Audrey Korn

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Pretty college girl who went to Hollywood hoping for a big break, Audrey Korn was a dime a dozen in Tinsel Town. Not surprisingly, after a brief and unsatisfying career, she gave it all up for marriage

EARLY LIFE

Audrey Myrtle Korn was born on September 14, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, to Samuel Korn and Pearl Mack. Her older brother Harold B. was born in 1918. She also had a younger sister, but I could not find any information about when she was born nor what is her name.

Her paternal grandparents were immigrants from Romania. In 1930, the family lived with a German family in Chicago. After graduating from high school in Chicago, Audrey attended university (I don’t know which one) and that she gave up her studies to make her Hollywood dream come true.

CAREER

Audrey appeared in only five movies during her whole career, and she was uncredited in all of them.

Up in Arms (again this movie!!). Yes, again. Seems all of the starlets in 1944 appeared in it. No comments necessary. Like Danny Kaye an and his brand of humor? Watch it by all means, otherwise keep away.

In 1945, she appeared in Duffy’s Tavern, an all star extravaganza. You may ask what “Duffy’s Tavern” is? Taken from IMDB:

“Hello – Duffy’s Tavern where the elite meet to eat, Archie the manager speakin’, Duffy ain’t here. – Oh, hello Duffy.” This greeting, preceded by “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” played on a tinny piano, announced to millions of radio listeners that it was time for DUFFY’S TAVERN. Fans of this popular program knew they were in store for laughs, big-name guest stars, sometimes a little music and always their favorite characters holding forth at the New York dive headed by Archie himself. Ed Gardner, a former piano player, salesman, talent agent and radio director (in that order) created the program and cast himself in the lead when he couldn’t find an actor that spoke “New York bartender” as well as he did. The series ran from 1941-1952, premiering on the CBS Radio Network and later moving to NBC. Each episode opened with the proprietor Duffy, who never appeared, phoning his manager and setting up the action that would follow in the next half hour. Archie was known for insulting his guest stars and his Damon Runyanesque speech. (In fact Abe Burrows, co-writer with Runyon of GUYS AND DOLLS, got his start on DUFFY’S TAVERN.) Regulars included Eddie Green as the wise-cracking Eddie the waiter and Charles Cantor as the intellectually-challenged Finnegan. Gardner’s wife Shirley Booth originated the role of Miss Duffy, the ditzy, man-hungry daughter of the owner. At least a dozen other actresses played the role during the series 11 year run. Though DUFFY’S TAVERN made the transition to television in 1954, it only lasted for one season.

AudreyKorn2Al of the major studios made this kind of all star movies for the war effort. Paramount thus gave us a movie where you can see Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton, Paulette Goddard, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Eddie Bracken and so on.

The Stork Club is a lightweight, fluffy Betty Hutton movie. The plot (taken from IMDB): A hat-check girl at the Stork Club (Hutton) saves the life of a drowning man (Fitzgerald). A rich man, he decides to repay her by anonymously giving her a bank account, a luxury apartment and a charge account at a department store. Yes, the plot is pretty much completely unbelievable, but hey, after reading the plot of most of the other musicals, who can complain? Hutton was a dynamom one of the most charming stars of the 1940s. She could successfully carry a movie, and it’s a plus if she has good support. Here she had Barry Fitzgerald – what more could you ask? You also get to see how Stork club looked like – and the Stork club was THE place to be in the 1940s. Nice bit of the golden age nostalgia for sure.

The Blue Dahlia is one of the better known film noirs of the 1940s, and perhaps the most famous pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. It’s not the best film noir, not by along shot, lacking the grittiness and sheer power some stellar examples of the genre had, but it’s well plotted (despite some minor holes), moves swiftly towards the ending and the cast is good enough. While antagonistic in real life, Ladd and Lake are a wonder together and truly have that “magical chemistry” that all great screen teams had. Lake was never a first class actress (she was more of a type who got on beauty than acting skill), but she makes it work.

Blue Skies is a a musical pairing two giants of the genre: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Of course, they are locked in a love-triangle struggle for the love of a girl, played rather uninspiredly by Joan Caulfield. Though the plot is thin who cares when you can see Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire at their very best. A running gag: guess who gets the girl in the end? Har har har…

Audrey gave up Hollywood for marriage and never made another movie.

