From the black-and-white silent screen classics of the 1920’s to the glorious color productions of the 1950’s – these were Hollywood’s greatest decades.
Explore early Hollywood film history and the wonderful Hollywood Movie Memories that were created, as this was a time when both Hollywood and its stars were their most glamorous.
Continue reading for a brief primer of each of the featured film decades, with the films suggested for viewing those that I feel offer an accurate representation of each film genre for each year during this historic period in Hollywood.
Starring– Tony Randall (Rockwell P. Hunter), Jayne Mansfield (Rita Marlowe), Betsy Drake (Jenny Wells), Joan Blondell (Violet).
Released– July, 1957
Directed By – Frank Tashlin
Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Description– How does it feel to be low man on the advertising totem pole? Just ask Rockwell P. Hunter of the La Salle Advertising Agency.
Not only is Rockwell having problems… the whole agency is on the brink. Making matters worse is the fact that La Salle’s biggest account – Stay-Put Lipstick – is threatening to leave them for another agency.
And then the light-bulb turns on. Rockwell has a great idea that will save the Stay-Put-Lipstick account and his career. His plan is to get famous actress, and woman with the “oh-so-kissable lips”, Rita Marlowe to be the model and spokeswoman for Stay-Put’s new line of lipstick.
To get some instant publicity, La Salle “leaks” to the tabloids that Rockwell is Rita Marlowe’s lover. Not only does this plan get the public’s attention, but it now raises Rockwell’s status at the agency to star level.
But, not everyone is happy. Marlowe’s current boyfriend, TV’s Tarzan, Bobo Branigansky is jealous. Complicating the situation even further is the fact that Rita Marlowe thinks she is actually falling in love with Rockwell.
It isn’t long before Rockwell P. Hunter finds out that fame is a double-edged sword.
NOTABLE: Rita Marlowe, the name of Jayne Mansfield’s character, is a combination of *Rita* Hayworth, Jean H*arlow*, and Marilyn *M*onr*oe.*
Jane Mansfield also starred in the original Broadway play of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter that ran, at New York’s Belasco Theatre, for 444 performances.
Mamie Van Doren was originally offered the role of Rita Marlowe but turned it down.
Tagline– Every precious moment of the glad… tender… triumphant love they found — and almost lost!
Starring– Cary Grant (Nickie Ferrante), Deborah Kerr (Terry McKay), Richard Denning (Kenneth Bradley).
Released– July, 1957
Directed By – Leo McCarey
Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Jerry Wald Productions
Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Description– While en route from Europe to New York on the Transatlantic liner SS Constitution, Nickie Ferrante and Terry McKay meet. Although each is involved with someone else, after a series of chance meetings on the ship, they become friends. It is here that Terry learns that Nickie is a painter who has given up on his art due to his own critical feelings toward his talent.
During a brief stop along the Mediterranean coast, Terry accompanies Nickie on a visit to his grandmother. She is touched by his kind and sentimental actions toward his grandmother and their chance friendship blossoms into a much stronger attraction.
When they arrive in New York they agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. This meeting is subject to them both ending their current relationships and committing to one another.
Six months pass and while hurrying to the Empire State Building, Terry is hit by a car, seriously injured, and rushed to the hospital. Nickie is waiting at the top of the building to reunite with Terry. Unaware of her accident, and after waiting several hours, believes that Terry has rejected him.
After the accident, Terry has been left without the ability to walk. In order to conceal her disability she does not contact Nickie and takes a job as a music teacher. Nickie has returned to painting displaying his work in a friends art shop.
Another six months pass and Terry, now in a wheelchair, and her old boyfriend attend a ballet where she sees Nickie with his old girlfriend. As Nickie passes by, she says hello but remains seated in order to conceal her condition.
Nickie learns her address and, on Christmas Eve, decides to pay her a surprise visit. This visit will change the future for them both.
NOTABLE: Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant improvised many of their scenes with a number of lines making it to the final cut of the film.
References were made to An Affair to Remember in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle resulting in a resurgence of popularity that generated 2 million additional sales for this 1957 romantic classic.
An Affair to Remember was the second of three films pairing Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
Deborah Kerr’s singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon. Nixon had also dubbed Kerr in 1956’s The King and I.
Ingrid Bergmann and Doris Day were also considered for the role of Terry McKay.
An Affair to Remember was voted the #5 greatest romance of all time by the American Film Institute.
Tagline– The creature created by man and forgotten by nature!
Starring– Peter Cushing (Victor Frankenstein), Hazel Court (Elizabeth), Robert Urquhart (Paul Krempe), Christopher Lee (the Creature).
