Merrily We Live is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, December 19th at 5:15am PST.
To coincide with the launching of Hollywood’s awards season, Turner Classic Movies has released what they describe as an “authoritative list” that “sets out to recognize performances that didn’t get widespread awards recognition.” Included are instantly recognizable names like Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Price, and Tyrone Power. Imagine my surprise and glee to see Ann Dvorak listed for her role as the doomed Mary Ashlon in 1950’s A Life of Her Own.
As I have discussed in the past, Ann’s performance in this M-G-M Lana Turner feature is the one she should have received an Oscar nomination for. Her aging, down-on-her-luck fashion model is in the film for less than 10 minutes but her impact is immediate and lasting, long after she exits the story via a high-rise window. While it’s frustrating that this performance did not receive award recognition at the time, what’s really disheartening is that she would only make a handful more films after this before retiring from entertainment in 1952. As riveting as she was in early performances like Scarface and Three on a Match, these later roles pairing years of experience with her natural abilities really demonstrate the depths of her talents and leave us wishing she would have stuck around just a little bit longer.
Hats off to the fine folks at TCM for recognizing Ann Dvorak and giving her some much deserved laurels.
This week, the Warner Archive makes my holiday wishes come true by adding Heat Lightning to their ever-growing collection.
As I had mentioned previously, Heat Lightning is one of my favorite Ann Dvorak films. This tale of a pair of sisters running a gas station/rest stop in the middle of nowhere (it was actually filmed in Victorville) whose lives are turned upside down by their bad taste in men is classic Warner Bros Pre-Code cinema. Ann’s role is a supporting one, but her Myra, a restless youth feeling stifled by her surroundings and her protective older sister is one of the more interesting characters Dvorak played during her five years at Warner Bros. Her breakdown scene towards the end of the film is heartbreaking and truly memorable.
Of course the film really belongs to Aline MacMahon. As Olga, she is tough, brassy, and independent, but proves to be just as vulnerable as the rest of us when an old flame (and bad penny) turns up on her doorstep. Aline and Ann work beautifully together and are completely believable as sisters. It’s unfortunate that the only other time they appeared in the same film, 1934’s Side Streets, they were given little screen time together.
Directed by Mervyn Leroy (who was also responsible for Three on a Match) and featuring a strong supporting cast of familiar 1930s faces like Glenda Farrell, Lyle Talbot, Preston Foster, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, and Jane Darwell, Heat Lightning is sure to please any Pre-Code fan. Just look at that box art!
This is being advertised as a remastered print, but I am assuming this is the same one that has run on TCM the last couple of years.
Happy Holidays to me. Thanks Warner Archive!
The Long Night is going to air on Turner Classic movies on Saturday, December 4th at 9:00pm PST.