PRIVATE LIFE

Audrey dated musical-western star Dick Foran for a time in 1940. He was freshly divorced from Ruth Hollingsworth and obviously not yet ready for a serious relationship. In 1941, she was showered by candy and flowers by entertainment lawyer Paul Ralli.

In January 1945, Audrey was named a Stork Club Orchid and appeared in the movies about the famous club. Sadly, of all the girls who were stock club orchid, none achieved any level of cinematic success (not even remotely!).

Audrey started dating Nelson Nathanson, Hollywood dress designer, sometime in 1944, while he was on a furlough. He had to depart for war not long after and they kept up the correspondence for 17 months. Finally, in mid 1945, he was discharged and they could merge.

Audrey married Nelson S. Nathanson in June 1945. Nathanson was born on January 9, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Morris P Nathanson and Helen E Nathanson. Audrey gave up her career to raise a family with Nelson.

Their daughter Shelley Arnette was born on April 9, 1949. Their son Albert Scott was born on January 10, 1952. The Nathansons were active members of the local Van Nuys community, with Audrey teaching children how to dance and choreographing dances for celebrations. Nelson worked for M. Michaelson and Company and was a popular designer, especially of coats. He often traveled around the world with his wife to find inspiration for next years fashion lines.

Nelson Nathanson died on April 27, 1967 in California.

Audrey remarried to Max Garth after Nelson’s death. Garth was born in 1910. They lived in Sherman Oaks together.

Max Garth died on October 20, 2001.

Audrey K. Garth died on March 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.

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Elinor Troy

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Considered the first Amazon glamour chorine, Elinor Troy, the 6’2” statuesque stunner with raven hair and dark eyes, truly was a knockout. Yet, she hardly remembered today and not for her slim achievements in the movie making area but her very colorful private life.

EARLY LIFE

Elinor Edmonston was born on September 15, 1916 in Washington DC, to Eric Edmonston and Elsie Ashly. She was the oldest of three children: her younger brother Eric Jr. was born in 1917, and her younger sister Ruth in 1920.

Little is known about Elinor’s childhood, except that she grew up in Washington DC, and finished only the first two grades of high school. Allegedly she left Washington with the sole purpose of appearing in Busby Berkeley production. The man saw her, liked what he saw and signed her right away.

CAREER

Elinor first appeared in a movie from 1937, Meet the Boy Friend. There is nothing worthwhile to mention about this late 1930s comedy – all the usual elements are here, including a moronic script, little known actors and pedestrian direction. Those movies are hardly worth watching today, with so many more worthwhile films on the stack!

ElinorTroy8Elinor’s next comedy, Nothing Sacred, is a gem in her filmography. A seminal comedy with Carole Lombard, the queen of all comediennes and the indomitable Frederic March, it possesses a fast moving, brutal but very effective humor native to the decade. The story is a satire at its best, dealing with how the media distorts facts and pushes towards sensationalism at every chance. As one review on IMDB wrote: “The writing cuts to the bone, exposing hypocrisy in all its forms. The film is as fresh today, and is as relevant to the culture, as it was when it was made.” Also watch out for a great supporting cast (Walter Connolly, Margaret Hamilton, Sig Ruman). They don’t get much better than this!

Kiss the Boys Goodbye is a completely forgotten Mary Martin musical. Martin was truly one of the actresses that were tops in the theater but never managed to arouse the same level of excitement in movies.

The Fleet’s In is a movie that boasts an incredible cast (William Holden, Dorothy Lamour, Betty Hutton – all of them went on to make bigger and better things) but everything else if sub par. Worth watching if only to see all of these luminaries in one place (that never happened again!).

The Falcon Takes Over is a movie that tries and to some degree, manages to mix opposite genres. We al know who Falcon is – the suave, charming ElinorTroy10Casanova solving crimes between his caviar and champagne. Yet, the story is taken from a Raymond Chandler book, “Farewell my lovely.” We all know that Chandler wrote gritty, dark, turgid stories full of flawed men, alcohol, murder and lethal dames. So, how do the two mix and match? The sophisticated Falcon and the working man Phillip Marlowe (to put it mildly)? However, the movie surprises and manages to mix and match the two genres not brilliantly but well enough to make it work.

