Thursday, June 10, 2021

Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O’Hara head the cast in “How Green Was My Valley”

How Green Was My Valley (1941) was an American drama film directed by John Ford and starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Donald Crisp, Anna Lee, and Roddy McDowall. It is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Richard Llewellyn. The novel was published in 1939 and 20th Century-Fox bought the film rights and had originally planned to film in color on location in Wales. Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck had envisioned an epic like Gone with the Wind, but World War II made that impossible.



The film is told in flashback as Huw Morgan, the McDowall character, now a grown man is leaving the beloved valley home of his youth. He tells the story of a time before the coal dust from the mines hadn't blackened his village and the surrounding area and a time when his father and all his brothers worked in the coal mines. In the beginning, working in the mine was decent, honorable work that the men were proud of. Eventually, things changed and the men decide to unionize with the help and approval of the new minister Mr. Gruffydd (Pidgeon). This disturbs miner Gwilym Morgan (Crisp) and for a time alienates him from his five sons who championed the union. Angharad Morgan (O’Hara) longs for the love of Mr. Gruffydd but will his devotion to the church get in the way of their relationship?



John Ford (1894 - 1973) was an American film director who won a record four Academy Awards, more than any other director in history. He is perhaps best known for his western films, but ironically the Academy Awards he won weren’t for his classic westerns like Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956). Ford got his start in silent film, first as an actor, then as a writer-director. He directed many silent films including the epic The Iron Horse (1924). Once the sound era arrived, Ford was one of its first pioneers. He hit his stride in the 1930s with films like The Lost Patrol (1934), The Whole Town’s Talking (1935), and The Informer (1935), which brought Ford his first Academy Award for Best Director. Other popular Ford films include The Hurricane (1937), Wee Willie Winkie (1937), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), and The Grapes of Wrath (1940) the last three all starring Henry Fonda. He also had a long collaborative relationship with John Wayne. Wayne starred in many classic Ford films including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Maureen O’Hara and Walter Pidgeon

Walter Pidgeon (1897 - 1984) was a Canadian-American actor. During his long career, he was nominated for two Best Actor Academy Awards—Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Madame Curie (1943). Pidgeon worked on the stage before he entered films, making his Broadway debut in 1925. When he starting working in film, he starred in musicals. Once the interest in musicals declined, he began making a name for himself in dramas and comedies during the mid-1930s. His lead role in How Green Was My Valley restored his popularity. He was first paired with Greer Garson in Blossoms in the Dust (1941). They made a total of eight films together, making them one of the screens most popular acting teams. Some of their other films include Mrs. Miniver (1942), Mrs. Parkington (1944), Julia Misbehaves (1948), and That Forsyte Woman (1949). Pidgeon has success on his own in films like Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and the science fiction classic, Forbidden Planet (1956). One of Pidgeon’s last film roles was Funny Girl (1968) where he portrayed Florenz Ziegfeld.

Maureen O’Hara (1920 - 2015) was an Irish-American actress and singer. In her native Ireland, O’Hara trained with the Abbey Theatre at age 14. She screen-tested for the role of Mary Yellan in Jamaica Inn at age 19. Director Hitchcock wasnt impressed with O’Hara’s test but Laughton persuaded him to cast her. After finishing the film, O’Hara moved to Hollywood where she was signed to contract at RKO. In 1941 she starred in How Green Was My Valley, her first collaboration with director John Ford. She starred alongside Tyrone Power in The Black Swan (1942), The Spanish Main (1945) with Paul Henreid, and Sinbad the Sailor (1947) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. That same year she starred in the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street with John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and a young Natalie Wood. Other popular films include The Quiet Man (1952), The Parent Trap (1961), and McLintock! (1963). 

Donald Crisp (1882 - 1974) was an English actor, producer, director, and screenwriter whose career began in the silent era into the 1960s. He played Ulysses S. Grant in D. W. Griffith’s silent epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Crisp worked as an assistant to Griffith where he acquired the desire to be a director himself. He directed The Navigator  (1924) starring Buster Keaton and Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) starring Douglas Fairbanks. Once the talkies arrived, Crisp devoted himself to acting in supporting roles in films like Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Valley of Decision (1945), and National Velvet (1944). His last film role was in Spencer’s Mountain (1963) with former film costars Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

Roddy McDowall (1928 - 1998) was a British-born American actor. He started his career as a baby model and then began appearing in films as a young child in England. When he came to Hollywood, he became an in-demand child actor where he appeared in dozens of films including My Friend Flicka (1943), Lassie Come Home (1943), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), and Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945). McDowell was able to successfully transition from child actor to adult actor appearing in lead and supporting roles in films like Midnight Lace (1960), The Longest Day (1962), Cleopatra (1963), and That Darn Cat! (1965). He may be best known as Cornelius, one of the intelligent apes in The Planet of the Apes (1968), its sequels, and short-lived TV series. McDowall also served as a producer of Overboard (1987) as well as co-starring with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.


