The Taylor Haters (I): Richard Schickel

This gallery contains 7 photos.

By publishing this, I hope to illustrate the extraordinary level of venom spewed by the Taylor haters for decades after Mr. Taylor’s death. They despised the fact that Robert Taylor’s career wasn’t destroyed by his HUAC* testimony. His award for … Continue reading

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“I Love Melvin” Is Not Playing on TCM on April 13 (USA) Updated

Sorry, this appears to have been changed.  I went to set my recorder and found a Mickey Rooney film in this time slot.  I’m sure it’s part of a salute to Mr. Rooney after his death.  Hopefully Melvin will turn up later. 

“I Love Melvin” (1953) is playing on Turner Classic Movies  on Sun, April 13, 2014 10:30 AM est. Closed captioned.

Okay, “I Love Melvin” isn’t a Robert Taylor movie.  It is a fun movie with a delightful cameo by Mr. Taylor.

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Robert Taylor and Debbie Reynolds in “I Love Melvin.”

This film is an absolute delight from the pre-credit sequence where Debbie Reynolds writes the title of the film in lipstick on a mirror to the hilarious chase through Central Park at the end. In between Debbie dreams of becoming a Hollywood star in some magnificently staged dream sequences, thanks to the genius of Cedric Gibbons, in one of which she meets Robert Taylor as Robert Taylor! In another sequence she dances with three dancers in Fred Astaire masks and three in Gene Kelly masks – before winning an Oscar! Great stuff.

Debbie is perfect as both great movie star and girl next door. Her Broadway performance as a football is a riot. Equally good is Donald O’Connor as her lover and aspiring photographer. His roller-skate sequence is brilliant, as is a dance sequence in which he travels the world and plays numerous characters (again thanks to Gibbons). There is great support from Allyn Joslyn, as Debbie’s exasperated father, and from Jim Backus as a crabby photographer. And the little girl has a good song too.

The score is jazzy and upbeat, and it’s great to see the real Central Park and other New York locations, shot in gorgeous technicolor. I think this terrific musical is very under-rated.
Review by David Atfield (bits@alphalink.com.au) from Canberra, Australia for the IMDb.
ist2_3198263-decorative-swirl-motifTrivia:
Howard Keel was to have originally been the star in Judy (Debbie Reynolds)’s dream, but Keel and his song “And There You Are” were cut after previews and replaced with a brief scene between Reynolds and ‘Robert Taylor’.

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Robert Taylor and Spangler Arlington Brugh

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Robert Taylor was born in 1934. He sprang fully formed from the head of Louis B. Mayer.* His name was chosen by Ida Koverman, Mayer’s secretary. He was tall, dark and handsome with sparkling blue eyes and black hair. His … Continue reading

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“Waterloo Bridge,” 1940, Is Playing on TCM on April 9 (USA)

“Waterloo Bridge” (1940) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Wed, April 09, 2014 08:00 PM est. Closed Captioned. This was both Robert Taylor’s and Vivien Leigh’s favorite movie.

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Robert Taylor holds Vivien Leigh in “Waterloo Bridge.”

Robert Taylor was an inspired choice for the role… Not only does he have an imposing screen presence, but he brings the perfect mix of enlightenment, humor, compassion and emotion to the part…

Opposite him, Oscar Winner Vivien Leigh, perfect in her innocent lovely look, radiantly beautiful, specially that evening in a trailing white chiffon gown… Leigh floods her role with personal emotion giving her character a charismatic life of its own… As a great star, she delivers a heartfelt performance turning her character into a woman who undergoes an emotional awakening…

In this sensitive motion picture, Mervyn LeRoy captures all the tenderness and moving qualities… He makes every small thing eloquent, concentrating the highly skilled efforts of many technicians on the telling of a very simple bittersweet love story… Vivien Leigh paints a picture that few men will be able to resist… Her performance captures the audience to the point of complete absorption… Robert Taylor (carrying sympathy all the way) quietly throws all his vitality as an ambition actor into the task… Their film, a credit to both, is a heavily sentimental tale about the vagaries of wartime…

Love is the only thing this movie is about… The story is simple: Myra Lester (Leigh) is a frail creature, an innocent young ballet dancer and Roy Cronin (Taylor) is an aristocratic British army officer… When their eyes met it took no time at all for their hearts to feel the loving call… They meet on London’s Waterloo Bridge during an air raid, and fall deeply in love… Their romance is sublime, and they soon agree to marry…

The lover’s marriage has to be postponed when the handsome officer is suddenly called to the front… Sadly, the sweet ballerina misses her performance to see her captain off at Waterloo Station… Fired from the troupe, she is joined by her loyal friend, Virginia Field (Kitty Meredith), and the two vainly try to find work, finally sinking into poverty and the threatening fear that goes with it…

The film is replete with beautiful and poignant scenes, specially the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ waltz scene in the Candlelight Club, before Taylor leaves for France…

Seen today, ‘Waterloo Bridge’ has retained all its charm and power, all its rich sentiment, and tragic evocations…  Review by Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico for the IMDB.

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“His Brother’s Wife” starring Taylor and Stanwyck, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on April 8 (USA)

“His Brother’s Wife” (1936) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tue, April 08, 2014 12:00 PM est. Not closed captioned.

RT6346Folks, this one is from 1936 so we have to take it for what it is. During the early years of talkies, Hollywood came up with some very interesting tales to tell. His Brother’s Wife is one of them. Robert Taylor plays the younger brother to the brother that Barbara Stanwyck marries in retaliation for Taylor’s going into the depths of the Jungle to find a cure for some god-awful plague. Confusing? It is? Confusing and almost silly. Yet, there is a touch of that old classic film magic that makes it a delight to watch.