Lady of Burlesque is certainly a more worthwhile movie, today considered a solid 1940s comedy. It deals with a touchy theme, the world of burlesque – and the murders that happen within. Considering Hollywood’s try to be as snow pure and happy go lucky as it gets (the reason I am not a big MGM fan!), this is quite a bold move, to make a movie about strippers. Here we directly see the innovative way writers an directors fought the production code that, at its most valiant tries, turned serious movies into predictable, black and white mushes with little grey undertones. Despite dealing with an unsavory world of sleazy men and nude women, the movie masterfully sweeps by without touching anything that could taint it. The script is witty and elegant, the direction in firm and masterful, and the girls give decent portrayals. Barbara Stanwyck, in the leading role, truly was one of the biggest talent of the golden age of Hollywood (and interestingly, she is an actress I don’t personally like but admire). As one reviewer on IMDB wrote: “The result was a movie that captured the seedy, underworld-edged world of burlesque without actually causing censors to yank it from distribution.”

Let’s Face It was once a risky Broadway play, but guess what happened when Hollywood got his hands on it? Yep,a watered down comedy. While it does slightly retain some of the edge of the original play, it’s “too little, too late”. If you put the serious artistic pretensions aside, it’s still a well crafted musical comedy with a solid cast – Bob Hope, Betty Hutton, Eve Arden. Bob and Betty are a fine couple with good chemistry, too bad they never made more movies. Music by Cole Porter is also a big plus.

ElinorTroy2One can watch Atlantic City if nothing than for the superb vaudeville/musical sequences. Where else can you see Louis Armstrong and his band on film, or a pre-fame Dorothy Dangridge doing her stuff? As typical for a musical, these sequences take precedence over the story and the leads. I personally dislike these type of musicals for this same reason, as story and characters are king in my book, but to each his own!

Lost in a Harem is the best movie Abbott and Costello did for MGM. The studio (about which I have wildly differing opinions about, but that’s a topic for a long discussion!) was based more on saccharine sweet musicals and comedy teams like the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello always fell into the backwater hole for them. This is obvious in the movies – they often stuff it with various bandleaders and their bands (this was not supposed to be a musical!) to give it a bigger appeal, and tone down the Abbott and Costello. Despite this, it’s a okay comedy, with some great sequences and a very oily bad guy (Douglas Dumberville).

See My Lawyer is a Ole and Chic comedy movie, their last. The plot is non existent, but the The Nat King Cole Trio and Carmen Amaya and her Troupe are more than enough reason to at least take a look at it.

Nob Hill is George Raft’s last leading role in a big production (he would fall into . It’s not a bad movie – whiel the plot is a rip of of several prior movies like Barbary Coast and Hello, Frisco, Hello, it serves as a well enough backdrop for character development. However, George gets a step down compared to his co star, the child actress Margaret O’Brien, and the same goes to his love interest, Joan Bennett.

Anchors Aweigh is a classical 1940s musical with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. You like colorful, fun, lightweight fare? Then don’t miss this one.

Of Human Bondage  is an adaptation of the famous Somerset Maugham novel, and sadly inferior to the better known 1938 version. Let’s be frank, Paul Henreid can’t hold a candle to the supremely talented Leslie Howard, and while Eleanor Parker is good enough as Mildred, but cannot top Bette Davis.

Health reasons made Elinor retire from movies after 1946.

PRIVATE LIFE

Elinor had a very colorful private life. My own opinion of her is that she was a fiery girl with an attitude who easily got mad and did stuff she later regretted. She was also more than a little bit silly, not the type to think about the future and lived for the moment, but a very positive and giddy person.

She hit the papers in 1934, when Busby Berkeley called her the girl with a perfect figure. On February 21, 1934, Elinor married Charles Carrara. Carrara was born in 1891 in Italy to Carlo Carrara and Agnes Cirgretti, making him quite a bit older than Elinor. The marriage was dissolved by 1936. Elinor went to live with her mom Elsie afterwards, who was by that time separated but not divorced from her dad Eric.

