak about this film on the radio with Eleanor Franklin and her daughter Ana.
  • The film was a financial success and propelled Ida Lupino into the role of producer/director with her independent production company The Filmakers.
  • The original director, Elmer Clifton, died shortly after the film's release.


To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.


To join the discussion on September 19, 2022, at 6 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a link to join the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. When the movie was released, it was quite sensational. What was your reaction to it today?
  2. Were the characterizations of Sally Forrest, Keefe Brasselle, and Leo Penn believable and realistic?
  3. Ida Lupino had never planned on directing, but the death of Elmer Clifton forced her into that position. Do you think the film might have had a different feel if a man directed it?
  4. Did anything about the film surprise you?
  5. Did the film remind you of other movies you've seen?


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, and John Derek all work for a "Scandal Sheet"

Scandal Sheet (1952) is an American film noir directed by Phil Karlson and starring Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, and John Derek. The strong supporting cast includes Rosemary DeCamp, Harry Morgan, and Strother Martin.

Mark Chapman (Crawford) is a newspaperman with a lot of experience in the business. He has turned the New York Express into a successful paper by focusing on the sensational. Steve McCleary (Derek) is the paper’s ace reporter and likely successor to Chapman. Julie Allison (Reed) is the features editor who is growing weary of the paper’s turn toward yellow journalism.

When Chapman is confronted by his estranged wife (DeCamp), things begin to unravel. Will Chapman become the subject of his own scandal sheet?


Phil Karlson (1908 – 1982) was a Chicago-born and raised American film director specializing in B pictures at various studios. Karlson was the original choice to direct Dr. No (1962) but his salary requirements were too high. He made a series of successful films noir with actor John Payne in the 1950s. He directed Elvis Presley in Kid Galahad (1962), one of the biggest box office success of that year. Later in his career, he directed Dean Martin in two films in the Matt Helm series, The Silencers (1966) and The Wrecking Crew (1968). He had a huge success in 1973 with Walking Tall. Its success made him a very rich man since he owned a percentage of the film. Other films directed by Karslon include Hornet’s Nest (1970) starring Rock Hudson, and Ben (1972).

Broderick Crawford (1911 – 1986) was an American stage, film, radio, and television actor. Born in Philadelphia to a show business family, Crawford acted with his parents on stage and then established himself as a talent on his own by winning acclaim as Lenny in the original Broadway production of Of Mice and Men in 1937. He later moved to Hollywood and began acting in small roles and bit parts throughout the 1940s. He finally got his chance at stardom in All the King’s Men (1949), the film version of Robert Penn Warren’s award-winning novel. The film was a big hit and Crawford won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Willie Stark. Now a star, Crawford starred in more prestigious productions including Born Yesterday (1950) receiving top-billing over co-stars Judy Holiday and William Holden. Crawford became a television icon as Dan Matthews in the police dram Highway Patrol (1955 – 1959.) 

Donna Reed (1921 – 1986) was an American actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the war drama From Here to Eternity (1953). But perhaps she is best known to film fans as Mary Hatch Bailey in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) co-starring James Stewart. Reed enjoyed success on television as Donna Stone, a housewife in the sitcom The Donna Reed Show (1958 – 1966). She won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star in 1963. Later in her career, Reed replaced an ailing Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow in the 1984 – 1985 season of Dallas.

John Derek (1926 – 1998) was an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Derek who said he never liked acting, appeared in over 30 films during his career. Some of the films Derek starred in include All The King’s Men (1949), Prince of Players (1955) where he played John Wilkes Booth, and The Ten Commandments (1956) as Joshua. Derek quit acting in the late-1960s to focus on directing and photography.

Donna Reed, John Derek, and Broderick Crawford

Scandal Sheet trivia

  • William Holden was supposed to co-star with Broderick.
  • Director Howard Hawks was attached to the project early on; he want Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart as the male leads.
  • Scandal Sheet was adapted from the novel The Dark Page (1944) by Samuel Fuller.
  • John Payne was also in the running to star due to his successful relationship with director Karlson.


To watch the film on YouTube, clicked the link below.


To join the discussion on September 12, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a link to the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. Did this feel like a film noir to you? If not a film noir, what category would place it?
  2. What did you make of the newsroom setting? Was it realistic to you?
  3. Was there a performance that stuck out to you or was more memorable than the others?
  4. Did anything about the film surprise you?

