1/16/18

IN MEMORY OF JEAN PORTER DMYTRYK (1923-2018)



Jean Porter Dmytryk, a 1940s Hollywood starlet and later the longtime wife of film director Eddie Dmytryk, passed away a few days ago. I knew the Dmytryks well over the years but I was always surprised to see Jean in movies from the 40s when they came on TV--'Abbot and Costello in Hollywood' was the one that turned up most often. It was weird yet strangely delightful to see the woman I knew as a mother to kids I grew up with playing a sexy foil to Lou and Bud. She was in plenty of other stuff too--click here for her IMDB page. I remember her telling me and my father that Lou had a 'thing' for her. I had no idea at that time what kind of a 'thing' she meant.

Eddie and Jean were a quintessential Hollywood couple, having met on the set of a movie Eddie was directing at RKO called 'Till The End Of Time', a kind of B-level 'Best Years Of Our Lives' which features a bemused Robert Mitchum as well. Jean apparently replaced Shirley Temple in the girl ingenue part, due to Temple having eloped with her first husband, actor John Agar. The above clip is Jean dancing with the ridiculous Guy Madison in the requisite 'returning vet hangs out at soda-shop' scene. I recall both Jean and Eddie talking about what an awful dancer he was and how hard it was to get him through the scene. (I also remember Eddie referring to Madison as an 'ex-quisite'--an old period colloquialism for a homosexual, one that I think might be exotic to revive).

Though they were, as I said, a very Hollywood couple, their's was far from a perfect Hollywood story, thanks to the blacklist, the HUAC, Eddie's recanted testimony etc. Still they hung together for a long time--he died in 1999 so they were married for over fifty years. I've written about my own relationship with Eddie before (click here) and apparently, though I have no memory of this, I wrote a  post about one of their many houses that I recalled--a lovely place in Bel Air that had once belonged to Carol Lombard (Jean was the original house flipper--it was always hard to tell where they were living, for how long, why they had moved yet again etc.) Click here for the house article. Below I've posted a 'soundie' from the early forties that features Jean called 'Two Pair Of Shoes'. And below that you'll find the trailer of 'A&C in Hollywood'.






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1/12/18

IN MEMORY OF GRETA THYSSEN



To honor the memory of the late Greta Thyssen, I've posted above one of the Three Stooges shorts that she appeared in, 'Quiz Whizz'. (Click here for Greta's Hollywood Reporter obit). Unfortunately for Greta (and for us) it's one of the Joe Besser shorts, the last gasp of the Columbia short-subject Stooges and certainly the worst. Still, I prefer Besser--who comes across like Moe and Larry's gay cousin that they're sheltering--to Curly Joe De Rita and even these flimsy, low-quality late Stooges have interestingly strange things to offer: Moe's slicked-back hair, the singing 'Hello, Hello, Hello' opening, the presence of Greta Thyssen...and Moe's slicked back hair I guess. 'Quiz Whizz' is a loose remake of a far superior Curly short, 'Healthy Wealthy and Dumb'. I won't post that since it would demean the presence of the very beautiful Greta Thyssen, who apparently didn't really have much of an ambition to be an actress/model type but somehow got talked into it (thanks to her natural attributes one supposes) and which in turn allowed her to take a cream pie in the face at the end of a Three Stooges movie, thus insuring her show-biz immortality.

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1/11/18

DUH: I'M NOT, LIKE, REALLY SMART AND A STABLE GENIUS SOMETIMES

Yesterday I posted a reel of commercials from the 1960s (scroll down, sucker) and I urged interested viewers (both of you) to skip ahead to 3 minutes and 25 seconds and watch a very funny, completely inexplicable/bordering on surreal commercial for Pizza Rolls. The premise is that several very weird people invade a very sixties cocktail party and annoy the hell out of the hostess, who dispenses with them after they rudely ask out of place questions (i.e.: 'do you have bad breath?' 'Your husband doesn't like your coffee...' etc.) The ad made no sense to me until my friend, journalist extraordinaire Marc Myers cracked the code for me and helpfully pointed out that the commercial was satirizing other commercials of the era, bringing the characters and pitch lines into the party in inappropriate places. Below are the original references, also courtesy of Marc. It's astonishing and embarrassing for me to have not realized this nice, simple pop-culture joke. All I can say is 'duh'...






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1/10/18

BACK TO THE SIXTIES (VIA MORE TV COMMERCIALS, OF COURSE...)



Every one of the above ten minutes of 1960s-ish commercials is a delight, but I'd urge you to begin by skipping forward to 3min, 25 seconds (approximately) and watch one of the strangest ads I've ever seen. It's for some sort of Pizza Roll appetizer and I know (but can't think of the name) of the actress featured--does anybody out there know? It's not exactly funny the first time through as it's simply way too strange. But on second and third viewings...you'll get the idea...

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1/9/18

WELCOME TO 1973 VIA TV COMMERCIALS




Welcome to 1973, as seen through the prism of the American commercial TV advertising industry. In the above 12 minute collection, you'll see Joey Heatherton (then famous, now forgotten), Marsha Mason (not yet famous, once famous, now forgotten), a promo for a desperately unfunny looking soon-to-be-cancelled TV comedy series called 'Temperature's Rising' starring James Whitmore (sort of famous, sort of remembered, great as Harry S. Truman in a one-man show called 'Give 'Em Hell Harry'), a trailer for the TV movie 'Duel', directed by Steven Spielberg (not yet known, now a billionaire) and many other wonderful products, actors, songs, hairstyles, pants and shirts and don't forget 'Shake And Bake'. June Lockhart shills for the Fried Chicken product and makes me wonder if it's still being made...and if so nationally? Or only in certain sections of Trump's America?

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