Valley of the Kings, 1954, Is Playing on TCM on May 19 (USA)

Valley of the Kings, 1954, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday May 19 at 6.15 p.m. est. Closed captioned.  Mark Brandon, the ruggedly handsome archaeologist played by Robert Taylor is thought to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
RT5571This is one of my favorite Robert Taylor pictures. Eleanor Parker and he had wonderful chemistry and both of them looked their best in this exotic action-adventure film.  The following is my review for the IMDb.

This isn’t a serious or “meaningful” film. It is pure entertainment, beautifully photographed on location in Egypt. The stars, Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker, had great chemistry both off-screen and on. Taylor manages to be glamorous even when trapped in a sandstorm. The plot is relatively thin with Parker seeking to validate part of the Old Testament by finding the tomb of the Pharaoh who reigned in the time of the Biblical Joseph. She bats her eyelashes at Taylor who comes along happily. Then she introduces her husband, Carlos Thompson. There are horse and carriage chases, murders, the aforementioned sandstorm, a spectacular fight at Abu Simbel, a scorpion attack–all in ninety minutes. Given the slower pace of movies in the 1950s, there is also time for Taylor and Parker to discover each other more thoroughly (over some fermented goat). Egyptian belly dancer Samia Gamal shakes her stuff at the demure Parker. Highly enjoyable.

RT2304One of the best screen kisses–ever!

Some behind the scenes photos:

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From left: Robert Taylor horsing around with a donkey; looking insecure on a camel.

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From left: Robert Taylor with belly dancer; with Kurt Kazsnar and Carlos Thompson; at the sphinx.

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From left: Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker at the Mena House Hotel; touring by carriage.

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From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker in Egypt.

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From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker, taking pictures; with director Robert Pirosh; saying hello to a camel.

Actress Eleanor Parker, on her kneels, helps Robert Taylor, dressed up as an archaeologist, to lace up a boot on the set of the movie 'Valley of the Kings'. Egypt, 1954. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Actress Eleanor Parker, on her knees, helps Robert Taylor, dressed up as an archaeologist, to lace up a boot on the set of the movie ‘Valley of the Kings’. Egypt, 1954. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Mr. Taylor injured his knee jumping off a camel and may have had difficulty lacing his boots.  They both look happy about it.

 

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Un-Dedicated Actor

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Un-Dedicated Actor I don’t know the source of this, but it is from a movie magazine from the early 1962 or 1963. He became a movie star because he “just happened” to join a college acting group. He was lonely, … Continue reading

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The Secret Land, 1948, Is Playing on TCM on May 8 (USA)

There are only two Robert Taylor films on Turner Classic Movies, USA, in May.  The first is The Secret Land, which Mr. Taylor narrates. The second is Valley of the Kings, a film I love and in which Mr. Taylor not only acts extremely well but looks incredibly sexy.

The Secret Land, 1948, is Playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, May 8 at 1 p.m. a.m. est. Not closed captioned.

The Secret Land, 1948, is a documentary about Admiral Richard Bird and his explorations of the Antartic.  It is narrated by Cmdr. Robert Montgomery USNR, Lt. Robert Taylor USNR and Lt. Van Heflin AAFR. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in 1948.

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Here are two synopses:

  • This documentary, filmed entirely by military photographers, recounts the U.S. Navy’s 1946-47 expedition to Antarctica, known as Operation High Jump. The expedition was under the overall command of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, no stranger to the Antarctic. This was a large undertaking involving 13 ships and over 4000 thousand men. The fleet departed from Norfolk, Virginia traveling through the Panama canal and then southward to their final destination. The trip through the ice pack was fraught with danger and forced the submarine that was part of the fleet to withdraw. The trip was a success meeting all of its scientific goals. The film is narrated by three Hollywood stars, all of whom served in the US Navy: Robert Taylor, Robert Montgomery and Van Heflin (I)’.Written by garykmcd

  • This film documents the largest expedition ever undertaken to explore Antarctica. The expedition, code named “Operation High Jump,” was made by the U.S. Navy and involved 13 ships (including one submarine), 23 aircraft, and about 4700 men. The film was shot by photographers from all branches of the U.S. military. One purpose of the expedition was to explore and photograph several thousand square miles of inland and coastal areas that had not been previously mapped. Additionally, military planners wanted to evaluate whether military troops could successfully perform against an adversary in such an environment.Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@verizon.net>

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    Robert Taylor in the Navy, with Lucille Ball and Kathryn Grayson, ca. 1943.