How Green Was My Valley trivia
  • John Ford won his third (out of a total of four) Best Director Academy Award.
  • Wind machines were set up to get Maureen O’Hara’s bridal veil to blow in the wind exactly the way Ford wanted it to.
  • Roddy McDowall was in the United States only two weeks before filming. He evacuated England with his mother and sister to avoid the Blitz.
  • William Wyler was the original director when the film was set to film on location in Wales.
  • The film beat out Citizen Kane for the Best Picture of 1941 and was nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards; the most nominated film of the year.
  • The Fox production crew turned an 80-acre plot in Brent’s Crags, CA, into a Welsh mining town when World War II prevented them from filming in Wales.


Why watch this film?
  • It’s a Best Picture winner and one of John Ford’s most popular early successes in the sound era.
  • The film marked Roddy McDowall’s introduction to American movie-goers.
  • Marked the first Ford-directed film that Maureen O’Hara starred in.
  • The film features several great character actors including Ana Lee, Sara Allgood, Patric Knowles, Barry Fitzgerald, John Loder, and Rhys Williams.
  • The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture.

The Best Picture nominees for 1941
How Green Was My Valley-20the Century-Fox
Blossoms in the Dust-MGM
Citizen Kane-RKO
Here Comes Mr. Jordan-Columbia
Hold Back the Dawn-Paramount
The Little Foxes-RKO
The Maltese Falcon-Warner Bros.
One Foot in Heaven-Warner Bros.
Sergeant York-Warner Bros.
Suspicion-RKO

Interestingly, The New York Times declared Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve the Best Picture of the Year; it wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy.



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



To join the discussion on Zoom on June 14, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., click the link here. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive an invitation and links to join the discussion.


Discussion questions
Did you like the film narrative (flashback narration)?
Maureen O’Hara was only 21 when the film was released. What did you think of her performance as the only daughter of the Morgan family?
What did you think of the production? Was it convincing to you as a real mining town?
This film helped propel Walter Pidgeon to leading man status; what did you think of his performance?
Why do you think Huw chose to work in the mine rather than furthering in his education?


Saturday, June 5, 2021

Joseph Cotton falls for “The Farmer’s Daughter,” Loretta Young

The Farmer’s Daughter (1947) is an American film comedy directed by H. C. Potter and starring Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore. The supporting cast includes Charles Bickford, Harry Davenport, Lex Barker, Keith Andes, Thurston Hall, and James Arness.

Katie Holstrom (Young), a Swedish-American leaves home to go to nursing school. On her way to Capitol City, she is taken advantage of by barn painter Adolph Petree (Rys Williams). He steals her money and leaves her stranded at a motel 60 miles from Capitol City. Humiliated and afraid to tell her parents about her situation, she takes a job as a maid for Agatha Morley (Barrymore) and her son, U. S. Representative Glenn Morely (Cotten). Agatha is the head of a powerful political family which is of interest to Katie.

Impressed by Katie’s work ethic and ability to charm everyone including the crusty butler Joseph Clancy (Bickford). Another bonus, her coffee is much better than Clancy’s which must be taken with alcohol to blunt its bitter taste. Glenn Morley takes notice of Katie’s good qualities and courts her much to the delight of his mother.

When Katie learns that the Morleys are backing Anders J. Finley (Art Baker) for Congress, Katie shows her disapproval by asking him pointed questions of Finley at a town hall meeting introducing him as a candidate. So impressed with Katie’s questioning, the opposition party asks Katie to run for Congress. She accepts their invitation and quits her job with the Morleys.

Will Katie be able to handle the rough and tumble ways of American politics? Will she be taken seriously as a viable candidate and will Glenn stand by her no matter what troubles lie ahead?


H. C. Potter (1904 - 1977) was an American theatrical producer and director, and a director of motion pictures. Potter graduated from Yale University in 1926 and was part of the Yale Dramatic Association. He founded a theater group, the Hampton Players based in Southampton, Long Island. He eventually made his way to Hollywood where he eventually became a film director. Some of his popular films include The Shopworn Angel (1938) starring Margaret Sullivan and James Stewart, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Mr. Lucky (1943) starring Cary Grant and Laraine Day, and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas.

