Escape, 1940 and Her Cardboard Lover, 1942 Are Playing on TCM on Nov. 24 (USA)

Escape, 1940, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, November 24 at 3 a.m. est.  Not closed captioned. Note: movies that are scheduled to play from midnight until 6 a.m. will actually play on the following day.
Her Cardboard Lover, 1942, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday November 24 at 4:45 a.m. Not closed captioned. Note: movies that are scheduled to play from midnight until 6 a.m. will actually play on the following day. 


Robert Taylor and Norma Shearer in Escape, 1940.

This relatively unknown star vehicle is unusual for a number of different reasons. Although top billed, MGM Studio Queen, Norma Shearer’s role is substantially smaller than co-star Robert Taylor’s heroic turn as an American son desperately attempting to save his mother from a German Concentration camp. His mother is wonderfully played (and occasionally overplayed) by Nazimova, one of the great theatrical legends of the early 20th century. It’s an interesting footnote, that it was Irving Thalberg who helped cut short the meretricious Nazimova’s strange film career while his widow, Shearer, graciously allowed the former star to appear to great advantage in one of Shearer’s last screen appearances. Conrad Veidt plays Shearer’s Nazi lover and while he appears as icy and unyielding as he would two years later in “Casablanca”, his character is softened somewhat by his un-disclosed illness and by Shearer’s devotion to him. This film was one of the few made in Hollywood prior to the war which was openly critical of the Nazis (although they do hedge their bets by having a sympathetic German doctor, which gives the impression that more than a few intelligent German’s disagreed with the Nazis. Significantly, this character does appear in full Nazi drag towards the end of the picture). Robert Taylor is given a very tricky part to play as a man determined to save his mother against all odds. With his masculine demeanor and his controlled sensitivity he gives a performance of great passion and conviction. Norma Shearer, looking regally beautiful and every bit the Countess, manages to convey the situation of a woman who desperately wants to help Taylor and leave her adopted country, but realizes that she must stay out of duty to Veidt, in spite of her true feelings. Felix Bressart also appears as the Nazimova’s frightened but faithful servant, who helps Taylor escape. Bressart, who made a career of playing befuddled foreigners, is best known as one of the three Russian Communists in Ninotchka. Interesting casting was Bonita Granville, best known as the screen’s all-American girl detective, Nancy Drew, here playing the role of a pro-Nazi student at Miss Shearer’s finishing school (she would play a similar role in 1943’s wartime propaganda film, “Hitler’s Children”). The film was sumptuously mounted and stylishly directed by Mervyn Leroy the same year as he directed “Waterloo Bridge” also starring Taylor with Vivien Leigh. Escape is effective, at times shocking, but always vastly entertaining. Interesting footnote: Norma Shearer would turn down Pride & Prejudice and Mrs. Miniver both of which would turn Greer Garson into an MGM star much in the the same vein as Miss Shearer. Norma Shearer’s last film, Her Cardboard Lover would also be opposite Robert Taylor.  Review by brisky from Glendale, CA for the IMDB.

1939-escape escape-behind-scenes RT4719
Left to right: Robert Taylor, Philip Dorn, Mervyn LeRoy; Golf; Mr. Taylor, M. LeRoy, unknown, Norma Shearer, Nazimova

While a hairdresser, at left, puts the final touches to Norma Shearer's coiffure, Director Mervyn LeRoy rehearses a scene with Miss S and RT for "Escape," their new starring MGM film, adapted from Ethel Vance's novel.
While a hairdresser, at left, puts the final touches to Norma Shearer’s coiffure, Director Mervyn LeRoy rehearses a scene with Miss Shearer and Robert Taylor for “Escape,” their new starring MGM film, adapted from Ethel Vance’s novel. (original caption)