  • and one Review:
     Some Real Heroes

    Back in the day when documentary film making was more than some obnoxious twit sticking a video camera in front of celebrities and then editing the content for a political agenda, MGM contributed this classic about Admiral Byrd’s post World War II expedition to Antarctica. The film was narrated by three WWII veterans with MGM, Robert Montgomery, Van Heflin, and Robert Taylor.

    The men here are assigned some of the most hazardous peace time duty the United States Navy ever had to perform. The polar regions are some of the most forbidding area on our globe. The film captures some real dangers the Navy faced. We see a submarine caught in a frozen ice flow, a rescue of a man being transferred from ship to ship via breecher’s buoy when the line snaps and he’s tossed into the frozen sea, a crash of one of the planes. This film captures all the hazards of the expedition and the forbidding beauty of Antarctica.

    From his transatlantic flights and his early polar expeditions Admiral Richard E. Byrd was a genuine American hero. We probably know more about the geography of the polar regions due to his work than any other individual. After this expedition, Byrd in fact did return to the South Pole as late as two years before he died in 1957. Review for the Imdb by bkoganbing (Buffalo, New York).

 

 

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The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on April 27 (USA)

The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. est.  Closed Captioned.  It’s a story about Washington D.C. It’s about dirty tricks, sleazy operatives, scurrilous personal attacks and lies. The 2016 election?  No, The Gorgeous Hussy.

Robert Taylor & Joan in "The Gorgeous Hussy," (Photo colorized)

Robert Taylor & Joan Crawford in “The Gorgeous Hussy,” (Photo colorized)

The story centers around Peggy O’Neill, Joan Crawford, an innkeeper’s daughter called“Pothouse Peg,” for her politics and her men. The men are a list of Metro’s best—Robert Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Franchot Tone, Melvyn Douglas and Lionel Barrymore. Robert Taylor dominates the first quarter of the picture with his enormous energy, his playfulness, his rapport with Crawford and his skin-tight costume. Taylor even sings and dances.

After Bow Timberlake’s (Taylor’s) heroic off screen death, things settle down. Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) dominates every scene he’s in. Beulah Bondi, as Rachel Jackson, is equally good. She won an Oscar nomination for her role. Joan Crawford is usually criticized for appearing in an historical picture because RT2329she was too “modern.” Here she handles her costumes beautifully, using her skirts to express a range of emotions. While her acting is fine, she is overwhelmed by the male contingent.

Franchot Tone, Crawford’s husband at the time, is quietly effective as Peg’s second husband John Eaton. Melvyn Douglas brings strength and intelligence to his role as Virginian John Randolph. Jimmy Stewart is wasted as Peg’s failed suitor. The Gorgeous Hussy is fun, sometimes moving and a reminder that political behavior wasn’t all that different in the 1820s.  Review by me for the IMDB.

Some behind the scenes photos:

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Left right: Joan Crawford serves ice cream to Robert Taylor; Mr. Taylor laughing; a close shave.

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Left to right: Ms. Crawford and Mr. Taylor; Mr. Taylor and Ms. Crawford playing parchesi; Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford, Melvin Douglas and Franchot Tone.

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Left to right: Joan Crawford and friend Barbara Stanwyck; Jimmy Stewart,  Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda.

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Bob Taylor’s Ten Years in Wonderland

This gallery contains 11 photos.

BOB TAYLOR’S Ten Years in Wonderland Movie Stars Parade, 1943 This article is incomplete. If anyone could send me a copy of the last page, I would appreciate it very much.  The photo captions are the originals. I do enjoy … Continue reading

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Conspirator, 1949, Is Playing on TCM Thursday April 12 (USA)

Conspirator, 1949, is rarely shown on TV,  although it was in March.   The movie will be playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, April 12 at 10:45 a.m.  Closed captioned.  This is the first film Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor made together.

