May 31, 2016

Birthday Party by Katharine Brush

"Birthday Party"
by Katharine Brush

They were a couple in their late thirties, and they looked unmistakably married. They sat on the banquette opposite us in a little narrow restaurant, having dinner. The man had a round, self-satisfied face, with glasses on it; the woman was fadingly pretty, in a big hat.

There was nothing conspicuous about them, nothing particularly noticeable, until the end of their meal, when it suddenly became obvious that this was an Occasion—in fact, the husband’s birthday, and the wife had planned a little surprise for him.

It arrived, in the form of a small but glossy birthday cake, with one pink candle burning in the center. The headwaiter brought it in and placed it before the husband, and meanwhile the violin-and-piano orchestra played “Happy Birthday to You,” and the wife beamed with shy pride over her little surprise, and such few people as there were in the restaurant tried to help out with a pattering of applause. It became clear at once that help was needed, because the husband was not pleased. Instead, he was hotly embarrassed, and indignant at his wife for embarrassing him.

You looked at him and you saw this and you thought, “Oh, now, don’t be like that!” But he was like that, and as soon as the little cake had been deposited on the table, and the orchestra had finished the birthday piece, and the general attention had shifted from the man and the woman, I saw him say something to her under his breath—some punishing thing, quick and curt and unkind. I couldn’t bear to look at the woman then, so I stared at my plate and waited for quite a long time. Not long enough, though. She was still crying when I finally glanced over there again. Crying quietly and heartbrokenly and hopelessly, all to herself, under the gay big brim of her best hat.

Copyright © 1946 The New Yorker. All rights reserved.
Originally published in The New Yorker

May 27, 2016

#SOTM - TCM's Star of the Month June 2016 - Marie Dressler

Marie Dressler Fast Facts

Born: Leila Marie von Koerber on November 9, 1868 in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 28, 1934 (age 65) in Santa Barbara, California (cancer)
Father: Alexander Rudolph von Koerber
Mother: Anne (Henderson) von Koerber
Sister: Bonita von Koerber
Spouses: George Hoppert (1900 - 1906) (1 daughter - died in infancy)
James H. Dalton (1908 - November 29, 1921) (his death) (common law marriage)
Height: 5 feet, 7 inches (1.7 m)

The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling (1924)
by Marie Dressler

Marie Dressler: My Own Story (1934)
as told to Mildred Harrington
Forward by Will Rogers


Academy Awards

1931 - Won - Best Actress in a Leading Role for Min and Bill (1930)
1932 - Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Emma (1932)

Walk of Fame

February 8, 1960 - Star on the Walk of Fame - Motion Picture - At 1731 Vine Street.

Did You Know?

There is some dispute to her actual birth year. According to most sources and the document as to the history of the house, she was born in 1868. Other sources say 1869. At least one scientist says that her baptismal records give 1863, and to further confuse the issue, 1871 is given on her grave.

To save her family from possible embarrassment, Leila Marie von Koerber changed her name to Marie Dressler after an aunt.

Her home at 212 King Street West, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada is now a historical site and museum.

She suffered from stage fright throughout her career.

Was seriously contemplating suicide before screenwriter Frances Marion, knowing that Dressler was down on her luck, insisted that MGM cast her in The Callahans and the Murphys (1927), which turned out to be a hit and revived her career.

She was named the top box-office star of 1932 and 1933 based on an annual poll of exhibitors as to the drawing power of movie stars at the box-office conducted by Quigley Publications.

She was the third of three consecutive Canadian actresses to win the Best Actress Oscar. The others were Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer.

Trade paper articles in November 1933 stated that Marie Dressler's next film would be Mrs. Van Kleek, a South Seas story. The movie was never made.

She appears as a character in the musical play In Hell with Harlow by Paul L. Williams.

She was commemorated on a 2008 Canadian postage stamp, one of four stamps honoring the achievements of Canadians in Hollywood. The other stamps depicted Norma Shearer, Chief Dan George, and Raymond Burr.

Quotes Attributed to Marie Dressler

TCM Star of the Month - June 2016

8:00 p.m.
Chasing Rainbows (1930)
BW - 1h 40m

With manager Eddie (Jack Benny) booking their shows, Terry Fay (Charles King) and Carlie Semour (Bessie Love) have long been a successful vaudeville act. While Carlie is a consummate professional, Terry is having trouble with his wife, Daphne (Nita Martan), and his mindset is threatening the show's success. As Terry's personal problems deepen after another unpleasant revelation about Daphne, Eddie, aiming to give audiences their money's worth, tries to coax a better effort out of Terry.

The movie introduced the song "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Dir: Charles Reisner
Cast: Bessie Love, Charles King, Jack Benny, George K. Arthur as Lester
Polly Moran, Gwen Lee, Nita Martan, Eddie Phillips, Marie Dressler, Youcca Troubetzkov.

