10th Annual What A Character: Evening Edition

Hey night owls and West Coasters, Paula here to close out our 10th Annual What a Character! Blogathon! It always brings me so much joy to see so much love for the backbone of studio-era Hollywood, the supporting players.

As you may have seen in the announcement post, this tenth year comes with giveaways from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and The University Press of Kentucky, both of which are providing film-related books to ten lucky participants. We will randomly pick the winners toward the end of the weekend. Winners will be notified on social media or by email.

And now, without further ado, this evening’s fabulous entries:

Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog writes that Lillian Randolph “is instantly relatable and somehow more genuine than the stars she supports.”

Toni at Watching Forever profiles a familiar face from the TV series “Gunsmoke” in “Beyond Festus: The Career of Dan Curtis.”

The Classic Movie Muse takes a deep dive into the life and work of Lucille La Verne, whose “bone-chilling” voice made her the first to have a speaking part in an animated feature-length film.

Lesley at Second Sight Cinema investigates the possibly unknowable nature of one of my favorite actors in “Jack Carson, International Man of Mystery.”

Chris at Blog of the Darned profiles the criminally underused Theresa Harris.

Lady Eve’s Reel Life looks into the villainous (and heroic) roles of another of my favorite actors, Conrad Veidt.

Kayla from Whimsically Classic details her favorite roles played by character actor Elisha Cook Jr.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s special 10th Anniversary ‘thon.

What A Character! The cast of LURED (1947)

I was a late bloomer with Lured. I didn’t see Douglas Sirk’s remake of the 1939 French film Pieges until the mid-teens of the present century. This comedy/drama/film noir is a bit complicated, and I don’t want to reveal too much for those who haven’t seen the film. It’s so much fun, you deserve to see it for yourself. But here goes: Never-lovelier Lucille Ball portrays Sandra Carpenter, an American showgirl stranded in London. She’s working as a taxi dancer when her friend and co-worker Lucy (Tanis Chandler) disappears, probably the latest victim of the “Poet Killer,” a shadowy murderer who advertises for his prey in the personals section of the newspaper and taunts the police by mailing love poems to them. When Sandra goes to Scotland Yard to try and find Lucy, she is recruited by Inspector Harley Temple (Charles Coburn) to go undercover for the Yard. She will be essentially acting as bait for the killer, answering any and all personal ads that look sketchy enough to be leads. The first seeks a dress model. She goes to the studio of Charles van Druten (Boris Karloff), a former fashion designer, who is certainly unhinged. Is he the Poet Killer?

Meanwhile, Sandra had been trying to audition for a better dancing gig, in a new show with real producers, Robert Fleming (George Sanders) and Julian Wilde (Cedric Hardwicke). Long story short, while answering another personal ad, Sandra encounters “unmitigated cad” Fleming, and sparks fly. She’s on duty at the time, but he keeps turning up in the most unlikely places as she pursues the investigation. Hmm…

Continue reading “What A Character! The cast of LURED (1947)”

Announcing the What A Character! *10*th Annual Blogathon – Dec. 4, 2021

Just three of the many many delightful names below the title: Porter Hall, Juanita Moore, and Una Merkel

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

It’s the TENTH anniversary of the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon A RIOT!

It all began with What A Character!, Turner Classic Movies (TCM)’s series of interstitial dedications that honor character actors. You have no doubt seen these informative and entertaining video tributes to Edna May Oliver, Beulah Bondi, William Demarest, Butterfly McQueen, among many other supporting players whose work stands the test of time.

Unable to resist those actors, Aurora, Kellee, and I decided to dedicate a blogging event in their honor, and the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon was born. Now, for the 10th consecutive year, we continue the tradition.

Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and @CitizenScreen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @Irishjayhawk66, and myself, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club, @Paula_Guthat, and @TCM_Party extend an invitation to the 2021 WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon to all bloggers who appreciate the laughter, the good taste, the double-takes, the heart, and the comfort that all the character actors have brought us through the years.

This announcement also serves as a heartfelt thank you to all who have participated in this event so graciously for nine years. The talent, enthusiasm, and passion with which you have approached our beloved character actors are beyond anything we could have imagined. We hope you join us again for this special celebration!

The 10th Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon takes place on Saturday, December 4, 2021.

