Tired Old Queen At The Movies #147

Clip recap:

Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Don Ameche light up the sky along with the great Chicago fire in Darryl F. Zanuck’s spectacular “In Old Chicago” (1937). Directed by Zanuck’s favorite in house director; Henry King, this was 20th Century Fox’s disaster film entry following the huge success of MGM’s “San Francisco” . The all star cast features includes Brian Donlevy, Andy Devine and Alice Brady in an Oscar winning role as Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow kicked over a lantern and started it all. Gorgeous shot it’s a huge and fabulous example of Fox at it’s best.

  • Ernest Endevor

    Quite right. Sensationally good movie with a climax that still makes the viewer gasp. Plus the magic of Tyrone Power and Alice Faye under the direction of one of Hollywood’s best – and strangely undervalued – directors Henry King. The three of them, plus Ameche, got together the following year for what is, I think, the finest musical of the golden age, Alexander’s Ragtime Band. The start of the number is cut here – thereby cutting the story of the song in a movie that tells its story thrillingly – but never mind, take it away Alice and Ty.https://youtu.be/jtYaB9HSUsU

  • greenmanTN

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Alice Faye movie. In fact the only thing I know about her is the scene where Arnold (Harvey Fierstein) is hugging photos and memorabilia to his chest, wallowing in his emotions, the rolls his eyes and say, Ugh! How Alice Faye can you get?” Then he stands up an decides to keep living without be maudlin.

    Though I love old movies, I hate old dramas/melodramas. Comedies, mysteries, horror, etc I love, but old dramas are often built around premises that are so ass-achingly dull yet milked to almost operatic heights they just don’t translate, for me at least.

    No kidding, my dream job would be a TV horror movie host like Zacherly or Elvira.

    Yes, I know, but let a man dream….

    • Ernest Endevor

      I have to sit down and try to breathe.

    • marshlc

      She was married to Phil Harris, who you know as the voice of Baloo in Disney’s Jungle Book, and as Little John in Robin Hood. They had a long productive marriage/career together.

      So now you know another thing about her.

      • Ernest Endevor

        She was also the first Fox Blonde. And the #1 box-office star of her day. Now too often forgotten.

    • ohbear1957

      My dream job would be host of a Robert Osborne-esque program of films that are 60 years or older. I’d invite one or more guest hosts.
      Care to join me for “The Bad Seed” (1956)?

      I’ll give you a basket of hugs.

      • greenmanTN

        Why, swallow me a frog! 🤓

        It’s really embarrassing how much of the dialogue from that movie I know.

        “I don’t like blue jeans, mother!”

        “Everyone knew I wrote the best hand!”

        (There was an unofficial sequel in the late 80s called “The Mommy” with McCormick where she had a daughter and was killing teachers etc who thwarted her ambitions for her child.)

      • greenmanTN

        Night Of The Hunter is another favorite. It’s an odd movie, directed by Charles Laughton, clumsy in some ways but also strangely beautiful.

        (Start at 2:00) https://youtu.be/U4se5hr9O84

        I normally try to keep my movie geek stuff under wraps but hey, YOU brought up the Bad Seed so you have reaped the nerd whirlwind! 😉

        • David Walker

          Night of the Hunter has so much going for it. Charles Laughton got the best out of all involved. I love the look of it. A movie is a collaboration, but most movies seem to be basic set design, basic costumes, basic cinematography. This is one of those movies that stands out because Laughton either inspired or dragged out the best of all concerned.

          Also, the moral of the story is that Shelley Winters should never get near water.

          • greenmanTN

            It’s a beautiful film, but (to me) it is at times so stylized, performances and settings, it’s no longer realistic, so hovers between realism, style, and camp. It’s only when Lillian Gish comes on the scene that it settles down a bit, and gives an a wonderful performance of love without judgement.

            Funny story, but Lillian Gish’s last film was The Whales Of August with Bette Davis. This may be apocryphal, but is good anyway. Bette was always competitive with other actresses, so after Lillian had finished a scene the director complimented her on a wonderful close-up scene, Bette snarled “Of COURSE it was good, the bitch invented the close-up!”

          • David Walker

            When I have a nightmare, it tends to be realistic and then runs off into some pretty surreal stuff. I also like the look of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, so there we are. And thanks for the Davis/Gish dish.

          • greenmanTN

            In a way some of the scenes in Night Of The Hunter resembled German Expressionist films like The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. I’m thinking specifically of the scene with Shelley Winters and Robert Mitchum in their attic bedroom and the room is so narrow yet the ceiling so highly pitched that it is… stylized, unnatural, bordering on surreal.

            One of my interests is silent films. Other than that I’m completely normal. 🙄


          • Cuberly

            It’s light vs dark, good vs evil. It’s similar to a fairy tale in it’s archetypes. Next time you watch it take notice there’s moments where Mitchum is channeling a wolf. He grunts, he growls, so many moments where he acts animalistic. It’s really an extraordinary performance.