Loretta Young (1913 - 2000) was an American actress who can trace her start to the days of silent films where she performed as a child actress. Young made the transition to talking pictures as an adult with almost immediate success. As an adult starred opposite some of Hollywood’s most popular leading men including James Cagney, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant. Young made many films during the pre-code era including Platinum Blonde (1931), Taxi! (1932), They Call It Sin (1932), Employee’s Entrance (1933), and Midnight Mary (1933). Darryl Zanuck signed Young to a contract at Twentieth Century-Fox and paired her with Tyrone Power, the studio’s top male star in several hit films including Love is News (1937), Cafe Metopole (1937), and Second Honeymoon (1937). Unsatisfied with the roles Zanuck was providing her with, Young left the studio and became a freelance artist. On her own, Young starred opposite Alan Ladd in two films, starred alongside Gary Cooper in Along Came Jones (1945), The Stranger (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947) with Cary Grant and David Niven, and Rachel and the Stranger (1947) top-billed over William Holden and Robert Mitchum. After her film career was winding down, Young became a huge star on television when the medium was in its early stages.

Joseph Cotten (1905 - 1994) was an American film, stage, radio, and television actor. Cotten achieved fame on Broadway in the original stage productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair.  He became famous worldwide after appearing in Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). As one of the most popular leading men of the 1940s, Cotten starred in Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Gaslight (1943), Duel in the Sun (1946), and The Third Man (1949). Cotten alternated between work on stage and film into the late-1950s. Cotten also appeared on television guest-starring on The Name of the Game, Cimarron Strip, and Ironside. Cotten’s last film role was in 1981.

Ethel Barrymore (1879 - 1959) was an American stage and film actress and part of the famous Barrymore family of actors. Her equally famous brothers were Lionel and John Barrymore. Barrymore got her start on the stage and she was among its brightest stars for many years. Barrymore also had a successful career on the other side of the Atlantic in London where she starred in Peter the Great. She achieved one of her biggest Broadway successes in W. Somerset Maugham’s comedy, The Constant Wife (1926). Barrymore was a popular character actress in film during the 1940s. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in None but the Lonely Heart (1944) opposite Cary Grant who played her son. Other film roles include The Spiral Staircase (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), and Pinky (1949).

Joseph Cotten and Loretta Young
The Farmer’s Daughter trivia

  • The film was intended as a vehicle for Ingrid Bergman but she declined the role. Dorothy McGuire and Sonja Henie were possible replacements.
  • Glenn Morley’s (Joseph Cotten) political party was never mentioned.
  • Loretta Young’s Oscar win is considered one of the biggest upsets in Academy history. It was the first comedy performance to win since Claudette Colbert won for It Happened One Night (1934).
  • Rosalind Russell (one of Young’s real-life best friends) was the odds-on favorite to win the Academy Award that year for her performance in Mourning Becomes Electra (1947).
  • This was James Arness’s movie debut and Lex Barker’s first credited screen appearance.
  • Anna Q. Nilsson who played Young’s mother was a major star during the silent era.


Why watch this film?

  • It’s a delightful film featuring a winner performance from Loretta Young.
  • The production is so polished and beautiful, showing off the old studio system at its height.
  • In life and politics, nothing has really changed.
  • Interesting characterizations from Ethel Barrymore and Charles Bickford


To join the discussion on June 8, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time click here. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive an invitation with a Zoom link.


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



Discussion questions:
  1. What did you think of Young’s performance? Was it Oscar-worthy?
  2. Did Young and Cotten have good screen chemistry?
  3. What did you think of the political backdrop? Not much has changed, has it?
  4. Did you have a favorite scene, character, or piece of dialogue?
  5. Did this film remind you of any others that you may have seen?
  6. Was Young’s hairstyle the real inspiration for Princess Leia’s in Star Wars?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern receive “A Letter to Three Wives”

A Letter to Three Wives (1949) is an American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern. The supporting cast includes Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, Jeffrey Lynn, Connie Gilchrist, Barbara Lawrence, and Thelma Ritter.

The film is based on the novel A Letter to Five Wives (1945) by John Klempner. Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay based on an adaptation by Vera Caspary (Laura). The cinematography was by Arthur C. Miller, with music by Alfred Newman. A Letter to Three Wives was one of Twentieth Century-Fox’s most important productions of the year.

The movie tells the story of a woman (Addie Ross) who sends a letter to three of her “dearest friends” (Crain, Darnell, and Sothern) informing them that she has run off with one of their husbands but not revealing which one. The letter is delivered while the women are getting on board a riverboat to chaperone a group of underprivileged children. While they cruise up the river and spend the day picnicking with the children, each wife reflects on her marriage and wonders if it’s their husband who has run off with Ross.