Robert Taylor and Norma Shearer in “Her Cardboard Lover,” 1942

What a delight! Robert Taylor is hired by Norma Shearer to be her Cardboard Lover to make her real love, George Sanders jealous. Taylor has been in love with Shearer but has never even spoken to her, too afraid to be rejected. When he finally speaks, he says “I love you” which makes Shearer think he is crazy. Later in the casino he loses $3000 dollars of which he has none, and he is employed by her to work off the debt. George Sanders is a cad but she is in love, and tells Taylor he is never to leave her alone, so that she can rid her mind of Sanders. Every time she tries to get to Sanders, he is there, in the hall, in the bedroom, on the balcony, eating a banana outside the door, totally insane. In one scene when Sanders comes to her bedroom to tell her they can be together if she accepts him as is, Taylor comes out of the bathroom in her pajamas with fluffy slippers and all, and hops into her bed, sending Sanders into a rage. Very, very funny indeed. They argue, he has a fist fight with Sanders, they wind up in jail, but in the end she realizes that it was Taylor all along that she loves, and all ends well. This film comes on the heels of Johnny Eager in which Taylor had the best of all roles as the sociopath gangster. Talk about versatility, they should never have sold this great actor short. He could play comedy or drama just as well. The teaming of Shearer and Taylor was their second, coming after Escape a pre-war drama about Nazi Germany. They are great together, and it is a shame that this film was Shearers last film. Review by mamalv for the IMDb.

Behind the scenes photos:

Left to right: Taylor and Shearer; Director George Cukor and Taylor
Left to right: Chill Wills, Taylor, Shearer; Cukor and Taylor; Taylor and Shearer

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In Praise of a Handsome Man, Part 2

This gallery contains 37 photos.

Hollywood has always exploited beauty, be it feminine or masculine.  The really good looking performer had a hard time being taken seriously.  He or she couldn’t possibly be both beautiful and bright.  Robert Taylor was no exception.  It’s a shame … Continue reading

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Remember? 1939, Is Playing on TCM on November 13 (USA)

Remember?  (1939) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Friday November 13 at 8 a.m. est.  Closed Captioned

RT5521Greer Garson was a rising star in 1939 and this film was her follow up to “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” She had proved unexpectedly popular and the studio hurried this into production. Robert Taylor was in a slump after Lady of the Tropics and before Waterloo Bridge. Robert Osborne, on Turner Classic Movies, commented that the screenwriters were either extremely clever or drunk. I tend to the latter interpretation.

The plot involves a love triangle consisting of Taylor, Garson and Lew Ayres. Taylor steals Garson from his old friend Ayres and the two marry. Subsequently Taylor neglects Garson by concentrating on his career. When he misses the boat for their honeymoon, she leaves him and they begin a divorce. Ayres, either to get Garson back or to help the couple, slips each of them an amnesia drug, so that they forget the last six months. It works and, in a manner reminiscent of Groundhog Day, they repeat their initial meeting and fall in love again, marry again and leave poor Ayres in the dust.

The entire cast is very smooth and professional, with Taylor and Ayres both outshining the still new Garson. Supporting actors include Billie Burke and Reginald Owen, both of them doing their signature type of character. Sara Haden is excellent as Taylor’s secretary.

There is a lot of good dialog, some genuinely funny situations and the usual MGM high gloss. Remember? is like a good dessert: rich, tasty but not substantial. Review by me for IMDB.

Some behind-the scenes photos:

Left to right: Director Norman Z. McLeod, Robert Taylor, Lew Ayres; Ayres and Taylor; Taylor, McLeod, Greer Garson, Lew Ayres.

Promotional materials:










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Quentin Durward, 1955, Is Playing on TCM Nov. 8 (USA)

Quentin Durward (1955) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, November 8 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?

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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Camille, 1936, Is Playing on TCM on November 1 (USA)

Camille, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on November 1 at 6:00 a.m. est.  Closed captioned. This is the best romantic movie ever.

???? This film further proves that the assembly-line system of Hollywood studios back then should also be taken seriously in terms of artistry. Just because movies were produced run-of-the-mill doesn’t mean that they weren’t paid critical attention to by their makers. The usual impression on studio-era Hollywood is: take a formulaic narrative style, maybe adapt a stage play for the screen, blend in a handful of stars from the stable and the films rake in the profit at the box office. Not quite, that’s the easy perception. George Cukor, another of those versatile directors, made it apparent with Camille that filmmaking as an art may still flourish despite (and even within) certain parameters. Camille is beautiful, in so many respects. And it’s not just because of Greta Garbo.

