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Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Jeopardy" contestant never heard of Joan Fontaine

Last week on the popular TV quiz show "Jeopardy", there was a question about Olivia and Joan, under the category "Hollywood History". I didn't watch the program, but apparently the question had something to do with naming the first sisters to be nominated for Oscars in the same year.

Contestant Kara Spak, a Chicago Sun Times writer with a history of embarrassing gaffes on the show,  failed to answer the Olivia-Joan question correctly. According to her own admission, she never even heard of Joan Fontaine:

I knew it would take a minor miracle for me to advance into the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions two-day final. I thought that minor miracle might occur during Final Jeopardy, with the “Hollywood History” category.

It did not. I was within striking distance, but in the end, victory eluded me, along with the names of the first two sisters who had been nominated for Oscars in the same category, the Final Jeopardy question.

Joan Fontaine? I had never heard of her until Alex Trebek said her name. The sister of Olivia de Havilland? Also news to me.

Read the full text of Spak's humorous report here:
Final Final Jeopardy for Sun-Times reporter
(Chicago Sun-Times, Nov 10 2011)

At the 1941 Oscars, Joan Fontaine was nominated for Suspicion (and won), and Olivia de Havilland was nominated for Hold Back the Dawn.

This was the first time a pair of sisters were nominated in the same category. I think the last time was in 1966 when Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave were both nominated for Best Actress (and lost to Elizabeth Taylor)

A complete list of winners can be found here:

You Can't Beat Love (1937)

From RKO Pictures, this is a funny political comedy that came out in the summer of 1937, one of Joan's five films from that year. At only 62 minutes long, it was was part of a triple bill in New York, according to the NY Times review of the film.

Preston Foster plays a wealthy single socialite named "Jimmy Hughes" (perhaps a distant relative of Howard Hughes?). When we first meet him, we learn that he loves to sleeps late, has a butler named Jasper (Herbert Mundin) and doesn't have a care in the world. The opening scenes with Jimmy and Jasper are really funny. 

One day Jimmy finds himself in a rather unusual circumstance -  digging ditches with other laborers. But he's only doing it for money - some newspaper reporters dared him to work outdoors in his tuxedo for $500. The other workers taunt him for wearing his fancy duds ("Can I have the next dance?" one jokes), and when Jimmy breaks for lunch, Jasper sets up a table with champaign and caviar sandwiches!

Suddenly, the Mayor's campaign bus pulls up, hoping to earn the votes of the workers. A group of campaigners (including Joan) set up a table with free cake. Joan's character makes a speech urging everyone to re-elect the Mayor.

Preston Foster's Jimmy calls the mayor a fraud and says no one has the guts to oppose him. An aggravated Joan asks, "well why don't you do it?" Preston: "I think I will!". The rest of the movie is just as silly, and involves political mudslinging, mistaken identity, and a romance between Preston and Joan, who plays the mayor's daughter!
In one of the funniest scenes, the crooked chief of police hires a Mae West-like temptress named Bubbbles (Barbara Pepper) to seduce Jimmy and scandalize his campaign (the plot backfires).

The supporting cast includes Paul Hurst,
Barbara Pepper, and Herbert Mundlin

I enjoyed this movie, especially the supporting cast including Paul Hurst as Jimmy's bodyguard. He steals every scene. But I think I liked the first half of the movie better than the last half/ending.

Not on DVD or VHS, the movie sometimes plays on Turner Classic Movies.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Joan!

Wishing Ms  Fontaine a very happy birthday today

Birthday Wishes from
Shadows and Satin

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) is a film noir directed by Fritz Lang and written by Douglas Morrow. The film, considered film noir, was the last American film directed by Lang.

Austin Spencer (Sidney Blackmer), a newspaper publisher opposed to capital punishment, invites novelist Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews) to witness an execution. Later, Austin explains to Tom that he believes the District Attorney Roy Thompson (Philip Bourneuf) is using circumstantial evidence to win death sentences because he wants to be the next governor.

Austin wants to plant evidence that will point at a innocent man. Meanwhile, Tom proposes to Austin's daughter Susan (Joan Fontaine); she wants to announce the wedding date, but Tom's editor wants him finish his novel first.

Soon after, Austin reads in the newspaper that an exotic dancer, Patty Gray, has been strangled. Austin learns from a police detective that Patty's friends, Dolly Moore (Barbara Nichols) and Terry LaRue (Robin Raymond), saw her drive away with a man.

Tom meets Dolly after spilling a drink on her on purpose and offers to pay for cleaning her dress. Dolly is so thrilled to have a wealthy boyfriend that she does not notice when Tom takes her body makeup.

When Susan sees a picture of Tom and Dolly in the newspaper, she breaks off their engagement.

Tom and Austin go to the scene of the crime. Austin takes a picture of Tom leaving his cigarette case as a false clue. That night at the club, Terry worries that Tom may be Patty's killer, so she decides to call police lieutenant Kennedy to inform him about her upcoming date with Tom.

Austin, takes pictures of all his activities as proof of his innocence, Tom cleans his car of all fingerprints, applies body makeup to the car seats and leaves a stocking in his glove compartment. When Tom picks up Sally for their date, the police arrest him. The police interrogate Tom, who answers their questions truthfully. When he is indicted for murder, Susan wants Austin to intervene, and wonders why her father does not seem concerned.

