Over the years, I have amassed a decent collection of memorabilia from Ann Dvorak films, mainly because most of her titles are not particularly collectible, so there’s been virtually no competition. Scarface is on one of those rare Ann-D films that commands a high price tag, so I don’t have much from it except for still photographs.
My Scarface memorabilia dry-spell is now coming to an end with the purchase of this lobby card. I won it on eBay a couple of days ago. Maybe I shouldn’t jinx it, because it has not yet arrived in the mail but I am pretty excited about it. Sure, it’s trimmed, mounted on craft paper, and may or may not be from a 1930s reissue, but for 27 bucks, I’ll take it. Lobby cards from Scarface usually go for a few hundred and can run into the thousands, so this is a deal even if it is in lousy condition.
The University Press of Kentucky’s Fall/Winter Catalog is now available, featuring – you guessed it – Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel. It’s on page four, and it’s awesome.
A by product of collecting Ann Dvorak memorabilia for 15+ years is my small collection of items relating to Anna Lehr, Ann’s mom. Lehr started her career as a vaudeville performer before moving on to films. Considering she retired from cinema in the early 1920s, I think the amount of items I have been able to find is pretty impressive. I posted a few of them in an Anna Lehr gallery, which I have not gotten around to updating even though I have picked up a few more items since.
Once upon a time, before marriage and parenthood, I use to actually do eBay searches for all of Ann’s movie titles, along with all of Anna Lehr’s which is how I came across this lobby card for A Child For Sale from 1920. In some photos of Lehr, you can really tell she is Ann’s mom though in this image she kind of looks like a generic 1910s film actress. Still, a lobby card of Ann Dvorak’s mom is pretty darn cool, don’t ya think?
The Toronto Film Society has announced the line up for a pre-Code weekend taking place May 10th – 12th at the Carlton Cinema in Ontario. On the bill for Sunday is The Strange Love of Molly Louvain which is a personal favorite of mine, co-starring Lee Tracy and Leslie Fenton (aka Mr. Ann Dvorak). Ontario is a bit too far from home, which is too bad because, wow – 24 films in three days + Ann Dvorak. What a weekend!
There are certain “firsts” one usually remembers; first kiss, first date with a spouse, first trip to Disneyland – my list also includes my first Ann Dvorak lobby card.
It was the fall of 1997 and while interning at a Beverly Hills talent agency, I met a fellow named Darin who introduced me to the mad, mad world of movie memorabilia collecting. I had expressed an interest in Ann Dvorak, who turned out to be an economical choice because – well, no one else collected on her, so items from her films were relatively inexpensive.
One day on our lunch break, Darin took me to a shop called The Hollywood Poster Exchange located in West Hollywood at the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega. By that time, the shop had been around almost 30 years under the ownership of Bob Colman. I was completely new to the memorabilia hobby and was in awe when Bob pulled out a few Racing Lady lobby cards. Up until then, I thought all vintage posters cost a bloody fortune, so to have the opportunity to own something from the 1930s was truly amazing. The card I selected was $15, which was a lot for me at the time and I had never even heard of Racing Lady, but it didn’t matter. It was vintage, it was Ann Dvorak, and it was mine.
It’s now been over 15 years since I bough that first card, and I have purchased many, many more. Still, I will never forget that first one, which marked the day that I officially became an Ann Dvorak collector.
A couple of months back I reported that a Thanks a Million DVD was in the works. Looks like tomorrow is the big day, with the film getting its first official home “video” release as part of the Fox Cinema Archives. It is available though their website for $19.98, but Amazon looks like a better bet at $13.99.
Thanks a Million is not a personal favorite and Ann absolutely hated the movie, but any Ann is worthwhile Ann, so I’ve already pre-ordered this one.
This is another item from the collection that falls under the “favorite” category. It’s three Warner Bros. gals, Ann Dvorak, Ann Sheridan, and Ann Nagel presumably hanging out in Sheridan’s dressing room since she doesn’t have any make-up on and appears to be in lounge-wear. The photo is from late 1936 and Dvorak is in costume as Della Street in The Case of the Stuttering Bishop. Even though Nagel is also in that film, I don’t think she’s in costume, but I could be wrong. When this was taken, Dvorak was weeks, or even days away from severing ties with the studio.
I purchased this one around 11 years ago at a local shop. It was filed in the Ann Sheridan folder and when I found it, I felt like I had struck gold. I considered using it in the book, but ultimately it did not make the cut. Still, it is a great picture of three fabulous ladies.
The Biography Progress Reports keep coming fast and furious, which is great considering how few and far between they were when I first started posting them almost four years ago. There are a few minor things to report.
First off, I was contacted by the designer/typesetter this week who laid out what to expect in the coming months. A copy editor has been assigned to the book and will be looking it over for spelling/grammar/style more so than content. I should be getting those corrections in about two weeks, and fingers crossed they are minimal. Once I approve the corrections, the revised manuscript will be sent to the designer who will lay it all out.
Next, a full description of the book is now posted on the University Press of Kentucky’s website. It is not showing up on Amazon yet, which still is just displaying bare bones, but I would imagine it is only a matter of time. I did not write this description, though I did have final approval on it. Still, it’s bizarre to have someone else writing about this book I had been working on for over a decade. I’m not sure I will ever get used to the fact that this thing is really out of my hands and out in the world.
Finally, the book is now available for pre-order on the Amazon UK site, though the discount is currently a mere .17 pence. Oh, and for the library crowd, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel is now available through Baker & Taylor!
More news soon for sure! (Oh, and I can’t get enough of this cover, so expect to see it pop up on multiple posts.)
The Case of the Stuttering Bishop is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, April 13th at 7:45am PST.
At the dawn of 1932, Ann Dvorak was under contract to Howard Hughes. The millionaire producer had allowed Howard Hawks to bring Ann over to Warner Bros. for The Crowd Roars, and the Burbank studio quickly became infatuated with her. They were, in fact, so eager to have Ann in their films that they cemented a deal with Hughes to borrow her exclusively for six months. One of the terms of this agreement gave Hughes script approval on anything they wanted Ann to appear in.
On April 11, 1932, Warner Bros. sent Hughes’ Caddo Co. the script for a movie called Crooner along with a letter requesting that Ann appear in this film instead of Cabin in the Cotton which had been previously approved. The role she had been pegged to play in Cabin in the Cotton was Nordie Lord, a plantation owner’s saucy daughter. By the time the film started shooting, the character’s name had been changed to Madge Norwood and Warner contract player Bette Davis had stepped into the role.
Those of you familiar with Crooner and Cabin in the Cotton may be either scratching your heads in wonder or screaming “WHY??” up to the heavens. While Crooner is an amusing enough little comedy, Ann has very little to do in it, especially when compared to Madge Norwood, who Bette later described as the first “downright, forthright bitch,” she ever played.
Warner Bros. seems to have frequently cast actors in one film and then suddenly swap them out for someone else, so I don’t think there was any deep meaning behind putting Ann on Crooner instead of Cabin in the Cotton. Eighty three years later, it’s just another “what if” in the career of Ann Dvorak.