Monday, April 29, 2019

The Post "Around the Corner."

Last week we drew attention to the fact that one of our very own was about to make his debut on nation television when frequent Poseidon's Underworld visitor and commenter Gingerguy was selected as one of TCM's Fan 25 winners, with the opportunity to introduce and dedicate one of his favorite films. He selected 1940's The Shop Around the Corner, dedicated to his partner who was shown onscreen in a snapshot, though his family was also featured as classic movies were and are a facet of their lives.

I almost didn't get to see this broadcast even with the DVR set because we happened to experience hellacious storms that evening right as the airtime was approaching! My satellite was out for a fair amount of time, but thankfully fell back into place before the program began. Anyway, it was neat to see TCM host Ben Mankiewicz interacting with someone who - while we have never met - I feel I know thanks to interaction on this site as well as occasional personal correspondence via e-mail.
The merits of the film along with the circum- stances that lead to it having personal meaning in his lifer were discussed in a genial, thoughtful manner. He and Ben established a nice conversational rapport with one another. For his part, Ben has ably stepped up to the (huge!) plate in the wake of beloved Robert Osborne's passing. No one will ever surpass Osborne, but Mankiewicz does a very fine job.

As I noted in the earlier post, I myself had never seen The Shop Around the Corner. To be perfectly honest, I have long avoided movies featuring Margaret Sullavan. Somehow I just felt I would not enjoy her brand of acting, possibly due to her vague resemblance (with modified pageboy hair and a throaty speaking voice) to one June Allyson, who is often a challenge for me to watch. While I can't say she's now a favorite and I will rush to see all her work, I did appreciate her performance here. But from the picture above-right can you understand my confusion?

The story primarily takes place in a Budepest, Hungary leather goods shop. We're introduced to the cast early on which includes, from left to right, Joseph Schildkraut as a dandified employee, James Stewart as the longest tenured clerk, Felix Bressart as a meek fellow worker, William Tracy as a delivery boy, Inez Courtney as the younger of two female coworkers, Frank Morgan as the sometimes imperious owner and Sara Haden as the prim, older female saleswoman. Their world, particularly Stewart's, is about to be altered by the arrival of Ms. Sullavan.

She weasels her way into the shop and, even after being told that there is no job for her, proceeds to sell merchan- dise to a lady customer and as a result is hired. She and Stewart take an almost immediate dislike to one another, a situation that gets worse before it gets better.

However, unbe- knownst to either of them, they are exchanging thoughtful, romantic letters with one another, arranged through a classified ad in a local paper and handled through anonymous post office boxes. The deeper they fall in love via their inspiration missives, the more their loathing of one another continues at work.

A subplot concerns the store owner Morgan undergoing a personal crisis which threatens to escalate to the point of deadliness. See here with him is the expensively-appointed Schildkraut, in clothing and accessories that likely outweigh his ability to pay for them with his limited salary. Having known this actor principally as Anne Frank's father in the 1959 adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, it was fascinating to see him in this guise.

The film is many things (I sold it short in the first post by describing it as a "romantic comedy" - that term, since shortened for today's audiences as "romcom," doesn't do the movie full justice.) Considered by many to be one of the all-time great movies (it is in the Top 100 of AFI's list of classic romances and Time Magazine listed it as an all-around Top 100 film), it was unbelievably shut out of any and all Oscar consideration.
Stewart did, however, win a Best Actor Oscar that year for The Philadelphia Story.
If nothing else (such as Art Direction, Direction or Adapted Screenplay) could have been nominated, the very least that the movie warranted was a Best Supporting Actor nod for Frank Morgan. I'm on record as adoring him and his particular brand of befuddled antagonism mixed with touching sentiment, but this time he truly outdid himself. He was my favorite part of the movie.

But the MOST extra- ordinary thing for me about the motion picture was the use of silence and/or ambient sound without the "benefit" of too much scoring. There is precious little music in the movie apart from the delightful music box sound of the Russian folk song "Ochi Tchornya (Dark Eyes.)" Scenes like the one shown here are stunning in their quietness, wherein you can hear Stewart laying a small notebook and pencils on a cloth-covered display table and even hear him place a small key on top. The effect is incredible.