Thompson is ready to try the case in court, but his assistant, Bob Hale (Arthur Franz), is in love with Susan and wants to help her prove Tom's innocence. At the trial, Thompson tells the court that Tom proposed to Susan just five days before Patty's murder, and killed the dancer to hide his affair with her.

As "evidence," he talks about a large cash withdrawal Tom made from his bank on the same day that Patty went to work with a lot of cash, as well as pipe ashes found in Tom's garbage, even though Tom does not smoke.

As the jury deliberates, Austin heads over to Thompson's to reveal their plot, but.. along the way is hit by a car and all the evidence is burned. After Austin's death, Tom tells the true story to his lawyer, Jonathan Wilson, who tells the judge, but the judge cannot stop the trial. Susan and Jonathan, search Austin's safe for the pictures, but find none. When the police go through the burned photographs, Susan is convinced of Tom's innocence, and tries to convince the newspaper editors to sway public opinion in Tom's favor.

No pardon is granted and the night before Tom's execution, Susan begs Bob to investigate further. He learns that Patty, stole money from her boyfriend who then threatened to kill her. Unfortunately, the boyfriend died years earlier. A lawyer arrives at Thompson's office, with a just-discovered note that Austin left in his safe-deposit vault, which clears him of all guilt. But.. is he really Innocent?

I thought this was a very interesting film that it gets you thinking about how someone really could be killed for something they didn't do. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt also has one of the best final twists which comes as a complete surprise.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Heiress (1949)

The Heiress (1949). Directed by William Wyler. Camera: Leo Tover. With Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins, Vanessa Brown, Betty Linley, Ray Collins, Mona Freeman, Selena Royle, Paul Lees, Harry Antrim, Russ Conway, David Thursby, Donald Kerr, Harry Pipe, Una Mortished, Ralph Sanford, Lester Dorr, Franklyn Farnum, Douglas Spencer, Jack Chefe.

A wealthy widowed physician Austin Sloper, does not understand why his socially awkward daughter Catherine, does not have all the wonderful qualities of her beautiful mother, even with all her schooling and training. Austin, asks his sister, Lavinia, to come stay with him to help teach his daughter social graces.

That night at a party, Austin's sister, Elizabeth and her husband Jefferson, announce the engagement of their daughter Marian to Arthur Townsend. Arthur's handsome cousin Morris, asks Catherine to dance. Although, she has two left feet, Morris does not seem to notice and asks if he could see her again. Morris, makes frequent visits to her home the following week, her father seems surprised that someone has taken any interest in his daughter.

One night, Lavinia pretends to have a headache and when she leaves Morris and Catherine alone together, he proposes. Catherine accepts, despite the fact Morris is unemployed, uneducated and squandered away his inheritance in Paris.

Catherine, who can not wait, announces her engagement to Austin, who then calls for Morris' sister, Mrs. Montgomery to come visit. She confirms Austin's suspicions, that Morris is after Catherine's substantial inheritance. Austin, convinces Catherine to travel with him to Europe for six months, and Morris promises to wait for her.

While Austin and Catherine are in Europe, Morris visits Lavinia and settles in to a luxurious life style. Austin, soon realizes that Catherine still still in love with Morris, and they return to New York. Where Austin, tells his daughter that because she is homely and dull, her only attraction is her money, and the only thing she does well is her neat embroidery work. Shocked by her father's feelings for her, Catherine plans to elope with Morris that night, and tells Morris her father's threat of disinheriting her. Catherine, is packed and ready and waiting, but, Morris never shows up. Lavinia, who agrees that Morris is a fortune-hunter, feels that he at least offered Catherine a small chance at happiness.

A week later, Austin becomes ill and Catherine learns that Morris has moved to California. Catherine, is heartbroken, and she refuses to see her father when as he lays dying.

Years later, Morris returns to see Catherine. Although she refuses to see him at first, she changes her mind when she hears his voice. Morris, then asks for her forgiveness and tells her the reason he left was so she would not loose her inheritance. Morris, proposes again, saying that he needs her love, and Catherine encourages him to elope that night. Will they now marry and live happily ever after?

Fun Fact:

Montgomery Clift learned to play the piano for the scene where he sings, "The Joys of Love" to Olivia de Havilland.

Olivia De Havilland's, performance from a naive girl to a bitter woman is perfectly believable. Montgomery Clift, performance was just right for his part as a fortune hunter. It is hard to know which side to root for.. You might agree with Dr. Sloper's thoughts about Morris and only wants to protect his daughter. Morris could be a fortune hunter, or he could be a man who could make her happy. A wonderfully told story.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Two Joan Fontaine Films Coming Soon to Stanford Theater (Palo Alto, CA)

In September the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto, California will be showing Rebecca and Suspicion. 

From September 10-16

Rebecca will be showing at 7:30, plus 3:20 Sat/Sun

Suspicion will be showing at 5:40 and 9:50

The're a great lineup of other Hitchcock movies this summer at the Stanford including To Catch a Theif, Notorious, The 39 Steps, and this weekend, Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest. 

If I lived within driving distance I would be there quite often this summer!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Darling, How Could You! (1951)

Set in the early 1900s, this is a comical film about two absentee parents (Joan Fontaine and John Lund) who return to their home in New York City to meet their young children for the first time in years. The reason for their absence is their job in the jungles of Panama where they were doctors, perhaps even missionaries.  In the original 1905 play "Alice Sit By the Fire" by JM Barrie, the father is a Colonel in the British military.

