Tagged: Preston Sturges Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • mistermuse 12:09 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Edward Everett Horton, , , , , , Mantan Moreland, , Preston Sturges, S. Z. Sakall, Way Out West,   


    “Nobody needs a mink coat but the mink.” –S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, character actor (Feb. 2, 1883-Feb. 12, 1955)

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    There have been so many great male character actors in Hollywood Golden Age history that, for this post, I’m going to narrow the field to¬†comedic character actors….and even then, I’ll probably leave out some of your favorites. Of course, if you don’t have any old comedy film favorites, you’re probably not an old comedy film fan, so you’re excused (even though that’s no excuse….actually, you should be ashamed of yourself).

    Leaving that aside, let’s move on, starting with the author of the above quote….a quote which probably didn’t go over too well with most of the Hollywood glamour girls he knew — speaking of which, did you know that Sakall was born in, and is strictly from, Hungary (btw, he was also in Casablanca). Here’s more scuttlebutt about Cuddles but…it’s not a lot:

    Next, Laurel & Hardy fans will remember the trademark ‘double-take’ look of this gent, who appeared in many of their films, including here in one of their best, WAY OUT WEST:

    Remember double features (two films for the price of one in movie houses of the 1930s-50s)? Here’s a double feature of two great comedic actors for the price of one in a scene from SHALL WE DANCE, one of three Astaire-Rogers movies in which they appeared together:

    If you’re a fan of Charlie Chan movies, you may recall the pop-eyed comic who played Chan’s chauffeur in over a dozen films, as well as parts in Preston Sturges’ THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), CABIN IN THE SKY (1943), CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK (1944), and many others. Here he is in a scene from THE SCARLET CLUE (1945):

    In closing, I’ll mention several other great comedic character actors I could’ve/should’ve profiled here, but I have to stop somewhere: William Demarest, Edgar Kennedy, Frank Morgan, Franklin Pangborn, Erik Rhodes, Victor Moore, and many more. Thank you, one and all, for bringing character to comedy.

    • masercot 4:38 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Fine examples! Might I add Tom Kennedy?

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:50 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Absolutely! I remember the name but couldn’t place the face until I checked — how could I have forgotten? I saw him in many a Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy and Three Stooges movie. My bad!

        Liked by 2 people

        • masercot 8:59 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink

          It was a time when any big Irishman could find work in the movies… My favorite line of his? “I feel a poem coming on”

          Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth 4:28 pm on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I never knew the names of any of these actors, though I remember all of their appearances. I loved the banter in the last clip. That comedic timing is priceless.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:00 pm on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I believe that that banter came straight out of an old vaudeville skit which Mantan Moreland probably performed many times previously. An oldie but goody!


    • Silver Screenings 11:37 pm on November 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      These posts are treats. Thanks for curating these lists and choosing such fab videos to share with us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:20 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for your comments, SS. I very much enjoyed doing this series of posts, time-consuming though it was to do the work of putting them together.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Silver Screenings 10:29 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink

          Oh yes, I can imagine the hours spent in this series. The end result is fabulous: A tour through classic Hollywood.

          Liked by 1 person

    • America On Coffee 11:18 am on December 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Memorable picks! Love them all!!ūüíē‚̧ԳŹ

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Greta Garbo, , I want to be alone, Jo Stafford, Joel McCrea, , Paul Tillich, Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels, The Lone Ranger, Tonto,   


    “Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. –Paul Tillich, philosopher/theologian

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    Sept. 18 (1905) is the birthday of famed “I want to be alone” actress (and real-life recluse) Greta Garbo, who (unlike many movie stars) valued solitude over the celebrity spotlight:

    Now, dear reader, you may not have a problem with “I want to be alone” — but, as Joel McCrae asked Veronica Lake (40 seconds into this film clip)….

    So, when you stop and drink about it (unless you take Joel McCrea’s question literally), there’s no reason why you can’t be….

    After all, even the Lone Ranger wasn’t really a Lone Ranger (heaven forbid that his faithful Indian companion Tonto was just along for the ride)….

    That’s all for now, boys and girls. Hi ho Silver, away!



    • calmkate 1:37 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      lol mentioned some of my favourites here, about to enjoy your clips!

      Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 6:10 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Jay Silverheels was a funny guy in interviews. They asked him how he was able to memorize his lines because they made so many shows and he replied that all he had to know was “Mmm, What we do now, Kemosabe?”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:42 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        That IS funny! Thanks for that very interesting aside — it leads me to want to know more about Jay Silverheels/Tonto pronto.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 6:36 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      “How can I be alone if you’re with me?” Good question! Answers please on a postcard to….

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:50 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Good question indeed — but it leads to another: How do I answer on a postcard to ….? Seriously, though, in a certain sense, we’re never alone. Our demons are always with us.

        Liked by 1 person

    • JosieHolford 7:00 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      That is a really useful distinction between loneliness and solitude.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:55 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I agree, Josie — but useful, perhaps, only to a reflective person. I can’t imagine someone like Donald Trump giving it a second thought (or even a first thought).


    • Mary Lou Rigdon (@RigdonML) 9:18 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I get fklempt every time I see that opening just as I did when a girl, sitting on the linoleum floor in front of the TV. I didn’t care much for the program, all the shooting and fighting. I just wanted to look at Silver. Years later, when my family moved to LA, I got to see Traveler and often rode my horse in the places where westerns filmed stock footage. Strange how life turns out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:23 pm on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Strange indeed. I loved westerns as a boy. Now, with few exceptions (such as RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY), I consider them to be mostly the same old same old.


      • mistermuse 9:26 am on September 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        My apologies for not letting you know that the link you sent didn’t work and I deleted it. I shouldn’t have done that without informing you. If you want to try sending it again, perhaps we’ll get a better result. Again, my sincere apologies.


    • magickmermaid 7:24 pm on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      hehe My mother used to ask me if I thought I was Greta Garbo because I was always saying ‘I want to be left alone’. ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:31 am on September 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        It sounds like this Duke Ellington classic could’ve been your theme song, mm:

        P.S. I’d originally intended to use this clip in my post after the Paul Tillich quote, but decided against it…..now, thanks to your comment, I have the opportunity to use it after all!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 6:27 pm on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Jo Stafford: What a voice! How come she doesn’t get much fan love these days? She seems to be almost unknown.

      Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 1:34 am on October 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great memories…Great quote via Paul Tillich…All in all Trigger was my favorite. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 8:07 pm on July 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , funniest films, , , Nobody's Perfect, Preston Sturges,   


    Among my favorite books are biographies or autobiographies of long-admired writers, directors, actors, musicians and vocalists. One of the most interesting and intelligent bios¬†I’ve read is that of director¬†Billy Wilder. Yes, I’m finally done reading NOBODY’S PERFECT, of which I wrote a piece on June 22 and¬†promised to¬†write a review when I finished it. My take? Imperfection was never more worth recommending.

    Unlike¬†some biographers, author Charlotte Chandler knew the subject of her book personally and well (for almost 30 years). Her first book, HELLO, I MUST BE GOING, was a best-seller about — who else — Groucho Marx. She has also¬†profiled Mae West, Tennessee Williams and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, is on the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and is active in film preservation. So the lady knows — and loves —¬†what she is doing.

    Perhaps the best thing about this bio is that after reading it, you feel as if you know the real Billy Wilder. For example, he learned early on not to shoot excess footage because the more you gave the studio (Universal) to play with, the more they could recut the picture in ways he disliked. It was his movie, and with careful planning and tight shooting, he did his damnedest to give them no choice.

    One also gets a feel for the man¬†in his views¬†of other directors,¬†telling¬†Ms. Chandler: “I admired Preston Sturges. He was a writer who became a director, and he had respect for words. His work was his life. He would have worked free. The last time I saw him was in Paris. He was sitting in an outdoor caf√©. Old friends would stop and have something with him, and they’d pick up the check. It seemed he was hard up. He’d had a great life, but it didn’t end up great. He didn’t know how to write a third act for his own life.”

    Another director he admired was Ernst Lubitsch, of whom he speaks in this clip:

    Let’s close with a quote from one of Ms. Chandler’s last interviews with him in Dec. 1999: “I don’t like to look back. You could drown in what-ifs, especially if you make it past ninety, which I have. If you’re going to say , ‘What if?’ you might as well save it for something like, ‘What if Hitler had been a girl?’
    “At ninety-four, there aren’t many goals to work for except longevity. Maybe trying to make it to a hundred as long as my mind is good, and I look forward to each day.”
    “I could never imagine myself being old. An old man was someone who¬†was forty, then fifty, then sixty. When I was a young man in Vienna, if someone had offered me a deal to guarantee I’d make seventy, I’d have grabbed it. Seventy would’ve sounded pretty good to me.”
    “At ninety-four, it’s not long enough. It seems short. Too bad. But it has to end sometime.”

