Three Robert Taylor Movies Are Playing on TCM on May 8 (USA)

May 8 has a bonanza of Robert Taylor Movies on Turner Classic Movies:  Lucky Night, Times Square Lady and Her Cardboard Lover, from 1935-1942.

Lucky Night, 1939, is playing at 6:00 a.m. est.  Not closed captioned.

I fell in love with Bill Overton before they left the park; Cora’s inability to commit to a man before she had a sense of herself was decades ahead of its time…Bill’s “Peter Pan” tendencies are really a profound commitment to joy and surprise, and Henry O’Neill as Cora’s father is the great remediator and earns every bit of Cora’s loyalty, “high, wide and handsome”. Modern, full of stylish characters and character it’s a jaunty little Jane Austen-like morality tale of the delicate balance between taking life seriously and the honorable pursuit of never-ending impulse, of maintaining your backbone and honesty in the face of losing face, and of the rewards facing up all wrapped into one romantic comedy. Review by misshambone-581-998467 for the IMD

The second half of the movie is all about applying the frolic of the first half to the reality of day to day life…and well worth looking forward to, much less sitting through. Bill’s “idea” is to seize every opportunity, much less day, and Cora’s “practicality” is the deadening effect being reasonable at all costs can have. Henry O’Neill was a great find, and you’ll notice him more often than you’d think once you’ve identified him: as Bill’s worst enemy at the beginning of the movie, it is he, as Cora’s dad, who brings not only the couple but the theme together by the end of the movie. Deeper than it appears, it is charming through and through. Review by bonefork from the US for the IMDb.

Here are some promotional materials for the film:

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Times Square Lady, 1935, is playing at 10:30 a.m. Not closed captioned.

MGM studios released two films with Robert Taylor early in 1935. Society Doctor, starring Chester Morris, Virginia Bruce and Robert Taylor premiered in January. Times Square Lady followed in March, starring Robert Taylor. Virginia Bruce and Pinky Tomlin. Lady is a solid gangster film, with a strong cast backing Taylor and Bruce. Isabel Jewell is Bruce’s wise-cracking sidekick, Nat Pendleton is his valet, Helen Twelvetrees his girl. The rest of the cast consists mostly of a wonderfully slimy bunch of crooks played by Jack Kramer, Henry Kolker, Raymond Hatton, Russell Hopton, Fred Kohler and Robert Elliott.

The plot is fairly straightforward. A wealthy promoter dies and his shady underlings assume they will take over his considerable holdings. To their surprise, the deceased had a daughter (Bruce) who is his sole heir. With a paternalism bordering on contempt, they plan to report to her that there is no money for her to inherit but they will take his properties off her hands for a fraction of their worth.

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Robert Taylor and Helen Twelvetrees

To convince her to sell, the crooks stage some incidents to demonstrate how bad it all is. Gang member Robert Taylor is assigned to charm the lady out of her holdings. Taylor manages a nightclub and this introduces a subplot involving singer/songwriter Pinky Tomlin, creator of such songs as “The Object of My Affection” and “What’s the Reason (I’m Not Pleasin’ You?).

Taylor frequently played dubious characters who find redemption in such films as “Rogue Cop” and “Johnny Eager.” Here he is saved by his love for Miss Bruce’s character. As happened not infrequently they were also a couple off screen.

The last quarter of the film is filled with action, car chases, fights, shootings and a lot of double crossing. The film moves quickly and benefits from comic relief by Tomlin, Pendleton and a cow named either Daisy or Bossy.

Robert Taylor is very young and very thin. The physical differences between the Taylor of Times Square Lady (filmed late 1934) and His Brother’s Wife (filmed in 1936) are striking. Nonetheless he is effective here, combining toughness with energy and humor. Bruce and Taylor have good chemistry together. The film was generally well received in its day, with the New York Times calling it “a bit of light divertissement.” Review by me for the IMDB.

Her Cardboard Lover, 1942, is playing at 11:45 a.m.  Closed captioned.

1942

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:

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

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About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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