The parents arrive at home expecting to be warmly welcomed; instead they find out that the nurse for their baby is overly protective. Their young son unloads his grievances on them, including his complaint that he doesn't like his birth name. And they find that their eldest daughter Amy (Mona Freeman) has matured into a young woman and doesn't know how to relate to her mother. It's funny when Joan Fontaine gasps,"she knows all about life...and the seamy side!"

The rest of the movie is all about the couple adjusting to life back at home and learning how to relate to their kids, and vice versa. I think the film would have worked in a modern-day setting, but it is a period film just like JM Barrie's play (though the film takes numerous liberties).

There is another subplot involving the kids' paranoia when they mistakenly think their mother is having an affair; the climax of the film ends with an explosion of hysteria, and funny comedic moments from all.

Another highlight of the film is when Joan Fontaine plays the piano at home, and later singing a lullaby to her baby.

(Admin. note: If anyone knows the lyrics or title of this lullaby, please let us know) 

(Admin. note, 7.17.2014 - Thank you, Laura, for identifying this piece of music as being Brahms Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15)

Directed by the great Mitchell Leisen. Co-starring Willard Waterman (Radio's The Great Gildersleeve), Billie Bird (Police Academy 4) and Peter Hansen (TV's General Hospital)

Spoiler: No one in the film says "Darling, how could you!" 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Olivia de Havilland - This Is Myself

The following article appeared in the March 1944 issue of Movieland magazine (pages 35, 83-84). Olivia was on the cover.

This Is Myself
by Olivia de Havilland

My First Great Adventure...

Occurred when I was five. We lived opposite a school, an old wooden building that had been declared derelict. The children in the neighborhood plugged the plumbing and flooded the boys' half of the basement so that the water stood three feed deep.

We made rafts of boxes that were lying around, and had a glorious time poling around the basement on them.

I still feel the thrill of my tremendous amusement.

I Remember...

A little boy named Abner Read, in the third grade when I was in first grade. He wore an orange black sweater which he hung up in the cloak room. I used to come to school late so that I could kiss it surreptitiously as I passed.

I Forget...

When I ceased to care for Abner, but I was always in love. When I was six I admired another boy who threw a rock at me. Ten years later, when I was sixteen, he proposed.

I Used To....

- Want to be an author, and actress, an artist, and something else that began with "a" - I can't think what! I believed there was something special about all my ambitions beginning with "a". It seemed a significant coincidence.

- See myself as a heroine. I saw myself saving lives by the dozen. When the Los Gatos Creek flooded the prune trees, which it did regularly every year, I saw myself rescuing people with the Australian crawl...I still can't swim more than fifteen consecutive strokes!

- See myself in various roles and then act out the roles. I went to a convent where the slightest deviation from conventional behavior was punished. I was distinctly feminine, but I saw myself then as a tomboy and proceeded to behave like one. Very trying for my family but I suppose I enjoyed it at the time.

I'd Like To...

- Know how to build a fire with two sticks, boy scout fashion;
- Shine in emergencies;
-Catch up on all the good books I've missed;
-Write a book - but I know I never will.

Once I Thought...

It mattered what people say. I suffered dreadfully over what I thought was said about me. Now I know I am my own best judge, must make my own decisions, and "What-will-people-say" is no longer a bogie.

I Believe...

- In luck. I've been very lucky at times.
- In a sixth sense. I frequently know things without understanding how I know them. One Sunday as I drove with friends to an engagement, I suddenly said: "Please stop at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel. There will be a cable for me." I had no idea what made me say that. We stopped, found no cable, but an hour later the cable arrived.

I Like...

- To sleep soundly, because I love to get up refreshed and ready to go;
- Square plates, freesias, General Montgomery and his beret, or General Montgomery without his beret; little scampering mice, onions, and curious and interesting foods;
-The idea of promptness. I believe in it, but I never am.

I Dislike...

- Crowds;
- People who sniffle;
- Poke bonnets;
- Unexplained thumps in a house at night.

I'm Never Annoyed With...

People who want me to try their cold remedies. I usually have several to offer myself.

I Think It's Fun To...

- Plan parties, work out every detail of decoration, menu, and entertainment;
- Outwit the traffic cop when the signal turns red just as I reach it. ....My system is to go halfway through the intersection, start to back up, look helplessly around as if to say: "Oh dear, I'd better go on!" and then dart through.

I've Learned...

Practically everything by the trial-and-error method. I learn from my mistakes. I'm not sorry to make them - I'm glad I can learn that way - but I'm seriously annoyed with myself when I repeat a mistake.

When I Was At School...

I wanted to look like a Palm Olive advertisement I cut out of a magazine. The girl in the picture had very black hair, brown eyes and a sweet, sweet, sweet smile. When I came on the ad years later, was I glad all dreams don't come true!

I'll Never Forget...(part 1)

- A coat my mother gave me one Christmas. It was gray with a red tie and had a printed pattern in red and black and gray. When I returned to school wearing it, it struck the other children as very funny. They called it my "bathrobe," shrieked with mirth and made me actually miserable.

I'll Never Forget...(part 2)

- A meal at the Lakeside Golf Club. I gained twenty pounds and was warned not to take it off until I was quite recovered. I played in period pictures where weight was no problem, but along came a modern picture and I had to reduce - but fast. I went on the Harper's Bazaar diet, where you eat steaks, chops and tomato salad, no more. Today I'm probably the only creature in America who doesn't mind the meat shortage.

