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.
Tagline – It’s more likely in Paris and more LOVELY IN THE AFTERNOON!
Starring– Gary Cooper (Frank Flannagan), Audrey Hepburn (Ariane Chavasse), Maurice Chevalier (Claude Chavasse), John McGiver (Monsieur X).
Released– June, 1957
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Produced By – Billy Wilder Productions
Distributed By – Allied Artists Pictures
Description– In Paris, detective Claude Chavasse has been hired by the husband of a married woman suspected of carrying on an affair with American playboy Frank Flannagan. Sure enough, she had been seeing the American almost on a daily basis. Her husband’s anger boils over and he tells the detective he will kill Flannagan.
Overhearing the conversation is the detective’s daughter Ariane. Unable to get help from the police until an actual crime has been committed, Ariane finds Frank to tell him herself. She is just in the nick of time. As the irate husband breaks into Frank’s room he finds the playboy with Ariane and not his wife who has just slipped out the window.
Flannagan is intrigued by the young woman who has warned him, but does not even know her name. She is also intrigued by the older playboy and decides to make herself appealing to him by playing the role of a “femme fatale.”
Flannagan’s interest is aroused and the two meet the next day and spend the night together before he boards a plane to leave Paris. She has now fallen in love with the older man.
A year later, Frank returns to Paris and the two meet again by chance at an opera and resume their affair. She continues with the experienced woman charade and Frank is not sure if he believes her or not.
Later Frank encounters the previously outraged husband who had burst into his room intent on killing him. They speak in a friendly fashion and Frank tells him about the mysterious Ariane. The husband suggests that Frank have her investigated and suggests detective Claude Chavasse.
It isn’t long before Chavasse realizes the mysterious woman is his own daughter. The age difference frightens him and he asks Frank to no longer see Ariane and to not break her heart. However, Frank has also fallen in love and, although he understands, doing this will not be easy.
A May – December romance has much going against it to begin with and Frank makes an excuse to again leave Paris. Is his the right decision, or is true love not measured by age?
NOTABLE: Initially, Love in the Afternoon was both a critical and commercial disaster. The general feeling was that Gary Cooper was too old and in ill health to have taken the role. In fact, Cary Grant had turned down the role due to his own age. However, as time passed the film’s popularity grew due to pure romanticism.
Audrey Hepburn made this film back-to-back with Funny Face.
Love in the Afternoon provided the screen debut for John McGiver.
Filming locations in Paris included the Château of Vitry in the Yvelines, the Palais Garnier (Paris Opera), and the Hôtel Ritz Paris.
Tagline– The Wildest Gunfight in the History of the West!
Starring– Burt Lancaster (Wyatt Earp), Kirk Douglas (Doc Holliday), Rhonda Fleming (Laura Denbow), Jo Van Fleet (Kate Fisher).
Released– May, 1957
Directed By – John Sturges
Produced By – Wallis-Hazen
Distributed By– Paramount Pictures
Description– Marshall Wyatt Earp is on his way to Fort Griffin, Texas to take outlaws Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo into custody. Also on his way to Fort Griffin is Ed Bailey who plans on avenging the death of his brother by killing Doc Holliday.
Holliday’s girlfriend Kate Fisher spots Bailey in the bar and tells Doc that he is looking for him. When Doc enters the bar, Bailey tries to shoot him in the back only to be killed by a knife thrown by Holliday.
As for Earp, he finds that the local sheriff has released both Clanton and Ringo, even though the marshall has outstanding warrants for the pair. The local sheriff has no intention of helping Earp as he holds a grudge against Wyatt’s brother Morgan.
Holliday is arrested for the murder of Ed Bailey even though his acts were in self-defense. With this in mind, Earp and Fisher help Doc to escape an angry lynch mob.
Back in Dodge City, Kansas, Wyatt learns that Doc and Kate have arrived in town. Wyatt has no problem with the notorious Holliday providing he stay out of trouble. Beautiful gambler Laura Denbow is also in Dodge City and finds herself arrested as women are not allowed to gamble.
She is released by Wyatt, who is attracted to her, and allowed to ply her gambling trade in a side room of the bar.
With his deputies out of town, Wyatt is forced to deputize Doc Holliday after the bank is robbed and the cashier killed. Earp and Holliday avoid an ambush attempt and kill the bank robbers.
Back in Dodge, Doc finds out that girlfriend Kate has been seeing Johnny Ringo. When she tries to come back to Doc, he refuses. She swears she will see him dead. Wyatt and Laura have become increasingly interested in one another when Wyatt receives a letter from his brother Virgil asking him to come to Tombstone, Arizona to help with a problem.
In Tombstone, Wyatt meets with his brothers Virgil, Morgan, and James to discuss how to handle the trouble being made by the Clanton family who have stolen thousands of head of Mexican cattle.
After the Clanton’s kill young James Earp, the stage is set for the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
NOTABLE: Burt Lancaster agreed to do this film as long as he could star in The Rainmaker (1956), also produced by Hal B. Wallis.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was the second of seven films that Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster made together.
The actual gunfight took place on 26 October 1881 and lasted a mere 30 seconds, resulting in three dead men after an exchange of 34 bullets. The fictionalized gunfight in this movie took 4 days to film and produced an on-screen bloodbath that lasted 5 minutes.
John Ireland (Johnny Ringo) appeared in another dramatization of these events (My Darling Clementine) playing Billy Clanton.
The song “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” was chosen as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time by Members of the Western Writers of America
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die,” edited by Steven Schneider.
Tagline– POWER! He loved it! He took it raw in big gulpfulls… he liked the taste, the way it mixed with the bourbon and the sin in his blood!
