Throwback Thursday – My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

What happens when you throw Bob Hope into a film noir? Well, you get My Favorite Brunette.

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Friday Funnies – My Favorite Brunette (1947) – Starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour

Way back when your Ol’ Professor was but a wee nubbin, one of the local stations (yes, this was back in the days of the dinosaurs when local stations were all we had and there were only four of them, weep for us kids of today, weep for us…) used to have a movie feature every afternoon. Called “The Big Show”, they would usually have a theme for each week – one week it would be westerns, the next giant japanese monsters, the next Abbott and Costello flicks. And at a certain point in each showing, the local weatherman would appear with the phone book and a telephone and, picking a number at random, he would ask whoever picked up the phone what movie they were showing. If the person on the other end could answer correctly, they would win whatever the day’s pot was. If not, then the prize would be raised for the next call.

I’m sure it was The Big Show, along with my father’s enthusiasm for the entertainers featured in these movies that formed the basis for my own love of the movies of this period. Among the staples of The Big Show rotation were the “Road” movies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. These movies showcased two stars who were otherwise during that time relegated to the occasional TV special- Bing would show up at Christmastime with his family, and Bob was a regular staple on USO tours where he and other stars of the day would entertain troops. But these movies showed that not only was there more to these guys than just a bit of standup or an occasional song, they were full-fledged movie stars.

Hope himself, besides just the “Road” movies, starred in at least two movies a year (and sometimes as many as four) pretty much every year from 1934 to 1959. and one of those movies, from 1947, was My Favorite Brunette.  And actually, I suppose I should make a slight correction to one statement I made above – when talking about the “Road” movies I said they starred Hope and Crosby, and that’s true, but they also starred Dorothy Lamour, who appeared in all of them but the last and was probably as big a reason for their success as the two marquee names. I bring her up now, because she also appears with Hope in this film, portraying the movie’s titular brunette.

The film itself is a pretty light comedy, a parody of the film noir style, with Hope playing a bumbling photographer who wishes he could be a private eye. One day he is answering the phones for the detective who works across the hall when in walks Lamour, the archetypical noir dame. Mistaking Hope for the actual detective, she pleads for his help, and sure enough he finds himself in way over his head. The film also gives us Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr, and Alan Ladd in supporting roles, and even a cameo by Crosby.

Here’s a two-minute clip that’ll give you a good taste for this film:

And now, the skinny:

Title: My Favorite Brunette
Release Date: 1947
Running Time: 87 min
Black and White
Starring: Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Director: Elliot Nugent
Producer: Daniel Dare:
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

 

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

Saturday Double Feature: Proud Mary (2018) and…

Another Saturday means another Saturday Double Feature!

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Let’s talk 70s blaxploitation movies for a minute, shall we?

Yes, I know, in today’s world the concept might seem more than a bit odd, but back in the day it was definitely a thing, One f the things that you have to keep in mind is that during this time period many movies were not given the huge national release that seemingly every film has today, nor were they expected to bring in huge audiences from all across the spectrum. Nor were all theaters the vast multiplexes with 824 screens that litter the landscape today. (And no, I’m not going to diatribe about how those 824 screens all seem to be showing the same seven movies – at least not today, anyway. We’ll save that for some other time.)

Instead, most theaters were small, one-screen affairs locate in various neighborhoods throughout the city, and ofttimes those theaters (many independently owned and programmed) would show movies that they thought would appeal to the local clientele. Quite often, for those theaters located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, this meant movies which featured black actors in the lead role. Films such as Shaft, Uptown Saturday Night, and, yes, Blacula, are all examples of what became known as the blaxploitation genre.

By the way, I feel I should point out that for lovers of the films of the period, blaxploitation is not meant as a derogatory term. Instead, it’s more of a play on the broader exploitation cinema genre which was huge back then.

Anyway, even before I saw the first trailer for the new movie Proud Mary, upon just seeing the poster, I was immediately taken back to those days and that genre.

You see, there was even a further sub-genre within the blaxploitation realm which featured the bad-ass black woman who not only had to fight against racial prejudice, but also against male supremacy. Often these movies would feature the lead taking revenge against gangs or other people who had wronged her or someone close to her.

The undisputed queen of this sub-genre was Pan Grier, who starred in many movies including Foxy Brown, and is perhaps best known today as the lead in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 Jackie Brown. She’s also the lead in the flick I picked for today’s double feature, Coffy.

In Coffy, Grier stars as a nurse who sets out to seek revenge for her sister’s drug addiction and to fight the drug relate violence that is infecting her town, This leas to her taking on both gang lords and the mob, an eventually sees her going undercover as a prostitute and eventually taking out a number of drug dealers in increasingly violent ways.

So what do you think? What would you choose for a double feature with Proud Mary? Leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Saturday Double Feature: The Greatest Showman (2017) and…

Hey, it’s Saturday, and that means the return of the Saturday Double Feature!

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

The Greatest Showman may just as well have been called The Greatest Bullsh!tter, because not only was P.T. Barnum a master of the art, but the movie is also completely full of it when it comes to Barnum’s life and business practices. Nonetheless, it does go a long way to showing once again why Hugh Jackman is one of our most muli-faceted and greatest living showmen today.

Of course, The Greatest Showman is not the first movie to be set at a circus, nor is it even the first to feature Barnum’s circus. In 1952 famed director Cecil B. DeMille brought the actual Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus to the big screen for the movie The Greatest Show on Earth. Starring Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, and Gloria Grahame, the film also incorporated the real circus’ 1951 troupe with its complement of 1400 people, hundreds of animals, and 60 carloads of equipment and tents. The movie went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Story, and was nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.

So what do you think? What would you choose for a double feature with The Greatest Showman? Leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!