Friday, August 12, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Gypsy Wildcat (1944) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

GYPSY WILDCAT (1944) is the second of the three films in the Maria Montez and Jon Hall Collection which was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I previously reviewed the set's WHITE SAVAGE (1943), which I found to be great fun; still to be reviewed is SUDAN (1945). All three films were originally released by Universal Pictures.

This time around Montez plays Carla, a gorgeous gypsy girl. She comes to the aid of a stranger named Michael (Hall) after he discovers a body and is ultimately accused of murder by Baron Tovar (Douglass Dumbrille).  

The Baron spots a necklace on Carla which gives him reason to believe she's the long-lost heiress to the dead man's estate, which Tovar has claimed for his own. Getting rid of Michael not only deflects blame but removes competition for Carla's hand in marriage -- and the estate which comes with her.

There's a lot of back and forth battling with Michael and the gypsies (including Peter Coe, Leo Carrillo, and Gale Sondergaard) on one side and Tovar and his men (including Harry Cording) on the other. Eventually, of course, we arrive at the expected happy ending.

I'm currently reading THE QUEEN OF TECHNICOLOR: MARIA MONTEZ IN HOLLYWOOD by Tom Zimmerman, and he refers to Montez and Hall's six films together as the "Neverland films," which is a good description. They're all highly entertaining escapist fantasies which were badly needed during World War II. These films were perfectly designed to enable audiences to forget their cares for a brief time, and indeed, they still offer a wonderful diversion from today's world.

GYPSY WILDCAT may not be quite as good as the three previous Montez-Hall films I've reviewed, which also include ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942) and ALI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES (1944), but it was still quite enjoyable. The role of a fiery gypsy dancing girl was perfect for the flamboyant Montez, who does a fine job in a part which seems tailored for her. Hall is always a stalwart hero -- though I must admit I wasn't taken with his mustache.

Like the other films, GYPSY WILDCAT is a spectacular-looking fantasy, filmed in stunning Technicolor by George Robinson and W. Howard Greene. Much of the film was shot outdoors; I think some of it may have possibly have been at Iverson Ranch, but I couldn't place the other locations.

The screenplay of this 77-minute film was written by James P. Hogan, Gene Lewis, and James M. Cain. I love that Cain, the novelist behind works such as DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, and MILDRED PIERCE, also worked on writing the script for this gypsy adventure fantasy.

Director Roy William Neill also worked on multiple films in Universal's SHERLOCK HOLMES series, and in fact "Dr. Watson" from that series, Nigel Bruce, appears here as the High Sheriff.

It was a particularly nice coincidence to discover Leo Carrillo in the cast, having written about him a few days ago, and it was likewise fun to see Gale Sondergaard, just a few days after reviewing her in ENTER ARSENE LUPIN (1944). She's quite enjoyable here as a good-natured fortune teller.

If the movie has a weak link, it's Peter Coe as Carla's jealous childhood love. I read that the role was originally slated for Turhan Bey, who would have been excellent.

Montez's colorful, eye-catching costumes by Vera West are also worth mentioning. Most of the wardrobe is designed in bright colors, but late in the movie she wears a black negligee with a design which is absolutely eye-popping. To some extent this is a movie which could even be enjoyed with the sound off, as Montez looks so amazing. Little surprise that her biographer chose the title THE QUEEN OF TECHNICOLOR.

GYPSY WILDCAT is a gorgeous Blu-ray print with excellent sound. The extras for this title are the trailer and a commentary track by David Del Valle.

I'm so appreciative that Kino Lorber has made all of Montez and Hall's films available on Blu-ray! This set ranks as one of my favorite releases of the year.

Look for a review of SUDAN, the final film in this set, coming soon. I also plan to review the sixth Montez and Hall film, COBRA WOMAN (1944), which was released a couple of years ago.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.

A Birthday Tribute to Marjorie Reynolds

Actress Marjorie Reynolds, a bright presence in films and TV of the '30s through '50s, was born in Idaho on August 12, 1917.


Marjorie was raised in Los Angeles and appeared in a handful of silent films as a child, then returned to movies in bit parts as a teenager.



Marjorie's first roles as a leading lady were in "B" Westerns opposite stars such as Buck Jones, Tex Ritter, and George O'Brien; she also appeared opposite Ken Maynard, Roy Rogers, Tim Holt, and Bob Baker.



