Posts Tagged ‘henry travers’

It’s A Wonderful Life

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!… How Could It Be Anything Else!

Starring – James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch Bailey), Henry Travers (Clarence Oddbody), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Henry F. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy Bailey).

Released – January, 1947

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Liberty Films (II)

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Businessman George Bailey is on the edge, literally. Deeply frustrated and troubled, George’s family and friends are worried enough about him to pray, and pray hard, on this Christmas Eve, 1945.

Their prayers are heard loud and clear in heaven and novice angel (yet to get his wings) Clarence Oddbody is sent to earth to prevent George from taking his own life. Prior to the trip, Clarence is shown George’s life.

And an eventful life it has been. At the tender age of 12, George saves his younger brother Harry from drowning in an icy pond. However, this act of heroism left George with a bad cold that resulted in the loss of hearing in his left ear.

While working a part-time job, after school in the local pharmacy, George notices that the druggist, Mr. Gower, who has recently lost his son, is mistakenly filling a child’s prescription with arsenic. He stops Mr. Gower from a mistake that would have resulted in tragedy and promises to never tell anyone about the incident.

That same evening, at younger brother Harry’s graduation party, George finds himself attracted to Mary Hatch, a girl who has had a secret crush on George since childhood. As the two talk about their idea’s for the future, George’s uncle brings him the news that his father has suffered a stroke which proves fatal.

While planning to leave for college, George learns that his father’s business, the Bailey Building and Loan Association, is in serious financial trouble and that the board of directors will shut it down unless George stays and takes over the management of the business.

In the background, majority shareholder Henry F. Potter is working hard to convince the board to stop making loans to the working poor. George is able to prevent this from happening and gives his college money to his brother Harry with the understanding that when Harry graduates he is to return and take over the business.

Again, George’s dreams for himself are crushed when Harry returns with a wife and an excellent job offer. Unable to deny his brother the opportunity, George continues running the business.

Finally, something positive happens in the life of George Bailey as he and Mary are wed. This new found happiness is short-lived as a run on the bank again puts the Building and Loan on the verge of collapse, World War II erupts, and a company bank deposit of $8,000 never gets to the bank, ending up in the hands of Henry F. Potter.

Always wanting George out of the picture, Potter, as majority shareholder, has an arrest warrant written against George for bank fraud claiming that George has stolen the money.

This has been the life of George Bailey. This collection of events has led him to consider suicide and his only hope is with angel Clarence Odbody whose strategy is to show George what life would have been like had he not been born.

NOTABLE: It’s A Wonderful Life received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Stewart), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound,

In 1990, It’s A Wonderful Life was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Drained from his service to his country during World War II, James Stewart was hesitant to accept the role of George Bailey. Fortunately for everyone, Lionel Barrymore convinced Stewart to take the role.

Films made prior to this one would use painted corn flakes to give the appearance of snowfall. However, director Capra felt that they were too loud and did not want to add the dialogue after scenes were filmed. To solve the problem of recording the sound live a new method of creating snow was invented. The fire-fighting chemical of foamite, combined with soap and water was pumped at high pressure through a wind machine producing a silent, falling snow. This new method garnered an award for the RKO effects department from the Motion Picture Academy.

Actress Jean Arthur was director Frank Capra’s first choice to play Mary Hatch, but she was committed to a play on Broadway which opened the door for Donna Reed’s first starring role. Popular actress Ginger Rogers also turned down the role.

Actor Cary Grant was to play the role of George Bailey, but when Frank Capra inherited the project from another studio he rewrote the part for James Stewart who would later state that this was his favorite film role.

This was the first, and only time, that Frank Capra would produce, direct, finance, and co-write one of his films.

It’s A Wonderful Life was voted the #1 Inspirational Film of All Time by the American Film Institute as well as the 20th Greatest Movie of All Time.

In the film, actress Beulah Bondi plays the role of Jimmy Stewart’s mother. It was one of five times that she would play the mother of Stewart in his films.

Personal Note: While high production costs and stiff competition at the box office, primarily from the opening of The Best Years of Our Lives, the popularity of this motion picture has done nothing but grow with the passing to time. It’s A Wonderful Life now stands as one of the most loved Christmas films of all-time.



The Bells of St. Mary’s

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Bells of St. Mary’s [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The Whole World’s in Tune…with Bing and Bergman together at their most brilliant best!

Starring – Bing Crosby (Father Charles “Chuck” O’Malley), Ingrid Bergman (Sister Mary Benedict), Henry Travers (Horace P. Bogardus), William Gargan (Joe Gallagher).

Released – December, 1945

Directed By – Leo McCarey

Produced By – Rainbow Productions

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Father Chuck O’Malley, you remember him from Going My Way, has a new assignment. He is assigned to St. Mary’s, a run-down Catholic school in a run-down part of New York City. In fact, the school is in such bad shape that it is about to be condemned.

Father O’Malley, viewing the condition of the school on his first visit, also feels that it would be best for the students to be sent to a school with modern facilities. That is, until he meets the very stubborn Sister Mary Benedict who, along with the other sisters at the school, believe that God will provide a solution that will help them save St. Mary’s.

That solution may be in the hands of real estate developer Horace P. Bogardus who has nearly completed a new building next to the school that Sister Benedict and the other nuns hope he will donate to them for a new school.

Bogardus is of a different mind and wants the current location of St. Mary’s condemned so that he can use the land as a parking lot for his new building. As Father O’Malley begins to change his stance regarding St. Mary’s, it is clear that the liberal priest and the stubborn nun must join together in an effort to save the school.

NOTABLE: The Bells of St. Mary’s won the Oscar for Best Sound, Recording, and also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Leo McCarey), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bing Crosby), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ingrid Bergman), Best Music, Original Song (Aren’t You Glad You’re You), Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Film Editing.

