On July 31, 1936, RKO closed a deal to borrow Ann Dvorak from Warner Bros. for the feature We Who Are About to Die, co-starring Preston Foster and John Beal. This was significant for Ann because she had not made a movie in over a year, having spent most of 1936 entangled in a legal battle over her contract with Warner Bros. Even though the courts had washed their hands of the matter weeks before, the two were still at an impasse, so the loan-out seems to have been a compromise each could live with.
For Ann’s services, RKO had to shell out $3,000 a week, half of which paid Ann’s contracted weekly salary. RKO would end up borrowing her again for Racing Lady, and even though she would end up making two more films for her home studio before the year was over, her days at Warner Bros. were numbered.
I am still in the midst of proofing the book, so here’s another gorgeous portrait of Ann Dvorak with a co-star. This time it’s Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in Love is a Racket.
Yesterday marked what would have been Joe E. Brown’s 122nd birthday. As a belated commemoration, here is an adorable photo of Ann Dvorak and Brown as Joe & Fay Wilson in 1935’s Bright Lights.
(I’m still proofing the book, so I am taking the easy way today.)
Ann Dvorak’s role in Side Streets is one of the smallest of her career. The Warner Bros. feature from 1934 stars Aline MacMahon, who is awesome, and kind of makes up for the absence of Ann. Of all the years I have been collecting Ann Dvorak memorabilia, I have only found two photos from Side Streets and this one lobby card. I am actually surprised she made it onto one of the cards, so I will be grateful for that and end this post here.
A few months back, the marketing department at the University Press of Kentucky had me fill out a lengthy questionnaire which included providing names of appropriate people who would be willing to provide quotes about the Ann Dvorak book for the back cover and publicity purposes. I was informed by two of those people yesterday that UPK contacted them and sent along a copy of the manuscript.
At this point, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel has only been read by a handful of people, three of who are close friends. Even though the two authors who were contacted yesterday are also friends, it’s still nerve wracking knowing that this book I have been working on for an inordinate amount of time is making it’s way out into the world. I finished re-reading it yesterday, and am going to give it a second go, just to make sure I caught all the errors. There are a few things I wish I could go back and do different, but we’re past the point of no return and it’s full steam ahead. Overall, I think it turned out quite well and the time has finally come to find out if others agree.
On July 26, 1934, Warner workhorse Ann Dvorak reported to the set of Gentlemen Are Born. She had finished working on I Sell Anything the day before, which was thankless role in a quickie programmer. Unfortunately, Gentlemen Are Born would not give her much more to do.
When I first saw Gentlemen Are Born a number of years ago, I absolutely hated it, mainly because it is such a waste of Ann’s talents. I re-watched it 2011 when it ran on TCM as part of Ann’s “Summer Under the Stars” day, and enjoyed it much more. It still angers me for its under-utilization of Ann, but overall this tale of college graduates who have difficultly adjusting to the real world in the midst of the Great Depression is fairly engaging. It’s also very timely, considering what today’s graduates have been facing the last few years, and the film is a great example of Warner Bros. willingness to tackle topical issues of the day.
However, it’s still a minuscule role for Ann Dvorak and therefore my job to complain about it.
On July 25, 1934, Ann Dvorak finished her scenes on I Sell Anything, one of the most inconsequential films of her career. Her part in the movie serves very little purpose, other than to give Pat O’Brien someone to end up with by the closing credits. It feels like most of her lines had originally belonged to some of the male characters and that her part was added as an afterthought. Ann worked on I Sell Anything for less than two weeks, though it’s impressive her services were needed for more than a couple of days.
If you watched yesterday’s video, you would have seen the grand unveiling of the hard copy proofs of the Ann Dvorak manuscript. If you didn’t watch, you basically missed me opening a box with a large stack of paper in it. But, what does that large stack of paper mean?
It means two things. First, I need to read the entire book and keep an eye out for any grammatical errors or factual ones that I may have previously missed. I spent the better part of yesterday re-reading the manuscript. At first I was apprehensive. It’s been a few months since I looked at it, and I was fearful that I would hate it. However, for the sake of sounding egotistical, I have to say that it’s a pretty good read and I’m damn proud of it.
There were two copies of the book in that box, and the second copy is for compiling an index. That’s right, I am responsible for compiling an index or hire a professional indexer for roughly $3,000. This was the part of the process I was truly dreading. Fortunately, one of my colleagues at the library who also happens to be one of my dearest friends is a cataloger with an affinity for things like indexes and offered to help. By helping, she actually meant compiling the whole index herself which she has been slamming through. Amusingly, she frequently thanks me for letting her do this, when I should actually be kissing the ground she walks on. For all the crazy Ann Dvorak has sometimes brought into my life, there has also been some outstanding people holding my hand along the way.
Once these two tasks are done, I think that’s it in terms of my involvement in the production of the book. However, I’ve got marketing and more marketing in my future, so the hard work is just beginning.
Just to mix things up a bit, today’s post is a video. My husband shot it, so any quality or framing complaints should be directed towards him.
Yesterday, we took a look at Ann Dvorak paper dolls which ran in a Sunday newspaper, presumably to promote a latest Warner Bros. release. Today, I give you Ann Dvorak patterns – one for a “two-piece ‘market boy’ frock,” and the other for either a “tuck-in shirt or overblouse.” Both patterns advertise Ann as a Warner player and both would set you back 15 cents in the mid-1930s. Interestingly, the photo of Ann used on the blouse pattern is one that was used to promote Racing Lady, a RKO release. Please note that in the 1930s, a size 14 was a 32″ bust and 35″ hips, which is probably around a size 4 today.
These vintage patterns are fairly collectible and there are additional Dvorak ones, though I usually get outbid when they show up on eBay. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add more to the collection in the near future.