Linda Darnell, Anne Sothern, and Jeanne Crain

Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1929 – 1972) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz won Academy Awards for directing and writing A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and All About Eve (1950). He is the only director to win back-to-back Academy Awards for writing and directing. Other films directed by Mankiewicz include Dragonwyck (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Julius Caesar (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), and Guys and Dolls (1955). He directed the 1963 crisis-plagued production of Cleopatra which negatively affected his career as a director.

Jeanne Crain (1925 – 2003) was an American actress whose career spanned more than three decades. While still a teenager, she was asked to take a screen test with Orson Welles. He was testing for the part of Lucy Morgan in his production of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). She didn’t get the part (Anne Baxter did), but she was on her way. She had a bit part in The Gang’s All Here (1943) but had a leading role in Home in Indiana (1944). The film was a box office hit and Crain became a favorite of film fans everywhere. She had another hit with Winged Victory (1944) and co-starred with Dana Andrews in the musical State Fair (1945). That same year, she was the “good girl” opposite Gene Tierney’s “bad girl” in Leave Her to Heaven. More good roles came her way including leads in A Letter to Three Wives (1949), The Fan (1949), and Pinky (1949). The latter won her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She lost that year to Olivia de Havilland. Crain’s popularity continued into the 1950s but suffered when she was released from her exclusive contract with 20th Century-Fox. She continued to work in films and on television until 1975.

Paul Douglas and Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell (1923 – 1965) was an American film actress. She signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox at age 15 and became a star almost overnight. She was immediately cast opposite Tyrone Power in Day-Time Wife (1939). She made two films with Power in 1940: Brigham Young and The Mark of Zorro. In 1941, she was again paired with Power in Blood and Sand, which also starred an up-and-coming Rita Hayworth. Darnell’s most famous role was that of Amber St. Clair in Forever Amber (1946), which turned out the be the biggest hit of the year. The role of Amber was the most sought-after female role since the casting of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Other important films she starred in include Unfaithfully Yours (1948), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and No Way Out (1950). She died tragically at age 41 in a fire while visiting friends in Glenview, Illinois.

Ann Sothern (1909 - 2001) was an American actress who worked on the stage, radio, film, and television. Sothern’s most commercially successful film role was as Maisie Ravier in a series of films while she was at M-G-M. Maisie, a Brooklyn showgirl was based on the short stories by Nell Martin. Films in the series include Congo Maisie (1940), Gold Rush Maisie (1940), and Up Goes Maisie (1946). The character was so popular that Sothern played the character on the radio in The Adventure of Maisie (1939 - 1947) series. At M-G-M, Sothern starred in the film version of Panama Hattie (1942) opposite Red Skelton, which was a box office success. In 1949, she starred in A Letter to Three Wives which brought her great reviews but did little to advance her career. In 1953, Sothern starred as Susie MacNamara in the television series Private Secretary, (1953 - 1957) and the next year starred in The Ann Sothern Show (1958 - 1961). Sothern continued working on stage, screen, and television. Her last film role was in The Whales of August (1987). For her role in that film, she earned her only Best Supporting Academy Award nomination.

Jeanne Crain, Jeffrey Lynn, Kirk Douglas, and Ann Sothern

A Letter to Three Wives trivia

  • Originally, the film was going to be called A Letter to Four Wives with the fourth wife being Anne Baxter, but her character wasn’t considered as strong as the other three so her segment was cut.
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz won the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for his work on this film and would repeat the wins the next year with All About Eve. No one has ever achieved this feat.
  • One of Thelma Ritter’s early roles, so early in fact she doesn't even receive on-screen billing.
  • Tyrone Power, Joan Crawford, Gene Tierney, Dorothy McGuire, Maureen O’Hara, and Ida Lupino were all considered for roles.
  • Linda Darnell and Mankiewicz were involved in an affair during the production.
  • Darnell and Barbara Lawrence played sisters the year before in Unfaithfully Yours.
  • Silent film star Mae Marsh has a small role as the womens’ washroom attendant at the country club.


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



Why watch this movie?

  • Another great example of what the studio system could produce at its peak.
  • One of writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s best films.
  • It’s a showcase for the talents of Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern.
  • It boasts early performances from Kirk and Paul Douglas and Thelma Ritter.

To join us for a discussion on Zoom, June 1, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click on the link here. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive an email with a link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the ensemble cast?
  2. Do you think this film is still relevant in the 21st Century?
  3. Did you have a favorite wife?
  4. A favorite scene or piece of dialogue?


