Screen Snapshots

Screen Snapshots

Saturday, 30 November 2019

I Want a Divorce (1940) - So, Marriage Isn't Meant To Be Fun?!

It takes a brave celebrity couple to star in a movie called I Want a Divorce, especially if they are married in real life and the subject of regular magazine coverage regarding their glamorous relationship. Joan Blondell and Dick Powell were one such couple and were half way though an eight year marriage when the movie came out in 1940. Luckily the reviews were so bad that the film quickly disappeared into obscurity to the point that when they eventually divorced in 1944 it was a long forgotten footnote rather than a punchline. Still, a married couple even entertaining the notion of a movie with such a title in the notoriously relationship fickle world of Hollywood was surely just asking for trouble.

I Want a Divorce is a strange little film that knows exactly what it wants to say but can’t settle on the right way to go about saying it. It advertises itself as a rip-roaring comedy (“A Lovable Wise-Cracking Comedy Drama!!” declares the poster) but in execution resembles a particularly pious Public Service Announcement. It’s ninety minutes of half-hearted attempts at comedy competing with a dreary, bad tempered atmosphere of moralising in which every character is affected in some way by the demon divorce and most come out of it losing someone they hold dear, if not more.

The mood is set with the first scene as Joan Blondell’s character Geraldine walks through the divorce courts looking for the room where her sister is campaigning to ditch her husband and have the sort of carefree lifestyle she has always desired. As Joan walks through the halls we meet a litany of miserable broken families, from a young girl screaming “You think dad’s a heel but that doesn’t make me believe it!” (Her mother’s touching answer: “Oh shut up!”), to a little boy wailing “I don’t wanna live with you, I want my mommy!”). When she arrives at the right courtroom we see her sister Wanda, played with impeccable disdain by Gloria Dickson proclaim that she wants a divorce because her husband’s occasional criticism has caused her public humiliation (“He also criticised my clothes!”). Her lawyer sums up that this despicable act has caused her “great mental anguish, seriously endangering (her) health”. Divorce granted, next case!!

All that was needed was perhaps the wailing sounds of motherless babies cast aside by their divorce happy parents accompanied by the sounds of lawyers counting their money and the intended picture of a modern day Bedlam would be achieved. Divorce is bad. Divorce breaks up families. Divorce makes everyone miserable. Okay, we get it. So, when exactly does the lovable wise-cracking comedy start?

Next we meet the rest of Geraldine and Wanda’s family, namely their grandparents and Wanda’s son David. These characters are used to hammer home the message even more as the grandparents have been married forever and have endless nuggets of homespun wisdom to impart about the sanctity of marriage, while the son is supposed to be an adorable young scamp (he's not) whose innocence is in peril by the actions of his selfish mother. Even the now ex-husband David (played with a dignified restraint by Conrad Nagel) comes across as a good and loving parent brought down by Wanda’s actions and lifestyle. Inappropriately, Grandma starts her sermonising the minute the sisters get back from court, telling Geraldine "Divorces don't take long these days. What should I be saying to her, 'Sorry, congratulations or many happy returns?'" When she is told that it seems she got up on the wrong side of bed this morning she replies "Yes and it's the same bed I've slept for nearly 50 years. And with the same man". She's a delightful character.

After that the comedy portion finally begins, and it really wasn’t worth the wait. Joan Blondell and Dick Powell co-starred successfully in many movies during the 30s but for whatever reason, by the time this film was made they have little or no chemistry on screen. Joan tries her best, but Dick (as up and coming lawyer Alan MacNally) just seems to be going through the motions (honestly, he looks so bored) and it doesn’t help that the script is so leaden for the majority of the movie that there is nothing for them to work with. Anyway, events conspire to make our stars meet and soon they are courting, everything is wonderful and before we know it they decide to get married. Fittingly the ceremony itself is a rather mute affair as the camera pans round the group of friends and family in the church staring furtively as the priest intones the solemn wedding vows to the blank faced couple. It’s the furthest thing from the joyful celebration of union, but I guess that’s the point – marriage is a serious business. Divorce has even taken the fun out of getting married!

