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Hollywood Movie Memories » ronald colman

Posts Tagged ‘ronald colman’

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.




A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

Tagline – The Immortal Story of Love and Intrigue During the French Revolution!

Starring – Ronald Colman (Sydney Carton), Elizabeth Allan (Lucie Manette), Edna May Oliver (Miss Pross), Reginald Owen (Stryver), Basil Rathbone (Marquis St. Evremonde).

Released – December, 1935

Directed By – Jack Conway

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – An elaborate adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic tells the story of two totally different men in love with the same woman.

It is the eve of the French Revolution, and Lucie Manette has just found out her father is not dead as previously thought, but has been a prisoner in the Bastille. Dr. Manette has now been released and Lucie travels to Paris to pick him up and bring him home to England.

On the trip across the English Channel, Lucie meets French aristocrat Charles Darnay who is sympathetic to the cause of the French people. She also meets Charles’ uncle the Marquis St. Evremonde, who is not.

Suspected of spying against England, Charles Darnay is arrested and tried for treason. He is defended by lawyer Sydney Carton who, with a little bit of cleverness, is able to get the prosecutions top witness to admit that he was mistaken about Darnay. Charles is let go.

Lucie thanks Carton for his brilliant effort and Carton finds himself falling in love with her. He realizes that there is no hope for him with Lucie as she and Darnay are also in love. Eventually, Lucie and Charles marry and have a daughter.

In the meantime, the Reign of Terror has fully engulfed France with the common people taking out their frustrations with the aristocrats through the regular use of the guillotine. Charles Darnay is lured back to Paris and is again arrested as a traitor. Lucie’s father, Dr. Manette pleads for mercy for his son-in-law, but to no avail.

Influential Madame DeFarge caring nothing about guilt or innocence, and harboring a grudge against the Evremondes, convinces the tribunal to sentence Darnay to death.

Can Sydney Carton come to Darnay’s rescue again? If he can, it will take a bit of blackmail, the drugging of the prisoner, and a replacement for Darnay’s appointment with the guillotine.

NOTABLE: A Tale of Two Cities received two Oscar nominations; Best Picture, and Best Film Editing.

In the story, both Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay were very much alike in appearance. Actor Ronald Colman, who wanted very badly to play Sydney Carton, agreed to the role with the stipulation that he not be asked to play both roles as was expected. How badly did Colman want to play Sydney Carton? Bad enough to shave off his trademark mustache.

This production was the fourth film version of A Tale of Two Cities. The others were previously made in 1911, 1917 and 1922.

A Tale of Two Cities was David O. Selznick’s last film for MGM. He was able to fund his own studio afterwards largely on the strength of this film’s box office receipts.


Random Harvest

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Random Harvest

Tagline – It’s Great. Great Stars . . . A Great Story . . . A Great Author!

Starring – Ronald Colman (Smithy), Greer Garson (Paula), Philip Dorn (Dr. Jonathan Benet), Susan Peters (Kitty), Henry Travers (Dr. Sims), Reginald Owen (Biffer).

Released – December, 1942

Directed By – Mervyn LeRoy

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – A touching story of a World War I veteran who, as a result of being shell-shocked, is an amnesiac seemingly destined to a life in a mental institution.

After wandering from the institution into town he meets and is befriended by Paula a music-hall entertainer. With no memory of his previous life, Paula gives him the name Smithy and, even after learning of his stay in the institution, decides that he is a gentle, harmless man to whom she is attracted.

Paula arranges for Smithy to join her traveling entertainment troupe, but learns that the authorities consider him to be an escapee and are looking for him. Paula decides to take Smithy to a secluded village where they marry, have a son, and appear to have found true happiness.

It is here that Smithy displays a literary talent  and decides to go to London to apply for a writing job with a newspaper. While in London, Smithy is involved in an accident.

It is here where fate takes a cruel turn. As a result of the accident, Smithy now has regained the memories of his life before the war and forgotten everything about his life with Paula.

One man has now disappeared, and another long missing has returned.

NOTABLE: Random Harvest was nominated for seven Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Director (Mervyn LeRoy), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ronald Colman), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Susan Peters), Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

Greer Garson, who gave an excellent performance, was unable to receive a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination due to the fact that she was already nominated in that category for Mrs. Miniver.

The role of Paula was reported to be the favorite of actress Greer Garson.

Champagne for Caesar

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Champagne for Caesar

Tagline – …the bubbliest, frothiest, tickliest comedy!

Starring – Ronald Colman (Beauregard Bottomly), Celeste Holm (Flame O’Neil), Vincent Price (Burnbridge Waters), Barbara Britton (Gwenn Bottomly), Art Linkletter (Happy Hogan).

Released – May, 1950

Directed By – Richard Whorf

Produced By – Cardinal Pictures (II)

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – A very funny satire of early television game shows.  Snobbish Beauregard Bottomly can’t understand the publics fondness for a game show that rewards its contestants for simply knowing the answers to a few questions.

In an effort to embarass and bankrupt the program, he manages to become a contestant and easily answers the five questions necessary to win.  However, he challanges the host to ask him anything and he will be able to answer.

The result is a rating success for the program and they ask Beauregard to continue to return and be asked one question per show as the stakes double each time.  Some great trivia and very funny one-liners.

By the way, just who is Caesar?  He is Bottomly’s alcohol-loving parrot (voiced by Mel Blanc).

NOTABLE: Champagne for Caesar provided the acting debut of Art Linkletter. (He played himself in his first film, People Are Funny(1946).)

Put the horror genre image aside and enjoy a very funny performance by Vincent Price as a soap tycoon.

In 1950, it was common to have the TV in the windows of shops turned on with the sound transmitted outside via speakers. Not a lot of TV’s were in homes, at this time, and it was not uncommon to see crowds packed in front of stores watching the popular shows of the time.