Friday, May 21, 2021

Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, and Joan Blondell “Cry ‘Havoc’”

Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943) is an American World War II drama directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, and Joan Blondell. The film features a strong supporting cast that includes Fay Bainter, Marsha Hunt, Ella Raines, Frances Gifford, Connie Gilchrist, and Diana Lewis.

The film focuses on 13 American women, two Army nurses, and 11 civilians. The setting is a field hospital during the Battle of Bataan where the Japanese forces are bearing down on the Philippine peninsula. Lt. Mary “Smitty” Smith (Sullavan) and her superior officer, Capt. Alice Marsh (Bainter) struggle to tend to the wounded with meager supplies and limited staff. They manage to round up nine women civilian refugees fleeing Manila, all from various backgrounds. Pat Conlin (Sothern), a waitress, immediately takes a dislike to Lt. Smith. Grace Lambert (Blondell) is a burlesque queen who helps relieve the tension with her talent to entertain the group.

With hope dwindling and casualties mounting, the women do their best to keep things together emotionally while carrying out their duties.

As the Japanese get closer and closer to the field hospital, will the women be able to escape with the withdrawing American troops?

Publicity still featuring the main cast

Richard Thorpe (1896 - 1991) was an American film director who had a long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where he was under contract. He was the original director assigned to The Wizard of  Oz (1939) but was fired after two weeks of shooting. The studio didn’t think Thorpe captured the fantasy that they were looking for. Thorpe survived that unfortunate event and went on to direct most of the major stars under contract at M-G-M including Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford, Esther Williams, Hedy Lamar, Gene Kelly, Wallace Beery, William Powell, Jane Powell, Ava Gardner, and Elizabeth Taylor. Some of Thorpe’s popular films include The Crowd Roars (1938), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), Thrill of Romance (1945), A Date with Judy (1948), Ivanhoe (1952), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), and The Knights of the Round Table (1953). He also directed Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (1957) and Fun in Acapulco (1963).

Margaret Sullavan (1909 - 1960) was an American stage and film actress. Sullavan made only 16 movies but her place as a legend of classic Hollywood is secure. She starred in some of the most popular films of the 1930s and 1940s including Three Comrades (1938), The Mortal Storm (1940), and The Shop Around the Corner (1940). She was unhappy working in Hollywood and she retired from film in 1943. Other popular films starring Sullavan include The Good Fairy (1935), So Red the Rose (1935), The Shopworn Angel (1938), and Back Street (1941). Sullavan was married to the legendary director William Wyler (1934 - 1936) and screen legend Henry Fonda (1931 - 1933).

Ann Sothern and Margaret Sullavan

Ann Sothern (1909 - 2001) was an American actress who worked on the stage, radio, film, and television. Sothern’s most commercially successful film role was as Maisie Ravier in a series of films while she was at M-G-M. Maisie, a Brooklyn showgirl was based on the short stories by Nell Martin. Films in the series include Congo Maisie (1940), Gold Rush Maisie (1940), and Up Goes Maisie (1946). The character was so popular that Sothern played the character on the radio in The Adventure of Maisie (1939 - 1947) series. At M-G-M, Sothern starred in the film version of Panama Hattie (1942) opposite Red Skelton, which was a box office success. In 1949, she starred in A Letter to Three Wives which brought her great reviews but did little to advance her career. In 1953, Sothern starred as Susie MacNamara in the television series Private Secretary, (1953 - 1957) and the next year starred in The Ann Sothern Show (1958 - 1961). Sothern continued working on stage, screen, and television. Her last film role was in The Whales of August (1987). For her role in that film, she earned her only Best Supporting Academy Award nomination.

Ella Raines and Diana Lewis

Joan Blondell (1906 – 1979) was an American actress who was a top movie star during the 1930s and early 1940s. Later in her career, she became a popular character actress. Some of Blondell’s early films include The Public Enemy (1931), Gold Diggers of 1933Dames (1934), and Stand-In (1937). Later in her career, she gave notable supporting performances in The Blue Veil (1951), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), and Grease (1978).


Why watch this film?

  • The movie features several strong female characterizations from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
  • It depicts World War II through the eyes of women serving at an Army field hospital.
  • The film was made during the War so the outcome was uncertain.
  • Features the work of studio contract director Richard Thorpe.


Cry Cry ‘Havoc’ trivia

  • Joan Crawford and Merle Oberon were considered for lead roles that eventually went to Margaret Sullavan and Ann Sothern.
  • This was the second film role for actress Ella Raines.
  • Sullavan and Fay Bainter starred together in The Shining Hour (1938)
  • The film was based on a play starring Carol Channing and Ann Shoemaker.
  • It features Robert Mitchum in one of his earliest film roles.


