Do classic movies make sense? part 2

In my previous column, I mentioned five things that do not seem to make sense in classic movies. Here are another five:

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6. It is embarrassing when women old enough to be grandmothers (who easily look like they could play grannies on screen) think they can get away with playing mothers of very young children. Barbara Stanwyck in TROOPER HOOK is perhaps the most glaring example.

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7. Does it make sense the way every car that plunges over the side of a cliff must explode when it hits the ravine below?


8. I never thought it made sense there was no sequel to SOME LIKE IT HOT. I wanted to know what happened to all those characters. SOME LIKE IT HOTTER could have been a big hit.


9. For some, it’s a mystery that Ruby Keeler had a career as a motion picture star. Other stars with limited talent also seemed to hit it big with audiences. Where’s the sense in that?


10. And what about characters who lack common sense? A strange man keeps making threatening calls in MIDNIGHT LACE, yet Doris Day continues answering the phone. I guess she never understood the concept of unplugging it or changing her number. Then, we wouldn’t have a movie, would we?

Do classic movies make sense? part 1

We love classic movies– but we also know that classic movies are not perfect, right? Things that sort of jump out at me, as being highly suspect (in no particular order):


1. It doesn’t make sense that most of the dialogue recited by Nazis in WWII films is spoken in English. They should be speaking Deutsch, and we should have to read subtitles. Hearing someone like Conrad Veidt speak perfect English in all his Hollywood movies where he plays a nefarious Nazi, seems highly unrealistic.


2. It doesn’t make sense when a studio goes to all the expense of remaking a silent film if it is filmed in black-and-white again. I would think one of the reasons something is being updated is to take advantage of newer technologies (like Technicolor). So why did Warners film its second version of THE SEA HAWK in much the same way its silent predecessor had been filmed?


3. It doesn’t make sense that no characters ever use the restroom to relieve their bowels. They only go to such places to powder their noses. I am not suggesting disgusting or unpleasant references to various restroom use (and certainly I am glad classic films seem devoid of toilet humor) but it does seem unusual that a character never gets up and says he or she has to go to the bathroom and will be right back.


4. I know the production code is to blame for the next one, but it most definitely does not make sense that married couples sleep in separate beds and manage to still have children.


5. It never makes sense when a star who has not one iota of musical talent is cast in a musical and then dubbed with a singing voice that clearly does not match her speaking voice. If movie making is about creating illusions, then shouldn’t studios work harder to foster the illusion that the person speaking is the one singing when she bursts into song?

Hedda’s column– 3/22/1946


Today, I am looking at one of Hedda’s columns that was written not long after the war had ended. This one was originally published by the Los Angeles Times on March 22, 1946. I thought it would be interesting to summarize the items she wrote during this time and add a bit of modern perspective:

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Hedda is having dinner with MGM’s Robert Walker and his brother at the Cocoanut Grove. Walker’s brother is a major in the military who served several years in the war.

This is a publicity-related dinner, as most of Hedda’s meals with stars would be. The purpose is to introduce Miss Photo Flash of 1946, Shirley Molohon, to the Hollywood scene. Walker is Molohon’s favorite actor, and she personally requested that Hedda set up a date with him.


During dinner at the Grove, Hedda sees Howard Hughes on the dance floor. He has some new starlet on his arm. Miss Photo Flash has absolutely no idea who Howard Hughes is, which Hedda finds charming but naïve. On Sunday Miss Photo Flash will get a chance to tour MGM when she meets Robert Walker for another date. It doesn’t sound like Hedda will be part of that.

Speaking of MGM, Hedda says the studio has shelved something called ‘Frankie from Frisco’ due to objections over the subject matter.

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Hedda also uses some space in her column to talk about the latest romantic business going on in town. She says she bumped into Sterling Hayden who insists he is not engaged to some unnamed actress. He just returned from skiing in Nevada, but he’s being tossed out of his hotel. Hedda thinks that it won’t be long before Hayden finds a new home and a new gal.


Meanwhile, Hedda takes pains to tell readers that Jane Withers is involved with John Dall. Dall recently went back east to do The Hasty Heart on Broadway. It is implied that he’s back to do the play in Los Angeles. Jane supposedly met Dall at the airport to resume relations with him, even though he was also dating some girls in New York. Of course, Dall is gay and Hedda mentions nary a word about that. Don’t you feel sorry for Jane Withers, though!


Hedda also has a few words to print about Lionel Barrymore. He is said to really want to play FDR in a film about the atomic bomb. Though Hedda doesn’t say it, this would THE BEGINNING OR THE END, which MGM would release almost a year later in 1947. Hedda says Barrymore just nabbed the part, but he’ll soon lose it. Godfrey Tearle wound up playing FDR, because Roosevelt’s family would not approve Barrymore’s casting and MGM had no choice but to find someone else more suitable.