‘G’Men is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, April 27 at 6:00am EST
In the ten years that I have been researching the life of Ann Dvorak, most sources give her birth date as 1912, including her application for a Social Security number. Ann’s death certificate gives 1911 as the year, but I just figured the informant gave an incorrect date.
This past weekend, I accompanied my husband, Josh, to New York City for Comic-Con and stopped by the library to take a quick look at the birth index which is on microfiche and not yet available online. Imagine my surprise when I found Anna McKim listed on the 1911 index, instead of 1912. One year is not a big deal, but it’s nice to be accurate.
While I was at it, I looked up Ann’s mom, Anna Lehr who tended to shave off a few years here and there. She is listed as Anna Lajer, born November 18, 1890.
During my short stay in the Big Apple I bought five new Ann photos at one of my favorite poster shops and actually found a gorgeous still from Dr. Socrates at Comic Con. Overall, a very successful weekend.
On a personal note, one of Josh’s college buddies is a member of the Players Club, which was the former home of Edwin Booth, the renowned actor and brother of Lincoln’s assassin. We had a wonderful time touring the club and sipping wine on the balcony overlooking Gramercy Park. I heart NY.
Heat Lightning is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, April 18th at 11:15am EST.
Heat Lightning is one of my favorite Ann Dvorak movies, so I am really excited this little seen pre-code gem is being aired. The tale of two sisters running a gas station/rest-stop in the middle of nowhere was directed by Mervyn Leroy, who brought us the glorious Three on a Match, and costars Aline MacMahon. Ann’s role as Myra is relatively small compared to Aline’s, but it’s more substantial than most of her other 1934 Warner Brothers appearances (Gentlemen Are Born, I Sell Anything), and she has a great meltdown scene towards the end. Filmed on location in Victorville in late November of 1933, the strong supporting cast includes Preston Foster , Warner regulars Glenda Farrell, Lyle Talbot, Ruth Donnelly and Frank McHugh, as well as Jane Darwell and Edgar Kennedy. It’s fantastic.
I don’t know if TCM has ever shown Heat Lightning (my old copy is from a TNT airing), so this is one Ann Dvorak screening not to be missed!
Mrs. O’ Malley and Mr. Malone is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, April 17 at 1:00am EST.
By 1950, Ann Dvorak has been a freelance actress for 14 years and her days in Hollywood were winding down. During this later part of her career, Ann tended to have supporting roles, but she is usually pretty effective (A Life of Her Own, Our Very Own, Walls of Jericho). I have only sat through Mrs. O’ Malley and Mr. Malone once, and have never had the urge to revisit it. As I recall, Ann has very little to do and this role is not nearly as memorable as the aforementioned titles. Even though the film is only 69 minutes, this comedy/murder mystery set on a train feels much longer. If one is a fan of Marjorie Main or James Whitmore, then this is probably enjoyable enough, but from an Ann Dvorak standpoint, I recommend tuning into TCM the following day for Heat Lightning instead.
Interestingly, I just realized that Norma Taurog directed this film. He had directed Ann 17 years prior in 1933’s The Way to Love.
Housewife is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, April 11 at 10:15am EST.
It’s been a while since I watched this 1934 feature which pairs up Ann Dvorak and Bette Davis for a second and final time. This story about a devoted housewife (Dvorak) who supports her husband both morally and financially, only to have him stray after a successful vixen (Davis) is not groundbreaking, but it’s enjoyable enough. Bette has far more to do in this one than their previous pairing in Three on a Match, and it’s always fun to watch a couple of great Warner ladies sparring on screen.
I do not believe that Davis was overly fond of either picture she made with Ann, but in Whitney Stine’s Mother Goddam she did mention that she “was always impressed with Ann Dvorak’s performances. She was also a smashingly nice person.”
Ann Dvorak’s first movie as an MGM chorine was The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The film is basically a vaudeville show featuring Metro players performing skits and musical numbers for almost two hours, with Jack Benny as MC. Hollywood Revue is a great example of the growing pains the industry was going through as it transitioned to sound, and a couple of segments feature early two strip Technicolor. While pretty painful to watch in one sitting, it’s fun enough to view in snippets.
Most of the musical numbers feature the chorus, so Ann can be found hoofing her way across the screen in a big chunk of the movie. She’s pretty easy to pick out and is usually the most enthusiastic member of the bunch.
This clip features a musical number with Conrad Nagel, Anita Page and Charles King, followed by Cliff Edwards singing “Nobody But You.” In between the two numbers, around 3:50 into it, Ann shows up to take a chair off the stage and slaps Jack Benny when he throws her, what I guess is, a pick up line. She was only 16 at the time and it’s impressive that the inexperienced dancer would get speak a couple of words in her first appearance. By the end of the year, she would be become assistant choreographer to Sammy Lee. In the Cliff Edwards number she is visible just to left of him, above his shoulder.
Merrily We Live is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, April 2 at 5:00pm EST.