Posts Tagged ‘edward everett horton’

Shall We Dance

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Shall We Dance (1937)

Tagline – Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and the Fabulous Gershwin’s… What More Could You Ask For?

Starring – Fred Astaire (Peter P. Peters/Petrov), Ginger Rogers (Linda Keene), Edward Everett Horton (Jeffrey Baird), Eric Blore (Cecil Flintridge).

Released – May, 1937

Directed By – Mark Sandrich

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Peter P. Peters is an American ballet dancer working for a ballet company owned by Jeffrey Baird and appearing in Paris. Peter dances under the name of Petrov and has always dreamed of blending the style of ballet with modern jazz dancing.

When Peter sees some photographs of famous tap dancer Linda Keene he is immediately smitten and tells Jeffrey that he will meet and marry her. Peter goes to Linda’s apartment and overhears her telling her producer that she wants to quit show business and return to New York.

When they meet, Peter puts on his best Russian accent and introduces himself as Petrov pretending not to be impressed with her. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is so impressed that he tricks Jeffrey into booking passage for him on the same ocean liner she is taking back to New York.

Before boarding the ship, Peter encounters Lady Tarrington, a former ballerina, who is a dogged admirer of his. Too much so. In an effort to keep her at bay, Peter tells her that he and Linda have been secretly married for four years.

During the voyage the rumors start to fly. Lady Tarrington has told anyone who would listen about the supposed marriage and the rumor mill has stretched the untruth to include the fact that Linda may be pregnant. The sensationalism of the rumor has provided the seed for a massive publicity stunt by Linda’s manager Arthur Miller.

News of the stunt outrages Linda and her real Park Avenue fiance Jim Montgomery. Linda assures Jim that she is not married to Peter. Arthur, who does not want Linda to marry Jim because this will cause her to leave show business, arranges for a publicity man to take a picture of a sleeping Peter along side a mannequin of Linda.

The publicized picture creates chaos. A sham marriage will follow a broken engagement, true love will begin to grow, Peter will be seen with another woman adding to the chaos and threaten the new found feelings of love.

As with many an Astaire, Rogers movie, a beautiful dance number will save the day.

NOTABLE: Shall We Dance received an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Song (They Can’t Take That Away From Me).

The films story originated with RKO’s desire to capitalize on the success of Rogers and Hart’s 1936 Broadway hit “On Your Toes.”

In one scene Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together on roller skates. The added difficulty of the skates required around 150 takes of the scene.

Shall We Dance was the seventh pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

During production of the film, George Gershwin was already suffering the ill effects of a brain tumor and would die two months after the pictures release.



Lost Horizon

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Lost Horizon

Tagline – Frank Capra’s Greatest Production

Starring – Ronald Colman (Robert Conway), Jane Wyatt (Sondra Bizet), Edward Everett Horton (Lovett), John Howard (George Conway), Thomas Mitchell (Barnard).

Released – March, 1937

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Colombia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Colombia Pictures

Description – Millions to make it!…Two years in production!…The best seller that set a new style in romance floods the screen with splendor and drama!

Writer, soldier, and diplomat Robert Conway is about to become England’s new Foreign Secretary. Before returning home from China to assume his new position, Conway has one more assignment to complete. He is to rescue 90 Westerners in the city of Baskul.

This mission is accomplished, with little time to spare, as the plane carrying Conway and the remaining evacuees, takes off just before the area is overrun by armed revolutionaries. While it seems to be a clean escape, Conway and the rest of the passengers are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.

The new route results in the plane running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayan Mountains. The hijacker is killed in the crash. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the desperate group are rescued by a mysterious people led by a man named Chang and taken to an Eden-like valley called Shangri-La where they meet the people’s leader known as the High Lama.

Initially, the group are anxious to get back to civilization. As time passes many in the group begin to believe that Shangri-La is not only beautiful, but magical and want to stay. Among them is Conway himself who has met and fallen for the enchantingly beautiful Sondra. Paleontologist Alexander Lovett, swindler Henry Barnard, and terminally ill Gloria Stone, who miraculously seems to be recovering, also want to stay. Conway’s younger brother George and another local young woman named Maria want to leave.