ElinorTroy6Her first real scandal came in 1937, and concerning crooner Jack Doyle, the singing boxed nicknamed “Irish Thush”. His affections the subject of a 2,000,000 love theft suit, brought on by his wife Judith Allen against prominent socialite Mrs. Delphine Dodge Cromwell Baker Godde. Elinor was literary the collateral, as she was mentioned in the lawsuit as Jack’s sometime companion, a fish bowl dancer. The guy sure went around! The suit stretched on and on, with massive newspaper coverage (don’t the media just love these kind of things?). Of course, Elinor issued the mandatory denial, saying she was a good friend of the Doyles and that they spent a few pleasant evening together (the three of them, of course). Then another girl, by the name of Jeanne Manet, also came forward as his escort of the year before.

During this whole mess, Elinor dated Frank Fay, the former husband of Barbara Stanwyck. However, she was far from finished with Doyle. Doyle did indeed divorce Allen in April 1938, but he never did marry Delphine. Elinor and he continued to date. In October 1938, she made headlines again when she knocked out Doyle after he failed to appear at a rendezvous. Sure enough, he had a date with Japanese beauty Michi Taka, and when Elinor saw them two together, wham! A photographer was conveniently present to see that the whole story went right to the papers… Later, she claimed they were engaged – he denied it. Yet, they made up and she even went with him to Ellis Island to assist him in obtaining permanent admission to the US.

In 1939, Elinor met the man who would end up begin her ticket to fame – Tommy Manville. What to say about this guy? Let this text speak for itself (taken from Wikipedia):

Thomas Franklyn Manville, Jr., universally known as Tommy Manville (April 9, 1894 – October 9, 1967), was a Manhattan socialite and heir to the Johns-Manville asbestos fortune. He was a celebrity in the mid 20th Century, by virtue of his large financial inheritance, and his 13 marriages to 11 women. This feat won him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, and made him the subject of much gossip.

ElinorTroy4In October 1939, he paid a chartered plane to bring Elinor to New York – she was the only passenger. Imagine the cost! For five days afterwards they went from club to club, then finally got into a tiff and separated. Elinor had to take a cab after Tommy left her hanging in a club! The reason could have been Hoot Gibson, the virile western star. Hoot was the man of the hour in late 1939, and send Elinor an orchid a day. What a romantic!

Yet, by early 1940, she was seen with Franchot Tone in Florida. By February, she was again enmared by Manville, and rumors flew the two will wed. That was hushes quickly, and Elinor bought a mansion in Washington for her mother (imagine, how much chorus girls make!). Next in line was George Jessel, who was dating Lois Andrews in parallel (he married Lois in the end so you go figure!). Elinor was allegedly quite smitten with the charming George, even trying to book him a deal with a very rich old broker. Didn’t help there. Owning to her colorful love life, Elinor gathered some notoriety as a girl who was engaged “instantly” to a man after their first date, and the press even chided her for it!

Dashing Lyle Talbot took over as the leading man in April 1940. In May 1940, Elinor was back in Hollywood (finally), and guess who paid for the trip back. Why Manville, of course! He gifted her with a 2800$ car. Return ticket from Manville, to put it succintly. She got a spot at the Florentine Gardens and took up with writer Dick Purcell. By October she was back with Franchot Tone.

In November 1940, Elinor was en route to New York and Tommy Manville again. The idyll lasted for only a few days, Tommy the first to get cooled off. He gave her the chill for two weeks, and then she returned to Hollywood in January 1941, with six new fur coats. All the while, her sister Ruth was seriously ailing in the General Hospital in California, given 60 days to live due to insufficient funds to move her to a drier and warmer climate. Luckily, Ruth recovered and went on to marry W. D. Whitefield and appear on the stage under the name of Ruth Roy.

ElinorTroy3Elinor was dated by John Carroll upon her return, closely followed by George Sanders. Soon, however, Elinor was in the papers again, saying how she wants to get married and have children. Were her playgirl days the thing ot he past by then? Anyway, it’s fun to note that she sometimes got together with other Tommy Manville exes, and they all went to dinner and shows together.

In August 1941, Manville announced her was to be married to Mrs. Beverly Paterno – Elinor was quick to note that a redhead like Paterno could never understand Tommy and give him proper care, so she would fly to New York to be at had. Another beauty, Margot Haller, had the same idea. Meanwhile, back in New York Tommy moaned how he only loved Beverly and needs no help from either Margot or Elinor. I guess tis was a clever bit of publicity as nothing further was heard of it.