9:30 p.m.
Divine Lady, The (1929)
BW - 1h 39m

In this dialogue-free film, Emma Hart (Corinne Griffith), a young woman of lowly birth, is courted by rich Charles Greville (Ian Keith). But, after he grows tired of Hart, he sends her to live in Naples, Italy, with his uncle, Lord Hamilton (H.B. Warner), whom she marries. Despite living peaceably with her new husband, Hart is drawn to Capt. Horatio Nelson (Victor Varconi), who she meets while serving as confidante to the queen of Naples. The two begin an affair with risky social consequences.

The film won the Academy Award for Directing and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Corinne Griffith) and Best Cinematography. This is also the only film to ever win Best Director without a Best Picture nomination.

Dir: Frank Lloyd
Cast: Corinne Griffith, Victor Varconi, H. B. Warner, Ian Keith, Marie Dressler, Montagu Love, William Conklin, Dorothy Cumming.

11:15 p.m.
Patsy, The (1928)
BW - 1h 18m

Jealous that her older sister, Grace (Jane Winton), has landed handsome and successful Tony Anderson (Orville Caldwell), Patricia Harrington (Marion Davies) launches an elaborate charm offensive to win his heart. Patricia shrugs off her diffidence and, in the hope that Tony will be drawn to her new persona, tries to carry herself with the self-confidence of the era's silent film stars. When this doesn't have the desired effect, Patricia takes things a step further.

Dir: King Vidor
Cast: Marion Davies, Orville Caldwell, Marie Dressler, Lawrence Gray, Dell Henderson, Jane Winton.

12:45 a.m.
Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)
BW - 1h 26m

Tillie Banks (Marie Dressler), a beautiful heiress, falls prey to a charming crook named Charlie (Charles Chaplin) who lures her to the city and then promptly swindles her. But when Charlie returns to apologize, asking for her hand in marriage, a surprised Tillie cautiously accepts his proposal. As wedding preparations begin, Tillie wonders about Charlie's intentions -- particularly after she receives news that her rich uncle Donald (Charles Bennett) has died mysteriously.

The picture was the first feature-length motion picture produced by the Keystone Film Company, and is the only one featuring Chaplin.

Dir: Mack Sennett
Cast: Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Charles Bennett, Chester Conklin, The Keystone Cops, Charley Chase.

2:15 a.m.
Hollywood Revue of 1929, The (1929)
BW - 1h 56m

The top performers of the 1920s strut their stuff in this star-studded variety show. Actress Joan Crawford displays her singing talents with "Got a Feeling for You." Comedy duo Laurel and Hardy bring on the laughs with their magic act, and Conrad Nagel turns on the romance by singing "You Were Meant For Me." In the revue's second act, silent star Buster Keaton performs an under-the-sea dance, and Norma Shearer and John Gilbert hilariously lampoon "Romeo and Juliet."

Features the first filmed performance of "Singin' in the Rain."

Dir: Charles Reisner
Cast: Conrad Nagel, Jack Benny, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, John Gilbert, Norma Shearer, Anita Page, Marie Dressler, William Haines, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel. Oliver Hardy, Gus Edwards.

8:00 p.m.
Anna Christie (1930)
BW - 1h 29m

As a child, Anna Christie (Greta Garbo) was sent away by her father, Chris Christofferson (George F. Marion), to live with unkind relatives in Minnesota. Although she escaped her family, Anna fell into prostitution, and she still resents her father's decision. When Anna travels to New York to reunite with her father, she tries to keep her past a secret. It is only when she falls in love with a sailor named Matt Burke (Charles Bickford) that Anna realizes she must reveal the truth.

Anna Christie was the highest-grossing film of 1930 and was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress (Greta Garbo), Best Cinematography, and Best Director.

Marie Dressler deservedly won recognition for her downtrodden old sod of a waterfront floozy.

Dir: Clarence Brown
Cast: Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, George F. Marion, Marie Dressler, James T. Mack, Lee Phelps.

9:45 p.m.
Let Us Be Gay (1930)
BW - 1h 19m

A frumpy housewife, Katherine "Kitty" Brown (Norma Shearer) waits hand and foot on her narcissistic husband, Bob (Rod LaRocque). When Kitty finds out about her spouse's infidelity, however, she leaves him and begins a new life as a much more glamorous and carefree woman. Eventually, she enters the social scene of the wealthy Mrs. Bouccicault (Marie Dressler), which leads Kitty to a surprising reunion with her ex-husband, who now finds her very intriguing.

Dir: Robert Z. Leonard
Cast: Norma Shearer, Marie Dressler, Rod La Rocque, Gilbert Emery, Hedda Hopper, Raymond Hackett, Sally Eilers, Tyrell Davis, Wilfred Noy, Sybil Grove, Mary Gordon, Dickie Moore.

11:15 p.m.
Girl Said No, The (1930)
BW - 1h 32m

After graduating from college, Tom Ward (William Haines) returns home ready for success. The brazen young upstart sets his romantic sights on Mary Howe (Leila Hyams), a secretary for a man named McAndrews (Ralph Bushman). Although Mary seems uninterested at first, Tom persists in his pursuit. Meanwhile, he tries to make money by selling bonds to confused women like Hettie Brown (Marie Dressler). As Mary is set to marry McAndrews, Tom becomes desperate to stop the ceremony.