Today's movies and TV shows are mind-numbingly over-scored, with fanciful, "atmos- pheric" music endlessly droning on under any and all scenes as if to telegraph the required emotions to the viewer which the performers and script are not able to muster on their own. No such trouble here...

Stewart, who is incredibly charming in this, was selected by director Ernst Lubitsch because he was "the antithesis of the old-time matinee idol; he holds his public by his very lack of a handsome face or suave manner." Though Sullavan is top-billed and was at the time the bigger star, it is to me Stewart's story. Despite Lubitsch's assessment of his (non!) appeal, he was quite a ladykiller in his day. He practically owed his film career to Sullavan, however. She was his friend from early days in the theatre and the wife of his close friend Henry Fonda and she not only campaigned for him to star opposite her during his earliest days in Hollywood, but worked with him to develop his own unique talents as a actor. (And at thirteen inches taller than her, he was able to afford her flattering close-ups as her face and neck were drawn upwards towards his.)

It was so awesome to feel a certain level of personal investment in this airing of the movie and a rewarding experience to finally get around to watching it. Thanks, Gingerguy, for helping to present it and congratulations on being selected as one of the winners of this contest! I'm gonna have to "up my game" and get my own face on there one of these days!  Ha ha!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

An Underworld Programming Alert!

Good day everyone. I have a special announcement that I hope reaches you in time. Thursday, April 25th (tomorrow, as I type!), TCM is running the 1940 romantic comedy classic The Shop Around the Corner. Hard as it is to believe, we've never even seen it (though for some reason we did go to see its contemporary remake You've Got Mail in 1998.) We've also seen the musicalization In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Judy Garland and Van Johnson.
The story concerns two coworkers who are antagonistic with one another on the job, but who don't realize that they are simultaneously corresponding through pen pal letters and slowly falling in love! Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart portray the complicated couple.

Why does this airing have any special meaning or notoriety for me or my readers? After all, TCM plays classic films, including this one, all day-every day. It's because this airing is being introduced by one of our very own! Frequent Poseidon's Underworld commenter Gingerguy was selected as a winner in the TCM Fan 25 contest and was flown to Atlanta to film his very own introduction to this cherished film.

So I do hope you will tune in or record this program in support of his thrilling accomplishment! I will come back to do a brief recap sometime next week. Thanks!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fun Finds: PreVIEW Magazine, September 1976