In October, Elinor was seen with Leif Erikson. In January 1942, she was again in New York to see Tommy. The saga continues it seems! There she romances John Payne. In April she was back in Los Angeles, claiming that Tommy proposed to her and that she “could have him any moments she wants”. When asked why they did not marry back in 1939, she said that he thought she was flirting with a guy in a nightclub and discovered that she could not cook. A very serious romance for sure! Whatever the truth is,they did not marry, and Elinor later claimed she was the only girl who said no to Tommy Manville.

In April 1943, she was serious about Bill Davey, a wealthy sportsman who gifted her with a diamond wristwatch. Later she tried to sell a script, titled Broadway Playboy, to the studios. Sadly, Elinor fell into some money problems, and had to sell the white fur coat to settle some bills she accumulated and to pay her fare to the East coast.

ElinorTroy7She worked at the Follies Bergere, and fell in love with the same guy like fellow chorine Dorothy Pinto, The two had a backstage fight over the guy (whoever he is!).  In September, she almost married Lieutenant Howard P. Lane, a wealthy Connecticut man. Why did they postpone it? Sadly no information is given, but one can only guess… She was also the girl with the longest silver fox jacket in New York.

Not long after, Elinor became a recluse. She started to loan out her fancy fur coat collection to fellow showgirls in return for slacks. She got a steady boyfriend (no name mentioned) who even sent her a Christmas tree backstage after a show. The guy could have been Lt. True Davis, whom she dated for sure in January 1944.

In June 1944, she was back with a bankroll that would choke a horse (beats me what that means exactly!). Her former beau, Manville, went bankrupt in the meantime, sold a real size painting of Elinor in December 1944.

In October 1945, Elinor was recuperating from a series to health problem, but things seemed to look up. Well, not really. By November 1946, she was sure she would die unless she got 3000$ for treatment. The malady was tuberculosis, and the benefactor they hope to reach was Manville. There was no answer for Manville, and the only one ready to put money for Elinor was her old friend, Van Johnson.

ElinorTroy9She spend all of her time in bed, and to alleviate her boredom, a group of friends wished to buy her a radio photograph, but asked for donations to do so. By June 1948, she was a bit better and even ventured out, but it was not to last long. By August she was back in bed, and got some newspaper coverage in an article where she claimed her biggest worry was not her deteriorating state of health, but her missing Pekingese dog, Tinker, whom she misses very much (so typical of Elinor, who never seemed to be serious about anything). The situation did not approve sadly. Elinor slowly wasted away from TBC and there was nothing to be done about it. While Elinor was probably a silly chorine that lived from day to day, she was a good natured girl and nobody expected this tragic end to her life.

Elinor Troy died on November 29, 1949, in Hollywood, California.

Ann Staunton

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Another blonde stunner who came to Hollywood via the chorus line, Ann Staunton ended up much better than many of her contemporaries: while she was never credited and is hardy remembered today, she stayed in Hollywood for 30 years and made appearances in a hefty number of well known movies.

EARLY LIFE:

Virginia Ann Koerlin was born on March 20, 1919, in New York City, New York, to William Koerlin and Blanche Perrone. Her paternal grandparents were from Germany, her maternal grandparents from Italy. Her older brother William Jr. was born in 1918. Little is known about her childhood, except that she grew up in New York.

Virginia started working as a chorine just as soon as she graduated from high school. She worked as a professional ice skater and appeared in a large number of revenues. After a “long” stage career, she landed in Hollywood in 1942.

CAREER:

I will only cover Ann’s movie career, leaving the TV appearances behind (as I know little about the 1950s and 1960s series).

Prisoner of Japan is a cheap, low quality spy thriller with a German man emulating a Japanese spy. Summer Storm is an early Douglas Sirk melodrama, and it gives all the hints of the greatness Sirk was to achieve in just a few decades in Hollywood. And I am always glad to see Linda Darnell in movies. Not a great actress, but a compelling one nonetheless!

Next Ann appeared in the classic film noir, The Killers. Burt Lancaster + Ava Gardner = sizzle, sizzle. The Razor’s Edge is another classic and one of my favorite Tyrone Power movies. Hollywood did not make movies as deep as this one frequently (the movie is a watered down version of the book in turn), and they are a joy to watch.