I craved all the foods I couldn't have and looked forward to Fridays because that was the day I was permitted one piece of French toast.

Our director used to take us to the Golf Club for lunch, and while I toyed with a slice of tomato the rest of the company devoured delectable dishes.

One day I came to the end of my self-control, ate every single item on the buffet.

Next day they couldn't shoot the picture - I was home in bed.

I'll Never Forget... (part 3)

- The beautiful thing a little girl did for me.

Her name was Helen Burns. She and I were six.

Our school house had a huge standpipe that filled up when it rained and overflowed like a geyser, dramatically.

The great sport at school was to stand under the geyser and enjoy the shock and excitement of water splashing down three stories upon you.

One day Helen and I, greatly daring, stood under the geyser. My mother saw me, yanked me home, gave me a good spanking and sent me back to school - not in a dress like all the other girls, but in the khaki blouse and pants I wore for the play.

I suffered horribly at having to appear different from all my schoolmates. It was simply excruciating.

Helen saw me, ran home and put on her khaki outfit, came back and sat beside me.

I thought her wonderful. I still do.

I'd Hate...

To live any day of my life over again. I liked some days very much indeed - some were unbelievably perfect - but I've had them.

The First Thing That Attracts Me...

- In a man is brains, humor, kindness, honesty and courage - yes, and vitality. Intelligence and humor are probably the first things I notice; the existence of the other qualities isn't so immediately apparent.

- In a woman is charm. Often very dumb women have it, but it attracts me. I like intelligent women, of course. It's nice to have women friends, but they are more difficult to acquire than men friends - at least for me.

I Enjoy....

- Almost any kind of music - melodies, tangos, rhumbas, songs from "Oklahoma," so-called classical music.
- Pictures - but I don't know a great deal about them. I spent a glorious afternoon this week looking at a collection belonging to a friend and I hope I'll never forget it. He had three Rousseaus, some Paul Klees, several Picassos; some lovely, lovely things!
-Books, but I'm usually from one to fifty years late in reading what everyone else reads. I've just caught up with "South Wind," "Moby Dick," Wells' "Outline of History," F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ibsen's plays.

I Adore...

-Torrential rains;
-Thunder and lightning. They make me feel safe, oddly enough.
-My first and only pet, my Airedale Shadrack, in spite of his arrogance, willfulness, unreasonable ideas about discipline.
-Older men.

I'm Guilty Of...

-Postponing decisions. But it's usually because something tells me to wait-and I wait.
-Spoiling people I love. But maybe it's just that I like to make them happy.
-Trying to hard for perfection. Or just trying too hard. Period.

Some Day I Would Like...

-To have a baby. I'd like two or three, but I do want to be sure of one.
-But ---

I'm Not Fond Of...

All babies and small children. I never know how to handle them.

I Want To...

Know the truth about people. Once you know their virtues and their faults, their ideas, hopes, and beliefs, you know what to do about them. It's not easy, but if you're fond of anyone it's your business to find out the whole truth.

I Believe In...

Destiny and free will. It seems to me that we each have a pattern we are to follow in life. But we also have a thread of free will that we can use as we please. It is up to us to weave the thread into the pattern.

Whatever we do with our lives, some of the praise and some of the blame is certainly all our own.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday: Olivia de Havilland!

Fun Facts:

Ms. de Havilland lives a peaceful retirement at her home on Rue Benouville, in Paris. She spends time teaching Sunday School to children at a local church.

Is the 15th cousin twice removed of Errol Flynn, her co-star in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

She and Joan Fontaine are the first sisters to win Oscars and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year.

Please Click here to learn more Olivia de Havilland.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Password episode from 1967

Here's a fun episode of TV's Password that aired in 1967, with guest stars Joan Fontaine and her Gunga Din co-star Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. When Joan is introduced by host Allen Ludden, I think she says, "How's Betty?" referring to Ludden's wife Betty White

In the beginning part of this clip, Joan  mentions she will be performing in "Dial M For Murder" at the Ivanhoe Theater in Chicago (postcard of the theater building below)

Ivanhoe Restaurant, Chicago

The theater building still stands (It still looks like a castle) but it is now a Binny's liquor store. 

Here are some pics of how it looks today:

The former Ivanhoe Theater 

Chicago, IL

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Four's A Crowd (1938)

Four's a Crowd (1938), is a romantic comedy directed by Michael Curtiz and released by Warner Brothers. Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Rosalind Russell, Patric Knowles, Walter Connolly, Hugh Herbert, Melville Cooper, Franklin Pangborn, Herman Bing, Margaret Hamilton, Joseph Crehan, Joe Cunningham, Gloria Blondell, Carole Landis and Lana Turner. The fourth of nine movies made by Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn.

The story begins when the newspaper might be shut down when owner, Pat Buckley, gets into a argument with the Editor-in-chief, Robert Lansford. Meanwhile, Lansford hopes to add John Dillingwell's business to his PR firm, and uses his position at Buckley's paper to write a good review for Dillingwell. He soon finds out that Dillingwell's daughter Lorri, is Buckley's fiancee. Lansford decides to try to charm Lorri while Christy makes a play for Buckley. In the end, you don't know who Lansford will end up with?

