Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.
In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.
The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic
Twenty years ago, today, the HBO special Bigger & Blacker, a stand-up routine by comedian Chris Rock, premiered. It was recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The, now, defunct DreamWorks Records released a DVD on July 13.
In his third HBO stand-up special, Chris Rock brings his critically acclaimed brand of social commentary-themed humor to this 1999 stand-up comedy presentation. Also released as an album, Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker features Rock on-stage extolling his razor-sharp wit and wisdom on such topics as gun control, President Clinton, homophobia, racism, black leaders and relationships.
Grammy Award (Best Comedy Album)
Ninety years ago, today, the melodramatic silent film Thunder was released. Written by Ann Price and Byron Morgan, it was directed by William Nigh. Considered a lost film, it starred Lon Chaney, Sr. (The Man of a Thousand Faces), Phyllis Haver, James Murray, Tom Keene, Frances Morris (Adventures of Superman (TV Series)/Sarah Kent) and Wally Albright. Though a silent movie, it did have sound effects and a musical score. Only half of the reel survived and this was Chaney’s last silent. [During filming], Chaney caught a cold during the snow scenes which, then, developed into walking pneumonia. Production was shut down for a time but, was eventually completed. Chaney’s illness, combined with his throat cancer, led to his death two months after the release of his last film, and only talkie, 1930’s The Unholy Three.
Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. By the story’s end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.
“Grumpy” Anderson is an old railroad engineer that is obsessed with keeping his train on schedule, no matter the cost. His two sons are also railmen but, don’t share his single mindedness, which leads to one son’s death and a fight with the other on the first son’s funeral car. [This] leads to a crash and demotion of Grumpy to mechanic in the yards. His redemption comes during the Mississippi flood when he is, again, pressed into service to pilot a relief train along with his surviving son.
Thunder (the book) from Creepy Classics
Sixty-five years ago, today, the CBS TV variety series Stage Show debuted. It was produced by Jackie Gleason Enterprises and hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Starting out as an hour-long, summertime replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, it was returned in the Fall of 1955.
This is the show that introduced the world to Elvis Presley.
Dave Marsh, in his insightful musical biography Elvis, writes about the moment Elvis Presley burst upon the American scene via The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on January 28, 1956. “In his first appearance on the Dorsey Brothers’ TV show, the young singer rocked the world”. Marsh described Elvis’ startling rendition of Heartbreak Hotel and concluded, “He owned the song and he owned the crowd”.
After 17 months of personal appearances all over the south […], Elvis […] made his first appearance […]. Those shows were broadcast, live, from the CBS Studios in New York City. Young Elvis The Pelvis’ first appearance […] was followed by 5 others throughout the next 2 months until the 24 of March, 1956.
Bobby Darin also made his television debut on this show in March of 1956 singing Rock Island Line. The June Taylor Dancers were regular guests & performers and, Jack Carter became the permanent host in the show’s final season. Up against the The Perry Como Show on NBC, ratings began to decline. The final show was aired September 18, 1956, two months before the death of Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy passed in June of the following year.
Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent drama Being Respectable was released. Based on the novel of the same name written by Grace Flandrau, it was adapted by Dorothy Farnum. Directed by Phil Rosen, it starred Marie Prevost, Monte Blue, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich, Theodore von Eltz, Frank Currier, Eulalie Jensen, Lila Leslie, Sidney Bracey and Charles French.
Wealthy young Charles Carpenter is pressured by his family to marry Suzanne, even though he is really in love with young “flapper” Valerie. He gives in to his family’s pressure, however and marries Suzanne, after which Valerie leaves town. Years later, after Charles and Suzanne have had a child, Valerie comes back to town and, Charles realizes he is still in love with her…and she with him. Complications ensue. [Source]
Through the scheming of his respectable, and wealthy family, Charles Carpenter is obliged to marry Suzanne, although he is in love with young flapper Valerie Winship. Years later, when Valerie is back in town, they renew the affair and, Carpenter plans to leave his wife and child for her. […] in the end, he yields to family duty and respectability. [Source]
New York Times Review [August 4, 1924]
I could not find any video clips of this movie. ~Vic