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ann Sheridan is a "Woman on the Run"

Woman on the Run (1950) is an American film noir directed by Norman Foster and starring Ann Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe. Members of the supporting cast include Robert Keith, John Qualen, Ross Elliot, and Frank Jenks. The cinematography was by Hal Mohr (Captain Blood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Phantom of the Opera).

Frank Johnson (Elliot), a down-on-his-luck painter is a witness to a murder while walking his dog. Because Frank got a good look at the killer, the police are anxious to get him into protective custody. Frank having second thoughts about possibly testifying against the killer goes missing. Inspector Martin Ferris (Keith) finds Johnson’s wife Eleanor (Sheridan) and tries to get her to reveal where he is hiding. The problem is that Eleanor has no idea. Ferris soon discovers that things between Eleanor and Frank aren’t perfect so maybe Eleanor is in no rush to find Frank. Enter Daniel Legget, a local reporter who tries to help her find her husband if he can get an exclusive on the story. During Frank’s absence, Eleanor learns things about her husband that she didn’t know anything about including a heart condition that he is taking medication for.

Will Frank eventually show up safe and sound, or is he doomed to die at the hands of the killer he saw the night he was walking his dog?


Norman Foster (1903 – 1976) was an American actor, film director, and screenwriter. Foster was a stage film actor. Foster was a popular film actor during the pre-Code era. One of his popular pre-Code efforts was Rafter Romance (1933) co-starring Ginger Rogers. During his directing career he directed several films in the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto series. He directed feature films including Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948) starring Joan Fontaine and Burt Lancaster and Rachel and the Stranger (1948) starring Loretta Young, William Holden, and Robert Mitchum. He also directed the Zorro and Davey Crockett television series for Walt Disney. Foster was married to Claudette Colbert from 1928 to 1935.

Ann Sheridan (1915 - 1967) was an American actress and singer. Her movie career began in 1934 where she appeared in 19 films! Her roles were all small and mostly unbilled, but she appeared in another 20+ films before she was signed to Warner Bros. in 1938. She was given better roles and was groomed for major stardom. The studio dubbed her “The Oomph Girl,” a title she hated but helped contribute to her popularity. During World War II she was a popular pin-up girl. As a star, Sheridan starred in Angels Wash Their Faces (1939), Castle on the Hudson (1940), It All Came True (1940), They Drive by Night (1940), City for Conquest (1941), and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). During this time she starred opposite Warner’s top leading men including John Garfield, James Cagney, and George Raft. Her biggest success during this period came with Kings Row (1942), a film in which she received top billing over Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, and Betty Field. Sheridan made the transition to television and was starring in the weekly western series, Pistols 'n' Petticoats (1966-67) when she became sick with cancer. She died on January 21, 1967, at the age of 51.

Dennis O’Keefe (1908 – 1968) was an American film actor. O’Keefe started out as a film extra in 1931 under the name Bud Flanagan. He had a small role in Saratoga (1937) which led to a contract with M-G-M. At that studio, they changed his name to Dennis O’Keefe. He left M-G-M in 1940 but found work in low-budget films. In the mid-1940s, he was under contract to producer Edward Small. During this time, he made the film-noir classics T-Men (1947) and Raw Deal (1948). A heavy smoker, O’Keefe died of lung cancer at the age of 60.

Ann Sheridan and Dennis O'Keefe


Woman on the Run trivia

  • The film was restored by Eddie Muller's own organization Film Noir Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust. in 2008.
  • Ross Hunter who would go on to be the producer of melodramas like Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Imitation of Life (1959) was the dialogue director.
  • Ann Sheridan hoped that this film would revitalize her career after she bought out her contract at Warner Bros. She also was hoping for a hit because she had a finacial stake in the film as well.
  • The film was shot on location in San Francisco.


To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.


To join the discussion on September 5, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and link to the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. Was the on-location shooting in San Francisco a plus?
  2. Having a female protagonist in a film noir isn't the norm. Does the film work with Ann Sheridan as the central character?
  3. What did you think of the film's cast? The film has some great character actors in it. Did you have any favorites?
  4. Did you have a favorite scene or piece of dialogue?
  5. Was there anything about this film that surprised you?
  6. When the truth was revealed did it make sense to you?

Monday, August 22, 2022

"The Best Years of Our Lives" is the Best Picture of 1946

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) is an American drama directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, and Virginia Mayo. The screenplay was written by Robert E. Sherwood, based on a novella, Glory for Me by MacKinlay Kantor. The cinematography was by Greg Toland.