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



To join the discussion on Zoom May 25, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive an invitation a link to the meeting.


Discussion questions:

  1. What did you think of the ensemble cast?
  2. Did it remind you of any other films you've seen?
  3. What did you think of the three star leads: Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, and Joan Blondell?
  4. Do you think the film was an accurate portrayal of nurses on the battlefield?



Thursday, May 13, 2021

Glenn Ford and Gene Tierney discover “The Secret of Convict Lake”

The Secret of Convict Lake (1951) is an American Western film directed by Michael Gordon and starring Glenn Ford, Gene Tierney, Ethel Barrymore, and Zachery Scott. The cinematography was by Leo Tover (The Snake Pit, The Heiress, and The Day The Earth Stood Still).

Six convicts escape from a Carson City prison in 1871 during a blizzard. One freezes to death, while the others find their way to Lake Monte Diablo where eight women are on their own while their men are away prospecting. At first, the women are reluctant to have anything to do with the convicts, but eventually, they break down and offer them shelter and food. One of the men, Jim Canfield (Ford) is looking for the man who lied about him on the witness stand which resulted in him going to prison. The man Canfield is looking for, Rudy Schaefer (Harry Carter) happens to be the man one of the women, Marcia Stoddard (Tierney) is planning to marrying. Carter stole $40,000 and perjured himself which lead to Canfield being convicted of killing a mine ower and stealing his money. The convicts traveling with Canfield are convinced he hid the money somewhere in Lake Monte Diablo. Canfield denies he has the money hidden and explains he is only out for revenge; he plans on killing Schaefer for putting him in jail.

Will Canfield be successful in his quest for revenge? And what about the other convicts? What will their fates be?

Gene Tierney with rifle, flanked by Ann Dvorak on her left and Ruth Donnelly on her right; Ethel Barrymore in the doorway with a pistol



Michael Gordon (1909 - 1993) was an American film director who directed a wide variety of movies including melodramas, films noir, and comedies. His career as a director spanned almost 30 years. Some of his films include Cyrano de Begerac (1950), Pillow Talk (1959), Boys' Night Out (1962), and Move Over, Darling (1963). Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is his grandson by his daughter Jane.

Caricature of Glenn Ford from Punch


Glenn Ford (1916 - 2006) was a Canadian-American actor who was one of the biggest box office draws for three decades. Ford acted on stage in California before being signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures. He appeared in mostly B movies until The Lady in Question (1940), the first time he was paired with fellow Columbia contracted, Rita Hayworth. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Ford’s career began to take off. He and Hayworth had a huge hit with Gilda (1946) and A Stolen Life (1946) with Bette Davis. Ford came into his own in the 1950s with films like Blackboard Jungle (1955), Interrupted Melody (1955) with Eleanor Parker, Jubal (1956), and The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) with Jeanne Crain, all box office successes. By the end of the decade, Ford was one of the biggest stars in the world. Ford continued making movies in the 1960s but his successes were more uneven than in the previous decade but had hits with Experiment in Terror (1962) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father  (1963). In 1978, he played Clark Kent’s adoptive father in Superman. His last film role was Raw Nerve (1991).

Gene Tierney, Glenn Ford, and Ethel Barrymore


Gene Tierney (1920 – 1991) was an American actress. Tierney got her start on the stage where she played the ingenue lead in The Male Animal. She was spotted by 20th Century-Fox Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck and he offered her a movie contract. Zanuck said that Tierney was the most beautiful woman in the movies. Tierney proved that she could carry a film not completely based on her beauty in films like Laura (1944) and Leave Her To Heaven (1945) for which she was nominated for her first and only Best Actress Academy Award. Other important films include The Razor's Edge (1946), Dragonwyck (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), The Iron Curtain (1948), Whirlpool (1949), and The Mating Season (1951). In the late 1940s, she struggled with mental illness which negatively affected her career. After 1955’s The Left Hand of God, Tierney was off the screen until Advice & Consent (1962). She appeared in two films after that, but her career in film effectively ended in 1964 after a guest appearance in The Pleasure Seekers.

Ethel Barrymore (1879 - 1959) was an American stage and film actress and part of the famous Barrymore family of actors. Her equally famous brothers were Lionel and John Barrymore. Barrymore got her start on the stage and she was among its brightest stars for many years. Barrymore also had a successful career on the other side of the Atlantic in London where she starred in Peter the Great. She achieved one of her biggest Broadway successes in W. Somerset Maugham’s comedy, The Constant Wife (1926). Barrymore was a popular character actress in film during the 1940s. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in None but the Lonely Heart (1944) opposite Cary Grant who played her son. Other film roles include The Spiral Staircase (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), and Pinky (1949).