Just in case you really haven’t picked up on the message the movie is trying to impart, Geraldine and Alan are getting on swimmingly as newlyweds until Alan gets offered a chance to make more money and rise up the ranks at his law firm by becoming (gasp) a divorce lawyer! From there the marriage immediately falls apart, and the legal eagles start circling the wagons. In the end it takes the suicide of Wanda, inconsolable after realising the mistake she made, to wake everyone up to the fact that divorce destroys lives (all part of the lovable wise-cracking comedy of course). Finally, while Geraldine is in shock, numb at the fact that her sister has died, Grandma decides to monologue about how it was all Wanda’s fault and that “She broke a promise she made to the Lord God almighty. She started something that grew big and evil and it finally was too much for her”. Grandma continues in this vein, oblivious to the human cost of the ensuing drama, and indeed her own family. The incessant nagging must have worked though, as the couple reconcile and order restored.

Obviously, times and attitudes have changed since 1940 and divorce is now no longer a scourge of society but one would hope that even back then people would be rolling their eyes at the incessant, heavy handed lecturing in the movie. The movie shows the worst excesses of the Production Code in action, pushing message at the cost of entertainment, and even advertising itself as a screwball comedy to do so. Quite what Dick Powell and Joan Blondell were doing in such nonsense is difficult to understand. Apparently they got a very good financial incentive to come to Paramount but it doesn't appear that bothering about a good script was included in the deal.

The movie is fascinating mostly for how far it hammers the point home about divorce and its destructive effects. From the opening court scene where we see the broken families and hear the obviously fabricated testimony of the selfish plaintiff, to the juxtaposition of the happily married grandparents from an earlier simpler time (I guess divorce was only invented in the 20th century) the message is stay together at all costs. In the key line of the movie, Grandma tells Geraldine “Getting married isn’t the important thing, it’s staying married that counts”. In the movie, marriage is about the long run and the institution is the most important thing. It’s understandable that they are trying to tell young people to stick it out throughout good times and bad but the inference is also that if you are stuck in a broken, unhappy marriage that it’s your lot in life (and probably your own fault) and you should just grin and bear it. That combined with the frequent assertion that all a woman needs to be kept in line is a swift slap (and that men too can be kept in line with a fist or some flying crockery) gives the impression of a society where being single sounds the best option. 

If the picture given of the ideal marriage is bad, then the view of divorce is even worse. There are two things in particular that the movie saves its disdain for, two things that it considers the lowest of the low. Firstly it’s divorce lawyers, who seem to be the pushers in this scenario, planting the seed of doubt in the minds of the married and making it so, so easy to take a trip to Splitsville, all the while gleefully pocketing the cash. When Alan and Geraldine get married, the nuptials go south the minute he decides to take up with the devil’s brigade of the divorce lawyer.  Though he is saved from this soul destroying fate in the end, he still feels the need to repent his sins and convert his occupation to good, becoming a “Child Conciliation“ lawyer and thus putting broken families back together for a living (presumable whether they wanted to or not). I hope it’s enough to pay the bills.

The second thing that raises the ire of the movie is women. Or rather women who dare to divorce. The movie seems at pains to point out how the lowest thing a woman can do is file for divorce and break up the sacred family unit. Though to be fair, no one would want to be married to Wanda in the first place as she is vain and selfish and concocts the divorce plan to spend less time at home and more in the nightclub. In reality people get divorced for all sorts of complicated reasons but it’s telling here that the reason is portrayed as almost entirely the fault of the woman and everyone else suffers for her sins.

However, lest we forget I Want a Divorce is supposedly a comedy and does spend at least a small proportion of its running time attempting to raise a smile. Unfortunately because the script can’t decide if it’s a searing melodrama or knockabout comedy the result is that it’s successful at neither. Luckily, despite the miserable atmosphere and the fact it looks for all intents and purposes like a Monogram B picture, it is saved but a decent cast of reliable faces. As mentioned earlier, neither Joan Blondell nor Dick Powell are at their best here. It’s 1940, so Joan Blondell is firmly in her brown hair and big shoulder pads phase (and she wears some extraordinary examples here – I’m surprised she could get through doors!) but there is the occasional flourish of the charm that made her famous. In particular a scene where she asks Grandma about love while waiting for her new beau to arrive (and fetchingly dressed in a big hat and checked farm girl outfit). She sighs dreamily as Grandma begins once again to lecture about marriage then suddenly her face lights up with innocent charm when she spots Dick Powell approaching. With her big round eyes and wide smile, for just a brief moment it’s 1934 again. The simple problem with the comedic sections of the movie is that they are not funny, nor do they have any remotely comic situations for Joan and Dick to enact. There’s no one liners, no snappy dialogue and really nothing for the stars to wring some laughs from. It’s as if the romance sub plot exists to kill time until the punchline (ie divorce) and thus allow the movie to go back to preaching.