We recently took a little toddle down to Lexington, Kentucky in order to raid some of their flea markets and antique malls and stumbled upon today's Fun Find. It's the very first issue of a showbiz magazine that I'm really not familiar with, but which is packed full of movie and TV tidbits and countless photos, some in color. It's even rather low on ads, perhaps due to being the introductory issue, so almost the entire thing was scanned for your perusal and (hopeful) entertainment. Cover boy Lee Majors caught my eye. It goes to show you how popular he was at that moment once you see some of the other stars contained inside. The mag was awkwardly stapled, which made scanning it a challenge, but I think you'll be able to see most things okay. Now on we go!
The inside front cover offers up a rare picture of Groucho Marx still out and about (he'd be dead within one year of pneumonia) and a nice shot of Paul Michael Glaser (who's about the only one without his hands in the air for one reason or another!)
Here the publisher and editor lay out their concept of and plans for the magazine. Note the pencilled-in price of $1.00, which I paid for this poor battered magazine, at the top of the page. Considering it sold for $0.75 more than forty years ago, that's not bad!
Cindy Williams hung in with Laverne & Shirley until 1982, but there were frequent issues between her and the producers. She left the show before it ended, rendering its title misleading! I love the pic of Nick Nolte. Lucy also looks very happy and healthy here. Young Steven Ford, the President's son, later became an actor. He was initially cast in the role that Lorenzo Lamas inherited in Grease (1978!) Though he landed quite a few jobs, he was perhaps best known for The Young and the Restless.
Raquel Welch didn't know it yet but her hey day as a leading lady in American movies was almost over at this time. Though the Cannery Row fiasco was still in the future, she'd already made what would be her last starring role in a U.S. made feature, Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976.)
I like this shot of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, who both look great. I was surprised to read about not only the proposed remake of Grand Hotel (1932) with Cary Grant, but also that he allegedly would have been willing to work in The Sunshine Boys (1975!)
Even though Peter Strauss has been working rather steadily all these years, I swear I haven't seen the man since the 1981 miniseries Masada! LOL
Even as a kid I had heard about Lee wanting his wife to be done with work at 6:00 even while she was starring on a hit series!
Well I certainly never thought of Sonny Bono being a close pal of Lee and Farrah's! How strange...!
Eventually, the pressure became so great that Fawcett left Charlie's Angels, inciting a lawsuit, and in time their marriage crumbled when she fell for Lee's "friend" Ryan O'Neal. I do love Lee's atypical haircut in the upper-right corner.
We just LOVE the 1976 film Two-Minute Warning (but avoid at all costs the expanded TV version!), so it was fun to have this four-page spread inside.
The caption for the upper-left photo isn't correct. The players never cowered in the locker room. I still chuckle for some reason at Merv singing the National Anthem (at the "Championship Game" - the term Super Bowl was denied use to the moviemakers.)
Gawd... another wrong caption. Beau Bridges is at the game with his wife and two sons, not a little brother...
Walter Pidgeon's caption is also untrue and has nothing to do with his pickpocket character. Likewise, Mitch Ryan is not a priest "with doubts," he just wants to go to the big game on Sunday.
Here the magazine either affirms or discounts things published in other periodicals, a slippery venture I should think. Ironically, the one tidbit that turns out to be true and accurate is the one from the notorious The National Enquirer!
Julie Andrews' contribution to The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) presages her later film Victor Victoria (1982!)
Anthony Hopkins later underwent a deliberate change in his own approach to acting and it revolutionized his career, earning him an Oscar and many significant big screen roles.
In the wake of some alleged manipulative and humiliating treatment at the hands of Marlon Brando and Bernardo Bertolucci, Maria Schneider vowed to avoid roles with considerable sex and nudity and ended up not doing Caligula (!), which wasn't released until 1979. By then, it was augmented with pornographic scenes and had Teresa Ann Savoy in Schneider's part.
I'm not used to seeing Priscilla Presley looking this way as I'm more familiar with either her big, black bouffant look or her simpler, shorter 'do on Dallas. (Of course, these days, she's just unrecognizably horrific looking as far as I'm concerned!) This "Young Again" show mentioned must not have come to fruition, but in 1980 she was co-host of Those Amazing Animals.
I had no clue that she'd ever dated Robert Kardashian, but that may somehow latantly explain why she's augmented her looks so incredibly. Elvis, of course, was dead within a year at age forty-two. (Oh, and I loathe "Col." Tom Parker...)
Unfortunately for Ryan O' Neal and Peter Bogdanovich, Nickelodeon (1976) was a flop and kept the director from attempting another movie for three years.
Contrary to the text in the lower right corner, this was not the second film of Bogdanovich and O'Neal's. That would be Paper Moon (1973), a huge success.
Louis Falco, the dancer pictured with Jackie O was later choreographer for the movie Fame (1980) and was one of countless male performers felled by AIDS, though he lived till 1993. Doesn't La Liz look strangely harsh and hard in the picture near the bottom?
Margaux Hemingway's Lipstick (1976) is one of our guilty pleasures, but I always think of it as having been made far later than this!
Hmmm... I bet Colleen Dewhurst was something to see in Virginia Woolf. Gloria Swanson's sixth husband had been with her romantically since 1967 and remained with her until her 1983 death at age eighty-four. Bill Cosby's TV series Cos, a sketch comedy show, was through after just seven episodes.
It's fun to see a 1976 photo of Janet Gaynor along with Paulette Goddard, who recently figured into our post on The Snoop Sisters. It's sort of interesting that, fourteen years after Gaynor's 1984 death, her widower Paul Gregory wed an art gallery owner. I barely recognized Paula Prentiss!
Starsky and Hutch actually lasted through 1979.
At the time of this article, David Soul was actually still married to his second wife Karen Carlson and would never wed Marta. He did marry three more times, though.
In time, Paul Michael Glaser turned his attention more to directing than acting, but he still performs some here and there.
Some twat tore about 1/4th of the page out here (for a subscription form found on the other side...) I didn't know this when I bought it, but I didn't think it was prudent to drive more than 150 miles round trip back to Lexington and return this $1.00 purchase! LOLOL 
Little could Sally Field know that within a decade she'd have not one, but two, Best Actress Oscars and costar in a movie with Mr. Paul Newman.
This page is a testament to how hard it was to obtain photos of stars you loved back in the pre-Internet days. The young'ns will never know... I'm tittering over the fact that someone accidentally put Diana Ross' photo next to the blurb for Will Geer!
The apoplectic, opinionated, outspoken viewpoints in this section were a hoot.
Wow, Bobby Goldsboro outdid even me in my hey-day. I used to go through a can of Aqua Net Super-Hard-to-Hold per week! Ha ha!
I had no idea that Albert Brooks and Linda Ronstadt were ever a couple. But I did find out recently that Linda suffers from Parkinson's Disease and can no longer sing and that's really sad.
Never in my life did I know that Gladys Knight starred in a movie! The Hollywood Foreign Press even gave her a nomination for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture (it went to, believe it or not, Jessica Lange in King Kong, a role that practically killed her career before it started!)
Faye Dunaway took home the Oscar for Network (1976) and it's interesting that she could admit to sharing some traits with her intense character. I love the picture of her above right.
A two-hour TV-movie could probably be made on all the turmoil and backbiting that went on during the making of A Star is Born (1976!)

