THE 1940 musical/gangster comedy IT ALL CAME TRUE featuring Ann Sheridan with Humphrey Bogart just on the cusp of stardom is eclectic piece of film making. The picture also features Jeffrey Lynn is a departure from his regular ‘Good guy” roles.
It came from time when musicals were huge and this effort tried to duplicate what what happening at MGM so I watched with trepidation. While cliches abound in entertainment of this sort IT ALL CAME TRUE offered some genuinely funny moments one of which featured Una O Conner feeding Bogart’s gangster character in bed. One can imagine Mr Bogart loathing this role yet the studios made him do this or perhaps he didn’t and had a good laugh.
The story concerns a gangster Grasselli/Chips Maguire played by you know by now who needs to lay low. Jeffrey Lynne in a slight change of pace from his ‘Good Guy/attorney” roles plays Tommy Taylor who has been working with Maguire. Taylor agrees reluctantly agrees due to blackmail to let Maguire stay at his ancestral boarding house home that he hasn’t been to in five years.
The boarding house features among those eccentric characters from Jesse Busley as Nora Taylor , Za Su Pitts as Miss Flint who is terrorized by Men following her home that she actually enjoys yet too shy to say. Una O Conner does her best as the cynical cook that actually runs the place plus later one you get to see her ‘glammed’ in a good way up for a party scene. The best if that is possible is Felix Bressart as monocled very formal THE GREAT BOLDINI who performs magic tricks dressed as sort of Roman soldier with the add of trained poodle.
Anne Sheridan plays Sarah Jane Ryan who is a childhood friend of Tommy Taylor and also a boarder. Sarah and Tommy renew acquaintances and find that have mutual interest and talent for music. I actually wonder if it is Anne Sheridan’s real voice in the sequence. They make plans to audition as a duo
Chip Maguire has ‘eyes” for Sarah that he views in house talant show featuring the boarders. When he sees Sarah perform with Timmy he gets the idea to turn the boarding house into an exclusive club that the will manage because he is bored.
The picture has some very different musical numbers especially one by The Elderbloom Chorus features older females singing this very staid song that launches into the swinging number complete with dancing
The story again isn’t important in a picture of this type as it was meant to fill the screen with song and dance and that it does in a novel way. Humphrey Bogart even does a very brief little dance and quick few lyrics from a song. This was also clearly a vehicle for Anne Sheridan to sing, to dance and be the ‘Oomph Girl’ with that red hair and wardrobe.
IT ALL CAME TRUE was Directed by Lewis Seiler and Producer Mark Hellinger who was later to later help produce the brilliant Cagney gangster picture THE ROARING TWENTIES. See Bogart do his best with a role he could walk through. See Anne Sheridan dazzle as singer along with some good comedy. Isn’t that was the style of film making is supposed to do and this does it in such a different way. Good fun
Frank Borzage directed this MGM controversial Joan Crawford final pairing with Clark Gable in 1940.
STRANGE CARGO is the story of Julia, cafe entertainer played by Crawford who is fired for consorting with prisoner Verne who is played by Gable who breaks into her rooms during an escape attempt. Later along with a group of fellow convicts other prisoners including one who claims to a “Christ” figure (Ian Hunter) is called a gentle Cambreau who has influence on the others. He reads Bible passage to the people as they make their escape along a treacherous jungle trek and a open sea journey.
Verne scoffs at the spirituality of it all at first even saves him from drowning in gale. in a rather uncharacteristically non happy Hollywood ending but still the one dictated by the morals code the prisoners do not make good their escape. In fact they all return to finish there sentences even Crawford’s character who has grown to love Verne and will wait for him
Why the controversy in the picture? Well the subject matter of a “Christ” like figure for one thing that was not all powerful. The moments when Clark Gable character has a real “acting chops” moment as he rages about on deck during storm.
Some have said that Joan Crawford’s character of Julie was just a redo Sadie Thompson from RAIN that she did in 1932 which set in motion the other roles such as Sadie McKee in the the film of the same name in 1934 even roles in FLAMINGO ROAD (1949).
Gable got to do something with some substance after GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) even if the role is similar to RED DUST (1932).
STRANGE CARGO (1940) features a strong cast of supporting players such as Peter Lorrie, Albert Dekker and Paul Lukas in a slightly off beat yet satisfying story. You get to see the characters have a type of redemption as the survivors return to finish their sentences or find love. One wonders how this got through at MGM which also produced the wholesome ANDY HARDY series of pictures with Louis B. Mayer still the head of the studio.
STARDUST AND SHADOWS has a great affection for Pre-code dramas as most watchers of these style of pictures have. Classic pre-code period being from 1925 to 1934 produced so deliciously seditious works before the Hays code came into effect. DR. MONICA made back in 1934 was at the end of this cycle has two of the very best actors in the person of Kay Francis and Warren William.
DR. MONICA: Directed by Warner Brothers work horses William Keighley and an uncredited William Dieterle with an adapted script by Charles Kenyon who also wrote other pre-code films such as OFFICE WIFE (1930) and PARTY HUSBAND (1931). Kenyon who was apparently good at adapting plays to the screen (DR. MONICA was originally a polish stage play) also scripted the debatable misfire of the Warner Brothers version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM (1934) with likes of James Cagney and Mickey Rooney spouting Shakespeare dialogue in a forest in an attempt to bring “Prestige” to the studio. William Dieterle was also in the Directors chair for that picture. Watch it at your peril.