Here she is with O'Brien in RACKETEERS OF THE RANGE (1939):



Marjorie is always a fun, spunky presence in "B" Westerns and is someone I'm happy to see listed in the opening credits. Here she is with Holt in CYCLONE ON HORSEBACK (1941).



Today Marjorie is especially remembered for her role as Linda opposite Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the classic HOLIDAY INN (1942).



Marjorie, dubbed by Martha Mears, introduced the song "White Christmas" to the world alongside Bing.



Another of her most notable films was Fritz Lang's MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944) opposite Ray Milland.



I also particularly enjoyed Marjorie opposite Barry Sullivan in BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE (1949).



Marjorie starred with William Bendix on TV's LIFE OF RILEY from 1953 to 1958.


Save for a couple brief TV appearances, she was retired from the screen after 1963.


Marjorie was married twice. She had one child from her first marriage to Jack Reynolds; her second husband, whom she survived, was actor-turned-editor John Whitney (THE BACHELOR'S DAUGHTERS).

Marjorie died in Manhattan Beach, California, on February 1, 1997.



Happily I still have many Marjorie Reynolds films ahead of me to see for the first time!

Links for Marjorie Reynolds films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: TIMBER STAMPEDE (1939) (also here), RACKETEERS OF THE RANGE (1939), CYCLONE ON HORSEBACK (1941), DUDE COWBOY (1941), MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944), MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE (1946), BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE (1949), HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951).

Reviewed in my Western RoundUp column for Classic Movie Hub: OVERLAND EXPRESS (1938).

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Hester Street (1975) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

HESTER STREET (1975) has been released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber and the Cohen Film Collection. It's part of the Cohen Film Collection "Classics of American Cinema" line.

HESTER STREET is a story of Jewish immigrants which was written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver; the script was based on a novella by Abraham Cahan. Silver, who died in 2020, was also the director of a charming story of modern-day Jews, CROSSING DELANCEY (1988).

HESTER STREET was shot in black and white by Kenneth Van Sickle, and it almost seems like a silent movie in its initial scene, set at a dance. The film's relatively old-fashioned look and "small," intimate story make it both unusual and appealing.

It's 1896 in New York, and Jake (Steven Keats) is a Jewish immigrant from Russia who prides himself on his American ways. He's quite taken with Mamie (Dorrie Kavanaugh), who returns his interest, but it's soon revealed there's a bit of a roadblock to their developing romance: Jake is already married.

Jake hasn't seen his wife Gitl (Carol Kane) or young son (Paul Freedman) for several years, but they join him in America after the death of Jake's father.

Jake is very unhappy to have what he terms a "greeny" wife who doesn't understand the ways of her new country. Jakes wants Gitl to stop practicing Jewish orthodox traditions, such as covering her real hair with a wig or kerchief, but he's equally unhappy when Gitl makes changes to please him, because he really wants to be with Mamie.

In short, Jake is a jerk whose mind and heart are elsewhere, but Gitl is made of strong stuff -- and as she experiences the gradual disintegration of her marriage she also recognizes a quality man in their boarder, the scholar Mr. Bernstein (Mel Howard).

HESTER STREET is an interesting 89 minutes thanks chiefly to the wide-eyed, thoughtful performance of Carol Kane as Gitl. Kane is better known as a zany comedienne, but she's excellent here in an Academy Award nominated performance as a woman struggling to adapt to a new country without the support of her husband.

Gitl may not say a great deal, but Kane conveys a world of emotion in her eyes as she's repeatedly rejected by the man who once loved her. Gitl is an observant and tenacious woman who almost instantly draws audience sympathy. When it becomes clear Gitl has no future with Jake, she quickly organizes a much happier future for herself and her little boy, and it's a wonderful thing to watch.

Alas, Keats as Jake is so annoying that I ended up fast-forwarding through a couple of his later scenes just to get back to Gitl. I don't think I felt an ounce of sympathy for Jake; his self-interest and lack of regard for his wife was just pathetic. Even if he no longer loved her after so many years apart, his inability to empathize with what she was experiencing in her new country was hard to watch. Jake was all about Jake.

Howard is spot-on as the quiet, more traditional man who falls for Gitl and her little boy; there's a lovely scene where Gitl observes him teaching her son.

Also excellent is Doris Roberts (REMINGTON STEELE) as a helpful neighbor. The scene where she tells off Jake made me want to cheer.