  • Let the hosts know which character actor you choose by leaving a comment below.
  • We prefer no repeats, i.e. previously published posts.
  • Character actors can be from any era of film or television.
  • Please include the name and URL of your blog and your Twitter handle if you have one to help us promote your work properly.
  • Publish your post on or before December 4, 2021.
  • Please include the event banner (designed by yours truly from an idea by Aurora) on your blog to help us promote this special event

HAVE FUN and spread the word!

Giveaways!

A tenth anniversary is a big deal, a fact recognized by both TCM and The University Press of Kentucky, who have offered books to give away to a lucky 10 U.S. and Canada WHAT A CHACRACTER! bloggers.

From the TCM Library, we have 5 copies of The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter by Jeremy Arnold with a foreword by Robert Osborne. A big thank you to Justin Gottlieb, Entertainment Marketing, Social Media Manager at Turner Classic Movies for securing these books for us.

While you may well be familiar with TCM, you may not know about The University Press of Kentucky, which has a wonderful array of film history-related biographies and analytical studies in its Screen Classics series. For our event, Director of Sales & Marketing Brooke Raby has offered a sampling of their offerings, one copy of each of the following titles:

Charles Boyer: The French Lover by John Baxter

Natalie Wood: A Life by Gavin Lambert

Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King by Foster Hirsch

Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood by Robert S. Birchard

Radical Innocence: A Critical Study of the Hollywood Ten by Bernard F. Dick

Thank you to Brooke for the terrific list of books.

One Last Thing: Much gratitude to my friends and co-hosts, Kellee and Aurora, without whom this blogathon would not exist, and both of whom were instrumental to the development of TCM Party. One decade down: forever to go. Happy WHAT A CHARACTER! Anniversary!

Chosen Actors and Participating Blogs

Felix Bressart – Taking Up Room

Jack Carson – Second Sight Cinema

Hans Conried – A Shroud of Thoughts

Elisha Cook, Jr. – Whimsically Classic

Wally Cox – Journeys in Classic Film

Diana Dors – Real Weegie Midget Reviews

Mildred Dunnock and Patricia Collinge – The Last Drive In

Hope Emerson – Shadows and Satin

William Frawley – By Rich Watson

Theresa Harris – Blog of the Darned

Kathleen Harrison – Caftan Woman

Edward Everett Horton – Silent Film Music

Jessie Royce Landis – Michele Price

Lured (1947) Supporting Cast – Paula’s Cinema Club

Lucille La Verne – The Classic Movie Muse

Cloris Leachman – Outspoken & Freckled

Doro Merande – Trivial History

Edna May Oliver – Once Upon a Screen

Eugene Pallette – Top 10 Film Lists

Lillian Randolph – Another Old Movie Blog

George Tobias – A Person in the Dark

Conrad Veidt – Lady Eve’s Reel Life

What A Character! 2019 – Day 3

Subsequent to Day 1 over at Outspoken and Freckled, and Day 2 at Once Upon A Screen, I am presenting Day 3 of our annual tribute to the names below the title, those scene-stealing supporting players who add immeasurably to our favorite films.

First up, Gary Pratt takes a good look — literally — at Donald Pleasance, particularly as half of a beautiful friendship in The Great Escape in a guest post on Outspoken and Freckled.

Lesley at Second Sight Cinema looks at late-blooming Charles Coburn, who nonetheless became “as indispensable to the movies as he had been to the American stage for nearly four decades.”

Aurora at Once Upon A Screen… profiles another late bloomer, the inimitable Majorie Main, whose “physical look, her mannerisms, dry wit, and that voice! all made a package that was not easy to forget.”

The Lady Eve shines the spotlight on Joyce Compton, declaring, “there’s more to [her] story than her turns as scatterbrained, Southern-fried blondes.”

Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled sheds some very deserved light on Frank McHugh’s life and career.

To be continued with more character actors to come…

This post is part of the What A Character! 2019 Blogathon.

Day 3 of the 2018 What A Character! Blogathon

‘Tis the season to recognize the names below the title, as our yearly recognition of those supporting players whose faces you know (but names you might not) concludes today.