Zachary Scott (1914 - 1965) was an American actor on stage and most notably in film. He made his film debut in the film noir The Mask of Dimitrios (1944). As a contract player at Warner Bros.Scott was the perfect slick, film noir villain. Before he career in film noir took off, he starred in The Southerner (1945) directed by Jean Renoir. It would be his role as Monty Beragon in Mildred Pierce (1945) that would be his most enduring role with film fans. Scott worked in film, stage, and television until 1963. He died of a malignant brain tumor.

Gene Tierney in a costume test for the film with the scenes listed for when it would be worn.



The Secret of Convict Lake trivia:
  • Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell were originally set to star as Jim Canfield and Marcia Stoddard respectively.
  • The story is fictional but it is inspired by a real incident where a posse had a shoot-out with escaped convicts from the Carson City prison. Convict Lake is a real place in California that was named after the incident.
  • This was actress Ann Dvorak’s last film role.


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




To join the online discussion of this film on May 18, 2021, 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.


Questions for discussion:
  1. What did this film have in common with the other two films we watched: The Walking Hills and Lust for Gold?
  2. How did Glenn Ford’s performance in this film compare with his characterization in Lust for Gold?
  3. Was Tierney believable as a western heroine? Was her chemistry with Ford believable?
  4. Did you have a favorite character in the film?
  5. Were you surprised by anything?


Friday, May 7, 2021

Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford have a “Lust for Gold”

Lust for Gold (1949) is an American western directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford. The supporting cast includes Gig Young, William Price, Will Geer, Edgar Buchanan, and Paul Ford. The movie is based on the book Thunder God’s Gold by Barry Storm. The cinematography was by Archie Stout who was the second unit director on several John Ford films including Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), Wagon Master (1950), and The Quiet Man (1952).

The plot concerns the legend of the Lost Dutchman gold mine. Ford is Jacob “Dutchman” Waltz and Lupino is Julia Thomas. 

The film begins in the present (1949-present) with a descendent of Waltz trying to find the mine himself. Then the movie flashes back to 1880 when Waltz and Wiser discover the mine and how Waltz managed to keep the mine a secret from the people of Phoenix, Arizona. 

Julia Thomas wants to escape her dreary life as a baker and sees Waltz as her ticket to wealth and happiness. One problem, she’s married to Pete Thomas (Young) who objects to her plans. Will she manage to get a hold of the gold from the Dutchman’s mine or will Pete and circumstances out of her control keep that from happening.

S. Sylvan Simon (1910 - 1951) was an American stage and film director and producer. He directed many films during the 1930s and 1940s including These Glamour Girls (1939), Whistling in the Dark (1941), Son of Lassie (1945), Abbot and Costello in Hollywood (1945), and Bad Bascomb (1946). Simon produced the film Born Yesterday (1950). Lust for Gold was the last picture he directed. He died of a heart at age 41.

Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford in a publicity still from 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 Rifleman, Bonanza, Rifleman, Gilligan’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.

Glenn Ford (1916 - 2006) was a Canadian-American actor who was one of the biggest box office draws for three decades. Ford acted on stage in California before being signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures. He appeared in mostly B movies until The Lady in Question (1940), the first time he was paired with fellow Columbia contracted, Rita Hayworth. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Ford’s career began to take off. He and Hayworth had a huge hit with Gilda (1946) and A Stolen Life (1946) with Bette Davis. For came into his own in the 1950s with films like Blackboard Jungle (1955), Interrupted Melody (1955) with Eleanor Parker, Jubal (1956), and The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) with Jeanne Crain, all box office successes. By the end of the decade, Ford was one of the biggest stars in the world. Ford continued making movies in the 1960s but his successes were more uneven than in the previous decade but had hits with Experiment in Terror (1962) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father  (1963). In 1978, he played Clark Kent’s adoptive father in Superman. His last film role was Raw Nerve (1991).


Lust for Gold  trivia
  • There are over 60 versions of the Lost Dutchman legend.
  • George Marshall was the original director but quit after four days.
  • One of the few films in movie history where the lead characters (Lupino and Ford) are shown in flashback.
  • Some of the film was shot on location in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.

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




Join us on Zoom May 11, 2021 for a discussion of Lust for Gold at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Click here for details on how to participate. It’s free!