The supporting cast do at least provide some amusing moments, with entertaining appearances from Dorothy Burgess (a brief but wildly over the top turn as a Mexican Spitfire type), Louise Beavers (a sensitively played maid) and a genuinely funny cameo from Roscoe Ates as a summons server. However it’s the presence of Frank Fay as their jaded friend Jeff that steals the show. I never thought I’d say this but (whisper) Frank Fay is by far the best thing in this movie. Obviously it’s no secret that in real life Frank Fay was a despicable and reviled human being, an egotistical, alcoholic, racist wife beater, but if it’s possible to put that aside (and granted it is very difficult) he’s rather wonderful in I Want a Divorce. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t had a dramatic part in a movie in close to eight years, or that he had finally begun to accept that he was no longer the star he once was, but his character has a melancholy demeanour that is quite compelling. He is used entirely for comic relief and constantly on the run from his crazy wife but his almost punch drunk wistfulness sets him apart from the rest of the cast. Maybe it was the effects of the booze but he delivers his lines in an unsteady manner, with a twinkling detachment of a man who has lived life and takes each day as it comes. It could equally be seen as a terrible performance given by a man the shadow of this former self or an actor coming to terms with his mistakes and finally showing a degree of vulnerability. Either way he’s the most memorable thing about the movie, which granted, isn’t saying much.

All in all, I Want a Divorce isn’t a good film, but it’s strangely fascinating for its mismatched mix of genres and tone, the odd lack of chemistry between the married leads and the unexpected charm of a much despised former star. Most of all though the endless moralising and preaching about the sacred vows of marriage and the utter disdain at the mere concept of divorce (and especially those who facilitate it) results in a tone more like the “Red Menace” movies of the late 40s and early 50s. As ever, it was a bit rich for Hollywood to lecture anyone of the sanctity of marriage, but it’s always been a 'do as I say not as I do' type of place. Nonetheless the heavy handedness of the whole enterprise may not particularly unusual for the time but is unintentionally amusing now. Sadly, it's the sort of subject one would expect to see as a short film or perhaps as a programmer produced by one of the Poverty Row studios, not a Paramount movie with two major stars. As such it's a complete waste of Joan Blondell’s talents at a time where she really could have done with a career boost.

However, before I pack my bags and head to Reno there is a curious postscript to this whole affair. Despite the film getting terrible reviews and flopping at the box office, someone, somewhere decided that the general public needed to know even more about the evils of divorce. Thus was born, I Want a Divorce the radio show, starring Joan Blondell! Stay tuned until next time and we shall lift the lid on the sequel of sorts that no one really asked for.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Green Goddess (1930) - George Arliss, Alice Joyce and Warner Brothers Before the Gangsters

The Green Goddess is one of those movies that appears to be fairly commonplace in the early sound era in that they are obsessed with the British aristocracy and their affairs. In this instance it positively revels in its Britishness, from the cast and their clipped accents, to the colonial setting in India and right through to the “brownface” and casual racism. Filmed in 1929, but not released until 1930 the movie was an adaptation of a popular 1921 play (which additionally spawned a silent film version in 1923). Watching it today or indeed in 1930 it’s ridiculously stagey and old fashioned, but does hold a certain Kiplingesque charm that brings to mind the early output of Ronald Colman and the like. The play certainly must have been popular in its day as it brought forth multiple adaptions in film and radio. Orson Welles was seemingly an admirer, adapting it for stage and radio performances of The Mercury Players and it even inspired a salad, which is something you can’t say about a lot of plays.

What’s interesting to me about the movie is with its exotic locale, savage tribesmen, British stiff upper lipped resolve and general plodding presentation that it’s surprisingly produced by Warner Brothers. MGM maybe, Fox definitely - but Warner? This is the studio that within a year would be producing Little Caesar and kicking off a wave of violence, sex and sin so beloved of Pre-Code movie fans. However, when you look at Warner Brothers output in 1929 and 1930 it’s clear that they were a studio still finding its voice (so to speak) in the world of the talkies.

