1955

Movie Monday: To Hell and Back 1955

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To Hell and Back Image One
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.

IMDB Summary:

Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.

Rotten Tomatoes Summary:

The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.

Audie Murphy Image Two
Date: 1948
Photo Author: Fort Detrick
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Trivia Bits:
Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].

Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.

Additional Reading:
To Hell and Back (American Film Institute)
To Hell and Back (Turner Classic Movies)
Alvin York (Wikipedia)
Audie Murphy (Wikipedia)

Movie Monday: It Should Happen To You 1954

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It Should Happen To You Image
Image Credit: imdb.com

Sixty-five years ago, today, the most popular film at the box office was It Should Happen to You. I am changing my wording from “#1” to “most popular” as I am having great difficulty determining if my “older movie” posts are actually number ones. It is hard to tell.

Starring Judy Holliday, Peter Lawford, Jack Lemmon and Michael O’Shea, this romantic comedy (Rom-Com) was written by Garson Kanin, directed by George Cukor, was originally titled A Name For Herself and was supposed to be a Danny Kaye movie.

Leonard Malton Review:

Holliday is Gladys Glover of Binghamton, N.Y., who has come to N.Y.C. to make a name for herself and does so by plastering her moniker across a Columbus Circle billboard.

IMDB Summary:

Gladys Glover has just lost her modelling job when she meets filmmaker Pete Sheppard shooting a documentary in Central Park. For Pete, it’s love at first sight but, Gladys has her mind on other things…like making a name for herself. Through a fluke of advertising, she winds up with her name plastered over 10 billboards throughout city. Suddenly, all of New York is clamoring for Gladys Glover without knowing why and playboy Evan Adams III is making a play for Gladys that even Pete knows will be hard to beat.

Trivia Bits:
♦ This film was the début of actor Jack Lemmon.
♦ Teenage John Saxon has an uncredited cameo in Central Park.
♦ Gossip columnists reported that during the filming of It Should Happen to You, Holliday dated her co-star Peter Lawford. The actress was having marital problems at the time and did, reportedly, enjoy a romantic fling with Lawford (it only lasted until the production wrapped) which may be why their scenes together have a genuine spark.
♦ The same year of the movie release, co-star Peter Lawford married Patricia Kennedy, daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy and sister of the future President. Of the extended Kennedy clan, Lawford was closest to his brother-in-law Robert.

Nominations
♢ Best Costume Design/Black & White (Jean Louis/1955 Academy Awards)
♢ Best Written American Comedy (Garson Kanin/1955 Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) Award)

Tune Tuesday: Casa Loma Orchestra 1944

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Glen Gray & Casa Loma Orchestra Image One
Image Credit: hotmusiccharts.com

Seventy-five years ago, today, the #1 song on Billboard (pre-hot 100 era) was My Heart Tells Me (Should I Believe My Heart?) by Glen Gray, his Casa Loma Orchestra and singer Eugenie Baird. Written by Harry Warren (Lullaby of Broadway, Jeepers Creepers & That’s Amore) with lyrics by Mack Gordon (Chattanooga Choo-Choo), this was the theme for the 1943 musical film Sweet Rosie O’Grady. Betty Grable sang the song in the movie.

Glen Gray & his Orchestral version was number one for five weeks from January 29 to February 26, boosted by the popularity of the musical. As a popular standard for the 1940s, other well-known artists with their own versions include Etta Jones (1961), Frank Sinatra (1945), Nat King Cole (1958) and Tony Bennett (1955). Glenn Miller & his orchestra had a go in 1944, broadcasting to German soldiers. From Dance in the City (Page 191):

“One of the paradoxes of the Nazi terror was that SS officers themselves demonstrated a fondness for swing (Vogel, 1962).

Mike Zwerin (1985), in his exploration of jazz under the Nazis, described a Luftwaffe pilot who switched on the BBC hoping to catch a few bars of Glenn Miller before bombing the antenna from which these forbidden sounds were being broadcast. Allied propagandists recognised the potential for exploiting the contradictory allure that jazz possessed with Nazi society.

The sound barrier of 1944 was marked on the one hand by the music of the Nazi marches and on the other by the big band swing of Glenn Miller. The Allies attempted to exploit the popularity of swing inside Germany. On October 30, 1944, Miller’s swing tunes were aimed at German soldiers through the American Broadcast Station in Europe (ABSIE) in an effort to persuade them to lay down their arms.

Major Miller addressed German soldiers in their own language with the assistance of Ilse Weinberger, a German compere and translator. Ilse introduced Glenn Miller as the ‘magician of swing’ and, through a strange act of cultural alchemy, tunes like Long Ago and Far Away and My Heart Tells Me were rendered in German by vocalist Johnny Desmond.”

Tune Tuesday: Blue Velvet 1963

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Bobby Vinton Image
Photo Credit: popularmusicofthefiftiesandsixties.blogspot.com

We are traveling back to 1963! Fifty-five years ago, today, the #1 Billboard Hot 100 song was Bobby Vinton‘s version of Blue Velvet.

The song was written and composed by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne (whom also wrote “There She Is”, The Miss America song).

Tony Bennett recorded the first version in 1951 with Percy Faith‘s Orchestra. It’s highest rank was on Cash Box Top 50 at #12. The Clovers (Love Potion No. 9) recorded a version in 1955 that reached #14 on Billboard’s R&B chart.

Though there have been many, many versions of the song recorded, including versions from Bobby Rydell, Brenda Lee, Pat Boone, Sammy Davis Jr., The Lettermen, Isabella Rossellini and Barry Manilow, Bobby Vinton‘s version was the most popular…and my favorite. ~Vic

Wayback Wednesday: The Revenue Act of 1913

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Underwood Simmons Act Image
Image Credit: pixfeeds.com (defunct) &
buzzle.com

In 1913, The Revenue Act or the Underwood Act or the Underwood Tariff or the Underwood Tariff Act or the Underwood-Simmons Act or, simply, the Tariff Act (Federal Income Tax) was signed into law (re-imposed) by President Woodrow Wilson after the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment. It was sponsored/introduced by House Majority Leader Oscar Underwood from Alabama.

The very first personal income tax was signed into law in 1861 by Abraham Lincoln as a way to fund the Civil War. It was largely ineffective and, was, originally, a flat rate tax before being repealed and replaced with the Revenue Act of 1862, converting the flat rate into a progressive rate. This act ended in 1866.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the income tax provision of the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act of 1894 via Pollock vs Farmers’ Loan & Trust in 1895, that opened the door for the Sixteenth Amendment 18 years later, affirming that “…the Constitution did not deny Congress the power to impose a tax on real and personal property“… Yay for us.

Thomas Kelley Unsplash Image
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Other things from October 3…

1922Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton of Georgia is the 1st woman in the U.S. Senate, if only for one day.

1929…The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changes its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

1945Elvis Presley has his first public appearance at the age of 10. He was dressed as a cowboy, stood on a chair and sang “Old Shep” at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show.

1955Captain Kangaroo and The Mickey Mouse Club both premier on CBS and ABC, respectively.

1990…At midnight on this day, the flag of West Germany was raised over Brandenburg Gate, signifying the reunification of Germany.