I've tried three times to watch it and always lose interest before it's over. I shall try no more... The always intense and controversial Peters never did marry Streisand, though he had previously been wed to Lesley Ann Warren. His career foundered when he was accused of sexual harassment of a female assistant in 2001 during Superman Returns (2006.)
We have long adored Perry King!
Apart from the fun of seeing stars together one might not expect, this section affords readers the chance to speculate on who is sober, drunk and/or high! I don't know why, but I had no clue Sonny Bono was wed before Cher or had a daughter from that marriage!
Karen Valentine dated one of the Hager Twins?? I wonder if they ever swapped out without telling her...! LOL
Peter Falk and his wife divorced in 1976 and in 1977 he wed Shera Danese, who he was with until his death in 2011 at eighty-three. Sidney Poitier did star in a film in 1977 (A Piece of the Action), but took an eleven year break before Shoot to Kill in 1988. (He directed three films during that time.)
This is a different look on Terry Moore than I'm used to seeing. Gene Hackman is the actor who inherited George Segal's role in Lucky Lady (1975.)
For some reason I can't even picture Robert De Niro taking part in a movie like A Bridge Too Far (1977.)
Glenda Jackson's movie "The Abbess" eventually emerged as Nasty Habits (1977.)
I didn't realize that Jim Brown had ever worked on a movie with Leif Garrett (!), but the finished product was called Kid Vengeance (1977.)
It's fun to see how shows were anticipated as compared to how they truly fared after making it to the airwaves.
Several flops are profiled here. The Captain and Tennille was pretty popular for a while, but underwent endless tinkering (much of it due to Tennille's discomfort with the format and the heavy demands of the production numbers.)
Only Baa Baa Black Sheep had moderate success out of this page full of ratings losers.
Man, there must have been a ton of disappointed TV execs that season! None of these shows stuck and some of them I've never even seen one frame of...
At the time, Helen Reddy was a major female force in the music industry and was living the high life.
Jeff Wald had a serious cocaine problem and the couple split in the early 1980s. She remarried once more, but that union ended in 1995. Now, she lives in a small high-rise apartment back in Australia.
...the final portion of the earlier article about A Star is Born. I was hoping there'd be something about Kris in the bathtub, but no such luck. It's all about the outdoor concert.
This is a neat color picture of Mr. Paul Newman.
Compared to Newman's other films around this time, Slap Shot (1977) under-performed at the box office, quite likely due to its R rating and content that was considered vulgar at the time. As time passed (and movies became more and more permissive and, yes, vulgar) it engendered a strong cult following and even begat two belated sequels on video.
Sue Geston and Jeff Bridges did end up marrying in 1977 and are still together today! And, of course, Frank Sinatra and Barbara Marx wed in 1976 and were together until his 1998 death at eighty-two.
The inside back cover offers some more color photography.
And this is the back cover! Rare for a mag of this type to have the pictures and tidbits continue this way. I love it!