Movie Monday: To Hell and Back 1955
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.
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.
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.
♦ 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.
To Hell and Back (American Film Institute)
To Hell and Back (Turner Classic Movies)
Alvin York (Wikipedia)
Audie Murphy (Wikipedia)
Flick Friday: Vigilante Hideout 1950
Technically, today is also a bust for Flick Friday, just like my July 24 post. There were no movie releases, today, in 1950, either, so I will grab the August 6 release. Seventy years ago, yesterday, the western film Vigilante Hideout was released. Directed by Fred C. Bannon and written by Richard Wormser, it starred Allan Lane, Black Jack (Allan Lane’s horse), Eddie Waller, Roy Barcroft and Virginia Herrick.
Rocky (Lane), a Range Detective, arrives to help Nugget (Waller) with rustlers. When he learns Nugget owns only three cows, he stays on, anyway and, soon, becomes involved in Benson’s attempt to blow open the bank’s safe. When Rocky upsets his plans, Benson (Don Haggerty), supposedly, gets rid of him by having him declared an outlaw, wanted dead or alive. Then, Benson takes a load of explosives into an old mine located directly under the bank vault.
Double-barreled justice catches up with a cold-blooded killer when “Rocky” takes up the chase! Cattle detective, Rocky Lane, arrives in town to investigate cattle disappearances only to realize just three cows, owned by eccentric inventor Nugget Clark, are involved. However, the disappearances lead to a deeper mystery involving dynamite explosions, rampaging cowboys and a water shortage.
Lane and his trusty black stallion are on hand to help old-timer Waller find water for a town which is threatening to fold up due to drought. Some crooked townsfolk don’t want the water to be found because they want to collect on the $25,000 being stashed away for an aqueduct. Lane’s job is to make sure these people don’t pose too much of a problem, while Waller goes about finding the water. The characterization of Waller as a crazed inventor of gadgets is an added attraction to this oater with a realistic bent.
Full Synopsis (Turner Classic Movies)
American Film Institute
The Complete Movie
TV Tuesday: Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert 2000
Twenty years ago, today, the Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert aired on ABC at 8:00pm EDT on a Friday night. The concert was in Orlando, FL and hosted by Christina Aguilera. Directed by Jeff Palmer, performers were Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Smash Mouth, Destiny’s Child and BBMak.
What a Girl Wants (Aguilera)
All Star (Smash Mouth)
Be with You (Iglesias)
Say My Name (Destiny’s Child)
I Turn to You (Aguilera)
Then the Morning Comes (Smash Mouth)
Back Here (BBMak)
Genie in a Bottle (Aguilera)
Jumpin’, Jumpin’ (Destiny’s Child)
There is not a lot written about this. ~Vic
Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert (IMDB)
Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert (Paley Center for Media)
Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert (Turner Classic Movies Database)
Genie in a Bottle
Say My Name & Jumpin’ Jumpin’
Movie Monday: Cinderella’s Feller 1940
Eighty years ago, today, the Technicolor Special (Warner Bros. Series) short family musical Cinderella’s Feller was released. Directed by William C. McGann and produced by Gordon Hollingshead, it starred Juanita Quigley, Scotty Beckett, Maris Wrixon, Virginia Brissac and, Terry as Rex the Dog, the Cairn Terrier best known as Toto in the MGM film The Wizard of Oz.
I can’t find much written about this little short, though it is on YouTube in its entirety. It’s only a little over 19 minutes long. It is not listed on Turner Classic Movies or the American Film Institute but, does show up on the British Film Institute…which I find odd.
The site Letterboxd simply states:
The story of Cinderella with a children’s cast.
IMDB is not much longer:
The famous fairy tale is musicalized and given a modern 1940s spin with the principal characters (Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Wicked Step Sisters) all played by children.
I guess the story of The Little Glass Slipper needs no explaining.
♦ This short was produced toward the tail end of Shirley Temple‘s reign as Hollywood’s #1 box office star and it’s reasonable to assume it was made to showcase young talent that Warner Brothers may have thought had a shot at replicating Temple’s success.
Cairn Movie Descriptions 1940 (Cairn Terrier Movies Site)
Cinderella Folk Tale (Wikipedia)
Flick Friday: The Death Train 1915
Oh, it has been work looking for a film for today’s date. IMDB had plenty to choose from but, I couldn’t seem to get any further information from the others…Wikipedia, American Film Institute, Turner Classic Movies… Even the Silent Era site and Silent Hollywood were slim pickings and, Silentology had nothing.