Dir: Sam Wood
Cast: William Haines, Leila Hyams, Polly Moran, Marie Dressler, Ralph Bushman, Clara Blandick, William Janney, William V. Mong, Frank Coghlan, Phyllis Crane.

1:00 a.m.
Vagabond Lover, The (1929)
BW - 1h 5m

Small-town bandleader Rudy Bronson (Rudy Vallee) attempts to make a big impression on a music promoter. When the man instead rebuffs Rudy's clumsy attempts to meet with and audition for him, Rudy and his bandmates attempt to break into the promoter's Long Island, N.Y. home. The burglary attracts the attention of wealthy neighbor Mrs. Whitehall (Marie Dressler) and her pretty niece Jean (Sally Blane), ultimately leading to Rudy's big break when he pretends to be the promoter.

Delight Evans wrote in her review for Screenland, "Marie Dressler romps away with a personal hit in hilarious comedy scenes."

Dir: Marshall Neilan
Cast: Rudy Vallee, Sally Blane, Marie Dressler, Charles Sellon, Norman Peck, Danny O'Shea, Edward J. Nugent, Nella Walker, Malcolm Waite, Alan Roscoe, The Connecticut Yankees.

8:00 p.m.
Min and Bill (1930)
BW - 1h 9m

Min (Marie Dressler) runs a rundown hotel on the waterfront. With the help of her boyfriend, Bill (Wallace Beery), Min brings up Nancy, who was abandoned by her mother, Bella (Marjorie Rambeau), as a baby. The couple contend with city officials who proclaim Min unfit for mothering. Over the years, Min saves diligently to send Nancy to boarding school -- and when Nancy meets a wealthy young man who proposes, Bella abruptly returns, threatening Nancy in an attempt to benefit from her good fortune.

Marie Dressler won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1931 for her performance in this film. At the ceremony, nine-year-old Jackie Cooper, nominated for Best Actor in Skippy, fell asleep on the shoulder of Best Actress nominee Marie Dressler. When Dressler was announced as the winner, Cooper had to be eased onto his mother's lap.

Dir: George W. Hill
Cast: Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Dorothy Jordan, Marjorie Rambeau, Donald Dillaway, DeWitt Jennings, Russell Hopton, Frank McGlynn, Sr.

9:15 p.m.
Reducing (1931)
BW - 1h 17m

New York City beauty-spa operator Polly Rochay (Polly Moran) graciously opens her home to her penniless sister, Marie (Marie Dressler), and her family from back home in South Bend, Ind. Polly's snooty, social-climbing daughter, Joyce (Sally Eilers), is horrified by her poor relations, especially Marie's pretty and kindhearted daughter, Vivian (Anita Page). When Joyce's wealthy boyfriend, Johnnie (Buster Collier Jr.), takes a liking to Vivian, Joyce's jealousy sparks a family-wide rift.

Dir: Charles Riesner
Cast: Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Anita Page, Lucien Littlefield, William Collier, Jr., Sally Eilers, William Bakewell, Billy Naylor, Jay Ward.

10:45 p.m.
Politics (1931)
BW - 1h 13m

Disgusted with the influence of racketeer Jim Curango (John Miljan) in their small town, music teacher Ivy Higgins (Polly Moran) decides to run for mayor. After the death of a young woman, Myrtle (Karen Morley), Ivy discovers that the killer intended to murder Myrtle's boyfriend. Ivy then enlists Myrtle's mother, Hattie (Marie Dressler), in her cause. When Hattie proves a better speaker at rallies, Ivy realizes she should be the candidate instead -- but Curango means to challenge their plans.

Dir: Charles Riesner
Cast: Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Roscoe Ates, Karen Morley, William Bakewell, John Miljan, Joan Marsh, Tom McGuire, Kane Richmond, Mary Alden.

12:15 a.m.
One Romantic Night (1930)
BW - 1h 13m

Princess Alexandra (Lillian Gish) is expected to marry Prince Albert (Rod La Rocque), but the closer the wedding gets, the less enthusiastic she is about devoting herself to the man who's been chosen for her. Alexandra's uncertainty increases when she meets Dr. Nicholas Haller (Conrad Nagel), a young intellectual who's been helping her brother with his studies. Torn between her infatuation with Nicholas and her commitment to Albert, Alexandra faces the biggest decision of her life.

It is the first sound film version of Ferenc Molnár's play The Swan, and marked silent screen star Lillian Gish's talkie debut.

Dir: Paul L. Stein
Cast: Lillian Gish, Rod La Rocque, Conrad Nagel, Marie Dressler, O.P. Heggie, Albert Conti, Edgar Norton, Billie Bennett, Philippe De Lacy, Byron Sage, Barbara Leonard.

8:00 p.m.
Dinner at Eight (1933)
BW - 1h 53m

In this comedic drama, an ambitious New York socialite plans an extravagant dinner party as her businessman husband, Oliver (Lionel Barrymore), contends with financial woes, causing a lot of tension between the couple. Meanwhile, their high-society friends and associates, including the gruff Dan Packard (Wallace Beery) and his sultry spouse, Kitty (Jean Harlow), contend with their own entanglements, leading to revelations at the much-anticipated dinner.