The plot of the movie concerns three United States servicemen returning home after World War II and the struggle they have re-adjusting to civilian life. The movie is almost a time capsule of what life was like after the war and the changes it brought to American society. Apart from winning the Best Picture Academy Award, it was the top-grossing film of the year and the top-grossing film of the decade. Adjusted for inflation, it is one of the top 100 grossing films in the United States.

The movie lobby card downplays the seriousness of the film.


William Wyler (1902 - 1981) was an American (born in Mulhouse, Alsace, then part of Germany) film director and producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Direction three times: Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Ben-Hur (1959). Wyler was nominated 12 times for Best Director, an Academy Awards history record. Wyler started working in the movie business during the silent era, eventually making a name for himself as a director in the early 1930s. He would go on to direct Wuthering Heights (1939), The Westerner (1940), and The Little Foxes (1941). Actress Bette Davis received three Oscar nominations under Wyler’s direction, winning her second Oscar for her performance in Jezebel (1938). Other popular films directed by Wyler include The Heiress (1949), Roman Holiday (1954), Friendly Persuasion (1956), The Big Country (1958), and Funny Girl 1968).

Myrna Loy (1905 - 1993) was an American film, television, and stage actress. Loy was a trained dancer but decided to concentrate on acting, appearing in silent films before becoming a major star with the advent of sound. Perhaps Loy is most famous for playing Nora Charles opposite William Powell in The Thin Man (1934) and its subsequent sequels. Loy and Powell were one of the screen’s most popular acting teams; they appeared in 14 films together. Loy starred opposite the top leading men of the day including Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Tyrone Power, and Cary Grant. Some of her films include Wife vs. Secretary (1936), Libeled Lady (1936), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Test Pilot (1938), Too Hot to Handle (1938), The Rains Came (1939), Love Crazy  (1941), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). Film character: Milly Stephenson.

Fredric March (1897 - 1975) was an American actor and two-time Best Actor Academy Award winner. Also a famous stage actor, March won two Tony Awards as well and is one of a few actors to have won both the Academy Award and the Tony Award twice. March was an immediate success in films receiving his first Best Actor nomination in 1930. He won his first Best Actor Oscar for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) and his second for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). During the 1930s and 1940s, March was a popular leading man starring opposite Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, Norma Shearer, Katharine Hepburn, and Carole Lombard. March continued acting on stage and in films until 1973, two years before his death from cancer. Film character: Al Stephenson.

Actor Dana Andrews (standing) refuses to serve cinematographer Greg Toland (left) and director William Wyler (right) on the set.

Dana Andrews (1909 – 1992) was an American stage, film, and television actor. During the 1940s, Andrews was a major star and leading man starring in Laura (1944), State Fair (1945), A Walk in the Sun (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Canyon Passage (1946), Boomerang! (1947), and Daisy Kenyon (1947) co-starring Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda; so popular was Andrews during the 1940s that he was billed above Fonda. During the 1950s, film roles were harder to come by, but he had success in Elephant Walk (1954) co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Finch, While the City Sleeps (1956), and Curse of the Demon (1957). In 1958 he replaced Henry Fonda on Broadway in Two for the SeesawFilm character: Fred Derry.

Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews in a crucial scene from
The Best Years of Our Lives

Teresa Wright (1918 - 2005) was an American stage, film, and television actress. She received Academy Award nominations in her first three films, a record that still holds today. In 1942, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver and for Best Actress in The Pride of the Yankees. She won the Supporting Oscar for Mrs. Miniver, and her co-star, Greer Garson won Best Actress. Today Wright is most famous for playing Lou Gehrig’s wife in The Pride of the Yankees, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright was a popular star throughout the 1940s starring opposite Robert Mitchum, Ray Milland, Gary Cooper, and David Niven. She starred opposite Marlon Brando in his first film role in The Men (1950). Wright continued working in film, with her last role as Miss Birdie in The Rainmaker (1997). Wright is the only non-baseball player to be honored by the New York Yankees when she passed away at age 86. Film character: Peggy Stephenson.