There is something about the on-screen chemistry between Taylor and Stanwyck, (most likely springing from their real life romance), that makes you keep watching. The scenes between the two stars make the whole twisted tale worth sitting through.

Now, don’t be fooled, there are many more films that have plots that are more contrived than His Brother’s Wife, but there is something about the jump form New York, to the Jungle, and then back to New York, then to the Jungle again, that makes this film a little more silly than most. But, lets face it, if you choose to watch this film you are doing so all for the man with the perfect profile’s smile (Robert Taylor) and The Ball of Fire’s spunk (Barbara Stanwyck).

All and all this is a fun film to watch. It by no means is predictable–

most likely due to the fact that the plot is out of this world.

Enjoy. I did. Review by movieblue from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the imdb.

RT6586My take: His Brother’s Wife is the first film in which Mr. Taylor and Ms. Stanwyck co-starred.  Their real life relationship was in its early stages and the love scenes are quite convincing.  Although this film can’t decide whether it wants to be a light hearted love story or a serious medical drama, the uncritical viewer can enjoy it a lot.

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“Billy the Kid” 1941, Is Playing on TCM on March 31 (USA) Update

Note: This may not be true.  I was going by TCM’s “Now Playing” but other listings say it is the 1930 b & w version. 

“Billy the Kid” is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, March 31 at 12 noon eastern time.  Closed captioned.

bk22“Billy the Kid” (1941) is an early example of the use of Technicolor. The film is visually outstanding. Cinematographers Leonard V. Skall and Leonard Smith received an Oscar nomination for their work on the film and should have won. From close-ups to panoramic views of Monument Valley, Kanab, Utah and other locations they used color, composition and especially light masterfully. Some scenes evoke the stillness of a Vermeer and others the chiaroscuro of Rembrandt. Near the end of the movie Billy is standing near the window of a tumbledown shack. The viewer is outside and can see his body fading into the shadows except for the upper part of his face, especially the intense blue eyes. There is a Caravaggio-like spotlight on the hand and gun the outlaw is pointing out the window.

Historically, there is little resemblance between the film and the actual life of Billy the Kid. The general details of his background is correct but the names have all been changed, perhaps to head off the complaints of purists. There is no Pat Garrett, but rather a Jim Sherman (Brian Donlevy), no William Tunstall but an Eric Keating (Ian Hunter). The filmmakers obviously wanted to tell a good story without regard to historical accuracy.

Robert Taylor was 30 when Billy the Kid was filmed. He’s too old for the part but not by as much as some have made out. To seem younger, Taylor plays Billy as uncouth, uneducated and probably illiterate. The outlaw is incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions. He’s always being bombarded by new ideas and new customs. There is a lighthearted scene where Billy is handed a teacup and saucer, objects obviously new to him. He picks the cup up as though it were a glass until he sees what Keating is doing. Billy holds the cup awkwardly by the handle until Keating turns away then he gulps the tea with his original hold.

This was Robert Taylor in his element. He was a superb rider and did all of his own riding in this film, even in the long shots. Taylor also had the western swagger down pat and seems very comfortable in his cowboy costumes. In private life, he often wore jeans, boots and a Stetson. In the first and last parts of the film, Billy dresses all in black. In the middle he wears a blue shirt to indicate his changed lifestyle. Robert Taylor practiced left-handed drawing and shooting for weeks before the film and used the skill again in the film “Ride Vaquero” in 1953.

Taylor and Donlevy are comfortable with one another, having worked together before in “This Is My Affair” in 1937. The easiness of their relationship makes Billy’s (temporary) transformation into an honest cowboy believable. Mary Howard has a small role as Eric Keating’s sister and makes the most of it. Ian Hunter is believable as rancher Keating.

The villains, especially Hickey (Gene Lockhart) are suitably nasty. Henry O’Neill, a leading character actor, throws himself with gusto into the role of a newspaper publisher whose press is constantly being sabotaged. Review by me for the imdb.

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“Quentin Durward” Is Playing on TCM on March 30 (USA)

“Quentin Durward” (1955) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Sun, March 30, 2014 06:15 PM est. Closed captioned.

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Director: Richard Thorpe. Robert Taylor, Kay Kendall, Robert Morley, George Cole, Alec Clunes, Duncan Lamont, Marius Goring. Taylor plays Sir Walter Scott’s dashing Scots hero in this handsome but static costumer about Louis XI’s reign in 15th- century France. CinemaScope.TCM capsule review.

This is a film to be watched with a wide and affectionate grin. Outstanding are Robert Morley as Louis XI, the infamous and wily ‘Spider’ of France, and Robert Taylor as the eponymous Durward, a would-be chivalrous hero born out of his time who is none too sure of himself. The necessary, and highly satisfactory, heroics are spiced with a rich leavening of humor and some genuine moral questions – how much should a man sacrifice for his country’s sake? His love? His life? His honor?

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But above all it is a joyous and thrilling romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Durward wants to be a knight in shining armor, but circumstances tend to conspire against him, and his lady is definitely the stronger-willed of the two; though like the audience, she cannot resist his puppy dog charm. And ambiguous, cynical, cowardly Louis is often in danger of stealing the show outright, as he sits at the center of his web and pulls the strings that manipulate all the other characters – a far-from-two-dimensional villain after my own heart!

Definitely a superior swashbuckler, with a saving vein of humor. Review by lgenWordsmith on IMDB

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