The High Lama, who is the founder of Shangri-La, and is said to be hundreds of years old, wants to meet with Conway. He has been preserved, along with the paradise’s other inhabitants, by the magical properties of Shangri-La.

However, his time to pass is near. He would like to pass on his responsibility of keeping Shangri-La safe to someone who is wise and knowledgeable of the modern world. Having read the writing’s of Conway, and with Sondra’s suggestion that Conway is “the one”, they arranged for his abduction. The High Lama passes quietly after naming Conway as his successor.

Conway’s brother George refuses to believe the Lama’s story and his position is supported by Maria. Giving in to loyalty, Conway agrees to leave the paradise with his brother and Maria. Their departure comes with a warning. It is said that Maria, like the Lama, is much older than she appears.

Grueling travel, changes in Maria, a loss of sanity that results in death, a rescue, memory loss, and regret soon follow.

NOTABLE: Lost Horizon won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, and Best Film Editing. The picture was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (H. B. Warner), Best Assistant Director, Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

The film exceeded its original budget and almost doubled in cost. It took five years to earn the money back causing a serious financial crisis for Columbia Pictures and damaging the relationship between director Frank Capra and studio head Harry Cohn.

David Niven and Louis Hayward tested for the role of George Conway before it went to John Howard just two days prior to filming.

A scene where a model was used for Jane Wyatt that depicted her swimming in the nude caused some trouble with the California State Censor Board. The board required two signed affidavits from Columbia stating that the models breasts were covered. Columbia complied, but the scene was shot with the model bare-breasted.

The blizzard sequences shot in the film were done using bleached corn flakes.

The characters portrayed by Jane Wyatt and Edward Everett Horton were not in the original novel by James Hilton. They were added to provide romantic interest and comic relief.

Personal Note: This is one of the great film classics of the late 1930’s, providing a rare film experience with a strong finale.




Top Hat

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Top Hat [Blu-ray]

Tagline – They’re Dancing Cheek-To-Cheek Again!

Starring – Fred Astaire (Jerry Travers), Ginger Rogers (Dale Tremont), Edward Everett Horton (Horace Hardwick), Erik Rhodes (Alberto Beddini).

Released – September, 1935

Directed By – Mark Sandrich

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – American dancer Jerry Travers arrives in London at the request of, the somewhat awkward and clumsy producer, Horace Hardwick.

Jerry’s practicing of a tap dance routine, in his hotel room late at night, proves to be a problem for Dale Tremont, who is in the room below him. Dale storms upstairs and complains, but her efforts only leave Jerry starry-eyed and smitten.

Jerry begins to follow Dale all over London with obvious intentions. However, there is the complication of mistaken identity getting in the way of any romance. Dale believes that Jerry is Horace the husband of her friend Madge and rejects any effort he makes.

Opening night for the show arrives and it, along with Jerry and his dancing, is a tremendous success. Meanwhile, Dale is off to Venice to see her friend Madge and also to model and promote gowns created by Italian designer Alberto Beddini, a gentleman who has a habit of accidentally misusing, or distorting words, or phrases. And, it seems, that Alberto also has an interest in Dale.

Desperate to win the heart of Dale, Jerry finds her in Venice and proposes marriage. Dale, still thinking that Jerry is the husband of her friend, finds his actions disgusting and agrees to marry Alberto.

As Jerry’s hope for Dale’s love and straightening out the mistaken identity problem begin to fade, a fake priest, a gondola ride, and a dance in the beautiful Venetian sunset might just save the day.

NOTABLE: Top Hat received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Music, Original Song (Cheek-to-Cheek), Best Dance Direction, and Best Art Direction.

In 1990, Top Hat was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

This film was the fourth, and most successful, of the ten films that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in together.

Top Hat premiered at Radio City Music Hall where it broke all records and became the most successful film of the 1930’s for RKO Radio Pictures.

For composer Irving Berlin, who was suffering from a slight bit of lagging self-confidence at the time, this was his first complete film score since 1930. Berlin, who could not read, or write music, used a specially designed piano and an assistant when working.

