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Hollywood Movie Memories » thomas mitchell

Posts Tagged ‘thomas mitchell’

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.



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.





Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


Tagline – A Great Drama of American Heroism!

Starring – Robert Taylor (Sgt. Bill Dane), George Murphy (Lt. Steve Bentley), Thomas Mitchell (Cpl. Jake Feingold), Lloyd Nolan (Cpl. Barney Todd), Lee Bowman (Capt. Henry Lassiter), Robert Walker (Leonard Purckett), Desi Arnez (Felix Ramirez).

Released – April, 1944

Directed By – Tay Garnett

Produced By –  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – It’s the start of World War II and the Japanese have just invaded the Philippines. Retreating from Manila, the American and Filipino forces move to the mountainous Bataan peninsula and take up position for a defensive last stand.

After the crossing of the bridge spanning the peninsula they plan to blow up the bridge and delay the Japanese rebuilding efforts. The joint forces hoped to hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive and help maintain some hold on the Philippine islands.

A group of 13 volunteer for the job.

The plan to blow up the bridge is a success, but their commander, Capt. Henry Lassiter, is killed. One by one the volunteer’s are killed while the remainder of American and Filipino forces struggle to hold on.

Lt. Steve Bentley has a plan to again destroy the bridge foundation if there is enough time and they live long enough to do it.

NOTABLE: Sadly, the showing of Bataan was banned in the southern part of the United States due to the racially integrated fighting force. However, the NAACP presented MGM with two awards for portraying an African American in an intelligent and sympathetic manner.

Other feature films were produced based on the World War II Battle of Bataan. They include So Proudly We Hail!, They Were Expendable, and Back to Bataan.


High Noon

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

High Noon: 60th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The story of a man who was too proud to run!

Starring – Gary Cooper (Marshal Will Kane), Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler Kane), Lloyd Bridges (Deputy Harvey Pell), Thomas Mitchell (Mayor Jonas Henderson).

Released – July, 1952

Directed By – Fred Zinnemann

Produced By – Stanley Kramer Productions

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – Hadleyville, New Mexico Marshal Will Kane has just married pacifist Quaker Amy Fowler, retires from his duties, and plans to move away and begin a new life as a storekeeper.

However, some disturbing news has just arrived. Frank Miller, a criminal brought to justice by Marshal Kane and sentenced to hang, has just been released from prison with no explanation as to why.

When sentenced, Miller vowed to return to kill Kane and that’s just what it looks like he is planning to do. Arriving and waiting at the railroad station are three men, Miller’s brother and two former gang members. They are waiting for the noon train.

The townspeople encourage Kane and his new bride to leave town, which they do. Realizing that he will only be hunted down, Kane returns to town, picks up his badge and tries to put together enough help to deal with the threat of Miller and his gang.

There is no help to be found. The townspeople are too scared to help Kane and it looks like he will have to face the men alone rather than run.

Enjoy the building suspense as the clock gets closer and closer to High Noon!

NOTABLE: High Noon was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Cooper), Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Song, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic, or Comedy Picture. Other nominations included; Best Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinnemann), and Best Writing, Screenplay.

In 1989, High Noon was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Some believe that the theme of the movie was intended as an allegory of Hollywood’s failure to stand up to the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era.

This is former President Bill Clinton’s favorite film.

High Noon provided the film debut of Lee Van Cleef who does not have a word of dialogue.

Director Fred Zinnemann fought to never have this film “colorized.” However, a colorized version was made by Ted Turner’s production company and shown several times on his cable network.

The role of Marshal Will Kane, for which Gary Cooper won an Oscar, was turned down by Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift.

No makeup was used on the face of Gary Cooper in order to show the worry and stress related to the films storyline.

Tex Ritter sang “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin.” This was the first Oscar-winning song from a non-musical motion picture.

The American Film Institute has ranked High Noon as #27 on its list of the Greatest Movies of All Time and #2 on the list of Greatest Westerns.

Personal Note: This is one of my favorite films of all time. Often described as a “western for people who don’t like westerns,” it is timeless in its appeal as a great film about a crisis of conscience.

A classic motion picture in every sense of the word!


The Black Swan

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Black Swan ’42 [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Seas Ablaze…with black villainy, with fiery romance, with breathless deeds of daring…in the roaring era of Love, Gold and Adventure!

Starring – Tyrone Power (Jamie Waring), Maureen O’Hara (Lady Margaret Denby), Laird Cregar (Capt. Sir Henry Morgan), Thomas Mitchell (Tom ‘Tommie’ Blue), George Sanders (Capt. Billy Leech).

Released – December, 1942

Directed By – Henry King

Produced ByTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – With England and Spain now at peace, reformed pirate Capt. Henry Morgan is made Governor of Jamaica. His first order of duty is to rid the Caribbean of the remaining pirates using whatever means are necessary. Out of friendship to Morgan, pirate Jamie Waring gives up his illegal ways; however, not all choose to do so.

Lord Denby, Jamaica’s former governor, has a beautiful daughter, Lady Margaret, who soon has caught the eye of Waring, but she is already engaged. Unknown to her, fiance Roger Ingram is providing information on ship sailings to the remaining pirates.

The public begins to suspect Governor Morgan of still being involved in the pirateing, forcing Morgan to enlist the aid of his friend Jaime Waring to find out where the leaking information about the shippings is coming from.

Waring’s investigation also provides him with an opportunity to kidnap the beautiful Lady Margaret.

NOTABLE: This film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color and was nominated for two more; Best Effects, Special Effects and Best Music.

The ship in The Black Swan was also used in the filming of That Hamilton Woman, The Princess and the Pirate, and Captain Kidd.

The films original ending had to be changed in order to please censorship requirements. The original ending had both Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara’s character jumping into the sea.