Sure, the acting is amazing, the casting is perfect. Garbo is luminous, mysterious, cruel, and weak at the same time. Robert Taylor surrenders himself to be the heartbreakingly young and vulnerable Armand. Henry Daniell’s coldness and sadism is utterly human and familiar. The others are just plain wonderful. The writing contains so much wit and humor, devotion and pain – but it never overstates anything. The rapport and tensions between lovers, friends, and enemies are palpable and consistent. The actions flow so naturally, just like every scene, that checking for historical inconsistencies seem far beside the point.

There is so much that I love about Camille that it’s hard to enumerate them all, but with every little discovery comes the realization that this is “but” a studio production, so it makes the experience more exquisite. Camille is a gentle, poignant romantic movie that, like Garbo, takes its place delicately and self-effacingly in the history of American cinema, but makes itself indelible in the heart and mind of the lovelorn individual viewer. Review by tsarevna for the IMDb.

Some behind-the scenes-from Camille.


RT649019361936He also plays baseball-in costume on the set.

19361936cukor-rt11936 taking pills (Vitamin?)

Camille-behind-the-scenesRT646RT27911936; original caption--time out for movie idols

RT3881RT7407Greta Garbo Pointing at George Cukor

Making Marguerite’s Dresses:

RT7386936: A dressmaker working on one of Greta Garbo's dresses for the MGM film 'Camille' which were designed by Adrian. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)circa 1936: Seamstresses working on a dress to





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Ivanhoe, 1952 and Knights of the Round Table, 1953 Are Playing on TCM on October 21

Turner Classic Movies is running a Robert Taylor double header on October 21.  Ivanhoe is showing at 2:00 p.m. est and Knights of the Round Table is at 4:00 p.m. est.  Both films are closed captioned.  These are two thirds of a Medieval trilogy directed by Richard Thorpe.  The third film is Quentin Durward, 1955.


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.


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

Knights of the Round Table

Knights of the Round Table brought in $8,096,000.00 or $70,674,636.50 in today’s money.


Mel Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Stanley Baker, Anne Crawford, Felix Aylmer, Robert Taylor and Maureen Swanson.

This is a fine example of ’50’s style epics. Big name cast, colorful costumes,flashy swordplay, beautiful damsels and wild inaccuracies. The great Robert Taylor, who starred in several historical movies, is the honorable Sir Lancelot, a far more noble and pure portrayal than was recorded in all the legends, Ava Gardner is the stunningly beautiful Queen Guinevere, the ever dependable Felix Aylmer is the mysterious Merlin, Mel Ferer is a somewhat subdued and less than charismatic King Arthur. See it for the spectacle, costumes, word-play filled dialog and over the top Stanley Baker as Sir Mordred. Lancelot’s joust with Niall Mac Ginnis is very well done. 8 stars for pure eye filling entertainment value. Review by Wayner50 (United States) for the IMDB.

robert_taylor_1970_01_01 KnightsoftheRound


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Ride, Vaquero, 1953, Is Playing on TCM on October 19 (USA)

Ride Vaquero, 1953, is playing on Turner Classic Movies On October 29 at 9:00 a.m. est. Closed Captioned.


Ava Gardner and Robert Taylor

By keeping quiet, speaking only when necessary Robert Taylor as Rio gives one of his best performances. All through the film you try to guess what he is thinking. He was adopted by the mother of Esqueda (Anthony Quinn) and Quinn loves and respects him. The real surprise is Howard Keel, who only used to do musicals, coming out so well as King Cameron, a man who is obstinate about building a cattle empire. Cameron is married to Cordelia (Ava Gardner) and as soon as she arrives in a river boat, and they go to their ranch, trouble starts because it has been burnt by Esqueda. Why did Esqueda do it? Because he knows that if he allows anybody to do well in business in that area, others will come and eventually he, who is a bandit will have to run away or be hanged. Quinn is great as Esqueda, just that makes the film worth seeing. Taylor, who was the second man to Quinn in the gang, eventually leaves him to help Keel, because deep down he knows his brother is becoming a crazy monster and unconsciously he is in love with Ava. But when she kisses him, he slaps her because he knows it is wrong. He is a torn man, with all those feelings and not knowing exactly what to do about it. Excellent film, not to be missed. IMDB review by tmwest from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Here are some more photos from the film:






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