Hit Parade of 1947 was a lesser effort for Ann, as it’s the usual 1940s musical cum comedy cum romance. Eddie Albert, an actor I adore, plays the lead – he was usually the second banana and it is refreshing to see him in the main role for once. Philo Vance Returns

Anybody who loved Christmas movies, or indeed family movies, has probably watched the original Miracle on 34th Street. I find it to be much better than the remake, and Natalie Wood is absolutely gorgeous (and Maureen O’Hara is not bad herself. John Payne is the usual wooden face).

Heartaches is a typical murder mystery made by the dozen in Hollywood in the 1940s. Only thing to distinguish it are the song and dance routines featuring Chill Wills and Kenneth Farrell (you ever heard of this guy? Well, I haven’t, so you guessed it! Obscure actor!). The surprise is – they are both dubbed! So much for genuine musicals…

AnnStauntonDaisy Kenyon is a melodrama with the queen of melodramas, Joan Crawford. The more I watch her movies, the more I appreciate Joan: She was such a singular talent and an immensely charismatic woman, not a trained actress but with a raw and angry quality that many trained actors loose after their intense schooling. Daisy Kenyon is not a top melodrama in terms of  story (woman having an affair with a married man, hoping he would divorce his wife, when a mentally unstable war veteran enters the picture), but it works mostly because of Joan and her supporting actors. When you have Dana Andrews and Henry Fonda, you don’t need much more!

Call Northside 777 is a seminal 1940s movie, and we can say it has everything a film noir needs to become a classic: a capable director (Henry Hathaway), moody, stunning cinematography, a cast of superb actors, and a dark and disturbing story line taken from a real life case (trying to prove a man already convicted of murder innocent). I am not a Jimmy Stewart fan by any stretch of an imagination, but boy, could he act! I am also a big fan of the tragic Helen Walker (who plays Stewart’s wife), one of the most underrated and talented actresses of the period.

After such a intense movie, Ann moved on to lighter fare. The Fuller Brush Man is perhaps the best Red Skelton movie Hollywood ever belted out. Dont’ expect a Nobel prize winning story, but Skelton is a true comedic genius and the lovely Janet Blair is wonderful to watch. Ann continued appearing in Red Skelton movies – A Southern Yankee, certainly a good enough comedy set during the American Civil War.

Now, it was back to more serious movies: Hollow Triumph is a unjustly overlooked film noir. While the story has an improbable beginning, the rest is very plausible and for that sole reason, very very disturbing. The sordid truth, that people are so self absorbed they neglected everything around themselves, hits hard any viewer who watched movie less for the fun and relaxation and more for artistically fulfillment. I love Paul Henreid, and while he was not a model actor with a great range, his tormented face and a lanky, hungry countenance never failed to stir something in me. The cinematography of the movie is a masterpiece of shadow and light, as is often the case with film noir.

Apartment for Peggy is a warm, gentle movie with a simple story (a old professor, so depressed and unhappy he is on the verge of suicide, gets a new lease of life when a young war bride enters his life) and lots of heart.  Of course, the acting performances by the leads, Jeanne Crain and Edmund Gwenn do 90% of the job. As I already said several times, this is the kind of movie you rarely, if ever, see today. While not a gripping, thrilling film that will hold you for the next several days, it will give you several moments of true endearment.   

Ann oscillated happy go lucky movies with extremely dark ones, as her next one, The Snake Pit, can attest. The movie is primarily remembered for the tour de force role of Olivia de Havilland, truly a talent who was often stuck playing genteel but spirited love interests. While Olivia truly was a great choice for such elegantly spunky ladies, she shows her true colors only in movies like this. The movie deals with a very touchy subject – the treatment of mental patients in asylums int he 1940s. A bit on a side story: if you want to know more about the treatment, and love old games, play “Blackstone chronicles” (more on this Wikipedia link). Boy, in the world of gory horror games, this one scared me the most because it was all true. What they did to those poor people. The lobotomies, the cold water treatments, the injection of snake venom and so on… Later, the subject got some coverage with “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest“, but there were other movies dealing with it before (including the very good Shock Corridor). let’s get one things straight: this movie is a very tame version of what happened, but a truly welcome one. Great movie all around.