          • Lars Littlefield

            No kidding! A Place in the Sun (drowns), Night of the Hunter (drowns), Poseiden Adventure (dies of heart attack after holding her breath too long under water). You think she would have seen a pattern. But, no.

        • whollyfool

          That movie scares the heck out of me….

          • Cuberly

            After getting shot, that yeowl that Robert Mitchum lets out, after stalking Gish, is chilling to the bone.

            Mitchum is so perfect in that movie. He does calculating slow-boiling, unhinged menace rather well.

            One of the things that sticks out in that movie is how so many in the small town automatically accept Mitchum’s eccentricities with no question, cuz he’s a preacher. The only person not sucked into the con is the young boy and Gish.

          • greenmanTN

            Yep. He’s totally nutso, with love and hate tattooed in his knuckles, and everyone is “He’s a man of God! What a catch!”

            Evelyn Varden was OK in Bad Seed (though I wasn’t exactly sad when Rhoda was plotting to push her down the stairs), but I wanted to smother her with a pillow myself in Night Of The Hunter.

          • whollyfool

            Singing that hymn is so eerie too…. I actually got to see this on the big screen once.

          • Cuberly

            Lucky you! I’d love to see it on the big screen again. Haven’t seen it in the theater since college.

            The cinematography is amazing. Stanley Cortez is the same cinematographer that did The Magnificent Ambersons, it really shows too on NOTH.

      • David Walker

        I did that for the public TV station in the late ’70s into the ’80s. And it WAS a dream job. I was “restricted” to movies from the ’30s and ’40s. I don’t remember the distributor, but they offered a package to the program director if he used movies from one studio for a year…a year of Warner Bros, a year of MGM, &c. The program director would ask for a few movies he recognized (reasoning: if HE knew at least the title, EVERYONE would) and then let me fill out the season…around 40 of the 52 movies. There was no place to preview at the station, so I talked the PD into letting me take the movies and the 16mm projector home so I could take notes and time the reels. The projector had a detachable speaker with enough cable so I could put the projector against one wall and throw the image on the wall opposite. Happily, Jack (my late husband) also loved movies from that era, so we had date nights at the movies at home.

        • greenmanTN

          I was/am a huge Hitchcock fan, and back around 85-86, there were few Hitchcock movies I hadn’t seen. One of them was The Paradine Case from the 1940s, with Gregory Peck, Alida Valli (she was being touted as the next Ingred Bergman at the time), Ann Todd, and Charles Laughton. It was not on home video at the time.

          Perhaps the best birthday present I ever got was my boyfriend at the time rented a 16mm copy of that movie and a projector and we watched it on the living room wall. It’s not one of Hitchcock’s best films but is still not bad.


          One thing that’s interesting to me is that though much has been written about crypto-gay characters in Hitchcock films, nobody ever mentions Judy Tetzel as the judge’s daughter, who couldn’t be more obviously lesbian if she rode a motorcycle and was pitcher for the local softball team!

          No offense intended, but she never shows up in any of those “Hitchcock’s Homos” articles, though it’s pretty damn obvious. I dare anyone to watch it and come to a different conclusion. Jesus! She does everything but bake nutloaf for the Michigan Women’s Festival!

          Surely to god I’m not the only one to notice this.

          • ohbear1957

            My favorite Hitchcock film has my favorite “Hitchcock Homo.” Bruno. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/09e7e2419592a7e771b5985d45339f1f1bfa88cf0693e361b910e51652d0029f.jpg

            I covet that smoking jacket.

          • greenmanTN

            When I was in Paris I went to the Cinemateque Francaise and they had a bridge/set painted by Hermann Warm, the original artist behind the Cabinet/Caligari painted sets. They were not the original sets from the film, but were painted by the same guy, in the same style.

          • Lars Littlefield

            That smoking jacket is an Edith Head special. She designed it for the film and the robe/jacket is featured in her museum collection that makes the rounds the country/world.

          • Lars Littlefield

            I love Strangers on a Train. And the irony that at that time Farley Granger was a new out and about gay man seems to evade all of the “straight” critics who like to dwell upon the gay characters in Hitchcock’s films. Point of fact, turned out that Farley was not so much gay as he was bisexual and would fuck anyone as long as the sex was enjoyable. Good on ya, Farley.

          • greenmanTN

            Granger is good in Strangers On A Train, a great movie. The novel was written by Patricia Highsmith, a lesbian, who also wrote The Talented Mr Ripley. Granger and John Dall were also in Hitchcock’s Rooe, which was loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb murder, in addition to one of Hitchcock’s experiments, to make a film that takes place in “real time,” without cuts. So the 100 or so minutes of the film are supposed to be 100 linear minutes for the characters, like a play almost. Because a full camera of movie film only lasted 20 minutes or so, the camera would drift past a man’s dark suit jacket, for instance, film change, then drift past as if there was no cut and the action appeared seamless.

    • Robincho

      Usually I’m a moaner — mid-range, definitely audible in the next room. But I bet I could learn how to scream…

      • greenmanTN

        I bought an album and listened to it with headphones on in the den when my family was watching TV, the old style headphones that fully covered your ears and blocked all outside sound, facing the stereo. I was humming quietly (I thought) along with the song.