The Blu-ray is an excellent 4K restoration. There are a number of extras including archival interviews with the late director; additional archival interviews with filmmakers; an archival commentary track with Silver and her husband, producer Raphael Silver; the trailer; and outtakes and an alternate opening title sequence with commentary by Silver biographer Daniel Kremer.

As with another recent Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber and Cohen, LAST PASSENGER (2013), the main disc menu can only be reached after fast-forwarding through trailers. I love trailers, but I prefer mine under their own menu, not as a "must watch" feature which prevents immediate access to the movie's "play" button. That small issue is my only complaint regarding an excellent presentation.

Other than too many scenes with the annoying husband, I quite enjoyed HESTER STREET which was an enriching viewing experience. It would make a very interesting double bill with Silver's CROSSING DELANCEY, providing two portraits of Jewish life in New York just about a century apart.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Adventures of Don Juan (1948) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The great Errol Flynn stars in ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948), just released on a beautiful Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

Flynn plays Don Juan de Marana, a love 'em and leave 'em ladies' man who is perhaps tiring of his endless romances with a series of beautiful yet forgettable women.

When Don Juan inadvertently wrecks a marriage of state in England, planned to ease tensions between Spain and Britain, the Spanish ambassador (Robert Warwick), an old friend, sends Don Juan home to Spain to reform and be of service to Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors).

The Queen is trying to prevent war between Spain and England, but her easily influenced husband King Phillip (Romney Brent) is under the sway of the evil Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas) who is fomenting war.

Don Juan is captivated and impressed by the honorable queen, discovering that for the first time in his life he's truly in love -- with a woman he cannot have. She's also in great danger...

I had never seen ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN before, despite my great enjoyment of Flynn. I think partly the idea of him romancing an entire series of ladies instead of being truly in love with, say, Olivia de Havilland, as he was in so many films, put me off a bit. Perhaps at the back of my mind I was also thinking of the story being somewhat of a parallel to Flynn's own rough living offscreen, which would age him far too young.

I was pleasantly surprised at the outset to find that the screenplay by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz, based on a story by Herbert Dalmas, is quite funny. (Believe it or not, novelist William Faulkner is said to have done uncredited work on the script.) The film could have been distasteful, but it handles Don Juan's romances with a light and amusing touch.

And what a bunch of lovely ladies they are! When we initially meet Don Juan, he's wooing Catherine (Mary Stuart of THUNDERHOOF and THE CARIBOO TRAIL). Soon after, he's reunited with a past love played by Helen Westcott (THE GUNFIGHTER). Later on in a tavern he meets Barbara Bates; one of the other beautiful girls in the tavern is played by Caren Marsh, in her last film. Marsh turned 100 in 2019 and as far as I know is still with us today; if so, she is now 103.

The final lady, other than the Queen herself, is played by Ann Rutherford, in one of her last feature film roles. By the time Rutherford's character throws herself at Don Juan, he is tiring of the game playing and ready to retire from the field.

Flynn is by turns funny and moving, and all in all does an excellent job conveying the way Don Juan gradually becomes a more serious man...but maybe not too serious, as we see at the final fadeout.

Lindfors is a regal queen, and I liked her better in this than in the handful of other films I've seen her in; she's been a bit wooden in some of the other films and is better directed and photographed here, giving a deeper performance.

Alan Hale (Sr.) is top-notch as Don Juan's loyal friend; a scene early on where he scopes out Don Juan's likely means of escape from their latest "situation" is hilarious. It's fun watching Flynn and Hale together in this a full decade after they played Robin Hood and Little John in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938).

The deep cast includes an almost unrecognizable Raymond Burr as an evil soldier, with Fortunio Bonanova as Don Juan's fellow fencing instructor. Also in the cast are Douglas Kennedy, Jean Shepherd, David Bruce, Una O'Connor, Aubrey Mathers, David Leonard, Harry Lewis, Jerry Austin, and Albert Cavens.

Cavens' father, fencing great Fred Cavens, was the film's fencing master and doubled Robert Douglas. Jock Mahoney was also among the stunt crew, doubling Flynn. The excellent action sequences include a climactic duel between Flynn and Douglas (or, perhaps, their doubles) on a spectacular grand staircase at the palace.

The movie runs 110 minutes. It was directed by Vincent Sherman and filmed in Technicolor by Elwood "Woody" Bredell. The superb score is by Max Steiner.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray print is outstanding in every way.  The color is spectacular, and Steiner's robust score sounds fantastic.

