Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '47 - Laura G ""

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Underrated '47 - Laura G

If you weren't already aware, Laura runs the wonderful blog Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, which is a must for any classic film fans:
She can be found on Twitter here:
JOHNNY O'CLOCK (Robert Rossen, 1947) - Dick Powell stars in this top-drawer film noir, a wonderful movie which deserves to be more widely seen. Powell plays the title role of Johnny, proprietor of a high-class gambling establishment. Johnny never gambles and has a clean record but is surrounded by lowlifes including his sleazy business partner (Thomas Gomez); his partner's hard-drinking wife (Ellen Drew), who's also Johnny's old flame; a crooked cop (Jim Bannon); and assorted henchmen and hangers-on (including Jeff Chandler and John Kellogg). When a young hatcheck girl (Nina Foch) supposedly commits suicide, her sister Nancy (Evelyn Keyes) arrives in town looking for answers. Johnny and Nancy have an instant attraction; can she persuade him to help a detective (Lee J. Cobb) find the truth about her sister's death? In addition to its terrific cast, the movie has terrific hardboiled dialogue by director Rossen, as well as gleaming black and white photography by Burnett Guffey. Watch the cinematography in the police station, with shadows of hats on the wall transforming a mundane scene into a moment of noir beauty. This movie tends to be somewhat overlooked among the many great film noir titles released in 1947, but it represents the genre at its best.

Available on DVD from Sony in the TCM Vault Collection.
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THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE (Irving Rapp, 1947) - Eleanor Parker and Ronald Reagan star in this delightful filming of the hit play, which ran for over four years on Broadway. It's a charming and very romantic "feel good" comedy to which I've returned for multiple viewings. Parker plays the quirky, somewhat ditzy Sally, an aspiring actress who believes her kitchen appliances have feelings and is terrified of opening the drawer with her egg beater! Sally, who's given up on love, ends up offering her sofa to a soldier (Reagan) on leave after her friend (Eve Arden) cancels their date in order to go out with someone else (Wayne Morris). Parker is delightful, and Reagan is more than her match as the man who turns out to be Sally's knight in shining armor -- he cooks, cleans, and loves Sally despite (or because of) her odd habits. The moment when Sally says she's given up on romance and he disbelievingly exclaims "For Lent?!" is hilarious. This is an upbeat film, with a terrific sense of mood and place, which builds to a happy conclusion.

Available on DVD from the Warner Archive.
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SOMETHING IN THE WIND (Irving Pichel, 1947) - Just as Deanna Durbin's LADY ON A TRAIN (1945) made my "Underrated 1945" list, her SOMETHING IN THE WIND makes my list for 1947! Deanna plays Mary Collins, a disc jockey, and I guarantee you won't be able to get her opening "Turntable Song" by Johnny Mercer and Leo Robin out of your head! Donald (John Dall) has discovered a member of his wealthy family was making payments to a Mary Collins and mistakenly thinks the money went to Deanna, drawing all the wrong conclusions; the money actually went to Deanna's Aunt Mary (Jean Adair) for reasons too complicated to explain here. Donald's engaged to Clarissa (Helena Carter), who is loved by his cousin Charlie (Donald O'Connor), and viewers can guess it's a cinch that relationships will be changed up by movie's end. This one is great fun, thanks in large part to the sassy, confident Deanna; the good score includes "You Wanna Keep Your Baby Looking Right" and the lovely title tune, not to mention "Miserere" from IL TROVATORE. Watch this film for a great example of why Deanna Durbin was so popular. There have been other wonderful movie sopranos, but there's been no one quite like Deanna on the screen before or since.

