If I am not mistaken, this week’s release of Flame of Barbary Coast marks the first Ann Dvorak title out on blu-ray. I am not familiar with Olive Films who is the distributor so I have not yet taken the $22 plunge, but they are offering a $16 DVD option. Anyone familiar with them? A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of viewing a restored 35mm print of Flame in a screening room on the Paramount lot. It was struck off the original negative and looked magnificent. I am hoping this is the copy that was used for the Olive Films release.
Flame of Barbary Coast is not the most notable John Wayne film, but – it is a John Wayne film, which means it’s one of the more notable Ann Dvorak titles. It was the first film she made after returning from British war duties and it’s actually one of the higher budget movies of her career. It quite possibly contains the most elaborate costumes she ever wore onscreen and her hair was certainly never that big again. While she sang here and there in some of her Warner Bros films, Flame gave her the opportunity to carry multiple musical numbers and it was a role she enjoyed.
No, it’s not my favorite Ann movie, but I think I may have just talked (or blogged) myself into ordering that blu-ray!
I am not sure how long it’s been there, but someone recently notified me that Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel is now showing up for pre-order on the Turner Classic Movies website. I have to say, this really makes me feel like a legitimate classic film biographer.
Also, I was contacted by two separate places in the Chicago area for screenings/book signings. After 15 years, this is all becoming quite real!
Image courtesy of Annyas.com
On June 18, 1932, Warner Bros. officially purchased Ann Dvorak’s contract from Howard Hughes. Ann had signed with Hughes’ Caddo Company in August 1931 after having been cast in Scarface. She only made one other film for Hughes, Sky Devils, before he agreed to loan her out to Warner Bros. exclusively for the first half of 1932. The Burbank studio soon decided they were done borrowing Ann and wanted to own her outright, and negotiations were finally completed in June. The final price was $40,000 which was $10,000 more than what MGM had paid for another Caddo contract player – Jean Harlow.
Warner Bros. immediate plans were to loan Ann out to another studio while their annual summer shut-down was taking place. Little did they know that Ann had her own plans that did not involve making movies…
On June 17, 1935, Ann reported for work at Warner Bros. on the feature Dr. Socrates. The film marked the second time Ann acted opposite Paul Muni, their first pairing having been for legendary gangster film, Scarface. And while this second go-around isn’t nearly as memorable as the first, Dr. Socrates is one of the higher budget films Ann made at Warner Bros., and is enjoyable enough.
I have been in Las Vegas for the last couple of days, so in honor of my trip – here is a photo of Ann Dvorak and Joseph Schildkraut hitting the casino tables in Flame of Barbary Coast.
We’ve spent a few days looking at Ann’s signature over the years. For those of you interested in getting an authentic Ann Dvorak autograph here are a couple of photos to be aware of – the studio issued images signed by a secretary.
Both of these are from the later 1940s, measure 5×7, and appear to have been signed by the same person. These two are the images I have seen most often, so they are definitely floating around. Compared to the signatures we looked at yesterday, these are a much more fluid and flowery script.
What should an Ann Dvorak autograph cost? I my opinion, a cut signature should be around $15, and $20 would be pushing it. An 8×10 around $40 and an 11×14 around $75. Of course it also depends on the quality of the photo and who the photographer was. I have a number of Ann’s film and radio contracts and don’t think I ever paid more than $30 for any of those. I think the most I ever spent on an Ann signature was a 5 page letter she wrote to her agent in 1951 and that was around $100.
Ann was not stingy with here autograph, so they’re out there. Just be sure not to pay too much, especially if she was not the one doing the signing!
Sweet Music is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, June 15th at 8:30pm PST.
Sweet Music was last aired on TCM for Ann Dvorak’s Summer Under the Stars day in August of 2011. Unfortunately, there were some technical issues with the sound for a chunk of the movie. I am actually surprised it has taken them this long to re-air it.
Yesterday, we looked at Ann’s signature from the early 1930s. Sometime around 1936, she altered it because someone had been forging her’s on checks. I looked through my mountain of photos and did not find any with the alternate autograph, so here are some paper examples.
The first one is off a 1950 talent agency contract and the second is a 1949 cut. The signature is much more loose than the earlier one, with the biggest difference being the large “D” with part of “vorak” residing within the first letter.
This last cut is from 1964, so you can see that Ann altered her signature very little over 30 years.
Yesterday, we took a look at the first autographed photo of Ann-D I ever bought. Unfortunately, it turned out to not be her signature, but was probably signed by a studio secretary. Today, we take a look at the real deal.
Here we have two 11x14s signed by Ann sometime between 1932 and 1936. I know this because around 1936 Ann changed her signature. Apparently, someone was forging her signature on checks and so she altered her autograph. Here’s a closer look at the signature on the second photo.
The top photo I did not pay a dime for. A local dealer who I have known for years obtained it in a lot of other photos which he made a huge profit on, so he just handed it over to me one day!
The second photo I bought from an eBay dealer. As I recall, I had purchased some Ann item from him and asked if he had anything else, and he came up with this gorgeous shot. He wanted $120 which I really could not afford at the time. I offered $75 and once he realized that I was an obsessive fan and not a dealer who would try to turn a profit, he let it go for the $75. It has hung up in every place I have lived ever since.
The above cut signature is currently listed on eBay and is another example of Ann’s pre-1936 autograph. The asking price is $99 which is a bit high. The photo that’s with it usually goes for around $30-45 (assuming it’s original) and the cut should not be more than $20, so $50 is a more accurate price.
Tomorrow, we’ll dig up Ann’s post 1936 signature.
This was the first autographed portrait of Ann I ever purchased. It was around 1998 or 1999 and I bought it in the main dealer room of a memorabilia show at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. I opened up a binder and there she was with a mere $35 price tag. This was in my novice days of collecting and I had not yet developed my poker face, so when I started doing my happy dance the dealer half-jokingly asked if I would step away for a moment while he changed the price.
Turns out, the signature is fake.
I don’t think it’s a deliberate forgery. It looks like a vintage signature, so it was probably signed by a studio secretary. Still, it was a drag when I realized this a few years later but at least it a nice portrait…that has been kind of ruined with an unauthentic autograph.
It just goes to show that one should always be leery when purchasing any sort of celebrity signature that is not on an official document.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at what Ann’s signature actually looks like.