Anyway, one hundred, five years ago, today, Episode #17 of The Hazards of Helen, The Death Train, was released. Similar to The Perils of Pauline, The Hazards of Helen was a film serial or series that ran from November 7, 1914 to February 24, 1917.
There were 119 episodes that were 12 minutes long, most of which have been lost. Based upon a novel written by John Russell Corvell and a play written by Denman Thompson, W. Scott Darling adapted the material for the silent screen and Edward T. Matlack wrote The Death Train, specifically. Directors were J. P. McGowan (1-48) and J. Gunnis Davis for the rest. The original actress was Helen Holmes (1-48), followed by Helen Gibson for the remainder of the series, with Anna Nilsson filling in for Holmes for Episode #18.
This episode also starred Rex Downs, M. J. Murchison, Edmund ‘Hoot’ Gibson, Leo D. Maloney and George A. Williams. Helen Holmes did most of her own stunts.
The discovery that detectives are on their trail causes Doyle, Broden and Etzer, counterfeiters, to pack their paraphernalia into a trunk and express it to Lone Point. Upon its arrival at that station, a corner of the trunk is smashed. Helen thus learns of its contents. The telegrapher immediately wires to Savage, a railroad detective. The latter, accompanied by Duncan, a Secret Service detective, hastens to the scene. At their suggestion, Helen arranges a trap for the counterfeiters. When the latter appear, they are set upon by the officers. Etzer is captured but, his pals get away. Doyle eludes pursuit but, Broden later falls into Savage’s hands. Helen, watching the pursuit, ventures on the high trestle which crosses the dry bed of the Loro River. Doyle, who is hiding, sees Helen. Overpowered by a desire for revenge, the man attacks the telegrapher and makes her a prisoner. A rope lies nearby. Binding Helen, Doyle suspends his victim from the trestle and fastens the end of the line around the rails. Duncan sees this from afar. Although he rushes forward, he knows that the Keene local, due any moment, will cut the rope as it crosses the trestle. Meanwhile, Helen, after a tremendous effort, frees her hands. There is one chance for life. The girl commences swinging her body. Each time, she [manages] a wider arc. The train is crossing the trestle when Helen swings toward a beam. The engine wheels sever the rope. Helen flies through the air and reaches the beam. Doyle is captured. Savage and Duncan raise Helen to the tracks and find her uninjured.
Moving Picture World
This is one of the lost pieces so, there isn’t a YouTube clip and I could only find one picture. ~Vic
Lost Films (European Union/German site)
Silent Hollywood (More on Helen Holmes)
Flick Friday: The Roman 1910
One hundred, ten years ago, the silent, black & white short film The Roman was released. Directed by Francis Boggs and written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, it starred Hobart Bosworth, Betty Harte, Robert Z. Leonard and Tom Santschi. It was filmed at the studios of the Selig Polyscope Company.
The Moving Picture World (January-June 1910 Archive):
Perhaps the most attractive feature of this picture is the reproduction of early Roman costumes and Roman surroundings. It is a story of political intrigue, with all the contests and disagreeable features, connected therewith in the ancient city. But, the reproduction of manners and customs and, the historically correct scenery and settings, add immensely to the interest and, insure attention when, perhaps, the mere political story would scarcely be considered. The greatest service the motion picture can do is in the direction of educating the people, and a film like this, which faithfully illustrates long past and, perhaps, partially forgotten life, is of vast importance and, deserves a cordial reception. The Selig players have brought enthusiasm to their work and, have put much ability and life into the interpretation of this play.
American Film Institute (AFI) History:
This film may have been based on the 1835 novel Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes, by Edward Bulgar-Lytton [sic]. An advertisement in the [February] 19, 1910, Film Index billed Bosworth above the title, “Hobart Bosworth in The Roman,” and labeled the movie “Film De Art of the Classics,” declaring: “Its teachings are based upon the scriptures and traditions of the early history of the eternal city.” The advertisement also suggested that theater owners book The Roman as a “Special Lenten Picture.”
A young woman [orders] her girl slave to deposit in the waters of the Tiber a child which she has cause to be rid of. The infant is found by one of the aristocracy and adopted. In later years she is betrothed but, just before the wedding, the ruler of the land claims the young woman, on the ground that she was born in slavery. By military force, she is torn from the arms of her foster father and taken to the ruling house where she is held captive for only a few hours, as the father and young lover, have aroused a popular rebellion which overthrows the ruler, end[ing] in his death and the defeat of his defenders. (Variety February 19, 1910)
One Trivia Bit:
♦ Per [Hobart] Bosworth, first picture made at Selig’s (Studio at 1845 Allesandro Street, now Glendale Blvd.) in the Edendale (now Silver Lake) plant of Los Angeles.
