From: Frank Imbragulio [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 09, 2013 4:53 PM
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Subject: FF XVI, 11
Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews
Vol.. XIV No. 12
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The Advent of Ginger
A Sicilian in Italy
My arrival in the beautiful (albeit Filthy) Napoli, was filled with promise. I sI was happy with my room (in the heart of the city) and, although I spoke almost no Italian, most of the citizens there were able to understand my German, combined with English! I had a “chat” with the man at the sign-in desk. and was assured that there were operas available, all through those summer months. He had tickets to sell for the Civic Opera as well as the two major attractions to Naples, The Isle of Capri (via Sorrento) and another full day of visiting the city that had made such an impression on me, ever since I was a small child: Pompeii! I remembered seeing the movie, The Last Days of Pompeii, when I spent a miserably hot day in Detroit, Michigan, that summer that I went up to audition for graduate work at Michigan State College. I had taken a side-trip from Lansing, in order to visit my dear friend, Lyndel Smith, from Mississippi Southern College. He was spending the summer with a cousin, while working at General Motors, to get the money to continue his education and worked from noon till midnight, which left me with nothing to do those hours. I did what I did best: I went to a double feature of RKO movies that I had always wanted to see: Not only was I delighted to see the film about Mt. V Vesuvius’s devastation of the very advanced-for-its-time, city of Pompeii; but the other feature was almost too good to be true: She! For those of you who do not know this, H. Ryder Haggard (I believe that was the way it was spelled) wrote a book that was so absolutely wonderful, that I went wild when I read it; “She” is an unbelievably beautiful woman, who is the ruler of her African territory, and manages to remain forever beautiful, as well as youthful! She maintains her beauty by passing through an eternal flame in one of the mountains’ caves under her reign. It never harms her. Whenever she begins to show the first signs of aging, she goes again through the fire. Then, for some reason that I do not remember, she goes for the last time, and instantly is transformed into her true appearance at that age: in short, she is as ugly as an ape! Plus being feeble!
I got side tracked while talking about Pompeii and could not deprive myself of the pleasure of sharing the Double Feature in Detroit that long ago afternoon with my readers.
Back to Naples: I got my opera ticket for that night, because I figured I would be worn out, physically and literally, with all of the walking and waiting around which seems all too typical of “Tourist Attractions”. After getting unpacked and taking a shower, I began walking around the city.
There was the opera house: It was an impressive building, reminding me of La Scala! I could scarcely wait to see inside. The opera for that evening, was one I was not at all familiar with at all. But it did have a baritone that I had heard in many broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.
“There stands before you, like all the other grays but one whom you won’t confuse, having seen her once, with any other gray cat, she who rejects the names of queens…and is called, as if she were the only one in the world-Cat.”
Hollywood Canteen (Warner Bros. 1944)
This film was one of two films that were all about making everybody happy, in spite of the war: the other was better (at least I liked it a lot better. The lame excuse for a story was just too stupefying for this old realist!) I cannot find the young solders name, but I saw him in countless WB movies of the period. He is the leading character, and it is only too easy to understand that the reason he was not put in the record book was that he simply was not important enough); although most of the stars who were on stage here were listed. The list included Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Jack Carson, Dane Clark, John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers (even “Trigger”) The Sons of the Pioneers, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Benny (who is very funny as he tries to outplay Josef Szigeti on violin) and the young GI, back home from the war, but still very much a soldier. They stage a ridiculous love affair between this boy and Joan Leslie. Just for starters: he gets to meet and dance with her; then he just happens to be the Millionth GI to enter the Canteen. Still later, he wins the prize in a contest, and gets to spend the weekend with her! Plus getting a brand new car to drive all weekend. But the music and dancing make it worth while; at least it did for me. I’ll admit to not liking Joan Leslie, so when he picked her over all of the gorgeous gals on hand, I felt sick! It was especially good to see (and hear) the remarkable Andrews Sisters: my all-time favorite singing trios!
Thank Your Lucky Stars (WB) 1943
This musical came a year earlier than Hollywood Canteen, and there is a certain feeling of overlapping. But this has more entertainment value than its successor; Just hearing Bette Davis’s rendition of “They’re Either too Young, or too Old” is worth watching the film; plus several songs sung by Dinah Shore.
` Each of Hollywood’s Major film studios made some similar sort of Morale-boasting movie demonstrating that everybody needed cheering up in a crucial time. MGM had As Thousands Cheer; Paramount had one I remember, but not its name: United Artists had Stagedoor Canteen, which was my favorite: It had more classical music than the others, and the love story was more believeable: it was based on the song, “I Left my Heart at the Stagedoor Canteen. I left it there with a girl named Eileen—etc. The characters were believable, as were most of the incidents. I liked it especially because when he asks Eileen where she is from, she replies, “Oh. I’m from a little town called Oswego, New York.” I never heard this town referred to any other time: that was the name of Jimmy Demore’s home town. Jimmy was my oldest brother-in-law, plus being the only one of my in-laws who had Sicilian blood in his veins!
Movie Trivia Quiz \
1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, remade from RKO’s version (with Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard) What actual Hollywood couple were in the second version?
2. Ma and Pa Kettle were played by whom?
3. What two great actors were Mr. Skeffington (and the missus)?
4. Goodbye, Mr. Chips, was made into a musical with Petula Clark. What British Couple were the originals?
5. Who was Miss Sadie Thompson?
6. Good Morning Miss Dove had which lovely film star?
7. In Mr. Blanding Builds his Dream House Cary Grant was Mr. B. but who played Mrs. Blanding?
8. To what did the title, Miss Susie Slagle’s refer?
9. 1940’s All This and Heaven Too starred Charles Boyer as the Nobleman, who falls in love with his children’s Governess. Who played this role?
10. Who were the couple who had a pooch named Asta, and made several sequels to the original murder mystery? (Their movie names, Please)
Answers to Last Week’s Quiz
1. Wm. Powell played Flo Ziegfeld in MGM’s block-buster musical, The Great Ziegfeld.
2. Luise Rainer won an Oscar as his first wife? She won a second Oscar with her second US Film, The Good Earth!
3. Billy Burke portrayed wife No. 2. She was also “Glenda” The Wizard of Oz’s good witch.
4. Dennis Morgan was the male singer, who sang, “A Pretty Girl is like a Melody” in The Great Ziegfeld. His name was, at that time not the same.
5. Ziegfeld Girl starred Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Hedy Lamar
6. Fanny Brice was Barbra Streisand’s role in Funny Girl. that was that of “Baby Snooks” was the Radio Persona created by this gifted comedian.
7. Meredith Wilson, the composer of The Music Man musical and film, was also the orchestra conductor on this radio show on which Fanny Bryce often appeared.
8. Ziegfeld Girl, Ziegfeld Follies, and There is no fourth, that I can find
9. Wm. Powell played Flo Ziegfeld in the first film.