In fact, while the studio’s movies from this era include some minor gems, overall it’s a weird patchwork of genres and styles. There’s biblical epics (Noah’s Ark), operettas (The Desert Song), historical biopics (Disraeli), exotic dramas (The Squall) and whatever Golden Dawn is supposed to be. Add to that a raft of Al Jolson vehicles, a ton of Broadway based fluff starring Alice White and some attempts at drawing room drama and comedy with the likes of Dorothy Mackaill and Billie Dove and you certainly have an eclectic selection. It’s definitely a mixed bag in the days before Cagney, Robinson and Blondell hit the scene. Yet in the middle of this potpourri of cinematic uncertainty sits Warner Brothers' most bankable and dependable star of the era, George Arliss

Whilst mostly overlooked these days, make no mistake about it - George Arliss was a very big deal in the early 30s. For an industry desperate to achieve artistic respectability, he provided it in spades. Arliss began his theatrical career in his native Britain but found virtually all his success in America. Touring in plays such as “The Devils”, “Disraeli” and “The Green Goddess” made him a hugely successful and respected actor in the early part of the 20th century, a position that he used to transition to movies in the early 20s. By the time sound films arrived Arliss, then in his 60s was one of the unexpected successes of the period. I first realised the power that he commanded in the industry when I heard his debut on Lux Radio Theater in an episode from 1938. The hushed tones of reverence used by host Cecil B. DeMille to introduce him let the radio audience know in no uncertain terms that they were in the presence of greatness, and were glimpsing a dramatic talent far beyond the abilities of the average studio player. George Arliss represented artistic quality and with his extensive stage background, that all important ‘legitimacy” so craved by certain quarters in Hollywood.

However, the mark of quality surrounding his movies was not just hype. When he signed to Warner Brothers to make talking pictures starting in 1929 he was given an extraordinary amount of control over his output, at a level which possibly no other actor had at the time. He was responsible for virtually every element of his movies from casting to scripts to set design and his productions had essentially their own unit on the Warner lot. Though his movies are now fairly unfashionable, being largely overwrought historical biographies or adaptions of his theatrical successes, they were incredibly popular in their day and brought in a lot of money and prestige for Warner Brothers. It’s also worth noting that despite his own success he had an undeniable eye for young talent and cast the likes of Bette Davis and James Cagney in early roles and took an active part in cultivating and mentoring new stars. 

Even though The Green Goddess bears all the hallmarks of an Arliss production in terms of cast, crew and treatment, pretty much everything about the movie is absolute hokum. There is possibly a serious point to be made about the role of race, class and colonialism in India submerged somewhere within the setting but it is lost in a sea of melodrama. The plot concerns a three British people who crash land their plane on the kingdom of Rukh (supposedly some Indian province currently warring with the main government) The Rajah, played by George Arliss holds them prisoner and intends to execute them in retaliation for the government executing three of his countrymen for acts of terrorism. Our plucky heroes must try to escape before the Rajah has his ‘eye for an eye’ revenge.
For modern audiences such movies, featuring the otherness of another (usually non-white or certainly non-Western) culture leave a bad taste in the mouth, especially since as in this case the lead actor is essentially in ‘brownface’ to portray an Indian. This was not unusual in 1930, and indeed for many, many decades to come in movies and television. One unfortunately just has to accept the film for what it is - a product of its time made with noble intentions and with a small world view that was painfully unaware of its cultural surroundings. At the very least there is some discussion of the issue of British colonialism in India which serves as an attempt to paint the characters in a few minor shades of grey.

The Rajah is initially assumed by the British contingent, and especially the arrogant Major (played with impassive superiority by H.B, Warner) to be a savage (his line about wanting to get ‘back to civilisation’ starts relations with the Rajah immediately on the wrong foot) but is nonetheless erudite, educated and modern. There is an amusing scene where the Rajah points out this ‘household cavalry’ and we see a group of misshapen and elderly old codgers, one of which can’t even stay awake. This makes the British contingent bristle with satisfaction until at the snap of his fingers the real soldiers turn up like a modern well-oiled machine (bizarrely assembling in speeded up fashion). Despite tribal beliefs and idol worship going on amongst Rukh’s people (hence the titular Green Goddess who demands appeasement), the locals seem to be a strange lot, combining every available stereotype of movie tribesmen. The men carry spears, play the war drums, all the while whooping and shrieking in a variety of weird outfits. Conversely the women glide about like concubines in a harem, seductively shaking their hips in a hand me down 'Dance of the Seven Veils'. Typically with Western culture’s then-portrayal of the mysterious East, this exotic hodgepodge seems to have no connection with anything remotely Indian. One of the tribesmen even inexplicably carries a trident! Why he does so is never explained...