Extras imported from the film's original DVD release are a commentary by Rudy Behlmer and Vincent Sherman and a "Warner Night at the Movies" collection of the trailer; a newsreel; a pair of shorts, SO YOU WANT TO BE ON THE RADIO (Joe McDoakes, 1948) and CALGARY STAMPEDE (1948); and the cartoon HARE SPLITTER (1948).

Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Amazon Store or from any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.

A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery (2022) - Part 1

A few days ago we spent an afternoon in the Greater Los Angeles area, including a few hours visiting Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.


I've previously shared photos of a 2016 visit to Holy Cross in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. At 200 acres, Holy Cross is one of the larger cemeteries we've visited in the Los Angeles area. It's one of my favorites, as it's laid out in a particularly orderly fashion; I also feel it has an especially tranquil, positive atmosphere.

Our first stop was the gravesite of Stephen McNally, who I had paid tribute to on his birthday the day before our visit. He's buried under his birth name, Horace Vincent McNally; as I wrote in my tribute, he also acted under the name Horace for several years before adopting the name Stephen.


As it happens, our last visit of the day was the gravesite of the marvelous actor Millard Mitchell, McNally's costar in one of my favorite Westerns, WINCHESTER '73 (1950). Mitchell played "High Spade," while McNally played Dutch Henry Brown. Mitchell was only 50 when he passed on due to cancer in 1955.


Richard Egan, who passed on at age 65, shares a July 29th birthday with Stephen McNally, and like McNally, he was a devout Catholic and the father of several children. McNally's wife, actress Patricia Hardy, died in 2011 and is said to be buried with him but does not have a marker.


Ricardo Montalban and his wife Georgiana Young are also at Holy Cross. Georgiana was the younger sister of Loretta Young, whose final resting place at Holy Cross was shared in my 2016 post.


The two oldest Young sisters, who were also actresses, are buried at Holy Cross as well. Polly Ann Young, who had 40 film credits, is buried with her husband, J. Carter Hermann; the Hermanns' twin granddaughters are buried to their left.


The second oldest Young sister, Sally Blane (born Elizabeth Jane Young), is buried next to her husband, actor-director-composer Norman Foster. Sally had over 100 film and TV credits.


Multitalented Norman Foster was a pre-Code actor, a director, and he even composed music for Disney TV series including ZORRO (1957). His film credits included directing his sister-in-law Loretta Young in the excellent RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948).


It was especially meaningful for me to visit the final resting place of actress Joan Leslie, a longtime favorite. She's buried with her husband, Dr. William Caldwell.


Singer Dennis Day, born Owen Patrick McNulty, is buried with his wife at Holy Cross.  A regular on Jack Benny's radio show, he also appeared in films, including a lesser-known musical which is a personal favorite, I'LL GET BY (1951); he sang and narrated "The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" in Disney's MELODY TIME (1948). Day was the brother-in-law of singer-actress Ann Blyth, who married his brother, Dr. James McNulty.


We also visited singer Al Martino. Martino played singer Johnny Fontane in THE GODFATHER (1972), which I just saw for the first time a few days ago.


I'll be sharing additional photos from our visit to Holy Cross soon.

Additional photo posts on the final resting places of historic Hollywood figures: A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale, Part 1, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale, Part 2, A Visit to the Forest Lawn Museum, A Visit to Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2014), A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Musicians, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Comedians, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Actors, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - Writers, Directors, and More, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 1, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 2, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 3, A Visit to Desert Memorial Park, Los Angeles National Cemetery, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 1, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 2, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 3, A Visit to Forest Lawn Cathedral City, A Visit to Oakwood Memorial Park, A Visit to Hillside Memorial Park, Part 1, A Visit to Hillside Memorial Park, Part 2, A Visit to Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2019), A Visit to Woodlawn Cemetery, A Visit to Valley Oaks Memorial Park, A Visit to Valhalla Cemetery, A Visit to Pacific View Memorial Park, A Visit to Glen Haven Memorial Park, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale (2020), A Visit to Calvary Cemetery, A Visit to Home of Peace Memorial Park, Visits to Sedona and Las Vegas Cemeteries, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale (2022), Visits to Orange County Cemeteries (Holy Sepulcher Cemetery and El Toro Memorial Park), A Visit to Inglewood Park Cemetery, A Visit to Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, A Visit to Palm Springs (Coachella Valley Public Cemetery), and A Visit to Marysvale Cemetery.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Enter Arsene Lupin (1944) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

This weekend was the August 6th birthday of one of my favorite actresses, Ella Raines, who was born in Washington State in 1920.

