Archive for December, 2009

This Day in Ann Dvorak History

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Ann Dvorak’s passing. The actress who had appeared in over fifty films, traveled the world, and risked her life contributing to the war effort in the UK, died in obscurity in Honolulu at the age of 68.

When I first became interested in Ann, over ten years ago, I was hard pressed to find others who had heard of her, let alone seen any of her films. While Ann is still unknown to many, as more and more of her movies become available on DVD, I have noticed a greater awareness of this amazing actress, which is encouraging. Ann was sensitive about her contributions to film being forgotten, and I think she would be pleased by the rediscovery of her talents, and appreciation of her pre-Code performances.

Take a break from the madness of the holidays today, pop on a Dvorak film, and pay tribute to this talented gal.

“Strange Love of Molly Louvain” on DVD

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Hooray for the Warner Archive who are releasing Ann Dvorak films on DVD faster than I can write about them.

This week’s offering includes the Strange Love of Molly Louvain, directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Lee Tracy, Richard Cromwell, and Dvorak’s soon-to-be  husband, Leslie Fenton. It’s standard pre-code dealings with Dvorak  bearing a child out of wedlock, hooking up with a thug, getting  mixed up in shady dealings, and going on the lamb incognito as a bleached blonde. While it’s not quite as riveting as Three on a Match, the Strange Love of Molly Louvain is one of the few films where Ann is the focus of the film and, as usual, she makes the most of it.

As I discussed previously, the film contains one of my all time favorite Ann Dvorak scenes where she gets to do a scat version of “Penthouse Serenade” and briefly performs one of her own compositions, “Gold Digger Baby.” Molly Louvain is also an important film in the annals of Ann Dvorak history because it’s where she hooked up with Leslie Fenton. The two had met a few weeks earlier on New Years Eve, but the sparks flew on the set of this film and the pair would soon elope to Arizona.

I need to give a quick note of credit to the blog All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! who caught this DVD release before I did.

In light of this unexpected release, I am really looking forward to what other 1930s Warner Bros flicks the Warner Archive has in store for 2010.

“Hollywood Revue of 1929″ and “It’s a Great Life” on DVD

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Two films from Ann Dvorak’s days as a hoofer at M-G-M are now available on DVD, courtesy of the Warner Archive.

I’ve discussed Hollywood Revue of 1929 previously on this site, which is a star studded wreck of an early talkie, and yet oddly mesmerizing. For Ann Dvorak fans, this film is a must see as the 17-year-old smiles big and dances her heart out in many of the movie’s musical numbers. Plus, she gets two words of dialog and slaps Jack Benny.

I have never seen It’s a Great Life in it’s entirety, so I am excited about this one. The film stars vaudeville darlings Vivian and Rosetta Duncan, popularly known as the Duncan Sisters in what is their only sound film. Production on this one started a couple of days after Ann Dvorak’s 18th birthday, right around the time she was elevated to the position of  assistant choreographer to Sammy Lee. Ann is especially prominent in a number called “The Hoosier Hop,” a dance step she supposedly came up with, and she sure  does she beam with pride while  performing it.

I’ll be wishing myself a Merry X-Mas with these two, and look forward to more of Ann’s M-G-M’s flicks to be made available from the Warner Archive.