[There was not much written about this film and no video clip(s). The image, above, doesn’t seem to jive with the TCM synopsis. But, that is all I could find.
Addendum: I continued to dig and found the, above, write-ups via the Internet Archive database and AFI. Turner Classic Movies synopsis was WAY off. ~Vic]
Movie Monday: Fifteen Wives 1934
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
Movie Monday: One-Thing-At-A-Time O’Day 1919
There weren’t any movies released on today’s date. So, I will use yesterday’s date. One-hundred years, ago, yesterday, One-Thing-At-A-Time O’Day was released. Based on a short story by William Pelley, it was directed by John Ince with the adaptation written by George Baker. A lost, silent comedy film, it starred Bert Lytell, Joseph Kilgour, Eileen Percy, Stanton Heck, William Carroll and Bull Montana.
A serious-minded boob named Stradivarious O’Day, because his music-loving mother says he “fiddles his time away”, acquires his nickname because of his motto of “one thing at a time and that done well.” Falling in love when he first sees circus bareback rider Prairie-Flower Marie, O’Day, living off his inheritance, follows the circus until the pestered manager gives him a job cleaning his Ford. With the help of a manual, O’Day learns to drive and secures employment with the circus as a chauffeur. After strong man Gorilla Lawson, who also loves Marie, beats him up, O’Day contacts his friend, boxer Roughneck M’Dool, to teach him to fight. Lawson, frightened by O’Day’s daily development, steals the circus receipts, and the Ford, on the day of their scheduled fight but, O’Day overtakes and whips him. After O’Day weds Marie, he unwittingly goes against his motto when he becomes the father of twins.
Movie Monday: Blazing Saddles 1974
Forty-five years ago, today, the most popular film at the box office was Blazing Saddles, a satirical Mel Brooks-directed western starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks (three on-screen characters), Alex Karras, David Huddleston, John Hillerman, Dom DeLuise, Count Basie (as himself), Rodney Allen Rippy (as a young Bart), with uncredited appearances by Anne Bancroft, Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) and Patrick Labyorteaux (JAG TV series). Released February 7, it was produced by Michael Hertzberg and based on a story by Andrew Bergman. Bergman collaborated with Brooks, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Al Uger to craft the screenplay and, John Morris (The Woman in Red & Dirty Dancing) was composer.
The Ultimate Western Spoof. A town where everyone seems to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land, Hedley Lemar [sic] (Harvey Korman), a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new sheriff from the Governor (Mel Brooks). Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black sheriff (Cleavon Little) in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty winning over the townspeople.
From Vincent Canby (The New York Times):
“[…] comedies, like Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles,” the best title of the year to date, are like Chinese food. A couple of hours later you wonder where it went. You wonder why you laughed as consistently as you did. [It] is every Western you’ve ever seen turned upside down and inside out, braced with a lot of low burlesque […]. The trouble is that [it] has no real center of gravity. Harvey Korman, a gifted comic actor who is so fine as Carol Burnett’s television co‐star, tries very hard to be funny as a crooked businessman and sometimes succeeds. But, it’s apparent that he’s hard put to keep up with the movie’s restless shifting from satire to parody to farce to blackout sketch. [It] has no dominant personality and, it looks as if it includes every gag thought up in every story conference. Whether good, bad or mild, nothing was thrown out.”
From Roger Ebert:
“It’s a crazed grab bag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken. At its best, his comedy operates in areas so far removed from taste that (to coin his own expression) it rises below vulgarity. One of the hallmarks of Brooks’ movie humor has been his willingness to embrace excess.”
From Mel Brooks (Interview at Creative Screen Writing):
“The writing process on Blazing Saddles was the complete opposite of the writing process on Young Frankenstein. Blazing Saddles was more or less written in the middle of a drunken fistfight. There were five of us all yelling loudly for our ideas to be put into the movie. Not only was I the loudest but, luckily, I also had the right as director to decide what was in or out.”
♦ James Earl Jones was to be the original Sheriff. Richard Pryor was next in line but, the studio wouldn’t finance it due to Pryor’s background.
♦ Gig Young was originally cast as the “Waco Kid” but, collapsed on set and was replaced with Wilder.
♦ Warner Bros. almost didn’t release the film. The executives thought it too vulgar for the American public.
♦ Governor William J. Le Petomane (Brooks) was a take-off on the stage name of a French Flatulist.
Nominated for three Academy Awards and two BAFTAs. It won three awards. Recognized by the American Film Institute, it is listed as #6 of the 100 funniest American films.
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