In Raines' honor I watched ENTER ARSENE LUPIN (1944), which was just released on Blu-ray in the Kino Lorber Dark Side of Cinema VIII collection.

To my knowledge, ENTER ARSENE LUPIN, a Universal Pictures film, has not had a prior release on DVD or even VHS. It certainly proved to be my kinda movie, 72 minutes of pure enjoyment.

Charming master thief Arsene Lupin (Charles Korvin), using a false name, "meets cute" with Stacie Kanares (Raines) when her priceless emerald disappears while they're traveling on the Paris-bound Orient Express.

Lupin "finds" and returns the emerald in order to woo the enchanting Stacie, then follows her to London along with his cook-valet-henchman Dubose (George Dolenz, father of Micky of The Monkees). He's also followed by the hapless French Inspector Ganimard (J. Carrol Naish).

Shortly after arriving in England Lupin realizes that Stacie's cash-strapped aunt (Gale Sondergaard) and uncle (Miles Mander) are trying to kill her in order to inherit her emerald. He needs to steal it again, but this time in order to take away the chance that Stacie will be murdered.

This is one of those movies which is just plain fun, an unexpected pleasure with a winning pair of lead actors and a couple of entertaining villains. Naish might be a little too buffoonish, but his performance does underscore that the thefts are all in good fun and the movie's not meant to be taken seriously. My only complaint is the very ambiguous ending, which made me wonder if perhaps a sequel had been contemplated. I would have liked that!

Raines may not show a great deal of range in this, but I simply like her, particularly when she's flirting with Korvin. I liked the confident way she "showed him the door" early in the film but also the way their relationship developed as the movie went on. It's quite sweet. And, as always, Raines looks gorgeous; her gowns are by Vera West.

I'd add that 1944 was an amazing movie year for Raines, who also appeared that year in PHANTOM LADY (1944), HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO (1944), TALL IN THE SADDLE (1944), and THE SUSPECT (1944) -- all top-drawer entertainment.

This was the film debut of Charles Korvin, who also stars in another film in the set, TEMPTATION (1946). I had previously seen him in supporting roles in a couple of films, including BERLIN EXPRESS (1948), and he also appeared in Disney's TV version of ZORRO (1958), but I am mostly unfamiliar with him. Korvin, who was born in Austria-Hungary, acted all the way up to the 1978 TV miniseries HOLOCAUST, as well as in a 1993 European TV-movie, and he passed away in New York City in 1998.

A fun bit of trivia I came across is that Korvin was a good friend of Julia Child's, who is said to have named him her favorite "amateur chef." 

ENTER ARSENE LUPIN was produced and directed by Ford Beebe. It was filmed in black and white by Hal Mohr. (I should note here there's one location scene with Raines fishing which suddenly switches to a back projection with odd sound which echoes a bit; I'm guessing they must have needed to reshoot part of the scene at the studio?) The screenplay was by Bertram Millhauser, based on character created by Maurice Le Blanc.

The Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray from a new 2K master looks lovely and has a strong soundtrack, other than the previously mentioned scene, which is probably inherent to the film. Extras consist of the trailer; two additional trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber; and a commentary track by Anthony Slide.

Kino Lorber has also just released another never-on-DVD Ella Raines film, TIME OUT OF MIND (1947), which I'll be reviewing here in the near future along with more films from the Dark Side of Cinema collections!

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.

Book Review: There Are No Small Parts

Last weekend we spent an enjoyable afternoon "out and about" in Los Angeles, including a visit to Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard.

Our visit was due to a special occasion: Author John DiLeo gave a presentation and book signing for his newest title, THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS: 100 OUTSTANDING FILM PERFORMANCES WITH SCREEN TIME OF 10 MINUTES OR LESS. It was published earlier this year by Glitterati Incorporated.

I've reviewed a number of DiLeo's books over the past dozen years, including TENNESSEE WILLIAMS AND COMPANY: HIS ESSENTIAL SCREEN ACTORS (2010), SCREEN SAVERS: 40 REMARKABLE MOVIES AWAITING REDISCOVERY (2010), SCREEN SAVERS II: MY GRAB BAG OF CLASSIC MOVIES (2012), and TEN MOVIES AT A TIME (2018).

