Screened Out: Monday, June 4th

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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

As it happens, Mrs. Menjou was in "Turnabout," as the switcheroo husband's secretary. She was very funny in that Eve Ardenish way I mentioned before (Inez Courtney, who played Menjou's secretary, was of a similar ethos, and Hal Roach's daughter, Margaret Roach, played Gargan's assistant, a sweet dumb blonde with a thick as shoofly pie Southern accent).

Larry, in this movie Mrs. Menjou takes quite a fall, being accidentally judo-tossed by her boss, who is something of an obsessive health enthusiast. No doubt it was a stuntwoman, but for us executive assistants, the scene was very symbolically familiar: from the floor, without missing a beat, she croaks "Here's your memo."

By the way, the switcheroo husband has an arrangement with his on-call judo instructor, who is in the office with him all day, that the instructor may sneak up on him at any time and try to throw him. (Holy Inspector Clouseau, Batman.)

And also by the way, I started reading, online, the book "Turnabout" by Thorne Smith (he wrote the "Topper" series), on which this movie is based. It is somewhat different, darker, and very, very funny - Thurberesque, I guess you could call it. Unfortunately, as usual I neglected to make a note of the name of the website where I found this. If you want to find it, don't forget to add "-Courtney" when you type in a search for "Thorne Smith."
Vecchiolarry
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Hi,

Moira -
Indeed, I have heard of Sara Teasdale and read those poems. But, I never thought of her in relation to Verree Teasdale, although anything is possible.
I have always heard that Verree was a very intelligent woman and one of the few whom Nell thought 'not stupid'... Nell thought most of Hollywood were idiots!!

Judith -
I've only seen Verree Teasdale in one movie, where she and her husband were having alternate affairs and they divorced in the end. (Can't remmeber the name!)..
She exhibited that Eve Arden snappy dialogue in that too and was very funny and fashionable. I liked her.

Larry
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Post by Birdy »

Turnabout has definitely been one of the highlights of this month for me. A great line-up of favorite faces, great sets, great acting...great smiles from me! I much prefer Menjou in an amusing role - he can play lecherous a little too convincingly for my tastes! (Stagedoor)
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"Laryngitis."

Post by benwhowell »

I can't imagine why "Turnabout" has been "lost" so many years...and never released on DVD or VHS. Robert O said it was made independently by Hal Roach and released through UA. Do you suppose the Roach estate heirs have held it up? (I'm glad I taped it.)
It immediately made my list of favorite comedies. I laughed so much I almost watched it again. All those "screwball" antics, sight (and sound) gags and fast and furious one-liners made up for the occasional lull.
John Hubbard and Carole Landis were on the money, but the great supporting cast really shined...Adolphe Menjou, Donald Meek, Marjorie Main, Franklin Pangborn, Mary Astor, Margaret Roach and George Renavent as Mr. Ram!
Loved Meek fighting with that bear cub!
And the production design was exquisite. That apartment is my dream NYC apartment...with those huge doors and that huge balcony. I wonder how much an apartment like that in NYC goes for today?
Judith, in the novel, is there a Mr. Pingboom or was that an added screen inside joke?
I was surprised that this movie made it past the production code. (Especially "womanizer" Menjou suggesting that he woke up and thought he was in bed with a black woman.) Would love to see it uncut...if any of that footage exists.
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Post by moira finnie »

Hey, Judith, thanks for reminding me of Thorne Smith. I've just ordered a couple of his intriguing sounding books from the library. Guess that Einstein bio that's sitting next to my bed's gonna have some lightweight company this summer! :wink:

If Verree Teasdale is once again a secretary in Turnabout, I really want to see it. She was one of the greatest executive assistants of all time in Skyscraper Souls. Love the "here's your memo" description being delivered from the floor.

Larry,
In your experience, are most Hollywood types brighter than the average 25 watt bulb? Or was Nell just stating a fact more than an opinion...my mental list of a few of the ladies who seemed to be intellectually smart in old Hollywood includes Hedy Lamarr, Gail Patrick, Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell...hmmm, gotta be a couple of others.
jdb1

Re: "Laryngitis."