Errol Flynn gives a wonderful comic performance. One of my favorite scenes where he is chased by dogs snapping at his heels chasing him off his girlfriends property. Olivia de Havilland looks gorgeous as the daughter of millionaire Connolly. A fluffy romance, but... worth watching if you enjoy watching these stars.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Joan Shills for Bufferin

I wanted to share this fantastic commercial I posted on my own blog a couple of years ago:

Joan Fontaine is so elegant in this 1965 commercial for Bufferin. She makes pain relief sound fancy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jane Eyre (1944)

l-r: Joan Fontaine (as Jane), Orson Welles (as Rochester), Margaret O'Brien (as Adele), Peggy Ann Garner (as Young Jane), and Elizabeth Taylor (as Helen)

England, 1829. As the film begins, young Jane (Peggy Ann Garner), an orphan, is living in a strict house of her wicked and cruel aunt (Agnes Moorhead). At the age of 10, she is sent to a prison-like boarding school, Lowood, where she's taunted, teased, called an "unregenerate child" and cruelly punished, all while getting "spiritual instruction". Her best friend Helen (Elizabeth Taylor) helps her keep her sanity.

Jane Eyre and her best friend Helen, played by Elizabeth Taylor

The story advances a few years and Joan Fontaine plays Jane at 18. She accepts a job at a country estate known as Thornfield Hall, where she works as a governess and caretaker of little Adele (played by Margaret O'Brien), who appears to be an orphan, like Jane. The master of the household is Mr. Rochester, played by Orson Welles, who is very domineering and intimidating. As time goes by, Jane learns to accept him and grows fond of him, becoming jealous when he courts another woman.

I was impressed with Joan and thought she was well cast opposite Welles.
Rochester also has feelings for her, but there is something he's not telling her.

I was not familiar with this story before seeing this movie, the first film version I had ever seen of this. So the last part of this movie really was exciting for me because I did not know what to expect. Why was the the door upstairs banging?, I asked. It is a thriller of a story. Joan Fontaine is excellent, and has the right personality and maturity to bring this character to life, even if she was a little older (27) than the character. Welles is also fantastic in this, very convincing as this character.

There have been a number of other movie versions of this classic novel over the years, but I haven't seen them and cannot compare them to this version. To me, this is the definitive version. Featuring a beautiful music score by Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane), intense black-and-white cinematography by George Barnes (Rebecca) and is well directed by Robert Stevenson. I really liked how at certain points actual pages from the novel were shown as Joan (as Jane) narrates.

The credited screenwriters are director Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, John Houseman, a good friend of Welles' from his early days in the theater. Stevenson went on to direct many classic Disney films of the 1960s. He does a good job directing all the child actors here, and gets a few comic moments out of little Margaret O'Brien.

This movie is 96 minutes long and you can watch it streaming on NetFlix or rent on DVD.


Edward Rochester............Orson Welles
Jane Eyre.........................Joan Fontaine
Young Jane (age 10)........Peggy Ann Garner
Helen...............................Elizabeth Taylor
Dr. Rivers.........................John Sutton
Mrs. Reed........................Agnes Moorehead
Mrs. Fairfax....................Edith Barrett
Blanche.....................Hillary Brooke

The final title card encouraged the audience of 1944 to buy war bonds.

This version was recently featured on Ebert Presents; view the clip here on the official website

Friday, March 11, 2011

Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Santa Fe Trail(1940). Western directed by Michael Curtiz. Cast: Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The film was the seventh of eight films that Flynn-de Havilland made together. The outdoor scenes were filmed at the Lasky Movie Ranch, on the Lasky Mesa area of the Simi Hills in the western San Fernando Valley.

The story begins when Cadet Carl Rader, is dishonorably discharged from West Point Academy for conspiracy. His friends Jeb Stuart and George Custer, graduate and are assigned to duty at the most dangerous post in the army. While traveling, Custer and Stuart meet Cyrus Halliday, the man responsible for building the railroad and his daughter, Kit Carson. After arriving at the fort, they find Brown's army, has been terrorizing the countryside with their raids.

During a raid on a wagon, Stuart and Custer capture Brown's injured son Jason and before dying, Jason tells them where his father's hideout is. In disguise, Stuart rides into the hide out and is recognized by Rader, who takes him at gunpoint to Brown. Stuart, finds himself trapped in a burning barn but is saved by Custer and his troops. Brown does not go down without a fight.

Olivia De Havilland, plays a Calamity Jane type character, who gave Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan as George A. Custer, a run for their money.

Errol Flynn(20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959), was best known for his romantic swashbuckler roles and his flamboyant lifestyle.

Flynn co-starred with Olivia de Havilland in eight films, Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four's a Crowd (1938), Dodge City (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (1941.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vote for Olivia as your all-time favorite actress

There is an exciting tournament going on right now at Monty's blog All Good Things. In the tournament, which takes place all this month, you are asked to vote between two classic film actresses, picking only one of the two as your favorite. The winner keeps advancing to further rounds of voting until there is a "final 4", then "final 2", then the ultimate winner - your favorite classic movie actress of all time.

Already several actress have been eliminated - sigh!

Good news, though - Olivia has advanced to the second round of 40's-era actresses. Can she make it to the next round? The final four? Favorite all-time classic movie actresses?

Your vote can help make that happen!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland on Wait Wait. . . Don’t Tell Me!

This past weekend, Olivia and Joan were featured in a question on the National Public Radio quiz show Wait Wait. . . Don’t Tell Me!

It was a part of the Not My Job segment, where a celebrity guest star answers questions on behalf of a listener. (If the guest answers two questions correctly, the listener wins a personalized answering machine message by the vocally-blessed Wait, Wait judge/scorekeeper and NPR newscaster Carl Kasell). This week’s guest was Lisa Kudrow and she’s a pretty smart cookie. She answered two out of three questions correctly, but did she get this one?

