Archive for Eric Blore

Noir Lite

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2020 by dcairns

“He’s dead! Laminated!”

“This is a job for Michael Lanyard!”

I was hoping to amuse Fiona with the above ribtickling remark, but she just stared, so I put on my best Oliver Hardy voice and said, “You know what a lanyard is, don’t you,” and she laughed loudly, not at me and my wit, but at the memory of Oliver Hardy.

THE LONE WOLF MEETS A LADY is a standard-issue Columbia B pic, efficiently directed by Sidney Salkow with his customary anonymity (I doubt even Harry Cohn could pick him out of a line-up) but it has Warren William, the starving lion, and Eric Blore and whatnot. Something about stolen diamonds.

These things generally start out dull (“I’ve just met these people and already I’m not interested!” I declared, paraphrasing Adam Belinsky) then perk up when the leads appear (WW and EB are a delightful team, you can take Boston Blackie and stick him), then run out of steam midway, revived only by interesting bit players, here Shemp Howard as a burglar with echolalia and Luis Alberni as a Greek laundryman (well within his range).

Blore in full dither.

By the end, having been sleeping irregularly, Fiona was drifting off, and managed to hallucinate a new ending, based on the Lone Wolf’s enthusiasm for winter sports, which is a minor plot point in this one (skis and snowshoes in back of car: the quest refused).

“Oh… what was… oh, was that his crampons?”

Not that crampons are really a winter sports thing, anyway. But I’ve always liked Guy Grand’s conceit in The Magic Christian, of splicing upsetting new shots into classic films to startle the unwary. Fiona has a Guy Grand of the unconscious.

The Sidney Salkow signature shot: a buncha guys standing around in the dark.

THE LONE WOLF MEETS A LADY stars Perry Mason; Sir Alfred MacGlennon Keith; Helena – in love with Demetrius; Oberon – King of the Fairies; Mandrake the Magician; Mr. Bel-Goodie; Bloodgood; Mrs. Truesmith; Florenz Ziegfeld; Bert Pierce; Louis Louis of the Hotel Louis; Walt Spoon; and Shempeth.

Lone Wolf and Blore

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2020 by dcairns

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A classic Langian image — the phantom technological interrogator!

Since our friend Marvelous Mary is perhaps the western world’s most passionate fan of Eric Blore, but depends for her supply entirely upon us, I thought it was time we all tried the LONE WOLF series, in which EB co-stars as Jamison, faithful valet to the Lone Wolf himself, Michael Lanyard, played by Warren William and later Gerald Mohr.

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Naturally, we started not at the beginning, with THE LONE WOLF SPY HUNT (though WW’s first Wolf movie is rumoured to be the best, Blore does not appear, so it CAN’T BE) but with sort-of the end, WW’s final entry, PASSPORT TO SUEZ. Apart from the two movies directed by Edward Dmytryk, which we’ll definitely watch out for, it’s the only entry in the series with a top-notch (or second-from-top-notch) director (OK, the very first film treatment of Louis Joseph Vance’s detective hero, in 1917, was directed by Herbert Brenon, kind of a major figure, and Roy William Neill, before he tackled Sherlock Holmes, directed THE LONE WOLF RETURNS in 1935 with Melvyn Douglas, who did not return). But this one is the work of that cyclopean pirate, Andre de Toth.

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Mr. Veronica Lake the bullet-headed Hungarian directs nimbly, and the breathless comings and goings of the plot — a new eccentric character actor introduced and despatched every ten minutes — kept our attention glued. Warren William, always more a Starving Lion than a Lone Wolf, is suitably suave and unflappable. And, best of all, flapping enough for two, there’s abundant Blore, as Lanyard’s timorous, ovine accomplice, continually abducted and trussed up, delivering himself of several of the lines he was born to say:

“I hope you don’t think this is my favourite form of recreation, sir.”

“This is the very rope he tied me up with. Lovely lovely! There are moments when a man’s felicity reaches its zenith.”

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The script throws in characters called Rembrandt, Cezanne and Whistler, just for a laugh, waiting for somebody to notice.

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Memorable scene where a grinning man comes out of a wall. He continues to grin until shot, a couple of scenes later, and he’s very arresting, but I didn’t recognise him as Jay Novello, so good as the drunken mayor in WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?

The support includes Ann Savage, Lloyd Bridges (as a Nazi called Fritz!) and Sig Arno. Or, put another way…

PASSPORT TO SUEZ stars Perry Mason; Mother; Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith; J. Edgar Hoover; Steve McCroskey; Phillip Musgrave; Geoffrey Musgrave; Jake Bjornsen; Mayor Romano; Smoke; Frances Chan; Carrefour; and Toto.

Wingwalking

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2020 by dcairns

I’m reading Most Secret War by RV Jones, a wartime memoir about British Scientific Intelligence. It’s quite brilliant and contains also several anecdotes of dubious relevance but high entertainment value. I’ll be quoting at least a couple.

Jones tells the story of a couple of Danes who, unhappy with the Nazi occupation, decided to escape the little island they lived on. One of them happened to have an old WWI two-seater plane in his barn… in pieces. They constructed the flying machine, using bits of wire and scrap to substitute any missing parts. Since there were Germans in the immediate vicinity, they were going to have to open the barn doors, start the engines, and hope the thing flew.

They saved petrol for ages. One problem was that the fuel tank would not hold enough fuel to get them to Britain. So, they packed cans of fuel and, having miraculously taken off, they had to refuel in midair over the sea, which required one of them to crawl onto the wing with a hosepipe between his teeth while the other simultaneously piloted the craft and funnelled petroleum down the tube.

They got to Britain alright and were immediately arrested as spies, as their story was not credible. The undeveloped film they’d taken of German radar emplacements was given to a lab who managed to destroy all but a couple of frames (which did prove useful).

They were eventually believed and released. After the war, they went back to Denmark and were extremely unpopular, as they’d rather shown everyone up.

Anyway, by coincidence, we watched FLYING DOWN TO RIO this week. It’s not a great film (not enough Eric Blore), but the really good thing about it is that Fred & Ginger are by so many miles the coolest people in it. Ginger is a lot less ladylike than she would be later — she grasps that fuselage between her thighs like it really belongs there. Fred isn’t as gentlemanly as he would be later either. What’s great is that most of their stuff involves them expressing contempt for the film’s main plot, the Gene Raymond/Dolores Del Rio romance, and since we share their opinion of it, we’re very much thrown in with them.

It’s also neat that the movie ends with them looking up at the leads departing by flying boat (or would you call it a seaplane?). Yeah, those guys are leaving, but Fred and Ginger will stick around for a while.