While the arrogance of Hollywood and its cultural view is never taken to task, luckily the movie at least attempts to tackle the attitudes of the British and their rule in India. The Rajah refuses to back down on his threat to have his British visitors killed, saying "Asia has a long score against you swaggering lords of creation, and by all the gods I mean to see some of it paid tomorrow" Of course, he has a valid point and the play brings up an interesting moral dilemma. Sadly, when he clasps eyes on the lone white female of the group, this ethical high ground goes swiftly out the window as he becomes another typically lust crazed foreign devil. He then goes out further on the crazy scale by attempting to justify his actions on some eugenic level, "For though I hate the arrogance of Europe, I believe that from the blending of a flower of the East with a flower of the West that the man of the future, the Superman will be born!" Not surprisingly, our flower of the West quickly turns down his advances.

Despite some of the more dubious elements of the scenario, the movie undoubtedly belongs to George Arliss. He commands the screen, resplendent in his silken finery as the sly and arch Rajah and is positively glowing with both charm and menace. It’s no wonder he is so confident in role having played it on and off for the better part of a decade. What’s surprising is how easily, at his first attempt, he adapts to talking pictures. His performance is assured without being theatrical, adept at the small moments as well as the large and seemingly at ease with acting within the new medium. Admittedly Arliss does at times chew the scenery with his proclamations and he holds a cigarette in the most weirdly off-putting manner - horizontal!  Most divertingly, his appearance and manner immediately brings to mind Kenneth Williams’ tour de force Khasi of Kalabar in Carry On Up the Khyber, but to me that’s the highest of praise.

The whole production, while having that certain rough at the edges charm of early sound movies, still retains a sense of gloss and grandeur. The interiors of the Rajah’s palace look impressively dressed and the courtyard set with its enormous thick doors (which I couldn’t figure out if were real or realised by visual trickery) at times brought to mind hints of silent Babylonian epics. If this had been made six months earlier one could easily imagine The Green Goddess being a lush and expensive silent melodrama of the highest order. 

There is a lot to like in some other members of the cast, most noticeably in the lovely Alice Joyce as Lucilla, the beleaguered housewife who wants only to be reunited with her children but who has to put up with the Rajah's creepy advances. Although is it a standard underwritten ‘woman in peril from evil foreigner’ role which requires her to look anguished and nervous for most of the film, Miss Joyce succeeds in being quietly understated and rather charming. Like a lot of great silent screen actresses, she excels when having to emote and her ability to use her face gives her character a lot more depth than perhaps appears on the page. Alice Joyce retired from the screen in 1930 and only appeared in a couple of more movies after The Green Goddess, which is a real shame as I would have likes to see more of her. However, at her age (a positively geriatric by Hollywood standards 39 in The Green Goddess but still looking delightful), her days as a leading lady were probably over. To be honest, she probably didn't have enough charisma in sound to be a big success, and her persona is definitely that of an earlier more demure era. However, she definitely appeals to my love of seeing silent stars making charmingly serviceable attempts at talking pictures so to me she's just right.

A brief mention also needs to be made of Ivan F. Simpson as the butler Watkins. Again this was a role he had played with Arliss previously on the screen and on stage and he oozes menace and class resentment with every pore. He’s a grubby, bitter little man and expertly brought to life by Simpson, who would go on to be one of Arliss’ regular stock players. The Green Goddess attempts, mostly unsuccessfully to say something about social class but in the scenes between Watkins, the Rajah and the new visitors the dynamic finds its greatest success. There's a great scene where the captured Brits try to convince him to turn on his master and help them out. They try to guilt him into doing it for the old country and offer him a variety of financial bribes. He remarks that if he's going to do it he's "got to have enough to make a gentleman of me" Without thinking the prisoners all laugh at his nerve. Even though their lives depend on him, they still need to remind him of his place in the world. In the end he double crosses them and so they throw him out a window to his death. I think there's a lesson to be learned there for all of us. If you ever figure it out please let me know.

