The Youngest Profession, 1943, Is Playing on TCM on December 13 (USA)

The Youngest Profession, 1943, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on December 13 at 12 noon est.  Closed Captioned.  Strictly speaking, this isn’t a Robert Taylor movie but it’s fun and he does appear in it.

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Jean Porter discovers Robert Taylor at her door.

Virginia Weidler and Jean Porter are part of a young girls’ fan club of the stars who collect their autographs. In fact, Virginia is the president of the club, who outlines the rules and lengths one must go through to get the most famous and desired John Hancocks. They must live in a big city like New York, because how else could they come across celebrities like Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, and Robert Taylor! All these make brief appearances, plus another of whom Virginia has a crush on, but, while we get to see him, she never does, in a clever way of closing the film. But, we begin the film in Hollywood, as Lana Turner is dictating a response to a fan’s letter, one that they call a very gracious letter. And, Lana calls the young stargazers “the youngest profession.” The plot revolves around the escapades they go on to get their target and the appeal of the film is just how star-crazy they really are. Jean Porter is a hoot as she goes all agog over Walter Pidgeon and Robert Taylor. I’m surprised to see the low rating of this film, because it was a very funny film and I had a blast. Maybe it seemed rather trivial to everyone else, but sometimes the simpleness of a film is what makes it so enjoyable and laid-back. I do admit though that the humor was not very subtle as most of the characters here get really loud and outrageous, including child actor Scotty Beckett as Virginia’s brother. Another plus is the presence and performance of Edward Arnold as Virginia’s father, who through no fault of his own, is thought to be straying with his secretary. But that is encouraged by character actress Agnes Moorehead. If you want an old-fashioned and very funny film, then hang out with those of The Youngest Profession. Review by allaboutlana for the IMDb.

On the set with Virginia Weidler:

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Johnny Eager, 1941, Is Playing on TCM on December 12 (USA)

Johnny Eager, 1941, is playing on Tuesday December 12 at 12.30 a.m. est. (actually Wednesday Dec. 13).  Closed captioned.  This is one of Mr. Taylor’s best. Don’t miss it.

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Robert Taylor and Lana Turner in “Johnny Eager.”

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Edward Arnold, Van Heflin, Robert Sterling, Patricia Dane, Glenda Farrell, Barry Nelson. Slick MGM melodrama with convoluted plot about sociology student (and daughter of D.A. Arnold) Turner falling in love with unscrupulous racketeer Taylor. Heflin won Best Supporting Actor Oscar as Taylor’s alcoholic friend.(TCM)

Having only been familiar with Robert Taylor’s body of forgettable [humpf!] work from the thirties (The Broadway Melodies, Camille, etc), seeing him in the title role of Johnny Eager 1972425_924571320890637_3709082624071824968_nwas stunning. Tom Hanks’s 180 degree turn from silly comedies to Philadelphia might be a modern day equivalent. Taylor steps into a role that would seem tailor made for Bogart, Cagney or Robinson, and does an arguably better job than any of them could have. Yes, Lana Turner is present, and yes, Van Heflin won a supporting Oscar, but Taylor owns this film.

Johnny Eager is one of the best films of the 40s, as well as one of the all time greats.
(Taken from a review by Justin Behnke on the IMDB).

Some behind the scenes photos:

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Left to right: Robert Taylor and Meryn LeRoy; Mr. Taylor and Lana Turner; filming

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor and Director LeRoy; Mr. LeRoy directs Mr. Taylor and Ms. Turner; Mr. Taylor and Mr. LeRoy go over the script.

 

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Buried Loot, 1934, Is Playing on TCM on November 27 (USA)

“Buried Loot,” 1934, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Monday November  27 (actually November 28) at 5:30 a.m. est.  Not closed captioned.

“Buried Loot” was the first in a series of quarterly MGM short subjects called Crime Does Not Pay. The series ran until 1947.  None of the actors were credited.  After “Buried Loot” the movie-going public began to ask who the handsome young leading actor was.  The studio noticed the volume of letters and realized that they had a hot property on their hands.  Robert Taylor’s career took off from there with such films as Magnificent Obsession (1935) and Camille (1936).