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Most of the anti-Communist films of the 1940s – 1950s are crap. No doubt about that. Thrown together they had preposterous plots emanating from the Kremlin to sap our national resources or strength. For example one film has Lee Marvin heading a major atomic spy ring outside a missile range from a hamburger/hash stand! The best films of the period dealing with communist threats were the science fiction films like The Thing or Them wherein the monster was a symbol for the threat to Americans (from an “alien” source). Occasionally a semi-documentary might attract attention, but not much.

Oddly enough this early movie was somewhat above average. First it correctly looked at our wartime friend and partner England as a possible source of leakage. This turned out to be somewhat true (but the Rosenberg Case would soon show homegrown spy rings existed as well). Secondly it showed something usually ignored or rendered minor in most of these films. Here it is developed into the issue: who are you going to show greater loyalty to, the Communist Party or your naive spouse?

What I really like about Conspirator is that Robert Taylor plays the central figure. He had tackled a few ambiguous characters before World War II, most notably William Bonney in  Billy the Kid (but that screenplay, like Darryl Zanuck’s film of Jessie James, whitewashed a great deal of the bad out of the central character). But after the war MGM treated Taylor (now a seasoned leading star of theirs) to a wider variety of parts, including more villainous characters. Think of him in the somewhat earlier Undercurrent with Kate Hepburn and Robert Mitchum. Both of these films could not have been made with Taylor in the 1930s.

I also sort of enjoy the idea that Taylor, a friendly [No-this has been disproved, see my posts here under HUAC], but sincere witness for the H.U.A.C subcommittee against Communist infiltration into the movie industry actually did this film. It is his only chance to show what he thought of a Communist agent, and his interpretation (and the screenplay’s) show he saw them as naive fools.

Also it is the first time in his career that Taylor starred with the only female star of his rank with the same last name: Elizabeth Taylor. Just leaving such films as National Velvet, Little Women and Life with Father, she finally came of age here as a young bride. In some ways I have always felt that Ms Taylor’s glorious beauty was at a pristine height in films of the early 1950s like this one or Father of the Bride. Here she is in love with her dashing wartime hero husband, whom she gradually realizes is not as heroic (for England) as she thought (though he would disagree – witness his scene telling her about how he has joined one of the great causes of all time!).

The film follows their courtship, their marriage, and the discovery of his treason by her. The issue of course is whether or not he will be turned in by her, or will he love her enough to withstand pressure by his Kremlin bosses to (errr)…eradicate his error totally.

The film (as mentioned in another recent review) is above average. Taylor does play this English “Col. Redl” (of an earlier war, in a different country – but serving another Russia) as a man torn apart, but refusing to acknowledge his error of judgment. In fact his final decision puts to stop to any type of acknowledgment. The one flaw in this film is similar to the later, wretched Rogue’s March with Peter Lawford and Leo G. Carroll. The omnipotence of the British Secret Service in ferreting out traitors is shown at the tale-end. I may add that in 1949 that Secret Service (MR5) contained such “patriots” as Burgess, McClean, and Philby. Yeah they really would have been watching Taylor closely! Review by Theo Winthrop for the IMDb, 2009.

Some behind the scenes photos:

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Left to right: Robert Taylor with a gun; the Taylors with a guest on the set; Liz Taylor, Robert Taylor, Honor Blackmun; Mr. Taylor’s admiration for Ms. Taylor was such that he requested to be photographed only from the waist up.

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Left to right: making breakfast for the cameras; with Friend Ralph Couser; with Director Victor Saville and Ms. Taylor.

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Left to right: chatting with some British servicemen; rehearsing with Ms. Taylor; filming at a London tube station.

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Left to right: The Two Taylors

 

 

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Quentin Durward, 1955, Is Playing on TCM on March 31 (USA)

Quentin Durward, 1955, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, March 31 at 2:00 p.m. est. Closed Captioned.

 

RT1646Director: 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

These are a few behind the scenes photos:

RT4931RT2409Taylor's new leading lady. KK, one of Britain's most popular stars, is seen rehearsing with RT for her role with him in Sir WS's QD, being filmed by MGM in C-scope and color in England and France.
Left to right: with Stewart Granger, unknown fan or gypsy dancer, Kay Kendall

 

 

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