Questions for discussion
  1. What did you think of the film narrative? 
  2. Had you ever heard of the Lost Dutchman legend?
  3. Noir or not? Would you consider this a western film noir?
  4. Was Lupino’s character a femme fatale? 
  5. What did you think of Ford’s characterization?
Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Randolph Scott and Ella Rains traverse “The Walking Hills”

The Walking Hills (1949) is a modern American western directed by John Sturges and starring Randolph Scott and Ella Raines. The cinematography was by Charles Lawton Jr. (The Lady From Shanghai, 3:10 to Yuma). The stars are supported by William Bishop, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Kennedy, Josh White, and John Ireland.

Nine men of different ages and backgrounds, search for a lost treasure supposedly lost in the shifting sands of Death Valley. One of the men is a detective looking for a fugitive who may or may not be among the treasure seekers. To complicate matters further, a woman named Chris Jackson (Raines) joins the group where she attempts to sort out her feelings between Dave Wilson (Bishop) and Jim Carey (Scott), two men she had relationships with in the past.

Will the search for the lost treasure unite the seekers or turn them against each other?

Randolph Scott, William Bishop, and Ella Raines

John Sturges (1910 - 1992) was an American film director. He started his career in Hollywood in 1932. During World War II, he worked on training films and documentaries for the United States Army Air Forces. After the war, Sturges made a string of B movies before establishing himself as an A-list director. He had great successes with Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Magnificent Seven (1960), and The Great Escape (1963). Other films he directed include The Old Man and the Sea (1958), The Halleluja Trail (1965), Ice Station Zebra (1968), and The Eagle Has Landed (1976).

Ella Raines, Randolph Scott, and director John Sturges (back to us)

Randolph Scott (1898 - 1987) was an American film actor whose career spanned over three decades. Scott started out in silent films in some uncredited roles and on the advice of Cecil B. De Mille, he performed on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse where Hollywood took notice. In the early stages of his career in the 1930s, Scott acted in comedies, musicals, and adventure films. He established himself as a dependable leading man in the 1940s but achieved his greatest success in the late 1950s starring in a string of popular westerns directed by Bud Boetticher including Seven Men from Now (1955), 7th Cavalry (1956), and Ride Lonesome (1959). During this period, Scott was a top box office draw often ranking in the top ten.

Ella Raines (1920 – 1988) was born in Washington State where she studied drama at the University of Washington. Howard Hawks spotted her in a college production and signed her to a contract. Right out of the gate, she starred in some big movies, including Preston Sturges’s Hail the Conquering Hero and Tall in the Saddle (both 1944) where she shared equal billing with John Wayne. As her movie career declined in the 1950s, Raines worked in series television starring in Janet Dean, Registered Nurse (1954-55). She appeared on the cover of Life magazine twice, once in 1944 and in 1947.


The Walking Hills trivia:

  1. Regarded as a film noir western along with Pursued (1947) and Blood on the Moon (1948)
  2. Filmed in the Alabama Hills of California and Death Valley National Monument. Sturges would revisit this location for Bad Day at Black Rock.


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


To join the discussion on May 4, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation to join the discussion with a link to the meeting on Zoom.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did this film remind you of any other films you’ve seen?
  2. What do you think motivated the characters in their quest?
  3. Was the love triangle between Scott, Bishop, and Raines believable? Did it add to or take away from the narrative?
  4. Did you have a favorite character actor?
  5. Were you surprised by the ending? Was it satisfying or disappointing?


Focus on Josh White (1914 - 1969)

Joshua Daniel White was an American singer, guitarist, actor, and civil rights activist. He sang blues, country, gospel, and social protest songs. In 1931, he moved to New York where he found success on Broadway, radio, and film. He also expanded his musical repertoire to jazz and folk songs.

In the 1940s, White shared the stage with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Burl Ives, and the Golden Gate Quartet. His tours with Led Belly were enormously successful and White was tagged the “Joe Louise of the Blues Guitar.” His recording of “Sucking Cider Through a Straw” was a million-selling record, the first by an African-American male artist. Other artists including The Andrew Sisters and Bing Crosby recorded cover versions.

Unfortunately for White, he was caught up in the anti-communist Red Scare during the 1950s. He was labeled a communist which hurt his career.

Interestingly, White’s character in The Walking Hills is that although his part is small, he is an equal partner with his white cohorts. In some ways, his character acts as a Greek chorus for the film. During the late-1940s, Hollywood was starting to grapple with racism and the depiction of people of color on the screen. In this film, the subject of White’s race is never brought up. Not the case with the Native American character Cleve, however, who is maligned by Chalk the character played by Arthur Kennedy.

White’s legacy in music runs deep. He was considered a mentor to Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, and influenced a generation of singers including Pete Seeger, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, and Harry Belafonte.





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