    For Billy Wilder, it ended March 27, 2002, leaving behind a legacy of 21 Academy Award nominations and¬†five films on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest films, including #1: SOME LIKE IT HOT. I like it any way he made it.

    • Joseph Nebus 10:55 pm on July 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s interesting seeing directors come down on either side of whether to shoot only exactly what they expect they’ll need, or to shoot everything they might imaginably need so they can extract what’s best. (Kubrick’s the poster boy for that side of things.) Each side is so perfectly reasonable about it, is the baffling part.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:32 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent observation. And with a director like Orson Welles, it apparently didn’t make any difference what he shot – he blamed studios for doing whatever they pleased with his pictures regardless.


    • arekhill1 7:02 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I’m starting to long for the live-forever pill myself. They’ve already invented the boner pill. It’s the next logical step.


    • mistermuse 12:32 pm on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That would complete the Holy Trinity of pills: the live-forever, the boner, and the stupid pill. Hopefully, the stupid pill takers won’t find out about the live-forever pill, although it seems like they’ve been taking it forever.


  • mistermuse 11:36 am on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: best movies, Bill Murray, favorite movies, , Harold Ramis, Preston Sturges, romantic comedy, The Lady Eve   


    Writer/actor/director Harold Ramis died yesterday. When I heard the news, the first thing that came to mind was GROUNDHOG DAY,¬†his 1993 romantic comedy-fantasy (come to think of it, what romantic comedy isn’t a fantasy?) that is one of my favorite movies of all time. I immediately felt the urge to write a retrospective review of ¬†the film, but I’m finding that professional critics have already beaten me to the punch and said what¬†I might have said, better than I.

    The Daily Beast’s Malcolm Jones, for example, writes today under the headline Harold Ramis’s ‘Groundhog Day’ Is About as Perfect as a Movie Gets¬†that¬†“Ramis made a¬†lot of funny movies, but Groundhog Day is in a class by itself. For my money, you have to go back to Preston Sturges’s ’40s comedies to find its equal. No matter how often you hit repeat, this story of a man living the same day over and over just keeps getting better.” Peter¬†Canavese of¬†GROUCHO REVIEWS¬†(who knew?) calls it “A memorable comedy for the ages.”

    Malcolm Jones says¬†GROUNDHOG is one of¬†two movies he knows almost by heart (the other being Sturges’s The Lady Eve). He quotes some of his (and my)¬†favorite GROUNDHOG dialogue, including this exchange between TV weatherman Phil Connors (played, of course, by Bill Murray) and waitress Mrs. Lancaster:

    Phil: ¬†¬†“Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”
    Mrs. Lancaster: “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

    Jones concludes his piece thus: “Thank you, Harold Ramis, wherever you are. Thank you again, and again, and again.” Amen.

    I will conclude my piece with this GROUNDHOG DAY¬† trailer, followed by a clip which asks, “How many days does Bill Murray spend stuck in Groundhog Day?”:



    • arekhill1 1:22 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Whenever one of my security questions is “What is your favorite movie?” the answer is always “Groundhog Day,” although the Wizard of Oz is a close second.


    • mistermuse 8:54 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent choice, Ricardo, but your disclosure makes your security answer available to my millions of readers, and I can’t guarantee that each and every one of them is honorable. For your own cyber security, I suggest that you change your favorite movie from “Groundhog Day” to “Wizard of Oz.”


    • Don Frankel 6:19 am on February 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      In the end he gets the girl and love triumphs. One of the key elements to a great screwball comedy. As to my two favorite movies I’ll give you a hint. “The Germans wore gray. You wore blue.” And, “That’ll be the day.”


    • mistermuse 7:53 am on February 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, the first one is easy, but though the second one sounded familiar, I confess I had to Google it to find THE SEARCHERS. Now if you’d said “33 arrests and no convictions,” I would’ve got them both.


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