In the end, your opinion of the The Green Goddess depends upon what part you choose to concentrate on. It’s old fashioned even for 1930, it has some misguided racial politics, it makes a confusing and ham fisted mess of untangling British colonialism and class conflict but if you can choose to overlook this there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on. Of course, these issues are difficult to get past but the movie (and the play) are of their time and entertainment and melodrama are the focus, not outdated social mores. On a technical and artistic level the movie is mostly above average, presenting a confident attempt at early sound filmmaking. It also allows a charismatic veteran actor in George Arliss to set out his stall for what would be a string of captivating and successful performances that would seal his legend in the public consciousness (and give Mitzi Green someone to impersonate).

The movie also shows Warner Brothers finding their feet at trying to create an identity as a studio. 'Tales of the British Raj' wouldn’t last long for the studio once they found a successful formula in gangsters, good time girls and slice of life Depression era grifting. It was no great loss when the likes of The Public Enemy started to be the in-house style for the studio at the expense of stagey nonsense like The Green Goddess. Yet the movie is emblematic of an industry finding its feet and trying different things to see what worked and what didn't. That in itself makes the movies of the early sound era endlessly fascinating. Sometimes they work, sometimes you can generously label it as 'a curio'. If I'm being generous, this one is a curio.

If nothing else, The Green Goddess ends with one of the best final scenes I can remember seeing. As the Rajah makes a final desperate effort to enslave Lucilla only to be foiled by the cavalry at the last moment he admits defeat, sits down cross legged and lights up a cigarette. Arliss looks at the camera with a twinkle in his eye and says, "Well, well, she'd probably have been a damned nuisance" It almost makes the film worthwhile. Almost, but not quite but I hope at least The Green Goddess made for a tasty salad.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Screen Snapshots Returns! Hooray!

Hello 2019! Wait, what happened to 2018??

Alas, times have been tough here at Screen Snapshots over the last year and a half. On this occasion it’s not because of any fraught personal problems but due to nothing less than good old fashioned apathy. My issue has been with trying to find a way to communicate what I want to say in an appropriately informative and entertaining manner. However, my movie viewing habits have widened considerably since I started this blog, and though I still concentrate mainly on Pre-Code movies, I don’t stick to the same favourite stars as much as I used to (can you ever forgive me Cary Grant?). The result is that the number of interesting films I watch is greatly outnumbered by the amount of average, run of the mill ones. I watch so many movies that I think are fine, maybe even entertaining – but can I find anything to say about them? I could try, but I doubt it would be worth reading. There are enough film reviews out there that just give a basic plot recap with a thumbs up/thumbs down verdict and I’ve always strived to give a bit more than that. Regardless of that, the simple fact is that nothing has really demanded my attention of late.

For example, yesterday I watched Lucky Night, the 1939 romantic comedy starring Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor. I quite enjoyed it so I thought about writing a review. Then I thought more about it and realised that sadly I didn’t really have anything particularly stimulating to say about the movie. I could say that there were no scenes that grabbed me, no performances that stole the show and no minor moments of cinematic genius to be seen. At a push, I could talk about how it has a tone that shifts all over the place and that there were only a few fleeting flashes of brilliance from the cast. I still liked it though, but it would be a fairly worthless blog post. 

I’ve had a year and a half of movies like this it seems and as a result I have been gripped by a sort of movie watching existential crisis. Why can’t I find the right films to write about? Is it me? Have I angered the movie Gods? Has the muse left me? Did I ever have it to start with?

I began to think that perhaps my love of classic movies was waning, but considering it is something I still think about on a daily basis I don’t believe that my passion for the era has diminished. So it’s time for a bit of a rethink. I still want to write this blog, regardless of whether anyone actually reads it (and let’s face it, nobody reads this - but I forgive you, invisible non-existent readers). I’ll have to be a bit more creative in terms of articles until I find that elusive movie that piques my interest. I have a ton of 20s and 30s movie and radio magazines I’ve been meaning to sift through for interesting titbits of gossip. I also have a really cool piece of Myrna Loy memorabilia that I’ve been sitting on for years. Oh, did I ever tell you that my dad went out drinking with Montgomery Clift a couple of times? And also, isn’t Alice White really great? People need to write more articles about her.

So I guess there may be a bit more life in this blog yet. What say we give it another go in 2019? Shall we? .

(cue furious typing montage starring Lee Tracy as me…)