Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year's Eve Party Planning with Norma Desmond

Silent movie legend Norma Desmond, as played by Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder's dark Hollywood satire Sunset Boulevard (1950), was more than just "the greatest star of them all." Norma knew how to plan a memorable New Year's Eve party as illustrated in the clip above. Here are some tongue-in-cheek tips for planning a fabulous party the Norma way.

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland


Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland perform an energetic version of Good Morning in Babes in Arms (1939). The song was written by Babes in Arms producer Arthur Freed with Nacio Herb Brown.

The Essential Films of 1939: Babes in Arms

Babes In Arms (1939)

Mickey and Judy put on a show in Babes in Arms.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mickey Rooney in Boys Town

Saintly Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) knocks some sense into juvenile delinquent Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney) in this clip from Boys Town (1938). 

New York Times critic Frank Nugent gave Rooney a rare rave review for his performance in Boys Town. "Mickey is the Dead End gang rolled into one. He is James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and King Kong before they grew up or knew a restraining hand. Mickey, as the French would understate it, is the original enfant terrible."

Mickey Rooney: A Life in Film

Mickey Rooney Autograph

We continue our series on old Hollywood stars who passed away in 2014 with the legendary Mickey Rooney.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Star in the Night

Star in the Night is a 1945 short film that is a modern re-telling of the Biblical nativity story. The film follows three cowboys (Richard Erdman, Johnny Miles and Cactus Mack) as they follow a large neon star to a desert motel where the harassed innkeeper (J. Carrol Naish) is trying to find room for a young Mexican couple (Lynn Baggett and Anthony Caruso) who are about to have a baby. The film is directed by Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dirty Harry, The Shootist). It won the Academy Award for best short subject.

An illustration by Ben Stahl for a promotional book for the 1959 film, Ben Hur.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father,  the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.

We wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas. We'll be back next week with a look at Mickey Rooney's life and films, including one of his best movies, Babes in Arms.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Songs: Auld Lang Syne

Our look at classic Christmas songs from Old Hollywood films continues with James Stewart, Donna Reed, Karolyn Grimes and the cast of It's a Wonderful Life (1946) singing Auld Lang Syne. The songs starts at the 1:00 mark.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top Holiday Picks: It Happened on 5th Avenue

We're celebrating the season with some of our favorite Christmas movies. This week's selection is It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), which is airing tonight (Dec. 4, 2015) on TCM.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Songs: White Christmas

Our look at classic Christmas songs from old Hollywood films continues with Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds (dubbed by Martha Mears) performing White Christmas from Holiday Inn (1942).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Supporting Players: Victor Moore

Victor Moore was a legendary Broadway actor, but he also appeared in many old Hollywood films, including Swing Time (1936) Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) and the Christmas classic, It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson

Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dance up the staircase in the famous number from The Little Colonel (1935). Robinson dances alone until the 2:00 minute mark and then Temple joins him. They made history by being the first interracial dancing duo in the movies.

Shirley Temple: A Life in Film

Shirley Temple

We continue our series honoring old Hollywood stars who passed away in 2014 with the remarkable Shirley Temple. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Songs: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Our look at classic Christmas songs continues with Baby, It's Cold Outside sung first by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban and then by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton in Neptune's Daughter (1949).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Supporting Players: S.Z. Sakall

Hungarian actor S.Z. Sakall's portly frame and fractured English were a much-loved addition to many old Hollywood films in the 1940s and 1950s, including Casablanca, Christmas in Connecticut and In the Good Old Summertime.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

God Bless America: The Story Behind the Song

I'm commemorating Pearl Harbor Day with a look at God Bless America. Here is a clip of Kate Smith singing a rousing version in the 1943 film This Is the Army, starring Ronald Reagan and Joan Leslie.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Supporting Players of Gone With the Wind: Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Keyes as Suellen O'Hara
Evelyn Keyes will always be remembered as Scarlett O'Hara's little sister, but she was a talented actress and dancer in her own right.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

May your have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with food, family and happy times. 

Enjoy some Daffy Duck while feasting. Here he is in the 1949 short Holiday for Drumsticks trying to avoid being eaten for Thanksgiving dinner.

Christmas Songs: Silver Bells

Our look at classic Christmas songs from old Hollywood films continues with Silver Bells from The Lemon Drop Kid (1951).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Supporting Players of Gone With the Wind: Barbara O'Neil

Barbara O'Neil as Ellen Robillard O'Hara

American actress Barbara O'Neil played many matriarchs in her 30 year career, but she is perhaps most famous for playing Scarlett O'Hara's mother in Gone With the Wind.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lamarr and Tracy

Spencer Tracy is best known for his on and off-screen partnership with Katharine Hepburn, but during the 1940s he made three films with our Star of the Month, Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr and Tracy's partnership didn't produce any enduring classics like Adam's Rib or Woman of the Year, but all of their films are solidly entertaining. We'll take a closer look at them after the jump.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Charles Laughton Recites The Gettysburg Address

On Nov. 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. There are many screen versions of that famous speech, but British actor Charles Laughton's rendition in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) is my personal favorite. Laughton is playing an English valet who quiets a rowdy saloon in the wild West with Lincoln's great speech on American democracy. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara

Legendary character actor Thomas Mitchell's portrayal of Gerald O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939) was one of the highlights of his career. Here, in the film's opening scene, he tells Scarlett, "Land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for."

Supporting Players of Gone With the Wind: Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara

Legendary character actor Thomas Mitchell appeared in five classic films in 1939, but he is perhaps best remembered today for playing Scarlett O'Hara's father in Gone With the Wind.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pepe Le Pew is Odor-able

Our Star of the Month, Hedy Lamarr's first Hollywood film was Algiers (1938). It was a huge hit at the time and caused a craze for films set in North Africa. Algiers also led to the creation of Looney Tunes character Pepe le  Pew. The romantic skunk is a spoof on leading man Charles Boyer's thick French accent and way with the ladies.

Top Five: Hedy Lamarr

Here are five of Hedy Lamarr's films that I've enjoyed through the years. Feel free to comment on your own favorites.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Classic Clips: 3:10 to Yuma

The theme song for the classic 1957 Western 3:10 to Yuma is one of the best of old Hollywood theme songs, so for your listening pleasure here is Frankie Laine belting out, "Take that Train!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Classic Train Films: 3:10 to Yuma

Films have been set on trains since the birth of cinema. Throughout November, We're going to look at Hollywood films that were set on locomotives or featured trains as an integral part of the story. First up is director Delmer Daves 1957 Western, 3:10 to Yuma.

Happy Veterans Day!

In honor of Veterans Day, here is the great James Cagney performing "Over There" in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Our sincere thanks and deepest appreciation to all of the U.S. Veterans who have so bravely served our country.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Star of the Month: Hedy Lamarr

Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr is one of the least remembered of the classic Hollywood beauty queens, but for moviegoers in the 1930s and 1940s her name conjured up visions of exotic glamour and mystery. The 100th, or possibly *101st, anniversary of Lamarr's birth will be this Sunday. In this article, I will look at her film career and also celebrate her important contributions to science and technology.

Welcome To Old Hollywood Films

Welcome to Old Hollywood Films, a site dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of American films from 1920-1960. Each month we will take an in-depth look at both well-known classics and forgotten films that were made in the Hollywood studio system.

Coming up in November:
Our star of the month is Hedy Lamarr
All aboard for a history of the good, old-fashioned train movie
A look at the essential films of 1939 beginning with Stagecoach

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