        I turned around and my entire family was HOWLING, crying with laughter, almost literally ROTFLMAO because it apparently I didn’t know how loud I was and I can’t sing, or even hum, on tune.

        This was the song I was “humming” along with, which I still like.


    • yes b’y
    • Lars Littlefield

      I’m addicted to Warner Bros films from the 1940s. They pretty much defined the look and feel of the world I grew up in during that time. The amusing thing about film noir is no one recognized it as thing until the 1960s. Sure, there was a murder mystery detective style recognized among directors during the 40s and early 50s (even Hitchcock dabbled in the stylized light/dark cinematography) but no one called it film noir until the French film critic Nino Frank coined it and connected the dots from those films to nouveau french wave films it influenced in the 50s. Somewhere in another reality I’m really a barefoot gamin with short blonde pixie cut trying to sell copies of the International World Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris, smoking Gitanes, and dreaming about when I get to meet up with my boyfriend who beats me during sex.

  • JT
    • ohbear1957

      I’d love to be the filling in that mile-high sandwich.

      • I think the deal was you would have to wear a funny hat —
        like this lady is wearing to be in a 3 way. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/509442273c6cce95a6e4d98cfebf730d824f23ba2240207dd4d1737c67ed3340.jpg

      • JT

        Tyrone Power bedded a lot of men in Hollywood. He was bisexual and, of course, stunningly handsome. Even “tough guy” John Ford made out with him and was caught kissing him on a film set by Maureen O’Hara, as revealed in her autobiography. According to Liz Smith, “[t]he fact that he [Ford] more than dabbled in gay life was no secret even then.” Ford would probably have been a homocon now, if out at all, maybe even a supporter of Drumpf, perhaps even openly homophobic.


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    • Says in Wiki Cesar was never married — and his nickname was “Butch”. He was known in Hollywood as a “confirmed bachelor” and made frequent appearances at Hollywood events escorting actresses, such as Joan Crawford, Linda Darnell, Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan, Jane Wyman and Ginger Rogers. Wow, he got to take them all out, didn’t he?

    • Oh’behr in Minnesota

      Oh I loved them in the bottom photo/film. Now I’m trying to remember the film …

      • JT

        I think the seafaring film was Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake. Released in 1942, it must have been filmed before he became a Marine.


  • BobSF_94117

    Looks like they were lucky the Great Chicago Fire didn’t also become the Southern California Conflagration.

  • Acronym Jim

    Last night TCM had a tribute to Disney. The first movie they showed was one I had never seen – Summer Magic, starring Hayley Mills. Definite schmaltz, but still oddly entertaining from the inexplicable English accent of Mill’s character (who was supposed to have been a Bostonian), to the Karen Black eyes of Wendy Turner, to the glorious hair of Eddie Hodges.

    The ending was quite abrupt, but I think that was just because the movie was going in a very weird direction over the last fifteen minutes of the film.

    • Lars Littlefield

      Pollyanna holds a special place in my heart. My high school fuck buddy and I dragged a small group of like-minded young men to the Lehi Drive In where we enjoyed a rather wonderful 160 minutes of unabashed nonstop sex in the back of his dad’s 1963 Chrysler station wagon. My high school buddy and I were sophomores in college at the time. 🙂

  • meltedrubbersoul

    I have encountered many a tired old queen with an appreciation for classic cinema, including a college professor who introduced me to the wonderful world of film noir (as well as it’s predecessors and successors).

    It is so easy to dismiss these films as old and stuffy, but I beg to differ.

    These are always a treat, thanks for posting.

  • Lars Littlefield

    Alice Faye had a great voice. There’s a slew of 20th Century Fox musicals with Faye as the romantic musical lead. It’s amazing what make up can do, as any drag queen will admit. Faye was more than just a little broad in the beam (and shoulders, too). In real life she was squat and thick an always enough overweight to be noticeable, not exactly the glamour girl look championed in the 40s. Camera lenses do magical things, too. But she had a great voice. Perfect for the zeitgeist during which she filled the silver technicolor screen.

    My favorite films of Faye’s are those that also feature Carmen Miranda. That girl knew how to work a banana.

  • I am gonna watch the movie to check out what Alice Brady was like before she was on television. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cc17149f50370a4740bda61b964139d52c3643fa6e619bd1baacc26deb5915dc.jpg

    • stevenj

      That’s Ann B Davis.


      She became famous on the Bob Cummings tv show in the 50’s as Schultzy. Also was featured on the John Forsythe Show and the Brady Bunch.

  • KP

    The late jack Wrangler talked about working in dinner theater with Andy Devine and said Devine was a horrible homophone. Andy saw Jack just put his arm around his boyfriend and Devine freaked out and had jack fired.

  • Gianni

    I fell in love with Alice Faye’s voice watching the Shirley Temple movie, “The Poor Little Rich Girl”. Her singing was tops.