Post by jdb1 »

benwhowell wrote:I can't imagine why "Turnabout" has been "lost" so many years...and never released on DVD or VHS. Robert O said it was made independently by Hal Roach and released through UA. Do you suppose the Roach estate heirs have held it up? (I'm glad I taped it.)
It immediately made my list of favorite comedies. I laughed so much I almost watched it again. All those "screwball" antics, sight (and sound) gags and fast and furious one-liners made up for the occasional lull.
John Hubbard and Carole Landis were on the money, but the great supporting cast really shined...Adolphe Menjou, Donald Meek, Marjorie Main, Franklin Pangborn, Mary Astor, Margaret Roach and George Renavent as Mr. Ram!
Loved Meek fighting with that bear cub!
And the production design was exquisite. That apartment is my dream NYC apartment...with those huge doors and that huge balcony. I wonder how much an apartment like that in NYC goes for today?
Judith, in the novel, is there a Mr. Pingboom or was that an added screen inside joke?
I was surprised that this movie made it past the production code. (Especially "womanizer" Menjou suggesting that he woke up and thought he was in bed with a black woman.) Would love to see it uncut...if any of that footage exists.
How could I have forgotten to mention Donald Meek? He was so funny in this movie - a sort of less volatile James Finlayson.

I'm not reading the online book very hard -- I've just been scanning the chapters, and when I come upon a really funny bit, I read it through. When the wife is being the husband at the office, there's a client, and something about a lifesized baby doll that the client is waving around his head out in the street and passersby think it's a real baby, and when one of its limbs comes loose, they call a policeman . . . . Now I'm thinking that much of this book is quite like "A Confederacy of Dunces" in mise-en-scene. (And when, oh when, are they ever going to finish making a movie out of "Confederacy?")

The characters in the book live in the suburbs, not in the city, and belong to the bed-hopping and too much booze set. There is a Dopey the Dog, though.

I don't see any mention of anyone like "Mr. Pingboom." I think Mr. Osborne did mention that the name was a deliberate joke on Pangborn's name. That deleted scene would have been a riot. Too bad.

"Turnabout" bears repeated viewings, I think, since there is so much funny dialog going by so fast. I'm certainly going to have another look this week.
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Looks like a good lineup tonight. I especially am looking forward to Victim (1961) as i have never seen this one. Comments anyone?
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Moira,

My grandmother prized William Randolph Hearst as the only intelligent person in Los Angeles. Everybody else in Hollywood society and in old Los Angeles society were deemed 'pretty stupid' according to her.
Of course Nell was well educated (overly educated) in Europe and was older than most of the others.

And I, as a child & then teenager, couldn't judge the intelligence of an adult. Agnes Moorehead was quite brainy and so was Mary Astor. Rex Harrison was intelligent, as was Reginald Gardiner.

Although Nell got along with everybody (well until they crossed her -eg- Loretta Young) some didn't care for her. Agnes didn't cotten to Nell much and favoured Lucille Ball, whom Nell detested.
And, so it went - - sometimes poor little me had to tread quite carefully and there were some secrets that Nell never knew!!

Larry
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Arkadin commented: "Looks like a good lineup tonight. I especially am looking forward to Victim (1961) as i have never seen this one. Comments anyone?"

I stayed up last night and caught VICTIM which I too had not seen before but had long meant to. What an incredible film, not only from the standpoint of its content relevant to this month's theme, but for the strikingly vivid visual excitement director Basil Dearden brings to the project. In a nutshell, VICTIM deals with the efforts of a noble British attorney's efforts to thwart a heinous ring of blackmailers preying on homosexuals. The always superb Dirk Bogarde is the attorney and the carefully nuanced shadings he brings to this role are amazing, for he is a man with something to hide himself: a closeted gay man, married and living a life of secretive shame at a time (set presumably in the 1950s) when, from a legal standpoint, it was not OK to be a homosexual in England. All of this is handled with subtle aplomb, lending the film an austere aura of unnerving realism. Which would all be for naught if not for the brilliantly conceived look and feel of the film--a dazzling film noir sensiblility which seizes the viewer with brooding shadows and meticulous compositions, all designed for maximum emotional impact.

I hope many of you were able to watch or tape this exceptional film; if not it is available on DVD. Highly recommended!
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Post by moira finnie »

Victim (1961), starring Dirk Bogarde in his brilliant, groundbreaking performance, was shown very early this morning on TCM. Not having seen this film since I was a teen, it reminded me of how much has changed in the world and how much still remains. The story, about prominent members of the establishment in '60s London being blackmailed about their involvement with other men, dramatically outlines the degradation caused by the draconian anti-homosexuality laws in England in the wake of the Oscar Wilde case from the 1890s until their repeal in 1967 in Britain.

Bogarde, whose edginess, intelligence and comic charm helped make him an unlikely matinee idol in the British cinema beginning in the late '40s, took this role in part to break with that part of his career and he went on to act in some of the best movies of the next two decades, almost all quite brilliantly. While alienating a segment of his former fans, Bogarde's presence in the movie, along with the entire cast of this film, heralded a new openness in the British and International cinema that continues to this day. If only all those whose work came after this well done film were as skilled as the actors, the director Basil Dearden, and the authors Janet Green and John McCormick.