Our movie tastes tend to be very much in sync, particularly with regard to the lesser-known titles he wrote about in his SCREEN SAVERS books. It was thus a real treat to have the chance to meet in person for the first time!

John began the event by reading a brief introduction from his book and then sharing a clip of the first performance he writes about, Elsa Lanchester in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). He's seen here on the left, along with Larry Edmunds' Jeffrey Mantor at the right.

There were also some fun questions and comments from the audience, including a discussion of the difficulty in selecting the 100 performances for the book. My husband inquired about the omission of one of his favorite short performances, Dorothy Malone in THE BIG SLEEP (1946); John said he seriously considered her but when tough choices had to be made whittling down his list he ultimately decided she wasn't critical enough to the story.

As I mentioned in a comment of my own that afternoon, one of the things I appreciated about this very enjoyable book is the way it caused me to more deeply consider brief performances. I've always been very aware of character actors and love seeing the great "faces" in small roles in classic films, but I enjoyed musing over performances I might have included myself, and I think I'll be even more cognizant going forward of what an actor can add to a movie with just a few minutes of screen time.

The performances discussed in the book date from 1935, as previously mentioned, all the way up to 2019. Just over half of the films are from 1965 or earlier, which is my personal definition of the classic film era, with the rest from films released from 1966 forward.

This heavy 2-1/2 pound book is beautifully presented on glossy paper; there's even a built-in bookmark, a lovely touch rarely seen anymore. Each entry has a glossy photo and between two and three pages of text, including the running time of the performance. As with his earlier books, John is very detailed and evocative in his descriptions, so the print is on the small side to fit everything in, making me glad I recently got reading glasses for the first time in my life!

Some of my favorite inclusions in the book:

*Jean Dixon as Molly, the maid in MY MAN GODFREY (1936), 7-1/2 minutes: "Dixon wears a proper cap and uniform, which seems at odds with her cool-customer demeanor, making Molly practically a sight gag." He then traces the character's evolution, falling for Godfrey (William Powell, seen here with Dixon) and becoming "the jester who finds she has a soul."

*Granville Bates as the exasperated judge in MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940), 9-1/2 minutes: "a vaudeville of judiciary confusion: befuddled, crusty, and extremely impatient." The bit where he realizes Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott were alone on the island is utterly hilarious ("That should be in the brief; that's the most interesting part of the case!").

*Judith Anderson as Ann, the waspish relative of Gene Tierney's LAURA (1944), just under 10 minutes: "The beauty of the role and Anderson's civilized approach is that Ann is a woman with no illusions...There's no fuss in Anderson's acting." I also enjoyed his description of the movie itself: "...a world of grand apartments, priceless objects, and some of the best women's hats ever seen onscreen." Yes, definitely!

*Thelma Ritter as the harried Macy's shopper in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), 2 minutes: "When Ritter pricelessly deadpans, 'I don't get it,' it's the moment when her two-decade love affair with movie audiences official began...Even with only two minutes onscreen, Ritter has time to make a transition from jaded to optimistic."

*Thomas Gomez as gangster Luigi Rossi in COME TO THE STABLE (1949) 7 minutes:  The shot of Gomez in the church near the end of COME TO THE STABLE never fails to move me to tears. DiLeo writes, "What Gomez brings to this light feel-good comedy is postwar real-world resonance...His understated private pain still resonates."

As someone who loves musicals, I also really appreciated DiLeo including Cyd Charisse's wordless dance performance in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) (5-1/2 minutes). He also includes Lena Horne's 5-minute performance as Julie in the mini-production of SHOW BOAT in the Jerome Kern bio musical TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1946).

I also like that he chose some performances in relatively lesser-known films which I've enjoyed, such as Jan Sterling in MYSTERY STREET (1950) and Frank Puglia in BLACK HAND (1950).

More recent performances I have enjoyed which are included in the book include Beverly D'Angelo in a 9-1/2 minute role as Patsy Cline in COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER (1980) and Jane Lynch in her 5-minute part as Julia Child's sister Dorothy in JULIE & JULIA (2009).

Each entry is filled with insights on the character and performance, while also placing the role in the context of the actor's career.  The book is an engaging read which will interest readers in seeing some of the films for the very first time, while also causing the reader to want to revisit old favorites with fresh eyes.  I enthusiastically recommend it.

THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS is 320 pages including index and acknowledgments.

Thanks to John Di Leo and Glitterati Incorporated for providing a review copy of this book.

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