Adapted to the screen by Frances Marion and Herman J. Mankiewicz from George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's play of the same name, it features an ensemble cast.

Dir: George Cukor
Cast: Marie Dressler, Lionel Barrymore, Billie Burke, Madge Evans, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, John Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, Karen Morley, Jean Hersholt, Phillips Holmes, Louise Closser Hale, Grant Mitchell.

10:00 p.m.
Tugboat Annie (1933)
BW - 1h 26m

Annie Brennan (Marie Dressler) is one of the Pacific Northwest's best skippers, though her drunk husband, Terry (Wallace Beery), is no help. Annie's son, Alec (Robert Young), an industrious student, becomes the youngest ship's master on the Pacific Coast and gets engaged to his boss' daughter. Terry continues to drink heavily, causing an accident in his stupor that makes Alice lose her boat. Angry with his father, Alec refuses to talk to his parents until, in trouble at sea, he needs their help.

The boisterous Tugboat Annie character first appeared in a series of stories in the Saturday Evening Post written by the author Norman Reilly Raine which were based on the life of Thea Foss of Tacoma, Washington.

Dir: Mervyn LeRoy
Cast: Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Robert Young, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willard Robertson, Tammany Young, Frankie Darro, Jack Pennick, Paul Hurst.

11:45 p.m.
Emma (1932)
BW - 1h 12m

Middle-aged housekeeper Emma (Marie Dressler) helps a lonely widower, Frederick Smith (Jean Hersholt) raising his spoiled and over-entitled children. When Smith takes Emma on a vacation, he makes his feelings for her known by proposing marriage. Emma happily accepts, but tragedy strikes when Smith dies of a heart attack shortly after. Emma is devastated, but then must face Smith's children, who suspect she may have been involved in the death of their father.

Marie Dressler was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Emma. Helen Hayes won for The Sin of Madelon Claudet. Dressler had won the award the year before for Min and Bill.

Dir: Clarence Brown
Cast: Marie Dressler, Richard Cromwell, Jean Hersholt, Myrna Loy, John Miljan, Purnell Pratt, Leila Bennett, Barbara Kent, Kathryn Crawford, George Meeker, Dale Fuller, Wilfred Noy, André Cheron.

1:15 a.m.
Prosperity (1932)
BW - 1h 27m

Maggie Warren (Marie Dressler) retires as head of the family bank, ceding her long-held position to her son, John (Norman Foster). John marries Helen (Anita Page), and, despite the antipathy between their mothers, the two live together happily. But when Helen's mother, Lizzie (Polly Moran), accidentally prompts a run on the bank, Maggie learns that John blew their emergency bonds on a get-rich-quick scam. Hoping to save the bank, Maggie sets out on a search for the con men who duped her son.

Dir: Sam Wood
Cast: Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Anita Page, Norman Foster, Jacquie Lyn, Jerry Tucker, Charles Giblyn, Frank Darien, Henry Holland.

Various Video Clips of Marie Dressler

May 26, 2016

The Animals in Film Blogathon - Smoky (1946)

Thanks to Crystal for hosting the blogathon and inviting me to participate. I love animals of all kinds and am a sucker for classic films with animal stars. Please visit Crystal's fine blog, In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

I'll be focusing on one of the best horse flicks ever, the 1946 film Smoky. It was adapted from the novel Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James. The film starred Fred MacMurray, Anne Baxter, Bruce Cabot, Esther Dale, Roy Roberts, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Burl Ives.

Will James, born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault on June 6, 1892 in Saint-Nazaire-d'Acton, Quebec, Canada, was an artist and writer of the American West.

He worked as a cowboy in Canada until he was accused of cattle theft. He left Canada in 1913 and traveled to the United States with a new name, William Roderick James.

He wrote his most famous book, Smoky the Cowhorse, while living on a small ranch in Washoe Valley, Nevada. It was published in 1926 and won the Newbery Medal for children's literature in 1927. Three film adaptations were made of the book, with James narrating the 1933 film, which starred Victor Jory, Irene Bentley, Frank Campeau, Hank Mann, and LeRoy Mason. The other film adaptations were made in 1946 (the version I'm focusing on) and 1966, which starred Fess Parker, Diana Hyland, Katy Jurado, Hoyt Axton, and Robert J. Wilke. The 1966 film used archive footage from Smoky (1946) extensively.

Will James died of alcoholism in Hollywood, California on September 3, 1942.

The largest public collection of James' writings, artwork, and personal effects is at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana.

James was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1991, and into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1992, on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

Read Smoky the Cowhorse


Read/download the book by clicking here.