Check out Day 1 by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2 at Aurora‘s blog Once Upon a Screen. All the nitty-gritty blogathon details are in the Announcement post. Thanks to my partners in cinematic tribute for making this such a fun project and to Turner Classic Movies for the blogathon title and inspiration. And now on with the show…

Continue reading “Day 3 of the 2018 What A Character! Blogathon”

Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018

9th August 1933: Jean Harlow (1911 - 1937) is Hollywood sex goddess Lola Burns and Frank Morgan (1890 - 1949) is her father, Pop Burns, in 'Bombshell', (aka 'Blonde Bombshell') directed by Victor Fleming. Mary Forbes (1883 - 1974) plays Mrs Middleton.
Frank Morgan and June Brewster are just two of the superb character actors in BOMBSHELL (1933). Image via Doctor Macro

When you re-watch your favorite films, what keeps you coming back for more? A great story with sharp writing? No doubt. Beautiful costumes, swanky set designs, and stunning cinematography? Most assuredly. But the performances are key to any movie. While we all look forward to the popular leading actors, it is the stand-out, scene-stealing supporting actors that feel like “home.”

Wise-cracking Eve Arden, nurturing Louise Beavers, sassy Thelma Ritter, double-take pro Edward Everett Horton, tart-tongued Edna May Oliver, gravelly-voiced Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, fatherly Charles Coburn, frazzled Franklin Pangborn, bullfrog-voiced, barrel-chested Eugene Pallette, cigar-chomping Ned Sparks… these and so many more lovable character actors are who we look forward to seeing as our dearest old chums. We all could use a trusted sidekick.

stagecoach-1939a-700w
John Ford’s STAGECOACH (1939) was rife with talented characters.

For the 7th consecutive year, we as the blogathon hosting trio of Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @IrishJayhawk66, and myself, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and @Paula_Guthat invite you to join us for the WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON 2018, December 14, 15, 16, as we pay tribute to the brilliance of the supporting players.

Continue reading “Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018”

Curse of the Demon (1957) gifs

With a ton of alternate titles and a couple different versions (U.S. and U.K.), this film based on the short story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James is both genuinely creepy and a fitting part of Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Peggy Cummins, who passed away on December 29, 2017 at the age of 92. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, you ought to, plus it’s the TCM Party tonight at 9:45 p.m. Eastern with guest host Jim Phoel aka @DraconicVerses.

It’s got some really gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Edward Scaife (who also shot The Third Man) under the direction of dollar-from-a-dime maestro Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie). I made some apparently oversized gifs from it (too big for tumblr) and I’m parking ’em here. More gifs after the jump…

curse of the demon plane

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Review: Hank and Jim and the 50-Year Friendship PLUS Giveaway

As a classic movie devotee, I’ve always wondered how two so different people as Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart — somehow he is never “James” — could maintain such a lasting and close friendship as theirs apparently was. I’d heard about the model airplane they built together, and the double dates. Yet Fonda was a New Deal Democrat who was married 5 times, had issues with his kids, and seemed to keep to himself; Stewart was a conservative Republican, got married once for life, had a decent relationship with his kids, and seemed to know everybody. The new double biography Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart, by Scott Eyman, acclaimed author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, reconciles this conundrum, and in the process reveals that these two actors were more alike than I knew. Giveaway winner announced after the jump.
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Hitchcock – Girls Who Wear Glasses

Update 11 August 2017: This was published by mistake before it was done but I figure i am just going to leave it as a work in progress. I just completed TCM Presents The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock online course. I’m just throwing out an idea out here and that’s Girls Who Wear Glasses (GWWG) as a motif. Considering that one of them is Hitchcock’s own daughter Patricia, and it appears about as often as paintings, it’s significant, but it doesn’t really get talked about…not that I saw anyway.

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Review: AVA: A LIFE IN MOVIES is a feast for the eyes and the mind

Ava Gardner — Grabtown, North Carolina’s Christmas gift to the world — was probably most familiar to me as one of the quintessential femmes fatales, Kitty in The Killers, and as the determined, loyal woman who saved her husband Frank Sinatra’s career by getting him the role of Maggio in From Here To Eternity. She was certainly the former, and she may have been the latter (she certainly tried), but she was much more than these things. My concept of Gardner has been considerably expanded, by a new biography of the star, Ava: A Life in Movies.

Continue reading “Review: AVA: A LIFE IN MOVIES is a feast for the eyes and the mind”