Criss Cross is an another film noir classic, this time with Burt Lancaster and Yvonne de Carlo. What can I say, I adore Burt and find him to be one AnnStaunton4of the best actors of the 1950s. Int he 1940s he was just getting into his own and he’s not the true juggernaut he would become later, but he is very effective in the role of a man swindled by a seductive femme fatale he is crazy about. It was back to fluffier fare with We’re Not Married! , a comedy that is all about the casting. The plot is moronic, to be mild, and the writing is lacking, but where else can you see luminaries like Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mtzi Gaynor, Louis Calhern, Eddie Bracken in one movie!

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is not the best Hemingway adaptation, and even today the reviews ae very well mixed. IMHO, part of the problem lies with the actors – while they are all more than adequate, they never strike the right cord. For me, Peck was not a Hemingway hero like Gary Cooper was, and Susan Hayward was not suited for meek wife roles. Ava Gardner fares a bit better as the ideal Hemingway heroines, but eve she is not “it”. Hard to explain, but it often is when you try to make a great short story into a movie. My Wife’s Best Friend is a run of the mill 1950s marriage comedy. Anne Baxter, an actress I personally find to be unique and interesting, plays a typical superficial role these movies demanded for their leads. On the plus side, at least the story is interesting enough (from IMDB: After a man confesses to his wife that he has been unfaithful, she imagines all kinds of ways that historical figures such as Cleopatra and Joan of Arc might handle the situation.)

Bad for Each Other is a mediocre medical drama. Charlton Heston, a man made for playing larger than life heroes (and, accordingly, very uncomfortable in playing normal, everyday people) is good enough as the leading man, a doctor just returned from the Korean war and trying to figure out what to do with his life. Lizabeth Scott and Dianne Foster are the two women vying for his affection (not a bad combo, I have to say!). All in all, solid fare, but nothing to write home about.

Diane is a lavish costume melodrama with Lana Turner playing Diane the Poitiers, mistress of the french king Henry. The movie, like many of the genre, falls victim to it’s own splendor that effectively drowns all the more worthwhile elements of movie making – the story, characters and their interactions. It takes a giant like DeMille go get it right, and sadly the director. Yet, under the lawyers of glamour and glitter lies a solid story with decent performances. Lana Turner is at her bets when she is pitted against Marisa Pavan, who plays the wife of her lover. Also worth noting is that Roger Moore, 15 years before Bond, plays the leading man.

Ten Thousand Bedrooms is a below average musical comedy, Dean Martin’s first solo effort. Why? well because the tried to mesh Dean Martin into something only Cary Grant could pull off. Martin is just not as suave and charming as Cary is, and he’s hardy believable in his role. The music is listless. Only the supporting cast is good enough, with Anna Maria Alberghetti, Dewey Martin and Walter SlezakDesigning Woman is a classic comedy on the track of the 1930s screwball movies. I like Gregory Peck much better in this one, and Lauren Bacall is as “seductive as Eve and cool as the serpent”, as somebody once wrote about her, even in her comedy roles.

The Vampire  is an obscure 1950 horror movie. John Beal plays a kind and friendly small-town doctor, who has got hold accidentally of pills that turn him into a vampire. You can guess the rest. At least Coleen Gray appears in it! Band of Angels is a later day Gone with the wind, even featuring Clark Gable in the lead. GTWT similarities aside, it’s a movie with a social consciousness, but choppily made, bordering on being boring. Yvonne de Carlo is fine enough as the female love interest, but somebody correctly noted that Ava Gardner was born to play such parts, and Yvonne, despite all of her beauty, never tops that. Sidney Poitier get away with the best, meatiest role.

Hell’s Five Hours is a very obscure movie today, the the premise is good enough. From IMDB. “Released in the late ’50s when paranoia about thermonuclear annihilation was running rampant through America, Hell’s Five Hours looks not at Communist operators but at a disturbed individual with access to one installation of the nation’s military-industrial complex. It’s set at night, in cozy Meritville, a little town whose chief employer is a huge and ominous rocket-fuel plant (in an expressionist touch, it registers as a looming bank of lights in the dark distance).” Sadly I can say no more.

Born Reckless is a cheap, sloppily made western. If you like the blonde bombshell types, then you’ll probably enjoy seeing Mamie Van Doren playing a saloon singer so seductive every guy she encounters has to hit on her.