Released– June, 1957
Directed By – Terence Fisher
Produced By – Warner Brothers, Hammer Films
Distributed By – Warner Brothers
Description– In prison awaiting his execution for murder, Victor Frankenstein is telling his story to a priest. After his mother’s death, young Victor assumes sole control of the family estate.
Out of his inheritance Victor agrees to pay his Aunt Sophia and cousin Elizabeth a monthly stipend. Sofia, thinking of acquiring more, suggests to Victor that Elizabeth may one day make a good wife.
In an effort to continue his education, Victor hires Paul Krempe to tutor him. Several years of study have brought Victor up to the educational level of Krempe and the two decide to work together on some scientific experiments.
These experiments lead to the pair successfully bringing a dead dog back to life. Victor now believes that the theory behind this success may very well work on a human body as well.
They start right away, but before long Krempe loses his taste for the project. The scavenging of human body parts has begun to sicken him and with the arrival of now fully-grown cousin and fiance to Victor, Elizabeth, Krempe withdraws from the experiment.
Victor, now searching for an intelligent brain for his creation, murders a distinguished professor. During the removal of the brain, Victor and Krempe have a struggle resulting in some damage to the brain. The fear of just what is taking place causes Krempe to try and convince Elizabeth to leave the estate for her own safety. She refuses.
With the creature now assembled, Victor brings it back to life. However, the damaged brain has caused the creation to be both psychotic and violent. There is no other choice but to lock the creature up.
The creature manages to escape and it is not long before it murders an old blind man and this act may only be the beginning.
NOTABLE:The Curse of Frankenstein was the first meeting of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Their friendship lasted until Cushing’s death in 1994.
For many years The Curse of Frankenstein was the most profitable film to be produced in England by a British studio.
It is the belief of many film historians that the success of this film caused a resurrection of the horror film genre which had steadily declined in popularity from the 1930’s and early 1940’s.
Of all the Frankenstein films produced, this was the first to be made in color.
Starring– Fred Astaire (Steve Canfield), Cyd Charisse (Ninotchka Yoschenko), Janis Paige (Peggy Dayton), Peter Lorre (Brankov), George Tobias (Vassili Markovitch).
Released– June, 1957
Directed By – Rouben Mamoulian
Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Description – American film producer Steve Canfield is making his next picture in Paris, France. Canfield wants the music for the film to be composed by Russian Peter Illyich Boroff. This is fine with Boroff as he likes Paris so much he does not want to return to Russia.
His decision does not sit well with the Russian government and they send three operatives from Moscow to bring the composer back to the mother country. In order to keep Boroff from being brought home, Canfield must come up with something to dissuade the Russian operatives from their mission.
He decides to use the most effective means possible by bribing the operatives with women, nightclubs, and champagne. In addition, Canfield asks his leading lady Peggy Dayton to use her feminine wiles to help with the problem.
Back in Moscow, the commissar of the Ministry is worried why the mission is taking so long. He decides to send the very hard-lined agent Ninotchka Yoschenko to bring everyone home. While she steadfastly refuses to be lured by the decadent appeal of Paris, somehow Canfield is able to romance her in the hope of sabotaging her mission. He goes so far as to even propose marriage.
Upon hearing how Boroff’s music has been changed to suit the film, Yoschenko and Boroff return to Russia.
While this may seem like the end of the films production, Canfield has one more trick up his sleeve.
NOTABLE: After the completion of Silk Stockings, Fred Astaire decided to take a break from musicals and concentrate on non-musical roles. He would not make another musical until 1968.
For Director Rouben Mamoulian this would be his last motion picture. He would spend the remainder of his career directing Broadway plays.
The original Broadway play of Silk Stockings ran for 478 performances. The storyline is a remake of the 1939 film Ninotchka starring Greta Garbo who was also directed by Mamoulian.
Cyd Charisse’s vocals were performed by Carol Richards. Richards had also sung for Charisse in the films Brigadoon (1954) and It’s Always Fair Weather (1955).
Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker in Sweet Smell of Success
June, 1957 – Sweet Smell of Success has debuted with an eye-opening revelation of the dirty dealing poisonous power of the pen. J.J. Hunsecker, as coldly played by Burt Lancaster, is a New York City tabloid king. A mention in his newspaper column can be a career maker, or the kiss of death.
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, and powered by the intense performances of Lancaster and Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success clearly displays all the corruption and betrayal one could possibly imagine. Curtis’ performance as press agent, and J.J. Hunsecker wannabe, Sidney Falco gives us a character who desperately, and unethically, seeks his own personal success. Success attained with methods that know no boundary.
Sweet Smell of Success is an intense Film Noir that must be seen in order to understand what really goes on behind the making of tabloid headlines.