Smoky (1946)
Alternate Title: Will James' Smoky
Release Date: July 1946
Premiere Information: World premiere in Denver, Colorado: June 18, 1946
Production Date: July 12 to September 25, 1945
Duration (in minutes): 87
Color: Technicolor
Sound: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Directors: Louis King (Director)
Jasper Blystone (Assistant director)
James Tinling (2nd unit director)
Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck (Executive producer)
Robert Bassler (Producer)
Writers: Lillie Hayward (Screenplay)
Dwight Cummins (Screenplay)
Dorothy Yost (Screenplay)
Martin Berkeley (Contributor to screenplay)
Jack Andrews (Contributor to screenplay)
Jo Graham (Contributor to screenplay)
Based on the novel Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James (New York, 1926).
Photography: Charles G. Clarke (Director of photography)
Lou Kunkel (Camera operator)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art director)
Chester Gore (Art director)
Film Editor: Nick DeMaggio
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set decorator)
Harold Cramp (Associate set decorator)
Costumes: Bonnie Cashin
Music: David Raksin (Music)
Emil Newman (Musical director)
Arthur Morton (orchestral arrangements)
Sound: George Leverett
Harry M. Leonard
Paul Neal (Music mixer)
Murray Spivack (Music mixer)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Special photographic effects)
Edwin Hammeras (Transparencies)
Edward Snyder (Transparencies)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Albert Greenway (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Jack Lindell (Equine supervisor)
Paul MacPherson (Technical advisor)
Robert E. Goux (Unit manager)
Frances C. Richardson (Research director)
Ruth Fox (Research assistant)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor color consultant)
Richard Mueller (Associate Technicolor color consultant)

Top L: Fred MacMurray -- Center: Esther Dale -- Top R: Anne Baxter
Center L: Bruce Cabot -- Center R: Roy Roberts
Bottom L: J. Farrell MacDonald -- Center R: Burl Ives

Cast (in credits order):
Fred MacMurray as Clint Barkley
Anne Baxter as Julie Richards
Bruce Cabot as Frank Denton
Esther Dale as "Gram" Richards
Roy Roberts as Jeff Nix
J. Farrell MacDonald as Jim
Burl Ives (as The Singing Troubadour Burl Ives) as Willie

Rest of cast listed alphabetically (uncredited):
Robert Adler as Scrubby
Stanley Andrews as Fred Kramer (Rancher)
Guy Beach as Sheriff
Harry Carter as Bud
Heinie Conklin as Man Watching Parade
Frank Darien as Junk Yard Owner
Bud Geary as Peters
Herbert Heywood as Livery Stable Proprietor
Victor Kilian as J.P. Mingo (Junkman)
Mae Marsh as Woman Watching Parade
Howard Negley as Nelson
Slim Pickens as Rodeo Cowboy
Douglas Spencer as Mack Gordon (Gambler)
Max Wagner as Bart

Did You Know?

The opening title reads: "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Will James' Smoky."

Orchestral arranger Arthur Morton's name is misspelled "Morten" in the opening credits.

Burl Ives made his film debut in Smoky.

Smoky was filmed around Kanab, Utah and in the Paiute Indian country of Northern Arizona, as well as at rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Ogden, Utah, and Flagstaff, Arizona.

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Library Special Collections Performing Arts, the studio bought the rights to Will James's novel in 1933 for the sum of $15,000.

The novel first appeared serially in Scribner's Magazine (April through July 1926).

A radio adaptation was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on March 24, 1947 and starred Joel McCrea and Constance Moore.


Drifter Clint Barkley (Fred MacMurray) is riding through Utah's back country when he sees a group of cowboys chasing after a herd of wild horses, which is being led led by a magnificent black stallion whom he names Smoky. The cowboys catch some of the horses but give up the chase for the stallion.

Clint goes after Smoky by himself, then appears a short time later at the Rocking R Ranch, which is run by Julie Richards (Anne Baxter) and her grandmother (Esther Dale), with the horse. After the cowhands help him herd Smoky into captivity, Clint asks Julie for a job as a wrangler, and she assigns him to break in some of the wild horses. Clint tries to break in Smoky gently, on his own time, and tells Julie that she should keep Smoky as a cow horse.

Jeff Nix (Roy Roberts), Julie's foreman who expressed doubts about hiring the stranger, and ranch hand Willie (Burl Ives) try to pry some information out of Clint about his past, but he is not forthcoming. Jeff tells Julie that he has heard a rumor in town that Clint was involved in a nasty scrape in Texas in which some money disappeared.

One day when Julie goes to swim in a nearby river and encounters Clint working with Smoky, Julie tells him that she has known Smoky since he was only a few weeks old and has followed his development with interest and affection. She tells Clint about the rumor regarding his past, but he declines to explain himself.

Soon after, a stranger named Frank (Bruce Cabot) comes to the Rocking R looking for Clint. Frank asks Clint, who took the blame for a crime Frank committed and has just completed an eight-month jail sentence, to get him a job on the ranch, and Clint reluctantly does.

Later, Clint manages to get a saddle on Smoky and continues to train him as a cow horse. Willie thinks that Smoky will go back to the wild the first chance he gets, but the horse shows obvious affection for Clint.

When Smoky chases Frank from the corral after he tries to move him, Jeff, who wants to sell Smoky, warns Clint that he will have to take the fight out of the horse or he will be turned loose.