Here’s the question as asked by host Peter Sagal:

1930s movie stars Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine are sisters. They have had a legendary feud going back more than sixty years which began when what happened?

A. They both were nominated for the same Academy Award.

B. They had an argument over who got out first of the same limo.

C. A billboard with Joan’s face went up on Sunset Drive, blocking one of Olivia’s.

Lisa Kudrow guessed C. I’m guessing that many of the readers of this blog know the correct answer! Here’s a clip of the segment. The Olivia/Joan portion is about 7:25 in:

Yes—Peter Sagal called Olivia and Joan “1930s movie stars”—but we all know better, right?

Thanks to Tom for inviting me to contribute to the blog. I plan to do so more in the future!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

[Oscar Montage] Academy Award Winners for Best Actress, 1927-present

Best Actress Oscar Winners: 1927-2009

This is a pretty good montage of all the winners. Of course you'll see Joan once for her win for Suspicion and Olivia twice in clips from The Heiress and To Each His Own

Music: Theme from Shakespeare in Love by Stephen Warbeck

Complete list of winners

1928 (1927-28) Janet Gaynor – Seventh Heaven/Street Angel/Sunrise
1929 (1928-29) Mary Pickford – Coquette
1930 (1929-30) Norma Shearer – The Divorcee
1931 (1930-31) Marie Dressler – Min and Bill
1932 (1931-32) Helen Hayes – The Sin of Madelon Claudet
1933 (1932-33) Katharine Hepburn – Morning Glory
1934 Claudette Colbert – It Happened One Night
1935 Bette Davis – Dangerous
1936 Luise Rainer – The Great Ziegfeld
1937 Luise Rainer – The Good Earth
1938 Bette Davis – Jezebel
1939 Vivien Leigh – Gone with the Wind
1940 Ginger Rogers – Kitty Foyle
1941 Joan Fontaine – Suspicion
1942 Greer Garson – Mrs. Miniver
1943 Jennifer Jones – The Song of Bernadette
1944 Ingrid Bergman – Gaslight
1945 Joan Crawford – Mildred Pierce
1946 Olivia de Havilland – To Each His Own
1947 Loretta Young – The Farmer's Daughter
1948 Jane Wyman – Johnny Belinda
1949 Olivia de Havilland – The Heiress
1950 Judy Holliday – Born Yesterday
1951 Vivien Leigh – A Streetcar Named Desire
1952 Shirley Booth – Come Back, Little Sheba
1953 Audrey Hepburn – Roman Holiday
1955 Anna Magnani – The Rose Tattoo
1956 Ingrid Bergman – Anastasia
1957 Joanne Woodward – The Three Faces of Eve
1958 Susan Hayward – I Want to Live!
1959 Simone Signoret – Room at the Top
1960 Elizabeth Taylor – BUtterfield 8
1961 Sophia Loren – Two Women
1962 Anne Bancroft – The Miracle Worker
1963 Patricia Neal – Hud
1964 Julie Andrews – Mary Poppins
1965 Julie Christie – Darling
1966 Elizabeth Taylor – Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 Katharine Hepburn – Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
1968 Katharine Hepburn – The Lion in Winter  (tie)
1968 Barbra Streisand – Funny Girl (tie)
1969 Maggie Smith – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
1970 Glenda Jackson – Women in Love
1971 Jane Fonda – Klute
1972 Liza Minnelli – Cabaret
1973 Glenda Jackson – A Touch of Class
1974 Ellen Burstyn – Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
1975 Louise Fletcher – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976 Faye Dunaway – Network
1977 Diane Keaton – Annie Hall
1978 Jane Fonda – Coming Home
1979 Sally Field – Norma Rae
1980 Sissy Spacek – Coal Miner's Daughter
1981 Katharine Hepburn – On Golden Pond
1982 Meryl Streep – Sophie's Choice
1983 Shirley MacLaine – Terms of Endearment
1984 Sally Field – Places in the Heart
1985 Geraldine Page – The Trip to Bountiful
1986 Marlee Matlin – Children of a Lesser God
1987 Cher – Moonstruck
1988 Jodie Foster – The Accused
1989 Jessica Tandy – Driving Miss Daisy
1990 Kathy Bates – Misery
1991 Jodie Foster – The Silence of the Lambs
1992 Emma Thompson – Howards End
1993 Holly Hunter – The Piano
1994 Jessica Lange – Blue Sky
1995 Susan Sarandon – Dead Man Walking
1996 Frances McDormand – Fargo
1997 Helen Hunt – As Good as It Gets
1998 Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare in Love
1999 Hilary Swank – Boys Don't Cry
2000 Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich
2001 Halle Berry – Monster's Ball
2002 Nicole Kidman – The Hours
2003 Charlize Theron – Monster
2004 Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
2005 Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line
2006 Helen Mirren – The Queen
2007 Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose
2008 Kate Winslet – The Reader
2009 Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
2010 Natalie Portman – Black Swan
2011 Meryl Streep  – The Iron Lady
2012 Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
2013 Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Highlights from The Film Noir Blogathon 2011

Well the 2nd annual Film Preservation Blogthon finished up yesterday and - according to co-host The Siren - over $5,000 was raised to benefit the Film Noir Foundation and the restoration of the 1950 film The Sound of Fury, starring Frank Lovejoy and Lloyd Bridges. You can still donate to the blogathon, even just a small amount.