In “Buried Loot,” a young bank clerk embezzles $200,000 then confesses to his boss.  He is sent to prison but not before burying the money to enjoy after his release.  A cellmate talks the clerk into escaping.  I won’t spoil it by telling the rest.

A DVD set of the whole Crime Does Not Pay series is available from Warner Archive and other online retailers.

Here are a few screen shots from “Buried Loot.”

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Small Town Girl, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on November 8 (USA)

Small Town Girl, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, November 8 at 10:15 a.m. est. Closed captioned.

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Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor

For most of her career Janet Gaynor did nothing but play small town girls, the best known being Esther Blodgett. But I’ve seen her in films like State Fair and Three Loves Has Nancy and it’s the same part, the girl from the tiny hamlet who conquers the big city and the men in it. With a title like this, there was only one casting possibility.

Janet’s a girl who’s thoroughly stuck in a rut in her New England hamlet and yearns for a little adventure. She finds it in the person of Robert Taylor, a young doctor who comes from a wealthy Boston family. After a night’s carousing Gaynor and Taylor are married, to the chagrin of his fiancée, Binnie Barnes and her boyfriend James Stewart.

Remember this is Boston so Taylor’s father Lewis Stone prevails on Taylor to give the marriage a few months trial. Of course this is where the balance of the story comes in. In many ways this plot seems like a harbinger of The Way We Were.

Taylor’s career was now in full swing as Small Town Girl was the next film after his breakout performance in Magnificent Obsession. Remember in that film he was a playboy who became a doctor. Here’s he’s a doctor who doubles as a playboy. Never mind though, feminine hearts all over the English speaking world were fluttering over MGM’s latest heartthrob. My mother who was a juvenile at this time told me that Taylor’s appeal back in these days was just about the same as Elvis’s.

James Stewart was at the beginning of his career as well as MGM had him in about seven features in 1936, mostly in support. Interesting though with worse career management, he could have gone on playing hick roles like Elmer the boyfriend. But it was also obvious there was a spark of stardom with him as well.

Gaynor would leave the screen a few years later, Taylor was at the beginning of his career. He’d have better acting roles in his future, but for now Small Town Girl is a great example of the screen heartthrob he was at the beginning of his stardom. Fans of both stars will like what they see in Small Town Girl. Review by bkoganbing from Buffalo, NewYork

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Taylor has Gaynor upside-down.

 

Some behind-the-scenes photos:

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Left to right: Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor taking a break on the set; filming a scene; Taylor and Gaynor with singer Frances Langford.

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The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on November 1 (USA)

The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday November 1 at 11:00 a.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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Ivanhoe, 1952, Is Playing on TCM on October 25, (USA)

Ivanhoe, 1952, is playing on Turner Classic Movies at 4 p.m. est on October 25. Closed captioned.

Ivanhoe was one of the most successful films of the year and brought in over $10 million at the box office, about $89,823,018.87 in 2015.

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A Robert Taylor and Liz Taylor in Ivanhoe.

Wonderful movie! This film is an exciting adventure-romance which never once loses its pace or feel. Robert Taylor brings depth to a potentially dull lead character. Jean Fontaine is great as his love, the Lady Rowenna. Elizabeth Taylor, though, steals the show with her stunning portrayal of Rebecca of York! This film has aged very well and shows first-hand to a young generation just why Elizabeth Taylor was such a star.

Although this film is an extremely enjoyable adventure, it also has the guts to tackle some complicated issues and resolve them in a very non-Hollywood fashion. As Ivanhoe feels his love for the beautiful Rebecca grow will he defy convention and pursue the lovely Jewish girl or remain with the safe charms of the blond, Anglo-Saxon Rowena The answer is intelligently handled and surprising. This film is one of the greatest examples of the classic adventure.  Review by David Arbury for the IMDB

Here are a few behind the scenes photos:

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Left to right: Mr. Taylor and Peter Ustinov; waiting; with unknown person.

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Left to right: with Joan Fontaine who played Rowena; with Ms. Fontaine and director Richard Thorpe.

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Left to right: with Elizabeth Taylor; with Liz and Emlyn Williams

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Left to right: with George Sanders and Liz Taylor; with Liz Taylor.

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The Secret Land, 1948, Is Playing on TCM on October 19 (USA)

The Secret Land, 1949, is Playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday October 19 at 6:45 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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