While the cowboys are out on a cattle drive, Smoky trips and Clint is thrown off and knocked temporarily unconscious. Smoky has an opportunity to leave but stays by Clint. Later, when Clint is unable to get up, he ties himself to Smoky's stirrup and has the horse drag him back to the ranch. While Clint is being nursed by Julie, Frank mistreats Smoky.

After he is fully recovered, Clint is visited by a gambler who has an I.O.U. for $225, signed by someone using Clint's name. The gambler leaves after Clint tells him that he thinks he knows who signed his name and that he will try to get him the money. Clint extracts a confession from Frank and tells him to leave, but Frank threatens to tell Julie about Clint's past. After Clint socks him, however, Frank agrees to go.

Clint and Julie, who are becoming romantically involved, are about to bring Smoky in from pasture when news arrives that he has been stolen along with several prime cattle. They suspect Frank, but Jeff insists that Clint might also be involved. This forces Clint to admit to Jeff and Julie that Frank is his brother and that he has always had to cover up for him and even went to jail for him. Frank, meanwhile, gets his payoff for the rustled cattle but holds on to Smoky. He continues to mistreat the horse, but stumbles and is killed by Smoky, who escapes.

Clint sets out to track Smoky over many miles. Others have heard about the horse and succeed in capturing him, planning to use him in rodeos. Winter comes and Clint has to abandon his search temporarily and returns to the Rocking R. In the meantime, Smoky becomes "Cougar" the Bucking Bronco on the rodeo circuit, but is hurt and has to be retired.

Clint keeps tracking Smoky and discovers that he has been given to a riding academy, but the owner has passed him on to someone whose name he can not recall.

Sometime later in Cheyenne, Smoky is working as a junk cart horse when he sees a poster for a rival bucking bronco, hears the sounds of a rodeo parade and takes off to join the parade, junk cart and all. Clint is in the crowd, and while Smoky recognizes him and nudges him, Clint does not realize the horse might be Smoky until later. Clint tracks him to a junk yard and the weary, skinny old horse responds with heartfelt snorts and a whinny when Clint speaks his name.

Back at the Rocking R, Smoky makes a speedy recovery, and Clint and Julie turn him loose in the pasture where the woods and canyons await him.

Burl Ives - American Folk Songs - Soundtrack to Smoky (1946)

All the music that Burl Ives performs in Smoky (1946). Note: These are songs as they appear in the film, some of which are incomplete. There is no official film soundtrack.

"Smoky" - music traditional, new lyrics and arrangement by Burl Ives.
"Streets of Laredo (The Cowboy's Lament)" - traditional.
"Woolly Boogie Bee" based on "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" - traditional, arrangement by Burl Ives.
"There Was an Old Man" music and lyrics by Burl Ives.
"Jimmy Crack Corn (The Blue Tail Fly)" - music and lyrics attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett.
"The Foggy Dew" and "Down in the Valley" traditional, arrangements by Burl Ives.

Watch Smoky (1946)

May 20, 2016

The Classic Movie Ice Cream Social: A Blogathon of Cheer - One Desire (1955)

Thanks to Fritzi of Movies Silently for hosting the blogathon. Who doesn't love classic movies with cheerful plots? Do you have a go-to vintage flick that has the power to cheer you up when you’re feeling down? That's what this gig is all about. Kindly visit Movies Silently via either link above. You'll be glad you did.

When I'm down in the dumps and need a pick-me-up, Rock Hudson is there for me. Three films of his act on me just like a tonic: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and One Desire (1955). In this post, I'm going to focus on One Desire (1955). It stars Rockie Baby with Anne Baxter, Julie Adams, Carl Benton Reid, Natalie Wood, William Hopper, Betty Garde, Barry Curtis, and Adrienne Marden.

One Desire (1955) is one of the glamorous melodramas Ross Hunter produced at Universal-International. These movies were a big hit with audiences but dismissed by critics at the time as nothing but romantic tearjerkers. I love to wallow in every one of them.

A short list of Ross Hunter's glitzy schmaltz: Magnificent Obsession (1954), One Desire (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955), The Spoilers (1955), There's Always Tomorrow (1956), Imitation of Life (1959), Back Street (1961), and Madame X (1966). Many of the films were directed by Douglas Sirk.

Two quotes from Ross Hunter about his films:

"The way life looks in my pictures is how I want life to be. I don't want to hold a mirror up to life as it is."

"I gave the public what they wanted: a chance to dream, to live vicariously, to see beautiful women, jewels, gorgeous clothes, melodrama."

Opening Credits of One Desire

Cast of One Desire

Anne Baxter as Tacey Cromwell
Rock Hudson as Clinton "Clint" Saunders
Julie Adams as the Maleficent One, Judith Watrous Saunders
Carl Benton Reid as Senator Kenneth A. Watrous, Natalie Wood as Seely Dowden
William Hopper as "Mac" MacBain, Betty Garde as Mrs. O'Dell
Barry Curtis as Nugget Saunders, Adrienne Marden as Marjorie Huggins

One Desire, in gorgeous Technicolor, was directed by Jerry Hopper. Hopper also directed Rock Hudson in 1956's Never Say Goodbye, a remake of 1945's This Love of Ours.