Virginia Mayo (1920 - 2005) was an American actress and dancer. She made a series of popular films with Danny Kaye while under contract to Samuel Goldwyn which made her a star. In the late 1940s, Warner Bros. bought her contract from Goldwyn and she became one of the studio’s top box office attractions. At Warners, Mayo made a variety of films including musicals, comedies, and dramas. She co-starred with James Cagney in White Heat (1949), The Flame and the Arrow (1950) opposite Burt Lancaster, Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. co-starring Gregory Peck (1951), the studio’s biggest hit of the year. After her film career ended, Mayo guest-starred on much popular television series including Remington SteeleThe Love Boat, and Murder, She WroteFilm character: Marie Derry.

Harold Russell (1914 - 2002) was a Canadian-born American World War II veteran. Russell lost both hands in a training accident when a defective fuse detonated the explosives he was handling. He was given two hooks to serve as hands and he was featured in an Army rehabilitation film, Diary of a Sergeant. This film brought Russell to the attention of director Wyler who cast him in the film. Russell won two Academy Awards. He won an honorary award for bringing hope and courage to veterans and he also won the Best Supporting Actor award, something he was not predicted to win. Russell remains one of only two non-professional actors to win Academy Awards. Haing S. Ngor won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in The Killing Field (1985). Film character: Homer Parrish.

Cathy O’Donnell (1923 - 1970) was an American actress best known for her roles in The Best Years of Our LivesThey Live by Night (1948), and Ben-Hur (1959) where she played Tirzah, the sister of Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston). She appeared on the small screen on Perry Mason and Bonanza. She was married to director Wyler’s older brother Robert. She passed away after a long illness on her 22nd wedding anniversary. Film character: Wilma Cameron.


To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.



The Best Years of Our Lives trivia:

  • The fictional Boone City was modeled after Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • William Wyler hated the score by Hugo Friedhofer; it won the Oscar that year for the best film score.
  • Myrna Loy was only 13 years older than Teresa Wright who played her daughter.
  • The film includes four Oscar winners: Fredric March, Teresa Wright, Hoagy Carmichael (Uncle Butch), and Harold Russell.
  • Future director Blake Edwards has an uncredited part as a Corporal and actor Sean Penn’s father, Leo, played a soldier working as a scheduling clerk at the beginning of the film.

To join the discussion on August 29, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you'll receive an invitation and a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Questions for discussion:

  1. The film is a product of its time. Does it still have meaning for us today in 2022?
  2. What if anything surprised you about the film?
  3. Did you have a favorite scene or piece of dialogue that stood out to you?
  4. Would you recommend this film to a friend to watch?
  5. How do you think the acting holds up? Are the performances true to life?
  6. Do you think the film had an anti-war message?
  7. Why do you think this film resonated with audiences in 1946?

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Book Review: Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) is one of the most honored and beloved films from Hollywood's
Golden Age. It was released over 75 years ago. Author and film historian, Alison Macor has written a very readable narrative on how this ground-breaking film got made.

It all started with a short article that producer Samuel Goldwyn's wife, Frances read in Time entitled "The Way Home" about returning Marines after the war. Goldwyn wasn't interested in making a film like that but he was shrewd enough to register "The Way Home" as a possible movie title.

While browsing a bookshelf at the Goldwyn studio, the director Willliam Wyler came across the novel Glory for Me written by MacKinlay Kantor. Goldwyn wanted to have playwright Robert E. Sherwood adapt the book for the screen, but Sherwood was busy and wasn't sure the subject of soldiers readjusting to life after World War II would be relevant by the time the production made it to the screen. 

Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews in a crucial scene from
The Best Years of Our Lives


Well, Goldwyn was nothing if not persistent. Eventually, Sherwood would write the screenplay and the whole project would come together under the direction of William Wyler, who was at the tail end of his contract with Goldwyn. Amazingly, everything jelled to create a truly memorable motion picture.

Macor has done scrupulous research in putting the pieces together on how The Best Years of Our Lives came to be. From its beginning as an idea to its casting, everything you ever wanted to know about the making of this beloved classic in Macor's book.

Cinematographer Greg Toland and director William Wyler discuss how
to shoot a scene with Dana Andrews and Virginia Mayo.


As someone who truly loves The Best Years of Our Lives (I have my own DVD copy), I was a little uncertain if it would meet my expectations. It did and then some.

If you love The Best Years of Our Lives and/or you love learning how the old studio system worked, Making The Best Years of Our Lives, is a great read and you'll learn a lot.

The book is available from Amazon or wherever books are sold.



  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ 
    University of Texas Press (June 7, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1477318917
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1477318911
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches


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