Starring– Andy Griffith (Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes), Patricia Neal (Marcia Jeffries), Anthony Franciosa (Joey DePalma), Walter Matthau (Mel Miller), Lee Remick (Betty Lou Fleckum).
Released– May, 1957
Directed By – Elia Kazan
Produced By– Newtown Productions
Distributed By – Warner Brothers
Description– Ozark guitar picker Larry Rhodes is discovered in an Arkansas jail by Marcia Jeffries. He is invited to sing on a radio show where his down home humor and charm start him on a meteoric rise in entertainment popularity.
Given the nickname “Lonesome” Rhodes by Jeffries, he lands a Memphis television show. It is here that the dark side of Rhodes begins to show once he realizes that his popularity brings with it… power. He and Jeffries begin an affair which is followed by an accepted marriage proposal.
His continued success lands him his own show in New York City. More money, more power, more moral deterioration.
A woman shows up claiming to be Rhodes’ real wife, Rhodes betrays his discoverer and new wife Marcia Jeffries by running away with a 17 year drum majorette. Fame, influence, arrogance, and money have created a monster.
It becomes a sure bet that the moral course taken by Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes can only lead to pain and disaster.
NOTABLE:A Face in the Crowd provided the film debut of Andy Griffith and Lee Remick.
Director Elia Kazan and Screenwriter Budd Schulberg spent months researching the advertising world, even gaining access to ad agency meetings, in order to gain an understand as to the way Madison Avenue approaches and shapes the thinking of the American public.
Lee Remick’s baton twirling majorette required her to show up weeks before shooting in order to train with local high school majorettes.
A Face in the Crowd was the return to the big screen for actress Patricia Neal who had suffered a nervous breakdown after a much-publicized affair with actor Gary Cooper.
Tagline– Make the office a wonderful place to love in!
Starring– Spencer Tracy (Richard Sumner), Katharine Hepburn (Bunny Watson), Gig Young (Mike Cutler), Joan Blondell (Peg Costello), Dina Merrill (Sylvia Blair).
Released– May, 1957
Directed By – Walter Lang
Produced By– Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Description – Engineer Richard Sumner is on a secret mission. Espionage? Nope. Richard is “casing” the Federal Broadcasting Network for the installation of a new computer system of operation.
Why the cloak and dagger stuff? A secret merger with another large company will bring with it a great deal of additional work for the current staff. In order to not alarm the staff before the merger, Richard has been assigned to structure the introduction of two computers to help with the increased work load.
The use of two ‘electronic brains’ just may cause the loss of some jobs. One job belongs to Bunny Watson. Bunny is in charge of reference and research and also the sweetheart of rising company executive Mike Cutler.
Things get considerably more complicated as Richard begins to take a romantic interest in Bunny. Although in a relationship with Mike, Bunny realizes that he may not be interested in any kind of long-term pairing. Such as marriage.
With Richard’s new attention causing Bunny to be more and more interested in the possibilities with him she still has doubts regarding his sincerity. It is Bunny’s fear that Richard is, and will always be, more interested in the new computer system than in her.
How to find out requires just one simple test. Bunny will set the new computer system to self-destruct and see how Richard reacts to the news.
NOTABLE:Desk Set is based on a William Marchant play and the character of Bunny Watson on librarian Agnes E. Law, who had built up the CBS network’s research library.
Desk Set was the first film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn to be filmed in color.
Tagline– Taut! Torrid! Tremendous! T Is for Terror!
Starring– Randolph Scott (Pat Brennan), Richard Boone (Frank Usher), Maureen O’Sullivan (Doretta Mims), Arthur Hunnicutt, (Ed Rintoon), Skip Homeier (Billy Jack), Henry Silva (Chink).
Released– April, 1957
Directed By – Budd Boetticher
Produced By – Comumbia Pictures Corporation, Scott-Brown Productions, Producers-Actors Corporation
Distributed By – Columbia Pictures
Description– Pat Brennan agrees to bring back some candy for the son of a way station manager when he returns from town. First he stops at a ranch where he formally worked to buy a bull. While there he is goaded into a bet. If he can ride a particular bull, he can have it for free. If he is thrown, he loses his horse.
Thrown from the bull, Pat is now walking home carrying his saddle. While on the road a stagecoach comes along carrying newlyweds Willard and Doretta Mims the daughter of the richest man in the state. Pat knows the driver and is happy to catch a ride.
When the honeymoon coach stops at the way station it is thought to be the regular stage by three outlaws who have already killed the station manager and his son. They had hoped to rob the regular stage.
Afraid of ending up as dead as the station manager, cowardly Willard Mims suggests that the outlaws hold his new wife Doretta for ransom from her father. The ransom amount is $50,000. The ransom note is delivered and Doretta’s father sends a message back that he will get the money together.
No longer needed by the outlaws, Willard is told he can leave. When doing so, he is gunned down by one of the outlaws.
Brennan knows that they will all be killed when the ransom is delivered. There seems to be no way out for the hostages.
NOTABLE: Originally titled “The Captives” (Elmore Leonard’s original story title) and/or “The Tall Rider”. Prior to release, the title was changed to “The Tall T,” the name of the Tenvoorde ranch in the early scene
At 45 Maureen O’Sullivan was considered too old for her character. However, she played the part well and explains her marriage to the younger character Willard as a move of desperation over her character growing old and remaining unmarried.
Columbia Pictures released The Tall T as part of a double bill with Hellcats of the Navy (1957) starring Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan.
Personal Note:The Tall T is one of my favorite westerns. One of many that teamed Director Budd Boetticher with, one of the most natural acting western actors ever, Randolph Scott.