The movie features a screenplay adapted by Lawrence Roman and Robert Blees from Conrad Richter's best-selling 1942 novel Tacey Cromwell (definitely worth a read just for the simple fact that Rock Hudson's character in the book is named Gaye Oldaker). You can find inexpensive used copies of the novel at or

Conrad Richter was an American novelist whose lyrical work is concerned largely with life on the American frontier in various periods. His novel The Town (1950), the last story of his trilogy The Awakening Land about the early 19th-century Ohio Valley, won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The first two books of the The Awakening Land trilogy are The Trees (1940) and The Fields (1946). His novel The Waters of Kronos won the 1961 National Book Award for Fiction.

The film was photographed by Maury Gertsman. Interestingly, later in his career Gertsman was the cinematographer on The Lucy Show (1962-68) and Here's Lucy (1968-74).

Rundown on One Desire

In the early 1900s, young Nugget (Barry Curtis) searches the White Palace, a sporting house, for his croupier brother, Clint Saunders (Rock Hudson). When he peeks into the dance hall girls's dressing room, the girls are delighted to discover that he is related to Clint, until co-owner Tacey Cromwell (Anne Baxter) overhears and warns them to stay away from her boyfriend. Tacey takes Nugget to her luxurious quarters, where he immediately falls asleep on the chaise longue.

Top: Nugget checks out the White Palace and meets the dance hall girls.
Center: Anne Baxter as Tacey Cromwell.
Bottom: Tacey warns the chicks to stay away from her man. Nugget asleep.
Hours later, an arrogant Clint shows up late for work, and even though Tacey covers for him, co-owner "Mac" MacBain (Hedda's boy, William Hopper) declares it Clint's last mistake. Clint, however, is not upset to be fired because he plans to move to Randsberg, Colorado, to take advantage of the newly wealthy silver miners there.

Upon seeing Nugget, who explains that he ran away from a nasty uncle to escape constant beatings, Clint is thrilled but reluctant to take the boy along. Tacey, an orphan who has been forced to work as a dance hall girl since the age of sixteen, convinces Clint to take her and Nugget with him, even though she knows he does not want to make a commitment to her. Mac, in love with Tacey, pleads with her to stay, but she explains that she wants only to erase the past and become respectable, her "one desire."

The threesome reaches Randsberg, where Clint immediately charms beautiful Judith Watrous (the Maleficent One, played by Julie Adams) and her senator father (Carl Benton Reid), hoping to advance his career. Tacey is jealous but soon finds herself distracted by the tumbledown house she has rented for her and Nugget, and by her attempts to become domestic. To appear upright, Clint stays at a nearby hotel, and their life together proceeds smoothly. Mrs. O'Dell (Betty Garde), a kind neighbor, helps Tacey and becomes her best friend.

Top to Bottom: Tacey, Nugget, and Clint arrive in Randsberg.
Second image: Clint meets Judith, the Maleficent One.
Third image: Clint meets Senator Kenneth A. Watrous and his aide.
Bottom: It's ok for Clint to play around but not Tacey.
Top: Tacey and Clint share a kiss in the hotel.
Second image - L-R: Tacey's house, Mrs. O'Dell's house, Seely's house.
Third image: Clint teases Tacey about fixing up the house.
Bottom: Tacey tells Clint he has to live at the hotel. It's respectable.

One day, Nugget meets motherless tomboy Seely Dowden (Natalie Wood), and after the two fight, Tacey explains to Nugget that he has more advantages than Seely and thus must treat her nicely. Clint runs into Judith in the bank and quickly earns her respect, and a job, by demonstrating his skill with money.

Top L: Seely with uncombed hair and dirty, ragged clothes.
Top R: Nugget and Seely fight.
Center L: Tacey tell Nugget to be nice to Seely.
Center R: Laughing about Tacey's domestic skills.
Bottom L: Clint and the Maleficent One at the bank.
Bottom R: Clint handling money.

Soon after, Seely's father is killed in a mine accident, and only Tacey takes the time to find and comfort her. Within weeks, both Nugget and Seely consider Tacey their mother, and Tacey, suffused with happiness, reveals to Clint that she wants to be married. He replies that he loves her but is not ready yet, and the next day spends hours with Judith and Senator Watrous.

Top: Tacey comforts Nugget after Seely's father's death.
Second image: Tacey wants a commitment.
Third image: Tacey tells Clint not to wait too long then kisses him.
Bottom: Outside church - Seely, Tacey, Nugget, Judith, and Marjorie
Top: The Maleficent One and her Evil Assistant Marjorie
Second image: Nugget, Tacey, and Seely after church
Third image: Clint eats dinner at the Watrous House
instead of going on a picnic with Tacey and the kids.
Fourth image: All is forgiven.

Judith Reveals Her True Self

Afterward, Judith hires a private eye to investigate Tacey's past. Using her friend Marjorie Huggins (Adrienne Marden), Judith informs Judge Congin (Howard Wright) that Tacey is "not fit" to be a mother. Judith arranges a trip for Clint, and the moment he leaves, Tacey is put on trial where the judge names the children wards of the court. While Tacey weeps, Judith offers to take Nugget and Seely into her home.

