Archive for June, 2009

Ann Dvorak Twofer on TCM

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

 

Case of the Stuttering Bishop is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, July 1 at 4:30pm EST

‘G’ Men is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, July 1 at 11:00pm EST

Two Ann Dvorak movies airing on one day is a rare treat indeed, and Turner Classic Movies is doing just that to kick off the month of July. Since the films are on over seven hours apart, I am forced to admit the this Dvorak Double Feature (of sorts) is probably just a coincidence, but that should not diminish our excitement over a double dose of Dvorak.

First up is Case of the Stuttering Bishop, where Ann plays the loyal Della Street to Donald Wood’s Perry Mason. This was the last of six Perry Mason films Warner Bros (First National if you want to be technical) made in the 1930s. Warren William played Mason in the first four (Ricardo Cortez played Perry once as well), and after the way Ann treated him in Three on a Match, it would have been great to see them paired up again, playing radically different characters than before.  I have to admit that it has been years since I have seen this one, and I don’t remember much about it. I recall enjoying it well enough, thinking Ann did not have enough to do, and being pleased that there really is a stuttering bishop (who might turn out to be a fake, but I don’t quite remember). One other thing that stands out for me about this movie is that Ann wears a blond wig for about five minutes, yet the three lobby cards I have from this film are from that one scene.

Case of the Stuttering Bishop was the last film Ann Dvorak made at the Warner Bros studio. She had battled them in court for the first half of 1936, trying to get out of her contract for, what she deemed to be, an unwarranted suspension. She lost the case and was loaned out to RKO for a couple of films while Warners tried to figure out what to do with her. They ultimately decided she was not worth the effort, and after casting her in Midnight Court and Case of the Stuttering Bishop, let her out of her contract early. Filming on the Perry Mason film wrapped up in December of 1936 and her last paycheck was ready as soon as the cameras stopped rolling. Talk about not letting the door hit you on the way out.

‘G’ Men has aired a number of times on TCM and I have discussed it previously. Just a quick recap: Cagney and Ann are great together, but do not share enough screen time, her song and dance number is a lot of fun, and her death scene is magnificent.

Enjoy!

Ann Dvorak Summer Theater Kicks of with “The Crowd Roars” on TCM

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

The Crowd Roars is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, June 14th at 4:30am EST.

I was taking a look on the Turner Classic Movies upcoming schedule of Ann Dvorak films and was surprised to see that between June and September they will be airing seven of Ann’s films.

The Crowd Roars – Jun 14, 04:30AM EST

G-Men – Jul 01, 11:00PM EST

The Case of the Stuttering Bishop – Jul 01, 04:30PM EST

A Life Of Her Own – Jul 07, 03:30PM EST

Blind Alley – Jul 09, 03:45AM EST

The Long Night – Aug 01, 04:00AM EST

The Long Night Sep 19, 10:00AM EST

Our Very Own – Sep 27, 10:00PM EST

I am especially pleased to see The Case of the Stuttering Bishop and Our Very Own, which have not been aired in sometime, if ever. It’s been at least two years since A Life of Her Own aired which is great for the ten minutes or less that Ann is in it.

Click here to see my previous comments on the Crowd Roars which is airing tomorrow morning.

Happy watching!

Dvorak Biography Progress Report #1

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

So, for the past few years I have been working on an Ann Dvorak biography. In 1997, I started collecting memorabilia from Ann’s films and at the time thought I should probably write a book.  I did not really get serious about the project until 2002 which is when I launched the previous version of this website and started researching Ann’s life and career in ernest.

Late last year, I finally started writing the book itself which has proven to be a fairly grueling experience. Surrounded by stacks of notes, photocopies, books, magazines, and other assorted documents, I am sometimes reminded of my last semester of grad school when I was holed up in my tiny apartment with only Thelma Kitty and the sound of  Betty Hutton recordings to keep me company as I frantically wrote two lengthy research papers on the fate of the library profession. I do admit that I am not exactly on a deadline and writing about Ann Dvorak is far more interesting than composing twenty pages on library security, but it still requires a certain amount of discipline that I have yet to master. In my defense, I do have a full time job and a husband who wants nothing more than to cuddle up after work and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but at this point I really want to be done with the book.

Over the years, a number of people have contacted me through this website to ask how the book is coming, and I usually feel a bit guilty by my lack of progress. As a motivating factor, I figured I would start posting progress reports which hopefully will shame me into picking up the pace. Without further ado here is the first progress report on the Ann Dvorak biography.

Progress Report #1

At this time, I have written a little over 9,000 words. The first chapter focuses on Ann’s parents who were both vaudvillians and were involved with the early film industry. Since this is probably the only time anyone is going to really explore the careers of Edwin McKim and Anna Lehr, I feel strongly about discussing them in some detail. However, writing about stage performances from a hundred years ago and lost silent films has proven to be challenging and I think I relied too heavily on quoting newspaper reviews, which can quickly become boring. I really struggled with this chapter and will definitely need to go back and rewrite parts of  it.

Ann officially enters the picture in Chapter Two which talks about her early childhood, including the three films she appeared in, and her time spent in New York schools. The next chapter finds Ann living in Southern California with her mom and step dad, attending a private school, and her attempts at launching a journalism career after graduating.

I am now in the middle of the fourth Chapter where Ann has been hired as a chorine by M-G-M, and The Hollywood Revue of 1929 has premiered.  This chapter will continue with her stint as a dancer on the Metro lot and some discussion of her more notable films there, as well as her inability to get the studio to cast her in more substantial roles.

Well, that’s the end of the first progress report. Hard to believe I have been officially writing for a few months, and am only up to 1929. Now that Ann is entering adulthood and I am getting to the part of her life and career that I am familiar with, I should be able to crank her story out a bit faster. Thanks to all of you who have been patiently waiting to read Ann’s story, and for all the encouragement you have given me over the years.

Progress Report #2 to come soon!