Character Alberto Beddini had a motto in the film, “For the men the sword, for the women the whip.” This original motto troubled the censors who insisted it be changed. It was to, “For the women the kiss, for the men the sword.”

Astaire and Rogers dance together five times in Top Hat, the most of all their films together.

Top Hat, along with King Kong (1931) are the two films credited with saving RKO from bankruptcy.

The character of Alberto Beddini so offended Benito Mussolini and the Italian government that the film was banned in Italy.

Actress Lucille Ball appears as a flower shop clerk in the film.

Personal Note: As a big fan of Fred Astaire, especially when paired with Ginger Rogers, Top Hat is one of my favorites.  This knock-out musical is one of the most delightful of the 1930’s, and probably the film most associated with Astaire and Rogers.



The Gay Divorcee

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

The Gay Divorcee

Tagline – The Musical Triumph of Two Continents!

Starring – Fred Astaire (Guy Holden), Ginger Rogers (Mimi Glossop), Alice Brady (Aunt Hortense), Edward Everett Horton (Egbert ‘Pinky’ Fitzgerald), Erik Rhodes (Rodolfo Tonetti).

Released – October, 1934

Directed By – Mark Sandrich

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Mimi Glossop wants to divorce her noted geologist husband Cyril whom she hasn’t seem in years. However, his absence is not reason enough to get the divorce. So, Mimi decides to consult an expert on divorce… her Aunt Hortense who has been married and divorced a number of times.

With her Aunt’s guidance, Mimi consults and hires Egbert ‘Pinky’ Fitzgerald who was one of Aunt Hortense’s past fiance’s. There is a problem with Pinky as his reputation is that of a somewhat less than competent lawyer.

Pinky’s plan is to arrange for Mimi to spend a night at a seaside resort and to be caught in what will seem to be an adulterous relationship with co-conspirator Rodolfo Tonetti. As Pinky’s reputation pointed out, this will not be as simple as it sounds.

Pinky has forgotten to hire the private detective that was supposed to discover the infidelity. Another friend of Pinky, American dancer Guy Holden happens to be staying at the same hotel at the same time. Guy, who has briefly met Mimi and is smitten with her, is mistaken by her to be the co-conspirator.

While casually visiting with Mimi in her hotel room, Rodolfo shows up and holds Guy and Mimi prisoner threatening to expose what he believes is a real scandal.

Enjoy the confusion as Astaire and Rogers dance their way out of trouble.

NOTABLE: The Gay Divorcee won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song, and also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Music, Score, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Score.

The Academy Award for Best Original Song was for the tune The Continental. This was the first year an award was given in this category.

The story is based on the musical play Gay Divorce, but the Hays Code required the name to be changed so as not to make it appear that a divorce was a happy occasion.



Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – A picture different from anything screened before!

Starring – Robert Montgomery (Joe Pendelton), Evelyn Keyes (Bette Logan), Claude Rains (Mr. Jordan), Rita Johnson (Julia Farnsworth), Edward Everett Horton (Messenger 7013), James Gleason (Max Corkle).

Released – August, 1941

Directed By – Alexander Hall

Produced By – Columbia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Columbia Pictures

Description – How would you like to die 50 years before your time? That’s what happens to boxer Joe Pendelton when heavenly bureaucracy screws up.  Wanting to make ammends, the heavenly administrators offer to place Joe into the body of a newly dead corpse who than shall remain alive.

Letting Joe make the selection, he chooses the body of an extremely wealthy banker and financier, who, unknown to Joe, happens to be a crook named Farnsworth. It seems Farnsworth has just been drugged and drowned in his bathtub by his secretary and a man named Tony Abbott.

As the crooked Farnsworth, Joe rights a lot of the wrongs committed by the previous owner of his new body – only to find himself murdered again. Now what?

NOTABLE: Here Comes Mr. Jordan won two Oscar’s: Best Writing, Original Story, and Best Writing, Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Robert Montgomery), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Gleason), Best Director (Alexander Hall), and Best Cinematography.

Robert Montgomery was borrowed from MGM to appear in the picture.

Columbia had planned to film a sequel to this picture entitled Hell Bent for Mr. Jordan. Sadly, they shelved the project until the original cast could be re-assembled. That picture was never produced.