Sure now that she will only hold Clint and the children back, Tacey leaves town in secret. Although Clint frantically searches for her upon his return, Mac lies that Tacey has not returned to the White Palace, and eventually Clint gives up.

Top L: Tacey says good-bye to the children as Judith watches.
Top R: Tacey says good-bye to Mrs. O'Dell.
Center L: Tacey leaves Randsberg in the pouring rain.
Center R: Mrs. O'Dell tells Clint that Tacey is gone
and the kids are at the Watrous House
Bottom L: Judith tells Clint that she hopes he finds Tacey. Not!
Bottom R: Mac tells Clint that Tacey isn't at the White Palace but she really is.
Six months later, the White Palace is booming under Tacey's care, but although she tries to forget Randsberg, a letter from Seely brings her to tears. (Seely sees a letter Tacey wrote to Mrs. O'Dell and takes Tacey's address from it.) Seely and Tacey begin a correspondence through which Tacey learns that, although the kids despise Judith and Clint does not love her, Clint finally marries Judith.

Top: Tacey says to Mac, "Randsberg? Never heard of it."
Second image: A letter arrives from Seely.
Third image: Tacey is tearful because Seely closed her letter with
"Your daughter, Seely."
Fourth image: Seely warns Tacey that Judith has hooked Clint.
Bottom: Clint has married the Maleficent One.
Two years later, Judith's constant nagging causes the now-grown Seely to run away to Tacey. At the White Palace, Tacey hears Seely's plan to run off with a married man, and bitterly explains that she once made the same mistake and her life has been ruined by it. Later, she takes Seely back to Randsberg, where Marjorie spots Tacey and tells Judith.

Top: Seely runs away to Tacey and tells of her love for a married man.
Bottom L: Tacey sets Seely straight.
Bottom R: Marjorie and friend see Tacey bring Seely back to Randsberg.

Judith visits Tacey at Mrs. O'Dell's and reveals that she tipped off the judge years earlier. Suddenly aware that Judith has more to be ashamed of than she does, Tacey decides to stay in town and wreak revenge by opening a huge, showy sporting house called the Pink Palace across the street from Clint's house. A delighted Clint visits but, sensing Tacey's spite, grows confused.

On New Year's Eve, Judith is furious about the Pink Palace and fights with Clint. During their society party, Clint sneaks out to share a glass of champagne with Tacey at the Pink Palace. They quickly dissolve into a passionate kiss, but when Judith sends for Clint, Tacey runs upstairs.

Top L: Judith fights with Clint.
Top R: Tacey and Mrs. O'Dell drink a toast on New Year's Eve.
Bottom L: Mrs. O'Dell warns Tacey about "spite-work."
Bottom R: Tacey and Clint share a passionate kiss.

Wise Mrs. O'Dell on spite-work

At his house, Clint finds Judith drunk, and she vows she will never grant him a divorce. As he leaves the house, she pitches a hissy fit. She throws an an oil lamp that causes a fire, and although Clint notices the flames and rushes back, he is too late to save his wife. A crowd gathers in the street, where Tacey and Mrs. O'Dell find Nugget and Seely but is saddened to hear of Judith's death. Suddenly, the Pink Palace also bursts into flames, and is quickly engulfed. By morning, Clint finds Tacey, Nugget and Seely at Mrs. O'Dell's house, and joins his family inside.

Top L: Judith fights with Clint and he leaves the house for the club.
Top R: Judith throws a fit, hits the lamp with a candlestick, and starts a fire.
Bottom: The Maleficent One burns. Clint tries to save her but is unable.

Top L: Tacey, Nugget, Mrs. O'Dell, and Seely are safe.
Top R: Clint realizes Judith is gone.
Bottom L: The Pink Palace goes up in flames.
Bottom R: Tacey, Clint, Nugget, and Seely are reunited at Mrs. O'Dell's house.
End Credits

Watch My Video of One Desire Posters and Stills

Watch One Desire (1955)

The name of the recipe is inspired by Tacey's sporting house.

The Pink Palace (Frozen Strawberry Dessert)

1 (11 oz.) pkg. Jell-O no-bake cheesecake mix (without topping)
5-6 T. butter, melted
1 qt. strawberry ice cream, softened
3/4 c. milk
10 oz. jar of Polaner Strawberry All Fruit (with seeds or seedless)
2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

Combine graham cracker crumbs from cheesecake mix with melted butter. Press into bottom of 9" x 13" pan. Spread softened ice cream over crust. Put in freezer. Combine cheesecake filling mix and milk. Beat until blended. Add jar of Polaner Strawberry All Fruit and beat 3 minutes. Spread over ice cream. Freeze 3 to 4 hours. Serve topped with fresh sliced strawberries.

I've also made this with raspberry ice cream/Polaner Seedless Red Raspberry All Fruit, blackberry ice cream/Polaner Seedless Blackberry All Fruit, and chocolate ice cream/Polaner Cherry All Fruit. Yum!