There were so many great entries. At least three posts discussed films starring Olivia de Havilland, and at least one post discussed a noir starring Joan Fontaine.

A few highlights:

The Dark Mirror - Ivan has written an excellent analysis

More on The Dark Mirror in a post by Vince Keenan who attended the Noir City Film Festival last month in San Francisco.

The Snake Pit is among a number of films discussed in David Steece's post on Oscar-nominated cinematographer Leo Tover.

1948's Kiss The Blood Off My Hands starring Joan and Burt Lancaster. Here's a capsule review of  the film.

Congratulations to all who put together the fundraiser.

Greg from Cinema Styles put together this great video for the blogathon:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Upcoming screenings of Olivia's films

Thanks to Olivia de Havilland - Lady of the Classic Cinema for this updated list of screenings. I wish I lived closer to some of these venues in order to attend.

Ms. de Havilland is scheduled to make a personal appearance at the event in Paris on March 22, where she will be discussing the documentary on Alzheimer's disease that she narrated.

February 20-27, 2011
The Heiress (1949)
Sedona Film Festival - Sedona, AZ
Harkins Theatres
Contact: Film Festival Office - (928) 282-1177
Tickets: Please visit the website linked above for ticket information

Tuesday, February 22 @ 7:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Galaxy Theatre - Monroe, WA
Contact: (360) 863-0909
Tickets: $7.00
For more information click HERE

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Visaila Fox Theater - Visalia, CA
Contact: (559) 625-1369
Tickets: $5.00
For more information click HERE

Thursday, March 3 @ 7:00pm
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Smith Center Movie Theatre - Southern Utah University
For more information click HERE

Thursday, March 10, 2011 @ 2:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Emmetsburg Public Library - Emmetsburg, IA
Contact: 712-852-4009
Tickets: FREE
For more information click HERE
This screening is presented as part of the Tea Time Cinema Series

Thursday, March 17 @ 7:30pm
Friday, March 18 @ 7:30pm
It's Love I'm After (1937)

The Stanford Theatre - Palo Alto, CA
Contact: (650) 324-3700
Tickets: $7.00 for adults,
$5 for Seniors (65 and over) and Youth (18 and under)
For more information click HERE

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 @ 7:30pm
*The American Library - Paris, France
I Remember Better When I Paint (Documentary, 2009)
Contact by Phone: 01 53 59 12 60
Contact by Email:
*Personal Appearance by Ms. De Havilland!

*On Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at 7:30 pm, "I Remember Better When I Paint" will be shown at The American Library in Paris, 10 rue du General Camou in the 7th arrondisment near the Eiffel Tower. Berna Huebner, the film’s co-director, along with Olivia de Havilland, the film’s narrator, will introduce the film at the start of the evening. A short Q&A session will follow.

For more information click HERE or visit the film's blog HERE

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Chapman Cultural Center - Spartanburg, SC
Contact: 864.542.2787 - To Purchase Tickets
Tickets: $6.00
For more information click HERE

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Capitol Theatre - Cleveland, OH
Contact: Film Info: (440) 528-0355 or
Contact: Cleveland Cinemas at (440) 349-3306
Tickets: $10.00 - will go on sale on February 18th. Tickets can be purchased at the Capitol Theatre box office or online at
For more information click HERE
This screening is to commemorate the official 90th anniversary of The Capitol Theatre. The theater will show a special screening of Gone With the Wind that will include a champagne and pastries during the intermission.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Cinema City Theater - Anaheim Hills, CA
Contact: (714) 970-6700
Tickets: $7.00
For more information or click HERE

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 @1:30pm & 7:30pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Carolina Theatre - Greensboro, NC
Tickets: $5.00 for general admission / $4.00 for students, seniors, military, and groups (10+)
Contact: (336) 333-2605
For more information and to purchase tickets click HERE

Friday, May 13 @ 8:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Historic State Theatre - Elizabethtown, KY
Contact: (270) 234-8258
For more information please click HERE

Saturday, August 20 @ 6:00pm
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Surratt House Museum - Clinton, MD
Contact: 301–868–1121
Tickets: FREE
For more information click HERE
Reservations encouraged. Space is limited

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kiss The Blood Off My Hands (1948)

This post has been submitted as an entry in the For the Love of Film (Noir) blogathon, hosted by Marilyn Ferdinand and The Self-Styled Siren. Click here to donate.

The film's memorable title, which, like those of Kiss of Death, Kiss Me Deadly, and Murder My Sweet, provocatively blends sex and violence, certainly suggests that love can redeem someone

—The Encyclopedia of Film Noir1

Based on a 1940 novel
by Gerald Butler
Set in London just after the second world war, Burt Lancaster plays a traumatized veteran who becomes a fugitive after he strikes a fatal blow to to a saloon owner at closing time. After a thrilling chase sequence through the dark foggy streets and alleys, Burt makes his way through the open window of Joan Fontaine's apartment - her bedroom window, that is.

Joan plays a lonely young nurse, who doesn't have any family or friends. The handsome stranger's break-in is almost a welcome burst of excitement for her, and she lets him hide out in her apartment for awhile. The next afternoon they go walking together in a city zoo. "Never been in a zoo?" Joan asks. "Been in one all my life," replies Burt's character, who then shares how he'd been in a POW camp for two years. We also learn that her lover was killed in the war. Burt's uncontrollable temper lands him into more trouble, and he's sent to prison. A harsh scene occurs when Burt is lashed with a cat-o-nine tails, punishment in Britain (at the time) for assaulting an officer.