Having discussed this movie with gay friends in the past while attending college, I find that several of them have expressed serious reservations about the filmmakers' reluctance to have their married lead character accept and announce his homosexuality. Some observers also felt that the wife's character, played by Sylvia Syms, needed to wake up and recognize that she was actively pursuing victimhood herself in her marriage to a man who was, at best, bisexual. Perhaps the movie would have been more startling and groundbreaking if he'd come out of the closet completely, but would it have been made? And would it have realized one of the strengths of the story--the recognition that love, sex and loyalty are tangled, messy human emotions?

I seriously doubt if the film would've found financing more readily if it hadn't been more discreet about its subject matter and its lead characters' conflicts. Since my college days, I've come to known several men who, for whatever reason, found themselves married before realizing that they may have been gay. In some cases, the couples split up, (sadly in the case where children were involved), and a few stayed together, and even thrived, despite this fact. Who's to say what was right or wrong in the end about such matters?
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

moirafinnie wrote:Hey, Judith, thanks for reminding me of Thorne Smith. I've just ordered a couple of his intriguing sounding books from the library. Guess that Einstein bio that's sitting next to my bed's gonna have some lightweight company this summer! :wink:
Moira (and everyone else) -- it's just too darn hot today in NYC to have gone gallivanting about the East Side at lunchtime, so I stayed in and read more of Thorne Smith's "Turnabout" online. Lordy, is it funny. Quite raunchy - in a way, it's too bad that the creators of the movie felt compelled to change so much of the story (or that such changes were deemed necessary). As funny and racy as the movie is, the book is far moreso (still, of course, within the bounds of decency for a mainstream novel published in 1931).

Is this one of the books you're getting from your library? There are copies of Smith's "Thorne Smith Triple Decker" available - three short novels, of which "Turnabout" is one. Amazon has used copies for sale. Smith's books seem to me to be perfect summer reading. Too bad the gentleman left this world in his prime, and too bad his works are essentially forgotten now - I think they'd stand the test of time quite well.
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Dewey, Moira, I stayed up to hit record and then crashed (had to be up at 5:30).

I have wanted to see this one for a long time and it was the one I had the most anticipation for of all the films. Glad to know I won't be let down. :wink:
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Post by moira finnie »

Is this one of the books you're getting from your library? There are copies of Smith's "Thorne Smith Triple Decker" available - three short novels, of which "Turnabout" is one. Amazon has used copies for sale. Smith's books seem to me to be perfect summer reading. Too bad the gentleman left this world in his prime, and too bad his works are essentially forgotten now - I think they'd stand the test of time quite well.
Hi Judith,
I requested a copy of Thorne Smith's 1930 mystery, Did She Fall said to be in the Dashiell Hammett vein, as well as Rain in the Doorway[/i] (1933), which I think is part of the still in print "Triple Decker" and, The Passionate Witch (1941), that provided the basis of my particular favorite adaptation of his work I Married a Witch. I don't know how long it'll take my library system to unearth these books, but I'll let you know how I found them.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

moirafinnie wrote: Hi Judith,
I requested a copy of Thorne Smith's 1930 mystery, Did She Fall said to be in the Dashiell Hammett vein, as well as Rain in the Doorway[/i] (1933), which I think is part of the still in print "Triple Decker" and, The Passionate Witch (1941), that provided the basis of my particular favorite adaptation of his work I Married a Witch. I don't know how long it'll take my library system to unearth these books, but I'll let you know how I found them.
Moira,

Did She Fall is, I believe the only non-comic Smith novel. Smith did not live to finish The Passionate Witch. It was finished by novelist Norman Matson (Matson was married to the slightly (these days) better-known novelist Susan Glaspell, a Pulitzer Prize-winner).

I finished Turnabout online yesterday. It was a scream. The plot and characters are quite different from the film, but just as wacky. In the book, the husband carries and gives birth to the couple's baby, and his time in the 'lying-in' hospital is a riot -- think of the total ignorance of men in those days in terms of women's matters.

I've read up a bit on Thorne Smith, and learned that he was in advertising (which he hated, but did well), and that he is credited with being the first to compose ads that poked fun at the product. This is reflected in Turnabout in the husband and wife collaborating to keep the husband's job at an ad agency - the wife, of course, going to work in the husband's body. The husband, disgusted with his job, composes an ad for "Never-Flap" long underwear that initially gets him fired, but later proves to be the most successful ad campaign the agency ever had. You'll have to read the book - I don't want to give away the ad's tagline -- it's so funny.
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Post by traceyk »

I never realized that "Turnabout" was a book first. I really enjoyed the movie--I'll have to find a copy of the book now. It's amazing how many classic movies were books first. Maybe that helps explain their quality.
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. "~~Wilde
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