Available on DVD from Universal.
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GUNFIGHTERS (George Waggner, 1947) - An excellent Randolph Scott Western with a wonderful cast, lovely Cinecolor photography by Fred Jackman Jr., and a strong script by Alan LeMay (THE SEARCHERS), based on a Zane Grey novel. The film begins with a striking, colorful scene under the opening credits, leaving most of the technical credits till the end of the film so that the movie can launch right into the action. (How modern!) Scott plays Brazos Kane, a man whose prowess with the gun is so legendary even a friend is tempted to try to outdraw him. Kane, searching for a new beginning, arrives in a town just after a friend is murdered and sets out to solve the crime. Barbara Britton and Dorothy Hart play lookalike sisters, one good and one bad, with Forrest Tucker and Bruce Cabot in support. Charles Kemper has a beautifully written role as a philosophical sheriff. The movie also has a surprisingly brutal scene for 1947, with Scott repeatedly plugging Grant Withers with bullets until he spills what he knows about the murder. I feel this is one of Scott's top Westerns of the '40s and think it deserves to be far better known.

Not on DVD.

THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (Roy Rowland, 1947) - Janet Leigh made an impressive film debut in this post Civil War drama playing Lissy Anne MacBean, whose family is visited by a mysterious stranger. Henry (Van Johnson) is "passing through" Missouri after the war's end and stays to help the MacBean family with the harvest, while avoiding too many questions about his military experiences. Just as the lovely, natural Leigh enchants the audience, Lissy Anne charms Henry. This is a special, well-scripted film somewhat reminiscent of other favorite Westerns such as ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947) and RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948); in each film the action is propelled by the arrival of a stranger, as the characters look for peace and happiness. The film also movingly depicts the reconciliation of a divided community. There's a sterling supporting cast including Thomas Mitchell, Dean Stockwell, Selena Royle, Marshall Thompson, Guy Kibbee, Jim Davis, William Bishop, and many more familiar faces, even Marie Windsor in a bit role.

Available on DVD from the Warner Archive.
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KC said...

You are so right about the Turntable song Laura. It is now stuck in my head again and that is okay! So glad you mentioned Voice of the Turtle; despite my love for Eleanor Parker, I missed that one. Sounds like a must see.

Laura said...

LOL!! Just thinking about it, I want to watch SOMETHING IN THE WIND again! :) I hope more people will check it out -- and get that great song stuck in their heads!

If you're an Eleanor Parker fan I believe you'll love THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE! She's so ditzy and funny. And Ronald Reagan is just charming. Although only the opening prologue-type sequence is set at Christmas, it's one I like to watch at that time of year as the good vibes the movie gives seem to go with that season.

Best wishes,

john k said...

Lovely and varied choices as always,Laura.
I was most pleased to see GUNFIGHTERS included-one of Scott's most underrated
Westerns-a deeply romantic film-to me it's almost what a Western would have been
like had Michael Powell made one! Stunning use of color throughout.

Kristina said...

Such a nice variety of movies. Love that you included a Deanna Durbin--more people need to discover the joy of her voice and movies. The one I need to see from here is The Gunfighters, sounds great!

Jerry Entract said...

Nice choice of films for a great year for films in general, Laura. I hadn't realised Brian was doing this particular thread so I will try and put up a list of my own.

I agree with others that "GUNFIGHTERS" is a terrific film to select. Adaptation of Zane Grey's 'Twin Sombreros', it is one of Scott's most underappreciated westerns but one I like very much. It was the first success from the newly-formed production company of Scott and Harry Joe Brown and thankfully encouraged so many more to follow.

Laura said...

Thanks, John! I love your description of GUNFIGHTERS as what it would have looked like if Michael Powell made a Western. I'll remember that next time! I vividly remember rewinding the opening credits sequence the first time I saw it just because I was so taken with the colors and presentation. All the more interesting as it's in Cinecolor, not Technicolor.

Kristina, thanks! I think you would like GUNFIGHTERS -- please let me know! And yes on Deanna! She is such a joy.

Thanks also to you, Jerry! I was surprised I hadn't really heard about GUNFIGHTERS before I saw it as I feel it really stands out among his '40s films. And it's great that that film spurred more films from the Scott-Brown team. :)

Really appreciate everyone's feedback, and I hope to enjoy lists from all of you in the future!

Best wishes,