Robert Newton's
American film debut
After his stint, he and Joan get back together. To paraphrase the trailer, only her arms can tame the fury of his fists. She even helps him to find a job as a truck driver delivering penicillin from her hospital. Robert Newton, playing a seedy con man, complicates their lives with blackmail and threats. There are a few twists at the end, and what you might expect to happen doesn't. Suspense 'til the very end.

In my opinion Burt and Joan make a pretty good onscreen couple. There's a fine train-car bonding scene which sort of reminded me of the one in Letter From An Unknown Woman. But instead of sitting across from each other, the lovers are sitting side by side.

Joan and Burt heat up the screen

Upon the film's initial release, the film critic from the New York Times wrote that Joan brings "restraint and intelligence" to her performance. 2 Mark from the blog Where Danger Lives wrote, "No actor of the classic noir period could project a sense of impending doom like Burt Lancaster, and no actress wore empathy on her face like Joan Fontaine." 3

By the time this film came out, Burt had already done several noirs: The Killers, Brute Force, Desert Fury, I Walk Alone, and Sorry Wrong Number, which opened just a few weeks before Kiss the Blood in the fall of 1948. Incidentally, Burt's next film was also a noir, 1949's Criss Cross. The blogs Randomanic and Scenes from the Morgue have great posts on the latter film for the 2011 For The Love of Film blogathon.

Directed by Norman Foster, who directed Journey Into Fear and most of the Mr. Motto films (Read about them here at Classic Movie Ramblings) Effective musical score composed by Miklos Rosza. Stylish cinematography by Russell Metty (The Stranger). Screenplay by Leonardo Bercovici (Portrait of Jennie)


1. The New York Times. Film review, "Lancaster Fights the World Again," October 30, 1948.
2. The Encyclopedia of Film Noir, 2007, G. Mayer, B. McDonnel, Page 251.
3. Where Danger Lives, "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands," published July 24, 2009.

  • Joan was pregnant with her daughter Debbie during filming.
  • The film was co-produced by Norma Productions, Burt Lancater's new production company.
  • Fontaine and Lancaster recreated their roles for the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on February 21, 1949 under the title The Unafraid.

Fast-forward to the 1:16 mark:

This post has been submitted as an entry in the For the Love of Film (Noir) blogathon, hosted by Marilyn Ferdinand and The Self-Styled Siren

A PayPal account has been set up for the Blogathon through which you can donate to the Film Noir Foundation, an organization which helps restore classic films: Click here to donate.

Friday, February 18, 2011

1979 Joan Fontaine Interview

In this Canadian television interview from 1979, Joan talks about her relationship with her sister and their "differences of opinion".

She discloses that the last time she spoke with her was during a telephone call before their mother's funeral.

In this short clip, Joan talks about Suspicion and the film's two endings.

This television interview took place not long after the release of Joan's 1978 autobiography, No Bed of Roses.  This may have been one of the last television interviews Joan ever gave. Thanks to the CBC YTube channel for the video clips.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trailer for "Santa Fe Trail" (1940)

"..and the match for them, all, the lovely Olivia de her most exciting role since Gone With the Wind!"

Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan

Monty has a great post today on the films of Olivia and Errol.

Mythical Monkey has a great post today on Ronald Reagan,
who was born on February 6, 1911 (100 year anniversary)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Joan and Cary - in color

Joan and Cary Colorized by ~ajax1946 on deviantART

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Certain Smile (1958)

Christine Carère
French actress Christine Carère (1930-2008) plays Dominique, a young college student in Paris with a weathly, go-getter boyfriend (Bradford Dillman, 1930- ). She meets some interesting people at the beginning of her new school term, including a "new" American singer named Johnny Mathis (1935-), who appears in a fun cameo. (Thankfully, he just sings, not acts) She also meets Dillman's uncle (Rossano Brazzi, 1916-1994) and Brazzi's wife (Joan Fontaine, 1917- ), who will impact her life forever.

Dominique is suspicious of rich Uncle Brazzi's charm; he's a bit too friendly with her when they first meet. As the film/story progresses, they become more attracted to each other, and they eventually fall in love. Or so she thinks... Poor Joan. As the stressed-out wife, she's only a supporting player in this, but she has some very good scenes, especially when she confronts Dominique about the affair, and teaches the young girl a thing or two, which is I think is the best scene in the film. Dillman also has a good scene when he finds out; it's a good drunk scene.

One thing I noticed is that in almost every scene she's in, Joan's character is chugging a cigarette. I highly doubt Ms Fontaine was a serious smoker offscreen, otherwise I don't think she would have lived as long as she has. Though she did appear in those Chesterfield ads.

Directed by Jean Negulesco. Some great scenery of Paris and the French Riviera, where Carère and Brazzi plan an escape getaway. I couldn't tell exactly where on the Riviera they were supposed to be, I think Antibes.

Ms. Carère's accent is a bit thick, and I had some trouble making out what she was saying much of the time. But she is very talented and I wish she would have made more films; she was only in a few American films before she retired from acting in the 1960s. Other than that, I don't know anything else about her. Unfortunately her name is not one that most other people will remember either. However, you might not be able to forget her once you see A Certain Smile.

The theme was a big hit song, made famous by Johnny Mathis.\