The story is direct and simple of that of a female Obstetrician played by Kay Francis in the title role which of course was limited by 1930’s standards of female occupations delivers a child of a patient even as she knows it was was fathered by her husband played by Warren William in an affair.
Kay Francis literally glides through the opening party scenes with assurance even to the point of adding a little “finger waggle” business to an off screen acquaintance. Dr Monica Braden is played as being totally devoted to her husband and selfless in here medical work often doing long hours. Warren William who plays John Braden is a best selling globe trotting author working on a book for his publisher. Little does the audience know of the peccadillo that Warren William who does dastardly subtly well in both body language and speech pattern until the audience meets Mary Hathaway played by Jean Muir.
Hathaway is at party at the Braden residence when she collapses after being asked to play the piano. Good Dr. Monica begins to offer her add and thus starts the unraveling of the mystery all in 60 plus minutes.
You can watch Kay Francis change Dr Monica as she becomes cold yet still offers aid due to her oath as a physician for Hathaway. The controversy which made this so censurable to the audience at the time was that Dr Monica rejects helping Hathaway and the child painting the Medical world in a bad light. She is set straight by a literal ‘slap in the face ” by Verree Teasdale playing Anna Littlefield who reminds her of her duty. Dr Monica even demands that the child be “kept out of her sight” which was unsettling for the 1930’s institution of Motherhood. The other irony is that Dr Monica Braden was a child by her husband and expresses it to him. There is much going on in this picture as you have a female doctor which was unheard or limited as 1930’s occupations gave females the choice of home maker, secretary or store clerk. To top it off we have a woman rejecting the act of being a Mother when the child is at first abhorred.
The ending which puts everything right by Hollywood standard was some what dramatic yet it fit the times. Through it all you get flawless performance from Kay Francis (Brilliant wardrobe as usual) Warren William, Jean Muir, Veree Teasdale, and the others in the small effective cast. Barbara Stanwyck was to be the Dr. Monica as her star was rising yet Kay Francis does the role justice as she had already played a female physician in MARY STEVEN M.D (1934) also for Warner Brothers.
DR. MONICA is an excellent example of pre-code women’s view in the cinema at that time. This of course all changed with the coming of the code which made the screenwriters less direct yet still risque. DR MONICA (1934) runs just over 60 mins and is well worth a look if not just for the acting of the entire cast.
THE YOUNG DOCTORS made back in 1964 is a watershed of dramatic talent and performance. None more so then screen veteran Fredric March as aged Head Pathologist Doctor Joseph Pearson who clashes with new ways and attitudes personified by Ben Gazzara’s character Doctor David Coleman The story is not new yet the way it is handled with 60’s sensitivity is.
In perspective: this was the ‘Golden Age” of medical television shows such as BEN CASEY and DOCTOR KILDARE both (1961-1966). DOCTOR KILDARE character has been around for a while in a series of pictures in the late 1930 and 40’s. The 1960’s of course was also the age of ‘The Pill” and the beginnings of Test Tube baby research plus abortion issue. The fallout if you will from the ‘Free Love’ attitude that was to come.
The script was written by Arthur Hailey and filmed as NO DEADLY MEDICINE which was broadcast as a 1957 television play starring William Shatner in the Gazzara role and Lee J Cobb in the Fredric March part. Hailey also adapted the script for the 1959 novel “THE FINAL DIAGNOSIS”.
Fredric March did intense research in the ways of a pathologist for the role studying procedures and methods of dissection. The brain used in the above clip is an actual human brain that was substituted at the last moment. Apparently the Director Phil Karlson made the switch and whispered the fact to March before filming the scene resulting in an impassioned subtle moment.
This picture is filled with wonderful supporting performances such as romantic interest Ina Balin a student nurse Cathy Hunt who’s conflict becomes central to the plot.
You will also find Eddie Albert as Dr. Charles Dornberger who is close friend of Doctor Joseph Pearson in fact even makes himself the ‘Peacemaker” who changes. Screen veteran Aline MacMahon who has done so many pictures from musicals in the 1930’s to Film Noir in the 1950’s to Westerns as feisty Dr. Lucy Grainger.
The picture rights were bought by none other than Dick Clark best known as host of ‘American Bandstand” who has a dramatic role as a young doctor who’s wife played by Phyllis Love is about to have their first child of which they suspect complications.
THE YOUNG DOCTORS (1961) was just one of the 1960’s pictures to look at medicine and the personal lives of people. It still handles the somewhat dated subject matter with style and acting skills.
The style of Director King Vidor has fascinated in the way he handles story and actors. Vidor had a long career beginning in 1913 all the way up to 1980 in a variety of genres yet always with a way of making actors and story fit well against a large backdrop such as modern society or rural life. THE CROWD is a brilliant piece of film making in general be it silent or sound. The story of a man and woman trying to succeed in a corporate world that influenced BRAZIL (1985)
Vidor also made THE BIG PARADE(1928( which was one of John Gilbert’s finest performances in what was one of cinema’s pivotal War films.
The penultimate for many was the all black musical Hallelujah (1929) showcasing some brilliant song and dance but people who simply would not have gotten a chance
This is just a capsule look at King Vidor’s contribution to Hollywood. Seeks his name out on the credits it is usually displayed well above the credits in posters and on screen. You will be engrossed, entertained and intrigued all the same time. Find his work and watch it for flow and story.