The Bells of St. Mary’s became the first film sequel, following Going My Way, to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This was also the first time an actor had been nominated for Best Actor for playing the same role in two different pictures.


Madame Curie

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Madame Curie

Tagline – Mr. and Mrs. Miniver Together Again!

Starring – Greer Garson (Marie Curie), Walter Pidgeon (Pierre Curie), Henry Travers (Eugene Curie), Albert Bassermann (Prof. Jean Perot), Robert Walker (David Le Gros).

Released – February, 1944

Directed By – Mervyn LeRoy

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – An engrossing biopic of Madame Marie Curie’s work with her husband Pierre and their discovery of radium.

The Curie’s met while Marie was studying for her Master’s degree in physics at the Sorbonne. She met Pierre while requesting permission to use his laboratory for her work. It was not long before the two fell in love and were married.

Together they worked identifying and isolating a radioactive material Marie called radium. It took the couple years of painstaking research and experimentation before they were successful. The magnitude of their success led to Marie and Pierre sharing the Nobel Prize in Physics.

However, tragedy would soon strike the couple as Pierre was killed after being hit by a horse and wagon crossing the street in the rain. Marie is crushed and nearly loses her mind. Prof. Jean Perot counsels her and she begins to rally.

Motivated by the words of her husband that if one of them should be gone, the other should continue to work on behalf of science. Continue to work she does, with the result of her efforts making major contributions for the betterment of science.

NOTABLE: Madame Curie was nominated for seven Oscar’s including Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Greer Garson), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Walter Pidgeon), Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

There is a great deal of fiction added to this story of Marie Curie. The films lacks mention of her family in Paris, and her sister Bronislawa, herself an Obstetrician, to whom Marie was very close. Another omission concerned Marie’s devotion to politics and her desire for liberation and independence of her native Poland.

Madame Curie was the third of eight films to pair Greer Garson with Walter Pidgeon.

In her final years at MGM, actress Joan Crawford was being given bad scripts as the studio hoped she would break her contract. Two roles Crawford strongly hoped to get were for the films Random Harvest and Madame Curie. Both leading roles went to Greer Garson. It wasn’t long after that Joan Crawford left MGM.

The Invisible Man

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Invisible Man [Blu-ray]

Tagline – H.G. Well’s Fantastic Sensation!

Starring – Claude Rains (The Invisible Man), Gloria Stuart (Flora Cranley), William Harrigan (Dr. Arthur Kemp), Henry Travers (Dr. Cranley).

Released – November, 1933

Directed By – James Whale

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – A mysterious stranger, with his eyes shielded by dark glasses and his face covered by bandages, checks into an inn located in an English village. He demands that the staff leave him completely alone while never leaving his room.

His strange behavior causes the innkeeper to call the police and order him to leave. After assaulting the innkeeper he laughs maniacally as he removes the bandages showing himself to be invisible.

This is Dr. Jack Griffin, a scientist who, while working on a strange new drug called “Monocane,” has accidentally discovered the ability to make himself invisible. Dr. Griffin reveals his secret to his one-time partner Dr. Arthur Kemp and to his fiancee Flora Cranley.

Dr. Griffin forces Dr. Kemp to return with him to the inn in order to retrieve his notes on the invisibility process and while there kills a policeman. This is just the beginning of a series of killings and robberies that follow and threaten the lives of both Dr. Kemp, who Griffin has threatened to kill, and Flora Cranley.

While Monocane has given Dr. Griffin the power of invisibility, he has overlooked one thing. The use of the drug renders its user insane. Now you see him, and now you don’t. It’s catch me if you can when pursuing an invisible man.

NOTABLE: In 2008, The Invisible Man was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The Invisible Man is considered one of the great Universal horror films of the 1930’s, and was the first American screen appearance for Claude Rains.

The films groundbreaking visual effects were created by John P. Fulton, John J. Mescall, and Frank D. Williams. Their work is often credited with the films success.

Personal Note: This is classic horror/sci-fi at it’s best. Although starting off with the use of invisibility in a comic fashion it turns deadly from then on.


Ball of Fire

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Ball of Fire (DVD)

Tagline – The New Year’s red-hot comedy!

Starring – Gary Cooper (Prof. Bertram Potts), Barbara Stanwyck (Katherine ‘Sugarpuss’ O’Shea), Oskar Homolka (Prof. Gurkakoff), Henry Travers (Prof. Jerome), Dana Andrews (Joe Lilac), Dan Duryea (Duke Pastrami).

Released – December, 1941

Directed By – Howard Hawks

Produced By – The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – A group of eight ‘very proper’ linguistics professors are jointly compiling an encyclopedia. In an effort to help them with correct contemporary language, and the use of ‘slang’ in conversation, they hire burlesque performer Sugarpuss O’Shea.

At first uninterested in their proposition, she learns that the police would like to speak with her about her boyfriend Joe Lilac. In an effort to hide from the police she agrees to help the group and moves into their isolated house.

These opposites begin to attract, and she soon is teaching them not only slang, but the Conga, and something called “yum yum” (kissing). How does this sit with boyfriend Joe Lilac? Not well, as he has his henchmen kidnap her and the fun really begins.

NOTABLE: Ball of Fire was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbara Stanwyck), Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, Best Sound, Recording and Best Writing, Original Story.

Barbara Stanwyck was very upset when the scene where her character hits the character played by Kathleen Howard resulted in a broken jaw for the actress.

Actress Ginger Rogers was initially offered the role of Sugarpuss O’Shea, but declined.

In order to make the ‘slang’ used in the film as authentic as possible, writers Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett visited a Hollywood burlesque house, and Hollywood Park Race Track.