Ada is a Dean Martin/Susan Hayward pairing, and a sadly lukewarm movie. As they say, not the worst but far from good. A bit overly dramatic, but that’s a early 1960s melodrama for you. 13 West Street is an interesting movie, a last starring role for Alan Ladd, one of the first in the “citizen takes things into his own hands after his country fails him.” Ladd plays a engineer constantly bullied by a gang of affluent but completely deviant young men. After the police is unable to do anything worthwhile, he starts snooping around on his own and does things his way. Charles Bronson did a similar thing in the “Death Wish” movie 15 years later, and it’s always a highly relevant subject. Ladd, in one of his last roles, in visibly tormented and in bad health, just perfect for the guy he plays. Dolores Dorn is wonderful as his wife.  Mirage is another good entry into Ann’s filmography, a underrated but well made thriller with Gregory Peck in the leading role.

Ann appeared in two more completely forgotten movies from the early 1970s, The Pleasure Game and Beautiful Peopleand then retired from the screen for good.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Anne landed in Hollywood in 1937, and it was apparent pretty soon that instant fame was not her forte. She took a job as a cigarette girl at the Trocadero, where she met quite a number of gents from the upper echelons of the movie colony. This catapulted her to a more stable movie career not long after.

Anne’s first known beau was boxer Freddie Steele in January 1938, when Ann was just 18 years old. The two were very serious, and there were even rumors Freddie would wed her in his career went as expected. The nuptials never took place,and what exactly happened remain clouded in the mysteries of past.

Anne was a seasoned chorus girl by this time, best friends with fellow chorine Grace Clyde. In December 1939, Anne was often seen with Edmund Goudling, notable director. In January 1940, she enchanted Macoco, an aptly named South American millionaire.

By May, she was beaued by Lyle Talbot, the smooth talking Hollywood actor. She and Talbot got serious pretty soon, and he proposed in mid May. Anne turned him down- turns out she was madly in love with somebody else – Randolph Wade (whoever he was!). In the strange twist of fate, Lyle accepted her decision and they continued to date casually. Cool!

However, you couldn’t hold Ann down back then. In September 1940 she was dating a wealthy aircraft and oil president who lavished her with mink coats and jewelry. In January, she got a 6000$ brooch from him. It was closely followed by a 7500$ diamond and sapphire brooch. However, also to note that is this idyll, Ann had to keep his name a secret since he was still a married man. As time went by, the jewelry spree continued (add a 2000$ diamond ring), but not a word about who the guy might be. You guessed it, that wasn’t a prescription for a successful relationship that would lead to marriage, and in September 1941, after a year of a clandestine affair, Anne was hot and heavy with Mickey Rooney. In November, she was seen with Errol Flynn on board the Queen Mary. Errol insisted that the photographer destroy the negatives. He was separated from Lili Damita by then,  soon to be divorced, so that may be the reason. However, the fling did not last.

Interesting rumor is that Anne had the corner of her eyes slashed so they would look better in front of the cameras. Beats me what that exactly means, but hey, it shows how far girls were ready to go to look every inch the cinematic Venus.

In early 1942, Anne took up with Dick Fishell, the sports announcer. Soon, she switched to a new Dick, also a sports writer, Dick Hyland.

Anne got engaged to Dick in May 1943. They married not long after. Richard Frank Hyland was born on July 26, 1900, in California, to Francis William Hyland and Helen Swett, making him almost 19 years older than Anne. Wikipedia has a short page for him:

Richard Frank Hyland was an American rugby union player who competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics. He was a member of theAmerican rugby union team, which won the gold medal. Hyland also played college football at Stanford University, and went on to become a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times.

Dick married noted poetess and screenwriter Adela St. Johns in 1928. Their son was born in 1929. Dick and Adela divorced in 1935, amid allegations that Adela was an unfit mother because she used improper language around their son and tried to “destroy his love for his father.”

Ann and Dick’s only child, Patricia Ann, was born on May 21, 1944.Sadly, Anne and Dick separated soon after Patricia’s birth and divorced in 1946. He remarried to Rochelle Elizabeth Hudson on December 17, 1948. Hyland died on July 16, 1981.

She was seen with Anthony Vellier, another writer (she sure had a thing for those!), not long after. Anne fell out of the newspaper radar, and little is known about what happened to her after the 1940s.

What I do know is that Anne married Pierre E. Jannin in 1959 in Nevada. They divorced at some point.

Virginia Ann Staunton died on May 7, 1994, in Los Angeles, California.